Reloading Problem Solved!

Primers sticking to the decapping pin on your Dillon die? This solution will end your suffering. 

About 10 years ago I bought my Dillon XL650 reloading press. It has been a workhorse that has produced many hundreds of thousands of rounds for me and I love it. Parts have worn out, Dillon has replaced them, and every problem I’ve ever had has been solved. One particular issue lasted for years and was only recently resolved fully. 

From the very beginning I noticed that once in a great while I would see a finished round that had a spent primer rather than a new, unfired primer. I would set these rounds aside then eventually pull the bullet and powder to be reused. Over the years the rate went from <1% to upwards of 20%, at which point it become intolerable. I contacted Dillon first about five years ago. I was told to grind the tip of the decapping pin flat. This actually made the problem worse so I called them again and was told to grind the tip to a point. This seemed to improve things so I let it go. Unfortunately over time the failure rate crept back to >20% and I just couldn’t stand it any longer. 

I began to search online for a solution and one suggestion I hadn’t seen before was to grind the tip into a pyramid shape. I called Dillon and the fellow with whom I spoke agreed that was probably the best solution. I got out my dremel and made a four-sided, steep (around 55 degrees), pyramid shape with a flat tip. One last thing I did that I hadn’t heard but seemed like a good idea anyway was to polish the pin. I got out my Flitz and a buffing wheel and made that pin look like chrome. The results have been spectacular. Out of the last 600 rounds I had 2 spent primers in the finished rounds. Hurray!

I can foresee the need to polish again over time but it would be a small price to pay for the increased productivity and reduced aggravation. 

Let me know if you try this and how it worked for you. Good luck!

A New Era: My Sig Sauer P320 X5 Legion

S&W M&P9 Full Size

After almost 9 years with the M&P9 platform it was finally time to move on. I own three M&P9 Full Size guns, one Compact, and a Shield. All have Apex Action Enhancement Kits. All have either Trijicon HD night sights or red dots. All served me very well for a very long time.

Then I failed equipment check at a major match this year when my striker block safety failed due to excessive wear. I quickly spent a fair amount of time and money making all these guns of various ages and round counts work flawlessly. New striker assemblies, new spring kits, new barrels, etc. Everything was back to normal. I could breathe again.

Sig Sauer P320 X Five Legion

Then one day on my way to a match, MikeM says “You know, there’s an ‘event’ at the Sig Pro Shop today”. Oh brother! I had long appreciated the Sig P320 X5 that PaulS has been shooting for a couple of seasons. I even declared “If I was starting out today, that’s the gun I would shoot”. Then this summer Sig released the X5 Legion: a heavy-weight version of the X5 with an already excellent trigger. With that in mind It was all I could do to wait through the match!

We arrived at the Pro Shop to find that all the X5 Legions they had in stock were gone except the one I had reserved. I convinced the sales guy to swap out the 17-round mag tubes for 10-round versions (for matches in Massachusetts) then bought another four 21-round mags for USPSA use. My buddy Paul agreed to loan me a Leupold Deltapoint Pro until the Romeo1 Pro was released and away we went.

My first impressions shooting this gun were very favorable. The ergonomics are magnificent. It actually feels very similar to an STI Edge. The weight and balance are wonderful. The very heavy barrel, tungsten-infused grip module, and massively lightened slide make for a very stable pistol while firing. The trigger is very good but I still got a Gray Guns competition kit for it which I installed immediately.

Even though the trigger weight was unchanged at 3.5 lbs. I liked the curved trigger and the reduced over-travel/reset of the GG system. The curved trigger shortens the length of pull slightly and I just prefer the feel. I also polished the FCU and trigger bar such that the pull weight is now down to 3 lbs. It’s not as light as the Apex CompAEK systems I put in all my M&P9s, not to mention the absolutely minimal over-travel and reset, but it’s still an excellent trigger. Perhaps someone will develop a similarly short and light system for this gun (are you listening Scott Folk???) but given all the other benefits I can live with it as-is.

A few days before the 2019 Life Free or Die New Hampshire IDPA championship I got my hands on a Romeo1 Pro sight and installed it on the gun. Going from a 2.5moa dot on the Deltapoint Pro to the 6moa of the R1Pro made an already easy-to-shoot platform even better. Gone are the days of my YouTube videos where I say “Where’s the <bleeping> dot???”

After learning the ins and outs of the P320 I must say I am thoroughly impressed. I wasn’t at all sure I would like the modular system but I really think it makes a lot of sense. My next purchase will be a P320 X-Compact to replace my M&P9c carry gun!

Steel Challenge Rimfire Rifle Optic Project Gun

Beretta ARX-160 .22lr

Around 2013 I started shooting Rimfire Rifle Optics division in Steel Challenge matches. Paul let me shoot his ARX-160, which is a fascinating “.22 trainer” version of the Italian 5.56 assault rifle. While an interesting gun with some nice features (Very light, uses standard Umarex mags like the M&P 15-22, and can mount any Weaver/Picatinny optic) it has a rough, heavy trigger. In 2017 I decided to try and build a Ruger 10/22 specifically for use in Steel Challenge. The result is a pretty impressive rifle for a reasonable price.

M&P Extended Basepads for 2017

Carry Optics table start

With several sports allowing 140mm magazines in their 9mm-friendly divisions, and USPSA’s recent rule change removing round limits for Carry Optics, many competitors are in search of a magazine extension to convert factory magazines to the largest size allowable. Several manufacturers have products available ranging from $24.00 to over $40.00 but not all are created equal.  Continue reading “M&P Extended Basepads for 2017”

Mobius Action Cam: The Little Camera that Could

William shooting “Montezuma’s Revenge III”

I enjoy watching first-person video of my competition shooting. Well, mostly I enjoy it. Sometimes the “D’Oh!” factor is a bit painful but on the whole it is fun to relive the experience. Also it’s a valuable training tool as I can see how I was engaging the targets, where I was looking, and what the gun and my hands were doing. While it is true that a lot can be learned from 3d person video (stance and footwork issues mostly) having a hat cam doesn’t require enlisting help and it’s actually more fun to watch. Continue reading “Mobius Action Cam: The Little Camera that Could”

Safariland ALS: solid value retention holster

Safariland ALS 6378
Safariland ALS 6378

My buddy Josh recently mentioned that he and Deede are using retention holsters during 3-gun matches. Naturally the comparison was made to my beloved Serpa CQC. As a result I felt compelled to try the holster in question (Safariland ALS 6378) for myself. With all the furor over the Serpa lock I wanted to see if the ALS presented a good alternative. It is noteworthy that I have never had a problem with the Serpa and still use it frequently for both concealed carry and IDPA competition.  Continue reading “Safariland ALS: solid value retention holster”

CED/DAA Range Pack: The Perfect Match Companion

CED/DAA Range Pack

After years of lugging around a full-sized range bag at matches I started looking for a lighter, more compact alternative. The resulting purchase was a CED/DAA Range Pack and it’s performance has exceeded my expectations.

When I practice I take a range bag and an ammo box. This allows me to have items like a paster gun, stapler, extra staples, multiple types of ammo, and various other items that I don’t take to matches. Continue reading “CED/DAA Range Pack: The Perfect Match Companion”

Trijicon HD Night Sights: get some!

Trijicon HD – M&P Model

I shot my first IDPA BUG Nationals in November of 2014 and it was a great experience. The only problems were with low-light stages. I’ve shot a fair amount of these at local IDPA matches and using a flashlight has always worked fine but in this case the light levels were such that I could see the targets OK but the gun was essentially invisible in my hands. I resolved to find a better solution. Continue reading “Trijicon HD Night Sights: get some!”

Xtreme Bullets: low-cost alternative or bad idea?


During the severe ammo and reloading component shortage during 2013 and 2014, many folks have been forced to find alternatives to their normal suppliers. As a high-volume reloader this shortage hit me particularly hard. At first I was feeling pretty good because I had several thousand rounds “in the bank” and knew I could shoot the entire 2013 summer with the ammo I had on-hand. Little did I know that this would drag on for over a year. My beloved Montana Gold Bullets became almost impossible to find in stock and I was forced to consider other alternatives. Continue reading “Xtreme Bullets: low-cost alternative or bad idea?”