Posts Tagged ‘5.56 NATO’

Video: Use Your Machine Shop Equipment for Brass Prep

Monday, September 1st, 2014

One of the most important aspects of reloading rifle ammunition is correct brass prep. This is especially true when you are reloading military brass like 5.56 NATO (similar to .223 Remington) and 7.62x51mm (similar to .308 Winchester). These military cases are a great deal, and in some cases you can buy once-fired machine gun brass by the pound (read: cheap). But along with the bargain price comes some extra work, like swaging or reaming the primer pockets because military rifle ammunition typically features crimped in primers.

After reaming, a military primer pocket will prime reliably and smoothly - image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

After reaming, a military primer pocket will prime reliably and smoothly – image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

In preparation for my upcoming series covering the new Hornady Lock-N-Load Rifle Bullet Feeder, I thought it would be a good idea to prep a bunch of brass. My bulk rifle brass prep procedure has undergone several permutations, but with the equipment I currently have, my preferred method is to use my machine shop equipment.

Here’s an overview of the processes I’ll demonstrate in this article and video:

  1. Dillon DCL spray lube: Lube cases
  2. Progressive press and case feeder: size and de-prime cases
  3. Milling Machine: Trim cases to length (~brass length spec minus 0.020″)
  4. Metal lathe: Ream primer pockets
  5. Metal lathe: inside and outside chamfer

After lubing the cases generously with Dillon DCL (first case through die gets synthetic motor oil to get die primed), the cases are run through the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP 5 station progressive press using the motorized case feeder and a Redding .308 Winchester sizing/depriming die.

Sizing and de-priming using the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP with case feed system - image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

Sizing and de-priming using the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP with case feed system – image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

It’s critical to size the cases prior to trimming them because the brass will elongate (lengthen) slightly when it is sized. After performing a quick measurement using a caliper to measure case length you’ll know whether you’ll need to trim the cases or not. When breaking in military cases (prepping previously fired military brass) I like to trim to the case length spec minus 0.020″. For this process, I like to setup my small knee mill with a case trim cutter chucked up in a drill chuck or collet. I then clamp a shell holder in the milling vice and use the X,Y table to center the shell holder under the case trim cutter pilot.

 

Milling machine used to trim cases - image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

Milling machine used to trim cases – image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

The case trimming process is simple: insert a case into the shell holder, hold onto it with one hand while lowering the ram/cutter with your other hand. When the cutter contacts the case mouth, you slow down your downfeed rate and let the cutter do its work. When the cutter bottoms out against the depth stop and stops trimming brass shavings, you raise the ram/cutter and withdraw the case.

The next procedures will be demonstrated on a metal lathe. Any metal lathe will do, but if you are in the market for a lathe I would *strongly* recommend one with a collet setup (mine uses 5C collets).

The 5C collets used for brass prep in this article - image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

The 5C collets used for brass prep in this article – image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

In the above picture from left to right you’ll see:

  1. The outside chamfer cutter
  2. The inside chamfer cutter
  3. The primer pocket reamer
  4. A 7.62x51mm case for size comparison

After installing the correct collet with the cutter, select a spindle speed that’s in the medium speed range (you’ll have to experiment to find what works best for you). It’s then a simple matter of running each case through the current stage of brass prep, and then cycling through the cutters used for each process. Using this technique, you can process thousands of cases in a reasonable length of time.

Chamfering the outside of the case neck - image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

Chamfering the outside of the case neck – image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

In the following  video I’ll demonstrate the entire brass prep process from start to finish:

Please note that there are many different ways to perform brass prep. You’ll need to experiment to figure out which processes and tools work best for you based on what you have in your shop and what your budget looks like.

Have an “out of the box” method for brass prep that you’d like to share? Please leave a comment!

Thanks,
Gavin

 

Hornady Rifle Bullet Feeder: In the Shop!

Friday, 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

 

CED M2 Chronograph: Overview, Setup, Rifle/Pistol Shooting

Sunday, 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

 

 

 

Starting to Loading Rifle, Part II: Video Walkthrough and Resources

Sunday, 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

Starting to Loading Rifle, Part I: What You’ll Need

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

So you want to start loading rifle ammunition! Soon you’ll be realizing more accurate ammunition, complete control over cartridge characteristics, and also save a bunch of money. But first, there’s a bunch of information to absorb, and a bunch of things to buy. But what things to buy? That’s the reason for this article! There are certain things you’ll need, and certain things you’ll want. In this article I’ll introduce a list of the essentials and the “optionals”.

A good baseline equipment and components package for reloading rifle ammunition - Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

A good baseline equipment and components package for reloading rifle ammunition – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

The above picture gives you an idea of the equipment and supplies that will be needed to start loading rifle ammunition, but there are some things that just didn’t fit into the picture. You’ll also need media and machinery to clean cases for instance. For reference, here’s a “complete list” of the items that you’ll need to put on your shopping list or wish list:

Required? Quantity Item
Yes 1 Single stage, turret, or progressive reloading press
Yes 1 per cartridge (some shared) Shellplate (if press is a progressive), Shellholder (if press is a turret or single stage)
Yes 1 per cartridge Die set
Yes 100+ Brass, previously fired or new
Yes 1 Brass tumbler and media
Yes 5lb+ per application Powder
Yes 1000+ per application Primers
Yes Various Bullets
Yes 1 Precision scale, digital or mechanical
Yes 1-20 per caliber Ammo boxes (can reuse factory ammo boxes and trays)
Yes 1 Digital Caliper (0-6″)
Yes 1 per case size Case trimmer
Yes 1 Powder measure
Yes 1 Load manual
Yes 1 Hand priming tool
Yes 1 Universal Reloading block
Yes 1 Chamfering and deburring tool
No 1 Bullet puller (impact type is most simple and cost effective)
No 1 Powder funnel
No 1 can Case lube and brush (required if your dies are not carbide or Titanium Nitride)
No 5-10lb Case tumbling media (ground walnut shells, dried corncob)
No 1 Case tumbler (Vibratory cleaner or similar)
No 1 Micrometer (0-1″)
No 1 per primer size Primer pocket reamer or swaging tool (if reloading crimped military brass such as 5.56x45mm or 7.62x51mm NATO)
No 1 Powder trickler

It sounds like a lot of things to track down and buy, but most manufacturers make rifle loading kits that come with most of what you’ll need for a bare-bones reloading setup. Examples would be the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master reloading kit and the Hornady Lock-N-Load Classic reloading kit. In the next post in this series, I’ll give you a video walk-through of these components and systems. Stay tuned!

Do you see anything missing from the list above? Please leave a comment!

Thanks,
Gavin