September 14th, 2017

Versatile, Affordable, Compact Case Prep Trio Saves Time

Hornady Case Prep Assistant Trio

Nobody likes to spend hours manually chamfering cases and cleaning primer pockets. There are simple hand tools that will perform these tasks, but the process is time-consuming and tedious after a couple dozen cases. To speed up case prep duties, you can get one of the large, powered case prep centers. These function well, but frankly we didn’t want to give up that much precious space on our reloading bench. One good solution is Hornady’s compact Case Prep Trio (item 050160). This triple-threat tool packs a lot of functionality in a small package.

Hornady Case Prep Assistant Trio

This cleverly-designed powered tool has a small footprint, yet it can perform three tasks as well as much more expensive, tower-style case prep units. The Hornady Case Prep Trio is now $85.99 at Midsouth Shooters Supply. We’ve used this machine and it works well. The only negative is that you will get metal shavings on your bench (unlike some of the larger case prep centers). We’ve seen some guys put a small pan under the power head — then you can just dump the shavings out of the pan.

With three active stations, you can chamfer, deburr and clean primer pockets without having to change tools. The Case Prep Trio ships with inside chamfer, outside chamfer, and deburr tools. You can also use the machine with other optional 8/32 threaded accessories such as primer pocket reamers and case neck brushes. Conveniently, the Case Prep Trio has on-board storage for your tool-heads. User reviews have been very positive.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 6 Comments »
September 11th, 2017

Modernizing a Veteran Benchrest Rig — “Old 87″ Gets Updates

James Mock BAT Action Terry Leonard Stock old 87

Updating a 20+ Year-Old Benchrest Rifle

by James Mock
After owning three different rifles with BAT actions, I have become a loyal fan of BAT Machine quality and customer service. Back in 2009, I traded my BAT/Scoville for the BAT/Leonard that I currently shoot. This rifle has a long history and Terry Leonard told me that “Old 87″ (as I have named it) was one of the earlier BATs that he stocked. He wrapped the stock in fiberglass and used 2-part epoxy back then. I must say that this rifle has held up remarkably well since it dates back to the 1990s. The action is a RB/LP/RE octagon Model B with .308 bolt-face.

With this gun, I have shot several barrels of different calibers (.22 PPC, .22 PPC-short .095, 6mm PPC, 6XC, 6mm Dasher, .30BR, and will soon have a 6 BR-AI). It has been an exceptionally accurate rifle in several disciplines. In the hands of previous owners, it earned several Hall-of-Fame (HOF) points, and a “middle-of-the-pack” shooter (me) even received a HOF point with this rifle.

James Mock BAT Action Terry Leonard Stock old 87

For most of its life, Old 87 served as a short range benchrest rifle, but I have used it for the last few years as a 600-yard rifle with the 6mm Dasher barrel. I was lucky enough to earn the Shooter of the Year award at the Prince Memorial Range in Louisiana for 2016.

After shooting my two Dasher barrels for last eight years, I have noticed a drop-off in accuracy at 600 yards. A decision had to be made — get a new barrel or sell the rifle and retire from competition. I will be 74 years old in six months and my competition days are limited due mainly to a chronic neck problem. After mulling over the decision to retire or not, I decided to give Old 87 one more year. Here is the story of how we upgraded the old war-horse.

Old 87 REBORN — Upgrading with New Components

I prefer cut-rifled barrels with four lands and grooves and have had success with .236 bore diameters and 1:8″ twist in long range rifles. I searched for barrels meeting those parameters and found a suitable BRUX at Bugholes.com (Southern Precision Rifles).

The 6BR-AI Option — Easy Fire Forming
I thought about having Billy Stevens chamber it for the Dasher, but decided to try something new. There seems to be a lot of interest in the 6BR-AI and I said, “Why not?” Well, I bought a shortened Dasher die from Harrell’s and will use my Wilson Dasher seating die. Bart Sauter was kind enough to let me use his reamer for chambering.

Fitting a New Roller-Type Cocking Piece on Older BAT Action
Since I was into the project this deep, I called Mike Ezell and ordered one of his Tungsten powder-dampened tuners. Since Old 87 had thousands of rounds since the firing pin spring has been replaced, I decided that it was probably needed. Well, I got to thinking (very dangerous) and asked Daryle Thom if it would be feasible to put a roller-type cocking piece and a new firing pin spring on such an old action.

The folks at BAT are very accommodating and they said that it would be no problem with such a conversion. While my bolt was in Idaho, the barrel with Ezell tuner arrived and I could not shoot it. However, my friend Jeff Turner loaned me his BAT bolt to see if it would work. Although the rifles differ in age by 15 or more years, the borrowed bolt worked perfectly in my rifle. This is a testimony to the great machine work performed at BAT Machine.

James Mock BAT Action Terry Leonard Stock old 87

New Bolt Roller Tail-Piece Makes a Big Difference in Cocking Effort
With the borrowed bolt I managed to fire-form 50 rounds and get them ready for our 600-yard match on September 16. The folks at BAT quickly fixed my bolt by replacing the mainspring and ejector spring, polishing the ejector, and replacing the tail-piece with their roller type. Pictured below is this tail piece that makes a remarkable difference in the force needed to cock the action. It is amazing what this little wheel can do… even when placed in a 20+ year old action.

James Mock BAT Action Terry Leonard Stock old 87

Working with the Ezell Barrel Tuner — Small Increments Work Best
Also, I would like to congratulate Mike Ezell on his new tuner which contains powdered Tungsten. It is easy to set up and Mike will help a buyer get maximum effectiveness from the unit. Just give him a call. Below is a picture of the tuner. I was lucky enough to have some time to “play” with it before the match.

Talking about the tuner, Mike writes: “Our new barrel tuners…
PDT stands for particle dampening technology. The science is there, we just applied it to a barrel tuner. The advantages are a wider tune window and more efficient control of barrel harmonics…in a tuner design that actually looks good.”

Mike advised me to set the tuner by turning it all the way into the shoulder and then come out to zero or the second time zero comes up if there is not at least half of a turn between the shoulder and the first zero. It is best to start with a proven load and adjust the tuner from that load. As unlikely as it seems, a rifle can go from a good tune to a very poor tune with only 5 marks (.005”) and vice versa.

James Mock BAT Action Terry Leonard Stock old 87

Mike cautions those who use his tuner to NOT make adjustments which are too large. As a matter of fact, he recommends adjustments of .001 inch at a time. Ezell’s tuners are screwed onto the barrel with .900” by 32 threads per inch and has 32 marks on the circumference of the tuner. Therefore, each mark moves the tuner in or out by .001 inch. There are three set screws with Teflon tips which provide friction for the tuner on the threads. Do not tighten the screws so tight as they damage the fine threads.

If you want the smoothest bolt possible for your BAT, call or e-mail Daryle or Bruce Thom at BAT Machine and discuss your needs with them. I am sure glad that I did. If you want a state-of-the-Art tuner for your barrel, give Mike Ezell a call or visit his Ezell Custom Rifles Facebook Page.
— Good shooting, James Mock

Permalink - Articles, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
September 9th, 2017

Reloading Gear Review: Lee Classic Cast Breech-Lock Press

Lee Classic Cast Breech Lock Press

The Lee Classic Cast “O”-style press has always been an excellent value — it works as well as some other presses costing twice as much. And now Lee has improved on its Classic Cast Press design by adding a breech-lock fitting in the top. This allows you to swap dies in and out in seconds, once your dies are equipped with breech-lock quick-change bushings. The Lee Classic Cast Breech Lock press is available for under $120.00. That makes it a bargain compared to other heavy-duty single-stage presses. MidwayUSA offers this press (item #824144) for $105.29, while Natchez Shooters Supplies sells the press (item #LEE90999) for $110.49.

Lee Classic Cast Breech Lock PressBreech-Lock System Allows Fast Die Exchanges
With the Lee Breech-Lock Press system, the die drops straight in from the top. Then, with a quick 1/6th (60°) turn, the die locks firmly in place (like the breech on an artillery canon). The interrupted three-start thread assures dies return and lock into the exact same position each time. Bushings cost $7.43 each at Midsouth. If you prefer, you can leave a bushing in the press, and screw your dies in normally. But consider that it normally takes a dozen or more turns to screw in a normally threaded die. The Breech-lock system is way faster.

The Lee Classic Cast press features a strong, cast-iron frame and all-steel linkage. The large 1 1/8″-diameter ram is guided by over twelve square inches of ram bearing surface. We like the fact that you can mount the handle on either side, and adjust handle angle and length. As Lee explains: “The start and stop position is adjustable with a 48-tooth, ratchet-type handle clamp. In addition, the handle length is completely adjustable. Shorten [it] when you’re loading handgun and short rifle cases.”

Lock-Ring Eliminator Quick-Change Bushings
With Lee’s basic quick-lock bushings, you control vertical die position with the normal locking ring that seats against the top of the bushing. That works fine, but Lee also offers a handy Lock-Ring Eliminator Bushing (Lee SKU 90063). This clever design combines bushing and lock-ring into a single part. The Eliminator is turned from a solid piece of steel and the lock ring is integrated into the design of the part. With the Eliminator you’ll get the most repeatable and precise die positioning because lock ring and bushing are all one piece. Moreover, some guys say the Eliminator Bushings are easier to grab and remove than the standard Lee Breech-Lock Bushings.

Lee Classic Cast Breech Lock Press

Press owners have praised their Lee Classic Cast Breech-Lock units. Here are reports from two MidwayUSA customers:

Five Stars: Perfect single stage press. Loads accurately 6mm BR and 308 Win for competition. Large clearance is also great for my 460 Wby and 30-378 Wby. Pistol rounds in 44 mag and 45 ACP also load easy. The press has a lot of leverage for full-length rifle case sizing. Nice primer disposal system. Lowest price for its class. This unit beats my Lyman press by several miles…. ” — J. Davidson, California

Five Stars: This thing is outstanding and better than my old RCBS partner press. Once you get the sweet setting of the die, lock it in place and next time you load, you need not fumble to find the best setting. Breech lock is the key. I load a lot of .308 Win and .223 Rem for my ARs and this requires full-length sizing. Lee meets the challenge with no flex and excellent ram/die fit and alignment. Another nice feature is that the breech-lock inserts have a lock preventing [them] from unlocking. [T]he spent primer disposal is perfect vs. RCBS where primers can miss the primer catcher. The handle can also be placed left or right as needed and shortened for small cases or pistol to reduce the handle travel.” — E. Stanley, Rockford, IL

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 1 Comment »
September 4th, 2017

Atomic Green Target Spots — Super-Bright Color Aids Aiming

Birchwood Casey Atomic Green Target Spots Circles day-glo

Birchwood Casey Atomic Green orange Target Spots Circles day-gloWe like to use the Birchwood Casey 2″ and 3″ orange “Target Spots” stick-on circles (with diamond centers) for shooting at 300 yards and beyond (photo right). These give you a very precise aiming point if you align your cross-hairs with the corners of the diamond. However, we know that some guys, particularly those whose scopes have “target-dot” reticles, prefer to have a small box for an aim point. In addition, the orange Target Spots are not a true “Day-Glo” color, so they may seem a little dull (low-contrast) when the target is in shadow.

For guys who want an ultra-high contrast target with a square box in the center, Birchwood Casey offers a series of neon green targets with box centers and spike-style extended vertical and horizontal lines (like on a compass). The manufacturer explains: “These newly-designed adhesive Target Spots come in highly-visible Atomic Green. The crosshair design fulfills the needs of open-sight shooters along with scope users. Easily line up your open sights on the center square or lay the crosshairs along the vertical and horizontal diminishing lines.” You can also rotate the Atomic Green Target Spots 45° to create a diamond center with the crosshairs in an “X” pattern.

We’ve sampled these targets. The Atomic Green background is a true “Day-Glo” color (like safety signs) so these circles appear very bright on a target backer. These work well in low light. We won’t throw away our orange Target Spots, but these Atomic Green circles are a nice option. NOTE: Atomic Green spots are NOT “splatter” targets — a contrasting bright color does NOT appear around your bullet holes.

Multiple Sizes Offered
Birchwood Casey sells the new Atomic green circles in various sizes. You can order a Combo Pack with sixty 1″-diameter spots, thirty 2″-diameter spots, and twenty 3″-diameter circles.

Or purchase the 3″-diameter green spots in a separate pack of forty (40) circles. Birchwood Casey also sells 6″-diameter Atomic Green Target Spots, 10 per pack.

Permalink Gear Review, Shooting Skills No Comments »
August 31st, 2017

Vortex 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle Scope Review by James Mock

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Review by James Mock
If you were charged with building a scope for F-Class or long range Benchrest, what features would you want? Vortex asked that question, received feedback from many competitors, and then set out to build a new high-magnification, zoom comp scope that would set a new “performance for price” standard.

The new Vortex Golden Eagle has features that this shooter really appreciates. It has a power range of 15x to 60x with a 52mm objective lens. Vortex has attempted to keep the weight as low as possible and the cost reasonable. My initial impression is that Vortex spared no expense in developing this scope. The “street price” for this premium scope is a reasonable $1499.00. Plus it has Unconditional Lifetime Warranty. Given its features, performance, and price, I believe that this scope will sell very well.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Here are the important features of the new 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle:

Quality Construction

Premium HD, extra-low dispersion glass
APO (apochromatic) objective lens system with index-matched lenses
XRP multi-coated lenses for max light transmission
ArmorTek extra-hard lens coating to protect lens from dust, dirt, and smudges
Fogproof and Waterproof (Argon gas purged)

Specifications

Field of View at 100 yards: 6.3 feet at 15X; 1.7 feet at 60X
Main Tube: One-piece 30mm
Length: 16.1 inches; Weight is 29.7 ounces
Objective Lens: 52mm
Eye Relief: 3.9 inches
Reticles: SCR-1 FCH; ECR-1 MOA

Testing the Golden Eagle

I recently tested a Golden Eagle with the ECR-1 reticle. On this model the Hash Marks subtend 1 MOA at 40X. There is also a fine crosshair reticle (SCR-1) available. Initial tests with the scope were done on June 28th and I was very impressed with what I saw. With a new scope I always shoot the square (box test) to test tracking and amount of movement. I shot the square today after shooting a 5-shot group at 250 yards (my longest available distance). Below is a picture of the box test target that I shot. Yes, shot #5 went through the exact same hole as shot #1.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Below is the 250-yard target I shot before doing the box test. To get to the 100-yard target, I clicked down 14 clicks (1/8th MOA) and the scope was spot on. It is really a pleasure to use instruments that do exactly what they are supposed to do. With the Louisiana mirage, I shot this orange/white target at 40X instead of the maximum 60X. I did not have any problem seeing the 6mm bullet holes at 40X. The optics in this scope are to my old eyes are as good as any that I have used (regardless of price).

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TRCompetition Test Success — Golden Eagle Delivers a Win
My next use of this scope was at our monthly 600-yard match on July 15th. It was a typical mid-July day in north Louisiana — very hot and humid with light switching winds. The mirage was terrible, but I managed to squeak out a victory with a 188/5X score out of 200/20X possible. I shot the Golden Eagle at 40X all day and it performed perfectly. No one could see bullet holes today, even with the high powered premium spotting scopes. This is a quality scope and it may be a “lucky” scope in that I did not expect a win with a 6mm Dasher barrel with 2500 or more rounds through it.

Point of Aim Test with Hood Scope Checker
I also tested the Golden Eagle for holding Point of Aim (POA). For this procedure, I used the Hood scope checker (loaned to me by Bart Sauter). To use this, one mounts two scopes side by side. Ideally one scope has proven its ability to hold POA. Here I used a Valdada 36X BR model as my control scope. It has proven over an 8-year period of time to hold its point of aim. I mounted these scopes on my BAT/Leonard 6mm PPC and adjusted each to the same point on the target.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

As one can see in the above picture, these are big scopes. After the first shot, I noticed that the reticle dot on the Vortex seemed to be about 1/8th MOA to the right of its original position. I stopped to check for ring slippage (which I had experienced in prior tests). There was no apparent slippage, so I checked the parallax and found that there was some parallax correction needed. This was probably the source of the apparent shift in point of aim, but I cannot be sure of that. I fired three more shots (checking after each) and found no shift.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

After testing for POA shift, I fired the remaining rounds using different aiming points. I fired 5 rounds (upper left) using the Vortex and 3 rounds to the right of those using the Valdada scope.

CONCLUSION — A Very Fine Optic at a Reasonable Price
While testing this Vortex Golden Eagle scope, I developed a real fondness for it. I appreciate its great optics, eye relief and crispness of adjustments. If I thought that this scope did not hold POA, I would use my old Valdada in the 600-yard matches in which I participate. Further testing has shown no tendency to shift point of aim.

If I am allowed to keep this scope until the fall, I am sure that I will be able to see 6mm bullet holes in the white at 600 yards. Seeing those 6mm holes is very difficult, but that is my dream for a premium high-powered scope. During the summer months in north Louisiana, the air is much too “dirty” to spot small holes at 600 yards. By October, there should be some conditions in which one can use the premium optics to see bullet holes in the white at 600.

In summary, let me say that this scope has become one of my all-time favorites because of its bright, clear images and its great reliability. If you are looking for a great long-range scope that is reasonable in cost, try the Golden Eagle from Vortex.– James Mock

Permalink Gear Review, Optics 5 Comments »
August 30th, 2017

Great Rangefinder for Hunters — Sig Kilo 2000 under $400

Sig Kilo 2000 LRF laser rangefinder one mile

UPDATE: The Amazon price is Back up to $439.99. We told you $376.69 was a good deal!! This just proves you need to strike while the iron’s hot.

Hunting season is coming soon. That means going through your gear check-list before you head to deer country. If you don’t have a quality, compact Laser Rangefinder, here’s a great deal. The 7x25mm SIG Kilo 2000 Rangefinder is now on sale for under $380.00. This is a very accurate LRF, that ranges deer-sized targets at long distances quickly. The scan mode is fast and very effective. The unit is compact and light — a bonus for hunters.

This Sig LRF sold for $500.00 just a year ago. Now you can save 25%, with the Kilo 2000 selling for just $376.69 at Amazon, with Free Shipping. Given its performance, that’s a steal. We have tested a variety of LRFs from Bushnell, Leica, Leupold, Sig, Swarovski, and Zeiss. This Sig Kilo 2000 will run with anything in the sub-$600 price range. If you are looking for a small LRF than can fit in a shirt pocket, this Sig 2000 is a good choice. Glass is good, controls are good, ranging capability is excellent. Light-Wave DSP Technology enables the Kilo 2000 to range faster with increased accuracy. Scan mode refresh rate is an ultra-fast 4 times per second.

Read the reviews on Amazon. Virtually every purchaser gave this thing Five Stars. Here are three typical buyer reports.

SIG Kilo 2000 Verified Buyer Reviews

Five Stars: “AWESOME! Best rangefinder for the money. Easily ranges out to 1100 yards. That is the furthest I have tested it to.” (Review by Kochman, July 2017)

Five Stars: “I will review by comparing it with another 2000-yard rangefinder… a Newcon 2000 which finally broke after about 6 years. This Sig Sauer Kilo 2000 has better optics, faster readings, ranges reflective and non reflective targets farther… it’s much smaller and it’s about $150 cheaper. It has better warranty.” (Review by Hillbilly, April 2017)

Five Stars: “Challenges $3000+ Rangefinders for performance. Let me say right up front that I received zero perks, products, or considerations for the review that follows. It’s strictly the opinion of an old shooter still trying to hit groundhogs in adjacent area codes, nothing more. I’ve used laser rangefinders since they first hit the market in the early 90s and ranged all of 200 yards. I have used and owned $2K rangefinders with built-in ballistic computers.

It’s small — palm-sized. If you’re a backcountry shooter and every ounce counts, you can wear this unit around your neck all day long. In my experience and opinion, the Sig Kilo 2000 is an amazing laser rangefinder at a very reasonable price. When it comes to the raw function of a laser rangefinder, to give accurate, repeatable distance measurements within your target range, the Sig Kilo 2000 blows away anything even remotely close to it in its price range.” (Review by Verified Customer, July 2016)

Permalink Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting, Optics No Comments »
August 28th, 2017

Build Your Own Portable Reloading Bench with B&D WorkMate

portable reloading benchA while back, we featured a portable reloading bench built on a Black & Decker Workmate. That proved a VERY popular do-it-yourself project so we’re showing it again, in case you missed it the first time.

Texan Robert Lewis made himself a great portable reloading bench from plywood mounted to a Black & Decker Workmate. The bench, roughly 22″ x 19″ on top, folds up to fit easily in your car’s trunk or behind the seats in a pick-up truck cab. Four recessed bolts hold the wood top section to the collapsible B&D Workmate.The sides and back of the unit are attached to the base with small nails. There is a small shelf (also nailed in place) which can be used to clamp a powder measure or hold a scale. Shown in the photo is a Harrell’s Benchrest measure and Harrell’s single-stage “C” press.

Click for Detail of Top.
portable shooting bench

The whole unit can be built for about $65.00 with pine, or $80.00 with oak (as shown). Robert explained: “The Workmate was $40. If someone bought a 2’x4′ sheet of 3/4″ oak plywood, I think it is around $30. Using pine plywood would be about half that. Fasteners were $3. Spar Urethane would be $5.”

Robert told us: “I used a couple ideas I found on the web. The Larry Willis website gave me the idea to use the Black and Decker Workmate as a base. I found the Workmate on sale for $40 and the top is made from oak plywood I had in my shop. I sealed the wood with three coats of Spar Urethane. The whole thing folds into a nice package for transportation to and from the range.”

Editor’s NOTE: In the time that’s transpired since we first ran this story, the price of a Black & Decker workmate has gone up. However you can still pick a WM225 Workmate for under $65.00. Target is currently selling WM225 Workmates for $64.99.

Click HERE for FREE WORKBENCH PLANS.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading No Comments »
August 26th, 2017

17 HMR Spotlight — Affordable Ammo and Accurate Varmint Rifles

Savage A17 varmint rifle 17 hmr rimfire

Everyone should own a rifle chambered for the 17 HMR. This is an inherently accurate cartridge, with minimal recoil. The 17 HMR, loaded with 17- or 20-grain bullets, is effective on small varmints well past 150 yards. The ballistics are way better than the .22 LR and .22 WMR. There are also a variety of good factory rifles available, including Savage’s innovative A17, now available in a nice, thumbhole laminated stock. And most importantly, the ammo is becoming more affordable. You can now get good 17 HMR ammo for under twenty cents per round.

The laminated thumbhole stock version of the Savage A17 is a great carry-around varminter.
Savage A17 varmint rifle 17 hmr rimfire

Savage A17 varmint rifle 17 hmr rimfireThere are great deals to be had right now on 17 HMR — you can pick up a 50-round box for under $9.00. A couple seasons back you might have to pay $12-$15 for the same stuff. The best deal we’ve found is at Midsouth Shooters Supply, which has Hornady 17 HMR ammo loaded with 17-grain V-Max bullets, for just $8.69 (17.4 cents/round).

Here are other current good deals, as found with the WikiArms.com ammo search engine:

Federal 17 HMR, 17gr TNT (50 rd), $8.99 at Outdoor Limited
CCI 17 HMR, 17gr V-Max (50 rd), $9.49 at Outdoor Limited
Hornady 17 HMR, 20gr XTP (50 rd), $9.99 at Outdoor Limited.
CCI 17 HMR, 20gr Game Point (50 rd), $10.24 at Bud’s Gun Shop

Volquartsen 17 HMR dustin ellermann

A while back we tested a variety of 17 HMR ammo types in a pair of 17 HMR rifles, a Ruger 77/17 and a Volquartsen (above), chronographing the ammo samples in both guns. Here are our chrono test results.

17 HMR data chrono chronograph

Dustin Ellermann (past Top Shot Champion) has tested both normal and subsonic 17 HMR ammo in another Volquartsen rifle. He got the best accuracy with the CCI-brand A17 ammo, which is optimized for the Savage A17 rifle. This impressive 100-yard group was shot with A17 ammo:

Dustin 17 HMR CCI suppressed ammo ammunition

Dustin 17 HMR CCI suppressed ammo ammunition

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 3 Comments »
August 26th, 2017

Great Resource for Airgunners — Air Rifle Buyer’s Guide

Air Rifle book olympic

We like air rifles both for fun shooting and for competition. However, so many options are now available that is easy to get over-whelmed with the choices. Thankfully, there is a good book that helps air rifle shooters make informed decisions about air guns and gear. Steve Markwith’s new title, Air Rifles: A Buyer’s and Shooter’s Guide offers a wealth of useful information. This 154-page paperback book is now available for $12.95. The book is also offered as a FREE Kindle download for Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited members. Check it out — you may be able to get the book for free.

Steve Markwith Air Rifle Pneumatic airgun book Amazon.com Free downloand

This is a very informative book explaining the ins and outs of air rifles, their capabilities and limitations. I highly recommend this book to anyone considering purchasing an air rifle for marksmanship practice or small game hunting.” – L. Stanek, Verified Amazon Reviewer

Read Free Sample Chapters Online
If you go to Amazon.com and click on the cover of this book, you can view a FREE preview with extensive samples from many chapters. The book covers all the most important types of air rifle systems, both pre-charged pneumatics and other self-charging guns. Markwith reviews the wide variety of pellets available, offering suggestions for particular applications. You’ll also find a useful discussion of Airgun Power, Range, and Accuracy. This will help you pick the right air rifle for your application.

Markwith explains the many attractions of airguns. They are not considered firearms (in most jurisdictions) so they can be purchased at local shops or mail-order outlets without FFL fees or background checks. You’ll find a huge online selection of airguns at PyramydAir.com that can ship direct to you — no FFL required. Air rifles are also quiet and very inexpensive to shoot. While .177 and .22 caliber air rifles are most common, there are also larger-caliber airguns offered for hunting or special applications.

Steve Markwith Air Rifle Pneumatic airgun book Amazon.com Free downloand

Permalink Gear Review, News 1 Comment »
August 25th, 2017

Creedmoor Sports Offers New “Scope Kennel” Scope Protector

Creedmoor sports scope kennel scope protector ar16 dennis demille

New Creedmoor “Scope Kennel” Padded Rifle Scope Protector
Creedmoor Sports has developed a deluxe scope protector that looks good. Made with thick padding and heavy webbing, this can definitely help shield expensive optics from impact damage or scrapes, protecting your investment.

The new Creedmoor Scope Kennel padded rifle scope protector fits any scope shorter than 13 inches, and protects your rifle scope while you’re on the range, stowing your rifle in a gun safe, or working on/cleaning your rifle. As you can see, the cover allows the use of an Empty Chamber Indicator.

The Scope Kennel is securely held in place by two heavy-duty adjustable straps, and is available with either Velcro closures or buckle closures. Made from tough 1000-dernier Cordura (with a soft, lined interior), this cover is offered in your choice of 24 different colors (e.g. tan, camo, red, blue, green) for $59.95. Made in the USA by Creedmoor’s own fabric wizards, the Scope Kennel can be customized with your name embroidered on the sides. The Scope Kennel was designed specifically for AR-platform rifles, but you can call 800-273-3366 to order for other types of rifles.

To demonstrate the strength of the Scope Kennel, Creedmoor GM Dennis DeMille did a pull-up with a red Scope Kennel hooked on a fork-lift blade.

Creedmoor sports scope kennel scope protector ar16 dennis demille

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 4 Comments »
August 16th, 2017

Nosler Delivers High-BC, Closed-Meplat RDF Match Bullets

Nosler RDF Bullets tipped bullets closed meplats hybrid ogive

Nosler RDF Bullets tipped bullets closed meplats hybrid ogiveLate last year, word broke of a new line of RDF™ (Reduced Drag Factor) bullets featuring very high Ballistic Coefficients, hybrid-type ogives, and tight, factory-closed meplats. Nosler’s new RDF bullets promised to be very competitive match projectiles for their respective bullet weights, based on initial specs and their billing as “the highest BCs and smallest, most consistent meplats on the market”. But would they perform as advertised?

Since their introduction, the Nosler RDF line have become very popular, offering excellent performance for the price. Shooters, particular PRS competitors, have found the RDFs deliver the flat trajectory and high BC necessary to reach the podium. There are now rumors that Nosler will expand the RDF line (which currently includes four calibers/bullet weights) to include new calibers/weights in 2018. However an official announcement is still forthcoming.

Current Nosler RDF Bullets:
• 22 Cal 70 grain — G1 Ballistic Coefficient 0.416 | G7 Ballistic Coefficient 0.211
• 6mm 105 grain — G1 Ballistic Coefficient 0.571 | G7 Ballistic Coefficient 0.280
• 6.5mm 140 grain — G1 Ballistic Coefficient 0.658 | G7 Ballistic Coefficient 0.330
• 30 Cal 175 grain — G1 Ballistic Coefficient 0.536 | G7 Ballistic Coefficient 0.270

Nosler RDF Bullets tipped bullets closed meplats hybrid ogive

Compound Ogive for High BC
Nosler designed the RDF bullets to have very high BCs for flatter trajectories and reduced wind drift. Nosler achieved high BCs by adopting a modern hybrid-type compound ogive, which bridges traditional tangent and secant bullet shapes. This hybrid shape is less sensitive to bullet seating depth than a pure VLD-style, secant ogive shape. That allows hand-loaders to seat away from the lands and still get excellent accuracy, which can be maintained even as the throat moves out over time. RDF bullets also feature a long boat-tail for aerodynamic efficiency.

Factory-Closed Meplats — No More Trimming
Compared to conventional match bullets, Nosler’s RDF bullets look quite different because the tips have been tightly closed up at the factory. Nosler promises a 40% average reduction in meplat size vs. conventional hollow-point bullets. Hand-loaders no longer need to point and trim tips, a laborious task to improve BC and make BCs more consistent for every bullet in the box. Consistent BC translates to reduced vertical spread at long range.

Less Wind Drift, Tighter Vertical
What can you expect on the firing line with Nosler RDF bullets? If you’re a skilled shooter who can capitalize on reduced drag and increased consistency from your ballistics, you should see less wind drift, and reduced vertical dispersion at long range. That translates to tighter groups and higher scores in competition. That’s all good. And when you compare the cost of Nosler’s RDF bullets with other match projectiles, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review 1 Comment »
August 16th, 2017

PickleFork Rail Accessory for Eliseo Tubeguns

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork foreend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have one match rifle that could do double-duty — shoot position matches (with sling), and then function as an F-Open gun with front rest? Now that’s possible with Gary Eliseo’s clever “PickleFork” accessory for his line of tubeguns. This accessory also works great for load testing and varmint hunting.

Competition Machine’s Gary Eliseo is a very smart designer as well as a talented shooter. The inventor/builder of the popular Competition Machine Tubegun chassis systems, Gary has come up with something new, which he calls the PickleForks. These are rails that fit to the sides of the tubular fore-end/handguard on his chassis systems. This allows you to use a pedestal-style front rest for F-Class competition. It also provides a much more stable platform for load testing, varmint hunting, or any kind of rest-assisted precision shooting.

These PickleForks transform a Tubegun into an ultra-stable, straight-tracking rig when used with a competition-style front rest.

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Gary explains: “Now you can have the same super low-boreline, long ‘wheelbase’ and vertical sides of our innovative F1 F-Class chassis system for your tube chassis. The new PickleForks attach directly to the sides of the F-Class/Tactical fore-ends, no modifications are required. They are very rigid with no flex or twist and make the rifle track like it’s on rails.” The new Eliseo Competition Machine PickleForks are offered for a very reasonable $70.00 per pair, with Cerakote finish. (You get two metal units, one for each side of the fore-arm). For more information, visit www.GotXRing.com or call (928) 649-0742.

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

New Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing No Comments »
August 15th, 2017

Newbold Reactive Polymer Targets

polymer self-sealing reactive steel plastic plates targets KD knockdown

We love shooting reactive targets — the instant gratification of hearing the “clang” and seeing the target fall or spin is addictive. However, there are some significant downsides of steel targets. They are heavy/cumbersome to move around. With steel targets you must be careful with ricochets and bullet splatter. Finally, to keep them looking good, you have to constantly re-apply surface paint.

polymer self-sealing reactive steel plastic plates targets KD knockdownNewbold now offers a series of reactive polymer targets that work like steel, but have none of the major disadvantages. Weighing over 80% less than steel, they are easy to transport and set-up. Though they can “react” like steel, bullets pass right the self-sealing polymer, so you don’t have to worry about ricochets or bullet “splashback”. Finally, you never have to paint them. They come in bright colors that last the life of the target. They are affordable — small polymer targets start at $3.99, while the larger Knock-Down “plates” (shown below) are $18.99 each.

polymer self-sealing reactive steel plastic plates targets KD knockdown
Newbold’s KD Competition Series targets can be reset with a simple string.

Newbold offers a variety of self-sealing reactive targets, such as the KD-Pivot plate rack targets above, 3-Gun targets, hanging targets, and the 42″ popper targets shown in the video below. Many of the Newbold targets have reset systems — simply pull a lanyard and the targets pop back up.

Gunwriter Tom McHale has tested some Newbold targets and likes them: “There’s one more significant advantage over steel. You can shoot them at any distance, including point-blank range. Since the bullets pass through just as they would with a cardboard target, there’s no fragmentation or splash as there is with steel targets.”

The video below shows how to install Newbold reactive targets:

Permalink Gear Review, Handguns, New Product No Comments »
August 8th, 2017

RCBS ChargeMaster Lite Video Review Marathon

RCBS ChargeMaster Lite video reviews

Many thousands of hand-loaders, including this Editor, acquired the original RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 powder scale/dispenser. Mine has worked well for many years. Yes I do have to watch for scale drift, and I use a high-end Force-Restoration scale when loading for major matches, but the original ChargeMaster has served me well, throwing thousands of charges over the years.

NEW RCBS ChargeMaster Lite

Now there is a newer version of the ChargeMaster, the RCBS Chargemaster Lite. This new-for-2017, one-piece unit has some features we really like. The new touch screen is easy to use and the powder tray cover slips off easily — no more hinges to fight. Most importantly the CM Lite has a redesigned, fluted dispensing tube which delivers powder kernels in a smooth flow with no clumps. The RCBS Rep told us “No more McDonald’s straw required”. We tested the unit and it does seem like the newly-designed dispensing tube is better. In fact, this new design will be adapted to the next generation of larger ChargeMasters. The ChargeMaster Lite ships complete with calibration check weights and cleaning brush. MSRP is $299.95 with “street price” around $250.00 at Amazon.

If you’re interested in the RCBS ChargeMaster Lite, here are three recent video product reviews. By watching these videos you can see all the features of the ChargeMaster Lite demonstrated. In the third video, the host also “compares and contrasts” the ChargeMaster Lite with the original ChargeMaster 1500, explaining the differences between the two units. Have at it:

Panhandle Precision ChargeMaster Lite Bench Test and Demo (Good Detailed Review):

Here is the RCBS Press Release: “The new RCBS ChargeMaster Lite packs unparalleled powder-measuring accuracy in a compact package. The one-piece unit features an LCD touchscreen display that ensures accurate data input. The hopper holds nearly a pound of smokeless powder, and can dispense anywhere between 2 to 300 grains with a +/-0.1-grain accuracy.”

UltimateReloader ChargeMaster Lite Unboxing:

Original ChargeMaster 1500 vs. ChargeMaster Lite:

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, Reloading 4 Comments »
August 5th, 2017

Haul Your Gun Gear with Rolling Range Bag

Gun Bag Pistol Case rolling wheeled range case

Here’s a cool (but expensive) new product that can benefit both recreational and competitive shooters who need to haul a lot of gear to the range. The NRA’s new Tactical Rolling Range Bag is an all-in-one transportation and storage solution. Fitted with a half-dozen pistol cradles, the range bag can also be adapted to hold rifle accessories such as spotting scopes, ear muffs, rear bag, MagnetoSpeed chronograph, ammo boxes, magazines, cleaning kit, and more. There are special sections for ammo and it even has a special velcro-attached target holder.

The NRA tells us: “This mobile armory travels effortlessly from your home, to your car and to the range, thanks to its 3.5″-diameter wheels and reinforced carry handle. The exterior boasts a dedicated compartment for eight pistol magazines, and there’s a pocket (with two cups) for collecting spent brass. The patented Visual ID Storage System features easily identifiable pockets for eye and ear protection, targets, stapler, tape and binoculars.” Color: Coyote. Dimensions: 23” W x 15” D x 17” H.

• Integrated, six handgun rigid foam rack
• Thick, padded top flap holds firearms securely
• Heavy-duty YKK zippers with cord pulls
• Rigid, internal frame
• Oversized, 3½” diameter ATV wheels
• Three position telescoping handle

Gun Bag Pistol Case rolling wheeled range case

Priced at $229.95, this fancy Rolling Range Bag ain’t cheap, but when you consider your investment in guns and accessories, this may be a smart solution for many shooters.

Permalink Gear Review, Handguns, New Product 3 Comments »
August 3rd, 2017

7mm MatchKings for the F-Class World Championships

Sierra MatchKing 183gr 183 Grain Bullet BC Long Range F-Class

The F-Class World Championships (FCWC) in Canada are just one week away. This August 11-17, the world’s top F-Class shooters will gather at the Connaught Ranges outside Ottawa, Ontario. The vast majority of F-Open shooters will be running some kind of 7mm (.284 Caliber) cartridge, with the .284 Winchester, .284 Win Improveds, and 7mm RSAUMs being popular.

7mm .284 Winchester F-Class Bullet

For those of you who plan to compete but who haven’t loaded your ammo yet, you may want to consider a very good 7mm match bullet from Sierra, 183 grain MatchKing (item #1983). We have found the 183gr MK, which comes “pointed” from the factory, to be very consistent in weight and base-to ogive measurement. Top F-Open shooters have told us that these bullets shoot exceptionally well, with minimal vertical dispersion at 1000. “Holding waterline” at long range is a reliable indicator that the BC is very uniform from bullet to bullet.

Sierra’s popular 7mm 183 grain MatchKing boasts an impressive 0.707 G1 Ballistic Coefficient (BC) at 2300+ fps. These bullets also have very consistent bullet-to-bullet BC, thanks to very uniform jackets and the tips being “pointed” at the factory. Sierra explains: “A final meplat-reducing operation (pointing) provides an increased ballistic coefficient for optimal wind resistance and velocity retention.”

Insight Into Sierra’s New 7mm MatchKing®
by Sierra Product Development Manager Mark Walker

In late 2015, Sierra introduced a new 7mm MatchKing® bullet with a different type of ogive. As part of the introduction, I had the opportunity to use them at the F-Class Nationals held in Phoenix with very good results. While at the match, several people had questions about what exactly was different about the ogive on this bullet as opposed to our tried and true blended tangent ogive. So with that in mind, hopefully this blog will answer those questions.

In the past, Sierra has typically used a tangent radius ogive design on our MatchKing® bullets. This is one of the most forgiving ogive designs due to its ability to shoot extremely accurately when jumped, as well as, jammed into the rifling. On rare occasions, some of our MatchKing® bullets have used a secant ogive due to design constraints. However, this ogive is much more sensitive to changes in seating depth than the tangent ogive so we tend to shy away from it. When we decided to work on this new bullet, we wanted to see if we could improve on the accuracy of even our best shooting tangent ogive bullets.

Sierra MatchKing 183gr 183 Grain Bullet BC Long Range F-Class

One of the main factors of what makes an accurate shooting bullet is how it aligns itself with the bore when fired. If a bullet is slightly crooked when entering the bore, it will cause inaccuracy on the target. We set out trying to think of ways to make sure that the bullet has no choice but to align itself with the bore perfectly.

The first part of the barrel to encounter the bullet is the leade in the chamber. The leade is an angle that is cut into the leading edge of the rifling which helps to guide the bullet into the bore. To illustrate how current bullets fit into the leade, picture a cone (leade) with a ball (bullet) sitting inside it. The ball can be rotated in all directions and the cone cannot force the ball to orientate itself in any particular direction. When a bullet with a radius encounters the leade, it behaves in a similar way. Now this of course is a very simple example and of course advanced shooters use tight necks and brass that is perfectly formed to the chamber to make sure the bullet is aligned as perfect as possible. However, there is always a small element of misalignment that is possible even with all this precise preparation.

This brings us to the ogive on the new 7mm MatchKing®. We thought instead of using the typical ogive radius that can allow slight misalignment, why not use the same straight angle that is used in the chamber leade on the bullet ogive to force itself to always align with the bore? Imagine the same cone as above (leade) with an identical cone (bullet) sitting inside of it. The cone inside has no choice but to align itself perfectly with the cone that it is sitting in every time. With that in mind, we designed the area of the bullet which contacts the leade in front of the bearing surface using a straight 1 1/2 degree angle instead of the typical radius. Once past that area, we use a traditional high caliber ogive radius to provide a very sleek, high BC bullet.

I hope that explains our thought process behind this new bullet. In our testing, it is one of the most forgiving high-BC bullets we have ever made.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review 3 Comments »
August 2nd, 2017

Kahles 10-50x56mm Scope Review by James Mock

Kahles MOAK scope 10-50x56mm 10x-50x james mock field test review

The Kahles 10-50x56mm MOAK Long Range Riflescope
By James Mock
The Kahles company of Austria is very old — dating back to 1898. With its long history, Kahles (two syllables, pronounced “Kah – less”) claims to be the oldest rifle scope manufacturer in the world.

What are the features of this scope that endear it to the discriminating long range shooter? First, it offers serious magnification — a true 10X-50X. It has a rather unique, centrally-mounted parallax adjustment control integrated with the elevation turret (i.e. they share the same axis). Included with the scope is a large ring which can be attached to the parallax control to facilitate adjustments without removing one’s head from the stock. Another unique feature is a small red and white pin that indicates how many revolutions one has made. If one red band shows, the scope is in the first revolution; with a one red and one white band, it is in the second revolution, and so on.

Kahles MOAK scope 10-50x56mm 10x-50x james mock field test review

This scope has a 56mm lens, fast-focus eyepiece, and 1/8th MOA adjustments. This is an expensive scope ($2799.00 at Brownells), but there are no short cuts in its construction. The lenses have a proprietary “AMV” multi-layer coating that’s claimed to transmit almost 100% of the light. Also, there is an oil-phobic coating to resist scratches and contaminates such as oil or dirt from sticking to the lens. The scope is nitrogen-filled and features hardened steel mechanisms for adjustments.

Kahles 10-50x56mm Specifications:
Magnification: 10X to 50X
Objective lens: 56mm
Reticle: Second Focal Plane with MOA subtensions at 40X power
Tube diameter: 30mm, Nitrogen filled
Length: 16.9 inches
Weight: 31.4 ounces
Click Value: 1/8 MOA with 20 MOA per revolution
Range of adjustments: 5.3 ft. elevation/ 3.6 ft. windage @ 100 meters
Field of view at 100m: 8.7 feet @10X and 3.6 feet @ 50X
Parallax Control: Parallax ring is centrally mounted on same axis as elevation knob.
Parallax Range: 8m to infinity
Eye relief: 3.74 inches

I first got to test the Kahles in competition at a 300-yard match. The scope performed flawlessly with spot-on, positive adjustments. The central-mounted parallax ring worked perfectly, giving me parallax-free viewing with the ring set on 300. The quick focus ocular adjustment also brought the image into sharp focus. We had some mirage today, but I had no problem seeing bullet holes with the scope set at 40x. The MOA reticle served me well by allowing me to know how many 1/8 MOA clicks to adjust from the sighter target. I shot my Bartlein 1:13.5″-twist 6mm PPC barrel with N133 and Bart’s 65gr Super Man BT bullets. I shot 296-4X out of 300 possible. The 65gr BT seems to be at its maximum range and I was edged out by an excellent 297/?x by a 6mm Dasher. The scope certainly did its part, but I didn’t.

Shooting the Kahles 10-50X at 200 yards before 300-yard match. The quality of this scope makes zeroing it a pleasure. The clicks are positive and audible.
Kahles MOAK scope 10-50x56mm 10x-50x james mock field test review

Kahles Performs Superbly Shooting the Square
With every new scope that I test, I shoot the “square” (a box test). This target below above has ½ inch squares and my aim point was the small square in the lower right quadrant. I shot two shots at it then moved the windage knob 5 MOA left and fired one. I then moved 5 up and fired again; moved 5 right and fired; followed by my final shot after clicking 5 MOA down. This last shot went through the hole made by the original two shots! That’s amazing. These were shot at 100m without wind flags.

Kahles MOAK scope 10-50x56mm 10x-50x james mock field test review

Shooting with the Kahles in 600-Yard Competition
On the 3rd Saturday of the month, we shoot a 600-yard match consisting of four, 5-shot targets on the IBS target. The 600-yard match demands a scope that is very reliable and “spot on” in its adjustments. Since I don’t have a 600-yard range on which to zero, I simply zero at 100 yards and click up 11 MOA. At our matches we shoot steel gongs for sighting in. There is NO sight-in period before the match — all competitors are expected to be “on target” upon arrival. I had to put my faith in the Kahles click values.

Our 600-yard match was my first opportunity to use the Kahles at that distance. I shot the scope set at 40X all day. The crisp adjustments allowed me to get on target quickly and in the first match, I shot a respectable 48/50 with 1X. NOTE: for this 600-yard match I replaced my 6 PPC barrel with an 8-twist 6mm Dasher. I use 32.8 grains of Varget pushing a Bart Sauter 105gr rebated boat tail bullet.

Testing with Hood Scope Checker
Many shooters’ primary concern with scopes used for competitive shooting is their ability to hold point of aim (POA). To test the Kahles, I mounted it on the Hood Scope Checker alongside my 36X Valdada. By aiming both scopes at a given point on the paper and firing several shots, one can determine if either of the scopes’ POA is moving. I don’t have a “frozen” scope to use, but the Valdada has been rock solid for me during many competitions over the last eight years. Pictured below is the setup that I used to test the scopes.

Kahles MOAK scope 10-50x56mm 10x-50x james mock field test review

Kahles MOAK scope 10-50x56mm 10x-50x james mock field test review

It is a pleasure to test a scope of this quality. Everything works as advertised and there are no unpleasant surprises. Many premium scopes fail the POA test outlined above. If a scope holds point of aim, has repeatable crisp adjustments, and sharp clear images, what more could a person ask?

Summary: A Quality Optic with Great Performance
Although I am still evaluating this scope, there are some definite conclusions that I have reached. This scope is for the person who will not compromise his demands for quality, regardless of price. This is not the most expensive large scope on the market at $2799.00, but it represents an extremely high-quality product for those willing to pay a premium for a premium product.

Are there things that I do not like about this scope? Yes, the primary one is the weight (31.4 ounces). This is not a problem for those shooting long range with 17- or 22-pound limits, but the weight is a consideration for those shooting short range benchrest varmint classes (10.5 or 13.5 pounds). Also, I would appreciate screw-on lens caps rather that the large bulky cover. I know that both of these are minor things and do not reflect the quality of the instrument.

If I had to offer any type of critique, it would be for a lower price and lighter weight. I cannot fault the price or weight too much however because quality costs and the scope has large objective lens and a sturdy tube. All in all, I can recommend this scope without reservation to all who want the best and have the ability to pay for same. — James Mock

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Optics 6 Comments »
July 30th, 2017

Howa Mini Action Rifles Reviewed by 6.5 Guys

Howa Mini Action Rifle 6.5 Guys 65guys.com Legacy Sports 6.5 Grendel 7.62x39

We’ve been fans of the Howa Mini Action rifles since they were introduced a couple years ago. With actions that are nearly an inch shorter than typical “short actions”, these Mini Action rigs work great as a compact “truck gun” or carry-around varminter. Current chamberings are: .204 Ruger, .222 Rem, .223 Rem, 6.5 Grendel, and 7.62×39. There are 20″ lightweight, 20″ heavy contour, and 22″ standard contour barrel options.

6.5 Guy Ed Mobley Tests the 7.62×39 Howa Mini Action Rifle
Howa Mini Action Rifle 6.5 Guys 65guys.com Legacy Sports 6.5 Grendel 7.62x39

The Howa Mini Action rifles come with the excellent HACT 2-stage trigger and a 5-round or 10-round, synthetic detachable box mag (depending on caliber). The Mini Action’s bolt is 13% shorter than on regular short actions, providing a shorter, faster bolt throw. Weight is also reduced. This makes for a nice, compact (and very shootable) package.

6.5 Guys Test Howa Mini Actions in 6.5 Grendel and 7.62×39

The 6.5 Guys recently secured a pair of Howa Mini Actions, one chambered in 6.5 Grendel and the other in 7.62×39 Russian: “After trying out the Howa Mini Action rifles at SHOT Show 2017, we got a couple of loaners in 6.5 Grendel and 7.62×39 courtesy of Legacy Sports. These rifles are known for their smooth cycling and lightweight actions, as well as some unique chamberings for bolt rifles (6.5 Grendel, 7.62×39). Long story short, we really enjoyed them.” In fact Steve liked his 6.5 Grendel enough that he plans to purchase the gun. Get the full scoop in this VIDEO REVIEW:

The folks at Legacy Sports also conducted extensive accuracy tests of commercial ammunition in 6.5 Grendel and 7.62×39. The most accurate 6.5 Grendel ammo, with a stunning 0.29″ group, was Alexander Arms with Lapua 123gr Scenar; second best (0.56″ group) was Hornady with 123gr A-Max bullet. The most accurate 7.62×39 ammo was Hornady 123gr SST with a 0.62″ group in the 20″ Heavy Barrel version. View Howa’s Test Reports with these links:

6.5 Grendel Factory Ammo Data | 7.62×39mm Factory Ammo Data

Howa Mini Action Rifle 6.5 Guys 65guys.com Legacy Sports 6.5 Grendel 7.62x39
Click HERE for full-screen image.

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
July 25th, 2017

John Whidden Wins 2017 NRA Long Range Championship

Whidden Gunworks 2017 Long Range High Power National Champion Camp Atterbury Indiana

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks has won his fifth Long Range National Championship, his second title in a row (he also won the LR Title in 2016). This year, competing at Camp Atterbury in Indiana, Whidden pulled together a gritty, come-from-behind victory. John won the title by shooting a perfect 450-28X (not dropping a point) in the final Palma match on the last day of the Long Range Championship. While Whidden, who finished at 1246-91X, edged runner-up Phillip Crowe (1245-68X) by just one point, John enjoyed a huge X-Count margin. Finishing third was past High Power and Long Range National Champion Nancy Tompkins (1244-65X). Here are the Top Ten finishers:

Whidden Gunworks 2017 Long Range High Power National Champion Camp Atterbury Indiana

Whidden’s Perfect Palma Match
Whidden secured the 2017 LR Title by shooting “clean” (not dropping a point) in the tough Palma competition. In the NRA Palma match, rifles must be .223 Rem or .308 Winchester, with metallic sights (no scopes). The match is conducted at three yardages, 15 shots at each distance of 800/900/1000 yards, with unlimited sighters at 800 and two sighters at 900 and 1000.

John liked the Camp Atterbury facility and he credited his equipment for his 2017 victory: “With the change to the new Camp Atterbury venue, many shooters were a little unsure how things were going to shake out. But it all turned out really well. All of my equipment shot fantastic all week long — that certainly made shooting a big score easier.”

Whidden’s Championship-Winning Rifle
Since John captured his fifth Long Range crown with a superb performance in the Palma match, we thought we’d give readers a look at John’s very special Palma rifle. This unique .308 Win prone rifle features a Barnard “P” action in a converted aluminum Anschutz “Precise” smallbore (rimfire) stock. The combo of Barnard action and Anschutz ergonomics is hard to beat, says John, who told us: “this is easily the best Palma rifle I’ve ever had.” John told us this gun handles like no other: “After recoil, with this Anschutz stock, the sights fall right back on target — better than any other prone rifle I’ve shot”.

As a bonus, the Barnard “drop-in” required no modification of the Anschutz Precise stock. This means John can actually swap in his rimfire barreled action and shoot smallbore with the same stock.

Sling Rifle Evolved: The Ultra-Accurate Hybrid Palma Rifle

by John Whidden
The mental component of Long Range competitive shooting is always challenging but having tremendous confidence in the accuracy of your equipment is a huge benefit. There’s nothing to start your Palma match off well like knowing that you are shooting the most accurate Palma rifle you’ve ever owned.

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

Whidden Palma Rifle
Action: Barnard “P” (three lugs, 60° bolt lift)
Barrel: Bartlein 32″, Light Palma contour, cryo-treated by 300 Below.
Stock: Anschutz Precise aluminum smallbore stock, set up for centerfire barreled action.
Trigger: Barnard Two-Stage adjustable

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

Whidden’s Wonder-Gun: German Stock, New Zealand Action, American Barrel
John built this Palma rifle in early 2016. With it, John won back-to-back long-range Championships in 2016 (Camp Perry) and 2017 (Camp Atterbury). The major components are: Barnard ‘P’ action, Anschutz Precise smallbore stock, and Bartlein barrel. The caliber is .308 Win, as dictated by the Palma rules. Palma matches are fired from 800, 900, and 1000 yards utilizing iron sights only. No optical sights are allowed.

The Anchutz Precise stock is so well-designed that once I finished adjusting the details, I realized that my hold was about 1/3 smaller than with the stocks I shot previously. While in recoil the gun will track vertically and fall back down right on my own target just as it should. In the past, with my other Palma rifles, it was frankly sometimes a struggle to get them to settle back on target after a shot.

Whidden Gunworks has installed a variety of different actions in the Anschutz Precise stocks. Though the stocks are designed for the .22 LR caliber 2013 action rifles, we’ve successfully installed Barnard, Kelbly, Bat, Nesika, and Remington clone actions into them. The Barnard Model P makes a particularly simple installation because there is no modification necessary to the stock at all. A competitor can then shoot both his centerfire rifle as well as his smallbore gun in the exact same stock. The location of the trigger and bolt handle on the Barnard are positioned just right to make this work. Other actions do require at least some amount of modification to the stock, and we have found the Barnard works the best.

Barnard manufactures several models of actions as part of their lineup. All of the actions in the lineup use three lug bolts which give a shorter 60-degree bolt lift when opening and closing. All of the critical surfaces are machined after heat treating. This means that they are exceptionally true and square, more so than other actions. The Model P action is most familiar to Palma and F-Class shooters and are commonly seen on the firing line. The fact that Model P actions include an excellent two-stage trigger makes also the pricing very attractive.

Based on my previous excellent experiences, I selected Bartlein barrels for this rifle. When shooting internationally in the Palma matches we are restricted to 155 grain .308 bullets, but I made the unusual choice of a 1-10″ twist for these bullets. I’ve shot this fast twist for some years with the 155s with good success and it’s pleasing to know that Bryan Litz is finding benefits in some cartridges to shooting faster twist rates than we previously thought we needed. The load is Vihtavuori N140 Powder with Berger 155gr Hybrid bullets. The chamber is the 2011 Palma and the barrel is a Light Palma contour finished at 32” length. The barrel was cryo-treated by 300 Below. The point of impact isn’t changed at all by barrel heating and the accuracy is incredible regardless of the temperature of the barrel. This can’t be said of all the barrels I’ve owned.

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

Get Your Own Whidden Wonder-Gun for $4500.00
Like what you see — but wonder how much it will cost? Whidden Gunworks can build you a rig like this, fitting a centerfire barreled action in the Anschutz Precise stock. John tells us: “The price of a rifle like this one but without sights or mounts would be just under $4500.00. We attempt to keep all of the parts except the stock in inventory, so lead time should be under eight (8) weeks.”

Stock Offers Great Adjustability
John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stockOne thing that is quickly noticed about the Anschutz Precise stock is its adjustability. The engineers did a very good job of allowing many of these adjustments to be made while in the shooting position, most notably the cheekpiece adjustments. When a shooter picks up a Precise stock for the first time they also notice how narrow the fore-end is. This really contributes to reducing the pain in the forward hand in prone when shooting with a sling. This stock is, by far, the most comfortable sling stock I’ve ever handled.

This rifle was very accurate right away and very comfortable to shoot. I’ve built some really good shooting Palma rifles but this is easily the best Palma rifle I’ve ever had. The Barnard action with its superb quality and excellent two-stage trigger has been the best choice I could have made. When you can go to the firing line knowing that you have the very best, the foundation for success has been set.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 6 Comments »
July 24th, 2017

MasterPiece Arms Releases Rimfire Tactical Rifle

MPA BA rifle .22 LR rimfire
Don’t worry — you can get this gun in eight different Cerakote colors: black, bronze, flat dark earth, gunmetal, marine red, NRA blue, green, and tungsten.

PRS and tactical shooters take note — you can now buy what may be the perfect “turn-key” PRS rimfire cross-training rig. The new rimfire MPA 22BA Bolt Action Rifle combines the proven CZ 455 action with a custom Spencer barrel and modern MPA modular chassis. With this chassis you can easily adjust length of pull, butt-pad height/cant, and cheek riser position. Chambered in .22 LR, the MPA 22BA Bolt Action Rifle can change to .22 WMR and 17 HMR through a simple barrel change. So, this gun can do double duty as a .22 LR trainer and a 17 HMR varmint slayer. Basic MSRP is $1599.00.

The MPA 22BA Bolt Action Rifle is available with numerous rugged Cerakote finishes: black, burnt bronze, flat dark earth, gunmetal, marine red, NRA blue, sniper green, and tungsten. Custom Cerakote colors cost $135 extra for the chassis body and/or $65 for the barreled action.

MPA 22BA Bolt Action Rifle Specifications:
Caliber: .22 LR (.22 WMR and 17 HMR via barrel change)
Action: CZ 455
Chassis: MPA CZ455 BA Chassis, 13.50″ – 14.75″ LOP
Barrel: 416RQ Stainless Steel Spencer / MPA barrel, 1:16″ twist
Barrel Length/Countour: 16-24” (customer specified), 0.920″ straight
Barrel Muzzle Thread: ½-28 TPI (if requested)
Trigger: CZ 455 Trigger (yoDave Trigger Upgrade, 1-3 lbs.)
Magazine: CZ 455 10 round polymer magazine with DIP floorplate
MSRP: $1,599.00

The CNC-machined MPA chassis has some very cool features: enhanced vertical grip, thumb notch, built-in bubble level, MPA trigger shoe, and spigot mount with lower-mounted Picatinny rail. The rig comes with a D.I.P. +25 MOA Picatinny scope base and you can add side Picatinny rails, as well as increase the distance from the spigot-mounted bipod to the rear support. The chassis is also compatible with a barricade stop system, an extra-cost option.

Why rimfire cross-training? Because this stuff is ten cents per round. Premium handloads can run $1.00/round (counting brass depreciation), and the best factory ammo can cost over $2.00/round.
tactical .22 LR rimfire norma

A Rifle is Only As Good As Its Barrel
The key to accuracy for any rimfire rifle is a great barrel. The MPA 22BA Bolt Action Rifle includes a precision drilled, reamed, and honed Spencer / MPA rifle barrel made from 416RQ stainless steel. The hand-lapped barrel is inspected with a video borescope. The chamber is indicated within 0.0001” or less to the bore of the rifle.

MPA BA rifle .22 LR rimfire

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