December 2010 Cover Page

   December 1967
The Rifleman's Journal
A Collection of Articles Dealing with Rifle Accuracy Topics

Tom Gilmore - Australia
Subiaco Rifle Club - 1967

This Month:
Warren Sipe - Franklin W. Mann
Hap Rocketto - Hap's Corner
G.T. Teasdale-Buckell - Rigby
Germán Salazar - Rifles and Reloading
Julian Hatcher - A Short History of the .30-06

15 Cents 

Christmas Cover Page

December 1960  
The Rifleman's Journal

A Collection of Articles Dealing with Rifle Accuracy Topics

Merry Christmas to all our little Riflemen!

15 Cents 

In Hoc Anno Domini

In Hoc Anno Domini
So the light came into the world..
When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression—for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar. There was the tax gatherer to take the grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people. There was the impressor to find recruits for the circuses. There were executioners to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. What was a man for but to serve Caesar?

There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.

And the voice from Galilee, which would defy Caesar, offered a new Kingdom in which each man could walk upright and bow to none but his God. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And he sent this gospel of the Kingdom of Man into the uttermost ends of the earth.

So the light came into the world and the men who lived in darkness were afraid, and they tried to lower a curtain so that man would still believe salvation lay with the leaders.

But it came to pass for a while in divers places that the truth did set man free, although the men of darkness were offended and they tried to put out the light. The voice said, Haste ye. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you, for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

Along the road to Damascus the light shone brightly. But afterward Paul of Tarsus, too, was sore afraid. He feared that other Caesars, other prophets, might one day persuade men that man was nothing save a servant unto them, that men might yield up their birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.

Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the lands and there would be a burning of books and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets. Then might it come to pass that men would not look upward to see even a winter's star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.

And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galatians, the words he would have us remember afterward in each of the years of his Lord:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

This editorial was written in 1949 by the late Vermont Royster.

Cartridges: A Short History of the .30-06

This very brief history of the .30-06 as of 1953 appeared in the NRA book "Volume 1 of Reloading Information from the American Rifleman" published by the NRA in 1953.  It appears to draw heavily on the material in Hatcher's Notebook, by Julian S. Hatcher, and was most likely written by General Hatcher as he was the Technical Editor of The American Rifleman at that time and the editor of the reloading book.  I highly recommend Hatcher's Notebook for anyone desiring more detailed information on the .30-06 and also on a wealth of other topics covered therein.  Another useful resource is Chris Punnett's "An Introduction to Collecting the .30-06" from which two of the cartridge box photos were drawn. - GAS -

A Short History of the .30-06
Julian S. Hatcher, for the National Rifle Association of America, 1953

The Spanish-American War brought to light many shortcomings of the .30-40 Krag rifle with which our regular forces were armed. The Spanish soldier was equipped with a Mauser capable of being loaded from a clip while with our Krag it was necessary to load cartridges into the magazine singly. This fact, coupled with the desire of our Ordnance Department to increase the muzzle velocity to 2300 feet per second from the Krag's 2000 feet per second, which necessitated a stronger breech action, led to the development work which started in 1900 with a view to designing a new service rifle. Several pilot models were made, resulting in the adoption in 1903 of a rifle based on the Mauser system. That would have been the logical time to introduce also a new form of bullet, but economy demanded that the stock of Krag bullets be used. Accordingly, the .30-03 cartridge was adopted for use with the 220 grain round-nosed, metal jacketed bullet.

In February of 1904 the Germans adopted a 154 grain pointed bullet for their 1898 Mausers.  France, too, had adopted a pointed bullet. These pointed forms had much flatter trajectories, greater muzzle velocities and greater remaining velocities at all ranges up to 2000 yards. The improved efficiency was so marked that it became a military necessity for us to overlook the stock of round-nosed Krag bullets and adopt something of comparable grade if we were to maintain our position in the constant race for armed equality.

Comprehensive tests were conducted in 1904, '05 and '06 which brought about our adoption of the M1906 bullet. This very closely resembled the German bullet of 1904, being 150 grains in weight, flat-based, pointed and having a cupronickel jacket over a lead core. When this new bullet was first tried in the Model 1903 rifle it posed a very interesting chambering problem. Since the ogive of the pointed bullet placed the full diameter 0.2-inch farther back than the old round-nosed type, the new projectile had a jump of this distance to touch the rifling. This factor permitted gas leakage around the point during this interval and caused erratic positioning in the bore, with the result that accuracy was poor. Correcting the difficulty by seating the bullet farther out in the case left a seating depth of only a sixteenth of an inch - far too little for field service. This also made the cartridge length exceed the permissible limits for use in the magazine. The solution to this problem was attained by cutting 0.2 inch off the rear end of the barrel and rechambering it with a reamer having a shorter leade. This in effect moved the rifling leade to the rear so that a bullet with adequate seating depth was properly aligned with the bore in close proximity to the rifling. With the increased seating depth, the long neck of the 1903 case overhung the bullet ogive, so 0.07 inch of the neck was trimmed, resulting in a revised case 2.49 inches in length and having a capacity of 4.35 cc. This combination gave good accuracy, and all 1903 rifles then in service were recalled and altered to the new specifications, although the rifle's designation of "Model 1903" was retained. The official designation of the new ammunition as noted on contemporary box labels was "Ball Cartridge, Model of 1906, For U.S. Magazine Rifle, Model of 1903".

The ball cartridge, Model of 1906, remained the standard of the armed services until 1925, although its shortcomings became more apparent during World War I and after. Our troops in France, equipped with the French Hotchkiss machine gun using the 198 grain "Balle D", found the extreme range of these weapons at least 50 percent greater than our own Brownings with the 1906 bullet. The Germans had also adopted a 198 grain boattail bullet for machine gun use which surpassed the efficiency of our equipment. Experimental firings conducted in 1918 and later proved that the range tables then in existence quoted theoretical accuracy and ranges which could not be attained in practice. Tests at Borden Rock Reservoir near Springfield Armory, and later at Miami and Daytona Beach, Florida, with a great number of different rifles and machine guns using a multitude of bullet designs, definitely proved the superior efficiency at long ranges of a heavier boattail bullet over the existing Model of 1906, 150 grain, flat-based ball bullet. The result was the adoption in 1925, for all arms, of the 172 grain M1 bullet with a 9-degree boattail and a gilding-metal jacket. This round had an extreme range of 5900 yards, a gain of 2500 yards over its predecessor. As originally issued, the M1 had a muzzle velocity of 2700 feet per second, but this was later reduced to 2640 feet per second due to the difficulty of maintaining acceptable pressures at the higher level. The maximum range in the revised loading dropped to 5500 yards.

Large stocks of the 1906 cartridge were still on hand in 1925, left over from World War I. As an economy measure, these were issued to all branches of the service for practice firing. The stock lasted until about 1936 when "Ball, M1" began to be issued for this purpose. While this day had long been looked forward to by the various branches, its arrival proved a disappointment, because the increased range of the M1 cartridge exceeded the safety limits of most of the target ranges then in use. This resulted in the National Guard Bureau making a request to the War Department for a supply of M1906 cartridges for target practice. The request was approved and ammunition having a bullet very similar to the 1906 type was manufactured. The bullet jackets were made of gilding metal instead of the old cupronickel but were stained with stannic acid which gave them a silvery appearance so that they might be distinguished from the M1 type. These new rounds were given the old designation "Ball, M1906." Although this ammunition was intended only as a special purpose round for use on target ranges, it started the ball rolling backwards. The long years of peace had softened the complaints of the World War I machine gunners, and the riflemen of the time favored the lighter bullet for its reduced recoil. In 1940 the 150 grain flat-based bullet was again adopted for all arms, under the designation of "Cartridge, Ball, Caliber .30 M2".

Good Stuff: Wilson Primer Pocket Reamer

L.E. Wilson Primer Pocket Reamer
by Germán A. Salazar

Just about every competitive shooter and reloader is familiar with the L.E. Wilson line of sizing and seating dies, made for use with an arbor press as well as their case trimmer.  The company makes quite a bit more than just dies and trimmers, however, and today we'll examine the Wilson primer pocket reamer which is used to remove the primer pocket crimp from military rifle brass.  The reamer is used in conjuction with the case trimmer base and case-holder as shown below.

Most of you are aware that Sam Wilson was a well known and highly regarded Benchrest shooter in the post-war period.  However, few know that before the war he was a Bullseye Pistol and Highpower Rifle competitor and the sixth civilian to become Double Distinguished, earning his Distinguished Pistol Shot badge in 1923 and his Distinguished Marksman badge in 1929.  Sixty six years later, I became the 64th civilian Double Distinguished shooter. So in light of the fact that less than one civilian per year earned that distinction during the .30 caliber era, we can see that Wilson's accomplishment in that time of Model T Fords and limited road access from Idaho and Washington to Camp Perry was a truly remarkable feat. Bear in mind that in the 1920's leg points were only awarded at the National Matches.

The following obituary is from the American Rifleman, June 1985, p.21.

Lloyd Elmer "Sam" Wilson, championship rifle, pistol and bench-rest competitor, from whose Cashmere, Washington, shop have come some of the best made and most precise reloading tools and gauges available, died March 13, 1985 in Cashmere. He was 90.

Born in Forest Lake, Minnesota, January 12, 1895, Wilson joined the NRA in 1912. His shooting career dates from the years just prior to America's entry into World War I. At the National Matches in 1916, Wilson set the pace for his Idaho civilian teammates and shot as a member of the select civilian team in the United Service Rifle Match. That same year he won his first leg toward a Distinguished Pistol Shot badge. He legged out with the pistol in 1923, then went on to earn a Distinguished badge for rifle shooting, the sixth civilian to become Double Distinguished.

Already a successful tool and die maker, Wilson entered the reloading tool business in 1935 when he began selling the Wilson case gauge. Within two years, a Universal case trimmer, full-length sizing dies, and a chamber-type bullet seater had been added to the line. During World War II, Wilson and L.E. Wilson, Inc., switched from reloading tools to headspace and other precision gauges, supplied on contract to America's arms builders.

Following the war, Wilson's competitive bent took him into the then developing sport of bench-rest shooting. Competing in the "Unlimited" class, in which a man's ability to assemble a precise combination of rifle and ammunition is most tested, Wilson set three national and world records, the last in 1981 at age 86.
With that background, we can see why the L.E. Wilson Company just might have an interest in making the essential tool for putting military brass into the reloading cycle.  In an earlier article I described my normal process for removing the primer pocket crimp using an RCBS swage.  I've been using that method for a few decades and it works satisfactorily; however, I'm always open to a different approach to an old task, particularly if it works better.  There's nothing new about the Wilson primer pocket reamer, I just hadn't ever used one before - but I will be using it exclusively from here forward!  Let's look at the process.

Here is a typical, once-fired military case.  You can see the crimp around the primer which is an impediment to re-priming the case.  The crimp is nothing more than an intentional deformation of the case around the primer pocket, the purpose of which is to retain the primer in the case despite high pressure situations in machine guns and other automatic weapons where a loose primer may cause a malfunction.  As reloaders, our task is to get rid of the remnants of the crimp in order to allow re-priming the case.

Next we see the same case, after having been sized, de-primed and the primer pocket cleaned out.  As you can see, the de-priming operation has no effect on the crimp; any attempt to prime the case without removing the crimp will simply result in a mangled primer that cannot be expected to fire and certainly won't fire reliably.

The case goes into the Wilson case-holder, the same one used for case trimming, and the reamer replaces the trimmer head in the tool base.  The threaded rod on the left side, which is normally used to regulate trim length has no use for this operation and it is simply backed out.  Hold the case-holder as you turn the reamer into the primer pocket, it cuts easily and quickly.  The reamer will stop cutting when the proper depth is reached.

This is the primer pocket after reaming.  I used a small flashlight to try to illuminate the inside of the pocket and the bevel on the mouth of the pocket, but I'm not sure how clear it really is.  You can enlarge the photo by clicking it.

Here is our case with a fresh primer seated.  I used a Wolf primer for this demonstration as that brand is a bit larger in diameter than most others; therefore, if the crimp were not fully removed, it would have been deformed by the seating pressure.  As it was, the primer seated smoothly without undue pressure, with no hesitation and it retains well-radiused edges.  Seating feel with the Sinclair tool was excellent, fully the equal of new commercial brass and definitely better than what I feel after using my old method with the RCBS swage.

So what's the final outcome?  Well, last week I fired a 598-44X at 500 yards with my .30-06 and military cases reamed with the Wilson reamer.  You can't get that kind of X count with inconsistent primer seating - this reamer really does the job!  I hope Sam Wilson is smiling somewhere, knowing his tool is an essential ingredient in keeping the .30-06 competitive in a sub-caliber world.

Basics: New Brass Preparation

Rob's questions about new brass are some that I commonly hear, so this might be a good topic to cover in our Basics series. - GAS -

New Brass Preparation
by Germán A. Salazar

Hello German,

I've been reading through much of your info on reloading and find it incredibly valuable.

I'm now loading .308 again with 175 gr. and 185 gr. Berger long-range bullets, Lapua cases that I had sitting around, and CCI BR2 primers. I'm going to try RL17 based on your findings, hopefully working up to 2,750 fps. New brass has next to perfect run-out +/- 0.001" but in reading your info on TRJ, you indicated FL size even new brass first and then turn.

I have K&M tools as you've displayed in TRJ, still need a digital neck micrometer and a good bump gauge to keep the shoulder set-back to .001" on resizing.

Other tools I have: Wilson dies, Haydon's Press (although not that fond of it) Forster's Coaxial press, bushing/bump dies, and bench rest seater; Redding's Competition loading dies too and an RCBS Charge Master. With the Coaxial compared to the Wilson tools, I've found little to no difference in run-out so I use the Coax most often.

Anyhow, my main question was on the new Lapua brass prep. In the past, (years back) I over-worked the brass too much, (neck turned) and ended up with loose chamber, fouled necks & no accuracy. If you have couple minutes to reply I'd greatly appreciate your input on new brass as I'm a little confused on exactly what to do. Normally, I just load, fire form, neck size and reload with minimal brass rework.

I'm using factory 700 40XB-Tactical (1:12" twist) with an AAC suppressor which seems to tune nicely and creates far less noise than unsuppressed. Most of the rounds though this gun have been with Sierra 155 Palmas, Varget and BR-2 primers. Tuned loads shoot nearly one hole 3 shot groups shot after shot at 100yds. Almost boring, it's so accurate for a factory rifle.

What got me searching the forums again was looking for the heavier loads after I found a partial box of Black Hills match 175 gr. BTHP sitting around left over from my AR-10 shooting. I decided to put five rounds down range through the 40X for the heck of it and ended up with what looks like a three shot group all holes touching. Mind you, this was at 100 yards which really doesn't do this gun justice, but it's what I have at the house.

Thanks for all the great info and time you put into TRJ.


Hi Rob,
You bring up a few interesting points, lets take a look. You haven't said what specific purpose you have for the rifle, but it sounds to me as though general, informal, accuracy shooting is the main objective. The 40XB Tactical has a 27 1/4" barrel which I'll assume has been left at that length despite the addition of the suppressor.

Brass Inspection
The first thing I do with new brass is a detailed inspection. I try to buy a small quantity and then, if it looks good, follow-up with a purchase of more of the same lot. Even with a single purchase, inspection is fundamental to determining whether to keep the brass or sell it off and try another lot.

The first, simple check is case weight - I want to make sure that the new lot isn't materially different from previous lots.  For instance, I expect Winchester .308 cases to weigh about 156 grains.  If a new lot suddenly was in the 166 grain range (as some older lots of Winchester are) I would not continue with it.  There's nothing wrong with heavier brass, but my loads are tailored to the lighter cases and I'd rather not have to rework them to suit the brass.  I don't, however, weigh every case or segregate them in any manner as I have not found this to have an impact on the rifle's scoring ability.  The Lapua brass you have is of excellent quality and I'm not suggesting that you change it, your loads will be developed with that case capacity and will work perfectly well.

The most important part of my inspection is performed with the NECO/Audette tool. This inspection is to make sure that most of the cases have no more than 0.003" case wall thickness variance at a point approximately 0.200" up from the interior base. Most current Winchester and Lapua brass easily meets this standard. All cases are then checked and indexed as long as the lot itself appears to be acceptable.

Finally, each case is examined visually for any defects or damage, areas of attention are the case mouth (damage), the shoulder (wrinkles or other damage), the primer pocket (damage) and the flash hole (significantly off-center).  Take a look inside each case too, recently I found a fairly large coil of brass inside a new case, can't figure where it originated.
Neck Turning and Concentricity
You stated that the new Lapua brass you have has nearly perfect runout, in the range of 0.001", presumably this is measured at the neck prior to loading. That is a good reading, no doubt, but not necessarily indicative of perfection in the neck. Neck thickness variance on unfired and unloaded brass is seen on the inside diameter more than on the outside diameter. In essence, the opening is not concentric to the case body, although the outside of the neck is concentric to the case body.  Imagine, if you will, a case neck with one side twice as thick as the other. If that case was run through a die with no expander ball, the outside of the neck would be concentric to the case body, but the hole itself would be offset.  To a certain degree, that happens with all new brass as it comes from the factory.

You'll eventually need a good ball anvil micrometer to measure case neck thickness.  Whether it's a digital like the Mitutoyo shown in the picture or a vernier scale model like the Sinclair, doesn't make much difference except in ease of reading the results.  Get one and learn to use it properly, it'll teach you a great deal about preparing case necks properly.
Most unfired brass doesn't need to be full-length sized prior to neck turning. As I mentioned in the neck turning article, you can full-length size it in a standard, non-bushing die, or you can simply run it over the expander. In some instances, you may find that the new cases slide over the expander with minimal effort - this is an indication that they should be full-length sized. The quality of your neck turning depends to a large degree on a very close fit between the case neck and the turner mandrel and that fit is established by the expander; if the case slides over the expander effortlessly, it is already too large and needs sizing to get the relationships in line. Cases should always be trimmed for length before neck turning as the end of the neck is the stop point for the turner, therefore, unequal case (neck) lengths will lead to variance in the depth of the cut into the shoulder just at the base of the neck.
Turning the necks will, of course, reduce neck wall thickness variance, but it won't put the hole back in the middle, you'll have to fire the case for that to happen. After the case necks are turned and the cases fired, you'll have a reliable measure of neck to body concentricity. Assuming that there's nothing wrong with the chamber, most fired cases will show excellent runout numbers - and well they should, the body and neck have both expanded to meet the chamber walls which were cut with a one-piece reamer and therefore must be concentric.  That doesn't mean you have perfect brass.

Just as with unfired brass, it's the location of the hole in relation to the case body that matters.  Unfortunately, reading concentricity on the outside of the case neck is far more common than on the inside of the neck where it really matters.  The simple way to get a useful reading of the concentriciy of the inside of the neck is to seat a bullet and read from the bullet's ogive (mark it with a Sinclair hex nut comparator or similar tool). I take my readings on the ogive, not the tip or anywhere else because that's the part that will contact the rifling first and will, to a large extent, determine how straight the bullet starts into the rifling (more on checking concentricity in this article).

Case Sizing
Now we're moving away from new brass preparation, but you brought up resizing, shoulder set-back and it sounds like you're considering neck sizing. The most useful advice I can give you is to full-length size all cases every time you load them with shoulder set-back in the range of 0.001" to 0.002". Neither accuracy nor case life will be reduced and rifle operation will be materially improved. In fact, I would say that accuracy will probably be improved with full-length sizing as the rifle will be easier and smoother to operate. Take some time to read this article on case dimension changes during resizing and this one on the misuse of full-length dies

Bullet Seating and Concentricity
You mentioned that the concentricity of rounds loaded with the Wilson dies was no better than with the Redding Competition dies.  That's not a surprising result, and is in line with my test results.  Although Wilson dies are of very high quality, their principal purpose is as a convenient way to reload at the range; concentricity results are no better or worse high quality press-mounted dies such as your Redding dies. As much as I work at improving concentricity, it should be borne in mind that it is the sprinkles on the frosting on the cake.  The bullet itself is the biggest determinant of accuracy, followed by the powder type and charge, and then all of the miscellaneous items such as brass, primers, neck tension, concentricity, seating depth, etc.  In other words, don't get too caught up in the small stuff at the expense of the truly important items.

Heavier Bullets
Your 40X will handle the 175 grain bullets with no problem at all.  With the right powders, such as H4895, you'll find excellent accuracy at useful velocities. Although the allure of high velocity with powders such as Reloder 17 or VihtaVuori N550 is understandable, I strongly recommend developing a load with standard powders first. This will really let you see the accuracy potential of a given bullet before you interject one of the more exotic powders into the mix of factors. If you're principally shooting at 300 yards and less, don't overlook the 168 grain Sierra - it is probably the single most accurate mid-weight .30 caliber bullet ever made within that distance limitation.

We've wandered a bit past brass preparation, but I think these are all useful topics for many reloaders and if you follow the various links, there's more detailed information on all of those topics.  Enjoy the rifle!

History: Dr. Franklin W. Mann

Doctor Franklin W. Mann, author of the seminal treatise on ballistics: "The Bullet's Flight" is for most of us a mysterious figure in shooting history. Working on his experiments in relative isolation for many years, he was not one to seek the limelight; his interest was science, not fame or fortune.  A contemporary and close friend of Harry Pope, Dr. Mann was at the forefront of ballistic science. Sadly, more than a century after the publication of his book, Dr. Mann's life is less known than ever before.   

We who seek accuracy and who are not content to ask merely "how?" but instead focus on the rather more important question "why?" owe Dr. Mann an incalculable debt of gratitude. In this article written in 1960, Warren Sipe, with the assistance of Dr. Mann's daughter Gertrude, gives us a fuller portrait of Dr. Mann than had been available until then. Sadly, this article too has been lost for decades and it is with great joy that we have found it, and at not inconsiderable effort we are now able to bring it to you. We hope you will find it a good use of your time and will share it with other experimentally minded shooters.  - GAS -
Dr. Mann: Father of Ballistic Science
by: Warren Sipe (1960)

IN ARMS FACTORIES, in ballistics laboratories, is an indispensable device: a heavy slab of steel, machined to a V, resting on a concrete pier separate from the building foundations. This vibrationless cradle is known as a "Vee rest"; but those ballisticians who give it the true name, The Mann Rest, pay tribute to the man who laid the foundation stones of modern ballistic science. Often named, but little known, Dr. Franklin Ware Mann at the turn of this century began the modern era of rifle study by his endless, patient research into the "why?" of bullet performance.

"Dr. Mann was a pioneer ballistician who spared neither money nor time in his quest for the truth," said C. B. Lister, former Executive Director of the National Rifle Association, in a biographical profile published in 1950. "But little has been written about him, and most present day riflemen are unacquainted with the man and his book." Mann's experiments were published in 1909 in "The Bullet's Flight," but his studies did not cease then. He continued his work and later efforts, so the rumor goes, were set down in a further manuscript "burned by his wife after Mann's death."

With much of the lore lost in legend, Dr. Mann today is but a shadowy substance from which to reconstruct history. He was, that is, until one day recently when my wife brought into my office a small and very alert elderly woman. The weapons on the walls immediately caught her eye; her face brightened. "Oh, my father used to have a lot of guns. He was Dr. Mann. Have you heard of him?"

My visitor was none other than F. W. Mann's daughter, Gertrude, now Mrs. Willard Lewis and, unknown to me till then, my neighbor. She it was who wrote the warm sketch of her father which prefaces the second Standard Publications edition of his book. From her I learned fact to dispel legend, anecdotes to give shape to the personal story of Dr. Mann.

Born to Levi and Lydia (Ware) Mann in Norfolk, Mass., July 24, 1856, young Frank grew up on a New England farm. There was a saw-mill, and it and the farm machinery were a challenge to him to understand tools, machinery, and how things worked. At high school in Walpole he was drawn into the argumentative current of the times, debating plunged him into thorough studies of history, politics, law, economics. But what brought him into the circle of riflemen was that episode so common to all shooters as to be almost a mark of manhood: when he was 12, someone gave him a rifle.

It was a hefty 12-pound .44 with a 41" barrel, probably a muzzle loader. In his spare time he would go to the "shed chamber" above where the farm equipment was stored and there, high up, fire at a target outside. The bullets perversely would not print into the same hole in the target.

To his analytical mind, this was not reasonable. It was accepted as a fact that with similar bullets fired from the same barrel from a common base in a vise at the same target ... well, like conditions should produce like results. Somewhere, an error existed. For the rest of his life, this "X-error" haunted him: why would a gun not shoot exactly true?

Attending Cornell for a Bachelor of Science degree in 1878, he worked on one problem that helped him to solve the X-error. He deduced why a top would not spin more than 20 minutes when friction drag was negligible; built instead a top that spun under glass - and before his professor's astonished eyes - for two hours and fifty-seven minutes. It was not until years later, however, that he associated this gyroscopic spin with the spin of a bullet. Then he and A. O. Niedner were to make bullets costing a dollar-and-a-half each, so precisely were they machined, to solve for X-error.

From Cornell, Franklin Mann went to the Boston School of Medicine, got his MD. During the next four years he lived as a general practitioner and obstetrician. But the ills of the flesh were not to his liking: somehow he preferred working with steel and wood. At this time, his father died. With the modest legacy (he was one of four brothers) he set up a little shop where he sharpened knives and lawnmowers. In this lies some clue to Mann's nature: physicians in those days, more than today, were required to learn how to sharpen their own knives and saws. Mann, even as a physician, preferred the mechanical problems, and his shop gave him leisure and space to work them out.

There was a commercial demand, in that winter of 1888, for ground up fresh bones as poultry food. Enormous quantities of bones from butchering were going to waste because of the lack of machines for processing it economically.

The shooting doctor's friend, Dr. J. E. Paine, noted:
"Dr. Mann, disregarding all methods of grinding green bone, hitherto so unsuccessful, very quickly produced an experimental machine on entirely different lines from anything thus far known. " In 1889, he produced his famous Bone Cutter which has given him his reputation and success."
Thus at 37 he gained financial success: he now could find out why a bullet would not fly true. Mann, successful from the bone chopping machine business, had married Miss Frances Gertrude Backus of Ashford, Conn. This is not a digression: of French descent, Miss Backus was a member of the old Burgevine family, a niece of General Burgevine who was a West Point man and who later lost his life in the Boxer Rebellion. A relative was Count De Bussy, a Bishop of the Catholic Church. These were kindly people, given to the service of the nation and mankind. They responded to like personal qualities of Dr. Mann. He, too, was a kind man, and sensitive.

His children were always first in his mind. One day he brought home a donkey, its leg broken. He had been called in to destroy the animal, but his nature would not permit him to kill it, and his training as a doctor made him want to heal it. He devised a new way to mend the break. In time, the children had a new pet. The donkey shared affection with two glib parrots he had taught to cackle for the amusement of the children. There were other pets: white rats and guinea pigs, angora rabbits and Dorset sheep, horses and cats, many cats.

Gertrude Mann remembers with tenderness the way her father used to read to them. After a reading, methodically, her father would note the date. "Snow White," she said, "had six reading dates. It was a favorite of the whole family."

Kindly Dr. Mann was also an exacting person. A cracked plate would offend him. At home, served food on such a plate, it might end up shattered against the wall. "Haven't I told Mother to put all cracked dishes in the trash? Surely she must realize that the cracks are filled with germs," he would scold, but not in real anger.

Like all men who search to find, he understood time well. There was so little of it, yet so much to be done. Again and again he would repeat an experiment. Once when he returned home late in the evening, face drawn, fatigued, his wife asked, "Why didn't you come home and eat lunch this noon, Frank?"

"Frances, when I come home, I eat; when I eat, I get sleepy. When I'm sleepy I can't work," he complained. "Then I waste time." But he had long before learned to control his emotions, and his speed, in working an experiment. Anxiety or impatience could destroy an end he sought. "It didn't go well today... I had to make a seventh start..." he might remark. But there was never discouragement in his voice, only disappointment.

Maybe to save time, maybe just in thriftyness Dr. Mann formed the habit of buying pencils by the gross, paper by the quire, and common pins for the home in ten-pound cans. Once he purchased a dozen hats of a new French felt style he especially liked: twelve hats all alike. In the time he saved, he did the work of three men.

"But what has Dr. Mann left us of material value," you might ask. "Facts," is probably the best simple answer. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you fired your rifle straight up? Would the bullet return to the muzzle, or would it deviate-how much? You probably never conducted the experiment. Dr. Mann did.

With plumb lines to guide him, he set up a Krag rifle on the end of a boat landing jutting 200 yards into the lake. The day was calm, but although he fired eight shots, not one came down in the lake, nor did any fall nearby on shore. They had drifted away.

Dr. Mann attacked "alibis." Between his more gainful experiments, he worked for four years to eliminate 60 reasons advanced by riflemen as causes for their failures to shoot accurately. He threw away the guesswork, left only the facts. He proved most of them alibis, nothing more. He locked horns with prominent gun writers of the day, including E. A. Leopold, writing as "Medicus." He and Leopold often compared notes, not always agreed. Leopold had written, "In rifle shooting, the trouble is that the bullet does not start off in the right direction from the muzzle." Mann was not sure Medicus knew the  score. The Krag bullets had started off the right way: straight up. But when Dr. Mann discovered the shortcomings of the poorly made bullets then available, he knew there was more to the question. He liked to think of the "X-error" as the constant and varying deflection of a bullet from the bullseye, thus including in his thinking what takes place both inside the barrel, and outside.

Mann's first recorded test was made on August 8, 1894. He examined the then-popular method of seating a bullet (in a single shot rifle) forward of the case into the rifling. Fourteen years of research were to follow; then an additional year of cross checking, before he published his findings in "The Bullet's Flight."

By not stocking his experimental barrels, he eliminated many errors in bedding. The barrels were set in concentric rings, laid in the groove of a Vee rest and breeched by a special firing device that would fit many different barrels. The rings were made to make the barrel axis coincide with the crosshairs of his telescope set in similar rings. The rest itself was sighted-in with the scope. He called on A. O. Niedner and Harry Pope for much of his equipment, as many barrels of the day suffered from a slight curve or warp. Exacting of others, he had Niedner make up a dozen sets of rings before he found a set he would use.

Dr. Mann's first shooting tunnel, 100 yards long.  The V-rest is at the head of the tunnel, the concrete foundation had not yet been made as the supporting structure shown is made of wood.  The later 200 yard range would have an enclosed shooting house.

From a heavy "Gibraltar" made of concrete and iron, Dr. Mann fired through a muslin covered corridor 18" square and 100 yards long. Later, at great expense, he built a longer range, man-high, with supports of 2" x 6" planks and covered with 15" wide one-inch boards. Check cards, "yaw· cards," were set up along the way at measured distances so that a bullet passing through printed its tilt and spin. Today, the Bakelite company prepares special yaw cards that break cleanly along its profile when a bullet hits. Dr. Mann's scientific methods are still with us.

Short barrels for bullet experimentation, made by Harry Pope; the right-hand figure being the concentric action and wire trigger for firing, into which the respective barrels are screwed.

Three shots a day was good, and five something to come home happy about, for it took much time to set up and collect and catalog all test cards. He used barrels as long as six feet - two ordinary barrels screwed together - and barrels so short the tip of the bullet itself was exposed. 

In working with powders, he sought 8,000 feet per second and, according to Niedner, actually attained 4,000 f.p.s. But he would not tell anyone how he did this, for fear someone else would do it wrong and blow himself up.

Mann discovered many things that astounded even him. He calculated that a bullet travelling perfectly straight, hitting a hard target, would bounce straight back. Yet he could not believe this was actually true even when such bullets did come back to strike the muzzle. After several close calls, a horse blanket was set up to protect the firing area.

Niedner and Pope were frequent guests at Mann's home. "I remember well," Gertrude Mann said, "the many sessions father had with Mr. Niedner and Mr. Harry Pope. Mr. Niedner would stay for days out at the range on the homestead farm, whereas Mr. Pope, who was a favorite of Mother's, would stay at the house for from 4 to 6 weeks at a time so he could work closely with father.

It was on this homestead farm, after the 25 cent bounty on crows had been discontinued, that the men shot groundhogs. "But father," she made it a point to add, "never liked to kill anything or see anything killed or wasted."

The "snap shot" above is of Maj. George Shorkley, U.S.A., F. W. Mann, and Dr. S. A. Skinner, at "Medicus woodchuck preserve," Hoosick Falls, NY - home of Dr. Skinner.

His life work seemed little respected in America, but Dr. Mann was not bitter. "Father always claimed that the expense involved in his experimentation did not bother him at all. And he always said that he really did not dream of making any money from the publication of his tests," his daughter said. But when the war began he read every newspaper. With his complete understanding of the havoc a rifle bullet - which he helped develop - could wreak, the seriousness of war was closer to him than to other non-combatants. "It seems ironical, Frank," his wife said one day, "that a man who has spent his life perfecting bullets should worry so about something over which he now has no control."

"Father didn't answer, not then," Gertrude recalled. "His face clouded and his jaw set. His work with rifles and bullets was always that of the scientist motivated by the highest type of intellectual curiosity. He gave his answer the next morning. He came slowly down the stairs from the second floor and midway, he stopped. Mother, who was making doughnuts, looked up.
"Fanny," he said, "I wish I had never seen a bullet. All this waste. Why, when they fire that Big Bertha just one time it takes ox cart after ox cart-load of material, enough to stretch from here to the Congregational Church."

As Gertrude remembered, it was too bad Dr. Mann did not have a few minor vices that would have let him escape his mounting tension, other than to express it with the mere slamming of a door. During the war years, he worked little at shooting. Near the end, he spent a lot of time with his wife, as if he knew.

He had worried over the unhappy marriage of a favorite daughter. He was upset because his own country could not see the value of his work. And the war bothered him. Soon he suffered from high blood pressure and on the morning of November 14, 1916, his wife found him dead in the bathroom.

Dr. Mann's test rifle in the V-rest, with the target visible through the bore.

Dr. Mann's legacy was his work and his notes. Of his work, Mr. Edward Larishenko, a former Lt. Colonel, chief of staff and Aide-de-Camp to Archduke William of Austria, had a few things to say. In April of 1956, he told Gertrude Mann, "The Germans had studied your father's book before they developed the long range guns which shelled Paris. Two of these had been placed in the forest of Laon and threw 264-pound shells a distance of 76 miles.

"Your father had learned that the longest range was not obtained at an angle of 45 degrees elevation, but between 50 degrees and 55 degrees, the elevation of the Paris Gun. This information aided development of the guided missile in War II when the V2 was built. Also, the French in the First War utilized your father's principle of the V-rest on their machine guns."

Of his notes, Gertrude had more to remember: as close to an accurate solution as can be reached after these years. The accusation that "his wife burned them" does grave injustice to a devoted and loving wife.

"When Father died, there seemed to be tons of things he had written out," Gertrude told me. "He was one to write down every move he made in detail, and he kept prodding Mr. Pope and Mr. Niedner to write down everything they did. Some people think my mother had something to do with the disappearance of these notes; but all during his life, Mother encouraged him and had no reason to destroy his notes. What he left was not catalogued as one would think of a book manuscript. After all, his first book was but a series of tests related numerically. He did have his test bullets filed away and carefully marked.

"At the time of Father's death we were all much upset. It was at such an unfortunate time that a group repeatedly approached Mother and pressured her to release Father's notes. After one of these annoying sessions, to discourage any future approaches, she told them that the notes had been destroyed. A few years later, we moved. The notes and his bullets, and the plates of Father's first book, were stored in the new garage. It was from these plates that we carefully preserved for so long that Mr. Herman Dean was able to republish the second edition of "The Bullet's Flight."

"It was years later," she went on, "after we had disturbed Father's things for the plates, that our own boys and boys in the neighborhood discovered the bullets and used them to play with. Much time had passed and nothing had come of my father's book in all those years. One day while cleaning out the garage, we came across stacks of papers which we burned. I am sure, now, that Father's papers were some of these."

Dr. Mann and A.O. Leopold, his long time friend and fellow experimenter, preparing a shot on the concrete "Shooting Gibraltar".  At the right of the muzzle is the "Whizzer" a rotating device (Leopold at the crank) built to study muzzle blast.

Franklin Ware Mann's own words describe these papers, for though he wrote about the contents of his first book, his statement equally well would have applied to his later research:

"The results of my experiments of the past 38 years, here recorded, have been as persistently and laboriously worked out with an earnest desire, born of a scientific mind, to assist my fellow-craftsmen and add my mite to the world of scientific knowledge."
Only after a second war, has the hobby interest in weapons created a new respect for his work. It is a major reference for, the handloader, for the bullet and powder and case experimenter. Dr. Mann, when he presented "The Bullet's Flight," gave us the outstanding contribution to the science of ballistics in the twentieth century. In both his aims, for so many years, he was unsuccessful. For long after his death, "The Bullet's Flight" was a virtually unknown volume in American scientific literature.

Equipment: Service Rifle for Long Range

A letter from Kurt raises a topic that gets less discussion thse days than it used to, but is worth considering.  What service rifle would be best for long-range shooting?

Service Rifle for Long-Range
by Germán A. Salazar

Germán , I appreciate all your writing in the "Rifleman's Journal" and anxiously await each edition. Your interest in 30-06 has lead me to a question:

For Long Range competition would you recommend the M1 in .30-06 or the M1A (M14) in .308? I have fired my AR15 a few times at 1000 yards, but the scary edge of pressures make it difficult to concentrate on basics. I have had moderate success with 80gr A-Max (a few scores of 186) at 1000 yards. I have made my own receiver and tube stock for .308 Palma, but the SR has always been my first Gal at the Dance.

Thanks for all you do,
Kurt in Minnesota
Hello Kurt,

Interesting question you pose... Really, my honest answer to M1 or M1A for long-range is "neither". I love the M1 and used it years ago to earn my Distinguished Rifleman badge, but the demands of long-range shooting are pretty tough as you know and it's truly a bolt gun game. However, if I absolutely had to build a service rifle for long-range, it would be an M1 in .30-06. Needless to say, all the usual accurizing work needs to be done (bedding, gas cylinder relief hand guard liner, unitizing front end, rear sight tightening, shortening the front sight, etc.).  If built by someone who knows the M1, a well built M1 is every bit as accurate as any M1A - don't buy into the line that they aren't.

The M1 has a longer barrel, longer sight radius and can handle the .30-06. All of these are good things when it comes to long-range shooting. With the M1A, you would be fighting against the shorter barrel and smaller case to drive the same bullet at enough MV to keep it above the transonic range at 1000 yards. The gas system will need work on either rifle, of course, as they aren't suited to slow powders and heavy bullets.

You could shoot the M1 with an unmodified gas system with the 175 Berger and a load of 4064 that gives 2750 fps; but it would be very marginal at 1000 (1.2 mach at my elevation of 1640 ft. above sea level). A better approach is to replace the gas plug with the McCann plug that has an assortment of vented screws to regulate how much gas is available to work the op rod. That will allow you to work with heavier bullets and slower powders, such as the 190 Sierra or Berger, with something like H4350.

A number of years ago, I was shooting a Model 70 with a 1:8" twist barrel (.30-06) throated long for the 240 Sierra. A fellow I knew decided to shoot that combination in an M1 and I was sure interested in his project. He had front and rear lugs welded on the the M1 receiver, much as is done with the M1A, and then did all the usual work. I never did see him shoot it and after my move six years ago I've lost contact with him so I don't know if it was ever shot at all. A very interesting project, although a bit more radical than I would have done.

The 24" barrel, while better than the M1A's shorter barrel, will always be a limitation, so a high BC bullet will be your best asset in this project. The 185 Berger may be an even better choice than the 190's I mentioned earlier, I just haven't had enough experience with it to offer any useful advice about it. However, if fired at 2750 fps, it would be at 1.3 mach at 1000 yards and that is a very comfortable level to ensure accuracy.

All you have to deal with after getting the ballistics worked out is the post sight picture, coarse windage adjustments and the heavy trigger, but that's the part you love, right?

Best regards,


The 2010 Arizona Palma State Championship

The 2010 Arizona Palma State Championship
by Germán A. Salazar
Because this isn't intended to be a match report, there's not a great deal to say beyond the match results. From a technical perspective, my rifle (detailed in this article) worked perfectly. The Shooting Sight filtered apertures (described in this article) gave me what was probably the clearest sight picture I've ever had at 1000 yards. Overall, I was very satisfied with the equipment. I lost all but two of my lost points at 1000 yards, so that's clearly where I need to focus my efforts. The load was fine as my team match score at 1000 was very good, it was just a matter of inadequate wind reading in the individual matches. As always, the best part of the match was seeing so many good friends from all over the country, including one I hadn't seen in 21 years!  Time to start preparing for the Berger Bullets SW Nationals in January.

Click the pictures to enlarge.

Allen Elliott (Arizona) and Bill Otten (Texas)

View from the target to the firing line.  I attached the camera to a target frame, set the timer, ran it up and got this great shot!

Allan Morita (California)

Dave Driscoll (California) and John Giles (California)

John Lowther (Arizona)

Leo Cebula (Michigan)

 Mike Tuck (California)

Greg Gamboa (Arizona) with dad Bob Gamboa (California)

Pictures From Day 2 (December 4, 2010)

Rick Hunt (Iowa) and Charles Clark (Colorado)

F-TR competitors: John Andres (Minnesota), Chuck May (Arizona) and Rob Nabower (Arizona)

Bill Otten (Texas) and Mike Toliver (Arizona)

Bud Solis (Washington) - look at that stock!

Darren Sucato (Arizona) shooting, John Lowther (Arizona) coaching

Peter Church (Michigan)

Bill Otten (Texas), Jeff Nyfler (Texas) and German Salazar (Arizona)
Team Match - 900 Yards

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