Scales Used for Re-Loading

Team B2B Precision

Scales used for re-loading:

Reloading scales vary greatly in cost, quality, and accuracy. They also vary in method. You have scales that also act as powder dispensers, and those that are developed for lab work.
The most basic reloading scale is the “balance beam” scale. Within each group type of scales, again, cost, quality, and accuracy are the main concern. For this type of scale please see: http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/tag/scott-parker/

“Digital” scales may be the most popular, as they are easy to read and seem to be easier to use. Easier to use, only if you’ve read and understand the instructions, and adhere to them. I am including a link on this type of scale also, and encourage you to read the “related posts” at the bottom of the page.  http://www.accurateshooter.com/…/ten-commandments-for-elec…/

I will also include this one as it shows an even more sophisticated/expensive option.  https://forum.snipershide.com/…/90479-sartorius-gd503-scale…

No doubt some of you have first-hand experience with top quality scales. My intention here is to provide some material for thought for those of you who are still seeking traction on the scale issues. We have used inexpensive digitals, balance beams, Chargemasters, and lastly (because that is what we use now), the Gem Pro 250. The Gem Pro 250 is also inexpensive, but not nearly as inexpensive as some of the name brand reloading scales. I will continue to use the Gem Pro until I can justify buying a Sartorius, which probably won’t happen anytime soon. 

I tested my Gem Pro against my vintage RCBS 10-10 that readily moves ever so slightly from kernel to kernel. I was as anal as I could muster, and quite frankly, I thought the results would be very close, but it wasn’t to be. The RCBS was good, but not as good as the Gem Pro. I compared 5 rounds from each scale shot over the Magneto Speed, looking primarily at ES. 32 for the beam scale, 13 for the Gem Pro. That’s all I needed to see. Others results may go the other way, but mine didn’t, and that’s what I go by. Not a large sample test, but enough for me to see where it was headed.

The brass we use:

Brass seems to come at us from both ends of the spectrum, with very little in the middle. I just recently found this and want to share it: https://www.petersoncartridge.com/our-process/drawing-brass
It’s the first time I’ve seen this, and I can say I will look at their product. 

I am also highly considering buying some brass from Starline. If anyone uses Starline and can compare it to another popular brass, please share. We no doubt have most of the same brass everyone else has that has been saved and is currently gathering dust.

I will start with my experience with Hornady brass, once fired brass of more than one caliber. To say “disappointed” would be an understatement. Weight sorting Hornady brass was an exercise in futility for me. The results were all over the place, and they lost me for good. I never actually tried their new brass, but like I said, I moved on.

Recently I brought 100 rounds of new unfired Winchester brass home to uniform for Joe. It was on sale so he thought he would cut a fat hog and get a few hundred of the dreadful things. The bag had many flat necks in the count, way more than I thought there should be. I ran them all through an expander die/mandrel from PMA Tool, and then checked neck thickness for uniformity. There was none, so I turned the necks and continued to do the primer pockets and flash holes, and then trim them to some form of uniformity. Chamfer, de-bur, and wash. They actually looked good once they were done, but none have been loaded yet for further inspection.

Nosler brass is said to be very uniform in weight. It is . . . but how they accomplish it is a question of its own. I’m sure I know how they do it, as do others who use it and I’ll leave it at that. I do use it with good success for 7mm Rem mag, and I will continue to use it for that caliber.

Lapua brass is extremely popular and of high quality and price. We use it and enjoy the results we get from it. Being the way I am, I can’t load before a trip to the expander and a slight neck turn for “ensured” neck uniformity, and while I’m at it I check everything. Some say “nonsense”, but I want to eliminate even the possibility of variables. No one else has to, but I do it for peace of mind. 

If you are shooting factory ammunition, especially of the inexpensive variety, you can expect to see improvements if you decide to re-load. Brass quality is of great importance to the hand-loader. If you save brass, and then decide to re-load, measure and weigh the brass so you can decide if you want to use it. 

There are of course many other brands of brass. Some are simply made by a parent company and rebranded. If you have tried and compared other brass with good results, please share your findings. 

Team B2B Precision

Rifle Dies

Team B2B Precision
Focus: Rifle Dies
Reference: Bryan Litz, Berger Bullets Reloading Manual Edition 1

I will start by sharing two paragraphs from Berger’s Handloading Basics, A “How To” guide by Bryan Litz.

His words, not mine for now:
“The basic approach is to resize the case using a full length resizing die. This will return the casing to its original factory dimensions. The case goes up into the die and has its neck and body squeezed down. In the process, the decapping pin knocks out the spent primer. When the case is extracted from the die, a button will slightly expand the neck to insure it has the proper inside diameter for gripping the bullet. For total full length resizing, the die is screwed into the press until it contacts the shell-holder with the ram in the up position. Backing the die off the shell-holder slightly is a way to partially resize the case.”

More from Bryan:
“For potentially increased precision, many handloaders take deliberate control over how much resizing is done to various parts of the case. For example, you might be able to resize only the neck of the case, and not the body which will create a tighter fit between the cartridge body and the chamber. The tight fit provides the bullet with better alignment to the bore, which may improve precision. Some dies have interchangeable bushings that you can select to control the exact amount of neck sizing. Choosing various diameter bushings allows you to control neck tension, a variable that’s known to affect precision.”

Now I will add to/comment on what Bryan said. In his first paragraph, you’ll note he mentioned the button on the decapping pin. Well, some dies now have incremented expander buttons so you can set neck tension more precisely using a full length die on unturned necks. Also in the first paragraph he mentioned backing the die off the shell-holder, also known as floating the die, to accomplish partial resizing. This is a common technique and Redding dies have now made this a highly repeatable process by using their “Competition” shell-holders that come in sets of five, from .002 to .010 to address partial resizing. I am in the process of altering my personal regiment of neck sizing only, to Redding dies and shell-holders. I will use the Type “S” die with bushings and compare my results to neck sizing only. I have found since I use bushings, I leave out the decapping pin and expander balls entirely and decap with a universal decapping die, followed by the initial cleaning of the brass. I don’t put my brass in my dies until it’s cleaned the first time. After resizing, it’s back in the tank for another bath.

Based on Team B2B Precisions personal testing and the account of our RPR .243 Load Development article at Long Range Hunting on line magazine, we can say without a doubt, we experienced measurable gains in precision by full uniforming of our brass to include neck turning and using bushing dies. When you enter a repeatable factor such as neck tension to your process, you are also affecting velocity and pressure. Knowing that each and every bullet can be released under the same pressure and obtain very similar velocity gives you the confidence that your collected data will give you first shot hits at very extended ranges.

So as you can see, how much you are willing to do will determine your results. Basic dies and hunting bullets will give you good results for hunting. If you are after long range success, whether hunting or shooting sports, the more you do, the better your results will be. The better your equipment, the greater the potential is for repeatable shot to shot performance.

A couple quick pointers that helped us get better results for ES and SD: we ditched the standard chronographs of the 100$+or- variety and now use Magneto Speeds. That and after testing whatever scales we could access, we now use Gem Pro 250s with the future hope of serious German scales.  
Next, more on scales and brass.

To Reload or Not to Reload

Have you ever stood in front of the mirror and asked yourself . . . “should I reload my own ammo”?  Well, me either.  But I have asked myself if it’s really worth it to reload ammunition.  

Trying to explain worth, one has to consider the money side of reloading.  How much is it going to cost.  Next, understanding just what kind of accuracy improvements you can expect to see from loading your own ammo.

Money.  What it will cost and what it will save.  No doubt there will be a lengthy list of tools that are necessary to make your own hand loads.  Obviously you have the press, dies, and scale.  Those alone can be pretty expensive, but actually, all the small tools that are essential to reloading, are what 20, 30, and 50 dollars you to death.  But it’s your hobby, right?  And you like small specialty tools, too.  How does all this spending add up to savings?  This is the point to consider.

How much do you shoot each year, and are you mostly a hunter, or a serious shooting sports enthusiast that also hunts?  The amount of shooting you do is a huge consideration when trying to decide to load, or not to load.  The initial outlay for tools can be considerable, and there will always be some other tool that offers an improvement to what you have.  So, the tool cost is kind of ongoing, doesn’t have to be, but most likely will.

If you shoot a lot, you will save money because the consumable materials for loading your own are considerably less expensive than decent factory ammo. If you’re a couple 3 boxes of ammo a year guy/gal, you won’t be breaking even any time soon.  So if you shoot a lot, and you are passionate about accuracy, reloading is right for you.

So how good is the whole accuracy thing with reloads, anyway . . . That is going to depend on your approach to reloading.  Are you all in on precision loading with uniformed brass, or are you only wanting to duplicate factory ammo?  Duplicating factory ammo will give you similar to or slightly better results than the factory ammo you are trying to duplicate.

For precision loads, uniformed brass yields great results.  When you uniform the primer pocket, flash hole, neck wall thickness, trim to length, chamfer and de-burr, all will contribute to increased repeatable accuracy.  If you compromise and skip one or more of the procedures, you will also, by a small degree, compromise the end results.  Each procedure on its own does very little, but put them all together, and the results become significant.

 Provided you are shooting a capable rifle, and have developed a precision load for that rifle, your accuracy should be well below 1 moa, possibly even in the ½ moa range for 5 shot groups.  Of course this will also be dependent on your relative shooting skills. 

Taking your brass from prepped and ready to load, to the actual reloading of the completed cartridge, involves the selection and use of caliber specific dies.  Full understanding of the use of the different dies and their functions, and when to use them, will be another post.

The pictures of small tools are examples of just a few of the tools you might want, and they all pertain to uniformed brass and measuring.  Brands and styles are preferences or were on sale!

Team B2B Precision

Bullets, barrels, and twist rates . . .

Team B2B Precision

Bullets, barrels, and twist rates . . . as we all know, there have been tremendous advancements in bullet design. Ballistic co-efficient can be described as a bullet’s ability to cut through the air, as in low drag, and the least possible disruption of flight.

Now, many rifles are a bit slow to keep pace with the bullet manufacturers’ advancements, still coming from the factory with old school twist rates that are more appropriate for strictly hunting purposes. The new bullets all require faster twist rates to stabilize their usually longer for caliber profiles.

A favorite resource for us is Berger Bullet’s twist rate stability calculator. Once you select the chambering for your new gun, or if you are just trying out different bullets, it is imperative that you know your twist rate and choose your bullets accordingly.

We also strongly recommend that you know your muzzle velocity so you can determine velocities out as far as you intend to shoot. This way, you can enter the velocity at a specific down range yardage and check stability along the bullet’s path.

No matter which bullets you choose, Berger’s reloading manual is a must-read that will bring the reloader up front and center of the latest tools, techniques, and understanding of the modern handload.

So . . . a hunting rifle and its barrel can mostly be described as a rifle that has a lighter contoured barrel (smaller diameter). The purpose of that is mostly weight related and results in a barrel that heats up rather quickly, as in just a few shots before a normal group starts to open up. Not always, but pretty much . . . so as you can imagine, that’s not going to work well for any type of event that requires lots of shooting.

Now . . . the rifle you plan to use for recreational shooting, like long range games of small game shoots/big game shoots and everything in between, including tactical events, would literally destroy a light barrel. So this is where the heavier barrels dominate. The shooter can take many more shots between cool down periods with no significant loss of accuracy.

For the shooter just getting started, there are many good choices of rifles with a bit heavier barrels that will allow you to play the games. If you know what to look for, you can buy a rifle that allows for very easy barrel replacement in the event you shoot out the original barrel, or just decide to upgrade to a custom match grade barrel that should certainly be an improvement over the factory barrel.

You have the option to either determine the very best factory ammo for your chosen rifle, or embark on the reloading adventure. Reloading should provide the very best results, but there are some very good high quality custom ammo makers out there.

So now we know the barrel is paramount to precision shooting. It is also advisable to install a muzzle brake or suppressor on that barrel, regardless of the caliber, to help maintain the target in the sight picture throughout the shot process so the shooter can spot his/her own shots. This is most helpful for follow up shots as many shoots require more than one shot per target.

Then we have triggers . . . an adjustable trigger is perhaps one of the most personal items on a rifle, as there are many choices and shooters often have very different ideas as to what constitutes the “best for them” feel. One guy.s favorite is the next guy’s most disliked.

I will say for anyone looking at new rifles, it’s hard to overlook a 6.5 Creedmoor or similar cartridge. For many, the 6mm rifles are an absolute pleasant alternative to 6.5mm with no significant drop in performance. There are several 6 and 6.5 chamberings to choose from and they are all good ones.

When its time to hunt, if you have a spot where you can overlook a field or clear cut with a minimal hike packing your long-range rifle, by all means, use it for your hunt. Just be aware, a typical deer rifle is in the 8 to 9lb range decked out and your LR rig is likely to be 12 to 15lbs. My .243 as well as Joe’s fall into the barely sub 15lb zone. That makes for a serious hump, but if it’s short and you can see a big area, then you have your serious shooter at your side . . . more later, Russ @ Team B2B Precision

 

Before I talk about scopes, I will backpedal just a bit to include some more info about box rifles...

Before I talk about scopes, I will backpedal just a bit to include some more info about box rifles; the Savage GRS is a promotional item and is in limited supply until later in the summer.

I would also like to add that yes, Remingtons in certain models are also good.

I will explain more later about what distinguishes the hunting rifle from a play rifle.

Moving on to rifle scopes . . . now this is a can of worms that you want to get right the first time. There are so many to choose from and they are mostly all beautiful.

Over the years scopes have evolved from mostly reliable to not reliable at all . . . everything was the scopes enemy: sun, rain, fog, humidity, bad eyes, you name it, they all worked against the scope and the job it was meant to perform.

Today, those same types of scopes are still available but there are also many scopes that are so incredible they defy logic. So long as you're willing to keep peeling greenies off your roll, the features of the scope will continue to mount.

We have kind of gone all over the place with scopes to a certain point. Five hundred dollars to two thousand dollars is where we've been, back and forth, up and down. We've learned what features we like and can’t do without, and what we like but don’t want to pay for. We've learned that a very nice scope for a person with younger, fresh eyes isn’t necessarily going to work for an older person with aging, changing eye sight.

We read everything we can about optics. We have found a few sources of invaluable information regarding rifle scopes that have actually been field tested side by side and compared to all others within a similar price range. I will reference these sources and others later that will help you digest the technical differences of different models.

Choosing a scope will become a personal issue, insofar as you will need one that you can get along with. Enough magnification, but not too much. Does its magnification range suit your purpose? Is the reticle too busy and have so many lines as to distract you? Size, weight, objective lens, turrets, paralax adjustment, and even a level are some of the things you will need to understand.

So I will point out that we have tried and liked several of the scopes under two thousand. Bushnell Elites, Sig, Vortex, and Nightforce all have redeeming qualities. I would say that to a certain point, one could pay the same amount for the scope as one does for the rifle. Five hundred dollar rifle, five hundred dollar scope, or thereabouts. I'd also suggest the better the rifle, the more deserving it is of a high quality scope. If you can't see it, you can't hit it. Once you get things stretched out to several hundred yards and twice that, you will be screaming for all you can get out of your scope. What I'm saying is DON"T SCRIMP HERE !!!!!!

To this point, its simple . . . a decent scope to go with a decent/capable rifle. Coming up in the next few days, we will talk more about the chambering of the rifle, as in specific caliber, the importance of the bullet you choose which has to be compatible with the barrel twist rate, and some insight on the barrels themselves.

We will also get to a brief account of factory ammo and reloading. As we get going here, there will be more in-depth explanations of what you have read here, along with our own recommendations based on our own triumphs and failures.

This will all lead to a point where we introduce a product that we here at B2B conceived and developed and will promote through several venues. Our product will make you, the long range shooter, understand more about your rifle and all that is associated with it as an individual rifle . . . no two rifles are exactly the same, no two rifles can be expected to shoot the same, even with the same ammunition. More later, Russ @ B2B

 

For those who are interested or just plain curious about Long Range Precision shooting...

For those who are interested or just plain curious about Long Range Precision shooting, I will stoke the fire with some insight.

Long Range shooting is the fastest growing shooting sport in the country, from serious competition at the local, state, and national levels to shoots aimed at the novice crowds.

One of the easiest and most fun shoots for the beginner is the steel target shoot where steel targets are randomly placed from, say . . . 300 yards to 1200 yards. There are many methods of keeping scores and the courses vary greatly and are only limited by imagination.

Rifles. So many to choose from, but narrowing that down is easier than you might think. First we look at calibers that are easy to shoot and have great quality bullet options. We and many others are huge fans of the 6mm bullets and the 6.5mm bullets. These bullets give you many choices of calibers that are extremely popular among long range enthusiasts.

The actual rifle . . . everyone has their personal favorites and what we want to point out is a few things to consider before deciding you have to have the same brand Dad or Grandpa had.

Play rifles are much different than hunting rifles. Barrels won’t last as long. Barrels must be of a heavier contour to be able to handle repetitive multiple shot sequences. If you engage in this hobby you will be changing barrels, so we like rifles that have taken that into consideration.

Factory, or commonly referred to as " Box" guns, that we like because of inherent accuracy are Ruger and Savage.

Savage actions can be purchased separately, and paired with your choice of barrels and stocks for a semi-custom feel at a reasonable price. Full customs are plentiful and beautiful as well as considerably expensive.

If you get a chance to look at or handle a Ruger Precision Rifle, a Savage 10 GRS, or Savage Stealth Evolution, do so. These rifles are designed around the long range game. These aren't the only ones but certainly are very good ones.

Here is a Savage action with a Benchmark barrel in .243 Win and Bell and Carlson stock.

I'll talk about scopes and more in the next few days......Russ @ B2B Precision

The Origin of This Blog

The following information first appeared on Len Backus' Long Range Hunting Online Magazine Forum on 01/28/2016.  JDMecomber, Manager for B2B Precision first started publishing data and findings from his research on this forum under the Load Development Ruger Precision Rifle .243 thread.  This thread has received a lot of attention in the long range community, and we are going to continue posting further developments on this blog as well.

This blog will reflect all the prior posts from B2B staff and all future posts regarding the long range data and load developments.