February 28th, 2010

Berger Bullets Factory Tour — Kelly Bachand Reports

Berger BulletsWhile in Southern California recently I couldn’t pass up the invitation to spend some time with my friend Michelle Gallagher, the Marketing Coordinator for Berger Bullets. After my obligatory visit to Disneyland, Michelle offered me a tour of the Berger Bullets factory. That is something even a Sierra guy knows not to pass up!

The machines now run 24 hours a day to keep up with market demands. To increase production, Berger recently started a third shift, allowing the machines to run at maximum capacity. We walked into the factory to the sound of a machine pressing out bullet jackets: “ca-chung, ca-chung, ca-chung.” It is so loud that hearing protection is worn by the operator. Copper is fed into the jacket-making machine from a large coil. Then a series of sequentially deeper, narrower punches create one complete bullet jacket for every revolution of the machine’s huge crankshaft. The operator monitors the whole cycle, selecting jackets at random to test for dimensional accuracy.

After the jackets are formed, lead is placed into the jackets. As with the copper jacket material, the lead is fed into a large machine from a coil. Lead cores are then cut to length and given an approximate shape, a process called swaging. This particular core-forming machine has been in use since before WWII! Michelle said “these machines still work great so there is no reason to switch to anything else”.

Berger Bullets

Next the copper jackets and lead cores are combined and shaped using a successive series of precision dies. The bullets are swaged (squished really) from the bottom up once the lead is inserted into the jacket via a tube feeder. This ensures there are no air bubbles between the lead core and copper jacket. I watched as one such machine was set up and calibrated. It was started then tested and adjusted a number of times before it was left to run automatically. Even then, handfuls of bullets are frequently tested for weight, concentricity, and dimensional accuracy. I was told that if any lot is found to be bad — for whatever reason — the entire lot is just thrown away! Sorry, but this means no boxes of seconds or “blems” at bargain prices from the Berger factory.

Some details of Berger’s operation surprised me. A number of tasks that I assumed would be automated are still done by hand, ensuring both accuracy and consistency. Bullets are weighed, packaged, and checked by hand. I overheard one employee say that they had a few thousand bullets to weight-sort before they could be packaged because they feared something may have been slightly off during production. That was a time-consuming task, but they did weight-sort bullet by bullet to make sure nothing had gone wrong.

Berger BulletsNew Product Packaging
Berger is now offering “quantity packaging” for the most popular bullets in a number of different calibers. I was also surprised to see boxes in colors other than yellow on Berger’s shelves. Michelle explained to me that the yellow boxes are retained for match or target bullets. The thinner-jacketed hunting bullets now go in orange boxes while moly-coated bullets are packed in black boxes.

One last point worth noting is that if, like me, you (foolishly) wear a Sierra shirt to a tour of Berger Bullets, you will promptly be given a Berger shirt and hat to wear during the visit.

Michelle, thanks so much for the tour! — Kelly Bachand

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo 1 Comment »
February 28th, 2010

Special Lapua 30-06 and .423 Dakota Cases at Grafs.com

A few years ago, as a custom OEM order, Lapua produced a variety of cartridge cases for Dakota Arms. You may have seen the Dakota 20 Practical brass made by Lapua. Dakota ran out of money, so some of this brass was retained by Lapua. For quite some time, Lapua has been warehousing quantities of .423 Dakota cases and .30-06 Springfield cases, but now the left-over inventories are for sale at Grafs.com. All of Lapua’s remaining 30-06 and .423 Dakota brass (produced originally for Dakota Arms) are being offered for sale at www.grafs.com. Once they’re gone, they are GONE!

Lapua 30-06 Brass

Lapua 30-06 100 Years Brass
The .30-06 cases are regular Lapua cases with a unique, 30-06 100 Years head stamp commemorating the 100 years of this cartridge. This special run 30-06 brass is Graf’s item DU4HH7067, prices at $16.57 per 20 cases.

Lapua 30-06 Brass

.423 Dakota Brass
While there are few .423 Dakota rifle in circulation, there has been good interest from wildcatters and other. Grafs comments: “This is perfect brass for adventurous wildcatters looking for a large case to play with. They’re a rimless design, having a .585″ head and are 2.475″ in length. After that, they can be anything you want with a little Imperial and some elbow grease.” The .423 Dakota brass, Graf’s item DU4HH4230, costs $19.99 for 20 cases.

Permalink News No Comments »
February 27th, 2010

Vihtavuori Releases NEW N570 Powder for Magnums

Vihtavuori (VV) has started producing N570, a new high-energy, double-base powder suited for magnum cartridges. The burn rate of N570 is similar to Vihtavuori N170 and Hodgdon H870, making it somewhat faster than 24N21 or Retumbo. The new N570 has the slowest burn rate of the five powders in N500-series of high-energy propellants. N570 is an extruded tubular powder with a large kernel size (similar to VV 20N41 and 20N29) and a high bulk density.

Vihtavuori N570

The characteristics of this slow burning, high-energy powder are well-suited for large volume cases like the 6.5-284 Norma, 300 Winchester Magnum, 300 Remington Ultra Mag, 338 Lapua Magnum or the 30-378 Weatherby Magnum.

Reloading Data for the new N570 Powder is available in the latest edition of the Vihtavuori Reloading Guide. (PDF).

CLICK HERE for Vihtavuori Reloading Guide (8th Ed.).

The new N570 was developed at the request of magnum cartridge reloaders. Vihtavuori told us: “Powder users have repeatedly asked for a powder suited to the needs of the largest magnum rifle cartridges. We have developed our new N570 High Energy powder to meet this special need in the market. N570 was developed to bring out the very best performance and velocity in large volume magnum rifle cartridges.”

VV Recommends Weighing N570 Charges
Because N570 has very large kernels, Vihtavuori advises that reloaders should always WEIGH N570 charges rather than rely on throws from powder measures: “We recommend that charges of this high-energy N570 powder be weighed, as measures do not always deliver consistent charges. This is especially true when the powder being used is of such a large kernel configuration. This may lead to a potential for either under- or over-charged cases, if the charges are thrown straight from the measure and not weighed.”

Vihtavuori Powders are imported in the USA by Hodgdon Powder Company and Kaltron Outdoors, and are marketed worldwide by Nammo Lapua, www.lapua.com.

Permalink New Product, News, Reloading 4 Comments »
February 27th, 2010

Free NRA Membership for Active-Duty Military Personnel

Military veterans make up a significant part of the NRA’s membership and Board of Directors. They shoot in the NRA’s competitive matches and often become NRA-Certified Instructors to teach gun safety and basic marksmanship.

In appreciation of the sacrifices made by members of the military, the NRA now offers a FREE one-year membership to all active-duty servicemen and women. The complimentary military membership provides all regular member benefits, including a subscription to one of three print magazines: American Hunter, American Rifleman, and America’s 1st Freedom. This offer applies to personnel currently serving with the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard.

CLICK HERE for FREE NRA Membership for Armed Services Personnel.

Other Programs for Active Military and Veterans
The NRA conducts many more programs of interest to the military, from tactical competitions to tuition-free armorer schools. The NRA has also supported many Wounded Warriors Hunts. A free Veteran’s Day shoot has been held for several years at the NRA Range in Fairfax, Virginia.

Permalink News 10 Comments »
February 26th, 2010

Armalite Brings Back AR10(T) Carbine — Good for Hog Hunters

The basic AR15, with upgrades to barrel, trigger, optics and “furniture” has evolved into an extremely effective varminter, chambered in .223 Rem, or a .20-caliber such as the 20 Practical. Hunters have also adapted the AR10 platform, with its ability to fire a .308 Winchester-sized cartridge, for use on deer and Elk. Now ArmaLite has “re-introduced” a handy, compact AR10 carbine that should be ideal for hog hunters.

The folks at ArmaLite received many requests for a lighter, more compact version of the AR10. Armalite responded: “We did a small limited run and we’re pushing its use as a varmint hunter… especially good against wild boars. One of our ArmaLite gunsmiths got the idea from some buddies in Texas who are using their Ts against the wild hogs. This AR-10(T) Carbine combines the light weight and compact size of the carbine with the accuracy of the Target Model.” This AR10(T) carbine features a 16″, 1:11.25″ twist barrel, fitted to a forged, flat-top receiver with built-in Picatinny rail. With a compact 37.5″ length, the gun weighs 8.6 pounds (3.9 kg). Included with the rifle are one 10-round mag, and one 20-round mag. MSRP is $1892.00.

Armalite AR10 T Carbine

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, New Product 1 Comment »
February 26th, 2010

IBS Issues Final AR Benchrest Competition Rules

Jeff Stover, President of the IBS (International Benchrest Shooters) just sent us the final rules and safety guidelines for AR benchrest competition under the IBS. Jeff noted: “Shooters should understand that the ranges and clubs will determine whether to allow AR rifles in their particular IBS benchrest matches.” This program is not mandatory, and each club will decide, based on its own priorities, whether ARs will be allowed to compete. When they ARE “invited”, AR-platform rifles will run in their own separate class.

Click the links below to download two .PDF files:

DOWNLOAD: IBS AR Benchrest Final Rules

DOWNLOAD: IBS AR Benchrest Safety Checklist

Permalink Competition, News 2 Comments »
February 26th, 2010

MidwayUSA offers $10 off to AccurateShooter.com Readers

MidwayUSA has just launched a special, exclusive promotion for AccurateShooter.com readers. It’s a very attractive offer: $10.00 off any order of $50.00 or more. There are a few limitations — for example you can’t use the promo for back-ordered items, but basically this deal can save you 20% right off the top of a fifty-dollar order. To get the $10.00 off promo code, click the link below. Be sure to tell your friends. This limited time offer ends midnight March 15, 2010.

Midway Promotion

Permalink Hot Deals, News 1 Comment »
February 25th, 2010

Custom Dies — The Hornady Option (Call Lonnie)

How would you like a full-length sizing die perfectly fitted to your fired brass? At one time that required you to purchase a die blank, a special undersized reamer (a chamber reamer is too big), and send the work out to a skilled gunsmith. You could expect to have $250-$350 tied up in your custom die when all was said and done.

Now Hornady’s custom shop offers a much less expensive alternative. For $121-$140, plus shipping, Hornady will produce a custom-made die based on your reamer print, spec sheet or fired brass. Lonnie Hummel and his team of skilled machinists have produced custom dies for many top shooters. Scott Parker had Hornady produce a custom full-length die for Scott’s 6BRX. Scott reports: “The die is great. I’m very impressed. The die is a perfect fit for my brass and the sized brass has very low run-out.”

Hornady’s non-bushing custom full-length sizing dies cost $121.00 for cases up to 2.60″ COAL, or $140.00 for cases 2.60″-2.99″ long. Add $20-$25.00 if you want a custom, non-micrometer seater die also. Hornaday also offers custom “match grade” bushing dies — both FL-sizing dies and bushing neck-sizers. These “match grade” (bushing-equipped) sizing dies (FL, or neck-only) cost $152.00 up to 2.60″, or $166.00 for longer dies.

To order any type of Hornady custom die (bushing or non-bushing) we recommend you send 3 or 4 fired cases along with a reamer print to Lonnie Hummel at Hornady Mfg., Box 1848, Grand Island, NE, 68802. Give Lonnie a call first at (800) 338-3220, ext. 208, to discuss design details and get an estimated delivery date.

Hornady Custom Dies

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading No Comments »
February 25th, 2010

Casio Military-Style Wave-Ceptor Watch Just $15

SORRY — All SOLD OUT
Here’s a great deal if you need a precise, rugged, but very inexpensive watch. For TODAY ONLY (the next 10 hours actually), a Casio Wave-Ceptor watch with tan nylon band, is for sale at Pennywise.biz for just $14.99 plus one penny shipping. That’s right — delivered price is just $15.00. Every day, this watch updates its time setting automatically, in response to the WWVB calibration signal from the Atomic Clock Center in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

DOWNLOAD User Manual for this Wave-Ceptor Watch (PDF)

NOTE: This is a one-day special price. Sale ends 6:00 pm PST on February 25th. This watch has a daily alarm and auto calendar (pre-programmed until the year 2099). Other features include water resistance to 30 meters (99 feet) and afterGlow LED electro luminescent backlight. That LED backlight is very useful. Case diameter is 38mm and the model number is WVQ140 if you want to compare pricing. Normally these watches sell for about $39.00.

Permalink Hot Deals, New Product 5 Comments »
February 24th, 2010

Young Champion Relies on Tack-Driving 6mmAR Upper

After we reported that Tyler Rico of Arizona won the Nevada Regional High Power Championship (at the ripe old age of 15), some of our readers asked about Tyler’s match rifle. Tyler, who earned his Distinguished badge at age 13 (the youngest ever to do do), primarily shoots AR-platform rifles. The AR with which Tyler won the 2010 Nevada Regional featured a custom 6mmAR upper built by Robert Whitley’s AR-X Enterprises. The 6mmAR chambering, basically a 6.5 Grendel necked down to 6mm, was popularized by Robert, who is himself an avid High Power shooter.

Tyler Rico’s 6mmAR upper has an interesting history. Whitley explained: “Originally we built it up for some testing by the Marine Shooting Team and we took it down to Quantico. They liked it a lot but did not have authority or funding to buy them. When Tyler’s father called me looking for an upper for Tyler, I offered a special deal on it because we wanted to help support a junior shooter.” Built on a heavy-walled DPMS Low Pro receiver, Tyler’s upper features a 26″ Krieger 1:8″ twist barrel, and a side-positioned charging handle.

According to Whitley, “My test rifle with Tyler’s upper shot great. Above is a photo of one of the initial 10-shot, 100-yard test targets I shot with the upper at 100 yards. This gun really hammered. Remember The ‘X’ ring is the size of a dime”.

Five Shots at 300m that Could Fit under a Quarter
Robert Whitley took the photo below at the Marine’s Quantico, VA, Precision Weapons Section facility. The photo shows a target shot with Tyler’s upper at 300 meters. That’s a five-shot group the size of a quarter. Robert reports: “The Marines wouldn’t let me take the target home, because they planned to use the target to support their lobbying effort for funds to purchase new 6mmAR uppers.”

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 3 Comments »
February 24th, 2010

MidwayUSA Contributions to NRA-ILA Pass $5 Million

The NRA announced that MidwayUSA has collected more than $5 million through the company’s “Round-Up” program, bringing MidwayUSA’s total giving to the NRA to over $8 million.

Created by MidwayUSA founders Larry and Brenda Potterfield in 1992, the “Round-Up” program asks customers to “round up” their order amount to the next highest dollar. The proceeds are then sent to the NRA-ILA’s National Endowment for the Protection of the Second Amendment. “Round-up” donations are held in trust, as an “endowment”. The NRA-ILA utilizes the interest from the account for fighting anti-gun legislation across the United States. “We’re proud the Round-Up Program has been so successful,” said Mr. Potterfield. “It’s an easy way to offer customers the opportunity to make a big difference in the future of hunting and shooting.”

Larry and Brenda Potterfield have been active patrons of the NRA for years, supporting programs such as “Round-Up,” the Bianchi Cup, Friends of NRA, the Keystone Endowment, and The NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits to name a few. “We can’t thank the Potterfields and MidwayUSA customers enough,” said Wayne LaPierre, NRA Exec. Vice President. “In the history of the NRA, no other company has given so generously to support the Second Amendment. Larry and Brenda’s idea for the Round-up program was pure genius[.]”

Permalink News 1 Comment »
February 23rd, 2010

Teen Tyler Rico Wins NV High Power Championship

We congratulate 15-year-old Tyler Rico on his recent victory at the Nevada Regional High Power Rifle Championship held on February 13, 2010. Rico scored an impressive 791-26X, securing the overall “Open Winner” match rifle championship. Tyler also won the High Master Class and NRA Junior Class titles at the recent Boulder City, NV event.

distinguished riflemanThis NRA-sanctioned match, held at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club, is one of many regionals conducted throughout the year. High Power shooters can also compete in the National Championships held each summer at Camp Perry in Port Clinton, Ohio. Rico secured his win by completing the four-stage course of fire that included 20 shots standing at 200 yards; 20 shots sitting at 200 yards; 20 shots from the prone position at 300 yards; and 20 shots from the prone position at 600 yards.

Rico, age 15, is a former Junior National High Power Rifle Champion. Tyler is also the youngest-ever recipient of the Distinguished Rifle Badge, which he received at the 2007 National Matches. Tyler and his father, Cecil Rico, joined the Remington High-Power Rifle Team in October 2009, and reside in Tucson, Arizona.

Permalink Gunsmithing, News 6 Comments »
February 23rd, 2010

Biathlon Enhanced — Hollywood Action-Movie Style

We are pleased to see shooting featured in the Winter Olympics — as part of the biathlon competition. But for those accustomed to Hollywood action movies, biathlon events may seem a little slow… even boring. In the spoof video below, one TV producer shows how Biathlon events could be “spiced up”, Hollywood-style, to generate higher audience ratings:

Credit goes to Steve of The Firearm Blog for finding this YouTube gem. And folks, we know that shooting sports should always be taken very seriously… but we couldn’t resist passing this video along… everyone needs a chuckle now and then. Remember it is satire, designed to mock Hollywood’s fascination with violence. (Definition of satire: “trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly.”)

Permalink - Videos 3 Comments »
February 23rd, 2010

5th Annual Shilen Swap Meet Coming Soon

It’s time to get ready for the 5th Annual Shilen Swap Meet. Rain or shine, the Swap Meet will be held from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm on Saturday, March 20th, in the Shilen parking lot (Ennis, TX). The event is open to “all comers” — both buyers and sellers. Anyone can set up a table or just back their truck up and drop their tailgate. There are NO FEEs or costs. And there will be FREE FOOD –complementary chili, frito pie and water, tea, or coffee.

Shilen does request advanced notice from Swap meet attendees, especially folks selling shooting gear: “Please call (972) 875-5318 if you plan on attending so we can have a rough head count. If you want to put up a table please call, fax or email us and let us know. We will add you to the list of vendors.”

Big Discounts on Barrels
Shilen’s ‘Swap Meet Barrels’ will be BACK. These are first-quality barrels built for customers who requested a specific contour, twist rate, or caliber, but later changed their minds. Shilen let these customers modify their orders, but some of these custom-ordered barrels remain in inventory. These pre-ordered “orphan” barrels will be sold at deeply discounted prices at the Swap Meet. NOTE: All warranties still apply; these are NOT lower quality or factory seconds.

Factory Tours will be given again in 2010. During the morning tours — 8:00 am until 11:00 am — the drill, ream and rifle machine will run. Tours will continue in the afternoon but no machines will run then.

Shilen Rifle Barrels

Permalink Hot Deals, News No Comments »
February 22nd, 2010

Barrett 98B in .338 Lapua Named "Rifle of the Year"

We had fun testing the new Barrett Model 98B (Ninety-Eight Bravo) at Media Day before SHOT Show last month. In the video below, Jason shoots a 98B, after trying its bigger brother, the Barrett model 82A1. The new 98B, chambered in .338 Lapua, has some very nice features and it certainly is a sturdy beast. We predicted this gun would be popular, and attract considerable media attention.

YouTube Preview Image

That prediction was right on. Barrett’s 98B rifle in .338 Lapua Magnum has been named the American Rifleman magazine “Rifle of the Year”, earning a coveted Golden Bullseye® Award. This year the Barrett Model 98B was selected by a seven-member committee who considered a variety of factors including reliability, accuracy, design innovation, styling, and “perceived value” to the purchaser. As the “Rifle of the Year”, the 98B was chosen over other recently introduced long-gun offerings from major manufacturers.

Barrett 98b bolt action rifle

Barrett will be presented with the Golden Bullseye Award for 2010’s Rifle of the Year at the 2010 NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits in Charlotte, North Carolina. There Barrett CEO and founder Ronnie Barrett will also be personally honored as the NRA’s 2010 Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award winner. In addition, the Barrett Model 98B will be featured in the NRA’s print magazines, in the May issue of American Rifleman and American Hunter®, and the June issue of Shooting Illustrated.

In the video below, Barrett engineers explain the technical features of the Model 98B and show how to field-strip the rifle.

YouTube Preview Image
Permalink New Product, News 2 Comments »
February 21st, 2010

Free Deluxe Gear Bag with Weaver Scope Purchase

Through the end of 2010, Weaver Optics is offering a FREE Weaver Premium Canvas Gear Bag with the purchase of any Weaver® Super Slam™ or Grand Slam® scope or binoculars. This bag features multiple zippered compartments, with leather exterior straps, and a top carry handle.

Weaver Scope Promotion

To get your free gear bag, you must purchase a qualifying scope or binoculars between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010. Then you must submit your sales receipt plus a special coupon, which must be received by January 30, 2011.

CLICK HERE for the Promotion Coupon. After downloading, fill out the lower portion of the coupon and send it, along with your original receipt, the UPC from Weaver qualifying products, and $3.95 shipping & handling to:

Weaver Canvas Bag Promotion, Dept. 6309
PO Box 5009
Stacy, MN 55078-5009

Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.

Permalink Hot Deals, Optics No Comments »
February 20th, 2010

New Rule Allows Guns in Nat'l Parks and Wildlife Refuges

Starting Monday, February 22, 2010, you can bring loaded firearms into most U.S. National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges, provided this is allowed by state law. The new federal Park and Refuge policy applies to all firearms, whether long guns (rifles, shotguns), or pistols (including concealed handguns allowed under state permit). All Federal firearms statutes otherwise apply. The new law lifts a 94-year-old ban on guns in National Parks unless they were unloaded or unassembled. The new law, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), and backed by the NRA, only addresses possession and has no impact on authorized uses of guns.

National Wildlife Refuge

The new “gun-friendly” policy was announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on February 18th, as a result of new legislation enacted by Congress. Starting on February 22nd, the law allows an individual to lawfully possess a firearm within the boundaries of a National Wildlife Refuge or National Park in accordance with federal, state and local firearms laws. The new gun policy applies to all 551 units of the National Wildlife Refuge System, as well as National Monuments and nearly all the 392 units of the National Park System. Under previous regulations, tight restrictions were imposed on guns in National Parks.

CLICK HERE for Official USFWS News Release on Gun Policies

National Wildlife RefugeThe USFWS and National Park Service will look to the laws of the state and locality in which the Park, Monument, or Refuge is located to govern possession of firearms therein. Visitors will be allowed to possess firearms on National Wildlife Refuges provided they comply with applicable provisions of federal, state and local law. Persons with firearm “carry” permits will be able to possess firearms on a refuge in accordance with the provisions of the state-issued permit. The USFWS stated that the new law applies throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System, and the National Park System. However, the Associated Press reported that loaded firearms will still be restricted in 20 of the National Parks and that, generally, “guns will not be allowed in visitor centers or rangers’ offices, because firearms are banned in federal buildings.”

Predictably, the Brady Campaign assailed the new policy. “It really is sad that we’ve become such a paranoid society that people want to take guns pretty much everywhere — including National Parks”, stated Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke. Conversely, the NRA, which lobbied to have firearms allowed in National Parks, announced: “This common-sense measure will enhance the self-defense rights of law-abiding Americans and also ensure uniformity of firearm laws within a state”.

New Policies Do Not Alter Hunting Regulations in Wildlife Refuges
The USFWS stressed that: “While the law will change the application of rules regarding possession of firearms, it has no impact on the authorized uses of firearms on National Wildlife Refuges. This new law does NOT change or expand hunting opportunities on National Wildlife Refuges or exempt hunters from state or federal hunting regulations. Each person who hunts on a National Wildlife Refuge must have the required state license(s) required by the Refuge, as well as any permits and/or user fees.”

Visitors wishing to possess firearms on any unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System should carefully read and understand the laws of the state in which the refuge they plan to visit is located — as well as applicable local and county laws and ordinances that derive from that respective state’s law. For more information on hunting within National Wildlife Refuges, go to: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/hunting/.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, News No Comments »
February 20th, 2010

NEW Caldwell Tip Top Targets — Crisp Holes, No Rips

Caldwell recently sent us some new pre-printed targets that we really like. The new Caldwell Tip Top Targets have a combination of features we’ve never seen before in pre-packaged targets. First, the targets are printed on a unique, plasticized card stock — just slightly thinner than a business card. The plasticized material is very rip-resistant (if you really try, you can make a small tear on the edge, but it takes a LOT of deliberate effort). The plasticized material makes the targets 100% weatherproof, though you can still write on the surface. At the bottom of the targets, Caldwell includes a labeled data entry area where you can record firearm type, shooting conditions, distance, group size, load info, and chron data. Very Handy! The targets even come pre-punched for a 3-ring binder. That’s great if you want to save your targets. The 8″ Sight-In Tip Top Targets cost $7.49 for 25-pack, or $24.99 for 100 targets.

Tip Top Target Caldwell

Bullets Punch Perfect Circles on New Target
What makes these “Tip-Top Targets” really unique is the way bullet holes appear. When a bullet passes through a normal paper target, the paper can rip. At best you get a fairly round hole but with a fuzzy, uneven edge. With these Tip Top Targets, the bullet hole looks like it was made with a hole punch. No more ragged, fuzzy edges. If you’ve ever shot wadcutter rounds from a pistol into a paper target, that’s the effect here. But the bullet hole edges are even MORE sharp and uniform. As a result, you can measure your group sizes quickly, with great precision.

Overall, we think the Tip Top Target is a real step forward. Caldwell did a great job with this product. The new material does not tear, does not get soggy in wet conditions, and does not flap around in the wind. The new material delivers crisp, uniform bullet holes for easy group measurement, and the 1″ square gridlines let you quickly estimate your group size.

Caldwell Tip Top Targets are offered in six (6) different versions: large, Inverted “T” for iron-sighted rifles or pistols; 4″-diam. Bullseyes; 8″-diam. single Bullseye; 100-yard Benchrest Target; 200-yard Benchrest Target; and 8″ Sight-in Target with 1″ grid (shown in photos).

We really like the layout of the sight-in target. In has five different aim points with a central diamond split by horizontal and vertical lines running through the points of the diamond. The diamond, which measures 1/4″ on a side, provides a VERY precise aiming point. Just line up your cross-hairs with the heavy black lines and you should be able to shoot bugholes with this target. It’s a very good design, with good contrast in the center of each aiming square.

Is there anything we would change on the Sight-In Target we sampled? Yes… First, we’d like to see a long-range version with an all-white background so that bullet holes are easier to see at long distances. Second, we’d modify the data entry table so you could list results for multiple loads. See our FREE Targets Page for paper targets with multiple load-entry/chron data boxes.

Review Disclosure: Caldwell provided a free 25-ct pack of 8″ Sight-In Targets for testing.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 2 Comments »
February 19th, 2010

European Kids Start Biathlon Training at Young Age

If you have been watching the Winter Olympics, you’ve probably seen some coverage of Biathlon, a challenging sport that combines Nordic skiing and rimfire shooting. It takes years of training to produce a world-class Biathlete. In many European countries, future biathletes may start their training in grade school — like little leaguers do here in the USA. For example, in Norway, kids often get started in competitive biathlon as early as age 6. Basically, some youngsters start the sport as soon as they’re big enough to strap on skis and to hold the rifle. In this video, you’ll see four Norwegian kids, Torje (age 8), Anders (age 7), Tonje (age 9), and Mari (age 15) trying out an Izhmash Biathlon rifle.

YouTube Preview Image

You’ll be impressed by the steady shooting skills of the youngsters, particularly 8-year-old Torje. He’s a future champion in the making we think.

Here’s another video with 15-year-old Mari, showing her rock-solid form with an Olympic-grade Izmash, using a quick-release arm sling. Note how steady she holds the rifle. This girl can shoot!

YouTube Preview Image

The rifles in the videos are both toggle-bolt Izhmash Biathlon guns, made in Russia. Like the German Fortner straight-pull action (used by Anschütz), the Izhmash toggle bolt action allows extremely rapid bolt-cycling. Shooters can quickly eject and reload without disturbing their shooting position or sight picture. The rifle in the first video is sold in the USA by Russian-American Armory for about $1400.00. That sounds expensive, but it is less than half the price of the top-of-the-line Anschütz Fortner biathlon rifle. The Izhmash Biathlon is offered in two models, the Biathlon 7-4 for adult men and the more compact Biathlon 7-3 for women and juniors.

Permalink - Videos, News 3 Comments »
February 19th, 2010

Bushnell Sues Leupold & Stevens for Patent Infringement

Bushnell Outdoor Products has sued Leupold & Stevens for infringing on two Bushnell U.S. Patents covering the Bushnell Angle Range Compensation™ (ARC™) and Rain™ Mode laser rangefinder technology. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas on February 9, 2010 and alleges that Leupold is infringing on Bushnell U.S. Patent Nos. 5,926,259 and 7,658,031.

Angle Range Compensation is important for both rifle shooters and bow-hunters. When a shooter or archer takes a shot at an extreme up or down angle, there will be less drop than with a non-angled shot (given the same line of sight distance to target). By fitting an inclinometer to its rangefinders, Bushnell is able to plot the shot angle and display the “effective ballistic distance” to the target. You can then quickly calculate the hold-over you actually need.

Bushnell pioneered the sportsman-oriented laser rangefinder, and Bushnell was selling rangefinders long before Leupold even entered the laser rangefinder market. Bushnell earned U.S. Patent No. 7,658,031 for its rangefinder technology that provides hold-over info for angled shots.

“Bushnell has invested an enormous amount of time and resources into developing our patented technology and we will vigorously enforce our rights against all infringers,” said Phil Gyori, Executive Vice President of Marketing at Bushnell Inc. “While we prefer to resolve disputes with our competitors without resorting to litigation, we felt we had no choice but to defend our intellectual property against Leupold’s infringement.”

Permalink News, Optics 3 Comments »