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Gun Stuff 101 - Bore Sighting vs Sighting In

Bore Sighting vs Sighting In - by Josh

Optics are one of the most commonly purchased accessories here at RedNex and we have a big selection to meet every need for the hunting and shooting sports. Because of this, we spend a lot of time mounting scopes, which we do for free if the gun or scope was purchased from us. A question I get often as I am about to mount a scope for someone is “are you going to sight it in?” This week I want to talk about the difference between sighting in and bore sighting a rifle.

Bore sighting is simply aligning an optic or iron sights with a barrel prior to shooting so that zeroing the rifle is much easier. As we’ve talked about in previous weeks, bullets will perform differently in every firearm. Some guns will shoot “x” bullet better than they will shoot “y” bullet. So to actually zero a rifle for a particular bullet it has to be fired with that bullet on paper- at this point you will be sighting in your rifle. We can sight in your rifle, it’s a service we provide, but short of that, we can only get you close (~25 yards) by bore sighting.

There are several ways to bore sight a gun, and while some may be better than others, they all work well if the shooter takes the necessary steps at the range when he/she is ready to zero the rifle (sight in). In bolt action firearms with scopes, bore sighting can be performed by removing the bolt so that you can look down the barrel. Find a particular object or spot while looking down the bore. Without moving the rifle simply move the crosshairs with the adjustment turrets on the scope until the crosshairs are on the same spot. bore sighting three

For a firearm that does not have an accessible breech there are many devices that can assist in bore sighting. The two most common are magnetic and laser bore sighters. Magnetic bore sighters are good for optics with magnification. Laser bore sighters can be used for magnified optics as well, but are particularly helpful with red dot optics.boremagnetic

When we bore sight a rifle for someone at the store, we always make it a point to tell them “You should be on paper at 25 yards.” This is very important because when beginning to sight in the rifle for longer distances, the shooter must start at 25 yards to get the first round on paper and adjust and back up from there. 25 yards

I cannot tell you how many times I have been approached by someone for whom I’ve bore sighted a rifle and been told that the scope was way off, or that when I mounted a scope that I must have forgotten to bore sight it. When I ask how far away they were the answer is almost always “about a hundred yards”, at which time I politely remind them again to start at 25 yards and back off from there. I’ve even had people shoot box after box of ammo from a hundred yards and never get on paper. If you fire from a hundred yards and your first round is nowhere on the paper don’t waste ammo, MOVE CLOSER! If done properly a rifle can be sighted in with five or six rounds with the last two rounds just as confirmation that the gun is in fact sighted in.

Last but not least, if you’re about to go hunting and your gun/scope has only been bore sighted, you are not ready to hunt. The gun must be properly sighted in with the rounds you intend to hunt with or else you will not have a successful hunt and more importantly you are likely to senselessly cripple an animal. Respect the game. Hunt ethically. Zero your gun before hunting. Your hunt will be much more enjoyable.

Hunt Ethically - Sight In your rifle before you start hunting!

Hunt Ethically - Sight In your rifle before you start hunting!

Gun Stuff 101 - Ballistic Coefficient

Ballistic Coefficient - by Josh

“In ballistics, the ballistic coefficient (BC) of a body is a measure of its ability to overcome air resistance in flight. It is inversely proportional to the negative acceleration — a high number indicates a low negative acceleration. This is roughly the same as saying that the projectile in question possesses low drag, although some meaning is lost in the generalization. BC is a function of mass, diameter, and drag coefficient.” ( In case you'd like to do the calculation yourself ... here's the formula for ammunition.


Sounds pretty complicated, but BC, simply put, is a measure of how a bullet flies through the air. Is it important to understand? To the person shooting short range rifle and pistol it is meaningless, but if you plan on spending some time at the bench shooting 100 yards and beyond it might help to have some understanding of BC.

Every bullet when fired has air resistance working against it. The design or construction of the bullet is critical in how well it overcomes this air resistance. Here’s an excerpt from Chuck Hawks web site that helps to clarify. “BC is what determines trajectory and wind drift, other factors (velocity among them) being equal. BC changes with the shape of the bullet and the speed at which the bullet is traveling, while sectional density does not. Spitzer, which means pointed, is a more efficient shape than a round nose or a flat point. At the other end of the bullet, a boat tail (or tapered heel) reduces drag compared to a flat base. Both increase the BC of a bullet. For example, a Hornady 100 grain round nose 6mm bullet has a BC of .216; a Hornady 100 grain spire point 6mm bullet has a BC of .357, and a Hornady 100 grain boat tail spire point 6mm bullet has a BC of .400. All three of these bullets have a sectional density (which is the ratio of a bullet's diameter to its weight) of .242, because they are all .243" in diameter and weigh 100 grains. But the more streamlined bullets have a higher ballistic coefficient. They are the ones to choose for long range shooting where a flatter trajectory is important.” (

L to R: Round Nose, Spire Point, Spire Point Boattail

L to R: Round Nose, Spire Point, Spire Point Boattail

The same caliber bullets that weigh the same and fired at the same velocity will have different results just because of the BC. So, velocity is not nearly as important a factor as BC. Some of the load data on Hornady’s web site illustrates this better than I can. Left: 204 Ruger 24 Gr Right: 204 Ruger 40 Gr
Left: 204 Ruger 24 Gr
Right: 204 Ruger 40 Gr

The 24 grain NTX bullet is screaming out of the barrel at 4400 fps! (That’s fast) The 40 grain V max bullet has a muzzle velocity of 3900 fps (still pretty fast). Both rounds started with a 200 yard zero but look at the trajectory at 500 yards. The 40 grain bullet has five inches less drop than the 24 grain bullet. Now look at the velocity difference. The 24 grain bullet started out 500 fps faster, but at 500 yards we see that the 40 grain bullet is 500 fps faster. I checked Hornady’s data on these two projectiles and found that the 24 grain bullet has a BC of .170 while the 40 grain has a BC of .275.

So if you’re planning on some long range shooting, knowing the ballistic coefficient of your bullets can make all the difference.

July 14, 2015Posted by RedNex in Ammo, Blog

Gun Stuff 101 - The Non Toxic Shot Shell

Non-Toxic Shotgun Shells by Josh

For most of the history of shotguns, lead was always the preferred metal for shot pellets. It is still the most widely used material for making shots shells as it is either/both more effective or less expensive than other alternatives. In 1992, however, it became federally mandated that waterfowl shot shells must use non-toxic materials. As a result, the hunting industry had to make some major changes and manufacturers are still trying to improve the effectiveness of waterfowl shot shells.

Steel shot is the most prevalent non-toxic alternative to lead and all of the major manufacturers have several product lines to meet hunter’s demands. Similar to the pistol, rifle, and other shot shells produced, manufacturers generally offer three categories (and in some cases more) of waterfowl shot shells – an inexpensive line (sufficient), a mid-grade line (better but more expensive) and a premium line (most effective but pricey).

As we all know, a well- placed shot with any hunting load is better than a poorly placed shot with the best, most expensive load, but steel shot moving at the same velocity as lead is not going to be as effective. Steel used in shot pellets has a density of about 7.8 grams per cubic centimeter (gms/cc) and lead has a density of about 11 gms/cc. Because of the difference in density, a lead shot pellet the same size as a steel shot pellet will have more down range energy. To increase the energy of steel pellets manufacturers increase the size of the shot. Remember the shot size chart from a few weeks ago? (Here) To achieve the same down range energy the steel shot pellet has to be almost two sizes larger. This also results in less shot pellets flying through the air. Another way to make up for the lack of down range energy is by increasing velocity. Typical lead shot shells will have muzzle velocities from around 1050 feet per second (fps) to around 1300 fps. Waterfowl loads start around 1350 fps and go as high as 1700 fps.

Steel is not the only non-toxic alternative. Several manufacturers offer tungsten based shot pellets which are very effective. Tungsten is denser than lead so many consider it to be superior to lead, but pure tungsten would be far too expensive so manufacturers generally use a blend of either tungsten + polymer, tungsten +iron, or tungsten + iron + nickel.

Bismuth is another alternative. It’s not as dense as lead but it is denser than steel so it too is very effective. Bismuth is also soft like lead so sometimes it’s the only choice for waterfowl hunters using older shotguns that have thin barrel walls that can be damaged by firing hard steel shot through them.

Now almost 25 years after the regulations changed, there are a wide variety of waterfowl shot shell options … you just need to find the one that works best for you and will take down the birds you want.

September Teal Hunt in Louisiana at Honey Brake Lodge!



Join RedNex Sporting Goods and Chesapeake Adventure Company on an action packed weekend of duck hunting. The package leaves Friday, Sept. 25th from Richmond, Va. and returns Sunday, Sept. 27th and includes the following:

  • Two nights stay at the famous Honey Brake Lodge in Jonesville, La.
  • All meals included (Gumbo, Catfish Etouffee, Roasted Pork, etc)
  • Two mornings of guided teal hunts over 40,000 acres of rice fields
  • Generous six-bird daily limit of teal
  • R/T Airfare from Richmond, Va. + On Ground Transportation in La.
hb teal

Because of our relationship with the lodge we were able to negotiate this all-inclusive Louisiana teal hunting package down to $2,100 per hunter which includes airfare!

Contact us for more information or to save your space for this unforgettable trip today!! 804-443-0197

For more information on the Honey Brake Lodge, click HERE

Guides:Jared Mophett and Blake Soileau and a group of Alabama teal hunters

Guides:Jared Mophett and Blake Soileau and a group of Alabama teal hunters


Gun Stuff 101 - Twist Rate

Twist Rate by Josh

I’ve talked before about ammunition compatibility with certain firearms and how some guns “like” one type of ammo over another, or perform better with a specific type of ammo. My past references have been in regard to pistols and shotguns, but ammunition / rifle compatibility is especially important when working to shoot your rifles as accurately as possible.

For bullets to be stabilized as they fly through the air at high velocities, they must have spin which is imparted by the rifling in barrels. Rifling is the spiral grooves machined on the inside of the bore. The rate of twist in the rifling of a barrel is an important factor in determining which bullet will be most consistent or “accurate” out of that barrel. I have seen first- hand where group sizes looked more like someone was patterning a shotgun than shooting for groups on paper. This was a result of the wrong cartridge/bullet combo for a particular twist rate. If you’re familiar enough with a particular caliber you could probably even tell what twist rate a rifle has just by seeing how certain types of ammo perform with it. So here’s a very basic explanation of twist rates that might help shed a little light on the subject.

The twist rate of a barrel is commonly expressed in inches. So if you look at a barrel or a manufacturer’s spec sheet for a particular gun you will see something like this – twist = 1/7 or 1:7 which means there is one full twist of rifling in seven inches of barrel. 1/9 = one twist of rifling in 9 inches of barrel and so on. So an 18” barrel with a 1/9 twist will have two complete twists of rifling in the barrel.

twist rate

Longer bullets require a faster rate of twist to stabilize them than shorter bullets of the same caliber. Longer bullets are typically heavier, so many shooters associate bullet weight with twist rate. For example, in a .223 a 1/9 twist rate is good for 55 grain bullets but the same twist rate will not stabilize a 75 grain bullet as well. The 55 grain bullets out of a 1/9 barrel can produce sub half inch groups where the 75’s through the same barrel would probably produce 3 or 4 inch groups. The 75 grain bullet is heavier so it would seem like the weight is the critical factor but it is actually the length of the projectile that is critical.

In most cases one would be correct in seeking heavier bullets for a faster twist rate or lighter bullets for a slower twist rate but not always. The majority of bullets used in today’s ammo are copper jacketed lead core bullets. But many companies like Barnes are producing solid copper bullets and copper is not as dense as lead. Using the .223 again as an example, a 55 grain solid copper bullet will be longer than a lead core bullet, so the same 1/9 barrel mentioned above might not stabilize the 55 grain solid copper bullet as well. It may need the same twist rate that it would take to stabilize the 75 grain lead core bullets.

The velocity at which the bullet travels through the barrel is also critical as it relates to twist rate. Let’s use the .223 again as an example and the .22-250. Most .223’s will have a twist rate of 1/7, 1/8, or 1/9, while most 22-250’s will have twist rates of 1/12 or 1/14. The bullets of both of those cartridges are the same diameter so why the different twist rate? – Velocity. The 22-250 will push the same bullet through the same size barrel at a much faster speed so it does not need as fast a rate of twist to achieve the same rpm’s needed to stabilize the bullet.

Twist rate and ammo compatibility may not be the answer to every “accuracy” problem. There may be multiple issues with a shooters gun that are not allowing him/her to shoot consistently. But trying a variety of ammunition with different bullet weights (lengths) can be the first step to eliminate that one aspect.

Gun Stuff 101 - The Shot Shell

The Shot Shell - by Josh
Shotguns are the most commonly used firearm in our area and are probably the best all-around firearm for a variety of purposes. From huge lead slugs to small #9 shot there isn’t much you can’t do with a shotgun.

There are different gauges of shotguns available – 12 and 20 being the most common, but 10, 16, 28 and .410 are also offered for today’s shooters. Gauge, as it relates to shotguns, is a measurement of the bore diameter. The term gauge “originated in the days when you would buy lead by the pound to make your own ammo. The gauge told you how many balls you could make for the gun from 1 pound of lead” (, based on the diameter of the bore you were using. gauge determination

For example, the diameter of a 12 gauge bore is 0.727inches, so you can make 12 spheres of that diameter out of 1 lb. of lead. For a 10 gauge with a bore of 0.617 inches, you can make 10 spheres. For a 16 gauge – 16 spheres and so on. The .410 bore is often expressed as 410 gauge but that is incorrect. It is technically .410 caliber.

Shot shells originally started out using black powder as the propellant, and some of the nomenclature used regarding shot shells is from that era. Dram equivalent is one example. Black powder in shot shells was originally measured in drams (1 dram = 1/16th oz.) and smokeless powder is measured in grains (7000 grains to a pound or 0.00228571429 ounces). Since shotgunners of that era were familiar with dram measurements and the velocities they produced, when the change from black to smokeless powder came, manufacturers labeled the new shells with the dram equivalent of black powder rather than grains so that shooters would have a measurement they were familiar with and would know what to expect from their shells. The dram equivalent expression is still with us today.

shotgun boxes Shot pellets in a shot shell are measured in ounces so when you see 1-1/8oz on a box of shotgun shells it simply means that there is 1-1/8oz of shot per shell. Shot sizes are expressed in numbers, refer to the following chart for more information (basically the higher the number the smaller the pellet.)


The length of shells are expressed in inches and can be anywhere from 2-1/2” to 3-1/2” depending on the gun. So when you look at a box of shells and see “12ga 2-3/4in – 3 dr eq - #8 - 1-1/8oz – 1125fps" it simply means it’s a 12ga shell that is 2-3/4” long with a 3 dram equivalent of powder using an ounce and an eighth of #8 shot and has a muzzle velocity of 1125 feet per second. Pretty simple. This information can be helpful for a variety of reasons. For a finicky shotgun it helps to know what it cycles best, or if a shooter wants less recoil he/she can select a shell with a lower powder charge and less shot. One shooter may prefer more pellets going down range at a lower velocity while another may sacrifice a few pellets to gain the extra speed. So the numbers on the box are there for a reason and can help the shooter find what he/she needs.

Technology changes constantly in most fields and shot shells are no different. Today there are probably a thousand different types of shot shells available to shooters and all of them are made for specific purposes. Most of the information one needs can be found on the box of shells and more can be found with a quick visit to a manufacturer’s web site. But shotguns are all different and you may find that your gun “likes” one shell over another. Your turkey gun may pattern 4’s better than 5’s. Your waterfowl gun may cycle 3” shells better than 3-1/2” shells. Your deer gun may only “like” #1 buck. All of this is a matter of trial and error - just like finding the bullet that is most consistent in your rifle. With shotguns most loads should shoot reasonably well in most guns, but sometimes this is not the case. If you want to know what your gun shoots best you’ve got to shoot it.

Gun Stuff 101

Reloading …. By Josh

Waterlogue 1.1.2 (1.1.2003) Preset Style = ?It's Technical? Format = Medium Format Margin = Small Format Border = Sm. Rounded Drawing = Technical Pen Drawing Weight = Medium Drawing Detail = High Paint = Natural Paint Lightness = Normal Paint Intensity = Normal Water = Tap Water Water Edges = Medium Water Bleed = Minimal Brush = Natural Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Wide Paper = Graph Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Light “How much does it cost to get into reloading?” “Is it worth it to reload?” There’s not any one simple answer to either one of those questions but let’s address both.

Why do people reload anyway??? 1. If you do a high volume of shooting, reloading will benefit you economically. 2. You might want to tailor your cartridge load specifically for a particular gun for accuracy and reliability. 3. The cartridge you want to shoot is not commercially available.

So where do you start? First you need to select what caliber and bullet-type you would like to load and buy the appropriate reloading manual. There are many manuals available to the shooter, like Hodgdon’s Annual Manual, printed yearly, which will have a variety of load data available for the powders that Hodgdon produces. For a beginner, it is better to buy a manual for a specific bullet manufacturer because it will not only have the load data for their bullets, it will also give you the information you need to learn how to reload - safely and competently. Hornady, Nosler, Speer and Sierra manuals are all excellent for the beginner and I would recommend any of these to a person interested in reloading. After you have a manual, you need to decide what type of reloading setup you want.

The least expensive reloading set up is a Lee Precision “Lee Loader” Kit and for about $39 plus components (powder, primers, brass etc.) you could have all the hardware you need to load many of today’s popular pistol and rifle calibers. This set up is very rudimentary and not very fast. So technically you could reload for very cheap but the setup is less than desirable.

The single stage press is the most common reloading press in use and a person can either buy their press and other hardware separately or buy one of the many kits that companies like RCBS, Lee and Hornady are selling. The kit will include all of the hardware needed to begin reloading. A reloading press performs three functions (typically) for pistol brass – resizing the shell, expanding the mouth of the shell and seating the bullet – and there are three dies to perform these functions. Rifle brass (bottle neck not straight wall) requires two dies as the press only resizes the shell and seats the bullet. Single stage presses only accept one die at a time so the handle of the press has to be pulled and dies changed out for each function. Single stage presses are definitely the better choice for shooters who are after precision, and will work for those who do a lot of high volume shooting, but there are faster options for you high volume shooters.

A slightly faster setup is a turret top press. Turret top presses can accept up to six dies at one time (2 complete pistol setups or 3 complete rifle set ups). The handle of the press has to be pulled for each function but you will spend a lot less time changing out dies.

The fastest reloading setup is the progressive press. Every function performed in the reloading process from seating the primer to measuring the powder to seating the bullet is performed on the progressive press, and each pull of the handle dispenses a fully loaded cartridge. This setup can save a lot of time for the reloader and it is consistent enough to produce quality reloads, but not ideal for the benchrest shooter who is after precision.

Each reloading setup gets increasingly more expensive but typically the more time you spend reloading, the quicker it gets. So is it worth it? Which setup is better? It depends on your budget, and only you can put a value on your time.



Gun Stuff 101

Inexpensive vs. Expensive Scopes by Josh


One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is “what kind of scope should I use on this gun?” There are a number of factors we need to determine before being able to help a customer select a scope, and volumes could be written (and have been) on technical data, specs, coatings, lenses, etc., but I am not going to go that deep into the subject today. Here are few things to consider.

First, what is the intended use of the scope? Scopes are generally Tactical, Target or Hunting (with multiple sub categories), and quality scopes are generally purposefully built for one of these applications.

Second, what features and magnification are you interested in?

Lastly, once your particular application is narrowed down, we then need to determine another very important detail – BUDGET.

Scopes look very similar on the outside. A $49 Simmons looks very much like a $1000 Leupold, but they are not the same thing. So what are the differences? The quality of the internal and external components and how they are assembled is the short answer.

Secondly, the quality of the glass and the coatings used on the lenses is another key factor that impacts price and functionality. All scopes have anti -reflective coatings on the lenses, including some of them dating back to the 1940’s. Manufacturers have made many improvements in this area over the years and continue to do so. They have addressed and improved on issues like distortion, parallax, clarity, and light transmission through use of advancements in lens coatings and glass quality. (Click here for a glossary and schematic of scopes) Cheap scopes, while functional for some applications, will be lacking in all of these areas because not as much consideration is given to the above factors.

Consistency in the windage and elevation adjustments on scopes is another factor. Less expensive scopes will not be as consistent and the “1 click= ¼@ 100yds" might not be true. This can be verified and tested from the shooting bench. Shoot a target from 100 yds. Using your elevation turret, click 16 clicks down and aim at the same point and shoot again. Then move the reticle 16 clicks right, aim at the same point and shoot again. And last move 16 clicks up, aim at the same point and shoot again. If you aimed at the same point each time you should have something fairly close to a 4 inch square if the optic says “1 click= ¼@ 100yds" on its adjustment turrets, like many scopes do. If it doesn’t look anything like a square, your scope’s adjustments are not functional.

All of this is not to say that all inexpensive scopes are garbage. Many of them are ok for some applications. We do sell less expensive optics at RedNex because we want to have something available for every budget, but we also try to encourage our customers to spend as much as they can on a scope because we want them to use it with confidence, and have something that will last --- and cheap scopes generally do not last. They are not built to handle much recoil or punishment at all. For a 22 rifle and 50 yard shooting they are ok and sometimes will last a while, but it will most likely become non -functional eventually.