July 19th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: SWN-Winning F-TR Rig of Champ Peter Johns

Peter Johns Berger SW southwest Nationals F-Class F-TR McMillan stock rifle champion winner

Talented F-Class shooter Peter Johns has been on a tear the last couple years. He won the F-TR Division at the 2020 Berger SW Nationals (SWN), after finishing second in 2019. His SWN win came on the heels of stellar performances in 2019. He won both the mid-range AND long-range Texas State championships last year. Along the way Peter set a new 600-yard NRA National F-TR Record (200-18X), and tied the 600-yard F-TR Aggregate Record with 600-47X. This Sunday GunDay story features Peter and his trophy-grabbing .308 Win F-TR rifle.

Peter Johns Berger SW southwest Nationals F-Class F-TR McMillan stock rifle champion winner

How to Campaign a Winning .308 Winchester F-TR Rifle

Report by Peter Johns
I started contemplating F-Class shooting after talking with Darrell Buell at SHOT Show a decade ago. My first F-Class match was with a Savage VLP with a 26″ Shilen 7mm SAUM barrel and a Harris bipod. After that initial match in Texas I knew I had a lot to learn. I decided that F-TR was the place to start. This story follows my development as an F-TR shooter and showcases the rifle that delivered multiple F-TR match wins in 2019 and 2020.

Watch Peter Johns Shoot his .308 Win F-TR Rig

Equipment Showcase — Key Components of Peter’s F-TR Rifle

Omar Alonzo (Alonzo Custom Rifles, (713) 283-4384, Gunbuilder284@gmail.com) does all my gunsmithing. I believe this is one of the major reasons I have been doing so well in the last couple years. He does a phenomenal job with rifle bedding. He also fixed the timing on my action. The first barrel he chambered has really helped me win matches and set records.

In this Video, Peter talks about his key rifle components and gear:

McMillan Kestros BR Stock — I switched to a Kestros BR stock when they first came out. I painted the stock myself. I am very grateful to Kelly McMillan for letting me be one of the first to try them. The Kestros BR tracks better than any stock I have tried. NOTE — the Kestros was so light that I had to add a steel bar under the forearm to get closer to the F-TR weight limit with a 30″ HV barrel. [Editor: That has the advantage of lowering the center of gravity and the bar can slide fore/aft to adjust center of balance]. I use a SEB Bigfoot rear bag with slick ears and 3/4″ spacing. When I got the Kestros I thought the rear bag spacing was too wide but it worked so well I didn’t change.

Peter Johns Berger SW southwest Nationals F-Class F-TR McMillan stock rifle champion winner

Kelbly (Stolle) Panda Action and Krieger Barrel — My rig has a Kelbly Panda F-class action with a Bix’N Andy trigger. At the Berger SWN, I used a Krieger 1:10″-twist 30″ HV 4-groove barrel. It is superbly accurate. I have been bouncing between Krieger and Bartlein for barrels for the last few years. The best barrel I have had is a 30″ Krieger 4-groove HV, however the Bartleins have been very good as well.

Duplin Bipod with Articulating Feet — I really liked the Pohlabel articulating feet that are available for the SEB JoyPod so I asked Dan Pohlabel for permission to copy his feet. I bought some aluminum and made the best copy I could. Since SWN, Duplin has coming out with a new bipod with articulating feet which are considerably better than the feet I made. I use a board and a piece of stall mat with carpet glued on it for the bipod to sit on.

Vortex Golden Eagle Scope — I use the 15-60x52mm Vortex Golden Eagle on all my F-Class rifles. I see the mirage better with the Golden Eagle than any other scope and it tracks perfectly. I also use a Vortex Razor spotting scope with long eye relief lens on the line to help watch mirage and flags. I also use the Razor spotting scope to call wind for Team Texas.

Cleaning Procedure — Less is More — No Cleaning During SWN Long Range Event
Peter has learned that he can go for long round counts without cleaning: “I have found that my .308 Win rigs, for the most part, shoot really well dirty. I can usually get 300 or more rounds before cleaning. I cleaned my barrel at the 2020 SWN after the mid-range event and fouled it before the long-range. I did not clean my barrel again until I got home from the match.”

Peter does clean thoroughly when he gets home: “After a big match I clean my rifles with Boretech Eliminator and a bronze brush followed by Iosso until the majority of carbon is removed from the barrel, as verified with a Lyman borescope. After a thorough cleaning, I find that I need to shoot a bunch of foulers. I will usually go to my practice range and shoot a 20-shot practice match and I will see the accuracy tighten up in the back half.”

Peter Johns Berger SW southwest Nationals F-Class F-TR McMillan stock rifle champion winner
600-yard practice target on left. On right is 600-yard record match target shot at 2019 TX State Championships (on ShotMarker targets). This 200-18X is a NRA National Record for F-TR division.

Peter Johns Berger SW southwest Nationals F-Class F-TR McMillan stock rifle champion winner

Peter’s Match Load and Reloading Methodology

Loading for .308 Win F-TR — Do What Matters
My loading technique has evolved almost full circle from where I started. I went from the basics to doing every step a person could conceive. Then I decided to start testing all the different steps to see what didn’t matter or made things worse. I am now back to almost no steps in my reloading process. I don’t clean brass anymore. I just wipe the case off, lube, size, prime, and load. I anneal when I feel the necks getting inconsistent when seating the bullets. I pre-load all my ammo for matches. I tried seating them at the match but I didn’t find it to matter on the score card and it takes my focus away from conditions.

Peter Johns Berger SW southwest Nationals F-Class F-TR McMillan stock rifle champion winner

Peter’s 2020 SWN-winning .308 Win load consists of Berger 200.20X bullets, Lapua Palma brass, Federal 205M primers, and Varget powder. Peter revealed: “The Berger 200-grainers are running in the mid-2600 fps range. I have tried them much faster but found the best consistency at this speed.”

Peter measures powder to the kernel and also weighs/sorts other components. He runs Berger 200.20X bullets slightly off the lands in a 0.170 freebore chamber. Notably he tests a variety of powders, ascertaining each barrel’s particular preference: “In the last few years I have tried N140, N150, H4895, and Varget. I think they are all good powders for F-TR and the 200.20X bullet. This year I was using Varget. At the 2018 SWN I placed 4th with H4895, in 2019 SWN I got 2nd with N140. I find what powder my particular barrel likes best. I also test CCI BR4 and Fed 205M to see which my rifle likes best. This year I was using Fed 205M. I have been using Lapua Palma brass and it seems to last forever.” Peter full-length sizes with a Redding bushing FL die. He seats his Berger bullets with a Wilson inline seater.

Q & A with Peter Johns, F-TR Ace

Q: What was your biggest challenge at the 2020 Berger SW Nationals?

Peter: I think the biggest challenge was staying focused on conditions. I think the hardest thing for me to do is to stop shooting when the wind conditions are out of my ability to call accurately. I focused hard on this aspect of my game this year and it has paid off. This match is super well run and staff does an excellent job which allows the shooters to maintain their focus.

Q: What gear/hardware items give you an edge over the competition?

Peter: The Kestros BR stock (below) is not used by many F-TR shooters and I think it gives me a huge advantage over the competition. This stock fits me perfectly and tracks in such a manner that I can shoot fast and accurately when conditions are right.

Peter Johns Berger SW southwest Nationals F-Class F-TR McMillan stock rifle champion winner

Q: What is your advice for newcomers in F-Class and Long Range competition?

Peter: Go to a top gunsmith building F-Class rifles and do what he says. Competition is the best way to get better. So shoot as many matches as you can. Find top shooter rivals and strive to beat them.

Q: Do you have any specific Gun Handling Tips for F-TR shooters?

Peter: I shoot better with a really light grip and cheek pressure. I can shoot well with a heavier grip and cheek pressure but when the tension of a big match is going my pressure will vary and cause poor accuracy. The most consistent I can shoot is with light gun handling. I also focus on trying to watch the bullet hit through the scope to ensure good follow through and this prevents me from jerking the trigger. There are a bunch of ways to hold a rifle that have proven to be successful. I think a shooter needs to test and find what works best for them.

Peter Johns Berger SW southwest Nationals F-Class F-TR McMillan stock rifle champion winner

Q: What do you like most about F-Class and Long Range competition?

A. I really like technical things. F-Class is right in my wheel house for technical stuff. Also, the people in the shooting world are top notch. I enjoy talking with other shooters.

Q: Do you prefer individual events or team matches?

Peter: I prefer the team matches by far because it is a social event with collaboration and there is a lot more pressure. I put a lot of effort into learning the wind for the team matches which in the long run helps me with individual matches. [Editor: Below Peter is calling wind for Team Texas at the 2018 F-Class Nationals in Raton, New Mexico.]

Peter Johns Berger SW southwest Nationals F-Class F-TR McMillan stock rifle champion winner
Peter Johns calls wind for Team Texas at 2018 F-Class Nationals in Raton.

Overcoming Serious Injury in U.S. Navy to Become a Top-Level Marksman

Peter Johns is a U.S. Navy veteran, rank Chief (E7). In 2006, during his duty aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz, Peter sustained very serious and extensive burns in a massive electrical fire. Showing great strength of character, Peter went through a tough, 4-year program of surgeries and rehab. The photo below shows Peter doing therapy during his recovery process.

Peter Johns Berger SW southwest Nationals F-Class F-TR McMillan stock rifle champion winner

Peter tells us: “As many of you know I was badly burned on board the U.S.S. Nimitz in 2006. That has limited me in my ability to compete in physical activities that I used to enjoy but F-Class has filled the gap for my competitive nature. I medically retired from the Navy as a Chief (E7) in 2010 after four years of surgeries and physical therapy. I was very surprised to find how accepting and nice people have been in the shooting community. I think the shooting community is comprised of the best people in the world.”

Permalink - Articles, News, Reloading, Shooting Skills 8 Comments »
July 19th, 2020

Mystery Malfunction and Then Kaboom! What is Your Call?

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-Gun

What happens when a round goes off unsafely in an AR? Watch this video and see. At about the 00:40 time-mark the shooter has a malfunction (click no bang), with a round. He then removes the magazine, and clears the chamber (we think). On the next round, at 00:53 you hear a “Bang” and see a big puff of smoke coming out of the upper receiver (see photo at right). This has been called a “detonation” by the video-maker, but we’re not 100% sure what happened. What do you guys think? Watch the video carefully, and state your conclusions in the comment section if you wish.

What Caused this Malfunction? Watch Video…

In any event, the shooter is fortunate his upper did not completely fracture, launching shrapnel into his face or other body parts. This could have turned out much worse. Here are screen-shots from the video, showing details of the gun after the accident, along with the recovered brass case, which separated near the case-head.

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-Gun

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-Gun

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-Gun

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-Gun

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-Gun

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-Gun

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Competition, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
July 19th, 2020

Cantastic Video — How a Suppressor is Constructed

SilencerCo suppressor manufacturing production video Assembly

Watch this video to see how a sound suppressor (aka “silencer”, “moderator”, or “can”) is constructed, start to finish. It’s more complicated than you might expect — there are quite a few stages in the process. The video below shows the fabrication of a SilencerCo Octane 45 suppressor:

SilencerCo writes: “What, exactly, goes into making a silencer? It may be more than you’d expect. From cutting metal to chemical baths, to extensive quality control every step of the way, our streamlined process is more than just a few steps. Watch our newest video, HOW IT’S MADE: Octane 45, to catch a glimpse behind SilencerCo’s doors.”

SilencerCo suppressor
Photo courtesy UltimateReloader.com.

suppressor fact and fiction moderator silencer

How Loud Are Unsuppressed Rifles?
Firearms Are Loud — 140 dB to 175 dB. ASHA explains: “Almost all firearms create noise that is over the 140-dB level. Exposure to noise greater than 140 dB can permanently damage hearing. A small .22-caliber rifle can produce noise around 140 dB, while big-bore rifles and pistols can produce sound over 175 dB. Firing guns in a place where sounds can reverberate, or bounce off walls and other structures, can make noises louder and increase the risk of hearing loss. Also, adding muzzle brakes or other modifications can make the firearm louder. People who do not wear hearing protection while shooting can suffer a severe hearing loss with as little as one shot[.]” Source: ASHA, Recreational Firearm Noise Exposure.

How Much Does a Good Suppressor Really Reduce Firearm Sound Levels?
That depends on the rifle, the cartridge, and the effectiveness of the suppressor. American Hunter explains: “Suppressors retard the speed of propellant gases from the cartridge that rapidly expand and rush out of the barrel. It’s these gases that produce the loud boom that’s heard for miles. A suppressor’s series of internal baffles slows these gases so they are not all released at once, thereby muffling the sound.” Many good commercial suppressors can achieve 30-35 dB sound suppression. However, Zak Smith of Thunder Beast Arms says: “There are a bunch of manufacturers who publish values that are not reproducible, or use an ad-hoc test instead of a mil-spec test. In many cases we’ve tested the exact same suppressors they’ve advertised with 30-40 dB reductions and found they are actually in the high 20s instead.”

Again, for this reason, we recommend that hunters use ear protection, such as electronic muffs, even when shooting suppressed.

Permalink - Videos, Tactical, Tech Tip 1 Comment »