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Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association
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Volume 17, Issue 4  May
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Todd Spotti

“Myth Busters”

     One of my favorite TV shows is the Discovery Channel’s “Myth Busters”. The show basically examines the validity of popular urban legends such as the construction worker who fell off a very tall building and used the 4 x 8 sheet of plywood that he happened to be holding as a wing to land safely on the ground, or determining whether pyramids have a mysterious power to preserve things like food, razor blades, and dead people, or the likelihood that a certain NFL team was secretly substituting footballs filled with helium so they could be thrown and kicked farther, etc. 
     It occurred to me that it would also be really interesting to explore the extensive mythology of the shooting world in a similar way. In fact, some time ago I was even thinking about making this subject a regular feature in this column. I’d even picked out a title i.e. “Myth of the Month”.
     One example of the myths I’ve discussed in the past concerned the belief that cleaning rods have to be made of very hard steel, or other wise carbon from combustion byproducts would become embedded into an ordinary rod turning it into an abrasive file which would wear away the bore of your gun. In my examination of this belief, I found this myth to be completely untrue i.e. “Myth Busted” as they like to say on the TV program.
     Another popular myth comes from the rimfire world, and is called the “Carbon Ring”. This myth says that through the normal course of shooting a rimfire gun, a ring of carbon and lead will quickly build up in the leade of the chamber just before the lands of the barrel. Many believe the ring will appear in as little as 25 shots. The ring will now act as a restriction and start sizing down the soft rimfire bullets smaller than bore diameter. Of course the more you shoot, the larger the ring grows, and the more bullets become smaller in diameter. Consequently, after passing through the ring, the undersized bullets will be literally rattling down the barrel, and accuracy will go to the devil. The whole thing sounds very logical, but is it true?
     Does the carbon ring really exist? If it does, I’ve never seen one. I’ve examined many, many rimfire pistols and rifles with a bore-scope and haven't seen the slightest evidence of a ring of carbon and lead in the leade of any chamber. These were barrels where the owners were both very conscientious about cleaning, and barrels where the owners weren't.
     The closest thing I ever seen to a carbon ring was in a Winchester 52 target rifle that was probably about 45 years old. I doubt if the gun had been cleaned more than a dozen times over that period of time and it wouldn’t shoot worth a lick. A quick look with the bore scope showed that lumps of lead had built up over the years in the lands at the 6 o’clock position directly in front of the chamber (not the leade). However, there was no ring in the leade or anything even vaguely resembling a ring at all anywhere. Once the lumps were removed through long and vigorous applications of Brownell’s JB Bore Cleaner, the gun’s accuracy was restored and it shot beautifully.
     Let’s go one step further and discuss the myth’s assertion of how after the bullet passes through the ring it gets sized down, and is now slopping its way down the bore. Most people don’t realize that the average 22 rimfire is working at a very similar chamber pressure to that of the 38 Special i.e. 17,000 psi. That’s a lot of pressure any way you look at it. For argument’s sake, say the ring does exist, and that yes, it’s sizing the bullet down by say one thousandths of an inch (which would be a lot). As the bullet moves through the ring and into the lands, it is still being subjected to thousands and thousands of pounds of pressure. We know that rimfire bullets are soft, and when exposed to that kind of pressure, they’re going to swell to the limits of the bore diameter. So even if they were sized down by the ring, they’d immediately expand to bore diameter again and therefore couldn’t go “rattling” down the barrel.
     So does the myth really exist as fact? The people who sell little carbon ring cleaning gizmos insist that it does. However, I have to go by what my own eyes have seen in a large number of bore scope examinations and so I have to say “Myth Busted”.
     If you’re still worried about the carbon ring, just take the time to clean your rimfire barrels after every shooting session with a good solvent and make sure that includes a good brushing with an Iosso bore brush or something of similar quality. If you do so, I’m sure that you’ll never see a carbon ring.
Hodgdon Powder
     As you probably heard, Hodgdon Powder has taken over the Winchester line of reloading powders. Winchester made a very brief announcement to that effect on the 30th of January of this year. However details were just about non - existent at that time. Recently, I called a friend at Hodgdon and got some more information. Except for Winchester’s WXR extruded product, all other powders in the WW line up are being retained. The make up of the powders will also stay exactly as they were before as they will still be provided by the same suppliers that Winchester used previously. However, the powders will now be packaged in Hodgdon’s “pickle jar” style containers instead of Winchester’s rectangular containers with the handle on the top.

     Hodgdon will be doing all the ballistic testing for the Winchester powers, all the distribution, advertising, customer support, etc.. etc.. For now on, Winchester powders are 100% Hodgdon powders. A licensing agreement, allows Hodgdon to continue to use the Winchester name.
     Hodgdon’s acquisition of Winchester along with its recent acquisition of IMR certainly makes it the 800 lb gorilla in the shooting sports powder business. This is a good thing as Hodgdon has always been extremely conscientious about product quality, performance, and safety. I have no doubt that their family tradition of excellence will continue with this new brand name under their umbrella.
NRA Award to Simmons
     In the past I’ve written about the new Simmons Master series rifle scopes and have given them high marks. Evidently a special NRA committee from the “American Rifleman” magazine agrees. They’ve awarded the Master Series scopes their “Golden Bullseye Award” for their performance, reliability, design, and value.
     If you remember in my story I mentioned that the new Simmons Master Series provides an exceptionally large “eye box”. This means there’s no hunting around for your target in the eyepiece. This is a big advantage to any competitor or hunter using a scoped firearm with lots of magnification. It also uses a completely different way to make elevation and windage adjustments, thus eliminating the most common problem that shooters have with their scopes i.e. settings that suddenly go haywire. They also have 30% fewer parts, and so are now lighter and more reliable than many others.
     Coincidentally, NRA’s magazine for women - “Woman’s Outlook”, also happened to name Simmon’s Master Series scopes as their “2006 Optic of the Year”. It’s nice to see that lots of other people think as much of the new Simmons products as I do.
Sinclair International Press

The press exhibits Sinclair's usual high quality but the opening may be too small for general reloading

     If you shoot at a public range the way I do, you’ve probably seen benchrest shooters doing their reloading right on the firing line. They’ll have a folding table set up and will have all their gear laid out in a very orderly fashion. The reason they do their reloading on the spot is the fact that they use a very small number of cases for their shooting. They may have perhaps 10 super specially prepared cases that they use over and over. Since benchrest loads are very mild, the cases last forever. The bottom line here is that if a benchrester wants to shoot more than 10 shots, they have to reload at the range.
     I often wish I could reload at the range just like the benchresters.

     Typically I go out with some number of prepared loads that I want to evaluate and then as things proceed, end up wishing that I had some more loads with say a grain or two more or less of powder, or perhaps where the bullet depth was a little deeper. If I had some portable reloading gear I could just make what ever changes I needed right then and there. Instead, I’ll have to wait until the following week to follow up.

     The problem is the fact that most standard reloading gear is big and heavy and so would be a major pain to drag around. Of course the biggest piece of reloading equipment that we’ll have to deal with, if we want to do things at the range, is the press. Most benchresters use both special hand dies and a small arbor type press which requires painstaking procedures that most shooters probably wouldn’t want to deal with. Obviously, the equipment and procedures also really don’t lend themselves to producing ammo in any but the very smallest numbers.

     However, there’s an alternative. If you want to reload at the range definitely consider Sinclair International’s 2006 Custom Press. This is a compact press in a conventional “C” shaped design that’s still big enough to size any silhouette cartridge up to and including the 308. The press is machined from a solid block of aluminum and features compound linkage for plenty of power. It’s also tilted back 10 degrees to offer even more access. The one inch stainless steel ram accepts standard shell holders and you can also use your regular sizing dies as well. This is a press that’s significantly lighter and smaller than most and so is very portable.   
     IMHO, it’s also strong enough to handle any standard case reforming task like taking a 7 BR case down to 6.5, changing shoulder angles, etc. Radical case reforming however, as always, should be left to the big, iron presses from Redding and RCBS, but that’s not the kind of thing you’d be doing out at the range anyway. 
     Another factor that has to be taken into account is the relatively small sized opening in the press’s mouth - about 2.5 inches. This means that if you’re using a typical BR type case and a long bullet, you’d might have to insert the nose of the bullet into your seating die before you could place the case into the press. If you use a case longer than a BR case, you’d might also have to use a separate arbor press for the seating operation. This is not as unreasonable as it sounds, as arbor presses are very light and portable. It is one more piece of equipment to tote however. Bottom line - if you want a compact, lightweight press to resize cases while you’re developing or refining loads out at the range, the Sinclair press will do the job. For bullet seating, just make sure the overall length of your loaded cartridges will fit in the mouth of the press or you might have to use a separate piece of gear for seating.
     To go with the press you’ll also want an electronic scale with a good wind cover over the top as the slightest bit of air movement will drive them crazy. Sinclair also sells the Acculab electronic scale that features a very effective glass cover (not plastic). It’s got a nice wide footprint for stability and a means of leveling the scale which is very useful when the scale is sitting on a portable table that’s somewhat off kilter. The scale is loaded with all kinds of features, has a 1852 grain capacity, and comes with a TWO year warrantee. With most electronic products, it seems like 90 days is often the case. If you get a one year warrantee, you’re doing well. Two years is unheard of. In reality, this is a high quality scale that’s made in the good old USA and will should last as long as a press. Check out these products in the new Sinclair catalog. It’s a beauty, and is filled with all kinds of really nice gear. Call them at 800-717-8211.
Streamlight TLR-1 Tactical Light
     I strongly suspect that there’s more than one or two silhouette shooters reading this that beside owning a raft of competition guns, also own a home defense firearm (usually a semi auto hand gun and/or a shotgun). This is certainly not an unusual situation. As we all know, the crime situation makes a home defense weapon almost mandatory - even in good neighborhoods.

"The Streamlight is easy to mount and puts out a blinding amount of light."

     Of course, having loaded weapons around the house carries a degree of risk which requires us to take as many common sense steps as possible to reduce that risk down to zero. Unfortunately, in spite of extensive precautions, accidents still sometimes happen. One of the most tragic, is when an individual will wake up in the middle of the night hearing strange noises in the house. Taking their gun, they’ll go to investigate. They see a strange figure in the blackened room which then moves towards them. Fearing the worst, they fire, and the figure goes down. The lights are then turned on, and the figure on the floor turns out to be a family member who got up to raid the ice box for a late night snack or what ever. According to police departments, this type of horrible incident is not all that unusual. However, this situation could have been totally avoided if the gun was equipped with a tactical light.
     Tactical lights are marketed primarily to police departments and other law enforcement agencies, which is all well and good. However, the general shooting public and even most manufacturers don’t seem to appreciate their value as a safety device for the home owner who needs to defend their family and property. Having the means to quickly and seamlessly illuminate an area to assess the situation before firing a weapon is just as critical to the average Joe as it is to a police officer.
     There are a lot tactical lights floating around the marketplace, but the new Streamlight TLR-1 is surely one of the very best choices. First of all, I particularly like Streamlight products because they have a 30 year history of producing high quality lights for police and emergency service agencies. The TLR-1 definitely follows that tradition. 
     The light measures 3.25” long and weighs just a tad over 4 ounces without the batteries. The thing that really impresses me about this little light is the incredible amount of illumination that it puts out. The focused 80 lumens coming out of the 3 watt Luxeon LED is absolutely blinding. I’m not kidding when I say blinding. Let me illustrate. I was showing the light to some friends at the range last weekend, and to illustrate the point, I shined the light directly into their faces. Everyone either threw up their hands to shield their eyes or turned their heads away from the light. There were also a few four letter words uttered, but we won’t get into that. Now this was out in broad daylight. Think what the reaction would be from an intruder in a pitch black room.
     The TLR-1 is also tough and comes with a no bull life time warrantee. It’s totally shock proof, completely waterproof, and is rated to one meter under water for one hour. The body is milled from a solid piece of aluminum and is hard coat anodized both outside and inside. The two 3 volt lithium batteries (included) and electronic regulation circuitry also provides a full 80 Lumen run time of 2.5 hours. Afterwards, the TLR-1 will give you another two hours of useable light. The Streamlight can also be activated for continuous use or for short on-demand bursts of light. (BTW, the lithium batteries will keep their charge while in storage for 10 years.)
     One of the most useful features of the TLR -1 is attachment system. Most semi autos sold these days are equipped with a Glock style accessory rail on the underside of the weapon. Even self defense long guns are similarly equipped with a 1913 (Picatinny) rail. The TLR-1 is equipped with a spring loaded clamp that fits over the rail with ease. No tools are necessary and the clamp can be tightened further with a finger adjustable screw if necessary. Removal is just as easy. Just push in the screw head with your thumb and the clamp opens. Easy. Consequently, your hand never has to be in front of the muzzle to mount or dismount the light. (Never the less, always make sure the gun is completely unloaded when mounting any accessory.) One quick note: The TLR-1 is too long to fit on short barreled, compact semi-autos.
     If you have an older model semi auto pistol or shotgun without a mounting rail, Streamlight also sells mounts or adapters that fit a number of popular guns. Additionally, Brownells also sells very high quality accessory rails in both steel and aluminum that will fit the 1911 and other similar firearms. 
     The bottom line here is that if you own a home self defense gun, it needs a tactical light on it to avoid potential tragedies and to give yourself every safe advantage. Check out the Streamlight TLR-1. You’ll like it.
     In my Shot Show story last month I stated that a couple of Alpen spotting scopes, including their Model 788 80mm now came with an aluminum carrying case. That was incorrect. A kit is now available for the 788 and some of the other smaller spotters which includes an aluminum carrying case as part of the package. My apologies to you and to Alpen Optics for the error.
Good luck and good shooting. Todd

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Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading and bullet casting, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.