July 18th, 2011

Leo Anderson Smashes 1000-Yard Score Aggregate Records

Leo Anderson 1000 yard recordMontana 1K benchrest shooter Leo Anderson has set a pair of astounding multi-match Light Gun Score Agg records. These are “records for the ages”. This season, Leo’s 6-match Score Aggregate was 99.5 (99,99,99,100,100,100), while his 10-match Score Aggregate was 96.8 (84,94,95,98,99,99,99,100,100,100). That’s amazing consistency. Given how hard it is to shoot a single 100 score at 1000 yards, Leo’s Aggs are jaw-dropping. It will be a long time before these Agg records are broken (if they ever are). Leo set his 99.5 (6-match) and 96.8 (10-match) records shooting a 17-lb rifle chambered for the 6mm Dasher. The Lawrence barrel was chambered by Montana gunsmith John King and Leo did the stock work himself (starting with a Shehane MBR Tracker).

Leo Anderson 1000 yard record

99.5 Six-Match Agg and 96.5 Ten-Match Agg at 1000 Yards
Leo set these multi-match Agg records at the Deep Creek Range near Missoula, Montana. Tom Mousel, another record-holding Montana shooter reports: “Our Agg season is now complete here in Montana. Leo ‘Legend’ Anderson has broken both the 6-match and 10-match score aggregate records. He hasn’t just broken them, he has smashed them, with a couple Aggs that are truly remarkable. As a fellow 1000-yard competitor, I fully understand what it takes to grind out a quality Aggregate. What Leo has done this year is the most impressive thing I think we might ever see in the 1000-yard benchrest game. Leo is one of the best of the ‘good guys’, and also, in my opinion, Leo is the best 1000-yard shooter to ever grace our sport. You’d have to check with Leo, but I believe these are his 14th and 15th world records in his career. Leo also holds our Club record for Light Gun group and score, when he drilled a 3.476″/100 back in August of 2008″. (See photo below)

Leo Anderson 1000 yard record

Record-Breaking 6mm Dasher Light Gun Specs
There’s nothing really exotic about the 17-lb Light Gun with which Leo set his score records. The stock is a laminated Shehane MBR Tracker with some modifications by Leo to make it track better. Leo altered the angle of the toe to match the forearm and modified the taper of the sides of the buttstock to ride better in the bags. Pillar-bedded into the stock is a Stiller Viper Drop Port. Leo loves this action. He says it is very fast to operate and the flat bottom makes it easy to install in the stock. In addition, the Viper action works well with his preferred CCI 400 primers: “I can run stout loads of H4895 with the Viper without cratering the primers. Some guys with other factory and custom actions have problems with the CCI 400s which are not as hard as the 450s.”

The 29.5″, 5-groove, 0.237″ land, HV-counter barrel was crafted by Lawrence Barrels. Based in Lewiston, Montana, Lawrence Barrels currently makes mostly AR barrels, but Leo says they make great cut-rifled tubes: “I currently have Lawrence barrels on both my Light Gun and my Heavy Gun. These Lawrence barrels both shoot great. I think they are the equal of the best examples from top barrel-makers such as Krieger and Bartlein.” Leo has tried straight-contour barrels, but he prefers some taper (similar to a Krieger #17 contour): “In my experience, tapered barrels seem to shoot better, at least in a 17-pounder. The gun is less nose-heavy and tracks better.” The barrel on Leo’s record-setting Light Gun currently has about 900 rounds through it.

For optics, Leo runs a 12-42x56mm Nightforce BR model with NP2DD reticle. Leo tells us: “the NP2DD reticle is my favorite and I have great confidence in the Nightforce. We tried it side-by-side with a big name European-made high magnification scope, and the Nightforce was visibly better. At 1000 yards it had better clarity, better sharpness, better resolution.”

Record Setting Dasher Recipe: Berger 105gr VLD, Hodgdon H4895, CCI 400, Lapua Brass
While many top 6mmBR and Dasher shooters use Varget or Reloder 15, Leo prefers Hodgdon H4895, which has a slightly faster burn rate. Leo tells us: “Right now, the H4895 and CCI combo is giving the best accuracy, and it’s a clean combination. I’ve shot a lot of Reloder 15, but the H4895 burns so much cleaner.” Leo’s load is running around 3050 fps, but “he’s not too concerned with what the chronograph says — when we tune our loads we go by what shows up on the target.” Leo is loading a bit more than 32 grains of H4895. (Editor’s NOTE: This load is for fully fire-formed Dasher cases ONLY. It is NOT safe to use in a 6mmbr with 105s.) Leo’s favorite projectiles are the “thin-jacket” Berger 105gr VLDs, pointed with a Whidden pointing tool. Leo turns his necks with a K&M neck turner.

To save on barrel life, Leo fire-forms his brass using a separate barrel. He prepares the brass with a false shoulder, then fires the cases loaded with pistol powder, cream of wheat and low-density plug in the end. He tried forming case with pistol powder alone, but that required much more powder and didn’t produce results as good as the cream of wheat method.

Shooting Fast — the Importance of Smooth Tracking
Leo tells us that you need a great-tracking rig to be competitive in the 1K game these days: “Some guys are getting 10 shots downrange in 20 seconds or less. It takes me about 30 seconds.” To shoot that fast, the gun needs to track perfectly so you can just slide it back and stay on target. “If you want to shoot fast, everything’s got to be working right — and your stock really needs to track well. If you’re chasing the knobs on your rest, you’re not getting [your bullets] down range.” Leo says the stock’s geometry must be “near perfect” in order for the gun to come back to the same spot shot after shot.

Leo Anderson’s Advice for New Long-Range Shooters.

We asked Leo if he had any advice for shooters new to the long-range benchrest game. Here are some of his thoughts:

1. Pick a Winning Cartridge – Leo thinks the Dasher is just about perfect for a 17-lb rifle: “Any more cartridge than that, you have too much gun movement. Something in the Dasher range is the perfect size. We shoot the Dashers around the 3050 fps node. Even with the 6-6.5×47 you’re just burning more powder, and at the higher node, the gun starts rocking and things start getting away from you.”

2. Get Good Equipment Right from the Start – “Go ahead and bite the bullet and buy good stuff right off. Too many guys try to get off cheap in the beginning. They end up buying two or three guns as they upgrade. You save money in the long run by buying good stuff in the beginning.”

3. Practice, Practice, Practice – “We get a lot of practice in the process of tuning and load development. We put in the time — on things like bullet sorting, case prep, load tuning.”

4. Keep Pushing for Perfection – “A lot of guys get a load that seems pretty good, and then they get lazy. Don’t be content when you get a 6-inch group at 1000, because the gun might shoot a LOT better. I’ve got Aggs in the five-inch range.”

Leo Anderson 1000 yard record
Leo reports: “Here’s our ‘secret’ 1000-yard range out in the sticks where we do some spring tuning”.

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July 18th, 2011

Revive Your Brass with DJ’s Brass Service & Restoration

With top-quality cartridge brass approaching $1.00 per case, it’s more important than ever to get maximum life from your match brass. Annealing can extend the useful life of your brass, and ultrasonic cleaning allows you to eliminate carbon build-up inside cases that have been fired numerous times. You can certainly do annealing and ultrasonic cleaning yourself, but to get the best (and most consistent) results, you’ll need to invest in quality equipment and spend a good deal of time and effort learning how to use it properly. Likewise, turning case necks requires expensive tools, and it takes time and practice before you’ll get perfectly-turned necks.

DJs Brass Offers Annealing, Cleaning, and Neck-Turning
If you don’t have the resources to purchase annealing and ultrasonic cleaning machines, or if you don’t have the time to neck-turn hundreds of cases — don’t fret, there is an affordable option. DJsBrass.com, run by benchrest shooter Darrell Jones, offers annealing, ultrasonic cleaning, neck-turning, and complete brass prep services (including OAL trimming) at very reasonable rates. Darrell will anneal 100 cases for $15, and he’ll neck-turn your cases (any caliber), starting at $30.00 per hundred. Even if you’re a skilled neck-turner, if you just acquired a new caliber, it might make sense to send the work to Darrell, instead of purchasing new expander mandrels and turning arbors.

False-Shoulder Forming for Wildcats
Do you shoot an “improved” short-necked wildcat like the 6mm Dasher? Want your fire-forming to go without a hitch? Darrell can take your parent brass and create a false shoulder so you get a good crush fit in the chamber. If you’re running a tight-necked chamber he can create a false shoulder AND turn the top half of the neck to fit your chamber.

Video Shows Annealing Process
In the video below, Darrell explains the wide variety of brass restoration services he offers. Darrell says he can “bring your brass back to life” and we have found that to be true. We had some 6mmBR brass with no-turn necks that started to lose their “competitive edge” after just 7-8 loadings. The neck tension had become inconsistent from case to case, and bullet seating force (measured with a gauge-equipped K&M arbor press) varied widely. We were seeing unexplained flyers, and ES had nearly doubled compared to when the brass was fresh. Annealing the cases really made a difference. The neck tension was much more consistent and bullets seated more uniformly with less “spiking” of seating force. Paying $15 for annealing is a lot cheaper than buying a new box of brass for $80.00 or more!

Darrell offers a variety of services at affordable rates. To order work by Darrell, visit DJsBrass.com, or call (205) 461-4680:

Case Annealing Only
Cost: $15.00/100 for standard cases; $20.00/100 for magnum cases.*

Combination Service (Cleaning and Annealing)
Ultrasonic Cleaning, Check for split necks, Anneal case necks.
Cost: Starting at $20.00/100 standard and $25.00/100 for magnum cases.*

Full Service (Case Prep, Cleaning, Annealing)
Uniform primer pockets, Chamfer, Ultrasonic cleaning/polishing, Anneal case necks.
Cost: Starting at $30.00/100 and up.*

Neck Turning or Trim-to-Length Custom Order Service
Cost: Starting at $30.00/100 for standard cases.*
(Darrell can also resize necks or false shoulder your cases. Call for quotes.)

Muzzle Brake Ultrasonic Cleaning
Removes carbon buildup to restore critical bullet clearance requirements.
Cost: $15.00 + flat rate USPS actual shipping.

*Add USPS flat-rate return shipping. Call (205) 461-4680 for quotes on miscellaneous, military bulk brass or high volume discount. Note: Prices subject to change.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading 1 Comment »
July 18th, 2011

Creedmoor Black Powder LR Nationals at Whittington Center

The two-day 2011 Creedmoor Nationals for Black Powder rifles concludes today in Raton, NM. Many of the nation’s top black powder shooters are vying for the historic “Castle” trophy at the Whittington Center Range. Today’s course of fire is identical to Sunday’s — ten shots at each of three distances: 800, 900 and 1,000 yards. Weather was reasonably stable on Sunday, 17 July, but thunderstorms are predicted for this afternoon.

The Creedmoor Championship and the Castle Trophy

Castle Trophy BPCR CreedmoorThe Creedmoor Nationals’ match history dates back to the 19th century with the purchase of the Creed Farm in Long Island, New York. A long range black powder match between the United States and Ireland at the brand new Creedmoor range drew a significant amount of attention to the shooting sports and drew eventually drew its name from the NRA’s range. The 2011 championship currently being conducted at the Whittington Center is based on the original course of fire in keeping with the tradition of the match.

Castle Trophy
The Castle Trophy was first awarded to the 25th Lanarkshire Volunteers by Lord Elcho for their win over England and Ireland in a shooting match in 1871. The trophy was used as a prize at Creedmoor matches over the next couple of years. A noted inscription on the trophy reads: “Overall winners National Rifle Association of America 2nd Round” April 25, 1873. To honor the victors in the famous Creedmoor 1874 challenge match the USA and Ireland, this trophy was given to Colonel John Bodine of the United States of America Team.

Shown below, looking rather dapper in their waistcoats and top hats, are members of the American rifle team that defeated the Irish squad in 1874:

Story and photos by KJillson courtesy of the NRA Blog.
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