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Interview with Chris Hodgdon Part 2

July 26th, 2014

In my first interview with Chris Hodgdon, we talked about the history of Hodgdon Powder Company and learned a bit about Chris himself. In this second interview, we’ll hear about current Hodgdon products, and hear from Chris what Hodgdon is doing about the current powder shortages, and what you can do to “weather the storm”.

chris-hodgdon-selfie-flat

Here are some interesting things I learned from this interview:

  1. 80% of Hodgdon powder goes to handloader and store shelves
  2. 20% of Hodgdon powder goes to OEM ammunition manufacturers
  3. Hodgdon does not sell to military
  4. Hodgdon has been at capacity for 17 months
  5. CFE Pistol (new “Copper Fouling Eraser” product) is the copper fouling powder that uses a similar formulation as CFE 223

If you want to beat the current powder shortages, here are some tips from Chris:

  1. Find less popular powders that will work for your application
  2. Go to local retailer, have them order powder
  3. Go to gun shows
  4. Mail order
  5. Multiple orders from multiple sources

Here’s the full interview (Part II) with Chris:

It’s been fun learning more about the gunpowder industry, and getting to know Chris Hodgdon better.

Are you interested in hearing from someone in particular or a particular company in the reloading industry? Please leave a comment!

Thanks,
Gavin

Posted in the Ultimate Reloader reloading blog, your place to read about reloading supplies, reloading data, and find your reloading press!
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Hornady Rifle Bullet Feeder: In the Shop!

July 18th, 2014

If you are like me, you’ve been waiting for the highly-anticipated Hornady Rifle Bullet Feed system to arrive on the market. A big fan of the Hornady pistol bullet feed system (especially the all-metal collet die system), I can’t wait to get going with the rifle version of this system. And I won’t have to wait long, because the equipment (setup for .22 cal and 30 cal) has arrived!

Hornady Rifle Bullet Feed Dies in .22 and 30 caliber - click to enlarge - Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

Hornady Rifle Bullet Feed Dies in .22 and 30 caliber – click to enlarge – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

I’m planning to show both .223/556 and .308 Winchester reloading with this system, starting on the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP 5-station progressive reloading press. If you have other configurations you’d like to see, please leave a comment! Stay tuned for more updates shortly.

Thanks,
Gavin

 

Posted in the Ultimate Reloader reloading blog, your place to read about reloading supplies, reloading data, and find your reloading press!
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CED M2 Chronograph: Overview, Setup, Rifle/Pistol Shooting

July 13th, 2014

If you are serious about reloading ammunition, you need a good chronograph. Without one, you won’t be able to measure the consistency and performance of your loads. Furthermore, with a chronograph you can evaluate loads and load data for each particular firearm in your collection. Want to know if you’ve achieved 4000+ fps with that 22-250 rifle? No problem! Want to keep your loads in the high-but-subsonic range for that suppressed rifle? No problem!

I recently got a CED M2 Chronograph from Competitive Edge Dynamics, and will be using it for a variety of articles here on Ultimate Reloader. We’ll start in this article with an overview of the features of the system, talk through setup, and demonstrate shooting with rifle and pistol. In future articles, we’ll dig into cartridge-specifics, check out accessories for the CED M2, and link the CED M2 to a PC in order to transfer data. It’s going to be fun!

Overview of the CED M2 Kit

For about $200. you can get a complete CED M2 chronograph kit. This kit comes with everything you need to get started chrono’ing your loads *and* to connect the CED M2 to your PC (including the USB cable!). Let’s take a look at box contents:

CED M2 Chronograph: What's in the box - Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

CED M2 Chronograph: What’s in the box – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

In the box you’ll find, starting with the back row in the above picture, left to right:

  1. Sensors
  2. Main unit (brain with display and keypad)
  3. Mounting bar/base
  4. Sun screen support arms (4)

And in the foreground, left to right:

  1. Owner’s manual
  2. Cord retainers
  3. Software CD
  4. USB cable
  5. User’s guide DVD
  6. Sun screens (2)

After unpacking the unit, I watched the entire DVD to get acquainted with the CED M2 chronograph system. This is definitely a good place to start as you’ll learn how to setup the unit, how the unit works, how to attain optimal results, and see the unit in action. This unit is a *BIG STEP UP* from the chronograph that I had previously purchased. The display is massive, and gives you a lot of information while shooting at the range.

CED M2 Main Unit - Image Copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

CED M2 Main Unit – Image Copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

The large keypad supports many functions (many of the keys have two functions based on “shifted state”). You can easily store and delete/edit strings, calculate power factor, view average string velocity, and use the unit as a calculator to name a few functions. The unit is powered by a single 9V battery which is simple to install.

When I first setup the chronograph, I was surprised at how simple and quick the process was. There are no rods to deal wtih (bonus!), and the entire setup was designed with simplicity and portability in mind. It’s no wonder that this is the chronograph of choice for many competitive shooting organizations.

Here’s the steps required to setup the unit:

  1. Unfold the bar/base and attach to tripod or other mount (1/4″ x 20 TPI hole in base fits standard camera tripods)
  2. Slide on each sensor and tighten knob to secure onto bar/base
  3. Assemble sun screens and supports, slide into sensor slots
  4. Plug sensor cables (start and stop) into main unit

The entire process takes about 2 minutes at a casual pace. In the video below I’ll show the process, and shoot some 44 special, 44 Magnum, 45 ACP, and 5.56 NATO rounds:

All in all I’m very impressed with the CED M2 so far. Stick around because we’re just getting started with chronograph content!

Have chronograph experiences/thoughts you’d like to share? Please leave a comment!

Thanks,
Gavin

 

 

 

Posted in the Ultimate Reloader reloading blog, your place to read about reloading supplies, reloading data, and find your reloading press!
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Interview with Chris Hodgdon Part 1

June 30th, 2014

One of the things I like best about running this blog is the opportunity to make industry connections. It’s great to make new relationships and to learn more about how reloading components and equipment and developed and manufactured. Recently, I had the opportunity to have a couple different conversations with Chris Hodgdon of Hodgdon Powder Company, and I’ll be sharing these converstaions with you all in a two-part video series.

In this first installment, you’ll meet Chris Hodgdon, and learn about the history of the Hodgdon Powder Company. I learned a lot by talking with Chris, and I think you will too. It’s fascinating to learn about the people, families, personalities, and history related to many of the large and small companies that us reloaders are familiar with.

About Chris

Here’s a selfie taken by Chris Hodgdon, as you can see here he’s not a stuffy guy:

chris-hodgdon-selfie-flat

Here are some things I learned about Chris during our conversation:

  • Chris works in media and sales at Hodgdon
  • Chris’ favorite hunting rifle: Winchester Model 70 Featherweight in  270 Short Mag
  • Things that are important to Chris: family, hunting, church, volunteering

Here’s a picture of Chris’ family:

Chris Hodgdon's family, from left: Adele, Chris, Joel, and Pierce

Chris Hodgdon’s family, from left: Adele, Chris, Joel, and Pierce

About Hodgdon Powder Company

The history of Hodgdon Powder Company is an interesting one. Hodgdon as a company was started by Bruce Hodgdon in 1947. That year, Bruce negotiated with the US government to purchase some 50,000 pounds of 4895 surplus powder that was left over from WWII. Soon Bruce would sell this “Hodgdon” powder to reloaders to the tune of $30.00 + freight for 150lb of powder! I know we all wish those prices were still a reality today, but times have changed. Interestingly, H-4895 is still a very popular powder, and it’s formulation hasn’t changed much. Bruce didn’t start the business alone- he had help from his grade-school aged kids J.B. and Bob. I can relate as my occupational roots started by helping my Dad around the shop at our printing store (including running printing presses).  Here’s a recent picture of J.B. and Bob:

J.B. Hodgdon (left) with Robert Hodgdon (right)

J.B. Hodgdon (left) with Robert Hodgdon (right)

Bruce Hodgdon originally incorporated his business in 1952, and split off Hodgdon Powder Company in 1966. Since these early days, Hodgdon Powder Company has expanded it’s product portfolio to include many different pistol, rifle, and shotshell powders which remain some of the most popular choices with reloaders.

Hodgdon office front in Shanee, Kansas

Hodgdon office front in Shanee, Kansas

It’s pretty amazing to have a company remain true to its roots, and to stay within the family for nearly 70 years! If you want to hear more, you can listen to my conversation with Chris here (Part I):

Be sure to catch “Part II” to this story which will be posted here on Ultimate Reloader shortly!
Thanks,
Gavin

Posted in the Ultimate Reloader reloading blog, your place to read about reloading supplies, reloading data, and find your reloading press!
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Starting to Loading Rifle, Part II: Video Walkthrough and Resources

June 8th, 2014

In this article I’ll build on my last post which listed all of the items that you’ll need to start reloading rifle ammunition.

Here are some additional resources here on Ultimate Reloader that will help you get off the ground reloading:

Hornady Case Prep Center

AR-MPR Phase II: Precision Loading and Accurizing

AR-308 Precision Loading

Happy shopping and loading!

-Gavin

Posted in the Ultimate Reloader reloading blog, your place to read about reloading supplies, reloading data, and find your reloading press!
Looking for reloading supplies?