Texas Hog Hunt 2017

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks

Duane Siercks at Stasney’s Ranch

On May 15, four Sierra employees were given the opportunity to travel to Albany, Texas to enjoy a couple days of hog hunting. They departed the Sierra Plant in Sedalia, Mo. early on the 15th, arriving at the Stasney’s Ranch in the late afternoon. The employees were Nathan Vanderlinden, Chris Franklin, Brandon Harris, and myself, Duane Siercks.

Upon their arrival they noticed immediately the abundance of bobwhite quail. Having been raised in Missouri during a time when quail were quite abundant, I have always missed the early morning/late evening quail calls. This was certainly a welcome sight to literally see hundreds of quail pairs wherever upon the ranch you went. Game such as deer, turkey, and hogs were in abundance also. Also quite prevalent are the cactus and mesquite.

This area was recovering from a major drought during which a lot of the cattle were shipped out to other states. A lot of the “tanks,” or what we call ponds in our area were completely dry. There was no grass to speak of and the wildlife suffered as well. In the last couple of years, the rains returned and the vegetation has prospered  abundantly supporting a very rich magnitude of wildlife.



Once we made our way down the lengthy road to the Ranch Headquarters, we were met by Ranch Manager, Billy Hill. Mr. Hill showed us around the Headquarters and showed us some very comfortable sleeping quarters. I can tell you that the bed I slept in was just as comfortable as could be. The 50 acre lake in front of the Headquarters was very appealing to the eye, and according to the pictures of Mr. Hill and his daughter, the fishing would have been quite good also.

The following morning was the kick-off to our hog hunt. We were paired up with two hunters per guide. Brandon and myself were given the pleasure of hunting with Mr. Hill. He is extremely knowledgeable in the varied ways and means of pursuing the quarry. He had us in the midst of a group of hogs within minutes. All the while, the quail were calling, turkeys were seen strutting and could be heard gobbling. Deer were very much around at all times. The other Sierra employees were paired up with Chris. I could tell from the minute I met Chris that he was no stranger to hunting. He was only able to hunt with us for one day. The second day, we had another knowledgeable guide helping us. His name was Les Bowman. Anytime we were not out hunting, Les was keeping us well entertained. In fact, we could not remember laughing so hard in a very long time.

There were many hunting stories shared. Also to be viewed were many trophy game mounts displayed throughout the many buildings. Trophy racks and sheds included one that scores in excess of 240″ from a whitetail still running on the ranch. Longhorn cattle and steers displayed very impressive headgear. Roadrunners, horned lizards, and, yes, even the rattlers were seen.  (Thanks to Billy and Les for helping me to get my trophy!)

The meals were outstanding. The chicken fried steak, the soup, the Mexican dishes, the steaks, and the desserts were quite a treat. Thanks Mrs. Shanna for the home cooked meals.

Mrs. Hill also shared with us quite a pictorial history lesson about the Ranch. We also learned about the vast wind farm in operation there. Huge wind turbines were viewed close at hand. These having a total overall height of about 450 feet. We were informed that the blade tips even in a light wind were traveling often times in excess of 125 MPH. Standing close underneath them, the blades coming past sounded very similar to a plane at take-off. There were also oil pumps in operation.

So much to do, so little time. It was time to head home before we even got started it seemed. This will certainly be a trip of many memories.

Brandon Harris with hog he shot.

The trip was quite enjoyable. We were blessed to be able to harvest several hogs. Mr Hill, his wife Shanna, Chris, and Les were the best hosts I have had the pleasure of being with. Thanks for the great time and experience.

Nathan Vanderlinden with coyote with mange


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A Pistol Bullet for Deer Season

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Phil Mahin

I have always wanted a lever action rifle chambered in 45 Colt.  I finally got my chance to purchase one last summer that I could use for deer season.  What I found was accurate, but I was able to get velocities that were a lot faster than what is normal for the cartridge. In fact, I was getting 1,700fps from the muzzle and that was verified with our industrial Oehler here at work. There is a good reason for the velocity.  It comes from a combination of a hot magnum primer, a lot of slow burning powder, and a case that is built well enough to hold the high pressure repeatedly. I know you may have a lot of questions about this and I’ll finish this story in my next blog, but for now, I wanted to show you what I found for expansion.

I’ve been shooting Sierra Bullets’ #8820 240gr JHC Sports Master and here are the results.

At a 1,086fps impact, it expanded very well, in fact, I would call it perfect. This one kept 235 grains of weight and is 0.780” at its widest point. From what I remember, it went through three jugs and dented the forth.


The next one impacted at 1,278fps and retained 219 grains while expanding out to a 0.850” diameter.

The next one in sequence to velocity was done here at Sierra Bullets into a gel block to see if I could get an accurate representation for penetration. It retained 147 grains and it penetrated a whopping 12 ½ to 13 inches at a 1,442fps impact velocity.

Back at home, the last few impacted at 1,700fps and there wasn’t enough of it left to talk about. In fact, the remains of two didn’t even add up to the same weight as the one above, but it still took out two jugs a piece and sent them 20 feet into every direction.

If I were to evaluate the test, I would say it was a success in the development of the bullet to the cartridge it was built for. The cartridge has a low pressure and doesn’t create a significant velocity from revolvers. At the impact velocities usually associated with it, the Sierra Bullets 240gr bullet will perform extremely well on varmints to whitetail sized animals and possibly bigger if shot placement and impact velocity are kept in mind. Next time, I’ll show the accuracy I’ve seen from this cartridge and firearm combination.

Till then, be safe shooting.

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Should I Outside Neck Turn My Brass?

Written by Ballistic Technician Paul Box

ImageThis is a question we get just about every week. Should I neck turn my brass? Well, the answer can be yes….and no. Let’s look a little deeper into it.

Naturally, if we had our favorite gunsmith chamber a rifle with a “fitted” neck we’ll have to neck turn in order for it to fit our chamber. But what about a standard SAAMI spec chamber? This all depends on the quality of your brass. Namely your case neck thickness variation. What I do is take a ball Mic and check the case neck thickness at “8:00 o’clock, 12:00 and 4:00 o’clock points. If my thickness variation is .001” or less, I wouldn’t outside neck turn. Unless we’re shooting 1,000 yd. benchrest, I don’t think you’ll see any difference in accuracy if this thickness difference is any smaller than that.

Our main goal in outside neck turning is to give our seating die its best chance to seat a bullet with good concentricity with as little of run out as possible. This puts our bullet in better alignment with the center of the case body and in a squared and trued action, more perfect alignment with the bore.

Brass that has a neck thickness difference that’s more than .001″can be turned down to this spec and will shoot fine. They’ll also have the advantage of not being too thin, which will give early case neck splits and shorten case life.

Posted in Reloading, X-Ring Articles | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gun Stuff 101

Written by Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd

I have shot several disciplines of shooting competitions over the years and have learned a few things regarding ammunition and bullet function during this time. Below I will describe a few of the things I have seen and benefited from. Hopefully if you find your situation to be similar you can make changes before experiencing some of these effects.

Gun Cleaning

Frequently the matches I shoot require 40 to 100 shots before a person gets a chance to clean their rifle. Just as frequently, a good shooting match rifle will still shoot very good scores and groups with that many rounds fired through them. However, those guns do not deliver the same accuracy as when they were clean, but the drop-off in accuracy is not a huge change unless a set of accumulative issues arise.








I witnessed a set of problems that occurred with a fellow competitor’s rifle at a recent F-Class match. He was using a large case capacity cartridge for the bore diameter and he was shooting a powder that was burning extremely dirty. As the match progressed, the carbon buildup caused most likely a carbon ring in the throat of the rifle and pressures kept increasing to the point that the cases were hard to extract, bolt lift was excessive, and eventually he quit shooting the rifle due to these issues. Accuracy also suffered as could be evidenced by the gun’s performance on target. This load looked fine when he was developing it, none of the excessive pressure signs appeared when he worked the load up, but he was cleaning the gun every ten shots. When he was shooting multiple 20 shot strings during the match is when the issues appeared. He was able to give the gun a thorough cleaning and the issues went away, for several rounds and then the pressures started appearing again. These pressure signs were not due to ambient temperatures as it was a cool spring morning and the temperature was in the low 40° range.

Accuracy Issues

A couple of years ago, I attended a match early in the shooting season and it was unusually hot for that time period. I heard a competitor worrying before the match about his gun “blowing up”. At first I was concerned, but after thinking about what he had said I realized that he meant his “accuracy” blowing up, meaning he knowingly had loaded his ammunition at the top end of an accuracy tune that he established via a ladder test. The next day I asked him how his scores were and he said the gun was not shooting very well initially, but he had found enough equipment from friends that were at the match and had pulled the bullets, reduced the powder charge by a few tenths of a grain and re-seated the bullets and his gun was now shooting normally. The temperature difference between his home range the weekend before when he established his load and the match conditions was about 30 degrees and that was enough to cause an accuracy change at 1000 yards.

Cartridge Case Variation

I recently shot some 9mm pistol loads in the Sierra underground tunnel. I was shooting an XP-100 return-to-battery test gun for this evaluation. The testing was conducted with all components as consistent as possible with the exception of the cartridge case brand. My intention was to show a fellow employee what can happen when you change a component without testing to see if it has an effect on pressures, function, or accuracy. I was shooting five-shot groups at 50 yards and reloading the same five cases, without exception every time we fired a particular case made by a different manufacturer than the other four that bullet went out of the group, and it moved a significant amount (approximately 2 inches from the center of the other four rounds). I then loaded that individual case four times and fired a four-shot group that was comparable to the groups achieved with the other four cases. Even though the cases were sized with the same die you could feel resistance with the bolt when the odd case was chambered and its’ point of impact was different than that of the others.

The point of these observations is to suggest that when accuracy counts, you must take into consideration the conditions you will be shooting in and adjust if necessary. Some conditions you can manage, like barrel cleaning. Other things like temperature you cannot control but you can make adjustments based on the differences between your testing and utilization of the load.

Posted in Competitive Shooting | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sierra 110 gr Sierra Pro-Hunters in a M1 Carbine

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf

I have always enjoyed collecting and shooting old military firearms.  One of my favorites has always been the 30 caliber M1 Carbine.

Though many people will claim they are useless for anything more than plinking, I respectfully disagree.  They are plenty accurate for small game and varmints out to 100 yards or so and I feel it is more than adequate for a home defense/personal protection weapon.

It was never designed to be a powerful long range rifle, it was designed to be a lightweight easy-to-use carbine that had more power and accuracy for troops that would ordinarily be issued a 1911 45 caliber pistol.  Many officers, NCO’s, Tank and Artillery crews were issued the carbine.

I bought my little carbine in 1990 at a local gunshop, at the time I paid $185.00.  Today the price of them has skyrocketed.

My carbine was manufactured by the Inland division of General Motors, which produced over 2.3 million of them during World War 2.  Many companies manufactured the M1 Carbine for the war effort.  Companies such as IBM, Underwood Typewriter, Rock-Ola Jukebox, Saginaw, National Postal Meter, Inland and Winchester who originally designed it, all combined produced some 6.5 million M1 Carbines.

Last weekend I loaded up some ammo with Hodgdon H110 and the Sierra 110 gr. FMJ Pro-Hunter #2105 and went to the range with my General Motors stamped, 1943 M1 Carbine.

First I set up a bunch of clay pigeons at 100 yards and was breaking them fairly easy.  I decided to set up a target and see just how well it would group at that distance.  I think it did fairly well, I shot a 5 shot group of 2.541”.


The M1 Carbine is a lot of fun to shoot.  Lightweight, low recoil and has a 15 round magazine, what’s not to like?

Posted in Reloading | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Why Does Reloading Data Vary?

 Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box

Everyday we get calls on our 800 line about why does data vary from one manual to another? It’s an honest question and we’re going to take a deeper look into why this happens. The short answer is tolerances, but let’s see what this means.

Everything in this business has a tolerance to stay within. Let’s look at powders first and use IMR-4064 as an example. When the powder manufacturers make a lot of powder, it will be tested  to make sure the burn rate is right. Again, just for example let’s say it must fall between one and ten on a scale. The first lot comes in at eight and the second lot at three. They are both within spec, but the second lot is slightly faster.


Brass will be the same way. There will be differences in case weight from one maker to another and this will influence internal capacity.

Primers will have a difference in both flame duration and flame temperature.  Again, this will influence pressures also.


Looking at rifles, we see the same thing. Chambers can vary slightly and still be in SAMMI specs. Throat lengths will not only vary from one rifle maker to another, but even the same rifle manufacture will have a difference depending on the reamer that was used. It’s not unusual to see one rifle in .308 vary by .035” from another of the same maker. This also influences max loads.

So what does all of this mean? If one manufacturer shoots data and just by sheer chance has some of their components and their rifle on the upper end of specs, then another manufacture by sheer chance has theirs on the minimum side, we can see a big difference on a max load between different manufactures. On a big cartridge like a 300 Win mag and a slow powder like RL-22 I’ve seen 2.0 grs. difference on a max load between the different manufacturers. So, who is right? Actually they both are. The data from each manufacturer is correct for the components they are using in their rifle.

For many years we have all read in reloading manuals as well as countless magazine articles about the importance of starting low and working up. This is sound advice. Remember, you can always go up.

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Missouri State Champion FTR

Written by Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd









Greg Meredith (right) of the Missouri Shooting Sports Association presenting the State Champion Award for F-Class FTR division to Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician, Tommy Todd (left).

Recently the Missouri Sports Shooting Association (MSSA) held an awards banquet for the 2016 shooting season. I was lucky enough to have won the State Champion award for F-Class FTR division. I shot well enough in last year’s match to be the highest scoring Missouri resident and thus qualified for the State Champion.

F-Class has two classifications of shooters and equipment, F-Open allows the use of a front rest and rear sandbag and a weight limit of 22 pounds. FTR (F-Class Target Rifle) is limited to 18 pounds and you must use a bipod to support the rifle, rear sandbags are also allowed.


Posted in Competitive Shooting | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment