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What is Ackley Improved?

Jun 29, 2024 | by N Johansson

P.O Ackley

What is Ackley Improved?

Are you a firearms enthusiast curious about the term "Ackley Improved" that keeps popping up in gun forums and magazines? If you've been exploring the world of cartridges and custom firearms, you may have wondered, "What is Ackley Improved, exactly?" In this comprehensive guide, we'll dive deep into the concept of Ackley Improved cartridges, exploring their origins, characteristics, and why they've become an important part of firearms history.

So what is Ackley Improved?

Credit for the innovation behind Ackley Improved cartridges goes to the legendary gunsmith P.O. Ackley. His goal was straightforward: to improve ballistic performance through innovations like steeper shoulder angles and increased case capacity. Let’s break down what makes these cartridges stand out.


Ackley Improved cartridges are modified versions of standard cartridges, calibrated for superior ballistic performance. By incorporating a sharper shoulder angle and increased case capacity, these cartridges achieve higher velocities and greater accuracy.


Parker Otto Ackley, renowned in the firearms community, was the genius behind these cartridges. His relentless experimentation sought to reach higher velocities and better accuracy without compromising safety.

Key Characteristics of Ackley Improved Cartridges

Design Features

  • Steeper Shoulder Angle: Typically, Ackley Improved cartridges have a 40-degree shoulder angle, compared to the standard 20 to 30 degrees. This sharp angle minimizes brass stretching, reducing the need for frequent trimming.
  • Increased Case Capacity: The design adjustments allow for more powder, which translates into higher bullet velocities.
Comparison between normal and ackley improved cartridge

Comparison with Standard Cartridges

  • Standard Cartridges: Feature a tapered case with a gentler shoulder angle, resulting in less case capacity and somewhat less efficient powder burn.
  • Ackley Improved Cartridges: Offer increased powder capacity and bullet velocities, usually leading to improved accuracy. The sharper shoulder angle ensures consistent headspacing for greater precision.

Benefits of Ackley Improved Cartridges

Performance Improvement

The enhanced design of Ackley Improved cartridges enables them to achieve higher velocities, contributing to superior accuracy and extended range. They're a favorite among long-distance shooters and hunters for these reasons.

  • Better Case Life: Less brass stretching means reduced frequency of trimming, extending the cartridge’s usable life.
  • Reloading Ease: Consistent headspacing and minimal need for trimming make the reloading process more straightforward.

Real-World Applications

These cartridges have proven advantageous in various scenarios, from hunting to competitive shooting. For survivalists, their reliability and effective performance can make a world of difference when immediate support isn't at hand.

How to Upgrade to Ackley Improved

Ready to make the switch? Here’s how to equip your firearm with Ackley Improved cartridges.

Getting Started

The first step involves re-chambering your firearm to accept Ackley Improved cartridges, often through a process called fireforming. A skilled gunsmith will modify the rifle's chamber to these new specifications. Costs and timelines for re-chambering can vary, so obtaining multiple quotes is advisable.

Reloading Ackley Improved Cartridges

Following re-chambering, reloading these cartridges is beneficial. Here are the steps:

  1. Fireform the Brass: Fire standard cartridges in your modified rifle to reshape the brass to Ackley Improved dimensions.
  2. Resize the Case: Use a resizing die specific to the Ackley Improved cartridge.
  3. Reload: Follow your reloading manual for recommended powder charges and bullet types specific to the Ackley Improved specification.
  4. Safety Check: Always double-check your loads and adhere to safety protocols during the reloading process.
Infographic over Ackley Improved Cartridge

Safety Precautions

Safety is paramount. Ensure your rifle is re-chambered by a professional and follow reloading guidelines carefully to avoid overpressure conditions. Reliable, safe ammo is especially crucial for survivalists isolated from immediate support.

Common Misconceptions and FAQs

To dispel some common doubts:

Myths Debunked
  • “Ackley Improved cartridges are hard to reload.” With the right tools and knowledge, reloading them can be as simple as traditional cartridges and potentially more efficient.
  • “They are unsafe.” Properly re-chambered firearms and adherence to reloading protocols make these cartridges just as safe as standard versions.


  • Do I need a new rifle to use Ackley Improved cartridges? No, a qualified gunsmith can modify your current rifle.
  • Are Ackley Improved cartridges commercially available? Some manufacturers offer them, though they are frequently reloaded by enthusiasts.
  • Is it worth the upgrade cost? Many users find the performance benefits justify the investment, particularly for long-range shooting and hunting.

Resources and Further Reading

For more insights into Ackley Improved cartridges, consider these resources:

Books and Articles


Ackley Improved cartridges offer a notable performance boost, making them an excellent investment for serious shooters, hunters, and survivalists. If you're searching for enhanced accuracy and efficiency, these cartridges provide compelling benefits.

Considering an upgrade? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below, and if you found this guide helpful, pass it along to fellow outdoor enthusiasts!