If you shoot the “same” load for different rifles, here’s a few ideas on getting the most out of it for all of them. READ MORE
I have a few rifles…
Every time I do a new book I have more. This last time around, in writing America’s Gun: The Practical AR15, I built 10 AR15s, and half of those have the “same” chambering (5.56 NATO). My choices that I can case and then uncase any afternoon for some range time might all have the “same” chamber but they’re each and all, in some measured amount, different.
That’s literally in measured amounts, and more in a minute.
If you (like me) really don’t want to load separately, store separately, and use separately, then the only real choice is to employ a “lowest common denominator” tactic. With only one exception, I don’t load uniquely for any of these guns. I pretty much just want a sack-full of ammo at the ready. The one I load uniquely for has a tuned gas system (it’s a practical competition “race gun”).
Assuming all the rifles have the “same” chamber, meaning only that the barrel stamp is the same, there still exist differences. There are differences reamer to reamer, and, depending on the operator, there might (will) be differences in headspace, and leade. They’re likely to be tiny, but tiny can matter. Some manifestations of pressure have some to do with the barrel bore (land diameter for instance).
I measure spent cases for all the different rifles. They don’t measure nearly all the same! Of all the set-by-sizing dimensions, cartridge headspace has shown the most variation in my samples.
That, also, is a very important dimension to set. As gone on (and on and on) in RELOADERS CORNER, the idea is to get adequate case shoulder set-back to ensure function, and also to keep it to the minimum necessary to prolong case life. The minimum necessary runs from 0.003 for a semi-auto to 0.001 for a bolt-action.
To set this dimension for multiple rifles that use the same batch of ammo, the means is pretty easy to anticipate: find the gun with the shortest headspace, set the die to set back the case shoulder where it needs to be for that one, and live with it.
If you don’t want to give in thataway, but rather prefer (or at least don’t mind, two technically different outlooks) running multiple dies with multiple adjustments, and keeping the ammo segregated, then here’s more.
I’ve had really good experiences using a turret press. For most rifle needs, one with, say, four spots will allow the use of two sizing dies, maybe three (depending on what occupies the other locations). These dies can be uniquely adjusted for cartridge case headspace. Of course, it’s easily possible to just swap dies in and out but the turret keeps them put and saves a step.
If you’re a bolt-gun shooter and have a couple or more rifles that run the same cartridge, and if you’re wanting to get the most from your efforts in loading for each, you might consider this next. Redding has long-made a set of five shellholders with varying heights. They allow a shellholder swap on the same die to alter case headspace, for example. There are also shims available that go under the die lock ring to provide for die body height variance. This sort of setup lets the handloader alter-adjust headspace without readjusting the die.
Now. As far as lighting on a load that they’ll all shoot their absolute best with. Sorry to say, but “not likely.” There sometimes seems like there is more mystery than there is known in “why some shoot better” with one load. And when I say “load” I’m talking about the dose, the amount of propellant. What that ends up being mandates at least some effort in evaluating more than one rifle when working up to a point you’ll call it “good.”
NATO-spec ammo is hot and getting hotter! I’m talking about true NATO-spec, not just lower-cost ammo sold in a “plain box.” This isn’t about NATO ammo, but it was for me. The difference between pressure levels of NATO and, say, a commercial-made .223 Rem. “match” load are enough that two of the guns won’t even run with that. I set up these guns from the workbench respecting NATO pressures, and that, in most cases, meant firming up the “back end”: heavier buffers and springs.
My good old “do it all” load no longer exists in my current notes. Amazingly, to me at least, it’s up the velocity equivalent of about a grain and a half from what I used to bust up clods and cans with. It’s also a different propellant (now H335).
No question: pressure symptoms must also define the “lowest common denominator” when loading the same for multiple guns. Since I also have to consider reliable function in my own example, and as just suggested, I’m loading up a little nearer the edge. I carefully evaluate spent case condition from each rifle and anything that reads or appears remotely as an excessive pressure sign means I’ll knock a universal half grain off the group load.
We also have a link to the Shooters World site here, just in case they update the link before we have a chance to. There’s even a link for European data!
“One of Shooters Worlds biggest goals is to support competitive shooters and reloaders. Shooters World works hard to develop our own load data based on what the competition shooters and reloaders are asking for . Shooters World will always do its best to keep our prices low and Powder available. So once you change to our product there is no need to look anywhere else.” – Shooters World Powders
One of the hottest calibers of 2018, the 224 Valkyrie keeps the hype comings and suppliers are working hard to keep up with customer requests. It continues to impress shooters across the nation, but as it’s popularity gains, more and more people are hungry for better standardized data to build their own ammunition.
Hodgdon Powders, one of the most trusted names in reloading powder, and reloading data, has stepped up to the plate with their amazing reloading web tool, and offered a full menu of reloading data for the 224 Valkyrie. Use this guide to hone your reloads!
Much to the excitement of our Do-It-Yourself customers, the reloading data comes at a time when there are more component options available than ever. You can find everything you need to load your own 224 Valkyrie right here at Midsouth shooters Supply!
Will this wicked new caliber continue to live up to the hype? Have you started reloading for it yet? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
When a new projectile enters the reloading market, it’s a pretty big deal. It’s always exciting to see innovation coupled with precision, and performance. The GameChanger Bullets, a new offering in the tipped GameKing bullet line, are touted as the “…perfect blend of exceptional Ballistic Coefficients (BC), Accuracy, and Deadly Terminal Performance on tough wild game.” The bullets feature a synthetic tip for smoother chambering, improved flight and better expansion on target (game) impact. The open pocket design below the poly-tip further expands the lead core, while the precisely engineered jacket wall concentricity makes for an incredibly accurate bullet.
Tuned ogive for industry-leading BC.
Boat tail design creates stable flight and accuracy.
Open pocket (Hollow Point) expands lead core instantly on impact.
When it comes to the release of new projectiles, reloading data can be difficult to find. We’ve obtained some load data from the ballisticians at Sierra for select calibers. For more calibers not listed, please contact Sierra for assistance! The load data provided is to be used to their exact specifications.
Don’t lose sight of the basics when making tool, dimensional, or load choices. Here are four unchanging “musts” to make your results the best they can be. READ ON!
I have been basing some of my topics for this department on correspondence, and here’s another. Someone wrote asking me for a compare/contrast on the two handloading-specific books I’ve written, and the essential question revolved around whether or not the older of the two had been “updated.” Concerns were over inclusion or exclusion of new tools and propellants, and other components, and reloading techniques: essentially whether the newer book was better just because it was newer. Hmm… I thought long and hard about all that.
My answer, strongly self-paraphrased, was that there were always going to be new tools and propellants and bullets and cartridges and primers, but “what matters” in learning how to make ammo gin (accurately and safely) hasn’t really changed. Those who know my work over the past twenty-something years know I’ve never been eager to step up on a soapbox and proclaim coronation of the latest-greatest propellant, bullet, or even cartridge king. Instead, I’ve done my best to help folks learn how to judge merits and values of new things, based on a thorough understanding of all the old things. But this isn’t about me and it’s not just shameless self-promotion. It’s an overview of what I really think matters: it’s an effort to put into perspective the potential merits of all the new things.
For me, the four most important things to achieve with a handload are, one, that the case has been sized correctly and appropriately for the rifle; two, that care has been taken to ensure that the round is concentric (more in a bit); three, exercising some discretion in bullet velocity (also more in a bit); and, four, taking steps from reloading to reloading to maintain consistent performance.
Then there is an almost never-ending slew of finer points within all these points. And one ton of tools.
What I “know” about a load combination hasn’t come from one afternoon at the range. It’s often come from years. I have seen a whopping lot of bandwagons competitive shooters have jumped onto and off of. Newly hitched wagons are still rolling strong, departing continually. It is very important to have a set of components and processes and load structures to fall back on, which really then means a set that you can move forward from.
I look at new things from a perspective of how and how well I can apply one of them to satisfy the same old needs. These needs are a filter, more or less, that helps determine if the new things are indeed improvements, or just new.
I am a competitive person. Our club CRO, Col. Floyd, once announced to the crowd at a local High Power Rifle tournament that I could smell gold-plated plastic through four feet of reinforced concrete… I admit to the truth in that. So, I am in no way suggesting that new things aren’t good, that we should all stay only with what we know. I’m always looking for ways to do better; but for me it’s not been so much trying something new, but rather taking another step using what’s been working pretty well for me thus far. That usually involves more focus on consistency.
I have a lot of stories about ultimate failures eventually resulting from initially wild successes, including lost championships, but the only value telling any of them would have is to make me sound way too old school. They are, again, never (ever) taken to mean that new things aren’t worth pursuit. Just shoot a lot of it under varied circumstances before packing it up along with the suitcase to attend a big event.
Back to setting down some tangible point to all this: most tool choices and case preparation steps I take have a goal of improving loaded round concentricity, which is to say centeredness or straightness. No doubt about it, a bullet looking dead center into a rifle bore is going to shoot better than one that’s cockeyed.
Cases with more consistent neck wall thicknesses, sizing die designs, and bullet seater designs can either enhance or detract from concentricity. Likewise, operations like outside case neck turning are done ultimately to improve concentricity. It matters!
The comment earlier about not getting too greedy for speed gets preached a lot by a good many, and the reason is avoiding anything that’s edgy. “Edgy,” to me, means something that’s going to take a turn for the worse on a day that’s 20-degrees warmer, or (in the case of the lost event mentioned earlier) 20-degrees colder.
The best advice I can offer on this is, first and most obvious, use a little discretion working up a load to a ceiling higher than what equivalent-spec factory ammo can produce. It can take more than a few case and primer inspections to know if a “max” load is truly safe. Next is to get to work on finding a propellant/primer combination (mostly propellant) that’s showing good accuracy at less-than-max velocities. By that I mean I will not trust anything that seems to shoot well only when it’s running “hot.” Accuracy is, after all and always, what ultimately defines success.
(Since this piece is kind of a “year-end” thing, I plan to start the new year up fresh with a whopping lot more about specific new (and old) things that will help ensure you’re getting the most you can from your time spent at the loading bench.)
The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HEREat Midsouth. Also check HEREfor more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.
Priming is the final case preparation step, and it’s one of the most important. Read how to do it right.
There are pretty much three different style tools used to seat primers.
The first, and way on most common, is the priming “arm” attached to most every single-stage press. This works, but it’s the least best way to do it. There’s too much leverage at hand, and that makes it hard to feel the seating process to its best conclusion.
Take a close look at how a primer is constructed: there’s a cylindrical cup, inside the cup is the incendiary compound, and then there’s the anvil (that’s the little part that extends below the cup rim; it’s like a flat spring with three feet).
Ideally, a primer will seat flush against the bottom of the primer pocket, with compression, equally of course, against the anvil. Also ideally, there should be some resistance in seating the primer (if there’s not then the pocket has expanded an amount to cause concern, and a rethink on the suitability of reusing this case, and its brothers and sisters).
If it has to be a choice, even though it doesn’t have to be, it’s better to have “too much” seating than not enough. The primer cannot (cannot) be left too “high.” That’s with reference to the plane of the case head. There are both safety and performance concerns if it is. First, if the primer is not seated snugly to the bottom of its pocket, then the firing pin will finish the job. No doubt, there will be variations in bullet velocities if this happens because it affects ignition timing.
Each and every loaded round you ever create needs to be checked for this. Every one. Get in the habit of running your finger across the case bottom and feeling a little dip-down where the primer is. Look also. Rounds loaded on a progressive machine are susceptible to high primers. The reason is no fault of the machine but rather because the feel or feedback is that much less sensitive than even when using a press-mounted priming arm. If there are a half-dozen other stations on a tool head in operation at once, then the one doing the priming is that much more obscured from feel. And also because we’re not usually able or willing to inspect each finished round as it emerges from the rotating shell plate. But do check afterwards as you’re filing the loaded rounds away into cartridge boxes. Much more to be said ahead on this topic next edition.
The better priming tools have less leverage. That is so we can feel the progress of that relatively very small span of depth between start and finish. There is also a balance between precision and speed in tool choices, as there so often is. Also, so often, my recommendation is one that hits the best balance.
The press-mounted primer arm styles exhibit variations from maker to maker, but they’re all about the same in function. What matters most in using a press seater is going slowly and double-checking each and every result. Again, it’s the lack of feel for the progression of the primer going into the pocket that’s the issue.
The best way to seat primers, or I should say the means that gives the best results, are the “hand” tools. They are also a little (okay, a lot) tedious to use, and, for me at least, aren’t kind to my increasingly ailing joints after priming a large number of cases. Those types that have a reservoir/feeding apparatus are less tedious, but still literally a pain. The reason these type tools give the best results is that they have poor leverage. The first few times you seat with one, you’ll be amazed at just how much pressure you need to apply to fully seat a primer.
The best choice, in my book, are the benchtop stand-alone priming stations. They are faster than hand tools, and can be had with more or less leverage engineered into them. I like the one shown nearby the best because its feeding is reliable and its feel is more than good enough to do a “perfect” primer seat. It’s the best balance I’ve found between speed and precision.
Get a good primer “flip” tray for use in filling the feeding magazine tubes associated with some systems. Make double-damn sure each primer is fed right side up (or down, depending on your perspective). A common cause of unintentional detonation is attempting to overfill a stuffed feeding tube magazine, so count and watch your progress.
It’s okay to touch primers, by the way. Rumors abound that touching them with bare fingers will “contaminate” the compound and create misfires. Not true. All the primers I’ve ever used, and all those anyone else is likely to encounter, are treated to a sealant. Now, a drop of oil can penetrate the compound and render it intert, but not a fingerprint.
The priming process, step-by-step is almost too simple to diagram. Place a primer anvil-side-up in the device housing apparatus, position a case, push the primer in place. It’s learning feel of the whole thing that takes some effort. As mentioned, using a tool with poor leverage, you might be surprised how much effort it takes to fully seat a primer. On anything with an overage of leverage, there’s little to no sensation of primer movement into the pocket. It just stops.
TWO DONT’S: Don’t attempt to seat a high primer more deeply on a finished round. The pressure needed to overcome the inertia to re-initiate movement may be enough to detonate it.
Don’t punch out a live primer! That can result in an impressive fright. To kill a primer, squirt or spray a little light oil into its open end. That renders the compound inert.
ONE (BIG) DO: Keep the priming tool cup clean. That’s the little piece that the primer sits down into. Any little shard of brass can become a firing pin! It’s happened!
Hornady has just announced their new products for 2018, from the much anticipated new reloading tools, to innovations in ammo and projectiles, Midsouth is eager to fill our shelves with their new offerings! Read on for a brief breakdown of what’s coming soon!
New in Reloading:
Cordless Vibratory Powder Trickler:
Some cool tools are on their way from Hornady MFG., like this Vibratory Trickler, which makes “quick work of various reloading chores!”
The Vibratory Trickler, powered by two AAA batteries, features variable settings to trickle all kinds of powders, ensuring the precise amount for each charge. Its modular design means you can use it with or without the base and also makes cleanup quick and easy.
Trickles all powders
Light-up LED screen
High, low, and variable trickle settings
Use in base or outside of base
Weighted for stability
Hornady Rotary Case Tumbler:
Clean and polish brass cartridge cases to a brilliant shine with the rotary action of this tumbler, coupled with its steel pin tumbling media (included). Use in conjunction with Hornady® One Shot® Sonic Clean Solution.
Six-liter drum holds 5 pounds of brass cases. Set tumbler to run for up to eight hours in half-hour increments using the digital timer.
Check out all the new items coming to our reloading category by clicking here!
Speaking of reloading, lets take a look at some of the new projectiles being developed by Hornady!
The DGX® Bonded (Dangerous Game™ eXpanding) bullet features a copper-clad steel jacket bonded to a lead core to provide limited, controlled expansion with deep penetration and high weight retention. Bonding the jacket to the core prevents separation from high-energy impact on tough material like bone, ensuring the bullet stays together for deep expansion.
DGX® Bonded bullets are built to the same profile as the corresponding DGS® (Dangerous Game™ Solid) bullets but expand to 1½ to 2 times their bullet diameter.
The thicker 0.098” copper-clad steel jacket of DGX Bonded sets it apart from other dangerous game bullets, allowing it to tear through tough material like hide, muscle and bone.
DGX Bonded features a flat nose with serrated sections to deliver a uniform expansion from 100 to 150 yards and straight penetration, reducing possible deflections.
Bonded Jacket and Core
The bonding process locks the jacket and lead core together, improving the retained weight of the expanded bullet.
ELD-X and ELD Match Bullets:
There’s also a few new calibers coming to the ELD-X line of projectiles. The Extremely Low Drag – eXpanding bullets are a technologically advanced, match accurate, ALL-RANGE hunting bullet featuring highest-in-class ballistic coefficients and consistent, controlled expansion at ALL practical hunting distances. You can find them right here at Midsouth!
The name says it all! The 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge was designed to achieve the highest levels of accuracy, flat trajectory and extended range performance in a sensibly designed compact package.
The name says it all! The 6.5 Precision Rifle Cartridge was designed to achieve the highest levels of accuracy, flat trajectory and extended range performance in a sensibly designed compact package.
Utilizing moderate powder charges that result in repeatable accuracy, low recoil and reasonable barrel life, the 6.5 PRC produces high velocities for target shooting with performance well beyond 1000 yards.
Rifle makers currently chambering the 6.5 PRC include GA Precision, Gunwerks, PROOF Research, Stuteville Precision and Seekins Precision. Check back often as additional gun manufacturers confirm chambering the 6.5 PRC.
There’s a lot more to cover, and information is still coming in daily on the new products announced for next year. Stay tuned for a more in depth look at these items as we get a chance to demo them.
After 50 years with their current owners, and 70 years in business, Sierra Bullets has been sold.
If you’ve reloaded for any length of time at all, you’ve gleaned some knowledge of Sierra Bullets, based out of Sedalia, MO. Great projectiles, fine quality, and trusted pistol and rifle bullets, all sold here at Midsouth Shooters Supply. With our shameless plug out of the way, here’s some more history on Sierra:
What started at a few guys in a Quonset hut in California making rivets for aircraft, front sight ramps, and fishing rod guides, has spun up into one of the top projectile manufacturers in the country, and
it’s all thanks in-part to WWII, and competitive shooting becoming a popular post war sport. Demand was high, and Sierra formed to fill the need for match projectiles. In fact, they still sell the #1400 53 grain MatchKing bullet to this day. You can get yours here!
Flash forward some 20 years to 1969, and Sierra is purchased by BHH Management group. Keep standards high, and developing several new offerings to the reloading community, BHH led Sierra to become a household name in the shooting world. In 1990, when Sierra moved to Sedalia, MO they built a test range, which has led to more advancements like the Tipped MatchKing line of bullets.
Now, with 140 employees, and $30,000,000 per year in stated revenue, BHH has decided to sell to the Clarus Corp. formerly, Black Diamond Group. So, what does the price tag look like? $79,000,000 “subject to a post-closing working capital adjustment”. Clarus is no stranger to the “outdoor” world either. SafariLand, among a few other outdoor retail brands, plus the odd communications and common diversification companies round out their portfolio.
According to StreetInsider.com “The transaction is expected to be immediately lucrative to Clarus’ earnings per share. For the unaudited 12 months ended June 30, 2017, Sierra’s total revenues were approximately $32 million with EBITDA of approximately $12.5 million, representing a purchase price multiple of approximately 6.3x EBITDA. Sierra has a strong cash flow profile, generating free cash flow conversion of approximately 95% with limited ongoing capex requirements.”
“The team at Sierra has continued building on a 70-year legacy dedicated to the highest-level of precision in design, world-class manufacturing and quality control,” said Warren B. Kanders, executive chairman of Clarus. “These attributes have cultivated a diverse customer base of enthusiasts and industry OEMs that drive high recurring revenue and strong cash flow, which we expect to maximize through the utilization of our net operating loss carry forwards.”
Sierra’s President Pat Daly commented: “Our team takes great pride in developing and manufacturing the most precise and accurate bullets in the world. This is supported by our deep institutional knowledge of highly-specialized manufacturing processes that have produced leading products and created a significant competitive advantage. As the only pure-play bullet brand, it was important for us to partner with a team that shares our values and commitment to excellence, and we are excited to join the Clarus family. I look forward to staying on to continue driving our brand growth.” All senior management are expected to remain with Sierra under Clarus’ ownership.
Sierra was kind enough to post to their own blog the answers to a few frequently asked questions since the announcement of the sale.
Will Sierra Bullets be moving?No – Clarus has committed to keeping Sedalia, MO home for all 140 Sierra employees and their families. Unfortunately, our dreams of moving the plant to a private tropical island were quickly squashed.
Will I will be able to get the same great bullets I have come to love?Yes! There are no planned changes to the existing product line, but watch for exciting new additions in the future! Perhaps our dream of making a self-propelled gravity defying gold core titanium bullet will finally be fulfilled!
Are there any changes to the staff?Nope – you are still stuck with all of us from the President on down.
Can I invest in the company that now owns Sierra Bullets?Yes – Clarus Corporation is traded on NASDAQ under the symbol “CLAR”. Or you can continue investing in Sierra Bullets one little green box at a time!
We wish our friends at Sierra the best, and a smooth transition!
What questions do you have about the Sierra Sale? Are you a Sierra reloader? What’s your favorite Sierra bullet?