Short Actions Guidelines for Accuracy

Discussion in 'Sako Short Actions' started by ricksengines, Sep 27, 2020.

  1. ricksengines

    ricksengines Sako-addicted

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    Hi Chris

    I appreciate the input. That said I am a bit paranoid when it comes to bullet jump. While Barnes recommends it for certain bullet types that they manufacture, I am more concerned about throat erosion and accuracy improvements when jump is virtually eliminated.

    rick

     

  2. RangerAV

    RangerAV Well-Known Member

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    Yeah... and I haven't much experience with the newer Barnes bullets... so can't comment from any first-hand knowledge. All my Barnes experience is with their original .348 Win bullets, sort of a different horse altogether. :)

    -Chris
     
  3. ricksengines

    ricksengines Sako-addicted

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    Get the tools together you need for Handloading

    I’m getting ahead of myself. So, let me rewind the tape for our novice handloaders and start from the beginning. I know that I published a list of reloading equipment for beginners. But, I was thinking that more was needed than just a set of links to products for sale on Ebay. My new list might appear to be somewhat daunting. Rest assured that I am only recommending what I believe to be the minimal equipment necessary to get started handloading.

    The Reloading Bench

    For starters, you will need a sturdy reloading bench. There are literally dozens of reloading bench designs and plans for them available on the Internet. Here is one simple design that I selected for its’ simplicity and relative easy construction using off the shelf components. Obviously, you can build a reloading bench like this one using 2x4’s, and plywood. The cost should be nominal and the bench can be built in a size that is convenient for the space available.

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    Reloading Manuals

    I recommend several reloading manuals that will provide a range of load data for the cartridge that is being reloaded. At the very least you should have a manual that is produced by the bullet manufacturer of the bullet that you have selected to use. Used manuals are available from a variety of sources but I found that Ebay is an excellent source for them. Keep in mind that you don’t need the latest and greatest of manuals. Oldies but goodies work just fine. I have included a sample of the type of loading data that you may see in any one of the many manuals available.

    Loading data in them is generally grouped from the smallest caliber bullets, their weights and the specific cartridge being loaded progressing to larger heavier bullets and their respective cartridges. Quite frequently you will see tables like the one below with faster burning powders at the top of the chart moving down to slower burning powders at the bottom of it.

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  4. ricksengines

    ricksengines Sako-addicted

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    The internet as a source for accurate handloads

    All of this said the internet has become a source for handloads for virtually every cartridge including wildcat loads. For the beginner it should be possible to search the internet and find loads for a variety of pet loads that have been proven to produce sub minute of angle (MOA) accuracy.

    In these articles you should be able to find information of the test rifle, bullet, cartridge case, primer, powder and the charge. Using this information should give a beginner a leg up on the process of working up an accurate load. I believe this to be true given the plethora of reloading components available in the market place.

    The Reloading Press

    You will need to select a reloading press. I started with an RCBS Rockchucker and until I switched to the venerable RCBS A2 press (that are very expensive to get a hold of these days). The Rockchucker Press was my go to machine for reloading and case forming.

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    Reloading Dies

    A set of reloading dies for the actual loading operation is needed. I prefer to put together a three die set for bottle neck cartridges to include a full length die, bullet seating die and a neck sizing die.

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    The shell holder

    A shell holder is also needed to hold the case in place during the resizing/decapping operation, primer seating operation and during the bullet seating operation. Decapping is the operation that occurs simultaneously within the case resizing operation. Decapping is the process of removing the spent primer from the case prior to cleaning the primer pocket and seating a new primer prior to charging the case with a powder charge.

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    Resizing and decapping the spent cartridge

    Now comes the time to resize the case and at the same time complete the decapping operation. Both of these operations are performed by a full length resizing die and in addition the neck sizing die performs a similar function but only the case neck is resized.

    Here is how it works. Inside of the full length resizing die and the Neck Sizing die is the decapping rod. In either case, it is inserted into the top of the die and is held in place by a guide bushing. As you can see in the diagram, the guide bushing is threaded and screws into the top of the sizing die. The expander/decapping rod is also threaded and screws into the Guide Bushing. As it protrudes through the top of the Guide Bushing it is locked in place by a Locking Ring that secures the rod to the Bushing.

    The end of the rod is usually threaded and Expander Ball screws onto the threaded end of the rod. In addition the rod the decapping pin slides inside of the expander ball and the pin protrudes for expander ball and is locked into place once the ball is screwed onto the end of the rod and tightened.

    As you can see in the diagram, the decapping pin protrudes through the flash hole in the bottom of the case enough to force the spent primer out of the bottom of the case. Care must be taken when adjusting the expander/decapping rod so that the expander ball does not jam into the bottom of the case. If this occurs that rod can be severely damaged, bent and the decapping rod can be damaged as well. So take your time when adjusting the expander/decapping rod in the sizing die.

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  5. ricksengines

    ricksengines Sako-addicted

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    upload_2020-11-19_12-40-14.jpg

    When a case passes through the sizing die the expander ball passes through the case mouth and the case is pushed into the sizing die until the shell holder presses up against the bottom of the sizing die. As the case is removed from the die the case mouth passes over the expander ball. The diameter of the expander ball resizes the case mouth to the correct diameter for seating the bullet and holding it in place with proper case mouth tension.

    A word of caution about the cross-section diagram of the bullet seating die. It shows the shell holder up against the bottom of the bullet seating die. In this position the internal crimping ring that is machined inside of the die will be engaging the case mouth and attempting to crimp the bullet in place. If the crimping function is not desired the top of the shell holder (on the full upstroke of the ram) should not be any closer than 1/16th of an inch from the bottom of the bullet seating die.

    Now we have a good segway into the resizing process. Regardless of neck sizing or full length case resizing lubrication must be applied to the case. For neck sizing all that is needed is that the neck of the case be dipped into a container of dry lubricant before the case is inserted into the neck sizing die for sizing and decapping of the case.

    Lubricating the cartridge case using dry lubricant

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    Lubricating the cartridge using a case lube pad

    If the case is to be full length resized then the case will need to be gently rolled on a lubricating pad and the inside of the neck coated with a very lite coat of dry lubricant before resizing and decapping the case.


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    A word of caution here about full versus neck resizing of the case. Once a case has been fire formed in the firearm that the reloaded cartridges are being made for, neck sizing is really all that is necessary to size and decap the case prior to reloading it for a subsequent firing.

    Under normal circumstances one can expect to get 5 to 10 reloadings per case before trimming the case (cases stretch a very small amount when fired). After 5 to 10 firings a case will need to be trimed to remove material from the case mouth to return it to the proper length. I am not going to go into case trimming in this thread.

    Cleaning the primer pocked with a primer pocket brush

    After resizing and decapping a primer pocket brush will be needed to clean out the primer residue from the primer pocket. This residue is what is left in the primer pocket after the cartridge is fired. The residue must be removed before seating a new primer into the pocket.

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    There are a lot of primer pocket cleaning gizmos available in the market place. I recommend a brush because it does not remove metal from the bottom of the primer pocket in the case.

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  6. ricksengines

    ricksengines Sako-addicted

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    Chamfering and deburring the case mouth

    Additional case preparation is needed before seating a new primer. These include chamfering the case mouth and deburring the exterior of the case mouth. Performing these operations requires using a special tool for this purpose.

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    I usually chuck the deburring tool into the chuck of a small electric drill by grabbing a hold of the small pin at the base of the tool. I spin the chamfering tool slowly and gently push the case onto the cutting edge of the chamfering tool sufficiently to remove a small amount of metal. This process creates a small bevel in the case mouth that provides a smooth surface that guides the bullet into the case mouth. This bevel prevents the bullet from binding on the mouth of the case and prevents collapsing of the case neck during the bullet seating process.

    After completing the chamfering process gently tap the case mouth on a piece of cardboard to shake out any brass fragments that may have fallen inside of the case during the chamfering process.

    Primers

    Primers come in many different flavors. Small and Large Rifle and similar sizes for pistol and magnum cartridges. You should only us primers sized for a specific cartridge. Never ever attempt to use magnum primers in a cartridge that is not designed for their use. To do so increases the possibility of a wrecked rifle and death to the shooter. Remember that handloading is a balance between the energy released by the explosion that takes place within the cartridge case and the pressure that the explosion generates. Too much pressure and the primer can blow out, that case can separate in the chamber, the bolt can fail or any combination of the above. So remember, it is your life and eyesight that is on the line so don’t take chances when handloading.

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    The Primer tray

    You should also get a hold of a primer tray. I use the RCBS tray because I can shake out a row of 20 primers into the tray and with a little shaking the groves in the bottom of the tray flip the primers so they all end up face up in the tray. The lid serves to protect the primers until they are used to prime cases for charging.

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    Boxer primers

    For our purposes in this thread I will only be talking about Boxer Primers. Below is a cross-section of the Boxer Primer and how it seats into the primer pocket in the cartridge case. There is also a nice picture of a primer showing the business end and the internal view. Keep in mind that Boxer Primers come in different flavors. Some have an anvil with three prongs while others have a two pronged anvil.


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    Handheld primer seating tools

    Primer seating tools are available in a variety of configurations from very simple hand held tools that are straight forward to more complex bench and press mounted devices. Below is one of my favorite hand held primer seating tools.

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  7. ricksengines

    ricksengines Sako-addicted

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    Press mounted primer seating tools

    The picture below is of a typical press mounted priming tool. The device on the right has a tube that holds either large or small diameter primers. The primer pick-up arm is held in place in the reloading press by a small pin. The pick-up arm picks up a single primer when it is positioned under the dispenser. The cartridge is held in place in the ram and when the ram is elevated in the press the arm is moved forward in the grove machined in the ram. It is placed under the case and when the ram is lowered the primer is seated in the primer pocket in the base of the case.

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    A more automated primer seating tool consists of a die that mounts in the top of the press much like a sizing or bullet seating die. The shell holder slides into the top of the die and the case is inserted into the shell holder. A new primer is inserted into the primer holding ram. When the ram is moved upward the new primer is seated into the case.

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    The reloading scale

    You will need a scale for weighing the powder charges. My go to scale for over 50 years is the Lyman M5. You can find them listed on Ebay. This scale is very accurate and allows you to weigh powder and bullets down to less than a tenth of a grain.


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    The powder measure

    You will also need a set of powder measures to meet out a powder charge that is close to but that does not exceed the weight of the desired powder charge. I use a set of powder measures for this purpose and haven’t found the need to go to a mechanical powder measure.

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    The powder trickler

    Another must have is a Powder Trickler. This little device dispenses one grain of powder at a time and is used to dispense powder into the powder pan on the scale to bring the load up to the desired weight. Using the scale and powder trickler provides the ability to dispense the powder to the exact load desired. And I mean down to the exact load!

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    The loading block

    You will also need a loading block to hold the cases as they progress through the various reloading steps from resizing and decapping, primer pocket cleaning, priming, loading with powder, setting and seating the bullet to the finished product.

    The loading block also allows be to make five rounds of progressively increased powder weight so I can test the accuracy of them during a test firing for accuracy session at the range.

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    The powder funnel

    You will also need a powder funnel for dispensing the powder into the primed case.

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    Once I charge a case I insert a bullet into the case nose down. This process tells me that the case is charged and is ready for bullet seating.

    I have already described the process for creating a dummy round that utilized the specific bullet that I am loading for. With the bullet seating die setup for the specific bullet I can get on with the process of seating the bullets and creating a finished round.

    Below is a great picture of a bullet being seated into a newly primed and charged cartridge.

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    Documenting the handload

    All that is left to do now is to document the handloads as you are making them. I recommend that you document groups of the same load.

    Date:

    Bullet Manufacturer:

    Bullet Type:

    Bullet Weight:

    Primer Manufacturer:

    Primer type:

    Powder:

    Weight in Grains:


    Keeping accurate records are paramount to working up reloads and keeping track of their accuracy.
     
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  8. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    These were sold under the name of Lyman and later by RCBS, but they were made by Ohaus and also sold under the manufacturer's name. You can pay more, but they are about the best balance beam scale you can buy and are MUCH more consistent and accurate than any of the electronic scales on the market. They even come with a doubling weight for weighing items up to 1000 grains, and the weight also serves as a check weight, having its weight in grains stamped on it. For longer term storage they easily disassemble and stow in the aluminum frame with a plastic cover that snaps securely over the whole thing.
     
  9. ricksengines

    ricksengines Sako-addicted

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    Way to go Stone. I agree with everything you said. My M5 is over 50 years old and still going strong. With it I measure powder charges down to zero deviation on the scale. That translates to perfect powder charges that all weight exactly the same. I also use it to weigh bullets and group them into lots of the same weight. I'm a firm believer of doing this to achieve maximum accuracy in my handloads.

    I had to break up my previous posts because of limitations imposed by our site on the length of my posting. I'm in the process of writing the next installment of the thread and hopefully will have it ready to post a few days from now.

    rick
     
  10. Unclekax

    Unclekax Well-Known Member

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    As a largely self taught handloader, I appreciate the time you put in to this post.
    It is an excellent distillation of the most important processes.
    Anyone starting out handloading would be well advised to begin by reading this post.
    It took me years to acquire the tools and books all of which you reference.
    I hope some of the beginners here read your post.
    I tip my cap to you sir.
     
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  11. ricksengines

    ricksengines Sako-addicted

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    Hi Unclekax
    I appreciate the compliments. Stay tuned as there is more to come. If you have read some of the other threads that I have started then you know that I'm very interested in sharing information that will be helpful to our readers and at the same time stimulate additional conversation around the topic.

    Thanks Again for your kind words.

    rick
     

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