November 8th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: 2020 F-TR Mid-Range Nat’l Champ .308 Win

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action

Story based on Report by Bryan Blake, Blake Machine Company
Here’s the gold medal-winning .308 Win rifle of the 2020 F-TR National Mid-Range Champion, Andy Cyr. Arizona native Cyr won the F-TR Mid-Range Championship with an impressive score of 1761-72X out of a possible 1800 points. At this three-day Mid-Range event at Ben Avery in Phoenix, all 180 rounds were shot at 600 yards. Andrew delivered a convincing victory, winning by NINE points over runner-up James Crofts, a past national champion himself. We congratulate Andrew on his impressive win. And today’s Sunday GunDay feature examines the details of Andrew’s impressive .308 Win F-TR rifle.

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action

Cyr Overcame Incredibly Tough Conditions at Ben Avery
After Day One of the Mid-Range Nationals, Andy was in 5th place. Andy made up some serious ground on the next two days despite winds that were well into the 20 MPH+ range. In fact, many experienced shooters took misses (not hitting the scoring ring) because the winds were so fierce. Interestingly, Andy’s 1761-72X score beat all but eight F-Open shooters.

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action
Andrew Cyr’s .308 Win F-TR rifle during load development and accuracy testing.

F-TR Mid-Range Championship-Winning .308 Win Rifle Specifications:
Blake Barrel and Rifle 32″ .30 Caliber, 1:11″-twist barrel with custom specs
McMillan XIT Stock (lightened with ports on butt area)
Borden BRM Action
Kahles K1050 10-50x56mm Scope
Phoenix Bipod with F-Class Products lowering kit and skeleton legs

Andrew Cyr’s Championship-winning F-TR rifle was built by Phoenix-based Blake Barrel and Rifle (BBR) in 2018. Interestingly, this rifle was originally built for Andy’s daughter Jessica. The rifle was used by Andy a few months later. The rifle features a severely-lightened XIT stock with the grip smoothed out. Andy was actually the first customer of Blake Barrel and Rifle back in 2018. He has always been willing to try out new rifling profiles, twist rates, and barrel configurations as recommended by BBR.

Bryan Blake tells us: “Many customers demand exact specs and there is no way of changing their mind, even if it is factual-based. With Andy he was always willing to try new things, some things didn’t work well, but some things worked very well, just like the barrel used to win the Nationals.” Andy preferred a heavier barrel in the chamber area than most TR shooters. The shank diameter is 1.350″ rather than 1.250″. What this does is keep as much material around the chamber, which is the hottest area of the barrel. That way the barrel is less affected by heat over a string of fire, since the heat can be dissipated into a larger area.

Andy used a 32″ barrel, a length not commonly used in F-TR anymore. Most are running 30″ or even 28″ now. Many folks think a shorter barrel is more accurate so these competitors do not use a 32″ barrel. Well as you can see by his results, Andrew’s 32″ tube shot great. The extra length was NOT a handicap. We should remember that longer barrels can normally produce higher velocities than shorter barrels or deliver equivalent speeds with less pressure.

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action

Many people also believe that a 1:9-10″ twist is needed to shoot 200-grain class bullets out of a .308 Win accurately. However, Andy took the advice of Blake Barrel and Rifle, and went with a 1:11″-twist Blake cut-rifled barrel. Many would say this twist is too slow, and some online calculators say a 1:11″-twist won’t fully stabilize 200-grain bullets. Obviously this is also not the case. Andy’s 11-twist and Berger 200-grain Hybrid bullets (NOT 200.20X bullets) work very well with this combination. NOTE: Andy uses an F-Class Products barrel tuner to tune his load. He will sometimes even alter tune between relays to compensate for changing barometric conditions.

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action
Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action
Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action

Winning .308 Win Load — Lapua Palma Brass, VV N550, CCI 450s, Berger 200gr Hybrids
Andy Cyr took the Mid-Range title loading Vihtavuori N150 powder, CCI 450 primers, Berger 200gr Hybrids, and Lapua .308 Win Palma brass. Andy does not push his bullets very fast and finds a big accuracy node at the mid-2600 FPS range. He jumps his bullets .015″ off the lands. One thing Andy consistently does is test, test, test. He will test different powders, charge weights, seating depths nearly every time he is at the range. He will shoot a different load for each string to see what works best.

Profile of 2020 F-TR Mid-Range National Champion — Andrew Cyr
Father and Daughter Compete Together

Andy started shooting F-Class in 2012 to help him shoot better in the PRS series. He hoped to learn to read the wind better and get more experience in long-range shooting in general. After shooting F-Class he was hooked and found he enjoyed it more than PRS. Andy and his daughter Jessica have shot many state matches together, with both of them shooting F-TR. Jessica owned the Mid-Range 20-shot woman’s Aggregate record for years with a score of 200-11X. Interestingly Andy shot his very first clean at 1000 yards at the Nationals in Raton, NM in 2018 with a score of 200-11X also. This year Andy started using a spotting scope to help read mirage and it has helped him tremendously he reports.

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action

The “Master” Beat the “High Masters”
Andy is currently classified in Mid-Range as a Master for F-Class, not yet High Master. Even after winning the F-Class Mid-Range Nationals, the most prestigious F-Class match of the year, he is still classified as a Master. Andy’s 1761-72X score works out to 97.8% of a perfect 1800. But the requirement for F-Class High Master is 98%. That just shows you how tough the conditions were at Ben Avery this year. But still the Master beat ALL the High Masters — if you look at the score sheet above, all the other Top 10 F-TR competitors were High Masters. Impressive. And we believe Andy is the first Arizona resident to ever win a national F-Class Championship in either F-Open or F-TR.

About Blake Barrel and Rifle
Blake Barrel and Rifle (BBR) has been in business since 2018. BBR built the rifle that Brian Bowling used to win the 2019 F-Open National Championship. And now another ultra-accurate BBR-built rifle has won the 2020 F-TR Mid-Range Championship. Bryan Blake tells us that Blake Barrel and Rifle has recently upgraded BBR’s rifle barrel building equipment. There are advanced CNC lapping machines, CNC bore-honing machines, and all-new, proprietary rifling cutter designs that no one else in the barrel business uses.

Blake Barrel and Rifle produces cut-rifled, 6-groove barrels with a unique rifling profile no other barrel manufacturer is using. Blake barrels have an impressive winning record in recent major competitions — earning National Championships, plus many match wins and podium performances. Bryan Blake tells us that “The time and quality control spend on Blake barrels is second to none and the proof in the results.” For more information, visit Blakebarrel.com.

Blake barrel Andrew Cyr F-TR Mid-range 2020 National Champion .308 Win Rifle gun of week McMillan Xit Border BRM action


Blake Barrel and Rifle | Blake Machine Company

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November 8th, 2020

Marksmanship 101: Optimal Finger Placement on Trigger

kirsten joy weiss trigger placement shooting skills

You can spend thousands on a rifle, but that expensive hardware won’t perform at its best if you have poor trigger technique. One key element of precision shooting is trigger control. Our friend Kirsten Joy Weiss has produced a good video that shows how to refine your trigger technique for better accuracy. In this video, Kirsten talks about the actual placement of a shooter’s index finger on the trigger. It is important to have the finger positioned optimally. Otherwise you can pull the shot slightly left or slightly right.

Kirsten tells us: “Finger placement on the trigger might not seem like a big deal, but it actually is. The reason for this is because, depending on where your index finger is placed on the trigger, [this] translates to different muscle interactions with the gun.” Watch this video to see Kirsten demonstrate proper finger placement (and explain problems caused by improper finger positioning).

When you pull the trigger, you only want to engage the last section of your finger, in order to avoid unwanted muscle engagement and to achieve a smooth shot. Remember there is a “sweet spot” between the crease (first joint) and the tip of the finger. If you position the trigger in that “sweet spot”, you should see an increase in your accuracy. Don’t make the mistake of putting the trigger in the crease of your finger, as shown below.

kirsten joy weiss trigger placement shooting skills

Effects of Incorrect Finger Placements
You want to place the trigger shoe between the end of your finger and the first joint. If you place the trigger on the very tip of you finger you’ll tend to push the rear of the rifle to the left when engaging the trigger, causing shots to go right (for a right-handed shooter). On the other hand, if you put the trigger in the crease (first joint), you’ll tend to bring the rear of the rifle to the right, causing shots to fall left. This is illustrated below for a right-handed shooter.

kirsten joy weiss trigger placement shooting skills

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November 8th, 2020

Inside Neck Chamfer Tools — A Bevy of Options and Angles

Neck case chamfer tools Redding Forster Rocket model 15-p
Shown is the Redding Model 15-P Competition Piloted Inside Chamfering Tool with pilot rod that centers in the case flash hole. Also shown is a Forster 45° Rocket Tool.

There are a wide variety of reloading tools designed to cut a slight chamfer in case necks and deburr the edge of the case mouth. You don’t need to spend a lot of money for an effective tool. A basic “rocket-style” 45° chamfering tool, such as the Forster, actually does a pretty good job taking the sharp edge off case mouths, particularly if you use a little scotch-pad (or steel wool) to smooth the edge of the cut. The Forster chamfer tool, shown below, is a nicely-made product, with sharper cutting blades than you’ll find on most other 45° chamferers. It costs $20.99 at Brownells.com.

forster rocket 45 degree neck chamferer chamfer tool

Redding sells a handy piloted chamfering tool with a 15° inside cutting angle and removable accessory handle. This Redding Model 15-P chamferer works really well, so long as you have consistent case OALs. The pilot rod (which indexes in the flash hole) is adjustable for different cartridge types (from very short to very long). This ensures the concentricity of the inside neck chamfer to the case mouth. This quality tool works with cases from .22 to .45 Caliber.

Neck case chamfer tools Redding Forster Rocket model 15-p

Sinclair International offers a 28° carbide chamferer with many handy features (and sharp blades). The $28.99 Sinclair Carbide VLD Case Mouth Chamfering Tool will chamfer cases from .14 through .45 caliber. This tool features a removable 28° carbide cutter mounted in the green plastic Sinclair handle. NOTE: A hex-shaft cutter head power adapter can be purchased separately for $14.99 (Sinclair item 749-002-488WS). This can be chucked in a power screwdriver or used with dedicated power drives when doing large volumes of cases.

Neck inside chamfer chamferer case neck tool

Many folks feel they can get smoother bullet seating by using a tool that cuts at a steeper angle. We like the 22° cutter sold by Lyman. It has a comfortable handle, and costs just $11.54 at MidsouthShooterssupply.com. The Lyman tool is an excellent value, though we’ve seen examples that needed sharpening even when new. Blade-sharpening is easily done, however.

K&M makes a depth-adjustable, inside-neck chamferer (“Controlled Depth Tapered Reaper”) with ultra-sharp cutting flutes. The latest version, which costs $53.25 at KMShooting.com, features a central pin that indexes via the flash hole to keep the cutter centered. In addition, the tool has a newly-designed handle, improved depth-stop fingers, plus a new set-screw adjustment for precise cutter depth control. We caution, even with all the depth-control features, if you are not careful, it is easy to over-cut, slicing away too much brass and basically ruining your neck. We think that most reloaders will get better results using a more conventional chamfer tool, such as the Forster or Redding 15-P.

K & M K&M neck chamferer reamer controlled depth

One last thing to note — tools like the K&M and the Sinclair chamferer are often described as VLD chamferers. That is really a misnomer, as bullets with long boat-tails actually seat easily with very minimal chamfering. In reality, these high-angle chamferers may be most valuable when preparing brass for flat-base bullets and bullets with pressure rings. Using a 22° or 28° chamferer can reduce the risk of cutting a jacket when using VLD bullets though — so long as you make a smooth cut.

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