This year was a bit slow on the reloading front. I spent a lot of time working on precision ammo for .300 Winchester Magnum and .223 rifles. Individually weighing the charges to less than 0.1 grains is extremely slow compared to the .40 S&W rounds I pump out on the Dillon XL650. And then there is the case preparation that consumes several seconds per round on top of that.
The last couple of months my supply of .40 S&W practice and USPSA match ammo became critically low and I ignored the rifle ammo. This last month I reloaded 5,786 rounds of .40 S&W. This is more rounds in a single month since the first month I began reloading. That was 10,944 rounds of 9mm in November 1997.
5,432 of those .40 S&W loads were 180 grain polymer coated bullets from Black Bullet International. This finished off my supply of those bullets and I loaded one box of the 200 grain bullets (552 bullets in a box instead of the stated 550). Mixed in there were test loadings of CCI 500 primers instead of the usual Winchester WSPs. I really like the Winchester primers but I thought would be a good idea to have loads for the CCI primers if we get into a situation where reloading components are difficult to get.
This brings my rounds for the year up to 12,114 and my lifetime count up to 143,638.
My yearly and lifetime reloading numbers are below,
Today, as of 9:00 AM PST, Boomershoot 2020 registration is open to everyone. For the last several days Boomershoot 2019 participants and staff have selected their positions. The long range event on Sunday still has 42 of the 76 positions available. The Friday and Saturday Precision Rifle Clinic still has lots of openings with only three and four of the 16 positions taken on each day. The Field Fire, practice on your own with the steel targets with a range safety officer, is an alternative to the Precision Rifle Clinic and doesn’t have a practical limit to the number of people who participate.
The High Intensity events on Friday and Saturday evenings have five and 10 of the 25 available positions still available.
“What are the High Intensity events?”, you might ask. A few years ago Oleg made a great video which captures it:
The Sunday long range event is a little harder to capture. The thumps to your chest don’t come through the filtering of the video camera:
Anette gives you an overview of the entire experience:
And once experienced you will never forget the opening fireball on Sunday morning:
I finally have the new credit card processing working. I had to move the websites to a different hosting provider. For various reasons, I am abandoning the boomershoot.org domain. Everything is now on boomershoot.com.
Entry opens to Boomershoot 2019 participants on Wednesday December 11th at 6:00 PM PST. When you sign up, the site checks your name in the list of 2019 participants. It will fail to find you in 2019 if you use a different name with this entry than you did last year. The classic is ‘Robert’ versus ‘Bob’. If you can’t figure out why you aren’t being recognized send me an email and I’ll look up your entry from last year.
Entry for everyone begins on the first day of winter, Saturday December 21 at 9:00 AM PST.
Sign up soon so you don’t lose your favorite position (or something close by) to someone else.
Commonly called the “old Air Marshal (FAM) course,” it was created for Federal Air Marshals in 1992. In cooperation with the Office of Civilian Airline Security, it was developed by a private instructor in the Fort Bragg, NC, area who routinely taught skills to certain units based at that facility. It eventually became the qualification course for all Federal Air Marshals. Those who passed it received their flying orders. Those who failed went back for more training. It was not an easy course. In fact, when senior officers from the Joint Special Operations Command attended and reviewed the course in 1998, their opinion was that those passing the TPC were among the top one-percent of pistol shooters in the world.
I expect I will fail again but I now have easy access to a place where I can practice on the stages I difficulty with.
My chronograph died a couple years ago and I went shopping for a new one. The radar based Labradar chronograph showed up in my search. At first I blew right on by it because it cost $600. I was expecting to pay something on the order of $100. But the more I looked around the more I thought about the radar unit.
No optical sensors to put up down range! I could go to the local indoor range and set it up in my stall and do my chronograph work rather than waiting for trip to Idaho or reserving the training bay to myself. It would also work under any lighting condition. Indoors I had to use special LED lights and cover the sensors to protect them from the flickering fluorescent lights. Even when I was outside if it got too late in the day there wouldn’t be enough light and I would have to supply artificial (non flickering) light. Set up and break down took time, especially with the extra lighting issues.
Another issue is that with the optical sensor chronograph you get the velocity for each shot at one particular distance from the muzzle. Labradar will give you velocities from the muzzle out to 100 yards depending on the size of the bullet. .22 caliber bullets, even under idea conditions, disappear from the radar at about 60 or 70 yards. It’s amazing it can do that well. For those with some physics and/or electrical engineering background think about the cross sectional area of the bullet and the length of the electromagnetic wave. How do you get a detectable reflection off of something that small from so far away? It’s amazing!
I finally spent the money. I rationalizing that it would save me a lot of time and I would have a lot faster turnaround during my load development. Plus I could use the down range data from a single shot fired to compute the ballistic coefficient of bullets that I didn’t have factory data for (think pulled military surplus bullets).
It was a little awkward to use at first. Then they came out with a free app for my phone. That made a huge difference in the usability of it. I am extremely pleased with it.
In a little over two years I have fired 1836 measured bullets (a few more were fired but weren’t detected because of setup error) resulting in 134 different series.
There is a single .CSV file (easily read and worked with in Excel) for each series giving the typical statistics at preset ranges and a different .CSV file for each shot fired with the velocity measured every two milliseconds. For a 1000 fps bullet this means you get the velocity of that bullet every two feet until it disappears from radar view. This is very cool!
Yesterday I received an email from Labradar saying the unit is on sale for $499.95 from November 9th until December 2nd. Details here. You need an external USB power supply. They sell one or you can get a USB charger from Amazon or elsewhere. I recommend getting their tripod. It’s sturdy and short enough you can shoot prone with it. I’m a little annoyed they don’t have more internal storage. If you have an old SD card laying around (or a smaller card with an adapter) use that. Even a couple of megabytes will be way more storage than you would ever use in a single session.
I use two different color bullets to indicate major (black) and minor power (blue) factor loads. I’ve loaded a fair number of red bullets as well. I just noticed that Eggleston Munitions has 16 different colors available now:
Wow. What to do with another color (or 13)…. Maybe white for extremely low power loads for new shooters. But what about the rest? Christmas presents for the kids?
I couldn’t find Ballistics Coefficients on the Black Bullets International web page so using data from my chronograph over the range of 0 to 25 yards I made some estimates for the .40 caliber 180 grain and 200 grain bullets.
I came up with 0.199 for the 180 grain bullet and 0.179 for the 200 grain bullet. Yes, the heavier bullet has a lower BC.
I’m a little skeptical of this although I suppose it could be possible. The two bullets look like this with the 180 grain bullet on the left.
The lube groove on the 200 grain bullet may increase the drag enough to account for the unexpectedly low BC.
Does anyone else have data that verifies or refutes my estimates?
As I reload almost all my centerfire pistol ammo I have not paid much attention to new ammunition. Hence, even though it has been out for at least three years, I had not heard of Federal Syntech Action Pistol until about 10 days ago when I got this email:
My name is McKenzie, I’m a fellow USPSA shooter (though not a very good one — haha!) and I also work for TargetBarn.com. Your post the other day about the Segway shooter had me cracking up and wishing my club had better footing for some Segway shenanigans!
I’m sure you’ve heard about the relatively new Federal Syntech Action Pistol line, which is the USPSA’s official ammo. It is on USPSA’s Certified Match Ammo list, with the .40 and .45 flavors meeting major PF. It’s been a huge hit among our customers so far and there are always shooters using it at my local match.
Now I know you load your own rounds, but I wanted to see if you’d be interested in trying out some of the Syntech Action Pistol. I’ve enjoyed reading your insights on your own loads, and thought it would be interesting to hear how you think this line stacks up, especially since it’s touted as a major PF load.
If you’re interested, I’d be happy to send some out to you. Of course, there’s no pressure and no worries if you’re not interested!
Thank you for your time, and thank you for your work in bringing new shooters to the range!
I was very intrigued with the 205 grain bullets. I had never fired 205 grain bullets in .40 caliber. With a similar margin for making Power Factor the 205 grain bullets would yield a lower velocity than the 180 grain bullets I almost always use. The lower velocity would spread out the recoil impulse and give a more comfortable recoil. I had sort of considered it but another shooter I know said he was never able to get 200 grain bullets to shoot accurately. And here was 205 grain bullets intended for use in matches. And in 20 years I never tried it for myself.
I took it to the range yesterday and shot it through three different STI guns. I fully expected to see some keyholing at more distance ranges. I also expected it to be marginal in Power Factor for one of the guns. One gun, with the same length barrel, consistently gets lower velocities than the other two.
I was wrong.
I shot 20 rounds in each of the three guns. The Power Factors were 175.93, 179.72, and 179.89. The muzzle velocity standard deviation was outstanding: 7.1, 7.6 and 8.4 fps.
These are a little hotter load than what I normally shoot for Major Power Factor. With such consistent velocities I would not run these hotter than a PF of 170. But these guns all had barrels five inches long. If you were using a gun with a shorter barrel you would want the extra powder in these load to make sure you were reaching Major PF velocities. But even with the greater PF there was no significant difference in recoil from a new load I was test with a PF of only 168.5.
There was no keyholing. I put five rounds though each of the guns at a 25 yard target. Here are the results:
The accuracy was as good as my handloads. These are the 20 shots fired for velocity testing at a range of 10 yards. Some, or perhaps all, of the flyers were shooter error. With this many rounds I could feel some fatigue during the strings.
The Eagle has never been as accurate as the other two and I don’t blame the ammo for the greater dispersion.
Today, I shot several USPSA stages at the Renton Fish and Game Club with the Federal ammo. I was pleased with how the ammo performed. No complaints at all.
When I took it apart everything looked good. I couldn’t see significant wear like I did with the other trigger that went bad on me. Oh, well.
Last weekend I replace the trigger group with a Timney trigger. I should have read the comments to my previous post before ordering. I have really liked the several other Timney triggers in various guns and so I just ordered another and dropped it in.
I would like Swalwell, Biden, O’Rourke, and Harris to note that what US gun owners consider play time is what a major news outlet can mistake for a major military offensive by the Forces of a NATO nation. Tell us again how resisting a tyrannical government is futile.
I shot in a USPSA match yesterday and one of the guys in my squad, Loke, brought his Segway. He mostly used it to move from stage to stage. But on one stage, after shooting the stage for real, he shot it while riding the Segway. I have my own video but this is better and is already posted on YouTube with this comment by the shooter:
After owning and using a Segway Ninebot for a few months, I got to shoot one of the stages for fun on it. It was a blast. You can see me wanting to go faster but the Segway’s acceleration is pathetic. I’m sure it’s for safety reasons, so I’m ok with that.
Another shooter also had her Segway and was pulling her wagon loaded with her shooting supplies while riding it. It worked surprisingly well even when traversing uneven ground.
ABC aired supposedly shocking footage Monday and Sunday purporting to be from the frontline battle between the Syrian Kurds and the invading Turks. The only problem is: The footage appears to come from a nighttime machine gun demonstration at the Knob Creek Gun Range in West Point, Kentucky.
If @ABC News made a mistake, then their incompetence is startling. If they did it on purpose (and with the edits to the video, that seems to be the case), then they’re an outright evil group of bald-faced liars pretending to report the news.
Vibratory tumbler with dry media? Rotating tumbler with wet media? Power drill with a Brasso-soaked rag? /jk
I have been using a Lyman tumbler with walnut shell dry media for years, and I am considering switching to wet solution with those tiny stainless steel rods. Others at my club have made that switch, and their brass looks amazing.
After the cleaning the brass may not look that great. But most of the remaining dirt/tarnish will come off in the rinse.
I then dump the brass and cleaning solution into a colander:
I stir the brass with a gloved hand to remove most of the liquid.
I then rinse the brass in tap water:
Again I stir the brass with my hand.
I drain and rinse two more times. The final rinse is done with distilled water from my dehumidifier.
After the final draining I put the brass on a rack above my dehumidifier. I built the rack from PVC pipe, a plastic screen, and transparent duct tape:
The dehumidifier puts out warm dry air. I usually let it run for about eight hours and I may stir the brass a time or two.
When cleaning rifle brass I may remove the primers before cleaning. This will result in clean primer pockets as well as a clean interior and exterior.
If I want really shiny brass I will first run it through the vibratory cleaner with the usual corn cob or walnut shell media and a brass cleaner additive. I then follow up with the ultrasonic cleaning.
For many years I just used the vibrating cleaner with the corncob or walnut shell media but the ultrasonic cleaner gave me a faster throughput and the cases are cleaned on the inside as well as the outside.
I considered buying a wet, stainless steel pin, type cleaner but I decided what I had worked well enough.
I haven’t reloading any .40 S&W ammo in a long time but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been shooting any. Here is a partial illustration:
This is what I have picked up of the floor after practice as the local range before I sorted and cleaned it. Maybe five percent of that is 9mm or .45 ACP that got mixed in as I scooped it up. That this bucket is full means I don’t have a place to put the brass I’ll bring home from the range this week.
It’s time to sort, clean, and put away some brass.
This last weekend I finally got around to doing some chronograph work on some (relatively) new loads I made last February. To make sure the chronograph was all set up correctly I fired some old rounds that weren’t marked but I was pretty sure what they were. The mean velocity should verify or disprove my hypothesis as well as do the function check on my chronograph setup.
The mean velocity was 3507.92 fps. I looked up the last time I had reloaded and chronographed the ammo. I last reloaded that bullet in April of 2001 and chronographed them using the same gun in May of 2001. The mean velocity from over 18 years ago was 3506 fps.
The ammo (and gun!) aged better than I expected. I like Varget powder even more than I did before.
But, I did my best and got them through the basics with a .22 pistol (both suppressed and unsuppressed), .22 revolver (both single and double action), and we had just enough time left for each to take make a single shot with the .40 S&W.
The wife and two daughters had never shot a real gun before. One of the daughters had shot a pellet gun once.
I did the usual explanation of grip, stance, sight alignment, and sight picture, then had them dryfire until things looked solid. I added live ammo and they started punching holes in the paper from 10 feet away.
They all did well after some minor adjustments. The primary adjustment was in which hand to shoot with. All are right handed but Vic’s wife and one daughter are cross eyed dominate. They tried shooting both right handed and left handed and ended up sticking with left handed shooting. I’ve found that when new shooters are cross eyed dominate the majority end up shooting with their weak hand.