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The Myth: The .223 is too Light for Deer
Jul 11th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

The Myth
The .223 is too light for deer.

The Facts
I read somewhere that today’s premium bullets represent the greatest advance in big game hunting technology since the widespread use of the optical sight, and I agree 100 percent. Many of the myths that we face today are the product of outdated truth—what your grandfather or Elmer Keith said 50 years ago may not be true today. The fact is that today’s premium bullets penetrate deeper, expand more reliably and stay together better than ever before. This has been a game-changer for small calibers (note the resurgence in the .243 Winchester). It’s not that the laws of physics or reason no longer apply, but the fact is that bullet technology has readjusted the scale of which calibers are appropriate for what game. Thanks to these advances, .224 caliber bullets are no longer designed with either varmints or Soviet infantry in-mind. Let’s take a look at factory ammo.

Federal Premium alone lists four factory loads appropriate for deer-sized game, I’m not talking FMJ behind the ear appropriate either—these are legitimate, put-it-on-the-shoulder big game bullets. All of these bullets should shoot well without the need of the fast-twist barrels necessary for the longer, heavier (and excellent) .224 bullets on the market. I’ve personally used three of these bullets in various loads on management whitetails and a truckload of feral hogs—none of them lived to tell about it.

I asked around for some opinions based on more than anecdotal experience. As always, I found a public relations professional willing to answer some questions.

“We would agree that there are adequate loads/bullets for humanely taking deer with the .223,” said Tim Brandt, Federal Premium Public Relations Manager. “We have several .223 loads featuring a couple different bullet options that are designed especially for hunting. Our Fusion line is great example. We see excellent weight retention, expansion and penetration from this bullet in the .223 platform. Hunters that live in areas where it’s legal to use this caliber should have no problem finding an effective load to take into the deer stand.”

Tim also included the following test data, which shows that the average Fusion bullet penetrated nearly 15 inches of gelatin and expanded to .54 caliber. Most of a bullet’s expansion happens within the first inch or so of penetration which means that the Fusion load effectively sends a .54 caliber ball through the vitals of its intended target. I observed recent tests of the DoubleTap load with similar results.

Gelletin

Federal Fusion Rem. bullet fired into 10 percent ballistic gelatin at 100 yards (bullet expanded and penetrated to 15 inches)

Bullet

Five Federal Fusion .223 Rem. bullet expansions shot into 10 percent bare gelatin

One of NRA’s contracted experts, Richard Mann, helped develop the Bullet Test tube. (It’s slightly harder material than the gelatin used in Federal’s test.) Mann tested Federal’s loads in it and on deer, and here’s what he found:

“The .223 Remington is a suitable cartridge for hunting deer, within its limitation. This cartridge relies on velocity to drive the lightweight bullets deep. This same velocity contributes to tissue damage. The key to using a .223 Remington on deer is to keep impact velocities high. In other words don’t shoot deer much beyond 150 yards. Past that distance, the velocity drops below the level needed for dynamic bullet expansion. When robustly constructed bullets like the Barnes TSX, Nosler Partition and Fusion are used inside 150 yards, penetration with the .223 Remington is on par with cartridges like the .243 and the .30-30 Winchester.”

Ok, so we heard from the nerds in the lab coats, what do the guys that shoot deer for a living think? My friend John Shaw has killed more deer than anyone I know—he’s managed an exotic game farm, worked on a Texas whitetail ranch, passionately hunts whitetail in numerous states using the .224 and .22-250. He has also culled scores of does for meat, depredation, and management purposes. John has this to say:

“I rely on my 22 centerfires more so than any other caliber. Low recoil and the typical pinpoint accuracy found in rifles of .224 caliber allow for careful shot placement. If you treat hunting with your .223 much like bow hunting and wait for the perfect shot, there is no reason that this caliber should not be considered for many applications. However, bullet choice is a major factor. Shots to the central nervous system with any type of bullet will work but I recommend premium, controlled expansion bullets, such as Barnes Triple Shocks, Nosler Partitions, and Trophy Bonded Bear Claws. Typically, I keep shots under 200 yards but animals hit in the shoulder, heart, and lung region with a quality bullet expire quickly.”

The Conclusion
I’m not saying the .223 is the perfect whitetail bullet, I wouldn’t pack it on a trophy hunt or where long shots were likely but, with the right bullet, it is a legitimate choice for some big game animals. With big game bullets ranging in weight from 55gr. to 70gr., it’s versatile at a range of velocities.

Effects of Cartridge Over All Length (COAL) and Cartridge Base To Ogive (CBTO) – Part 1
Jul 1st, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

We found this article in the Berger Bullets website; it is an interesting and informative piece for reloaders seeking to improve accuracy. Remember that safety is achieved with knowledge.

 

Effects of Cartridge Over All Length (COAL) and Cartridge Base To Ogive (CBTO) – Part 1

Many shooters are not aware of the dramatic effects that bullet seating depth can have on the pressure and velocity generated by a rifle cartridge.  COAL is also a variable that can be used to fine tune accuracy.  It’s also an important consideration for rifles that need to feed rounds thru a magazine.  In this article, we’ll explore the various effects of COAL, and what choices a shooter can make to maximize the effectiveness of their hand loads.


Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI)

Most loading manuals (including the Berger Manual), present loading data according to SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) standards.  SAAMI provides max pressure, COAL and many other specifications for commercial cartridges so that rifle makers, ammo makers, and hand loaders can standardize their products so they all work together.  As we’ll see later in this article, these SAAMI standards are in many cases outdated and can dramatically restrict the performance potential of a cartridge.

Bullet seating depth is an important variable in the accuracy equation.  In many cases, the SAAMI specified COAL is shorter than what a hand loader wants to load their rounds to for accuracy purposes.  In the case where a hand loader seats the bullets longer than SAAMI specified COAL, there are some internal ballistic effects that take place which are important to understand. 

 

Effects of Seating Depth / COAL on Pressure and Velocity

Figure 1. When the bullet is seated farther out of the case, there is more volume available for powder. This enables the cartridge to generate higher muzzle velocity with the same pressure.

Figure 1. When the bullet is seated farther out of the case, there is more volume available for powder. This enables the cartridge to generate higher muzzle velocity with the same pressure.

The primary effect of loading a cartridge long is that it leaves more internal volume inside the cartridge.  This extra internal volume has a well known effect; for a given powder charge, there will be less pressure and less velocity produced because of the extra empty space.  Another way to look at this is you have to use more powder to achieve the same pressure and velocity when the bullet is seated out long.  In fact, the extra powder you can add to a cartridge with the bullet seated long will allow you to achieve greater velocity at the same pressure than a cartridge with a bullet seated short.

When you think about it, it makes good sense. After all, when you seat the bullet out longer and leave more internal case volume for powder, you’re effectively making the cartridge into a bigger cartridge by increasing the size of the combustion chamber. Figure 1 illustrates the extra volume that’s available for powder when the bullet is seated out long.

Before concluding that it’s a good idea to start seating your bullets longer than SAAMI spec length, there are a few things to consider.

Geometry of a Chamber Throat

The chamber in a rifle will have a certain throat length which will dictate how long a bullet can be loaded. The throat is the forward portion of the chamber that has no rifling. The portion of the bullet’s bearing surface that projects out of the case occupies the throat (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Chamber throat geometry showing the bullet jump to the rifling or lands.

Figure 2. Chamber throat geometry showing the bullet jump to the rifling or lands.

The length of the throat determines how much of the bullet can stick out of the case. When a cartridge is chambered and the bullet encounters the beginning of the rifling, known as the lands, it’s met with hard resistance. This COAL marks the maximum length that a bullet can be seated. When a bullet is seated out to contact the lands, its initial forward motion during ignition is immediately resisted by an engraving force.

Seating a bullet against the lands causes pressures to be elevated noticeably higher than if the bullet were seated just a few thousandths of an inch off the lands.

A very common practice in precision reloading is to establish the COAL for a bullet that’s seated to touch the lands. This is a reference length that the hand loader works from when searching for the optimal seating depth for precision. Many times, the best seating depth is with the bullet touching or very near the lands. However, in some rifles, the best seating depth might be 0.100″ or more off the lands. This is simply a variable the hand loader uses to tune the precision of a rifle.

Figure 3. Illustration of a bullet being seated out of the case too far to feed thru a magazine.

Figure 3. Illustration of a bullet being seated out of the case too far to feed thru a magazine.

Considerations for Magazine Feeding

When a hand loader is working to establish a seating depth to use with a particular bullet, he must decide if he needs the cartridges to feed thru a magazine or not.  If the shooting application is hunting or tactical shooting, then the shooter probably needs the rounds to cycle thru the magazine so the rifle can be used as a repeater.  However, in many slow fire target shooting applications, it’s not necessary to magazine feed the cartridges.

Often times when a shooter doesn’t need to feed rounds thru a magazine, the shooter can take advantage of substantial performance improvements by loading the bullets out long.  This brings up an important reality of seating depth and COAL.

 

SAAMI COAL Limits Ballistic Performance

It is a fact that the ballistic performance of modern ammunition is directly limited by the SAAMI COAL standards that are currently in place and that rifle manufacturers build to.  Even when a shooter understands the implications of cartridge case volume and has a chamber that allows them to load the rounds out long, the rifle itself (having been built to feed SAAMI length cartridges) won’t allow the shooter to do so.

This fact is one reason for the popularity of custom rifle builders who understand the importance of feeding longer than SAAMI length rounds and building rifles with long enough actions and magazines to cycle the rounds.  The first commercial rifle manufacturers who figure this out and start building rifles capable of feeding longer rounds will lead the way into modern times.  There have been many improvements to several key components of modern rifle ammunition, specifically bullets and powder.  It’s unfortunate that many rifle makers continue to adhere to the antiquated SAAMI limitations that were put in place so long ago when components were so different, standards which limit the performance of modern potential.

 Summary of COAL discussion

To recap the important considerations regarding bullet seating depth as it relates to COAL, we can say:

–  Seating a long bullet to the restrictive SAAMI COAL can severely decrease the internal volume of the cartridge which will limit the max velocity the cartridge can achieve.

–  If magazine feeding is not a requirement (or if you have a longer than standard magazine) you can load your bullets long, which increases the volume for powder and allows you to use more powder and achieve faster MV for the same pressure.

–  If you load the bullet too long and it encounters the lands, this can elevate pressure due to the engraving force resisting the bullets’ initial forward motion.

 

The second half of this article will discuss the differences between Cartridge Over All Length (COAL) and Cartridge Base To Ogive (CBTO), and why a working knowledge of both is beneficial to shooters and reloaders.

Bryan Litz

Secrets Of Accuracy
Jun 25th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

As reloaders we seek the perfect, most accurate round, and we go to the extreme in the peruit of perfection; however, we have to remember that there are many factors that affect accuracy, starting with ourselves as shooters. Our ability to “shoot straight” plays a key role in the final results, no matter how perfect is your equipment.

Human error is an ever present variable very difficult to eliminate. Following good shooting pratices is one way to minimze human error.

 

Secrets Of Accuracy

by Tom Turpin   |  September 23rd, 2010

 
Here’s what it takes to get minute-of-angle accuracy or better in your rifle

When I first started writing for the outdoor magazines some 30 years ago, a rifle that would consistently shoot groups of a minute of angle or better were as scarce as turkey lips. Rifles capable of 1.5-inch groups at 100 yards were considered to be very accurate shooters, and two-inch groups were acceptable to most hunters.

My colleagues who owned such rarities as MOA-capable rifles wrote about them in glowing terms. Many other gunwriters, including the dean of them all, Jack O’Connor, often belittled the stories of super-accurate rifles as occurring far more often in the typewriter than on the range. I can recall writing a piece that I called “The Accuracy Myth” about 25 years ago in which I came to about the same conclusion. I had owned quite a few rifles, and only a handful would consistently deliver MOA-or-better groups.

However, gunmakers–both factory and custom–have learned a lot about accuracy and how to achieve it in the years since. These days, MOA-capable rifles and shooters are not at all uncommon. In fact, several hunting rifles in my present battery will consistently deliver half-minute groups if I do my part.

We still don’t know all the secrets to gilt-edged accuracy; if we did there would be no inaccurate rifles. However, we seem to be closing in on solving the mystery.

There are several major contributors to accuracy in a rifle or lack thereof. The first and probably most important factor has nothing to do with the rifle but rather the ability of the shooter. No matter if the rifle is capable of consistent one-hole groups, if the best the shooter can do is two or three MOA, then that is the best that can be produced at the range.

The second most important factor is the quality of the barrel. After that is the concentricity of the action and the quality of the trigger. Next comes the stock and the bedding of the metal to wood (or fiberglass or laminates). The precision and durability of the sights are very important, and finally, the quality and consistency of the ammunition are critical.

It is pretty easy to discover the ability of the shooter. Simply take a rifle-and-ammo combination of known accuracy, and let the suspect shooter have at it on the range. Either that or get a shooter of demonstrated ability to shoot a questionable rifle. Either way, it will quickly be shown if the shooter or the rifle has the major problem. However, no shooter is capable of producing super-tight groups all the time, so no decision should be made on the results from a single range session.

The largest single variable in the quest for accuracy is the capability of the shooter. Here the author tries out a very accurate Dakota Model 10 chambered for the equally accurate .220 Swift cartridge.
 

If the results from multiple range sessions determine that it is the rifle that has problems, the first and the simplest thing to check is the sights. These days that invariably means a scope and mounts. Make sure all screws are tight and nothing is moving. If they are, I’d even go so far as to swap scopes and mount one of known accuracy. I’ve had new scopes out of the box that wouldn’t hold zero worth a whoop. If the sights are OK, then it’s time to move on to the next step, checking the bedding of the metal to the stock.

BEDDING THE STOCK
There are basically three generally accepted methods of doing the bedding. Properly done, all seem to work well. These methods are full-pressure bedding of the action and barrel, fully free-floating the barrel with a pressure-bedded action and free-floating the barrel with upward pressure at the tip and a pressure-bedded action.

There is also a variation or two, such as pressure-bedding the action and the first three or four inches of the barrel and free-floating the remainder or pressure-bedding the action and the first three or four inches of the barrel, free-floating the rest of the barrel and then using upward pressure at the tip. Each method has its advocates and detractors. I believe the quality of the bedding is more important than the method that is used. By the way, these methods are the same whether the bedding is conventional or bedding pillars are used.

While the average shooter can do some checking to determine if the stock has warped and is bearing on the metal where it shouldn’t, the correction of bedding problems is probably best left to a talented gunsmith. If, on the other hand, the shooter has a shop with the proper tools along with a modicum of wood-working skills, quite a bit of the work can be done at home.

If the stock doesn’t appear to be binding on the metalwork, try torquing the screws that attach the stock to the metal with a consistent pressure. Curt Crum of the David Miller Company told me that he and Miller have found about 55 to 65 inch-pounds work best for them.

If your stock is synthetic you don’t have to worry about warpage, you say. Think again, my friend. Synthetic stocks will move just as wood does. The only difference is the cause of the movement of the different materials. Wood warps and moves as a result of moisture. Synthetics, on the other hand, move as a result of temperature changes. In either case, check the bedding of a problem rifle, regardless of the type of stock on it.

Two very accurate hunting rifles from the shop of the David Miller Company in Tucson, Arizona. At top is a Miller Classic rifle, to my knowledge the most precisely built bolt-action rifle made today. It is also the most expensive that I am aware of. Also shown (above) from the Miller shop is the Marksman rifle. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the Classic, but it is about 40 percent as expensive. Both rifles are superbly accurate.
 

TRIGGERS
It is difficult if not impossible to shoot nice, tight groups with a factory trigger out of the box. A good example is a recent acquisition of mine, a Ruger M77 Mark II in 7×57 Mauser. I bought it from Brownells as a barreled action and had the company send it to Randy Boyd of Boyd’s Gunstocks for one of his laminated stocks. Randy and his crew fitted one of their JRS classic stocks to my barreled action. The JRS stock was designed by my colleague and friend Jon R. Sundra.

The stock job was excellent, and the resulting rifle is really spiffy indeed. I could hardly wait to get it on the range. However, as it came from the factory, the trigger was stiff and heavy–I didn’t measure it, but it must have had a minimum of a 10-pound trigg
er pull, possibly more. There is no way I could have shot tight groups with that rifle with its factory trigger.

I’m not picking on Ruger. Just about all factory rifles, regardless of the manufacturer, come from the factory with a “lawyer trigger.” They are set at the factory to satisfy lawyers rather than shooters. These impossibly heavy triggers are a direct result of idiotic product-liability judgments against manufacturers in our court system. Anyway, with a quick trip to one of my favorite gunmsmiths the Ruger trigger problem was solved in short order. Several companies offer aftermarket triggers for the Ruger including Timney, Dayton Traister, Moyers and Spec-Tec. All are available from Brownells.

Ammunition is better today than it has ever been–no question about that. Factory ammo today is loaded with bullets that are more consistent, better constructed for hunting and more accurate than in the past. Cases are stronger and more uniform, and primers are cleaner burning and more consistent than ever. Many powders of different burning rates are available, and given enough time, the right one can be found to match a given rifle and cartridge. The machinery used in making the components and in loading the ammunition with those components is better and more precise than ever.

Thirty or 40 years ago the cause of most of the complaints about various cartridges was almost always a result of the ammunition (usually bullet failure) and not the cartridge itself. If Elmer Keith had used today’s ammo instead of the stuff available during his time, he might have found something smaller than a .33 caliber with a 250-grain bullet adequate for most hunting. He might have even found the .270 Winchester to be an acceptable cartridge.

Factory ammunition is so good today that many hunters who previously handloaded all their ammo no longer do so. They have found that factory fodder is just as accurate as their reloads, perhaps even more so, and that they cannot duplicate factory velocities at safe pressure levels. They are perfectly happy with factory ammo.

Still, to extract every ounce of accuracy that a rifle is capable of, very precise and careful reloading is usually necessary. The key is, of course, consistency. Perhaps discussing how one expert goes about it would be useful.

DAVID MILLER
In addition to producing arguably the finest bolt-action rifle ever made, David Miller is a fanatical hunter. He is also an expert long-range marksman. While some would call it extreme, the way he loads his ammo is a key component to his search for the most accurate tool he can come up with. He starts by running his bullets and brass through an Internal Concentricity Comparator (ICC) from Vern Juenke of The Accuracy Den in Reno, Nevada (775/345-0225). This machine compares each bullet (or case) and registers any variations on a scale readout. Brass and bullets that vary substantially from the others are set aside and either used for something less critical or discarded. The remaining cases are marked and kept together for their useful lives. The bullets are also segregated and remain together until they are shot.

Miller uses nothing but the most precise competition reloading equipment he can buy. He recuts primer pockets and precisely drills all the primer holes to ensure that all are uniform in diameter and depth. The cases are all weighed as well to ensure consistency. Once the cases are prepared, the primers are all uniformly seated to the exact same depth. Each charge is weighed, not measured, again for consistency. Finally, Miller applies molycoating to all his bullets before loading them into the meticulously prepared cases.

Proponents of molycoating cite numerous reasons for the process and sing loud praises for its attributes. Miller believes that the neck tension of the case upon the bullet and the release of the bullet from the case neck is much more consistent when using coated bullets. That makes pretty good sense to me.

WHAT’S NEXT?
You’ve done all that, and your rifle still won’t shoot. Things are getting serious now and much more difficult to correct. If the action was not “blueprinted” in the early stages of building the rifle, it is almost like starting over to attempt it at this stage. The term “blueprinting” merely means that all surfaces are trued and are concentric with the bore. Most gunsmiths true on the barrel threads, and that usually works well. However, David Miller goes one step further. He and his colleague, Curt Crum, true on the raceway, remove the factory threads and cut new ones to ensure concentricity. They surface-grind the action with the exception of the front surface of the recoil lug and the front of the action ring. These two items are trued on a machine lathe after the barrel threads are recut.

Next to the capability of the shooter, the most important factor in accuracy is the barrel. Never skimp on the quality of a barrel if precise accuracy is a requirement. That is easily said, but how does one determine a quality barrel from an ordinary one? Alas, I know of no magic formula that guarantees barrel quality. While not foolproof, price and reputation of the maker are generally the best indicators of quality. Even so, the best of the makers turn out a lousy barrel every now and then.

Unfortunately, it is difficult if not impossible to determine if a barrel is a lemon until it’s fitted to a rifle and taken to the range for a session or two. At that point, fixing a barrel problem is time-consuming and expensive. Not only is replacing the barrel required, but the replacement must be of precisely the same contour and size as the bad one or significant stockwork is also required. However, a rifle with a bad barrel cannot be made to shoot accurately no matter what one does. Replacement is really the only acceptable option.

Unfortunately, unless one is exceptionally talented and experienced, most of the corrective measures I have mentioned are best left to a professional gunsmith. Sometimes, for unknown reasons, the problem cannot be identified and therefore cannot be corrected. The best example of this that I know of is a rifle that I once owned. It was a petite little Husqvarna .270 with a full-length, Mannlicher-type stock. The first shot from a cold barrel would always shoot about 12 inches lower than the second and succeeding shots. After that first shot the remaining shots would group very tightly.

I took the rifle to several talented gunsmiths, but none succeeded in correcting the problem. That left me with the option of zeroing the rifle for the first shot and then holding a foot low on any succeeding shots or zeroing for the group and holding a foot high for the first shot. I chose a much wiser option and sold the rifle. I was totally honest with the buyer and told him up front of the problem. He was unconcerned as he was sure the problem was in the bedding, and he intended to have the rifle custom stocked. He did so, and last I heard the rifle was still doing the same thing. As far as I know he never figured out what the problem was either.

The accuracy of rifles available today has never been better. Many factory rifles out of the box will deliver consistent MOA-or-better groups. The quality of factory ammo has been improved to the point that much of it is better than most handloads. Still, accuracy is an elusive quality that many shoo
ters consistently try to better. There are many things that can and should be done in search of accuracy. If we progress in the next 30 years as much as we have in the past three decades, one-hole groups will not be unusual.

The one variable that is most difficult to control and conquer is the shooter himself. That may continue to be the one uncontrollable factor in our search for accuracy.

Read more: http://www.rifleshootermag.com/2010/09/23/shooting_tips_accuracy_062904/#ixzz35eKSnhE8

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