January 5th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Water-Cooled Wondergun Set World Record

Joel Pendergraft water-cooled wondergun .300 Ackley Improved

We like “outside of the box” thinking. And in the world of competitive shooting, it can’t get more unconventional than this. But this radical liquid-cooled benchrest rig wasn’t just a crazy experiment — it actually delivered the goods. This IBS Heavy Gun, built by Joel Pendergraft, produced a superb 10-shot, 3.044″ group that stood as an International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) 1000-Yard Heavy Gun record for seven years, not being broken until 2016.*

Using this water-cooled wondergun, Joel shot the record-breaking group in April 2009 at Hawks Ridge, NC. This monster features a .30-Caliber 12-twist, 4-groove Krieger barrel inside a water-filled sleeve (like on a liquid-cooled machine gun). Joel shot BIB 187gr flat-based bullets in Norma brass, pushed by a “generous amount” of Alliant Reloder 25 and Federal 210M primers. The cartridge was a big custom wildcat Joel listed as “.300 Ackley Improved”. That traditionally has been based on the .300 H&H Magnum parent case**. READ Forum Thread on .300 Ackley.

Joel Pendergraft

This 3.044″ 10-shot group was a remarkable accomplishment, breaking one of the longest-standing, 1000-yard IBS World Records. And Joel’s 3.044″ record stood for 10 years.

Joel Pendergraft

water-cooled heavy gun IBSThis 3.048″ 10-shot group was a remarkable accomplishment, breaking one of the longest standing 1000-yard World Records. Bill Shehane commented: “This tops the NBRSA, IBS, and Original Williamsport Clubs’ all-time 10-shot Heavy Gun group records. Took a long time to do it and I for one know Joel did not back into it — he worked harder than most… to break this record. And just like John Voneida of the Original Williamsport Club who held this most prestigous record for so long, Joel is a super nice guy and a great competitor.”

Pendergraft was modest after his notable achievement: “What makes this so very special is to be able to celebrate the accomplishment with all of my shooting friends[.] A good friend once said that records are shot when preparation and opportunity meet. I feel blessed to have personally had the opportunity. The preparation we can individually work on and achieve but the opportunity only comes to a few. Those of you that compete in long range competition will know what I mean.”

Joel Pendergraft


*On July 24, 2016, Michael Gaizauskas shot a 2.871″ ten-shot group that bettered Pendergraft’s record by 0.171″ (less than a quarter inch). Michael’s group was also all in the 10 ring, for a perfect 100 score. CLICK HERE for IBS Long-Range Records.

** Back in 2008, the .300 Ackley was the #1 Cartridge in 1000-yard competition at Hawks Ridge. SEE Results Chart. Forum member Cheechako explains: “The .300 Ackley Magnum is actually the .300 H&H case improved. Many shooters will start with the Weatherby brass because it is higher quality. There are several versions of the Ackley but the differences are minor until you get into the few, like the 300 Hart, that actually do increase the capacity. There is also a .300 Weatherby Improved which is sort of a misnomer because it’s almost impossible to improve that case except to eliminate the rounded corners.”

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January 5th, 2020

How Rimfire Ammo is Made — Videos Reveal Production Process

22 .22 Plinkster Youtube Video CCI Speer Rimfire Ammo Ammunition plant Lewiston Idaho

22Plinkster Tours CCI/Speer Idaho Factory
Trickshot artist and YouTube host 22Plinkster recently got a chance to tour the CCI/Speer production facility in Lewiston, Idaho. This large plant produces both rimfire and centerfire ammunition. While touring the plant, 22Plinkster was allowed to capture video showing the creation of .22 LR rounds from start to finish. This is a fascinating video, well worth watching.

This revealing video shows all phases of .22 LR ammo production including cupping, drawing, annealing, washing, drying, head-stamping, priming, powder charging, bullet seating, crimping, waxing, inspection, and final packaging. If you’ve got ten minutes to spare, we really recommend you watch the video from start to finish. You’ll definitely learn some new things about rimfire ammo.

Field & Stream Tours Federal Ammo Plant in Minnesota

Note to Viewers — After Starting Video, Click Speaker Icon to HEAR audio!

Last year a Field & Stream writer toured the Federal ammunition production facility in Anoka, Minnesota. This large plant produces both rimfire and centerfire ammunition. While touring the plant, the reporter was allowed to capture video showing the creation of .22 LR rounds from start to finish. This is a fascinating video, well worth watching. Click speaker icon for sound.

The Manufacturing Process for .22 LR Rimfire Ammunition
Shooting Sports USA explains: “Rimfire cartridge cases are the oldest self-contained cartridge in existence, having been in continuous production since the mid-1850s. Rimfire cases are drawn from a thin piece of brass and formed with a hollow rim. A priming compound is then forced into the case using centrifugal force, where it is charged with powder and a bullet is seated in the mouth of the case. The case is then crimped around the bullet to ensure sufficient push and pull when the round is fired. When the firing pin strikes the thin brass rim of the case, the hollow rim is crushed and the primer is ignited.” Source: SSUSA.org 9/2/2017.

.22 LR ammunition photo
Photo courtesy BulkAmmo.com.

Buried in CCI Rimfire Ammo
22Plinkster was literally up to his neck in ammo while touring the CCI/Speer Idaho ammo plant. He says: “This was truly a dream come true for me. I can’t thank the people at CCI and Speer enough for allowing me to do this. I couldn’t possibly show everything that went on at the factory. However, hopefully I showed you enough for you to grasp the concept of how rimfire [ammo] is made.”

22 .22 Plinkster Youtube Video CCI Speer Rimfire Ammo Ammunition plant Lewiston Idaho

History — Speer Brothers Brought Ammo Production to Lewiston
Here is an interesting historical footnote. Today’s large CCI/Speer operation in Idaho can be traced back to the companies founded by the Speer brothers. After settling in Lewiston in 1944, Vernon Speer started Speer Bullets. A few years later, in 1951, Vernon’s brother Dick (with partner Arvid Nelson) started Cascade Cartridges Inc., a producer of small-arms ammunition and primers. Yes, as you may suspect, Cascade Cartridges Inc. is now CCI, a Vista Outdoor company, and one of the largest manufacturers of primers and loaded ammunition. Today, the CCI/Speer Lewiston plant produces both Speer bullets and CCI-branded ammunition and primers. Vista Outdoor’s predecessor, ATK, acquired the plant in 2001. Vernon Speer died in 1979, and Dick Speer died in 1994.

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January 5th, 2020

Hi-Viz Atomic Green Target Circles with Box Centers

Birchwood Casey Atomic Green Target Spots Circles day-glo

Birchwood Casey Atomic Green orange Target Spots Circles day-gloWe like to use the Birchwood Casey 2″ and 3″ orange “Target Spots” stick-on circles (with diamond centers) for shooting at 300 yards and beyond (photo right). These give you a very precise aiming point if you align your cross-hairs with the corners of the diamond. However, we know that some guys, particularly those whose scopes have “target-dot” reticles, prefer to have a small box for an aim point. In addition, the orange Target Spots are not a true “Day-Glo” color, so they may seem a little dull (low-contrast) when the target is in shadow.

For guys who want an ultra-high contrast target with a square box in the center, Birchwood Casey offers a series of neon green targets with box centers and spike-style extended vertical and horizontal lines (like on a compass). The manufacturer explains: “These adhesive Target Spots come in highly-visible Atomic Green. The crosshair design fulfills the needs of open-sight shooters along with scope users. Easily line up your open sights on the center square or lay the crosshairs along the vertical and horizontal diminishing lines.” You can also rotate the Atomic Green Target Spots 45° to create a diamond center with the crosshairs in an “X” pattern.

We’ve sampled these targets. The Atomic Green background is a true “Day-Glo” color (like safety signs) so these circles appear very bright on a target backer. These work well in low light. We won’t throw away our orange Target Spots, but these Atomic Green circles are a nice option. NOTE: Atomic Green spots are NOT “splatter” targets — a contrasting bright color does NOT appear around your bullet holes.

Multiple Sizes Offered
Birchwood Casey sells the new Atomic green circles in various sizes. You can order a Combo Pack with sixty 1″-diameter spots, thirty 2″-diameter spots, and twenty 3″-diameter circles.

Or purchase the 3″-diameter green spots in a separate pack of forty (40) circles. Birchwood Casey also sells 6″-diameter Atomic Green Target Spots, 10 per pack.

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