May 25th, 2007

Texas Long-Range Rifle Championship

On May 26th and 27th, the Texas State Rifle Association’s (TSRA) Long Range State Championship will be held at the Ft. Wolters Shooting Sports Club in Mineral Wells, TX, 76067. Call Dick Curry at (817) 475-3189 or email curr320[at] for more information. This match will be for Palma Class, F-Class Open, F-Class T/R, and on Sunday afternoon there will be an Any Sights/Any Rifle competition. Past U.S. F-Class Champion Jeff Cochran (photo below) and many other top shooters will be at this match. The course of fire consists of NRA targets at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. Click HERE for an article describing the basics of long-range matches of this type and the different rifle classifications.

Jeff Cochran F-Class

Texas State Rifle Association TSRA

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May 25th, 2007

Expander Tool for New Brass

Lapua brass is so good that you’ll be tempted to just load and shoot, if you have a “no-turn” chamber. However, some minimal case prep will ensure more uniform neck tension. This will produce better accuracy, more consistent bullet seating, and lower Extreme Spread and Standard Deviation (ES/SD). Lapua brass, particularly 6BR, 6.5×47, .243 Win and .308 Win comes from the factory with tighter-than-optimal necks. Before you seat bullets, at a minimum, you should inside chamfer the case mouths, after running an expander mandrel down the necks. The expander mandrels from both Sinclair and K&M will both leave the necks with enough neck tension (more than .001″) that you can then seat bullets without another operation. Put a bit of lube on the mandrel before running it down the necks–but remove any lube that gets inside the necks before seating bullets.

Both Sinclair and K&M Tools make a die body specifically to hold expander mandrels. The Sinclair version, item NT-EXP, is shown below. This $17.90 unit fits caliber-specific expander mandrels ($7.95) which measure approximately .001″ less than bullet diameter for each caliber. Once you run the Sinclair expander mandrel down the necks of Lapua brass, after you account for brass spring-back, you’ll have about .002″ neck tension. This will make the process of seating bullets go much more smoothly, and you will also iron out any dents in the case mouths. Once the case mouths are all expanded, and uniformly round, then do your inside neck chamfering/deburring. The same expander mandrels can be used to “neck-up” smaller diameter brass, or prepare brass for neck-turning. Note: an alternative to this procedure is to full-length size every case with an expander ball in place, prior to loading. That works too, but many reloaders may prefer to simply expand the necks, when using Lapua brass.

Sinclair Expander Tool Mandrel

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May 25th, 2007

Super Shoot Daily Results

Kelbly’s Firearms Industry Super Shoot (FISS), one of the most important Benchrest matches in the world, is running this week in North Lawrence, OH. Here are preliminary “Top 10″ results. Scheduled matches are: LV 100 Wednesday, HV 100 Thursday, HV 200 Friday, and LV 200 Saturday. On Wednesday there were excellent conditions. It was hot (90° F), but there were mild winds, mostly left to right. On Thursday conditions were similar but “but the Agg’s were smaller and more 0’s shot. Wind picked up around 1 and didnt let up” according to JDS, posting on

Day 1 — Light Varmint 100 yards
2. Lowell Hottenstein .1932
4. LARRY COSTA .2116
5. JAMES MOCK .2128
9. ALLIE EUBER .2266
Small Group by Ron Hoehn, .091
Day 2 — Heavy Varmint 100 yards
1. BILL GAMMON .1594
3. LEE EUBER .1894
5. JOE KRUPA .1920
6. LARRY COSTA .2062
10T. JEFF STOVER .2212
Small Group by Lee Euber, .072
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May 24th, 2007

New 77mm and 88mm Kowa Spotting Scopes

Kowa, a favored brand among Highpower shooters, has started shipping two new lines of spotting scopes, the Kowa Prominar TSN-880 and TSN-770 series. These scopes feature 88mm and 77mm objectives respectively. Multiple interchangeable eyepieces are available including 20x-60x, Zoom; 30x, Wide; and 25x, LER (Long Eye Relief).

Kowa TSN-880 883 spotting scope

The key feature with these new Kowas, compared to previous models, is the quality of the glass and the size of the front objectives. All TSN-series scopes feature C3 fully multi-coated lens systems. The TSN-773/774 models have XD (extra low dispersion) objectives, while the premium TSN-883/884 models feature pure Flourite Glass lenses for reduced chromatic aberration and improved long-range resolution. The Flourite lenses add about $600 to the price of the scopes.

The new Kowas are quite compact compared to most other spotting scopes with similar objective sizes. The highly achromatized objective lens makes the 88mm Kowa as compact as a 60mm class scope, with the light-gathering ability of a much bigger lens. A new internal dual-focusing system also reduces overall length. With large “fast-focus” knob you can focus from 5m to infinity in just two quick revolutions. Kowa also claims the internal focus keeps the image steadier during the focusing process.

Kowa TSN Spotting Scopes 884

Both the TSN-880 and TSN-770 series scopes are offered with either straight or angled bodies. Bodies are magnesium alloy, and the nitrogen-charged housings are fully waterproof–meeting the rigorous standards of JIS Protection Class 7. The new Kowas are sold by Creedmoor Sports,, and other major retailers. The TSN-771/772s (body only) cost $1,195 at Creedmoor, while the top-of-the-line TSN-883/884s with Flourite glass, run $2000.00.

We hope to test these new Kowas, head to head, against other premium spotting scopes, such as the Zeiss 85mm. Click HERE for a review from a UK birding magazine that concludes the Flourite-glass TSN-883 is nothing sort of outstanding–that it will compete with anything on the market: “With the launch of the TSN-880 series Kowa has clearly thrown down the gauntlet to challenge the Austro-German supremacy that has become widely recognised within the current optics market….This telescope offers almost everything: user friendliness, a large, light-gathering objective combined with a short body…and an image that is apparently second to none.”

Large Photo Side View | Large Photo on Tripod

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May 24th, 2007

Timney Rem 700 Trigger on Sale

Shooters looking for a moderately-priced trigger upgrade for Remington and Rem-clone actions should check out this deal from Now through the end of May, 2007, the Timney Rem 700 trigger, item 563419, is on sale for $84.99, marked down from $94.99. This trigger, which adjusts easily from 1.5 to 4 pounds pull weight, is an easy install for most folks with Rem 700s and 40X actions. It fits right hand actions only and it requires the use of the factory safety. The housing is milled from solid steel. All working parts are CNC-machined from solid steel with all contact and wear surfaces hardened, surface ground and polished. User reports on the Timney trigger have been positive:

“The trigger is easily adjustable and is CRISP with no creep and breaks cleanly. It has a wonderfully wide trigger and I have mine adjusted down around 1.5 pounds of pull, still crisp and clean.”–A. Richards.

“The triggers are wider than stock with very fine ribs. The function is tight, crisp, creep-free, and factory set at 3 pounds (according to my trigger pull guage). They functioned flawlessly and the factory safeties mated right up to them, and functioned as they should.”–D.R.

“Super easy to install, super easy to adjust the trigger, and a super high quality product. I am not mechanically inclined at all, and it was a cinch to install.”–J. Ritchie.

Timney Rem 700 trigger

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May 23rd, 2007

6BRs Dominate 300m Europa Cup

The results of the recent Lapua 300m Europa Cup, held May 8-12 in Pilzen, Czech Republic are now available online. Click HERE for a .pdf file with complete results, and visit the Europa Cup Website to view excellent photos of the competition. Top shooters from a dozen European countries competed in both prone and three-position (standing, prone, kneeling) disciplines, all shot with iron sights, using either Standard Rifles or Competition-Class rifles. (Standard rifles are more conventional-looking with heavier, deeper stocks, and fewer adjustments. The “Competition” Rifles are often metal-framed with elaborate adjustments and hand platforms hanging below the fore-arm. Many of these high tech stocks are convertible for use with a rimfire barreled action in small-bore competition.)

French shooter Solveig Bibard (photo below) dominated the women’s matches, winning both the 300m prone match with a 589 score and the three-position match with a 576 Score. Solveig also lead the French team to victory in the women’s prone team event. Bibard was shooting a French GE600 stock by SERCS, with (we believe) a Bleiker action. She used Lapua 6mm BR Factory ammo. Notably, Bibard’s 589 prone score would have placed her 10th in the men’s competition.

In the mens’ ranks, Germany won the three-position Competition Rifle team event, while the Swiss team won the three-position match with Standard Rifles. The German Team used Lapua 6mm BR factory ammo. We are told the Swiss team was shooting RUAG factory 6mm Swiss match ammunition. In men’s individual competition, Sweden’s Stefan Ahlesved won the three-position Standard Rifle event (582 score), and was first in Competition Rifle prone (594). Arild RØeyseth (Norway) won the three-position Competition Rifle match. Stephan used Norma 6XC factory ammo and Arild used Norma-brand 6mm BR factory ammo. All matches, both invididual and team events, employed acoustic target telemetry. This plots shot placements (on the target) in real time, outputting data to monitors at the shooting stations and a central scoring computer. You can see a target monitor in place below.

Europa Cup 300m Target Monitor

Photos courtesy Europa Cup, All Rights Reserved

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May 22nd, 2007

Bianchi Cup (NRA Action Pistol Championship)

The 29th NRA National Action Pistol Championship/Bianchi Cup will take place May 23-26, near Columbia, Missouri. Even if you’re not a pistol shooter, you would enjoy watching–this is the “Formula 1″ of action hand-gun shooting, with major prize money and exotic, custom pistols and revolvers. The prestigious Bianchi Cup draws competitors from around the globe–Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway and United States.

The Course of Fire consists of four separate matches: Practical Event (timed shooting from 10 yards to 50 yards); Barricade Event (timed shooting from “cover”); Falling Plate Event (timed fire at banks of six, 8″ plates); and the Moving Target Event (target travels and is exposed for just 6 seconds). Click HERE for more information. The Match is hosted at the Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club’s Chapman Academy Range, in Hallsville, MO, (573) 696-5544. Click HERE for complete 69-page, Bianchi Cup Program Guide.

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May 22nd, 2007

Empty Chamber Indicator (ECI) for Rimfires

Larry Medler has come up with another smart little invention–a simple, inexpensive Empty Chamber Indicator for rimfire rifles. It is made from a section of plastic “weed-wacker” line and a wooden ball from a hobby shop.

Medler Rimfire Empty Chamber Indicator

Larry explains: “At all Highpower rifle matches, silhouette matches, and other shooting events I have attended, Open Bore Indicators (OBI), or what are now called Empty Chamber Indicators (ECI) have been mandatory. The NRA’s yellow ECI for Highpower rifles is easy to use and has been well-received by the shooters. However, I have not seen ECIs used much for smallbore matches. In fact I had not seen a truely workable ECI for 22 rimfire rifles–until I visited Michigan’s Washtenaw Sportsman’s Club where I saw juniors using ECIs for their 17 Caliber Air Rifles. Someone at the club made the empty chamber indicators by attaching an 8″ piece of weed wacker line to a 1″-diameter wooden ball, painted bright yellow. I now make similar ECIs for the 22 rimfire silhouette matches I run.”

Construction Method: First, drill a 7/64” diameter hole all the way through the 1″-diameter wooden ball. Then enlarge half of that 1″-long hole using a 13/64” diameter drill. Next insert an 8″ piece of heavy duty (0.095″ diameter) weed wacker line through the ball, leaving about 2″ on the side with the bigger-diameter hole. Then, with the short end of the line, fold over the last half-inch so the line is doubled-over on itself. Then slide the line into the ball, stuffing the doubled-over section through the 13/64″ (large) hole. Finally, pull the longer end of the line until the doubled-over section is flush with the outside of the ball. This gives you a sturdy line attachment without messy adhesives. When the assembly’s complete, hold the ECI by the tail and dip the ball in yellow paint. If you’re making more than one ECI, you can drill horizontal holes in a spare block of wood and use that as a drying rack.

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May 22nd, 2007

Sako L461 Custom .223 on Gunbroker

Guys, there’s a sweet thumbhole custom Sako .223 Rem on 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: has no connection with the seller.

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May 21st, 2007

17-Caliber Cartridges Reviewed

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.

Richard Cundiff 17-Caliber Varmint Hunter story

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May 21st, 2007

Plotting Sheet for Long-Range Shooters

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.

Larry Medler Target Plotting Sheet

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May 20th, 2007

Fun Gun: Quick Look at Biathlon Basic

Izhmash Biathlon Basic MTGunsEvery 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.

Izhmash Biathlon Basic MTGuns

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.

Izhmash Biathlon Basic MTGuns

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.

Izhmash Biathlon Basic MTGuns

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,, (877) 752-2894.

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