If you’re looking for a sturdy yet lightweight, low-profile bipod, the latest Phoenix Precision model is a top choice. This parallel-arm style bipod is light, strong, and can be adjusted very low to the ground to suit the latest low-profile F-TR rifles. In basic configuration the Minnesota-made Phoenix Precision bipod, weighs 2 pounds, 4 ounces. That’s not the lightest bipod available, but even with a pretty long barrel you can “make weight” in F-TR class easily. Under NRA Rules, an F-TR rifle must not weigh more than 8.25 kg (about 18.15 lb.) including scope and bipod.
Our friend Ray Gross, Captain of the U.S.A. F-TR Team, recently received a very special Phoenix Precision product: “My new bipod from Phoenix Precision just showed up! Phoenix did a special run for the team with our team logo. So cool!” We think it’s great to see a gear supplier produce a special version for the National Team.
Here’s a bit of Britain in blue — a 270-7mm WSM F-Classer belonging to Elwood in the UK.
One of the most popular items in our Shooters’ Forum is the ongoing “Pride and Joy” thread. Since 2009, Forum members have posted photos and descriptions of their most prized rifles. Here are some of the most recent “Pride and Joy” rifles showcased in our Forum. Do you have a gun you’d like to see featured there? Just Register for the Forum and you can add your gun to the list.
1. Dasher LowBoy. CigarCop just completed a lovely 6mm Dasher in a yellow/gray laminated PR&T LowBoy stock. CigarCop did the stock inletting and finish work himself. Very nice work indeed.
2. Varmint Special. Here’s a handsome varminter with a beautifully-figured walnut stock. This is one of three rifles Forum Member Dan Hall posted this month.
3. 6mm Trifecta. DixiePPC served up not one but THREE pretty rifles, all with pearlescent paint jobs. Details of the three rigs are provided below. Click the image to see a full-screen version.
Top: 6 PPC for 10.5-lb NBRSA LV Class, 1:14″, .262″-necked SS Hart Barrel chambered and fitted by Doug Pascal, Pearl Black Kelbly Stock, RB/RP Blueprint & Trued 40X Short Action (Glued) with a Doug Pascal Bolt Release. This gun is a 1994 build by Doug Pascal of Craftsmith.
Middle: 6 PPC 13.5lb NBRSA HV Class, 1:14″, .262″-necked SS straight-countour Hart Barrel, Pearl White Kelbly Stock/Aluminum Butt Plate, RB/RP Stolle Panda Action (Glued). Kelbly Double Screw Rings. 1994 Vintage Leupold/Premier BR 36X. This gun is a 1992-vintage Kelbly build for NBRSA Unlimited Class.
Bottom: 6mmBR 17-lb IBS Light Gun Class, 28″, 1:8″, .268″-necked SS Bartlein 5R Barrel tipped with a SS Harrell Spiral Muzzle Brake, Pearl Rust Orange 90s-vintage Lee Six Stock with home made Aluminum Butt Plate, RB/RP Blueprinted and Trued 1995-Vintage 700 Short Action.
4. Simple Elegance. This is Chopper Duke’s handsome 6mm PPC. It features a Remington action in a classic older-style benchrest stock. We like the flawless pale-green finish. Subtle but nice.
5. (Nearly) Identical Duo. Here are a matching pair of customs from Forum member NHM16. He tells us: “I sold my two Savages I was using for F-Open, and had these two built in their place. One reason I upgraded was so I could have two (nearly) identical rifles. The nice thing about these rifles is that most everything interchanges, including the barrels.”
Here Are Specs for Both Guns:
— Panda F-Class action (LRBP, no ejector, 20 MOA dovetail scope base, one action is polished, the other unpolished so I could easily tell them apart).
— PR&T LowBoy stocks with adjustable buttplates, with vents on the side and the bottom.
— Both have Bartlein 32″ 7mm, 1:8″-twist, 5R barrels, chambered in 7mm Walker (basically a .284 Shehane with the addition of a 40 degree shoulder).
— Rifles were built by Richard King (“Kings X” in Forum) in Arlington, Texas, though I did the clear coating myself.
6. First Custom. Here is Forum member Barrys’s very first custom rifle, and it’s a nice one. It features a BAT Machine VR action, Krieger #17 heavy varmint contour, chambered for the 6mmBR Norma with 0.272″ neck. The stock is a Shehane Varmint Tracker with a Walnut-color laminated Obeche stock. On top is a Sightron SIII 8-32x56mm scope in BAT Machine rings.
7. Basic Black. David P. offered this F-TR rig: “A buddy of mine just finished up new rifle for NRA F-TR competition. This rifle is built on a Kelbly action, chambered in .308 Win with a custom, tight-neck match chamber. It’s sitting in a PR&T stock, with a Broughton 32″, 1:11″-twist 5C barrel. The rifle was chambered and built by Brian at Plainfield Precision in Shelby, NC.
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Any blade-aholics out there? Here’s a handy product we recommend for anyone with a sizeable collection of quality knives. The Sack-Ups Knife Protector roll-up pouch is made from silicone-treated synthetic fabric. The pouch protects blades and tools while helping to prevent rust. (Since leather retains moisture, you don’t want to leave blades in leather sheaths.) While Sack-Ups roll pouches were designed for knives, they can be used to hold other shooting items, such as bolts, loading dies, or expensive tools. The synthetic fabric wicks away moisture. (Nonetheless, we recommend that steel items receive a light coat of a good corrosion-inhibiting oil before long-term storage.)
TIP: You Can Use Sack-Ups to Store Loading Dies, Spare Gun Parts, and Steel Tools
At the request of our readers, we have launched a “Deals of the Week” feature. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.
1. Amazon — Howard Leight Electronic Muffs (Best Seller)
Every shooter should own a pair of Electronic muffs — they are great when you are doing spotting duties or are working near the firing line. They allow you to hear ordinary conversations while still providing vital hearing protection. Right now Amazon.com has the Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Muffs on sale for just $36.30. These NRR 22 muffs are currently Amazon’s #1 seller in the category. NOTE: For regular, sustained shooting we recommend muffs and/or earplugs with a higher NRR rating.
2. Grafs.com — Magnetospeed Sporter $179.99
If you have been waiting to get a Magnetospeed… wait no longer. Priced at just $179.99 at Grafs.com, the Magnetospeed Sporter model costs less than half as much as Magnetospeed’s V3 models. This chronograph attaches directly to your barrel so you don’t have to go downrange to position tripods and set up skyscreens. For most people the Sporter Model contains all the features they need. Using Magnetspeed’s XFR adapter (sold separately), data can be transferred easily from the display module to your mobile device. READ Magnetospeed Sporter Review.
3. Cabelas.com — Rock Chucker Supreme Reloading Kit
Everything you see above can be yours for just $225.00, after manufacturer’s rebate. Right now, Cabela’s is selling the Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit for $300.00. That’s a good deal as this Reloading Kit sells elsewhere for up to $360.00. But he’s the real incentive — if you spend $300.00 on RCBS products in 2016, RCBS will send you a $75.00 rebate. That reduces your net cost to just $225.00 for the entire Kit.
4. Brownells — Hornady 17 HMR Ammo, $12.79 per box
If you have ever shopped for 17 HMR ammunition, you know it rarely goes on sale (it’s the law of supply and demand). Right now, as part of its “Red, White and Boom” ammo promo, Brownells.com is offering first-quality Hornady brand 17 HMR ammo for $12.79 per 50-count box. We’ve seen ammo this sell in gunshops for $16.50 per box. Stock up now for the spring varmint season.
5. CDNN Sports — Savage 93R17 for $219.99
No more excuses — you can add a 17 HMR to your collection for under $220.00. We think everyone should own a 17 HMR rifle. The 17 HMR is the perfect cartridge for dispatching ground squirrels and other small varmints. The round shoots faster and flatter than a .22 LR, and delivers more energy. This week CDNN Sports is offering the Savage 93R17 for just $219.99. This little rifle can provide years of service in the varmint fields, and the 93R17 is also a good youth training rifle.
6. Natchez — CCI Blazer 9mm ammo, $9.99 for 50 Rounds
This is the best price we’ve found this week on newly-manufactured 9mm pistol ammunition. And this is quality, CCI made-in-USA ammo with reloadable, brass casings. We have used this CCI-made Blazer 9mm ammo in Sig, HK, and Glock pistols and it performed very well. This stuff won’t last long at this price (less than $0.20 per round). If you need 9mm practice ammo, order soon.
7. Walmart — 48-gun Stack-on Gun Safe
If you need a big safe to hold lots of guns, here’s a large-capacity Stack-On Safe that’s rated for 48 long-guns. Measuring 59″ high and a full 43″ wide, this safe is much bigger than the typical safes you find at CostCo and Sam’s Club. This safe is discounted $202 right now with “Rollback” pricing. One verified safe purchaser states: “The safe interior is nice for the price. Outside finish is great. All in all this is a GREAT value after looking at safes twice this price.”
Yes, you can get a name-brand Ultrasonic cleaning machine for under fifty bucks. This Hornady Lock-N-Load Sonic Cleaner, which sells elsewhere for $75-$85, is available at Brownells.com this week for just $49.99. This cleaning machine holds up to 200 .223 Remington cases, or 100 .308 Winchester cases.
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Lyman’s digital BoreCam is one of the hottest rifle/gunsmithing accessories on the market right now. The product sells out quickly whenever a vendor gets a few in stock. Make no mistake, this is a good product that works well, and, at around $300.00, is it affordable for most shooters. The BoreCam provides vital information about your bore and chamber, and has the ability to save images to an SD card.
Our British friend Vince Bottomley recently obtained a Lyman BoreCam and put it through its paces. Vince came away very impressed. He says it is an easy-to-use and very capable bore inspection tool at a fraction of the cost of a high-end optical borescope (such as the Hawkeye). Vince says serious shooters should definitely acquire one of these tools: “In my opinion, this product is one of the very best to come along in recent years and I predict that the demand for these [Lyman BoreCams] will be very heavy. I would advise you to place an order as quickly as possible if you want one.”
Here are highlights from Vince’s review of the Lyman BoreCam: “If I were to replace my [Hawkeye optical borescope] today with another Hawkeye, it would cost me well over £700 – stick on a video adapter and we are looking at four figures. That’s what makes the new Lyman digital borescope so attractive – at around £250 including a monitor – it’s an absolute steal!
But £250 – with a video attachment and photo-capture facility – can this really be a useable borescope? Trust me it is! But what use is a borescope. Why do you need one? Well, whatever you shoot, the condition of your rifle’s bore is critical. And I’m not just talking about a bore that’s ‘shot-out’ – maybe you just aren’t cleaning it thoroughly. Or maybe some defect within the chamber or rifling is preventing your rifle delivering the kind of performance you expect. Even at £700, a borescope can be cost-effective – if it saves you the cost of just one new barrel.”
Vince explained how the BoreCam can quickly diagnose problems in a barrel: “A customer started to have difficulty chambering rounds in his 308 Target Rifle…. The borescope quickly revealed the problem – a hard ring of copper and carbon had built-up immediately in front of the chamber. When you use a bore-guide (and you always should do) it can sometimes ‘protect’ this first bit of the bore from the cleaning-brush. Although the rest of the bore was spotless, this tiny section was not. Once we knew where the problem was, it was simple matter to carefully clean it up.”
“A borescope will tell you if your cleaning regime is effective, or inspect for throat-erosion and the general condition of the rifling. In addition, it’s very useful to the gunsmith for inspecting newly-cut chambers – making sure they are free from scoring and other machining defects.” Vince also recommends using the BoreCam to inspect barrel crowns: “Tiny burrs can often be present on newly-cut crowns and even the minutest of damage to a crown… can play havoc with accuracy. For the serious shooter, you could say that a borescope is the equivalent of a doctor’s stethoscope.”
The Ugly Truth Revealed
Here are some inside-the-barrel photos Vince took with the Lyman BoreCam. Vince notes: “This barrel came out of the scrap-bin, but someone had actually been shooting this rifle before he finally gave up and came in for a new barrel. Shooting a barrel in this condition is really throwing good money down range! Buy a borescope and stop shooting long before your barrel gets into this state!”
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Hail the Rail. If you are looking to put multiple shots through one hole, the Unlimited Class benchrest gun, aka “Rail Gun”, is the firearm of choice. These heavy Unlimited rigs are the most accurate benchtop shooting machines ever created. Campaigned by ace competitors in the 100/200-yard benchrest game, rail guns are capable of delivering the ultimate in rifle accuracy — multiple 5-shot groups in the ones and zeros.
Watch Video to Learn More about Rail Guns and See Them in Action:
In this video, YouTuber “Taofledermaus” takes a look at high-tech rail guns on display at the Visalia (CA) shooting range. He says: “The Unlimited Class rail guns are indeed the epitome of precision shooting. [These rifles] resemble something out of a ballistics test laboratory. Each [rail gun] weighs about fifty pounds…”
One-Hole Accuracy with Rail Gun
What kind of accuracy can a top-of-the-line rail gun deliver? Check out this target shot by our friend Lou Murdica in January 2015 in Phoenix. Sometimes superlatives really aren’t necessary. Just look at that target. Yes that is FIVE shots (although it truly appears like one hole). And it is centered! This remarkable group measured at 0.039″. Lou drilled this group with one of his 6 PPC railguns. Rounds were loaded with Accurate LT-32 powder and Berger 65gr BT bullets. The target was submitted to the NBRSA as a potential new 100-yard Benchrest record in the Unlimited (Railgun) Class.
This is a file photo with Lou Murdica with a different rail gun (not the one that shot above target).
Story/video tip by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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Our friend Vince Bottomley of TargetShooter.co.uk recently reviewed the new Phoenix “over-the-top” tactical bipod. The innovative Phoenix bipod fits to a Picatinny-type rail on the TOP of a handguard. A cross-over bridge carries the legs out wide to the sides. This suspends the rifle’s weight BELOW the bipod mount for a lower perceived center of gravity. The “suspension” design really works. With this low COG system, according to Vince, the suspended rifle sort of acts like a “pendulum”, making for a steadier hold. You can rotate (cant) the rifle slightly to match the horizon line without having the rifle flop from side to side as with conventional bottom-mounted or spigot-mounted bipods.
The Phoenix is very stable according to Vince. That comes from the wide wheelbase as well as the oversized, skid-type feet on the Phoenix. Take a look at this photo below. This shows an Atlas bipod mounted on the Lower Pic-rail, with the big Phoenix mounted forward, on the top Pic-rail. Notice the vast difference in span. The legs of the Phoenix extend out much further, for true “wide-track stability”.
Compare the Wide-Track Phoenix with the Atlas Bipod — Quite a Difference!:
Vince was impressed with the Phoenix Bipod in use: “It’s just so solid…The large feet swivel to conform with the ground you’re shooting off and the two-part sliding legs will add another three inches to the height and a further four inches to the span, making 16 inches in total. At the lowest height, with the bi-pod mounted on my AX chassis top Pic-rail, the barrel is a mere six inches off the ground – lower than my Atlas, though of course I can swivel the legs forward on the Atlas to make it a similar height. The sliding leg arrangement is nicely done, offering very positive push-button ‘lock-steps’ every half an inch or so.” The Phoenix Bipod costs £220 (about $293.00 USD) including the adapter. For more information, visit PhoenixTactical.co.uk.
Vince Compares Phoenix with with Four Other Bipod Types
Vince’s review is well worth reading because he compares the Phoenix with a variety of other tactical bipods including the Atlas bipod, LRA bipod, Mystic Precision bipod, and the SAKO TRG-rifle accessory bipod. Vince identifies the key features a field bipod should provide and then explains how the Phoenix stacks up compared to these other designs.
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SHOT Show in Las Vegas is just two weeks away. Here are some of the interesting new products that will debut at SHOT Show. You can find these items and hundreds more new-for-2016 products at the SHOW Show New Product Center.
The Newcon Optik Spotter LRF is a combined spotting scope and laser rangefinder — the first of its kind. This unique piece of equipment integrates a Newcon Optik Laser Rangefinder with a 15-45X Spotting Scope with etched mil-dot reticle. Newcon Optik claims a 5500m maximum range for the LRF. The integrated scope/LRF is housed in a rugged yet light-weight MIL-SPEC housing. We like the idea of a combined Spotter/LRF. Will other companies try to copy Newcon Optik’s innovative design?
Mason Target Systems — AR500 Steel Target With Shot Sensor
The MTS Target System “Pescadero” unit combines a rugged AR500 steel target with a durable electronics and sensor package that allows shooters to view their shots on a mobile App. With on-board power and wireless communication technology, the system will display shot location to the shooter positioned hundreds of yards away. So you can hear the “ding” of steel and then see your exact shot location on your smart phone or tablet. To aid aiming, the Pescadero target can mount self-healing polymer targets to the AR500 steel plate. Visit MasonTargetSystems.com for more information.
Schweitzer Optics — First-Ever Double FOV Scope
Here is a very innovative new hunting scope that actually displays a 3.5 X view AND and 1.0 X view simultaneously. Schweitzer claims this is the first and only double Field of View (FOV) sports optic in the world. This innovative optical technology doesn’t come cheap — Schweitzer’s Eagle Eye 3.5 dual POV scope retails for $2500.00.
Annealing Made Perfect — Induction Annealing Machine
No more flaming torches (and burned fingers). The AMP Annealing system anneals through electrical induction. This micro-processor controlled, precision-calibrated induction annealer provides exact and repeatable neck hardness. With the various AMP-made pilot inserts, the machine will handle popular cartridge types from .17 Caliber all the way up to 460 Weatherby. Anneal times are pre-programmed for optimal results.
Accu-Tac — SR-5 Tactical Bipod
The Accu-Tac SR-5 Bipod is crafted from high-quality billet aluminum. The SR-5 mounts quickly and securely to a 1913 Picatinny rail. The bipod’s wide stance provides good stability. Ratcheted leg extensions adjust to five different heights, and then retract quickly with a one-button retraction lever. Legs can be deployed in a conventional 90-degree orientation, or at a 45-degree angle either forwards or rearwards.
Lyman Products — Cyclone Rotary (Wet) Tumbler
Lyman is introducing a new Rotary Tumbler for 2016. Designed for use with stainless (pin-type media) and liquid, this Cyclone Tumbler gets brass thoroughly clean inside and out. The large capacity drum holds up to 1000 pieces of .223 Rem brass and features a rubber lining to protect brass and greatly reduce operating noise. The included two-piece sifter pans make separating cases and pins easy.
Swiss+Tech Products — Tac20 Firearms Multi-Tool
This new multi-function gun tool contains 4 driver bits, 2 Torx drivers, 2 Allen drivers, gun pin punch, sight wrench, castle nut wrench, flat screwdriver, bottle opener, knife, and LED flashlight. It even contains a fitting with a male thread connection for attaching cleaning rods. That’s clever. All totaled, the Tac20 multi-tool offers 20 features — that’s a lot of functionality in a small, compact package from Swiss+Tech Products.
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Hearing loss is a terrible thing. Protect your hearing while you can. Permanent damage can occur in a single shooting session. For maximum protection, we recommend that you “Double up”, i.e. wear ear plugs under muffs. Between shooting, riding motorcycles, and working with gas-powered yard equipment, your Editor probably has foam plugs in his ears 8-12 hours a week. I’ve tried many different varieties of ear plugs, both the foam variety and the soft plastic flange-type plugs.
I now favor the Howard Leight MAX-1 plugs. Rated at NRR33, these are, quite simply, the best ear-plugs I’ve ever tried. No BS — these things really work. Among all disposable plugs I’ve tried, the MAX-1s are definitely the most effective at blocking noise, and they are also more comfortable than most other foam plugs I’ve used. In my experience at the range, these plugs block sound way better than most muffs (when worn without plugs underneath).
The first thing I noticed about these plugs is how much more effective they were than muffs alone. With muffs in place, a rifle report is still quite audible. With the red MAX-1 plugs, the noise from a shot is much, much quieter. Proof of the “real world” effectiveness of these plugs came when talking. The plugs work so well that I had trouble hearing words spoken by a colleague from just four feet away. With conventional (non-electronic) muffs I can hear a normal speaking voice from many yards away.
These MAX-1 plugs insert easily (if you roll them first), and the wide, flared outer bell makes them very easy to remove. Subjectively, these plugs seem more comfortable than most other foam plugs I have tried. They are certainly way more comfortable than the cheap, non-tapered ear plugs. MAX-1 plugs are available in both standard configuration and corded versions. These are cheap to buy — 20 pairs of non-corded MAX-1s cost just $4.85 on Amazon.com. I just bought another 20 pairs today.
These ear plugs deserve all the raves they’ve received. They’re by far the best I’ve used and among the least expensive. They hold up very well when used repeatedly. This is the only brand I’ll buy from now on. — Joe
These things are as soft and gentle as they come and they block the noise out very well. I highly recommend them[.] — Byron
They are the best ear plugs I’ve ever used — and I’ve used many over the years. These are the only ear plugs I will ever use in the future. — Rhoda
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PMA Tool now offers a unique “adjustable” Stock Weight System with variable weighting from 2 to 8 ounces (including internal sleeve). This $65.95 system allows the shooter to add or remove weight (in the buttstock) to balance the gun, or adjust the weight to meet class weight limits. Say, for example you were running at max weight but then changed your scope for a new optic that weighed 4 ounces less. With this system, you can easily get back up to the “legal limit”. You can also use the weight to adjust balance when running barrels of different lengths or contours.
The PMA Stock Weight system is made up of a sleeve, a nut and three interchangeable weights. The sleeve and nut weigh 2 ounces (combined) and weight inserts of 2, 4 and 6 ounces are included in the system. The sleeve is machined from aluminum, while the nut and weights are machined from stainless steel. All weights are roll-stamped with their weights and “coin-slotted” so they can be easily installed using a screwdriver or coin. The nut utilizes a 1/4″ hex wrench for removal from the sleeve and installation of weights.
While installation of these Stock Weight Systems is fairly simple, PMA states that: “The sleeve should be installed into the buttstock by someone with some mechanical aptitude and an understanding of stock construction, preferably a trained gunsmith or stock-fitter.”
Product tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Sinclair International offers a handy tool assembly that lets you sort bullets by base to ogive length. Yes you can do this with a comparator tool attached to calipers, but the Sinclair tool really speed up the process when you’re sorting large quantities of bullets.
The $79.95 Sinclair Bullet Sorting Stand with Dial Indicator (item 749-011-469WS) comes with a heavy black granite base that stays put on your loading bench. The included analog dial indicator has a quick-release lever allowing easy placement and removal of bullets into the comparator. This lever allow the spring-loaded indicator shaft to pop up out of the way.
In the video below, Sinclair shows how to use the Bullet Sorting device. Sinclair recommend sorting in batches with variance no greater than .005 (five-thousandths) in base-to-ogive length. We like to hold tolerances even tighter, trying to hold spreads to .003. The special base comparators used with this tool are offered for $10.99 in .22 caliber, 6mm, 6.5mm, 7mm, .30 caliber, and .338 caliber. The sorting stand can also be used with Sinclair multi-caliber hex-style comparators (items 749-002-942WS, or 748-002-833WS, $19.99).
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We bolt together bridges and pre-fab houses, so why not gunsafes? It fact there is a modular safe the ships in pieces and bolts together on site. Modular design allows a big, full-size safe to be transported much more easily than a conventional safe (that might weigh 1200 pounds or more). The Zanotti modular safe arrives in sections, none weighing more than 170 pounds. It is assembled in place, then can be dis-assembled when you need to move. The Zanotti is also well-suited for a gun-owner who lives in an apartment up many flights of stairs.
Zanotti Armor safes are ideal for gun owners who need to move frequently or who live in a location where it is difficult to position a conventional safe. Zanotti safes arrive in three or four discrete shipping boxes. The safe is assembled by the owner, on site, in six steps. The heaviest component is the door, weighing 110 pounds in the 16-gun ZAI safe, and 175 pounds in the largest 52-gun ZAIII model. Five safe models are offered, ranging from 350 to 925 pounds assembled weight, without interior. Zanotti safes are popular with military personnel and others whose jobs force them to re-locate often. The safe can be assembled in under 30 minutes with no tools other than a hammer, and all you need is a hand dolly to move any component.
Guns Magazine reports: “The panels are interlocked by 3/8 inch, nickel-plated steel “L” shaped pins that slip into steel tubing sections welded to the interior surfaces of the panels. The slip fit is held to a tolerance of .003 inch, and the safes are completely assembled and hand-fitted at the factory to insure the panels will align properly. The body is made from 1/8 inch and 3/16 inch steel; the door from 3/16 inch steel; the locking bolts are 3/4 inch steel.” This is heavier gauge steel than you’ll find on most conventional gun safes.
Zanotti offers many deluxe interiors including a system of roll-out sliding drawers in the bottom of the safe. We think the sliding drawers are ideal for storing handguns and expensive items such as cameras and binoculars that you want to keep out of plain view. Mark Zanotti, the innovative creator of these modular safes, can also customize any interior to suit the customer’s particular needs.
Editor’s Note: For most applications, a conventional safe is still the best choice. Bolted in place, a conventional safe with welded walls will provide the best security and a conventional safe can provide increased fire protection. Zanotti safes do not employ a separate layer of sheet-rock or ceramic fire lining. The Zanotti is a special product for gun-owners with special needs. The units are well-made and Zanotti offers many nice custom interior features that you won’t find even on much more expensive conventional safes.
Here’s an interesting $75 product that can help you “tune” the cycling force of your AR-platform rifle. 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.” When varmint hunting with an AR, we like a less-energetic ejection so the brass lands close to the gun (and doesn’t tag fellow shooters).
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
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Trimming and chamfering brass are tasks hand-loaders grow to hate. Those chores are time-consuming and tiresome. Thankfully there are faster, better alternatives to manual trimming/chamfering. In this article, Forum member Erik Cortina shows how to use the Giraud tool which trims and chamfers in one operation. Erik has his own YouTube Channel dedicated to precision reloading and accurizing. Here we feature Erik’s video about the “mother of all brass trimmers”, the Giraud powered case trimmer. Erik says: “If you do volume reloading… this is the only trimmer to get. It not only trims to length but it also chamfers your case mouth inside and out.” In his video, Erik offers some very clever and useful tips that will help you get the most from your Giraud.
The Giraud trimmer is very precise. When set up correctly, it can trim brass with amazing consistency. In the video, Erik trims five pieces of brass in 15 seconds (6:32 mark). He then measures all five with precision calipers (7:00-8:08). All lengths are exact within .0005 (half a thousandth). Erik notes that the Giraud trimmer indexes off the case shoulder. As long as you have fire-formed brass with consistent base-to-shoulder dimensions, you should get very consistent trim lengths.
The secret to the system is a 3-way cutting head. This cutter can be swapped in and out in a couple minutes with wrenches provided with the kit. Erik has three different heads; one each for 6.5mm, 7mm, and .30 caliber. The video shows how to adjust the cutting heads to match caliber diameter (and to get the desired amount of inside/outside chamfer).
To trim and chamfer cases, you simply insert them nose-first into the cartridge-specific case-holder. Erik offers a smart tip — He uses a die locking ring to position the cartridge holder (3:15). This can be locked in place. Erik says die locking rings work much better than the hex-nuts provided by Giraud (with the hex-nut, one must re-set cut length each time you change case-holders.)
The Giraud can be used in either horizontal or vertical modes. Erik prefers to have the trimmer aligned vertically, allowing him to push cases down on the trimmer head. But the trimming unit has twin sets of rubber feet, allowing horizontal or vertical orientation.
Improved Case-Holder Made with Chamber Reamer:
For his .284 Shehane, Erik had to create his own case-holder (Giraud does not make one for that wildcat cartridge). Erik used his chamber reamer. To his surprise, Erik found that the brass was easier to trim in the custom case holder (compared to the Giraud-made spring-loaded holders). With a perfect fit, trimming and case extraction went more smoothly and the process was easier on his hands. (See 9:00-10:00). Based on Erik’s experience, you may want to create your own custom case-holder.
Trim Bullet Meplats Also
With a special bullet-holder fitting and meplat cutter head, the Giraud power trimmer can be used to trim bullet meplats. Trimming meplats can help make the Ballistic Coefficents of a batch of bullets more consistent. Uniforming meplats is also often done as a first step in the process of “tipping” bullets to improve BC.
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Did you know that Shilen Rifles Inc. offers barreled actions and complete rifles? And that Shilen offers a Savage-style, barrel-nut system for its Rem-clone actions? Starting in 2010, after a hiatus of nearly twenty years, Shilen returned to the rifle manufacturing market. After several years of development, Shilen now offers custom actions ($950.00), barreled custom actions with triggers ($1500.00), and complete rifles ($3200.00 and up). Call (972) 875-5318 or email comments [@] shilen.com for more information. NOTE: An 11% Federal Excise Tax is due on complete rifles.
The new Shilen custom actions are CNC-milled from high-grade stainless steel. Two types are offered — the multi-shot DGR (Repeater) or the single-shot DGV (Varminter) action. Both actions are offered in most common bolt faces and both right-hand and left-hand actions are immediately available. The DGR and DGV actions have a 1.350″ diameter with 8-40 scope base mounting screw holes, and an 0.300″ pinned recoil lug. The spiral-fluted bolts feature a floating bolt head with an interchangeable bolt handle knob. These actions feature a footprint similar to the Remington Model 700. Both DGR and DGV actions will accept many aftermarket components crafted for Rem-700 style actions, including triggers and bottom metal.
Barreled Actions with Barrel-Nut System for Easy Barrel Exchanges
Along with the stand-alone DGR and DGV actions, Shilen is offering barreled action assemblies, chambered and ready to drop into Rem 700-inletted stocks. The actions are fitted with Shilen match-grade barrels and Shilen triggers. The barrels feature a 1-1/16″x20 barrel thread and are attached to the action by a barrel nut. This Savage-style barrel nut system simplifies headspacing, allowing easy swapping from one barrel to another. With the simple barrel-exchange procedure, you can shoot multiple chamberings with a single action/rifle. For example, shooters can change from a .223 Remington to a .204 Ruger or a .22-250 to a 6mm BR in a matter of minutes.
Complete Rifles with McMillan Stocks
With Shilen’s complete rifles, buyers can choose their chambering, and select barrel and stock configuration. Shooters can choose between a sporter weight wood stock or a variety of McMillan fiberglass stocks. With all complete rifles, the entire package is delivered in a quality gun case and Shilen even includes table mat, cleaning rod, bore guide, jag, bore brush, and cleaning patches.
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If you’re thinking about acquiring a 17 HMR rifle, you should read the 17 HMR Two-Gun Comparison in our Gun of the Week Archives. This two-gun shoot-out compares the performance of a Volquartsen 17 HMR semi-auto and a Ruger 77/17 bolt-action. Glen Robinson, the owner of both rifles, has done some serious comparison testing with both guns, trying out a half-dozen varieties of 17 HMR ammo. The overall results may surprise you. The semi-auto out-shot the bolt gun by a significant margin, with all types of ammo tested.
Comparing the Qualities of the Two 17 HMR Rifles
By Glen Robinson
While the Volquartsen proved to be the more accurate of my pair of 17 HMRs, I still enjoy owning both rifles. Each gun has its strong points and weak points.
Ruger Strong Points: From any angle, the Ruger 77/17 is a nice-looking rifle with classic lines. I like the gray-finish stainless barrel — it goes well with the gray laminated stock. With the addition of the aftermarket sear, the trigger is crisp and the bolt function is smooth. The action is strong and dependable. The conventional “open rear” action allows you to clean “normally” with a bore guide, cleaning rod, and patches/brushes. I feel I can do a better job of cleaning with the Ruger than with the boresnake on the Volquartsen.
Ruger Weak Points: Accuracy is somewhat disappointing. The best 100-yard group the Ruger has shot was about 0.82″ and the gun averages well over 1.25″ for 5 shots. In fairness, I haven’t done anything exotic in terms of bedding the action/barrel, and I would expect that an aftermarket barrel, perhaps combined with a barrel pre-load (up-pressure) pad, could improve the accuracy.
Volquartsen Strong Points: The Volquartsen is a well-made, accurate, dependable rifle. The gun cycles very reliably and requires very little maintenance. To clean it, just pull a boresnake through the bore. The gun exhibits very nice machining, and the VX-5000 stock rides steady on a front sand-bag, even though it’s only about 1.75″ wide. Even without any tweaking the trigger is very good, and the pull weight is fine for varminting.
Volquartsen Weak Points: The VX-5000 stock is not ideal for bench work — the comb is a bit too high, though I like the feel of the vertical grip. This stock profile is really more suited for silhouette shooting, but this stock seemed to be the best option offered by Volquartsen that could be used for both paper-punching and varminting. The receiver design limits your options for barrel cleaning.
Conclusion — The Volquartsen Takes the Prize
Having shot both rifles extensively, if I had to pick one gun, it would be the Volquartsen. The Volquartsen is much more accurate and it offers much faster follow-up shots. For varminting the Volquartsen would be superior, no question about it. I’m happy I bought the Volquartsen and the VX-5000 stock. It is a fun, versatile gun that lives up to the accuracy claims.
Retired gunsmith Stan Ware is a talented shooter who’s not afraid to think “outside the box”. Stan competes in both Hunter Benchrest (HBR) and Varmint for Score (VFS) disciplines. In his quest to build the ultimate Hunter Benchrest cartridge, Stan created the radical “Wolfpup” wildcat, based on a 6mmBR parent case. Noting the dominance of 30 BRs in VFS matches, Stan wondered if a stretched 30 BR could work in HBR competition. The challenge was case capacity. Under HBR rules the cartridge must hold at least 45.0 grains of water, equal to the capacity of the classic 30/30 case.
To get the requisite HBR case capacity, Stan figured he needed to boost the volume of a 30 BR case significantly, so he would have to move the shoulder forward — a lot. He did this by running a 30 BR reamer deeper and deeper, test-firing brass along the way. After three reamer passes, he ended up with the capacity he needed (the Wolfpup holds 45.3 grains of water). But then he looked at the finished product — a case with almost no neck, and he wondered “how could this possibly work?”.
From Trashbin to Winner’s Circle
Ware’s prototype Wolfpup ended up so short-necked, so unlike any “normal” cartridge, that Stan figured it was “dead on arrival”. Stan told us: “I said ‘this ain’t going to work’ and I threw the brass in the trash can. Honest. But later I thought I better shoot it and see what it does.” There was one problem — Stan didn’t have a seating die. He noticed the short neck provided a bit of tension after fire-forming, so he literally seated some bullets, BIB 118s and 125s, with his fingers. For powder he used H4198 and started with 35 grains, one grain more than a 30 BR load. Stan then did a pressure work-up: “I actually went up to 41.0 grains and didn’t have a sticky bolt. I ended up at 37.9 grains of Hodgdon 4198 — that gave 3150 fps, where the sweet spot is.” (Later testing revealed a second accuracy node at about 3020 fps, using 36.4 grains of H4198).
Stan’s radical short-necked Wolfpup shot great from the get-go. Once he found the right velocity node, the gun shot in the ones and zeros with both 7-ogive and 10-ogive bullets, both 118s and 125s. The Wolfpup proved easy to tune — it’s not finicky at all. And it’s a winner. Stan began shooting the Wolfpup in 2006 in both VFS and HBR matches and the ‘Pup’ started winning matches right away. In 2007, Stan won the Wisconsin State VFS Championship shooting the Wolfpup. In June 2010 at a Webster City, Iowa VFS match, Stan won the Grand Agg and posted high X-Count for the match, while placing first at 100 yards and second at 200 yards. How’s that for a cartridge that almost ended up in the trash bin?
Does Stan deserve an award for “most innovative benchrest cartridge design”? Stan chuckles at that notion: “I’m not a hero, not a genius. I really didn’t do anything. The fun part is thinking outside the box — for me anyway. Shooting is an age-old process of experimentation. You never learn it all.”
Why Does It Work?
How can such a radical case design perform so well? “That’s a good question,” Stan admitted. He then explained: “The 30 BR is inherently accurate, so I figured something based on the 30 BR should be accurate too. My personal belief is that the short neck doesn’t hurt you. Plus if the throat in the barrel is straight, the bullet can self-align. If the chamber is good, the bullet will self-center in the throat. In a regular case there’s not much room to do that, so a bullet can start off-center, and you don’t get the same results every time. A bullet in a conventional case is stopped from self-centering by the stiffer neck, particularly in a tight-clearance BR gun.”
Reloading the .30 Wolfpup
Stan’s Wolfpup chamber has a neck dimension of 0.330″. He turns his necks for a 0.327″ loaded round. Bullets are jammed .020″ forward of first contact with the lands. When he closes the bolt it pushes the bullet back in the case — almost a soft seat. Stan notes: “To start with I normally bump the shoulder .0005-.001″ so they go in easy. Just by doing that I get a little neck tension. I also use a bushing. Right now I’m running a .322, but it’s not particularly sensitive. I’ve tried one-thousandths increments up to a .325 bushing and couldn’t tell a lot of difference.” For bullet seating, Stan uses a Wilson 30 BR seater die into which he ran the chamber reamer. This gives perfect case fit during seating operations.
About the Illustrated Gunstock
You’ll notice Stan’s stock contains scenes from Vietnam and a quotation. Here’s the story. A Vietnam combat veteran, Stan served “in-country” with the Army’s 509th Non-Divisional Combat Unit (out of Fort Riley) from 1965-1966. Shortly before he left Vietnam, Stan went to a shop to have a souvenir lighter engraved. He asked the vendor for an appropriate inscription. The shop’s metal-worker engraved: “War is a tragedy. It takes mans’ best to do mans’ worst.” That message, along with the combat scenes, were hand-painted on Stan’s rifle by his wife Susan, a talented artist. She spent more than 20 hours painting the rifle stock.
Photos courtesy Ryan Ware and Stan Ware.
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“The press is the heart of the handloading operation, also traditionally the most expensive single tool employed…” — Laurie Holland
British competitive shooter Laurie Holland has reviewed three popular, single-stage reloading presses for Target Shooter Magazine (targetshooter.co.uk). Laurie bolted up a Forster Co-Ax, RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme, and RCBS Summit to his reloading bench and put the three presses through their paces. These three machines are very different in design and operation. The venerable Rock Chucker is a classic heavy, cast-iron “O”- type press that offers lots of leverage for tough jobs. The smaller RCBS Summit press is an innovative “upside-down” design with a large center column and open front. It offers a small footprint and easy case access from the front. The Co-Ax is unique in many respects — dies slide in and out of the upper section which allows them to “float”. The cartridge case is held in the lower section by spring-loaded jaws rather than a conventional shell-holder.
If you are considering purchasing any one of these three presses, you should read Laurie’s article start to finish. He reviews the pros and cons of each press, after processing three different brands of brass on each machine. He discusses ergonomics, easy of use, press leverage, smoothness, priming function, and (most importantly), the ability to produce straight ammo with low run-out. The review includes interesting data on case-neck run-out (TIR) for RWS, Federal, and Norma 7x57mm brass.
Review Quick Highlights:
RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme
“My expectations of the antediluvian RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme’s performance weren’t over high to be honest as I mounted it in the place of the Summit. As soon as I sized the first of the stretched RWS cases though, I saw why this press has been such a long-running favorite. The workload was considerably reduced compared to the other two presses and doing 40-odd cases took no time at all with little sweat — it just eats hard-to-size brass.”
RCBS Summit Press
“Despite its massive build and long-stroke operating handle, [the Summit] took more sweat than I’d expected, even if it was somewhat less work than with the Co-Ax. Although the Summit is apparently massive, I noticed that the die platform would tilt fractionally under the heaviest strains[.] It is nevertheless a very pleasant press in use and bullet seating was a doddle — the few examples tried proving very concentric on checking them afterwards. The optional short handle would be valuable for this task.”
“[On the Co-Ax], the operating handle is above the machine, located centrally here [with] twin steel links at the top end of the press dropping down to the moving parts. The Co-Ax incorporates a number of novel features, principally its automatic and multi-case compatible shell-holder assembly with spring-loaded sliding jaws, very neat spent primer arrangements that allow hardly any gritty residues to escape and foul the moving parts and, the snap-in/out die fitment that allows rapid changes and also sees the die ‘float’ in relation to the case giving very concentric results. I own this press and it meets my handloading needs very well.”
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Benchrest Hall-of-Famer Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez has teamed up with the Shurley Brothers on a new ARK series of wood laminate competition stocks. Speedy has combined the best features of various popular F-Class and Long-range Benchrest stocks into new designs to be produced by Shurley Brothers Custom in Austin, Texas. These stocks should be very straight and geometrically correct as they will be crafted on the Shurley Brothers’ new CNC mills. These stocks will be made with new-generation precision technology, not old school duplicating machines.
Initially two models will be offered: the “Hand of God” (HOG) and the “Spear of Destiny” (SOD). Both are designed for multiple shooting disciplines, so they should work well both for benchrest and for prone F-Open shooting. (FWIW, John Myers used a Speedy-crafted stock to win the 2015 Mid-Range National Championship). The forearm is 76mm (2.99″) to comply with F-Open limits. A wide variety of options will be available including adjustable Cheek Piece, adjustable length of pull, carbon fiber inserts, and exotic woods.
We like many aspects of the new stocks. First, the front of the stock is low profile, placing the barrel close to the bags for better tracking (and less hop). However, a deeper (top to bottom) section extends forward of the action — this is important. We have seen some low-profile stocks that suffer from forearm flex/hinging because they don’t leave enough wood under the action area. Speedy’s design eliminates this problem. Another nice feature of this stock is the subtle curve from the back of the action to the buttpad mount. Speedy calls this the “scooped cheek”. This allows the “driver” to shoot without face contact if he prefers, but it also allows for a higher buttpad position — which is useful when shooting heavy recoiling chamberings such as the .300 WSM.
Note how the comb area has a curve to provide clearance. For those shooters who prefer to have face contact on the gun, an adjustable Cheek Piece is offered.
Shurley Brothers Custom says these new ARK stocks are fully customizable for competition shooters with optional carbon fiber, adjustable R.A.D. systems, and many other features. The stocks, uninletted, will run $750.00. CNC-inletting (for action of your choice) is an additional $100.00. Here are some of the many available options:
— Pillar Bed and Inlet: $425.00
— Custom Wood Upgrade (Price Dependent On Wood): $100.00 – $500.00
— Full-length Carbon Fiber Stringers: $200.00
— Cheek Piece Addition: $100.00
— Cooling Ports (Buick Vents): $60.00
— R.A.D. System #2A: $335.00 (plus $100.00 to install)
— 3-Way Butt Plate: Call for Price
— Adjustable Neodymium Magnetic Cheek Piece: Call for Price
— Install Neodymium Magnetic Cheek Piece: $150.00
— Stock Finish & Clear Coat: $350.00
— Carbon Fiber Forearm Tunnel: $300.00
The underside of the forearm is relieved in the center, leaving twin outboard rails. This helps stabilize the rifle and aids tracking. (A conventional, flat forearm without rails tends to rock if there is any hump in the middle of the sandbag). Between the rails is a carbon-fiber stiffening insert.
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Here’s a simple solution for lumpy front sandbags. Cut a small block the width of your fore-end and place that in the front bag between matches. You can tap it down firmly with a rubber mallet. This will keep the front bag nice and square, without bunching up in the center. That will help your rifle track straight and true. Rick Beginski uses wood (see photo), while our friend John Southwick uses a small block of metal. The metal block might work a little better, but the wood version is easier to make with simple tools. John Loh of JJ Industries offers a slick Delrin block with a built-in bubble level. Loh’s block helps ensure that the actual top surface of your front bag is level, as distinct from the front rest assembly.
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