January 18th, 2017

SHOT Show Day One — New Products

Kelbly Rimfire Anschutz  PRS F-TR trainer

Here are new Rimfire Cross-Trainer Rifles from Kelbly’s. These feature Anschutz .22LR rimfire actions in full-size, competition stocks. This is a great offering for F-TR, prone, and long-range competitors looking to train with less expensive rimfire ammo. Kelbly’s will sell these as complete rifles with rimfire actions bedded in fiberglass stocks.

SHOT Show, held every year in Las Vegas, is the largest gun show in North America. Thousands of exhibitors showcase hosts of new products — rifles, pistols, shotguns, optics, stocks, reloading tools, bullets, brass, powders, hunting accessories and much more. This is the ultimate “candy store” for gun guys, with literally “miles of aisles” and countless products on display. Here are some of the more interesting items we saw during Day One of SHOT Show.

Howa HCR Chassis Rifle
All decked out in a Camo Cerakote finish, the new Howa HCR Chassis rifle was an eye-catcher. Designed for PRS-type competition, the HCR features a modular aluminum stock with a separate buttstock section with adjustable comb and adjustable length of pull. The HCR will be offered in four chamberings: .223 Rem, .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Win. There will be standard and heavy barrel options with 20″, 22″, and 24″ lengths. The rear of the stock accepts AR-type furniture (for those guys who need to customize). This new rifle will be sold in Black or Multicam Cerakote finishes. A package will be offered with Nikko Stirling 4-16x50mm scope and EGW 20-MOA, one-piece base and rings.

Howa HCR Tactical PRS Rifle Modular 6.5 Creedmoor

New Viper PST Gen II Scopes from Vortex
The versatile Viper PST series can work for many disciplines — Target Shooting, 3-Gun, Hunting, or Precision Long Range. The new second generation PSTs offer many improvements, with four new models for 2017: 1-6x24mm, 2-10×32mm, 3-15×44mm, and 5-25×50mm: Vortex offers a wide magnification range with its 2017 line-up of Viper PSTs. These new scopes offer tall tactical turrets and side-focus parallax adjustment with integrated illumination. To ensure reliable return-to-zero, all new models feature the patented RZR Zero Stop from the Razor HD 5-20×50 riflescope. Reticles include Vortex’s new EBR-4 and EBR-2C with MOA or MRAD stadia to match your turrets. First Focal Plane reticles are available on select models.

Vortex Viper PST Gen II Optics Scope

Savage AR10-Type MSR in 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win
Our friends Ed and Steve (aka the 6.5 Guys) visited the Savage booth to take a look at the new Savage MSR Long-Range model, an AR10-type modular semi-auto rifle with a Magpul PRS Gen3 buttstock. The 6.5 Guys report: “Savage’s new MSR 10 Long Range Rifle is chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor or .308 Win. It appears to be a terrific option for those wanted to compete in the new PRS Gas Gun Series. It is built on a compact frame with a non-reciprocating side-charging handle that is particularly useful for left-handed shooters. The Blackhawk AR Blaze™ two-stage target trigger was light and crisp. It features an upgraded Savage barrel, with 5R rifling and a Melonite QPQ finish. Read more new practical/tactical product reports at www.65guys.com.

Savage MSR Long Range AR10 PRS Gas Gun

New Accurate No. 11FS Low-Flash Pistol Powder
Western Powders showcased a new Accurate powder that delivers 90% less muzzle flash, while still offering good consistency and accuracy. Accurate No. 11FS (for Flash Suppressed) is designed for magnum pistols, and small rifle rounds such as the Hornet. The advanced flash-suppressing formula dramatically reduces muzzle flash in many large pistol cartridges. Notably, this Accurate 11FS was specifically designed to work with the .300 Blackout cartridge.

Accurate No. 11FS Powder Pistol Low Flash Suppressed Magnum

Enhanced Bluetooth Connectivity for Kestrel
At the Kestrel booth, we learned that Kestrel will be offering an enhanced LiNK Bluetooth low-energy enabled protocol that will allow wireless connections with a greater variety of devices. This will allow Kestrels to share data with Bushnell, Wilcox, and Vectronix Laser Rangefinders, Steiner LRF Binoculars and many other devices. This kind of connectivity allows Kestrel windmeters to be more versatile than ever.

Kestrel LiNK Low Energy Bluetooth LRF connectivity wireless

Big Boomer Brass from Peterson Cartridge
For those who shoot the .408 or .375 Cheytac, sourcing top-quality brass has been a challenge in the past. That’s changed with the introduction of premium Cheytac brass from Peterson Cartridge Company. Along with the new Cheytac brass, Peterson produces quality casings for other large rifle cartridges including: .338 Lapua Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, and 7mm Rem Magnum. Peterson’s brass offerings for smaller match cartridges include: 6.5 Creedmoor, .260 Remington, .308 Win Palma (Small Primer Pocket), and .308 Win Match.

Peterson Cartridge Brass Cheytac .338 .408 .375 Magnum

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Optics 2 Comments »
January 18th, 2017

Got Vertical Flyers? An Ignition Issue Could Be the Culprit

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pin
Top to bottom – Remington firing pin assembly with ISS, Tubb SpeedLock alloy-composite system without ISS (current versions have dual, opposite-wound springs), and Remington short action firing pin assembly without ISS.

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. Last week’s “Handloading Hump Day” article covered mechanical issues and related ignition irregularities that can cause vertical fliers even with good ammunition in an otherwise excellent rifle. We highly recommend you read this article, which offers some important tech tips.

USAMU handloading hump day

Vertical Dispersion: Mechanical/Ignition Issues?

Poor or inconsistent ignition has long been known to be one of the “usual suspects” when one encounters vertical fliers that just shouldn’t be there. By having a sense of some of the basic principles involved, and a few basic areas to check, the shooter may avoid colsiderable frustration, not to mention time, expensive loading components and barrel wear.

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pinIs your well-built rifle of high-quality components plagued with vertical fliers across more than 1-3 handload combinations? Consider the bedding, crown and scope/sight mounts. Are they correct? If so, then you might check for ignition issues before boldly undertaking an extensive, expensive, and quite possibly fruitless quest for the “magic handload”.

SEEING IS BELIEVING: While the author had been aware for many years that poor ignition should be considered and ruled out when dealing with vertical fliers in an otherwise-excellent rifle, actually seeing the problem and its almost instantaneous cure really drove the lesson home.

He was working with a “dot” rifle – a .22 LR match rifle that really stacked bullets into little piles at 50 yards and beyond. With one lot of ELEY Tenex, it produced consistent “bughole” groups at 50, but with another, selected lot of Tenex, similar groups were regularly ruined by single, vertical fliers that did not appear in other rifles. Rather than spending days burning up expensive, select ammunition looking for “magic lots”, he contacted a well-respected rimfire gunsmith and explained the situation.

Without so much as batting an eye, the highly-experienced ‘smith tore into the rifle’s action, and quickly found the cause(s) of the problem. He discovered a demonstrably weak firing pin spring, plus a chip out of the face of the firing pin where it contacted the cartridge rim.

After replacing and tuning the offending parts, the rifle immediately began shooting tiny, bughole groups with the previously “unacceptable” lot of Tenex. Centerfire rifles can also benefit from ensuring positive, consistent ignition. A wise riflesmith is literally worth his weight in gold!

So, what are some issues we as shooters can inspect in our rifles to help determine if ignition woes could be part of our problem? At the club level, ask yourself if that “experienced” Remington, Winchester 70, or even Springfield-based match bolt gun you’re using is still running its’ original 40-80 year-old factory striker spring? If so, a new replacement is cheap insurance against current or future problems. (And BTW, it might be best to stick to the normal, factory-spec spring weight. A super-powerful spring can cause vertical, just as a weak one one can.) Along with that, a routine check for proper firing-pin protrusion is a quick preventive measure that can rule out potential issues.

Other areas to consider are the centering and consistency of the firing pin’s operation in the bolt. Admittedly, with the increasing use of precision-machined custom actions, this is becoming less an issue every day. Below is the firing pin assembly from a custom BAT action:

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pin

However, particularly with factory actions, a very quick and easy check is to remove the bolt, let the firing pin go forward, and look at the firing pin tip through the firing pin hole. Is the tip off-center in the hole, and possibly striking it as it moves forward? Is the hole out-of-round or burred from being struck repeatedly? If so, a trip to the riflesmith is likely in order.

Similarly, machining issues in the bolt/firing pin system can lead to rough and erratic firing pin movement, in which the firing pin drags against an internal surface of the bolt. In high-quality rifles these issues are relatively rare, but not unheard-of, and it takes mere minutes to rule them out. It may be worthwhile to remove the cocking piece/firing pin/spring assembly and look for any unusual gouges, dings, peening, burrs or signs of abnormal wear.

This task is especially easy with Winchester 70s, Springfields, and the similar Mauser 98s, involving little more than the push of a button and unscrewing the cocking piece assembly. This is just one of the many reasons these tried-and-true actions have earned such a loyal following in the field, among hunters who must maintain their rifles away from a shop.

USAMU Handloading vertical dispersion ignition rimfire accuracy firing pin

Particularly with older rifles, watch for and remove excess grease (or even Cosmoline!) from both the firing pin assembly and inside the bolt. This can help improve firing pin speed and consistency. Other bolt-action designs may need a take-down tool or other measures.

As part of this inspection, AFTER ENSURING THE RIFLE IS UNLOADED, slowly cock the rifle, dry-fire, and repeat several times. Listen carefully near the action for inconsistency in the sounds it generates. Does the striker falling make the same sound each time? Do you hear or feel grinding upon operation? If so, where?

Be sure to check the operation of the cocking piece (bolt shroud), firing pin within the bolt shroud, the cocking piece cam and the rear of the bolt body where the cocking piece cam operates. As with our examination for abnormal wear marks discussed above, look for marks indicating roughness or a possible need for light polishing. Then, clean and lightly grease the bearing surfaces while you’re at it.

Remington 700 bolt shroud and cocking cam
Rem 700 bolt cocking cam

These are relatively easy checks that shooters can undertake to perform a preliminary inspection on their own. Other mechanical issues can also cause ignition issues, chiefly centered around the action of the trigger, sear and sear spring. If these are suspected, a trip to an experienced, qualified riflesmith for diagnosis is recommended. We hope you find this information helpful! Join us again next week, and in the meantime, enjoy the shooting sports safely!

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »
January 18th, 2017

MasterPiece Arms Chassis Named Official 2017 PRS Chassis

PRS MPA Chassis official modular stock

Here’s interesting news from the PRS world — there’s now an official chassis for the Precision Rifle Series. The PRS has chosen the Masterpiece Arms (MPA) Chassis System as the Official 2017 PRS chassis. This recognizes the success many PRS shooters have achieved with MPA Chassis-equipped rigs.

PRS MPA Chassis official modular stock

“Our MPA Chassis system has been available to serious shooters for several years now and has been dominating the PRS…” said Phil Cashin, MasterPiece Arms President. “We are honored the Precision Rifle Series has taken notice and chosen MPA as its official chassis.”

PRS MPA Chassis official modular stock

MasterPiece Arms now offers the MPA BA Chassis system for the Remington 700 Short and Long, Savage and Howa Short and Long actions, the Badger M2013, Mausingfield, Surgeon 591SA and 1086 LA, Stillers, and Tikka T3 and others. Machined from 6061 aluminum, the ambidextrous MPA BA chassis offers many important features for serious PRS shooters.

MPA Also Produces Production Class Rifle
The Precision Rifle Series has established a price-capped Production Class in an effort to make competition more affordable. Under recently-issued PRS rules, Production Class rifles may cost no more than $2000.00 (not counting optics), and Production Division rifles may not be altered or improved in any way from the original factory configuration.

MasterPiece Arms Production rifle PRS

To fit the new Production Class Rules, MasterPiece Arms (MPA) has developed the new BA Lite PCR Competition Rifle built around a Savage Model 12 short action. Designed specifically for the new PRS Production Class, MPA’s PCR Competition Rifle offers many premium features yet stays under the $2,000 Class limit. The Savage action is upgraded with a Rifle Basix 2-lb trigger, and the adjustable, modular chassis offers a bag rider, barricade stop, and built-in bubble level.

For more information on MasterPiece Arms and its product line of pistols, rifles, carbines and suppressors, visit MasterPieceArms.com.

Permalink Competition, Tactical No Comments »