Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tour at the Doubletap Ammo Factory

Some of the Ammo that Doubletap sells

Double Tap Ammo Tour
In the last number of years there have been a number of companies started up to produce ammo. Some are niche companies while others supply most modern ammo. One such company is Double Tap. It was started in 2002 by Mike Mcnett with the idea of producing high quality ammo for hunting and self defense purposes. They are located in Cedar City Utah and have a toll free number 866-867-1066. For info on their products you can go to www.doubletap.com to view their extensive line of products. They started out with three loads for the 10 mm but now offer over 300 loadings in various rifle and handgun calibers. They are adding new products all of the time so it is necessary to check their site frequently lest you miss out on something you might want. I became aware of this company at the writer’s shoot which is a day prior to the SHOT show. I talked to Mike and looked over his ammo and it became obvious that he cares deeply about the quality of his products.
A couple of weeks after the SHOT show was over he sent me some sample ammo in 380, 9mm and 40 caliber. He uses premium bullets from such makers as Barnes Hornady and Nosler all top notch. A couple of loads have a high ES but that would be a function of that individual gun. Every gun is different and some don’t like a certain load or bullet. That is why it is important to experiment with your firearm to see what it likes.

9 mm Beretta 92 5” 124 grain 1293 consistent
40- Glock 22 5” 125 grain Barnes 1308 very consistent
40- Glock 22 5” 200 grain Nosler 1013 nice
40- Glock 27 3 &1/2” 125 grain Barnes 1125 OK
40- Glock 27 3 &1/2” 200 grain Nosler 976 consistent
Sig 220 5” barrel 160 grain Barnes Tac XP 1132 potent
Sig 220 5” barrel 185 grain Nosler 1199 nice
Rock River 308 20’ 150 grain Barnes TTSX 2875 consistent
Rock River 308 20” 180 grain Nosler Accubond 2588 good load
Rock River 308 20” 200 grain Nosler Accubond 2443 high es
H & R Pistol 32 mag 60 grain Barnes 2 &1/2” barrel 1058 consistent
Ruger 327 mag 5 & ½” 60 grain Barnes 1581 impressive

One of the loading machines used.

We shot the 60 grain Barnes in the 327 at 25 yards and they were very accurate. A better rest & less wind would have done better. I have also shot some of his ammo in a couple of Diamondback pistols that I was testing out. They are very sub compact models and they performed well with his ammo. Calibers were the 380 and 9 mm. Accuracy for such small pistols was outstanding.

The Rock River 308 shot the Double Tap very well at 100 yards giving groups in the 1” area consistently. Both the Barnes and Nosler Accubonds shot well indicating good quality ammo. Either bullet would be suitable for large game hunting.

One of the Branes bullets loaded by Doubletap

Recently I had a chance to visit and tour his factory in Cedar City Utah. While the operation doesn’t look large the available space is utilized in an efficient way. They use a number of Dillon presses to manufacture most of the ammo. The Dillon presses are set up for production while maintaining the high quality control that Mike demands. For the most part he uses Starline brass which is also a quality product. Bullets come from various manufactures such as Barnes, Nosler and Hornady. The rifle ammo is hand crimped in a single stage RCBS press and individually inspected by the operator.

Target shot with Diamondback 380 and Doubletap ammo 380

I have shot a lot of his ammo and have never had any type of problem. There are several ways to measure ammo quality. First of all it has to fit and feed in the gun it is designed for. Next it has to be consistent in order to be accurate. Consistency is usually measured by a chronograph which measures its velocities among other factors. If it has a low standard deviation and ES, the difference between the slowest and fastest shot in the string, then that is an indication of good quality. Among other things it requires the proper powder and amount is used which takes some experimenting and time to develop such loads. It also has to be safe in the guns that it is designed for. Consistent ammo also is accurate an important consideration both in hunting and self defense. Mike puts the velocity on all of his boxes and the guns that were used to develop the loads. If your gun is similar to his then you should get similar results. I’m here to tell you that his ammo meets all of the criteria necessary to call it great ammo. Based on my experiences with it I would recommend his ammo without hesitation. I have other calibers to test and will report on them at a later date.
Bob Shell

My new book just got published on Amazon.com (kindle) and Barnes & Noble (nook)
Reloading From Another View ll has info not contained in other manuals. You can download it for $9.99 which is a bargain for such a large book.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Barnes Bullet factory Tour

Barnes Bullet Factory Tour

For quite a few years I have used Barnes bullets both the traditional cup and jacket and the copper verity. They always performed well for me both in hunting and accuracy tests. I have toured bullet plants and saw how conventional jacketed bullets are made but haven’t had the opportunity to see how pure copper bullets are made. In August I went to a POMA conference for gun writers. Anyway Barnes is located on the way so I contacted Kari Cook and she arranged a tour for us. The plant is located in Mona which is a tiny town right off of I-15 about 2 hours or so south of Ogden. Upon arrival I noticed that the plant is modern in every way and the employees are very courteous and helpful.

The tour was conducted by Ty Herring who is the customer service lead technician. As a long time employee he is very knowledgeable and helpful. He showed us the dies in various stages of manufacture with the tolerances being kept at 50 millionths of an inch. To give you an idea as to how much thickness that is take a human hair and slice it lengthwise into 200 pieces and that will give you an idea of their tolerances. In order to make consistent bullets you need tooling that is consistent. With their modern machinery such tolerances are possible.

One of the presses used to make bullets

To make the bullets Barnes buys rolls of copper wire that is made to their specifications both in material and diameter. The wire then is pulled through a die to insure that the diameter is perfect then is cut into a cylinder shape, the length determines the weight. After inspection they are fed into a large press that used punches to give the bullet its shape and hollow cavity. The tooling in the presses are inspected and replaced often to insure that the dimensions are as needed. Every operator is their own quality control technician and they always keep the bullets in specs. Since they measure by ten thousands of an inch we shooters can appreciate the effort used in making these fine bullets. There are no shortcuts taken and if the bullets don’t measure up they don’t leave the plant. Once the bullets are made they have a proprietary machine that cuts the grooves in them. It is amazing to watch the process but no photos are allowed of that machine and a couple of others which is totally understandable. The bullets are cleaned in a large tub that contains ball bearings which shines them up really nice. They are then inspected again with a laser device that can pick up any defects and sort them out. As they are being packed the inspection process is again repeated. I have personally bought and used a lot of Barnes bullets of various calibers including the lead core bullets and never saw a defective specimen. I watched some 348 traditional bullets being inspected by hand and since it is such a tedious job I joked with her as to does she dream of them when sleeping. After the bullets are made some are tested at their shooing range upstairs to insure accuracy.

Muzzle loading bullets made by Barnes

They also make solids out of a brass alloy. They have long rods that are cut into length and machined to whatever caliber is desired. The laser cutter insures the demanded dimensions needed to produce a top notch bullet. They are made from 22 up to a dinosaur killing 577 Nitro. While I haven’t shot a lot of these the ones I did shot well. The Triple-Shock X bullet is made from 22 caliber up to a 577 while the tipped Triple’s go from a 22 to one made for the 458 Socom. You might want to check out their website as there are new bullets being added quite frequently. They also produce muzzle loading bullets as well as loaded ammo so you might want to visit http://www.barnesbullets.com/ to keep up with all of the goodies made by them. I have shot the muzzle loading slugs in a couple of inlines and they were accurate as you expect from a Barnes product.

One of my several favorites is the TTSX 338 210 grain loaded in the 338 RCM Ruger Hawkeye in a 20” barrel. I get great groups and it should handle anything that I am likely to hunt. My 300 RCM, 30-06 and 270 also shoot very well with various Barnes bullets. I am presently conducting tests with the 70 grain 22 bullets and results so far look very promising.

Bullets ready to be inspected and packed

There are a number of bullet companies out there who make quality products and are introducing new items all of the time. Such competition is good for us shooters because better bullets are constantly being designed and produced. Barnes is such a company and I strongly recommend that you try out their products if you haven’t already done so.
Bob Shell

Cartridge Conversion Guide Book review

Cartridge Comparison Guide

There is a lot of information out there regarding cartridges and their dimensions and features. Unfortunately a lot of it is either outdated or inaccurate. Some of the other info out there might be hard to understand by a layman. This well researched book is written by Andrew Chamberlain

I ran across this guy at the POMA convention recently and he has written a book on cartridges and the information pertaining to them. I have seen quite a few books on this subject but he approaches it from a different angle. It starts with an explanation of how to select a cartridge for a specific purpose. It details who should use what cartridge based on such factors as purpose of use and recoil. The details are very comprehensive and clear. Anyone should be able to understand the text. It also contains a glossary to help anyone who isn’t clear on some of the terms used. Pictures are sprinkled through out which gives a face to the info provided. Then it goes to what to consider when selecting a round such as conditions, range, accuracy requirements and other factors a shooter may look at.

If you like tables and graphs then this book is for you. There are over 100 pages of tables in small print that covers grouping of calibers by caliber, energy, velocity and recoil. They also cover energy efficiency, sectional density, bullet momentum and recoil energy.
All of the modern cartridges are covered and if you want to know anything about your hunting load this is the read that will help you out. I am in total awe of how much time and effort was expanded to compile these tables. Bullet brands are also covered. I can’t imagine anyone reading this book and not knowing the pertinent info on his favorite cartridge.

After you get through with the tables they have a chapter on identifying an animal’s physical characteristics and describe which bullets and calibers work best for a particular application. They go into bullet behavior with a clear explanation of what to expect with certain bullets. Components and parts of a bullet are described in good detail which would be a great help to a beginner. Special purpose bullets and wound channel information is also described. Penetration and expansion of various bullets are written about extensively. In flight bullet behavior as well as effect of various calibers is gone over in detail. The book goes into cartridge names and recoil energy among many other things. There is so much info in this guide that it is hard to cover in a review. It is not a reloading manual for various reasons.

There are charts showing bullet drop at various ranges and other useful info that a shooter may need. With this book you can figure out the energy of your bullet at various ranges. By the time you finish this book you should have a good understanding on ammo nomenclature and behavior.

It is evident that a lot of research and work went into producing this book and I would give it an A+ for anyone who wants a lot of good info on their favorite cartridge. For more info you can go to http://store.cartridgecomparisonguide.com/index.php to buy a copy. At $24.99 it is a bargain