March 19th, 2018

The 85% Scale 1911-380 — What Would J.M. Browning Think?

Browning 1911-390 Black lable .380 acp 1911 pistol

The classic John Moses Browning-designed Model 1911 pistol was created for the .45 ACP cartridge. Many believe the M1911 represents the pinnacle of .45 ACP pistol performance. The 1911 has served the nation in combat, and even today, full-size, hot-rod model 1911-type pistols dominate the top classes at action pistol shooting competitions (though typically shooting smaller caliber cartridges).

Which raises the question — does it make sense to shoot a down-sized .1911-type pistol with a smaller, lighter-recoiling cartridge? Browning, the company named after genius inventor J.M. Browning, thinks so. In 2014, Browning introduced an 85%-scale version of the 1911 that shoots the .380 ACP, another cartridge that Mr. Browning favored. What happens when the Model 1911 is reduced to 85 percent of its original size and paired with the .380 ACP cartridge?

WATCH: Check Out This Cool Animation to See How the 1911-380 Works:

This gun, with its polymer composite frame, is a LOT lighter than an all-steel 1911. The Browning 1911-380 tips the scales at a mere 17.5 ounces. Gun reviewers have praised Browning’s new 1911-380, saying that it functions great and fits well in the hand. NRA America’s 1st Freedom Editor Frank Winn states: “This is precisely where the [1911-380] Black Label .380 ACP excels so dramatically — as a transitional pistol. The 85-percent scaling caters to those with smaller hands and less grip strength. In every test we conducted, on paper, on steel (plates to 35 yards), and through defensive and competitive drills, the Black Label performed flawlessly.” Testers have praised the pointability and function of the down-sized 1911. It operates like a full-sized 1911*, and the “take-down” procedure is the same. This video shows the features of Browning’s 1911-380.

To be honest, we think this is sort of sacrilege. We like the full-size 1911 and we love the original .45 ACP cartridge. That classic fat round is accurate, easy-to-reload, and makes nice big holes in paper. One could also ask, if you want to shoot a .380 ACP, why not shoot it from another J.M. Browning design, the lovely little Model 1908. This beautiful design also served the U.S. Military, and it’s still one of the best-looking semi-auto pistols ever made. The NRA’s Frank Winn notes: “A revamped Browning design (based on the Colt M1903 “Pocket Hammerless”) became the M1908, the first mature, successful .380 ACP handgun. In 42 years of manufacture, several hundred thousand were sold.”

J.M. Browning 1908 Pocket Hammerless .380 ACP

So, much as we applaud innovation, we’ll stick to the original, full-size 1911. If we want to shoot the little .380 ACP cartridge, we’ll do so with J.M. Browning’s lovely little M1908, or another great .380 ACP pistol, the Sig P230/232. This editor owns a sweet Sig P230 in stainless. It is thin, handsome, durable, and easy to carry. It’s also an appreciating asset.

* The Browning 1911-380 has one main functional difference — it has a magazine disconnect. this means “with the magazine removed, the hammer won’t fall, even with all safeties disengaged”. LINK.

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March 18th, 2018

PacNor Barrels Can Shoot — 1.240″ Group at 500 Yards Is Proof

6BR 6mmBR Preacher PacNor

You don’t hear much about PacNor barrels in long-range competition, but FORUM member Wes J (aka P1ZombieKiller), proved that they can shoot “lights-out” in a rig assembled by a talented gunsmith. A few seasons back, Wes decided to upgrade a 6mmBR for mid-range benchrest and varmint matches. Wes tells us: “Since I restocked my 6BR … I have not had a chance to shoot it much since I have been playing the 100-200 game. I decided to take it out and do some playing at 500 yards. I have to give some serious props to my buddy (and fellow FORUM member) ‘PREACHER’ who did the chambering and barrel work for me. He can certainly make a gun shoot good. The barrel is a PacNor 1:8″ twist. My load was 105gr Berger VLDs pushed by 29.6 grains of Varget.” The five-round, 500-yard group shot by Wes J with his 6BR, measured just 1.240″, as measured by OnTarget software. Now that’s one accurate rig!

Five by Five — 5-Shot Group at 500 Yards, 1.240″, 0.237 MOA
6BR 6mmBR Preacher PacNor

This Editor knows something about the potential of a PacNor barrel. I have a 3-groove stainless PacNor SuperMatch on a Savage-actioned 6BR. This barrel shoots honest quarter-MOA in calm conditions, and it cleans up super-easy. The interior finish is so good, I’ve never had to brush the bore or use abrasives, and after 750 rounds it shoots as well as ever. I attribute the easy cleaning to the fact the lands in a PacNor 3-groove are wide and flat, so they are gentle on bullet jackets. I think accuracy is helped by the fact that my PacNor runs on the tight side (0.236 land dimension) with a good amount of choke. That works well with the 105gr Lapua Scenars and 103gr Spencers I like to shoot. You can read more about my rifle, nick-named the “Poor Man’s Hammer”, in this Feature Article from our archives. On one particularly calm day, in the hands of my friend (and ace trigger-puller) Joe Friedrich, the Poor Mans’ Hammer put 3 shots in under 0.200″ (measured center to center) at TWO Hundred yards. If you get a good one, PacNor three-grooves can definitely shoot.

OnTarget SoftwareTarget Measurement with OnTarget Software
We used OnTarget software to measure the 5-shot group in the target above. This easy-to-use software is very repeatable, once you get a feel for plotting the shots. The latest On Target v2.25 Precision Calculator is FREE for a 15-day evaluation period. If you like it (and you will, trust us) there’s a modest $11.99 registration fee to activate the program. In addition to group size (in inches), OnTarget plots distance to aiming point, and the software automatically calculates the group’s vertical height, horizontal dispersion, average to center (ATC), and group size in MOA.

You can run a measurement on a scanned target or a photo of a target. You’ll need some known reference to set the scale correctly. The target above had a one-inch grid so it was easy to set the scale. Once you’ve set the scale and selected bullet diameter and target distance, you simply position the small circles over each bullet hole and the OnTarget software calculates everything automatically, displaying the data in a data box superimposed over the target image. To learn more about OnTarget Software, read’s OnTarget Product Review. This article covers all the basics as well as some advanced “power user” tips. NOTE: Since the review was written, On Target has updated the software, and the free version now has a time limit.

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March 16th, 2018

Reloading Gear Review: Lyman Case Prep Xpress

Lyman Case Prep Xpress gear review

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 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 gear review

Lyman Case Prep Xpress Pros and Cons

GOOD Features
Quite Affordable (under $120)
Compatible with RCBS and Redding Tool-heads
Removable Bin for Shavings
Four Brush Sizes: .25, .30, .38, .45
Compact Footprint

Not-So-Good Features
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

Lyman Case Prep XpressYou can find Lyman’s Case Prep Xpress for under $100.00 at Amazon and under $120.00 at Brownells, making it much less expensive than the larger Hornady Case Prep Center, which runs over $450.00. 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 $99.99 at Amazon
The Lyman Case Prep Xpress is sold by most of the big vendors. The best current price we found was at Amazon, which sells the Lyman unit for $99.99, with free shipping.

Gear Review Tip from Edlongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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March 16th, 2018

Get a Handle on Your Swivel Bipod — KMW Pod-Loc

KMW pod-lok lock bipod handle swivel

KMW Pod-Loc BipodIf 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 genuine KMW Pod-Loc™ retails for $24.99 at

KMW Podlock Pod-loc bipod swivel locking handle accessory

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 can buy suitable levers from This vendor offers a variety of appropriate handles, ranging in price from $7.00 to $10.00. So, by sourcing the parts, you can outfit three bipods with swivel adjusters for the cost of one Pod-Loc.

T-Nuts Bipod Handle lock

We recommend the Nylon/Stainless BPL/NS model ($7.70), but you may prefer the all-metal BPL-ZS ($8.50), 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.

Permalink Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting, Tactical 1 Comment »
March 14th, 2018

The Remarkable Merkel RX Helix — German Straight-Pull Hunter

Merkel RX Helix straight-pull rifle

EDITOR: Our story on the Strasser RS14 straight-pull rifle created quite a stir. So, we thought we’d serve up another straight-pull feature — this time the German-crafted Merkel RX Helix. We shot the Helix a few years back during Media Day at the Range. One notable difference between the German Merkel and the Austrian Strasser is the bolt travel. During cycling, the Merkel bolt stays completely inside the action (see video below at 00:30). By contrast the Strasser bolt moves pretty far back, outside the action. For some folks that makes the Helix better for fast follow-up shots. All we can say is that Merkles and Strassers BOTH cycle way faster than conventional bolt-action rifles.

Merkel RX Helix Range Report

One of the most innovative rifles we have ever shot was the Merkel RX Helix, a very impressive piece of rifle engineering. Merkel claims the RX Helix is the fastest-cycling centerfire bolt action in the world. We can’t confirm that claim, but the Helix certainly cycles faster than any other centerfire bolt-gun this Editor has ever tried. (Yes, a Fortner biathlon action can be worked more rapidly, but that’s a rimfire). Both Jason and I really liked Merkel’s RX Helix. It balances well, the action is smooth, the wood is gorgeous, and the overall design thinking that went into this German-engineered take-down rifle is very impressive. The Helix’s universal-sized action lets you shoot anything from a .222 Rem to a .300 Win Mag with the same gun. And — get this — you can really swap barrels (and change bolt heads) in a couple of minutes with no tools, employing a dead-simple bolt-release lever concealed under the push-button-released removable forearm. (Watch VIDEO BELOW to see Barrel Swap procedure).

Merkel RX Helix rifle

Merkel RX Helix rifle

Merkel RX Helix rifleRotary 7-Lug Bolt
While the RX Helix is a straight-pull rifle, it retains the strength and safety of a rotary bolt head with seven locking lugs that seat in a barrel extension. Unlike a Blaser, the RX Helix has a fully-enclosed action housing. That’s an important safety feature. Moreover, since the RX Helix employs a closed action, the bolt body doesn’t travel outside that action. This means the shooter can maintain his cheekweld with an eye on the target as he cycles the bolt.

The RX Helix’s linear (back and forth) bolt-handle motion is transmitted to the bolt head through a 1:2 ratio “transmission” gearing system. This allows smooth and fast cycling without the rotational or tipping movement found on other straight-pull, bolt-action rifles, such as the Blaser.

Merkel RX Helix rifle

The Merkel linear-movement action cycles exceptionally fast, which allows for faster follow-up shots — a good thing if you’re hunting dangerous game. The RX Helix features a manual cocking lever on the tang and a direct trigger system. And here’s good news for southpaws — though Merkel does not make a dedicated left-hand version, lefties can very easily use their right hand to work the bolt while maintaining cheekweld. That may sound awkward, but with practice, it’s actually pretty efficient.

Fast, Easy Disassembly and Barrel Exchanges
The video below shows how the Helix can be disassembled (for cleaning or transport) in a matter of seconds WITHOUT TOOLS. The forearm slips off with the push of a button. A short lever on the left side of the action holds the barrel. Simply rotate the lever and the barrel (with bolt head) slips off. That’s it — in 30 seconds the rifle is apart, and you don’t even need an allen wrench as with a Blaser.

The RX Helix has a universal action length that covers calibers from .222 Rem to .300 Win Mag. Changing calibers (or chamberings) takes less than a minute with the appropriate barrel, bolt-head and magazine. Weaver rails are integrated into the action, and iron sights with three-dot rear and one-dot front fiber-optic inserts are standard.

Merkel RX Helix rifle

The RX Helix is available with a standard black finish as well as four levels of design—Arabesque, Wild Boar, Spirit, and Deluxe. An all-carbon-fiber version is also available either with or without a carbon-wrapped barrel. The RX Helix comes in a wide range of popular calibers including .222 Rem, .223 Rem, .243 Win, 6.5×55 SE, .270 Win, 7×64, .308 Win, .30-06 Sprg., 8×57 IS, 9.3×62, 7mm Rem Mag and .300 Win Mag. Barrel lengths vary according to caliber, and barrels, bolt-heads and magazines are available for caliber changes. sells the Merkel RX Helix with Grade 2 wood for $3,785.00.

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March 14th, 2018

TECH TIP: When and How to Use Bore-Snakes

Handloading USAMU Facebook Bore Cleaning

On Wednesdays, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit often publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. One “Handloading Hump Day” post covered bore-cleaning, specifically the use of pull-through style bore snakes. Visit the USAMU Facebook page each Wednesday for other helpful tips.

Today, we’ll shift from handloading to rifle bore cleaning and maintenance, with information courtesy of the USAMU’s Custom Firearms Shop. We recently had some inquiries about bore cleaning, and this seems a good opportunity to share. After all, even the best handloads won’t yield their full potential in a poorly-cleaned and maintained rifle.

The experiences of both our firearms test specialist and this writer have given no evidence that proper use of a clean bore-snake will damage a match barrel. Of course, one does not pull the bore-snake at an angle to the crown when removing it — pull it straight out, parallel to the bore’s direction, to prevent crown wear over time.

USAMU Handloading facebook page bore snake cleaningBore-snakes are very useful for some applications (primarily a hasty, interim wipe-down). In [my] experience they cannot replace a thorough cleaning with a proper rod and brushes. While the experiment cited here involves rimfire, it may help illustrate. Several years ago, the writer used his new, personal Anschutz to investigate the bore-snake issue. It had been fired ~350 rds with match ammo and had had 3 typical rod/brush cleanings.

Next, starting with a clean bore, the writer fired 300 more rounds without cleaning in order to build up a “worst-case” fouling condition. Afterwards, the writer examined the bore with a Hawkeye bore scope. There was a uniform, grey film down the entire barrel, with some small, intermittent lead build-up at and just forward of the throat.

A new bore-snake was then wet with solvent and pulled through the bore. The Hawkeye revealed that the grey fouling was gone, and much of the visible fouling at the throat was reduced. However, nine more passes with the bore-snake, checking after each with the Hawkeye, revealed no further improvement in cleaning. The writer then cleaned with two wet patches, observed, then one stroke of a new, wet bronze brush, and one wet patch to clean out residue.

USAMU Handloading facebook page bore snake cleaning

The Hawkeye showed a significant reduction in fouling at the throat; it was virtually gone. A second pass with a wet bronze brush and a wet patch removed the remaining fouling. Scrubbing the bore further, checking to see how much fouling was removed, revealed no significant improvement. The reason for this test was to learn what’s needed to get (and keep) this Anschutz clean with minimal cleaning rod use — and thus, minimal risk of bore damage/wear. Leaving fouling in the bore promotes corrosion over time.

Obviously, this applies to a nice, smooth rimfire match barrel, using good, well lubed ammo. It doesn’t apply directly to the use of copper-jacketed bullets, which leave a stubborn fouling all their own. However, it does suggest that while the bore-snake can be helpful and a useful field-expedient, to truly clean a rifle barrel one will still need a good quality rod, bronze brush and solvents. [Editor: Add a good-fitting cleaning rod bore guide

The goal of barrel break-in is to fire each shot through a clean barrel, preventing copper buildup and allowing the bullets their best chance at burnishing sharp edges. Thus, it seems this purpose would be best served by one’s usual rods, brushes and rod guides.

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March 6th, 2018

New High-Quality Portable Press from EVO Engineering

Vince Bottomley EVO reloading compact press review UK England

If you don’t own a good portable press yet, you should get one. A quality portable press lets you load precision ammo at the range, streamlining the load development process. In addition, a small portable press can serve as a second, light-duty press in your main loading room. For example, you might dedicate the compact press to de-capping duties or bullet seating.

There is a new portable press on the market, the EVO, crafted in the UK. Our English friend Vince Bottomley got one of the first EVO presses and he found it impressive. Comparing it to the respected Harrell’s Precision Compact Press, Vince found that the EVO has some advantages. The EVO is definitely beefier and has some upgraded elements, such as a bronze ram bushing and steel linkage arms.

EVO Press Notable Features

1. The EVO press ram column moves in a bronze bushing. By contrast the Harrell’s ram runs through the CNC-machined body of the press.

2. The EVO’s mounting system (where it clamps onto the bench) is an integral part of the press-body, rather than a separate screw-on unit with the Harrells press.

3. The EVO press features sturdy, steel connecting arms. The Harrell’s compact press has aluminum linkage arms. That said, the aluminum is more than adequate — Vince notes his Harrell’s press has served him well for over 20 years.

We recommend you read the full review on Vince provides many more photos which show the EVO press components in detail. See Bushing Photo.

READ Full EVO Compact Press Review on »

EVO Press Handles Wide Range of Cartridge Types
When viewed from the side, you can see that the new EVO is beefier than the Harrell’s press throughout the press “body” and lever arm base. The EVO is bigger and stronger. On the other hand, the Harrell’s press is lighter and easier to pack, and the clamping system can be detached.

Vince Bottomley EVO reloading compact press review UK England

Vince tells us: “The EVO is a ‘one size fits all’ press that will do a .308 Win or larger case (that’s a .284 in the photo)”. Vince concludes the EVO may be more versatile than the Harrell’s press. The Harrell’s Compact Reloading Press comes in three different sizes: “a really small one (left above) specifically for the benchresters’ 6PPC cartridge, a medium one for .308-sized cases, and a larger version which will take a 2.9 inch Magnum case”.

Though it has the capacity to run larger cases, Vince cautions: “please, don’t think of using your little benchrest press for all your re-sizing — stick to a Rock Chucker or what have you for your general reloading and keep the EVO for on-range reloading or as a secondary bench press.” The EVO press is available from Fox Firearms for just under £200 (about $280 USD). You can contact Fox Firearms via email: irvingfox1234 [at]

Vince Bottomley EVO reloading compact press review UK England
The Harrell’s Compact Press is smaller and less expensive than the $280.00 EVO. It can also be purchased in three different sizes.

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March 2nd, 2018

New Euro Rimfire Rifles Previewed by

There were some interesting new Euro-Rimfires on display at SHOT Show 2018. We were impressed with the new Tikka T1x along with the handsome Steyr Zephyr II. Both these rifles are offered in .22 LR and .17 HMR rimfire chamberings, and the Zephyr comes in .22 WMR as well. Our friends at have created preview videos showcasing the notable features of these new rifles. We hope to test one of these Tikkas this spring — one great feature is the action has the same footprint as the Tikka T3/T3X centerfire rifles. That means you can drop the rimfire barreled action into any stock that fits a T3 or T3X.

Tikka T1x MTR Rimfire Rifle (.17 HMR, .22 LR)

Tikka T1x Rimfire varmint rifles .22 LR 17 hmr 22 WMR Reports:
Tikka has built a reputation for offering quality firearms, for an affordable price. Up until now, they have focused on the centerfire platform. However, they are now entering the rimfire market with the new Tikka T1x MTR rimfire rifle. This rifle is loaded with everything we love about Tikka’s T3 centerfire rifles, in a rimfire. Unique to the T1x is the ability to place the barreled action into one of their T3, or new T3x, rifles. This truly gives this rimfire a centerfire feel, in the calibers we love (.22 Long Rifle and .17HMR).

Linked above is’s video with Miikka Tammlnen from SAKO in Finland from the floor of the 2018 SHOT Show, where he discusses this new rifle in length. READ Review.

Steyr Arms Zephyr II Rimfire Rifle (.17 HMR, .22 LR, .22 WMR)

Steyr mannlicher ARms Zephyr II Rimfire varmint rifles .22 LR 17 hmr 22 WMR
Photo from

Steyr Arms showed off a handsome rimfire rig at SHOT Show. The Zephyr II sports a handsome walnut stock with good ergonomics and nice checkering on grip and fore-end. This is not an inexpensive rifle — MSRP is $995. The .22 LR version is shipping now, and other the .22 WMR and .17 HMR versions should be available before summer. The rifle is trim and easy to carry — overall length is 39.2″ (with 19.7″ barrel) and the rifle weighs just 5.8 pounds without scope. You’ll find more product photos on has prepared a preview video highlighting features of this attractgive rimfire varmint rig. View the video below. For more details read the FULL Review.

Product description from Steyr Arms
The Steyr Mannlicher Zephyr II is the rebirth of the original Zephyr rifle, which was produced from 1955 through 1971. This new rifle features a classic European walnut stock with a Bavarian cheek piece and fish-scale checkering. The Zephyr II has a tang safety, detachable 5-round box magazine, and comes with a threaded barrel option for all calibers. The cold hammer forged barrel with Mannox finish make for tough, reliable design that will withstand the elements while out in the field. This lightweight bolt-action, is available in .17 HMR, .22 LR, and .22 WMR.

Chamberings: 17 HMR , 22 Long Rifle, 22 WMR
Magazine: 5 Round, Detachable
Stock: European walnut with fish scale pattern

Overall Length: 39.2″
Barrel Length: 19.7″
Weight: 5.8 lbs

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February 28th, 2018

FREE Shooting Bench Plans — 14 Build Your Own Bench Designs

Free shooting bench plansFREE shooting Bench Plans
Do you like the Chris Byrne bench at left? For more details, CLICK HERE.

FREE Bench Plans on the Web

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. 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.

CLICK HERE for Shooting Bench FREE Plans Webpage »

Among Renovation HQ’s fourteen featured shooting benches, here are five designs we liked:

Larry Willis Shooting Bench

Sandwiched Plywood top, 1.5″ Galvanized Pipe Legs

Manuel Ferran’s
Steel Shooting Bench

Steel (welded) legs and frame, painted plywood top. Folds flat.

eHow Permanent All-Wood
Shooting Bench

Heavy-duty, very solid and sturdy, but easy to build. Good for right- or left-handed shooters.

Bill Clarke’s
Basic Shooting Bench

Restaurant table Cast Metal Pedestal Base, plywood top.

Missouri Hillbilly’s
All-Wood Bench

3/4″ ACX Plywood with 4×6 Beams and 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.

FREE shooting Bench Plans


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February 28th, 2018

Creedmoor Sports Seeks Ideas for New Products

Creedmoor Sports Product customer plan invention

Do you have a smart idea for a new shooting-related product? Or have you figured out how to improve/enhance a popular item already on the market? If so, Creedmoor Sports wants your product ideas. Creedmoor Sports invites its customers to conceive the next great Creedmoor Sports product. Many of Creedmoor’s most creative ideas come from shooters who are out using products every day and know how to make them better. That’s why Creedmoor Sports wants to hear from you. You can email your ideas to: shoot [at]

Dennis DeMille, Creedmoor’s V.P. of Operations, tells us: “We love it when a customer calls or emails us with an idea. If the idea has merit we will immediately try to put it into play. If a soft-good (such as clothing) we try to take it from idea to sample within a couple days. The idea is walked back to our designer, it’s cut and sewn on the spot in our Anniston, Alabama facility and we start testing. If a hard-good (such as a metal product), we start designing the product on our mill and lathe and see what it would take to bring to market.”

Success Stories of Customer-Inspired Products
Creedmoor Sports products based on customer “bright ideas” have included the handy Scope Kennel. Made with a top strap for easy rifle carry, it serves to protect a rifle scope.

Creedmoor Sports Product customer plan invention

Another customer-suggested product is Creedmoor’s Quad-Fold Shooting Mat. This thickly-padded mat provides a comfortable, stable base for elbows and knees. When folded, it measures just 2.5″ x 19″ x 29″. The new Bench and Field Shooting Mat is another customer-inspired product. This unique mat is designed to work both on the ground and on a shooting bench. Check it out HERE.

NEW! First-Ever Reloading Catalog from Creedmoor Sports (Print and Digital)
Just this week, Creedmoor Sports released its first-ever Reloading Catalog. Equipment lines include Redding, Forster, L.E. Wilson, Hornady, RCBS and many more. Many additional component suppliers have been either added or enhanced including Berger, Lapua, Sierra, Hornady, and Nosler.

Creedmoor Sports Product customer plan invention

“We get calls and emails every day asking us to carry more reloading supplies. We decided it was time to make the investment into adding equipment that our customers demand. We didn’t want to jump into the reloading game without extensive research on what brands and philosophy that would set us apart from larger suppliers. We feel our mix of equipment, components and technical will satisfy everyone from the beginner to the expert.” Says Greg Kantorovich, President, Creedmoor Sports.

About Creedmoor Sports
Creedmoor Sports has been serving the competition/precision rifle shooting community since 1979 — nearly four decades. Creedmoor Sport’s key mission has been to supply great products that help shooters win at every level of competition. For more information, visit and the Creedmoor Sports Facebook page. Also check out the Creedmoor INFOZone for helpful Video Tips on shooting and reloading.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product No Comments »
February 27th, 2018

Lyman Borecam Video Review by

Lyman Borecam Video Shilen Match Barrel

Our friend Gavin of has a new tool — the second generation Lyman Borecam. This upgraded version features higher-resolution 300K output so you can better see details inside your barrel. This digital borescope can also be used to inspect the interior of dies and other tools. Illumination, via LED, is adjustable. Record still images with the push of a button. The screen resolution for the latest Lyman Borecam is now 640×480, roughly 300,000 pixels (300K).

CLICK HERE for Full UltimateReloader Lyman Borecam Review »

Gavin created a very thorough 15-minute video putting the Lyman Borecam through its paces. He uses it to scope a number of firearm barrels as well as some reloading dies. If you are considering buying a Borecam or other borescoping device, you should definitely watch this video. We have included time references to make it easier to “fast forward” to the subjects you want to see:

Lyman Borecam Video Timeline
1. 1:15 — Lyman Borecam Unboxing (All Components)
2. 4:00 — Shilen Match Barrel Blank Inspection (Brand New Barrel)
3. 6:16 — Thompson Center Compass .223 Rem Barrel Inspection (Used Barrel)
4. 9:08 — Smith & Wesson 686 .357 Mag Barrel Inspection (Used Barrel)
5. 10:30 — Glock 20 Polygonal Rifling Barrel Inspectino (Used Barrel)
6. 11:45 — M1911 Barrel Inspection (Defective Barrel with Bulge in Chamber)
7. 13:12 — Sizing Die Internal Inspections (Lee .223 Rem, Redding 300 BLK)

Lyman Borecam Video Shilen Match Barrel

The Lyman Borecam comes complete with everything you need. Shown in photo are:

1. Borecam Wand (includes handle, rod, mirror, and digital lens/camera) with length indication scale. An inch scale runs the full length of the rod. That tells you where the lens is positioned inside the bore. Note the wand scale marks when recording screen captures.
2. Borecam Digital Display. The 600×480 display can record stills with included 128MB SD Card. A USB SD Card adapter is included.
3. Borecam Mirror Protector and cleaning kit.
4. AC Power Adapter (not shown, international plug adapters included).

UltimateReloader offers three key tips for the Lyman Borecam:

— First, before you start, make sure the mirror is clear and free of dirt, lint, or solvents.
— Use the Up and Down Arrows to adjust the illumination to suit your barrel.
— Experiment with how close you hold the mirror to the wall of the bore. This affects both brightness and focus.

YouTube Viewer Comments on UltimateReloader Lyman Borecam Video:

“Great review, Gavin. Your video capture of the display looks better than what they show in Lyman’s own product video.”

“Price is getting low enough to think I need one on the short ‘To Buy’ list. Have some milsurp rifles with horrid bores that should be very interesting to view. Don’t waste $$ on those $20 things on Amazon, I did and thoroughly wasted my money.”

NEW and IMPROVED — Lyman Higher Rez Borecam

Lyman Borecam Video Shilen Match Barrel

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, New Product, Optics 4 Comments »
February 25th, 2018

What is Your #1 Favorite Reloading Equipment Item?

Wilson hand die arbor press Sierra Bullets

Sierra Bullets asked a few hand-loaders to reveal their favorite reloading tool or accessory: “What is your favorite ‘don’t know how you ever lived without it’ piece of reloading equipment?” Some of the answers are listed below. We were interested to see some high-tech, micro-processor items mentioned, such as the AMP Annealer, and the Auto-Trickler powder dispenser. Old standbys, such as the rugged RCBS Rockchucker and Dillon 650, also made the favorites list. You can nominate your own favorite reloading hardware in the comments section of the Sierra Bullets Blog.

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin answered: “A comparator gauge to measure from the base of a case to the ogive of the bullet. This bypasses the tip of the bullet, so I can repeat the same seating depth the next time I visit a specific combination.”

Forster Co-ax press

Bill, Editor of, answered: “I have so many favorite reloading tools, it’s hard to pick one. But if I had to, it would be my Forster Co-Ax press. I like the ease [with which] you can change dies and that it doesn’t require traditional shell holders. It’s a great tool to have!”

Forster Co-Ax Press

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks answered: “I don’t know that you would actually call this equipment, but the item that comes to mind would be my reloading room/shoot house. I had always had to squeeze everything into a corner or even an unheated shed. After we bought our current house, I built a garage and placed it so that I had a window looking down a 250-yard range. I built a dedicated room with heat and A/C. It contains my reloading bench and a shooting bench. The shooting bench lets me slide open the window and shoot down the range. It is very handy to not have to load everything up to go to the range. It also makes load development a lot simpler and efficient. I don’t know how I ever got along without it.

I also wonder what I did before I acquired the Lyman 1200 DPS Powder Dispenser. This has made the process so much simpler and much easier. I also have a Lee Precison Universal Decapping Die that I would gladly spend the money on again. This may be a small thing, but it certainly is handy. The Lee would accommodate some very large cases that some of the others were too small for.”

Jon Addis answered: “Putting an A&D FX-120i scale with Auto-Trickler and Auto-Throw on the bench has changed the way I reload. It’s kernel accurate in about 15 seconds. Saves time and reduces a variable. And of course, the system is made better by the Area 419 Billet Adjustable base for the trickler and Billet Powder Cup.”

This video shows the Auto-Trickler V2 and Auto-Throw Combo:

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Carroll Pilant answered: “Dillon 550 and 650 presses.”

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box answered: “The Lee Precison hand priming tool.”

Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd answered: “A brass annealing machine and a RCBS Chargemaster complimented with a Sartorious scale.”

RCBS RockchuckerSierra Bullets Ballistician Gary Prisendorf answered: “RCBS Rock Chucker Press, it’s built like a tank, and it will last me a lifetime.”

Sierra Bullets Production Manager Chris Hatfield also answered: “RCBS Rock Chucker single-stage reloading press.”

Jeremy Kisner answered: “My Giraud trimmer has taken [three operations] and combined them into one easy task. I can now size my brass and then sit down and trim, chamfer, and debur to a 0.001″ tolerance in one motion.”

Dan Blake answered: “My Annealing Made Perfect (AMP) annealer. With consistent neck tension being one of the largest contributions to small Extreme Spread on muzzle velocities, I believe this induction annealer is truly the best on the market.”

This manufacturer-produced video shows how the AMP annealing machine operates:

Trevor Aldinger answered: “Area 419 Master Funnel Kit. In the past I’ve used plastic funnels and even other metal ones. This system fits case necks and flows much better than any others I’ve used, and there is no static since it’s metal. We spend a lot of time and money to get precise charges, I don’t want to lose or miss a kernel because of a cheap funnel.”

Area 419 Master Funnel kit

Tyler Riley answered: “My RCBS bench primer (priming tool). It has a lot more leverage than a hand primer and still has a good feel to how tight primer pockets are. Makes it much easier on my hands to prime large runs, especially new brass with tight pockets.”

Craig Arnzen answered: “My Annealeez [annealing machine] is one of the best tools in my reloading room. Neck tension is SO important, and annealing every firing really helps with that. This is an inexpensive tool that can anneal a lot of cases at once, and help me produce more consistent ammo.”

Josh Temmen answered: “Time is critical for me so my RCBS Chargemasters are indispensable (pun intended.) They cut down on time at my reloading bench while maintaining the weight tolerances required for long range shooting.”

Josh Bartlett answered: “I have my Dillon 650 set up with Whidden floating tool heads to do decapping and sizing on my match ammo. The case feeder and progressive function of the press save me a TON of time when doing lots of several hundred rounds.”

Ryan Brandt answered: “… A quality set of calipers. My reloading room is full of very nice equipment but little does more to satisfy my perfectionism than a good check with the calipers.”

Sierra Bullets

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, Reloading 2 Comments »
February 25th, 2018

The Cut-Rifling Process — A Short History and Demonstration

Pratt & Whitney Cut rifling hydraulic machine

You’ve probably heard of cut-rifling, but did you know this process was invented in Germany nearly 500 years ago? Read on to learn more about how a cut-rifled barrel is made…

The cut-rifling process, used by leading barrel-makers such as Bartlein, Border, Brux, Krieger, and Obermeyer, can yield a very high-quality barrel with a long useful life. Cut-rifled barrels have been at the top in short- and long-range benchrest competition in recent years, and cut-rifled barrels have long been popular with F-Class and High Power shooters.

You may be surprised to learn that cut-rifling is probably the oldest method of rifling a barrel. Invented in Nuremberg around 1520, the cut-rifling technique creates spiral grooves in the barrel by removing steel using some form of cutter. In its traditional form, cut rifling may be described as a single-point cutting system using a “hook” cutter. The cutter rests in the cutter box, a hardened steel cylinder made so it will just fit the reamed barrel blank and which also contains the cutter raising mechanism.

Above is a computer animation of an older style, sine-bar cut-rifling machine. Some machine features have been simplified for the purposes of illustration, but the basic operation is correctly shown. No, the cut-rifling machines at Krieger don’t use a hand-crank, but the mechanical process shown in this video is very similar to the way cut-rifling is done with more modern machines.

Kolbe Border Barrels Firearms ID

Read About Cut-Rifling Process at
To learn more about the barrel-making process, and cut-rifling in particular, visit There you’ll find a “must-read” article by Dr. Geoffrey Kolbe: The Making of a Rifled Barrel. This article describes in detail how barrels are crafted, using both cut-rifling and button-rifling methods. Kolbe (past owner of Border Barrels) covers all the important processes: steel selection, hole drilling, hole reaming, and rifling (by various means). You’ll find a very extensive discussion of how rifling machines work. Here’s a short sample:

“At the start of World War Two, Pratt & Whitney developed a new, ‘B’ series of hydraulically-powered rifling machines, which were in fact two machines on the same bed. They weighed in at three tons and required the concrete floors now generally seen in workshops by this time. About two thousand were built to satisfy the new demand for rifle barrels, but many were broken up after the war or sold to emerging third world countries building up their own arms industry.

Pratt & Whitney Cut rifling hydraulic machine

Very few of these hydraulic machines subsequently became available on the surplus market and now it is these machines which are sought after and used by barrel makers like John Krieger and ‘Boots’ Obermeyer. In fact, there are probably less of the ‘B’ series hydraulic riflers around today than of the older ‘Sine Bar’ universal riflers.

The techniques of cut rifling have not stood still since the end of the war though. Largely due to the efforts of Boots Obermeyer the design, manufacture and maintenance of the hook cutter and the cutter box have been refined and developed so that barrels of superb accuracy have come from his shop. Cut rifled barrel makers like John Krieger (Krieger Barrels), Mark Chanlyn (Rocky Mountain Rifle Works) and Cliff Labounty (Labounty Precision Reboring)… learned much of their art from Boots Obermeyer, as did I.” — Geoffrey Kolbe

Video find by Boyd Allen. Archive photos from In June 2013, Birmingham Gunmakers Ltd. acquired Border Barrels. Dr. Geoffrey Kolbe has set up a new company called BBT Ltd. which produces chamber reamers and other gunsmithing tools and gauges. (Thanks to L. Holland for the Kolbe update).
Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 3 Comments »
February 24th, 2018

Mirage Shields — Make Your Own or Buy Carbon Fiber

Mirage Shield Venetian Blind Criterion

Mirage shields are useful for all shooters, not just hard-core competitors. A mirage shield helps you see your target better, without distortion caused by heat waves coming off your barrel. This isn’t rocket science — it’s a simple, inexpensive way to see better and shoot more accurately. We’ve advocated that varmint shooters give mirage bands a try on those hot summer groundhog and prairie dog expeditions. And we observed that practically every F-Class shooter at the recent Berger SW Nationals was using a mirage shield of some kind.

Make Your Own Mirage Shiels from Venetian Blind

Criterion Barrels shows how you can make your own mirage shield from an ordinary Venetion blind.

A mirage shield is an extremely cost-effective way to eliminate a commonly-encountered problem. Making your own mirage shield is easy. Using old venetian blind strips and common household materials and tools, you can construct your own mirage shield for under one dollar.

Materials Required:
1. Vertical PVC Venetian blind panel
2. Three 1”x1” pieces adhesive-backed Velcro
3. Ruler or tape measure
4. Scissors or box cutter
5. Pencil or marker

make mirage shield

Make Your Own Mirage Shield from X-Ray Film

Forum member Fabian from Germany, whose Sako 6BR rifle was featured as a Gun of the Week, has devised a clever and inexpensive mirage band option. Fabian is a radiologist by trade. He notes that many X-ray machines require a daily test film for calibration. These are normally just discarded in the trash, so you can get them for free.

mirage shield

Fabian explains: “I’m a radiologist, so I handle medical x-ray films every day. Modern X-ray machines use laser-based printers and they need to print a test-film every day. One x-ray film is about 43×35 cm (16.9″ x 13.7″). Made from polyester, the films are very stable and only 0.007″ inches thick. They are light-weight, semi-transparent, and very stable. Using normal scissors, you can easily cut four mirage shields from a single sheet of film. Then glue on some velcro to attach to your barrel. Try it, you will not be disappointed.”

mirage shield

High-Tech Carbon Fiber Mirage Shield
If you’re not into making your own mirage shield, aka “mirage band” or “mirage shade”, you can also purchase a cool carbon fiber mirage shield from Accurateshooter Forum member Mark Nagel. These custom Carbon-Fiber Mirage Shields start at $20.00. GET More INFO HERE.

Carbon Fiber Mirage Shield
Mirage Shield Venetian Blind Criterion

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
February 23rd, 2018

Get a 14-Gun Fire-Resistant Safe for $349.00 Delivered

Stack-on stackon 14-gun fire resistant safe vault sale

Could you use a secondary safe for reloading room, workshop, or bedroom? This Stack-On 14-Gun Fire Safe fills the bill. Rated for 14 long guns, this 293-pound safe can realistically hold 8 to 10 rifles. But it can also hold your handguns, rangefinders, cameras, jewelry, and other valuables. Let’s face it, your primary gun safe is probably full so you could use a second safe to hold smaller items. Walmart’s current “Roll-Back” price is just $349.00. And right now Walmart is offering “Free Freight Shipping” — so this Stack-On Safe can be delivered to your residence for no extra charge. Nice.

We know some of our readers still don’t own a gun safe, even a small one. We’ll now there’s no excuse. Here’s a very good deal on a Stack-On gun vault at WalMart. This 14-gun safe can’t compare to a large, heavy-gauge $1500+ safe, but it will be worlds better than storing your firearms under the bed or in a closet. Priced at just $349.00 on sale, this is a very good value — plus the shipping is FREE!

Measuring 55″ tall x 20.3″ wide x 19.0″ deep, this Stack-On safe is rated for 14 long guns up to 54″ tall. Assembled safe weight is 293 pounds. This safe is fire-rated up to 30 minutes up to 1400 degrees. It is small enough that you can move it into place with a dolly. Then we strongly recommend you sink anchors and bolt the safe in place.

CLICK HERE to Go to Product Description Page

Permalink Gear Review, Hot Deals 1 Comment »
February 22nd, 2018

The 20-Caliber Black Rifle — AR Chambered in 20 Practical

20 Practical AR uppers

The new .224 Valkyrie for AR15-platform rifles has garnered lots of attention lately. That new cartridge has gotten people thinking about the options for an AR shooter beyond the venerable .223 Remington (and 5.56x39mm NATO). While the .224 Valkyrie is good for shooting long heavy bullets (such as Sierra’s new 95gr SMK), there is a simpler, cheaper option for folks who favor “fast and light” — smaller, lower-mass bullets traveling at very high velocities. That option is the 20 Practical, which is simply a .223 Remington necked down to 20 caliber. This little cartridge can launch 40-grainers at over 3900 fps. That’s bookin’. This makes the 20 Practical a great choice for an AR-based varmint rifle.

20 Practical20 Practical Ultimate Varminter
A decade ago, as a “proof-of-concept”, created a 20 Practical AR15 Ultimate Varminter with a custom 20-caliber upper from Robert Whitley of AR-X Enterprises, LLC. That project rifle was ultra-accurate — every 5-shot group out of the gun was less than the size of a dime. That gun was auctioned off, but Robert Whitley continues to produce custom 20 Practical AR15 uppers. (The 20 Practical cartridge is simply the .223 Rem necked down to 20 caliber — you can use standard .223 brass and load with standard.223 Rem dies. Just swap in a smaller expander and use smaller neck bushings.)

Robert reports that the accuracy of the first 20 Practical AR15 was no fluke. After building six (6) more 20 Practical uppers, he tested them for accuracy and they all shot great. These uppers feature DPMS low-pro receivers with side charging handles. They are fitted with PacNor 1:11″ twist, three-groove stainless barrels.

20 Practical AR uppers

Robert reports: “We have been making more 20 Practical AR15 uppers and I have to say I am astounded by the accuracy of these things. For shooting little tiny groups out of an AR15 with bullets going 3500+ fps, it’s hard to beat the 20 Practical. Today I test-fired six more uppers, all with 11-twist barrels. Three of the uppers had 24″ barrels, two had 20″ barrels, and one had an 18″ barrel (we call it ‘Stubby’).

20 Practical Reamer print

In four of these uppers I shot re-sized Winchester brass using 25.3 grains of WC844 powder with Berger 40gr BTHP bullets loaded at 2.225″ OAL (about .015″ off the lands). WC844 is inexpensive military surplus powder that is nearly identical to H335. I tried three different primers and the choice did not seem to matter (CCI BR4, Rem 7 1/2s and Win Small Rifle — the old silver ones). All these four uppers shot great. Here is an animated GIF with targets from uppers #6, 10, and 11. All groups are mag-fed, 5-shot groups shot at 100 yards using a front rest and rear bag.”

Targets Shot with Three Different 20 Practical AR Uppers

20 Practical AR uppers

For more information visit, or contact Robert Whitley via email: rcw3 [at]

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
February 20th, 2018

One Gun for Hunting AND Competition — Bergara B14 HMR

Bergara HMR rifle PRS production class 6.5 Creedmoor .308 Winchester

For the second year in the row, one of the more popular rifles at SHOT Show was the versatile Bergara’s B14 Hunting and Match Rifle (HMR). Designed for the tactical, PRS, and long-range hunting markets the HMR features an ergonomic, adjustable stock fitted with an internal aluminum sub-chassis. The stock is comfortable in a variety of positions, making it suitable for both hunting and practical shooting comps. The HMR is now offered in five chamberings: 22-250, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5mm Creedmoor, .308 Win, and .300 Win Mag. They all use AICS-compatible box magazines. We’re pleased that all HMRs are guaranteed to produce sub-MOA groups at 100 yards using factory match-grade ammunition. Weight, without optics, is 9.15 lbs, about one pound less than the Ruger Precision Rifle. MSRP is $1,150.00. That’s a good value, but we wish Bergara included a scope rail from the factory.

Watch Video Starting at 6:30 for Bergara B14 HMR (Showing Internal Chassis):

The Spanish-made HMR boasts a molded synthetic stock with built-in machined aluminum mini-chassis. This mini-chassis allows secure, repeatable bedding for Bergara’s B14 action, which features two-lug bolt with coned bolt-head. The Chrome-Moly Bergara barrels are threaded 5/8″ x 24 at the muzzle for brakes or suppressors. The HMR uses a precision-machined bottom metal and is designed to accept AICS-style magazines.

Bergara HMR rifle PRS production class 6.5 Creedmoor .308 Winchester
Bergara HMR rifle PRS production class 6.5 Creedmoor .308 Winchester

The stock has a multi-stage textured finish, which looks good. Designed for both righties and lefties, the ambidextrous stock features an adjustable cheekpiece, and length of pull is adjustable with simple spacers. For slings and accessories, the HMR stock offers multiple flush cup QD mounts as well as multiple swivel studs for bipods and/or slings.

This should be an interesting addition to the line-up of factory rifles suitable for the PRS Series Production Class. But frankly, we think Bergara went too short with the barrels (or at least should offer longer barrels as options). In 6.5 Creedmoor, at 22″ you’re giving up 90 FPS or so compared to a 27″ (See Barrel Cut-Down Test). Additionally, we think most PRS competitors would prefer a different profile on the fore-end. Nonetheless for tactical guys who don’t like modular metal stocks, this is a pretty affordable option that can also work for hunting. NOTE: The new 6mm Creedmoor version does include a 26″ 1:8″-twist barrel. We like that. CLICK HERE for Bergara B14 HMR Owners Manual.

Bergara B14 HMR Rifle Specifications:

Chamberings: 22-250 Rem, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5mm Creedmoor, .308 Win, .300 Win Mag
Action Type: 2-lug action, sliding plate extractor, cone bolt nose and breech
Magazine: AICS style mag compatible – Includes one Magpul® PMAG AICS Magazine
Barrel Specs: 22-250 Rem (1:9″ twist; 24″), 6mm Creedmoor (1:8″ twist, 26″), 6.5 Creedmoor (1:8″ Twist, 22″); .308 Win (1:10″ twist, 20″), .300 Win Mag (1:10″ twist, 26″)
Mini-Chassis Material: 7075 T6 aluminum
Weight without scope: 9.15 pounds
MSRP: $1,150.00

Permalink Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 3 Comments »
February 18th, 2018

Handy UV Bore Light — Big Fiber Optic for Pistol Barrels

UV Bore light Birchwood Casey Fiber Optic
Put the short “J” end of the UV Bore Light in the chamber area. Always make sure your firearm is unloaded. Doubles as a chamber flag for most calibers.

Let there be light… Here’s a handy new device for pistol shooters. Birchwood Casey has come up with a large-diameter “J”-shaped fiber optic tube designed to illuminate pistol barrels without the need for batteries. The Birchwood Casey® UV Bore Light allows gun owners to quickly check the bore of their firearm for obstructions, dirt and fouling.

UV Bore light Birchwood Casey Fiber OpticThe UV Bore light is an innovative design that uses ambient light instead of batteries. Simply put the short “J” end of the bore light in the chamber area of your unloaded gun and it will provide enough illumination to check the bore.

The UV Bore Light also doubles as a safe-chamber flag for most guns. To use the UV Bore Light as a chamber flag, place the LONG end of the Bore Light in the CHAMBER end of the barrel — see photo.

The Birchwood Casey UV Bore Light is inexpensive. It’s sold by the pair in a two-pack priced at $5.40 MSRP.

Permalink Gear Review, Handguns No Comments »
February 14th, 2018

New Birchwood Casey Metal Target Stands

Birchwood Casey Target Stand Metal base

Here are products that the vast majority of shooters can use and afford. Birchwood Casey has four new portable metal target stands that can work with both paper and steel targets. Most of these stands are used with conventional shooter-supplied wood target frames, so perhaps they are best considered “target stand bases”. These provide a strong, durable all-metal base that is easily transported. All these new Birchwood Casey Target Stands have a $40.00 MSRP, with typical $30 street prices.

Birchwood Casey Target Stand Metal base

The Universal Gong Nested Stand uses standard 2×4 lumber for an upright and works well in conjunction with the Birchwood Casey 2-in-1 Gong Target Hanger to mount any metal target. The stand measures 20.5” wide x 20” deep and is 5” high.

Birchwood Casey Target Stand Metal base

The Swivel Leg Target Stand has two legs that swivel out at a 90° angle to the target holder for stability. The stand measures 21” wide x 4.5” high and the legs are 17” long. It uses standard dimension 1”x2” lumber for uprights. This is a good choice to hold wood frames with large paper targets.


Permalink Gear Review No Comments »
February 13th, 2018

Through the Looking Glass — 6.5 Guys Review New Optics

New Optics scopes Nikon Revic LRF rangefinder

In the highly competitive optics market, technology is always advancing. This year, we’ve seen some significant innovations in high-end scopes, plus improved features in more affordable, sub-$1000 optics. The new American-made Revic PMR 428 scope features a built-in ballistic calculator employing a micro-processor and multiple on-board sensors. This really represents a major step forward in “smart” optics. Fans of high-technology should check it out. Or, if value is paramount, for less than one-third of the price of the Revic, you can get a new Nikon FX1000 series scope. The 6-24x50mm model offers very impressive features for under $800 — a bargain these days.

Revic Optics Scope Has Built-In Computer and Ballistics Solver

New Optics scopes Nikon Revic LRF rangefinder

New Optics scopes Nikon Revic LRF rangefinder

Ever wish your riflescope could calculate windage and elevation and display the shooting solution directly in the scope image? Well check this out — the new Revic PMR 428 scope is one of the most advanced optics ever offered to the public. The Revic has a micro-processor inside, plus sensors for temperature, air pressure, incline and cant (around bore axis). After the shooter inputs wind speed and direction, this allows the scope itself to indicate the correct windage and elevation corrections, plus adjust for shot angle. This really is a Big Deal, and we expect other top-end optics makers to follow suit in the years ahead. Right now Revic offers one 4-28x56mm PMR 428 Smart Scope for $2750.00. In this video, Steve Lawrence of reviews the capabilities of the ground-breaking Revic PMR 428.

Impressive New Products from Nikon at Great Prices

New Optics scopes Nikon Revic LRF rangefinder

Jeremy Bentham, a Precision Rifle Series competitor, joined Nikon a year ago as a marketing manager. With his help, Nikon is making inroads into the Precision Rifle market with impressive products at very competitive prices. Here Steve chats with Jeremy about the latest offerings from Nikon, which recently celebrated its 100-year Anniversary. Jeremy presents Nikon’s new products for the tactical/practical market: 1) Stabilized Laser Rangefinder; 2) All-New FX1000 Tactical Scopes in 4-16X and 6-24X, with both MIL and MOA versions and optional illumination. The rangefinder is impressive — it eliminates 80% of perceived shake and also offers built-in angle compensation plus extended ranging capability. The new scopes are priced attractively — under $800. Bentham designed the new reticles which are clear and easy-to-use. These optics feature “high-speed” turrets (10 Mil or 25 MOA) with nice, tactile clicks. The 4-16x50mm model is $649.95 while the 6-24x50mm is $799.95 MSRP. These represent outstanding value for a big name, life-time warranty product.

U.S. Optics Offers B17 and B25 Scopes for Tactical Applications

The 6.5 Guys also checked out the new products from U.S. Optics. For 2018, U.S. Optics is featuring two impressive tactical scopes, the B17 and B25. Ed Mobley of talks with Jake Vibbert of U.S. Optics. Jake explains that his company offers a wide variety of options, with both MOA- and Mil-based reticles. The B17 and B25 both feature a 34mm main tube, which helps deliver greater elevation adjustment. These B-series scopes offer a fast-focus eyepiece, and a true “tool-less” zero-set option. That’s a nice feature — you don’t have to find an Allen wrench in the middle of a competition.

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, Optics 3 Comments »