Archive for the ‘Reloading ammo’ Category

Different Types of Shooting Targets

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Practice, they say, makes perfect and when it comes to shooting and accuracy, practice is the only way to improve accuracy. Regardless of your shooting goal, accuracy is important. That is why shooters use targets to hone both their skill in handling a gun and their accuracy. To that end, there are three popular types of targets that shooters use. Those are steel targets, Tannerite targets, and plinking targets. Here is a look at each of these targets and why you’d use them.

Steel Targets — Steel targets are made out of 1/2 inch or 3/8 inch steel. Many people opt to use armor grade steel. The fast-and-hard rule is any steel will do if it has a Brinell hardness in excess of 500. Of course, this is subjective but applying it adds longevity to your targets. The benefit of using steel targets is that they last longer and require fewer houses for setup since they can be used over and over. They are also easy to clean up and usually just require repainting when it matters. The advantage of using steel targets is that you can hear that “plink” if you hit one. This allows the shooter to have instant confirmation during target practice. The downfall with steel targets is that they pose a ricochet risk and people do get injured from bullets that ricochet. Steel targets are usually easy to move around so you can gain more detailed target practice in a small space. With the right tools, steel targets are easy to make as a DIY project.

Steel Shooting targets

Image Source

Tannerite targets are exploding. They are a mixture of aluminum powder and ammonium nitrate. The ratio for mixing at home is 5:95 Aluminum powder:Ammonium nitrate. While this already sounds like a bad idea, the mixture only explodes when struck with a bullet. The bigger risk is that the target may cause a fire. That is usually from mixing the ingredients wrong, or exposing them to flames. Tannerite targets are helpful for long-distance shooting where you might not hear the plink. You will definitely see the explosion. The downside to Tannerite targets is that they are a once-use product and they create a mess. While the current laws allow Tannerite targets for use and sale in all 50 states, it is best to check with your local authorities for changes to those laws.


Image Source

Plinking Targets are comprised from almost anything from tin cans to watermelons. These targets offer an affordable means to hone your shooting skills and accuracy. You can easily create larger targets using cardboard cutouts or difficult targets using Q-tips. If you want to add technical challenges, many plinking targets can be swung from a rope to provide a moving target. The benefit of plinking targets is that they are scalable for different skill sets. Depending on the material from which the target is made, these may be single use or last for years. The list of material that you can use is virtually limitless. Another advantage to plinking targets is that they add a sense of fun to the game of target practice. It is easier to convince a new shooter to practice target shooting if the idea is to demolish a watermelon or perhaps to challenge them by taking a grape off a toothpick at 50-yards.

homemade_targets_3  Plinking targets  homemade_targets_2

Image Source

Image Source

Every type of target has its strengths and weaknesses. The idea is to learn when to use each type of homemade target to gain the best benefit. Your goal as a shooter should always be gun safety followed by bettering your shooting skill and accuracy. Each set of target types also provides a wide range of costs. These three choices allow you to pick a cost that fits your budget.

To learn more about how guns are crafted and cared for visit our Colorado School of Trades website for more information on gunsmithing education. In so doing, you will find a ton of helpful information that helps you improve as a shooter and to improve your accuracy.


What Is the Attraction to AR-15’s and Building Them?

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

The Black Rifle. 14,5" AR-15 assault carbine (M4A1) with holographic sight against an old wooden door. Vertical composition.

For many people, the AR-15 is the gun of choice. One of its biggest draws is that it offers an easy to modify platform. For shooters, the gun becomes easy to adapt from one purpose to another. Those options include hunting, target practice, home and self-defense. Another draw, these guns are easy to build even for novice gunsmiths. That little fact causes a lot of interest in these guns. By building it yourself, you can do so for less money. Allowing you to customize it to fit your shooting needs or build more than one. Still, the question remains — How easy are these guns to build from scratch? The answer is a little more complex but in the general sense, they are easy to build.

What Do You Need to Build an AR-15 at Home?

Almost all the parts needed to build an AR-15 are available online. The most scrutinized piece of the AR-15 is the lower receiver. In fact, it is the only part of the unit that federal and state laws actually consider the weapon. This is also the most cumbersome part to get.

  • You will need both a lower and upper receiver and a parts kit for each.
  • You will need a buffer, buffer tube, and a buffer spring for the extension on the lower receiver.
  • You will need a Barrel and gas block system – Most opt for a carbine length gas system.
  • You will need handguards – It is a good idea to match them to the gas block system. They are available in different lengths – carbine, mid-length, or rifle.
  • You will need a firing pin kit or bolt carrier group. These consist of a carrier, bolt, firing pin, cam, extractor, ejector and spring.
  • You will need to finish off the gun with a Buttstock. These come either as a collapsible unit or fixed.
  • You will need magazines.
  • Ensure that you meet federal and state laws in regards to building a pistol or rifle and the appropriate parts to meet the definitions.

The Difficult Part

Literally, the difficult part is the lower receiver. You can get a lower receiver at a gun dealer, gunsmith, from an online seller. You will have to find a gunsmith or gun dealer to act as an intermediate for an online sale. Once that happens they will resell the unit to you when it arrives. The key to building an AR-15 is being specific about its use. The parts for the hunting version differ from those for the unit used in home defense. Save all that wasted money on parts you don’t need by being specific about what you want this gun to do.

Putting It All Together

You have a lot of options when you buy parts. You can buy pre-assembled receivers. These allow you to simply put the pieces together to form the gun. You can buy the pieces one at a time and assemble everything yourself. Start by asking yourself what you want to gain from this experience. There is also no shame in bending the ear of a gunsmith if you need a little help.

You will need the basic understanding of what each part does, its name, and a little ambition. There are about 130 parts including accessories like flashlights and scopes that go into a completed AR-15. You will also need some basic tools, a clean work area, and a place where you can assemble small parts.

Special Tools that You Might Need

  • A clean, flat workspace that you won’t mind if it gets greasy. A metal covered table works well. The bright metal helps you see the parts and it can take a beating.
  • A rifle mount stand makes the assembly process much easier. Some folks just use a vice, but there is that old saying about using the right tool for the right job.
  • Good lighting. The parts are small and intricate.
  • Punches and a hammer
  • Lubrication rated for gun use.
  • Headspace gauges and a torque wrench are a must to meet proper specifications.

Firing it for the First Time

There are a few things that you need to do before you load the gun.

  • Check that the safety works through all settings.
  • Check that the trigger works. Slowly pull the trigger and listen for the internal parts.
  • Load a round and fire it.
  • Recheck the gun for loose parts or damage.
  • Disassemble, clean and inspect after the first several rounds. You want to look for unusual wear.

Expect to take a few weeks to put together your gun. You want to go slow, especially if this is your first weapon assembly. A good tip is to also have a spare parts kit around in case you bend a part or lose one.

Different Types of Competition Shooting

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016


The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) states that 19 million plus Americans safely invest their time in target practice. They use handguns, shotguns and rifles. Some of this is for fun and much of it is for competitive shooting. Practice makes perfect.

Competitive shooting — shotgun

There are three general categories for most competitive shotgun shooting events. All three involve throwing clay targets, but it is how they are thrown that differentiates these shooting events. Those are:

Skeet shooting — Clay targets fired from opposite directions and cross, which helps the shooter to develop or show off profile shooting skills.

Trap shooting — Clay targets are thrown in the same direction as the shooter is facing, but their trajectory varies, giving the shooter a more difficult set of targets. This type of shooting develops skills that involve instant decision making when choosing multiple targets.

Sporting clay shooting — One could easily describe this as mayhem. The clay targets are pitched from different heights, speeds and angles. Most targets move fast, and the goal is to simulate what a hunter would face in the wild with birds and small game.

Pistol and rifle competition shooting

Cowboy action shooting — The primary requirement for these types of shooting events is that the guns used are from the era of the American cowboy. That typically means from the 1800’s. These are perfect events to get a look at antique guns and weaponry.

Pistol shooting events

Bullseye shooting — While this can occur with the use of rifles, it is mostly a long-distance event for pistol shooters. By long distance, we mean upwards of 50 yards. Competitions are usually a mix of slow-firing and rapid-firing contests. To increase the difficulty level, a timer might be used and participants might also be required to fire using a single-hand rather than a double-hand grip.

International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) shooting events — This is an action shooting event that focuses on international rules and guns. This shooting competition focuses on self-defense type shooting situations, and the events mimic real life as much as possible. Its sister competition is the United States Practical Shooting Organization (USPSA), which is the U.S. version.

Rifle-focused shooting

Silhouette shooting — This is a rifle event and primarily uses small gauge rifles such as .22s. These events stage small steel targets at varying distances between 50-100 yards. Targets may be at different heights, angles, and may move. There are competitions that employ high power rifles with targets in the 1000-yard range. To increase the difficulty of these events, shots might be timed.

Bench rest shooting — This is the most precise shooting competition for rifles available. The rifle sits on a front and rear rest and the rest sits on a table, thus the name. Shooters take aim at paper targets. The rifles used are highly modified or customized to provide the most stable shot possible. A lot goes into the trajectory of a bullet as even the wind can shift its path slightly. These competitions can be decided by a fraction of a millimeter. This is the type of event that is deeply rooted in tradition and can be seen at both the winter and summer Olympics.

Shooting events are widely available and they might be hosted by a local gun club or as a world competition at a venue such as the Olympics. What is the next step for people who are interested in shooting competitions? The biggest decision that you face is determining which style of gun — shotgun, pistol or rifle — that you favor. When the breadth of a hair can spell winner or loser, precision counts.

John M. Browning’s Start Up

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

john browning 3

Meet John Browning – Passionate Gun Designer and Innovator

John Moses Browning is perhaps the most brilliant gun designer and gunsmith that has thus far graced gunsmithing. His long list of achievements individually are enough to land him on the top ten list of gun designers, but together they move him to the head of the list. That list includes guns such as the 1911 pistol, M1917 and M1919 machine gun and the M2HB, but those are just the superstars. He held over 150 patents and designed over 80 guns. His guns are in service today in military, police, and for people all around the world. John Browning is no doubt a legend in shooting circles. How did he get started?

Browning — the family history

John Browning’s gunsmithing education was not by accident. His father, Jon Browning was a frontiersman who made his living repairing guns in Tennessee. Then, as the family converted to the Mormon religion, they moved to Utah. It was here that John Browning honed his skills as a gunsmith. There is a story about how a ten-year-old John Browning created his first gun using broken flintlock barrel, wire, scraps of tin and some wood. The gun worked and though impressed, his father challenged John to do better, creating the gun that started it all. What John took from his father’s lesson was the idea that improvements mattered.

Inspiration from a muzzle blast

The automatic gun was not a new thought. By the time John Browning came on the scene, the French and Belgium gunsmiths had already created something that was close — the mitrailleuse. Even in the U.S. Army deployed Gatling guns during the Civil War. The difference with all of these guns was that they were not fully automatic. They had to be cranked. It was something that was very common that sparked John’s interest in creating a fully automatic gun. At a target shooting competition, the force of a muzzle blast caused him to think about how he could use that force to improve guns. The pathway to a fully automatic gun was born.

Success breeds success

The first of the Browning Guns was a single-shot rifle, which he designed and manufactured by hand. He and his brothers took over the family business and expanded their services. It was this single-shot rifle that enabled John Browning to begin seriously inventing guns. The rifle was well made and it attracted the attention of Winchester’s head man T. G. Bennett. Winchester bought the rights for John’s single-shot rifle. In his mind, John M. Browning had another design – one that he discussed with Bennett. Browning designed and patented that rifle, then presented it to Winchester who bought the rights for manufacture in what would become the Winchester Model 1886. It was a large-bore lever action repeating rifle and a gateway to a long relationship between Browning and Winchester. Within two years, Browning designed and Winchester bought the manufacturing rights to 11 different guns.

The automatic gun inventor

It took him a day to design a new gun that would use the gas from discharge to create the world’s first truly automatic gun. He and his brothers took John’s design from concept to reality in just a day. They tested, refined and perfected a machine gun that fired .45 caliber bullets at six times per second. Instead of going to Winchester, John M. Browning went to Colt. Colt was a manufacturer of military guns. After demonstrations for both Colt and later for the U.S. Navy, John Browning‘s Colt Model 1865 Automatic Machine Gun began production where it would earn distinction during the Spanish-American War.

The list of what John M. Browning and his Browning Guns accomplished is long and distinguished. He was not an engineer by degree, but he was a gunsmith with passion for his craft. It was that passion, mixed with the desire to do the best he could that propelled John Browning into the position of one the most brilliant gunsmiths the world has known.