PrecisionRifleBlog.com (PRB) recently published results from a field test PRB conducted to quantify the temperature stability of the popular Hodgdon H4350 and Varget powders and compare those to IMR’s new Enduron line of powders, specifically IMR 4166 and 4451.
Hodgdon Extreme Series powders have attracted quite a fan base, with over 90% of the top shooters in the Precision Rifle Series choosing to run one of those powders. IMR recently released a new line of powders “with Enduron Technology” — which is also marketed to have “extreme temperature stability”. Sounds familiar! These new powders should compete directly with the Hodgdon Extreme Series, which gives shooters more temp-stable powder options to consider.
The top shooters in the PRS and veteran long-range shooters in other disciplines have learned to value a temperature-stable powder. That’s because a change in temperature can affect the trajectory or “flight path” of the bullet in two well-known ways:
1. Assuming all other environmental conditions remain the same, an increase in air temperature will cause a flatter trajectory due to a lower air density (easier for the bullet to cut through the air).
2. The same increase in temperature also causes the nitrocellulose-based powder inside the cartridge to burn at a higher rate, producing approximately four times the Point of Impact (POI) shift than just air temperature alone. (SEE: Temperature Effects On Zero on KestrelMeters.com.)
“The initial heat condition of your powder will affect the burn rate,” Bryan Litz explained at a recent Applied Ballistics Seminar. That means swings in ambient outside temperature can affect your internal ballistics, which will directly affect your muzzle velocity, which will change your bullet’s trajectory. Some powders are more affected by changes in temperature than others. So if your goal is first-shot hits and you may shoot in a variety of conditions — you should care about temperature stable powders.
The folks at PrecisionRifleBlog.com meticulously loaded 6.5×47 Lapua ammo with each powder using some of the best equipment available. This included the top-of-the-line Prometheus Gen II Powder Scale, which is capable of loading to the nearest kernel of powder. This ensured the powder charges were identical for each round of ammo. PRB’s testers explain the full set of equipment and steps in their loading process in the Full Test Report.
Once they had a couple dozen rounds loaded with each powder, they went and shot them with each powder at 25° F, 65° F, and 140° F. The muzzle velocity of each shot was recorded using both a LabRadar Doppler Radar and a MagnetoSpeed Chronograph. The LabRadar is a new type of device that allows you to measure muzzle velocity within at least +/- 0.1% of the reading.
Here are the results from the PRB Powder Temp Stability Tests:
You can see Hodgdon H4350 had the least variance in muzzle velocity, with just 25 fps over the 115° swing in temperature! That is very, very low. Hodgdon Varget was the second least temperature sensitive powder in this test, with 46 fps of variance in muzzle velocity between temperatures of 25° F and 140° F. IMR 4166 performed very similar to Varget, and proved to be fairly insensitive to large swings in temperature. IMR 4451 had the largest swing in muzzle velocity of the powders tested, but keep in mind just 68 fps over 115° F swing is still a good performance.
Most powders aren’t specially formulated to be temperature stable. So they would likely show much larger swings than what these four top-performing powders showed.
PRB’s test team also noticed other interesting trends in the data. For example, variation in velocity does NOT appear to be linear across the full range of temperatures. By that, they mean the change per degree from 20° to 65° might be smaller or larger than the change per degree from 65° to 140°.
Here’s a cool product that can help you level your front rest and rear bag, level your scope, align your target frame, and perform a myriad of tasks around the house. The Digital AngleCube (aka Electronic Level and Protractor Gauge) is basically a high-tech level that gives you exact angular read-outs to within 0.2 degrees. That’s a lot more precise than any bubble level.
Numerous Shooting-Related Applications
For you position shooters who like to run angled sights, this tool will help you set the rear sight and front tower to exactly the same angle. For High Power guys with 3-way and 4-way adjustable buttstocks, this digital angle gauge can help you quickly and precisely set buttstock angle and cast-off. Even tactical shooters and long-range hunters can use this device to confirm exact shot angle, with greater precision than a plastic protractor or even an expensive Angle Degree Indicator (ADI). Heck you can even use the thing as an anti-cant device (if you don’t mind the extra weight). We’re sure that our clever readers can find even more uses for a digital angle read-out tool.
The AngleCube Digital Level sells on Amazon.com for $29.95. It comes with magnets on the sides so you can attach the tool to any ferrous metal surface for a “hands-free” reading. You can find similar devices in hardware and home improvement stores. One of these square, magnet-equipped electronic protractor/levels is made by INSIZE. The illustration below shows how the INSIZE gauge can be used in the field.
Story Sourced by Edlongrange.
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He who dies with the most toys wins — right? Well Sinclair has another interesting gadget you can add to your reloading bench. The Sinclair Case Neck Sorting Tool lets you quickly sort brass by neck-wall thickness. For those who shoot “no-turn” brass, sorting your cases helps achieve more uniform neck tension and, thereby, more consistent bullet seating. Large variances in neck-wall thickness can cause inconsistent neck “grip” on the bullet. Generally, we’ve found that more consistent neck tension will lower ES and (usually) improve accuracy.
Get Better Results with No-Turn Brass
We know some guys who shoot no-turn 6mmBR brass in competition with considerable success — but their secret is pre-sorting their brass by neck-wall thickness. Cases that are out-of-spec are set aside for sighters (or are later skim-turned).
Watch Case Neck Sorting Tool Operation in Video (May not load on mobile devices)
How the Case Neck Sorting Tool Works
Here’s how the Sinclair tool works. Cases are rotated under an indicator tip while they are supported on a case-neck pilot and a support pin through the flash hole. The unit has a nice, wide base and low profile so it is stable in use. The tool works for .22 through .45 caliber cases and can be used on .17- and .20-caliber cases with an optional carbide alignment rod. The MIC-4 pin fits both .060 (PPC size) and .080 (standard size) flash holes. Sinclair’s Case Neck Sorting Tool can be ordered with or without a dial indicator. The basic unit without indicator (item 749-006-612WS) costs $59.99. Complete with dial indicator (item 749-007-129WS), the tool costs $89.99. IMPORTANT: This tool requires caliber-specific Sinclair Case Neck Pilots (sold separately).
Editor’s Comment: The purpose of this Sinclair tool is rapid, high-quantity sorting of cartridge brass to ascertain significant case-neck-wall thickness variations. Consider this a rapid culling/sorting tool. If you are turning your necks, you will still need a quality ball micrometer tool to measure neck-wall thickness (to .0005) before and after neck-turning operations.
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Tactical ace Zak Smith of Thunder Beast Arms employs a simple, handy means to store his elevation and wind dift data — a laminated data card. To make one, first generate a come-up table, using one of the free online ballistics programs such as JBM Ballistics. You can also put the information in an Excel spreadsheet or MS Word table and print it out. You want to keep it pretty small.
Above is a sample of a data card. For each distance, the card includes drop in inches, drop in MOA, drop in mils. It also shows drift for a 10-mph cross wind, expressed three ways–inches, MOA, and mils. Zak explained that “to save space… I printed data every 50 yards. For an actual data-card, I recommend printing data every 20 or 25 yards.” But Zak also advised that you’ll want to customize the card format to keep things simple: “The sample card has multiple sets of data to be more universal. But if you make your own data card, you can reduce the chance of a mistake by keeping it simple. Because I use scopes with MILS, my own card (photo below left) just has three items: range, wind, drop in MILS only.”
Once you have the card you can fold it in half and then have it laminated at a local office store or Kinko’s. You can keep this in your pocket, tape it to your stock, or tie the laminated card to your rifle. If you regularly shoot at both low and high elevations, you may want to create multiple cards (since your ballistics change with altitude). To learn more about ballistic tables and data cards, check out the excellent Practical Long-Range Rifle Shooting–Part 1 article on Zak’s website. This article offers many other insights as well–including valuable tips on caliber and rifle selection.
Scope-Cover Mounted Ballistics Table
Another option is to place your ballistics card on the back of the front flip-up scope cover. This set-up is used by Forum member Greg C. (aka “Rem40X”). With your ‘come-up’ table on the flip-up cover you can check your windage and elevation drops easily without having to move out of shooting position.
Greg tells us: “Placing my trajectory table on the front scope cover has worked well for me for a couple of years and thought I’d share. It’s in plain view and not under my armpit. And the table is far enough away that my aging eyes can read it easily. To apply, just use clear tape on the front objective cover.”
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Can you hunt small varmints with an air rifle? Indeed you can. At reasonably close ranges, a .177 pellet has sufficient “knock-down” power, and the near-silent operation of the air rifle keeps your prey from being alerted. Our friends at Varminter.com recently tested the Anschütz 8002 S2 Black Air Hunter, which features an integral, custom-tuned moderator. Overall, this is a very accurate, very high-tech solution to pesky squirrels (and other small furry pests).
Here’s the report: “We spent a couple of hours out in the field with the Anschutz Black Air Hunter, and took seven ground squirrels that NEVER heard the shot. This rifle is unbelievably quiet, and VERY accurate. I simply put the crosshair on the back of the eyeball, touched the super light trigger, and dropped them in their tracks. Tomorrow, we hunt a small orchard near some farm animals, and I think this rifle will really shine. Tom got some decent video, but we need a bit more out in the field for the full hunt report, so there will be more to come!”
The Anschütz 8002 Black Air Hunter is a PCP (Pre-Charged Pneumatic) air rifle in .177 caliber. This nice rig features a very comfortable, ergonomic stock with adjustable cheekpiece and buttplate. Best of all, the Black Hunter is wicked accurate. Varminter.com reports: “It took [just] three shots to sight-in, and proceeded to shoot bug holes at 25 yards the next 10 rounds.”
Anschutz Black Air Hunter Product Description
The new Anschütz 8002 S2 Black Air Hunter is designed for varmint hunters and target shooters who want an accurate, quiet, versatile, and urban-friendly air rifle. Based on the 8002 S2 match rifle, the Black Air Hunter boasts the excellent balance/ergonomics of a world-class 10 meter match rifle. But the Black Air Hunter has other key features you won’t find on typical competition airguns.
The match barrel is fitted with an advanced moderator made by Tactical Solutions. This non-removable unit is smaller, lighter, and considerably quieter than the counterparts from Europe. Tactical Solutions engineered this moderator to control the sharp crack associated with pre-charged pneumatics. And yes, it works — the Black Air Hunter is VERY QUIET.
As shown here with Leupold scope, the rifle weighs just under 10 pounds:
The fully-adjustable beech stock has a moisture-resistant rubberized coating that provides a secure grip in cold or damp conditions. An aluminum accessory rail under the fore-end allows sling or bi-pod mounting. The cheek piece and butt plate offer a wide range of position options, and can also be upgraded or changed to suit the shooter’s preferences.
The Black Air Hunter runs a .177” caliber pellet at 580 fps, which allows for quiet yet precise training and target shooting in an urban environment. There are more powerful air rifles, but they will be noisier and you may have concerns with down-range energy. With its ultra-low noise signature, the Black Air Hunter is well-suited for use in urban settings.
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Multi-time National High Power champion David Tubb has developed an impressive two-stage trigger for Remington 700 rifles, the Model T7T. Priced at $385.00, the T7T Trigger is a true two-stage design: first and second stages are independently adjustable for both weight and feel. Overall (combined stage) trigger pull weight can be adjusted from just under 1 pound to slightly over 3.5 pounds.
The new T7T is a quality product. We’ve used the T7T and it proved crisp, repeatable, and reliable. If you are looking for a two-stage trigger for a precision rifle, this is a good option. We like a two-stage trigger for PRS applications, and the T7T can be adjusted high enough for that role. Or, it can go all the way down to under a pound — low enough to suit most F-Class shooters.
If you are interested in the T7T, watch these two videos. The first shows how to adjust pull-weights for both stages. The second video shows how to modify your stock to provide clearance for the T7T.
This video shows how to adjust the new Tubb T7T two-stage trigger for Remington 700s:
T7T Trigger Installation Tips
While installation of the T7T may require minor modifications to your action, most gun owners with basic mechanical skills can install the T7T by themselves. Note: As installed, the T7T trigger (either Right-Hand or Left-Hand) also requires a companion T7T bolt release, which you can get from DavidTubb.com for $10.00.
This video shows how to modify your stock to fit the T7T trigger:
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Monitor Barrel Heat with Pocket Infrared Gauges
You never want to run the barrel of a precision rifle too hot. Excessive barrel heat kills accuracy, increases copper fouling, and can cause rapid barrel throat wear. Over the years people have devised various means to cool their barrels — from electric fans to dunking in tubs of ice water.
But how do you know if your barrel is too hot? Consider a “non-contact” thermometer that reads your barrel’s “infrared signature”. The RadioShack or Kintrex pocket-sized, non-contact IR thermometers are ideal for shooters at the range or in the prairie dog fields. Both are handy and inexpensive — costing about twenty bucks for the yellow RadioShack gauge, and $30 for the Kintrex.
Just 3.2″ long, and weighing a mere 1.3 ounces, the waterproof RadioShack and Kintrex thermometers are small enough to carry in your pocket, and will easily stow in any range bag/box. The Kintrex unit measures from -67 to 428 °F (-55 to 220 °C), while the cheaper RadioShack model measures from -27 to 230º F (-33º to 110º C). Kintrex is a respected manufacturer that also makes larger hand-held IR thermometers for industrial and shop applications. A little infrared thermometer like this is a gadget that every serious shooter should have. Given the cost of replacing barrels these days, can you afford NOT to have a temp gauge for your match or varmint barrel?
TECH TIP — How to Get More Consistent Readings
When using IR Themometers on shiny steel barrels, sometimes the polished surface throws off the beam, causing inconsistent readings. You can solve this problem by simply putting a piece of masking tape on the area where you take your reading. Some other folks use a grease pencil to create a non-reflective spot to read. Forum Member Jon B. says: “I used an Exergen infrared in the HVAC industry. Without the grease crayon they sold, you couldn’t get an accurate reading with shiny metals.”
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Old Gun… New Gadget. A while back, our friend Dennis Santiago has been practicing with his trusty old Springfield, in preparation for the CMP Western Games in Phoenix. To help improve his off-hand hold, Dennis utilized a laser training device that plots shot location on a laptop computer. Here’s a report from Dennis on his laser-enabled dry-fire practice:
Laser Dry-Fire Practice with Vintage Rifle
Something old, something new. Take a M1903A3 Springfield, put a laser in its nose, and practice your off-hand shooting until staying on focus with the front sight throughout the shot process becomes a reflex.
If the last thing you see is the front sight, the shot is in. If the last thing you see is the bull, it’s out. Simple as that. If you had told someone in the 1920s or 1930s that this much tech would one day be available to aid in training … come to think of it, it’d have made real riflemen smile.
Here is the receiving end of the laser beam:
About the Hardware and Software
Dennis was using the BeamHit 190 series Personal Marksmanship Training System. This interactive dry-fire training system uses a laser detecting device to transmit hits directly to a computer in real time. The BeamHit 190 software allows shooters to choose from multiple targets and even create timed scenarios. You can save strings of fire for later review directly on the connected computer. The included software is compatible with Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7. It seems like the system Dennis used is out of production, though EoTech still offers a 190-3 system through Amazon.com. The BeamHit 190 system has been replaced with the simpler Insight/Beamhit MDM1001 Portable Target System. This is less sophisticated and does not require a connected computer.
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Most gun guys know that the NRA publishes a monthly magazine called American Rifleman. What you may not know is that NRA also offers an American Rifleman television series on the Outdoor Channel. On each episode the hosts of American Rifleman TV review popular firearms (pistols, rifles, and shotguns). Most episodes include an historical segment. For example, in the 2016 Season Premiere, American Rifleman TV looks back at WWII, spotlighting The Men & Guns of the Pacific.
Highlights from other American Rifleman TV Episodes:
Springfield Armory M1A Review:
The Springfield Armory M1A is a civilian, semi-auto rifle based on the U.S. Military’s M14. Your Editor owned an M1A, and it was a fun gun. In High Power and Service Rifle competition, low-recoil 5.56 (.223) AR-platform rifles have displaced the M1A, but there is a hugely popular Springfield M1A Match every year at Camp Perry. The M1A Match at Perry offers over $25,000 in cash and prize awards each year.
Leupold Factory Tour:
Founded in 1907, Leupold & Stevens produces high-quality optics (with a legendary warranty) in Beaverton, Oregon. Leupold scopes are favorites for hunters as well as competitive shooters. In this episode, American Rifleman TV takes a tour of the Leupold & Stevens factory in Oregon.
Ruger American Rimfire Review:
Ruger offers both Standard and Compact models of its American Rimfire in two chamberings: .22 LR and .22 WMR. This rifle features a detachable, rotary magazine, like Ruger’s popular 10/22. The American Rimfire is a very affordable, yet reliable and surprisingly accurate rifle.
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Wouldn’t it be cool if you could adjust the bolt cycling energy on your AR-platform rifle? Turn down the cycling rate for slow fire at the bench or varmint hunting. Crank up the energy for 3-Gun matches and rapid-fire disciplines. This IS possible with a handy accessory that fits on your barrel. Wilson Combat offers an Adjustable Lo-Profile AR Gas Block for direct gas impingement AR-type rifles. Wilson Combat’s adjustable gas block replaces a standard AR gas block and allows you to tune your AR’s gas system for smoother cycling and enhanced reliability. Wilson Combat explains: “Adjusting your rifle’s gas port will lower or increase your bolt’s cyclic rate. This tailors your rifle’s performance to your unique needs.”
A simple adjustment of the hex screw at the front of the block modulates the gas volume allowing you to tune your rifle’s function to your favorite loads. This is very handy when shooting non-standard AR calibers, unusual hand-loads, or suppressed rifles. Adjustable Gas Block systems are sold as complete kits starting at $74.95. Wilson Combat offers two diameters (.750″, .937″) and three lengths (Carbine Length, Mid-Length, & Rifle Length), so you can select the right dimensions for your rifle configuration and barrel diameter. The blocks are Chromoly steel with a Melonited finish.
Adjustable Gas Block (Melonite Finish)
Adjustment Set Screw (Installed)
Straight Gas Tube (Installed, Gas Tube Pin Installed)
12″-Long Allen Wrench to Adjust Inside Handguard
$74.95 – $79.95
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Annealing Made Perfect (AMP) Annealing Machine Review
Review by Bill Gravatt
I had been following the progress of Alex and Matt Findlay with Annealing Made Perfect for almost three years as they pursued making the best annealing product for the private reloading market. The short explanation of why we anneal brass is to return the brass to a softer and consistent hardness after the brass has work-hardened from repetitive firing and sizing. As the President/co-owner of Sinclair International for over 21 years I saw a lot of products come through our doors that annealed brass but these products always seemed like they had very little supportive data and research behind them. Most of them were based on some type of torch system. The New Zealand-based father/son team of Alex and Matt spent these past three years addressing the challenging questions about annealing:
- What is the correct temperature to reach when annealing?
– How long should you take to get to that temp and how long should you remain there?
– How frequently should you anneal?
– Can you ruin your expensive brass?
– How do we make the process repeatable for the handloader?
– How do you accurately measure the case hardness?
They worked closely with the Electrical Engineering Department at the local University of Technology and invested a lot of capital into detailed metallurgical research. Their decision to use induction heating was because of its repeatability and the ability to reach exacting and consistent temperatures. Induction annealing is achieved by placing the cartridge in a magnetic field thereby inducing eddy currents within the brass and heating the brass without contacting the brass physically. To learn more, I suggest you visit the AmpAnnealing.com website. It is very informative.
Why should you anneal? If you are just a casual reloader, than annealing isn’t necessary but if you a serious wildcatter or competitive shooter you may want to consider it. More and more competitive shooters anneal their cases (not necessarily for adding life to the cases) to achieve more consistent pressures and velocities.
My first favorable impression was received by just opening the extremely well-packed shipping box. You could tell these guys take a great deal of pride in their product. The unit comes with three cartridge-specific pilots (you decide on which pilots), a shellholder collet, a power cord, a thorough, well-written, easy to follow instruction manual, and a USB cord for future software updates.
This machine is so easy to use that I was up and running within a few minutes. All I had to supply was the shells, the correct shell-holder and an aluminum pan to drop the hot cases into. I started annealing some unturned .308 Winchester cases (Lapua headstamp) that had four firings. First I screwed the pilot for .308 cases (#11) into the machine, placed my .308 shellholder into the supplied shellholder/collet and turned the power on. The display fired up right away and soon registered the program level that the machine was set to.
Since the machine uses induction heating, you need to set the heating level for the correct setting for the brass you are using. The alloy being used isn’t as important as the thickness or amount of brass in the neck and shoulder region. For example, Lapua and Norma have more brass in that area so the setting would be higher for these brands than Winchester brass. Also, if you have neck-turned brass, the setting would be reduced from the standard setting because there would be less mass in the air gap.
This manufacturer-produced video shows how the AMP annealing machine operates:
The settings are obtained by referring to the “Settings” section on the AMP website and are broken out by cartridge, brand, standard unturned cases, and then neck-turned cases with various amounts of wall thickness removed. A great service that AMP provides to the handloader is that you can send sample cases of your brass to them (U.S. location in Wolcott, Indiana) and they will test the hardness for you and send you the exact setting for your specific lot of brass.
My setting for unturned Lapua .308 Winchester brass was “92”. The buttons on the front of the machine allow you to adjust the setting quickly. After you set the program number, the setting is locked in after the first use until you change it again. I placed the first case in the shellholder, lowered the assembly down through the pilot and into position. I then hit the start button which illuminated immediately and then about 6 to 7 seconds later, the light went off signaling that heating was completed.
Now, be aware, these cases are extremely hot. I lifted the case out using the shellholder/collet and then dropped it into my aluminum pan. I then placed another case into the holder, put it into the machine and then repeated the process. Once I got the coordination down, I did 100 .308 Win cases in about 24 minutes. I did some 6mmBR cases later (Lapua) and annealed 100 cases in about 15 minutes at the “75” setting. I found myself raising my shop stool a little higher than normal so I was at a comfortable height in relationship to the top of the machine. Very easy to do — I actually had a student do a few cases with me and she had no problem at all following the instructions.
There is a thermal cut-off that prevents the machine from overheating. Depending on the setting, this can occur after 20 to 35 minutes of continuous use. When this has occurred, simply leave the machine on and the fans will cool it down so you can resume annealing. This isn’t surprising considering the amount of heat being generated.
All in all, I found this machine extremely easy to setup and operate. Now, does it work? I have test batches of brass that I am going to run over the chronograph in 10-round strings. I plan on running at least 10 strings of annealed brass and 10 strings of unannealed brass out of the same lot, same number of reloadings/firings and out of the same gun. I plan on alternating annealed strings and unannealed strings with a cooling off period every 20 rounds. When I do testing, I have my wife pre-label my batches as Batch A and B so I won’t know what rounds I am shooting until I get back from the range. I’ll make the results available as soon as I can. My expectation is that velocities will be more consistent based on my understanding of the lab results that the Findlays have achieved with their Annealing Made Perfect machine. For more information, visit their website at AmpAnnealing.com.
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In our Shooters’ Forum, you’ll find a lengthy thread about accuracy problems with a Savage LRPV, chambered in 6mmBR. The gun would repeatedly split groups at 100 yards, and at 300 yards, the “flyers” would open up the groups to 1.5 MOA or larger. Interestingly, the factory test target (at right) showed a split group — not a good sign.
The gun’s owner, forum member LR_Shooter, tried a variety of tweaks: “I did this, done that… [changed] torque, tang floated, bedded action, recut chamber, and [adjusted firing pin]”. But nothing really helped. Frustrated, LR_Shooter asked his fellow Forum members for help. Much advice was proffered, including the novel idea of removing the middle action screw in the Savage 3-screw target action. Some of the advice proved helpful, but none of the suggested remedies produced a major improvement. This rifle, out of the box, tossed flyers and no amount of tweaking (or changes in shooting technique) really cured the basic problem. That is, until, the factory barrel got replaced…
New Criterion Pre-Fit Barrel Works Wonders
LR_Shooter acquired a Criterion pre-fit barrel from Jim Briggs at Northland Shooters Supply (NSS). These pre-fits are designed for easy installation with the standard Savage barrel nut. Wouldn’t you know it, with a new 30″ heavy-contour barrel on the LRPV, the gun started shooting way better. No more crazy fliers, no more split groups, no more excessive vertical. And the improvement came without any other major modifications. LR_Shooter reports: “I got a replacement barrel from Jim at NSS. It is a 30″ bull Criterion barrel. So far, without playing with torque screws and having my old setup… I’m very satisfied with the barrel I got. Now I have no problem getting [groups] under 0.25 MOA. Finally this thing can shoot!” The targets below, shot with the new Criterion barrel, speak for themselves. The left target was shot at 100 yards, while the target on the right was shot at 300 yards (very impressive).
Targets Shot with Savage LRPV Fitted with Criterion Barrel
Moral of the Story — Sometimes A New Barrel Really Is the Right Solution
All of us have struggled at times with a rifle that won’t live up to expectations. This Editor personally struggled for over a year with a .260 Rem Savage with a factory tube. The gun tended to split groups and the POI walked as the barrel heated. I tried one powder/primer combination after another, working through a variety of seating depths over many months. I was persistent. Out of stubbornness, I just believed that sooner or later I’d find the magic load.
Well folks, sometimes there’s really nothing you can do about a sub-par barrel. It is what it is. To really improve a gun’s accuracy (particularly a gun with a factory tube), you may need to open your wallet and get a quality aftermarket barrel. Spending months trying one recipe after another may simply be an overwhelming waste of powder, bullets, and your precious time.
Albert Einstein supposedly said: “Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” Well that sort of describes my efforts with my .260 Rem. Once I had enough evidence that my barrel split groups no matter what load combo (and seating depth) I tried, it was time to pony up for a new barrel. When I did finally screw on a nice PacNor 3-groove Supermatch, that Savage suddenly became a true tack-driver. As re-chambered in 6mmBR with the Pac-Nor, in calm conditions, my Savage will now consistently shoot in the twos with heavy bullets, and it can sometimes dip down into the ones with Berger 80gr flat-base bullets. The moral of the story here is simple — don’t waste weeks or months chasing your tail with a barrel that just won’t deliver (after a reasonable amount of testing). Save up for a custom barrel, get it chambered properly, and stop your cycle of frustration.
Contact Information for Northland Shooters Supply:
E-mail: email@example.com (that is Q.com not G.com)
Phone: (763) 682-4296
Fax: (763) 682-6098
P.O. Box 333
Buffalo, MN 55313
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Wouldn’t it be cool if you could shoot .22 LR rimfire ammo from your regular hunting/tactical rifle. That would be ideal for low-cost training right? Well, this IS possible, provided you have a rifle that was designed with a .22 LR conversion in mind. One such firearm is the Sauer 202 from Germany. This impressive centerfire rifle is available with a factory-engineered .22 LR rimfire conversion. Read on to learn how it works…
Sauer 202 Rifle: .308 Win/6.5×55 with .22 LR Conversion
Forum member “Tooms” sent us a report on his very special Sauer 202 with a .22 LR conversion kit. Sauer 202 rifles feature a “Quick-change barrel system”. The barrel is clamped into the receiver with crossbolts providing tension. This allows barrels to be swapped in a few minutes with simple tools. Tooms, from Denmark, explains: “The rifle began as a Sauer 202 Avantgarde Gold in .308 Win. I have added a 6.5×55 match barrel, plus a wide flat-bottom match fore-arm with rail for handstop and bipod. The .22 LR system [originally] cost $1000.00 [including] barrel, bolt, magazine well assembly, and magazine. The barrel is attached by three cross-bolts and the magazine well assembly is attached by one screw that fits into the barrel.”
Using this “Quick-change system”, Tooms can easily remove his centerfire barrel and swap in a .22 LR barrel. Then he places the factory conversion kit into the magazine well. This kit provides a rimfire bolt, a fitted sleeve for the rimfire bolt, and a magazine housing. This is a full Sauer factory-designed system so it works flawlessly. With the bolt closed, you can see the “new” .22 LR chamber in the front section of the loading port. On the silver section of the bolt you can see the rimfire extractor on the side.
The 22LR Conversion Really Works
The Sauer 202 Varmint rifle shoots very well with the 22LR conversion, as the 50m target at right shows. Though quite expensive, the conversion kit essentially transforms your centerfire rifle into fully functional, mag-fed precision rimfire. That makes the Sauer 202 much more versatile as a hunting platform. It also allows you to cross-train with inexpensive ammo. You don’t have to purchase another scope, trigger, or stock. And you enjoy the exact same stock fit and ergonomics whether you’re shooting centerfire or rimfire. In some countries where gun ownership is severely restricted, it may be easier, from a legal standpoint, to purchase a 22LR conversion kit than to obtain a permit for a second rifle.
To learn more about the complete line of Sauer 202 rifles visit the J.P. Sauer USA website. You’ll also find more information on the primary J.P. Sauer & Sohn German website, www.Sauer.de.
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High Power and F-Class shooters have a ton of gear they need to carry out to the firing lines. To do the hauling, you can certainly purchase a factory-made, purpose-built cart that folds up and has all the bells and whistles. The Creedmoor Sports CRC-1 (photo right) is a proven, quality product that works great. You’ll find these used by top shooters at Camp Perry. But the Creedmoor CRC-1 cart costs $499.95.
For a fraction of that price ($59.99), plus a few dollars more for do-it-yourself enhancements, you can have a heavy-duty cart that will haul all your gear just fine, though it doesn’t fold up. In the top photo is a Harbor Freight Welding Cart we saw at the Berger Southwest Nationals. This rig is carrying a rifle in hard gun case, bipod, folding chair, shooting mat, tripod, spotting scope, rear sand-bag, and ammo box — that’s a lot of gear!
Check out the Harbor Freight Welding Cart, item #65939. This cart is ON SALE right now for just $59.99. Overall size is 29-1/2″ L x 20″ W x 49″ H, and width between side rails is 18″. The wheels (with tires) are 20 3/4″ in diameter for smooth rolling. Consider that, if you made your own cart from scratch you could easily pay $30.00 or more just for the large-diameter wheels and axle. Do note — this cart has air-filled tires. Be sure to inflate before you go to the Range!
As sold, the Harbor Freight Welding Cart can benefit from upgrades for range use. But with a few bungee cords (and some creativity), the cart can be adapted pretty easily to hauling your gun gear. If you want to enhance the basic cart, it’s easy to add plastic side-panels on the bottom unit, and fit a barrel-holding system on the cross-tube. This ensures rifles and gear won’t flop forward. (A small piece of wood under the bottom panel provides a bit of extra lift that will keep the bottom plate out of the dirt and gravel.)
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Competition Machine’s Gary Eliseo is a very smart designer as well as a talented shooter. The inventor/builder of the popular Competition Machine Tubegun chassis systems, Gary has come up with something new, which he calls the PickleForks. These are rails that fit to the sides of the tubular fore-end/handguard on his chassis systems. This allows you to use a pedestal-style front rest for F-Class competition. It also provides a much more stable platform for load testing, varmint hunting, or any kind of rest-assisted precision shooting. These new PickleForks transform a Tubegun into an ultra-stable, straight-tracking rig when used with a competition-style front rest.
Gary explains: “Now you can have the same super low-boreline, long ‘wheelbase’ and vertical sides of our innovative F1 F-Class chassis system for your tube chassis. The new PickleForks attach directly to the sides of the F-Class/Tactical fore-ends, no modifications are required. They are very rigid with no flex or twist and make the rifle track like it’s on rails.” The new Eliseo Competition Machine PickleForks are offered for a very reasonable $70.00 per pair, with Cerakote finish. (You get two metal units, one for each side of the fore-arm). For more information, visit www.GotXRing.com or call (928) 649-0742.
New Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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If you’re the kind of guy who likes to get his brass shiny inside and out, then wet-tumbling with stainless media gets the job done. For heavy-duty wet-tumbling jobs, it used to be that you had to buy a Thumler’s Tumbler and then figure out your own solution for media separation. Now there are other options on the market which may be more convenient for many users.
Lyman has just introduced its Cyclone Rotary Tumbler. For under $190.00 on Amazon.com, this ships as a complete system with everything you need — even the stainless media and media separators. The Tumbler unit itself holds up to 1000 pieces of .223 Rem brass and features a rubber lining to protect your cases and reduce noise during operation.
Conveniently, a built-in timer can be set from 0 to 3 hours, shutting off automatically. The drum features a large, screw-on end-cap to allow easy loading and unloading. In addition, the tumbler comes with two special sifter pans that make it easy to separate pins from brass. Simply empty the tumbler into the stacked pans. The first pan catches the brass, while the second, finer screen pan catches the pins. Very clever. The Cyclone Tumbler system ships with five pounds of stainless media pins and a sample packet of Brass Cleaning Solution.
Video shows Lyman Cyclone wet tumbling system in action:
TECH TIP: Wet-tumbling brass with stainless media really works. With enough “run-time” the process will definitely remove stubborn carbon on the inside of cases. However, some folks observe that case-mouths can occasionally get peened during the process. This is not a big deal but it is worth noting. In addition, with large flash-hole cases, it is possible (though rare) for a pin to stick in a flash hole. Therefore you should inspect every case before loading in a progressive press or bulk-priming cases with a bench tool.
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Building your own portable shooting bench is a great do-it-yourself project. You can build a sturdy bench for well under $100 in materials. Compare that to some deluxe factory-built benches which may cost $600.00 or more.
FREE Bench Plans on the Web
You’ll find a wide assortment of home-built shooting bench designs (both portable and fixed) on the internet. Renovation Headquarters has links to FREE Plans and building instructions for fourteen (14) different shooting benches. There are all-wood shooting bench designs as well as benches that combine a wood top with a metal sub-frame or legs.
Heavy Wood Bench That Converts to Three Sections for Transport
In addition to the fourteen benches mentioned above, here is an interesting break-down bench design. Call it a “semi-portable” bench. The legs and frame are made from stout 4×4 post segments so the bench is fairly heavy. However, this bench can break down into three (3) sections for easier transport to and from the range. Dado-cut channels assure proper top alignment. This might be a good choice if you plan a multi-day excursion to a location without fixed benches. This three-leg bench design can be made from easy-to-locate materials. Note: The dimensions of this bench are are larger than typical fixed benches to accommodate 50 BMGs and other big rifles. CLICK HERE for more details.
Here’s a smart invention — a foldable cardboard cone. With this innovative Target Cone you can easily carry a target-holder wherever you go. The Target Cone from Re-Nine Safety transports flat so it can be easily stowed in the trunk of your car (or even under a seat). When you’re ready to use it, simply fold the flaps to create a self-supporting cone with pre-printed targets on one side. Place a rock on the base to hold it steady. The Target Cone can be used by itself or, as shown below, you can attach other targets, such as Re-Nine’s new Silhouette Target (below right).
We think this is a great innovation. Keep a couple Target Cone flats in the back of your car or truck and you’ll always have a target support. For spur-of-the-moment range sessions, this is much easier than toting around a big target frame. The Re-Nine Safety Target Cones retail for about $5.00.
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For a few years now, Lyman has offered the Case Prep Xpress, an all-in-one case prep center that chamfers necks (inside and out), cleans and uniforms primer pockets, brushes the inside of case-necks, and uniforms flash holes. The unit can also ream out the crimps on military brass. However, the Lyman Case Prep Xpress does NOT trim cases.
The Lyman Case Prep Xpress comes with all the necessary tools (listed above), so you don’t have to purchase extra accessories. The five (5) gear-driven heads on the unit are powered by a high torque, low-speed motor ideal for case prep operations. Lyman’s Case Prep Xpress features handy storage areas for accessories, a removable brass shavings dump pan, and a handy clean-up brush.
Sinclair Int’l video clearly illustrates all case prep functions. Worth watching.
In the 3.5 years that this product has been on the market it has been a strong seller. If you’re prepping hundreds of cases, this unit will save considerable time and reduce hand/finger fatigue. While the Case Prep Xpress is not as sturdy as the metal-bodied Hornady prep center, the Lyman unit offers a lot of functionality for the money ($115-$125 normal price, and sometimes around $100 on sale).
Lyman Case Prep Xpress Pros and Cons
Quite Affordable (under $120)
Compatible with RCBS and Redding Tool-heads
Removable Bin for Shavings
Four Brush Sizes: .25, .30, .38, .45
Tool-heads Not Particularly Sharp
No Case Trim Function
No Flash-hole Uniformer
No Top Dust-Cover
Only 1-Year Warranty
Reviews by Verified Purchasers
“Case prep is the most tedious and boring aspect for hand loading in my opinion. The process center makes all the steps in prepping the case very quick and with consistent results. It has reduced the time required to do these steps with separate tools by easily 50% if not more. Highly recommended.” — Brandon G.
“Quiet and capable. Worth every penny. I adapted a Lee Cutter and Lock Stud, to cut case lengths, and I can fly through my brass. I can do so much more brass without getting the sore, cramped-up hands.” — Dean Ellis
“This unit has plenty of torque, and my unit is very quiet. This unit will also work with tools made by RCBS and Hornady, or anything else with 8-32 threads. My Redding tools (specifically, my primer pocket uniformers) do in fact fit on this machine. This unit is certainly worth the money, and will revolutionize the way you reload by saving you massive amounts of time and wear on your hands/fingers.” — Mule
“A simple machine to perform complex solutions. I was up and running in about 10 minutes flat. This thing has made my life of reloading so much easier. I do wish there was a trimmer included, but I have a manual one from L.E. Wilson.” — Richard Niles
You can find Lyman’s Case Prep Xpress for under $120.00 at Brownells and Midsouth, making it much less expensive than the larger Hornady Case Prep Center, which runs about $365.00. The Hornady unit is beefier, and will trim cases. However, we think the compact Lyman unit makes sense for guys who already have a good case trimmer, such as a Forster or Wilson. The Lyman Case Prep Xpress is hundreds of dollars less than the Hornady prep center. The money you save will buy lots of bullets and brass.
Case Prep Xpress $115.45 at Midsouth
The Lyman Case Prep Xpress is sold by most of the big vendors. The best current price we found was at Midsouth Shooters Supply, which sells the Lyman unit for $115.45.
Gear Review Tip from Edlongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19, 2016, less than a week away. If your father enjoys the shooting sports, here are some recommended items that our staff owns or uses. All selections cost less than $100.00. It’s not too late to order. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can get two-day shipping in most areas of the country. For non-Prime members, most items will ship in 3-4 days. That’s enough time to get the gift to “Pops” by next Sunday.
TEN Great Father’s Day Gifts for Dad Under $100.00
The light-weight, compact RCBS Partner Press is ideal for loading at the range. It can easily be mounted to a bench with C-Clamps.
This is an excellent shooting mat — it is very well made with good padding/insulation. On gravel, concrete, or hard-packed ground this is way more comfortable than typical mats. It is wide enough and easy to fold. Any Dad who shoots would love this.
We’ve used Bog-Pod shooting supports on varmint hunts. They’re great for down-angle shots from a ridge or kneeling shots to get above terrain obstacles. Bog-Pods adjust from 17″ to 39″.
This battery pack can charge your cellphone, tablet, or even a chronograph. Our IT manager uses this battery pack to run his LabRadar Chrono. He also uses it as an emergency charger when camping and traveling. It has three outputs, allowing multi-device recharging.
Walkie-Talkies are “must-have” items for long-range shooting. The 22-CH Motorola MH230R Two-Way Radio is Amazon’s #1 Best Seller in FRS/GMRS Handheld Radios.
Plano’s AirGlide case is a unique, top-loading rifle case. Ideal for benchrest guns with wide forearms, the AirGlide case puts no side-pressure on scopes. We like the ease of loading. This fits rifles up to about 27-28″ barrels.
The versatile MTM Range Box includes cradles so you can do gun maintenance while at the range. A lift-out tray holds small items such as patches and jags. This is a durable product that can hold ammo and other gear.
Your Editor owns this watch and wears it for all special occasions. It is a very handsome quartz dress watch crafted by Orient, a division of Seiko. The hands and case are rose-gold color. At just under 8mm, the watch is very thin and comfortable to wear. The 40.5mm case features an elegant retro-styled domed crystal. This watch is also available with a silver-tone case and white face for around $130.00.
This cleverly-designed Shotshell thermos will make Dad smile. Styled just like a 12ga shotgun shell, the Stansport thermal bottle holds 25 oz. of hot or cold liquids.
This rugged 4-pistol case will hold your handguns and magazines securely. Airline-approved for checked luggage, this lockable case has a lifetime warranty. An 0-ring seal makes the case 100% waterproof and dustproof.
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