Category Archives: Rifles

RELOADERS CORNER: Standard Deviation

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Improving longer-range accuracy has a lot to with consistent bullet velocities. First comes understanding it! Here’s a start on it… KEEP READING

chronograph

Glen Zediker

It’s springtime (finally) and one of the things on your list might be working up a load for a new rifle, or new bullet. I’ve talked about testing processes and procedures, and also some about those bullets, and especially those with higher ballistic coefficients. The more aerodynamic bullet, by itself, is no guarantee of a smaller group (and whether you’re shooting one shot or 20 shots, you’re always shooting a group…).

To make the “magic” of a high-BC bullet come to life, they all need to be arriving at the destination at really close to the same speed. On target, that’s all about elevation consistency. It’s pretty commonly accepted among long-range competitive shooters that points losses come more from errant high and low impacts than from missed wind calls. High-BC bullets traveling at more consistent speeds reduces dispersions in all directions. But only if they’re traveling at consistent velocities!

The first step to improving velocity consistency is getting a good way to measure it. That there would be a chronograph. Nowadays especially, there are a number of simple-to-use and inexpensive chronographs available, that are accurate. Some have more features, which mostly revolve around providing printouts, digital records, and calculations, but what matters most (to me at least) is one that lets me easily read the velocity of each shot.

Check Misdouth offerings HERE

MagnetoSpeed
The newer barrel-mounted electro-magnetic chronographs make it really easy. I like the idea of being able to chronograph from shooting position, not just from a benchrest. This is a MagnetoSpeed.

So. What’s next is understanding the terms associated with this area of data-gathering.

“Standard deviation” (SD) is the most common measure of shot-to-shot consistency. It reflects on the SD reflects on the anticipated consistency of bullet velocities (some number of recorded velocities). The “standard” part reflects on a sort of an average of the rounds tested.

[Phrases like “sort of” upset mathematically-oriented folks, so here’s the actual definition: SD is the square root of the mean of the squares of the deviations. More in a bit.]

I pay less attention than many to standard deviation because: I don’t think standard deviation is near as important as is the “range,” which is the lowest and highest speeds recorded. Another that matters is “extreme spread,” which, by definition, is the difference between this shot and the next shot. I watch the speed on each shot. I compare this one to the next one and to the last one, and, as said, find the highest and the lowest.

Why? Well because that’s how I shoot tournament rounds. This one, then another, and another. A low velocity difference means that the accuracy of my judgment of my own wind call has some support.

standard deviation
Standard deviation calculation forms a bell curve. The steeper and narrower the apex of the bell, the narrower the fluctuations were. But there’s always a bell to a bell curve and the greatest deviations from desired standard are reflected in this portion of the plot. Depending on the number of shots that went into the SD calculation, these deviations may be more or less notable than the SD figure suggests. So? Watch each shot. That’s the way to know how a load performs with respect to velocity consistency. SD allows you to estimate how likely it is for “outliers” to show up.

A load that exhibits a low SD is not automatically going to group small, just because a low SD. I’ve had Benchrest competitors tell me that sometimes their best groups don’t come with a low-SD load, but do not apply that to greater distance! At 100 yards a bullet’s time of flight and speed loss are both so relatively small that even what some might call a big variation in bullet velocities (+/-25 fps or so) isn’t going to harm a group, not even the tiny groups it takes to be competitive in that sport. On downrange, though, it really starts to matter. (And keep in mind that “it” is a reference to velocity consistency, whether denoted by SD or otherwise.)

For an example from my notes: Sierra 190gr .308 MatchKing. Its 2600 fps muzzle velocity becomes 2450 at 100 yards and 1750 at 600 yards. (These numbers are rounded but serve for a example.)

If we’re working with a just awful 100 fps muzzle velocity change, that means one bullet goes out at 2550 and the next leaves at 2650, in the worst-case. The first drifts about 28 inches (let’s make it a constant full-value 10-mph wind to keep it simple) and the next slides 26 inches. But! Drop… That is THE factor, and here’s where inconsistent velocities really hurt. With this 190, drop amounts over a 100 fps range are about three times as great as drift amounts. This bullet at 2600 muzzle velocity hits 5-6 inches higher or lower for each 50 fps muzzle velocity difference. That’s going to cost on target, big time. And it gets way, way (way) worse at 1000 yards. Velocity-caused errors compound on top of “normal” group dispersion (which would be group size given perfect velocity consistency). Now, it’s unusual for a wind to be full-value and dead constant, so on-target left and right displacement is even relatively less — but elevation displacement is consistent regardless.

So, my 100 fps example is extreme, but half of that, or a quarter of that, still blows up a score, or an important hit on a target.

propellant charge consistency
This is probably the most influential factor in improving SD: consistent propellant charge. It’s not only that each case has an identical powder load, though, because primer factors, and finding the right combination ultimately is why we do all the testing…

So what’s a tolerable SD? 12. There have been, rest assured, much calculation to lead  up to that answer. That’s the SD that “doesn’t matter” to accuracy, meaning it’s not going to be the leading factor in a miss. It’s more than I’ll accept for a tournament load, but for those I’m looking for an extreme spread never more than 10 fps (the range might be higher, but now we’re just mincing terms). More later…

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

REVIEW: Auto Ordnance Deluxe Titanium Gold Thompson Tommy Gun

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Is this the ultimate Chicago Typewriter? The venerable Tommy Gun gets a brand new look. READ MORE HERE

gold tommy gun

by Major Pandemic

FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES, & FUNCTIONS
Auto-Ordnance was the original manufacturer of the “Tommy Gun.” The current reformed company is now owned by the same company as Magnum Research and Kahr Arms — all of which are delivering high quality firearms. The current Auto-Ordnance Thompson Tommy Guns are actually higher quality and higher toleranced versions of the 1927A-1 originals, but fire from a closed bolt and in semi-auto only. If you want a full auto Tommy Machine Gun even as a LEO or Military you have to look into the extremely expensive old pre-ban options. Auto Ordnance does offer NFA registrable factory made short barreled rifle models and also non-functioning display models as well.

gold finish
With the Gold Nickel Boron finish this is a finish that will take plenty of punishment and still look good.

The Tommy Gun represents a timeless style which harkens back to the Roaring 20s, mobsters, and WWII. The Thompson design ran a long hard used course through history as one of the most heavily purchased and issued submachine guns in history by civilians, law enforcement, and military. It was a gun that helped empower the big New York and Chicago mobs, provided law enforcement and military with reliable firepower for fighting crime and in the trenches, and was also a favorite ranch/truck gun as well. It was pretty accurate, fired the effective .45 ACP round, and the weight and design delivers almost insignificant recoil even with the heaviest .45 ACP loads.

tommy gun muzzle
Although the 45ACP has negligible recoil in a 13-lb rifle the brake take all recoil out of the rifle.

This titanium gold nitride plated version is the same 1927A-1 Auto-Ordnance sells in a variety of configurations. The difference among the many versions is finish quality and slight variations through the years of production.

The 1927A-1 version is the most popular in the line, so Auto Ordnance decided to offer a special Deluxe edition. This Deluxe model features a mirror polished finish which is then coated with Titanium Gold Nitride. Auto-Ordnance offers this limited edition Deluxe model in this Ti-Gold finish and polished chrome. The Ti-Nitride-Gold finish is the same coating used on top end drill bits so it can take a beating and still look beautiful. Magnum Research uses the same finish on some of the limited edition Desert Eagle pistols and it has proven itself durable over the years. Once your friends find out you own one, it is hard to keep the Gold Tommy in the safe.

tommy gun case
Who would not want one of these? And get the case… Both you and the gun deserve it!

The T150TG includes both a 20-round stick and 50-round drum magazine, each titanium gold plated. Now, if you are going to drop $3000+ on this limited edition gun, then you really should go all the way and order the custom “Violin Case” available in either cello or guitar profiles. The case delivers a luxurious foam interior which can accommodate your Chicago Typewriter, a stick mag and round drum magazine.

WHEN MEN WERE MEN
As I hoisted the 13-pound (not a typo), muzzle heavy 1927A-1 Tommy Gun to my shoulder I was reminded that in the old days men were not wimps. If you fill and attach the 50-round drum, the Tommy Gun can easily top the 20-pound mark when it’s ready to rumble. It’s a beast of a gun!

tommy gun patents
The twelve patents are listed on the gun — on this gun the added numbers are part of history.

With its smallish charging knob and wicked-strong recoil spring, charging the Thompson is difficult.

FUNCTIONAL FUN WITH GOOD ACCURACY
Though this Thompson 1927A-1 is equipped with a ladder-style rear sight, which is in theory calibrated to 600-yards, it’s not a tack driving gun. The Tommy delivers practical accuracy of around 1.5-inch groups at 25-yards which equated to 5-7-inch groups at the 100-yard range. At 200-yards I was still able to ring a standard steel silhouette and usually ring it eight out of ten times at 300 yards. Defensive accuracy? Absolutely, and a whole bucket of fun in the process. During the hundred of rounds I had zero issues with feeding and functioning.

tommy gun magazines
This model comes with both polished twenty and fifty round magazines.

$400 IN AMMO GONE IN NO TIME
Well, the T150TDG Thompson 1927A-1 “Deluxe Semi-Auto” Titanium Gold Plated Tommy Gun may not shoot rounds quite as fast as an AR15, however the case of .45 ACP rounds seemed to evaporate stunningly fast. This is a blast to shoot, it delivers zero recoil to the shooter, and is way more accurate than it should be for a 1927 design.

tommy gun rear sight
If you want to mortar rounds at distance the Auto Ordnance is equipped with flip up leaf sight.

FINAL THOUGHTS
With all this discussion about outlawing deadly AR15s, I have not heard anyone say peep about Tommy Guns…at least that was my justification to my wife. This was the defensive carbine of the 1920s, 1940s, and all the way to the 1970s when the AR15 started to get into civilian hands.

These are limited editions and will not be around forever. If you want something special, something unique and something that brings a wow factor to any range session you had better get one on order. This is not only a unique collector piece which Tommy gun fans will value highly down the line, but it delivers a huge fun factor. I cannot recommend this wonderful gun enough. Suck it up and whip out the Amex, it is worth it.

CHECK IT OUT HERE

Major Pandemic

[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. Click HERE to learn more.]

RELOADERS CORNER: Bullet Ballistic Coefficient

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

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

Glen Zediker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

meplat uniformer

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

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

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

REVIEW: Ruger Precision Rifle .223/5.56 NATO

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Following the success of its bigger brothers, this new package from Ruger is sure to find a host of fans. Read alll about it HERE

RPR review
The V2 Ruger Precision Rifles now include a lower profile handguard and a few extras.

by Major Pandemic

Ruger shocked and stunned everyone when they introduced the Ruger Precision Rifle dubbed RPR for short. It was a rifle that featured loaded top end upgrades all in a rifle that can actually print tiny groups and retails for around $1500 on the street…and now they offer this great gun in .223/5.56 NATO.

The Ruger Precision Rifle is competition killer in the factory precision rifle market from a number of perspectives. It includes everything you could possibly want on a custom target rifle and if you do want to upgrade the design the grip, buttstock, forend, and selector are all AR15-compatible items. Swapping out triggers is easy as well and rebarreling to one of the many aftermarket options only requires a barrel block and some leverage.

It is all included — billet precision chassis, fully adjustable buttstock, folding stock adapter, outstanding factory trigger, tri-lug style bolt, free floated AR15-compatible forend, and AICS compatible box-fed magazine. Ruger offered the RPR in .308 and .243 (now discontinued), but they have also kept up with the competitive precision shooting markets demand for 6.5mm Creedmore and 6mm Creedmore. Now of course Ruger has the RPR in the insanely cheap to shoot .223/5.56 NATO chambering.

RPR stock
A folding fully adjustbable stock make this one of the most comfortable out-of-the box rifles.

FINALLY… ALL THE RPR OWNERS SAID
Sure the .308, .243, and Creedmore rounds are fun to shoot, but there are a lot of us who want a “trainer” gun that feels and shoots like our precision gun, but does it at greatly reduced per round price. Maybe there are even a few of us that just want a really accurate .223 bolt action that still feels like a full sized rifle. Now we have the .223/5.56 NATO Ruger Precision Rifle which is a delightful duplicate of the other models that you can shoot all day long without a sore shoulder or emptying your wallet.

RPR mounts
Included in the box are a QD and picatinny mount.

Without question, varmint hunters are going to love the exceptionally accurate .223 RPR, however I believe this is going to become a hit with two other types of customers — customers who want a trainer for their larger bore guns, and customers who want a precision rifle that “feels” like their AR15 and shoots the same caliber.

RPR feel
Just like the big brother, the .223 has the same size and feel.

As a trainer, even if the Ruger .223 Precision Rifle is only used to practice trigger pull, grip, shooting position, general marksmanship tactics, and perhaps hammer a few critters in the process, the gun would pay for itself in ammo savings in only a few thousand rounds. Really, I have to tell you those insanely accurate Hornady 6.5 Creedmore ELD Match rounds are not cheap. The Hornady .223 equivalent are half the price of 6.5CM and a good reload recipe could deliver further savings. This is the category I fall into: wanting a training gun that will allow me to fiddle around with shots and shooting positions to find my sweet spot all without blasting $2 rounds down range.

I have a lot of friends in the other category of potential .223 RPR owner who do not want to add managing yet another caliber to their firearm inventory. For them the huge selection of .223 ammo for match, plinking, hogs, and other game is enough. The price point, precision, and user friendly nature of the .223 RPR makes it a perfect fit for these shooters.

RPR brake
The Included brake on the .223 is extremely effective in negating any recoil of the little round.

FEATURES OF NOTE
Most would expect that the .223/5.56 NATO Ruger Precision Rifle would duplicate the larger calibers in size, length and weight and it does. In fact this rifle is exactly the same weight as the .308 model. Ruger did go with a .223/5.56 NATO chambering presumably some type of .223 Wylde chamber which Ruger notes is completely cross compatible between the calibers. Ruger has really set up this smaller caliber RPR to extend the precision range with a 5 gove 1:7 rifling to stabilize heavy longer bullets better. One feature which I really liked on the original larger caliber rifles was that they were cross compatible between Magpul LR20 and AICS magazines.

The .223 is not, and is only compatible with Remington Short Action .223 AICS size magazines. Personally this is disappointing that I cannot run any of the hundreds of GI spec AR 15 magazines on this gun. There would be some real cross compatibility advantages to that in the field, but alas the Ruger only feeds from AICS mags. The reason Ruger went with the much more expensive AICS sized magazines was to allow round with 77gr or heavier .223 bullets to fit, function and feed. If you are going to create a precision rifle, then I suppose the compromise you should be able to shoot the best heavy bullet you want.

The trigger on this unit was not as good as previous RPR triggers I have tested. Our primary tester jokingly noted that the trigger felt like Ruger’s three stage trigger. There was a noticeable second stage before the third stage break. In this case, I would say a Timney trigger upgrade is in order.

Bushnell Elite
A Bushnell Elite helped deliver crystal clear images downrange.

ACCURACY TEST
As with all the other Ruger Precision Rifles, the .223 model is also a tack driving 1/2-MOA gun with the right match ammo. We tested a number of .223 Hornady and Federal rounds including Hornady 68gr, 75gr, and TAP 55gr, PMC Bronze 55gr, Federal Match 68gr Sierra Match King, and standard M855 steel core penetrator rounds. The Ruger Precision Rifle performs its best with high-grade match ammo. The best two 100-yard groups were Federal SMK 68gr .383-in., and Hornady Match 75gr. at .375-in.. Notable the Federal SMK 68gr round was the clear accuracy favorite in our test averaging .453-in. across all three of the three-round groups.

Sure were were able to punch some plinking grade groups with PMC Bronze and the M855 Steel Core rounds were about the same, but feed the RPR the right high grade match ammo and suddenly you are greeted with considerably better than 1/2-in. groups at 100-yards. The Federal 69gr Sierra Match King rounds consistently delivered the best groups. Unfortunately we did not have any 77gr rounds to test with.

RPR TARGET

RPR TARGET

RPR TARGET

RPR accuracy test

FINAL THOUGHTS
In my reviews of the first RPR, I asked where my .223 version was and Ruger delivered. The total Ruger Precision Rifle package adds up to a gun which shoots extremely well, is stunningly accurate for the price and is loaded with pretty much everything you could want in a precision rifle for far less than any other offering on the market. Ruger…simply amazing gun for the price…now where is my rimfire variant?

RPR specs

LEARN MORE HERE

Check out ammo HERE

Major Pandemic

[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. Click HERE to learn more.]

RELOADERS CORNER: Bullets 101

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Bullet structure should play an important part in your selections. Here’s a short course in bullet architecture, and why it matters!

224 bullet comparison
There’s probably a wider variety of .224 caliber bullets than any other diameter, and there are whopping differences available! Left is a Hornady 35 V-Max, right is a JLK 90gr VLD. That’s the longest .224 I’ve had to work with.

Glen Zediker

These days we don’t have to settle for much of anything. Pretty much whatever it is, there are options. That’s a good thing, as long as we figure out how to sort through all the options. I didn’t count them all, but there are way on more bullets available now than ever. This article sets out to help you all understand the essential engineering of this all-important ammo component.

The reason there are so many bullets is because there are so many different ultimate uses we put them to.

All bullets are designed or intended to do something, and, clearly, the first idea is to hit a target.

There are bullets engineered to perform variously on target, including the proximity of impacts on target. I say it that way because a “match” bullet’s job is to perforate a piece of paper. A bullet designed for varmint hunting, on the other hand, is designed to produce explosive impact, and one for larger game hunting strives to strike a balance between expansion and penetration. All bullets have to meet their target to be effective, and different premiums often also result in a few trades. Specialty hunting projectiles, for instance, don’t usually out and out group as well as those engineered for target shooting.

However! No matter how it’s built inside, there are universal elements of any bullet design, and those are found on the outside.

bullet parts
Here are the pieces-parts of a bullet. Each element is influential not only in downrange performance, but also in how tolerant or flexible the bullet will be in different rifle chamber and cartridge structures.

Bullet parts: base, that’s the bottom; boat-tail, or not (flat-base); shank, portion of full-caliber diameter; ogive, the sloping “nosecone,”; tip, either open or closed (open it’s called the “meplat”). The shape of the ogive and the first point of “major diameter” are extremely influential elements. The first point of major diameter can vary from barrel brand to barrel brand because it’s the point on the bullet that coincides with land diameter in the barrel — the first point that will actually contact the barrel as the bullet moves forward. When there’s a cartridge sitting in the rifle chamber, the distance or gap between the first point of major diameter and the lands is called “jump,” and, usually, the less there is the better. More in another article.

bullet bearing area
This gives an idea of bearing area. The point that contacts the lands is the first point of “major diameter,” and from there back down the body is what will be in contact with the barrel. Longer area means more tolerant behavior, but lower potential velocity.

The first point of major diameter and the shank combine to determine the bullet “bearing area.” This is how much of the bullet is riding the barrel surfaces. Usually, bullets with greater bearing areas tend to shoot accurately, but, might not get to velocities as high as one with a shorter bearing area. Longer bearing area creates more drag in the bore. Longer bearing area bullets also tend to be more tolerant of jump.

magazine box rounds
This is the round architecture that matters the most to the most of us. We need good on-target performance from cartridges with bullets seated to feed from a box magazine. Choose a tangent profile that’s no more than 8-caliber ogive.

The two essential profiles a bullet can take are “secant” and “tangent.” This refers to the shape of the ogive. A tangent is a more rounded, gradual flow toward the tip, while a secant is a more radical step-in, more like a spike. Secants fly with less resistance, but tangents are more tolerant of jump.

tangert and secant
Tangent, left; secant, right. Tangent ogives are more tolerant of jump, but not quite as aerodynamic at extended distance.

Ogives are measured in “calibers.” That’s pretty simple: an 8-caliber ogive describes an arc that’s 8 times caliber diameter; a 12-caliber is based on a circle that’s 12 times the caliber. The 8 will be a smaller circle than the 12, so, an 8-caliber ogive is more “blunt” or rounded. (So I don’t get comments from engineers, there’s more to it than this, as it applies on blueprints to different profiles; it’s the ratio of its radius to the diameter of the cylinder. But my description is accurate as an overview.)

Bullets with lower-caliber ogives are more tolerant of jump and (usually) shoot better, easier. Higher-caliber ogives fly better, farther. This is an important component in the “high-BC” designs. Same thing comparing tangent and secant: the first is easier, the second beats the air better.

bullets compared
Here’s a good example of the differences in bullets. These are both 75 grains. The one on the left is engineered to be fired from a magazine-length round; the other is engineered to provide better performance over more distance, and it should not be fired at magazine-length. Look at the ogives closely and see the curve difference.

When you see terms like “magazine bullet” or “length-tolerant bullet” that is referring to those with tangent profiles and lower-caliber ogives. (“Length-tolerant” means that it’s not sensitive to seating depth.) If you want to experiment with the longer “high-BC” style bullets, you might find they don’t group well until they get close to or right on the lands when the round is chambered.

More soon…

Check Midsouth for a massive selection of bullets of all calibers HERE

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

Leupold Debuts the VX-Freedom

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VX-Freedom-Warm_BannerAds300x250

Relentless Reliability: The Leupold VX-Freedom

Innovation is in the very core of the American spirit – we aspire to be independent, to build our own solutions, to constantly improve. It was that core trait that drove Marcus Leupold – son of Fred, the legendary co-founder of Leupold & Stevens, Inc. – to throw aside a riflescope that failed him and build something better. More than 70 years later, that spirit still thrives at Leupold, and it’s embodied tenfold in the new VX-Freedom line of riflescopes.

You want relentless reliability? The VX-Freedom delivers it. You want elite optical performance at a price you can’t ignore? Consider that box checked. You want to unleash your rimfire rifle, dominate from any tree stand, or tag out across an open draw? The VX-Freedom’s got you covered.

The entire VX-Freedom line is designed, machined, and assembled right here in the U.S.A. with one purpose in mind – to give you the freedom to put a Leupold on any long gun you own, knowing it will perform for a lifetime.

VX-Freedom_3-9x40-CD

Elite Optical Performance
Only a company with Leupold’s history and engineering expertise can deliver an American-made optic that boasts performance and affordability like the VX-Freedom. You’re looking at best-in-class optics – crisp, clear images with unmatched edge-to-edge clarity. It’s complete with military-spec lens coatings that provide abrasion resistance, protecting the riflescope in the most challenging terrain. As Tim Lesser, vice president of product development for Leupold & Stevens, Inc., explained, the new line has been built from the ground up to deliver on the promise of the Leupold brand.

“The VX-Freedom is built to deliver the versatility and performance hunters and shooters have come to expect from our brand,” Lesser said. “Whether you’re looking for your first scope or your fortieth, there will be a VX-Freedom that’s purpose-built to suit your needs.”

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Rugged Reliability
Every scope line that comes out of the Leupold factory is “punisher tested and verified” – a relentless process of pounding the optic in a way that replicates a lifetime of abuse. On top of that, it’s engineered to disperse energy during every shot, which adds to its rugged nature. Finally, the VX-Freedom’s new, ergonomically advanced power selector ring is low-profile but provides exceptional grip, making it easy to use even in the cold, wet, or while wearing gloves.

Let There Be Light
It’s no secret that the first and last 20 minutes of any big game hunt are often the most crucial – it’s when the animals are most likely to be up and moving and when you’re most likely to get a shot. Thing is, that’s also when there’s not much light to work with, and you can’t hit what you and your optic can’t see. That’s why the VX-Freedom line incorporates Leupold’s Twilight Light Management System, a proprietary lens coating system that increases the amount of usable light that reaches your eye.

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Translation: Your optic will still be able see Bullwinkle during those last five minutes of legal light, even if your naked eye can’t. That means you’re more likely to be calling buddies to help you pack out a kill under the stars.

Unparalleled Versatility
At launch, the VX-Freedom will be available in some of the industry’s most popular magnification ranges: 1.5-4×20, 2-7×33, 3-9×40, 3-9×50, and 4-12×40 – all featuring second focal plane reticles and 1-inch maintubes. They’re great for muzzleloaders, rimfire rifles, and centerfire rifles. But Leupold didn’t stop with just improving the riflescope design, they also decided to offer three brand-new reticles with the VX-Freedom. Alongside the standard Duplex and Pig-Plex offerings, the Freedom is available with a Tri-MOA, Rimfire MOA, or UltimateSlam reticle.

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The Tri-MOA reticle is designed to fill tags – hash marks in 1-MOA increments give you precise reference points for quick, accurate shots, and the upper portion is clear, making it easy to keep an eye on the game animal in your sights. The Rimfire MOA reticle stretches your favorite plinking rifle’s legs out to 200 yards and beyond. The vertical hash marks are set for rimfire rifle ballistics at 1-MOA increments. The UltimateSlam, meanwhile, offers hold points from 50 to 300 yards for muzzleloaders and shotguns.

Built to Last
The VX-Freedom series is everything you’ve come to expect from a Leupold optic. It’s tested to the very same ruggedness standards as the company’s top-tier riflescopes. It’s also backed by the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee – you’ll be able to put it through its paces and not have to worry about it holding up.

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“We’re relentless because we know our consumers are relentless,” Lesser said. “At the end of the day, you don’t quit, and you don’t back down. Our products won’t, either.”

Click Here to check out the new Leupold VX-Freedom at Midsouth Shooters Supply!

Bloomberg Gun Control Shill Targets Sportman’s Warehouse for Selling a Bolt Action .22

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“The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits…* Anti-gunners display this truth. READ MORE
*Albert Einstein

sportsmans warehouse 22

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

On March 2, gun control über matron Shannon Watts issued a tweet taking the online retailer Sportsman’s Warehouse to task for making a certain firearm available to adults as young as 18. No doubt Watts hoped to shock her Twitter followers with the gun’s supposedly menacing appearance.

The rifle she depicted, however, was a Ruger bolt action .22 rimfire, a platform that has safely introduced untold numbers of preteens to the fundamentals of marksmanship and firearm safety, including through programs at summer camps, scouting organizations, and even some public schools. It is a platform so common and uncontroversial, in fact, that it would remain untouched by even the most far-reaching “assault weapon” ban introduced in any American jurisdiction to date. The large knob protruding from its action must be manually operated between shots, and the ammunition it uses is among the mildest of the commercially available rifle cartridges, illegal for taking game bigger than a squirrel or rabbit in most places.

Needless to say, this was all lost on Watts, who was manifestly reacting to features of the particular model in question that have absolutely nothing to do with any lethal potential it might possess. These include its dark color; its polymer furniture; the adjustability of the stock’s comb and length of pull; its vented, free-float handguard; and its accessory rails. Leave it to Watts — who recently lectured a crime victim on her supposed “privilege” — to be triggered by mere appearances.

Of course, it’s also possible that Watts knew exactly what sort of gun she was tweeting a picture of and was simply making the point that there’s no firearm too benign for her regulatory ambitions.

Either way, Shannon Watts once again made herself look ridiculous to anybody with a basic understanding of firearm technology, if not basic common sense.

That might be forgivable for the average suburban adult with no prior firearm experience who knows no more about guns than their dubious depictions in mass media and entertainment. But it’s a pretty sorry showing for someone whose only claim to fame is imperiously hectoring the rest of the country on the evils of guns and gun owners and pushing prohibitory firearm policies and laws.

Indeed, of all the manifestations of childish entitlement that characterize the gun control lobby, perhaps none is so pronounced as the inverse relationship between their ignorance and their outrage. It’s of course easy to fear something you don’t understand. But gun control advocates take it a step further, resisting attempts by gun owners to set them straight on the facts as a form of “bullying” or mocking efforts at education on firearms as “gunsplaning.” Then they go further still by insisting that not only should their obliviousness inform their own choices about firearm ownership and use but yours as well.

And while their ineptitude might be a source of amusement to gun owners to the degree it’s confined to social media rants, there’s nothing funny about its very real potential to infect public policy as well.

Firearm technology can no doubt seem bewildering and intimidating to the uninitiated. And gun owners should have patience and sensitivity to those who are trying in good faith to come up to speed.

Watts and her likeminded Twitter followers, however, aren’t just uninformed. They are deliberately indifferent, if not actively hostile, to any fact that gets in the way of their agenda.

So don’t expect embarrassment or apologies from Shannon Watts. She doesn’t actually have to know what sort of gun she’s talking about to “demand action” to keep you from having it.

NRA Statement on Long Gun Purchases by Law-abiding Adults

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For the record, here’s what the National Rifle Association has to say about the rights to own rifles and shotguns. Read it HERE

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Federal Law prohibits adults under the age of 21 from purchasing a handgun from a licensed firearm dealer. Legislative proposals that prevent law-abiding adults aged 18-20 years old from acquiring rifles and shotguns effectively prohibits them for purchasing any firearm, thus depriving them of their constitutional right to self-protection. We need serious proposals to prevent violent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from acquiring firearms. Passing a law that makes it illegal for a 20 year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or an adult single mother from purchasing the most effective self-defense rifle on the market punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals. The NRA supports efforts to prevent those who are a danger to themselves or others from getting access to firearms. At the same time, we will continue to oppose gun control measures that only serve to punish law-abiding citizens. These are not mutually exclusive or unachievable goals.

Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. More than five million members strong, NRA continues to uphold the Second Amendment and advocates enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the armed services. Be sure to follow the NRA on Facebook at NRA on Facebook and Twitter @NRA.

RELOADERS CORNER: Pressure Signs

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We usually want the most velocity we can SAFELY get, and here’s all about how to stay safe. Keep reading!

Glen Zediker

I’ve been on the topic of load development — “working up” a load — for the past couple of editions, and, based on the excellent feedback from you all, here’s more. As always, there’s only so much I can write before I have to cut myself off.

I’ve said that velocity is the initial leading indicator of pressure. Velocity, in itself, however, is not a definitive indicator of pressure. I’d like to clarify… The first point is that I am a big believer in establishing a goal for load development, and, for me (and likely most others) that is a velocity. Accuracy is a given! I will never consider a combination that’s not shooting little knots downrange, but accuracy and velocity are not mutually exclusive. I also would never consider a combination that produced very small groups at an unacceptably low velocity, and that’s because I’m shooting (always) beyond 200 yards. The super-accurate low-velocity load gets its bullet shifted that much more in a variable wind, so it’s way on less likely to maintain those small groups.

I want to hit the velocity ballpark I have in mind and that’s why chronograph readings as I’m incrementally increasing the propellant charge are my leading indicator to how close I’m getting. I am also, always, looking for pressure signs on the spent cases — each and every one ejected.

So about those pressure signs…

Primer condition gets first attention.

primer pressure signs
Middle is what I want to see: pretty much a new primer with a nice round dimple in the center. Right, well. Massive pressure! But notice that the primer still shows a radius on the edges and is only a little rougher in appearance, well, aside from the crack…

A primer should have a smoothly dimpled firing pin indention, a shiny appearance, and a visible radius on its edge. If any of those are missing or compromised to varying degrees, there’s your sign… A dull and flattened primer has been abused, as well as one with a pitted or cratered appearance. Clearly, a crack or leak (indicated by black fouling) is way over the limit. After experience, backed up by gauged measurements, you’re liable to find that judging what’s “normal” and “safe” from one rifle can be different from another. I have had individual guns that flattened primers at any point near a safe-maximum charge. And, I’ve had them that just lied. Unfortunately, small-rifle primers don’t show always show pressure signs as reliably as large-rifle primers (structural differences). I’ve had experiences where the primers are all nice and shiny like and then blow out with the next increment. Shame on me for taking it there, and, speaking of: don’t get greedy! That’s one reason a velocity goal is important. Despite what your kindergarten teacher told you, you’re not that special… If you’re reading another 50+ feet per second more than what consensus says you should, better bet you’re over-pressure. “We” went through a lot of that when coated bullets got popular: those changed all the rules for “maximums.”

flattened primer
Here’s flat. My experience has been that large-rifle primers tend to display this indication more so than small. What’s happened is that the primer has flowed quite forcibly to fit the confines of its pocket and the bolt face. It’s also normal for some rifles, but that just means you have to know: pay attention and back off if you see a flattened primer.

The best pressure indicators show at the loading bench.

primer seating
My best “gage” for pressure is seating a primer in a fired and resized case. It’s a feel, gained through comparative experience, but too easy means there was too much pressure.

The reason I suggest (strongly) doing load work-up with new cases is because you then have a baseline. Measure the case head diameter (on the case, not the rim or groove) on the new case and compare it to the fired case. Up to 0.0005 (that’s ten-thousandths) is really high but some say acceptable (not me), and 0.0002-0.0003 is what I’d prefer. Plus, since a new case is at its smallest, meaning it will have a little less capacity than a fired case, you’re getting some assurance that the pressure will likely be a little lower from the same load in subsequent reuses of that case.

All dimensions are at their minimum in a new case. Primer pocket expansion is related to case head expansion. I get (what’s proven to be) a very accurate indication of pressure based on the resistance to seating a primer in that resized case. You have to use a priming tool that gives adequate feedback (meaning low leverage) but if the primer just slips right back in, that load was over-pressure. In a more extreme circumstance, the primer won’t stay seated. Yes. I have seen that. Shame on me, again.

Finally, a new case easily points out the difference between a “pressure ring” and a “sizing line” that can show just above the case head along the case body. A bright ring there indicates excessive stretching (a sizing line comes from the die reducing that area, and is perfectly normal). That “pressure ring” sign is also likely an “improper headspace” sign, but that’s another article.

pressure ring
Here’s a “pressure ring.” This poor old fellah used to be a brand-new Lake City Match case. I suspect there was some issue with this rifle’s headspace, but if you see this bright stretch mark, red flag it! It means the case is going to crack right there next use (called an “insipient head separation”).

Pierced Primers
This is a common malady on AR-platform guns, and especially on the big-chassis versions (SR-25, AR-10, and similar). Pressure both isn’t and is the culprit and the solution. Lemmeesplain: What causes the pierce is a firing pin hole that is too large. It is not the fit of the firing pin tip to the hole! An engineer can explain it, but it has to do with surface area covered by the firing pin hole, and then along with it the surface area of the primer. Simply: the firing pin hole turns into a cookie cutter. A primer pierce creates all manner of ills, including wrecked firing pins, gas flow through the charging handle area (where your face is), and abrasive debris scattered throughout the lower interior, including the trigger parts.

firing pin hole size
Blueprints call for a 0.058-inch diameter firing pin hole on an AR15 bolt. If the hole is too large then primer structural failures (pierces) will, not can, rear up. Too big is anything more than 0.062 inches, and I’ve seen plenty bigger than that. I use machinist’s drill bits to quick-check bolts: 1/16 (0.0625) and #53 (0.0595). If the first fits the hole, find another bolt. If the #53 won’t go, use that bolt with confidence.
pierced primer
Notice that this primer doesn’t really show excessive pressure signs. Just has a hole in it…

Excessive pressure gets blamed for a pierce but what’s really going on there is that it’s not certain that amount of pressure would be judged as “excessive.” It’s just gotten high enough to bring on this result. So, yes, lightening the load will stop the piercing, but, in my experience and that of many others, the pierces can start happening before reaching what most might agree on is a max load. I say that because “we” are all shooting about the same bullet/primer/case/propellant combinations in NRA High Power Rifle (with respect to Service Rifle division AR15s, for instance). Seeing pierced primers before hitting the proximity of competitive velocities points to “something else,” and that is the firing pin hole.

In a truly over-pressure load, the primer can crack or blow slap out, but it won’t pierce.

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

RELOADERS CORNER: Incremental Load Work-Up

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To get the most from your load testing, in the shortest time possible, learn the “Audette Method,” and put it work for you. Here’s how!

sight in target
Use a target that’s, one, easy to line up on, and, two, lets you make notes on the target itself. I usually circle and note the 3-shot increments, or you can add a number by each shot hole to indicate which try they belong to. Midsouth has some HERE

Glen Zediker

Last edition I suggested taking the step toward putting together a “portable” loading setup to allow for load development right at the range. This time I’ll talk about an idea on getting the most out of a test session in the quickest and surest way.

I have followed an “incremental” load work-up method for many years, and it’s served me well. Some call it the “Audette Method” named for the late and great Creighton Audette, long-time long-range and Benchrest experimenter.

Backing up a bit: Being able to employ this method efficiently requires having spent the preparation time, doing your homework, to know exactly how much “one click” is worth on your meter. Whether the meter clicks or not, it’s the value of one incremental mark on the metering arm. The value of that click or mark varies with the propellant, but by weighing several examples of each one-stop variation (done over at least a half-dozen stops) you’ll be able to accurately increase the charge for each test a known amount.

harrell's meter mounted
I count on a Harrell’s Precision meter. Its Culver mechanism allows for easy and accurate incremental adjustments in working up a load. The dryer sheet eliminates static electricity.

I usually test at 300 yards. That distance is adequate to give a good evaluation of accuracy and, for the purposes of this test, is also “far enough” that vertical spreads are more pronounced. Testing at 100 yards, sometimes they all look like good groups… So it’s at about 300 yards where we’ll start to see more difference in good and bad.

Get to the range and get set up, chronograph in place. Put up a target. Use whatever gives you a clear aiming point, but it’s helpful to have a light background not only to see the holes easier using a scope, but also to make notes on. More about that in a minute.

Use the same target for the entire session. (Put pasters over the previous holes if you want, but don’t change paper.) The reason for using the same target for the whole session is that helps determine vertical consistency as you work up through successively stouter propellant charges.

I fire 3 rounds per increment. As it gets closer to “done,” I increase it to 5 or 6. At that point I’ve hit a couple of speed points, two or three increments that represent a performance level I can live with (one is on the “iffy” end of the pressure, and I rarely choose that one) and am focusing more closely on group size. Final confirmation comes with one 20-round group. For what it’s worth, I usually pick the one in the middle.

A 3-round volley might seem inadequate, but it’s not if there’s confidence that the rounds are being well-directed and speed is being monitored. If I’m seeing more than 12-15 fps velocity spreads over 3 rounds, I’m not going to continue with that propellant. Same with group size: if it’s a big group over 3 rounds, it’s going to be a bigger group later on.

I’m sho no mathematician-statistician, but from experience I’ve found that, while certainly there’s some probability that the first 3 rounds fired might represent the extreme edges of the load’s group potential, and that all the others are going to land inside them, uhh, that’s not even a little bit likely. If it starts bad it finishes bad. On the contrary: no, just because the first 3 shots are close together and the velocity spread is low doesn’t mean it’s not going to get worse. Groups normally get bigger and velocities get wider, but, we have to start somewhere. It’s a matter of degrees. Also, the quality (accuracy) of the meter factors, and the better it is the better you can judge performance over fewer examples. And this is new brass, so that’s going to minimize inconsistencies further.

I can also tell you that it’s possible to wear out a barrel testing. No kidding.

Back to the “incremental” part of this test: As you increase the charges, bullets impact higher and higher on the target paper. You’re looking for a point where both group sizes and impact levels are very close together. If the groups are small, you won! That’s what Crieghton called a “sweet-spot” load, and that was one that didn’t show much on-target variance over a 2-3 increment charge difference (which is going to be about a half-grain of propellant). The value of such a load is immense, especially to a competitive shooter. It means that the daily variations, especially temperature, and even the small variances in propellant charges that might come with some propellants through meters, won’t affect your score. It’s also valuable to a hunter who’s planning to travel.

audette method loading
Audette Method: If it would only always work this way… This actually did work as shown so I captured and recreated it for posterity. The numbers on the left represent approximate propellant charge weights and the lines each indicate one click on my Harrell’s powder meter, a value about 0.15 grains of the propellant used in this test. Going up two clicks at a time for eight tries took me from 24.0 grains to about 26.0, which is a good range from a reasonable starting charge to pressure symptoms. I didn’t add in the velocities since that’s inconsequential to this illustration, but will say that “8” was too much and I settled on “6.” To make more sense out of this illustration, that ended up being 25.5 grains — step 6. I also went up using three rounds and skipping ahead by adding more clicks to the meter after viewing the (low) speeds on the first three groups (that’s why there’s no number 4 step; I went from step 3 to step 5). This has a lot to do with intuition sometimes. Point is, and should be, that here’s how the “Audette Method” is supposed to work: impact elevation on target goes up (these were fired at 300 yards) with charge increases, groups get smaller (hovering around two inches for this test) and stay small, and then elevation begins to stabilize. Choose a load that’s within this range. Then it’s a “sweet-spot” load. If this happens in your test, ask for no more!

That was the whole point to following this process. First, and foremost, it’s to find a good-performing load. It’s also how you find out if the propellant you chose is going to produce predictably. I can also tell you that I have chosen a propellant and a load using it that wasn’t always the highest speed or even the smallest single group. It was chosen because it will shoot predictably all year long. I base everything on the worst group, biggest velocity spread, not the smallest and lowest. If that doesn’t make sense it will after a summer on a tournament tour. If the worst group my combination will shoot is x-ring, and the worst spread is under 10 fps, it’s not the ammo that will lose the match…

As said to start this series, I started loading at the range because I got tired of bringing home partial batches of loser loads. And, you guessed it, the partial boxes usually contained recipes that were too hot. The only way to salvage those was to pull the bullets. Tedious. Or they were too low, of course, and fit only for busting up dirt clods. Plus, I’m able to test different charges in the same conditions. It’s a small investment that’s a huge time-saver.

If you do invest in a portable setup, exploit potentials. The possibilities for other tests are wide open, seating depth experiments, for instance.

CHECK OUT MORE TARGETS AT MIDSOUTH HERE

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