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December 22nd, 2019

Sunday GunDay: Speedy’s Stunning 6 PPC Benchrest Rifle

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engraved
“Ultimate PPC” by Speedy with engraved Stiller Viper action. Titanium Rest by John Loh (R.I.P.).

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engravedJust in time for Christmas, today we feature a beautiful red rifle built by West Texas gunsmith Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez many seasons back. With an eye-catching, one-of-a-kind engraved Stiller Viper action, and gorgeous red/black gelcoat finish, we think this rifle is one of the prettiest benchrest rigs ever made — and the color scheme fits the holiday season.

When Speedy set out to build the “ultimate PPC” for his own use, he wanted it to be as handsome as it was accurate. This stunning 6 PPC combines some very trick components with old-world detailing. When was the last time you saw an engraved receiver on a “race gun”? This rig combines modern high-tech components with classic good looks — the best of both worlds.

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engraved

This competition benchrest rig features an engraved Stiller Viper action, with integral scope rail, SAKO Extractor and non-fluted bolt. The action sits in a new Millenium BR-X carbon-fiber stock built by Robertson Composites (now closed). The bold red-on-black marbled finish is how the gelcoat came from Ian Robertson’s factory — the stock has not been painted. The slick front rest is a titanium Ultra-Rest machined by the late, great John Loh with design input by Speedy. John built only two of these in titanium, one for himself and one for Speedy. We’re sad to say John recently passed. R.I.P. John. The Leupold Competition scope sits in quad-screw bedded rings from S.G.& Y. Precision Rifles.

Speedy picked a very special barrel for this project–a 1:14 twist, 20.5″, 6-groove barrel, the last original Pat McMillan-crafted barrel in Speedy’s inventory. Speedy runs a .263″ neck. Bushing size depends on the load and the condition of his brass. Speedy’s match load is about 29.2 grains of the IMR 8208 “ThunderBird” powder (he stockpiled this great propellant years ago). Speedy feels that T-Bird may be the most user-friendly BR powder ever made: “Once you have a good load worked up with T-Bird, you can shoot it at most any location in the country, and in almost any conditions. It’s not fussy about temperatures or humidity.”

A Very Unique Viper Action, Two Years in the Making
This is no ordinary Viper action. The full engraving attracts your attention, but there are some slick “performance mods” Jerry Stiller added at Speedy’s request.

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engravedFirst, the action features a plain-Jane unfluted bolt, with a slight taper in the middle, a bit of a wasp-waist. Speedy prefers an unfluted design because it has superior wear characteristics. He’s found, when working with an aluminum action such as the Viper, the sharp flutes on the bolt will wear the inside of the action faster. In the interest of reduced wear, Speedy also requested a smaller-sized loading/ejection port. This provides for a larger front and rear receiver ring, which enhances bolt bearing surface. More bearing surface reduces point loading for less internal wear.

We were surprised that Speedy did not order a drop port for his Viper. He explained: “I’m a bag squeezer, so I keep my forearm right where the cases would exit the drop port. I’ve used the drop ports, but given my shooting style, I prefer a conventional port.” Speedy did decide to fit the bolt with a SAKO-style extractor. He believes this is easier to tune and can contribute to accuracy. Speedy told us: “With a conventional sliding plate extractor, like you find on the Stolle actions, there can be a bit of a side push as you chamber the round. I think this can affect the way the bullet enters the chamber. With the SAKO extractor there is no side-push so I can reduce the possibility of bullet misalignment.”

BR-X Stock — American Design, Canadian Craftsmanship
The BR-X carbon fiber stock represents a third-generation design. The original Millenium, built by Lee Six, was a hollow shell. This modern BR-X is carbon fiber over a foam core. In Light Varmint trim, it weighs just 1.5 pounds. Speedy tells us: “this BR-X has a low center of gravity, slight pistol grip, and the angles are really straight and true. It tracks well in the bags, and won’t lift out of the rear bag during recoil. That’s one of the purposes of the wedge-shaped rear section.”

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engraved

Speedy looked at the various benchrest stocks, and, with input from Tony Boyer, he worked out a design that mirrored many of the better features of existing designs with some significant enhancements. The first thing you’ll notice is that the geometry is very uniform. The flats on the side of the fore-arm are perfectly parallel. The underside of the fore-arm is seamless and completely flat. Speedy explained “one problem we’ve seen with stocks that have a mold seam in the middle is that sometimes the two halves of the mold don’t mate perfectly. Sometimes the mold is mismatched so one side is on a different plane. That creates all kinds of handling issues. If the bottom of the stock is convex, even a little bit, you lose a lot of stability.”

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engravedMuch thought went into the rear section of the stock. Speedy and Tony found that many stocks would start off tracking well, but by the end of the string they were pulling themselves out of alignment. Speedy noted that with some more conventional designs, they tended to ride up out of the rear bag after two or three shots. The BR-X works differently. It uses a wedge design, rather than a radius, so it tends to drive itself down into the bag on recoil. The BR-X is not the only stock to use a wedge in the rear, but it is different than other wedge designs. According to Speedy: “On most other wedge stocks, the wedge tapers towards the pistol grip, making the ‘V’ wider towards the end of the buttstock. This will change point of aim as the stock moves. The BR-X has a wedge that is a constant ‘V’, with no taper from the end to the pistol grip. This does make the gun track better and stay on target better.”

Competition Benchrest Terminology

Bughole: Very small group.
Mothball: The 10-ring on the standard Benchrest Target.
Tomato Stake: A worn out or otherwise inaccurate rifle barrel.
Screamer: A group measuring less than 0.100″ at 100 yards or less than 0.250” at 200 yards.
Weather Report: A Group “scattered” as a result of poor wind doping.
Wailing Wall: Place where targets that have been scored can be viewed by competitors.
Dope the Wind: Ccompensate for the effects of wind by shifting aiming points on the target.

Barrels–The Hunt for a ‘Hummer’
Top 6 PPC competitors often run through a number of barrels in the quest for a “hummer” that performs optimally. In addition to the Pat McMillen tube on this gun, Speedy uses barrels from Hart, Krieger, and Shilen. He’s tried a few from some other boutique barrel makers and they shot well, but he wasn’t satisfied with the barrel life. Some of them lost their competitive edge after just 500-600 rounds. He won’t name names in print, but you can call and ask. When choosing a barrel, Speedy recommends that you invest the time and call a few well-known smiths who regularly compete in high-level BR matches. Find out what’s working real well currently.

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engravedSpeedy says, “you can read the equipment lists from the big shoots, but the printed results can be deceiving. That winning barrel might have been produced a couple of years ago. Barrel-makers do have good runs and not-so-good runs. Do your homework and find out what’s working best right now.” Speedy prefers 6-groove barrels: “I’ve shot em all one time or another. It seems that the 6-groove barrels are easier to get to shoot. It seems at 200 yards bullets from a 4-groove barrel move more than from a 6-groove barrel. Both windage and elevation. I think Tony Boyer feels the same way.” [Editor’s Note: Speedy’s groove observations were made many seasons ago. Today, many top shooters are using 4-groove and 5-groove barrels, and 3-grooves have been successful in score competition.]

We asked about Speedy’s signature “SpiderWeb finish”. While the web design has esthetic appeal, there is a functional side as well: “Tests have shown that a bead-blasted barrel will shed heat faster than a highly polished barrel. With the SpiderWeb, we leave most of the bead-blast finish on the barrel, but the web effect gives the tube some visual appeal.”

Speedy Speaks — How to Succeed in Benchrest Competition

Let me begin by saying that benchrest competition is the most difficult sport I’ve ever tried. For the newcomer, it can be daunting. From the very word “go” you are thrown to the wolves. Most new competitors have about a two and a half or three-year window. After that, if they are not meeting their expectations, they get fed up and leave the sport. Considering the time, effort, and money they may have expended in that time, that’s an unfortunate outcome.

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engravedSo, how does one improve as a shooter and get to the point where you are meeting your goals? First you need to break down the shooting process into its parts–gun handling, loading technique, wind awareness, time management, bag set-up, and what I call ‘bench management’. Then you need a mentor. Benchrest is like golf–you can have the best equipment (best action, best stock, best rest) but you won’t get far without a knowledgeable veteran to monitor your progress and observe your technique. Without a mentor, benchrest is a rough game to play and you can reach a frustration point after a couple of years.

If you don’t have somebody who can sit and evaluate your loading style, bolt-working, follow-through, and wind-reading etc., you can develop bad habits that are hard to break. If there’s no one to monitor your shooting and see what you’re doing wrong, you’ll keep making the same mistakes. So how does one find a mentor? Well it’s not a bad idea to attend one of the shooting schools. But one-on-one training is best. Look for someone with a strong record in competition, but a person who is also patient. And when you find that person, show some loyalty. With most people who have been involved in the sport a while, if you show them allegiance, they will return that allegiance.

6mm PPC Basics — About the Cartridge

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engravedDeveloped by Louis Palmisano and Ferris Pindell (left and right in photo), the 6 PPC is the “King of the Hill” in short-range benchrest competition, the most accurate cartridge ever invented. It still completely dominates 100- and 200-yard Group BR Shooting. If you want to win in that game, you pretty much have to shoot a 6 PPC, or some close variant of the 6 PPC cartridge design.

Easily made from Lapua 220 Russian brass, the 6mm PPC has a small primer and small flash hole. The small flash hole/primer accounts for much of the 6 PPC’s superior accuracy, though nobody really knows precisely how or why. The “short, fat” shape and nearly straight body contribute to efficient, consistent combustion and good “chamber behavior”.

While SAKO has created an official SAAMI 6mm PPC round, called the 6PPC USA, most American 6 PPC shooters run tight match chambers cut with custom reamers. There will be variations from one reamer to another, enough so that custom dies are generally recommended for match guns. Here is a PT&G reamer spec’d by Speedy a while back. He prefers a .263″ neck because that works better than .262″ when he needs to use his tightest bushings to get more neck tension.

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engraved

The 6 PPC’s case capacity, case size to bore ratio, and combustion properties seem to be just about ideal for the short 6mm match bullets. A 6BR can come close, but when the goal is shooting “zero” groups at 100 and 200 yards, the 6 PPC is the clear winner. Currently most 6 PPC shooters form their cases from Lapua 220 Russian brass. Norma also makes factory-formed 6 PPC cases, but Norma brass is not commonly used as most shooters believe it is less “tough” than Lapua brass and accordingly won’t last as long with very stout match loads.

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December 21st, 2019

U.S. Optics Introduces New Foundation Series Scopes for 2020

U.S. Optics Foundation Series Scopes 34mm milrad MIL FFP SFP

If you’re looking for a state-of-the-art scope with a 34mm main tube, consider the new Foundation Series™ riflescopes from U.S. Optics. There are four new models, three zooms (1.8-10x42mm, 3.2-17x50mm, 5-25x52mm) plus a 10X fixed power. These look impressive. Check out the features of the FDN 25X 5-25x52mm ($3449) below. There are so many options! Chose among 11 different reticle types, and three illumination colors (Red, Blue, Green). Get a black Anodized finish or order any one of 8 Cerakote colors. For Elevation adjustment, choose a 1/10 MIL knob or 6.5 Creedmoor, or .308 Win BDC knobs. The Rapid Focus Eyepiece is even available with optional internal level.

This all represents serious optics technology. But you’ll pay for it. MSRP on the FDN 25X starts at $3449.00.

U.S. Optics Foundation Series Scopes 34mm milrad MIL FFP SFP

The Foundation Series is machined from aircraft-grade 6061-T6 aluminum and features a low profile ER3K elevation knob with a Zero Stop, capped US#1 windage knob, adjustable integrated parallax and illumination knob, rapid adjustable 180° magnification throw, and customizable options.

Foundation Series Models:

FDN FX10 10x42mm ($1999) | FDN 10X 1.8-10x42mm ($2499)
FDN 17X 3.2-17x50mm ($2899) | FDN 25X 5-25x52mm ($3449)

U.S. Optics Foundation Series Scopes 34mm milrad MIL FFP SFP

(more…)

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December 21st, 2019

Vortex Fury HD 5000 Rangefinder Binoculars Field Test

Vortex optics Fury HD 5000 LRF Rangefinder Binocs Binoculars Field Test Review

Vortex Fury HD 5000 LRF Binoculars Review

Field Test by Colton Reid, AccurateShooter Hunting Editor
As a solo backcountry hunter, I try to carry as little weight as possible. Each step is a reminder to bring only the most essential/effective equipment. Each item in my pack must earn its precious backpack real estate. That’s why I favor gear that serves multiple purposes — and binoculars are no exception. In a previous optics review, I field-tested Zeiss Victory RF 10×42 ranging binoculars and the results were beyond expectation — they are outstanding. However, such superior, upper-eschelon ranging optics from Zeiss cost over $3000.00. And Leica Geovid HD-B 3000 ranging binoculars cost around $2500.00.

For those looking for a more affordable option, there are several mid-range binoculars with integrated ranging capability. One popular choice is the Vortex Fury HD 5000 10×42 LRF Binoculars. Priced at around $1200 on Amazon, the Fury HD 5000 is half the price of some European LRF Binoculars. Yet the Fury HD 5000 LRF Binos still combine two optical systems (magnification and laser ranging) into one that is more valuable than the sum of the parts.

Vortex optics Fury HD 5000 LRF Rangefinder Binocs Binoculars Field Test Review

Vortex Fury HD 5000 Look and Feel
The Fury binoculars are compact and relatively light — a modest 2 pounds. They are covered by a rubber armor exterior that feels sturdy enough to survive some hard falls, but is also comfortable to hold. The compact size did offer a challenge in determining how best to place my thumbs (see top photo). The rangefinder controls (Measure, Menu) are easy to access and are distinguishable by the braille-like bumps that cover them. Considering that these buttons are going to be located and pressed without looking at the top of the binoculars each time, it was perhaps a poor design choice to place the raised Vortex logo adjacent to the controls. But after a little practice I was able to quickly locate the measure button when ranging in the field.

The eye cups are comfortable and offer four discrete eye relief positions. The focus and diopter knobs are large and easy to turn but also provide resistance to rotation. Resistance is useful for maintaining the previous positional setting.

Vortex optics Fury HD 5000 LRF Rangefinder Binocs Binoculars Field Test Review

Vortex Fury 5000 — Rangefinding Performance
The Vortex Fury’s rangefinder function, along with its menu, is simple and intuitive. In my humble opinion, simple is better. The display is a red LED projection in the right optic. As noted in another review, the red display can be difficult to distinguish against a tan/brown image, so I used max brightness at all times to ensure display visibility. The display menu covers the core items: distance (line of sight or angle compensated), measurement units (yards/meters), brightness, and the ability to display either the strongest “Best” signal or the “Last Result” to help range objects behind trees or brush. The rangefinder also enables scan mode (continuous ranging) that updates displayed distance every three-quarters of a second as you sweep over the terrain.

In the field, rangefinder performance was good. I could consistently range objects at distances out to around 1500 yards. Beyond that, the rangefinder struggled with hills, trees, and brush. Ranging Longer distances required a rock or something more reflective. I will likely never shoot targets at or beyond 1500 yards, but the ability to range objects at those distances is extremely useful when scouting in the field. I routinely use my rangefinder to measure the distance to my next vantage point or staging area for a stalk, which can be over a mile away.

Optics — How Good is the Glass?
I should first note that it is difficult to quantitatively compare optical systems without objective data from sophisticated scientific measurement systems used in optics labs. Consequently, I must rely on a qualitative comparison with a known reference. In this case I compared the Fury HD against my tried and true Swarovski Habicht porro-prism binoculars.

With that disclaimer, I would rate the Vortex Fury optics as good to very good. In ample daylight, the Fury and Habicht binoculars were comparable. The main difference being that the Fury required a more precise adjustment of the focus knob in order to capture a crisp image. In low light, the Habichts had the advantage. The Fury images appeared slightly darker than the Habichts and the image sharpness in the Fury seemed to degrade more quickly with the fading light.

That may be partially linked to lower light transmission but also to the more sensitive focus knob of the Fury. With that sensitivity it could be difficult to tell which knob position yielded the best image. That being said, I was still able to spot deer with the Furys in low light (see image). What is more, I didn’t have to switch between my binoculars and a rangefinder to determine distance or suffer the reorientation of a different magnification and field of view. That is a huge benefit!

The Verdict
Overall, I was happy with the Vortex Fury’s performance. Both the optics and rangefinder were what I would consider mid-range in terms of performance. But for a street price of about $1200.00, that is a good value. Yes you can do better, but you’ll have to pay more than twice as much. Considering my recommendation is always to buy the best optics you can afford, the Vortex Fury HD 5000 would be a good choice for serious hunters on a budget. These are solidly made. Vortex states the aluminum alloy body is nitrogen-purged, and O-ring sealed to provide a waterproof, fogproof and shockproof product.

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December 21st, 2019

NOTICE — Replace Batteries in Your Gun Safe Keypad Every Year

If the battery on your safe’s electronic lock is
more than a year old, or if it is not giving you the
right voltage, replace it today!

safe battery gunsafe sargent greenleaf

Gunsafe safe keypad control battery batteriesThis time of year, many of our readers are putting their guns away in a safe for the winter. It’s easy to just tuck the guns away and forget about them. But there’s something you should do before you shut the safe door. If you have a safe with an electronic keypad, you should replace the battery every year as a precautionary measure. Trust us, you don’t want to come back in a few months and find that the keypad memory is kaput, and you’re locked out. That can lead to frustration and an expensive locksmith visit.

Here’s a true story. I have one safe with a Sargent & Greenleaf (S&G) keypad. A couple years back, in early December, I went to get into the safe. I punched in the correct combination, but all I got was a rapid “beep, beep, beep, beep” after I finished the last combination entry. I tried again to ensure I entered the combination correctly (I did). But again, the locking system responded with multiple rapid beeps indicating something was wrong. And the safe would not open. Now I was worried….

I popped out the battery holder (which slides in from the bottom of the keypad housing on the door). I removed the battery and tested it with a volt-meter. The 12-month-old Duracell 9-volt battery only registered 6.1 volts.

Low voltage was the problem. I went down to the store and got a couple new 9V batteries. I tested the new batteries and both measured 9.4 volts output. I slipped one of the new 9V batteries into the keypad housing, punched in the combination and everything worked OK again. Eureka.

Most electronic locks for safes WILL “remember” the combination for a period of time even when the battery is low (and the keypad’s “brain” should retain the combination when you remove the battery for replacement). However, a dead battery, or extended periods of low voltage can give you problems. Don’t rely on wishful thinking…

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December 20th, 2019

New Lightweight Cross Bolt-Action Rifle from SIG Sauer

Sig Sauer cross hunting PRS precision rifle 3-lug

SIG Sauer has released the new Cross Rifle, a “crossover” rifle for hunting, competition, and long-range shooting. The Cross bolt-action rifle, built for precision, will be offered in .308 Winchester and 6.5mm Creedmoor with .277 SIG Fury Hybrid to follow. The design features a one-piece receiver with free-floating modular handguard and side-folding adjustable stock. Choose Black or First Lite Camo finish.

The Cross has some interesting design features:
— Two-stage Match Trigger adjusts from 2.5-4 lbs.
— Interchangeable flattop system that fits 0-MOA or +20-MOA rails.
— 3-Lug Bolt with 60° throw and interchangeable bolt handle. AI Mags.
— Light-weight 16″ barrel .308 Win version weighs just 6.2 pounds.

SIG designed the Cross series rifles for both hunters and PRS/NRL shooters: “Hunting rifles are typically focused on less weight, and accuracy is secondary. Precision rifles are designed for extreme accuracy, with no weight limitations. What was missing from the market was a true crossover. Our engineers took the best of both worlds and developed the CROSS featuring the characteristics of a hunting rifle, with the accuracy of a precision rifle”, said SIG Executive VP Tom Taylor.

Sig Sauer cross hunting PRS precision rifle 3-lug

Our hunting Editor Colton Reid, has been looking for a modular light-weight hunting rig with a folding stock for easy carry. SIG’s new Cross rifle could fit the bill. In .308 Win with 16″ barrel, the rifle weighs just 6.2 pounds (without optics), and is just 25″ overall with stock folded. That’s short enough to fit easily in a small day-pack. We’ll see if we can get one of these new Cross rifles for testing.

Sig Sauer cross hunting PRS precision rifle 3-lug
Sig Sauer cross hunting PRS precision rifle 3-lug

MSRP is $1779 and Gun Is Made in USA
The SIG Cross rifle retails for $1779.00, so it qualifies for PRS Factory Class. (We expect “street price” to be about $1550). SIG’s Tom Taylor noted that this is truly an “All-American” rifle: “Everything about the Cross from concept to completion… comes directly from our U.S. operations here in New Hampshire.” The Cross rifle was designed and built entirely at SIG Sauer’s New Hampshire facilities.

CROSS Rifle Specs (6.5 Creedmoor):

Overall Length: 35.5″
Folded Length: 27.0″
Barrel Length: 18″
Barrel Twist: 1:8″
Weight (w/o magazine): 6.4 lbs.

CROSS Rifle Specs (.308 WIN / .277 FURY):

Overall Length: 36.5″
Folded Length: 25.0″
Barrel Length: 16″
Barrel Twist: 1:10″ / 1:8.5″
Weight (w/o magazine): 6.2 lbs.

Factory Product Description
The CROSS Precision Bolt-Action Hunting Rifle is a lightweight precision rifle with a push button, foldable SIG precision stock, a one-piece aluminum receiver that eliminates the need for bedding the action, and AI magazines for creating the most accurate precision hunting platform.

The CROSS features a stainless-steel barrel with a free-float M-LOK handguard, a 2-stage match-grade trigger externally adjustable from 2.5 – 4 lbs., ambi-safety, a three-lug bolt design with a 60-degree throw and interchangeable bolt handle. The precision stock is spring-loaded for one-handed operation and can be fully adjusted in the field for length of pull and comb height with no tools. The rifle has a full-length replaceable Picatinny rail that allows for direct optics mounts, 20 MOA, and O MOA. The CROSS is available in 6.5 Creedmoor, 308 WIN, and the soon-to-be-released .277 SIG Fury Hybrid.

Permalink Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting, New Product 4 Comments »
December 20th, 2019

USAMU Tips for Using a Progressive Reloading Press

Accurateshooter.com USAMU progressive press reloading

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. In this article, the USAMU’s reloading gurus help you avoid potentially disastrous mistakes with a progressive — such as double powder changes. The USAMU experts caution that: “beginners would be better served by starting on a single-stage press”. That said, owning a progressive makes sense if you shoot more than 100 centerfire rounds a week. If you own a progressive press, or are thinking of buying one, you should read this article.

USAMU Reloading

For those interested in progressives, we’ll examine different key features among the types and relate them to handloading processes. The first, and simplest, type is the manually-advanced progressive. The shellplate holds the several cartridges being processed with each stroke of the handle. On these presses, the loader must manually advance the shellplate after each handle stroke.

While this obviously slows production vs. a press that cycles the shellplate automatically, this feature does have advantages though. (The disadvantages follow shortly.) No case is advanced to the next station until the operator deliberately does so – which is especially helpful for the new handloader.

Problems that arise during loading can be diagnosed and fixed without fears of some “extra” operation happening unnoticed with cartridges at the other stations. Beginners NOTE: one way to positively prevent this risk is to remove the cases from each press station when a problem emerges, before beginning diagnosis. Usually, however, experienced loaders omit this step as a time-saving measure, being confident in their understanding of the loading machine, process and the appropriate remedy.

Progressive press reloading ultimate reloader USAMU

If all cartridge cases are left in place, the operator must monitor what’s happening at each station. For example, raising the press ram twice may result in a double-charge of powder. With rifle cartridges, this usually results in a massive powder over-flow, alerting the loader to the problem. With pistol cases or small rifle charges in large cases, such an over-flow isn’t guaranteed. [Editor — one way to be sure you don’t have an overcharge or undercharge is to use a Lock-Out Die — see below.] The manually-advanced progressive keeps all operations under the loader’s control at all times. This is intuitively easier for the beginning loader to understand and to operate with confidence.

However, this same characteristic can be problematic if the loader isn’t paying 100% attention to what they are doing during routine operation. Some new handloaders apparently aspire to load progressively while daydreaming and paying little attention to the operation. Their plan is to feed components in, like feeding potato chips to a monkey, while good ammo drops out at the other end. Unfortunately, such an approach may likely result in something other than “good” ammo dropping out at the end…

Forgetting to cycle the shellplate when appropriate will cause problems. As with all handloading, distractions MUST be kept to a minimum for safety purposes. Never watch TV, talk with friends, or have other distractions (such as a rambunctious pet or child) in the room when loading. Avoiding distractions will do much to ensure that one produces consistent, high-quality ammunition, free of defects. For example, when a case doesn’t line up correctly with the case mouth expander or powder drop tube, a difference in “feel” often alerts the loader to correct the problem without ruining a case. If one is interrupted or becomes distracted, be certain to examine ALL cases in the shellplate before resuming loading.

Better Safe Than Sorry — the RCBS Lock-Out Die
RCBS Makes a “Lock-Out Die” that senses the powder charge. This will halt the Progressive press if you have a double charge, or an undercharge. Your Editor has the Lock-Out Die on his RCBS Pro 2000. It has “saved his bacon” a half-dozen times over the years. It can be used on Dillon and Hornady progressives as well as RCBS machines.

Other advantages of the typical manually-advanced progressives are that they are usually simpler in design, with fewer moving parts to get out of adjustment. This appeals to the mechanically dis-inclined! Caliber conversion kits are usually cheaper and take less time to install. This especially benefits the enthusiast who reloads for a wide variety of calibers.

However, many popular manually-advanced progressives have fewer die stations than the higher-end, auto-advancing machines. One item that is very useful when actually dispensing powder on a progressive press is a cartridge case powder-level sensor. This warns if powder levels in each case are too high or too low; however, it does require a die station of its own.

This condition (incorrect powder charges) often results from powder (especially extruded rifle powder) “bridging” in the powder measure. That is, one charge doesn’t fully empty into its cartridge case. This leaves some extra powder hanging up in the measure to join the normal charge in the next case. With some extruded powders, this can be quite obvious without a sensor. However, the sensor can detect small variations that would not be obvious to even an experienced, attentive operator. Considering the machine’s potential to use a powder sensor in addition to one’s other customary dies is a wise idea.

Similarly, pistol shooters are best served to seat bullets and crimp cartridges in separate operations. This should be taken into account when selecting a progressive press. Whenever loading fully-progressively, choosing powders that dispense very easily, e.g., ball/spherical or very fine-grain extruded powders, can help keep charges quite uniform.

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December 19th, 2019

How NOT to Ventilate Your Costly Chronograph — Set-UP Tips

accurateshooter.com target chrony shoot chronograph damage chrono

“Shooting Chrony” is a product name. “Shooting Chrony” should not describe (post-mortem) what you have been doing to your chronograph. Sooner or later all of us may make a mistake, and ventilate our chronograph. With luck, the bullet just “wings” your chronograph, and the damage is minor. But if you hit the unit smack dab in the middle, you may have to retire your chrono for good.

A while back, Forum member Jeff M. (aka “JRM850″) experienced a “low blow” that put his Shooting Chrony out of commission. With tongue firmly in cheek, Jeff started a Forum thread entitled Chronograph Not Picking Up Shots in Bright Sunlight Anymore. Looking at the photo at top, the problem is obvious — he ventilated his Chrono.

This was Jeff’s first chrono kill in 23 years of use, so we shouldn’t be too critical. Jeff explained: “I didn’t realize a friend was shifting from a 300-yard target to 100 yards.” The agent of destruction was a low-traveling 58gr V-Max running at 3415 fps. What happened? Well, when one is shooting at 300 yards, the trajectory will be higher than at 100 yards. We should say, however, that this may have been a low shot, or the 100-yard aiming point may have been placed lower to the ground (closer to the bottom of the target frame), as compared to the 300-yard aiming point.

Other Forum members offered some sarcastic responses:

Try it on an overcast day – it might work again.

It looks like the V-Max performed just about as advertised.

Aww…a little duct tape and some Super Glue and you’re good to go.

If you are using a LabRadar or Magnetospeed, your chrono shouldn’t be in the line of fire, but for those will conventional chronos, here’s some good advice…

Double Check Your Aim Point and Trajectory BEFORE You Shoot
The lesson learned here is that you should never change targets (or aim points) without checking your bullet’s flight over the chronograph. We like to align the barrel so the bullet exits a good 6-8 inches above the electronics (check your manual for recommended shot height).

In addition, we always boresight the barrel so we can see the actual target through the bore. Then, with gun UNLOADED, bolt removed and action clear, we look back down the barrel so we can see daylight through the bore, with the gun set on solid rests. If you look through the middle of the “V” formed by the sky screen supports and you can’t see light shining through the barrel’s bore, you probably have a set-up problem and you should re-align the rifle.

accurateshooter.com target chrony shoot chronograph damage chrono

Use a Test Backer to Confirm Your Bullet Trajectory
You can put tape on the support rods about 6″ up from the unit. This helps you judge the correct vertical height when setting up your rifle on the bags. Another trick is to hang a sheet of paper from the rear skyscreen and then use a laser boresighter to shine a dot on the paper (with the gun planted steady front and rear). This should give you a good idea (within an inch or so) of the bullet’s actual flight path through the “V” over the light sensors. Of course, when using a laser, never look directly at the laser! Instead shine the laser away from you and see where it appears on the paper.

After you have used the laser boresighter to get the rifle centered up in the chrono’s “sweet spot”, confirm with a test shot or two (see photo). Even when using an in-chamber laser boresighter, it is not uncommon for the bullet’s actual point of impact to be different than the laser’s dot location.

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December 19th, 2019

Get Genuine Military-Issued SIG Sauer M17 Pistols

Sig Sauer M17 pistol milsurp surplus U.S. Army Modular Handgun system

Here’s a great opportunity for pistol collectors…

SIG Sauer is offering a limited number of authentic M17 pistols originally issued by the U.S. Army and fielded during the initial domestic and in-theater deployment of the Modular Handgun System. These unique firearms feature the original Coyote controls, the original government-issue markings and serial numbers, along with the U.S. Army specified orange rear and green front Night Sights. As these were fielded by the U.S. Army, their condition will vary, making each one uniquely different, and making this truly an opportunity to own a piece of history. Tom Taylor, SIG Executive VP notes: “These handguns [will be] coveted by both military and firearms collectors alike.”

The M17 Surplus handgun is a 9mm, striker-fired, P320-based handgun platform, featuring a coyote-tan PVD coated stainless steel slide, coyote-tan controls, a coyote-tan medium carry grip module, with the U.S. Government slide markings and serial numbers. The handguns are equipped with SIGLITE sights (orange rear & green front), removable night sight rear plates, and the same optic cut as specified by the MHS contract, ready to fit a SIG Sauer Electro-Optics ROMEO1Pro Optic. The M17 features an ambidextrous manual safety, ships with (1) 17-round and (2) 21-round magazines, includes an official SIG Sauer M17 Certificate of Authenticity, and comes packed just as the handguns are delivered to the U.S. Military. Limited quantities available soon. Call your local dealer for pricing/availability.

Sig Sauer M17 M18 P320 pistol modular handgun Army

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December 19th, 2019

Good Books for Gun Guys — Popular Print Publications

Creedmoor sports gun book title read crossword puzzle
Photo courtesy Nightforce Optics.

In these days of Smart Phones, WiFi-equipped cars, and Alexa digital assistants, conventional books may seem old-fashioned. But for presenting a wide range of information, with charts, tables, photos, and a handy index, there is much to be said for conventional paper publications. These can be used anywhere and anytime, even where there is no cell service. You can annotate the pages with your own comments, and make simple, manual bookmarks for your most-used pages.

Cartridge Comparison Guide Second EditionOne resource we use regularly is the Cartridge Comparison Guide, a remarkably comprehensive 340-page spiral-bound book. Covering over 250 cartridges, the 2nd Edition of the Cartridge Comparison Guide covers most available factory cartridges from .17 caliber all the way up to .50 caliber. This resource also compiles cartridge data from major manufacturers Barnes, Federal, Hornady, Norma, Nosler, Remington, Sierra, Swift, Weatherby, and Winchester. If you shoot factory ammo, you should definitely get the Cartridge Comparison Guide.

Shooters putting together a print-format resource library will have many good choices. Creedmoor Sports has a large library of books in stock, with many currently on sale. On the Creedmoor Sports Book/Video page, you will find dozens of great offerings. You can search by format, author, price, and even shooting discipline. In addition, while you’re visiting Creedmoor Sports, you’ll find many tools and shooting accessories on sale.

Here are six of Creedmoor Sports’ most popular book titles:

Creedmoor Sports books title sale discount

Here’s an interesting book for gun owners. Get away from the TV and test your skills on these gun-centric crossword puzzles. The Shooters Book uses terms and names relating to firearms, their use, and development. At 178 pages, this crossword puzzle/word search book offers something for all firearm enthusiasts. Each crossword puzzle has correlated word searches included to help solve it.

Creedmoor Sports books title sale discount

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December 18th, 2019

Holiday Stocking Stuffers for Gun Guys and Gals

AccurateShooter.com stocking stuffer tools

Christmas is just one week away, so today we’re featuring a hand-picked collection of “stocking stuffers” for precision shooters. Some of these are recent new inventions. All are handy items that you’ll use over and over again at the range, on your vehicle, and/or at your loading bench (so you’re allowed to buy them for yourself, even after Christmas).

B&T Industries BT62 Determinator — $7.95

Group Size Measuring plate Determinator

The acrylic BT62 Determinator measures groups with laser-cut concentric measuring rings. Check group size quick and easy — simply place the Determinator over shot group. Adjust until one of the circles crosses the center of the two outer-most holes. That gives you the center to center group measurement (1.5″ maximum). Alternatively, you can measure edge to edge (of the farthest shots) and then subtract the bullet diameter. Cool tool for gun guys. The supplied lanyard also glows in the dark.

Surveyor’s Tape (for Wind Indicators) — $1.99

Surveyor's Surveyor Flagging Tape fluorescent day-glow wind flag

Always watch the wind when you shoot. Inexpensive, Day-Glo Surveyors’ Tape (aka “Flagging Tape”), attached to a stake or target frame, makes a good wind indicator. It will flutter even in mild breezes, alerting you to both angle and velocity shifts. This should be part of every range kit. Don’t leave home without it. This can also be ordered from Creedmoor Sports for $3.95 per roll.

Cabela’s Multi-Tool (Various Colors) — $5.00

Cabela's Multi-tool blank stocking stuffer

You won’t find a more versatile tool at this amazingly low price — just $5.99! The Cabela’s multi-tool performs many functions. It features flat-nose pliers, wire-stripper, knife, Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, saw, bottle opener, and scissors. Nylon sheath included. This handy tool is available in size colors: Red, Green, Orange, Purple, Teal, and Silver. A nylon sheath is included.

Amazon — Bore-Snake Two-Pack — $7.99

Bore-Snake stocking stuffer two kit

While bore cleaning should be done with a good cleaning rod and fitted bore guide, there are times when Bore-Snakes can be handy, such as when cleaning pistols and 10/22s. Now on Amazon you can get two (2) convenient GogoKu Bore-Snakes for just $7.99. Get two of the same diameter (.22 up to 12ga), or choose a Kit with both .223 and .308 sizes. Great stocking stuffer for a shooter.

Work Sharp — Pivot Plus Knife Sharpener — $7.95

pivot plus knife sharpen sharpener worksharp amazon

The new, easy-to-carry Pivot Plus Knife Sharpener from WorkSharp provides a 3-stage honing process for keeping your knives sharp in the field.. Sharpen straight-edge blades with a few pulls on the carbide and ceramic v-cut sharpening slots, and hone your serrated blades with the diamond-coated rod. A great stocking stuffer, this little sharpener costs just $7.95 on Amazon.

Bullet Central — Magnifying Light, $12.95 – $19.50

Magnifying Light

If you’re like most shooters, you can use more light and magnification when inspecting brass and small gun parts. Here is the perfect tool to help and it doesn’t take up a ton of space. With the Bullet Central Magnifying Light you can ease your eyes and see into the primer pockets, flash holes or case-necks without straining. With your choice of battery-powered or rechargeable models, why not buy two and give one to your favorite range buddy?

Amazon — Camouflage Neoprene Scope Cover — $8.98

scope cover camo camoflage amazon neoprene

Here’s a great gift item for a hunter. This reversible Camo-pattern Neoprene Scope Cover fits scopes up to 10″ long and 45mm lens diameter. The cover cushions your scope and protects against moisture and scratches. Note: Along with Camo, there is also a black version with bright red trim.

Creedmoor Sports — Leather 20Rd +2 Ammo Holder — $25.00

Leather Ammo Holder Creedmoor Sports

This handsome red leather ammo holder secures twenty (20) rounds of .308 Win-size ammunition, in a handy plastic carrier. In addition there are loops for 2 more sighter rounds on the outside. This is a very nice gift for a target shooter or hunter. There is also a .223 Rem version in black leather. Both these leather ammo holders conveniently fit into a shooting coat pocket via a leather pocket flap.

CDNN — 51-Piece Driver Set (Flat, Phillips, Hex, Torx) — $6.99

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week Outers Screwdriver 51-piece set torx phillips allen driver

This Outers-brand, 51-piece set contains all the drivers you could ever need: Flat-head, Phillips, Hex (Allen), and Torx. Priced at just $6.99, this driver set offers great value for the money. Even if you already own high-quality Allen and Torx wrenches, you can buy this as a spare set for your gun room. And this also makes a great holiday “stocking stuffer” for gun guys. These drivers work great for installing scope rings or bases, or everyday use around the home.

• Molded Driver with Magnetic Tip
• 15 Flat Head Bits
• 10 Hex Bits (inch)
• 9 Hex Bits (metric)
• 4 Phillips Bits
• 9 Torx Bits
• 2 Extra Long Phillips Bits
• 1 Hex to Square Adapter

Creedmoor Sports — ECI, Mag Block, and Dust Cover Flag

Empty chamber indicator ECI flag magazine block dust cover

Here are three handy items from Creedmoor Sports for rifle shooters. The red Empty Chamber Indicator is a “must-have” for every competitor shooter. And black rifle fans can use the special combo Open Bolt Indicator/Safety Flag that fits in an AR’s dust cover. The AR-15 Magazine Block adds ad extra measure of safety.

Amazon — Compact Bore Light, $8.52

Compact Bore Light

How many times have you gone to look into a barrel or dark corner of a gun only to find you just can’t see in there? You can easily solve this problem by picking up this Compact Bore Light for just $8.52 on Amazon. A bore light is a “must-have” item for handgun owners, and these are also handy for inspecting dies, rifle chambers, and tool interiors. Honestly for this price you should grab a couple so you have one in your range bag and another on your bench.

BONUS — TACTICAL STOCKINGS for Your Stocking Stuffers

MOlle tactical stocking christmas Xmas

Don’t have a stocking to hold your small gift items? Well we’ve got you covered — check out these cool, heavy-duty stockings. These Garud Tactical Stockings come in three camo varieties plus OD Green, Black, and Khaki. They all feature 4 MOLLE attachments, rugged carry handle, hanging hook, swivel carabiners, outside draw pocket, and even Velcro USA Flag Patch. Get all this for the low price of $12.99 (solid colors) or $14.99 (Camo). These stockings are sure to bring smiles to your tacticool family members and friends. And right now they ship for FREE on Amazon.

See More Stocking Stuffers in NRA Store »

Credit EdLongrange for BT62 Determinator suggestion.

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December 18th, 2019

Having a Merry Christmas with a .50 BMG Barrett M82

Barrett 50 Caliber .50 Ca Xmas Christmas shooting video

This 50 Cal Days of Christmas video features some fantastic slow-motion footage of a Barrett .50 Caliber M82. This bad boy pumps out some serious muzzle flash. Watch carefully at the 1:05 mark and you can see the .50-caliber projectile exit the muzzle brake and spin through the ball of smoke and flame. For best viewing, you may want to change your video settings to 720p or 1080p High Definition and view full-screen (using the video controls).

50 Caliber Barrett slow motion Christmas

The video carries “overkill” to the max, as the shooter uses his big Barrett to blast Christmas ornaments and a snow-globe. To top things off, at the 2:50 mark, the shooter fires the .50 cal at a pyro-equipped gingerbread house. (The gingerbread shot is taken from a standing hold no less!) The results (at 3:22) are impressive — gingerbread house becomes flaming gingerbread pudding.

50 Caliber Barrett slow motion Christmas

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December 18th, 2019

Get FREE Christmas Tree Target for Holiday Fun Shoots

Sierra Christmas Tree Target

CLICK HERE for printable PDF version of this target.

NOTE: The contest is OVER, so ignore information on the PDF about submitting targets — that’s from back in 2013.

Here’s a target for the holidays that can provide some fun at the range. This Christmas Tree Target was created by Sierra Bullets for a 2013 contest. This contest is now over, but you can still have fun with the target. This tree target is designed to be shot at 15 yards with pistol, or at 100 yards with rifle.

Sierra Christmas Tree TargetSanta’s Extra Accuracy Challenge
Start with the big circles, and then work your way down to the small circles (7,8,9,10) as you build your confidence. Shoot the gifts for bonus points.

For an extra challenge (with an accurate rifle), try working your way back up to the top, aiming for the X-Marks in the circles and finishing with the small, inset star at the top. Try to hit each X-Mark and then put your final shot in the inner star. Have fun!

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December 17th, 2019

Hunting — Programs to Strengthen America’s Ranks of Hunters

NRA join hunt hunter hunting education hunting license wildlife training

This report based on story in American Hunter magazine, by J. Scott Olmsted, Editor in Chief

The 2016 report of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, a survey conducted every five years by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, showed that today only about 11.5 million Americans aged 16 or older hunt. That’s only 4.9 percent of adults among a population of 320 million.

Declining Numbers of Hunters — What We Can Do
Too many Americans have left the field; they no longer hunt. Too many current American hunters continue to consider leaving the field. In fact the number of American hunters today is about half what it was 50 years ago, and the decline is expected to continue to accelerate.

Demographers don’t see any uptick on the horizon. Nearly a third of American hunters are baby boomers. The youngest boomers are 54, and trends suggest most hunters stop buying licenses by about 65. So what happens in 11 years when the last of the baby boomers stops hunting?

NRA join hunt hunter hunting education hunting license wildlife training

Indeed wildlife and wildlands are heavily dependent on hunters and fishers to survive and thrive. State agencies, which manage most of the wildlife in America, derive about 59 percent of their collective funding from hunting- and fishing-related activities. A primary source of that funding — hunters — is shrinking. Note that funding doesn’t come from birdwatching or hiking or kayaking, to name a few non-consumptive activities that contribute no funds.

where to hunt map NSSF

Hunter Education Programs from the NRA
The NRA was the first organization to develop a hunter-education course, in 1949 in New York. It became the model. Today, in the digital age, the NRA provides NRA Hunter Education Online.

NRAHE.org offers FREE comprehensive hunter safety information online. The 15-chapter sequence features videos, photos and graphics, audio recordings, interactive modules that prospective hunters may access whenever and wherever they are able to complete it. It provides the best method for teaching future hunters lessons they will remember the rest of their lives.

Let’s not forget our youngest hunters. Since 1985, the NRA’s Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) has introduced more than 1.2 million young people to safe, ethical hunting. YHEC competitions test participants’ hunting, stalking, and marksmanship skills. To learn more about YHEC, visit Yhec.nra.org.

Youth Hunter Education Challenge

(more…)

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December 16th, 2019

Bargain Finder 221: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Sunday afternoon or Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, optics, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Sportsman’s Warehouse — RCBS & Hornady Sale, 25% Off

rcbs hornady sale

We’ve seen reloading sales before but never two major brands with 25% OFF for all items in stock. Head over to Sportsman’s Warehouse and take advantage of the big RCBS and Hornady 25% Off SALE. Think of the savings — on a Progressive Press, you can save $120 or more. On a Reloading Kit you can save $80+, and on a Powder Scale/Dispenser you can save $70 or more. Hundreds of items are on sale now. But act quickly — this sale will end soon.

2. CDNN — Thompson Center Compass, $269.99

thompson center compass

In you want a solid, low-cost hunting rifle, look no further. CDNN is running an amazing sale on the Thompson Center Compass. At just $269.99, this is a perfect first rifle for a family member. This is a $129 savings over normal retail. At this ultra-affordable $269.99 price, six (6) different chamberings are available: 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win, 7mm-08, .308 Win, .30-06 Springfield, and .300 Win Magnum.

3. EuroOptic — End of 2019 Sales — Many Brands

eurooptic sale

EuroOptic.com is one of the very best source for quality scopes and rifles. And now EuroOptic is running a huge 2019 Year End Sale with truly outstanding bargains. There are rifles, handguns, and premium optics at deep discounts. Even premium Kahles, Leica, Swarovski, and Zeiss optics are deeply discounted. If you want top-of-the-line equipment at the lowest possible price, check out EuroOptic’s YEAR END SALE today.

4. Brownells – Gift Center 2019 Major Savings

brownells sale

Brownells.com is always a perennial favorite for many shooters. Through the end of December, you can find many great bargains on Brownell’s Gift Center 2019. You’ll find great deals on rifles, reloading supplies, optics, gun parts and more. Or get a gift for a friend or family member. There’s bound to be something you need at significant discounts.

5. Bruno Shooters Supply — L.E. Wilson Reloading Tools Sale

wilson tool sale
wilson tool sale

L.E. Wilson makes outstanding tools and reloading dies. We use Wilson dies with our Arbor presses, and use Wilson Trimmers. Now you can save on the full line of Wilson dies and reloading tools. Bruno Shooters Supply is running a great Wilson Product Sale this month. There’s lots to choose from including case trimmers, die sets,and more.

6. Amazon — Wheeler Digital Trigger Pull Gauge, $54.31

wheeler trigger gauge sale

Every serious shooter should have a good trigger gauge. The Wheeler digital trigger gauge is precise and repeatable, measuring pull weights up to 12 pounds, making it suitable for all types of firearms. The load cell directly contacts the trigger making it extremely accurate with +/- 0.2 ounce precision. There are two modes: “Peak” and “Live.” Peak mode shows max force for each pull and calculates the minimum, maximum and average pull weights. Live mode continuously shows the force on the sensor. It even has a special adapter for Savage-style triggers with bladed inserts.

7. Amazon — Chapman Tool Kit, $45.00

chapman tool kit sale

If you’re using cheap “box store” drivers and wrenches for your scopes, guns, dies, and presses then you’re risking damage. You need proper, quality tools to do the job right and the components in Chapman tool kits are exactly that. Choose from a variety of Champman Kit with multiple drivers. With these tools you can work on your fine firearms with confidence.

8. Longshot Target Cameras — All Systems on Sale!

longshot camera sale

Target cameras have come a long way in the last year or two and Targetvision is leading the charge with their Longshot camera systems. The top-end LR-3 System offers longer range (2 miles), higher resolution, and better software than you get with any other consumer target camera system. The Longshot systems have earned some of the highest reviews on the market and also have a ‘bulletproof’ option which guarantees a replacement in the event your unit gets shot.

9. Midsouth Shooters — Sparc AR Red Dot, $119.99

sparc red dot sale

Not everyone needs a high-tech $500 red dot optic for their AR or shotgun. There are plenty of guys who just love having fun and want a red dot sight that does the job and the Sparc AR red dot is exactly that. Pick one up for a crazy low price of $119.99 and start having some fun today.

10. Amazon — MTM Cleaning Rod Case, $22.89

mtm cleaning rod case discount

Good cleaning rods are expensive and can be easily damaged if you’re not careful. To protect those valuable cleaning rods, we recommend the MTM cleaning rod case which holds four rods as well as cleaning supplies. This case protects your rods both at home and while traveling. With this handy, durable case you can stop worrying about bending or breaking those important cleaning rods.

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December 16th, 2019

Rimfire Plate Shooting — Tons ‘O Fun at Low Cost

rimfire steel challenge keltec cp33 plate rack
The Action Target Sport Plate Rack is specifically designed for .22 LR Rimfire shooting. This rack features six 4″-diameter plates that reset with a provided cable.

Shooting plates is fun. You get immediate feedback — “instant gratification” when you make a hit. When shooting steel inside 100 yards, we like to use .22 LR rimfire guns. The ammo is inexpensive, noise levels are lower (though you still need ear protection), and at close ranges there are fewer issue with ricochets and bullet splash-back. Additionally, for busy folks who don’t have time to reload, you can pick up a .22 LR rifle or pistol, grab a couple $5 boxes of ammo, and get to the range in a few minutes. The convenience means it is easier to shoot every week if you like.

Above, SFC Joel Turner from the USAMU’s Action Shooting Team offers a few pointers on how to shoot plates quickly and accurately. He’s using a centerfire pistol, but the same principles apply for rimfire handguns. Click speaker icon to activate audio.

New .22 LR CP33 Pistol is Great for Plates

If you like shooting plates, one of the better new handguns for the job is Kel-Tec’s CP33. We tested this interesting handgun at the 2019 SHOT Show Media Day at the Range, and were impressed. The pistol is big, but balances well. The sights are easy to see, and the full-length rail lets you easily mount a variety of optics. The trigger is surprisingly good — better than 90% of rimfire handguns out there. For the plates game, this “quad-stack” gun can handle long stages without mag changes. The standard clear-sided CP33 magazine holds 33 rounds of .22 LR ammo.

rimfire steel challenge kel-tec cp33

If you are interested in an affordable, but very accurate, high-capacity semi-auto rimfire pistoldefinitely consider Kel-Tec’s new CP33. 22 Plinkster agrees — this is a nice pistol. In his video review below 22 Plinkster reports: “This handgun has been 100% reliable IF I load the magazine the right way… and it’s pretty dog-gone accurate.”

Shooting Sports USA (SSUSA) tested Keltec’s CP33 with a variety of ammo. The CP33 consistently shot about one-half-inch for five shots “from a 25-yard sandbag bench rest using the iron sights.” SSUSA noted that the gun disassembles quickly and easily by removing one central pin. SSUSA’s tester, Chris Christian, was impressed with the gun, saying it balanced well and the sights aligned naturally.

SSUSA notes: “The rapid growth of rimfire competition in Steel Challenge has prompted some gun makers to enter the fray. Kel-Tec is one, and their new CP33 .22 LR pistol has a lot of potential.

GunsAmerica also reviewed the Keltec CP33, which it called “The Most Innovative Gun of 2019″. Reviewer Riley Baxter liked the ergonomics and sights. He tested a variety of ammo, getting the best results with Norma Match-22. Baxter concluded: “I thoroughly enjoyed every moment that I spent shooting the KelTec CP33[.] The magazines took a little bit of trial and error… but once I had this down, the CP33 ran reliably and loading 33 rounds took no time at all. This is a gun that I would recommend to anyone who may be interested in buying a .22 pistol[.]”

rimfire steel challenge kel-tec cp33

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December 16th, 2019

CCI Clean-22 Rimfire Ammo with Polymer-Coated Bullets

CCI Clean 22 Bullets

Earlier this year, CCI introduced a new type of .22 LR rimfire ammunition. CCI’s innovative Clean-22 Ammo features polymer-coated bullets. This is actually a pretty important development. The bullet coating on CCI’s new Clean-22 ammo provides three main benefits:

1. Copper fouling in the barrel is greatly reduced.
2. Lead fouling in the barrel is greatly reduced.
3. Lead build-up in suppressors is reduced by 60-80%.

CCI offers two versions of Clean-22 ammo: High Velocity (944CC, 1235 FPS MV) and Subsonic (934CC, 1070 FPS MV). Both feature 40gr lead bullets with polymer coatings. The High Velocity ammo has red-coated bullets, while the Subsonic has blue-coated bullets. MSRP for both is $9.95 for 100 rounds. This ammo is available right now from TargetSportsUSA for $6.99 per 100ct High Velocity or 100ct Subsonic.

Clean-22 High Velocity: 1235 FPS | Clean-22 Subsonic: 1070 FPS

CCI Clean 22 Bullets

CCI Clean 22 Bullets CCI Clean 22 Bullets

Clean-22 Ammo with Polymer-Coated Bullets
Clean-22 uses an exclusive polymer bullet coating to greatly reduce copper and lead fouling in the barrel without leaving a residue. It also cuts lead buildup in suppressors 60 to 80 percent. Both the Sub-Sonic and High Velocity loads feature a 40-grain round nose lead bullet with geometry that’s been optimized for accuracy. With dependable CCI priming and consistent propellant, Clean-22 provides reliable cycling through semi-automatics and all 22 LR firearms.

For more information, visit www.cci-ammunition.com.

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December 15th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: John Whidden’s .308 Win Wonder-Gun

Whidden Gunworks 2017 Long Range High Power National Champion Camp Atterbury Indiana

John Whidden’s Championship-Winning Rifle
For this Sunday GunDay we feature John Whidden’s very special Palma rifle, the rig that carried him to his 5th NRA Long Range National Championship in 2017. John captured his fifth Long Range crown with a superb performance in the Palma match. The caliber is .308 Win, as dictated by the Palma rules.

This unique .308 Win prone rifle from Whidden Gunworks features a Barnard “P” action in a converted aluminum Anschutz “Precise” smallbore (rimfire) stock. The combo of Barnard action and Anschutz ergonomics is hard to beat, says John, who told us: “this is easily the best Palma rifle I’ve ever had.” John told us this gun handles like no other: “After recoil, with this Anschutz stock, the sights fall right back on target — better than any other prone rifle I’ve shot”.

As a bonus, the Barnard “drop-in” required no major modification of the Anschutz Precise stock. This means John can actually swap in his rimfire barreled action and shoot smallbore with the same stock.

Whidden’s Perfect Palma Match
Whidden secured the 2017 LR Title by shooting “clean” (not dropping a point) in the tough Palma competition. In the NRA Palma match, rifles must be .223 Rem or .308 Winchester, with metallic sights (no scopes). The match is conducted at three yardages, 15 shots at each distance of 800/900/1000 yards, with unlimited sighters at 800 and two sighters at 900 and 1000.

Sling Rifle Evolved: The Ultra-Accurate Hybrid Palma Rifle

by John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks
The mental component of Long Range competitive shooting is always challenging but having tremendous confidence in the accuracy of your equipment is a huge benefit. There’s nothing to start your Palma match off well like knowing that you are shooting the most accurate Palma rifle you’ve ever owned.

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

Whidden Palma Rifle
Action: Barnard “P” (three lugs, 60° bolt lift)
Barrel: Bartlein 32″, Light Palma contour, cryo-treated by 300 Below.
Stock: Anschutz Precise aluminum smallbore stock, set up for centerfire barreled action.
Trigger: Barnard Two-Stage adjustable

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

Whidden’s Wonder-Gun: German Stock, New Zealand Action, American Barrel
John built this Palma rifle in early 2016. With it, John won back-to-back long-range Championships in 2016 (Camp Perry) and 2017 (Camp Atterbury). The major components are: Barnard ‘P’ action, Anschutz Precise smallbore stock, and Bartlein barrel. The caliber is .308 Win, as dictated by the Palma rules. Palma matches are fired from 800, 900, and 1000 yards utilizing iron sights only. No optical sights are allowed.

The Anschutz Precise stock is so well-designed that once I finished adjusting the details, I realized that my hold was about 1/3 smaller than with the stocks I shot previously. While in recoil the gun will track vertically and fall back down right on my own target just as it should. In the past, with my other Palma rifles, it was frankly sometimes a struggle to get them to settle back on target after a shot.

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stockWhidden Gunworks has installed a variety of different actions in the Anschutz Precise stocks. Though the stocks are designed for the .22 LR caliber 2013 action rifles, we’ve successfully installed Barnard, Kelbly, Bat, Nesika, and Remington clone actions into them. The Barnard Model P makes a particularly simple installation because there is no modification necessary to the stock at all. A competitor can then shoot both his centerfire rifle as well as his smallbore gun in the exact same stock. The location of the trigger and bolt handle on the Barnard are positioned just right to make this work. Other actions do require at least some amount of modification to the stock, and we have found the Barnard works the best.

Barnard manufactures several models of actions as part of their lineup. All of the actions in the lineup use three lug bolts which give a shorter 60-degree bolt lift when opening and closing. All of the critical surfaces are machined after heat treating. This means that they are exceptionally true and square, more so than other actions. The Model P action is most familiar to Palma and F-Class shooters and are commonly seen on the firing line. The fact that Model P actions include an excellent two-stage trigger makes also the pricing very attractive.

Based on my previous excellent experiences, I selected Bartlein barrels for this rifle. When shooting internationally in the Palma matches we are restricted to 155 grain .308 bullets, but I made the unusual choice of a 1-10″ twist for these bullets. I’ve shot this fast twist for some years with the 155s with good success and it’s pleasing to know that Bryan Litz is finding benefits in some cartridges to shooting faster twist rates than we previously thought we needed. The load is Vihtavuori N140 Powder with Berger 155gr Hybrid bullets. The chamber is the 2011 Palma and the barrel is a Light Palma contour finished at 32” length. The barrel was cryo-treated by 300 Below. The point of impact isn’t changed at all by barrel heating and the accuracy is incredible regardless of the temperature of the barrel. This can’t be said of all the barrels I’ve owned.

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

Get Your Own Whidden Wonder-Gun
Like this Anschutz-Barnard hybrid rifle? Whidden Gunworks can build you a rig like this, fitting a centerfire barreled action in the Anschutz Precise stock. John tells us: “The price of a rifle like this one but without sights or mounts would be under $5000.00. We attempt to keep all of the parts except the stock in inventory, so lead time should be under eight (8) weeks.”

Stock Offers Great Adjustability
John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stockOne thing that is quickly noticed about the Anschutz Precise stock is its adjustability. The engineers did a very good job of allowing many of these adjustments to be made while in the shooting position, most notably the cheekpiece adjustments. When a shooter picks up a Precise stock for the first time they also notice how narrow the fore-end is. This really contributes to reducing the pain in the forward hand in prone when shooting with a sling. This stock is, by far, the most comfortable sling stock I’ve ever handled.

This rifle was very accurate right away and very comfortable to shoot. I’ve built some really good shooting Palma rifles but this is easily the best Palma rifle I’ve ever had. The Barnard action with its superb quality and excellent two-stage trigger has been the best choice I could have made. When you can go to the firing line knowing that you have the very best, the foundation for success has been set.

John Whidden gunsorks .308 Win Palma 10% Off Christmas discount sale

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December 14th, 2019

Great Gun Cases for Long-Distance Transport

firearms gun transport case all weather waterproof airline approved

Now that you’ve spent thousands of dollars on the new benchrest, PRS, ELR, or hunting rifle (and thousands more on optics), how are you going to get it to the range and/or hunting grounds? It’s important to transport your valuable firearms in high-quality gun cases. Good padded soft cases can work, but for long-distance hauling (and all air transport), we recommend hard cases with quality foam inside.

Choosing a Rifle Transport Case

Before he retired, Forum member Ron D. served as a Police Officer at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Ron offers some very important advice for shooters traveling with firearms and expensive optics: “Buy the best [rifle case] that you can afford. Don’t cry when your $3,000+ Benchrest rifle has a cracked stock or broken scope. Think about what it would be like to travel across the country and arrive with a damaged rifle. Remember the Samsonite commercial. (For you younger shooters, it shows a monkey throwing the suitcase around in his cage at the zoo.)

Baggage handling is NOT a fine art. There is no guarantee that your rifle case will be on top of all the other baggage. Then there is shifting of baggage in the belly of the plane. Ponder that for a while. Rifle and pistol cases must be locked. It doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure out that a simple pry tool will open most case locks. There is not much that you can do to disguise a rifle case. It is what it is, and opportunists know this. Among thieves, it doesn’t take long for the word to get around about a NEW type of case.”

Customizing the Foam Interiors of Gun Carry Cases

For the best fit of your firearms and accessories in a foam-interior hard case, you should customize the foam to fit. Some cases have “pluckable” foam. With these you remove small squares one an a time until the stored items fit. With other cases with dense foam interiors, you’ll need to cut the foam to fit. Here are two videos that show the process of tailoring foam to a rifle using an electric cutting tool. Watch these videos carefully — they can really help create the best custom-fit for your firearms.


firearms gun transport case all weather waterproof airline approved

Pelican 1750 Waterproof Travel Vault Case

firearms gun transport case all weather waterproof airline approved

Guncases.com, an Optics Planet company, offers a wide selection of quality, durable gun cases. One of the best units offered is Pelican 1750 Waterproof Rifle Case – Travel Vault Protector. If you’re headed to a very rainy/snowy climate, or transporting your rifle on a boat, consider this option. The waterproof Pelican 1750 case measures 53.00″ x 16.00″ x 6.12″ outside and weighs 25.5 pounds unladen. It features an O-Ring Seal, Pressure Relief Valve, and a lifetime warranty. It is offered in three colors, OD Green, Black, and Desert Tan, starting at $284.49. This is pricey, but it is one of the highest-rated cases you can buy.

Pelican Vault Series Rifle Cases

firearms gun transport case all weather waterproof airline approved

Pelican Products, known for premium hard-shell transport cases also offers a more affordable VAULT series of cases. Pelican’s VAULT cases offer durability and security at a lower price point. VAULT cases range in price from $39.99 to $199.99 and are backed by a 1-year guarantee. The VAULT rifle cases all feature wheels, easy-to-use push-button latches, and four stainless steel lock hasps for security. There is also a brightly colored Hi-Viz strip on the front of Pelican’s VAULT cases. This will make it easier to spot your case at airport baggage areas. The model V800 double-rifle case features a 53″ x 16″ x 6″ interior. That’s long enough for F-Class rifles and tactical rigs with brakes. The model V770 single-rifle case is 50″ × 10″ × 6″ inside. That’s still big enough for most hunting, varmint, and benchrest rifles.

SKB Double Rifle Case

firearms gun transport case all weather waterproof airline approved

GunCases.com also offers SKB Gun Cases. The SKB model 2SKB5009 Double Rifle Case is an excellent choice carrying two rifles long distances. This has a very tough exterior with a metal middle frame for extra strength. Priced at $289.99, this case has exterior dimensions: 56″ L x 16.5″ W x 9.5″ H. This photo shows the case carrying both an M1A and an M1 Garand. NOTE: The foam is not really customizable. This is not the best choice if you plan to carry a single rifle and a spotting scope and a second barrel.

Plano Two-Gun Tactical Case

firearms gun transport case all weather waterproof airline approved

This Plano two-gun case is Amazon’s #1 Best Seller in wheeled, heavy-duty firearms cases. This is offered in three sizes: 36″, 42″, and 52″. We like the biggest 52″ version, ($96.21 on Amazon), as it is long enough inside to fit most scoped match rifles. Alternatively, if you have a really long F-Class, ELR, or Palma rig, you can detach the barreled action from the stock, and run the two sections in the shorter 42″ case. The big case lets you easily carry TWO scoped hunting rifles. That’s great because this case is strong enough for airline travel, meeting FAA requirements for checked baggage. This Plano case offers a good balance between strength and weight, all for a reasonable cost. Yes a Pelican 1750 is somewhat better, but that will cost about $285.00 — three times as much.

CaseCruzer Handgun Cases

CaseCruzer gun pistol case revolver magnum 6-pack 5-pack 4-pack 3-pack

A California company, CaseCruzer, makes the nicest multi-pistol hard cases we’ve ever seen. With capacities from 3 pistols to 6 pistols, these lockable range cases hold handguns securely in angled “quick-draw” slots. In addition to the molded pistol carriers, there are slots for magazines together with a separate compartment for muffs, ammo, and other accessories. Starting at $240.00 MSRP for the Quick Draw 3-Pack, these boxes are expensive, but they offer great protection with great usability. Water-tight and dust-proof, CaseCruzer cases are airline approved (ATA 300).Now that you’ve spent thousands of dollars on the new benchrest, PRS, ELR, or hunting rifle (and thousands more on optics), how are you going to get it to the range or hunting grounds? It’s important to transport your valuable firearms in very high quality gun cases. Good padded soft cases can work, but for long-distance hauling (and all air transport), we recommend hard cases with quality foam inside.

Video Tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.

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December 14th, 2019

That’s a Gun Collection! $1.9 Million Worth — Elmer Keith

Elmer Keith Gun auction guns & Ammo magazine

Back in 2015, the firearms collection of famed gun writer Elmer Keith went to auction. The Keith Estate auction drew interest from around the globe, and bidding was strong. When the dust settled, and all the individual lots were totaled, Keith’s remarkable collection sold to various bidders for $1,905,458!

High-priced highlights from the auction are shown below. NOTE: You can see more than 60 other Elmer Keith firearms, along with a list of final auction prices. The Guns & Ammo website has a detailed, illustrated report on the Elmer Keith auction with dozens of high-quality photos.

CLICK HERE to see dozens more firearms from the Elmer Keith Estate Auction.


Lot 1038: Colonel Jim Corbett’s .450/.400 “Tiger Rifle” (Sold for $264,500.00)

Elmer Keith Estate Auction Corbett Rifle Tiger boxlock

Dangerous Game Rifles in Collection
The legendary “Corbett Tiger Rifle”, a Jeffery boxlock .450/400 was used by famed hunter Edward James “Jim” Corbett. This rifle was featured in Corbett’s book Man-Eaters of Kumaon. Two of the man-eating tigers Corbett hunted were believed to have killed over 800 humans in the Kumaon Hills of India.

Elmer Keith Estate Gun Collection auction


Lot 1005: Colt SAA No. 5 .44 Special “The Last Word in Sixguns” (Sold for $80,500.00)
This famous revolver started as a Colt SAA, but then was heavily modified. The top strap of the frame was welded up into a flat-top target configuration, with an adjustable rear sight added. The hammer was modified with a Bisley-type target spur. The unique grip of the Number Five was created by marrying a modified Bisley backstrap to a Single Action Army trigger guard. His most famous pistol, Keith called this handgun “The last word in fine six-guns”.

Elmer Keith Estate .357 Magnum bisley elmer keith

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December 13th, 2019

Plan Your SHOT Show Week with Searchable Floor Plan

Shot Show Map floor Plan

Headed to SHOT Show in January 2020? Then you should check out the full floor plan of the event before you head to Las Vegas. Locating companies in the vast Sands Expo Center can be difficult — there are thousands of exhibitor booths spread across multiple floors. In addition, the aisle/booth numbering system in the Sands Expo can be very confusing for first time visitors.

Shot Show Map floor Plan

You can plan your SHOT Show experience with a searchable, interactive online SHOT Show Floor Plan. This shows all the exhibitors on all the floors. To find a particular company, use the “Search” field (upper left). Or, to browse, you can click on the menu icon (three lines above the printer symbol). For example, here we used the Search Field to locate Capstone Precision Group, parent of Berger, Lapua, Vihtavuori, and SK.

Shot Show Map floor Plan

Shot Show Map floor PlanThere is also a separate map for the upper Supplier Showcase zone. This area, above the main floor, has smaller displays set up in the aisles of the conference area. Over 500 companies will have products on display. To access this map, simply click on the Supplier Showcase Tab on the SHOT Show Floorplan website. Then use the search function to locate companies. You can also move your curser around the map and company names will appear when the cursor selects a particular booth. Here we’ve located RUAG Ammotec USA.

Shot Show Map floor Plan

Shot Show Map floor Plan

Supplier Showcase | 2019 SHOT Show from NSSF on Vimeo.

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