It's time to clean off our demo wall to make way for next year! We have several rifles that are ready to ship and in great condition despite light usage. This is your chance to get a custom tactical or hunting style rifle at a discounted price! We have load recipes and/or recommended ammunition for most of these rifles, so you'll be able to hit the ground running right off the bat. Click HERE to take a look at what we have available. Please get in touch with us through our Contact page for more information or to place an order for one of these rifles!
One of our customers, Jeremy Wallace, sent us this great story of how he filled his bull elk tag this year. Jeremy was using a 300 RUM rifle he built using a Northwest Action Works trued Remington 700 barreled action, which he had built by us as part of the Long Range Hunting giveaway that he won! He did a great job with load development and practicing with his rig, and here is the result!
It was unseasonably warm for the third week of October with highs consistently in the mid to upper 60s and the elk movement was slow. We hadn't seen much when late in the afternoon on the third day of a 5 day hunt we spotted 2 bulls in the timber 1,100 yards across from us at about the same elevation (7,600'). The bulls were wandering down the mountain our direction so we decided to lose some elevation and close up that gap. We got down to about 7,300' and the bulls were below us when they started hitting openings big enough in the timber for a shot. This was my third elk hunt but my first chance at a shot so I wasn't really trophy hunting I just wanted a shot. My brother was on the G7 range finder and the wind that was originally blowing around 6mph steadily all day had dropped down to nothing. As the bull approached the last opening my brother was consistently ranging the gap. 737 yards across. The G7 said to shoot it for 693. The guide asked me 3 times if I could make that shot and I assured him that the gun and myself were both up to the task. Then he said its getting late i need you to be sure you can put him down right there. I was. I twisted the turret on the Huskemaw and waited for the bull to hit the spot. When he got there I was surprised at how wide open it was where he was standing. I thought there would still be some brush and small branches in the way but where he was it was wide open. The cross hairs found him high in the shoulder when he stopped. I started applying pressure to the Timney 512 when the gun barked. I concentrated on my follow through knowing my brother and the guide was watching for the results. It turns out it was not needed. After the follow through I was back on the gun just in time to see the hit and hear my brother and the guides report. "He's down, nice shot". It caught the bull high in the shoulder, through the spine and exited out the opposite shoulder. The bulls legs tucked up tight under him and for a millisecond it looked like he was levitating. Then gravity took over and he went straight down on his belly, rolled 4 times down the mountain and only stopped by wedging into a down pine tree tangle. Hes not huge but I had to get started somewhere and I must say I am tickled. I can't say enough good things about the barreled action you guys built for me. Extremely fast, extremely accurate, and pretty darn good looking too. Thanks for a great elk, moose, mule deer, bear, whitetail, sheep, and caribou hunting rig.
We were already having a hard time waiting for the launch of Heavy Hitters Outdoors second season, but after watching this we just about can't stand it! This is an outdoor adventure show like no other on television and this great group of guys is working their ass off to put together an outstanding batch of episodes. Be sure to tune in when the season starts (which we will announce), and look for the Northwest Action Works custom rifles stopping game in their tracks
We just recently found out about this new bullet design coming from Hornady! If their claims on Ballistic Coefficient, accuracy, and terminal performance on game can be believed, this bullet may well come to dominate the long range shooting and hunting scene. Looks like they will also be offering a line of high quality ammunition topped with these bullets, which would be a great option for the non-reloader looking to get the most out of their rifle. We've had pretty solid success with Hornady's match grade ammunition in several cartridges so hopefully this will be on par. We will definitely be giving these bullets a hard look as they become more widely available, and will report on how they do with our custom rifles after a little load development. Here is a link to their page with information about the various bullets and specs: http://www.hornady.com/store/ELD-X
Heavy Hitters Outdoors is thinning out the deer population in a big way this season! As many of you know, we recently partnered with this outstanding outdoor adventure program, and we are happy to report that they are out confirming how well these rigs work for all manner of big game hunting. With one shot kills from 100 to over 600 yards so far, they have had nothing but great results from our PMR, NW Backpacker, and Ramrod Hunter custom rifle packages.
This great group of guys is putting in a lot of work to bring you an outdoor show like no other, and we cannot wait to see this upcoming season of incredible episodes. Be sure to check out their website for last year's episodes and give them a like on Facebook to see what they're up to. We'll be continuing to report on their success and will have videos from getting out to shoot/hunt with them this winter, so check back often!
Welcome to the fourth and final installment in our basic guide to precision reloading. Now that we've covered all of the steps and equipment we use to put together high qualitey loads, it's time to go over how we go about deciding what to put in them!
Though load development is an enormous topic and one that is widely debated across shooting forums, this article is going to be quite a bit shorter than it could be. This is because the process we use is already very well described by its creator, on his website found HERE.
It is called the Optimal Charge Weight (OCW) method, and we have used it over and over again to find outstanding loads in a wide variety of cartridges. Dan Newberry gives very practical, easy to understand instructions for how to go about choosing a powder, how to safely find the maximum charge weight, and how to set up a series of test rounds for finding the best load for your rifle. If put together, fired, and interpreted properly you will end up with a load that will not only work great for the rifle you do the test in, but will often work well in multiple rifles of the same caliber. We have found OCW's for several cartridges that we are able to use for test firing our custom rifles and barreled actions, knowing they will nearly always give us a reliable measure of accuracy potential in a given rig.
Over the years of doing these tests, we have developed our own set of steps and tweaks to Dan's method that work best for us to consistently get the results we're looking for in as few range trips as possible. We recommend reading through Dan's instructions and getting a firm understanding of the process before reading the rest of this article.
First, we do what we call the "pressure ladder". Similar to Dan's description of finding the maximum charge weight, we consult the books we have on hand, as well as several internet resources in order to see what others are typically using for the given powder and bullet combination we are wanting to test. Once we have a pretty good feel for the higher loads, we build a string of loads at 0.5 grain increments, often extending to 0.5 to 1.0 grains above the highest load we've seen being used routinely. We then fire them in succession from lightest charge to heaviest, examining each for signs of pressure. (There is a lot of debate on the subject of determining actual pressure in a load and what constitutes a safe charge. In the end, we all have to research it and decide what we're comfortable with in our load development practices. Decide what works best for you and run with it!)
We typically fire the pressure ladder over a chronograph to get an idea of the velocities we're working with, and to look for consecutive charges where velocities are more consistent. We'll also often see a spike or two in velocity that we generally try to avoid running the actual OCW ladder through. We also usually fire them in 3-shot groups, and you'd be surprised how often you can start to see some good groups forming up at the more stable velocity levels.
Then we'll build the OCW ladder according to Dan's instructions, and fire it in round-robin fashion as he describes. One thing we'll do for a bit of insurance is load up 4 shots at each charge level. This extra shot has come in handy on several occasions, in a few different ways. The first is the most obvious, as an extra shot in the event of a called flyer. If everything is going along great and you get a flyer that you're pretty sure you caused, having an extra shot to stack right in with the other two can save the overall look and readability of a ladder. It can also serve to verify a suspected "scatter node" in an OCW ladder. If you have a group or two that just don't look right or you think might be a scatter node, putting another shot into them can sometimes answer the question. If we get a good ladder with a relatively clear result and have the extra shots left over, we'll sometimes take the load we believe to be the winner and the one above and below it and fire all three at a longer range. This can be a bit tricky if you don't have a pretty good idea of the velocities and how to compensate for the longer range, but we've seen 1/2 MOA 3-shot groups at 500 yards even with the completely different charge weights! This is a good sign that you are on the right track to a stable load.
One very important thing to note: follow Dan's advice and do not get distracted by the smallest group(s). Follow the method and do your best to analyze it according to Dan's method.
Once we have what we believe to be an optimal charge weight, the very next thing we do is a seating depth test in the rifle we're working with. We primarily shoot Berger bullets, and have had great results using their seating depth test method, found HERE. Time after time we have seen one seating depth perform a LOT better than the others.
If all goes well we make several confirmation loads and go out for long range testing. If we aren't seeing the groups we'd like to see at longer ranges, we'll step back in to shorter ranges to make sure groups are still fine there. Running several over a chronograph can tell you if you're getting some inconsistent velocities that would cause issues at longer ranges as well.
If you're having trouble reading a ladder or aren't sure you've picked the right load, Dan is a fantastic resource and will analyze a ladder you send him a picture of for a small fee. We've used his services several times and his trained eye can be a huge help when you've gotten too close to the project! Go through the consulting link on his page for more info on getting help from him.
As with all reloading advice, take it with a grain of salt and do more research before deciding on any one method or safety practices. Rifles and reloading are dangerous and you should not exceed your comfort zone with a great deal of experience or sound advice from people who have it. Be careful and ask questions if you have any.
Thank you all for following this series of reloading articles! Please check back soon for what we hope will be more frequent posts on all things rifles/shooting/hunting/reloading. Call or email with any questions!
Finally to the part where we actually put some cartridges together! In this installment, we will be going over how we use all of the equipment and components from the previous two articles to assemble the loads we typically use. This is meant to be a basic guide and a look at how we do it ourselves, not necessarily an in-depth reloading instructional, so hopefully this won't get too long winded!
Brass Prep: Virgin brass (even good stuff) will typically have some neck denting and will rarely be at the neck tension we want, so we'll usually start things off by running each piece of brass through the Sinclair Expander Die (seen HERE) with the appropriate mandrel for that caliber. This gets them nice and round and uniform. Then we run them through the Redding S-Type Bushing die from the last article, with a bushing size that will give us a neck tension of around .002" to .003". There are a lot of articles out there on neck tension and how to go about getting it set properly.
With fired brass, you can take out the neck expansion step unless you've dented any of the necks while out shooting. However, you'll need to lube the cases ahead of the sizing process unless you want them getting stuck in the sizing die. We use Hornady One-Shot most of the time. You will also need to take care to make sure you are bumping the shoulder back around .001" to .002" of an inch when sizing. We use the Forster measurement tool from the previous article, with the disc with larger holes in it for measuring a specific point on the shoulder of the case. This lets us know exactly how well we've set the dies and whether adjustments need to be made.
The we chamfer and deburr the virgin brass, which allows bullets to be seated smoothly and without damage to the bullet jacket. You can usually skip this step with fired brass, unless the mouth of the case is damaged or if you end up trimming your cases. If fired brass, this is where we will usually clean out the primer pockets as well. All of this can be done on the Lyman station we previously mentioned.
Then we wipe off whatever lubrication might still be on the cases, and we're ready for priming! This may seem to be a bit simpler process than some of the brass prep processes you've seen. Over the years we've tried weight sorting cases, turning necks, length-uniforming cases, etc, etc...and to be honest we haven't noticed much difference! If you're shooting Benchrest competitions, then by all means do every lilttle thing that might make a difference. We just haven't found it to be worth it in the more practical shooting that we're used to.
Priming: As mentioned before, we prefer to hand prime our cases to get a feel for the tension and for uniform primer seating. We shoot for just below flush with the case head.
Powder Charging: Best bet for precision loading is to weigh every charge. We run the RCBS Chargemaster and love it. Plenty of precision for our needs and cranks them out!
Bullet Seating: This can be a somewhat tricky and frustrating part of the process, especially if you aren't using very well made equipment or components. Consistent seating depths and low runouts in your completed rounds are extremely dependent upon the quality of the bullets, brass, and dies you use to put the loads together. We get great results from the Redding Competition Seating dies, and Berger Bullets. We do recommend coughing up for the "VLD Stems" for the Competition Seating Die, as it works best with the long ogive on the VLD style bullets. We use the Hornady OAL gauge and Forster comparator measurement tool to get a lands measurement with the bullet we're using, then seat to a depth appropriate to the desired amount of jump to the lands. You now have a loaded round!
That's our load building process in a nutshell! If you'd like clarification or have any question on any of the above, please feel free to give us a call or send us an email. In the next installment we'll finally be getting to the actual load development and how we go about finding a load that will work in multiple rifles of the same chambering more often than not. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!
Welcome to Part 2 of our basic guide to precision reloading series of articles! In this installment, we will be going over the various equipment we use and trust to make our own loads. Similar to the previous article, it is our opinion that your loads will only be as good as the equipment you use. That is not to say that it is impossible to use more affordable equipment and produce high quality ammunition, simply that we have had the greatest amount of success and consistency from the following tools:
Press - We currently use RCBS Rockchucker presses exclusively. Great quality for the price and we have received outstanding customer service from RCBS with the few issues we've had over the years. We've heard good things about several other brands (Forster, Sinclair, etc), but haven't found a need to try them yet! All in all, we believe the best results can be obtained from a single stage press, running loads through one process at a time.
Dies - One of the most important tools you'll choose! The dies you use have a great effect on the quality of your finished loads, not to mention the amount of frustration you'll go through to get there! Our strong preference is for the Redding S-Type Bushing die set with the Competition Seating Die. We have these die sets for every cartridge we reload for, and they flat out produce straight ammo over and over again. The Competition Seating Die makes adjusting seating depths a snap and gives extremely consistent ogive lengths. Click HERE to see an example set of these dies.
Brass Prep - We like the Lyman Case Prep Xpress for prepping brass ahead of assembling our loadsd. Chamfer, deburr, clean and uniform primer pockets, etc...all in one place. Makes getting through large batches of brass far less tedious than doing each process with hand tools!
Hand Primer - Again, we use RCBS here, but there are several reputable priming tools out there. We definitely recommend using a hand primer, as it gives you the best feel for the amount of pressure needed to get consistent depths. This is the easiest way to ensure everything is going together correctly and consistently.
Powder Measure - RCBS again! We run the RCBS Chargemaster setup for all of our load throwing needs. We recognize that these are fairly expensive items for the average hobby reloader, but it is an outstanding tool for those of you wanting to speed things up while retaining accurate charge weights. You can obtain similar results by getting a reasonably high quality digital scale, using scoops, and a manual powder trickler. Brings the cost down, just makes the process a little slower. In general, we do not recommend using a balance type scale for precision loads. Unless you get an expensive lab-grade one, in which case you might as well bump up to the digital setup.
Lands Measurement - It is also important to know where you are seating your bullets in relationship to the beginning of the rifling (lands) in your rifle barrel. Otherwise there isn't much point in knowing the ogive measurement of your loads! The tool we use is the Hornady Lock-N-Load OAL gauge, seen HERE.
Calipers - Can't use either of the previous tools without a decent set of calipers! We've tried a LOT of different ones and have actually had the best luck with the most affordable one. Not something that happens very often in the reloading world so take advantage! No reason to go name brand or really expensive when a cheaper version will do the same job. We have a super precise gauge block that we test all of our measurement tools on, and these are always spot on. Check them out HERE.
We'll go over how we employ all of these tools in the next installment. Once again, there are several ways to go about the reloading process and an insane number of tools and gadgets out there to help! We are certainly not saying that our methods or equipment are the only way or even the best way, just what has consistently worked for us over the years.
If you have any questions on any of the above or would like an opinion on any specific load, feel free to shoot us an email or give us a call. We'll be back next week with Part 3 - Processes. Thanks for reading!
We get a lot of questions from our customers about the various methods and equipment we use when developing a load for our custom rifles and barreled actions. So we thought it was time to put together a series of quick articles that we hope will help you get started down the road to ragged holes!
The first topic we'll cover is components. In our opinion, your loads will only be as good as the individual parts they are made of. If you cheap out on brass, bullets, powder, and primers...you can expect your loads to perform as well as you would cheap factory ammunition. Here are our picks for the best components to make your hand-loads with:
Bullets - We are a big fan of Berger Bullets. Extremely consistent (essential for accuracy), with high BC's for long range shooting, and devastating terminal results on game. There are a lot of great bullets out there, and everyone has their favorite, but we will start with Berger every time!
Brass - Lapua (of course) is at the top of the list. Then Norma, Nosler, and some of cases from Hornady (6.5 Creedmoor is outstanding!). When the higher end stuff isn't available, the good thing with cheaper brass is that you can put more time into your brass prep and get solid results. We'll cover brass prep in a later article.
Primers - Match grade primers from Federal and CCI have always worked great for us. Consistent ignition from one shot to the next is worth the extra couple cents per round!
Powder - We use Hodgdon "Extreme" powders more than any other. It has proven to be very stable and has less temperature sensitivity than many of the comparable powders. We do work with the some Alliant Reloder and IMR powders as well, if they are the optimal burn rate for a given bullet/cartridge combination.
There are a LOT of ways to go about reloading, and the number of combinations between the various components is nearly endless. But if you're looking for accuracy, the name of the game is consistency. As this series progresses, the common theme will be striving for consistency at every level of the process, as accuracy is nothing more than consistency from one shot to the next. It all starts with the components themselves!
If you have any questions on any of the above or would like an opinion on any specific load, feel free to shoot us an email or give us a call. We'll be back next week with Part 2 - Equipment. Thanks for reading!