October 18th, 2016

Benchrest Brilliance — Texan Demonstrates World-Beating Skills

Here’s an example of world-class benchrest shooting. Charles Huckeba of Texas was the top individual shooter at the 2013 World Benchrest Championships (WBC) held near Sydney Australia in October 2013. In this video, 2013 WBC Two-Gun Overall winner Charles shoots a 1/8th MOA group at 200 yards — “a little bitty dot” as a fellow Team USA shooter observes. That’s impressive. If you can describe Huckeba’s style in a nutshell it would be “smooth, consistent, and rapid but not hurried”.

Charles also employed some unusual hardware. In the video, take a close look at the joystick on the Farley Coaxial front rest. There’s no knob at the end. In its place is a small, wood ammo caddy. Charles removed the standard knob from the handle of his Farley rest and replaced it with a home-made wood block that holds cartridges for the record target. The 10.5-lb Light Varmint rifle is chambered in 6PPC with a BAT Machine Action and a composite wood and carbon-fiber stock.

Watch Charles Huckeba Shoot 1/8 MOA, 200-yard group at World Benchrest Championships

Here is the actual 200-yard, 5-shot group Charles shot in the video. Photo (by Stuart Elliot) taken through the lens of Huckeba’s 50X March scope (reticle has 1/16th MOA Dot).
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia

Analyzing the Fine Points — What Makes Huckeba So Good

Short-range benchrest shooter Boyd Allen saw some interesting things in Huckeba’s WBC performance, as captured on video. Boyd noticed Huckeba’s smooth gun-handling and efficient loading. But Boyd also spied some interesting equipment, including an innovative joystick “handle-caddy”.

1. Low Friction Bags — When Huckeba slid his rifle, there was very little apparent friction. The front bag features the new 3M material (ScotchLite) on the sliding surfaces. The rear Protektor bag has ears of the same low-friction material.

2. Pause Before Chambering — While he was watching the flags and deciding when to start firing, Charles kept his first round in the action, but out of the barrel’s chamber, probably so as not to heat the cartridge and change the round’s point of impact.

Charles Huckeba PPC World Benchrest joystick handle3. Ammo Caddy on Joystick Arm – Charles shoots a Right Bolt/Left Port action, so he pulls his rounds with his left hand. Note that Huckeba’s record rounds rest in a small, wood ammo caddy attached to the end of the joystick shaft. Look carefully, you’ll see the wood ammo block in place of the normal black ball at the end of the joystick. That allows Charles to pull shots with the absolute minimum of hand movement. Ingenious! Huckeba is very fast, with a great economy of motion. I believe that because his ammo was literally at hand, Charles was better able to keep his focus on aiming and the flags.

4. Smooth-Cycling BAT Action — Note how smoothly Huckeba’s action operates. When Charles lifts the bolt handle (to extract a round and cock the firing pin), this does not disturb the rifle. Likewise, as he closes the bolt, the gun doesn’t wobble. The smooth action allows Charles to hold point of aim even when shooting relatively quickly. Huckeba’s BAT action is chrome-moly steel. Some shooters believe this metal makes for a smoother action than stainless steel or aluminum.

5. Long-Wheelbase Stock — The wood and carbon fiber stock is light, long, and stiff. Yet, importantly, the stock is also well-damped. The longer-than-average stock length (with extended forearm) seems to help the gun track well without jumping or rocking. The longer forearm allows a longer “wheelbase”, effectively shifting the weight distribution rearward (less weight on the front, more weight on the rear). This places a greater share of the gun’s weight on the rear bag, as compared to a more conventional benchrest stock. Huckeba’s stock, built by Bob Scoville, is at the cutting edge of short-range benchrest design. Its light-weight balsa wood and carbon fiber construction provides a combination of stiffness and vibration damping that allows its relatively long fore-end to be fully utilized to increase the weight on the rear bag (always an issue with 10.5-pound rifles).

To learn more about this benchrest stock design, read the comments by stock-builder Bob Scoville in our PPC with Pedigree story in our Gun of the Week Archives. Bob observed:

“There is a lot more to the structure of the stocks than meets the eye. The carbon fiber skin with which I cover the stocks creates a light, tough exterior surface. However, this contributes very little to the overall performance of the stocks. The real strength and stiffness is the result of an internal beam utilizing balsa core/carbon fiber technology.

This type construction can be found in aircraft, race cars, powerboats, and sailboats. It is interesting to note, balsa has the highest strength to weight ratio of all woods and carbon fiber is one of the lowest stretch (modulus of elasticity) relative to weight of all materials. The marriage of these two materials is common in the high-performance world. Additionally, balsa is used commercially for vibration dampening and sound reduction.”

Video find by Boyd Allen. Video by Stuart Elliot of BRT Shooters Supply, Brisbane, Australia.
Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
October 18th, 2016

How Plastic Shotshells Are Made

federal premium shotshell
Ever wonder how shotshells are manufactured? Here’s a step-by-step trip through the shotshell production process, courtesy Federal Premium. Hulls are created from plastic pellets, of various colors, depending on shotshell type and gauge. Starting with pellets, here’s how shotshells are made:

Step 1: Plastic pellets are melted down into a plastic tube.

federal shot shell

Step 2: In the extruding process the tube is heated, stretched, and cooled to form the hull. The machine that does this is called the “Riefenhauser” after the German engineer who built the first model.

federal shot shell shotgun

Step 3: Hulls are cut to length as they come off the Riefenhauser. They then move along to the next stage in the process.

federal shot shell shotgun

Step 4: The case head is stamped out of sheets of metal (brass or steel depending on shell type). A series of strikes of the stamp produces a fully-formed case head with flash-hole.

federal shot shell shotgun

Step 5: The hulls move to the primer insert and heading machine to get primers and case heads.

federal shot shell shotgun

Step 6: Still untouched by human hands, the shell moves on to the loader where it gets its powder charge, shot wad, and pellets.

federal shot shell shotgun

Step 7: The hulls are then crimped, labeled, and readied for inspection and packing.

federal shot shell shotgun

Story tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo No Comments »
October 18th, 2016

Be Amazed — Michel Puts 18 Rounds on 3 Targets in 4.79 Seconds

Max Michel World Speed shooting championships Florida

Be prepared to have your mind blown by Max Michel. This guy is FAST. In this video he puts 18 shots on three targets with two (2) reloads, in a total of 4.79 seconds. That’s right, drawing from holster, he sends 18 rounds in under five seconds, with two mag changes in the process. That works out to a rate of fire of 225 rounds per minute. Consider this — Max shoots faster than a 19th-century Gatling Gun (which had a rate of fire of roughly 200 rounds per minute). And Max is accurate as well as speedy — 16 of Max’s 18 shots were in the targets’ A-Zones, with the other two just barely outside.

At age 30, Max Michel is a legend within the world of competitive shooting. A four-time World Speed Shooting Champion, six-time USPSA National Champion, and three-time US National Steel Champion, Max is a dominant force in pistol shooting sports. Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Max began shooting when he was just 5 years old. In 1999 Max joined the USAMU’s Action Pistol Team and served in the U.S. Army for 10 years as an Army shooter and trainer. Today, Max is recognized worldwide as a top-tier athlete and instructor.

Follow Max Michel, Jr., on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/maxmichel.us.

To see Max Michel and other top shooters, watch HotShots on the Sportsman Channel.

Permalink - Videos, Shooting Skills No Comments »