December 31st, 2009

Kokopelli Ring Lapping Tool and Scope Alignment Bars

If you use mass-production ring sets, other than Burris Signature Rings or SAKO Optilock Rings (which both feature polymer inserts), you can benefit from lapping your scope rings. Lapping your rings, when done properly, with the right tools, can improve the fit of the rings, reducing bending forces and stress on the scope. Properly-lapped rings are also less likely to leave prominent marks on your scope tubes.

Forum member Boyd Allen is a strong advocate of ring lapping for factory-produced ring sets. He’s tried various lapping tools and he believes that the Kokopelli system is one of the best available. Custom crafted in Kalispell, Montana by John Werre, the Kokopelli lapping system combines a specially-machined lapping rod with patented flat-ended scope alignment bars.

Kokopelli Lapping Tool
John Werre, Kokopelli’s owner, explains why his lapping tool works better than most others: “No one was making a lapping bar that would lap anything more than the bottom half of the rings and they were made of rolled stock and only a very short stroke was possible, rapidly wearing out the bar due to the limited area of use. I did something entirely different. I designed the bar to be used with the top halves of the rings in place and utilizing a long stroke thereby distributing the wear over the entire 12″ length of the bar. Why just do half a job?”

Kokopelli Ring Lapping Tool

John adds: “Another problem was that the lapping compound would readily scrape off the bar, slide around and wear the bar out as fast as the rings. I added the spiral groove to stop the scraping off of the compound and later changed to a much softer steel and put a very rough, but carefully designed, finish to accept the lapping compound, actually allowing the grit to be driven into the surface of the bar. The nasty, scruffy rough finish is full of grooves and valleys of a depth designed to ‘catch’ the very sharp lapping compound, imbedding it into the bar. You then will wear out what you’re trying to lap rather than wear out the bar at the same time. The spiral grooves also cannot catch on the edge of the scope rings as can one which has annular grooves cut perpendicular to the axis of the bar in separate rings. I have very good reasons for every unique feature of my tools. Every aspect has a valid design behind it.”

Kokopelli Scope Alignment Bars
Kokopelli’s patented scope alignment bars have flat ends and work differently than alignment bars which use pointed tips. Kokopelli came up with a flat-ended design because alignment bars with pointed tips can yield a “false positive”, meaning the points can touch when the scope rings are out of alignment. To demonstrate, try this simple experiment. Take two ordinary pencils. With one pencil in each hand, hold them parallel with the pointed (lead) tips touching. Now simply move the outboard end of each pencil, while keeping the tips touching. You can see instantly that the tips can touch even if the pencils are way out of alignment. The same thing can be true of scope alignment bars.

With the Kokopelli scope alignment bars, each bar is an exact cylindrical projection of the interior of each ring. When you bring the bars together, if they don’t mate perfectly, i.e. if there is any gap between the flat ends when the bars are touching, then you know you have an alignment problem. Kokopelli claims that misalignments as small as .002″ can be detected. John Werre explains: “The bars actually are a three-dimensional projection of each ring ‘hole’. You’re looking at a solid representation of the hole through the ring. Put one bar in each ring and you can then compare the axial alignment of the ‘ring holes’ to each other. If the ends match and are flat together you have reconstructed the bars into one [cylinder] and the alignment is PERFECT.” Below, in Figure 1, you can see rings that are out of alignment. In Figure 2 you can see rings that are properly aligned. Interestingly, the misalignment illustrated in Figure 1 did NOT show up with pointed ring alignment bars. This amount of misalignment can create up to 3/16″ of scope tube bending (depending on ring spacing).

Kokopelli Scope Alignment Tool

Kokopelli Scope alignment Tool

The function of the Kokopelli lapping tool and alignment bars are described in greater detail on the Kokopelli website. The lapping tool and alignment bars are sold separately, or as part of Kokopelli’s complete Accurizing Kit shown below. The kit, which combines Scope Alignment Bars, Lapping Bar, pointer rod, and lapping compound in a fitted box, costs $84.50 for 1″ rings, or $91.00 for 30mm rings. For more info, contact John Werre at Kokopelli Products, 3820 Foothill Rd., Kalispell, MT 59901; phone (406) 755-3220. NOTE: Kokopelli has maintained the same prices since 2003. However, due to increased costs of materials, John Werre plans to raise his prices by mid-January, 2010. You can get current pricing by ordering soon.

Kokopelli Accurizing Kit

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Optics 2 Comments »
December 30th, 2009

Palma Shooting — What Calibers Are Permitted?

There is, understandably, quite a bit of confusion concerning caliber limitations for Palma rifles and Palma competition. Some folks say you can shoot a .308 Winchester (or 7.62 NATO) with a bullet weight up to 156 grains. Others say you can shoot a .308 Win (or 7.62 NATO) with any bullet weight. Still others opine that you can shoot EITHER a .223 Rem (5.56×45) or a .308 Win (or 7.62 NATO).

So who is right? Well, all these viewpoints are correct in part. That’s because different rules apply in different venues. In most, but not all United States Palma competitions, you can shoot either a .223 Rem or .308 Win with no restriction on bullet weights. In some U.S. Matches, most notably the Spirit of America, certain prizes are limited to .308s with 156gr max bullet weights OR .223s with 81gr max bullet weights. What’s the bottom line? In most USA Palma competitions you can shoot either a .308 or a .223 with no limit on bullet weight. In International Palma competitions you can shoot either a .308 or a .223 but the max bullet weight is limited.

Applicable Rules for NRA Palma Competition
To help clarify the Palma rules, German Salazar has collected the applicable NRA and international rules which govern Palma and iron-sights fullbore competition. First, German explains: “The Palma Rifle is defined by NRA High Power Rule 3.3.3″ which states:

3.3.3 U.S. Palma Rifle:
(a) A rifle with metallic sights chambered for the unmodified .308/7.62 or
.223/5.56 NATO cartridge case. Rifles which also meet Rules 3.1 (.308 only)
or 3.1.1 (.308 only) are authorized.

(b) A rifle with metallic sights chambered for the unmodified .308/7.62 NATO
cartridge case. Rifles which also meet Rules 3.1 (.308 only) or 3.1.1 (.308
only or 3.1.2 (.223 only) are authorized.

German tells us: “The references to Rules 3.1, 3.1.1 and 3.1.2 apply to the M1, M14 and M16 rifles or civilian equivalents thereof. Accordingly, Palma Division ‘A’, which is how all matches other than the National Matches are fired, allows any rifle chambered in .308 or .223 with metallic sights. Palma, Division B, which is rarely seen outside the Nationals, is a separate award category for the service rifle in a Palma match.”

German notes that: “In all instances, there is no restriction on bullet weight, rifle weight or trigger weight of pull. All of these are unrestricted. The rules specify that the rifle must be chambered for the unmodified .308 or .223 “cartridge case” but if the chamber has, for instance, a longer than standard throat to accomodate a heavier bullet, that is acceptable.”

CLICK HERE to download NRA High Power Rules Book (PDF File)

MT Guns Palma Rifle

NEW NRA Fullbore Rules and International Rules
A few matches are run under the new NRA Fullbore Rules which are meant to align the USA with the rules observed in other nations competing in similar matches. The most notable of these is the annual Spirit of America Match which is also the Fullbore National Championship. The Grand Aggregate prize of the Fullbore National Championship is restricted to those competitors firing the International Target Rifle.

Under the Fullbore Rules, there are two categories of rifle, the Target Rifle, which is the same as the High Power Palma Rifle, and the International Target Rifle, which is compliant with the rules of most other nations. The International Target Rifle has restrictions on trigger weight of pull, but no restrictions on overall rifle weight. Additionally, there is an ammunition restriction which limits the weight of the bullet to 156 grains for the .308 and to 81 grains for the .223; this restriction applies to both Target Rifle and International Target Rifle categories. The applicable rules are listed below.

CLICK HERE to download NRA Fullbore Rule Book (PDF File)

3.3.5 Target Rifle:
(a) A rifle with metallic sights chambered for the unmodified .308/7.62mm
cartridge case. This rifle has no restrictions regarding weight of the rifle
or trigger, However, the trigger must be safe.

(b) A rifle with metallic sights chambered for the unmodified .223/5.56mm x
45 cartridge case. This rifle has no restrictions regarding weight of the
rifle or trigger. However, the trigger must be safe.

3.3.6 International Target Rifle:
(a) A rifle with metallic sights chambered for the unmodified .308/7.62mm
cartridge case with a minimum trigger weight of 0.5 kilograms (approximately
1.1 pounds and the total weight of the rifle is unlimited. OR…

(b) A rifle with metallic sights chambered for the unmodified .223/5.56mm
cartridge case with a minimum trigger weight of 0.5 kilograms (approximately
1.1 pounds) and the total weight of the rifle is unlimited.

3.17 Ammunition:
(a) Target Rifle / International Target Rifle — .308/7.62mm NATO with a
maximum permitted bullet weight of less than 156 grains or .223/5.56mm x 45 NATO with a maximum permitted bullet weight of less than 81 grains.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition No Comments »
December 29th, 2009

Factory Sample Sightrons at Clearance Prices

MidwayUSA is running a clearance sale on “factory sample” Sightron Big Sky SII 6-24x42mm riflescopes with duplex reticles. The price has been knocked down to $468.32, a $146.01 savings over the regular price!

Sightron Scope Clearance sale

In addition, MidwayUSA has the “factory samples” of the newer Sightron Factory SIII 3.5-10x44mm riflescopes. These feature a 30mm tube, side focus parallax adjustment, and a Mil-Dot reticle. Clearance price is $547.42, marked down from $720.29.

Sightron Scope Clearance sale

Permalink Hot Deals, Optics No Comments »
December 28th, 2009

Birchwood Casey Target Ideal for Silhouette Training

Here’s a colorful new target that’s ideal for rimfire or centerfire silhouette shooters. Birchwood Casey’s new Dirty Bird™ Multi-Color Splattering Animal Pack target features correct shapes of NRA metallic animal silhouettes. That way you can practice your marksmanship without having to haul around a set of metal targets.

When a Dirty Bird animal silhouette target is hit, the color associated with each animal shape creates a ring around each bullet hole. Chickens burst in yellow, pigs burst in orange, turkeys burst in red, and rams burst in pink. Each target sheet is 8″ x 8″. Suggested retail prices is $12.20 for a pack of 20 targets (item 35822-MCA-20). These targets can be shot at 25 yards with iron sights, or at longer distances with scoped rifles.

Birchwood Casey Splattering Animals target

Birchwood Casey Sues Battenfeld
In related news, Birchwood Laboratories, Inc. has filed suit against Battenfeld Technologies, Inc. over the recent issuance of a patent to Battenfeld for their reactive targets and method of target manufacturing. “We feel the United States Patent Office was given insufficient information by Battenfeld during the application process, which resulted in the patent being awarded improperly,” said Mike Wenner, Vice President, Birchwood Casey.

“Shoot-N-C® targets have been in production since 1996 and have been the #1 name brand target on the market since their introduction. We intend to vigorously… protect our business model.” Shoot-N-C and Dirty Bird® targets feature a special coating that flakes off during impact, leaving a bright halo ring around each bullet hole on the target.

Permalink New Product No Comments »
December 28th, 2009

Invite a Friend Shooting with Custom e-Mail Postcard

The NSSF, through its “Step Outside” program, suggests you invite someone to go hunting or shooting this Holiday season. An outdoor shooting adventure can be more memorable than any gift that arrives in a box.

Through NSSF’s StepOutside.org web page, you can send a customized invitation to go hunting or shooting. Your e-mail invitation will feature an outdoor photograph with a personalized message from you.

CLICK HERE to Send a Hunting/Shooting Invitation to Friends or Family.

Step Outside Program

If you go on a shooting excursion before the end of the year (Dec. 31, 2009), you can enter the Step Outside Sweepstakes, and get a chance to win one of five $1,000 gift certificates to Bass Pro Shops. To be eligible, you must “mentor” a new shooter and complete a survey describing your experiences. Submission Deadline is January 1, 2010.

CLICK HERE to enter STEP OUTSIDE Sweepstakes

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December 27th, 2009

New Custom Action from Louisiana Precision Rifles

Louisiana Precision Rifles (LPR) has a new custom action with all the features you could want in a deluxe Rem-700-clone receiver. The new Rem-700 footprint LPR action is available in stainless steel or chrome moly, in Right Hand, Left Hand, Long- or Short-action versions, suitable for .223 Rem through .338 Lapua Magnum.

Louisiana Precision Rifles 700 action

LPR’s owner William Roscoe included some very nice features in this new action — it’s a far cry from another “bare bones” Rem-700 clone. The bottom of the action features a .125″ radius cut for modified detachable box magazines, and the receiver is otherwise compliant with both ADL and BDL bottom metal. Notably, the new LPR action is slightly longer than a standard Rem 700 receiver. The LPR action has a longer 1.0625 x 16 TPI tenon for better barrel support.

Louisiana Precision Rifles 700 action

In the front of the action is a precision-ground, double-pinned .312″ recoil lug. On top of the action, Louisana Precision includes a custom +20 MOA scope rail, that is both double-pinned and secured with oversize 8×40 screws. Roscoe has relocated the bolt release to the side where it is raised up out of the stock line so you don’t have to make a large cut-out in your stock.

Louisiana Precision Rifles 700 action Louisiana Precision Rifles 700 action

The bolt is an inpressive piece of work also. It employs a fluted, one-piece bolt body with a threaded handle to accept custom bolt handle knobs. At the rear of the bolt, the cam angles have been carefully modified for smoother extraction and better camming. The front of the bolt is fairly unique. The ejector has been repositioned, and the bolt is fitted with an ultra-reliable mini M16-style extractor. The new LPR action design also allows a 100% captive firing pin tip.

Available on Complete Rifle Builds Initially
This receiver is available right now on complete rifles built by Louisiana Precision Rifles. Individual receivers will be offered for sale at a later date. The cost of a complete custom rifle built by Wm. Roscoe of Louisiana Precision ranges from $2,950 to $3,500 depending on finish, added options and stock choices. Estimated lead time is roughly 30-45 days on receivers. For more info, visit LouisianaPrecisionRifles.com, or call William Roscoe at (318) 422-0421.

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 5 Comments »
December 27th, 2009

Sources for Official NRA, IBS, and NBRSA Targets

AccurateShooter.com offers dozens of FREE, printable targets for target practice, load development, and fun shooting. We also offer a few samples of the most popular NRA Bullseye targets. One or more of these printable targets should work for most training purposes. However, some readers have asked “where can we get the real targets… exactly like the ones used in NRA, IBS and NBRSA shooting matches?”

NRA Target IBS Hunter Rifle Target

Sources for Official Shooting Competition Targets
Here are six (6) sources for official match targets: ALCO Target Company, American Target Company, National Target Company, Orrville Printing, Pistoleer.com, and U.S. Target Company. All five of these vendors carry nearly all the NRA High Power and Smallbore targets, including the new, smaller F-Class Targets. Most sources also have international 300m and 300m-reduced-to-300-yards targets.

National Target and Orrville Printing currently sell IBS targets for rimfire (50 yard) benchrest, short-range centerfire Benchrest (100, 200, 300 yards), Hunter BR Rifle (100, 200, 300 yards), plus the official 600-yard and 1000-yard IBS targets. However, this year the IBS designated Orrville Printing as the official source for IBS 100-200-300-600 group and score targets. Orrville Printing was selected after an extensive review of available target papers in 2008. Clubs hosting IBS registered shoots may use up old stock, but new purchases should be from Orrville Printing.

We are told that National Target supplies NBRSA matches. One other NRA-licensed target vendors is Central Target Company (Kentucky), (502) 895-3390, but it appears that Central Target doesn’t maintain a web site.

Available Official Competition Targets
Vendor NRA High Power F-Class NRA Smallbore Air Rifle/Pistol IBS NBRSA Other
ALCO Target
Company
Yes, All No Yes Yes No No Archery, IDPA, IPSC, Police, Realistic, Shoot-N-C, Silhouette, Fun Targets, Pasters.
American Target
Company
Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No USBR, Sight-in, Muzzle-Loading, Police Silhouette
National Target
Company
Yes, Nearly All Yes Yes, All Yes Yes* No IDPA, IPSC, FBI, Police Silhouette, Sight-in, Target Backers, Pasters
Pistoleer.com Yes Yes Yes, most and color training Yes Yes No Bianchi, FBI, IBS, IDPA, IPSC, Silhouette, Archery, Pasters
U.S. Target, Inc. Yes Yes Yes, All Yes No No Bianchi, FBI, Police Silhouette, IPSC, Realistic Silhouette, Varmint
*National Target Co. is allowed to sell off remaining IBS Target inventory.

ALCO Target Co., Ph: (626) 358-4814, 2048 Central Ave., Duarte, CA 91010
American Target Co., Ph: (877) 733-0433, 1328 South Jason St., Denver, CO 80223
National Target Co., Ph: (800) 827-7060, 3958-D Dartmouth Ct., Frederick, MD 21703
Orrville Printing Co., Ph: (330) 682-5066, 1645 N. Main St., Orrville, OH 44667
Pistoleer.com, Ph: (618) 288-4588, 12 Schiber Court, Maryville, IL 62062
U.S. Target Inc., Ph: (800) 746-6836, 16472 Common Rd., Roseville, MI 48066

NBRSA 600 yard Target NRA Air Rifle Target

Alternate NBRSA Target Source
NBRSA 600-yard and 1000-yard targets are also available from Karl Huntstiger, wfo13 [at] aol.com, 2901 E. Cortez Street, Phoenix, AZ 85068.

Permalink Competition, New Product 2 Comments »
December 26th, 2009

HUNTX3 — New Digital Hunting Magazine Debuts on Web

Huntx3 magazineHUNTX3, a new all-digital hunting magazine, launched this week. You’ll find a full-featured website at HuntX3.com. There you can access gear reviews, videos, news feeds, and popular articles. But that’s just the beginning. The “heart” of HUNTX3 is a flash-based, interactive e-Zine that displays like a conventional print magazine with “double-truck” layouts, flip-page navigation, and full-page ads. The e-Zine even has embedded video and audio — and all content is FREE.

As a rule, we generally don’t favor these print-magazine mimicking formats. They take a long time to load, and seem less reader-friendly than conventional web pages. On the other hand, HUNTX3’s e-Zine layout allows for large photos, and impressive two-page spreads.

The premier issue of HUNTX3 Digital Magazine features many articles of interest for bow-hunters and big game hunters. There are excellent stories about elk hunting in Utah, Red Stag hunting in New Zealand, and Dall Sheep hunting in the Canadian Yukon.

Huntx3 Magazine

High-Tech Hunt Planning with Google Earth
HUNTX3’s premier issue also includes a fascinating article by Toxie Givens explaining how to use Google Earth satellite photos to monitor game stands and plan a deer hunt. The article shows how you can define club boundaries, and plot the location of feeding stations, deer stands, and trail cameras. Using Google Earth, you can even mark locations where game has been taken in the past, link trail cam photos, and superimpose current weather conditions.

Givens explains: “I keep a record of the location where every deer is taken… for every year we have been hunting. This is great information to see where the most successful areas are on the club. Using Google Earth you can get the Weather Radar superimposed on your location. Furthermore Google Earth is capable of geo-caching [trail camera] photos to GPS points.”

Huntx3 Magazine

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, News No Comments »
December 26th, 2009

30% Off Older Model Leupold Riflescopes

Speaking of Leupold scopes, Midsouth Shooters Supply is running a big sale on genuine Leupold scopes, 2008 modelsr. A wide selection of these 2008-vintage Leupolds are discounted 30%. Note: These are new, full-warrantied scopes, not factory refurb or “blemished” models. All 2008 close-outs are being sold at 30% off to make room for the 2010 inventory.

LEUPOLD VX-L Low Mount 3.5-10X56mm Duplex Reticle Matte: $615.99 (reg. $877.99)

LEUPOLD VX-L Low Mount 3.5-10X56mm German #4 Reticle Matte: $650.99 (reg. $929.99)

LEUPOLD VX-L Low Mount 3.5-10X56mm Boone & Crkt. Reticle Matte: $671.99 (reg. $959.99)

Permalink Hot Deals, Optics 2 Comments »
December 25th, 2009

Happy Holidays to our Readers Around the World

We wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. We hope you’re enjoying time with your family today, whether you’re basking in the sun in Australia, or shoveling snow up in Finland near the Arctic Circle.

We want to take this opportunity to thank all the folks who have generously donated to the site over the past year. (Please, if you’ve donated and are a Forum member, tell us your Forum “nickname” so we can acknowledge your contribution). This year we received roughly 225 donations, many from “repeat” contributors. Thank you all!

We also want to thank the many individuals who help this site by donating time and effort and/or writing articles. This includes Kelly Bachand, Charles Ballard, Jason Baney, Vince Bottomley, John Brewer, Mike Bryant, Brand Cole, Richard Franklin, Speedy Gonzales, “Graymist”, Sam Hall, Dan Lilja, Bryan Litz, Chris (“Techshooter”) Long, Larry Medler, Danny Reever, German Salazar, Russell Simmonds, and members of the USAMU. We also want to acknowledge the dozens of fine shooters who have helped us with the Guns of the Week features. They have spent much time and effort to bring you their stories and photos. And we want to say thanks to our commercial sponsors that have supported the site this year through advertising or donated items for auction. Last but definitely not least we should all thank the field testers who have volunteered reloading and range time to test loads and products: Jason Baney, Barry Bluhm, Joe Friedrich, Mark LaFevers, German Salazar, and Jerry Tierney.

Deep Creek Range, Montana

Permalink News No Comments »
December 25th, 2009

600-Yard Shooter of the Year Sam Hall Compares Berger 108s and 105 VLDs

Sam Hall of Boonville, North Carolina is “King of the Hill” when it comes to the 600-yard benchrest game. He is the 2009 IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year, and he won the IBS 600-yard Nationals two years in a row. When Sam talks, people listen… if they’re smart. Sam was recently asked to compare the performance of Berger’s 6mm 108gr boattail vs. Berger’s 105gr VLD bullet. As Sam explains, both bullets have the potential to shoot really well, so your barrel and the conditions may dictate which projectile works best.

Berger 105gr VLDs vs. Berger 108gr BT by Sam Hall
I shot the 108gr Bergers (and 108 BT BIBs for a few matches) all last year in my Light Gun (LG) and Heavy Gun (HG) in 600-yard IBS competition, but switched to Berger VLDs during the Nationals because of the extreme winds in South Dakota.

Sam Hall IBS champion

When I started loading for the 108s, I quickly learned they are much easier to tune than VLDs. In the two barrels in which I shot the 108s, they did not seem to be sensitive to seating depth or powder charge like the 105 VLDs. I could not see much difference in groups at 600 yards during tuning. But, with the 108s, you will need to drop about one grain in powder compared to the VLDs due to longer bearing surface and extra weight. It seemed that the 108s show a consistent round-pattern group, where the VLDs many times have flyers. By this I mean, if both the 108s and 105 VLDs shoot a two-inch, 5-shot group at 600, the 108s will be evenly distributed in the two-inch circle. Conversely, the time the VLD’s will often have 3 or 4 shots in one inch but 1 or 2 flyers expanding the group to two inches. But when the VLDs don’t have a flyer, look out! That’s when most of the World Records have been set and VLD shooters have come from behind and won the match. (Yes, I am talking to you Mike Davis).

Berger 108 boattail bulletMike Davis and I talked about the Berger 108s vs. 105s last year. The 108gr BTs are great until the wind gets up. They seem to get blown around more than the VLDs. A half-inch extra at 600 yards these days means the difference between winning or ending up middle of the pack. So, ideally, a shooter would have two loads. One would use the 108s for mild days, and the second would use the 105gr VLDs for those windy days.

If you don’t have time to tune the 105gr VLDs (tuning them can be difficult and time-consuming), I suggest you stick to the 108s. They will save you a lot of headaches and will stick close to the VLDs in most conditions.

How Temp and Humidity Affect Performance
I almost forgot to mention. As the temperature and humidity got up in the summertime last year in North Carolina, the 108s did not perform for me as well as they did during the cooler, less humid months. I tried developing a new, hot-weather load for the 108s, but I never got the 108s to perform as well in the summer as I did in the winter and spring — even when there was no wind. I don’t know why the 108s prefer cooler, less humid conditions, except maybe because they have more drag than the 105gr VLDs. High humidity may have had more of an effect on the 108s than we’d expect from the slight BC difference between the two bullets. The VLDs seem to drill through the wind and humidity better than the 108gr Bergers. NOTE: These findings are my own opinion based on many, many groups shot tuning and in competiton, while using several barrels of various manufacturers.

I hope this helps and does not further complicate your load development process. Try both bullets before you buy a large quantity of bullets. Your rifle will let you know which projectile it prefers. We have often found that a particular barrel will shoot one bullet design well but not the other. A few barrels will shoot BOTH bullet types really well.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 1 Comment »
December 24th, 2009

MOH Winner, Most-Decorated Soldier Passes

Col. Robert HowardMedal of Honor winner Col. Robert L. Howard passed away yesterday in Waco, Texas. Prior to his death, historians believed Howard was the most highly-decorated then-living American soldier. He was part of the Army Special Forces and ran cross-border operations in Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam. He was wounded 14 times in Vietnam and was awarded eight Purple Hearts.

He was nominated three separate times for the Medal of Honor, finally receiving the nation’s highest award in 1971. President Richard M. Nixon presented him with the honor for his bravery in Vietnam during a mission to rescue a missing soldier in enemy territory.

In addition to the MOH, Col. Howard held the following major decorations: Distinguished Service Cross (with one oak leaf cluster); Silver Star; Defense Superior Service Medal; Legion of Merit (with three oak leaf clusters); Bronze Star (with three oak leaf clusters and “V” device); Purple Heart (multiple with a silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters); Meritorious Service Medal (with two oak leaf clusters); Air Medal (with “V” Device and numeral 3. One award for heroism and two for aerial achievement); Joint Service Commendation; Army Commendation Medal (with “V” device and one each silver and bronze oak leaf clusters. 4 awards for valor and 3 for achievement); Presidential Unit Citation (for Studies and Observations Group–SOG).

Howard also held many other U.S. service medals and Foreign Decorations, including the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (with Gold, Silver, and Bronze citations).

After retiring from the Army, Col. Howard spent much of his free time working with veterans. He also took periodic trips to Iraq to visit active duty troops. Howard died of pancreatic cancer at a hospice in Waco, Texas on December 23, 2009.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Col. Howard and to read his Medal of Honor citation. As a staff sergeant of the highly-classified Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), Howard was recommended for the Medal of Honor on three separate occasions during thirteen months spanning 1967–1968. The first two nominations were downgraded to the award of the Distinguished Service Cross due to the covert nature of the operations in which Howard participated.

Permalink News 5 Comments »
December 24th, 2009

NSSF Donates $109,500 to 16 Collegiate Programs

From Ivy League to smaller schools, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has provided 16 colleges and universities with early Christmas presents — grants to help more students get involved in the shooting sports. Among the grant recipients are Harvard University, Clemson University, the University of Vermont, and Hillsdale College. “NSSF is making these grants available in response to a growing interest in the shooting sports on campuses across the country,” said Zach Snow, NSSF’s senior shooting promotions coordinator. “Graduates of scholastic shooting programs like the NSSF-developed Scholastic Clay Target Program want to continue participating in their favorite sport when they go off to college, and once there, they’re eager to introduce new friends, classmates and faculty to this lifetime activity. At the same time, collegiate shooting programs help create a positive image for the shooting sports and firearms ownership.”

NSSF Collegiate Program

A total of $109,500 in grant money was awarded for new and existing shooting programs at the schools. Harvard University, for example, will use its grant to revive the Harvard Shooting Club, founded in 1883, and which has been dormant since 2003; raise awareness of the shooting sports within Harvard community and general public; and host firearms education events on campus. READ MORE about the 16 schools and their plans for their grant awards. Find more information on NSSF’s College Shooting Sports Initiative at www.nssf.org/college.

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December 24th, 2009

Photos of Gen 4 Glocks Reveal Notable Changes

Ed’s Public Safety, a gunshop in Georgia, has published photos of the New “Gen 4″ Glock handguns. The much-ballyhooed design changes for the Gen 4 Glocks are interesting, but hardly revolutionary. As expected, the new Glocks will have interchangeable backstraps. That’s probably a good thing.

Gen 4 glock Gen 4 glock

CLICK HERE for more Gen 4 Glock photos

Other noteworthy changes in the Gen 4 Glocks are a dual recoil spring, and an interchangeable magazine release that can be moved from right to left. The dual spring is a more modern design that may reduce perceived recoil somewhat. The mag release change is smart and makes the gun more user-friendly for southpaws. Glock is making new magazines for the Gen 4 Glocks that work with the interchangeable mag release. Older magazines can still be used with the new Gen 4 Glocks, but only when the mag release button is positioned on the left.

Design Change — Too Little, Too Late?
Unfortunately, with either of the two provided backstraps, Glock’s Gen 4 grip is still fat and blocky compared to many other pistols. Also the Gen 4 Glocks retain the prominent “backstrap bulge” or flare in the bottom 1/3 of the grip’s back edge. For many shooters this “Glock bulge” causes the gun to point poorly, and for this Editor, that bulge also causes the gun to twist more on recoil (since it pushes against one side of the base of the shooting hand). The first thing done by companies that modify Glock grips is to reduce the flare or bulge in the bottom of the grip. That makes the grip much more user-friendly for smaller hands. In this Editor’s opinion the bottom rear section of the Glock grip was an ergonomic mistake when it came out in 1982 and the Gen 4 redesign really does nothing to correct the flaw. The interchangeable backstraps are just a poor “band-aid fix” when a more fundamental redesign was needed.

Gen 4 Glock

Gen 4 Glock

Gen 4 Glock

Overall, we think that most of the Gen 4 design changes are positive, or at worst “neutral”, but this may be a case of “too little, too late”. We doubt if the redesigned Glock is sufficiently improved to grab much market share back from the Smith & Wesson M&P series and other handguns whose sales have cut into Glock’s lucrative police contracts and civilian sales. The Gen 4 Glocks offer a modest ergonomic improvement over previous models, but they still not as well-designed ergonomically as Smith’s M&P. We doubt that police agencies which have switched to M&Ps will find reason to go back to Glocks anytime soon — unless, of course, Glock radically drops its prices, which is unlikely.

Permalink New Product, News 5 Comments »
December 24th, 2009

2010 Women on Target Hunting Schedule

The NRA’s NRA Women On Target Hunting Progam organizes a popular series of women-only outdoor adventures every season. Currently, there are 11 Women on Target hunts planned for 2010. For a woman looking for a “no-stress” hunting holiday guided by skilled outfitters, this is an excellent choice. Starting as $276 for a two-day duck hunt, many of these events are quite affordable, so they would make a unique Christmas present for a female family member or your favorite lady shooter. CLICK HERE for Women on Target hunt details and pricing.

NOTE: One spot is still available for the combo hunt at Addisson Ranch in Oklahoma. Ladies will have a chance to stalk and shoot Whitetail Doe, Wild Hog, Coyote, and Bobcat.

Women on Target Hunting

2010-2011 Hunting Excursion Schedule
Whitetail Doe, Wild Hog, Coyote & Bobcat Oklahoma January 1-3, 2010
Feral Hog Hunt and Bass Fishing Texas January 22-24, 2010
European Pheasant and Walk up Hunt Michigan March 5-6, 2010
Rio Grande Tom Turkey Texas April 9-11, 2010
Alaskan Black Bear, Wolf Alaska August 17-23, 2010
Pheasant & Chukar Nebraska October 22-24, 2010
Mallard & Wood Duck Michigan October 22-24, 2010
Whitetail Doe/Spike, Axis Doe, and Hogs Texas October 22-24, 2010
Whitetail Doe/Spike, Axis Doe, Rio Grande Turkey (Tom/Hen), Hog Texas November 12-14, 2010
Whitetail Doe/Spike, Axis Doe, Rio Grande Turkey (Tom/Hen), Hog Texas December 10-12, 2010
Whitetail Doe, Hog, Coyote & Bobcat Oklahoma December 31, 2010 and January 2, 2011
Permalink Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
December 23rd, 2009

Tim Burke, USA's Top Biathlete, Leads World Cup

At the current Biathlon World Cup event in Slovenia, American Tim Burke earned the yellow bib signifying that he is the current leader in the Biathlon World Cup. This is the first time an American has EVER been the overall leader in this prestigious Biathlon series. Tim now ranks among the elite biathletes who could win Gold at the upcoming Vanouver Olympic games. Tim Burke is a remarkable athlete who has overcome serious medical issues: “It wasn’t at all an easy way for me. But I think those down times were important as well for taking step by step forward to where I am now. I had a major hip surgery in 2002 and I wasn’t sure if I would continue to be a biathlete after that and [mononucleosis] took me out the whole 2004 season.”

Tim Burke USA Biathlon

CLICK HERE to learn more about the U.S. Biathlon team at biathlon.teamusa.org

Before Slovenia, Tim Burke made history twice at the previous World Cup event in Ostersund, Sweden. His silver medal performance in the 20km Individual competition tied the best World Cup finish ever for a U.S. Biathlete and Tim followed that performance by capturing the bronze medal in the Men’s 10km sprint event. Burke’s bronze medal marked the first time a U.S. Biathlete has ever reached the podium in the sprint competition — and the first time that Americans have won silver and bronze medals in the same competition.

In the major World Cup competition leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Team USA has gained world attention. The U.S. Biathlon team has been called the most improved team in the world by Olympic and Biathlon experts. Michael Dixon, Eurosport TV Biathlon Commentator, reports: “The United States Biathlon Team is the most improved in the world. It won’t be long before a moment of brilliance brings them to the podium for their first Olympic medal.” The YouTube slideshow below shows the USA Biathlon Team in action. NOTE: If you’re at work, you may want to turn down the speaker volume before playback.

YouTube Preview Image

“Biathlon is a sport that captivates and fascinates nearly all who see it”, commented Max Cobb, Executive Director of the U.S. Biathlon Association. “The world-class Biathlete attempts to combine the physically demanding sport of cross-country skiing with the intense precision of rifle marksmanship. The opposing disciplines collide with unique drama at the shooting range. With hearts pounding nearly three times a second, athletes struggle to control their breathing as they attempt to hold their rifles steady and squeeze off a successful shot, knowing that each shot, and the number of seconds it takes to make it, will determine who stands on the podium.”

Permalink - Videos, News 1 Comment »
December 23rd, 2009

New Smartreloader iSD Digital Powder Dispenser

Smartreloader powder dispenserA new digital powder dispenser just hit the market. Priced at just $205.99 (at Grafs.com), the new Smartreloader iSD Digital Powder Scale & Dispenser, is about $100.00 less expensive than RCBS’s popular ChargeMaster. Designed in Italy, the Smartreloader iSD dispenser has the ability to work with either 110 volt (American) or 220 volt (European) power supplies.

The new Smartreloader iSD has some impressive features, such as fast calibration and a selectable trickle function. We hope to get our hands on one soon so we can comparison-test it against an RCBS Chargemaster. You can learn more about this new powder dispenser at Smartreloadermfg.com. General specs are very similar to the Chargemaster: the iSD scale has a maximum capacity of 1,500 grains and has claimed accuracy of ±0.1 grains. You can store up to 50 loads in internal memory, and users can select four (4) different measurement units: grams, grains, carats, or ounces.

Where can you find this new powder dispenser? Supplies are very limited right now, but in the USA, Smartreloader-branded products will be carried by Cabelas.com, Grafs.com, Midsouth Shooters Supply, and Cabelas.com. The worldwide distributor of Smartreloader products is H.T. Helvetica Trading, a Swiss-based company. CLICK HERE for a list of Smartreloader vendors in other countries.

Smartreloader powder dispenser

Permalink New Product, News, Reloading 7 Comments »
December 22nd, 2009

Firearm Sales Charted by Region — Southeastern and Mountain States Lead Rifle Purchases

NSGA firearms reportThe National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) has issued an interesting report charting gun sales by region. Southerners like handguns, and those in the Great Lakes states purchase the most shotguns by far. In 2008, southern Atlantic states led per capita in handgun purchases and also accounted for 31.4 % of all handguns bought in the United States. East north central states led per capita in shotgun purchases and accounted for 33.4 % of shotguns sold.

The Mountain states led per capita in rifle purchases and accounted for 10.7 percent of rifles sold. But the South Atlantic states’ residents buy the most rifles overall — 22% of the nationwide total. It is interesting that the Pacific states (California, Oregon, Washington) encompass 14.7% of the U.S. population, but that region accounts for only 10% of rifles and shotguns sold. On the other hand, Pacific states’ residents buy 14.2% of all handguns, the second highest figure among regions. Maybe all those crazy gun control laws in California haven’t made things any safer, and people feel the need to arm themselves.

Download Full Report on Firearm Sales by Region (PDF File)

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December 22nd, 2009

Garmin 885 with Voice Commands is $159.99 — Today Only

The Garmin Nüvi 855 GPS Navigator is Amazon’s gold box “Deal of the Day” for December 22, 2009. This is a highly-rated unit with Lane Assist, and speech recognition for commands. Today only, the price has been slashed from $189.99 to $159.99 with FREE Shipping. You can’t touch that price elsewhere for a Garmin with speech recognition. As this is the lowest price I’ve ever seen (by far), your Editor went ahead and bought one.

CLICK HERE for Best Price
Garmin nüvi 855 4.3-Inch Widescreen Portable GPS Navigator with Speech Recognition

The video below shows how the voice-activated navigation works on the Garmin 880, the predecessor to the model 885. It’s pretty cool. NOTE: To use the voice command feature, you need to have a small wireless control (included in the kit) clipped on your steering wheel.

YouTube Preview Image
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December 21st, 2009

IMR 8208 XBR in Stock at Grafs.com

Grafs.com has received a large shipment of the new IMR 8208 XBR powder. This is good news as Powder Valley recently sold out. Grafs.com has both 8-lb jugs for $149.99 (item IMR82088) as well as smaller 1-lb containers for $21.99 (item IMR82081).

If you haven’t heard about IMR 8208 XBR, this is a very promising new powder that is very accurate, meters well, and is much less temp sensitive than other powders of similar burn rate. This powder should be ideal for many applications including .223 Rem, .204 Ruger, 6 PPC, and .308 Winchester. Will 8208 XBR work in a 6BR or Dasher with heavy bullets? We’ll let you know soon — we’re planning to test it ourselves with an 8-twist 6mm BR.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product No Comments »