June 16th, 2019

Sunday GunDay — 6-6.5×47 Lapua Varmint Slayer

6mm 6.5x47 Lapua 6-6.5x47 varmint rifle mcmillan BAT action 6mmAI

Soon after Lapua released the 6.5×47 cartridge, wildcatters recognized the potential of a necked-down 6mm version of the case. The 6-6.5×47 has emerged as a great, do-it-all cartridge that performs well in High Power competition, 600- and 1000-yard benchrest, and PRS tactical matches. But the 6-6.5×47 is not just for paper-punching. An efficient cartridge with great inherent accuracy, the 6-6.5×47 can be an excellent, flat-shooting, long-range varmint round. Here we feature Stan Stewart’s BAT-actioned 6-6.5×47 varminter. Fitted with a Krieger 1:10″ barrel, Stan’s rifle excels with a wide variety of varmint bullets. Whether driving 70-grainers at 3700 fps, or pushing the Berger 88gr High-BC FB bullet at 3400 fps, this 6-6.5×47 delivers half-MOA (or better) accuracy, in a well-balanced, easy-handling rifle.

The 6-6.5×47 for Precision Long-Range Varminting

6mm 6.5x47 Lapua 6-6.5x47 varmint rifle mcmillan BAT action 6mmAI
The rifle carries a 12-42x56mm Nightforce NSX in Nightforce rings “hand-lapped for optimal fit/alignment”.

‘Seller’s Remorse’ Spurs 6mm Project
Report by Stan Stewart

After selling my 6mm Remington Ackley Improved a couple of years ago and wishing I hadn’t, I begun to think about a new custom rifle for work on Prairie Dog towns and New York wood chucks at 600+ yards. I have a .223 AR and 22-250 for medium ranges but I missed my 6mm AI for long-range work so I started asking questions.

The 22-250 is a fine chambering, but it is hard on barrels, and I think the 6mms may have an accuracy edge out past 400 yards. Also, shooters today enjoy a vast collection of really great 6mm bullets. Barrel life and bullet options were two main reasons I decided to build a 6mm rather than another .224-caliber gun. But the question remained… what 6mm chambering to choose?

I started doing serious research on the 6-6.5×47. I received a lot of good advice from AccurateShooter.com and other websites on the pros and cons. I also talked to gunsmiths — quite a few recommended the new cartridge as well. Some of the cartridge attributes I liked was the small rifle primer, enough case capacity to efficiently reach 3700 fps with a 70gr bullet and 3400 fps with an 85-grainer without being terribly over-bore. Most important was the 6-6.5×47’s reputation for inherent accuracy without being finicky like my 6mm AI. So, having chosen my cartridge, I started asking for gunsmith recommendations. Again the folks on the AccurateShooter.com Forum were very helpful. After many conversations I settled on Dave Bruno in Dayton, Pennsylvania. He was a good choice.

Putting Together the New Rig with Premium Components
From the get-go, I knew I wanted a BAT action and Krieger barrel. BAT Machine and Krieger Barrels enjoy a great reputation in the shooting industry. BATs are beautifully-machined, smooth, and strong. Krieger cut-rifled barrels are known for dependable accuracy and long barrel life. While many 6-6.5×47 shooters choose an 8-twist barrel to shoot the 100-108gr bullets, I would be using smaller, varmint-weight bullets, so I selected a 1:10″ twist Krieger. This would allow me to shoot bullets from 60 grains up to 90 grains. Dave chambered the barrel with a .269″ neck and fluted the barrel to save weight. I also had Dave install a Vais muzzle brake. Dave fitted the BAT with a 2 oz. Jewell trigger, mounted a +20 MOA scope rail, then pillar-bedded the BAT into a McMillan Hunter-Class-style fiberglass stock.

6mm 6.5x47 Lapua 6-6.5x47 varmint rifle mcmillan BAT action 6mmAI

Load Development for Varminting

I had selected a few powders and bullets recommended by other 6-6.5×47 shooters and started by seating all the bullets .005″ off the lands. The powders I selected were Varget, Vihtavuori N-550, and Reloder 15.

6mm 6.5x47 Lapua 6-6.5x47 varmint rifle mcmillan BAT action 6mmAI

I was very pleased with the 88gr Bergers. In initial testing, they grouped well and I was able to drive them to 3400 fps easily. As I wanted a gun for long-range varmint work, I was hoping the 1:10″-twist barrel would provide enough stability for the heavier weight bullets. It did — the 10-twist worked great! I was able to shoot the lighter weight bullets and the 88s were superb. With a BC of 0.391, leaving the barrel at 3400, these bullets were still traveling at 2600 fps at 600 yards!

6mm 6.5x47 Lapua 6-6.5x47 varmint rifle mcmillan Berger BAT Action

I did a lot of testing, recording group sizes for a variety of different bullets (see below) and powders. With group size/velocity data in a spreadsheet I was able to “crunch the numbers” and choose my preferred loads. The data drew a clear picture of what the rifle shot best. Here is a chart showing comparative group sizes, arranged by bullet type. On the last three lines, powders are listed by average for all bullets.

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6-6.5x47 Lapua Varmint rifleFinal Thoughts on the 6-6.5×47 Lapua
I have owned three rifles chambered in 22-250 and will always own a rifle in this caliber because it is inherently accurate and drives a 50gr bullet at 3800 fps. No question the 22-250 can be deadly out to 500 yards. However, I’ve found that shooting past 400 yards with the light bullets is difficult if there is any wind at all. That’s why I liked my 6mm AI for those longer shots and why I decided on the 6-6.5×47 Lapua. I couldn’t be happier with my choice. The only thing that could make it better is if Lapua would produce the 6-6.5×47 as an “official” factory 6mm cartridge with 6mm necks right out of the box. But overall, I am very happy with the cartridge, and I thank Dave Bruno for producing a superbly accurate varmint rifle.

CLICK HERE for FULL Story with 6-6.5×47 Load DATA »

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June 16th, 2019

Make This Father’s Day Something Special

fathers day 2016 father

On Father’s Day, time spent together is more important than any gift that comes in a box…

Father Father's DayToday is Father’s Day, a special Sunday when we acknowledge our patriarchs and show our gratitude for all their hard work and sacrifice on our behalf, and the love they have shown us over the years. If you’re lucky, you’re reading this after having spent a day at the shooting range (or the local fishing hole, or golf course) with your Dad. The important thing is to be together with “Pops” and do something you both enjoy together. If you haven’t finalized your Father’s Day planning, here are some suggestions:

1. Hand-wash and wax your father’s truck or car.

2. Clean your dad’s rifles, or help him put together some handloads.

3. Take your dad out to a live music concert, go to a ball game, or maybe head down to the local fishin’ hole.

4. Go for a hike together or just a drive in the country.

5. Head down to Sears or the local hardware store and let you Dad pick out some new tools.

6. Sit down with your dad, bring a note pad, and ask him to tell you some stories about his youth, or his military experience. This Editor learned some amazing things about his own father this way.

Whatever you choose to do with your father, use your time wisely. Turn off your computer, and go be with your father today. Do something with him that makes him smile. The time spent together is more important than any gift that comes in a box. And, if he lives far from you, give him a call and let him know how important he is to your life. Remind him of the old adage: “Good fathers make good sons”.

When my father, a disabled WW2 Army vet, passed away I received the flag that was draped on his coffin. On most days I fly one of those nylon flags that you can pick up at hardware or department stores. But on holidays, like today, and his birthday, Dad’s flag is out there snapping in the breeze on top of the pole. I find myself talking to him as it gets put up in the morning and comes down at sunset. Hope when the time comes one of my boys will fly my flag.
— Bill Slattery Jr.

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass”! “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply, “We’re raising boys”.
— Harmon Killebrew.

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June 16th, 2019

Precision Reloading for Handguns — Smart Tips from the USAMU

USAMU Service Pistol Handgun Tip Advice Reloading

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) fields pistol teams as well as rifle and shotgun competition squads. Consequently the USAMU’s Reloading Shop loads tens of thousands of pistol rounds every year. In this article, the USAMU’s handgun experts talk about reloading for handguns — with smart tips on how to achieve superior accuracy with 100% reliability. If you load for pistols, take the time to read this article, which offers important insights on COAL, primers, crimps and more.

USAMU Service Pistol Handgun Tip Advice Reloading

Optimize the Taper Crimp
One often-overlooked aspect of handloading highly-accurate pistol ammunition is the amount of crimp and its effect on accuracy. Different amounts of taper crimp are used with various handloads to obtain best accuracy. The amount is based on bullet weight, powder burn rate and charge, plus other factors. It is not unusual for our Shop to vary a load’s crimp in degrees of 0.001″ and re-test for finest accuracy.

USAMU Service Pistol Handgun Tip Advice ReloadingUse Consistent Brass
Brass is also important to pistol accuracy. While accurate ammunition can be loaded using brass of mixed parentage, that is not conducive to finest results, particularly at 50 yards. It is important for the serious competitor/handloader to use brass of the same headstamp and ideally one lot number, to maximize uniformity. Given the volumes of ammunition consumed by active pistol competitors, using inexpensive, mixed surplus brass for practice, particularly at the “short line” (25 yards), is understandable. However, for the “long line” (50 yards), purchasing and segregating a lot of high-quality brass to be used strictly for slow-fire is a wise idea.

Importance of Uniform COAL
Uniformity of the Case Overall Length (COAL) as it comes from the factory is also important to achieving utmost accuracy. More uniform case lengths (best measured after sizing) contribute to greater consistency of crimp, neck tension, ignition/burn of powder charge, and so on. Cartridge case-length consistency varies from lot to lot, as well as by maker. Some manufacturers are more consistent in this dimension than others. [Editor’s note: It is easy to trim pistol brass to uniform length. Doing this will make your taper crimps much more consistent.]

Primers and Powders — Comparison Test for Accuracy
Pay attention to primer brands, powder types and charges. Evaluating accuracy with a Ransom or other machine rest at 50 yards can quickly reveal the effect of changes made to handload recipes.

Bullet Selection — FMJ vs. JHP
Bullets are another vital issue. First, there is the question of FMJ vs. JHP. A friend of this writer spent decades making and accuracy-testing rifle and pistol bullets during QC for a major bullet manufacturer. In his experience, making highly-accurate FMJ bullets is much more difficult than making highly-accurate JHPs, in large part due to the way the jackets are formed. Small die changes could affect accuracy of FMJ lots dramatically.

The CMP now allows “safe, jacketed ammunition” in Excellence-in-Competition (EIC) Service Pistol matches, although wadcutter ammunition is prohibited. Thus, the option to use very accurate JHP designs simplifies the life of CMP Service Pistol shooters in pursuit of the prestigious Distinguished Pistol Shot badge.

Hopefully, these tips will be helpful to any pistol shooters interested in accurate handloads, not just “Bullseye” shooters. Small tweaks to one’s normal routine can pay big dividends in improved accuracy and make practice and competition more rewarding.

Stay safe, and good shooting!

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Handguns, Reloading 2 Comments »