Now That BallisticXLR Is Free Again I Can Say Whatever I Want

Yep, it’s free again. Download links are on the home page now.

Those that ponied up the 10 bucks, thank you for your patronage!

It’s been a pay app for a year and it really was more of a hassle than it was worth. All tolled, I made $810 in gross revenues from unsupported downloads over 11 months. I have put well over 4000 hours in the spreadsheet since 2013 and a hundred or so in the setup of the commercial operation. That comes out to $.20/hour gross for the time I have in developing it. But wait! There’s more. I sold $400 worth of support entitlements. I’ve burned 60 hours of time providing technical support to those entitlement holders, debugging user errors and diagnosing sources of error. That’s a whopping $6.66/hr for support services. Support hours were directly subtracted from my normal work hours as they were done during the time I’d normally be working my day job but couldn’t. That means it actually cost me about $4000 to provide support for which I received $400. Not economically viable.

Hard expenses were $196 for domain/certificate/e-commerce site, $50 for logos and other artwork, $100 for audio files. 810 – 196 – 100 – 50 = $464 or about $.12/hr. Count in the $4000 loss of income to my day job and I actually paid about $.78/hr for the privilege of doing all that work. By any economic measure that’s totally not worth it.

I originally tried to take what is in fact a giant pain in the ass for the average guy and make it into something really easy. I forgot that people are not all equipped with things like computer literacy or math skills or common sense in the same proportions and so there’s no such thing as making it easy for the average guy because there’s no average guy. I did make it as easy as it’s going to be and as perfected as you’ll ever find.

I will continue provide support for those that bought support but I will not sell any more support entitlements. I will continue to post blog entries but I’ve put future development off to one side. Custom Sizing Die – Experiment #1 Results

So we have initial results. I’d like to thank you all for the views on my video.

We will be testing this die set more over the next year. This is out of my pocket and out of my own curiosity. I have the credit card bills and had the arguments with my wife to show for it. I must caution, because of some things people seem to have in their heads, that this isn’t ever going to make a 1″ gun into a .5″ gun. Anyone suggesting such a thing is either a fool or a liar. What you should be expecting is to reduce variability in your ammo which reduces things like flyers & SD’s. Effects on group size, maybe small ones should be expected as a normal effect of better consistency but because barrel harmonics are involved there so heavily it’s best to keep your hopes in check and out of the land of silliness.

I set up a partially blinded experiment with unfired, 2x fired and >5x fired cases. We (Coach and I) sized up 50rds of each from my Exact die and 50 of each from Coach’s Redding die and tested that in Coach’s rifle. Coach’s rifle has somewhere over 1900rds down the pipe now which is a concern as you’ll see soon. We set the ammo up identically in everything from components to neck tension. We ran 10 shot groups which were composed of 2 non-consecutive 5-shot groups fired at the same aim point. Coach loaded, packed and labelled the ammo boxes (labels are “1” and “2”) and didn’t tell me till after the shooting was done which was which. I pulled the rounds from the boxes, logged data and called the target to engage while coach did the shooting. That way neither of us knew during shooting which ammo was being fired at any given time. That was the best way I could think of for me to pull out experimenter induced bias with a research team of 2.

The result of the first accuracy test was null. That is to say that the numbers difference in average group size was not outside the level of statistical noise. The exception was with brand new brass. It always shot more consistently than reloaded brass and so I removed those results from the full data set due to the noise they introduced. We also weren’t meant to be testing new brass as that would not apply anyway but I wanted that data for another experiment I’ve been running. This is all precisely what was expected. I expected no big result (but certainly hoped for one) in accuracy simply by going to full length resizing and having extremely consistent neck tension and headspace.

Because the result is null though, we’ll re-run the experiment on that rifle just before we replace the barrel, just to verify the results reproduce reliably. We also did some velocity testing as part of that and there was no statistical change in average velocities or SD’s except that in the new brass loads but it was more consistent set to set. Why pull the barrel? The rifle used for that run of the experiment now has ~1900 rounds through it in 6XC with a single load spec (38.5gr H4350, F210M, Norma brass, 115gr HBN coated DTAC). The load is mild; generating only 2800fps, but we know that that barrel is within a few hundred of being pulled on principle; if not actual need, as far as match work goes and it may not be capable of the repeatable accuracy that might show up with the Exact die. So, we’ll try another barrel. A new one. Actually, a new two! So stay tuned, there’s more to come.

In September I purchased 2x new barrels which I got as blanks from the same production run (from Black Hole Weapons). I purchased a new custom reamer in 6XC that produces a chamber that is very tight to the dimensions of the Exact die. Thankfully you can order a reamer with any number of customizations and it’s still the same price as a custom reamer with just 1 custom dimension. Unfortunately it takes weeks for such a reamer to be made. Over the winter I handed the whole works over to a gunsmith friend of mine that also makes ultra-precise gauges as a business. So, he has the equipment and skills to set up barrels that are truly as identical as we could make them and identical enough for a useful experiment to come out of it despite a sample size that’s extremely small.

Anyway, I got both barrels cut, profiled and chambered identically. It was at great cost too. The cost to set each one up was double what I normally pay him to set up a barrel for me for each barrel with over 15 hours of work on each one. These are our new match barrels for the next 2 seasons too. Coach and I will be shooting from the same ammo box so we can share data. Maybe we’ll pick up a few points on same-day wind calls.

We did have a non-null result and from a different direction, which I also predicted. That was that with loads that were sized with my die we never had trouble closing the bolt. It was, in fact, always exactly the same effort. On the cases that we sized on the Redding neck die that Coach uses bolt close effort was either not much or a TON. Some post-facto testing later on with coach’s FL die showed the same random bolt close effort. This is obviously due to random headspacing which means that Coach’s FL die probably needs a thou or two buzzed off the bottom. Irrelevant though because we’re testing what’s available out of the box and his FL die out of the box didn’t cut it so I suspect that a lot of FL dies out there may be a little long or short and aren’t sizing things like people think they are.

That is only the results from a well used barrel. We will be running this exact same test using the 2 newly set up barrels. One will be on the same gun (Coach’s match rifle) while its twin which now has just under 400 rounds on it is on a different my “Hot Dog Gun” match rifle. I don’t expect any difference but I could wind up being surprised. The new barrel on Hot Dog Gun is extremely accurate so far, better than Coach’s rifle on its first day. We’ve already developed a load for the new barrel that runs things a bit faster (2980fps) so hopefully with more pressure more differences might start to manifest.

One of the cool things about the ES die is you can pull the body/shoulder portion out and still use the neck sizing portion which itself is easily adjustable for neck tension and neck sizing depth. When you start getting hard bolt close you can dial in .0005″ or .001″ or .0015″ or whatever amount of push-back on the shoulder with an easy click adjustment and know it’ll give that to you exactly. We’ll be running a neck tension accuracy test here real soon. We’ll see if .0005″ increments makes real differences on paper. First though, I’m ordering some brand new brass for that test.

Cost is fairly high for these dies but not unprecedented. That’s true but, beside the point. If you have the money then that’s not an issue anyway. Functionality is THE issue. It’s perfectly functional and makes it super easy to dial in neck tension at .0005″ increments for those really finicky loads, to dial neck sizing depth at .020″ increments and to dial how far back you actually push your shoulders in .0005″ increments. They’ll make one to a reamer print too. How precise are the dies? Well I had my machinist do some gauging to see if they were that precise and he was pretty darned impressed.

For benchrest guys and F-class guys, I think this is really packing the potential to up their game a bit but only because those guys tend toward having done everything else already. BR and F-class are the only places I can think of of offhand where neck tension and headspacing are tightly controlled by the shooters both routinely and with an obsession rarely seen.

Is it going to help joe sixpack? Well no, to be honest. Joe doesn’t know enough to get the potential benefit to begin with. Owners of this die will 100% want to keep their brass sorted by number of firings. They’ll know about what spring back is and why it’s important to them and a lot more. They will be the type that can’t deal with unexpected 5’s instead of 0’s or 1’s in the 4th decimal place of a measurement. The right owner for this die is someone very much like me in the respect that they are prone to setting up narrowly defined experiments and to analyze the statistical data that results before forming opinions. They’re nerds.

For Coach and I the benefit is being able to share ammo and ballistics data in a match, not running out of time anymore on match stages due to bolt cycling problems, not overworking or insufficiently sizing the brass and being able to make subtle adjustments with truly minimal effort as precisely as adjusting a tactical rifle scope.

Watching a Melania Speech

Watching a hottie talk and having what comes out of their head be interesting, much less intelligent, is not a given. Nor is watching someone who’s catastrophically ugly. At least with the hottie you get 50% out of the deal no matter what. I think ol’ Donnie would be more like, “Well duh! You think I would marry her if she wasn’t an 11? Especially if she’s going to have a mind of her own. Sheesh. I’m eccentric and rich, not crazy and stupid.”

It’s a real shame that someone as poised and elegant as the First Lady, someone that really deserves that title, is not given the credit she’s due. Future generations will look back on this time and see that there was something very dirty going on in the MSM. Future generations will also not be reliant on the MSM but will not have access to the kind of high quality local/national/international news that we did only 30 years ago.

This is the effect of social media and video everywhere which are the expected emergent effects of linking physical location into a shared information space (the internet). Just as predicted by Douglas Adams almost 20 years ago. Once we’re able to move very tiny amounts of virtual cash around the internet we’ll see a gradual death of MSM as the formation of new systems of dissemination of news where popularity and buzz drive the breadth of coverage come to dominate. Like any ocean the digital one has streams and currents. If you toss your video into the ocean it might get noticed but if you put it into one that is used by a lot of people, it’ll get more noticed. We’ve already seen this with the effect of LiveLeak’s videos being posted to Twitter and Facebook. What used to be something that could take days to get to household level awareness can now take as little as a few minutes to a few hours.

There is no buffer in the news cycle now which is a shame. The buffer that used to be created by the conventional broadcast news cycle allowed time to verify facts, vet sources and protect the identities of the innocent (in theory). Now we don’t have any of those things and so any story that makes social media is instantly believed by those inclined to do so, given no second thought by those not inclined to ask questions and disbelieved by those inclined to disbelieve.

What this has all brought us is the elimination of authoritative information. This has brought back silliness like anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers, 2012’ers, pastafarians, scientologists and democrats to a population level that 20 years ago we would have seen as a sign of the impending downfall of our civilization.

But I digress. Yeah, she is super hot and smart.

Bore Scopes – Have or Not Have

Here’s some advice: DO NOT OWN ONE unless you’re a metallurgist. What you see will not make you feel any better. It will confuse and scare you and will ruin the fun you could have shooting. Just because you’re curious is not a good reason to start examining things you simply will not understand. When you need a bore scope, you’ll be taking the gun to a gunsmith who will already have one and he’ll know what he’s looking at.

I answer this question easily once a day and it’s always the same answer, “Don’t bother. Just shoot.” The times when I might have answered differently were answered with, “Dude, your shit is busted. Take it to a gunsmith.”

There. I either saved you $25 or quite a hell of a lot more. You’re welcome.

Outdoor Life Screws the Pooch & Federal Makes Reloader’s Hands Wring

Outdoor Life isn’t known for their shockingly high levels of expertise or their incisive writing. Writing takes time to do right and even more time to do wrong. It’s like carpentry that way. They do have access to industry sources though so if we can wade through all the stuff they got wrong we can find out some cool stuff.

Lead Styphnate

In the article linked below you’ll find TONS of factual errors but, if you look past those you’ll find a few sentences of new information. It appears that no less than the US government and police agencies were responsible for the new lead free primer offering from Federal. Lead styphnate is a pretty dangerous compound to work with but it’s much better as a primer than lead azide or mercury fulminate. Better? Yes. Actually better because it’s a bit less reactive to shock and and friction which means fewer accidents. It’s no worse as all 3 contain extremely toxic heavy metals.

Up till now primers have mostly been focused on simply getting a very hot flame front into a pocket of powder through a small orifice. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. It’s a pretty oversimplified take to be brutally honest. The actual thing that does the lighting off is not a literal flame front. It’s tiny particles that are burning white hot. Those particles collide with gunpowder kernels and well, you can guess what happens next. If you look at the fantastic work done by German Salazar and posted on, you’ll see that Remington primers put out HUGE amounts of white hot particles. Federal 210’s develop a very large very hot flame but not quite so showery in white hot bits. RWS and CCI BR primers show similarly large amounts of white hots compared to say, PMC.

Vigor in the pursuit of improved primers has been super low especially after companies poured piles of money into development of lead free non-toxic primers and ended up with something that was too unreliable for general duty use and which has been relegated to practice ammo. Once bitten equals twice shy so, they never really took the opportunity to improve primers as much as we have bullets and powders and even cartridge case brass alloys. Looking at the pictures from the article above, it’s also entirely possible that someone looked and said, “What actually are we improving on?” Looking at the pictures below, I have a hard time thinking it’ll be easy to make them any more functional.

               Federal 210M Primer Flame. Courtesy, German Salazar

             Remington no9.5 Primer Flame. Courtesy, German Salazar
                               Holy cow! That’s a bunch of flame and sparks.

Possible improvements over current lead styphnate primers:

  • Make them less susceptible to shock or friction and static electrical discharge.
  • Increase the quantity of and mass density of hot particles that are generated.
  • Reduce/eliminate powder/primer reactivity issues
  • Reduce generated gas volume to reduce pressures
  • Increase the time glowing particulate stays hot (increase its specific heat)
  • Make them less susceptible to water contamination
  • Eliminate dependence on Mexico/Brazil/China (especially China) for ingredients

The New Catalyst Primers

New primers use nitrocellulose as fuel instead of PETN. Nitrocellulose is a deflagrant (it burns and super fast). PETN is a high explosive. Lead has been removed. Aluminum is added and we go from barium to bismuth. Barium I’m not sure of the toxicity of but bismuth is touted as non-toxic though research concerning nanoparticles of bismuth oxide to have serious negative health effects at the cellular level. The oxide in the bismuth oxide becomes more free oxygen for the combustion. The heavy bismuth is heated partially by the burning aluminum which is started off by the nitrocellulose. What you have there is a chain of initiation reactions.

Aluminum instead of lead would be rhetorically great but it’s actually the bismuth that’s supplanting the lead. It gets rid of the lead and the aluminum will lengthen the burn cycle and make sure the flames are white hot as long as possible.


The Old Lead Styphnate


Lead styphnate has more evil in the legend than in the actual use of it in primers. You could eat quite a number of primers without raising your blood lead levels. The real reason I’m betting this went this way was to eliminate the last legitimate civilian reason to possess PETN. Primers don’t contain a lot of it but they do have it and if someone wanted to take a sufficient number of primers and harvest the boom boom butter.

So, let’s chalk up the score. See how Federal did.

Reduce generated gas volume to reduce pressures    ?
Make them less susceptible to shock or friction and static electrical discharge.    ?
Increase the quantity of and mass density of hot particles that are generated. Yes
Reduce/eliminate powder/primer reactivity issues Yes
Increase the time glowing particulate stays hot (increase its specific heat) Yes
Make them less susceptible to water contamination    ?
Eliminate dependence on Mexico/Brazil/China (especially China) for ingredients Yes

I don’t care who you are, that’s a pretty good result for any engineering exercise which seeks to materially improve an existing product.

What we’re seeing in the real world already is handloaders have gone full retard and decided based only on the information that it’s new that they’re not going to use the new primers. We also have others going full retard and predicting that this is some kind of final panacea to fix the marksmanship ailments of lackluster riflemen. Neither is true. If the military is using them then reliability has to be very high. If police are using them then costs have to be pretty low. If Federal Cartridge Company is behind it, I think we can afford to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Finally, not a one of you has much of a choice. Federal is changing all their lines over to this new primer. There will not be 2 lines longer than is necessary to finish converting the 2nd one. Once they make this change you’ve got the existing stock in the market and then you’re going to have to accept that things change. Sure, I have 10,000 primers in my personal back stock too. But I kind of doubt that if you have that many that you shoot little enough to eventually need more.

Get out and shoot!

Are You Shooting Long Range With A Factory Barrel

Lord knows I’m not and rarely would find a reason to do so. That said, factory barrels are turning out some impressive accuracy. How are you approaching your ballistic goals? Factory or aftermarket?

Poll Results – Long Range Caliber of Choice

Well, that was a surprise. I guess all of the guys talking a good game with some 6.5mm are actually owners of .308’s. Odd how that worked out.

Load Data – .223 Rem

BallisticXLR Load Data

Use this data at your own risk!

.223 Remington / 5.56x45mm NATO


5.56 NATO
Military Brass
55gr FMJ w/ cannulure
24.2gr Benchmark
Seat to top of cannulure, roll crimp
3200FPS from 26″, 3100+ from 24″.Military type load. Great for plinking. Modest Pressure.
.223 Remington
PPU Brass
73,75gr Hornady ELD-M, Nosler CC JHP
26gr BL-C(2)
Seat boat tail to neck/shoulder junction
2800fps frm 26″Very accurate, near max pressure.
.223 Remington
PPU Brass
73,75gr Hornady ELD-M, Nosler CC JHP
24.5gr Benchmark
Seat boat tail to neck/shoulder junction.
2950fps from 26″May pierce primers. Very Hot. Safe in bolt action. Hard on brass. Not safe in Semi-Auto.
.223 Remington
PPU Brass
70gr Berger VLD
26gr BL-C(2)
Seat boat tail to neck/shoulder junction.
2990fps from 26″

Max Load. Safe in bolt action. May be hard on Semi-Autos.

.223 Remington
PPU Brass
50gr Sierra SP
28gr BL-C(2)
Seat bullet ogive to case mouth.
3600fps from 26″Near Max Load.

I Want To Compete But …

But what? But it’s expensive? But you don’t know how? But is an excuse and just as with bungholes, everyone’s got one and they all stink. You want to compete? Do you just want somewhere to shoot that’s not off a bench and competing is about the only way you can do that? It’s really an easy 10 point plan to success that you need. The only assumption it makes is that you MAY have budget concerns.

Here’s how:

If you want to be competitive at the local level then:
1. Start reloading or you’re wasting your money hand over fist.
2. Pick a 6.5mm-7.5mm rifle cartridge that puts heavy for caliber bullets out at 2600fps or better. That’s good to 1000+yrds.
3. Pick up a scope that tracks (see my posts in topics about glass for good ideas about which are up to it on a budget).
4. Find a .75MOA or better load.
5. Learn to shoot / get a mentor / get trained.
6. Get your ballistics really dialed in (ask me how).
7. Train when you practice. Don’t just rehearse. If you hit every time you’re rehearsing. Make it harder on yourself and you’ll get better.
8. Keep a log book of conditions and POI vs POA data. You’ll want to thank me later for you starting to do that.
9. Get off your belly and on your feet. When you can hit standing, you can hit from any position.
10. Have fun. It’s not worth it if it’s just work.

Now to your silly arguments.
1. I don’t know how.
Not knowing how is an excuse. It’s easier to learn than baking.
2. Why not 6mm or 5.56 or 8mm or …:
Because barrel life/cost/recoil are optimized in .264, .277, .284 and .308 bores.
3. Those are expensive.
No, they’re not. Check SWFA SS fixed 12x or 10x.
4. Don’t you mean .5MOA or better?
No. I mean .75 or better.
5. Who?
Well, I do do that sort of thing so you could ask me or Google is an option.
6. This is where the metal meets the meat. You will probably do this wrong.
Ask BallisticXLR for help.
7. Excuses are like… yeah.
I’ve never been called an excuse but I have been called an asshole.
8. I don’t have the patience or focus.
Then you don’t have the data next time you need it. No biggie.
9. It’s too hard/I’m not good enough/I’ll just miss.
Exercise your upper middle back muscles and this gets easy. Watch my videos on Silhouette shooting for stance and hold.
10. Don’t tell me what to do.
It was just a suggestion.
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