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Over the past few months, I've had some experience with reloading tools that,

if they were around 25 years ago, I surely had no idea of their existence.

With the internet, we have the ability to research almost everything under and over the sun and everywhere in between. That's just what I've been doing.

Here are some nifty tools that I found on the Hornady site and have been using for a few months now. WHAT A DIFFERENCE THEY HAVE MADE in my hand loading!

A few months ago I started working on a .25-06, trying to find a great hunting load that would let me shoot less than 1/2-inch groups at 100 yards, with a tough enough skin to penetrate some big ol’, snarly, 300-plus-pound pigs out to 300 yards.

This turned out to be a more complicated feat than I originally expected. Here’s what I did to get my starting data: I collected all of the phone books that my neighbors had not picked up from their driveways after a week or so. After I had about 40 of these unwanted phone books, I soaked them in water for a day or so, banded them together four-thick, and headed to the range.

I had loaded several different bullets – from target loads to solids – with some thick-skinned hunting bullets mixed in. I got set up and fired 14 different bullets at the wet phone books, then pulled the bullets out, went back to the house and compared the before-and-after weight of each bullet (how much of the bullet was left after it had penetrated up to four wet books).

The target loads were not going to get the job done, as all of them sort of disintegrated after penetrating from less than 3/4 of a book to 1 entire book.

The solids were not very accurate, but had great penetration and superb weight retention. One bullet stood out with pretty good accuracy, great penetration (3-3/4 inches in four 1-inch-thick phone books at 300 yards) and real good weight retention. The bullet I needed to work with was a Swift Scirocco II.

Now, here was my dilemma: I needed to be able to shoot these as accurately as target bullets, but all bullet-makers will tell you the same thing – solid or extra-thick-skinned hunting bullets will NEVER be as accurate as target bullets.

They might be right, but I would be happy if I could find a three-shot load that a dime would cover up at 100 yards. So off to the loading bench I went. There were some factors – other than finding the right powder, case length and powder amount – I needed to overcome. I needed to find the perfect seating depth of the bullet – how far off the lands the bullet should start. When you load a thick-skinned or solid bullet, you need to seat the bullet a little deeper than you would a generic or target bullet.

I also needed all of my loads to be concentric. Be what? (It’s a good thing the internet has a dictionary, or I might not have known what that meant.)

I’ll give you the short version. It means your bullet is perfectly straight in line with the throat of the case. If the bullet is more than 3/1000 of an inch misaligned when it enters the barrel, it could very well be that "flier" you've often had, or be off-target by several inches.

If a bullet enters the barrel misaligned, it’s not likely the barrel will get it perfectly aligned when it comes out, so it will be wobbling a very slight amount as it goes downrange – and there goes your accuracy. Back in the old days, we would roll bullets across a glass table, and if they wobbled, we would pull them apart and start over.

My first task was to determine how deep into the barrel my lands and grooves started, and to do this I was going to be using a Hornady OAL Gauge and a Hornady Modified Case in 25-06.

Here’s how this works: Take the Hornady OAL Gauge and screw it into the end the Hornady Modified Case, then slide the bullet you wish to size into the other end of the Modified Case.

Loosen the plunger on the OAL Gauge so the bullet will slide down inside the case a little. Now slide the Modified Case into the barrel securely. Push the plunger to push the bullet until it stops. Now lock down the finger screw and pull the Modified Case out of the chamber, and you are ready to measure.

Using your caliper, measure the OAL of the round, and write it down. You will want to repeat this step several times, writing down the measurement each time.

You probably will not get the exact same measurement each time, so sort of take an average, unless the measurements are way off from each other.

I did it about 20 times with each different bullet I wanted to measure. (Each time you change brand or style, you will have to measure the new bullet.)

Now that I had a measurement of where my lands started with the Swift Scirocco II I wanted to hunt with, I needed to work on finding just how far off of the lands I need to start.

I wanted to start at 20/1000 and work my way up to 50/1000 off the lands. So, I sat down and started loading. I loaded four different powders, each with various weights, and set my bullets from 20/1000 to 50/1000 back.

After I had about 130 bullets loaded, I wanted to check (here comes that word again) the concentricity of each bullet. I set up the tool per the instructions and went to “concentricising.”

This is pretty easy. Put the loaded round in the tool, spin it a few times, and if the dial moves less than 3/1000-inch, you are good to go with that round.

If the dial moves more than 3/1000, tighten down on the outer, black, large, screw head and re-measure. I have found that it usually takes only one good tightening to correct a misaligned bullet.

I must be pretty lucky, as only a few of my handloads needed adjusting.

BUT, I wanted to see just how factory ammo fared, so I measured 11 boxes from five different manufacturers.

What a surprise! I found way more than I would have thought to be more than 5/1000 of an inch out of alignment, and a few were out as much as 9/1000 to 10/1000.

The one great thing about this device is that you can identify misaligned rounds and FIX them. I was able to get all the handloaded and factory rounds that were not concentric to within 1/1000- to 2/1000-inch, which is within the guidelines of acceptable tolerance.

Now that I had all of my bullets loaded and all were concentric, I was off to the range with my wet phone books.

I started out at 100 yards and fired all of the 130 bullets I had loaded. I found three that I could tweak and get a little better accuracy out of.

I reloaded a few more with varying powder weights and seating depths and found a load that would make any hunter happy.

I am shooting a premium, thick-skinned, hunting bullet that shoots less than 3/8-inch at 100 yards and retains over 80% of its weight when fired into wet phone books.

My bullet is a Swift Scirocco II, one of the best hunting bullets made. With the aid of the Hornady OAL Gauge, Concentricity tool and Swift Bullets, I am now ready for those hogs and deer out to 300 yards with my 25-06.

With a little patience, some good reloading tools and a steady hand, you can have a shooter like this.


Jim Hammond has had some sort of gun in his hand since he was 5 years old. He started with a Daisy BB gun as a small boy, and with careful instruction from his very safety-minded father, has become a skilled and knowledgeable shooter now willing to share his knowledge and experience as he has FUN SHOOTING. “Safety first and everything else will follow.”