Category Archives: Rifles

RELOADERS CORNER: The Value of Accuracy

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Can you take a focus on accuracy too far, or never far enough? Here are some thoughts on why better accuracy (really) matters…

Glen Zediker

dial indicator

Anyone who has ever read one of my books knows the extent of tickiness that can be involved in handloading. Competitive shooters also tend to get pretty wrapped up and sometimes entrenched hopelessly in technical rifle details. All these things we do are done in the hope of better accuracy: smaller shot groups.

Why bother with tickiness? Well, the answer (always) depends on the level of tickiness afoot and on the level of reward we get from it. No other answer makes any sense.

Accuracy always matters. If you do something different or new in the handloading process and see better shot groups, that no doubt was worth it. Ultimately, it was worth it. It might have been upgrading tools, experimenting with components, one or more case prep steps you hadn’t tried before. It’s still always a payback over the expense, time, and effort. But. It’s another level, attaining another level. It’s stepped up. I’ve compared all this to other endeavors where attaining that new level forever eclipses the old. But then there’s also the time and the effort. When I load ammunition, I consider its purpose. I do not turn case necks for ammo that’s going through my old SP1 on a Sunday afternoon of tin can hunting with my sons. For that, I’m interested in volume and function: the best way to load a lot of .223 Rem. with bulk-packed bullets and ball gunpowder, and with the fewest number of steps. We need a lot of ammo because we have eradicated entire species of discarded objects.

But, let’s for the rest of this assume that the sole purpose is the smallest group sizes we can get, day in and day out. That’s easier to talk about and make sense of, because, no doubt, there are factors that influence it, and I do know what they are.

I’ve always judged accuracy by group size. No shock. Most people do it thataway. I’m also way on more concerned with the worst group my combination shows me than I am the best group. Not everyone views that the same. When it gets down to it, though, I want to know what the worst shot I can anticipate might be because that information is very valuable in adjusting for the next shot. Now I’m talking about shooting for score in a tournament.

I picture a circle that outlines the group size I warrant for my rifle/ammo combination. For my own purpose of clarity, I call it “the accuracy cone.” This circle gets bigger the farther I’m shooting. Shots outside that circle need correction, shots inside that probably don’t. Yes, no, I don’t always launch a perfect shot. So honesty matters, objective evaluation of the shot break.

Group ilustration
You are always shooting a group! You might be aiming at one point but you’re shooting a group. The aiming point is really the center of the group. That’s a “zero,” by the way, or that’s how to zero, but this is straying beyond the levee here. This drawing is a representation of the importance of smaller group sizes. One of the biggest helps that great accuracy provides is that it’s clear when there’s need for sight correction, and when there isn’t. The smaller circle the ammo covers on a target face, the more defining sight corrections can be. If that’s not clear: A perfect shot break on a correct sight setting at 600 yards from a 1 MOA combination means that a shot 3 inches left, right, up, or down away from target center is still a “perfect” shot, even though the perforation point was imperfect. With a 1/4 MOA combination, we’re defining “perfect” with more certainty, because “imperfect” is anything outside 1 inch of target center. Follow? This isn’t just theory.

Mathematically-oriented people may tell you (and I understand this) that testing with 3-round groups provides accurate feedback of a round’s performance. It has to do with probabilities and such. However! I believe too much in luck, or as Buddy Dave calls it, “The Bullet Fairy.” Math-folk will further tell you that the more rounds fired the bigger the shot groupings will become. I’ve seen many instances where that wasn’t true, where the first two or three rounds defined the outer edge of what ultimately became a 10-shot group. I can’t argue with math, but I can argue with myself to the point that I want to see more rounds, and more groups, before I cook up a big batch of a component combination and call it good, or call it “match ammo.”

If you are a competitive shooter, better accuracy helps you get all the points you hold for. We can’t, any of us, ask for more than that. If you are a varmint hunter, it means a close miss may become a hit. The smaller the target the more it matters, or the smaller the goal area on a target is. Aim small, miss small. So let’s miss smaller… Examples can continue, and they might involve a trophy elk in New Mexico, or something even more important to stop in its tracks. It’s doesn’t really matter if the target is 10 feet away, or 10 yards, or 1000 yards, a more accurate firearm is a more effective tool. You can’t miss! Or you sure don’t want to.

accuracy cone
This equals that. Accuracy, on-target group size, is a “cone” that gets wider, expands across distance. A 1/2-inch 100 yard gun is not a 5-inch 1000 yard gun. It shoots bigger than that. However! A solid load-test group like this one David Tubb fired at 288 yards held up on down the pike at 1000. Tip: velocity consistency is a key to keeping a group together at extended distances.

LAST WORD
The value of accuracy is undeniable, but the value of time and effort and expense does indeed have a limit. No, I don’t do “everything” possible to my ammo to make it perfect. I have found a few things that really help, things that are reasonably (by my standards) good paybacks. Another tip: Get a good barrel! Honestly: that gets the most from whatever you do, or don’t do, to help the cause.

This article is adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information on that and other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

ATF Goes Through Major NFA Branch Reorganization

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BATFE organizational changes might mean greater processing efficiency and shorter wait time. Here’s the scoop…

Source: Recoilweb.com

If you own or have been thinking about owning an NFA item like a short-barreled rifle (SBR) or silencer, no doubt you know that processing times have been going up. The reason is ATF Rule 41F, which became active in July of 2016. The increase of required paperwork under the new rules combined with the front-loading of many submissions by those attempting to make it before the deadline have led to a larger workload for the NFA Branch. It hasn’t helped the silencer industry either.

SBR

But on April 3, 2017, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) made some major changes that amounted to a complete reorganization of the National Firearms Act (NFA) Branch.

In an attempt to better provide oversight, cut down wait times, and increase efficiency, two distinct new branches have been formed: The Industry Processing Branch (NFA IPB) and the Government Support Branch (NFA GSB).

The NFA IPB is responsible for industry forms processing and working towards refining current operations.

The duties of the NFA GSB include processing SOT applications, government transfers, exemptions, and expediting LEO/Gov requests.

Furthermore, a new NFA Division Staff Program Office has been formed to manage publications, FOIA requests, respond to data calls, and oversee the vetting of statistical data.

suppressor

These new changes just might mean greatly reduced wait times — keep your fingers crossed!

REVIEW: Savage Arms BA10 Stealth 6.5 Creedmoor

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If you’re in need of an out-of-the-box long-range tack driver, and don’t want to pay thousands, this Savage proved a great choice in this test. Read more…

by Patrick E. Kelley

Savage Stealth BA10

The Savage Arms BA10 “Stealth” is anything but stealthy! This rifle shows up “in your face” ready to put bullets in little groups up close, or where the real test is — way out there!

CUTTING TO THE CHASE…
Lets start at about “half way” to way out there. This AICS (Accuracy International Chassis System) compatible box magazine-fed turn-bolt is accurate! While many may claim half-minute accuracy, this stick actually is that precise, and it can do it right out of the box. Take a look…

Savage Stealth 450 yard groups

Now I would love to take credit for those groups, but knowing my longer-range skill set was less than what I expected the rifle could shoot, I enlisted the help of my shooting buddy Bill. As an F-Class competitor, he knows his way around long range shooting. It took a few shots to get him settled in behind this rather lightweight (9.2 pounds) long range bullet placement tool, but settle in he did. Yes, I included ALL 5 groups! We got to take the good with the bad, but I would ask you to really look at those groups…this rifle wants to shoot 1/2 MOA or better! Thanks Bill!

benchrest setup
This was Bill’s set up. A good shooting rest setup is very important to good groups.

SET-UP
With the Savage carrying a MSRP of $1207 I thought it would be a good idea to marry this rifle up with a comparable scope. I chose one that, like the Stealth itself, has value well beyond its modest price: the Burris XTRII 5×25. I tell people, “Don’t buy cheap scopes!” Buy good glass and then put them in the best mounts. You will break a scope someday, but a good mount will last though several scopes! The scope base is part of the Savage BA10 package and is made by the good guys at EGW, and the scope rings I supplied are 34mm units from Xtreme Hardcore Gear. “On right stays tight” — use a proper inch-pound torque wrench!

Savage Stealth, Burris scope

HITS
This bolt gun’s “chassis system” is made by MTD and is a solid, well-made unit. I popped the barreled action out of the stock before the first rounds went downrange and looked it over. It is very nice and beautifully machined. I mentioned using an inch-pound torque wrench for scope mounting, well it is a good practice to use one when installing the barreled action back into the chassis. I did 60 inch-pounds.

Savage Accutrigger
Savage has really put their AccuTrigger front and center as a high quality unit and this one did not disappoint! It broke clean and crisp at a factory-set 22 ounces! In keeping with the “practical/tactical” nature of this bolt gun you’ll find an appropriately over-sized bolt handle, a comfortable Hogue pistol grip from which to trip that excellent trigger, and quick access to the magazine release latch. The excellent ergos on this rifle were no accident.
AICS magazines
Above are the 3 magazines I tested…all worked perfectly. The tall one on the left came with the gun as is an MDT 10-rounder. The other two are 5-round mags from MagPul, and are AICS compatible.
threaded muzzle cap
The muzzle is threaded 5/8x24tpi and finished with an 11-degree target crown and thread protector: a handy addition to accommodate a suppressor or muzzle brake.

I could not just watch my friend Bill shoot so after he completed his session with the Hornady factory ammunition at 450 yards I tried my hand at 300 yards with some Federal American Eagle 140 grain OTM (Open Top Match). Even with me behind the incredibly nice 22-ounce Savage AccuTrigger, sub-minute of angle groups were the norm. Norm…that is not normal! Sub-MOA groups from a factory-fresh rifle without any tuning or tweaking or even barrel break-in with off-the-shelf factory ammo! I think I am going to like this long-range game! Thanks Savage!

300 yard groups

MISSES
We covered most of this, but let me point out a nit-pick or two. You knew I would have at least one… The EGW scope rail appears to be a “flat” rail, not a 20 or 30 MOA rail that is common in long-range circles. If you have enough elevation adjustment within your optic you might be okay, but give me a 20 MOA base any day.

Then there’s the buttstock… I don’t like it. It is okay for an AR but this one lacks two elements that I want (need): first, the cheek rest sits too far back to get proper eye relief, and second, for use with a rear bag the bottom of the buttstock ought to be flat. Small nits to pick, and both are easily remedied through the aftermarket.

LAST WORD
The BA10 Stealth has proven itself to be accurate and reliable with a trigger that has me wishing every rifle I own were so equipped! It does this “right out of the box” and it does it within the wallet of a “working man.” Ultimately, Savage Arms has assembled an excellent long-range tool that in capable hands shouldn’t have any problem running right along side guns with price tags several times the Stealth price. Stealthy?…not a chance. This one screams “I am a winner!”

Savage Stealth Specifications
So as to not leave anything out, Savage literature states: Factory Blue Printed Savage Action, Monolithic Aluminum Chassis Machined from Solid Billet, M-LOK forend, One-Piece EGW Scope Rail, Fab Defense GLR-SHOCK Six-Position Buttstock with Adjustable Cheek Piece, 5/8×24 Threaded Muzzle with Protector. Nice!

Click here for MORE information on the Savage Stealth series

About the author: Patrick E. Kelley is a competition shooter, instructor, gunwriter, photographer, and videographer. After four years as a featured competitor on 3-Gun Nation he was hired as the Expert Analyst and commentator for the show. He started to compete actively in 3-Gun in 1999, placing Top Tyro in his first championship, the Soldier of Fortune 3 gun match. Patrick has earned numerous first-place finishes at major matches in 12 U.S. states and Canadian provinces. He has mastered several shooting disciplines, from NRA Bullseye and Metallic Silhouette to the world of Practical Shooting. Patrick is also a member of the NRA 2600 Club and was ranked in the USPSA’s top twenty early in his shooting career. Patrick’s articles on shooting and firearms, as well as his photography, can be found within the pages of Shooting Illustrated, Outdoor Life, and 3 Gun Nation Magazine. His YouTube channel includes instructional and exhibition shooting videos, including the series “Patrick’s Tac Tricks” produced in concert with the NRA. Check one out HERE

 

RELOADERS CORNER: Common Problems

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As careful as we want to be, loading-bench mistakes are just about certain at some point. Here are 3 thoughts to help you avoid them, and also some ways to put a mistake behind you.

Glen Zediker

Standard Bullet Puller
Forster Standard Bullet Puller

This isn’t going to be a “troubleshooting” guide of epic proportions because following along with the suggested ops and processes, using the suggested tooling, there’s not a lot that can go worng. But sometimes even when everything is right, things can go awry. We all make mistakes. There may be a few confounding eventualities that will arise.

No case lube
You might forget or overlook putting lube on a case. Well. Lube each case, each time. Lube a case over each time it’s run through. Don’t think it hangs on. A stuck case remover is tool you don’t want to meet, and here’s to hoping you never see one. However, go ahead and buy one because it’s less embarrassing than borrowing one. Ha.

stuck case remover
Here’s to hoping you never see one of these… It’s a stuck case remover, and this is from Hornady. Folks, there’s a drill bit involved… Lube your cases!

“Ooopsie” on the propellant charge
Don’t do that. Check two or three times before calling a meter “set.” This was gone over thoroughly in another article. And read the load two or three times, and check your scale setting at least that many times as well. A mistake like that can be disastrous. Too little propellant can likewise create huge problems. Pay special attention to propellant supply level when using a meter, and even more attention when using a progressive press. Fortunately, loading most of the propellants wisely suitable for .223, .308, or most other popular rifle cartridges, it’s easy to notice a short charge. The propellant is, or should be, easily visible within the case neck. It’s a real issue with pistol loading: some of those propellants don’t reach halfway up the inside case walls.

bullet puller
There are different forms bullet-pullers take, and I prefer the slower but somewhat more “gentle” and likewise more secure collet-types. This is a Forster “Universal.” Bullet pullers grip the bullet in the jaws of a collet, which is tightened using a handle or nut, and then withdraw the case, dislodge the bullet. Simple. I do not like the “kinetic” pullers, which are essentially hammers that rely on intertia to dislodge a bullet after beating it a few times. They’re effective but daggone obnoxious in operation.

Triple-checking settings and notes
Same advice goes for indexing to any recorded setting. Powder meters, bullet seaters, anything. Just give it two sober checks before proceeding to shuck away. I’ve put the wrong setting on a bullet seater a few times… I learn all this the hard way, I freely admit, and here’s to hoping you can learn from me.

The wrong load
So what do you do if you realize there’s been a mistake made in a batch of ammunition? Of course, it depends on the mistake and what it might mean. If it’s not over-pressure, it’s probably best to just go ahead and shoot it up and reuse the cases. If it’s a bullet seated too deeply, same advice.

As long as safety is not a question, just shoot it. But there are times that’s not wisely possible.

Breaking down a loaded round requires removing the bullet. Of course, there are tools. Bullet pullers are tedious, as you might imagine. They also purport to allow for the reuse of bullets, but I sho don’t take that seriously. Removing a bullet, having already been seated, and then reseating it, there’s bound to be some compromise somewhere, or more, in the bullet integrity, accuracy at the least. The grip of the puller isn’t going to be benignly harmless either.

Before you pull a bullet, set it a little deeper. Makes this op on easier. Adjust the seating die down another five or ten thousandths. That breaks the “seal.”

Pay attention to what you are doing! For every moment you spend doing it. And write down what you did…

Check out choices at Midsouth HERE and HERE (bullet pullers and stuck case removers, and don’t forget to check HERE to avoid the last one)

ONE LAST…

sooty case neck
Soot means there wasn’t complete sealing there in firing. Don’t worry about the little ding you see here either. Just shoot it again.

Sooty cases. You might see sooty case necks and shoulders. That’s common, and that’s not really a problem. The reason is pressure, lack of it, that has then meant the case areas did not fully (fully) expand. Sometimes this is unavoidable. Just clean it off and use the case again. A little more: because it is necessary to create gaps between cartridge case and chamber wall, some leakage is just about a given. Excessive leakage, again, usually just means the load is a little on the lighter side. The combination of case and chamber also might mean it’s uavoidable. Thinner case neck walls (which means a little smaller net case neck outside diameter) in a more generous chamber might mean there won’t be idealized conformation to the chamber neck area. I see this often on case necks that have been full-circumference outside turned.

This article is adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth HERE. For more information on that and other books by Glen, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

SKILLS: Shooting Range Etiquette 101

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Don’t be “that guy” who threatens others enjoyment and safety at the shooting range. Here are 7 “always” and “nevers” to fit in like a seasoned pro. Keep reading…

Adapted courtesy Team Springfield Blog

Team Springfield

So you just bought your first pistol and cannot wait to get some rounds downrange? Congratulations and welcome to the exciting, wonderful world of firearms and shooting! If you’re like most of us, though, you probably don’t have your own private land to shoot on, which means you will be heading to a range on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of stories out there about poor shooting-range conduct. When range rules get broken, it’s usually because of the lack of education and the lack of practice of proper techniques.

So we’re here to help you avoid being “that person” — the unsafe and disruptive shooter.

Being a conscientious firearm owner comes with many responsibilities, safety being the main priority, of course. And understanding range etiquette is an integral part of firearm safety.

Following and practicing good range etiquette, whether at an indoor or outdoor range, is always the way to go. It only takes one bad apple to reflect poorly on us all. Here are a few simple rules and courtesies to keep in mind when you hit the gun range.

ONE: FUNDAMENTAL SAFETY — FIRST AND ALWAYS
While this may seem obvious, it’s vital to learn and always practice firearm safety. Sometimes even experienced shooters get too comfortable in their routines and become lax with gun safety. This is never acceptable. You should always be a good student and ambassador of the universal firearm safety rules. And always, always be aware of the moment.

Treat all firearms as if loaded.

Never point a gun at something you are not willing to destroy.

Know your target and what’s beyond it.

Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on target.

TWO: FOLLOW RANGE RULES
This goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway — follow the rules of the shooting range you’re on. Shooting ranges all operate on fairly similar rules, but each individual range will most likely have one or more unique rules. If you have a specific question, call the range before heading over. This could save you some time and grief. If you’re wanting to shoot your new AR-15, for instance, some indoor ranges may not allow rifles. Most ranges have specific rules about ammunition also, and don’t allow steel-core (armor piercing) ammo.

THREE: LISTEN TO THE RANGE SAFETY OFFICER (RSO)
Range safety officers are present for everyone’s safety. Unfortunately, they sometimes get a bad rap for yelling (remember, we all have ear protection on) or being mean. Trust us — they have a hard, risk-filled job full of responsibility — a job most people would probably not want. Help make their job easier! If you follow firearm safety rules, practice good range etiquette, and are always listening for and following the RSO’s commands, you should never get singled out or yelled at by the “mean” RSO.

FOUR: SLOW AND EASY
If you are a beginning shooter, you are undoubtedly experiencing a lot of new rules, terminology, techniques and procedures. Simply put: it can be overwhelming.

Slow down! Take the extra time to think about what you are doing — everything you are doing at all times. Think about where the muzzle is pointed, think about where your trigger finger is, the status of your firearm, and your neighbors on the range.

FIVE: LOADING AND UNLOADING
When you are on a shooting line, there are going to be other shooters next to you. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that the muzzle never points to the right or left of you.

Take extra care when loading and unloading your firearm, making certain to keep the muzzle pointed downrange. If you need more leverage to manipulate the slide, turn your body sideways (instead of turing the gun sideways). This enables you to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

CEASE FIRES
During a “cease fire” RSOs require you to unload your gun and lock the slide/cylinder open and then ask you to step behind a visible line on the ground while shooters go downrange to tape and set targets. Firearms are not allowed to be handled during a cease fire. Once unloaded, leave the firearms alone and grab everything you need from the firing line before backing across the line (phone, water bottle, etc.). Cease fires are a good time to chat with the shooter next to you, hydrate, send a text or check some emails. Just do all of this behind the cease fire line!

SIX: DON’T BACKSEAT SHOOT
How many people are fans of backseat drivers? Probably not many. The same goes for the gun range. Unless someone asks, it’s courteous to keep the technique corrections and tips to your own lane, even if the person next you isn’t using the stance you would.

However, if someone is doing something dangerous, it needs to be addressed immediately. Report the incident to the RSO, or, if you are comfortable doing so, deal with it directly.

SEVEN: ONE LAST THING…
Make sure to clean up after yourself when you’re done shooting. Any brass, ammo boxes or miscellaneous trash should be picked up. It might seem like a small ordeal, but leaving your mess for someone else to clean up is frustrating for the next person and leaves a less-than-stellar impression. And make sure you wait for a cease fire before venturing forward.

REVIEW: Burris AR-332 AR15 Optic

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Looking for a durable, practical, effective AR15 optic useable over any realistic range? And one that’s not going to break the bank? Read about this Burris…

Burris AR-332

by Major Pandemic

According to the US Army Laboratory Command (Small Arms Technology Assessment: Individual Infantryman’s Weapon, Volume I, March 1990, to be specific), 98% of all targets across all terrain are engaged at less than 600 meters, 90% at less than 400 meters, and in urban terrain 90% at less than 50 meters. With this in mind we need the ability to be able to reach out to targets beyond the 15-25 yard lines but it is unlikely we will ever shoot out beyond 600 meters in a defensive or even hunting situation.

Adding even a marginally magnified optic enables more precision, faster target acquisition, and will deliver all you need to place hits quickly even way out there when yards adds up. More than a few serviceman and Designated Marksman know that the 4X Trijicon ACOG very positively transformed hit ratios within all ranges of combat engagement out to the 600 yard line; however, it also comes with a steep $1400 price tag. Burris to the rescue with a great $350 option.

BURRIS AR-332 3X PRISMATIC OPTIC
Burris is well known for building rugged, bulletproof optics. The AR-332 is a mil-spec brute of an optic which has stayed compact with a prismatic design. The design is a really nice crossover optic for CQB and scout rifle distances in a durable fixed power optic. Essentially the AR-332 is an ACOG but for 60% less money plus it includes a dual red/green illuminated BDC reticle. According to Burris, with the explosion of AR15 sales, they have been selling truckloads of these along with their 5X model.

FIT, FEEL, FINISH & FEATURES
Like all Burris optics, the AR-332 is excellent quality from the fog- and weather-proof construction through the very clear optics. At first I was wondering what I had committed to with the AR-332, however after a couple range visits I am sold on the design. The “donut” reticle definitely grows on you and in my experience is way faster up close and allows more precision than a more conventional duplex reticle at varied distances.

Burris AR-332
Picatinny rails allow piggybacking additional sights, lasers or lights. The AR-332 is backed by the Burris Forever Warranty.

There are a significant amount of refinements and extras on this scope. The Burris AR-332 comes ready to mount right out of the box with a picatinny base included ($50-$100 extra on other scopes here), scope caps that flip open all the way out of field of view, and wire retained windage/elevation caps. If you have an A2 AR15 with a carry handle, the AR-332 will work right out of the box after your unscrew the included picatinny base. On top of those features, the AR-332 is a very clear optic with an etched reticle visible as a black reticle after the illumination is turned off. The runtime is expected into the months range, but even when the standard CR2032 battery is dead you still have 100% of the reticle to work with.

Burris AR-332
The rotary, 10-position power selector allows quick changes from red to green powered reticle, or a black reticle when power is off. 5 red and 5 green power levels suit differing lighting conditions. A CR2032 battery powers the reticle.

FUNCTIONS
The illuminated reticle works and is brilliantly bright that can be seen in direct sunlight. The donut reticle is very fast on target even at distances under 25 yards or even at 2 yards. Dedicated points from 100-500 yards can make this a bit more precise than optics with just a single duplex style reticle or wider dispersed hash marks when the yards add up. Burris also includes picatinny accessory rails around the optic to bolt on things like lights or lasers. The circle hold marks for 200+ yards work great and allows small distant targets to be centered quickly.

AR-332 reticle
The reticle design provides a great combination of shorter-range speed and longer-range precision.

The eye relief needs to be more forgiving as it does not have a wide workable range compared to others. Plan on mounting the AR-332 at or very near the rearmost position. My stock position is always one detent in; however, longer-armed shooters may have to dispense with a rear back-up iron sight to mount the AR-332 in a proper position.

Burris needs to add a super-low illumination setting as even at the lowest option is still just a bit too glary when the lights go out. The reticle is still perfect for CQB ranges at night using the CQB Optic but a little annoying for shooting night dwelling critters in the pitch black.

With a variety of Hornady and Winchester 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington rounds, the Burris delivered all shots on 12-inch steel plates all the way out to 500 yards;, however point of impact did vary with each round. As with all BDC reticles, the aiming points will get you within a few inches; however, each round’s ballistics is different.

Burris AR-332
The author found the Burris AR-332 to be an outstanding performer, and at more than $1000 lower cost than the similarly-designed AGOG Trijicon, the AR-332 represents a tremendous value. The Burris is capable, durable, and rugged.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Designed for a 100-yard zero with BDC index points for 100-500 yards. This is a fixed power optic that is actually exceptionally good at CQB work thanks to that glowing donut. The Burris AR-332 is a great all-purpose optic for an AR15 owner to extend the range to allow confident placement out to 500 yards. That big glowing dot provides a great aiming point even at room-clearing distances. The more I use this optic the more I like it as a combat defensive scout optic covering the US Small Arms study ranges.

AN OBSERVATION: We all get older and usually with that comes deteriorating eyesight. I have been incredibly lucky that I still have fairly clear 20/20 vision, however I am starting to do that trombone move to focus in on the small print up close. The point is that magnification and sighting aids help aging eyes. A few of my buddies clearly need magnification and this is where even just a little 3X magnification can make all the difference between making a shot and being frustrated. If you are older, I recommend taking a serious look at what these low-power optics can provide you on your AR platform.

CQB OPTIC TIP: For optics with illuminated reticles, a tip to use them in a CQB environment is to close the front scope cover and shoot with both eyes open like you would with a red dot. With the scope objective cover in place, the eyes and brain will conspire to make the illuminated reticle appear as an 1X lit reticle regardless of the magnification, even if it is a 32X scope.

Burris AR-332

Check it out at Midsouth HERE

Factory Link: HERE

Major Pandemic is an editor-at-large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival-related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly.  www.MajorPandemic.comMajor Pandemic

 

Ultimate Reloader: .25-45 Sharps AR-15 Part 6: LEE .25-45 Sharps Dies Overview

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By Gavin Gear, Ultimate Reloader

lee .25-45 sharps dies

One of the challenges with picking up a “new” cartridge to reload is finding the right dies at the right price. .25-45 Sharps is becoming more popular with AR-15 shooter and reloaders, and the industry is responding with new products that give reloaders more options. One such example is the new .25-45 Sharps dies from LEE. This “Pacesetter” die set includes a full-length sizer/de-primer, a dead-length bullet seater, and a Factory Crimp Die- everything you need to form .25-45 Sharps brass and reload .25-45 Sharps ammunition for your AR-15. These dies are “Very Limited Production” – but I’ll note that Midsouth Shooters Supply has these dies for ~$35. and they are in stock as of today! That’s about 1/2 what other .25-45 Sharps die sets cost!

If you are curious about LEE rifle dies, I posted an in-depth write-up that covers pretty much every detail you can think of. I also posted the following in-depth write-up that covers .25-45 Sharps precision reloading from start to finish, a great resource if you are going to use these LEE dies to load .25-45 Sharps:

.25-45 Sharps AR-15 Part 5: Precision Loads with the MEC Marksman

As noted in that article, I found once again when testing the LEE dies how critical it is to chamfer case mouths after forming brass as pictured here:

time to chamfer and debur!

The cartridges I loaded with the LEE dies turned out great, and of course I tested my sizing/forming die setup with my L.E. Wilson case gage to make sure dimensions were correct.

time to break out the l.e. wilson gauges

I can’t wait to shoot some of the ammunition loaded with these LEE Pacesetter .25-45 Sharps dies- I’ll keep you all posted with how they work out!

Thanks,
Gavin

Reloaders Corner: AR15 Gas System Enhancements, Part 1

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AR15s can have problems “over-functioning.” There are two essential ways to make your AR15 behave better! Here’s the first…

Glen Zediker

Right. I know this column is about handloading and reloading, so why am I spending space talking about gas system function? Well, it’s ammunition-related, or, at the least it is influenced by ammunition, and therefore also influences ammunition choices.

First, an AR15 gas system “over-functions” when it fills up too quickly and with too much burned propellant gas. The AR15 uses a “direct impingement” gas system, sometimes called an impulse system, and that means there’s a port hole in the barrel that lets gas out and through a gas tube, and this gas goes directly into the bolt carrier key and sends the whole works backwards. There’s no piston (although piston systems exist that can be fitted to these firearms) or other regulating device beyond gas port hole location and size.

AR15 bolt carriers
An M-16-profile carrier (back photo) weighs about 1 ounce more. Big big difference in slowing down initial movement. Get the right firing pin! If it’s a full-diameter carrier it will have a shrouded firing pin recess and takes a “large-collar” pin for correct operation.

The effect or upshot of over-function is overly quick bolt unlocking. The symptoms include extraction problems, damaged case rims (related), overly-blown cartridge case shoulders, excessive case head expansion, and, generally, accelerated wear on the action hisseff. As with many things, the severity of the excess function likewise increases excess in its manifestations.

What happens is that the case is swelled up under pressure inside the chamber, as it should be, but then it’s still swelled up when the bolt opens and the extractor takes a yank on the case rim to get it out of the chamber.

With respect to handloading ammunition, keeping the bolt in battery a tick longer makes a world of difference in spent case condition. The case has a tick more time to return to closer to normal dimensions and shrink away from the chamber walls. And time is, again, what this is really about. The case will be less stressed and dimensionally nearer original specs, and that means there’s “less” sizing done for next use, in effect. Case life improves and also does longer-term quality for reuse.

So. If we can delay bolt unlocking we’re seriously on to something. The simplest way to slow something down is make it heavier. Heavier things don’t accelerate as fast, they have a greater “moment of inertia,” less resistant to initial movement. Increasing bolt carrier mass is very effective. Keep in mind that what unlocks the bolt isn’t bolt movement, it’s bolt carrier movement. The bolt movement is a natural oucome to rearward travel of the carrier. Minor point but, well, there it is. I run “M-16 style” bolt carriers in all my AR15s. That’s a carrier with a full round section at the end rather than the notched out profile of the standard semi-auto carrier. And, no, an M-16 carrier won’t make a gun full-auto, and, as a matter of fact, carriers with the full-round profile are routinely encountered as “match” bolt carriers. Heavier is better!

Anything contacting the bolt carrier can increase in weight also and be effective. That effectively increases the load against the bolt carrier, and that requires more time to overcome and create movement. The buffer, for instance. I always run heavy buffers in my short guns, and also my hot-rod rifles for Across The Course use. The carbine-length stocks use a shorter spring and also a shorter buffer, and that means a lighter buffer.

AR15 buffers
Here’s an array of buffer components designed to slow the initial back-travel in the carrier. Anything helps, and more than one add-in makes an amazing difference in AR15 manners.

More about the spring’s role in all this next time, along with other more major modifications that will downright tame an AR15. And I’ll also run down a step-by-step on ensuring reliable function in a slowed-down AR15.

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

Shooting Skills: Shooting The Breeze, 3

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Putting it together: follow these suggestions and lose your fear of the wind!

Glen Zediker

Up to here we’ve talked over the influential factors wind brings with it. Here’s how to take it right back to the wind.

First, there are two essential “types” of shooters with respect to how they adjust for the wind on each shot. Dopers and chasers. I’m a chaser. A doper, wind doper, is one who carefully studies inputs and makes what amounts to a unique correction for each round fired. I say unique because it takes more time. They constantly evaluate and calculate the influence and often do much of it using one of the hand-held wind-meters talked about earlier.

I’m a “spotter-chaser,” which is actually a tad amount demeaning term branded on my style by the dopers. Technically I’m not really “chasing the spotter,” which means adjusting based solely on the position of the last shot. No. I’m anticipating a needed change based on observation between shots, but I’m doing it quickly, and I use the spotter location to confirm or modify my setting. That tells me if I’m seeing what I think I’m seeing. (A spotter is an easily-visible disk on a spindle that’s inserted into the location of the last shot hole by the folks pulling targets in the pits.)

Remember what was said last time about wind cycles? Usually there’s between 6-8 minutes before a cycle repeats, a little more or a little less. I want to get all my rounds downrange, if target pit service allows, during one cycle. Shooting into a build-up, watch for indications of a wind velocity increase. If the wind is moving left to right, I don’t want to see anything too close to the right edge of the 10-ring; I hedge a half-minute of angle or so to guard against losing a shot that direction if there’s an increase I missed, but not hedging so much that I’ll be too close to the left edge if I misread and overcorrect for a pick-up.

Pick one indicator, stay with it.

David Tubb
Most good shooters use mirage as their leading indicator to spot changes in the wind. With well-designed stand, the scope can be set it up where you can see the wind with the left eye and see the sight with the right without anything more than a visual focus shift. That gets the shooter back on the trigger with the least chance of missing another change. David Tubb demonstrates.

There are resources that give clues or evidence of wind direction and strength: wind flags, observation of grass and trees, and mirage.

Almost always I use mirage as my leading indicator. Mirage (heat waves) is always present but you’ll need a scope to read it. For 600 yards I focus my scope about halfway to the target. Mirage flows just like water and the currents can be read with respect to wind speed as well, but it’s not clearly accurate beyond maybe a 15 mph speed. The thing is that mirage shows changes, increases or decreases, and also direction shifts, really well.

A couple more things about mirage flow: when mirage “boils,” that is appears to rise straight up, either there’s no wind or the scope is dead in-line with wind direction. And that’s a quick and accurate means to determine wind direction, by the way, move the scope until you see the boil and note the scope body angle. It’s also how to know when a “fishtail” wind is about to change, a boil precedes a shift.

I use a long-eye-relief 20X to 25X wide-angle eyepiece. That setup shows the flow best. And pay attention to where the wind is coming from! See what’s headed your way, because what’s passed no longer matters. That’s true for any indicator. Right to left wind? Read off the right side of the range.

wind zero
Shooting into and through a buildup is a good strategy. My plan is to hedge against losing a shot “out” so I normally have an “insurance click” on to guard against missing an increase in wind value, and also hoping a sudden decrease doesn’t bite me and land one inside the wind. 10s win. Clearly, being able to honestly and precisely call a shot is a huge asset. That’s the only way to get good feedback from the last shot location.

Once I get on target then all I am doing is watching for changes. It’s really uncommon to make a big adjustment between shots. Once a string starts it’s ones and twos, back and forth. The fewer condition changes you are enduring, the easier it is to keep everything on center. That’s why I shoot fast, and that’s why I start at the low point in a wind cycle.

Speaking of getting on target. If it’s an NRA High Power Rifle event, you’ll get two sighters. I put my best-guess correction on before the first sighter, plus two clicks extra into the wind. Example: it’s quartering left to right and I’m guessing 2MOA, so that’s 8 clicks in the “left” direction, so I put on 10. That’s how I find out if I saw what I thought I saw. Then, and this is very important: Make a full correction off the result of that first sighter! Put the clicks on that would have centered that shot. The exception is if there was a notable change sensed between the first and second, but, even so, first sighting shot location lets you know if you got the value (what the wind is worth) under control. There’s one more round to go before you’re on record, so interpret from that and start the string.

sighter correction
Make a full correction off the first sighting shot location! Even if there are minor changes afoot, that’s how to know how well you assessed condition influence pre-shot. Don’t second-guess. After the second sighter you should be on target and then simply watching for changes. Pay attention, correlate visible cues to the results of prior shots, and if in doubt, click into the wind.

If you’re not at an organized event, having a spotter helps! Getting someone to watch for impacts while you shoot is a huge time-saver.

Information in this article was adapted from material in several books published by Glen Zediker and Zediker Publishing. Glen is a card-carrying NRA High Master and earned that classification in NRA High Power Rifle using an AR15 Service Rifle. For more information and articles available for download visit ZedikerPubllishing.com

Savage Arms .308 Model 11 Scout Rifle Review

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The “scout rifle” concept delivers a handy, accurate, and capable firearm for use in the real world. Thanks to Savage it’s now affordable! Learn more.

By Major Pandemic

Savage Model 11

Despite being quite old, the scout-rifle concept originally developed by Col. Jeff Cooper is still very hot. Ruger’s versions are reportedly still selling well on the retail shelves and now Savage Arms has joined in with its own Model 11 Scout Rifle offering. Like all Savage rifles, the already frequently backordered Model 11 Scout Rifle delivers a lot of value and accuracy for customers paired with Savage magazine compatibility and a design with proven durability and accuracy. For an $818 MSRP, customers now have available an affordable scout-focused rifle that is about $300 less than the competing Ruger model.

THE COOPER SCOUT RIFLE CONCEPT
The late great Jeff Cooper was quoted as saying: “The natural habitat of the general-purpose rifle is the field, the forest, the desert, and the mountain -– not the shooting shed with its bench rest. To be really useful a rifle must be as short, light, and quick to use as is technically compatible with adequate power and useful accuracy. What matters is not what the equipment can do, but rather what it will do in the hands of its operator under field, rather than laboratory, conditions.”

In 1983 the Cooper-influenced Steyr Scout Rifle was offered in .223/5.56, .243, 7mm-08, .376 Steyr, and of course, .308/7.62×51 NATO. The rifle weighed only 6.6lbs without an optic and was only 38.6 inches in length. By today’s standards, it was very light and still had a number of forward-thinking features such as spare mag in the buttstock, forward mounted optic, and integrated bipod. Most people have netted Cooper’s concept down to a magazine-fed .308-Winchester-based bolt-action rifle with a length around 40-inches and a weight under 8-lbs which allows for a forward-mounted optic and can support iron backup sights. That noted, any Scout Rifle student knows that an individual’s “scout rifle” can look much different depending on the shooter’s needs.

Savage Model 11
The Scout Rifle delivers everything you could want from a single do-it-all rifle, and that matches the Col. Cooper concept perfectly. The forward-mounted scope rail and fixed front sight are also true to the Cooper Scout Rifle concept. Built on the proven Savage action, owners can expect excellent accuracy from this rifle.

SAVAGE’S TAKE ON SCOUT RIFLES
I am going to jump in with both feet and make comparisons between the Savage and Ruger offerings, because after all, buyers will at the gun counter. The Savage Arms Model 11 Scout rifle follows closely to the original design intent of a scout rifle as outlined by Copper, but does have a few welcome departures. The Savage Scout Rifle shared many great features with the Ruger including adjustable stock pull length, magazine fed action, free-floated barrel to maximize accuracy, dual sling studs to support a scout sling, a forward optic mounting rail, and iron sights. When customers are comparing the two competing rifles, that is where the similarities end and value starts to tip over to the side of the Savage.

Savage Model 11
The adjustable cheek rest can be removed if an optic is not used, but it makes for much better ergonomics if an optical sight is installed. The cheek rest is simple and well-designed.

Out of the box, the Savage Scout rifle arrives with an exceptional peep sight system that is significantly higher quality than the included Ruger iron peep sight system. The same can be said for the Savage trigger system which is arguably as good as most entry-level aftermarket match triggers. The Model 11 Scout includes an incredibly effective muzzle brake that takes a huge bite out of the bolt-action .308 recoil and delivers a rifle that is extremely comfortable even during all-day range training. The current line of Ruger Scout Rifles can start to pummel the shooter after a day at the range.

Savage offered the initial Scout Rifle released with a top tier billet aluminum pillar-bedded Hogue Polymer stock that is completely waterproof and allegedly stiffer than a wood stock. On the Ruger, even after using the lowest rings possible for mounting an optic, the cheek rest height was still too low for a comfortable cheek weld. I solved the problem on my Ruger with a Hornady cheek rest bag, however Savage solved the problem up front by including an adjustable cheek rest out of the box. Notably, with the cheek rest in place, the factory peep sights are too low for regular use. If you plan on using the iron sights, owners will need to remove the cheek rest first.

The stock on the Savage is better equipped than the Ruger out of the box for those that want to add an optic. On top of integrated cheek riser, I found it ergonomically more comfortable as well with less felt recoil that the Ruger. Overall the Savage is 1-inch longer and about a half pound heavier than the Ruger, though both felt nearly identical in weight.

FUNCTION & ACCURACY
Feeding and functioning was perfect from the Savage box magazines. My only complaint with the proprietary Savage magazines is that they are proprietary vs being AICS magazine compatible like the Ruger Scout Rifle. For someone with a couple other bolt guns with AICS magazines this may alone be a deal breaker for them.

Savage Model 11
The Savage Scout rifle accepts standard Savage box magazines. Function was flawless in my testing. Note the sling swivel location, true to the original “scout sling” concept.

The adjustable Savage AccuTrigger on the Model 11 is impressive. The trigger weight is adjustable from around 2-lbs to 6-lbs, however I would leave it set at the factory 2.25lb weight (as measured by my Timney trigger gauge). As is, this trigger is amazing compared to the crunchy Ruger trigger.

Savage has made a name for itself in the accuracy department and this scout rifle format delivered good accuracy for its $800 price tag. I think it would be an epic battle between the Ruger and Savage as to which could deliver better accuracy out of the box. I spent the better part of an afternoon attempting to find the clear winner, but there was no clear winner. Both guns will easily deliver 1.25-inch 100-yard groups, and I have personally seen both of them deliver touching 5-shot half-inch groups.

FINAL THOUGHTS
With a better factory trigger, stock, sights, brake, included adjustable cheek rest, and lower price, the Savage Arms Model 11 Scout Rifle is sure to please Savage loyalists and may just convert many Ruger customers. Out of the box it is easier to shoot and better equipped.

Federal Gold Medal Match
Federal Gold Medal Match 168gr Sierra MatchKing BTHP delivered the best accuracy during testing.

The Cooper Scout Rifle concept mandates accuracy sufficient for the application and the Savage Model 11 Scout delivers easily on that concept.

Savage Model 11

Learn more about this rifle HERE

About the author: Major Pandemic is an editor-at-large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival-related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly.  MajorPandemic.comMajor Pandemic