See Your Photo Featured on Instagram

Did you know Sierra Bullets uses Instagram?  Check us out at Sierra_Bullets and join over 8,000 folks gathering every day to look at cool pics and talk about shooting and reloading. Would you like to see a photo of your reloading bench, latest target, trophy, day at the range, or new box of bullets featured?  Tag us or email the photo to us at

And don’t miss these recent favorites:


Posted in Reloading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reloading: Saving Money or Not?

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin   

*Please note I have corrected the miscalculation on the primer cost on the updated version below. 

There is no getting around the fact that shooting is an expensive sport if you do enough of it. As a handloader, my drive to start was to save money while shooting something no longer offered in factory ammo. This raised the question, how much money am I really saving? We can go through this on an individual round count basis.

All of these prices were taken from a single, reputable mail order distributor and were calculated from their non-sale prices to keep everything on a level playing field. To remain on that level playing field, let’s not worry about sales tax or shipping costs and enjoy the fact that this reloading equipment was an inheritance (mine wasn’t but oh well). Our base line is a 308 Winchester cartridge loaded with Sierra’s #2145 165gr SBT GameKing® and factory ammo is listed at $32.79 for 20 rounds. Since reloading components usually run on a 100 count standard, let’s multiply that number by 5 to get $163.95 for 100 rounds (or $1.64 per round). So by using this $1.64 per round standard, can we shoot the same thing for less money by reloading? Let’s find out.

The same distributor sells reloading components but we will need to take into account certain facts like powder is sold by the pound so we will need to convert the cost. A pound translates to 7,000 grains so if your firearm likes 40 grains of brand X to propel this bullet, 100 rounds would take 4,000 grains to fill them. If the price of powder was $26.99 per pound, then 4,000 grains of it would cost $15.42 or so for 100 rounds.  Bullets were priced at $31.99 and match primers were priced at $4 per hundred. This only leaves the brass to price and by using the same brand as in the factory ammo, they were listed at $25.49 per 50 so $50.98 per 100 count. Let’s add them up to get $102.39 per 100 rounds or $1.02 or so per round. Compared to the factory round price, we’ve saved $61.56 or $0.62 a round.


Here is the next thing we need to take into account and that is we can reload the brass more than one time. Let’s figure that we can reload this brass 5 times and calculate for a 500 round count. Our cost of factory ammo went up to $819.75 and even though that is a lot of hunting rounds, it wouldn’t be out of line to have purchased them through a lifetime of hunting. Our cost of reloading, on the other hand, was reduced by $50.98 per hundred rounds because we are reusing the same brass over and over again. This makes reloading the next 400 rounds total $205.64 or $51.41 per hundred so in addition to our original cost of $102.39, this would give us a $308.03 total for 500 rounds. I don’t know about you but I can use that $511.72 we just saved to invest in another 500 rounds. By the way, if we could reload the brass another 5 times, the cost of 500 rounds would only be $257.05 for a total of $565.08 for 1,000 rounds. Compared to the $1,639.50 we would have used for factory ammo, we would have saved enough ($1074.42 in total) to purchase another firearm.  If I really wanted to gain some brownie points, I would take my wife out in style and maybe still have enough left over for lunch tomorrow. Good luck making the right decision on that last part!

Posted in Reloading | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Callin’ All Critters

Written by Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks

Back last fall I received a phone call from a customer, Paul, asking for information   concerning a particular rifle he had purchased. As the conversation moved along, we visited at length about this rifle.  I mentioned that I had purchased one also and was interested to hear how his was doing as he worked up some loads, as I had not yet had the opportunity to work with mine. He also mentioned that he did a lot of predator control by calling them in. As this has always been an interesting subject for me, I questioned him further. He proceeded to give me a lot of pointers and information. The time came that the call ended with a promise he would certainly get back to me about his load development results.

A couple of weeks or so later, he called back with some excellent news on the results he was getting from the information that I had passed along. As we were getting ready to end the call he mentioned an event that he was hosting in a couple of months. As I got more info from him, he wanted to know if I could attend as a company representative. I was hooked. I wanted to see what this was all about. The date was set for January 15, 2017.

As the time approached, we were slated to receive the Icegeddon event with several inches of ice and sleet predicted. Paul phoned me and sadly stated that he had to cancel, but he was re-scheduling for February 4th and 5th. I told him I would be there.

The event was held on private property just outside of Goreville, Il. On the morning of the 4th we arrived to a brisk morning temperature of 11 degrees. A brief event meeting was held giving event material and instructions.  At the official start time, 37 two-man teams departed to begin the hunting phase of the Southern Illinois Predator Challenge 2017. We were able to visit with many of the teams and get more familiar with the type of hunting that they do. The art of calling a coyote to various different calls and vocalizations is quite a feat. The hunt would end the next day, (Feb. 5th) at which time the participants would return with the coyotes that had been harvested.  Official check-ins began and winners were determined. There was an after-the-hunt chili dinner given by the host at a club building where the winners were announced, door prizes awarded and recognition was given to the event sponsors of which Sierra Bullets was proud to be part of.

The hunters harvested 76 coyotes, with the winning team taking 9, second taking 7, third and fourth place winners each harvested 5 coyotes each, with the winners being placed by the heaviest coyote of their harvest.

The following is an excerpt of the letter that I received after the hunt from the event host Paul Browne (February 21, 2017)

The 3rd Annual Southern Illinois Predator Challenge (SIPC) held on February 4th and 5th of 2017 was again a huge success!  We could not have done this without the support from our generous sponsors this year.  We had well over 100 who gathered, looking forward in anticipation to Sunday’s prize giveaways!

Weather brought on a challenge when the original dates had to be postponed due to an ice storm in January, but the weekend in February worked out perfectly.  There were 74 participants that came to the event, 3 of which were youth who hunted alongside a parent.  76 coyotes were harvested from approximately 43 counties covering over 2900 square miles.  We had hunters from all over Central/Southern Illinois, as well as some from Kentucky.  SIPC was proud of the exposure that we received this year and the growth from last year’s event.

1st place went to Justin Roepke/Joseph Wirth (9 coyotes), 2nd place Jason Graff/Louis Glidewell (7 coyotes), 3rd place Wayne Shaw/Clint Shaw (5 coyotes), 4th place Kevin Edmonds/Matt Morgan (5 coyotes), 5th place Tyler Michael/Dylan Sanders (4 coyotes), Biggest coyote 39.55 lb Clayton Gulley/Lee Roberts.  1st, 3rd & 5th places used night vision & thermal units. 2nd & 4th places used red lights though most of them coming during daylight hours.

We would like to specially thank Sierra Bullets for their on-sight support ballistic technician Duane Siercks.  Duane was very helpful in answering questions regarding the product with the participants. As SIPC continues to grow we would like to see more on-sight support from our sponsors as this gives more of a personal interaction with the company helping promote product.

Our plan for next year is to increase our number of participants and to make it easier for out-of-state hunters.  It is our intent to forgo the pre-contest meeting on Saturday morning. Registration & rules will be done on-line through our group page. This will decrease the amount of travel on those from out of state to one trip on Sunday to the awards/prize giveaway.  We are confident this will boost attendance for SIPC 2018 to record levels.

Again, thank you for your continued support.  The success of SIPC would not be possible without your sponsorship.  We look forward to helping to promote the sponsors of SIPC throughout the year.

Paul Browne
Founder of SIPC

I received an e-mail from Paul a couple of days ago with a picture of his son, CJ Browne, with his first coyote harvest.



Posted in Hunting Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Velocity Increase In New Gun Barrels

Written by Sierra Bullets New Product Development Manager Mark Walker

In a previous post, I discussed a couple of methods to tune a load to your barrel to help achieve the best accuracy possible. People most often work on load tuning if they get a new rifle or have a different barrel installed. In both instances, the barrel is new and has not been fired very much. According to most competitive shooters, this is the most accurate your barrel will ever be, so getting it tuned and shooting accurately is a priority.

Even though after you work up a load and your new barrel is shooting great, a lot of shooters notice that at around 100 to 150 rounds their rifle may stop shooting as accurately. I had this happen to a rifle and I was confused as to why something that worked so well to begin with would all of a sudden quit shooting. I decided to break out the chronograph to do another load work up to see what was going on. To my surprise, the velocity had increased around 80 fps over the original velocity! After performing another ladder test and adjusting the seating depth, the rifle was once again shooting well.

There are several thoughts on why this may happen, however, you can rest assured that it does happen. One thought is that as the barrel breaks in, the tooling marks in the throat of the chamber smooth out and allow less resistance to the bullet as it exits the bore thereby increasing speed. Another idea is that the throat area starts to get a little rough which in turn causes more resistance which increases pressure and therefore more velocity. I’m sure there are some out there who have a better understanding as to why this happens, but it can definitely affect the accuracy of your rifle. So be aware and never be afraid to rework a load to keep your rifle in tune.

Posted in Competitive Shooting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

When a Rifle Guy Buys a Handgun

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Rich Machholz

Over the years I had entertained the idea of a small concealable handgun.  I bought a nifty little Star 9mm Largo years earlier because it looked like a 1911 Colt, well … okay, sort of.  I sent it to my pal Pete Single and he performed some magic but this is still a large gun.  So I was nosing around my local dealer not long ago when I noticed a used Taurus PT 111 Millennium GII double stack 9mm with a Crimson Trace installed.  The price was right so I bought it.

I guess I could have shot it first BUT I told Brian (the partner) that if I didn’t like the gun it was coming back.  He understood.  Besides, we don’t have any indoor ranges in town and it is pretty dark when I get home.  Although now I have some extended daylight IF the weather is clear.

So … I did shoot it over the weekend.  My wife Sandy, Janine our daughter in-law and I all shot it.  Our son was off doing something so it was just me and the girls.  The first thing I noticed was it is difficult to load the double stack magazines for this little gun.  The mag springs are pretty darned stiff or I’m pretty weak or it could be a combination of both.  No matter, I had a sore thumb and two empty magazines after our shoot.

The gun came with a Crimson Trace installed which is a nifty addition but not all that helpful in bright sunlight.  Inside or after dark it is quite nice and as soon as I get it truly zeroed I’ll be even more happy.

So I’ve got the mags loaded and found out that the little red dot isn’t visible in bright sun light.  But the sights are very good, 3 big white dots the seem to align pretty instinctively for me.  Time to shoot.  Sandy didn’t want to be first and Janine wasn’t there yet so I was the elected guinea pig.  Great!  I bought it so I’ll shoot it.  I grabbed the little gun and the sights fell right on the 25 yard target and BAM!  The little gun bucked and snorted but the bullet hit slightly low and left.  I was shooting at a 4×4 inch block of wood and I think I only hit it twice out of 12 shots but all the shots were pretty close, maybe within a 10-12 inch circle.  I was kind of disappointed, but short barrels are hard to shoot accurately or so I’ve been told.  I was most surprised by the recoil of the little gun and the bark.  I had gotten a box of PMC factory 115 grain FMJs with the gun and I was thinking heavier bullets at the same velocity would definitely be a handful as I handed the gun to my wife Sandy.

We went through the controls and grips and anything else I could remember to tell her.  After a little familiarization she slapped a loaded mag in the little Taurus and took aim.  The double action trigger proved to be troublesome for the first shot but after that she was slingin’ lead … literally!  After three shots I stopped her to allow her to relax and get a better grip also to remind her of where that left thumb went and to squeeze, not yank.  The rest of the magazine went well but she was not anxious to repeat and Janine had just gotten there.

Now it was her turn.  Janine is a not a shooter and is sort of apprehensive of a gun, especially a pistol.  So I made the gun safe and we had an impromptu gun handling course.  After that she was ready to give it a try.  Her first shot was a big surprise and drew a squeal with a big smile.  Her second shot was close but didn’t feed for the third.  Her impact got better but her light grip was causing functioning problems.  Not surprisingly she was ready to quit after about the 6th shot.  She handed the gun back to me and I finished the magazine.  The block of wood lives for another session.

So that is what we did prior to the Super Bowl.  It is readily apparent that we all need trigger time, the more the better.  I need a brass catcher of some sort because we only found about 80% of our spent brass.  I also think 25 yards is a LLLong ways for a 3.2 inch barrel and about 4 inches of sighting plane.  I think 10 yards might be better and 3 or 4 even better.

I have to say that this is a nice little gun and I found a gadget (Makershot) to assist me in reloading those stiff mags.  The Crimson Trace is a good add-on also and the girls really appreciated it.  After all my complaining my “buddies” finally advised me to leave the magazines fully loaded and they would be much easier to reload the next time.  Sure, now they tell me.  I also figured I could save the cost of a big tarp in salvaged brass on my next trip.  Isn’t it amazing how when you don’t need brass it is available everywhere but need just a few and you can’t find it anywhere.  Must be the law of supply and demand.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

To Case Prep, Or Not To Case Prep

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf


Around a year ago I bought a Ruger American Predator rifle chambered in .223 Remington, with the goal of turning it into a coyote extermination machine.

While working up a load for it, I went through all my typical brass prep steps, weighing cases, annealing case necks, uniforming primer pockets and deburring flash holes.

I started wondering just how much difference all my brass prep would really matter for a factory rifle at normal hunting ranges.  So I decided to do a little experiment and load up 15 rounds using fully prepped cases and 15 rounds with very minimal brass prep and compare the group sizes at 100 yards.

I weighed out cases until I had 15 within half of a grain of each other, annealed the case necks, uniformed the primer pockets, deburred the flash holes, full length resized, trimmed them to exactly 1.750”, chamfered and deburred the case mouths.

Then I picked out 15 more cases, full length resized them and only checked to be sure that they were shorter than the maximum case length of 1.760”.

I primed all of the cases with CCI #400 small rifle primers, charged them with 24 grains of Alliant Power Pro Varmint and topped them off with a 55 grain Sierra BlitzKing #1455 seated to 2.275” O.A.L.*

So on a beautiful day for February, it reached 60 degrees and very little wind, it was time to burn some powder. From a bench, using sandbags for a rest, I fired 3 five-shot groups with both the prepped and unprepped cases at 100 yards. The results were interesting but not surprising.  The best two groups of the day were indeed from the prepped cases, but then again so was the worst group of the day.

Here is how it broke down:

Prepped cases, Group #1 = .975”, Group #2 = .884”, Group #3 = 1.127” (Average .995”).prepped_cases_55_gr_blitzking_sierra_bullets

Unprepped cases, Group #1 = 1.115”, Group #2 = 1.093”, Group #3 = 1.060” (Average 1.089”).unprepped_cases_55_gr_blitzking_sierra_bullets

My mixed results did show that the fully prepped cases did average .094” better than the unprepped cases, but the largest group fired from the prepped brass was .012” worse than the largest group fired from the unprepped brass.

In all reality, we can read a million different things into the results. I guess the lesson I learned from this little test is whether I prep my cases or not, I should be able to hit a coyote at 100 yards.  I don’t think the coyote will be asking if I prepped my brass or not.

*Disclaimer: Load data represented here may not be safe in your rifle.

Posted in Reloading, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

You Never Know Who’s Watching You Shoot

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box

I’m sure most all of us remember our first experience shooting. It was probably an air gun or a .22 rimfire. Teaching someone new to shoot can be a very rewarding experience. Just remember that what and how you teach will probably stay with them the rest of their life. Naturally the first thing is gun safety.

The best example of this that I can think of is my wife Jo. Now keep in mind that Jo is Philippina and was raised in the Philippines. She had never been around guns in her life. Had never even held a gun before. Plus she had been taught to stay away from them because they was dangerous. To make matters even worse, when she was 15 years old, five men broke into her family’s house. Two of the men held the family at gun point while the others took everything of value they had.

The first time after we were married that I got one of my handguns out, I could see fear in her face. It was time for a talk. I swung the cylinder open and showed her that it wasn’t loaded. We went over total gun safety. I explained many things to her, but didn’t overload her with too much information. Some time later, she wanted to go with me when I was going to do same handgun shooting. I brought along ear protection for her and told her where to stand so that the muzzle blast of my .41 mag wouldn’t bother her. It wasn’t long before she was enjoying watching cans jump from bullet impact.

bgh-rm-270After a few months of watching me, she was taking an interest and one day she ask me if she could shoot my .41. I told her no, this was the wrong caliber for her to learn with. Too heavy of a pistol, too much recoil and too much muzzle blast for anybody to start out on. My Smith and Wesson model 617 4” .22 rimfire would be perfect for her.

Jo’s first shooting session was quite an experience for her. We went back over gun safety again and I let her watch me shoot a few cylinders to see how much muzzle jump it had. With the first few cylinders she shot, I stood behind her and reached around her shoulders putting my hands on her arms. This was more for reassurance that I was there and she didn’t have to be afraid. With that first shot her eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. My Smith 617 is a ten shot wheelgun and she went thru this pretty quick. She asked why was it empty so soon? I told her it’s a three letter word…… FUN!!!!!!

The main thing to remember here is that I didn’t try to push her into becoming interested. I let her advance at her own pace.  I only explained so much to her at a time rather than overloading her with too much information at once. Jo has come a very long way. From being a person that was afraid of guns to now loving to shoot. The biggest surprise was watching her shoot. I could tell she was doing things just the way I did. She had been watching me closer than I had realized. She has already showed interest in shooting something larger and even deer hunting.

So the next time you’re out shooting, just remember, somebody might be watching. You never know who you might influence.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments