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How to make brass prep not suck – part 1

The process of loading rifle cartridges is conceptually a simple process:

  • Clean the case
  • Lube the case and case mouth
  • Size & deprime
  • Trim for length
  • Chamfer the case mouth
  • Clean the primer pocket and swage if necessary
  • Clean the case again
  • Prime the case
  • Charge
  • Seat the bullet
  • Crimp

(Obviously I have over simplified this process a great deal with my list. If you want a good tutorial on how to do it properly, grab a cup of coffee and head over to Carteach0, and read his articles on case prep: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)

Half of the process of reloading rifle cases is case preparation. It’s an important process because it helps to ensure that your ammunition will feed and extract reliably, and it affects the accuracy of your ammunition.

And. I. HATE. It.

I especially hate it when producing ammo in any amount of significant volume. Case prep on my .30-06 and .243 Winchester cases doesn’t bother me too much because I “might” load at most 50 at a time. .223, on the other hand, I might want to load several hundred at a time.

For me, the biggest consumer of time is trimming the brass. I’ve tried a couple different methods. The first involved using the Lee Case Trimmer. I’ve also used the Lyman Case Trimmer. Both worked, but after a while my hands get tired, and I spend more time locking the cases in place to trim them than I did actually trimming them.

What to do?? I have two options. 1) Somehow incorporate the trimming into the sizing/depriming process. Or 2) find a way to make the trimming faster.

Since I load on a Dillion 550B, the logical choice would be to use Dillon’s Rapid Trim Case Trimmer. By the time I purchase the motor and the die, add in shipping charges, I’m out $303. I could buy a bunch of already loaded .223. That option is out.

Since I’m not going to easily incorporate this into my press, the next option it to look at motorizing some parts of the process. I could buy the adaptor for my case trimmer, but I still have the same problem as before. Hornady makes an interesting case prep center, but it’s $350. I like the idea of the Giraud Power Trimmer, and that would also take care of the chamfering part of the process. But, it’s $425… My options are heading in the wrong direction from a price perspective.

There has to be a better way.

Part 2 coming soon….

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This blog is not dead

I had pretty much decided that my corner of the intertubes would go dark. I just didn’t have it in me to continue to provide any meaningful content, nor did I want to just be a repeat of everything else out on the internet. But I’ve since talked myself out of that, and will try to make an effort to publish something from time to time.

I promise that I’ll write that review on the Milt Sparks Holster, as well as a review on a tool that I discovered for trimming brass that has almost made it enjoyable. So, you’ll have those things to look forward to.

In other news, the NRA’s Annual Meeting is in my town this week. I met up with a buddy of mine (otherwise known as my enabler) and we wandered through several aisles and drooled over guns neither of us will ever own. I did end up with a Timney trigger for my Remington 700, only because he had the other $30 I needed since they only took cash (see what I mean?? ENABLER). I’m looking forward to dropping that in and giving it a whirl on the range one afternoon.

I’ve never been to an NRA convention before, but so far I’m impressed. You’re never going to meet a nicer group of people.

Speaking of people….. While taking a picture of my son holding a Thompson, a gentleman walked up and asked if he could take his picture as well. Who wouldn’t want a picture of a 9 year old boy with a Thompson, right????


I looked at the badge, saw the name “Matt G, Better & Better“. Hmm… ok. Wheels start spinning, a blogger…which one?? Which one damn it?? The creep-o-meter didn’t trigger, so I agreed to it. Then up walks a red-haired gentleman…. Don Gwinn. Holy shit, I recognize that name, these internet people are REAL. I read him when he blogged at The Armed School Teacher, which has since become Push The Pull Door. Next up, the infamous Kelly Grayson, aka “The Ambulance Driver“. Now that dude is most certainly famous on the internets.

So there was my brush with almost famous people at the NRA Convention. Guys, if you happen to read this, it was a pleasure getting to meet you. Hope St. Louis treats you well, and welcome to our city!!

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Holster review – Tucker Gun Leather Texas Heritage

It’s been over a month since I bought my Commander, and in my last post, I asked for suggestions on a good IWB holster. Both commenters suggested the Milt Sparks VersaMax II. After reading in a bunch of other forums, the VM II seems to be an overwhelming favorite. I’ve placed my order, and should probably get it in January. January. Not going to wait until January to carry my Commander.

So, what to do? I had purchased a holster from Tucker Gun Leather for my HK USP Compact. That gun and I have long since parted company, and the holster went with it. But, I thought I’d give Tucker around run. I had great service from them before, and my experience this time around was no different.

I purchased the Texas Heritage.


I chose this model because it received favorable reviews, even though the most common complaint is that it is difficult to re-holster. There is no extra leather on the mouth of the holster. This makes it very thin, but it doesn’t provide any rigidity to keep the mouth open. Very rarely do I have a need to remove my gun from its holster, unless I’m taking it off for the day. I do plan on shooting this gun in some local IDPA tournaments, but I typically don’t wear IWB holsters for that particular application.

Since I’ve received the holster (after a shorter than expect wait), I’ve had the opportunity to carry this fine gun in a variety of situations.  Summer in St. Louis means that it’s sweltering. T-shirt weather for sure. In the past that would have meant that I was carrying my snub-nosed .38. I had no issues carrying under a t-shirt. When paired with a good belt (I buy mine from The Belt Man), it pulls the gun in tight.


I’m sure it helps that there is about 80 pounds less of me inside that waistband, but I don’t feel like there is a bulge off my right side. The clips, and the rough side of the hide help keep this holster in place. It stays rock solid on my belt with no noticeable shifting.

I couldn’t be more pleased with this holster. It makes me anxious to try the VM II when it comes, but honestly, I don’t see how it will improve on what I have now, other than aesthetics. But it’s an IWB holster, who cares??? Either way, I’ll continue to wear this holster, and we’ll see how it wears over the coming months. If I find anything negative, I’ll let you know. I’ll be sure to do a side-by-side when the VMII arrives.

Posted in concealed carry, Guns, holsters | 4 Comments

Independence Day

For the record, we celebrate today as Independence Day, not the 4th of July. Just wanted to clear that up for some of you.

Happy Birthday America!

May God save these American states!

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Testing from phone


This is a test of the emergency phone blogging system. This is only a test.

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It will be mine…..Oh yes, It. Will. Be. Mine.

Growing up my shooting experience was limited to shotguns, .22 rilfes and pellet guns. Sometime in 2005 my friend Matt invited me to the range and stuffed his Colt Commander in my hand and said “Here, shoot this.” I’m guessing this was the gun equivalent of China white, because I was hooked.

At this point I am essentially a “new” gun person, even though I owned a shotgun (and no, I didn’t vote on the democratic ticket). I knew that I wanted a .45 for my first handgun, so I looked at handguns from all the well known high volume manufacturers, like Ruger, Sig, and Glock. I was easily distracted by the glitz and glitter of the gun mags, so much so that for my first handgun, I eventually succumbed to the XD marketing campaign. 13 rounds had to be better than 7 or 8, AND it was 1911-like (the grip safety), AND it was the NRA 2006 Gun of the Year. Well hell, what was I supposed to do?? I bought it.

Now, don’t mistake, this is a decent gun. It fits my hands nicely, and shoots well too. I never understood why Springfield touted the match-grade barrel in the the XDm, because my XD would easily punch ragged holes out to 15 yards if I was doing my job. I do like this gun.

But I never was completely “wowed” by it.

I still wanted a “metal” gun.

For the record…I have owned several “all metal” guns. I have a Smith & Wesson snub nose revolver, and a Browning Buckmark. But I think I still get harassed about it because I was also distracted by an H&K USP Compact, and there’s that Glock 19 that I bought for a song that Matt is still bitter about.

I decided a couple years ago that I would fix this problem. It was time for a 1911. I knew I wanted a Colt, but the new prices are just stupid, and finding a used one…forget about. When Ruger announced their new 1911, I was intrigued (don’t forget how I ended up with the XD). I figured if the gun was “good enough” I was going to jump on it. I always said that my next gun purchase was going to be the confluence of being at the right place at the right time with the right gun for the right amount of money, provided I didn’t get distracted.

Well, I kept my eye on the prize, and found “The One” on Saturday, during a chance visit to a gun store that I rarely frequent.


Clean, no evidence of being shot a lot, and a couple minor scratches, for about the same price as the new Ruger 1911.

I put about 150 rounds through it yesterday, and it was every bit as accurate and reliable as my XD, chewing up everything I fed it, factory ball ammo, hollow points, even my reloads.


Yin & yang. The top Commander is the first handgun I ever shot. The bottom is mine.

Right place, at the right time, with the right gun, for the right amount of money.

Now I have to find a good IWB holster. Any suggestions?

Posted in Guns | 3 Comments

New Pony in the stable


Range report hopefully tomorrow, or I might have to call in sick to work on Monday…….

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WBC again….

It seems that Westboro Baptist Church is headed to Joplin, Missouri on Sunday to protest the President’s visit.

I never thought I’d see the day when I can’t say who I hate more, Osama Bin Laden, or the Westboro Baptist Church.

You could ALMOST respect OBL’s minions for fighting for something they think they believe in (even if it is hating and killing us). The WBCer’s are spreading hate and venom on people during a time when they need help and support (you know, those things that Christians are supposed to do) while hiding behind rights secured by the blood of their own countrymen.

And while we’re on the topic of the President’s visit. Is it really necessary? I’m sure the folks in Joplin have more important problems to tend to rather than making sure the President’s photo-op goes off without a hitch.

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Damn, we’re still here. I was really looking forward to either being swept up in the rapture, or shooting it out during the post rapture looting. And dang it… now I have to go back to work on Monday. Man, I really hate it when I get my hopes up for nothing 🙂

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