Category Archives: Rifles

RELOADERS CORNER: Choosing Your Brass

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It’s not all the same! Depending on needs and application, there are three decisions that can have an impact on your satisfaction. READ MORE

norma brass

Glen Zediker

Last time I offered a few ideas on loading the same cartridge for use in different rifles. Essential message in that was, in one word, “compromise.” There’s some give and take when we’re trying to please more than one at time, as such is life…

Choosing cartridge cases is a little, to a lot, the same. Different rifles, different action types, different uses, different budgets, all suggest input that helps determine what works best, all around.

There are three things to consider, maybe four.

One is the action type. Semi-autos need “tougher” brass. That, overall, means “harder,” not necessarily thicker. Due to the resizing requirements for good function, which means a little “more” in all areas, there’s likewise more expansion in each subsequent firing. Brass made of harder alloy is less, not more, susceptible to failures — by my experience. Considering the elastic and plastic properties of brass, harder exhibits a little less effect from each.

I prefer harder composition brass for a bolt-gun too. Most NRA High Power shooters do. Reason? It runs better! There’s less “stickiness” in running the bolt for rapid-fire events.

Two: case capacity. They are not nearly all the same! My experience has shown me that more capacity is better, and that’s especially if we’re wanting to edge toward max-pressure loads. Even though the pressure generated inside the case using more (larger case volume) or less (smaller volume) may get to the same level, there is usually more net velocity (at the same pressure) when there’s more room in the case. If it didn’t matter then other things done to expand case capacity (like shoulder angle changes) wouldn’t matter either.

cartridge case capacities
Case capacities vary, and, as you can see, a good deal. These .223 Rem. are each filled with an equal amount of spherical propellant.

Three: Precision standards. What do you expect, what are you willing to do to get it? After enough experience with enough different brands, that is a legit question. Some brass is “better” out of the box. Cost usually reflects on initial quality. Paying a premium for premium quality, which is three things: consistency, consistency, and consistency. That consistency will primarily, or at least measurably, be in wall thicknesses. The choice there is to buy it or make it. That choice is a balance between effort, value of time, and proven results.

lapua brass
Consider first-use or re-use? Good stuff! And you’ll pay for it! Lapua cuts case prep down to sizing: the case heads are milled, the primer pockets and flash hole are reamed. It’s also a little thick and a little soft. Single-shot-style use in a bolt-action, can’t really beat it, but my AR15 Service Rifle beats it to death.

After using enough different brands with varying levels of costs and claims, I think the most honest thing I can tell you is that you’ll likely end up with the overall “best” brass case you can have shopping in the middle, plus a little, and then getting to work on it. A good commercial “name” brand can be made at least effectively close to the dimensional equivalent of a premium brand, like Norma, but it’s not without effort.

Before spending any time weighing or otherwise sorting cases, do all the prep work you plan beforehand. If any prep involves material removal, even trimming, that influences weight accuracy and, therefore, the viability of segregation by same.

Recommendations?
Yes. And no.

About the time you decide there’s some certain way some certain thing is, they up and change it. I avoid making too many lumped-together, generalized statements about particular brands because of that. However! I can tell you that some of the “better” brands of brass also tend not to hold up as well, or won’t if there’s much working load to load (expansion, sizing). I’m thinking here of the better-known European brands, like Norma and Laupua. Those are near about dimensionally flawless out of the box, but they tend to be a little on the thick and soft side. I use Norma in my .22 PPC because the cost is worth it. If I drive from Mississippi to New Mexico to shoot a match, that’s the least of my expense.

nosler brass
This isn’t cheap either, but I have had good results with it. Nosler is, or can be, ready to go out of the box, including case mouth chamfer. It’s held up well for me in semi-autos.

This is also the reason that every serious competitive shooter I know says to buy up as much of one lot as you can, if you know it’s good stuff. That’s for all components.

Sometimes brass chooses you!

As said last time on the “Multiple Gun” loads, if you’re mixing brass things like case volume do factor. As also suggested then, the best solution is to pick a load that’s in around the 80- to 90-percent range of max. I mix brass all the time. I shoot quite a lot of factory ammo and, yes, I save each case we can retrieve. I clean them all, size them all, and fill them with a “compromise” load I worked up for can blasting. The need for those excursions is not quarter-minute precision.

If you’re looking to save as much as you reasonably can and still get “good” cases there’s honestly nothing wrong with Lake City. The more recent production 5.56 measures pretty well, and it’s tough, and relatively high-capacity. I sho can’t vouch for any other headstamp on mil-spec ammo beyond “LC.” However! I suggest purchasing it prepped. Avoid “range dump.” A big issue with once-fired is which chamber it was first-fired in. Avoid .308 Win. (7.62 NATO)! You DO NOT want to deal with M60 or Minigun leftovers.

lc nm brass
This is LC Match 7.62. No primer crimp! For reuse in a semi-auto, it has the right stuff, which means made of the right stuff: it’s hard, tough.

Start HERE on Midsouth. Great deals! Great brass!

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

Glen’s newest book, America’s Gun: The Practical AR15. Check it out HERE

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RELOADERS CORNER: Multi-Rifle Loading

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If you shoot the “same” load for different rifles, here’s a few ideas on getting the most out of it for all of them. READ MORE

multigunj reloading

Glen Zediker

I have a few rifles…

Every time I do a new book I have more. This last time around, in writing America’s Gun: The Practical AR15, I built 10 AR15s, and half of those have the “same” chambering (5.56 NATO). My choices that I can case and then uncase any afternoon for some range time might all have the “same” chamber but they’re each and all, in some measured amount, different.

That’s literally in measured amounts, and more in a minute.

If you (like me) really don’t want to load separately, store separately, and use separately, then the only real choice is to employ a “lowest common denominator” tactic. With only one exception, I don’t load uniquely for any of these guns. I pretty much just want a sack-full of ammo at the ready. The one I load uniquely for has a tuned gas system (it’s a practical competition “race gun”).

old and new AR15
Both straight up NATO chambers, but the little one won’t run what the big one will. It’s a gas system architecture difference, and a little more challenge to find a “universal” load. Rifle-length gas systems like on my retro “602” M16 (left) are, by the way, more tolerant of load variations than tricked out short guns like the brand-new USASOC URG-I (right).

Variables
Assuming all the rifles have the “same” chamber, meaning only that the barrel stamp is the same, there still exist differences. There are differences reamer to reamer, and, depending on the operator, there might (will) be differences in headspace, and leade. They’re likely to be tiny, but tiny can matter. Some manifestations of pressure have some to do with the barrel bore (land diameter for instance).

I measure spent cases for all the different rifles. They don’t measure nearly all the same! Of all the set-by-sizing dimensions, cartridge headspace has shown the most variation in my samples.

That, also, is a very important dimension to set. As gone on (and on and on) in RELOADERS CORNER, the idea is to get adequate case shoulder set-back to ensure function, and also to keep it to the minimum necessary to prolong case life. The minimum necessary runs from 0.003 for a semi-auto to 0.001 for a bolt-action.

To set this dimension for multiple rifles that use the same batch of ammo, the means is pretty easy to anticipate: find the gun with the shortest headspace, set the die to set back the case shoulder where it needs to be for that one, and live with it.

If you don’t want to give in thataway, but rather prefer (or at least don’t mind, two technically different outlooks) running multiple dies with multiple adjustments, and keeping the ammo segregated, then here’s more.

I’ve had really good experiences using a turret press. For most rifle needs, one with, say, four spots will allow the use of two sizing dies, maybe three (depending on what occupies the other locations). These dies can be uniquely adjusted for cartridge case headspace. Of course, it’s easily possible to just swap dies in and out but the turret keeps them put and saves a step.

redding t7
A turret press is a sano solution to maintaining differently adjusted dies. Redding and Lyman both make good ones. This is a Redding T7.

If you’re a bolt-gun shooter and have a couple or more rifles that run the same cartridge, and if you’re wanting to get the most from your efforts in loading for each, you might consider this next. Redding has long-made a set of five shellholders with varying heights. They allow a shellholder swap on the same die to alter case headspace, for example. There are also shims available that go under the die lock ring to provide for die body height variance. This sort of setup lets the handloader alter-adjust headspace without readjusting the die.

redding shellholders
Redding Competition Shellholder set. Five shellholders, each 0.002-inches different heights. This allows, for one, different case shoulder set-back using the same die as set.

Levels
Now. As far as lighting on a load that they’ll all shoot their absolute best with. Sorry to say, but “not likely.” There sometimes seems like there is more mystery than there is known in “why some shoot better” with one load. And when I say “load” I’m talking about the dose, the amount of propellant. What that ends up being mandates at least some effort in evaluating more than one rifle when working up to a point you’ll call it “good.”

NATO-spec ammo is hot and getting hotter! I’m talking about true NATO-spec, not just lower-cost ammo sold in a “plain box.” This isn’t about NATO ammo, but it was for me. The difference between pressure levels of NATO and, say, a commercial-made .223 Rem. “match” load are enough that two of the guns won’t even run with that. I set up these guns from the workbench respecting NATO pressures, and that, in most cases, meant firming up the “back end”: heavier buffers and springs.

My good old “do it all” load no longer exists in my current notes. Amazingly, to me at least, it’s up the velocity equivalent of about a grain and a half from what I used to bust up clods and cans with. It’s also a different propellant (now H335).

No question: pressure symptoms must also define the “lowest common denominator” when loading the same for multiple guns. Since I also have to consider reliable function in my own example, and as just suggested, I’m loading up a little nearer the edge. I carefully evaluate spent case condition from each rifle and anything that reads or appears remotely as an excessive pressure sign means I’ll knock a universal half grain off the group load.

The preceding is a specially-adapted excerpt from Glen’s newest book, America’s Gun: The Practical AR15. Check it out HERE

par15

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

LINKS
TURRET PRESSES

COMPETITION SHELLHOLDER SET

M14s and M1As: From Magazine Dreaming to Camp Perry Competiing

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Dreams can come true! Here’s a story of a lifetime of fascination that culminated in the pinnacle of competition. READ IT ALL

camp perry m1a

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Steve Horsman

My first memories that took me down the path of firearms and shooting came in the 1970s. I remember looking at old gun magazines, specifically Guns and Ammo, all of the time. Most of those magazines were dated from the late 60s through the mid to late 70s. #CollectorItems

That was when my love affair with firearms and shooting started. I was a very young boy, not quite 10 years old. The Guns and Ammo magazines, for me, were just like the Sears Roebuck Christmas catalog. I remember looking through both and daydreaming about all of the stuff that I wanted for Christmas. I would study the pictures and read the articles, as I was dreaming about the guns that I wished I had and the hunting adventures I wanted to be a part of.

Hard to believe that that was nearly 45 years ago. #LifeMovesFast

M14 DREAM
During my younger years, there were several firearms that I was attracted to; obviously for how they looked, but mostly because of their capabilities and the history that surrounded them. One of my favorite guns was the M14 rifle, and my admiration of this rifle has never waned, even after 4 decades. Again, the sweet appearance is was what first drew me to it. It had classic lines that resembled the M1 Garand, but it had the more modern box fed magazine. I just wasn’t a fan yet of the M16 / AR16 rifle of that time, as it looked, dare I say, “cheap” to me.

As I got older, the desire to own an M14 rifle only grew stronger. What I didn’t know at the time though was that many of the M14s I was drooling over were (most likely) Springfield Armory M1As. Never in a million rounds, would I have imagined I would one day be working for “the” gun company.

camp perry range

DISPOSABLE DINERO
Jump to the late 1990s when I was finally able to buy my first M1A! It was a brand new Springfield Armory “Loaded” M1A Model. I was in M1A heaven! It had everything I wanted, and I loved that rifle. I shot it in my first and only (as of this writing) High Power match, and once at the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun Match.

From the moment I got it, until the day a good friend talked me into selling it to him, it performed perfectly. If you’re like me, you know that it’s always hard to get rid of a gun — I had the original “Loaded” Model in my safe for over 10 years, and was always a proud owner. But in the end, I really wanted the flagship M1A Super Match.

As things often happen though, I bought not the Super Match, but the Springfield Armory Scout Squad model. Probably because every time I had the chance to shoot one of these guns, I started to like it more and more. At the time, it fit my needs for a battle rifle better than the Loaded Model did, and the Super Match was just a little out of reach dollar wise.

I still have that Scout rifle, and have “made it mine” by removing the Scout scope mount, and adding a wooden hand guard in place of the plastic one that comes stock on that model. That rifle is a tack driver and I can hit 10-inch steel plates at 500 yards all day long. #Gratifying

DREAM JOB
As life fast forwarded and my LE career was wrapping up, I was fortunate enough to become involved with Springfield Armory. (That little-boy-paging-through-gun-magazines’ dreams were definitely exceeded!)

I also found myself interested in shooting rifle events again. And, it just so happened that in January of 2015, my buddy Rob Leatham called and asked, “Do you want to go to Camp Perry and shoot the M1A Match with me?”

I immediately knew the answer, but wanted to play it cool. I called him back a few days later… or was it a few minutes later? And since Camp Perry was on my bucket list, and life moves really fast, and of course I wanted to go, I excitedly said, “OH YEAH! “ But then I tell Rob that the only M1A I have is my Scout, and I ask, “Can I use that?” He said I could, but also suggested that he had a few rifles that might be better; more accurate, and actually set up for High Power style rifle shooting.

Who am I to turn that kind of offer down?

Next thing I know, Rob and I are heading out to the range to begin zeroing his rifles so we can practice. Rob’s two rifles were basically Super Match set ups. He chose the really nice Camo Super Match and he loaned me the older wooden stock rifle. It was basically a predecessor to the current Springfield Super Match, and it was really accurate and shot awesome!

camp perry tower

After months of practice, we finally arrived at Camp Perry. I was humbled by the history of the place and duly impressed by the size of the ranges. I was told it is the largest shooting range in the country. It’s truly an amazing sight to experience!

Rob and I shot the match, and of course, he barely beats me! My guess is it had to be the rifle he shot, versus the rifle he “loaned” me to shoot! 🙂 #Setup

CAMP PERRY EFFECT
Thanks to Camp Perry, I was now really ready to get the M1A Super Match that I’ve always wanted, and upon my return, I promptly placed my order at Springfield. I got my rifle and, as advertised, it was awesome! I ordered the Camo fiberglass stock model and immediately took it to the range for zeroing. It shot every bit as well as I expected and anticipated — it was outstanding!

Fast forward to the Summer of 2018, and I make my way back to Camp Perry to participate again in the annual M1A event with MY Super Match. Needless to say, the Super Match shot great and I destroyed Rob’s score!* See, I told you he gave me the less-accurate rifle!

*Did I forget to mention that Rob didn’t actually shoot the match in 2018? 🙂

M1A MANIA
Joking aside, this year’s Springfield Armory M1A Match at Camp Perry had over 350 shooters — That firing line is another incredible sight to see! I spoke with so many other competitors while there, and they all said their love of the M1A rifle is the reason they shoot this match. Most stated too that they shoot their M1As at local High Power matches all throughout the year.

I also have several friends who currently shoot and have shot High Power rifle competition for many moons. In a nutshell, all of them have told me the same things about the beloved M1A:

It is extremely competitive.
It does very well in the high-power matches.
It holds its own against anything on the firing line.
Most prefer the lower recoil of the AR-pattern rifles — which is why they shoot them.

And without exception, whenever I go to the range and break out my M1As, I am asked by other shooters if they can look at my rifle. After they check it out, I usually get several questions, and most of them eventually tell me, “I’ve always wanted an M1A…

m1a

RELOADERS CORNER: Fire-forming

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New cases? Decisions you make before that first firing have a lot to do with future success. Read why (and how) HERE

Glen Zediker

case segregate
I segregate my new cases before firing because I need to know which are for which. Do not first-fire cases using a lighter (less pressure) load unless you intend to continue to use that load in those cases for subsequent firings! I’ll use “old” 300- and 600-yard cases for offhand practice, but never the other way around!

The past few articles I’ve been begging indulgence from all the bolt-gunners out there by focusing on a few semi-auto-based topics, and so this time I’ll get to something of more interest to them (and it’s also of interest to “all of us”). In practical terms, which is living with reloads, it is at least of as much interest, or at least importance, to someone running an AR15 (if they’re looking to get maximum on-target performance from it). Subsequent case life has a lot to do with how you go about firing that first time.

So: definition: “Fire-forming” is a term usually associated with describing changing a cartridge from its original or “parent” state into another state, which is a non-standard cartridge, when it’s first-fired in the non-standard chamber. Like making an Ackley-Improved version of a standard cartridge, or converting a .250 Savage into a 6XC. In other words, the firing itself expands and reforms the case to the shape of the new chamber, and the case that emerges is then the new cartridge.

But! All cases are fire-formed to the chamber they’re first-fired in.

Details: Brass alloy is both plastic and elastic. That’s the “technical” reason changes in a fired case can and does occur in the first place. Plastic means that brass can expand and flow to fit the chamber, and retain its new shape. Elastic means that it doesn’t fully and completely mold itself to become a new mirror of the chamber. It “snaps back,” retracts from its maximum expanded form. If it didn’t it wouldn’t want to come back out of the chamber. That “snap-back” amount is predictably 0.001 inches.

case mushroom
Here’s a good example of the plastic property of brass alloy. This is a .250 Savage case that’s been run through a 6XC sizing die. Next step is to load it up and fire it in the 6XC chamber. It comes back out looking just fine! By the way, the little dings and creases we see in spent cases sometimes are really nothing to worry about: they’ll iron out after firing again.

On any rifle with a “standard”-dimension chamber, a new brass cartridge case will be smaller than the chamber. Has to be. It wouldn’t fit if it weren’t. A “standard” chamber, here, means there may and likely will be small variations from chamber to chamber (reamers vary uniquely, as might the operator’s preferences and judgment regarding how “tight” the headspace will be), but nothing intentionally has been done differently to alter the chamber beyond SAAMI-spec dimensional tolerances. Anyone who has loaded for the same cartridge for more than one rifle, and who has recorded pre- and post-fired case dimensions, knows that it’s common for there to be at least a thousandth or two, or more, variance. That’s all fine, as long as it’s within spec. Some custom-done barrels might have a chamber that’s intentionally different than SAAMI blueprints, and that’s a whole different topic.

Back to it: Since the brand-new cartridge case is smaller than the chamber it’s going into, it’s going to expand, grow. That’s clear.

ppc tallboy
Here’s a .22 PPC (left) next to a wildcat version, the “Tallboy.” There’s a whopping lot of permanent stretch to make this round (which is the precursor to 6.5 Grendel by the way). It is really important that this initial firing be done with a stout propellant charge. They would, not may, fail if the first firing didn’t fully expand the shorter PPC case.

So, there are two “forms” fire-forming can take. As said, no matter what else, all cases are formed to the chamber on their first firing. However, for some there can be some benefit from approaching that initial firing following a method or means to establish the set-in behavior of that case on subsequent firings and reloadings.

Here’s why some planning and procedure matters: Brass alloy has a “memory.” This is, more technically, called a “shape-memory effect,” and is shared by some other alloys also. It expands (and contracts) in a consistent pattern each use.

The first firing establishes that pattern. On subsequent firings, less is okay, but more is not. Lemmeesplain: I strongly recommend first-firing with a stout load, or at the least the stoutest load you plan on running through that case in future uses. When I segregate my new cases, I’m sorting them based on their function for me. My best go to the “600-yard” pile, then to 300 and then to short-line. Those are three different loads. I need to know which cases are for which before I make the initial loading. Fire-forming with a lighter load and then using a nearer-to-max load in that same case will, not can, result in premature failures in that case. It doesn’t seem to matter much going the other direction. I would never charge up my 600-yard load in a case formed using my 200-yard load; there are significant pressure differences in those two.

If it’s necessary to reform through firing, making a new cartridge case, there are a few different methods I’ve seen used, but, what really matters is that the case fully forms to the new chamber. The usual influential changes occur in the case neck and shoulder, and also stretching fore and aft. The bigger the change the more important it is to fire initially with a full-power load. For maximum effect, it’s better to fire-form with something closer to a “max” load than something lighter. Brass gets harder each use, less pliable. Starting life as a new cartridge after that first firing, case life is longer, and better, if the case was fully formed.

dead length seating
For maximum subsequent case life, it’s important that, one, a case fully forms to the chamber. But! Two, also that needless stretching is avoided. To that end, first-firing with the bullet seated to touch the lands minimizes stretch. Reduce the load since this will, not may, raise pressure.

To aid that, a “trick” that helps a lot is to seat the bullet into the lands, firmly. The reason is because that already has the base of the case firmly seated against the bolt face. That prevents the primer strike from moving the case forward, resulting then in additional body stretching (beyond what already might be necessary). If it’s not the routine means used for bullet seating, this tactic requires a reduction in the load. When a bullet is moved from “just off” to “just on” the lands, pressure spikes at least equal to the value of 0.2-0.3 grains of propellant.

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

RELOADERS CORNER: Life in the Fast Lane

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Here are a few tips for getting the most, the easiest, from high-velocity semi-auto .224s. READ IT ALL

22 nosler

Glen Zediker

Here’s the conclusion of my “trilogy” on the movement of .224-caliber rounds into the left lane of rifle cartridge choices. The focus last time was on the 22 Nosler and .224 Valkyrie, and here are some ideas on making the most from either, or another similar.

First: Getting high (higher) velocity is really not rocket surgery: make the bullet smaller and the case bigger. Rounds like .243 Win. showed that clearly. However!

Speed, greed, need, (and heed)
Higher and higher velocities bring about a “debate.”

After messing with all this for decades, there are two things I know for sure about bullet velocity: more velocity shoots better; more velocity shoots worse. But! It’s not velocity itself. It’s a common belief, and totally plain wrong (and wrong-headed), that lower-velocity shoots better groups. It’s also wrong that higher velocity shoots better groups. Working with one cartridge and one bullet, for example, I’ve had plenty of times when the faster the bullet went the better it shot, and the slower the bullet went the better it shot. That’s all to do with the “combination” of the propellant and bullet and barrel and son on and on and on. Point is: it’s way on better to find a combination that shoots better and better the faster the bullet goes. That didn’t have a lot to do with the point of this, but it is important to keep in mind — velocity is not evil.

I know I don’t have to go into benefits of higher velocity. Hard to argue with those. What I do want to go into is a look at how much more and at what cost. Virtually every downrange improvement has some sort of cost. The cost of higher velocity is barrel life, mostly.

As said, higher velocity comes from more propellant. More propellant produces more flame and more gas. There’s a term, “overbore,” that gets around in discussions of, usually, large cartridges, like magnums. It actually is a mathematical device that compares the barrel bore area to the cartridge case volume. It is “V” (case volume) over (divided by) “A” (barrel bore area) and the answer, “O,” is therefore a ratio. The bigger O gets the more overbore the combination is. Applying that, something like .243 Win. is overbore. That’s also why a barrel chambered in that round lasts no more than 1200 rounds at true peak accuracy. That round is not considered overly powerful by anyone I know, yet, has the same sort of (bad) effect on barrels as does something like a .300 Win. Mag.

As said last article: clearly, barrel life in Nos. or Valkyrie is going to substantially shorter compared to .223 Rem.

Suggested Mods
Higher and higher velocities also come from varying propellant choice. Specifically, slower-burning propellants literally fit better into higher-capacity cases. Recollecting back on something I’ve mentioned umpteen times in these pages: propellant burning rate has a whopping lot to do with semi-auto manners. Slower-burning propellants elevate gas port pressure, which brings on the “over-function” symptoms, none of which are good. There’s a comparison of 22 Nosler with .22-250. They’re similar in structure. General consensus is that a favored propellant in the .22-250 is H-380 (if you don’t like that one, and I don’t, it’s going to be another in that burning-rate range). So. Point: 22 Nos. and Valkyrie do not get the most they can get from a “safe” .223 Rem. propellant (I break that off at nothing slower than H-4895). For good instance, I run Varget in my Nos. and that’s the same propellant I run in my PPC. It’s a little too slow, my opinion, for a stock gas system in an AR15.

Most running a 22 Nosler or .224 Valkyrie are looking to exploit speed, so will, therefore, be shopping or specifying 24-inch barrels (that’s a “standard” available length). That, combined with a standard 12-inch “rifle” gas port location, will, not can, escalate pressure within the gas system. That combination also puts a .223 Rem. over-pressure. (Reason is that the post-port length add increases “dwell-time,” which is the duration that the gas system is containing maximum pressure.) The best solution to excessive port pressure is to move the gas port! “We” (competitive High Power Rifle shooters) have been doing that for better than 20 years.

Yardstick: Plus-1-inch for .223 Rem. and plus-2-inches for Nos or Valkyrie. That makes a huge difference! Of course, this mod is only possible if you’re going with a custom barreling op done by a competent and savvy builder.

long gas tube
More gas and a longer barrel team up to over-charge the gas system. The best initial solution is to get your barreler to move the gas port forward (which means custom parts). No step for a stepper! Custom tube shown with standard rifle-length (top).

Without that, there are two options that, I say, should be used in tandem: a valved gas block and increase buffer/spring mass and resistance. The adjustable block reduces the amount gas that gets into and is contained within the system and the other offsets the effects of the harder hit the bolt carrier group will be subject to.

odin adjustable gas block
An adjustable gas block will, indeed, work to reduce excess gas pressure. There’s going to be erosion in the mechanism, though, so over time it’s going to change in its function. My personal favorite is the Odin Works, and one reason is that it’s rebuildable.

odin adjustable gas block

I am a bigger fan of the “architectural” solution rather than the adjustable gas block. They won’t last forever…

Another important spec I want to hit on: barrel twist rate. As said last time, the .224 Valkyrie was, so they say, designed to handle the biggest of the high-bc .224 bullets and, specifically, the Sierra 90 MatchKing (and similar). That’s why, as also said last time, commonly offered twist rate with that chambering is 1-7. Folks, 1-7 isn’t enough, in my experience, for 90+ .224 bullets. I (“we”) use 1-6.5 twist for 90s and the others in 20-inch barreled Service Rifles (.223 Rem.). That’s quick. Those shoot 77gr “magazine” bullets really well also. With Sierra now offering a 95gr .224, go with a 6.5. The extra velocity from Valkyrie and 22 Nos does indeed boost rotation, but I strongly suggest not relying on that promise for stability. It’s edgy.

sierra 95 SMK
Dang. An SMK 95gr .224… 27-caliber ogive! Best get some spin on this bad boy. I recommend a 1-6.5. Experience has been that 1-7 is borderline adequate for any bullet in this length range, and I’m not a fan of borderline, or “adequate.”

1-6, by the way, tends to blow up bullets.

valkyrie nos chart

The preceding is a specially-adapted excerpt from Glen’s newest book, America’s Gun: The Practical AR15. Check it out HERE

LINKS

SMK 95

Adjustable Gas Block

Some (not all) sources for fast-twist barrels
(I’ve used these in happiness)
Pac-Nor
Krieger

Check out components at Midsouth HERE for Valkyrie and HERE for 22 Nosler.

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

Pittsburgh Mayor Declares Intent to Ban Guns in Violation of State Law

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Under the proposed semi-automatic ban, it would be “unlawful to manufacture, sell, purchase, transport, carry, store, or otherwise hold in one’s possession” a firearm defined as an “assault weapon.” READ IT ALL

pittsburgh mayor

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

Last week, we reported that it was likely that sweeping gun control measures would be proposed in Pittsburgh. On December 14 Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto held a press conference to propose a trio of anti-gun city ordinances that, if enacted, would constitute a direct violation of Pennsylvania’s state firearms preemption law and Pennsylvania Supreme Court precedent. At the event, Peduto was joined by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, who benefitted from $500,000 in spending from Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety during his 2018 re-election bid, and City Council members Corey O’Connor and Erika Strassburger.

Not content to spearhead his own city’s violation of state law, Peduto called for municipalities throughout the country to ignore state statutes duly enacted by their residents’ elected representatives. A press release from the mayor’s office chronicling the conference explained, “Mayor Peduto has asked cities around the country to support Pittsburgh’s measures and/or introduce similar legislation to create nationwide momentum behind the critically needed gun changes.”

Councilmember O’Connor, who purportedly authored the anti-gun proposals, took a similar tack, stating that Pittsburgh “must seize the opportunity to make a real difference by partnering with other municipalities in the Commonwealth and cities across America to enact” gun restrictions. Councilmember Strassburger also encouraged the municipal lawlessness, stating, “I hope more cities across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the entire nation will join Pittsburgh in this critical effort.”

The three legislative proposals are a total ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms, a total ban on several types of common firearms accessories and standard capacity magazines, and the development of a procedure to confiscate an individual’s firearms without due process of law.

The legislation defines “assault weapon” by listing several models of commonly owned semi-automatic firearms, including the Colt AR-15 and certain configurations of the Ruger Mini-14. Moreover, the legislation goes on to add to the definition of “assault weapon” semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns that meet a certain set of criteria.

The prohibition criteria for rifles is the following:

a. The firearm is a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following:

i. A folding or telescoping stock;

ii. A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;

iii. A bayonet mount;

iv. A flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor; and

v. A grenade launcher;

Pistols would be judged under the following criteria:

b. The firearm is a semiautomatic pistol that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following:

i. An ammunition magazine that attaches to the pistol outside of the pistol grip;

ii. A threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, forward handgrip or silencer;

iii. A shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the non-trigger hand without being burned;

iv. A manufactured weight of 50 ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded; and

v. A semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm;

The following shotguns would banned:

c. The firearm is a semiautomatic shotgun that has at least two of the following:

i. A folding or telescoping stock;

ii. A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;

iii. A fixed magazine capacity in excess of five rounds; and

iv. An ability to accept a detachable magazine;

The legislation would also prohibit the possession of machine guns lawfully registered under the National Firearms Act.

The legislative proposal targeting common firearms accessories would ban the possession of firearms magazines “that [have] the capacity of, or can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition.” The ordinance would also ban any semi-automatic centerfire rifle that can accept a detachable magazine and is equipped with either a pistol grip, thumbhole stock, folding or telescoping stock, or a forward pistol grip (among other items).

Both pieces of legislation impose severe penalties on those who refuse to submit to the city’s unlawful mandates. Those who do not comply “shall be fined $1,000 and costs for each offense, and in default of payment thereof, may be imprisoned for not more than 90 days.” Moreover, the proposals provide that “[e]ach day of a continuing violation of or failure to comply … shall constitute and separate and distinct offense.” Meaning that otherwise law-abiding individuals who fail to comply with the ordinances would face potential financial ruin.

The final proposal would empower law enforcement to search for and confiscate an individual’s firearms without due process. Acting on merely a petition offered by a law enforcement official or family or household member a court could issue an order for an individual’s firearms to be seized. The individual would have no opportunity to speak or present evidence on their own behalf prior to confiscation.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly has made clear that firearms laws are a state matter and that it is unlawful for the state’s political subdivisions to regulate firearms. 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6120, concerning the “Limitation on the regulation of firearms and ammunition,” states:

No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.

The language of the statute is crystal clear. Municipalities like Pittsburgh may not pass their own firearms regulations.

However, the simple statute wasn’t simple enough for the reading challenged lawmakers of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

In the 1996 case Ortiz v. Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania settled the question as to whether Pittsburgh and Philadelphia could restrict commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms. In finding that they could not, the court stated:

Because the ownership of firearms is constitutionally protected, its regulation is a matter of statewide concern. The constitution does not provide that the right to bear arms shall not be questioned in any part of the commonwealth except Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where it may be abridged at will, but that it shall not be questioned in any part of the commonwealth. Thus, regulation of firearms is a matter of concern in all of Pennsylvania, not merely in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the General Assembly, not city councils, is the proper forum for the imposition of such regulation.

Another portion of the opinion described Pittsburgh’s position as “frivolous.”

In the 2009 case National Rifle Association v. Philadelphia, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania came to the same conclusion after Philadelphia ignored the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s 1996 ruling and enacted a ban on commonly-owned firearms and a lost or stolen reporting ordinance. Citing Pennsylvania’s firearms preemption statute and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s decision in Ortiz, the Commonwealth Court struck down the local firearms ordinances. Philadelphia appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and was denied.

In pursuing their local gun control ordinances, Peduto and his anti-gun allies have demonstrated an extraordinary indifference to state law, judicial precedents, and the taxpaying constituents who will foot the bill for this political grandstanding. NRA stands ready to use all available legal avenues to ensure that the residents of Pittsburgh are never subject to these unconstitutional and unlawful proposals.

 

White House School Safety Report Recommends Gun Confiscation Orders

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Seems that the Trump Administration is supporting “Red Flag Laws.” This is disconcerting stuff folks, confusing to say the very least. READ MORE

trump with report

SOURCE: Breitbart, others

On December 18, the White House released results of its School Safety Commission findings. Notable within the content of the 177-page report:

“The Commission endorses Extreme Risk Protection Order laws, which give authorities a temporary way to keep those who threaten society from possessing or purchasing firearms.”

Breitbart quoted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s preview of the report: “Our report endorses states adoption of extreme risk protection orders, which temporarily restrict access to firearms to individuals found to be a danger to themselves or others.” DeVos stressed that the White House wants the confiscatory orders structured in a way that is “cognizant of due process protections and respectful of Second Amendment liberties.”

Such orders, often referred to as Red Flag Laws, already exist in California and Florida. A few months ago, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) noted the push for red flag laws post-Parkland, saying, “Anti-gun interest groups and politicians have used the Parkland shooting to launch what, until recently, they regarded as a distant dream — a wave of state legislation authorizing the confiscation of firearms.”

Looks like it’s upon us. Stay tuned. Closely.

Here’s NRA-ILA official statement:NRA statement

White House official report page:
CLICK HERE

Watch this one folks…
CLICK HERE

Uh… Remember this?
CLICK HERE

 

Ultimate Reloader: 300 Blackout PLUS

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

ultimate reloader

RELOADERS CORNER: Beating The Fool Out of .223

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Hot topic! Zediker takes a look at 22 Nosler and .224 Valkyrie, two rounds that set out to maximize “sub-caliber” performance. READ ON

224 valkyrie and magazine
.224 Valkyrie seems poised to gain the most popularity, and for two good reasons: it’s more “available,” and it’s really, really good! Either of these new rounds needs a 6.8 SPC magazine due to the greater case body diameter.

Glen Zediker

Last time I nutshelled the history of the .223 Remington and suggested that round, and its 5.56mm NATO chambering in the “new” M16 was the start of the “sub-caliber uprising.” By that I mean in popularity ( Also as mentioned last time, there’s zero doubt that the motivation behind companies like Sierra developing better .224 caliber bullets came from military shooting team needs to use 5.56 in competition. We, pretty much, ended up with better bullets than the .223 Rem. could exploit.

Moving forward 55 years or so now two hot-rodded 22s seek to fully exploit the best of these bullets: 22 Nosler and .224 Valkyrie.

22 Nosler
What it is, is another way to stuff more into an AR15 upper and it’s impressive. 25-percent more case capacity compared to .223 Rem., which translates to solid +300 fps gains — close to a .22-.250. And anyone who doesn’t think .22-.250 is impressive is beyond me and mine. “Conversion” from a conventional .223 Rem. parts set takes a 6.8 SPC magazine and a new barrel with the new chambering, and you’re good to go. It’s a rebated rim so the case head stays at the .223-standard .378, and has same rim thickness, so no new bolt needed. It’s kind of a stretched and necked-down 6.8 SPC, and it’s the same overall case length as .223 Rem. The extra capacity comes from a .420 body diameter, supplemented also by its 30-degree shoulder. Unlike the other Nosler-brand cartridges which came off a .404 Jeffery, there’s no parent case for this one. Currently, brass has to come from Nosler. That’s a good thing. But it’s not cheap. Nosler makes great brass; it’s prepped and ready to load out of its box. It’s become my go-to brass for .223 Rem. when it matters.

nos vs 223
Way on back when I first started shooting an AR15 in Service Rifle competition I kicked back a question I had wayer on backer when I got my first AR15 broken in: Why didn’t they just make it .22-250? Well, in a way, they finally did! 22 Nosler is dang close to that legendary round in its performance. 22 Nos right, .223 Rem. left.

22 Nosler is an exciting thing, to me, because it’s a truly new cartridge that lets someone start off fresh with a SAAMI-standard-backed round that is significantly stouter than .223 Rem.

The variety of .224-caliber bullets make it flexible for all the uses a higher-speed round can be put to, including surely as a hunting cartridge, and, no doubt, as a paper puncher. As suggested, it’s pretty much a .22-.250. Even though I like the “shorter-fatter” direction in cartridges to optimize bullet seating architecture to optimize accuracy, 22 Nosler, for me, hasn’t shot one bit worse than .223 Rem., and dang sho leaves a more substantial contrail. Barrel life is going to be significantly shorter than .223 Rem. and it won’t be to the tune of the 25-percent increase in capacity relating to 25-percent shorter life; it’s more like 50-percent, at best. Trades. Maybe 3000 tops.

22 nosler, valkyrie, 223 compared
22 Nosler is faster than Valkyrie. By a fair amount, up to 100 feet per second, and easily a solid 50. I’m giving that from reputable manufacturer data. This chart is from Nolser. Speed matters, but it’s not everything for everyone. More about that next time.

.224 Valkyrie
About one year after the 22 Nosler, Federal countered with its proprietary creation. (These were each released at a SHOT Show.) At this brief moment in time, 2018, it’s the round that’s getting the biggest following amongst the higher-22-velocity seekers.

valkyrie versus nosler
Here’s what I (think) I think: If you’re wanting a simple switch and the most power the 22 Nosler is easy. The Valkyrie has better specs for the more serious target-precision-oriented, and a barrel in one will last at least a little bit longer. Valkyrie, left; 22 Nosler, right.

Valkyrie is based on the 6.8 SPC. It has a 1.600-inch case length, so is shorter than .223 Rem. or 22 Nosler. That’s good! It uses the same .422 bolt face as SPC, so that’s a needed part for a conversion. As with the Nos. it needs an SPC magazine.

Both the Nos. and the Valkyrie are well suited to handle the biggest of the .224 bullets, and, according to its maker, the Valkyrie was expressly intended to launch the 90-grain-range bullets. Given that, Valkyrie barrels tend to be 1-7 twist. That’s not “enough,” in my experience, and more about that soon enough.

So, which is better?

YES!

I like 22 Nosler. It gives the most speed. That’s pretty much the whole idea behind either one. There’s been some said about the ups and downs of the bolt face differences. The smaller .378 is a stronger bolt, but there’s more bolt thrust effect from the more powerful 22 Nosler, and that’s mostly on the case. I can’t see anything I’ve heard being a problem. I’ve not had issues. The Valkyrie case is shorter, and, as said, that is an advantage with longer bullets because the bullet doesn’t get seated as deeply into the case to end up at the same overall round length. That’s exactly in keeping with the “accuracy architecture” as was shown with the article on PPC.

22 nosler zediker
I bought into it enough that my “featured” rifle in my new book is a 22 Nosler, as is my “XL Carbine.” (As a matter of fact, half the project guns I built are NOT .223 Rem. Different cartridges can really re-purpose the utility of an AR-platform gun.)

Bottom-line, though, Valkyrie is an easier investment. Component prices (and availability options) are radically better. I think that for someone looking to explore the far end of the shooting range and ding some steel plates at 500 yards, the .224 Valkyrie would be my recommendation.

22 nolser components
Shopping seriously favors the Valkyrie! Nosler isn’t cheap. It’s also not cheap (outstanding quality). There, however, is a whopping price difference (right now) between the two respecting loaded ammo and cartridge cases.

But it’s not just nearly that simple! More about why, and more cartridges thrown in to add to the confusion, next time.

Check out components at Midsouth HERE for Valkyrie and HERE for 22 Nosler.

The preceding is a specially-adapted excerpt from Glen’s newest book, America’s Gun: The Practical AR15. Check it out HERE

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

REVIEW-RETROSPECT: Make Mine an M1 Carbine

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The M1 Carbine was one of the most widely produced of all U.S. Military rifles. Here’s how to get your own piece of shootable history! READ MORE

audie murphy

Robert Sadowski

Millions of M1 Carbines were produced. This firearm served during World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War, and at one time surplus models were commonly found and inexpensive. Today things are different. A well-used, vintage M1 Carbine is expensive and the cost will vary dramatically depending on which manufacturer produced the M1 Carbine and the model. I collect, but I shoot what I collect and that’s why the M1 Carbines from Inland Mfg. and Auto-Ordnance are important to me and other shooters who favor the M1 Carbine.

AVAILABILITY
The Inland Mfg. M1 1945 Carbine ($1062) and Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine Paratrooper ($805) are reproductions of carbines built in the mid 1940s. The Inland is a copy of the last style of Carbine built for the Military. The Auto-Ordnance (A-O) is a copy of the Model M1A1 designed for Paratroopers with a folding wire stock. These reborn Carbines offer a lot for collectors, competitive shooters, and home defenders.

Inland M1 1945 Carbine
Inland M1 1945 Carbine.

inland

The Inland Mfg. M1 1945 Carbine is made with an investment cast receiver mated to an 18-inch barrel with 4 grooves and a 1:20 inch twist rate. Features that make the Inland historically accurate are numerous and include the type 3 bayonet lug and barrel band, a rear sight with a siding ramp, and a push button safety. Original M1s had a flat bolt, basically the top of the bolt was milled flat. Late models used a round bolt to reduce manufacturing time. These features are also incorporated into the Inland carbine. The walnut stock is also referred to as a “low wood” stock which means it is relieved next to the operating slide. Early M1s had wood nearly covering the slide and the wood was prone to splitting in this area. From a historical perspective, the Inland was a good copy of the original carbine.

Auto-Ordinance M1 Carbine.
Auto-Ordinance M1 Carbine.

AO m1 carbineThe A-O is a reproduction of the Model M1A1, which was a model variant specifically designed for paratroopers who required a shorter weapon. Like early original M1A1s the A-O had no bayonet lug and the stock was close to originals even down to the brass rivets that attached the leather cheek rest to the wire stock. Sights were per the original a simple flip up aperture with a two settings one for 150 yard and the second for 300 yards. Windage was drift adjustable.

The stock does not lock in an open or closed position. A detent keeps the stock in position and when I fired using the stock I could easily knock it out of the open position. This is a feature of this older design. The rest of the stock was plain walnut, and pistol grip is thick and filled my hand.

Magazines are easy to find and inexpensive from $8 to $35 depending on manufacturer and capacity. Carbines were originally issued with a 15-round magazine, and 10-, 15- and 30-round magazines are the most commonly available.

AMMO & PERFORMANCE
There is no shortage of .30 Carbine ammo. I had on hand quite an assortment: Hornady Critical Defense with 110-grain FTX bullets ($33/20-rnds), Hornady 30 Carbine with 110-grain Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) bullets ($39/50-rnds), Aguila 110-grain FMJs ($24/50-rnds), and steel-case TulAmmo also with 110-grain FMJs ($15/50-rnds). If you see the trend, the .30 Carbine’s sweet spot is the 110-grain bullet.

m1 carbine groups
This was a typical group with both Carbines at close range; at 100 yards the groups naturally increased.

These modern reproductions are lithe and fast handling. Using the Inland Mfg. M1 1945 Carbine at 100 yards the Aguila ammo performed well and I fired my tightest 3-shot group which measured 2.05 inches. The TulAmmo ammo and Hornady Critical Defense also gave good accuracy averaging close to 2.75 inches on average. In fact I was quite pleased with the results since I were using iron sights and a mil-spec style trigger. The trigger is a single stage with some creep that broke at 6.1 pounds. Typical service style trigger.

m1 carbine group
This 3-shot group was fired with the A-O at 25 yards with inexpensive TulAmmo.

Recoil is mild with not a lot of muzzle blast. At 25 yards fast follow up shots were quick. Since the rifle is only 36 inches long it is easy to maneuver.

In my opinion, the Inland is well suited for Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) M1 Carbine Matches. These matches are fired at 100 yards in 4 stages with slow and rapid fire and from prone, standing, sitting or kneeling.

shooting m1 carbine

At 25 yards I shot a near perfect, 3-shot clover leaf with A-O using the inexpensive TulAmmo. Recoil was more noticeable with the A-O since the cheek against the wire stock was not as comfortable. I was able to shoot a 2.0-inch 3-shot group at 100 yards with inexpensive TulAmmo; 2.1-inch best groups were obtained with Aguila and IWI. On averaged I achieved 2.3 to 2.8 inch groups at 100 yards with three shots. The trigger pull weight averaged 7 pounds but I still was able to shoot some decent groups.

As a home defense weapon or truck rifle, the new breed on M1 Carbines from A-O and Inland Mfg. are good choices. There are less-expensive options available, but they are not “as-original” M1 Carbines.

hip shooting carbine
With the stock folded I fired from the hip and found it quite easy to walk in hits on clay pigeons set out on a bank at 25 yards. The A-O was also light enough that I could shoot it one-handed. It is a fun carbine to shoot!

For more information on Auto-Ordinance click HERE
For more information on Inland Manufacturing click HERE