The different levels of gun gear

We’ve all asked ourselves this question: Do I buy the $100 version of this thing, or the $20 made in China one?

Some guys will tell you to buy the name brand expensive option.  In their mind it’s the only way to go.  These are the folks who have the money to buy Versache gun bags if there were such a thing.

Then there’s the buy the cheapest one crowd.  If it breaks, throw it away and buy a new one.  These guys are usually the ones doing mag dumps at the range and measure accuracy in terms of minute-of-man, minute-of-car, and minute-of-barn size groups.

Neither of these groups is typically correct 100% of the time.  So when is it right to buy the military grade, withstand a nuke blast version, and when is it correct to buy the made in China special from wally world?  The answer lies in what YOU need it for.

There are essentially 5 grade of gear:
1) My life depends on this grade – these are products designed for military and LEO use in the field to fight.  I think you get the picture.
2) Hunter grade – the name says it all.  You are going to trek miles into the woods for that trophy hunt and your gear is going to take some beating (not as bad as a war zone) and you still need it to work every time
3) Tacticool grade – It looks like the delta team operator’s gear, but it’s not
4) Hobby gun owner grade – It will work but can’t withstand much abuse.  Maybe not machined to the tightest of tolerances but will be close to spec
5) Airsoft grade – Don’t put this on real guns

These are my terms, not official industry ones so there is some room for interpretation/disagreement with me but I think most will agree.

So which one fits you?  My perfect example of how to answer this question is the bi-pod I run on my rifles.  They cost less than $20, and work great.  I would never take them into war, but then again I am not a soldier or LEO.  If I was, there is no way that bi-pod could withstand the abuse their gear is required to take and paying $100+ for a bi-pod is absolutely required.  The point here is that if you are honest with yourself about your needs and expectations, then you can definitely save yourself some money, and still have gear that will meet your needs.

Here are some of the “Hobby Gun Owner” gear I have purchased with my own money and tested:

and here is some of the name brand gear that I decided was worth the extra cost to guarantee performance:

Making the most of your time at the range

I was talking with a friend the other day and they were telling me how frustrating their recent shooting outing was. We’ve all had the not so successful day at the range where that latest build didn’t work as anticipated or that new load recipe wasn’t as accurate as we hoped. Those failures are productive though. My friend however had a different kind of bad range day (if there is such a thing) that is 100% avoidable every time. His problem is he went out with one agenda that didn’t match his shooting buddies’ or the location. Continue reading “Making the most of your time at the range”

Do you need to anneal your cases?

Whether or not you need to anneal your brass when converting 223/5.56 to 300 AAC/Blackout is a question that is very frequently asked.  I personally struggled to find the correct answer to this problem at the beginning of my 300 AAC loading journey.  If you check any online forum with a reloading topic section you will find those that tell you its an absolute requirement, and those like me that will tell you it’s not.  It’s honestly up to you what you want to do, but here are my reasons for thinking it’s a bit overkill.

  • Cost – The cost of the equipment to anneal your cases is going to run you at least a few hundred dollars.

    You can tell a case has been annealed by the “burned” look at the case shoulder and neck
  • Space – Annealing your cases requires heat which can pose a fire hazard so you will want to set it up in a safe space (pun intended :D).  The size of the equipment is also significant.

    This is one example of a case annealing machine you can buy online.
  • Abundance of replacement brass – The reason behind annealing the cases is to preserve life span of the case.  More specifically to prevent the case neck from splitting.  If you are shooting match grade brass then yes I can see the argument for wanting to preserve its life as long as possible.  Outside of that scenario, .223/5.56 NATO brass is so plentiful and cheap if you do split a case, you can throw it away without it hurting the wallet.
  • Time – Case prep is already time consuming enough, I really don’t want to add to the effort.

 

The best procedure for processing fired brass

This is the process I have come up with for prepping brass I bring home from the range.  I have tried to find ways to cut steps to save time but this is the best I can come up with.

  1. decap/deprime
  2. clean
  3. run through sizing die (obviously lube first if needed)
  4. check length
    • trim (if needed)
    • toss if too short
  5. clean primer pocket
  6. chamfer/debur

The cases are now ready to load.  Here are some of the consequences of skipping some steps:

Skipping step 2 will gum up your dies causing cases to get stuck and/or not size the case to speck

Skipping step 3 will cause the case to not be measured correctly

Skipping step 4 will at best cause your accuracy to be inconsistent, at worst you get rounds out of spec that can cause serious injury

Skipping step 5 can cause you to not be able to seat the primer all the way into the pocket

Step 6 is probably the only optional step in this list.  The reason I say this is because the consequence of not doing this step is mitigated based on the type of bullet and crimp die used.