May 30th, 2012

Jim Crofts’ New Savage F-Class Rig with PR&T Walnut Stock

Forum member Jim Crofts (aka “VA Jim”) is one of the nation’s top F-TR shooters. He finished first at the Berger Southwest Nationals, and just this past weekend Jim won the F-TR class at the “Remember the Brave” match at Quantico. Jim has also won numerous regional and club F-TR matches.


Recently Jim commissioned a new .308 Win rifle with a premium barrel and fancy wood stock. Perhaps surprisingly, Jim started with the model 12 target action that came with a Savage factory F/TR rifle. The action is supported in the new gun with a Whidden Gunworks aluminum V-block. Jim observed “I liked the action, and have no problems with the Accutrigger so it made sense to stick with the action I had and save $1000.00 or more vs. a custom action.” Jim did dress up the action a bit. He told us: “The action and barrel nut were polished — just me and a buffer wheel.” Jim also added an extended “tactical” bolt handle from Sharp Shooter Supply. This provides extra leverage according to Jim.

Jim’s new rifle was built by Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool, LLC (PR&T) using a PR&T stock with custom wood. The rifle with which Jim won the Berger SW Nationals shares this same PR&T F-TR stock design, and Jim decided to stick with a winner. Jim explained that the PR&T F-TR stock “is one of the most forgiving out there. It’s got the long fore-end on it that lets you get the bipod out there and that really allows the rifle to recoil in a straight line.” The stock for Jim’s new rig is made of hand laminated, highly-figured west coast Black Walnut with two layers of strong, straight-grain East Coast American Walnut. Augmenting the beauty of the natural figure, twelve layers of clear-coat were applied to the stock, with careful sanding between coats. The buttplate, adjustable cheekpiece hardware, and +30 MOA scope base were all supplied by PR&T.

Jim Crofts Lined Up Behind his New F-TR Rig

Doubtless you’ve noticed the fancy fluting on the 30.5″ Brux Barrel. This “Chain Link” fluting was done by the barrel-maker (Brux) as an extra-cost option. It does look distinctive and it may provide some enhanced cooling benefits (but Jim admits “it’s mainly for looks”). This 1:11″-twist barrel is chambered in .308 Winchester, with the throat set up for Berger 185gr and 200gr Hybrid bullets. Note that Jim decided to retain the Savage barrel nut, even though this is a custom barrel. Jim says: “The Brux barrels shoot great… they clean up well, I get very little copper out of the Brux barrel.”

Jim Crofts Talks About His Savage
F-TR Rifle and PR&T Stock

Click Button to Hear Audio

Jim uses a height-adjustable Phoenix Precision bipod with sled-type feet. This suits Jim’s shooting style very well. Jim is a “handshake holder”, who employs “firm contact with the shoulder”. In the audio clip above, Jim explains: “I shoot with a tight grip. I like to keep this thing up in my shoulder… that helps me control the tracking of the rifle. If I do my part this rifle will definitely keep ‘em in the ten ring (most of the time) out to 1000 yards.”

Savage FTR Crofts targetMeticulous Reloading Yields Great Accuracy
Jim loads Varget powder in Lapua Brass with Berger 180gr and 200gr bullets. He hasn’t shot the new gun in competition yet, but in testing at 100 yards it delivered “multiple five-shot groups that could each be covered by a dime.” Jim’s meticulous brass prep contributes to that excellent accuracy. Using a Benchsource annealing machine, Jim anneals his brass after every firing. He has noticed that the regular annealing makes bullet seating more consistent. “I use a K&M arbor with the seating-force gauge. Both by feel, and by monitoring the gauge, you can definitely tell that the bullets seat more consistently if you anneal the cases regularly.” Jim also cleans his brass with stainless media after every firing.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 11 Comments »
May 30th, 2012

New 350gr .375-Caliber MatchKing from Sierra

Sierra MatchKing SMK .375 caliberSierra Bullets has just announced a new .375-caliber, 350 grain HPBT bullet — the latest in Sierra’s MatchKing line of projectile. Designed for custom long-range applications, this 350-grainer is the largest MatchKing Sierra produces, and it offers a jaw-dropping 0.805 G1 BC (at 2,200+ fps).

With that impressively high BC, the new .375-caliber MatchKing should “buck the wind” very well at long range. The new bullet features an 11-caliber ogive, and 9-degree boat tail. Sierra says the overall shape is “forgiving” to tune and should work well at a variety of seating depths. These bullets will be available in 50-count boxes (stock #9350T), or bulk boxes of 500 bullets (stock #9350).

Sierra MatchKing SMK .375 caliber

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 3 Comments »
May 30th, 2012

New Redding Powder Measure for Small Varmint Cartridges

Redding 10X Powder MeasureRedding is releasing a dedicated small-case powder measure with a charge weight range of 1 to 25 grains. This specialized Model 10X powder measure should work well for small varmint cartridges such as the .221 Fireball, .20 Vartarg, and the 17 Hornet. The powder cavity and micrometer settings put the charge for a 17 Hornet right in the middle of the powder measure’s capacity — the most accurate part of its range. That’s good news for small rifle cartridge reloaders.

In addition, 17 Fireball and 17 Hornet shooters will be pleased to not that Redding has introduced a 17-caliber drop tube adapter that fits the small-diameter necks of these compact varmint cartridges. With this 17-cal adapter (Redding part #03817), you can throw charges directly into 17-caliber cartridge brass, without the need for separate small-neck funnels.

Features of New Redding 10x Powder Measure:

• Micrometer-controlled powder metering chamber
• Hemispherical Cup for smoother operation
• Cast iron and hard chrome construction
• Positive metering chamber lock
• Adjustable powder baffle

The 17 Hornet is based on the venerable rimmed .22 Hornet case. However, the case is not just necked-down from .22 caliber. The case designers reduced body taper, moved the shoulder, and changed the shoulder angle to 25°. This effectively modernized the old .22 Hornet case, improving efficiency while retaining the max OAL, so that the 17 Hornet can work in any action big enough for the .22 Hornet. Hornady’s “Superformance” 17 Hornet loaded ammo is designed to push a 20gr bullet at an impressive 3650 fps.

Hornady 17 Hornet Ammunition

Permalink New Product, Reloading 3 Comments »