The Big Book of Gun Gack – On sorting brass for consistent neck thickness, for instance:
You may need to anneal case necks, even on new brass. Yet another difference between top-notch brass and common brass is consistent annealing. Not long ago my gunsmith friend Charlie Sisk called me on his smart phone, asking what could possibly be wrong with some 7mm Remington Magnum cases he’d purchased.
Charlie normally buys big batches of new brass, loads them once, then sells the fired brass, saving him time that’s more profitably used by actually making rifles, rather than resizing and trimming fired brass. But none of the 7mm Remington Magnum rifles he’d made shot worth a hoot with the new batch of brass, yet the necks were pretty darn uniform.
After we’d talked for a while, I came up with a SWAG (Scientific Wild-Assed Guess) and asked, “Have you tried annealing them?”
“I’ve never annealed any brass. Why would I?”
“Well, it might not have been annealed right at the factory, so bullet pull varies.”
After I described Fred Barker’s easy candle method of annealing, we hung up. (Well, we didn’t actually hang up, a term left over from land-line days.) A couple days later Charlie called again, saying he’d annealed a few cases and loaded them up. Loads that formerly shot 2-inch groups now went around ½ inch. So sorting brass for consistent neck thickness may not be enough.
Table Of Contents
Working Up a Load in the 21st Century
Modern Rifle Powders
Pre-Testing Big Game Bullets
Sizing Cases Straight
Meat Hunting Bullets
Why Reloading Data Varies
Choosing Varmint Bullets
The Tree Factory .17’s
Why the .204 Ruger Works So Well
The .22 Hornet and K-Hornet
The .221 Fireball in a 700 Classic
The “Triple Deuce” (.222 Remington)
.223 Remington: The Smallest All-Around Cartridge
Newer Powders in the .22-250
The Infamous, Accurate .220 Swift
A Pair of Fast .22’s
6mm PPC, the Essence of Accuracy
Untangling the 6mm Lee Navy
.243 Winchester: Popular Imperfection
The Other Two .24’s: 6mm Remington and .240 Weatherby
A Pair of .25-20 Winchesters
The Accurate .25’s
.25-06, The Most Popular “Quarter-Bore”
The 6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer
The 6.5 Creedmoor-Modern Accuracy Distilled
The 6.5×55 Swedish-Norwegian Mauser
The 6.5/.284 and 6.5-06
Reviving the .264 Winchester Magnum
26 Nosler-The Hottest 6.5
The 21st-Century .270 Winchester
7×57 and 7mm-08 Remington-A Perfect pair
The Hard-Luck .280 Remington
.280 Ackley Improved and 7mm SAUM
Remington’s Phenomenal 7mm Magnum
Handloading the .30-30-If You Simply Must
Easy Accuracy From The .308 Winchester
The 7.5×55: A “Metric” .30 Caliber
The .30-06-Still the Finest All-Around Big Game Cartridge
Holland & Holland’s “Super Thirty”
Winchester’s Most Popular .300 Magnum
Roy’s Famous .300
Great Britain’s Great .303
Modern Powders in Two Old 8×57’s
Kinder, Gentler .338’s
The Changing .338 Winchester Magnum
The .338 Lapua Magnum, King of the Wide-Open Spaces
.348 Winchester-Only The Loney
The Original .35 Remington
Colonel Whelen’s Fine .35
9.3×62 Mauser, The Working Man’s Medium-Bore
The .375 H&H, Still The King
Modernizing Two Old .40’s
Mark F. –
What you get in The Big Book of Gun Gack is something entirely different [from reloading manuals and web sites]. Rather than being inclusive like LoadData, it is selective. Rather than offering brief overviews of a cartridge together with fifteen powders, say, for each of five to eight bullet weights in a given caliber like the Hornady Handbook, The Big Book of Gun Gack evaluates the merits of each cartridge at some length. Most reloading manuals have about a page’s worth of background on a given cartridge. Barsness typically has four to six pages (and remember, they’re big pages). His treatment of each cartridge concludes with a few loads that worked well in the rifles he used (the make of rifle, barrel length, and group size are always included). It is indeed a guide for hunters.
Weston S. –
The chief virtue of this book is that it’s written by John Barsness. His skeptical intelligence is evident on virtually every page. This is especially true in his treatment of reloading practices, techniques, and formulas. His 4-to-1 Rule for Ackley Improved cases is here, plus rules for figuring out potential velocity when a given case is necked up or down and for figuring out velocity for different bullet weights in the same cartridge as well as how much powder will be required. As for techniques, if you believe you are loading accurate ammunition, read Barsness’s chapter, “Sizing Cases Straight.” I followed his suggestions in a test run of 7×57’s and reduced run-out by 50%. If you feel confident about reading signs of excessive pressure from external case measurements, read this book: the life you save may be your own.
Scott B. –
Publishing his dictionary, Dr. Johnson declared, “In this work, when it shall be found that much is omitted, let it not be forgotten that much likewise is performed.” The Big Book of Gun Gack omits little, and much has been performed: its breadth and depth are truly remarkable. If you are a hunter who reloads or are even thinking you might reload, John Barsness’s The Big Book of Gun Gack belongs on your book shelf. I know I’m going to consult it often, and I’m confident that you will, too.
Eileen Clarke (verified owner) –
Eileen, I just wanted to take a minute of your time to thank John and you for the great book. I spend a little time each morning reading it, and after 45 years of handloading, I have learned a great deal from it. I also like the humor John wove into it at times. I handload for about 6 other hunters and gun nuts, and I’ve highly recommended it to them all.
Best wishes to the both of you and hope you’ve had a great hunting season.
Mel Hoover –
I just received the Big Book and haven’t been able to put it down. It has covered all of the calibers that I use and deals with some which I really had no real knowledge about. I book is highly readable which is the most important virtue of a book on numbers. The tables are laid out in an understandable fashion. Information is straight forward but with great twists of humor. I have followed John’s career from the beginning and he just keeps get better and better. This book is easily in the same class as Phil Sharpe’s book “The Rifle in America “, Carmichel’s Book of the Rifle”, and O’Connor’s “The Rifle Book”. There really aren’t many books that covers rifles, reloads, and technicals as well as this book. It is very impressive. My heart felt congratulations to John and of course Eileen for a tremendous job well done.
Larry Munn (verified owner) –
This is a great book! Barsness has a tremendous amount of experience and he writes well which makes the book a very interesting and fun read. If I had had access to this book back when I was 20, it would have saved me quite a few bumps in the road- both grief and money. One of the author’s strengths is that he doesn’t ride a favorite as the “best, only possible, answer to everything”. He draws conclusions from his extensive experience and tells what has worked for him, disproving a lot of old truisms along the way. It is worth a lot to just look at the pictures to see what he and Eileen actually use- rifles, calibers, scopes. The big thing that shines through is that he is still serious and excited about all this gack- which is why we all do it.
Eileen Clarke (verified owner) –
I’m enjoying the Hell outa the ones I ordered. I turned the cookbook over to my wifel for the time being. She’s pretty impressed with what a stone cold killer Ms. Clarke is! Gary G. bought Gun Gack 1 & 2, Slice of the Wild, Obsessions of a Rifle Loony and Queen of the Legal Tender Saloon.
Ryan Dearborn –
Just received Gun Gack I & II for Father’s Day and they’re both exceptional! I’ve followed a few really good gunwriters over the years but no one else covers hunting and shooting subjects better than John does with such depth and personal experience. And he’s a true master of the written word. I’m thankful that he’s made the effort to put his thoughts and observations into book form which makes it much easier to find information without sorting through stacks of magazines.
Sakoluvr (verified owner) –
“The 3 books that I mentioned (Gun Gack 1 and 2 and Rifle Trouble-Shooting) are the cats ass. LOL”
–Sakoluvr on 24hourcampfire