Friday, April 19, 2019

The devil is in the details : or : Redding competition micrometer seater die

I am not a benchrest shooter and honestly I don't want to be, I have nearly zero desire at this stage in my life to put all the bullets in one hole....I mean I pay for the bullets and they are made for punching paper so why not make sure you punch the most paper with them :) . All kidding aside there is a time for high precision, tight tolerances and exacting performance. But for what I do I need a balance between accuracy/tight tolerances and reliability. One thing I have realized though is with my match reloads I have a lot of variation in run out with my seated bullets which can contribute to the vertical stringing I see in my targets. I happened into a Redding competition micrometer seater die for a really good price after wanting to try one out for some time I snatched it up and put it to use right away.

The draw to this particular die is the fact you can control your seat depth by .001" and the literature included is a must read to set this die up correctly. It was as simple as setting the die up with a previously loaded round with my seat depth of 2.675" make two full turns of the adjustment knob which is .050" per revolution  and have a new seat depth of 2.775". In reading and looking over technical data my .308 handloads may have been seated a little far in so I'll be using the new die to load up accurately seated bullets from 2.675"- 2.775" and see if this hurts or helps my groups at all. Don't get me wrong, my 2.675" loads with 150gr SMK's shoot very well, but I'm wondering if they couldn't be a little better with a lot less jump .100" less to be exact. The gun I'm shooting these in might not care but only range time will tell.

Shooting these reloads out of a semi auto rifle that will eat just about anything you feed it I can only gain so much performance. No I'm not shooting benchrest but nobody has ever complained about a gun/ammo combination being too accurate. 

If you are on the fence about trying a micrometer seater I have to say off the bat they are a lot less of a hassle to get dialed in and are repeatable. If you load several different types of bullets its as easy as keeping notes of micrometer settings and dialing those in as needed. Game changer....

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Testing testing 1....2....3......: or : spare parts and trial by fire

Most of us know what to expect if we bring someone to the range that is a "Joe 6 pack" and maybe box of ammo a year kind of guy (or gal) and they bring that AR-15 or Mini-14 or XD they got during a panic ( just in case) and kept it locked in the closet with a few boxes of ammo and magazines still new in the wrap. We know that things are not going to go how "Joe" expects them to, ie everything running smoothly and no issues arising with their choice of equipment. Even well vetted and tested product lines have examples with issues that can be debilitating for the platform....  After you covered or reminded them of all the safety rules and how to use their particular gun and they start with one round in the magazine (then 2 or 3....just to be sure they are comfortable with the trigger and competent with their muzzle control) you move on to full magazines....this is where things can start to get interesting. Guns heat up....things start to vibrate loose or the simple process of sighting in the gun for the first time can uncover some ugly shortcomings of the chosen platform. Case in point we see below a borrowed example of very popular choice of rifle, zeroed for the first time since its production (presumably) and not one but BOTH of the set screws for the rear sight broke at the head with what was a appropriately sized screwdriver and amount of torque. This is something you want to uncover on the range and not anywhere else....gain confidence in your equipment before hand. Don't expect to get the same results in performance and reliability that you read about in that glossy magazine review of the firearm (or any other equipment).

Insult to injury...the locking wedge loosened up and allowed the rear sight to walk out on us....done for the day with the MINI-14. I believe the owner will be replacing the factory rear sight with a Tech-sight brand rear sight for better durability and utility.

Factories make mistakes, This one shown below is a interesting one, you will notice the hole on the barrel furthest to the top of the picture has a very thin white line shinning in the middle of it. This is indeed light shinning through a hole in the barrel. The factory not only drilled the hole off center (the lower hole was one I drilled top dead center so the iron sights could actually be used)  they also drilled the hole too deep and broke through into the bore enough to cause a gas port where one was not desired. I noticed this after running about 300 rounds through this particular .22 LR and saw powder deposits emanating from under the front sight. Since I had done some other custom work to the barrel and already fixed the factory off center sight I doubted the factory would be replacing my barrel for me. .22 LR being fairly forgiving I decided to clean the hole as best I could, degrease and use JB weld (Acraglas would be a excellent choice as well) to fill in the hole completely. Using a cotton patch with release agent stuffed in the bore I was not worried about JB weld going through the crack ( I doubted it was viscous enough anyways) and mucking up the bore. When the epoxy was cured and I removed the patch I was pleased to see a very clean surface in the bore where the flaw had been. This was an issue that was easily repaired with little hassle and did not harm the accuracy of the rifle in any way,  If I had solicited a fix from the manufacturer it would have at the very least cost me shipping and insurance one way I'm sure.

My point is you only know your equipment works correctly and as designed if you take it out and put it to work. Sometimes the materials used in your specific example are flawed causing a failure of the system to perform as intended. Sometimes the factory (even reputable names) have QC issues and allow lemons to leave the facility  and it sucks to be the unsuspecting customer about to put down hard earned money for a learning quote my dad though. "You paid you're smarter".

1. Get spare parts for the stuff you know that will break.
2. Get spare parts for the stuff you think might break.
3. Get out and train, compete, practice, rinse and repeat with your equipment so you gain experience and confidence with your chosen platform. If your instagram followers only like to see clean gear you need new followers.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Dupli-Color Truck bed liner Armor for Rifle furniture coating

Preparing for an event this past winter I knew I would have my hands on my aluminum handguard for a long time in possibly very cold and wet weather. Wool gloves are always nice but I wanted to add just a little bit of protection against having bare skin contact metal for long periods of time. Rattle can truck bed liner came up and I gave it a try on my handguard getting a can of the stuff from my local O'reileys. The match sticks you see are plugging a bunch of tiny screw holes I did not want to have bed liner applied to the threads of. After prepping the surface the best I could I gave the hand-guard two coats and let dry over the weekend.


In hindsight I should have done a little more surface prep in roughing up the surface as well as applied a 3rd coat and perhaps found a wood stove or hot lamp to set it near to cure as I don't believe the long dry time I had with the weather that day helped adhesion much. After a few months of use some of the Liner has started to wear off. It does not peel or chip, it simply wears thin. It offers excellent grip and I will reapply and continue to use it. However other textured rattle-can applications could offer better wear resistance.  Overall I'm pleased with the results....we never got the cold wet weather we expected but I did notice I had a better grip on the forearm while running the rifle instead of the slick aluminium I had before. Just something to keep in mind as a off the shelf option for a textured grip on your equipment.

Scavenged pick up ammo and short lane chamber adapters!

Picking up brass is a pretty good way to recoup some of the cost of the hobby but sometimes at the end of the month your account just runs too low and you find yourself in that ammo deprived state. Over the years I've picked up dropped "saved" rounds and had some idea to pull them down for the tips.....just the tips. Pretty much everything else would have to be trashed....saved powder may be fun for blowing up old pumpkins this time of year but for the most part just the bullets can be salvaged. Years ago I did this with a bunch of range pick up 9mm and discovered just how varied the recovered projectiles can be.

Really pulling down .223 is about the only thing I'll consider these days, its all loaded pretty standard (55 or 62). The rest I had to find something to do with it all. A idea came to mind when I recalled having laid back the chamber adapters made by Short Lane. A decent investment for one that carries a 12ga or 20ga shotgun afield as well as a handgun of some flavor. But what I had in mind was more....chaotic. 

What kind of groups would one get if they had purchased one of these adapters with the intent of using it post SHTF with whatever they happened to find laying around.

Here I had the perfect blend of various loads, factory and hand loads, jacketed and cast and even polymer stuff in a WIDE range of weights and designs. I could get some insight into just what one could expect from such a jumbled mess of ammo.

My adapters are of the "Scavenger" series, being around 3" long and not rifled in any way. These adapters I picked up on sale from their web site as well as on ebay from time to time in the various calibers I thought I would want to try them in. 

Mostly my adapters are for XX-20ga meaning I got most of them to fit a 20ga , I have a short lane 12-20 adapter so I can simply drop in my XX-20's into the 12-20 and get just a little more versatility out of them.  The adapters I had on hand which I thought would be the most prevalent are 9mm, 40 S&W , 22LR, 38 SPL and .22 WMR. I also have a 45acp-12ga adapter which can thus only be used in 12ga.

This was not so much a test of accuracy but of reliability and gaining REASONABLE expectations with the smooth bore 3" adapters. I shot from a very ambitious 25 yards for most of the test, some I snuck up to 10 yards with because I was curious what field results would be like for somebody who is worth their salt at stalking. 

The adapters are a decent insurance policy if a shotgun is your go to. Yes you can use the shorter ones in a pump action but it is VERY clumsy and pretty much is a one shot deal. If you find yourself in the lower income blue collar crowd of prepping and maybe need to get even more mileage out of your single shot or side by side shotgun you have squirreled away this is a decent way to do that. The adapters offer a lot to the hunter trapper and even more if you load your own ammo/cast your own bullets. A side by side shotgun can now be turned into a exceptionally versatile tool, one barrel maybe houses a rifled chamber adapter in .38 spl for rabbits and squirrel  and the other a deer slug for....well....deer. And your S&W model 10 is at your hip just in case.

The adapters can be had in longer rifled versions which are well worth the money if you are buying one or two of calibers to work with your handgun and shotgun of choice.  You can get surprisingly good accuracy so long as you have the adapter oriented the same way in your chamber each time. I've seen some individuals with scoped shotguns achieve some surprisingly good groups with their longer rifled adapters, good enough to keep the garden pest free at respectable ranges.

My results with the scavenger series was mostly about what I expected for the Russian dolled 20-XX gauge adapter slipped inside a 12-20Ga adapter and then into the barrel, there is a lot of room for wiggle there.
Adapters, bag of mixed range pickup ammo and shotgun with carrying case make a tidy package.

Just about one of every flavor 

Its a buffet!

Even badly dinged and damaged rounds still functioned in the adapters.

The results of several shots of 45ACP at 10 yards with the 12ga-45ACP adapter.

Minute of paper plate, tumbled and erratic flight patterns were the norm however at 25 yards this was to be expected. Getting closer to your target would almost ensure better hit probability.

Tumbling but on target.

Still more testing to do....little bit of everything. Note the hammer spur came off the shotgun after about 40 rounds....Time for some loctite.