Category Archives: Rifles

2018’s Best Bang for Your Buck: Precision Bolt-Action Rifle Round-Up

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Displayed among the many trending firearms at this year’s SHOT Show were new “precision rifle” offerings. Read all about them!

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by Kevin Reese

As big shots go, NSSF’s SHOT Show has ruled our industry roost for 40 years, and the 2018 event did not disappoint. SHOT Show spans more than 650,000 square feet of floor space; 12 grueling miles of aisles; 1,600 vendors; 2,500 of us media types and, while the data isn’t out yet, I suspect attendance was well over 65,000. While no better place on Earth exists from which to read the industry’s pulse, gathering intel to share with inquiring minds can be downright brutal — not because it’s hard to find, rather, there’s simply too much to cover.

So we pick and choose, walk, and talk, seemingly until we are effectively hobbled by a mercilessly busy and unending show floor and shoes that clearly do not fit as well as we originally believed, bent solely on unveiling jaw-dropping products sure to get your trigger finger twitching. One trend continuing to rise and worthy of note is the tactical-inspired precision bolt-gun world. Well before the AR slump in the first half of 2017, these aggressively styled modern sporting rifles picked up major steam, and SHOT Show 2018 only underscored the trend. With respect to industry trends, check out this handful of ultra-cool tactical bolt-guns well-worth the buzz and your hard-earned bucks.

Bergara Premier HMR Pro

Bergara Premier HMR Pro
Never one to slow their roll, Bergara had a banner year, winning a couple of awards, including the NASGW-POMA Caliber Award for Best New Rifle in 2017 with the B-14 HMR (hunting and match rifle). While Bergara could have stopped advancing award-winning HMR efforts then, they forged on to bring consumers an even better iteration in the Premier HMR Pro.

It should come as no surprise that the core of Bergara’s Premier HMR Pro precision performance is the world-class 416 stainless steel, No. 5 tapered, threaded barrel. HMR barrels are produced in Bergara, Spain, utilizing a proprietary honing process, then sent to the U.S. for a top-shelf Cerakote finish. Second to world-renowned barrels, Premier HMR Pro rifles also boast a proprietary, Nitride-coated Bergara Premier two-lug action, incorporating a sliding plate extractor and coned bolt nose for seriously reliable cycling.

Of course, the efforts invested in precision barrel and action machining would all be for not had the HMR not come standard with a top-shelf trigger or practical yet comfortable stock system. Bergara’s Premier HMR Pro rifles feature a TriggerTech Frictionless Release Technology Trigger while the composite stock encapsulates a full-length aluminum mini-chassis designed to house a free-floating barrel with repeatable bedding, as well as flush cups for a sling system. The stock also includes robust comb and length-of-pull adjustability.

The Bergara Premier HMR Pro uses detachable AICS-style magazines and is available with 20-, 24-, and 26-inch barrels. Calibers include.223 Rem. (20-in. with 1:8 twist), 6mm CM (26-in. with 1:8 twist), 6.5mm CM (24-in. with 1:8 twist) and .308 Win. (20-in. with 1:10 twist). MSRP: $1,715.

Read more HERE

Remington 700 Chassis System

Remington Model 700 PCR
Reeling from a major slump in the first three quarters of 2017, Remington’s future after 200 years has been questioned by many; however, if the company’s new Model 700 PCR offers any insight as to what lies ahead, I think a bright future is certainly attainable.

The Remington Model 700 PCR plays a smart hand when it comes to next level shooting. Where precision shooting has long been regarded as a rich man’s sport heavily laden in ridiculously expensive systems, some easily topping $10,000, the industry has seen much more appetizing price points over the past few years with match-grade production rifles under $2,000 — Ruger’s RPR and Bergarga’s B-14 BMP have been perfect examples of this trend and now the Remington 700 PRC fits in this affordable precision product category perfectly with an MSRP of $1,199.

At first blush, the Model 700 PRC appears to be a heck of a winner for Remington. This aggressively styled buzzworthy rifle guarantees sub-MOA accuracy right out of the box from a 24-in. stainless steel barrel with 5R rifling (based on Remington’s Computer Aided Targeting System) and delivers these goods in three calibers: .260 Rem., 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win.

The chassis is lightweight, constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum alloy and coated with Teflon, a rugged protective finish Remington touts as “impervious to weather and atmospheric conditions.” A free-floating handguard, compatible with both SquareDrop and KeyMod accessories, offers a wealth of real estate to handle all your extra must-haves and is removed easily for detailed rifle cleaning. Built from the ground up specifically for precision shooting, Remington’s Model 700 PCR also includes the popular Magpul Gen 3 PRS stock, complete with micro-adjustable cant, length-of-pull, buttpad height and comb height.

Read more HERE

Savage 110

Savage 10/110 BA Stealth Evolution
Hot on the heels of Savage’s insanely accurate MSR-10 Long Range launch, a rifle I recently completed work with and consistently hammered sub 1/2-MOA groups, Savage unleashed its jaw-dropping 10/110 BA Stealth Evolution Tactical Bolt-Action Rifle. Set in a precision-machined monolithic aluminum chassis finished in bronze Cerakote, the 10/110 BA Stealth Evolution promises “pinpoint” accuracy from a heavy, fluted, matte black, carbon steel, match-grade barrel with 5R rifling and Savage’s popular AccuTrigger.

If you’re not up to speed on the AccuTrigger, the system allows fine weight adjustments from 1.5 to 6 lbs. without requiring the services of a gunsmith. The trigger also features an additional safety mechanism to effectively eliminate the potential for a jarring accidental discharge.

The chassis includes a full top rail with additional rail sections at 3 and 9 o’clock to attach your favorite accessories. The Magpul Gen 3 PRS stock affords cant, buttpad, length-of-pull, and comb height adjustments for a perfect fit and is a popular choice among precision long-range shooters. A Magpul grip rounds out the Evolution chassis’ aesthetic and comfort features.

Savage’s 10/110 BA Stealth Evolution is available in six calibers in 20-in., 24-in. and 26-in. barrel lengths and an MSRP range of $1,799 – $2,149. Calibers include: .223 Rem., 6mm CM, 6.5mm CM, .300 Win. Mag., .308 Win., and .338 Lapua. If the Evolution performs as well as it looks on the range, it’ll be hard to wipe the smile off my face; after all, I’m still seriously impressed with the MSR-10 Long Range’s performance. Savage is definitely on its A-game.

Read more HERE

McRees Precision Chassis
While heads turned, voices buzzed, and ears perked around scores of amazing, some even affordable, precision bolt guns, others clamored to the handful of booths showcasing precision bolt-gun chassis. Whether their interests were in catering to DIY customers or jumping into projects themselves, they poured into booths like McRees Precision, focused sharply on resurrecting tired, old bolt-action rifles or erecting new ones. They know that the building and restoring segment of our industry is growing, as is precision long-range shooting and today’s chassis, like McRees Precision’s BR-15, have quite a bit to offer both attendees and end consumers.

New for 2018, the McRees Precision BR-15 chassis, designed to fit many short and long Remington and Kimber actions, epitomizes what happens when a world-class marksman tires of shortcomings of other competition systems and sets out to design his own … then shares it with fellow enthusiasts and even makes it affordable. One of the greatest attributes of the BR-15 is its simple drop-in design; a builder simply drops in the barreled action and uses the included tools to finish out the rifle without the need of a gunsmith. Scott McRee developed the BR-15 as a multi-use chassis system for competition, hunting, tactical applications, or just plain banging steel. The BR-15 is available with a fixed or side-folding stock. Serious shooters also should appreciate the patented M-LEV bubble-style cant indicator embedded in the stock.

Indeed, in the next-level shooting landscape, chassis may cost thousands while complete rifle systems can and sometimes do top $10,000 before you ever add an optic, but the BR-15 currently sells for between $650 and $800. So, what’s the takeaway? Those willing to take on the challenge of building a world-class match-grade rifle, can get it done without breaking the bank or compromising on quality.

Read more HERE

 

New for 2018: Hornady Adds Nine New Calibers to Precision Hunter Line

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Following its great success with its exclusive Precision Hunter ammo, Hornady is offering even more calibers and loadings. Read more!

Hornady Precision Hunter

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by Philip Massaro

Making a gigantic splash with the ELD-X bullet, Hornady followed suit with the Precision Hunter line, offering that sleek hunting bullet in their loaded ammunition line. Based upon the success of the initial developments, Hornady has expanded that line for 2018.

With a very high Ballistic Coefficient, and bullets that run on the heavier side of average for a given caliber, the ELD-X bullet will get the job done in a multitude of different hunting situations, from near to far.

This year’s new offerings include nine new calibers. Included are 6mm Creedmoor (103-grain), .25-06 Remington (110-grain), .257 Weatherby Magnum (110-grain), 6.5 PRC (143-grain), .270 WSM (145-grain), .280 Ackley Improved (162-grain), 7mm WSM (162-grain), .338 Winchester Magnum (230-grain) and .338 Lapua (270-grain).

As it usually is with Hornady, they’re thinking about not just those newer, long-range cartridges, but of the hunter with a rifle that he or she has loved for some time, and wants to extend the capabilities of that rifle by feeding it modern bullets. I especially like that they’ve decided to give the .270 and 7mm WSM cartridges a breath of life — I know many owners of rifles in those calibers who’ve complained (and rightfully so) about ammunition availability. The Precision Hunter line has been very accurate in my own rifles, as well as those of friends and colleagues, and I’m excited to see how the new offerings will perform.

Hornady Precision Hunter

Check it out HERE at Midsouth!

New for 2018: Nosler M48 Long-Range Carbon Rifle

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Interested in a genuinely capable long-range, hard-hitting, and lightweight rifle? Here you go… Read more!

Nosler Carbon

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated, by Brad Fitzpatrick

Nosler’s line of unbelted magnum-class cartridges — which started with the .26 Nosler and now include the .28, .30, and .33 Nosler — have been a major success with long-range shooters and hunters. For 2018, Nosler is offering a hunting rifle that may be the perfect complement to their cartridge lineup — the new M48 Long-Range Carbon.

Proof Research supplies the 26-inch Light Sendero-contour carbon fiber-wrapped match-grade barrels, with 5/8×24 threaded muzzles for these rifles — and those barrels are mated to a trued and faced M48 action. The Manners MCS-T carbon fiber Elite Midnight camo stock with high Monte Carlo cheekpiece allows for the use of large-objective scopes and reduces neck pain when shooting from a prone position.

The M48 Long-Range Carbon’s action and lightweight aluminum floorplate feature a durable Cerakote finish in Sniper Gray. The aluminum pillar and glass-bedded stock and Timney trigger further enhance accuracy potential, and Nosler guarantees these guns to shot MOA or better with prescribed ammunition.

In addition to all of its high-tech features, the M48 Long-Range Carbon has a number of other practical design elements that serious hunters will appreciate, like a comfortable textured surfaces, palm swells on the grip and fore-end, dual front ling studs to simplify bipod mounting and a receiver that’s drilled and tapped to accept Remington Model 700 two-piece bases. The push-feed action comes with a dual-lug bolt with plunder-type ejector, and there’s a two-position safety that’s conveniently mounted on the right side of the receiver.

With that beefy target stock and heavy-contour barrel, these guns loom heavy, but the abundance of carbon fiber materials used in the construction of this rifle helps keep overall weight around 7 pounds, depending upon caliber. Speaking of caliber, optional chamberings include 6.5 Creedmoor, .300 Win. Mag., as well as .26, .28, .30, or .33 Nosler.

If you need a long-range rifle that’s light enough to serve as a practical hunting rifle, this is a solid option. The M48 Long-Range Carbon has an MSRP of $2,995.

Read more about this new rifle HERE

RELOADERS CORNER: 3 Helps For Easy Load Work-Ups

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Read this before you start the process of working up a load for your new rifle! It could save you huge amounts of time and money… Find out more!

Glen Zediker

Spring is around the corner. Well, if you walk way out into the street and squint really hard you can at least think you see it… Well it’s coming soon enough, at least, now’s a good time to get ready.

I never have been big on the personal value of published load data. The data I’m referring to is that from propellant and other component manufacturers, and also from articles done by independents. I think all such information, at most, provides a place to start, and it also gives some ideas on tendencies and cautions, and provides means for comparisons. But. I don’t think it can be taken straight to the loading bench with any guarantee of success, or of attaining “advertised” performance. And I say that not because I don’t think these folks don’t know what they’re doing. They do! It’s because, after way more than enough experience in proving myself right, I can tell you absolutely that their rifle is not your rifle! Neither, necessarily, are their propellant, primer, case, or bullet. Always take careful note of the barrel and components used for any published test data, and compare them to yours. In later comparisons of my notes with published data, sometimes I’m higher, often times I’m lower, and enough times I’m way lower… That’s the main concern there.

It’s not at all difficult to learn to develop your own loads, to essentially write your own loading manual.

To do this efficiently, you need to learn to load at the range. Right, right there near to where you’re testing. An unremarkable investment in a few tools and a little creativity can provide a way to take your show on the road.

Lee press mounted outdoors
You don’t have to invest a fortune to take your show on the road. A C-clamp and one of these little Lee Reloader presses is all you need! And a good powder meter. One with a clamp is handiest, or just mount it to a piece of wood and clamp that down (even a pickup tailgate works just fine). One clamp is adequate on the press since bullet seating is all in the “down” direction and not much force is needed.

The reason to do this is because it provides a way to precisely chart results. It’s a more reliable and accurate way to proceed. Otherwise, the option is to load varying charges at home and then see what happens at the range. That’s okay, but not nearly as good as on-the-spot experiements. Plus, you won’t have left over partial boxes of poor-performing rounds. It’s more economical and way on more efficient.

The preparation part, and this is what you might spend the remaining cold month or two working on, is, first, to get the tooling ready and, second, and most important, to start making notes on your powder meter.

Important: To be able to work up at the range, it’s mandatory that you’re using a meter that has incremental adjustment. Either a “click”-type “Culver”-style insert or, at minimum, a micrometer-style metering arm. You’ll be relying on the meter, not scales, to progress upward in propellant charges, and you absolutely have to know what the values are for each increment using the different propellants you plan to test. That is where you’ll be spending time prior to doing your homework. It’s well worth it! It can be a nightmare trying to get scales to read accurately outdoors, including the digital type.

Harrells meter mounted outdoors
I map out the incremental values of each click on my Harrell’s meter adjustment drum with the propellant I’ll be testing, and it’s really easy to step up each trial with confidence. I carry the whole kit in a large tool box.
Harrells meter close up
This is a Culver insert. It’s a huge help in following this process. It’s precise and repeatable.

Equipment List and Set-Up
When I need to do load work, I size, prep, and prime new cases and put them in a cartridge carrier (usually a 100-round box). I then pack up my little press, seating die, my meter, some cleaning gear, C-clamps, and my propellants. The press and meter and cleaning gear go in a tool box. I usually carry the propellants in a picnic-type cooler. And, very importantly, my chronograph. A notebook, some masking tape, and a sack lunch… I might be there a while.

Always (always) use new cases for load work-up.

When I get to the range, I’ll clamp-mount my press and meter to a bench, get out all the rest, and set up the chronograph. Take a target downrange and tack it up. I test at 300 yards, unless the load is intended for shorter-range use. I initially test longer-range loads at 300. Maybe I’m lazy, but longer-range testing is a tad amount more tedious. I’ll come back for that after I have a contender or two.

Working Up The Load:
The reason it’s a “work-up” is clear enough: we’re almost always looking to get the highest velocity we can, safely. High velocity, or higher velocity, is usually all-good. Shorter flight time means less bullet drift and drop, and a harder hit.

So working up means increasing propellant charge until we’re happy: happy with the speed and also that the cases will still hold water. (And more about that next time…)

blown primer
Keep track of the cases in the order they were fired. This helps later on when the effects can be measured. This little outing here, though, didn’t require a gage to cipher: a tad amount hot on that last little go around (last case bottom row on the right). Thing is, I didn’t load a whole boxfull of those chamber bombs to take with me, and that’s the beauty of loading right at the range.

Very important: it is vitally necessary to have established a goal, a stopping point, prior to testing. That is one of the functions of published data. That goal is bound to be velocity, not charge weight. And that, right there, is why you’re working up at the range: you want to get “advertised” velocity and need to find the charge weight that produces it.

I work up 0.20 grains at a time. Sometimes it’s more if I’m reading an unuseably low velocity on the initial trial. Since my meter has a “Culver”-style insert, which I trust completely, I reference its number of clicks in my notes rather than the grain-weights (a Culver works like a sight knob, and reads in the number of clicks, not the weight itself). I check the weights when I get back, and I do that by clicking to the settings I found delivered, and then weighing the resultant charges. Otherwise, just throw a charge into a case and cap it with masking tape (clearly labeled).

It’s not necessary to fire many rounds per increment. “Mathematically” 3-5 rounds is a stable enough base to reckon the performance of one step. Of course, I’ll be shooting more successive proofs-per-trial once I get it close. Some folks, and especially competitive shooters, wear out a barrel testing loads. That’s not necessary.

Here are 3 things I’ve found over the years to better ensure reliable results. Learned, of course, the hard way.

1. Limit testing to no more than one variable. I test one propellant at a time, per trip. If you want to test more than one on one day, bring the bore cleaning kit and use it between propellant changes. Results are corrupt if you’re “mixing” residues. Same goes for bullets. Otherwise, though, don’t clean the barrel during the test. I fire my most important rounds after 60+ rounds have gone through it, so I want a realistic evaluation of accuracy and velocity.

2. Replace the cases back into the container in the order they were fired. This allows for accurate post-test measurements. Use masking tape and staggered rows to label and identify the steps. I use 100-round ammo boxes because they leave enough space for the tape strips.

3. Go up 0.20 grains but come off 0.50 grains! If a load EVER shows a pressure sign, even just one round, come off 0.50 grains, not 0.10 or 0.20. Believe me on this one…

Check out chronographs HERE
Take a look at suitable meters 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.

RELOADERS CORNER: Neck-Only Case Sizing

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Neck-only resizing is an option for the bolt-action owner. Here are some ideas on why it works, and when it works best… Keep reading!

winchester bolt action
Neck-only sizing is for bolt-actions ONLY.

Glen Zediker

Cartridge case re-sizing is one of those topics that draws lines and forms camps. I am a big believer in full-length sizing, for any action type or use, and just saying that immediately draws argument.

Before getting into the “whens” and “whys” respecting full-length or neck-only sizing, here’s one that I think is an absolute: cases for reuse in a (any) semi-automatic should be full-length sized; neck-only sizing is only for bolt-actions. Having established that, all this next really only relates to what’s possible with a bolt-gun.

Backing up a bit: a “full-length” sizing die is one that returns the cartridge case body (and shoulder, if adjusted to do so) to near-to-new dimensions. A “neck-only” sizing die doesn’t touch the case body (and may or may not be able to touch the case shoulder). A full-length sizer also sizes the case neck, and, normally, the entire height of the case neck cylinder. A neck-only die can be adjusted to contact the height of the neck cylinder in various amounts.

hornady neck sizer
A neck-only sizing die doesn’t touch the case body, so there’s no reduction in case body diameter. This die can be adjusted to contact the case shoulder, and setting back the shoulder may still be necessary. Make sure you check cartridge case headspace!

The idea behind a neck-only die is to preserve fired case dimensions: make the case a closer mirror of rifle chamber dimensions. One advantage of neck-only sizing comes to those who expect, or need, to get a good many loadings from their cases, since this approach minimizes case stretching on subsequent firings.

However, the primary flag waved by neck-only fans says that it produces the best accuracy, and that full-length sizing is a compromise, favoring function over accuracy. I do and don’t agree, and the rest of this article I hope will clarify what I just said…

The reason I do and don’t agree is that I know folks who cannot get a good group unless they neck-only size, and I know other folks, and I’m one of them, who get very small groups following what many would say is “over-sizing” their cases.

forster neck sizing set
Here’s a nice set for neck-only sizing. The “bump” refers to the capacity to also contact the case shoulder to control its dimension, if wanted.

I believe that the main influence in realizing the virtues of neck-only sizing has a whopping lot to do with the rifle chamber. Specifically, factory-made, off-the-shelf bolt-actions tend to have relatively more generous chamber dimensions, as will many older surplus-sourced rifles. “More generous” is in reference to the tolerances established for the SAAMI blueprint for the cartridge. This is (wisely) done to help ensure that any and all factory ammo will chamber and fire, and also to help ensure general and all-around feeding reliability. Additionally, it’s common to find some (slightly) oval chambers in factory guns; that has a lot to do with the freshness of the tooling when that chamber was cut. It’s even more common to find them that are off-center.

Purpose-built bolt-action competition rifles, such as those constructed for use in NRA High Power Rifle competition, are custom-chambered* and, while few will use what we might call a “tight” chamber, it’s not likely to encounter one on the larger end of acceptable dimensions.
*”Custom,” here, doesn’t mean they are each unique, it just means that they are done by hand employing a precision-made reamer and therefore are what they ought to be, or we sure hope so. And they don’t tend to be overly generous in (any) dimensions.

neck sizing bushings
If you’re going to go, go all in: dies with interchangeable bushings let you control case neck diameter, adding another measure of control, and even less working and re-working of the brass.

So, in the circumstance where we have a chamber that’s a tad amount big and a cartridge case that’s been manufactured to (usually) the smaller end of SAAMI-set standards, that case will endure more expansion, in all directions, than if it had been in a tighter chamber. Sizing only the case neck to accept and retain another bullet, as said, reduces the subsequent expansion that will occur the next firing, but also, and this is likely if there is an accuracy improvement, the otherwise un-sized case might then be sitting more centered in the chamber. And one reason for that is, if the rifle is equipped with a plunger-style ejector (Remington 700 style) that will bear against one edge of the head of the chambered round, pushing the cartridge off-center, askew. (This ultimately creates another undesirable condition, a warp in the case, and we’ll talk about that another time.)

So, a little bigger case returning to a little bigger chamber likely has a little better chance of getting centered, and I truly believe that is why neck-only sizing can be a help to accuracy for a bolt-action. However! A dimensionally-correct case returning to a dimensionally-correct chamber will perform just as well on target. Full-length sizing a case for reuse in a rifle with what I call a “standard” chamber (which is really running a little closer to the minimums established by SAAMI) also makes for good groups. We prove that every High Power Rifle tournament.

Advice: If you notice your bolt-action doesn’t shoot too well with factory loads, neck-only sizing should pay off and is well worth a try. Do, however, make sure to gauge the cases as is often discussed in Reloaders Corner, and, specifically, cartridge case headspace. If the bolt isn’t closing easily, that’s liable to be the culprit right there: shoulder has gotten too tall.

If you’re running a factory bolt-action, by all means try neck-only sizing. If you want to compare results to full-length sizing, just make sure you’re doing that operation right.

david tubb
Now. Don’t go getting the idea that full-length sizing can’t shoot well. Here’s a 1000-yard prone group at the hands of David Tubb, originator of the 6XC cartridge. Tubb sets case shoulders back 0.002 inches, runs 0.004 case neck tension, and full-length resizes using what amounts to a “small-base” die (additional 0.0005-inch reduction at the case head). He’s also not shooting a factory chamber. (Photo note: the yellow pasters were sighters; red pasters indicate record shots).

Check HERE and HERE to get started…

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.

A First Look at 2018’s New Guns

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With the SHOT Show at hand, here are a few brand new for 2018 firearms. Keep going…

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by B. Gil Horman

With national firearm sales leveling off, thanks to a gun-friendly administration taking office this year, manufacturers are dusting off some new and interesting models that have been tucked away for a time such as this. Here is a quick look at just some of the new guns for 2018:

BERSA PISTOLS

Bersa TPR Pistols
Eagle Imports is introducing the double action/single action Bersa TPR line of pistols to the U.S. market this next year. These pistols represent the next evolution of the Thunder Pro HC series originally developed for law enforcement and military applications. Available in Standard 4.25″ barrel and Compact 3.25″ barrel configurations, these semi-automatic pistols feature interchangeable SIG Sauer-type sights, an improved Browning Petter locking system, lightweight aluminum alloy frames, Picatinny accessory rails and loaded chamber indicators. The elegantly designed ambidextrous slide catch and thumb safety, along with a reversible magazine release, makes the pistol accessible to right and left handed shooters. Caliber options will include 9 mm (TPR9), .40 S&W (TPR40) and .45 ACP (TPR45). MSRP: $508-$528

caracal

Caracal USA Enhanced F Pistols
When the 4″ barrel striker-fired Caracal F 9 mm pistol first arrived on the U.S. market from the United Emirates in 2012, I was glad to be one of the writers who had an opportunity to review it. The pistol’s design seemed ahead of its time with its sleek reduced mass slide, lowered bore axis for reduced felt recoil and comfortable grip that fit a wide range of hand sizes. Just as Caracal was poised to give Glock, Springfield and Smith & Wesson a run for their money, the company enacted a voluntary safety recall that caused the pistol, much like its namesake, to slip quietly out of sight and off the market until now.

A new American-made series of Caracal USA Enhanced F pistols, with the safety issues resolved, will be shipping soon. These pistols maintain the positive qualities of the original models with three different sight system options, including the company’s proprietary Quick Sight System, 3-Dot and night sights. Customers will have a selection of new polymer frame colors to choose from including black, tan and OD green (shown). MSRP: $599-$699

Charter Arms XL

Charter Arms Bulldog XL
Charter Arms flagship five-shot Bulldog .44 Spl. series will be joined by the new Bulldog XL. The XL’s frame has been enlarged to handle bigger and more powerful cartridges. The Bulldog XL chambered in the popular .45 Colt offers customers a broad ammunition selection ranging from soft shooting cowboy loads to high-quality defensive hollow points. The real surprise of the show was the Bulldog XL chambered in .41 Rem. Mag. (shown). Considering what a handful the Bulldog can be when loaded with .44 Spl., it will be interesting to see how the XL handles when stocked full of magnum cartridges. MSRP: TBA

FIGHTLITE RAIDER

FightLite Industries SRC Raider Pistols
This year’s enthusiasm for Mossberg’s pump-action Shockwave 12-ga. has encouraged other manufacturers (like Remington) to look for ways to install a Shockwave-type grip on its guns. But who would have guessed that FightLite Industries would find a way to use this grip configuration on an AR pistol?

With an appearance reminiscent of a Star Wars movie blaster, the new Raider pistols are possible because they are based on the company’s SRC action system which was originally designed as the foundation for a 50-state’s legal AR platform. This configuration eliminates the typical AR buffer tube by attaching a hinged extension to the bolt carrier group, much like those found in some semi-automatic shotguns, that moves down at an angle into the shoulder stock. So, the same system that allows an AR lower to sport a traditional fixed hunting stock also works with an abbreviated Shockwave-style grip.

Raider pistols ship with a 7.25″ barrel chambered in 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. or .300 BLK with an overall length of 20.25″, an unloaded weight of 3.9 lbs. and the customer’s choice of a Keymod or M-Lok handguard. It will be interesting to see how these guns handle. I’m guessing a single point sling, attached to the grip’s QD sling port for added stability, will make a difference when shooting off the bench. MSRP: $865

HEIZER

Heizer PKO9 Pistol
Although we are still waiting to get our hands on the super slim 0.80″ thick Heizer Defense PK0-.45 semi-automatic pistol chambered in .45 ACP (which was announced last year), the company is preparing to launch a 9 mm version called the PKO-9. Featuring a proprietary aerospace-grade aluminum frame and a stainless steel slide, the recoil assembly is set above the barrel to lower the bore axis for reduced felt recoil. Other features include a single-action trigger, drift adjustable sights and a grip safety. These pistols will ship with a flush-fit seven-round magazine and an extended 10-round magazine. Color options will include all black, two tone and custom Hedy Jane finish options. MSRP: $699

IWI TAVOR

IWI TAVOR 7 Rifle
Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), has launched the newest member of the Tavor bullpup rifle family, the TAVOR 7 chambered in 7.62 NATO/.308 Win. with an overall length of 28.4″ and an unloaded weight of 9 lbs. The rifle’s body is built from high-strength, impact-modified polymer and has a hammer-forged, chrome-lined, free-floating barrel for enhanced accuracy and life cycle. Designed for military and law enforcement markets, this rifle is a fully ambidextrous platform. The ejection side and the charging handle can be switched from one side to the other quickly and easily by the user. Additional ambidextrous features include the safety lever, magazine release, and a bolt catch similar to that of the X95.

Two M-LOK slots are located at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions along with a MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail at the 6 o’clock position for the use of multiple devices and accessories. Other features include a short-stroke gas piston with a four-position variable gas regulator, a rotating bolt system, and an interchangeable pistol grip. The Tavor 7 will be available in four colors: Sniper Gray, OD Green, Black, and Flat Dark Earth, with replaceable barrels available in 17″ and 20″ lengths. This rifle is slated to ship the first quarter of 2018. MSRP: TBA

JRC 9MM

Just Right Carbines JRC 9 mm Pistol
Just Right Carbines is known for its blow-back operated pistol-caliber takedown carbines and rifles designed to accept popular double and single-stack magazines produced for Glocks and 1911s. This year the company is expanding its line-up to include pistol versions of its platform that offer the same modularity and takedown features as the rifles. The Model 1 version of the pistol (shown) features a foam padded Gearheadworks Mod1 Tail Hook buffer assembly and takedown fore-end. Model 2 is dressed up a bit more with a Gearheadworks Mod2 adjustable arm brace and a quad rail fore-end. MSRP: Starting at $699

KEYSTONE CPR W

Keystone Sporting Arms PT Rimfire Rifle
Keystone Sporting Arms has blended the best features of a precision rifle chassis and an enjoyable .22 Long Rifle bolt-action rimfire into the new PT rimfire rifle platform. The Keystone 722 action is paired with the customer’s choice of a 16.5 inch or 20 inch threaded heavy bull barrel. The action is tucked into an American Built Arms (A*B Arms) MOD*X PTTM aluminum chassis. The chassis is made from 6061 T6 aluminum and treated with a Class 3 hard-coat anodized finish. The A*B Arms Urban Sniper shoulder stock provides an adjustable length of pull ranging from 10.5” to 13.75″ while the A*B Arms P*Grip is compact and comfortable to work with. The PT rifle ships with one seven-round Keystone 722 magazine. MSRP: $599.96

mossberg shockwave

Mossberg 20-ga. Shockwave Pump-Action
Released in January 2017, Mossberg’s non-NFA 14″ barrel Shockwave 12-ga. pump-action has been one of the hottest selling guns of the year. So much so, that it garnered the company two NASGW/POMA Caliber Awards at the NASGW Expo this year, including the “Innovator of the Year” and “Best New Overall Product.” So it shouldn’t come as much of a shock (pun intended) that Mossberg is expanding the Shockwave line up for 2018. Along with new finish (Flat Dark Earth) and package (JIC water resistant storage tube) options for the 12-ga. model, the company has developed a new 20-ga. 590 version.

The 20-ga. Shockwave is a more important release than some folks may realize. This is the first time the company has offered a 20-ga. in a tactical 590 configuration. All of the components have been properly scaled down to fit the smaller cartridge while preserving important features like the drilled and tapped receiver and the removable magazine tube cap. This makes the overall package slimmer and lighter than the 12-ga. model while providing a lower level of felt recoil. With all the hard work of resizing the 590 platform already complete, it’s likely that we’ll see long gun versions before too long. As for a .410 Bore Shockwave, we’ll just have to wait and see. MSRP: $455

desert eagle

Magnum Research Desert Eagle L5 .50 AE Pistol
I’m not sure why Magnum Research customers have been chomping at the bit for a Desert Eagle L5 lightweight pistol chambered in .50 AE. Trust me when I say the Standard XIX model, which weighs about a pound more, has a level of felt recoil that will still blow your hair back when chambered in this cartridge. Nevertheless, since the arrival of the .357 Mag. L5 about two years ago and the .44 Mag. version, folks have been asking for a .50-cal. option. This model sports the same reduced-weight aluminum frame, 5″ barrel, integral muzzle brake and accessory rail as the other two calibers. MSRP: TBA

troy slide fire

Troy Industries SideAction Rifle
In order to help shooting enthusiasts keep running their preferred AR-type platforms in as many states as possible, Troy Industries released the 223 National Sporting Pump-Action rifle a couple of years ago. Many of the state regulations that ban certain rifle features on semi-automatic platforms do not apply those same restrictions to pump-actions. This year the company is adding the SideAction rifle to the lineup which employs a bolt action instead of a pump. An A2 flash hider is pinned and welded to the 16″ 1:7 twist RH rifled barrel. The 10.5″ SOCC handguard features M-Lok accessory slots. The side-charging bolt handle is topped with a target knob. The pistol grip, controls and trigger are all mil-spec. The folding shoulder stock is machined from aluminum billet. MSRP: $899

WALTHER PPQ

Walther PPQ M2 Q4 TAC Pistol

Building on the award-winning PPQ platform, Walther Arms has announced the arrival of the new PPQ M2 Q4 TAC which is both optics and suppressor ready from the factory. “The Q5 Match has been very popular and we have had a lot of interest in a 4″ more tactical version. We are excited to combine a suppressor-ready and optics-ready pistol into a best-of-both worlds platform,” said Luke Thorkildsen, vice president of marketing & product development of Fort Smith-based Walther Arms, Inc.

The 9 mm Q4 TAC arrives with a 4.6 inch 1/10 twist polygonal rifled barrel and a muzzle threaded at ½x28 TPI. The gun arrives with a second recoil spring weighted specifically for use with sound suppressors, one 15-round magazine and two 17-round magazines. The optics-ready slide features an LPA sight system with a fiber optic in the front and competition iron sight at the rear. The Q4 TAC shares the same optics mounting plate system as the Q5 Match. The plates are compatible with a variety of popular optics including options from Trijicon, Leupold, and Doctor. The PPQ Quick Defense trigger provides a smooth 5.6-lb. trigger pull and a short 0.1″ reset. The Q4 TAC is backed by Walther’s lifetime warranty. MSRP: $799

winchester

Winchester XPR Sporter Rifle
Winchester Repeating Arms is challenging the modern-day manufacturing practice of producing moderately priced bolt-action hunting rifles with polymer shoulder stocks as the only option. The latest version of the XPR rifle line up, called the Sporter, is fitted with a classically styled checkered close-grain Grade I walnut stock that only costs $50 more than its polymer stocked compatriots. Offered in barrel lengths ranging from 22″ to 26″ (depending on the caliber), this rifle’s Perma-Cote treated milled steel receiver houses a nickel Teflon coated bolt body. The MOA trigger system provides zero creep and no over travel for a crisp, clean trigger pull. The three-round magazines are detachable. The XPR Sporter’s twelve caliber options include .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, 7 mm-08 Rem., .30-06 Sprg., 7 mm Rem. Mag. and 300 Win. Mag. MSRP: $599

REVIEW: LWRCI Diadem AR-15

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The AR-15 has evolved to become one of the most variously configured guns in firearms history. Here’s yet another step… READ MORE

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by Barbara Baird

LWRCI Diadem AR-15

Guns come with stories. These stories create history, and history is being made with the first AR-15 built for women — per what women told engineers at LWRCI that they wanted in this type of popular rifle platform. The LWRCI Diadem is a limited-edition run of a direct-impingement (DI) rifle, produced because two guys from LWRCI met Carrie Lightfoot, founder of The Well Armed Woman (TWAW), a non-profit organization with a mission to educate, equip and empower female firearm owners. The organization boasts more than 335 chapters in 49 states, with approximately 11,500 members.

David Golladay and David Ridley of LWRCI heard Lightfoot speak on a women’s industry panel at a National Shooting Sports Foundation summit two years ago. They said they were impressed by TWAW and its impressive reach, as well as Lightfoot’s articulate and passionate methods for moving the organization forward. She is a go-to person in the industry for the women’s gun movement and has been featured in national media — including Time, “NBC Nightly News,” USA Today, Fox News, and NRA News.

Further conversations ensued between the two Davids and Lightfoot. She reached out to at least 140 women within the TWAW organization, asking them for their recommendations, and the wheels for the perfect woman’s AR started turning. LWRCI became involved with the women’s rifle movement, supporting TWAW and its chapter leaders by sponsoring and attending conferences. At these events, they talked to women on the range about what they wanted in an AR. The result was the LWRCI Diadem.

To build the LWRCI Diadem, Lightfoot and her team compiled a spreadsheet with the results and sent it to LWRCI to use as part of the design process. Lightfoot understood that LWRCI told its engineers to “give the women what they want.” The first gun rolled off the line in July 2017, with a run of 1,000 units and only available for a short time at a discount to TWAW chapter members across the country. The LWRCI Diadem now is available to the public.

I attended a media event in July 2017 at the LWRCI plant in Cambridge, MD, along with Lightfoot. For the first time, she met the team of engineers face-to-face and found out that the guys learned a few things about female gun owners throughout the process. One of the most surprising things to them was the fact that the women didn’t want any color on the LWRCI Diadem, except for the trigger — which is a Cerakote-applied purple, TWAW’s signature color. They did want, however, the TWAW logo embossed on the lower. Women also wanted grooves on the grip, a specially designed, slimmer compact rail, LWRCI rail panels, and a hand stop.

Lightfoot said they worked on the grip for a few iterations, and particularly wanted to get the feel and balance right. “The balance is remarkable; it almost becomes weightless because it’s balanced so well. And the handguard — it’s been designed for a woman’s hand, so that our hands can wrap the guard and control the gun. We wanted that feature,” she said. Other features requested by TWAW and included on the LWRCI Diadem include fully ambidextrous controls, an enhanced padded buttpad for recoil absorption, an H2 buffer to ensure reliable cycling, an ambidextrous charging handle, and LWRCI’s advanced trigger guard.

The name LWRCI Diadem is a play on the LWRCI DI line of rifles, and adds a touch of royalty. “The name is a DI rifle and also is a crown jewel. It’s a crown jewel of the AR-15 line,” Lightfoot said.

After the plant tour, we headed out to LWRCI’s private shooting range on Ragged Island. We shot a few thousand rounds through the present Diadems (as well as other LWRCI guns) on steel at 100 yards. Lightfoot was right. The handguard worked with my hand size, and the balance felt right. We sent hundreds of rounds downrange, mostly offhand, and at times rapidly. The LWRCI Diadem continued to deliver, pinging the gongs with no malfunctions. The only drawback for me was the trigger. I wanted to work with this gun more to see what it delivered.

LWRCI Diadem AR-15
(l.) LWRCI’s commitment to ambidextrous operation is evident in the safety selector and bolt-catch release. (ctr.) All controls, including the magazine release, are duplicated on each side of the Diadem. (r.) Engraving on the magazine well and the purple ALG trigger further define this LWRCI DI rifle as the Diadem.

After receiving a test model to try, I took it to my range, and was illuminated. Spending some quality time with the LWRCI Diadem, I saw the rifle, as with all mechanical contraptions, was not perfect. Nevertheless, it came very close to meeting the TWAW requirements as they were explained to me. That said, guess what? All women (like all men) are different and we have our own preferences that might not perfectly match up with those of even a large group of other women.

Part of the difficulties I experienced in testing the rifle came from elements of the design, which, although they were features that satisfied the apparent desires for competition-based furniture, hindered quick and consistent medium- to long-range accuracy testing. For example, the trigger seemed similar to the much-maligned triggers on other LWRCI DI rifles in that it didn’t break consistently, was a little creepy and had a pull weight too heavy for accuracy testing at 100 yards.

LWRCI Diadem AR-15
Both front and rear sights can be used as stand-alone iron sights, or folded down if an optic is installed, and both are adjustable using simple tools.

The angle of the specially designed pistol grip on the LWRCI Diadem was too extreme for comfortable and consistent benchrest shooting, and its finger grooves were poorly spaced for my hand when shooting from the bench. The combination of a lightweight, small-diameter fore-end and heavy fluted barrel resulted in slow barrel heat dissipation, causing shot groups at 100 yards to open up unless I allowed at least 3 minutes from shot-to-shot. Once the barrel got hot (difficult to touch with my bare hand), it stayed hot much longer (of course) than a “pencil-barrel” AR-15 I was also testing.

The included back-up iron sights (BUIS) have a rotating drum peep system in the rear sight, and a front post with Heckler & Koch-type “ears” in the front sight. I like how it’s like a ghost ring at its most-open setting. I didn’t use the BUIS for accuracy testing, but did use them for chronograph work. Since the LWRCI Diadem did not come with a scope or mounts, I borrowed my Leupold Mark 4 8.5-25x50mm from another rifle for accuracy testing.

LWRCI Diadem AR-15
(l.) Proprietary rail mounts allow accessories to be added to the handguard at the 3-, 6- and 9-o’clock positions. (r.) The bolt-carrier group is nickel-boron coated and contains an integral gas key.

The LWRCI Diadem showed a preference for certain loads during accuracy testing. I shot both .223 Rem. and 5.56 NATO commercial ammunition. With a 1:7-inch twist rate, one might expect heavier, longer projectiles to stabilize better than lighter, shorter ones, and this generally held true. The gun may have shown better accuracy if I had some ammo with 77-grain projectiles, but, alas, I did not and had to make do with bullets ranging from 52 to 69 grains.

The only operational failures during the LWRCI Diadem range time were occasional failures of the bolt to lock rearward when I was using 20-round Magpul PMags and a couple of 10-round sheet-metal variants. There were no lock-back failures with the 30-round PMag supplied with the gun. Admittedly, the smaller mags have already seen several thousand rounds each and may be a bit worn, but since only one mag came with the gun I had to dip into my stockpile for more. That brings up another point: gun manufacturers (I’m not aware of more than a few that are not guilty in this area) need to include more than one magazine with each gun, since failures with semi-automatic firearms of all types often begin with a faulty magazine.

According to my Lyman electronic trigger-pull gauge, the average pull weight over five hammer drops was 7 pounds, 2 ounces. That doesn’t tell the whole story, though; the pull weight spread was nearly a pound, showing the inconsistency I noticed during accuracy testing. I shoot better when the pull is consistent and averaging at least 3 pounds less than the trigger on this rifle. I have heard and read that companies building ARs are intentionally sacrificing consistent and lighter trigger weights to the gods of safety and reliability — and, the triggers smooth-out with use. I suspect LWRCI is trying to keep the price of the rifle down since “everybody installs aftermarket triggers, anyway.”

LWRCI Diadem AR-15
(l.) The Magpul CTR stock is equipped with an enhanced buttpad for comfort. (ctr.) ErgoGrip’s pistol grip is designed with a subtle texture and a palm-filling shape. (r.) Magpul’s 30-round, standard-capacity magazines keep the Diadem fed.

I don’t know if any of these thoughts crossed the minds of the designers, but just in case, I’d like to address these concerns. First, call me an idealist, but I don’t think the lawyers for the aftermarket trigger makers that produce consistent, lighter triggers are going to knowingly allow unsafe and unreliable products to ship. Next, this LWRCI Diadem came to me with more than 1,500 rounds on its odometer, so if the trigger was going to get better with use, it should have already done so. Last, I’m one of those who have replaced stock triggers in ARs, but not in all of them. At last count, of the nine AR-pattern rifles in my stable, I’ve seen the need to replace the triggers in two of them.

Some of my ARs have two-stage triggers, some are single-stage, but none are creepy, all are consistent and their drop points range from slightly more than 3 pounds to a little more than 6 pounds. This last argument for mediocre stock triggers certainly should not have been in the manufacturer’s plan for this design, since TWAW members specifically requested purple-colored triggers — it is doubtful they had any intentions to replace what came with the gun. That said, aftermarket options abound.

LWRCI did not create this rifle from whole cloth, as several of the LWRCI Diadem’s features are the same or similar to other rifles from the company’s DI line, including the integrated gas key on the rifle’s nickel-boron-coated bolt-carrier group, a spiral-fluted NiCorr-treated barrel and LWRCI’s Monoforge upper receiver. It did, however, meet the requirements for a group of women who knew what they wanted. To date, Lightfoot says feedback about the Diadem has been extremely positive. “The women appreciate that the gun is not ‘girly,’ and that it’s in black,” added Lightfoot.

LWRCI Diadem AR-15

LWRCI Diadem AR-15

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RELOADERS CORNER: Cartridge Case Headspace

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Knowing, and controlling, this dimension is a crucially important step in the case sizing operation, especially for semi-autos. Here’s what it is and why it matters. Read all about it!

Glen Zediker

Last time, and to start the new year off, I hit a few highlights on the first of what I think are some of the most important things to understand in reloading for bolt-action and semi-automatic rifles. A majority of those differences is in what’s allowable and possible in cartridge case sizing.

The reason I’m running these articles is to clearly define the differences in, essentially, what you can get away with (and can’t get away without) depending on the action type. Don’t confuse some of the tactics, tools, and techniques used for bolt-actions and (mis)apply them to semis. That can range from frustrating (function issues) to disastrous (blowed-up guns). I hope that these focused articles will clarify the basics before moving on to the finer points respecting each.

case headspace illustration
Here’s headspace: it’s a height based on a diameter. A .223 Rem. uses a 0.330-inch-diameter datum; the height to the diameter on the case shoulder that equals 0.330 inches is the headspace dimension, measured from the case base (this is measured from the bolt face to determine headspace in a rifle chamber). There are only 5 datums that apply to all standard bottleneck cartridges; the correct number for your cartridge will be referenced in the cartridge specifications. (Belted magnums and rimmed cartridges are different stories, for a different story.)

Following on that, here’s one: cartridge case headspace. A rifle chamber has a headspace; a cartridge case has a headspace. The second cannot exceed the first. Here’s how it goes:

The area in point is the case shoulder, the area between the bottom of the case neck cylinder and the case body. There are two dimensions associated with case headspace: the diameter of the “datum” line, and the height (measured from the case base) to that line. So, headspace is determined by the location of the datum line. There are only 5 datum diameters in use over the range of bottleneck rifle cartridges. Datum diameter will be indicated in the cartridge description in any good loading manual. (Belted magnums, which headspace off the belt, are the exception, and different stories, and so are rimmed cases.)

Chamber headspace is determined by the chamber reamer and also the one operating the reamer. There are SAAMI standards for all standard cartridges (which are coincidentally those having SAAMI specs). Ammo manufacturers set their cartridge case dimensions to work within those same specs, and almost always with (literally) some room for variations. That means that, usually (and, again, I’m talking about factory-chambered rifles) the cartridge case headspace will be a little shorter than the rifle chamber will accommodate.

When a round fires, as is by now well-known, the case expands in all directions under pressure, swelling and conforming to the chamber, then retracts immediately afterward when pressure dissipates. Since brass has a plastic property, dimensions are not going to return to exactly what they were prior to firing, and that’s what all the sizing tools and operations seek to rectify. So, among other changes, the case shoulder will have “blown forward,” after having snugged up into that area of the rifle chamber. That will have moved the datum line upward. As hit upon last article, semi-automatics are notorious for exhibiting a little more than they “should have” in expanding, and that’s because there’s a little (to a lot) of pressure latent in the case when the bolt starts to unlock and move rearward. This can effectively create additional space for case expansion within the chamber. The case shoulder measurement after firing in a semi-auto might actually exceed that of the actual chamber headspace, or, at the least, be a little taller than it would have been in a bolt-gun having the exact same chamber dimensions. The hotter the load, the more gas system pressure, the more this might show.

case headspace tools
Get a few de-primed once-fired cases and a gage and get to work. Here’s a Forster Datum Dial gage. Works well and works for all standard-architecture bottleneck cartridges, as does the Hornady LNL. Each or either gives a “real” headspace number (although it’s not perfectly congruent, without mathematical manipulation, to the figure from a headspace gage used for chambering; that doesn’t matter though: as long as the gage is zeroed it shows the difference, and that’s what matters). By the way, the old standard “drop-in” style case gages might keep ammo safe, but won’t provide this sort of detail in information. The numbers we need to get from our gage are these: new, unfired case shoulder height (where we started); fired, unslzed case shoulder height (where we went to); sized case shoulder height (where we need to get back to).

To be rechambered, this case has to have its case shoulder “set back,” which means that the sizing die has to contact the shoulder area enough to budge it, bump it, down to a tolerable height. Here next is how to find out what that “tolerable” height is.

The process of adjusting a sizing die to produce correct cartridge case headspace is plenty simple and easy, and requires a specialty tool (and you knew that was coming): a gage to determine datum line height.

CHECK OUT MIDSOUTH Selections HERE

First, and important: this has to be done on the first firing of a new case, either a factory-loaded round or your own creation. For more conclusive accuracy, measure 4-6 cases, and, very important: de-prime a case before taking a read (the primer might interfere).

Measure a new case. Write that down.
Measure your fired case. Write that down.

Again, in a semi-auto the chamber might not actually be as long as the fired case reading says it is. In a bolt-gun, the post-firing case headspace dimension is going to be a closely-accurate indicator of the chamber headspace (but always subtract 0.001 inches from any reading to account for the predictable “spring back” in brass).

headspace reading
New — 1.458 inches.
headspace reading
Fired — 1.464 inches
headspace setting
Die setting — 1.460 inches.

To set the die, take the fired case reading and reduce it. How much set back? I recommend 0.003-0.004 inches for something like an AR15 or M1A. That’s playing it safe, considering, again (and again) that there may likely have been additional expansion beyond chamber dimensions. I’d like to see folks set back their bolt-guns at least 0.001, but I’m not going to argue! I don’t like running sticky bolts.

Set up case sizing die
Thread the sizing die down to touch the shellholder when the press ram is at its highest point of travel (whether it “cams” or not). Then back the die up (off) one full turn. Lightly seat the die body lock ring against the press top, and repeat the following process: lube and size the case, check the headspace; adjust the die downward, check the headspace. Rinse and repeat. For a 7/8-14 thread, which is virtually all presses, a full turn equals 0.0714 inches. That little nod of knowledge helps keep from going too far too soon, and also shows just how fine the adjustments get right at the end. When you think you got it, size a few more cases and read them. When you know you got it, lock the die ring. Note: the expander/decapping assembly was removed from this die, for one, because t doesn’t factor in establishing headspace, and because I set it all up separately on a new die. Headspace is the first thing I set.)

A little extra space ahead of the case shoulder helps ensure safe and reliable functioning in a semi-auto, and also, importantly, reduces the chance that the case might bottom out on the shoulder area in the chamber before the bolt is fully locked down. Firing residue in a semi-auto chamber is also effectively reducing chamber headspace, and that’s another reason for the little extra shoulder set-back. Keep the chamber clean!

headspace reading
Don’t just set the die bottom flush against the shellholder and commence to shucking cases! Most die makers provide that as instruction, and some say drop it down another quarter turn or so beyond that. That’s excessive. Here’s the read I got from flush die-shellholder contact on a new Forster.

Why not just set the shoulder back, for either action type, to what the factory set for the new case? Doing that really wouldn’t affect load performance, but, in my belief, deliberately creating what amounts to excessive headspace is not wise. It’s just that much more expansion, that much more “working” that the brass has to endure, that much shorter serviceable brass life. However! That’s not nearly as bad as leaving the shoulder too high! That’s dangerous.

NOTE: 
Bolt-Gun Only!
Do you have to do this with a bolt-gun? I say yes, but freely admit that, at the least, from zero to “just a tic” is safe enough. What you do need to do is know what you’re getting! For a bolt-action it is possible, and some think wise, to determine the necessary case shoulder set-back based on what is needed to close the bolt on the resized case: adjust the die down a tad at a time until the bolt closes. Depending on how stout the load is, it might be 2-4, or more, firings before the shoulder needs to be set back for a bolt-gun. But, rest assured, it eventually will. Just keep up with it. I think the bolt should close easily (and if you’re having issues with that in your handloads, there’s the first place to look for a cure). It’s really not possible to follow this plan with a semi-auto because the bolt will close with much greater force during actual firing. 

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.

 

NEW: Wilson Combat .458 HAM’R Tactical Hunter

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Bill Wilson upped the ante on successfully hunting with an AR-15. This new round sets a new standard for power. Read all about it!

wilson 458 HAM'R

Billed as the hardest-hitting, most powerful AR-platform rifle on the market today, the Wilson Combat .458 HAM’R Tactical Hunter looks to be a force to reckon with.

The new .458 HAM’R cartridge has a rebated rim that fits a standard AR-10-size bolt-face, but the hybrid receiver design allows for the use of a bolt-carrier group that’s 0.75-inch shorter than a standard AR-10 bolt, and the rifle feeds using standard AR-15 magazines from Lancer Systems.

Designed exclusively by Bill Wilson and the Wilson Combat staff, the .458 HAM’R produces up to 46,000 PSI and better than 3,000 foot-pounds of muzzle energy from an 18-inch barrel, exceeding the energy produced by other big-bore AR cartridges like .450 Bushmaster, .458 SOCOM, and .50 Beowulf. The energy produced by the round enables it to be used easily to hunt all big-game animals in North America, as well as for tactical applications.

Wilson Combat released two rifles chambered in the new cartridge, both with similar specifications: the Wilson Combat Tactical Hunter and the Ultimate Hunter. The Tactical Hunter is built with an 18-inch fluted barrel complete with a threaded muzzle and features a billet upper and lower receiver, the upper receiver providing a flattop Picatinny-rail section for optics mounting. With the stock collapsed, the gun measures 34.25 inches long and weighs 7 pounds, 11 ounces. The Ultimate Hunter variation features a carbon fiber fixed stock. There are barrel options.

The rifle uses a mid-length gas system controlled by an SLR Rifleworks adjustable gas block. The barrel and gas tube are surrounded by Wilson Combat’s own 14.6-inch M-Lok accessory rail and comes with three Ergo Grips rail covers. Other furniture provided on the rifle includes a Rogers/Wilson Super-Stoc and a Wilson Combat/BCM Starburst Gunfighter pistol grip.

Finish-wise, the rifle comes with the company’s durable green-and-black Armor-Tuff finish. Other finish options are available at an additional charge. The bolt-carrier group features a durable, low-friction NP3 coating, and the gun is equipped with the Wilson Combat Tactical Trigger Unit. The suggested retail price on the Tactical Hunter starts at $2,905, and Ultimate Hunter starts at $3055.

READ MORE HERE

2018 SHOT SHOW

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The biggest event in the industry is coming up soon! Read all about it…

SHOT SHOW 2018

The Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) is the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries. It is the world’s premier exposition of combined firearms, ammunition, law enforcement, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics, and related products and services. The SHOT Show attracts buyers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

At the 2017 SHOT Show, industry professionals packed the aisles from the opening bell, and attendance totaled nearly 65,000, to make it the second most attended SHOT Show ever.

2018 will see the 40th Anniversary event and is not to be missed!

DETAILS HERE!