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Rimfire VS Centerfire

Rimfire VS Centerfire

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There are two primer ignition systems in general use among modern bullets. They are centerfire and rimfire, and each of them has their own little niche in the shooting world. In essence, they work like this. A centerfire round is constructed so that the firing pin strikes the center of the cartridge which ignites the primer, which itself ignites the powder charge, sending a projectile on its way.

A rimfire round allows the firing pin to strike anywhere along the rim, igniting the primer and then the powder charge, sending the projectile on its way.

Each of these primer ignition systems works extremely well, but for most applications, a centerfire round works better. Let’s take a look at the history of each to better understand their characteristics.

Rimfire

A rimfire cartridge was first perfected in 1845, with the priming compound spread equally around the inside of the hollow rim. In fact, the .22 caliber bullet of that era contained no powder, just primer, which made for a very weak shot. But it was proven effective and reliable, and best of all, since the cartridge was one piece, the round was moisture, dirt and dust proof.

Perhaps the most famous use of a rimfire cartridge was during the Civil War in the Spencer repeating rifle. It fired a .52 caliber rimfire bullet that was lauded by the troops, which was impervious to moisture and had very few misfires or hang fires.

The heavy low-velocity bullet would do major damage no matter where it hit, and because the bullet was so reliable to fire, 20 to 30 shots could be fired per minute compared to the 3 shots per minute from the muzzle loaders in widespread use at that time.

There were two main disadvantages with the rimfire design. One was getting the primer evenly distributed along the bottom of the cartridge. The technique was called “spinning,” which used centrifugal force to push the primer into the hollowed-out rim.

For its day, that was highly advanced technology, and the bullet manufacturers guarded that secret well. In fact, the Spencer was a Northern weapon, and those that were captured by the South could not be used because the southern technology wasn’t capable of “spinning” the cartridges to evenly distribute the gunpowder.

Also, the rim had to be made of a soft and malleable metal, and copper was the preferred choice here, so that when striking, the firing pin could dent the rim and cause the primer to go off. The disadvantage with using copper was that high powered loads could not be employed because of blow back.

Different metals were used to try and rectify this problem, but then a stronger spring was needed to dent the rim but that caused the firing pin to chip or break after several shots.

Since the South was short on copper, this was another reason why they could not perfect a round for the  Spencer’s that their troops captured, and the main reason why the South never had a repeating rifle of their own.

It is safe to say that the Spencer repeater was the zenith of rimfire cartridges for higher calibers, and it is where rimfire ammunition made their mark on history.

Centerfire

Although invented somewhere around 1812, the centerfire cartridge was not perfected until 1855. It was essentially a muzzle loader primer cap placed in the center of a copper or brass cartridge.

Because the primer cap was added into the cartridge, the cap itself could be made of a softer metal that was easier for a firing pin to dent, while the actual cartridge itself could be constructed more robustly. That meant a higher powered gunpowder charge could be added, giving bullets of all sizes a greater velocity when fired.

Initially, sealing the centered primer cup was an issue. Metal on metal did not give a watertight seal, and ammunition was susceptible to moisture that fouled the primer and powder.

It was one of the reasons why centerfire cartridges were not initially adapted by the military. But by covering the base of the cartridge with lacquer, an effective water-tight seal was made, giving a centerfire cartridge bullet the same type of reliability as its rimfire cousin.

By the late 1860’s, centerfire ammunition became the standard in both handguns and rifles for .22, or larger, calibers. The classic handguns of the old west used centerfire ammo as did the legendary Winchester repeaters of that era.

The Major Differences

Although in theory a rimfire shot can be made as robust as a centerfire shot. The use of modern alloys for both the rim and the firing pin could be made to withstand a larger charge and favorably compete with centerfire calibers.

But overall the added expense would not be worth the cost. Couple that with the fact that centerfire weapons for larger calibers have become standardized, and it would no longer be worth it to manufacture a hardy rimfire cartridge and then manufacture a weapon that could shoot it.

There may be a niche market for a weapon like this, but the cost would need to be exorbitant for any profit to be made with no real gain in performance.

Another major difference is that rimfire cartridges are inexpensive to make. However, they are inexpensive because they cannot be reused like a centerfire cartridge can. Once fired, a rimfire cartridge can only be recycled for the metallic content.

A centerfire cartridge can be reused several times by simply removing the primer cup and replacing it with a new one.

Granted, this two-stage shot case is a bit more expensive to make using more specialized equipment at the factory, but since it can be reused and re-primed, if someone has the know-how and the reloading tools, cost per shot can go down to pennies on the dollar for do-it-yourself reloading.

Centerfire VS Rimfire

Since rimfire cartridges have their advantages at lower power, and are relatively inexpensive to manufacture, they are most predominate at the lower calibers.

Virtually all .22 caliber shots are rimfire, and they are some of the least expensive bullets you can purchase. For targets or varmints, using .22 caliber rimfire ammunition is a very inexpensive way to get out in the field, or at the range, to shoot dozens of shots without much of a strain on your wallet.

There is one notable exception of the rimfire cartridge. The Hornady company makes their own specialized rimfire shot that is a .17 caliber bullet fitted into a .22 caliber case.

In most instances, the barrels on .22 rifles will need to be changed to accept this ammunition, but one round, called the Hornady Mach 2, needs a completely different rifle to fire it with. These bullets are made for varmint hunting, and as such pack a bigger wallop and have a greater range than a standard .22 caliber rimfire round.

Centerfire cartridges, on the other hand, are made in virtually every other caliber size. They have been adopted by the military and police forces since the late 1800’s, and the design of the primer cup has not changed much since the original invention.

Taken to the extreme, even mortars, cannons and howitzers are fitted with centerfire primers, making centerfire the most common, safest and easiest cartridges to use.

Above all else, the centerfire design allows the largest calibers to be fired with utmost safety to the shooter.

There is very little concern about blow back or misfires, and sealed primer cups make them impervious to moisture, mud, dust, dirt and virtually any kind of debris. In fact, the weapon would become fouled or unusable before a centerfire bullet would be.

Conclusion

The reality is that your choices are limited, not by your own preference, but by the manufacturers. A centerfire round won’t work in a rimfire weapon and a rimfire round won’t work in a centerfire weapon.

Manufacturers have already concluded, with safety very much steering the process, that rimfires work best for the smaller .22 caliber of bullets while every other caliber works best as a centerfire. For modern shooters, your cartridge choices are restricted to the firearm you own.

However, if you are a collector and have one of the old rimfire pistols or rifles from the 19th century, you may still be able to find some rimfire cartridges available from that time period. Just don’t expect them to fire, what with the powder being so old, there is no guarantee.

But it is possible to get centerfire conversion kits for many older rimfire guns, the Spencer repeating rifle included, which will upgrade your gun to firing modern centerfire cartridges made specifically for the handgun or rifle that you own.

First Focal Plane vs Second Focal Plane

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In the simplest of terms, a first focal plane sight reticle, or an FFP reticle, scales with the target at any magnification you are using, while a second focal plane sight reticle stays at the same scale regardless of the magnification of the optics.

Even in this simplified version, it may be difficult to imagine what all of this means and how it actually applies when you are shooting at a target, and we haven’t even touched on windage and bullet drop scales yet.

Truthfully, the only true way to understand exactly what an FFP or SFP reticle is all about is to get out on the practice field, sight in targets at different ranges and measure the accuracy of your groups. And when you do, this is what you’ll see.

Second Focal Plane Optics

Most people that have used sights are familiar with second focal plane optics. These types of sights are the most common and most used so that when you look through the sight, you’ll see a reticle that never changes size.

If your target is at 1000 yards, or if your target is at 100 yards, the reticle will remain exactly the same, regardless of what magnification you use. Because of this, at longer distances, the reticle may cover up the target because it will seem so huge looking into the sight. But if this is the type of sight you are used to, it will all seem perfectly natural every time you look through a scope.

First Focal Plane Optics

Unless you know scopes and sighting, or you are an avid target shooter at all distances, you may never have heard of a first focal plane sight. Although not as common as an SFP sight, they do have some advantages that, under certain conditions, can make you a better shooter.

Since you know that an SFP reticle always stays the same size at any magnification, an FFP sight stays the same size in relation to the target at any magnification. So, when looking at a target that is 1000 yards down range, the reticle will be tiny. However, when looking at a target that is magnified, the reticle can be at least as large as its SFP brother.

You may not yet understand some of the advantages to these types of sights, so let’s take a look at how they work in the real world.

Lighting

In low light situations at close range, there is probably no benefit to either of the sights when shooting. But as the distance or the magnification increases, an SFP sight works better. Here’s why …

Since the reticle always stays the same size when sighting in a target, an SFP reticle will be easier to see in lower light at the lowest magnification, while at the lowest magnification a tiny FFP reticle will be much more difficult to see. Conversely, as magnification increases, and in an FFP scope, your optics will take in less light making both the target and the reticle more difficult to see.

You may spend more time trying to see the reticle then sighting in the shot, and that may cause you to falter instead of pulling the trigger. So, for shorter range shots in less light, your best bet is to use the least amount of magnification possible with the largest reticle, an SFP.

In this instance, the target will be much easier to see, and getting a bead on it will be far easier and quicker. And in certain situations, quicker on the target will make for a better and more decisive shot.

Distance

Make no mistake, any sight is better when shooting at a distance than not having one, but an FFP sight might give you a better grouping on any target you are shooting at.

As stated earlier, an SFP sight reticle can actually completely cover a target at lower magnifications when sighting at a longer distance, while an FFP sight will literally only cover the exact spot you are aiming for.

What is more important is that on an FFP reticle, the size of the reticle matches the magnification of the target, and although it appears that the reticle may shrink or grow as magnification changes, the fact that it is staying the same size as the target is through the sight.

The greatest benefit to this factor is that it is easier for tactical shooters to make distance and windage corrections on the fly. The milliradian, or mil, and MOA, or minute of angle, scales on FFP scopes is the same at 2X or 3x as it is at 10X or 20X, which means those scales will hold true no matter how close or far the shot is.

Whereas on an SFP sight scale, the mil and MOA settings lengthen or widen as the target is less magnified. Having a static scale of set mil’s and MOA’s on an FFP, is far easier and makes for quicker calculations than a mil or MOA that changes.

FFP vs SFP

Virtually all seasoned shooters, shooting at targets in the distance, will whole hardily agree that an FFP scope is better under ideal lighting conditions. You’ll spend less time trying to figure out where your bullet will go and more time getting off shots that will impact the target.

However, at shorter ranges where atmospheric conditions and bullet travel over distance doesn’t much matter, an SFP scope will work equally well, if not better. It also has advantages in lower light shooting at higher magnifications as well.

When it comes down to it though, the bottom line is going to be you and your shooting tendencies. If you are shooting over a variety of magnifications in lower lighting conditions, an SFP scope is going to be a better choice. But if you are generally shooting at targets at distance, during the most optimum lighting conditions, then an FFP sight that you can make quick atmospheric calculations on, would be a better choice.

That being said, if you are comfortable with any type of sight you own, it may not matter to you between one or the other. And that’s fine too. The important thing is that when you shoot you do so to hit the target, and if you have few or no misses at any given distance with the scope you have now, call it even, get out there and go shooting, because practice makes perfect regardless of the scope used – check out our homepage for the best scopes. And the more bullets you fire down range, the greater your accuracy will be every time you pull the trigger. That’s a fact!

How To Use a Rifle Scope

How to use a rifle scope

How to use a rifle scope

Every rifle’s accuracy depends on putting a bullet on target, and the most effective and efficient way to do that is by using a good rifle scope. Granted, every rifle will have built-in sights so that you can aim and shoot a rifle right out of the box. But adding a rifle scope gives you a greater flexibility, while your accuracy with each shot will be unmatched if just using the rifle sights alone. Good binoculars can help with acquiring the target.

Setting It Up

Before you begin to shoot through a rifle scope, you’ll have to set it up correctly. The first thing to do is to adjust the reticle and the eye relief.

  • Reticle — The cross-hairs, dot or another aiming device inside of the scope is called the reticle. It must be positioned correctly inside of the scope. To do this, loosen the mounting rings and turn the scope until the reticle is upright and centered. Once in the proper position, and you can easily see the reticle in your normal firing position, tighten down the rings just enough to hold the setting in place.
  • Eye Relief — This adjustment essentially lets you look into the scope at a slight distance from your eye, generally from 3 to 6 inches. On some scopes, you’ll actually have an adjustment on the end that you can turn to adjust this function, but on most scopes, you’ll have to move the entire scope back and forth through the mounting rings to achieve this.

When these basic set up functions have been completed, firmly tighten down the mounting rings. Unless the scope is jarred, dropped or it needs to be removed for some reason, you’ll never have to make these adjustments again. For a quick tip, if you do need to remove the scope regularly, mark the correct positions on the scope with a permanent marker. This will greatly aid you every time you re-mount the scope.

Scope Adjustment Knobs

  • On every scope, there are at least two and possibly three knobs that need to be adjusted.
  • Windage — The windage knob is generally on the right side of the scope. It moves the reticle side to side and allows you to adjust for blowing wind. For example, in a perfect world where there is no wind, the reticle can always remain zeroed in the center. But if there is wind coming from the left or right, the reticle can be adjusted to account for any effect the wind would have on bullet travel.
  • Elevation — The elevation knob allows you to adjust the reticle up or down. Once again, in a perfect world this adjustment can remain zeroed as the bullet flies straight and true. But on long shots, the rifle will need to be slightly elevated to make the bullet travel further, and by adjusting the elevation, you can bring the target back to zero even though the bullet will travel in an arc to get there.
  • Parallax — Manufacturers generally set their scopes up to aim properly out to 100 yards, and if you do not have a zoom scope or other ways to increase the magnification, you won’t have a parallax knob. Located on the left of the scope, you’ll only make a parallax adjustment at higher magnifications if the position of your eye changes, to see clearly through the scope, while keeping your aim on target.

Sight Picture

Before you fire the rifle, make sure your sight picture is perfect. By looking at a target through your scope, the reticle should be upright and centered, the target should be clear and crisp, and any black on one side or the other should be symmetrical. If any of these properties are not exact, they need to be adjusted now.

Also, make sure your eye relief setting is correct. Look through the scope and make sure the eye relief is within the 3 to 9 inch range, and if you feel uncomfortable with how close the eyepiece is to your eye, now is the time to add in another inch, just to be on the safe side. You do not want the kickback to propel the scope backwards so that it impacts your face. Add an inch if you are at all concerned.

Basic Sighting

The moment of truth has arrived, and you are now going to fire the rifle while sighting in the target through the scope. Don’t expect miracles here, the chances are you’ll be making several adjustments before you even get close to hitting a bullseye. But this is the first step to sighting in a new scope.

Aim through the scope and take your first shot, putting the reticle exactly on target. If the bullet hits too high, adjust the reticle upwards. If the bullet hits too low, adjust the reticle downwards. By doing this you’ll be bringing the bullet to the reticle, so continue adjusting with each successive shot until the height of where the bullet hits is at the exact height of where the reticle is on the target.

Windage works the same way, only from side to side. If the bullet hits to the left of your target spot, adjust the reticle to the left. If it hits to the right of your spot, adjust the reticle to the right. Always follow the bullet with the reticle on every adjustment.

When doing these basic adjustments, you can adjust either the elevation or the windage first. Some will say adjust elevation before windage and some will say adjust windage before elevation. You can do either/or, depending on what feels more comfortable to you during this initial sighting in period.

For best results, fire 3 shot groups before adjusting your scope. This allows for any extraneous movement that might have occurred between your and the rifle. Once you are fully adjusted and your shots are consistently hitting dead center, it’s time to zero your rifle in.

Zeroing In

Zeroing in your rifle means setting it up in a static position on a rifle stand. In essence, the rifle will be in a controlled position and will not move, exactly as you should be whenever you fire the rifle. By doing this, every shot that is sighted in through the scope should hit the bulls eye, and if you keep the rifle aimed perfectly and still when you are out in the field, all of your shots will be directly on target and zeroed in.

Mount your rifle on a rifle stand, and using the adjustments on the stand, zero in the reticle onto the target. Once again, just like basic sighting, fire a group of 3 bullets and check the results. Make adjustments as needed with the elevation and windage knobs to literally zero in the scope. Fire as many shots as needed until each shot is consistently hitting the center of the target. When that occurs, you are successfully zeroed in.

Specialized Adjustments

If you know your target is going to be at a certain distance, let’s say 300 yards down range, you can set up a target at 300 yards, and while on a rifle stand, adjust the reticle to compensate for the arc in the bullet. In this way you won’t have to make any off-the-cuff elevation adjustments out in the field, and your shot will hit in the center of the cross hairs.

If you have a zoom scope, you can do the same with the parallax adjustment. Adjust it in relation to where your eye sees the reticle clearly and on target at the optimal magnification for the distance required. Doing this now saves time, frustration and a potential missed shot at the range you’ll be shooting at.

Scope Care

When not in use, always keep the lenses covered with lens caps. This will prevent dust and dirt from scratching the sensitive optics. If you need to wipe off the lenses, always use a special lens cleaning cloth. Never wipe them too hard so as not to rub off any anti-reflective glare or other coating on the lens proper.

Using a Rifle Scope

By using a rifle scope, you can certainly increase your accuracy, especially over greater distances than by using the regular sights on a rifle. But knowing how to set one up, sight one in and take care of it are the keys to success. And if you are willing to do that, you’ll become a more successful shooter every time you take aim.

How To Stipple Your Gun Like A Pro

Stippling is a craft technique that can be used to create better gun handing utility. The burning of small dots into a polymer frame, stippling of the grips, rail panels, fore ends, and magazines can be performed with an electric soldering iron. Stippling creates a raised texture on the surface of a handgun grip for improved shooting control. Protect your gun investment with affordable and effective stippling.

The Evolution of Gun Stippling

An old technique that has been used for centuries, stippling is functional as it is beautiful in results. The effect of stippling serves to better preserve a gun. While contemporary stippling applications can be done with an electronic soldering iron, the tradition of stippling dates to early blacksmithing techniques. Gunsmith appropriation of the stippling technique modified the method for special use.

Today, stippling is done by both professional gunsmiths and do-it-yourself gun owners, all convinced that textured surfaces reduce risk during handling and firing. Dimpling a gun handle and its casings can be done by raised formation on the surface. Patterning of the stippling application can be customized to a gun owner’s preference.

Why Stipple a Handgun?

The design-in grab feature of most modern handgun grips makes stippling easy. Application of stippling to an existing grip of a handgun that has been manufactured with ergonomic materials may be minimal. Antique guns, or those produced prior to the mid 20th century, are good candidates for overall stippling application.

Stippling of a handgun grip improves conformance to the hand; optimizing control during shooting. Reduction of slippage also enhances safety when cleaning, loading, and handling. If the grips are replaceable or removable, variance in stippling technique can be used, or done in consecutive order of shooting use over time to ensure custom fit and allow for modification where required.

Depending on use of a gun may impact stippling application decision. Guns used for sport recreation, or self-defense will have different OEM-level textures embedded on the original grips. Select a stippling technique that is suitable to your weapon. The goal of stippling should be to improve grip in the interest of accuracy, and safe and secure control during a shoot. Appearance may also be factor. Stipple according to shooter needs.

How to Stipple a Handgun Grip

The craft of stippling is a relatively simple, yet precise process of coating a gun and its features. If stippling a gun seems like too much of a hassle, professional gunsmiths performing stippling services can give you a quote on  the application. Many gun collectors and enthusiasts will find that DIY stippling is a fairly doable project. DIY stippling also leaves Incorporation of aesthetic touches up to the gun owner in the process.

A standard craft soldering iron is the preferred tool of most DIY Stipplers. A wood burner or other similar device can also be employed depending on type of stippling finish desired.  Electrical soldering irons are inexpensive and demand no clean up after use. Soldering irons can also be used to burn designs into the wood or plastic of a gun to enhance the individuality and the beauty of a gun’s appearance.

Test your ability with the soldering iron on an object that can be thrown away. Perfecting stippling technique and design-in applications prior to actually beginning on a gun will reduce the risk of unwanted alterations to the weapon. Beginning Stipplers with more than one handgun may want to select the weapon in their collection with the lowest market value to avoid losses if marking, scuffing or other damage to the exterior of the weapon is sustained during application. The main reason most gun owners pursue stippling is grip. Stippling is the one method that works to improve grip nearly 100% of the time. Here are the step by step instructions to DIY stippling of a handgun.

Materials Required

  • Clean Workspace
  • Soldering iron (or wood burner device)
  • Two sandpaper sheets (1 sheet 220 grit, 1 sheet 400 grit)
  • Safety glasses or safety goggles
  • A couple of duct or electrical tape rolls
  • A handgun cleared and in safe mode

3 Step Instructions to Gun Stippling

Step One

Select the part of a gun’s grip to be designated for the stippling application. The sides are a good place to begin if it is your first time gun stippling. If confident in your stippling skills, a more ambitious approach may be in order. Intermediate to expert Stipplers will generally want to cover the entire piece.  Tape surfaces not to be stippled for protection from soldering. This will provide a border to work around.

Step Two

After the soldering iron or wood burner is hot, you can begin stippling. Start by taking the soldering tool and test it to the areas where you plan to stipple. Do this lightly so as to avoid creating definitive patterns or textures. Pressing into the grip will produce clear dots, lines, or ridges. Make sure that the appearance you are striving for can be perfected in the overall application before proceeding to solder the entire component.

Step Three

Add the finishing touches to your stippling project. Lay the gun on a flat clean surface to cool. Once the gun is cooled to a normal handling temperature, apply sand paper to the surface to work out any rough edges and smooth the grip to desired texture. It is recommended to use the 220 grit sandpaper first. Rub the stippled application with broad strokes, followed by use of the more delicate 400 grit sandpaper to refine the work. When the rough edges have been smoothed over, it is time to store your gun for future shooting use. Protect your stippling job in a gun case or carry accessory that will not snag or scratch the new application.

Now you have DIY stippled your handgun grip like a pro!

Conclusion

In spite of the fact that stippling a handgun grip seems like an exceptionally challenging undertaking, most gun collectors find this to be part of the standard care and maintenance of their handguns. This guide should provide the necessary insights and follow-through suggestions need to perform a well-finished stippling job. Quick, simple, and fun, stippling is almost for anyone owning a gun. If DIY stippling proves to be too much work, seek out a custom stippling service to ensure that you and your guns are protected for safe and secure shooting.