Converting a .223 Rem case into a 300 AAC Blackout round
Nov 5th, 2015 by RoundsReloaded

As a reloader I never, until recently, gave any attention to the 300 AAC Blackout round, mainly because I only reload calibers for which my firearms are chambered in.
As a reloading instructor, I had many people ask me about the 300 AAC Blackout round and, until now, I had always brushed it off as mass hysteria.

Things changed when I started building my own AR-15 rifle. I read something somewhere on the net that made me take a closer look at this round, in a nut shell this is what got my attention: You keep the same AR-15 lower, magazines; same bolt carrier group and same charging handle and only switch the upper and done! You got yourself a new rifle chambered in a 30 caliber round; what a cool idea!!!

Then, as a reloader, I started looking at what it was needed to convert a 223/5.56 NATO shell into a 300 AAC Blackout round and realized that it is easier than you might think, as I am about to show you here below.

If you already reload you already have many of the tools you need, what you will need additionally though are: a mini chop saw and a rig to hold the .223 shell in place while cutting it plus, of course, a set of 300 AAC Blackout dies.

Step 1: Sizing and depriming a 223/5/56 NATO case.

I started by sizing and depriming the shell casing, as I would do if I was preparing to reload another 223 round (Figure 01). At this time is a good idea to check the primer pockets and make sure to clean and deburr the primer crimp, if you are reloading military surplus rounds, they usually have a crimped primer.

Figure 01: .223 REM/5.56 NATO shell casing, sized and decapped

Figure 01: .223 REM/5.56 NATO shell casing, sized and decapped

 Step 2: Cutting the shell casing.

To accomplish this step I purchased an inexpensive mini chop saw with a 2″ blade (Figure 02). It seemed to be a tool made especially for this task. I also bought a jig specifically made to hold 223 cases firmly in position for cutting. It comes already made to accommodate the slight taper of the 223 round so the cut is perpendicular to the shell’s longitudinal axis. This eliminates excessive trimming later. One thing worth mentioning at this point is that the case holding jig was set on the base of the cutting tool by carefully measuring the location of the cut with a caliper and firmly tightening it into position. The mini chop saw and the holding jig are readily available online through various websites including Amazon.

Step 3: Measuring and trimming.

After cutting the case I measured it again to make sure the cut was accurate (Figure 03) and then I proceeded to trim the case (Figure 03) to its final new dimension as per SAAMI specs.

Figure 04: Measuring case after cutting

Figure 03: Measuring case after cutting

At this point I deburred the mouth of the case (Figure 04).

Deburring the case

Figure 04: Deburring the case


Step 4: Sizing and priming.

I run the case through the resizing die and I primed the case (Figures 05 & 06).

Sizing the case

Figure 05: Sizing the case

Priming the case

Figure 06: Priming the case

A 300 AAC Blackout case is now ready to load (Figures 07 & 08).

Figure 07: 300 AAC Blackout case

Figure 07: 300 AAC Blackout case

300 AAC Blackout case

Figure 08: 300 AAC Blackout case


From this step forward the process is the same as for any other round, that is, charge the case using reloading data found in any reloading manuals, sit the bullet, also selected by using data found in the reloading manuals and finally crimp the mouth of the cartridge.

I have not yet made it to the range to test the rounds I have made, therefore, as for performance the jury is still out.

I will report back once I shoot some rounds downrange. Until then, keep reloading my friends.

Cartridge Crimp Styles and Uses
Oct 5th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

Cartridge Crimp Styles and Uses

Lee 3-die set with taper crimp die.

Lee 3-die set with taper crimp die. Photo courtesy Massaro Media Group and JNJphotographics.

Crimping, that final stage of handgun cartridge assembly. Whether done as a separate operation, or as a part of the bullet seating process, one simple fact remains – it must be done.

There are two distinct types of cartridge crimps: Roll crimping and taper crimping.

In the handgun world, it is a pretty clear distinction. Roll crimping is best used on the revolver cartridges, and taper crimping is the way to go for semi-automatic pistol cartridges. Here’s the why.

Cartridges designed for use in a revolver use some sort of a rim to properly headspace the case in the cylinder. Think .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .45 Colt, .44 Remington Magnum. This guaranteed headspacing allows the reloader to “roll” the case mouth around the cannelure of the bullet, ensuring that the bullet will not move during recoil. This also gives us a consistent overall length if you roll crimp on the cannelure.

I will note that a roll crimp should only be used with bullets that have a cannelure; if you try to roll crimp on a bullet without one, you risk bulging the case mouth, and it will not fit properly in the cylinder. We’ll get back to how to crimp a bullet with no cannelure for revolver use in a second.

The bullet seating die for most pistol cartridges can be adjusted to give a good, solid roll crimp. Read the die set instruction carefully, and follow the directions. It may take a few tries to get the proper crimp, and I usually make a dummy round, with no powder or primer, to use as a guide should the die come out of adjustment.

Those cartridges that work well in the semi-automatic pistols can’t be roll crimped, because those cartridges headspace on the case mouth rather than a rim, which most lack. You see, rimmed cartridges (generally speaking) don’t feed well from a pistol magazine, so the autoloaders usually employ a rimless design. Think .45 ACP, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, .380 Automatic.

The rimless design needs to headspace on something other than the rim, of which there is none, and the lack of a shoulder (as in a rifle cartridge) leaves only the case mouth. If we were to roll crimp, we would compromise the squared case mouth for headspacing. Yet, we still need to hold the bullet firmly in the case.

40 Smith & Wesson ammo needs to be taper cripmed.

40 Smith & Wesson ammo needs to be taper cripmed. Photo courtesy Massaro Media Group and JNJphotographics.

This is where the taper crimp method comes into play. It squeezes the sides of the case wall tightly against the bullet, and effectively prevents the bullet from moving, while maintaining the nice square case mouth that allows the cartridge to headspace.

A taper crimp can solve the problem I previously mentioned, where revolver cases use a bullet with no cannelure, yet need to be crimped. No bulged cases, no mess. Taper crimp and fire away!

Most companies that make quality reloading dies will have a taper crimp die available for purchase. If you’re serious about your pistol’s performance, I highly suggest you invest in one.

Stay crimpy, my friends.

The Breaking Point of Brass Cases
Oct 5th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

The Breaking Point of Brass Cases

A close inspection of brass cartridges before every reloading is a must. Fine cracks such as the one above on the neck of the case render it useless.

A close inspection of brass cartridges before every reloading is a must. Fine cracks such as the one above on the neck of the case render it useless. Photo courtesy Massaro Media Group and JNJphotographics.

The brass case is the only part of the cartridge that can be reused.

It is made of a material that is malleable; it can be reshaped to proper dimensions, and fired multiple times. But, like all good things in life, sooner or later the usefulness of that brass case will have reached the end.

Question is: How will you know?

There are several tell-tale signs, some are easily identified, and others take a bit more investigation. Here’s the skinny: you absolutely do not want a brass case to fail upon firing. It can be detrimental to your firearm, not to mention your health.

Brass becomes brittle as it is worked and reworked. In a bottle necked cartridge, the case mouth and shoulder gets most of the action inside the resizing die. Usually you will find that when a cartridge has become too brittle to withstand that reworking, it will develop a hairline crack in the case mouth, either at the edge of the case mouth, or just below it.

Cases with a split in the neck cannot be used any further, and should be immediately taken out of commission. The straight walled cases develop their splits at the case mouth, usually when they are sent up into the flaring die. This is the portion of the straight walled case that sees the most action.

Rigorous inspection of your cases, before, during and after loading, will ensure that things stay safe. I hold the cases up to a light source to check for splits, and do my best to keep a good record of how many firings a group of cases has seen.

The neck of the case isn't the only area that needs to be inspected for damage. Cases can break in two after repeated firings, due to the brass flowing forward.

The neck of the case isn’t the only area that needs to be inspected for damage. Cases can break in two after repeated firings, due to the brass flowing forward. Photo courtesy Massaro Media Group and JNJphotographics.

In bottle necked cases, depending on the pressures and velocities, four or five firings is usually where I become overly suspicious and start to see split necks. Pistols and straight walled rifle cases generally tend to operate at lower velocities and pressures, so their useful life will tend to be a bit longer.

There is a process called annealing, where the case mouth and neck are heated and quenched, which will soften the brass to extend the life of your cases. You’ll often see a rainbow like color on quality brass that has been annealed; Hornady and Norma brass often come annealed from the factory.

There is another place you need to check for danger. The situation we are trying to avoid is referred to as case head separation.

I’ve told you that brass is malleable, and the brass in the case tends to ‘flow’ forward, toward the case mouth, upon repeated firing. The area of the case body about 1/3rd up from the rim tends to become thin as the brass flows forward.

What can happen is terrible: the brass case can actually rip in half in the chamber or the firearm. This can be deadly.

Pressures freak out, receivers can be destroyed, and the shooter can be injured or even worse, killed. I’ve seen case head separation happen quickly when the wrong ammunition is used; say firing a .270 Winchester in a .280 Remington chamber. It can also happen in a chamber that has excessive headspace, as the cases stretch quite a bit due to an oversized chamber dimension.

Here’s how you can check for this problem, and avoid disaster.

If damaged brass is discovered it must be disposed of. A good habit to get into is rendering damaged brass completely, by crushing it.

If damaged brass is discovered it must be disposed of. A good habit to get into is rendering damaged brass completely, by crushing it. Photo courtesy Massaro Media Group and JNJphotographics.

First step is to keep your eyes open for a very shiny ring in the area I’ve described. As the brass thins in this area, it makes the brass shine brighter than the rest of the case. The second method is very, very high-tech. I use a straightened paper clip, with the last ¼” bent at right angles as a “feeler”, and if the brass is thin you’ll feel th e case wall change as the brass gets thin. Ok, not so high-tech, but effective. Perhaps there’s a market for matte black “tactical ballistic paper clips”, I might have to get on that…When I find a case that has seen the end of its days, I crush the mouth closed with a pair of pliers, so that there is no chance of having that case find its way back to active duty, and then discard the case in the recycle bin.

Check your brass, and check them well, and you’ll enjoy a lifetime of safe reloading.

Forming Good Habits at the Reloading Bench
Oct 4th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

Forming Good Habits at the Reloading Bench

Perhaps one of the most important reloading habits to get into is keeping a diligent records of your loads. This is vital data is as important as any tool on your reloading bench.

We all form habits, be they good or bad.

I’d like to give some advice that you may already adhere to, but I’ll sleep better having shared it with those of you who are new to reloading. Let’s form good habits, and stick to them, please.

Keeping a clean and tidy reloading bench is a must. Owning a custom ammunition shop, I have the privilege of loading many different cartridges in a number of configurations for my customers, which is awesome. So come safari season and the North American fall hunting seasons, things get rather hectic around here. I do my best to keep the Laboratory as neat and organized as I can, but it isn’t easy.

When you’re dealing with multiple calibers and cartridges that require different primers, powders and bullets, confusion lurks around every corner. As a self-imposed rule, I only keep the items I’m using for the particular load at hand on the bench: one box of primers, one canister of powder, one set of dies and one type of bullet at a time. This prevents any possible mix up, and the resulting dangerous load. It requires digging out new stuff for each project, which gets to be a pain in the butt, but in the name of safety I’ll deal with that.

Keeping your tools clean is a must also. Dirty, gummed up reloading dies can produce inaccurate ammunition. I keep a good supply of cotton swabs and a bottle of solvent – like Hoppe’s No. 9 – on hand for a quick cleanup of my dies.

As things start to slow down, I actually give my dies a nice warm bath in the ultrasonic cleaner to remove all of the gunk that builds up from the flakes of brass, nickel, copper and lead as it mixes with the case lubricant. You’ll be surprised what comes out of them!

Storing components can become a nightmare if you let it get out of hand. I keep my projectiles organized by caliber, and within each caliber by bullet weight. By keeping things well organized, I know just where to look for whatever I’m after.

Brass cases are organized in the same manner. If they’re once fired, I clearly mark the bag or container with the cartridge name so I can find them at a glance. Heavy duty freezer bags or empty coffee canisters (especially the newer plastic ones) make a great storage method for brass cases.

Keep your powder in a dry, dark place, safe from any possibility of sparks or open flame. And please, don’t ever store powder in a gun safe. God forbid it were to ignite, you’ve just created a half-ton bomb, a rather insalubrious notion! I keep my primers well organized and separated to avoid grabbing the wrong size or type of primer. And I keep them well away from the powder canisters.

When I store my reloading dies in their handy plastic boxes, I save the little silica gel packets you find in bags of beef jerky and put them in the die box. This draws all the moisture away from the dies and helps prevent rust. I also keep the presses well lubricated with gun oil so they don’t rust. You’d be surprised at how quick things can get rusty in the humid summer months here in Upstate New York.

I screwed a narrow strip of plywood to the wall and drove little finishing nails about 1.5” apart to store all my different shell holders. They are clearly labeled in permanent marker by number, and I even jotted down which cartridge they are appropriate for. Saves an awful lot of time, and is much easier than digging through a pile of shell holders.

Tricks, such as organizing case holders by number and appropriate case, can save time and create a safer reloading environment. Photo courtesy Massaro Media Group and JNJphotographics.

Tricks, such as organizing case holders by number and appropriate case, can save time and create a safer reloading environment. Photo courtesy Massaro Media Group and JNJphotographics.

Not everyone can have a loading area that is removed from the comings and goings of daily life, but do your best. What you want is a well lit space, as distraction-free as possible. Turn the cell phone off (you’ll live, trust me!), and keep the children at bay. “Oops” is a word that can lead to disaster in the reloading world.

Keep diligent records, please. After all the hard work that we reloaders go through, if you were to lose your load data, well, I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it. My notebook is invaluable to me, and I even keep things backed up on my computer.

One last point, and this may be the most important of all: Never mix alcohol with reloading. It just doesn’t work.

You all know the guy who likes to crack a beer or sip whiskey while reloading. Don’t do it, please. It can be tough enough get things right while sober; reloading while under the influence of your particular form of recreation can lead to trouble. Save it for when the powder and dies are all put away!

Metallic Cartridge Nomenclature
Aug 19th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

Metallic Cartridge Nomenclature
(How the .30-30, .30-06, and other favorites got their names)

By Chuck Hawks

Cartridge nomenclature has been haphazard at best, particularly in North America. Since the invention of self-contained ammunition, cartridges have been named in accordance with certain general customs in North America, Europe and the UK, but there have been many exceptions to these general rules. Here is how some of the common rifle and pistol cartridges got their names.

North American rifle and pistol cartridges

In the days of black powder, most North American centerfire metallic cartridges were described by their nominal caliber (the bore diameter of the barrel) and the powder charge they contained. Thus the .45-70 was a .45 caliber rifle cartridge that, in maximum loads, was powered by 70 grains of black powder. The .44-40 was a .44 caliber combination rifle and pistol cartridge charged with 40 grains of black powder.

Sometimes the bullet weight was added to the name, as in .45-70-405. That would be a .45-70 cartridge loaded with the standard 405 grain bullet. The .45-70-500 was the same cartridge loaded with a 500 grain bullet.

This basic system worked pretty well until the advent of smokeless powder. For while the energy per grain of different brands of black powder is essentially the same, smokeless powder can be manufactured in a nearly limitless number of variations. For example, the energy per grain of IMR 3031 powder is completely different than the energy per grain of Bullseye powder.

Early smokeless powder cartridges, such as the .30-30 Winchester and .30-40 Krag were, in fact, named following the old system. The .30-30 was originally loaded with 30 grains of the then new smokeless powder, and the Krag was loaded with 40 grains of smokeless.

However, it was soon realized that including the nominal powder charge in the name of smokeless powder cartridges was meaningless and potentially dangerous. So smokeless cartridges soon came to be named for their nominal bore diameter and the company that introduced them. This is how such familiar rifle cartridges as the .270 Winchester and .300 Savage were named. Sometime in the 1950’s it became fashionable to name cartridges for the groove (or bullet) diameter. This is how the .308 Winchester (a .300 caliber cartridge by bore diameter) and .338 Winchester Magnum (a .330 cartridge by bore diameter) were named. Ditto the .357 Magnum revolver cartridge (a .35 caliber cartridge by bore diameter).

Today the groove diameter/bullet diameter is the most common method by which modern North American cartridges are named. The .243 WSSM, for example, has a groove diameter of .243″ and uses .243″ diameter bullets. Conversely, the .300 WSM was named for its bore diameter, just like the old .300 H&H Magnum of 1920. The Swedish .308 Norma Magnum was named in the North American fashion for its groove diameter.

Many cartridges have been named for neither their bore nor groove diameters. The .280 Remington has a bore diameter of .277″ and a groove/bullet diameter of .284″. And the .260 Remington has a bore diameter of .256″ and a groove/bullet diameter of .264″. Probably the names of these two cartridges were chosen because the sales people at Remington thought that customers would like even numbers like .260 and .280 better than less common numbers like .264 or .284. Along the same lines, the .340 Weatherby uses standard .338″ bullets, and the .460 Weatherby uses standard .458″ bullets.

When sales of the .280 languished, Remington tried changing its name to “7mm Express Remington.” That name proved to be even less popular than .280, and Remington eventually reverted to the original “.280 Remington” moniker.

The bullet diameters of some popular cartridges are considerably overstated. The .380 ACP uses .355″ bullets, the .38 Special uses .357″ bullets, and the .44 Magnum uses .429″ bullets. It is common to find the bullet diameter of pistol cartridges overstated.

One that is not overstated is the .41 Remington Magnum; its bullet diameter is actually .410. An oddity is the .38-40 Winchester, an old black powder cartridge that actually uses .40 caliber bullets, not .38 caliber bullets. It should have been called the “.40-40 Win.”

A number of American cartridges since WW II have used metric designations for their bullet diameters. The cartridge that logically should have been named the “.280 Remington Magnum,” since there was already a .280 Remington, was actually named the 7mm Remington Magnum, and went on to become the world’s most popular magnum cartridge. When the fine .244 Remington didn’t win customer acceptance under that name, it was renamed the “6mm Remington” and sales picked up.

A metric designation did not help the sales appeal of the cartridge that could have been called the “.32 Remington Magnum,” (the original .32 Remington was introduced in the early years of the 20th Century), but was actually named the 8mm Remington Magnum. It has never caught on.

Winchester’s first fat, short action, rebated rim cartridge was given a proper American name, .284 Winchester, but it never gained wide acceptance. In an attempt to capitalize on the cachet of a metric designation, the latest fat, short action, rebated rim Winchester cartridge that uses .284″ bullets was introduced as the 7mm WSM. Only time will tell if this marketing ploy will be successful.

Other cartridges have been named in other ways. The famous .30-06 cartridge was designed for a .30 caliber bore and was adopted by the U.S. military in 1906. The 7mm-08 Remington has a 7mm bore and is based on a necked-down .308 case. The .25-06 has a .25 caliber bore and is based on a necked-down .30-06 case. These names reflect the cartridges’ parentage.

Lou Palisano and Ferris Pindell designed the well known .22 and 6mm PPC bench rest cartridges; “PPC” stands for “Palisano-Pindell Cartridge.” The .257 Roberts was introduced by Remington, but was named for its designer, Ned Roberts. The 7-30 Waters was designed by Ken Waters and introduced by Winchester. The .35 Whelen, standardized by Remington, got its name in a similar manner. The 7mm STW (for Shooting Times Westerner) was designed by Layne Simpson, a writer for Shooting Times magazine. All of these cartridges started life as wildcats and their names had become widely known before their standardization as factory loaded cartridges.

The .22-250 Varminter got its handle from J.E. Gebby, who trademarked the name “.22 Varminter” for his wildcat varmint cartridge back in the 1930’s. Other wildcatters simply called it the .22-250 because it was based on a necked-down .250 Savage case. When Remington standardized the round in 1965 they added their name, calling it the .22-250 Remington. Lots of shooters still call the cartridge the Varminter, though.

The .250-3000 is a standard .25 caliber cartridge (bore diameter .250), and it was the first factory loaded cartridge to offer a muzzle velocity (MV) of 3000 fps. Its name is intended to both promote and capitalize on its high velocity. So was the name of the .220 Swift, actually designed by Winchester technicians, and the .224 Rocket from Weatherby. Other cartridges with names chosen to catch the attention of consumers (much like the names chosen for automobile models) include the .22 Hornet, .221 Fireball, .218 Bee, .219 Zipper, and the Remington Ultra Mag series of cartridges. One can only conclude that North Americans have shown a good deal of creativity in naming their cartridges.

European rifle and pistol cartridges

Meanwhile, in Europe, cartridges have generally been named for their nominal bore diameter and their case length in millimeters (rounded off). One millimeter equals 0.03937 inch. Thus “7×57″ indicates a cartridge for a 7 millimeter (or approximately .276″) bore with a case length of 57 millimeters. Our familiar .308 Winchester is called the 7.62×51 in Europe, and that is also its NATO military designation. It has a 7.62mm (or .300”) bore diameter and a case 51mm long.

An “R” suffix indicates a rimmed case (i.e. 7x57R). Otherwise the case is assumed to be of rimless style. For example, 5.6x36R is the European designation for the American .22 Hornet, which has a rimmed case.

Sometimes the designer or company of origin is tacked onto the end, as in “6×62 Freres.” The Germans added a “J” to the suffix of their 8mm Mauser round to indicate an infantry cartridge, which resulted in that cartridge being known as the 8x57J. Later an “S” was added to indicate the use of a new spitzer bullet in a cartridge originally loaded with a round nose bullet. Thus the “8x57JS” cartridge used in the Mauser 98 military rifle with which the Germans fought two World Wars.

The European system is basically reasonable, but they are actually not much better than the North Americans when it comes to accurately describing the bore of their rifles in the name of their cartridges. For example, the rifles for the original 8x57J Mauser cartridge actually used 7.9mm (.318″) bullets. It wasn’t until the advent of the 8x57JS cartridge that the 8mm Mauser adopted standard 8mm (.323″) diameter bullets.

And Europeans have repeatedly described .22 caliber cartridges as both 5.56mm (as in the 5.56×45 NATO military cartridge) and 5.6mm (as in the 5.6×50 Magnum). Both use .224″ bullets, the same as standard North American centerfire .22 cartridges.

Europeans often label .25 caliber cartridges (.250″ bore and .256-.257″ groove diameter) “6.5mm,” which is actually .26 caliber (.256″ bore and .264″ groove diameter). The metric nomenclature for the .25-35 WCF, which uses standard .25 caliber (.257″) bullets, is 6.5x52R. True 6.5mm cartridges, such as the 6.5×55 SE, use .264″ bullets.

European handgun cartridges are likewise named for their bore diameter and case length. The famous 9x19mm pistol cartridge, which North Americans call the 9mm Luger, is a typical example.

British rifle cartridges

The British have their own somewhat unique system of cartridge identification. Like most American cartridges, British sporting rifle cartridges have been named for their bore diameter, and sometimes their groove or bullet diameter, usually followed by a manufacturers name.

They have also freely (and loosely) translated Continental European cartridges into their system. Thus the cartridge known the world over as the 7x57mm Mauser became the .275 Rigby in the UK, and rifles so marked are still turned out by the Rigby firm. These rifles shoot regular 7mm Mauser ammunition using .284″ bullets. When the British appropriated the 9.5x57mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer cartridge they renamed it the .375 Rimless NE (2 1/4″). Holland’s .244 Magnum actually uses standard 6mm (.243″) bullets, as did their earlier .240 Magnum. The British seem to have been no more accurate in naming their cartridges than the Americans or Continental Europeans.

The term “Express” was often used to indicate higher than normal velocity, usually the product of a lighter bullet loaded in some established cartridge. The .577 Express (a black powder cartridge) would be one example.

When smokeless powder (Cordite or nitro powder to the British) became available, the word “Nitro” was added to the name of the earlier black powder express cartridges upon their conversion to the new propellant. The example in the paragraph above thus became the .577 Nitro Express when loaded with smokeless powder. “Nitro Express” is often abbreviated “NE.”

Often the case length was included in the cartridge nomenclature, such as “.450 NE 3 1/4-inch.” If that cartridge were necked-down to accept .40 caliber bullets it would become the .450/.400 NE 3 1/4-inch. Opposite from American practice, the British put the original cartridge size in front of the new size.

If a cartridge is available in both rimless and rimmed forms, the rimmed form is termed “flanged” and the rimless version “rimless.” For example, the rimmed version of the famous .375 Belted Rimless Magnum (or .375 H&H Magnum) is called the .375 Flanged Magnum. The .375, by the way, is named for its groove diameter rather than its bore diameter.

Some British cartridges are known by more than one name, the .375 H&H mentioned in the paragraph above is one example. The .404 Jeffery is another, as this famous cartridge is also known in the UK as the .404 Rimless NE. Its case forms the basis, in much reduced length, for the Winchester WSM and WSSM lines of cartridges, and also the Remington Ultra Mag and Short Action Ultra Mag (SAUM) series.

British sporting rifle cartridge design was at its peak before the First World War. After the Second World War the British gun trade fell on hard times, due primarily to the dissolution of the British Empire and government interference. (The various socialist Labour Party governments have basically tried to stamp out the private ownership of firearms in the UK.) Kynoch, the British ammunition trust, stopped loading commercial ammunition in the 1960’s. Most of the famous British African cartridges became obsolete, and the introduction of new cartridges practically ceased after the 1955 debut of the .244 Holland & Holland Magnum Belted Rimless, which failed to attract an international following.

But not entirely. In 1988 Holland and Holland partnered with Americans Jim Bell and William Feldstein to introduce the .700 Nitro Express cartridge and rifles in which to shoot it. Rigby introduced a new .450 Rigby cartridge in 1995, and in 2003 Holland & Holland announced a pair of new big bore cartridges, the .400 H&H Magnum Belted Rimless and the .465 H&H Magnum Belted Rimless. The name Kynoch has been resurrected and ammunition is once again being loaded for many of the classic British Nitro Express rifle cartridges in the UK. Thankfully, and unexpectedly, there appears to have been at least a modest resurgence of the British firearms and ammunition industry.

Beretta Moves All Manufacturing Out of Maryland
Jul 25th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

Beretta Moves All Manufacturing Out of Maryland


While Beretta already announced in late January that it would expand its future manufacturing operations at its new Gallatin, Tenn., facility due to Maryland’s oppressive gun laws, things heated up today with the announcement that all manufacturing will now move to the far-more-firearm-friendly state of Tennessee. (Read the official press release here.)

Founded in Gardonne, Italy, in 1526, Beretta is not only the world’s oldest firearms manufacturer, but the family-held company is the oldest continuous maker of anything. Cavaliere Ugo Gussali Beretta has written about his concerns about the future of firearm manufacturing in Maryland, but the move surprised both the firearm industry as well as Maryland media outlets today. At stake are 160 manufacturing jobs that have been a boon to Prince George’s County. Maryland’s loss is Tennessee’s gain.

All manufacturing, which includes the standard sidearm of the U.S. military, the 9×19 mm U.S. M9, which still has active contracts, will move to Tennessee. Beretta is not completely abandoning the “Old Line State,” though, as it is said the company headquarters and some gunsmithing and repair operations will remain in Accokeek, Md.

While awaiting official word from Beretta, which we will follow up on tomorrow, the consequences of the anti-gun legislation passed last year and the current governor’s fascination with additional gun control in the state are clear. Not only did the company choose not to expand in the state, but now the jobs that have been there since the 1980s are moving to a far less hostile climate. We will have more as the story continues to develop.

Berger Article on COAL and Cartridge Base-to-Ogive – Part 2
Jul 2nd, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

Berger Article on COAL and Cartridge Base-to-Ogive – Part 2

litzcoal03Effects Of Cartridge Over All Length (COAL) And Cartridge Base To Ogive (CBTO) – Part 2

by Bryan Litz for Berger Bullets.

Part One of this series focused on the importance of COAL in terms of SAAMI standards, magazine lengths, seating depths, and pressure levels. Another measure of length for loaded ammunition is highly important to precision, namely Cartridge Base to Bullet Ogive Length (CBTO).


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


Figure 2

Look at Figure 2. Suppose the bullet was seated out of the case to the point where the base of the bullet’s nose (ogive) just contacted the beginning of the riflings (the lands) when the bolt was closed. This bullet seating configuration is referred to as touching the lands, or touching the riflings and is a very important measurement to understand for precision hand-loading. Due to the complex dynamics of internal ballistics which happen in the blink of an eye, the distance a bullet moves out of the case before it engages the riflings is highly critical to precision potential. Therefore, in order to systematically optimize the precision of his handloads, it’s critically important that the precision hand-loader understands how to alter bullet seating depth in relation to the barrel rifling. Part of the required knowledge is understanding how to accurately and repeatably measure the Cartridge Base To Ogive (CBTO) dimension. This is explained in the FULL ARTICLE.

Bryan Litz offers an extended discussion on how to measure CBTO using different tools and methods, including the Hornady OAL gauge. You can read this discussion in the full article found on the Berger Bullets website. CLICK HERE to Read Full Article.

Why Not Use CBTO as a SAAMI Standard?

If CBTO is so important to rifle accuracy, you might ask, “Why is it not listed as the SAAMI spec standard in addition to COAL?” There is one primary reason why it is not listed in the standard. This is the lack of uniformity in bullet nose shapes and measuring devices used to determine CBTO.

Figure 4. Two different bullet shapes, seated to the same CBTO length, but different COAL. Note the shiny scratches on the bullets made by the comparator tool which indicates a point on the bullet ogive near where the ogive will engage the riflings.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Benefits of Having a Uniform CBTO
There is another aspect to knowing your CBTO when checking your COAL as it pertains to performance. With good bullets, tooling, and carefully-prepared cases you can easily achieve a CBTO that varies less than +/- .001″ but your COAL can vary as much as .025″ extreme spread (or more with other brands). This is not necessarily bad and it is much better than the other way around. If you have a CBTO dimension that varies but your COAL dimension is tight (within +/- .002″) then it is most likely that your bullet is bottoming out inside the seater cone on the bullet tip. This is very bad and is to be avoided. It is normal for bullets to have precisely the same nose shape and it is also normal for these same bullets to have nose lengths that can vary as much as .025″.

Summary of Cartridge Base To Ogive (CBTO) Discussion
Here are four important considerations regarding bullet seating depth as it relates to CBTO:1. CBTO is a critical measurement to understand for handloaders because it’s directly related to precision potential, and you control it by simply setting bullet seating depth.

2. Tools and methods for measuring CBTO vary. Most of the measurement techniques have pitfalls (which may give rise to inconsistent results) that you should understand before starting out.

3. A CBTO that produces the best precision in your rifle may not produce the best precision in someone else’s rifle. Even if you have the same rifle, same bullets, same model of comparator gauges, etc. It’s possible that the gauges are not actually the same, and measurements from one don’t translate to the same dimension for another.

4. Once you find the CBTO that produces the best precision in your rifle, it’s important to allow minimal variation in that dimension when producing quality handloads. This is achieved by using quality bullets, tooling, and properly preparing case mouths and necks for consistent seating.

Guns, Bathrooms, and Legal Consequences
Jun 29th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded

By Dean Weingarten

Guns, Bathrooms, Legal Consequences



Arizona – -( One of the most legally dangerous places to carry a handgun is in the bathroom.   It may not be as legally dangerous as an airport, but it ranks high on the list for the same reason: it creates an environment where it is easy to make a legally dangerous mistake.

A church going lady in Wisconsin found this out in March.   She will recover from the error, but it has already cost her significant time, money, and stress.   From

Susan Hitchler, 66, was charged in April with negligent handling of a weapon, a misdemeanor. The complaint indicated that on March 19 she had left her handgun in a stall of the women’s restroom at Elmbrook Church. A church employee found the gun within a few minutes and turned it over to security.

At a hearing late last week, Circuit Judge Lloyd V. Carter ruled on a defense motion to dismiss the case based on a lack of evidence that a crime had been committed. The motion had been argued in May.

The most common way for people to carry concealed handguns is attached to the belt or waist band in some way.    When people use a stall in a bathroom, the handgun becomes an impediment.   I can imagine the nodding of heads of those who have carried.   Nearly everyone has encountered this problem in one way or another.   Undo the belt, and the handgun is no longer supported.  If you place the handgun on the floor, even if it is still in the holster, it may be seen from outside the stall.   Some solve this dilemma by discreetly covering the holster and handgun inside the clothes at their feet.  Others detach the holstered gun and place it out of sight behind the toilet or on top the toilet paper dispenser.

Worse, some unholster the handgun and place it in a “convenient” spot. That is not a good idea.   From, a detective left his firearm:

There, perched atop a toilet paper dispenser inside a busy bathroom inside a busy movie theater, he discovered the loaded Glock 26, a small semiautomatic weapon.

One from the Missouri Capitol:

Dave Evans, legislative assistant to Republican House Speaker Tim Jones, left a loaded 9mm pistol in a stall at Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri

One that involves an airport bathroom :

The weapon, a .380-caliber pistol in a black case, was found by a custodian in the restroom near the security checkpoint about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, according to a Peoria County Sheriff’s Office report on the incident.

In Michigan, a security guard:

An armed school security officer hired in response to the Newtown shootings forgot to take his gun with him when he left the bathroom. 

The unloaded handgun was unattended in the restroom “for a few moments,” Matt Young, director of The Chatfield School in Lapeer, Mich., told Michigan Live in a statement.

The problem is one of human nature. Humans are fallible. We all make mistakes. If you detach your handgun, distractions can occur at exactly the wrong instance, overriding your awareness of your handgun’s location with something that seems more important. In that critical instant, the handgun is left in the bathroom. That error can come with considerable legal consequences. You will survive, but your pocketbook, reputation, and your constitutional right to own and carry guns may not.

Most people discover the error very quickly. I surmise that in the vast majority of cases, the handgun is retrieved without any ill effects. It is those few cases where someone else finds the firearm and reports it to the police, that consequences start spiraling out of control.

Those consequences are considerably less severe than if you manage to fumble the handgun and have a negligent discharge in the process. Here is one from Tampa:

Bliss was sitting on the toilet in a hotel bathroom when a woman in the next stall accidentally let her handgun slip out of her waist holster. The weapon discharged when it hit the ground.

It can happen. There are almost no modern handguns that will discharge when dropped. If someone grabs for them as they are falling, and contacts the trigger… that is another scenario. It is a good reason to have some form of retention device on the holster, and to keep the handgun in the holster when you are in the bathroom. If you keep the holster on your belt or waistband, you are fairly well assured of not leaving the firearm behind.

Alternatives to belt or waistband carry offer other challenges and possibilities. It is possible, if the person is carrying the firearm in a pocket, to have the gun slip out, unnoticed, as the clothes are rearranged. This is not common, but we are talking about rare events. While fannypacks may not be fashionable, they offer a fairly secure and easy way to carry concealed handguns. In the bathroom stall, it is usually necessary to detach the fannypack. The handgun remains concealed, but the possibility of leaving the fannypack is ever present. One retired officer that I know hangs the fannypack on the door coat hook to keep it in sight. It can be placed on top of lowered clothes. The same concerns apply to purses, briefcases, and non-traditional methods such as camera cases or tablet cases. Shoulder holsters offer a different approach that helps keep the firearm secure. If you remember the detective on “Barney Miller” that was always going to the bathroom, there was a reason that he used a shoulder holster. Leaving guns in bathrooms seems to be exclusive to concealed carry.

I have not heard of any handguns that were left in bathrooms where the gun was openly carried. Guns carried openly tend to be better secured to belts, be in retention holsters, and are usually larger and not as easily misplaced.

I have not found any cases of handguns left in bathrooms that were stolen and used in crimes, but it could happen.

To sum up: in the bathroom, be sure to maintain control of the firearm when undoing belts or clothes.

Do not inadvertently display the gun to others who might view it from outside the stall. Do not remove your gun from the holster and set it down; do not remove your holster from your belt or waistband and set it down; if using a fannypack, purse, or other detachable container, keep it in sight. Check the security of your gun when you rearrange your clothes; check the bathroom to make sure you have not left personal possessions when you leave. Consider shoulder holsters, they might work for your needs. Do not be the next person on the national news who left a gun in a public bathroom.

c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Memorial Day
May 26th, 2014 by RoundsReloaded


Memorial Day

Today we remember that our freedom is not free. Many of our brothers, sisters, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, have given their lives so that we can live ours in freedom.

Today we pray for them, we remember them and we thank them for their ultimate sacrifice.

th  th thth




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