Pros and Cons of a Barrel Tuner

Written by Sierra Bullets Product Development Manager Mark Walker


Some people love tuners and others hate them. I use them on my rifles and I’ve had more than one person ask me why on earth I would put one of those things on my barrel. I’ve even had a national long range champion tell me to unscrew it and throw it into Lake Erie on my next trip to the pits at Camp Perry. However, there are other shooters that swear by them and have many match wins to back it up.

It’s an indisputable fact that tuners do have an effect on a rifle’s accuracy, however how much is somewhat open for debate. The large heavy target barrels that we use for benchrest or f-class may not be affected as much by a tuner as a lighter weight sporter type barrel. Each barrel that I’ve installed a tuner on not only showed improvement in accuracy but also displayed a wider load window. The increased accuracy is because of the ability to adjust the tuner to the load, however I believe the wider load window is due to the added weight of the tuner slowing down the barrel vibrations. These are both very important aspects of having a very accurate rifle.

While better accuracy and a wider load window are two areas of improvement, I believe the most important feature of a tuner is the ability to adjust the tune during the middle of a match. This is especially important during matches where you must load all your ammo earlier and cannot make adjustments to the load during the match. If you happen to miss the load, instead of having to deal with a gun that isn’t shooting you can make an adjustment to the tuner and hopefully improve the accuracy of the rifle.

While I’ve laid out several ways that a tuner can help, there are also a few ways that tuners can cause problems. They add weight so if you are shooting a discipline that has weight limits on the rifle, you may not be able to install a tuner and still make weight. Sometimes, a barrel just doesn’t show improvement with a tuner installed. These are few and far between, but it is something to consider. If you make an adjustment to the tuner in a match, you need to make sure you move it in the right direction. Adjusting a tuner in the wrong direction can cause very large groups. And finally, if they aren’t tightened properly, tuners can come loose during firing which will cause a lot of problems as well.

As you can see, tuners have both positive and negative aspects. In my personal experience, the positives far outweigh the negatives so I will continue to use them on all of my competitive rifles. If you’ve been thinking about installing a tuner, hopefully some of the information that I’ve presented will help you make an informed decision.

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Poem About Reloading: Stool Shootin Slaves

Happy World Poetry Day! – from the Bulletsmiths   To celebrate, check out this poem written by By Ola Warren and published on page 7 of the February 1957 issue of Precision Shooting magazine.


Life is not dull with a Stool Shootin Nut,

My gosh no – It’s anything but

My days are not marked with monotony

Neither can they be tagged all efficiency,

But I wonder and wonder why things go awry

When I have tried so hard his wish to comply,

Sense of time disappears each spouse will agree

When a meeting is held by the “Big Three.”

I set a good table with soft candle light

And in comes my darling looking a sight,

No time to shave – No time to change

He’s spent all day at that darned old range.

Later I suggest we go out for some fun

Splendid, he says – we will try out my new gun,

I dumbly smiled to be a good sport

While secretly thinking of a Divorce Court.

Next day he states he has plans for me

How sweet, I think, it’s our Anniversary,

Come on he says, for Heaven’s Sake

We have five hundred bullets to make.

Then ‘ere I get going – I hear his cries

What have you done with my Biehler dies **!!##**,

I give up – but no use rave

I just admit I’m a Stool Shootin Slave.

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20 Lessons From My Youth

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf

I_Learned_My_LessonI grew up in a small town in rural Missouri, where there was usually nothing better to do than head off into the woods with my Marlin model 60 or grab my fishing pole and hit the local farm ponds.  Growing up in that environment teaches you a lot of valuable lessons that I will share with you for free!  Just trust me on these things, and hopefully, you don’t have to learn these 20 valuable lessons the hard way like I did.

(1)  If you cut through a muddy field, your boots will get stuck in the mud, and you will spend the rest of the afternoon with wet muddy socks.

(2)  You will never get all of the cockle burrs and stick-tights off of your favorite hunting jacket.

(3)  The ice on the creek isn’t near as thick as you think, find another place to cross it.

(4) It doesn’t matter how many times you walk around the tree, the squirrel will always keep going around to the other side of it.

(5) It doesn’t matter how you cross a barbed wire fence, if you climb over or crawl through it, you will still rip your pants.

(6) Don’t try to save 50 cents when buying your 22 ammo. You usually get what you paid for.

(7) Before you decide to sit down, make sure you are not in a patch of poison ivy.

(8) If you have to clean the rabbits, make sure not to gut shoot them.

(9) If it looks like a stick, it’s probably a snake, walk around it.

(10) It is a good idea to carry toilet tissue in your pocket. But your socks will work in an emergency.

(11) It is always your favorite fishing lure that gets stuck in the tree.

(12) It takes two full days to get stink bait off of your fingers.

(13) Snapping turtles will usually find your stringer full of fish.

(14) The walk back is always longer than the walk there.

(15) Take off your boots before walking on the carpet.

(16) When you are pulling the spider webs off of your face, the spider is usually on your

(17) Those hundreds of little red specks on you are seed ticks.

(18) When a tree falls across the creek, it is not a bridge.

(19) Buy the good mosquito repellant.

(20) It’s not a shortcut if there is a bull in the field.

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What’s the Difference Between the .223 vs 5.56?

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box

Over the last year or so we’ve had hundreds of calls on our 800 line concerning the difference between the .223 and the 5.56. So what is the real difference ?

In reality these two are the exact same cartridge. The case dimensions are the same. The difference is in a combination of throating and how they are loaded. Maximum working pressure for the .223 has been established by SAAMI at 55,000 PSI. Maximum pressure for the 5.56 has been taken up to 60,000 PSI. This was accomplished by using a longer throat in the 5.56. Much in the same way Weatherby has done for years with their long free bore. This longer bullet jump allows for  heavier powder charges and naturally higher pressures.

So is it safe to shoot a 5.56 in a .223? Probably not if that rifle has a common throat length. Pressures could run high enough to blow a primer and etch a bolt face. Smoke boiling out of the action and can get pretty hairy in general. So what’s the safe thing to do ? Use .223 in .223 and 5.56 in 5.56. It will be easier on your nerves.

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Double Duty Deer Stands

Written by Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks

Once deer season is over, deer stands are usually a forgotten piece of hunting equipment for the most part. We may have the occasional recollection of a hunting success or possibly a regret of an opportunity missed. But usually until the next fall hunting approaches we don’t think about that stand a whole lot. Now this is certainly not new news by any means, but we can get a lot of good from that piece of equipment by using it for other outdoor pursuits.

One thing that can be a tremendous amount of enjoyment is to photograph wildlife from the stand. It works well and offers the opportunity to view wildlife in a very natural atmosphere.  A couple of other uses actually give you the opportunity to hunt from these stand. Predator calling is a very popular post deer season pursuit. The hunting stand can get you out of the line of sight and also help to evade the sensitive noses of predators. Small game hunting can be very productive from your stands. I have used the ladder stands on our hunting areas to squirrel hunt. It works tremendous. Of course, as always, use caution and be safe when using elevated stands of any kind. More food for thought to provide more opportunities in the off-season. Have fun!

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Upgrading a 35 Remington

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin

Today, I’d like to talk about a 35 Remington cartridge and the possibilities of upgrading the performance level it can produce. Yeah, I know what you’re saying: “Why?” Call it a pet project I want to finish before I die someday. Trust me, when I say there are real possibilities for older cartridges that were limited for one reason or another. Pressure had to be kept at a reasonable rate to save the firearms they were chambered in and in some cases, the shooter too. Firearms made today use much better steel and are shaped to fit better, so why not?

Stock design has come a long way since the turn of the last century and shooters are finding out that heavier recoiling cartridges can be tamed by fitting the stock to them. The 35 Remington isn’t a real heavy recoiling cartridge, but it did feel like it from the firearms it was chambered in. I had a chance to own my choice of a Remington 8 or 81 chambered in this cartridge and at the time, I didn’t have the money for either. If I would have known at the time how either would have gained in value, I could have doubled my money, but they did have a reputation for painful recoil. Later on in life, I purchased a Marlin 336 and loved the way the cartridge performed, but the lever was the Achilles heel for me. Extended shooting sessions turned painful because of it and I gave up the cartridge to work with bolt actions. Ever since then, I’ve been on the prowl for a bolt action chambered in the 35.

Winchester did make a limited number of model 70’s in it, but to find one now is so far out of my price range, I’ll never own one. had one offered at a $7,000 start price and more than likely it is still there. They also had a Remington 600 offered at a $1,400 start price, but there is a lot of difference in the way these two looked. Despite popular opinion, I think the 600 looks fine even though the stocks forearm is way too long. The barrel rib and front sight fin gives it a unique look for sure, but for that price, I can modify a modern Remington Seven for less. With the shape of a model Seven stock, any recoil from this cartridge will be tame; in fact, let’s look at that with numbers.

Sierra’s 200 grain bullet in a lever action to a SAAMI maximum pressure gave 2,050 fps from a maximum charge of 4320 powder. If the gun weighed 6 pounds, recoil measures 13.12ft/s in free recoil velocity and 16.05 ft-lbs for weight in recoil energy. The same charge in a Remington model Seven will feel different because of the stock shape but the numbers will still be the same. So let’s compare this to a 308 Winchester if it was in the same gun that weighed the same 6 pounds (bear with me for the number’s sake). A maximum charge of the same powder with a 150 gr bullet gave us 2,900 fps so the velocity is 16.07 ft/s and the energy is 24.09 ft-lbs. A lot higher, but let’s look at the 200 gr vamped up to where it could be in a modern bolt action in 35. The same powder exceeding the 35,000 CUP limit pushed it to 2,366fps from at least one test. That translates to 15.6ft/s in velocity and 22.7ft-lbs in energy and that is less than the 308Win load! In fact, this intrudes into the 358 Winchester velocity level and doing it using less powder.

Don’t get me wrong, a light weight rifle chambered in a short range cartridge with a 1-4 power scope isn’t for everyone. A 200 gr Round Nose, even at this higher velocity will still give a trajectory that isn’t very flattering compared to pointed tips from other cartridges at distant targets. Be that as it may, it will take animals way out of proportion to what it was intended especially inside of 200 yards. For my style of hunting, it represents an ideal combination; quick to point, deadly accurate, and very uniquely mine. No one gathered around any of my campfires will have one, but they’ll never know what their missing either. Till next time, be safe and have fun shooting.

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Mid-Winter Doldrums – What’s a guy to do?

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Rich Machholz

Here we are deep into the month of February.  Some years we are beginning to moderate weather-wise by mid-February but not so much this year.  We just received about 4 inches of light fluffy snow.  Temperatures are in the single digits and staying below freezing throughout the day.  Definitely not shooting weather in mid-Missouri.

I hauled in my trail cams last weekend, prematurely I might add.  Our January weather was more like late March so I figured I’d grab the cameras before they got flooded or whatever happens to things left outdoors for extended periods of time.  I did notice some new trails and thought about just moving a camera or two but decided against that, unfortunately I might add.  When I got home and checked my SD cards only one was very active but there was a very nice 13 pointer posed in several different positions.  He was a newcomer to my area.  So now I need to reset a couple of cams to cover these new trails.  Who knows what else might be lurking out there.  It would be interesting to see how long the bucks carry their antlers.

?????I have found trail cameras to be an excellent hobby.  Well placed cameras can tell you a great deal about what is going on in your woods that was previously unnoticed.  They are there day and night.  Besides keeping track of your favorite buck odds are there is another buck or two that you haven’t had the opportunity to see.  Maybe even bigger than the one you knew about.  But beware, during the rut some bucks are travelers and you may catch them a couple of times and then they are gone, on to find more girl friends or fewer suitors.  Over the years, if you are lucky, you may get to see some of your recognizable bucks grow from spikes to majestic rulers of their domains.

My friend Carl Smith got me started by showing me some game pictures.  He uses cameras to cover his lease in South Carolina and suggested I start with the Cuddeback cameras and I have not been disappointed.  I much prefer the strobe type flash however.  The low-light to dark pictures are much higher quality and in full color with the flash units.  I think the newer models have better battery life than my 5 year old units but the old units are still in very good condition.  They seem to withstand the weeks outdoors unprotected unscathed and are still very serviceable.

So one afternoon of each weekend from October thru mid to late February is dedicated to at least a couple of hours in the field checking trails and trading out SD cards.  It is a great opportunity be outdoors and get some exercise, sometimes with the dogs and sometimes solo.  It is also a good time to do additional scouting.  Come to think of it maybe I’ll put one out a little later in the spring so I see where those dang morel mushrooms are hiding.

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