June 28th, 2018

Avoid Canting Your Rifle to Improve Your Long Range Shooting

rifle level canting shooting rifle Ryan Cleckner

In a helpful NSSF video, Ryan Cleckner explains why you normally should avoid canting your rifle — rotating it clockwise or counter-clockwise. Cleckner explains that canting the rifle in one direction or another will change the point of impact: “When you rotate the rifle, not only does the [POI move] in the direction that you’re rotated, [but] it also loses some of its elevation as it rolls down.” This, Cleckner explains, can make you miss on one side or the other:

Cant to the Left — You’re going to miss low and left.
Cant to the Right — You’re going to miss low and right.

rifle level canting shooting rifle Ryan Cleckner

In this video, starting at the one-minute mark, Cleckner shows the effect of rifle canting when engaging a 600-yard target. A few degrees of cant (either to the left or to the right), moves the shot POI completely off the steel silhouette target. The POI change occurs mainly because you are lowering (and laterally shifting) the scope sight-line relative to the bore axis, effectively changing your zero.

David Tubb has explained: “Every 1 degree you are off on a cant, is about six inches of difference laterally at 1000 yards”.

Position Shooting with Sling — Rifle Cant Considerations
Cleckner’s discussion assumes that the scope or sights are set to hit center with the rifle level and plumb. That works for most situations when shooting prone off bipod, front mechanical rest, or front sandbag. However, many sling shooters, including David Tubb and John Whidden, do tilt or cant their rifles slightly inward because this allows a more comfortable hold with sling, or allows better eye-to-sight alignment. Holding the rifle at an angle can work — but the angle of cant must be consistent for every shot. Canting the rifle is not a sin by itself. However, after you confirm your zero on your target, the degree of cant must be the same for EVERY shot. You must maintain that exact same degree of rotation on each shot or you will experience the shot POI movement Cleckner illustrates. Consistency is the key.

John Whidden
John Whidden, 5-time Nat’l Long Range Champion, holds a Palma rifle. John now shoots a match rifle with an Anschutz stock which he holds more upright, but still with some counter-clockwise cant. John also installed his iron sights at an angle so that the adjustments are correct (and plumb) even with his canted hold: “While it may not be obvious in the picture, the sights on my rifle are set up so that they’re straight vertical and horizontal while I hold the rifle canted. Making sure your adjustments (scope or sights) are vertical and horizontal is a critical piece of the pie.”

Inexpensive Dual-Diameter Scope-Mounted Bubble Level
The best way to avoid inconsistent rifle canting is to use a bubble level fitted to rail or scope. One very affordable and versatile product is the Jialitte Scope Bubble Level. This features a 30mm milled inside diameter, plus an inner insert ring so it will also fit 1″-diameter main tubes. The Jiaalitte unit is nicely radiused, and has a low profile in the middle. User reviews have been very positive. You could easily pay $35.00 or more for a 30mm scope level. This costs just $11.99.

Scope Optic bubble level 30mm 1

Permalink Shooting Skills, Tactical 6 Comments »
June 28th, 2018

TECH TIP: Velocity Increase In New Gun Barrels

Barrel Velocity Increase Sierra Bullets Blog Speedy Gonzalez Jim See

Editor: Many new barrels will deliver higher velocities with the same load after 100-150 rounds through the bore. The exact reasons for this speed-up are not 100% certain, and velocity increases (if any) will vary from one barrel to the next. But this “speeding up” phenomenon is common, so be prepared if this happens with your next barrel. If you do experience a significant velocity increase you should probably re-tune your load AFTER the velocity stabilizes at the higher level.

From the Sierra Bullets Blog
Article by Mark Walker, Sierra New Product Development Director
In a previous post, I discussed a couple of methods to tune a load to your barrel to help achieve the best accuracy possible. People most often work on load tuning if they get a new rifle or have a different barrel installed. In both instances, the barrel is new and has not been fired very much. According to most competitive shooters, this is the most accurate your barrel will ever be, so getting it tuned and shooting accurately is a priority.

The Speed Up Phenomenon After 100-150 Rounds
Even though after you work up a load and your new barrel is shooting great, a lot of shooters notice that at around 100 to 150 rounds their rifle may stop shooting as accurately. I had this happen to a rifle and I was confused as to why something that worked so well to begin with would all of a sudden quit shooting. I decided to break out the chronograph to do another load work up to see what was going on. To my surprise, the velocity had increased around 80 fps over the original velocity! After performing another ladder test and adjusting the seating depth, the rifle was once again shooting well.

There are several thoughts on why this may happen, however, you can rest assured that it does happen. One thought is that as the barrel breaks in, the tooling marks in the throat of the chamber smooth out and allow less resistance to the bullet as it exits the bore thereby increasing speed. Another idea is that the throat area starts to get a little rough which in turn causes more resistance which increases pressure and therefore more velocity. I’m sure there are some out there who have a better understanding as to why this happens, but it can definitely affect the accuracy of your rifle. So be aware and never be afraid to rework a load to keep your rifle in tune.

Experts Confirm That Barrel Speed-Up Is Common
Barrel Velocity Increase Sierra Bullets Blog Speedy Gonzalez Jim SeeTwo respected shooters have observed an increase in velocity with new barrels, typically after 100 rounds. Gunsmith and Hall-of-Fame benchrest shooter Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez has documented barrel speed-up with testing. Moreover, Speedy’s bore-scope barrel inspections revealed a smoothing of the barrel lands. Jim See, a top PRS competitor, has encountered barrel speed-up many times. Accordingly, he re-tunes his load at 150 rounds.

“Alex Lipworth and I documented this phenomenon about four years ago and I have told all my customers about this. My son Mikee would shoot 100 rounds through all new barrels we planned on shooting before we would begin to do load development. We had a shooting snail that caught all the bullets set up in front of an indoor bench. We called it a wear-in process because upon careful examination of the bore when the ‘Speed Up’ takes place the cut-rifled bore resembles that more of a button-rifled barrels with the lands taking on more the softer look of a buttoned bore.” — Speedy Gonzalez

“Seen it [barrel velocity increase] too many times to count. All my match barrels get a ‘generic round’ loaded for them, which has worked well in barrels historically. After I hit 150 rounds I fine-tune the load and never look back, until the tube starts to slow down at it’s life end.” — Jim See

Barrel Velocity Increase Sierra Bullets Blog Speedy Gonzalez Jim See

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
June 28th, 2018

Tech Tip: Keep Your Ammo Cool this Summer

Heat Map USA color chart

Well folks, it’s almost July — the means we’re moving into “peak heat” summer conditions. It’s vitally important to keep your ammo at “normal” temps during the hot summer months. Even if you use “temp-insensitive” powders, studies suggest that pressures can still rise dramatically when the entire cartridge gets hot, possibly because of primer heating. It’s smart to keep your loaded ammo in an insulated storage unit, possibly with a Blue Ice Cool Pak if you expect it to get quite hot. Don’t leave your ammo in the car or truck — temps can exceed 140° in a vehicle parked in the sun.

Ammo cool storage

Bosch Insulated tool caseTo learn more about how ambient temperature (and primer choice) affect pressures (and hence velocities) you should read the article Pressure Factors: How Temperature, Powder, and Primer Affect Pressure by Denton Bramwell. In that article, the author uses a pressure trace instrument to analyze how temperature affects ammo performance. Bramwell’s tests yielded some fascinating results.

For example, barrel temperature was a key factor: “Both barrel temperature and powder temperature are important variables, and they are not the same variable. If you fail to take barrel temperature into account while doing pressure testing, your test results will be very significantly affected. The effect of barrel temperature is around 204 PSI per F° for the Varget load. If you’re not controlling barrel temperature, you about as well might not bother controlling powder temperature, either. In the cases investigated, barrel temperature is a much stronger variable than powder temperature.”

Barrel temperature temp strips Varget

Temp Strips allow shooters to monitor their barrel temperature. Excessive barrel heat can raise load pressures as well as shorten barrel life!

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 2 Comments »