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The Hoover Bullet Tipping Die – Alternate Bullet Tipping For The Busy Shooter

In recent years, the tipping of bullets has become incorporated into a larger part of accuracy shooting, particularly with long-range shooting where every bit of extra ballistic coefficient can make a difference in wind drift. The tipping of bullets typically takes the factory bullet tips that may be somewhat open in the front and closes them so there is less wind resistance as the bullet pushes through the air (a higher ballistic coefficient). Previously this author reviewed and completed a write up on the Hoover Meplat Uniformer and Bullet Tipping Die, and thereafter, Precision Shooting published the write up on these items in its March 2010 issue. The Hoover Meplat Uniformer and Bullet Tipping Die are products made and sold by John Hoover (a very well known successful bench rest and F-Class shooter) and these are both excellent products. John developed an entire system around these tools for sorting, uniforming and tipping bullets, to guarantee that the shooter has the best and most consistent available projectiles (bullets) to shoot. Many of “the best of the best” shooters have been successfully using the Hoover method and tools to produce match-winning ammunition. Hoover's entire method (as more fully discussed in the March 2010 Precision Shooting write up) is very thorough, and produces superior end results, but it does require a fair amount of work and attention to detail to obtain a finished batch of bullets to shoot.

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This author's background is high power match rifle shooting and while working on the prior magazine piece, it occurred to this author that there were alternatives to John's “full blown” technique. As a practical matter, many non-bench rest shooters want the higher ballistic coefficient that a tipped bullet can deliver, but they don't necessarily need the ultimate level of bullet selection and consistency that is deemed necessary for certain bench rest applications. For example, a high power shooter can easily work with a rifle that consistently shoots in the range of .3 to .5 moa, because the targets are more forgiving, and there are other factors that enter into that discipline (i.e. no support for the rifle other than a sling and shooting jacket, body movement, etc.), but a bench rest shooter might as well “pack up and go home” if he or she shows up at a match with a set up and only shoots in the “3's” to the “5's”.

Many shooters in certain disciplines use bullets “out of the box” and do nothing at all, yet others sort for certain stages of fire, and all may do very well in the shooting discipline in which they engage. For the high power shooter, the use of bullets “out of the box” may be fine in most cases. However, as a high power shooter that has to shoot at 600 yards where wind drift is a factor, the idea of availing myself of the highest ballistic coefficient my bullets can offer is appealing. If pressed for time (or if lazy) what would be best is a set up to just tip the long-range bullets consistently for the 600 yard stage without all the extra work of sorting by bearing surface and meplat trimming. The reality is this can be done.

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The sorting of bullets by bearing surface and the meplat trimming of bullets is done to obtain the most dimensionally consistent projectiles. Thereafter, the bullet tipping is done just to increase the ballistic coefficient of the trimmed projectiles. If a shooter has a box of bullets, and the consistency of the bullets works sufficiently to use them “out of the box”, then the steps this author has used to tip bullets consistently are as follows:

1. Sort the bullets quickly by overall length only (just use a basic set of dial calipers to measure the overall length of the projectiles). You can use whatever overall length increments you want for sorting, but this author has used .003", and with many boxes of bullets about 85% - 90% of the bullets in the box wind up in two or maybe three piles. If there is a bullet with an odd or way crooked tip, put it aside and relegate it to the “practice bullets”, and don't bother even measuring it or tipping it.

2. Set up the Hoover tipping die to tip the group of bullets that fall within the .003" of each other and tip them – done!

3. Once done with the first batch of bullets, use the micrometer top on the Hoover Tipping Die to adjust it up or down (usually by .003", depending on whether the next batch of bullets is .003" longer or shorter) and then tip the next batch of bullets.

The author has found that this three-step process has worked well to make up batches of tipped bullets for shooting. If it's late the night before a high power rifle match and you are just getting around to loading your ammo for the next morning, and all you need is 22 tipped bullets for the 600 yard stage, you can quickly measure out a group of 22 bullets within .003" overall length of each other and then tip them – done!

Bear in mind this “quick and dirty” bullet tipping technique only requires a set of dial calipers and the tipping die (i.e. no bearing surface sorting with special tools or meplat trimming with a special meplat trimmer). While the Hoover Meplat Uniformer is an excellent tool and serves the dual role as a bullet sorter and the meplat uniformer, the reality is it take time and work to do this, and if bypassing these steps is feasible there's no reason not to.

The Hoover bullet-tipping die is well thought out and designed and very well made. It is composed of a few component parts, all made to assure the highest quality and uniformity of the final projectiles. The basic universal die body with a micrometer top is used in conjunction with a caliber specific sleeve for the bullets to slide up into, and a bullet specific tipping punch to tip the bullets.

After working with the Hoover tools, it is clear that if you employ John's method and the Hoover tools to sort, meplat uniform and tip your bullets, you will wind up with some of the most consistent and accurate high B.C. bullets you have ever shot, but you can also use this author's alternate method for bullet tipping only and it works well too. The website for these Hoover products (www.bullettipping.com) is also very well done and informative and “worth a look”. These products are also available from John's Accuracy One company at www.accuracyone.com.

Pacific Tool and Gauge, Inc.
P. O. Box 2549, 598 Avenue C
White City, OR 97503
(541) 826-5808

Berger Bullets
4275 N. Palm Street
Fullerton, CA 92835
(714) 447-5456

Hornady Manufacturing Company
3625 West Old Potash Highway
Grand Island, NE 68803
(800) 338-3220

Accuracy One Shooting Supplies
4040 Keefertown Road
Tyrone, PA 16686
(814) 684-5322

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