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