Ammunition and reloading

For good results - whether it's an precise shooting or a Long Range - we need good ammo. Ammunition is the basis. Especially for the Long Range good ammo is absolutely essential...

In our country and in most of Europe however we rely on our own abilities and our own production of accurate ammunition - the reloading. This is especially because the availability of quality factory supplies is simply pitiful...


Reloading allows us one crucial thing - we can make a round that will best suit our purposes and our weapon system.

The basic requirement is the quality of components, the quality of production and its precision.

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Currently there are major changes and developments in new products especially in the ballistics department. Bullets, powder and calibers itself are developing at an incredible rate and we have to keep up.

The picture shows several bullets of different diameters.

From left:

6,5mm 139grs Lapua Scenar / BC1 - 0.578. This bullet was at the top several years ago. But not anymore...

6,5mm 130grs Berger AR Hybrid / BC1 - 0.560. Light and fast bullet with hybrid construction and good BC.

6,5mm 147grs Hornady ELD-M / BC1 - 0.697 (140grs version / BC1 - 0.646).

6,5mm 150grs Sierra HPBT / BC1 - 0.713!

30cal 175grs Sierra HPBT / BC1 - 0.505. For a long time the golden standard for .308 Win.

30cal 178grs Hornady ELD-M / BC1 - 0.547. The new generation of bullets for .308 Win.

7mm 180grs Hornady ELD-M / BC1 - 0.796 !!! 

7mm 197grs Sierra HPBT / BC1 - 0.780...

To find the best and most accurate cartridge for your weapon systems is a tricky task. You need to test multiple types of bullets and different types of powder. From each combination of powder / bullet then different amounts of powder and seating depth of the bullet...

It's just a lot of testing and measurements and so on. In the long run of course it will definitely pay off. We have no other choice anyway.

Although we have several identical rifles in the team (Ruger PR in the 6.5CM caliber) they eventually have different ideal cartridge. Each barrel is slightly different. What works great in one in another is just average. That's exactly why reloading can produce a more precise ammo than the factory ones. They must work well in all the weapons of the given caliber. But we do not just want a "good ammo" we want the best for a particular rifle...

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For the best results especially on the Long Range we want and need bullets with high BC and high muzzle velocity.

But whatever bullet we choose we need to handle its ballistics perfectly. We need reliable drop charts and of course wind charts.

In our team we are constantly measuring muzzle velocity. We verify, test, make corrections, make notes, and evaluate them... If we want to have good results it is a necessary part of the proces...

The base of an excellent and accurate ammo is a good brass. This must go through many steps and adjustments.

Generally speaking reloading for precise shooting is very time consuming and demanding for equipment and above all - care and precision of work...

These are the fired shells before we start.

Some need more steps to be added. This is an example of a common and basic procedure. If there are any complications there are more steps to be done...

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The first steps are:

- push the fired primer out of the case

- neck sizing (I do use bushings)

- case full sizing

- bumping the shoulders

We have tested that the full size + shoulder bump delivers better results than only a neck sizing. Especially during subsequent annealing it is clearly beneficial. Previously I was just doing the necks but this is a way better.

 

Real life verified...

I further trim the necks and shrink the inner and outer edges. It is worth it again. Due to the amount of cartridges I am preparing it is necessary to have a motorized trimmer. Manually it would not be possible...

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Next I have to clean the shells. From the dirt and the lubricant because it is necessary to lubricate when sizing.

I use high-quality washing machine. No compromises again...

The shells are then dried and then individually checked. Before washing some decay or crack could be missed and over the dirt could be overlooked. I also control and possibly modify the primer pocket.

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Next is the annealing. Annealing is often neglected but it really pays off.

The purpose of annealing is to make the material of the neck and shoulder softened and relieved of natural tension. We want the rest of the body to be elastic and firm and the base should be as strong as possible (not to stretch a primer pocket).

The annealing is not so noticeable with some shells (Lapua for example). But with others the quality and behavior of the annealed shell will improve a lot. For example Hornady - here's the real difference.

Annealing thus removes the unwanted stress of the shell material and this will affect the accuracy of the shooting. It also extends the life of the shells...

Shells after annealing.

There are more ways of annealing - either by flame as in our case or by electrical induction. The cartridge then varies in color at the annealed side. Color depends on cartridge material. It is because every producer has a slightly different composition of material. It also shows whether they are annealed regularly or not and even how it is washed (what chemistry is used). Colors are therefore slightly different.

The image above shows flame annealing and it is a great Annealeez machine. It had to be adjusted a bit for other gas line couplings (Europe vs US) but it works perfectly and reliably.

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Next is the case priming.

I use several primers. Mostly Sellier & Bellot, CCI and Federal.

The final completion of the rounds.​

Powder charging is automatic. I use a Hornady dispenser which is capable of accuracy at less than 0.2grs. I also did attempts with manual charging with an accuracy of less than 0.05grs, but in the end I was not able to tell the difference in the accuracy on the target. If the bullet for a given round and powder charge is correctly selected the accuracy that this dispenser offers me is absolutely sufficient. It is fast, simple and reliable.

I use Reload Swiss, Lovex and VihtaVuori powders.

Next I have to seat the bullet and it is done...

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High-quality cartridges are the basis for precise shooting and Long Range. If we use high-quality components the correct reloading process and above all - we carefully do it - than we can achieve good results.

Testing will usually show a low deviation of muzzle speeds around 5 m/s.

Finding a way to modify cartridges and the overall process of accurate reloading took us several years. And I'm sure we'll improve it in the future. New knowledge and new tools always appear and it would be a mistake not to develop our ways. We want to keep up.

To push the limits is the essence of our sport. The development, testing and production of precision ammo is thus an integral part of it. On the firing line it will eventually show who is honest about the preparation...

Not only to members of our team we can offer help or advice when choosing the right ammunition. We already have some experience and results with it... Do not be afraid to contact us.

© 2018 by ST8

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