Category Archives: Rifles

O Canada! Sniper Gains World Record

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A Canadian Special Forces [sic] sniper looks to have taken out an ISIS fighter from a world-record distance of 11,316 feet, or about 2.2 miles away.

Now, as shooters and reloaders, we know there are a myriad of details which went into making a shot like this successful. “The spotter would have had to successfully calculate five factors: distance, wind, atmospheric conditions and the speed of the earth’s rotation at their latitude,” Says Ryan Cleckner, a former U.S. Army Ranger who served several tours in Afghanistan, and wrote the “Long Range Shooting Handbook.”

Atmospheric conditions also would have posed a huge challenge for the spotter.

Cleckner says, “To get the atmospheric conditions just right, the spotter would have had to understand the temperature, humidity and barometric pressure of the air the round had to travel through.”

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HARDWARE???

“While the ammunition that Canadian special forces use in the TAC-50 is “off-the-charts powerful,” with some 13,000 foot-pounds of force when it comes out of the muzzle, the speed of a bullet, a 750-grain Hornady round, is not as important as the aerodynamic efficiency of the bullet.”

Yes. You read it correctly. The rifle is great, the spotter was spot-on, the shooter held to his technique.

One of the largest factors was the bullet. A HORNADY bullet.

This Hornady.

“The key to having a sniper round travel that far and hit a small target has less to do with speed and more to do with the efficiency with which the projectile moves through the air,” he said.

“That’s because while sniper bullets exit the muzzle at several times the speed of sound they eventually slow down to less than the speed of sound, and at that point they become less stable. An efficiently designed bullet reduces that instability, he explained,” Says Michael Obel of Fox News.

“When it all comes together, it’s ‘mission accomplished’.”

Well done, soldier! We appreciate you essentially disrupting a deadly operation about to take place in Iraq by these barbarians.

We have to ask! What’s your longest shot?

Wanna start shooting like this warrior? We have a few boxes left of the legendary bullet . Click Here to stock up!

RELOADERS CORNER: Inside Reaming Vs. Outside Turning

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Some confuse these operations. Don’t! Here’s what each is, and isn’t…

Glen Zediker

I get a lot of questions. I always answer each one, and in doing so that experience reminds me of the wide span of topic knowledge needed to be a successful, and safe, handloader. I make an effort not to assume any level or depth of anyone’s understanding of any topic I might address. At the risk of “offending” all the experts out there by wasting their time with fundamental starts to technical pieces, I’d dang sho rather bore them than shortchange a newcomer out of elemental information.

I told folks in my last book that “grains” refers to a propellant weight, not a kernel-count. Right. But I’ve fielded that question more than once. That’s not, in my mind, a “stupid” question. Truth: The only stupid question is one that’s not asked, when there’s a need to know.

So, that was leading into this: Here’s a question I got just yesterday that sourced via someone who wasn’t even a little bit uneducated in the need for finer points of case prep. This fellow was confused about the relationship between inside case neck reaming and outside case neck turning. Here’s a longer version of the answer I returned to him —

First, there is no relationship between inside neck reaming and outside neck turning, and by that I mean they are not a combined process. As a matter of fact, these should not be combined!

They can be confused because they both ultimately accomplish the same thing, the same basic thing: each process removes material from a cartridge case neck cylinder, and that makes the case neck wall thinner. These two ops, however, are done for two different reasons.

neck reamer
Inside neck reaming is a treatment to thin excessively thickened case necks after several firings. If the neck walls get too thick, the outside diameter of the case neck might not have adequate room in the chamber to expand to release the bullet. Excess pressure! Shown is a Forster-brand accessory for its case trimmer.
IMPORTANT: “Standard” case neck reamers are for use only on fired but not resized cases! Exceptions are custom-size reamers, and I own a few of those that get use from time to time, but, as was said for tight-necked rifles, if you know about that then you already know about this…

An inside case neck reamer is intended to relieve excess material from case necks that have thickened excessively through use and reuse. Brass flows, and it flows forward.

Important! Most “standard” case neck reamers are intended to be used on fired, but not yet resized, cases! In other words: Use the reamer on the fired cases as-are. Do not use one on a case that’s had its neck resized because that will cut away way too much brass.

Another application where inside reaming is frequently recommended is in forming operations that require a reduction in case neck diameter. When a case is “necked down,” which means run through a sizing op that creates a .243 caliber from a previously .308 caliber, for instance, the neck walls thicken. An appropriately-sized reamer makes the shortest work of this tedious but necessary job. Most forming die packages either include or make mention of the specific-size reamer to use.

Outside case neck turning is done to improve the consistency of case neck wall thickness around the cylinder. It’s a step taken to improve accuracy. Outside case neck turning should be done only on brand new (unfired) brass. It’s more precisely effective and easier because that’s when the alloy is at its softest.

turned case neck
Outside neck turning is a “precision” case prep step that improves consistency of the case neck wall thicknesses. It can be done a little bit to clean up “high spots” and make the cases better, or full-area to make them nearly perfect. That, of course, also makes them universally thinner so your sizing apparatus might need to be dimensioned differently to maintain desired case neck inside diameter to retain adequate grip on the bullet.

There are specific, custom combinations that require a smaller than standard case neck outside diameter. The “tight-necked” rifle, which is just about exclusively encountered in Benchrest competition, has to have its brass modified to chamber in the rifle. The neck area of the rifle chamber is cut extra-small to provide a means to attain a “perfect” fit and minimal case neck expansion. If you’re into this, then you already knew that…

So, the primary role and use of an inside neck reamer is as a safety precaution; its secondary use is as a prep step in case forming. The primary role and use of an outside neck turner is to improve the consistency, quality, of a case neck cylinder. The idea is that more consistent wall thickness leads to a more centered case neck. And it does. Reaming does zero to improve consistency. Reaming just makes a bigger hole of the hole that’s already there; it doesn’t relocate its center.

drop test
The way (or one way) to tell if your cases need a ream is to take a fired case and see if a bullet will freely drop through the neck. If it won’t, they’re too thick. Thrown them away or refurbish them with a reamer. Resizing won’t change a thing.

Combining these ops might create a safety issue because the necks might get too thin, and that could mean there wouldn’t be enough grip on the bullet. Point is, ultimately, that reaming and turning are not equivalent even though they might seem to be doing the same thing. One is not a substitute for the other. It certainly would be possible to remove metal from the outside of the neck cylinder to overcome the effects of thickened necks, if (and only if) the neck is sized again using the usual die apparatus. When that’s the goal, though, a reamer is lower effort, faster, and less expensive to buy into.

Very important! Always (always) culminate either operation by running the cases a trip through the sizing die you normally use.

Check out a few tools at Midsouth HERE

SKILLS: Top 6 Public Range No-Nos

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There’s a lot for a new shooter to learn, and a lot of it is learned at the shooting range. But learn first  about the range!

by Jeff Johnston, NRA Family

So you’re heading to the range for the first (or maybe the second, or third) time. Here’s what NOT to do, both from a safety and a common courtesy perspective.

DON’T…
…Bring a shotgun and shoot it with anything except slugs. In most public range settings, lanes are set mere feet apart from each other. While a shotgun loaded with any pellet-type load might hit only your target at 10 yards, at 50 yards the spread of its pattern will turn your neighbor’s pristine new target into Swiss cheese. For this reason most ranges don’t allow shotguns on the range for anything except slugs. You should know this beforehand, so you don’t buy everyone new targets later.

DON’T…
…Place your finger on the trigger before your sights are on the target. This is the quickest way to tell everyone in the range, “Hey, everyone! Look at me! I don’t have the foggiest clue what I’m doing! Ha! Ha!” You may notice people begin to look at you like you’re wearing a Bin Laden costume as they back away slowly. Why? If you don’t know the second NRA rule of gun safety, you are obviously not safe. So keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. Perhaps you can’t hit a bullseye to save your life, but at least everyone around you knows you’re  trying to be safe.

This one is for indoor ranges that max out at 50 yards:
DON’T…
…Bring your .338 Lapua Mag. (or .300 Win. Mag. or any other high-power rifle that’s equipped with a muzzle brake) to “sight it in.” To zero your rifle for hunting you should shoot it at 100-200 yards anyway, so why kill people’s ear drums at the range by getting in on paper there? A muzzle brake sends sound waves and hot gases backwards, and many times the long, 26-inch barrels of magnum hunting rifles extend past the side barriers, sending those unfiltered sound waves and gases directly back at your neighbors. Think the opposite of the Nike commercial and just don’t do it.

DON’T…
…Place your target above or below eye level. Some ranges clearly post rules against this, while others do not. Regardless, consider what your bullet does after hitting the target: It continues on its merry way at its given angle, and if that angle is steep, it will stop in the floor or the ceiling, not the backstop as it should. Wood and debris from the floor or ceiling will fly, and the range officers will begin eyeballing you like buzzards above a bloody road kill. So place your targets at eye level so your bullet goes into the backstop where it should.

DON’T…
…Give unsolicited advice to complete strangers. Sure, it’s OK to politely point out or correct a major safety violation if someone is clearly being unsafe (if the range officers are non-existent), but if the good-looking girl on lane 14 would’ve wanted your advice, she’d have given you some type of signal. That’s right, like a “Hey, you” from across the range complete with “come ‘ere” wave and a tractor-beam eye hook. But 100 times out of 100 she just wanted to shoot her new Springfield a few times without being hit on as if it was closing time at Hooters. And see that cool dude with her? One of the reasons she’s with him is because he’s not always telling her what she’s doing wrong. So go back to your lane, make happy face targets with your .357, then go home and make yourself a few bachelor burritos.

DON’T…
…Let some Magnum PI-looking yahoo on lane No. 13 tell you how to shoot your own gun. I’ve seen it all too often. The minute you try to be polite by saying, “OK, thanks for the advice,” Magnum thinks he’s Steve Spurrier with a renewed license to coach. So instead, just say, “If I wanted instruction, I would’ve hired a professional,” and turn away. I hate to sound crass, but the shooting range isn’t the place to put up with this kind of nonsense. Of course, if he or she is offering good advice in a non-creepy way, and is in fact Tom Selleck, feel free to listen.

What are your public range pet peeves? Tell us in the comments! 

 

 

8 Reasons to Invest in a 9mm Pistol-Caliber Carbine

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Here is a list of compelling reasons that a PCC might just become your favorite, most-used firearm. Keep reading…

Gil Horman, NRA Publications

Just before our first wedding anniversary, my wife and I were rear-ended at high speed while making a right-hand turn. Our car was totaled and my wife suffered serious soft tissue damage to her neck and shoulder. Although she has healed over the years (the pain has never completely left her), it was a long time before she could participate in any shooting sports, let alone fire guns with stiff levels of felt recoil.

Ruger PC9
Ruger PC9

I started researching low-recoil defensive options that she could use (if you’ve ever wondered why I write about this topic as often as I do, now you know). At the time, Ruger was still making the now-discontinued PC9 Police Carbine chambered in 9mm. If not for the magazine well designed to accept Ruger P Series pistol magazines, the blowback operated PC9 could be mistaken for a 10/22. It was lightweight, compact and easy to operate. I thought my wife would be able to manage the recoil at the practice range so that it could be kept on hand as a home-defense gun. The carbine had the added benefit of using the same magazines as a Ruger 9mm pistol we owned at the time, making for an ideal home-defense pairing.

I strolled into a local gun shop and asked the college kid behind the counter to hand me a PC9 carbine off the rack for closer inspection. His face took on a subtle, but noticeable, look of distain. As if I had asked an English butler to pass me a dead mouse, he slowly reached for the rifle and with forced professionalism dropped it into my hands.

I explained why I was interested in this particular model. I was looking for a low-recoil defensive option for my wife to use. In a perfect dead-pan voice he said, “Yes, and when the ammunition runs out it will make an excellent club.” In other words, after 15 rounds of “wimpy” 9mm hollow points fired through a 16-inch barrel harmlessly bounced off the home invader, like so much confetti, my poor wife would be forced to swing for the bleachers.

This gun store conversation took place in the late 1990s when the 9mm and all of its platforms were still wrestling with the reputation of being weak defensive options. It’s a bias that’s stuck to 9mms of all sizes like glue, even the carbines. That is, until the last few years. Defensive 9mm pistols of all shapes and sizes have moved to the center of the defensive limelight. And this year in particular, pistol-caliber carbines (PCC) chambered in 9mm have enjoyed a surge in sales not seen before.

Here are eight reasons why 9mm PCCs are a good choice for home defense as well as general shooting —

ONE: A Variety of Models to Choose From
Some types of firearms are only available in limited configurations which in turn can make it a challenge to find a good fit for some shooters. This is not the case with pistol-caliber carbines. The 9mm PCC may be enjoying a new level of popularity today but it’s been manufactured by several companies for quite some time. I still hear folks talk about how much they love their Marlin Camp 9 even though the gun has been out of production since 1999. 

NOTE: CLICK ON THE PHOTO CAPTIONS TO VISIT THE WEBSITES

JRC carbines
Just Right Carbines offers a wide range of configurations.

If you enjoy working with the AR-15 type carbines, several 9mms are available from reputable manufacturers including the SIG Sauer MPX 9, and the Wilson Combat AR9. The 9mm AR models tend to come in two varieties, those with dedicated 9mm only lower receivers and those that use standard .223/5.56 lowers fitted with magazine adapters.

Some models, including the Just Right Carbine, are built around proprietary actions that accept AR-15 accessories. The receivers, barrels and controls are unique but the removable grips and six-position adjustable shoulder stocks can be swapped out for popular aftermarket AR-15 upgrades.

If the AR-15 is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of other designs to enjoy. For instance, the Chiappa Firearms M1-9 is a modern variation of the WWII-era M1 carbine. One of the more unusual options (if you can find one) is the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 which folds in half for easy storage.

Kel-Tec Sub-2000
Kel-Tec Sub-2000

TWO: Proven Designs
Many semi-automatic 9mm PCC platforms use blowback-operated actions, which are among the simplest and most reliable designs available. The bolt assembly is held in place by its own weight and the recoil spring. The force of the cartridge case being pushed backwards by expanding gases cycles the bolt. That’s all there is to it. There’s little in the way of complex parts, gas tubes or pistons to worry about failing and the guns are often easier to clean and lubricate.

Chiappa M1-9
Chiappa M1-9

THREE: Pistol Magazine Compatibility
Just like the Ruger PC9 mentioned earlier, many of the modern PCC platforms feed from removable semi-automatic pistol magazines. Right now many carbines have magazine wells and bolt assemblies designed to work with the common, easy to find and inexpensive Glock factory and aftermarket magazines. This is especially convenient if you already own, or plan to buy, a Glock pistol. Companies that make pistols as well as carbines, like Beretta, often build their carbines to accept the same magazines as their handguns.



FOUR: Low Levels of Felt Recoil
I continue to be baffled by the notion that if a gun doesn’t leave the owner battered and bruised at the end of a practice session it’s not a legitimate home-defensive option. Guns don’t need to hurt the operator in order to be effective. In fact, low recoil provides a couple of important tactical advantages. Any activity associated with pain can cause us to hesitate. In a fight for your life, when every moment counts, it’s important to avoid any unnecessary hesitations that may cloud a defender’s judgment. Low recoil also aids in placing faster, more precise follow-up shots.

Sig MPX
Sig MPX

FIVE: Cheap and Plentiful Practice Ammunition

Proper practice sessions held on a regular basis are the key to mastering a carbine’s controls and to improved accuracy. The more rounds fired downrange per practice session the better. As of this writing, the only platforms I can find that are cheaper to run than the 9mm are those chambered in .22 Long Rifle. The good news is that practice-grade 9mm is more readily available than .22 (which is still experiencing shortages) and can be found in sporting goods and big-box stores around the country.





SIX: Top Notch Defense-Grade Ammunition

The 9mm cartridge is not just popular in the United States, it’s one of the most common calibers used around the world for military, law enforcement, and civilian applications. Millions of dollars have gone into improving bullet designs and overall cartridge effectiveness. More +P loadings are available now than ever before. This improvement in cartridge performance combined with carbine magazine capacities ranging from 17 to 33 rounds provides a level of firepower not to be taken lightly, especially at home-defense distances.

9mm defensive ammo
There is effective 9mm defensive ammo available, and it’s made more so via the higher velocities attained when fired through a 16-inch barrel.

SEVEN: Improved Ammunition Performance
Generally speaking, 9mm pistols are constructed with barrels somewhere between 3- to 5-inches in length. Carbines, on the other hand, are usually fitted with 16-inch barrels. This increased length boosts the performance of the cartridge because of the longer powder burn time, which increases velocity, and additional rifling that improves bullet stability.

The degree to which performance improves when using a carbine depends on the load fired. But in some cases, especially with +P ammunition, the increase in downrange energy is impressive. This table shows some of the 16-inch barrel performance results gleaned from carbine tests posted to this website along with the manufacturers’ listed pistol velocities for comparison.

The standard velocity loads shown here demonstrated a velocity increase of 101 to 238 fps. resulting in bullet energy going up by 70 to 153 ft.-lbs. when fired through a 16-inch barrel. That’s nothing to sneeze at. But it’s the +P loads that seem to benefit the most from the longer barrel. Velocity jumped between 173 to 684 fps. increasing bullet energy by 94 to 356 ft.-lbs. 



EIGHT: Flexible and Fun To Shoot
Whenever possible, it makes sense to invest in firearms that can fill multiple roles instead of just one. The 9mm PCCs fall into this category. These platforms are ideal for informal plinking, target shooting, home defense, or riding along as a trunk gun. I’ve heard that a good sized part of what is driving the new interest in these guns are the new divisions in 3-Gun and other practical-style competitions that allow the use of 9mm carbines. Imagine spending a day honing your shooting skills at a match, getting home, giving your carbine a quick cleaning, and then staging the gun you know inside and out to defend your home in case of an emergency. That’s about as flexible as a gun gets.

Should You Clean Your .22 LR?

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Contrary to what some will tell you, YES, a .22 rimfire needs to be thoroughly maintained to perform its best. Here’s why…

by George Harris, NRA Publications

“My Ruger 10/22 with a bull barrel has been one of the most accurate .22 LR rifles I own — until recently. It feeds and functions perfectly, but all of a sudden it started throwing random shots and I am at a loss as to why. I have noticed some of the spent brass with a slight bulge at the rim, but I can’t correlate those with the bad shots. One of my friends suggested the ammunition might be at fault, but it does the same thing with several different brands and types of fodder. I was told when I bought the gun that it never needed cleaning (just a little lubrication now and again) but I am thinking of at least swabbing the barrel to see if it would help the accuracy problem. Am I overlooking something? What would you suggest as far as cleaning and getting my rifle shooting like it used to?”
— Peter Hoyle
Raleigh, NC



dirty rimfire

Contrary to what some believe, all .22 LR firearms need more maintenance than occasional lubrication. Bulged cases are significant indicators that the chamber and/or the throat have enough firing-residue buildup to prevent a cartridge from fully seating, which causes the rifle to fire slightly out of battery. Residue on the bolt — even with lubrication present — tends to degrade the ability of the mainspring to close the action because the cartridge is restricted as it is seated in the chamber. Furthermore, buildup on the face of the bolt and barrel where they meet contributes to this problem. Accuracy can also be affected by these conditions because the position of the cartridge in the chamber is not consistent.

Rimfire ammunition is somewhat unique in that it has four contributing factors to barrel fouling. The wax used to lubricate the bullets is the most obvious. Different manufacturers use various formulas and amounts of lubricant, all of which contribute to buildup inside the barrel and in the action. 



Almost all .22 LR bullets are lead, even those copper-washed. All leave material in the barrel, which degrades accuracy over time. If one were to look through the barrel of any .22 LR after firing a few shots, there would be particles of burned and unburned powder left, which are just as likely to be forced into the grooves of the barrel as to be pushed out of the muzzle when the next shot is fired. Carbon buildup in any barrel is one of the worst detractors to acceptable accuracy. 



Often overlooked is the priming compound used in rimfire cartridges. Not only does it have an abrasive component in it, but it is some of the most difficult fouling to remove from a rimfire barrel as a result of its pressure and heat.

It is thought the residuals from the primer, powder, and projectile-lubricant amalgamate at the cartridge seat where the chamber ends and the throat begins, causing a hard, restricting ring of material the bullet has to pass through when fired. In my experience with my match guns, I have had to carefully use a chamber reamer to remove this buildup where the bullet enters the barrel’s throat.



Thoroughly clean the rifle inside and out. This will reduce the variables that degrade function and accuracy. Disassemble the rifle per the owner’s manual, remove all of the firing residue and other foreign material. Lubricate all of the moving parts with a quality gun oil.



The barrel should receive special attention to remove all of the fouling down to the base metal. Start with soaking the bore with a name-brand solvent designed to remove carbon and lead. After brushing with a bore-fitting nylon or bronze brush, push a few clean patches through to remove the fouling. If there is evidence of fouling still present, Kroil or other brands of penetrating oil work well for loosening hardened buildup collected over time. In extreme cases, an abrasive such as J-B Non-embedding Bore Compound may have to be used. 



Once the barrel is clean and the rifle assembled and lubricated, select several brands of match ammunition of which you have a good supply. You will have to “season” the barrel with five to 10 shots on average to bring it to optimum accuracy. Shoot some groups and record the results. Then, clean the barrel back to base material again and repeat with the next brand of ammo.

In your record-keeping, you will see the rifle’s performance start to fall off in the accuracy department typically around 100 to 150 rounds. Each rifle has its own personality, so it could be more or less. Once accuracy starts dwindling, clean the barrel again as previously mentioned to bring it back to its optimum capabilities.

Check out cleaning supplies at Midsouth HERE

RELOADERS CORNER: Barrel Twist Rate

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Understanding the relationship between bullets and barrel twist helps prevent mistakes. Here’s what you need to know…

Glen Zediker

Sierra 90gr MatchKing

Why am I devoting this space this time to such a topic? Well, because it’s commonly asked about, and, no doubt, because it influences some of the decisions and options faced in choosing the best-performing load for our needs. Making a mistake in choosing twist can limit both the selection and performance in the range of usable bullet weights and styles.

First, barrel twist rate is a component in the architecture of the barrel lands and grooves. The lands and grooves form a spiral, a twist, that imparts spin to a bullet, and the rate of twist is expressed in terms of how far in inches a bullet travels to make one full rotation. “1-10” (one-in-ten) for example means “one full rotation for each ten inches of travel.”

Bullet length, not weight, determines how much rotation is necessary for stability. Twist rate suggestions, though, are most usually given with respect to bullet weight, but that’s more of a generality for convenience’s sake, I think. The reason is that with the introduction of higher-ballistic-coefficient bullet designs, which are longer than conventional forms, it is easily possible to have two same-weight bullets that won’t both stabilize from the same twist rate.

70gr VLD
Good example: 70-grain VLD (left) needs an 8; the Sierra 69-grain MatchKing next to it does fine with a 9. It’s bullet length that determines the needed twist, not just weight.

The M-16/AR15 barrel changes give a good example. Short history of mil-spec twist rates: Originally it was a 1-12, which was pretty standard for .224-caliber varminting-type rounds, like .222 Remington, which were near-universally running bullet weights either 52- or 55-grain. That worked with the 55-grain FMJ ammo issued then. Later came the SS109 63-grain round, with a bullet that was a bit much for a 1-12. The military solution was total overkill: 1-7. That’s a very fast twist.

Commercially, the 1-9 twist became the standard for .223 Remington for years. It’s still popular, but is being replaced, as far as I can tell, by the 1-8. An increasingly wider selection of barrels are done up in this twist rate. I approve.

1-8 twist.
Generally, well, always actually, I recommend erring toward the faster side of a barrel twist decision. 8 is becoming a “new standard” for .224 caliber, replacing 9 in the process. Reason is that new bullets tend to be bigger rather than smaller. Don’t let a too-slow twist limit your capacity to exploit the promise of better long-range performance.

I’d always rather have a twist too fast than not fast enough. For a .223 Rem. 1-9 is not fast enough for anything longer than a routine 68-70-grain “magazine bullet,” like a Sierra 69gr MatchKing. 1-8 will stabilize any of the newer heavier bullets intended for magazine-box cartridge overall lengths, like a Sierra 77gr MatchKing. An 8 twist will also shoot most of the longer, higher-BC profiles, like the Sierra 80gr MatchKing (which is not intended to be assembled into a round that’s loaded down into a magazine).

Other popular calibers have likewise edged toward faster and faster “standard” twist rates, and that includes 6mm and .308. Once those were commonly found as 1-10 and 1-12, respectively, but now there’s more 1-7s and 1-9s offered. Reason is predictable: longer and heavier bullets, and mostly longer, have likewise become more commonly used in chamberings like .308 Winchester and 6XC.

The tell-tale for an unstable (wobbling or tumbling) bullet is an oblong hole in the target paper, a “keyhole,” and that means the bullet contacted the target at some attitude other than nose-first.

Base your next barrel twist rate decision on the longest, heaviest bullets you choose to use, and at the same time realize that the rate chosen has limited those choices. If the longest, heaviest bullet you’ll shoot (ever) is a 55-grain .224, then there’s honestly no reason not to use a 1-12. Likewise true for .308-caliber: unless you’re going over 200-grain bullet weight, a 1-10 will perform perfectly well. A rate that is a good deal too fast to suit a particular bullet may cause damage to that bullet (core/jacket integrity issues), and I have seen that happen with very light .224 bullets, like 45-grain, fired through, say, a 1-7 twist. At the least, with that great a mismatch you might not get the velocity up where it could be.

.224 bullet extremes
Clearly, these don’t need the same barrel twist to attain stability: the bigger bullet needs double the twist rate that will fully stabilize the smaller one. There’s quite an extreme range of .224-caliber bullets, like this 35-grain varmint bullet and 90-grain match bullet. Now. Do not fire the little bullet in the big bullet’s barrel! It probably would not make it to the target… Swap barrels and bullets and the big one will likely hit sideways.

Bullet speed and barrel length have an influence on bullet stability, and a higher muzzle velocity through a longer tube will bring on more effect from the twist, but it’s a little too edgy if a particular bullet stabilizes only when running maximum velocity. My failed 90-grain .224 experiment is a good example of that: I could get them asleep in a 1-7 twist 25-inch barrel, which was chambered in .22 PPC, but could not get them stablized in a 20-inch 1-7 .223 Rem. The answer always is to get a twist that’s correct.

Effects on the load itself? Yes, a little at least. There is a tad amount more pressure from a faster-twist barrel using the same load, and the reason is initial bullet acceleration is slower.

The preceding was adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available here at Midsouth. For more information on this book, and others, plus articles and information for download, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

REVIEW: 5 Best Budget Bolt-Action Rifles

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Being on a tight budget doesn’t mean having to settle for poor performance in a bolt-action rifle. Here are 5 choices all under $400 that you really can’t go wrong with…

Ruger American
Ruger American

By Jeff Johnston, NRA Publications

I can’t say I really I love the current trend to build rifles as inexpensively as possible; I tend to like finer rifles with walnut or carbon-fiber reinforced stocks. But the trend is here, and it’s tough to put that cat back in the bag. Once Remington introduced its Model 710 and later its 770 that sold for around $300 in 2007, the floodgates opened. Now nearly every major manufacturer builds an economy gun to compete in this market rather than conceding it to the competition. The guns are cheap to the touch, hard on the eyes, and their actions aren’t always smooth. But, as much as I hate to like these guns, there is something amazing about them: They shoot. So, considering that a new smart phone that will last you two years or until it gets wet now costs $600, any one of these rifles should last generations — all for under 400 bucks. Here are five.

ONE: Of all the rifles in this roundup, Savage’s Axis might be the least likely to win a beauty contest. But if there’s one thing the company does well, it’s making homely rifles that shoot well. One reason for this was due to the company’s game-changing barrel nut system that allows the manufacturer to adjust the chamber for headspace (the tightness of the bullet as it sits in the chamber), something that adds to accuracy in an economically friendly way. Then its adjustable AccuTrigger revolutionized the rifle world as we know it. But then, feeling the market pressure from Remington’s new line of inexpensive rifles, Savage dropped its price even lower with its Axis line. It still features the barrel nut system and AccuTrigger, but it’s placed in a less expensive stock. Other than features that all rifles come with these days, like pre-drilled holes for a scope, a buttpad and sling swivels, it features a detachable magazine, a 22-inch barrel and 6.5 pounds of “great personality” that will punch three rounds into a group just over an inch — maybe better. It comes in eight popular calibers and the excellent 6.5 Creedmoor. I found it online for $368. savagearms.com

TWO: Ruger entered the inexpensive gun market with its American rifle line, which is very similar in design as the others with its injection-molded plastic stock that sports integrally molded bedding pillars. Its Predator model comes in varmint rounds, but also the 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win., so it can also be an excellent deer and do-it-all gun. It has a great adjustable trigger. Its rotary, flush-fitting magazine is a Ruger hallmark, but this rifle also comes with a couple features not seen on most rifles of this price class, including a threaded barrel for a suppressor and a Picatinny rail for easy scope mounting. I shot this rifle extensively out to 600 yards, and was amazed at what it can do, all for under $399. Ruger.com

THREE: Debuting in 2013, Remington’s 783 represents a vast upgrade over its bare-bones 710 and later 770 rifles. Compared to these, some might even say it looks good with its modernized lines. It has several features that are legit, including an upgraded metal magazine and latch (polymer magazines are one thing, but I can’t stand plastic latches), Savage-style barrel nut, an adjustable trigger and a pillar bedding system that free-floats its button-rifled barrel. One thing I don’t like is its small ejection port that makes clearing jams and feeding individual rounds into the chamber difficult. The design does, however, likely add to the action’s rigidity and therefore to its accuracy. While it’s not as smooth as a 700, the 783 is a great rifle for the money, especially considering it comes with a scope, albeit a cheap one, all for $399. remington.com

FOUR: Of all the rifles here, the Mossberg Patriot Kryptek Highlander pleases my eye the most, what with its Kryptek camo pattern, straight-line stock design and spiral-fluted bolt. But more important than its looks, the 7-pound rifle also shoots thanks to a 22-inch button-rifled barrel and adjustable trigger that goes all the way down to 2 pounds. A couple of little things give this gun a more expensive feel, like its barrel’s recessed crown that protects it from dings, and its knurled bolt handle that probably adds more class than grip for which it’s intended. All in all, this is a lot of rifle for the money. Choose an all-around caliber, and this could be the one rifle that you’re neither afraid to show off around the campfire, nor beat around in your truck. I found it online for $399. mossberg.com

FIVE: Thompson/Center (TC) entered the bolt-action business about a decade ago, and now it’s delving into the economy rifle game with its Compass model. In my experience, TC rifles shoot great thanks to their quality barrels and proprietary 5R rifling. Like the other guns here, the Compass depends on a molded plastic stock to cut much of its cost — so don’t expect any Kevlar or hardwood. I like this rifle’s three-position safety, tactical-looking bolt handle, excellent TC action and its 22-inch barrel that’s threaded for a silencer. Like its competition, it has an adjustable trigger, and I wouldn’t buy a rifle today without one. I can overlook its plastic magazine knowing that this is a wonderful rifle for an incredible price. $399 tcarms.com

SKILLS: How To Make Sure You’re Seeing Through a Scope

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Ever been frustrated by “black clouds” when you’re trying to look through a scope? Here are a few thoughts on preventing that…

Source: Barbara Baird for NRA Family

Scope setup

First, remember that your eye is the rear sight. You have to place it in the same place with regard to the rest of the gun every time to avoid a parallax error when using the scope. So…what is parallax?

Parallax is an apparent displacement against a background, or a difference in orientation of an object, when the object is viewed along two different lines of sight. Parallax is measured by the angle or semi-angle of inclination between those two lines. In a riflescope, parallax is an optical illusion. Parallax occurs when the “primary image” of the object is formed either in front of, or behind the reticle (crosshair) of the scope. When you move your eye from its proper alignment with the scope, the resulting parallax moves the image in relation to the crosshair, causing your aim to be off.

Think of it this way. You’re sitting in the passenger seat of the car and you look over at the speedometer. It will read differently to you than to the driver, and that is because you’re not lined up with the steering wheel and gauge in front of it, so you’re not getting the true reading.

Every scope has a quality called “eye relief.” That’s the distance behind the eyepiece lens that your eye should be placed to be able to see through the scope effectively. You have to place the cheek of your shooting eye against the stock; move your head forward and backward along the stock-always with your cheek against the stock-until you get the best view through the scope.

The best view is when sight picture in the eyepiece lens fills the entire lens. As you move your head forward from the best viewpoint, the picture collapses, and when you move your head back from the best viewpoint, the picture starts to get smaller and then goes black. If it’s possible, it’s very important to position the scope itself so you attain correct eye relief using the head position you are most comfortable with. Do that by moving the scope mount or the scope within the mount forward or back. Whether this can be done depends on the mounting system.

If it’s not possible to choose a new scope mounting position, find the right spot to allow full view through the scope, as described. Either way, then practice getting the same “cheek weld” (the position and pressure of your cheek against the stock) every time you shoulder your rifle and you will be one step further in taking a good, clean shot.

Addition from Midsouth Editor Glen Zediker:
One of the reasons I usually test from position (prone) rather than from a benchtop when I’m wringing out a competition-use load has a lot to do with scope positioning. Two things: if there’s already a scope mounted, I don’t want to change its position, and, if there’s not, the difference in my shooting position prone and from a chair could well influence my on-target impact results. Almost always, the scope needs to be scooted farther back firing from sandbags and farther forward for prone or offhand. I offer this as a caution to those who might take a new rifle with a new scope to the range and get it sighted in from a rest, and then get out into the field with it and find out they’re having to pull their head back to see through the scope properly.

scope rail
Zediker note: A setup like this eliminates positioning issues. I’m a big believer in a lot of fore and aft flexibility to get the correct eye relief and still maintain a natural and comfortable shooting position. And, yes, I “crawl” the stock that much prone…

4 Things You Need to Know When Picking a Kid’s First Rifle

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It’s true: there’s one chance to make a good first impression. Choosing your child’s first rifle wisely goes a long way toward ensuring their lifelong interest.

by Drema Mann, NRA Family

Frist rifle

Have your kids ever asked to hunt or shoot with you? If so, you’re like a lot of other folks, and might be wondering where to start. To really feel involved, kids need their own gear — everything from hearing and eye protection to their own rifle. Choosing safety gear is straightforward enough, but when it comes to the rifle, you’ll want to make the best choice to ensure their success and enjoyment.

One: Size it Correctly
The rifle should not be too big or heavy, and the key to that is to make sure to involve your child in the selection process. Many parents purchase a rifle as a birthday present, and that is a wonderful idea. Years down the road it will be a special heirloom. But remember that predicting the arm length of a seven or eight year old is pretty difficult to do, and when the time comes, that rifle might not fit.

When my daughter, Montana, was about seven, she decided she would like to try her hand at shooting. We quickly found most youth guns were too long, and too heavy for her. Her first shots had to be taken from the bench, which was fine, but soon she wanted to shoot standing up like an adult. It took some searching before we found the right rifle. I suggest you visit a well-stocked gun store with your child to try rifles on for size. Much like their jeans, the gun must fit the child, or you could have a problem on your hands.

Two: Get a Good Trigger
Trigger pull weight is crucial too. A good starting point is to try a trigger with about half the pull weight of the gun. Take into consideration the size of the child, and remember, what works for one 10-year-old might not work for another. Some youth rifles have heavy, gritty triggers, and will only lead to frustration for you and your child. Avoid them. A crisp trigger with a light-to-moderate pull weight simplifies the complexities of learning to shoot.

Three: Match Their Personality
Probably the most important part to Montana was that the gun fit her personality. It was by no means one of the most important things to her daddy or me. No flat black or green camo for this girly-girl. She chose, you guessed it, a pink rifle. Maybe she gets that spark of personality from me but, for whatever reason, pink fits her perfectly.

Four: Invest Some Money
And finally, don’t be afraid to invest some money into this new-found interest. The Xbox you bought your child for their birthday cost just as much as a good rifle. The rifle will probably last longer and mean more in the end than any electronic gadget that could be obsolete in a month or two. If the gun doesn’t fit and they don’t like it, they won’t stay interested for long. Involve your child in choosing their rifle. Use it as an excuse to spend some quality time together, and you just might have a hunting and shooting buddy for a long time to come.

For Montana’s first rifle we settled on a Pink Platinum Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22. It weighs only 5.5 pounds and the stock has 1.25 inches of adjustability. She’s proud of her pink first rifle and proud to hunt and shoot. She’s since graduated to bigger guns, but still treasures her first rifle. On crisp fall mornings, you can now find her in the woods with her daddy or me. I can only hope I’m the one lucky enough to be in the stand with her when she takes her first West Virginia whitetail!

Step-By-Step Del-Ton AR-15 Kit Build Video

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By Ultimate Reloader:

Gavin at Ultimate Reloader shows you how easy it is to build an AR-15

Are you like me? Do you have a few spare AR-15 stripped lower receivers laying around that need rifles built from them? Now is a *great* time to build an AR-15 because component prices are low, and kits/parts are in stock! For years I’ve been wondering about Del-Ton kits, and I’d like to share with you my experiences building out an AR-15 rifle from one of Del-Ton’s kits!

Here’s a complete walk-through of my rifle build, complete with a quick range trip: (condensed build steps are just 7 minutes long!)

For a more in-depth look at the article, plus more of Gavin’s review, Click Here, and visit the Ultimate Reloader site!

Here are the complete specifications for this rifle: Del-Ton RKT100 from Midsouth Shooters Supply

For a look at the complete AR Build page at Midsouth Shooters Supply, Click Here!

I’m really liking this rifle, but I do have some upgrades planned, so stay tuned! Have you built a Del-Ton AR-15 rifle kit? I’d love to hear your experiences!

Thanks,
Gavin