If you’ve ever used a Harris Swivel Bipod, you know that, without tools, it is difficult to put enough tension on the swivel locking knob to really lock the unit solid. And, if you do manage to get the knob really tight (perhaps by using pliers), it is difficult to loosen with fingers alone.
That was why Terry Cross and the folks at KMW Long Range Solutions invented the Pod-Loc™. This system replaces the knurled swivel tension knob with a push-button adjustable handle. Using the handle you can easily set the swivel tension at any level from loose to “rock solid”. And you can release tension to adjust the bipod to different terrain just as easily. The KMW Pod-Loc™ retails for about $27.00 at Brownells.com and Sinclair Int’l.
How to Build Your Own Bipod Swivel Locking System
While we use genuine KMW Pod-Locs on our rifles, readers on a tight budget, or who have a large collection of bipod-equipped rifles, can economize by putting together their own swivel locking systems from off-the-shelf components. You need two parts per installation: a push-button swivel handle and a 3/16″ spacer. Levers and spacers are both available online from www.T-Nuts.com. The spacer is part #SS1 ($1.00). T-Nuts offers a variety of suitable handles, ranging in price from $5.80 to $8.50. So, by sourcing the parts, you can outfit three bipods with swivel adjusters for the cost of one Pod-Loc.
We recommend the Nylon/Stainless BPL/NS model ($7.70), but you may prefer the all-metal BPL-Z ($7.00), or the shorter BPL-Micro model ($8.25). The compact Micro lock does not protrude past the body of the bipod, yet is still easily grasped. T-Nuts supplies one 3/16″ spacer with most of its bipod handles. T-Nuts handles are also available with a metric M6x1.0 thread for use with imported bipods such as Outers and Rockport.
Installation is Easy — With the Right Socket
To install a swivel locking system, first you’ll need a 1/4″ socket to remove the keeper nut from the threaded pivot rod. (During this process, you’ll need to keep pressure on the pivot rod retaining pin on the opposite side of the bipod.) Don’t try to remove the keeper nut with pliers or an open-end wrench. You really need the correct socket. Once that keeper nut is removed, then unscrew the knurled tension knob/ring. This is attached to the same threaded shaft as the keeper nut but you should be able to remove it without tools.
After the knurled tension ring is off, it is easy to put your handle on the bipod. First slip the 3/16″ spacer over the threaded pivot rod. Keeping finger pressure on the pivot rod retaining pin (on reverse side), then spin on the T-Nuts handle. Rotate the handle inwards until it firmly locks the bipod swivel mechanism. By pushing the button in the head of the handle, you can swing the handle left or right to set its position without altering the swivel tension.
Following our story on the Sinclair Int’l East Coast Fullbore Nationals, folks wanted to know about the bipods used by the winning F-TR squad, Team Sinclair. Some sharp-eyed readers noticed that three out of four Team Sinclair shooters were sporting a compact, parallel-arm bipod. This nice piece of kit is the ultra-light-weight (17 oz.) Rorer Spec Bipod produced by Duplin Rifles in North Carolina. The Rorer Spec Bipod is sturdy and easily-adjusted, yet it is one of the lightest wide-track bipods on the market.
Duplin Rifles — Rorer Spec Bipod
Weight: 1 pound, 1 oz. (17 oz.) | Finish: Clear- or black-Anodized Aluminum
Price: $350.00 delivered in USA | Options: Custom faceplates; Custom mount engraving ($35)
For more information, or to place an order, contact Duplin’s main man, Clint Cooper. You can send email to clint [at] duplinrifles.com or call 910-289-8217.
Our IT guy, Jay (aka ‘JayChris’ in the Forum) shoots F-Class with a 31.5″-barreled rifle. He wanted a quality soft-case that could protect his F-Class rifle and the large Nightforce 12-42 NSX scope on top. After looking at many options, Jay selected the Bald Eagle BE1021 Long Rifle Case. Jay tells us: “I just bought one of these, after seeing a couple guys with them at the range. They can easily handle a long prone or F-Class rifle and have good padding (similar to the Creedmoor case) and seem well-built. I also noticed a lot of the sling shooters showing up with them.” Bald Eagle offers this case design in two colors: black (BE1021) or red (BE1020). The BE1020/21 soft cases measure 55″ long by 13″ tall. There is a large, zippered compartment on both sides of the case.
Amazon Buyer Review (by Gonzos):
This is a well-made, sturdy case for large rifles with a scope. Easily fits my 31-inch barreled F-Class rifle with a 12X42 Nightforce scope on it. I have no problems with it at all — in fact this is my third one. I wish the side pocket was full length (to hold a cleaning rod) but other than that it is perfect.
Report by Richard King (King’s Armory, Texas; ‘Kings X’ on our Forum)
With all the talk from Vince Bottomley in the April issue of Target Shooter about aluminum stocks, I thought you might like to see my latest project. This is my personal gun, built the way I wanted it. I know it’s radical and some may not care for it. But it works.
This is pretty much an all-aluminum rifle. The action is a Kelbly F-Class with a Shilen stainless steel competition trigger. The scope is a 1″-tube Leupold 36X with a Tucker Conversion set in Jewell spherical bearing rings. The .223 barrel is Pac-Nor 3-groove, 1:6.5″-twist mounted in a “V”-type barrel block. The bipod has vertical adjustment only via a dovetail slide activated by a stick handle. It works like a joy-stick, but for vertical only. I adjust for windage by moving the rear sandbag.
The 30″ barrel is 1.250″ in diameter. With the barrel block forward, the vibrations should be at a low frequency. Instead of one long rod whipping, I now have two short rods (barrel haves) being dampened. This is my fourth barrel block gun. They work, but so does a good pillar-bedded action. I just do stuff a little different.
The vertical “keel” down the bottom of the stock stops the “spring” of a flat-bar stock. There is little, if any, noticeable flex before or during recoil. The long length of the stock, the fat barrel, and the forward-mounted barrel block work together to keep the gun from rising off the ground. BUT, remember this is a .223 Rem rifle. A .308 Win version might act very differently. I may try a .308-barreled action soon, just to see what happens. But I will stick with the .223 Rem as my choice for match shooting.
The offset scope idea came from a benchrest “rail” gun. In truth, the whole concept came from a rail gun — just adapted to being shot off a bipod. Sure it isn’t directly over the bore. It is about 1.5″ over to the left. So if you want the scope to be zeroed on the center of the target, you have to adjust for the offset. At 100 yards that is 1.5 MOA. But at 300 it is only 0.5 MOA, at 600 only a ¼-MOA, and at 1000 about 1 click on my scope.
What the offset DOES do for me is eliminate any cheek pressure. My cheek never touches the stock. Since this is only a .223 Rem, I don’t put and shoulder pressure behind it. And I don’t have a pistol grip to hang on to, but I do put my thumb behind the trigger guard and “pinch” the two-ounce trigger.
The offset scope placement could interfere with loading a dual-port action from the left. That’s not a problem for me as I set my spotting scope up on the left side very close to the rifle. I have plenty of time to reload from the right side while the target is in the pits being scored.
Again — this is my rifle. It is designed for my style of shooting. It is not meant to be a universal “fit all” for the general public. However, I will say the design is adaptable. I can easily convert the system to run in F-Open Class. I would drop a big-bore barreled action into the “V” block, slide on a heavier pre-zeroed scope and rings, add plates on the sides up front to bring the width to 3”, and maybe a recoil pad. It might be interesting to offset the wings up from to counter torque of the big bullets. But I would also have to offset the rear bag rider to get the gun to recoil straight back.
How the Gun Performs
I have had “T” to the range only twice for load development. It groups like my present barrel-blocked 223 F-TR gun. But it’s much easier to shoot and it only moves about 3/4” — straight back. I tried to build am omni-directional joy-stick bipod but I could not get all the side-to-side wiggle out of it. So I have set it up so it only moves up and down (horizontal movement is locked-out). As it works now, the joystick on the bipod lets me set elevation on the target quickly (with up/down adjustment). Then, to adjust for windage, I slide my rear bag side-to-side as needed. Once set, I just tickle the trigger and smile.
Gun Handling — Shoot It Like a Bench-Gun
I basically shoot the gun with no cheek or body contact. I don’t grip it, other than maybe a pinch on the trigger guard. The scope was offset to the left to help the shooter move off the gun and avoid the possibility of head/cheek contact with the stock.
Listen to Richard King Explain How He Shoots his ‘Texas-T’ Rifle:
Apparently reducing static charges on and around electronic scales can reduce their propensity to drift, lessening the problem of “wandering zero”. Just how and why static charges interfere with scale performance is unclear, but many shooters have noticed that static electricity can cause electronic scales to behave strangely. So how do you reduce static charges around your digital balance? German Salazar has found a very simple solution — an anti-static aerosol spray — that, by all indications, actually works. When this “spray-can solution” was suggested to German by a fellow shooter, German was skeptical. However, German tried the stuff and he says that it really does help the scale maintain zero over time, with much less observed drift.
On his Rifleman’s Journal website, German explains that the use of “Static Guard” spray helped mitigate the problem of a drifting zero on his Ohaus Navigator electronic scale. German writes: “My electronic scale… suffers from drifting zero (as they all seem to). I’ve read dozens of forum posts about drift and how to minimize its occurrence, so I know this problem isn’t limited to my scale or my workshop. Sometime last year, John Lowther mentioned the use of anti-static spray as a solution to the drift problem. John stated that the spray had virtually eliminated drift for him.”
German found that the Static Guard actually worked: “The spray works great, just as John said it would. I spray all surfaces that I touch with my hands and arms as well as the pan (top and bottom), the metal tray on which the pan rests and the table under the scale. In six months or so of using the spray I’ve re-applied it about two or three times; it certainly isn’t something that you need to do each time you sit down to load. Before using the spray, it was not uncommon for me to re-zero the scale 10 times in the course of loading 72 rounds; now it might need it once during a session.”
This is an interesting technical article prepared by Action Target, a leading steel target manufacturer based in Provo, Utah. With technical data provided by the American Iron and Steel Institute in Washington D.C., this report is designed to cut through the recent hype and establish a basis of fact for accurate evaluation and comparison.
What Is Steel?
Steel is an alloy metal composed of iron and varying amounts of carbon and/or other elements such as chromium, nickel, tungsten, manganese, and so on. Steel with specific properties and characteristics is created by adjusting the overall chemical composition or by altering the various production processes such as rolling, finishing, and heat treatment. Because each of these factors can be modified, there is potentially no limit to the number of different steel recipes that can be created. Currently, there are over 3,000 cataloged grades or chemical compositions of steel available. Steel can utilize a wide variety of alloying elements and heat treatments to develop the most desirable combination of properties.
Steel Hardness and Quality
For steel targets to be functional and safe, they should be made of high quality through hardened steel that has a Brinell hardness number (BHN) of at least 500. The steel must also provide sufficient strength, toughness, and impact resistance. The Brinell hardness test depends upon the resistance offered to the penetration of a carbide steel ball (1.6 mm diameter) when subjected to a weight of 12.6 kg. The resulting hardness value is computed as the ratio of the applied load to the area of the indentation produced. This test is accepted as a worldwide standard for measuring the hardness of steel.
Truth — There are 2 Factors that Affect the Hardness of Steel
The first is the amount of carbon and other alloying elements in its chemical composition, and the second is the manner in which the heating and cooling of the steel is manipulated. These factors are determined at the most fundamental level, and affect the finished steel as a whole.
Truth — Steel Hardness is a Critical Issue
The hardness of the steel is critical because only a smooth surface will generate predictable splatter patterns. Steel that is not sufficiently hard can develop pits, craters, dimples, and other hazardous deformations. When a bullet hits one of these deformations, it is impossible to predict where the splatter will go, thereby creating an unacceptable training environment.
[Left] Hard steel with a flat surface will create a predictable splatter pattern.
[Right] Soft steel with an uneven surface will cause unpredictable and unsafe ricochet and splatter.
There are many steel mills located around the world, but only a select few are able to produce steel that is hard enough and of sufficient quality to be safely used for steel targets. HARDOX / SSAB, Bethlehem-Lucas, Oregon Steel Mills, and NKK are major producers of such steel. Each of these companies may have minor proprietary differences in their production methods, but they all must make sheets of hard steel in essentially the same way. Nevertheless, some suppliers of targets and shooting range equipment attempt to muddy the water and create perceived differences in steel quality where none exist. One particularly misleading claim refers to a certain company’s use of through hardened steel as opposed to merely surface hardened AR500 steel allegedly used by everyone else. We state the following with all possible force:
1. Action Target uses only high quality, through hardened steel with a Brinell hardness rating of at least 500, and we use it in every one of our ballistic steel products.
2. Action Target can also provide through hardened steel targets and other steel products with certified Brinell hardness ratings of 550 and even 600.
3. Despite the inaccurate claims, AR500 steel is NOT surface hardened. It is through hardened. Witness the quotes listed below from steel suppliers around the country.
Heflin Steel — Heflin REM 500 abrasion resistant plate is a premium grade wear plate, ideal for extreme abrasion coupled with resistance to impact. REM 500 plate is through hardened up to a 3″ thickness for maximum hardness and abrasion resistance.
Benco Steel — AR500 is a through hardened steel with high hardness for use where there is severe impact and abrasion.
(These companies are steel suppliers, not manufacturers or producers. They buy steel from the actual manufacturers like HARDOX / SSAB, and then re-sell it to their own customers.)
4. Any statements contrary to those above are simply untrue.
Be careful not to get caught up in the “more is better” mindset. Just because a Brinell hardness number (BHN) of 500 is good, it doesn’t mean a rating of 700 is better. While you must use steel that is hard enough for the task, going overboard only impacts your checkbook and not the product durability. For example, ballistic tests have shown that the performance difference between steel with a 500 BHN and steel with a 535 BHN is so small that you can’t tell the difference with a bullet but only with a gauge. Also be aware that you can actually use steel that is too hard and too brittle for ballistic training purposes
Story find by EdLongrange. We welcome readersubmissions.
Are you tired of messing with cleaning rods, bore guides, stinky solvents, and messy JB patches? Can’t wait hours for bore-foam products to work? Well now there’s a new solution ideal for all pistol, shotgun, and rifle shooters. With the new Bore-O-Matic cleaning machine, you can clean your barrels in seconds. Remove copper, powder fouling, and even hard carbon in one ultra-fast operation. The Bore-O-Matic uses a self-deploying snake fitted with a bronze brush to instantly rout out all types of fouling. A powerful 0.5 horsepower electric motor spins the brush at 200 rpm as it snakes its way through your bore, eating away fouling, and leaving a “squeaky clean” interior finish in its wake.
The Bore-O-Matic is easy to use. Simply squirt your favorite solvent* in the barrel, fire up the motor, and let the Bore-O-Matic power its way down your barrel. In seconds you’ll have a perfectly clean bore. Since the Bore-O-Matic’s flexible drive shaft is plastic-coated, no harm can be done.
Bore-O-Matic inventor Tom Bugiardo says that the Bore-O-Matic is perfectly safe for your fine match barrels. “We’ve seen how top competitors brush their barrels like crazy, and frankly, we’re just doing the same thing, but with a motor to minimize the labor.” Additionally, Bugiardo says that the bronze brushes used on the Bore-O-Matic can’t possibly harm your bore. “We all know that bronze is softer than steel so there’s absolutely no risk”. Some potential buyers were worried about the rapidly-spinning bore brushes rounding off the edges of lands or damaging the crown. “Horse-pucky” says Bugiardo, “We’ve researched this extensively on internet gun forums, so we’re 100% confident that running a powered bronze brush at 200 rpm down your barrel can’t harm a thing. Trust us.”
Because the Bore-O-Matic spins as it runs down the bore, gyroscopic forces self-center the cleaning brush. So, no cumbersome (and expensive) bore guides are needed. “Just feed that puppy right down the barrel, and say ‘goodbye’ to barrel fouling forever”, says the inventor.
Along with the $189.99 benchtop Bore-O-Matic unit, a smaller $99.99 hand unit is available. When working in tight spaces, or when cleaning at the range, the battery-powered Bore-O-Matic “Hand-Jobber” is ideal. The Bore-O-Matic handheld unit conveniently fits in a range box and runs off long-lasting, rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries.
With the compact Bore-O-Matic “Hand-Jobber” you can also easily dip the attached cleaning brush in a tub of JB or Iosso bore cream. Bugiardo tells customers: “Slather that JB on your brush and run ‘er right in the muzzle if you want a mirror finish in your bore. Remember, nothing says ‘pride of ownership’ better than a bore that shines like a spit-polished diamond!”
Currently the Bore-O-Matic is available only from Bugiardo’s company, TB Plumbing Supplies, in Lizella, Georgia (no website yet). Bugiardo expects the product will soon catch on with shooters nationwide and it will be carried by major retailers and online webstores.
*With its high-speed rotary brush, the Bore-O-Matic is so efficient that you don’t need expensive, specialty solvents. Bugiardo uses a simple solution of Windex, Ammonia, Drano Gel, and baking soda. “Makes my barrels shine, inside and out”, Bugiardo says.
Many of our readers ask: “Where can I find a top-quality rifle case that will hold my scoped, long-barreled F-Class, or Benchrest rifle?” Most of the cases you’ll find at retailers are only good for guns with max barrel lengths in the 27-28″ range. And many of these cases are a tight fit if you have a large scope with big tall turrets and side parallax knobs.
Well here’s good news for owners of rifles with long barrels (up to 32″ in length). Starlight Cases offers the SC-081454 Double Rifle Case featuring a deep lid that measures 3″ from top to bottom. The increased clearance provided by the 3″-thick lid provides additional protection, without creating side loads on your scope that can cause reliability issues. What’s more, making the lid taller allows the hard case to better fit wide-forearm rifles and rifles with attached bipods.
SC-081454 cases are currently on sale at StarlightCases.com for $288.00 (10% off). That’s not inexpensive…. but when you’re hauling up to $7000.00 worth of rifle and optics, that’s money well spent for the added protection it provides, particularly during airline transport.
Internally, the SC-081454 Double Rifle Case is 8″ Deep X 14″ Wide X 54″ Long. That’s long enough to hold rifles with barrels up to 32″ — so this case can hold Palma, Long-Range Benchrest, and F-Class rifles. Case weight, unladen, is 26 pounds. You can custom-fit the interior to your rifle by cutting the layered foam with a hot knife. The SC-081454 hard-case also includes a molded-in recessed wheel kit for ease of transport. These cases are offered in black, Olive Drab, and “flat dark earth” colors.
Why the Deep Lid is a Good Thing: We’ve seen issues with bulky rifles (with large scopes) jammed into cases with insufficient clearance from top to bottom. This can put side-loads on your scope turrets that can lead to problems down the road. While you don’t want your rifle to shift during transport, at the same time you don’t want the case lid and bottom pressing on the rifle optics. We do recommend cutting the foam to create a fitted recess for your rifle.
The patented Latch-Lock™ System (with O-ring seal) on Starlight Cases ensures an airtight, watertight, chemical resistant protective case. Fitted with a pressure equalizer valve, Starlight cases are tested watertight and airtight to 400′ pressures. These durable hard cases are temp-tested from -65° to 200°. ATA-approved Starlights exceed the stringent Military MIL-C 4150J testing standards. All Starlight cases are Made in the USA and backed by an Unconditional Lifetime Warranty. In addition, If for any reason you are not satisfied with your case when it is delivered, you have 7 days to return the case to the manufacturer for a full refund.
Our take on Bore-Store Gun sleeves is simple: They work great, so buy them and use them — for ALL your valuable firearms.
These thick, synthetic-fleece sacks cushion your guns, preventing nicks and scratches. The breathable fabric wicks away moisture, and the fibers are coating with corrosion inhibitors. I personally use Bore-Stores for in-safe storage with all my guns, and I have never had one of my guns rust inside a Bore-Store, even when I lived a stone’s throw from the ocean.
Bore-Stores are offered in a wide range of sizes, so you can find something to fit everything from a Snub-nosed revolver to a 32″-barrelled 50 BMG. Rifle-size Bore Stores can be purchased for $12.00 – $21.00 from Brownells. For long F-Class or tactical rifles, we recommend the 10″x52″ Scoped Shotgun Bag, Brownells item 132-000-003. You can also order direct from the Bore-Store manufacturer, Big Spring Enterprises, www.BoreStores.com. Big Spring will also craft custom sizes on request.
Consider Military-Style, Triple-Layer Bags for Long-Term Storage
While we prefer Bore-Stores for regularly-used guns, if you have heirloom firearms that will be kept in storage for very long periods without seeing any use, you may want to grease them up and place them in the thin, but rugged three-layer storage bags sold by Brownells. The bags are made from a three-layer laminate of polyester, aluminum, and polyethylene film, with a shiny silver exterior. Though the laminate is thin, the Brownells storage bags are puncture-resistant, and have a 0% moisture transmission rating so moisture can’t get inside. These bags are also resistant to petroleum-based chemicals and they won’t break down even in contact with soil or moisture.
Here’s one VITAL bit of advice for using these bags. Be absolutely sure, before you seal up the bags, that your guns are DRY and that all metal surfaces have been coated with an effective anti-corrosive, such as BoeShield T9 or Eezox. Brownells’ storage bags are inexpensive. A three-pak of 12″x 60″ rifle sacks (item 083-055-003WB) costs just $22.99 — under eight bucks a gun. That’s cheap insurance for rifles and shotguns that may cost thousands of dollars.
Get Your Guns Out of Foam-lined Cases — They Are Rust Magnets
Just about the worst thing you can do in the winter (short of leaving your rifle outside in the rain) is to store firearms in tight, foam-padded cases. The foam in these cases actually collects and retains moisture from the air, acting as the perfect breeding ground for rust.
Remember, those plastic-shelled cases with foam interiors are for transport, not for long-term storage. Don’t repeat the mistake of a wealthy gun collector I know. He stored four valuable Colt Single Action Army (SAA) revolvers in individual foam-padded cases, and locked these away in his gun safe. A year later, every one of his precious SAAs had rusted, some badly.
In the benchrest game, a rock-solid front rest with precise, easy-use controls, is essential. The Farley and Sebastian rests provide a joystick that allows the shooter to adjust both horizontal and vertical position with a single move. However, many top shooters prefer more traditional rests. When you’re centered up horizontally and just want to make a very tiny vertical adjustment, a rest with a separate vertical control is hard to beat. Likewise, separate windage controls ensure that you can move left to right without altering your vertical point of aim one tad.
Among the premium non-joystick rests we’ve tried, the John Loh (JJ Industries) rest and the Randolph Machine (Fulghum) rest stand out for quality of workmanship and the smooth, precise functioning of the windage and elevation controls.
In this article we review the Fulgham Front Rest, produced by Ken Fulghum of Randolph Machine in North Carolina. It offers a unique, belt-driven elevation control. This rest has been very successful in IR 50-50, ARA Outdoor, and RBA Indoor rimfire disciplines. (Ken Fulgham himself is a highly successful rimfire benchrest shooter.) But, when fitted with a conventional front sandbag top, the rest also works great with centerfire rifles.
NOTE: The test unit shown in the photos is fitted with a Fudd Rest Top. Randolph Machine no longer sells Fudd tops. Instead Randolph produces a similiar adjustable front top with thin sand bag sections. This cost $150.00.
Fulghum Rest is Beefy and Stable
The Fulghum Front Rest is rock-solid and very stable on the bench. A large knob on the left controls the windage. The entire center section of the rest slides left and right on precision-machined cross-shafts riding in bronze, oil-impregnated bushings. The movement is super-smooth, with no grabbing or jumping. As we’ve seen with the John Loh rest, horizontal tracking is superb, and you can easily make very fine sideways adjustments with ZERO vertical shift.
Belt-Drive for Vertical Adjustment
What’s really special about the Fulghum Rest is the vertical adjustment system. This uses a synthetic toothed belt that connects a large knob in the center of the rest to the ram which supports the rest top. The belt drive runs over sprockets that provide plenty of mechanical advantage. This allows you to effortlessly raise/lower even very heavy rifles. The up/down movement is very smooth. However, there is a little slack in the belt and you can feel the belt’s teeth engage the sprockets one by one. Once you get used to the feel of the belt and how it engages the sprockets, however, you can make very precise adjustments.
Importantly, after you’ve adjusted the vertical, there is enough drag in the system that it holds vertical perfectly. There’s no “post-adjustment” vertical slippage at all. You can take your hand off the vertical knob and shoot with confidence that your aiming point won’t shift.
Overall, this is an excellent unit. Since you have to adjust windage and elevation separately, it’s not as fast as a joystick rest, but it has its advantages. There’s none of the vertical notchiness we’ve seen in some joystick units. Unless you are 100% certain you want a joystick-type rest, you should definitely “test-drive” a Fulghum Rest and see how it suits you.
Rest Retails for $750.00 without Top
The Fulghum Front Rest currently retails for $750.00 with no top. Randolph Machine offers two different tops for the unit: the $120.00 Randolph MK1 Top (User supplies owl-ear bag), or the $150.00 Adjustable MKII Top (see photo at right; similar to Fudd Top). Fulghum also offers a one-piece rest (front and rear support) for $750.00.
All Randolph Machine Rests are made one at a time, by hand, so you should call for availability. Normal delivery time is “about a month” once you place your order. Here’s the contact info:
Randolph Machine, Inc. www.randolphmachine.com
P.O. Box 147, 1206 Uwharrie St.
Asheboro, NC 27204
Phone: (336) 625-0411
Fax: (336) 625-0410
A Forum member recently asked if anybody makes a thinner, less-blocky earmuff that won’t interfere with head placement on the stock. We understand his inquiry — big, over-sized muffs tend to bang into the stock and sometimes even disturb the gun in the bags.
Our first suggestion is use quality foam earplugs. The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) for a quality foam plug is better than nearly all earmuffs. But for those who prefer earmuffs, or who “double up” muffs over plugs, AO Safety (Peltor), makes the ShotGunner Folding Earmuffs, item # 97013. Peltor’s ShotGunner muffs feature tapered ear domes, which are cutaway on the lower half for stock clearance. These muffs, which retail for $16-$20, also fold up into a very compact package for storage. This Editor has used the Shotgunner Muffs (NRR 21) and they are very comfortable. Because they fit well they actually seem to work better than some big bulky muffs (with higher NRRs) that don’t seal so well.
Comparative Noise Reduction Ratings
The ShotGunner folding muffs have a NRR of 21 db — compare that to 25-30 db NRR for big, heavy muffs and 29-33 db NRR for good ear plugs, such as the Howard Leight Max UF plugs (33 NRR). Of course, to achieve those 30+ Noise Reduction Ratings, earplugs must be inserted correctly. The 3M Occupational Health and Environmental Safety Division has prepared two YouTube videos which illustrate how to properly use foam earplugs and flanged (pre-molded) earplugs.
Forum member Cody H. (aka “Willys46″) provided this report on his new Russo-stocked 6-6.5×47 Rifle.
Joel Russo out of Harrisburg, PA is taking modern technology and new stock designs and mating them with Old World materials and craftsmanship. The result: rifles that shoot true and look seriously sharp. Russo got his start making laminated wood stocks for budget-minded tactical rifle shooters with his popular A5-L design. Motivated by his passion for woodworking and a mindset for detail, Russo has shifted his focus from the run-of-the-mill laminates to create shootable works of art in some of the most highly figured, beautiful, exotic and domestic woods. Russo has come to feel that if he as a craftsman is going to spend precious time creating something out of wood, it should be for something worthy of his personal investment.
Take, for example, a recent Russo stock that started its life as a highly figured piece of Curly Maple harvested in the Pacific Northwest. After CNC inletting, profiling, pillar- and glass-bedding, the stock was meticulously finished to showcase the wood’s beauty. This stunning stock was commissioned for my new 6-6.5×47 Precision Field Rifle [Editor: it's just too pretty to be labeled 'tactical']. Have a look….
Rifle Specifications: Remington 700 short action with R&D Precision bottom metal. Bartlein Barrel (Sendero Contour). Joel Russo Stock in A3-5 pattern (A5 buttstock with A3 fore-end). Barrel chambering/fitting (6-6.5X47 Lapua) by Steve Kostanich.
How does it shoot? Cody reports: “I’ve had the rifle two weeks, and sent about 200 rounds down range so far. I could not be happier with the performance of the whole package. The 6-6.5×47 Lapua chambering really makes it a pleasure to shoot with its low recoil and accuracy potential. With the fitted muzzle brake, recoil is minimal. The ballistics of 105gr Berger hybrids at 3100 fps make the wind at 600 yards very manageable. As for the stock, the slimmer fore-end holds the bipod much nicer than my old A5L. The lighter weight also makes it more maneuverable in different shooting positions.”
NOTE: Hi-Rez Gallery images may take some time to load. Be patient — it’s worth the wait.
Cody Talks About His Rifle and Joel Russo’s Work
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Like any artist, Russo carefully considers where to begin. Deciding where the stock will be cut out of the wood blank can take days. He must determine where the forend and pistol grip will lay to be sure the true beauty of the wood will transfer to the stock design. After Russo cuts the rough pattern out of the blank, it’s off to the CNC mill for barrel and action inletting. The stock is almost completely inletted but still in the rough; enough material remains for Russo to hand-blend the wood and metal for that all-important fit and finish. Then it’s off to the duplicator, which cuts out the stock in the specified pattern.
With inletting completed, the action is pillar- and glass-bedded, then readied for final shaping. The tang/pistol grip area demands careful work for a perfect look and feel. It takes hours with files and rasps to get everything just right. Once material is removed it’s a done deal so patience with the tools is a must. Russo is a very painstaking woodworker, and as an artisan and champion shooter himself, he wants the tang to melt into the pistol grip for the perfect look and feel.
Once the major wood removal is complete, Russo begins surface sanding. To make the finish come out smooth and flat, a sanding block is a must. With the density change in figured wood, some sections will be softer and so material is removed more quickly, making for a very wavy finish. When Russo is satisfied with the final sanding he starts the finishing process.
Russo generally does a hand-rubbed TUNG Oil finish. Since this stock is for a tactical competition rifle, and I wanted to preserve the natural blond color of the Maple, a clear coat finish was in order. In all fairness the maple would look even better with a darker oil finish, which allows the deep grain and figure to come out, creating an almost 3-D effect. A hand rubbed oil finish can take months to be applied properly. The shorter application time was another advantage for this particular build.
Clear coat maintains the original color of the wood while being comparatively easy to apply with basic paint-spraying tools. If you scratch the surface, it’s a simple matter to buff it out just like you would a car door ding. After a numerous coats are applied then it is wet-sanded just like the finish on a classic hot rod. The finer the sandpaper grit, the shiner the finish. For the maple stock project, a higher-than-typical gloss finish was selected because the wood kept looking better the shiner it got. Want it shinier? All you have to do is invest a little more time in sanding and polishing. Sometimes Russo works his way to 6000 grit sandpaper.
Walk-Around Video Showing Beautiful Wood
After final wet-sanding of the clear-coat, the finished stock is one even a millionaire would be proud to shoot. With the advent of fiberglass composite materials and assembly-line production methods, there are fewer true craftsmen like Joel who can start with a block of wood and some metal and create a complete rifle. So it’s refreshing that wood artisans like Russo are keeping alive the craftsman tradition. To see more examples of Joel Russo’s work, visit www.RussoRifleStocks.com.