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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 23-----------MAY 2004



Howdy, again from the Ranch.  Today's the last day of April.  Hope to get this May newsletter up sometime tomorrow.

We've been doin' entirely too much work type stuff, and not enough play type stuff this month!  (Listen to me bitch about it!  You'd think we weren't retired or somthin'!)

Seriously, we had Sunrise Trucking and Contracting put in a basalt rock retaining wall to replace the 28 year old wooden one that was rotting away.  Now the landscaping and sod laying that goes with the aftermath of that project is dang near killin' Little Heifer and me!  The new wall looks good though.  Here's a 'before and after' shot.

 Old vs New Retaining Walls

All work and no shootin' makes me grouchy, Ann says.  Did get a chance to play with some of the reloadin' toys last night though.  Last month I wrote about our friend's varmint rifle debate, and the fact that he finally settled on the Savage Model 12 BVSS in .223 Remington.  I think it was difficult for Courtney to go with the Savage, but he's got it shooting pretty good, and has already installed an aftermarket stock.

The original stock was a brown laminate with a very wide beavertail type forearm and large, very pronounced pistol grip.  The original has now been replaced by a Boyd's thumbhole ( www.boydsgunstocks.com ) in black and gray laminate.  Really looks sharp with the stainless action and barrel of the Savage.  This picture is a little 'cluttered' but you'll get the idea.

Nice looking Rifle

Courtney says the biggest problem was that the stock he wanted is not available with inletting for the heavy barrel on this model.  The action inletting only required minor adjustments, but the barrel channel had to be milled out to fit the bull barrel.  Fortunately, the guy is an engineer by profession, toolmaker by hobby, and has equipment such as a lathe and milling machine to make this kind of work easier and more accurate.  He did a nice job!

Since I have a Stoney Point ( www.stoneypoint.com ) overall length gauge, we spent last evening checking and recording overall length for 4 or 5 different bullets he wants to work with in load development for the Savage.  The measurements were taken with the bullets just touching the rifling lands.  How to do this follows.

Green Arrow:  Stoney Point Overall Length Gauge with modified case attached.

Blue Arrow:  Comparator Body containing the .22 caliber Bullet Comparator insert and attached to caliper jaw.

Red Arrow:  Headspace Gauge insert for Comparator Body.

The modified case is just a caliber specific case that is drilled and tapped through the case head, to screw on the end of the gauge.  The neck of the case is sized to allow the proper caliber bullet to slip inside and freely move in and out.  The gauge has a stem that slips through the center, and is tightened in position with the set screw on the right end.

To use, you place a bullet deeply into the case neck with the central stem adjusted so that the bullet doesn't fall down into the case body.  Carefully insert the gauge into the chamber until the modified case shoulder (or belt, or rim) is firmly against the headspacing index in the chamber.  Then loosen the central stem and push it against the bullet until you feel the bullet contact the rifling lands.  Retighten the stem at this point, and withdraw the gauge.  You'll  probably have to use a cleaning rod to push the bullet out of the barrel, because they usually stick a little and don't come out with the gauge.

Place the bullet back in the case neck and measure with the calipers.  One caliper jaw holds the comparator body as shown in the picture, and the other goes in a notch in the gauge that lets you index on the case head.  The end of the bullet goes in the hole in the bullet comparator.  Once the measurement is recorded for reference, loaded rounds with the same bullet can be measured, and seating depth adjusted to seat bullets precisely a specific distance from the lands, to the nearest .001 inch.

The next item on the agenda is to do a lot of shootin', to see what specific seating depth gives you the best accuracy for your chosen bullet  and load, and then be able to repeat it, exactly.

The headspace gauge insert by the red arrow in the picture replaces the bullet comparator insert for measuring headspace.  Stoney Point furnishes a chart to determine which of the five inserts is appropriate for the caliber in question.

While this tool is called a headspace gauge, what it really does is allow you to accurately measure from the base of the case head to the point the case shoulder indexes on the insert.  Of course, for calibers that headspace on the shoulder (.30-06), the measurement is actually headspace, but not for calibers that headspace on the rim (.30-30 Win), or a belt (7mm Rem Mag).

So, if these things don't measure actual headspace for all types of cases, what good are they?  Well, they can help you get more life out of your brass!  Here's how.

Full length resizing dies are made to size brass so it will fit in chambers of many brands of firearms, with varying degrees of precision and tolerances.  Most die makers instructions call for adjusting a resizing die by screwing it into the press to "touch the top of the shell holder when the ram is up."  Remember, that adjustment must allow the sized brass to fit into a chamber at the smallest end of allowed SAAMI specs.

This may mean that the shoulder is being pushed back several thousandths farther than it needs to be to fit the chamber in your particular rifle.  Then, when that cartridge is fired, and the case shoulder is forced back up into contact with the chamber you have begun a process that, as it is repeated, stretches the case, works the brass excessively, and usually causes premature case head separation!

The aforementioned headspace gauge can help you alleviate this problem.  Measure a fired case from your rifle, by inserting the case mouth into the proper insert so it indexes on the shoulder, and record the measurement to the base of the cartridge case.  Using the same procedure, measure a case that you have resized using your current die setting.  If the sized case measures more than .002 to .004 inch shorter, head to shoulder, than the fired case, you may need to readjust your sizing die!

The point here is to move the shoulder of your cases back as little as possible in the resizing process, while still sizing them enough to chamber properly.  You can use this tool to accomplish that.

Don't forget though, chambering properly is important!  It's still danged embarrassing to gather with your buddies in huntin' camp, only to discover, come opening morning, that your bolt won't close on your reloads !  Check 'em out before you go!

As always, if you want to discuss the use of these Stoney Point products, feel free to send me an email and we'll talk about it.

This month's "Hillbilly Wisdom" will take a slightly different form than usual.  While I normally don't get into political philosophy in my newsletters, I picked this up from the humor section of my ISP's web site, and just couldn't resist!  I hope I can be forgiven for substituting 'Missouri Hillbilly' for the generic term, 'Southerner'.

The Difference Between Liberals, Conservatives, and Missouri Hillbillies:  Just Pose the Following question:

You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, a dangerous looking man with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, raises the knife, -- and charges!

You are carrying a Glock .40, and you're an expert shot.  You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family.  What do you do?

Liberal's Answer:

Well, that's not enough information to answer the question!  Does the man look poor or oppressed?  Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?  Could we run away?  What does my wife think?  What about the kids?  Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?  What does the law say about this situation?  Does the Glock have an appropriate safety built into it?  Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children?  Is it possible he would be happy with just killing me?  Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content to just wound me?  If I were to grab his knees, and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me?  Should I call 911?  Why is this street so deserted?  We need to raise taxes, have a paint and weed day, and make this a happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior.

This is all so confusing!  I need to debate this with some friends for a few days and try to come to a consensus.

Conservative's Answer:


Missouri Hillbilly's Answer:


Wife:  "Sweetheart, he looks like he's still moving, what do you kids think?"

Son:  "Mom's right, Dad . . I saw it too."


Daughter:  "Nice group, Daddy!  Were those the Winchester Silver Tips?"

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

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