Exterior Ballistics

Exterior Ballistics

I am often amused as I read some of the trifling on the Internet of the person who wants to buy their first rifle for the purpose of shooting 1,000 yards. This arbitrary distance seems to have become the standard for being an expert shooter. The homemade sniper for some sort of future zombie attacks.

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Gearing Up! The Pistol

Welcome to part #2 in our series of Cheaper Than Dirt articles on Gearing Up! for the new-guy 3-gunner. I will assume you have read “Gearing Up” part #1 and are in possession of a capable yet affordable AR. That’s great; you are one third of the way there! Let’s work on another third, the handgun.

30-30 Winchester

Cartridge of the Week 30-30 Winchester

Last week we explored an old Warhorse, the Russian 7.62x54R. This week we look into a staple cartridge of hunters for many years, the 30-30 Winchester. Just slightly older than last week’s cartridge by just four years (1895) it is still in use today and may have harvested more deer than any other smokeless cartridge. Also known as the 30-30 WCF, a name derived from a .30 caliber bullet loaded with 30 grains of powder. Designed in a time when there were numerous amounts of rimfire and centerfire cartridges, the need existed to define it as centerfire cartridge.

AK - SKS Scabbard

SKS-AK Scabbard

The Military SKS-AK Scabbard is an item I recently took a chance on purchasing. If you are expecting a top of the line, grade A, leather-bound scabbard this is not for you. For the price though, I thought it would at least be a great pouch for my tactical Mossberg 500 shotgun that is leaning behind my bedroom door, to keep the dust off and provide easy access if needed.

X Marks Your House

A Part Time Grunt’s Hurricane Katrina Experience

With Hurricane Isaac looming off the coast of New Orleans, memories of another August in 2005 float back like a makeshift raft. I was an eager National Guard troop and spent my days working part time in a retail store. I remember watching the families on television waving for help from their rooftops as the news helicopters strafed the worst areas hit by the disaster. I wanted to help, we all did—but what could we do? Your average troop doesn’t have a rescue helicopter locked away in his apartment storage closet. After hours of anxiously waiting by the phone, I got the call during the middle of my civilian workday. The familiar voice on the other end was our deployment manager, “This is an official recall, pack for a 30 day deployment, and bring plenty of socks. This is not a drill.”

Pump Action Shotgun

Consider a Shotgun for Your First Firearm

If you’re thinking about buying that first gun, but are not sure which way you should go, consider the shotgun. Since its early days, the shotgun filled several roles, as it does today. It remains the only firearm capable of fulfilling nearly all functions of a gun, with very few exceptions.

Shooting from a squat

Almost a Piece of History

STG44, the original “assault rifle” (Sturmgewehr) was the first widely issued intermediate caliber infantry weapon. Chambered in 7.92×33, it filled much the same niche as the AK-47. Because it was fielded on the losing side, STG44 ended up getting phased out of army service in both Germanies and much of the 400,000+ weapons ended up in the Third World. About 5,000 were found in Syria earlier this month. Quite a few ended up with the French Foreign Legion, a few with the East German border guards. Despite the relatively high production numbers, these rifles are not common in the US. Being select-fire, they are heavily regulated. Being chambered for 7.92×33, they are difficult to feed. And being made largely of low-grade steel stampings, they are heavy and tend to heat up uncomfortably at the forend. The few (under 200) semi-auto STG44s recently imported did not make much of a difference, being expensive and apparently not very durable.

Bullet penetration of 12 layers of sheetrock

What Makes Good Cover?

Picture yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to find a barrier to block incoming fire. You are standing about 30 yards from your attacker and he is about to shoot. To your left is a standard brick wall; to your right is a small economy car. Which one is going to stop those bullets from passing through? The answer can be complicated. The caliber of the attacker’s firearm, the angle of fire, as well as distance are all potential factors in whether or not your chosen barrier will keep you safe. While in public, I realize that many of you would be armed, but for argument’s sake, let us explore what makes a good barrier, just in case you forget your Concealed Carry Weapon!

Bullet Exiting Barell

Interior Ballistics

There are four types of ballistics, interior, exterior, terminal, and forensic. Today we will tackle interior ballistics. Watch my posts over the next few weeks to explore the other ballistic theories. These are very basic principles. Each one is an extensive and fascinating study in physics and math. Please do not let the math and physics scare you. I hope that you will continue to explore these fascinating theories.

Handing out Supplies during Hurricane Dolly

Are You Ready for the Next Disaster?

Hurricanes can happen at any time. In previous posts we discussed different disasters that could take place, and how to start to prepare for them. In this article, I’m going to discuss what tends to happen after the feces has hit the fan. We have all seen the footage of the victims of Hurricane Katrina running through the local stores and looting supplies, supplies like plasma televisions, laptops and all the beer they could carry. Obviously, I cannot recommend this course of action. Having supplies like food, water and medicine beforehand is without a doubt the best way to prepare for this scenario. A looter puts his or herself in a very dangerous situation. Local law enforcement may not be available to protect you in a widespread disaster and walking out of the local mega mart with armfuls of valuables could lead to other looters taking supplies from you forcefully.


What in the World is Tannerite Anyway?

Ever wonder how all those people who upload their videos of targets exploding on YouTube get away with possesing and detonating explosives? This may surprise some of you, but the compound they detonate is not a regular explosive—it is a binary explosive shot indicator and subject to a different set of laws. Tannerite, the compound in question, is the trademark for a patented ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder based binary explosive used primarily as a target for firearms practice. Tannerite comes separated into two powders, which by themselves are completely harmless. You combine the two to produce the explosive. It is completely legal and you can purchase it from a number of sources. Tannerite holds unique properties in that it remains stable unless hit with a massive amount of force, such as a high velocity projectile. Simply dropping it or hitting it with a hammer will not produce any effect.

Black Powder Cleaning Kits

Cleaning Black Powder Guns

Whether you have a traditional or modern black powder rifle or handgun, get ready to get dirty. Black powder is a great way to experience the shooting sport and hobby from a new angle. When I hunted with black powder, it helped me get better shooting seasons in my home state. Honestly, with that first Hawken I built from a kit, the real question when I pulled the trigger was would it really work.

Basic Reloading

Hand loading and reloading my own ammo is something I’ve enjoyed for years. It takes a bit of preplanning and preparation to get started, but once set up it can be a very rewarding hobby. In this post, I am sharing some very basic and general steps to give you an overall idea of the process of loading and reloading.

Lee Reloading Kit

Lee Reloading Kit

First, I recommend reading and studying a few books on this topic and learn the safety rules as you will be working with explosive, flammable, and lead products. Be prepared to invest time studying how-to manuals and user guides. You can buy a kit or buy the tools as you go along. You can learn the process over several days. However, you still need to be prepared to invest considerable time to do this the right way and safely.

Finally, if you are delving into this to save money, stop now and go no further. Unless you are loading older, obsolete, and hard to find, cartridges that are already very expensive, then this is not a money-saving solution for most of today’s common calibers. I reload because I have some of those older cartridge needs and because I am looking for the perfect bullet, in one caliber that will perform at distances in a constant and consistent manner.

1. Buy a Book
The first step, and I believe one of the most valuable, is to get a good, modern and comprehensive reloading manual. Two good sources I use are Modern Reloading by Richard Lee, and Lyman’s Reloading Handbook 49th Edition. The majority of the first chapters will get you up and reloading in no time.

Damaged Brass

Figure 1

Badly Damaged Brass

Figure 2

2. Inspect Your Brass
You must inspect each piece of brass (case) you intend to load, even if new. Look for cracks, minor dents as in Figure 1, or major damage to the brass and discard if unusable as in Figure 2.

3. Resize and Deprime Brass
If slightly off in size, on new brass or all used brass, then you can use carbide die sets to reshape the brass. If you already have standard dies then use case lube before you resize brass.

Insert the sizing die into the press. The height of the die is adjustable. Initially, set it high. You can lower the die if needed. Place your brass in the press shell holder.


Figure 3

Pull the handle on the press and insert the brass into the die. This adjusts the brass to the correct shape and size. It will also deprime used brass as the pin, seen at the bottom of Figure 3, pushes the old primer out of the primer pocket.

Dirty Primer Pockets

Dirty Primer Pocket

4. Debur Case
With used brass, you will notice that the primer pockets can be dirty or rough. You should clean primer pockets in this condition with a deburring toolby inserting it into the primer pocket and hand turning. You will also need to debur the mouth of the case. The deburring tool can do both jobs.

5. Clean and Polish Brass
You may choose to add another step at this stage. Some loaders choose to not just clean but polish the cases as they are now sized, de-primed, deburrred, and ready to load.The brass goes into a tumbler along with a media mix and will both clean and polish the brass. Clean brass, not polished, is all that is required. You should only have to tumble brass that is exceptionally dirty.

6. Priming the Brass
Once the brass is cleaned and polished, inspect the cases once more for any abnormalities. If you have a single stage press, you will need to use a hand-held priming tool. This is a simple process but you need to do it correctly and safely. Read your manual carefully to ensure your safety.

WARNING: Primers are explosive so keep your face away from the hand-held primer tool and remember that multiple primers in close proximity can start a dangerous chain reaction.

7. Measuring the Powder Charge
Getting the right amount of powder, to charge your cartridge, is of course the most critical step in the loading and re-loading process. You should be very comfortable with the knowledge you need to properly charge the cartridge, WHEN IN DOUBT, POUR IT OUT and start completely over again. There are numerous powder scales to choose from that are either manual or electronic.

8. Charging the Case
Your powder measurement now confirmed, by the scale, you then transfer the powder into the cartridge case. Have a system in place to move the cases from one side of the bench to the other once charged. Uncharged and charged cases should never be near each other and a consistent method must be in place to keep them separate at all times. A double charged cartridge will at minimum destroy your firearm and at worst severely injure or kill the shooter or onlookers. WHEN IN DOUBT, POUR IT OUT, even if that means numerous cases.

9. Seat the Bullet
If you have a single stage press you can now insert the bullet-seating die. Always start high and adjust to the correct depth. Measure the bullet length with a caliper. This will set the bullet and provide some amount of crimp.

10. Insert and Crimp the Bullet
Some die sets come with a crimping die. If your set includes a crimping die, then insert and crimp the bullet in place.

There it is you have just reloaded your first cartridge. The satisfaction of shooting your first hand loaded cartridge is one that is hard to describe. So go get a book and start learning.