May 22nd, 2007
Guys, there’s a sweet thumbhole custom Sako .223 Rem on Gunbroker.com right now. We hope one of our readers is able to snag this little gem. Built on the classic Sako L461 action, it features a 28″ barrel and custom walnut thumbhole stock. We really like the looks of that stock–it would work equally well shooting prone from bipod, or shot from a pedestal rest. The thumbhole is nice when you’re steering the gun from one critter to the next. The front section has small flats on the side, and the underside of the forend is almost flat for stability on a front rest. Sako 461s are much prized for their compactness, smoothness, and quality of machining.
The seller writes: “This is an older rifle, 223 caliber, in very good condition. It has a 28″ heavy barrel, custom built with a thumbhole walnut stock. The inside of the barrel is clean (no pits) and the stock does not have any cracks. The length of pull is about 13-1/2 inches. It also comes with a Simmons 2.5X10X50 scope as seen in the pictures.” This gun is Gunbroker Auction item #72216185, expiring 5/24/2007 11:17 AM eastern time. The current bid is $635.95. NOTE: AccurateShooter.com has no connection with the seller.
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May 21st, 2007
The Varmint Hunters Assn. (VHA), produces an outstanding print journal, the Varmint Hunter Magazine. Issues run 200 pages or more, and each issue is chock full of 20+ interesting articles. You will find more good reading in one copy of the Varmint Hunter than in three typical newstand “gun” magazines. In its April-June 2007 issue, Varmint Hunter has a feature story on 17-caliber cartridges, “17 Caliber–Redux” by Richard Cundiff. This article covers the history of the “seventeens” and provides descriptions of many of the popular 17 factory and wildcat catridges including: 17 Remington, 17 Mach IV, 17 Ackley Hornet, 17 PPC, 17-222, and 17-223. Author Cundiff even provides suggested load data for most of the featured catridges.
Click HERE to download the 17-Caliber story as an Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) file. And, if you want to read more sample articles from Varmint Hunter Magazine, click this LINK and then click “Sample Articles” that appears on the left menu. You’ll find two dozen articles from the past 8 years.
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May 21st, 2007
Featured Contributor Larry Medler has created nice plotting sheets for both standard and F-Class targets. Larry notes: “Here is the sheet I use to plot my shots at 600 yards. The sheet is printed on 8.5 x 11 inch paper (landscape orientation) which makes it larger than most plotting sheets. However, it is easier to use. I also graph my results later (after shooting) just to review the day and better understand how well or not so well things went. The sheet is made using Excel. I also print my sheets on 28 lb. paper using a laser printer. Laser-printed sheets are more water-proof than inkjet-printed sheets. I added the F-Class sized target plot for 300, 500, 600, and 1000 Yards to the Excel Workbook.” Click HERE to visit Larry’s web page where you can download either sheet as an MS Excel file.
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May 20th, 2007
Every varmint shooter needs a good, light-weight “walk-around” 22LR. It’s a nice bonus if the rifle is accurate enough to be competitive in a club-level rimfire silhouette match or “fun shoot.” The Izhmash Biathlon Basic, a Russian-made toggle-bolt rimfire repeater, fills the bill. Our friend Mac Tilton of MTGuns recently obtained a few dozen of these interesting little rifles–brand new. He invited us to test one out at the scenic Winchester Canyon Gun Range in the coastal mountains overlooking Santa Barbara, CA. With the help of Mac’s assistant Bruce, we took a new Biathlon Basic right out of the box, fitted a Sightron 6-24X scope, and put it through its paces at 25 and 50 yards.
Click HERE for Three Large Photos.
Previous testers have noted the quality of the Biathlon Basic’s trigger. While it won’t rival an Anschutz, the trigger is very smooth, breaking at just over 2 pounds (just right for hunter-class silhouette). It has a rather long, but smooth and fluid take-up, followed by a crisp, predictable let-off. In the length of the take-up it reminded me of a pistol trigger. You can easily modulate the trigger to complete the take-up and then hold it right at the break point, like a two-stage trigger.
The rifle is comfortable to hold off-hand, though a long-armed shooter could benefit from a little more length of pull. The gun balances very well just forward of the action and swings naturally. The rounded fore-arm is easy to hold with either a split-finger or conventional grip.
Once the gun was sighted-in, Bruce shot some 5-round groups at 25 yards, using a Caldwell front rest and rear bag. With the very narrow fore-arm, the Izhmash was a bit wobbly. Still, the gun produced a number of 5-shot groups right at 1/4″ with three different kinds of ammo (Federal Gold Match, Remington/Ely, and Winchester target). The gun seemed to prefer Remington/Ely, which has a fairly fat, heavily-lubed bullet with wide driving band.
The Fortner-style toggle action is touted as being extremely fast and efficient. We found that the action, right out of the box, was pretty stiff. It eased up once we applied some light lube (Eezox), but it still required a good, hard push on the toggle to close the bolt, particularly on the fat Remington/Eley rounds. No doubt, with more break-in and a bit of bolt grease in the right places, the action would smooth up. This writer tried a couple other Biathlon Basics in Tilton’s shop. On these the toggle bolts could indeed be snapped open and closed with just a quick thumb motion.
We did manage to shoot some groups at 50 yards, but in the late afternoon we had a swirling 10 mph wind gusting to 15, and the groups opened up considerably, averaging about 3/4″. Bruce hopes to take the gun back to the range when conditions are better and do some further testing for accuracy. Based on what we saw at 25 yards in calmer conditions, I wouldn’t doubt the gun can shoot 1/2″ or better groups at 50 yards with the right ammo. We just couldn’t hold that well in the conditions. We noted that the gun likes to be shot fairly fast–our best groups at 50 were shot rapid-fire.
Is the gun worth $300? It will outshoot most rimfires in the price range, it has a very smooth trigger, it comes with a built-in Weaver-style scope rail, and the toggle action is fun to use, if a little stiff at first. This writer concluded that the gun would be an nice short-range varminter, and would be accurate enough to use in club-level silhouette matches. It is, without question, a great gun for a junior at the price. The Biathlon Basic is offered by MTGuns, (805) 720-7720, for $300.00. The current U.S. distributor is Russian-American Armory, RAACFirearms.com, (877) 752-2894.
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May 20th, 2007
Dealing with the wind is probably the biggest challenge in shooting. “Anyone who has ever fired a shot outdoors realizes, sooner or later, that doping the wind tends quickly to separate the winners form the ‘also-rans’. From benchrest competition to long-range prarie dog blasting, understanding the way the wind affects the shooter, the target and the bullet is vital if one wishes to hit the target.” (Phil Johnston, GunWeek.) Many of our readers have asked, “What’s a good book or video on reading the wind?”
You’ll find some great material in Nancy Tompkins recent book, Prone and Long-Range Rifle Shooting, and Mike Ratigan offers excellent wind-reading advice for 100/200 yard BR in his new Extreme Rifle Accuracy book. But for those seeking a single, dedicated resource on wind reading, we recommend Winning in the Wind, an interactive DVD by Lanny Bassham and Lones Wigger, both World shooting champions. Winning in the Wind covers mirage and the strategies for shooting in different wind conditions. The DVD has over 100 digital graphics, photos, and ilustrations, plus a complete interactive shot chart showing wind effects. The DVD also offers helpful hints for staying positive and mentally focused when dealing with fickle and erratic winds. This CD-Rom is available for $35.00 from Champion’s Choice, or directly from the Lanny Basham website, MentalManagement.com.
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May 19th, 2007
Noted shooter Lou Murdica announced plans to get a wireless target cam system for long-range shooting out to 1000 yards. Lou expressed a desire to use a camera system, similar to that employed by long-range black powder shooters, in an upcoming 1000-yard Benchrest match. This system would be different than the Kirk Roberts’ Target Cam (5/18 Bulletin), but it would operate on similar principles. Lou’s intention to use a long-range video camera in BR competition has spurred a heated debate on Benchrest Central. Click HERE to read the discussion, with comments from many top shooters including Dave Tooley, Regan Green, and Rich DeSimone.
We note that, while the use of cameras with remote monitors may seem radical to Americans, target telemetry is commonplace in Europe where many ranges have “target monitors” placed at every shooting station. These are used by 100m and 300m shooters to see their bullet placements (and scores) in real time. Bullet hits are plotted via acoustic targets linked to monitors. At some ranges, these acoustic or electronic targets are networked to a control center, allowing multiple targets to be automatically scored by a central computer.
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May 19th, 2007
Noted gun writer Craig Boddington reviews QuickLOAD reloading software in the June 2007 issue of Guns and Ammo magazine. Boddington was impressed with the wealth of information on powders, cartridges, and bullets stored by the program. He was able to quickly find powders and bullets for his favorite calibers and generate reloading “recipes” that matched his goals for pressure, barrel time (of bullet), and velocity. Boddington also used the program’s powerful search/sort features. QuickLOAD, as we explain in the comprehensive QuickLOAD REVIEW on this website, allows you to specify cartridge fill density and maximum pressure. Then, with one click, the program will sort and rank all the available propellants by max achievable velocity, from fastest to slowest. We use this feature all the time to chose propellants for a new cartridge, such as the 6.5×47 Lapua. Boddington observed: “There are many ways to sort the data. I did a search at 62,000 psi–a bit warm but well under SAMMI maximum for the 8mm Remington Magnum. This gave me 35 powders and charges that would yield this exact pressures. This search suggested I could increase velocity quite dramatically with a half-dozen propellants, with acceptable load density as well as pressure. I found several more loads I’d like to try.”
QuickLOAD and QuickTARGET Ballistic software are sold exclusively by Neconos.com. The latest version 3.2 costs $149.95 plus S/H. Click HERE for a full product description, and be sure to read our QuickLOAD Review and Users Guide.
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May 18th, 2007
Right now, Natchez Shooters Supply has some great deals on Zeiss rifle scopes and spotting scopes. These optics were displayed at the 2007 Shot Show. They are all unused with NO dings, marks or blemishes–merely a few fingerprints. They come complete with full factory warranty. The products available include the excellent Zeiss Conquest, our top choice in a 1″-diameter-tube, 6-20X variable optic. You can save up to 30% off MSRP.
Zeiss Conquest 6.5-20X50 AO MC Riflescope(#20 ZE5214519920): $719.99 ($899.99 MSRP)
Zeiss Conquest 6.5-20X50 AO MC Riflescope (#4 ZE5214519904): $719.99 ($899.99 MSRP)
Zeiss 85mm Spotting Scope (Green Angled ZE528005): $1,124.00 ($1550.99 MSRP)
Zeiss 65mm Spotting Scope (Green Angled ZE528014): $899.00 ($1250.99 MSRP)
Diavari VM/V 3-12X56 T 30MM Riflescope (#8 Matte ZE5217419908): $1,319.00 (MSRP $1649.99)
Diavari VM/V 2.5-10X50 T 30MM Riflescope (#8 Matte ZE5217319908): $1,279.00 (MSRP $1599.99)
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May 18th, 2007
Even with a very costly spotting scope, it is quite difficult, if not impossible, to see bullet hits on paper at 800 yards and beyond. Wireless camera technology promises to change all that. With a camera positioned close to the target, a wireless system could allow the shooter to see hits (on paper or steel) out to distances of one mile.
In our story about Reactive Targets, we featured a prototype wireless target cam system crafted by Kirk Roberts. Over the past year and a half, Kirk has been testing and upgrading the system. It now features an upgraded receiver, enhanced range, and improved antennas for better long-range reception. Kirk isn’t in regular production yet, but he expects to offer an 1100-yard version for $999, and a long-range version (good to 1 mile) for $1499. These prices would be for a complete “turn-key” system with case, camera, camera mount, LCD display, receiver, and transmitter.
According to Kirk, “Current range has been tested to (but not limited to) 1680 yards with crystal clarity. The current kit consists of one camera, one transmitter, and one receiver/screen pack (with antenna). The receiver can accommodate up to 4 transmitter/camera units. Together, the screen and receiver draw under one amp. The memory-free battery that comes with the unit will run the target-cam for up to 10 hours. The camera is in a steel case to resist bullet strikes and bullet splatter, while the tripod-mounted transmitter is in a waterproof case with an external antenna and battery.” Since the receiver is equipped with standard RCA A/V jacks, Target Cam video output can also be captured by normal digital cameras or cam-corders.
For serious long-range competitors, particularly iron-sights shooters, the remote target cam would be a fantastic training aid. With the video camera positioned within a few feet of the target, the image is always clear and sharp. The shooter gets instant feedback and he can plot his hits. Heat, glare, or mirage won’t distort the image as it might with a conventional spotting scope. Kirk is now in the final testing process on his long-range target cam, and isn’t taking orders just yet. But if you email Mailbox@6mmBR.com, we will forward reader questions and comments to Kirk.
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May 18th, 2007
On May 30, 2007, Indiana will open the new Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area (FWA) Shooting Range, a $4.7 million facility that features a 66-position rifle and pistol range, and four combination trap and skeet fields. The state-of-the-art range, located between Indianapolis and Columbus, replaces an aging shooting facility that was being used by more than 15,000 shooters each year. Similar modern baffled ranges were built near LaPorte in 2002 at Kingsbury FWA, and near Huntington in 2004 at J. Edward Roush Lake. The Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) will be reimbursed for about 75 percent of construction costs through federal aid. The aid is derived from federal excise tax revenue from the sales of firearms and ammunition, and archery equipment. “More than one million Hoosiers are shooting-sports enthusiasts, and they need facilities like this to support hunter education programs and to have appropriate locations to practice and improve their skills,” said DNR Director Robert Carter.
Atterbury FWA covers 6,000 acres that was once part of Camp Atterbury military base. The land was purchased in March 1969, from the Government Services Administration, through the Federal Lands to Parks Program.
Range Hours and Gen’l Info: Call (812) 526-6552.
How to Get There: Exit I-65 at Exit 80 (Edinburgh/Flatrock). Take S.R. 252 west to Edinburgh. Follow S.R. 252 west until it intersects US.31 (about 2.6 miles). Continue west across U.S. 31 for about 1.8 miles. Just before the “Camp Atterbury-1942″ boulder, take Edinburgh St. (northwest) for about 2,000 feet. Range is on right. The official address for the range is 4250 E. Edinburgh St., Edinburgh, IN 46214.
Editor’s Comment: Now this is what we like to see–a state government working actively to enhance shooting facilities, and making proper use of federal funding to do so. By contrast, in my home state of California, state and local politicians aggressively work to close shooting ranges or limit their use to police and law enforcement. In my county alone, two indoor ranges and two outdoor ranges have been shut down in the last year and a half. Kudos to Indiana DNR officials for launching the new Atterbury FWA facility.
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May 17th, 2007
The Firearm Industry Super Shoot (FISS), the largest short-range benchrest match in North America, runs May 23-26, 2007 at the Kelbly range in Ohio. The Super Shoot attracts 320 or more shooters every year. For more information, go to www.benchrest.com/fiss/index.shtml, or click the links below. The competition is limited to 420 shooters. But it’s not too late to register. The Kelblys tell us “there are still places available if you get your registration in soon.” Note: after May 10, 2007, registration fees are $110.00 per gun. No exceptions.
7222 Dalton Fox Lake Road
North Lawrence, OH 44666
Phone: (330) 683-4674
Registration Form (.pdf file)
Registration Form (MS Word doc)
Map to Range
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May 17th, 2007
Butch Lambert of ShadeTree Engineering reports that Aussie Wind Flags were recently shipped to the U.S. Air Force in the Middle East. These will be used to help guide the high-tech Desert Hawk unmanned spyplanes used by the U.S. Military. Butch reports, “Shooters get the same quality product, with high-grade components, that we shipped to the Air Force. These wind flags pack flat and don’t take up much space when transported. Even the propellers unroll and can be packed flat. Aussie Flags can be installed on your existing posts or tripods. The unique propeller design responds rapidly to changing conditions, as the propellers spin on ball bearings.”
Desert Hawk in Iraq (courtesy U.S. Air Force)
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May 17th, 2007
MidwayUSA just announced a special deal on bulk brass sales. For a limited time, Midway is including free shipping in the price of certain Remington and Winchester brass. The Free Freight offer only applies to listed large quantities of specific brass. Qualifying products include:
Winchester .204 Ruger brass, quantity of 1100, item 319113, $191.99 delivered
Winchester .223 Rem brass, quantity of 1200, item 322911, $195.99 delivered.
Remington 22-250 brass, quantity of 700, item 911747, price $174.99 delivered.
Remington .308 Win brass, quantity of 700, item 844510, price $193.99 delivered.
This is a limited time offer, and restrictions apply. You must order the exact product described, sorry no mixing or matching. Any other items added to the invoice will be shipped in a separate box and will incur normal shipping charges. Shipping method is USPS Priority Mail for delivery within 7 days.
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May 16th, 2007
Federal Rifle Primers have been in short supply. We checked with Graf & Sons, Grafs.com, today and learned that they do have a large supply of the standard Small Rifle (FD205) primers in stock. Price is $23.39 per box of 1000 primers, or $109.99 per case of 5000. Unfortunately the Small Rifle Match (FD205M) primers are sold out as are the Large Rifle (FD210) and Large Rifle Match (FD210M). Graf & Sons will be carrying the Wolf (Russian) Primers, but the Wolfs are not expected to arrive for another 2-3 Weeks.
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May 16th, 2007
SWFA.com always offers competitive pricing on quality name brands including Leica, Swarovski, Leupold, and Bushnell. SWFA.com also offers a wide variety of “show samples” and “demos” in its “Sample List”, which is updated daily. If you’re looking for a premium scope, rangefinder or spotting scope, check the SWFA Sample List first. Today, on the Sample List you’ll find a Leupold 45X Comp series scope for just $799.99 and Swarovski 8×30 LaserGuides for just $749.99. These and other hot deals are listed below:
IOR 6-24×50 Tactical Scope
Matte finish, illuminated crosshair w/ dot, 35mm tube, side focus, fast-focus eye piece, 1/4-MOA target knobs, includes medium Picatinny rings, ring marks. Stock # 7300.
MSRP: $1,600.00. Sale price: $1,099.95
Leica 62mm Straight Televid Spotting Scope, Body Only
40108 Model, Silver finish, Aluminum body, fast focus and coarse focus, straight view, used, close to new condition. Body only–no eyepiece. MSRP: $1,200.00. Sale Price: $799.95
Leupold 35×45 Competition Series Scope (53432)
Matte finish, 30mm tube, target dot reticle, side focus, target knobs. MSRP: $1,250.00. Sale Price: $799.95. Stock #6725.
Leupold 40×45 Competition Series Scope (53534)
Matte finish, 30mm tube, fine crosshair reticle, side focus. 100% new condition. MSRP: $1,249.00. Sale Price: $949.95. Stock #5239.
Leupold 45×45 Competition Series Scope (53438)
Matte finish, fine crosshair, 30 mm tube, target knobs, side focus, super light ring marks, close to new condition. MSRP: $1,249.00. Sale Price: $799.95. Stock #4555.
Swarovski 8×30 LaserGuide
Laser RangeFinder. Green rubber armored finish, (1500-yard capability), SLC optical quality, close to new condition. This was the top-rated product in AccurateShooter.com’s recent Laser RangeFinder Comparison Test. MSRP: $987.00. Sale Price: $749.95. Dozens of units in stock.
Hundreds of other items are available–rifle scopes, binoculars, rangefinders, and spotting scopes. All items listed are subject to prior sale, and prices may change.
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May 16th, 2007
Over the past month we’ve received three $100.00 donations to the site (as well as other, lesser donations). We would like to acknowledge these very generous contributions by Troy K., Kenneth M., and Mark M. We also received $50.00 donations this month from Joe McG., and Salvatore M., and Mike Lucas. These contributions are accepted with gratitude. User donations are vital to the website. They help cover the cost of our Forum and site hosting, and help defray the cost of obtaining products for testing. If readers would like to make a contribution to the site, you can click on the PayPal button at the bottom of the Home Page, or send a check to Jason Baney, P.O. Box 704, Lemont, PA 16851. Registered Forum members–please include your Forum “nickname”.
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May 15th, 2007
Gary Eliseo of Competition Shooting Stuff, has come up with a cool new product for prone and F-Class shooters–a complete wind station (with digital display), that mounts on a spotting scope stand. It provides a constant, real-time output of wind velocity with an indicator of wind direction. At the top of the stand, a spinner measures velocity and sends its readings via wire to a remote display. A balanced plastic wind vane shows the wind angle. This is clamp-mounted so you can adjust the vane’s height–low for easy viewing, or high to avoid “ground effect” variations.
A small digital display clips on to the front bell of your spotting scope so you can see wind velocity without changing your shooting position. The display also has a stopwatch function. Gary tells us his Vortex 1200 anemometer is great for prone or smallbore competitors or team coaches. The unit offers 0.5 mph resultion and the battery should last up to one year according to Gary. A tripod mounted version of the shooter’s wind station is also available for benchrest shooters. This mounts to any camera tripod.
Note: Shooters should check competition rules for their discipline to see if this wind station can be used during actual matches. See comments. If match rules prohibit such devices, the wind station is still a valuable tool for practice days between matches.
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May 15th, 2007
Here’s a great deal folks. MidwayUSA just knocked $40.00 off the price of the RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 Combo, item #772151. The ChargeMaster Combo was the top-rated unit in our Electronic Powder Dispenser Comparison Test, and in 2006 the design was upgraded for improved reliability and charge-weight accuracy. When load accuracy was tested with a Denver Instrument lab-grade scale as a control, 95% of charges were within the claimed +/- 0.1 grain accuracy. The ChargeMaster works with all types of powder–it doesn’t skip a beat even with the long-grain extruded powders that can be problematic in manual powder throwers. The RCBS ChargeMaster throws charges from 2 to 300 grains and stores up to 30 favorite loads in memory for fast recall. MidwayUSA’s $259.99 sale price is good through May 31, 2007.
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May 14th, 2007
Bryan of Powder Valley has advised us that he has some exciting new product arrivals: IMR 4007 SSC (in stock now) and Russian primers from Wolf (ETA first week of June).
NEW IMR 4007 SSC
First, a shipment of the new IMR 4007 SSC has just arrived. This is a medium burn rate powder with characteristics suitable for a wide variety of cartridges. Price is $17.25 for 1 pound or $116.00 for 8 pounds.
Hodgdon, which distributes IMR powders, reports: “IMR 4007 SSC falls between IMR 4350 and 4064. ‘SSC’ refers to the new ‘Super Short Cut’ grain shape.” With its short powder kernels, Hodgdon says, 4007 SSC meters better than long-grain extruded powders. Accordingly, charge weight consistency is improved. Hodgdon claims that the enhanced load density of 4007 SSC will allow velocity gains compared to longer extruded powders. Hodgon reports: “the shortened grain drops smoothly into small case necks making it perfect for classic varmint cartridges like the 22-250, 220 Swift and 243 Winchester. Users of popular big game cartridges such as the 30-06, 300 WSM and 7mm WSM can attain top velocities typical of extruded powders, with the precision metering inherent in this new product.” Click HERE for a .pdf file with IMR 4007 SSC product info and some suggested loads.
Wolf (Russian) Primers
Bryan said Powder Valley is expected to receive Wolf Primers in the first week of June, 2007. Many top shooters such as David Tubb believe these primers give great accuracy and low ES. These new Wolf Primers are from the same Russian manufacturer as the “Russians” formerly sold by PMC.
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May 14th, 2007
Top Silhouette shooter Mark Pharr has developed a pair of advanced silhouette stocks, suitable for both centerfire and rimfire competition. There is a full-forend R/T model for those who prefer to rest the forearm on the palm of their hand or fingertips. Mark has also created an innovative narrow-forend R/T-S model for shooters who prefer a “split-finger” hold.
Mark sent us photos of the handsome stocks, built by Robertson Composites in Canada. Mark notes: “A full range of colors is available, including granites and fades. You can go to Robertson’s website or a print shop to view a pantone ink chart and send me the numbers of the colors you pick. The stocks are made with black carbon fiber and will be harder to cover the seam on the bottom of stock with the light colors so please keep that in mind. A base color and one granite color is $285 for a flat top (non-inletted). Two-color granites (my favorites) are $30 extra. There are two different fades. A true fade has the solid color in the forend on the bottom, and costs an extra $60, while a granite fade is available for the base $285 price. We can do a camo dip now or texture paint for an additional $80. Go to BellandCarson.com to see the camo/texture finishes.
For more information, contact Mark Pharr at Tumbleweeds Custom Rifles, (512) 246-7563. Mark also smiths custom silhouette and precision rifles, both rimfire and centerfire. You can also order Pharr/Robertson stocks and other silhouette gear from Chicken’s Shooting Supply.
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