October 6th, 2013

Carlito’s Way: High-Tech Benchrest Shooting in Argentina

This story has all the ingredients: exotic location, exotic hardware, cool POV video (with John Lee Hooker blues soundtrack), plus something you’ve probably never seen before — a gravity-fed cartridge caddy that loads a PPC round into a benchrest rig with the push of a button. Watch this video to see Benchrest in Argentina with some very cool equipment:


Soundtrack includes John Lee Hooker’s blues classic “Boom, Boom” (starting at 0:28).

This video was filmed by our friend, Frenchman Pascal Fischbach, during his recent visit to Argentina. In Buenos Aires, Pascal met with action-maker extraordinaire Carlos (“Carlito”) Gonzales, creator of the CG Thunderbolt action. The video shows Carlito shooting groups with his CG-actioned benchrest rifle and MCF (“Manual Cartridge Feed”) ammo caddy. Look for the push-button control at the 1:15″ time-mark. The five-shot groups, shown at 1:20″, are pretty impressive. Even more impressive is how flawlessly this trick cartridge-fedding system works.

About Carlito’s Benchrest Rifle
The rifle features Carlito’s CG thunderbolt action, in a low-profile carbon-fiber stock also made by Gonzales. Up front is a Bukys-style tuner. If you watch the video carefully, you may wonder “how do the cartridges get into the action?”, since you won’t see the shooter (Carlito) pulling rounds from a loading block. Well the secret is that metal contraption to the left of the gun. It is a gravity-fed caddy connected, via cable, to a hand control. After working the bolt to extract a fired case, the shooter can push a button and the next round drops down from the upper left into the left port/right eject action. Simply close the bolt and you’re ready to roll. For more information, visit Benchrest.com.ar or email casagonzalec [at] benchrest.com.ar .

CG thunderbolt action

External Horizontal Cartridge-Feeder
The Gonzales loading device is an open-ended, covered metal tray situated on the left side of the action (but it does not touch the gun — it is supported by an arm attached to the front rest). This feeds into the left-side loading port. The cases are gravity-fed, but the shooter has positive control over feeding. A cable with a push-button control runs from the magazine down to the rear foot of the pedestal rest. You just push the button to drop one cartridge from the magazine. We don’t know exactly how the cartridge is released in the magazine itself, but in the video below you can see how the push-button works. This device has been approved for competition by USA and International benchrest sanctioning bodies.

Carlos Gonzales CG MCF manual cartridge feeder ammo loader caddy
Photo by Rich Pollock of Benchrest.ca

Carlos Gonzales CG MCF manual cartridge feeder ammo loader caddy

Video Shows Cable-Operated Cartridge Feeder in Action

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October 6th, 2013

Hot .243-Based Wildcats — The .243 BR-K and 6mm Super X

Gunsmith Mike Sosenko and long-time AccurateShooter Forum member John Adams have been using a modified .243 Winchester case with great success in Varmint Silhouette matches at the Pala Range in Southern California. Officially called the “.243 BR-K” (and informally dubbed the “6BR Long”), the wildcat is basically a .243 Winchester with less body taper and a 30-degree shoulder. The design essentially grafts a 6mmBR Norma “top end” to the .243 Winchester case. After fire-forming, Mike and John can reload this case using normal, unmodified 6BR neck-sizing and seater dies.

Compared to a .243 Winchester, the .243 BR-K’s body length is about .006″ longer, and the shoulder is about .0055″ wider. The main difference is the shoulder angle (30° vs. 20°), and the location of the neck-shoulder junction (“NSJ”). Based on reamer prints, the base to NSJ dimension is 1.718″ on the 6BR Long, compared to 1.804″ for the .243 Winchester. Neck length is a bit shorter because “the neck shrinks a little when the shoulder blows out” according to Sosenko. We’ve provided a mock-up diagram of the .243 BR-K, but you should check with Dave Kiff of Pacific Tool & Gauge for exact dimensions. Dave created the reamers for both the 6mm and 22-caliber versions of this wildcat. Ask for the “22 BR-K” or “.243 BR-K” reamer designs.

6mmBR long .243 Winchester Wildcat 243 BR-K wildcat cartridge

Wicked Velocity with Stable Brass
The main advantage of the .243 BR-K is serious velocity in a case that is very stable. Mike’s favorite load is the 95gr Berger VLD pushed by Reloader 22. With a stout load of RL22 and Federal 210m Primers, Sosenko is getting 3450 fps with the 95-grainer, with no bullet blow-ups. This is with a 1:8.5″ twist Broughton 5R barrel finished at 28.5″. The cases are holding up very well. Mike has a half-dozen loads on his brass and he hasn’t had to full-length size yet. Mike runs a .262″ tight neck, but there is also a no-turn version of the case (see illustration). Accuracy is excellent. Mike says the round delivers repeatable 1/4 MOA groups at 100 yards in testing. He has also experimented with N160, but, thus far, Reloader 22 has delivered smaller groups with better ES and SD.

VIEW 243 BR-K REAMER PRINT (No-Turn Neck)

John Adams shoots a no-turn (.274″) neck .243 BR-K with 105gr Berger VLDs. He’s getting about 3230 fps using Reloader 22. John says he can push the 105s faster, but 3220-3240 fps “seems to be the sweet spot.” John notes that “after about five reloadings on a case, it gets a little tight”. John then full-length sizes with a custom Hornady FL bushing die. “The Hornady custom shop dies work great” according to John. Adams also shoots a version of this wildcat necked down to 22-caliber. It has demonstrated outstanding velocity and good accuracy in initial testing with a 9-twist barrel. Using the 80gr Amax bullets, John is getting 3570+ fps speeds. John feels that his 22 BR-K needs some more development work. “The .243 BR-K is proven. We know what works. With the 22 I want to try different seating depths, experiment with a few different bullets, and fine-tune the velocity.”

Whitley’s 6mm Super X
Robert Whitley shoots a variant of the .243 Winchester he calls the 6mm Super X. This features a 30° shoulder, and slightly less body taper. He gains a little case capacity over the standard .243 Win, and he says the cartridge is extremely accurate with both 105-108 grain pills and the heavier 115s: “Here’s a picture of a .243 Win (left), a 6mm Super X (center), and a 6XC (right). All I can say is the 6mm Super X has been good to me and I have shot many a clean in 600-yard High Power matches with it with either DTAC 115s or Berger 115s.”

243 BR-K wildcat cartridge

While Mike Sosenko and John Adams use their BR-Ks to push 95s and 105s at high velocities, Robert takes a different approach with his Super X. He shoots the high-BC 115s and keeps velocities under 3000 fps. A long-range High Power shooter, Robert demands consistency during long shot strings. That means backing off from max attainable speeds, at least with the 115s. Robert writes:

“You can get 3050 fps with H4831SC and the 115s with no problem, I did it in testing multiple times, but to me that also does not mean anything because I shoot loads where they are the most consistent and accurate over a 22+ shot string. I have never found that any of the 6mm cartridges I have used with 115s will stay consistent, tight and accurate the whole way at 3050 fps for 22+ shots straight. I have tried 115s in the .243 Win, the 6CM, the 6mm Super X, the 6XC, the 6-6.5 x 47 Lapua and none of them ever stayed consistent and tight for 22 shots straight with the 115s at that speed. Most of the time with all the 6mm cartridges, if you get the 115s much over 2975 fps, they won’t hold tight for 22+ shots straight. Now if you’re a bench rest shooter and you only need to do a few sighters then 5 or 10 shots for record, you can run 3050 fps or more and the groups will likely hold tight during your string, but not when you need to go 22+ shots straight with no break. I have shot many different 6mm cartridges and done a lot of testing with many different powders, moly and non-moly bullets. I don’t find the ‘consistent accuracy’ (for 22+ shots straight) at those higher velocities.”

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October 6th, 2013

Zeiss Extends Custom Ballistic Turret Offer Through End of 2013

Carl Zeiss Sports Optics is extending its ZEISS/Kenton Industries Custom Turret Promotion through December 31, 2013. Through this special offer, when you purchase a new CONQUEST HD5 Riflescope, you get one of two Kenton Custom Turrets calibrated for your specific load — either a LR Hunter Turret or Speed Dial Turret. Eligible scope models are the Zeiss CONQUEST HD5 3-15×42 #20 reticle with Lockable Target Turret, and the CONQUEST HD5 5-25×50 #20 reticle with Lockable Target Turret. The retail value for the free custom elevation turret is $125.00

Zeiss Compensation Ballistics Turret Promotion Kenton IndustriesMike Jensen, President of Carl Zeiss Sports Optics USA explains how the system works:

“With our custom turret system, [just] set the dial to the number 4 for 400 yards and you’re done. No complicated math, and no color codes to compensate for the bullet drop. The numbered markings on the custom turret by Kenton Industries are easy to read and intuitive. Add the available ‘no-hold-over’ PLEX reticle with the Kenton custom target turret and you have an extremely accurate and very robust long-range shooting setup.”

To receive a free ZEISS/Kenton Custom Ballistic Turret, the qualifying CONQUEST HD5 Riflescopes must be purchased from an authorized ZEISS dealer before December 31, 2013. Offer details and order forms can be found at Kentonindustries.com or at www.zeiss.com/sports. The order form requires ballistic info such as cartridge, ammunition type, bullet weight, and zero range. The custom turret will be shipped within 2-3 weeks. This offer is valid for U.S. customers only.

For more information on ZEISS products visit www.zeiss.com/sports or the Zeiss Facebook Page.

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