March 2nd, 2017

NBRSA Rule Change Inspires Radical New Front Bag Design

NBRSA New Front bag wrap around sandbag benchrest

The NBRSA has liberalized its rules regarding front sandbags. Until this year, NBRSA rules required that benchrest competitors be able to lift their rifle fore-ends freely from the front bag. Accordingly, front bags could not “capture” the forearm or hold the gun down (i.e. keep it from rising). In order to meet this requirement, “legal” bags had straight sides that didn’t stand too far up.

Now the NBRSA rules have changed. You no longer have to be able to lift the gun up freely from the bag without interference. It’s now permissible to have a bag that offers some up/down retention. Check out this new bag from Edgewood Shooting Bags. Call “The EDGE”, it offers taller side sections that can hold the fore-arm in place and counter torque.

NBRSA New Front bag wrap around sandbag benchrest

Edgewood’s designers state: “There are a couple of [NBRSA] rule changes for 2017. The change we found most intriguing was that the requirement of being able to lift your fore end freely from the front rest has been removed. So, we came up with a new design with super tall ears which will allow the innovators to push the envelope. Let’s see what you can do with these…”

We expect this new type of front bag will help stabilize short-range benchrest rifles, particularly in the 10.5-lb Sporter and Light Varmint classes. But we expect the biggest gains will be had with the big-caliber rifles used in Mid-Range and Long Range benchrest competition. In the 1000-yard game, heavy-recoiling 7mm and .30 caliber cartridges are popular with many shooters. These big guns generate considerable torque despite their ample weight. We predict these “super-sized” front bags will reduce both hop and rolling motion (torque) in the big guns.

We also expect that some varmint hunters will experiment with high-sided front bags that wrap around the fore-end. Such front bags may prove a real boon for guns with narrower, sporter-style fore-ends. And it would be interesting to see if this kind of tall-sided bag design will be incorporated into portable sandbags for the PRS game. We shall see…

Rule Change and Product Tip from EdLongrange. Product Tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, Gear Review, New Product 1 Comment »
March 2nd, 2017

The Great Debate — Weight vs. Volume in Powder Dispensing

Lee Auto-Disk Chargemaster weight vs. Volume

When we first ran this story a while back, it spurred a hot debate, with strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Some guys argued vehemently that volumetric powder dispensing was best — citing the experience of short-range benchresters, most of whom still throw their charges. Others say weighing your charges is best, so long as you have a very precise, and very repeatable scale. We know some of the top 1000-yard shooters weigh their charges to the kernel.

Lee Auto-Disk Chargemaster weight vs. VolumeMost competitive long-range shooters weigh powder charges for their handloads. Some even use ultra-precise magnetic force restoration scales to load to single-kernel tolerances. But is weight-based measuring always the best way to fill a case with powder? Another option is volumetric charging. This method fills a precisely-sized cavity with powder and then dumps the charge into the case. A Harrell’s rotary powder measure works this way, as does the sliding powder filler on a Dillon progressive press.

For long-range applications, most people believe that precise weighing of powder charges is the best way to achieve optimal accuracy and low ES/SD. However, those short-range Benchrest guys do pretty darn well with their thrown charges, at least at 100 and 200 yards.

Our friend Dennis Santiago recently observed something that made him scratch his head and wonder about weighing charges. His AR-15 match rifle shot better with volumetric (cavity-measured) charges than with weighed charges dispensed by an RCBS ChargeMaster. Here’s what he reports:

Cavity vs. Dribble (Dennis Santiago Report)
I had the chance to compare nominally identical ammunition loaded two ways. These were all .223 Remington match loads using 77gr Sierra Match Kings over 23.4 grains of Hodgdon Varget. Same gun. However I loaded some ammo with charges dispensed with a Lee cavity-style powder measure while other rounds were loaded with powder weighed/dispensed by an RCBS Chargemaster. The cavity-drop ammo (with powder dropped from the Lee unit) was consistently better than the weighed-charge ammo. I have no idea why…

So, ladies and gentlemen — what do you think? Why did Mr. Santiago’s volumetrically-charged ammo shoot better than ammo filled with weighed charges? What’s your theory? Gary Eliseo suspects that Dennis’s Chargemaster might have been drifting. What do you think? Post your theories in the comments area below.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 13 Comments »
March 2nd, 2017

Shooting FAILS — Why Marksmen Miss at Long Range

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Long Range Shooting Error Wind Call Kestrel Laser Rangefinder

Applied Ballistics has produced a series of YouTube videos about precision long range shooting. Featuring ace long-range shooter and professional ballistician Bryan Litz, these videos address various topics of interest to long-range marksmen. This featured video looks at Long Range mistakes — Bryan Litz reveals the most common ballistics-related shooting errors at Long Range. And then Bryan explains how to improve your shooting (and wind reading) to eliminate those common errors.

Watch Applied Ballistics Video about Common Mistakes in Long Range Shooting:

Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics often hears the question: “What are the main reasons people miss their target at long range?” To answer that question, in this video, Bryan explains the most important variables in Long Range shooting. Bryan says: “Probably the number one thing is range — you have to have a [precise] range to your target because your bullet is dropping, and to hit the target you need to correct for bullet drop.” Distance may be indicated on the target bay (or berm), but for open ranges you should ascertain distance-to-target with a quality laser rangefinder. Even when the distance to target is shown with a sign or marker, you may want to confirm the distance with your rangefinder. (You may be surprised — we’ve seen marked target distances at commercial ranges off by 25+ yards!) Bryan says: “Get a good laser range to the target and you’ll be within a couple yards”.

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics Long Range Shooting Error Wind Call Kestrel Laser Rangefinder

After distance to target, the most important variable is the wind. This is the most challenging factor because the wind is constantly changing. Bryan explains: “After 300 or 400 yards, the wind [will] move your shots off the target if you don’t correct for it. The best way to account for the wind is to measure it at your location with a Kestrel. The Kestrel can give you the speed and direction of the wind at your location, which can baseline your wind call for your long-range shot.” Bryan acknowledges that there will still be variables: “The wind isn’t always blowing the same downrange as at your location… and the wind is always changing”. Bryan notes that you need to account for variances in wind between the time you gauge the wind angle and velocity and the time you actually you take your shot.

Permalink - Videos, Shooting Skills No Comments »