August 16th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Patriot 1000-Yard Rifles for Williamsport

Original Pennsyvlanvia 1000 Yard Club Williamsport Andrew Any Murtagh 1K Heavy Gun Light Gun 6mm Dasher 6x47 Lapua

Report by Andrew Murtagh
I’ve been a long range shooter for the past 17 years. Like most shooters in this game I’ve built, bought, and sold numerous rifles during my tenure. Here’s my tale of two special rifles, a Heavy Gun and a Light Gun, both sporting Patriotic stock graphics. I shoot both of these rifles in competition at Reade Range and The Original Pennsylvania 1000-Yard Club, aka “Williamsport”, where I serve as Club Vice-President.

Original Pennsyvlanvia 1000 Yard Club Williamsport Andrew Any Murtagh 1K Heavy Gun Light Gun 6mm Dasher 6x47 Lapua

My two Patriots were both acquired second-hand from a fellow shooter, Mike Bonchack. As purchased, they were very different from what they are now. I first decided to rechamber them using my reamers. The Light Gun (LG) is now chambered in 6×47 Lapua with 0.267″ neck, while the Heavy Gun (HG) is a 6mm Dasher with 0.266″ neck. After re-chambering the barrels, next I decided to get both guns up to maximum weight. The LG already had an adjustable weight system so it was easy to get it to 17 pounds. For the HG, I added an additional 25 pounds of lead/epoxy fill which was milled into the barrel channel and butt stock.

Original Pennsyvlanvia 1000 Yard Club Williamsport Andrew Any Murtagh 1K Heavy Gun Light Gun 6mm Dasher 6x47 Lapua

The Story Behind the Patriotic Graphics
I was initially going to have the LG painted until a close friend and fellow shooter, Tom Murtiff, suggested hydrographics. I landed on the patriotic theme because I’m a right-wing leaning Constitutionalist who still believes in the principles upon which our Founding Fathers built this nation. I wanted to express my support of our country’s Constitution and its Amendments. The search for the perfect patriot print was on.

This was my first hydrographic print experience and I was overwhelmed with the sheer number and variety of prints available. I spent a few days searching when I found the Amendment print. I then contacted Rick Schuh, owner of Boyzhid Hydrographics. He then prepped, hydro-dipped, and clear-coated the LG. Late in 2017 I purchased the HG and through a lengthy process in 2018 the metal work and stock additions were completed. I was now back in search of the perfect print. This was also lengthy, and I couldn’t find anything that spoke to me except for a suggestion to have “twin” rifles. I liked the idea — a pair of “Patriots!”

Rick was again employed to dip the Heavy Gun. That became a real undertaking because the stock alone (no metal attached) now weighed 35 pounds. He had to manufacture reinforced hangers to apply the graphics without flaw. The stock came out perfect to my eye, but not to his. On the bottom, which is rarely seen on any HG, he airbrushed a small flag to cover an area that stretched the print. Rick also made a jeweled plate for the toe of the butt.

Original Pennsyvlanvia 1000 Yard Club Williamsport Andrew Any Murtagh 1K Heavy Gun Light Gun 6mm Dasher 6x47 Lapua

I’m including this image so everyone can see Rick’s extra effort to make the HG perfect. I often joke with him about the added work no one would see. Well now the world can view his workmanship.

Original Pennsyvlanvia 1000 Yard Club Williamsport Andrew Any Murtagh 1K Heavy Gun Light Gun 6mm Dasher 6x47 Lapua

1000-Yard Heavy Gun Specifications:

Kelbly Stolle F-Class Panda dual-port, right eject with Kelbly Picatinny rail
Modified Ryan Miller HG stock bedded/pillared/weighted by David Powley
Bartlein 1:8.5-8″ gain-twist 0.236″ bore barrel
— chambered in 6mm Dasher 0.266″ neck by David Powley
Ryan Miller barrel-block fitted with nylon bushing by David Powley
Harrell’s muzzle brake
Jewell trigger
Optic One: NightForce 12-42x56mm NXS in Vortex rings
Optic Two: Leupold 7-35x56mm Mark 5 HD in Leupold rings

1000-Yard Light Gun Specifications:

BAT Machine B Action RB/LP/RE
McMillan MBR stock bedded by David Powley
Bartlein 1:8″-twist 0.237″ bore 30″ barrel
— chambered in 6×47 Lapua 0.267″ neck by David Powley
Harrell’s radial muzzle brake
Jewell trigger
NightForce 15-55x52mm Competition Scope in Harrell’s rings

Stock Graphics: Both rifles share a Patriot Constitution Hydrographic print (and clear-coat) by Rick Schuh of BoyzHid Hygrogaphics.

Original Pennsyvlanvia 1000 Yard Club Williamsport Andrew Any Murtagh 1K Heavy Gun Light Gun 6mm Dasher 6x47 Lapua

How to Succeed in the 1K Benchrest Games — Q & A with Andrew

Original Pennsyvlanvia 1000 Yard Club Williamsport Andrew Any Murtagh 1K Heavy Gun Light Gun 6mm Dasher 6x47 Lapua

Q: How Do You Choose a Chambering/Cartridge for a particular Match or Relay?

Andrew: Cartridge choice depends on the wind forecast. I always have several rifles with particular cartridge/loads for each depending on the forecast. If it’s a light wind day, say 4 to 8 mph with light gusts, I’ll be shooting either a 6×47 Lapua or a 6mm Dasher. If it’s blowing around 10 to 12 mph, I’ll campaign a 6×47 on its high node to get it down range flat. But if it’s really blowing or constantly changing direction, I shoot a big .300 WSM with either 200gr or 210gr bullet.

Q: What Is Your Load Development Method?

Andrew: Initial load development is always done over the chronograph at 100 yards until I get low ES/SD for 5 shots utilizing the same 10 pieces of absolutely perfect brass. Once I’m satisfied with the raw data I move to 1000 yards with a set of match brass and shoot 5-shot strings to find the best-performing exact powder charge. I have found this is usually within 0.20 grains of what performs well over the chronograph.

Q: What Brass, Primers, Powders, and Bullets Do You Use?

Andrew: I use Lapua brass for all things 6mm and Norma brass for my big .30 Cal stuff. I never change primers and shoot CCI BR2s or BR4s. I’m a Varget and H4350 fan. I’ve tried other powders, but they never were fruitful at 1K. Currently the only bullets I shoot are Sierra Match Kings. In the 6mm Dasher and 6×47 Lapua I use the 6mm 107gr SMK. In my .300 WSM I use .308-cal 200gr and 210gr SMKs.

Q: What Advice Do You Have for Novice 1000-Yard Competitors?

Andrew: Leave your ego at home and be willing to learn each and every time you come to the range. The discipline evolves rapidly and so must the shooter. It won’t take long to get left behind and become extremely frustrated with the game if you are not willing to learn and adapt. Find a tutor who is a great shooter and who is willing to mentor you. John Hoover and Tom Murtiff helped me and are very dear friends and great 1000-yard shooters. Believe me, having a good mentor takes years off the learning curve. Lastly, enroll in the Benchrest Shooting School offered by The Original Pennsylvania 1000 Yard Benchrest Club. I’m an instructor there and I, along with all the cadre, will help new shooters rapidly advance their skills.

Q: What’s the Secret to Judging the Wind? (In this discipline there are no target markers after each shot.)

Andrew: That’s the million-dollar question. What I do is find the condition that seems to hold. Once I’m committed into the record string, I follow it to the end. At Williamsport the wind flags can change at every distance so you simply need to pick one flag and hope it’s the one that remains truthful.

Long Range Competition Advice from a Leading 1K Benchrest Competitor

FIVE Key points to remember when shooting 1000-Yard benchrest

1. Be positive and have a clear state of mind when competing.

2. Bench set-up and shooting mechanics must always be the same — every shot. Then follow the shot through your optic.

3. Shoot two (2) shots before making a scope adjustment unless you’re under a minute of the sighter period.

4. Trust yourself and your equipment. You never want to second guess anything you put on the line.

5. Once you commit to shooting your record string, DO NOT STOP.

Original Pennsyvlanvia 1000 Yard Club Williamsport Andrew Any Murtagh 1K Heavy Gun Light Gun 6mm Dasher 6x47 Lapua

Invitation to Join Andrew at Williamsport in Pennsylvania
I currently serve as Vice President of The Original Pennsylvania 1000 Yard Benchrest Club, PA1000yard.com. Situated near the municipality of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, it has become known as the “Williamsport Club”. We would like to invite any shooting enthusiast to come out and visit our club during a match weekend. My rifles are only a sampling of the beauty and craftsmanship that is often on display at Williamsport’s 1000-yard line. Please stop by and visit with us.

Here are UPCOMING EVENTS at our club this summer and in 2021:

Light Gun and Heavy Gun Match #5, August 22/23, 2020
Light Gun and Heavy Gun Match Match #6, September 12/13, 2020
Light Gun and Heavy Gun Match Match #7, September 26/27, 2020

Long Range Benchrest School June, 2021
Annual 1000-Yard World Open Match July, 2021

Andrew wanted to give credit to the many talented guys who have helped with his rifle builds and his reloading equipment. In alphabetical order, these are Mike Bonchack, John Hoover, Tom Murtiff, David Powley, and Rich Schuh (Boyzhid Hydrographics).

Original Pennsyvlanvia 1000 Yard Club Williamsport Andrew Any Murtagh 1K Heavy Gun Light Gun 6mm Dasher 6x47 Lapua

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August 16th, 2020

How Cartridge Brass in Made — Production Secrets Revealed

deep draw cartridge brass animated gif
Deep-Draw Ram Illustration from Demsey Mfg.

When we first ran this story a while back, it generated great interest among readers. By popular request, we’re reprinting this story, in case you missed it the first time around. — Editor

Rifle cartridge brass manufacturingPrecision shooters favor premium brass from Lapua, Norma, or RWS. (Lake City also makes quality brass in military calibers.) Premium brass delivers better accuracy, more consistent velocities, and longer life. Shooters understand the importance of good brass, but many of us have no idea how cartridge cases are actually made. Here’s how it’s done.

The process starts with a brass disk stamped from strips of metal. Then, through a series of stages, the brass is extruded or drawn into a cylindrical shape. In the extrusion process the brass is squeezed through a die under tremendous pressure. This is repeated two or three times typically. In the more traditional “draw” process, the case is progressively stretched longer, in 3 to 5 stages, using a series of high-pressure rams forcing the brass into a form die. While extrusion may be more common today, RWS, which makes some of the most uniform brass in the world, still uses the draw process: “It starts with cup drawing after the bands have been punched out. RWS cases are drawn in three ‘stages’ and after each draw they are annealed, pickled, rinsed and subjected to further quality improvement measures. This achieves specific hardening of the brass cases and increases their resistance to extraordinary stresses.” FYI, Lapua also uses a traditional draw process to manufacture most of its cartridge brass (although Lapua employs some proprietary steps that are different from RWS’s methods).

RWS Brass Cartridge Draw process

After the cases are extruded or drawn to max length, the cases are trimmed and the neck/shoulder are formed. Then the extractor groove (on rimless cases) is formed or machined, and the primer pocket is created in the base. One way to form the primer pocket is to use a hardened steel plug called a “bunter”. In the photos below you see the stages for forming a 20mm cannon case (courtesy OldAmmo.com), along with bunters used for Lake City rifle brass. This illustrates the draw process (as opposed to extrusion). The process of draw-forming rifle brass is that same as for this 20mm shell, just on a smaller scale.

20mm cartridge brass forming

20mm Draw Set Oldammo.com

River Valley Ordnance explains: “When a case is being made, it is drawn to its final draw length, with the diameter being slightly smaller than needed. At this point in its life, the head of the draw is slightly rounded, and there are no provisions for a primer. So the final drawn cases are trimmed to length, then run into the head bunter. A punch, ground to the intended contours for the inside of the case, pushes the draw into a cylindrical die and holds it in place while another punch rams into the case from the other end, mashing the bottom flat. That secondary ram holds the headstamp bunter punch.

Lake City Brass bunterThe headstamp bunter punch has a protrusion on the end to make the primer pocket, and has raised lettering around the face to form the headstamp writing. This is, of course, all a mirror image of the finished case head. Small cases, such as 5.56×45, can be headed with a single strike. Larger cases, like 7.62×51 and 50 BMG, need to be struck once to form a dent for the primer pocket, then a second strike to finish the pocket, flatten the head, and imprint the writing. This second strike works the brass to harden it so it will support the pressure of firing.”

Thanks to Guy Hildebrand, of the Cartridge Collectors’ Exchange, OldAmmo.com, for providing this 20mm Draw Set photo. Bunter photo from River Valley Ordnance.

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August 16th, 2020

Stick, Flake, and Ball — Do You Know Your Powder Properties?

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener’s Reloading & Shooting Supply recently published a helpful introduction to reloading powders. Widener’s online Guide to Smokeless Powders shows the various types of powders, and explains how the differences in powder kernel/flake size and shape, and burn rate affect performance. We recommend you visit Widener’s website and read the Powder Guide in full.

Take a close look at these illustrations which show the key differences between the four main powder types: extruded (stick) powder, ball (spherical) powder, flattened ball powder, and flake powder.

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Burn Rate Basics

Widener’s Guide to Smokeless Powders also has a useful discussion of Burn Rate (a confusing topic for many hand-loaders). Wideners explains: “While a gun powder explosion in the cartridge seems instantaneous, if you slow it down you will actually find that each powder has a different ‘burn rate’, or speed at which it ignites.” This video shows powders with two very different burn rates. Watch closely.

Different burn rates suit different cartridge types notes Widener’s: “In general a fast-burning powder is used for light bullets and low-speed pistols and shotguns. Medium-rate powders are used for magnum pistols, while high-velocity, large bore rifle cartridges will need slow powders[.]

It should be noted that burn rate does not have a standardized unit of measurement. In fact, burn rate is really only discussed in comparison to other powders; there is no universal yardstick. Specifics will change by cartridge and bullet types[.]”

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