This Christmas Santa (in the guise of John Loh) brought us a most wonderful gift — a special edition JJ Industries front Ultra-Rest, customized for AccurateShooter.com + 6mmBR.com. If you have never used (or fondled) a John Loh rest, we can assure you it is a masterpiece of machining. Loh Rests are rock-solid and utterly smooth in use. The horizontal windage tracking is perfect — absolutely smooth and linear. You can move the windage all the way from max left to max right and back again and your horizontal cross-hair stays rock steady. And for fine elevation adjustments, the gold-tone “speed screw” is as good as it gets. John employs a super-fine thread pitch so you can easily make very precise up/down corrections.
The “feel” of the controls is what really sets a John Loh rest apart from the competition. Everything is ultra-smooth — as though the controls were running on tiny ball bearings. This is achieved by maintaining super-fine tolerances on all threaded components.
Click Photo to see LARGE Size
Separate Base Unit Provides Secure Footing
John Loh also provided a custom triangle base, which mates perfectly to the three adjustable feet on the pedestal rest. This base, which has circular rubber pads at each of the corners, provides extra grip and stability for the rest. In addition, it allows you to position the front rest securely without creating screw holes in your benchtop. (In case you’re wondering, yes if you already own a Loh rest, John can craft a triangle base like this for your unit.) Also, FYI, the small scratches in the base unit were our fault — we didn’t retract the pointed tips of the height-adjustment screws when transporting the unit. FYI, in the triangle base, John does machine three countersunk recesses for the screw-tips, so you can precisely locate the rest each time without scratches. To avoid scratches, simply carry the black Ultra-Rest separate from the triangle base.
Click Photo to see LARGE Size
Another nice feature John provided in our special rest was an extra black rectangular “riser” block that fits between the normal base and the upper section (riser not shown in photos). This raises the whole bag assembly up an extra inch. That extra “lift” comes in handy when your target is placed “uphill” at a much higher elevation than the benchtop. The riser block is so nicely made and finished that it looks like part of the original unit when installed.
Click Photo to see LARGE Size
Edgewood Bag and Bag-Block Included
As with all his pedestal rests, John Loh supplies a high-quality Edgewood leather and cordura bag in your choice of fore-arm width. In addition, the rest comes with a precision-crafted bag-block, with integral bubble level. The bag-block helps maintain the proper front bag geometry, and the level helps you ensure that the bag itself provides a level surface for your rifle. This is important! Many people level their rest, only to have a bag that is higher on one side than the other. In addition to the level in the bag-block, the Loh rest features an easy-to-see bubble level mounted on the rear-facing leg.
If you’re interested in purchasing a JJ Industries front Ultra-Rest, contact John Loh at (562) 602-5553 or email info [at] jj-industries.com. Sinclair Int’l also sells the JJ Industries Ultra-Rest for $879.95, but the product is currently back-ordered at Sinclair. We suggest you order directly through John.
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Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a chance to test and evaluate a one-piece shooting rest designed by Wally Brownlee of TargetShooting.com. The model 1000LP rest is solid, strong, nicely-machined, and versatile. We found it provides a very stable platform for every kind of rifle — from big magnums all the way down to benchrest air rifles.
The 1000LP rest is distinguished by its use of two (2) leather sandbags, a normal-sized one in the front and a compact mini-bag in the rear. Many other one-piece target rests use low-friction pads or Delrin contacts in the rear. The typical “lead-sled” rests use a solid cradle or V-block in the rear. The small, cube-like, rear mini-bag helps the model 1000LP out-perform typical, one-piece steady-rests. The small rear bag, which is supported by metal plates on three sides, does a great job stabilizing your gun. We also found that the combination of front and rear sandbags seems to provide good vibration damping — something that really helps with precision shooting.
When our designated trigger-puller Joe Friedrich tried the 1000LP with his tuned rimfire benchrest rifle, he immediately noticed that his gun shot amazingly well. Joe owns a variety of high-quality, one-piece rests, and the model 1000LP produced results equal to the best of them. Consider this, in Joe’s ARA unlimited discipline, a perfect score on a 25-bull target is a 2500, with “worst edge” scoring. “Perfect” 2500s are very rare. Only a handful are shot each year in ARA competition. Now get this, Joe managed to shoot multiple 2500s in a row off this rest, and he did that shooting in a variety of conditions (with different lots of ammo) over a 24-hour period. Joe was amazed that this rest, which was not designed for rimfire benchrest competition, could perform so well.
The model 1000LP has many features which contribute to the rest’s fine performance. First, as noted above, the small, 3-way-braced rear bag really seems to work, as long as it fits your stock well. Second, the windage control (which can be switched from left side to right side), is extremely precise and positive — it has zero slop. Third, the 1000LP has a relatively low-mass center bridge connecting the higher-mass front and rear sections. We think this barbell-type design, combined with the integral hand-rest, helps quell vibrations. Finally, the rear height control lets you make fine elevation adjustments without altering the gun’s position on the front bag.
The 1000LP Works Well for Many Purposes
While we were enthusiastic about the 1000LP’s performance with a rimfire benchrest rifle, we want to stress that this rest was not optimized for smallbore shooting. In fact the 1000LP was designed primarily to provide a stable platform for centerfire rifles. It works great for sighting in your hunting rifle, and it is a fine choice for varminters shooting off a field bench. Though not as fast to adjust as a joystick rest, the 1000LP is no slouch. The rear elevation knob is very quick and easy to employ, while the windage adjustment provides precise horizontal tracking with no vertical or diagonal drift. And because the front support is connected rigidly to the rear section, your front and rear bag always stay in perfect alignment, shot after shot. In the video below you can see Wally Brownlee shooting a 22-250 varmint rifle off his 1000LP rest. Note how well the gun tracks, and how little torque and hop there are, even with a narrow sporter-style stock. (Of course, the installed suppressor does reduce some recoil.)
1000LP Breaks Down into Sections for Transport
The TargetShooting.com model 1000LP easily breaks down into two or three sections. This makes it is easier to pack up and transport than most one-piece rests. The 1000LP also allows easy exchange of front bag assemblies so you can quickly switch from a 3″-wide bag to a narrow front bag for thinner, hunter-style fore-ends. A variety of accessories are available for the model 1000LP, including extra quick-release front bag units ($125.00), large-diameter machined discs for the feet (for added stability), and a dual-rail, front fore-end stop ($89.95).
Model 1000LP Starts at $699.95
Are there downsides to the model 1000LP? Well at $699.95 for the base unit, the 1000LP is far more expensive than a typical Lead Sled-type one-piece rest sold for hunters. However, that’s like comparing a Mercedes with a Yugo. The 1000LP is far more sophisticated than a Lead Sled. Plus, as Joe demonstrated, the model 1000LP can do double-duty as a true competition rest. Don’t even think about using a primitive $130.00 Lead Sled in ARA benchrest competition.
We also found that peak performance demands careful sandbag packing and a good fit of the rear bag to your particular stock. Someone who shoots multiple rifles may want to purchase more than one rear mini-bag so that the rear bag-to-stock fit is optimal. Joe found that bag-to-stock matching was important if you want to shoot ultra-small groups off this rest.
If you are interested in the model 1000LP one-piece rest, visit www.TargetShooting.com or call Wally Brownlee at (800) 611-2164, or +1 605-868-2164 (int’l).
Disclosure: TargetShooting.com provided a “loaner” 1000LP (with accessories) for testing, but Joe Friedrich then purchased the rest at a slight discount off retail.
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Smith & Wesson’s M&P pistols have become quite popular. Many law enforcement agencies have moved away from Glock in favor of the American-made M&P. If you own or shoot an M&P, now you can train with a .22LR version that has the same size, shape, and controls as your centerfire M&P. Smith & Wesson plans to release its new M&P22 semi-auto pistol very soon. Offered with either 10- or 12-round magazines (depending on local laws), the new M&P 22 looks just like its big brother. One large dealer has listed a sales price of $364, based on a $419.00 MSRP, but the guns aren’t available quite yet. We expect to learn more at SHOT show.
In general, we commend S&W for producing a rimfire clone of its M&P duty pistols. This allows M&P owners to cross-train with inexpensive .22LR ammo, without having to adapt to different ergonomics. Reportedly made by Walther, we suspect the new M&P22 will be reasonably accurate, but we’re skeptical of the quality of the trigger. Hopefully it will be better than the trigger on the full-size M&Ps.
Of course, if you want a superb trigger in a .22LR semi-auto pistol, there is the classic S&W model 41. For $1700.00 to $2000.00 you can find the fully engraved, 50th Anniversary Model 41 in presentation case on Gunbroker.com. First released in 2008, the engraved model 41 combines superior accuracy with stunning appearance.
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Christmas is less than a week away, so today we’re offering a selection of last-minute “stocking stuffers” for precision shooters. So as not to bust your holiday budget, all of our selections are priced under $10.00. Despite their low price, many of these items are handy tools that you’ll use over and over again at the range and/or at your loading bench.
Tactical Xmas Stocking
But first things first — to hold our selected gifts, first you need a handsome Christmas stocking to stuff. What better option for a shooter than than a tactical Xmas stocking from LA Police Gear? On the outside are two mag pouches, a flash-light holder, and a pocket for toy guns. There is also a Velcro square where you can attach a large variety of Milspec Monkey Patches. Offered in tactical black or Desert Tan, these Christmas holster stockings retail for $13.99 each (patches sold separately). There is also a $10.99 version with just MOLLE straps (no external pouches). Be the envy of all your tacti-cool friends.
Gifts $1 to $5
Hood Kwik Estimator
Bifocal 3X/6X Magnifier
Barrel Mirage Shade
Surveyors’ Tape. You should always watch the wind when you shoot. Inexpensive, Day-Glo Surveyors’ Tape, attached to a stake or target frame, makes a great wind indicator. It will flutter even in mild breezes, alerting you to both angle and velocity shifts. This should be part of every range kit. Don’t leave home without it.
Hood Kwik Estimator. Here’s a very handy tool to measure your 6mm groups. Bracket the group within the diverging lines of the Kwik Estimator and you’ll instantly get a good approximation of the actual group size. No more trips to the tool box for calipers. The inexpensive Kwik Estimator fits in a shirt pocket. (Thanks to Boyd Allen for this suggestion.)
Bifocal 3X/6X magnifier. This handy, inexpensive dual-power magnifier is always close at hand on our loading bench, because it helps with so many task. We use a compact magnifier to inspect bullet tips, to check brass chamfers, and inspect the internals of triggers and other parts. Priced at just $2.95, a magnifier like this (or the folding variety) is a “must-have” item for every hand-loader.
Sinclair Barrel Mirage Shade. For high-volume varminters, and competitors who shoot fast in warm weather, a mirage shield is absolutely essential. This prevents hot air rising off the barrel from distorting the image in your scope. The aluminum Sinclair shield can be trimmed to fit, and comes with stick-on Velcro attachments. Two lengths are available: 18″ for short BR barrels, and 24″ for longer barrels.
Gifts $6 to $10
Ballistol Aerosol Lube
Sinclair Barrel Bag
Sinclair Load Block
Dewey Crocogator. The Crocogator tool, with knurled “teeth” at both ends, is simple, inexpensive, and compact. Yet nothing zips though primer-pocket gunk faster or better. Unlike some cutter-tipped primer pocket tools, the Crocogator removes the carbon quick and easy without shaving brass. One end is sized for large primer pockets, the other for small.
Ballistol Aerosol Lube. Ballistol is a versatile, non-toxic product with many uses in the reloading room. We have found it is ideal for lubricating cases for normal full-length sizing. It is clear, not gooey or chalky like other lubes. It is very, very slippery, yet is easy to apply and just as easy to wipe off. As you lube your cases, the Ballistol will also clean powder fouling off the case necks. For heavy-duty case forming and neck expansion, we’ll still use Imperial die wax, but for every-day case sizing, Ballistol is our first choice. It also helps prevent your dies from rusting and it even conditions leather. Ballistol is a favored bore cleaner for Black Powder shooters because it neutralizes acidic powder residues.
Sinclair Barrel Bag. If you run a switch-barrel rig, or take spare barrels to a big match, this simple but effective barrel bag will protect your valuable steel. The bag is moisture-resistant vinyl on the outside with a soft, quilted interior to protect the barrel’s finish and delicate crown. The 26″ bag costs $8.95, while a 31″ bag costs $9.50. Either way, it is cheap insurance for those priceless barrels.
Sinclair ‘Poly’ Loading Block. We’ve tried wood and injection-molded loading trays, and we like Sinclair’s white polyethylene loading blocks the best. They fit BR, .308, and 6.5-284 cases very well, with chamfered holes sized for the particular case you reload. The blocks are heavy enough to be stable on the bench, and the “dishwasher-friendly” material is easy to clean. The PBX model hold 50 cases, while the PLX version holds 25 cases with a tray for empties. There is also a heavy-duty model (08-4275) with an extra-thick 1″ base. Sinclair’s loading blocks are superior products at a fair price.
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Most reloaders have used a powder trickler at one time or another. However, they can be frustrating to use for a variety of reasons — e.g. the tube is too short, or the trickler is too low, or the unit isn’t stable enough, or the powder volume isn’t adequate. Well, the inventors of the Omega Powered Powder Trickler have considered all those practical shortcomings in existing tricklers, and built a superior product — a “better mouse trap.”
Every aspect of the new $55.00 Omega powered trickler (from Dandy Products LLC) shows smart thinking. First, hopper height can be adjusted from 1/2″ to 5.5″ high. The tube is long enough to reach the middle of large-footprint scales such as the Denver Instrument MXX-123. And the outer end of the tube is cut at an angle, so you can see the powder kernels as they flow out — no more surprise clumps that raise your charge 0.2 grains. The powder hopper itself is bigger than most, holding a full 1000 grains. That lets you load all afternoon without having to constantly replenish your trickler.
In practice, the Omega trickler is easy to use. It is reasonably fast, while being as precise as anything on the market. The unit is controlled by a two-button control pad, with a black button for slow feed and red button for fast feed. You can use the fast button to load the bulk of reloading powder and then use the slow button to maximize the accuracy of your load. The control pad is connected to the dispenser by a 24″ cable. That two-foot cable run allows plenty of trickler placement options on your bench. Watch the video below to see the Omega Trickler in use.
Omega User Comments
Posting on 24HourCampfire.com, JasonK gave the Omega Trickler high marks: “This thing rocks! It can trickle fast, it can trickle slow, it can drop a kernel or two at a time. After ordering my Omega I quickly shopped for an Acculab VIC-123 scale, accurate to within .02 grains.”
Another Omega user, In2Deep, writes: “You can actually tap the low-speed button and drop kernels while watching the scale. After a little practice it only takes a few seconds to trickle up a load. Using an Acculab 123 scale, it can drop charges that repeatedly read down to around 4 one-hundredth’s of a grain. It turned out to be a tool that really works and saves time. There are rubber feet on the unit and surprisingly it does not cause interference with the digital scale which is often mentioned as a problem with most of the vibratory tricklers. Not many products are even worth the time to do a testimonial but this is a winner[.]”
Forum member Barry O (aka TheBlueEyedBear) has been using an Omega Trickler for a while, and he currently has a second-generation (upgraded) unit on his bench. Barry likes the unit, with some reservations. Barry tells us: “it took me some time to get used to it. One main gripe is the length of time it takes to get the thing primed and ready to dispense powder. But after that, not too bad. I still use my trusty tweezers for fine tuning loads.”
Handy View Prism for Beam Scale Viewing
For reloders using balance-beam scales, Omega offers a clever portable prism that makes it much easier to see the tip of the balance beam, when the scale is on the benchtop. Omega’s Handy View accessory mounts a prism in a plastic stand. The prism changes the sightline so you can easily monitor the beam tip without having to bend down to see the beam alignment marks.
The prism slides up/down and swivels (around horizontal axis) to allow adjustment of viewing angle. It is a simple set-up, but it really works, allowing you to monitor scale beam movement with greater precision (and less neck strain). The Handy View costs $17.95, and is offered with either a yellow stand or clear plastic stand. You can see how the Handy View works in the video below.
Thanks to Boyd Allen for suggesting this product for review.
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With the price of some premium scopes approaching $3000.00 (and beyond), it’s more important than ever to provide extra protection for your expensive optics. ScopeCoat produces covers that shield scopes with a layer of neoprene rubber (wetsuit material) sandwiched between nylon. In addition to its basic covers, sold in a variety of sizes and colors, ScopeCoat has a line of heavy-duty 6mm products that provide added security.
Triple-Thickness XP-6 Model for Added Protection
The XP-6 Flak Jacket™ is specifically designed for extra protection and special applications. The 6mm-thick layer of neoprene is three times thicker than the standard ScopeCoat. XP-6 Flak Jackets are designed for tall turrets, with sizes that accommodate either two or three adjustment knobs (for both side-focus and front-focus parallax models). To shield an expensive NightForce, March, or Schmidt & Bender scope, this a good choice. XP-6 covers come in black color only, and are available for both rifle-scopes and spotting scopes.
The heavily padded XP-6 Flak Jacket is also offered in a Zippered version, shown at right. This is designed for removable optics that need protection when in storage. The full-length, zippered closure goes on quick-and-easy and provides more complete protection against dust, shock, and moisture. MSRP is $30.00.
Special Covers for Binos and Red-Dots
ScopeCoat offers many specialized products, including oversize covers for spotting scopes, protective “Bino-Bibs” for binoculars, rangefinder covers, even sleeves for small pistol scopes and red-dot optics. There are also custom-designed covers for the popular Eotech and Trijicon tactical optics. Watch the Shooting USA video below to see some of ScopeCoat’s latest specialty covers.
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GunVault has unveiled a new, affordable security system for AR-platform rifles. The patent-pending AR MagVault ($24.95 MSRP) is a key-lock-controlled bright orange nylon block that fits in AR magwells. When engaged, the AR MagVault blocks magazine access, and more importantly, prevents the bolt from cycling. Once the AR MagVault is locked into place, a round cannot be inserted or chambered.
According to the manufacturer, the AR MagVault fits virtually all .223/5.56 AR-platform rifles. We like this well-designed product. The fiberglass-reinforced nylon block seems sturdy. It can supplement the use of a chamber safety flag at the range (the hi-viz orange color makes it easy to see the block is in place). In addition the AR MagVault can provide added security when an AR is transported or stored in a gun safe. Our only concern is the key system — we’d rather see a combination lock. As blogger Robert Farago cautions: “Don’t lose that key!” For additional info, visit GunVault.com.
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We’re often asked: “What’s the best way to set up a spotting scope for shooting from a bench?” Some guys have spotting scopes set on big full-size tripods positioned to the side of the bench. That will work, but it normally requires you to move way out of position to look through your scope. Also, if you place the tripod as close to the bench as possible, one of the tripod legs will extend down close to your foot. It is all too easy to jostle the tripod with your foot or knee and move the scope off your target. We’ve also seen folks with spotting scopes mounted on compact camera tripods set directly on the bench. Again, this is not a very good solution. These small tripods position the spotting scope too high. Small camera tripods are also really too light and flimsy to hold a big, heavy spotter, with a 65mm or larger front objective. You really need a better set-up. You want to mount the spotting scope so, when you are in shooting positino, the eyepiece is close to your head — allowing easy viewing without moving your whole body away from the rifle.
Scope Stands for Bench Use
The best system for mounting a spotting scope to a bench was the Ray-Vin Ultimate Benchrest Stand. This clamped securely to the side of the bench and was a very high-quality piece of gear. Unfortunately, Ray Brandes of Ray-Vin has retired and his clamping benchrest scope stand is currently out of production. If you can find one for sale second-hand — snag it. If you can’t locate a Ray-Vin clamping stand, don’t despair, Creedmoor Sports has come out with a clamping-type Spotting Scope Bench-mount that is only $79.95 without head. This features 1″-diam vertical shaft so it can be used with most scope-holding heads that can adapt to a 1″ tube, such as a Ray-Vin head, Big Blue head, or Creedmoor’s new Polecat head. The clamp mount secures the rig anywhere you want along the side of the bench. You can easily adjust the scope height and fore/aft position relative to the shooter. The Ray-Vin head, now sold by Creedmoor, features a twist handle with a ball joint on the end. This then lets you set the scope (and angled eyepiece) to any angle you want. It’s a very slick system.
The Creedmoor Bench-mount is currently back-ordered, but Creedmoor expects to receive product before the end of the year. The Polecat head is available now for $139.95. Creedmoor, which has taken over production of the Ray-Vin scope stand head, is taking orders for the Ray-Vin head currently. No release date is offered. However, there should be some 1″ Ray-Vin heads on the used market.
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As part of MidwayUSA’s Black Friday Week Sale, which ends today, Nov. 29th, MidwayUSA has discounted its popular Competition Series range bags. Both the compact version and the full-size range bags are deeply discounted for the remainder of today. The Compact Range Bag is just $29.99 in either black or olive drab, and the Large Range Bag, which is almost the size of a travel duffle, is $39.99 in black or OD. We think you’ll be very satisfied with either product (we like the OD color best). In April we field-tested the compact model and we were very impressed with the design and the quality. Below are highlights from our field-test. CLICK HERE for FULL TEST STORY.
MidwayUSA Compact Competition Range Bag
Measuring 16″L x 12″W x 10″H, this Compact Range Bag is definitely smaller than MidwayUSA’s popular Large Range Bag (22″L x 15″W x 10″H). However, the “Compact” version will hold plenty of gear — pretty much all a pistol shooter will need at the range. For a rifle shooter, it will haul ammo boxes, earmuffs, magazines, and other miscellaneous gear. The bag is made from a strong, heavy-duty PVC-coated polyester, with high-quality, large-toothed zippers. A comfortable, curved carry strap is secured by sturdy, all-metal clips. The “build quality” is visibly much better than most range bags on the market.
Deceptively Large Capacity for a ‘Compact’ Bag
To test the carrying capacity of the MidwayUSA bag, we loaded it up with 100 rounds of rifle ammo, 600 rounds of centerfire pistol ammo, 500 rounds rimfire, earmuffs and FOUR pistols tucked in the padded side sleeves. All that gear fit nicely with room to spare. (We recommend putting handguns in protective sleeves if you load two per side). The padded, full-width, zippered main pocket keeps seven spare magazines organized and protected. On the reverse side of the bag, a similar, full-length padded pocket provides undivided storage space. The bag’s many pockets make it easy to organize miscellaneous gear such as staple gun, target stickers, small binoculars, timers, and radios.
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Here’s a good deal for a hunter or a tactical competitor who needs a solid, no-BS rucksack with tough construction, good stitching, and sturdy metal fasteners. Sportsman’s Guide is selling genuine U.S. Military Medium ALICE packs for $17.97. These are USED packs, but in good to very good condition. These are the same ALICE (“All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment”) packs carried by U.S. soldiers prior to the introduction of MOLLE system packs.
Note, the $17.97 surplus ALICE packs come without frames. They have adjustable 2 3/4″ shoulder straps with twin 4 1/2 x 11″ shoulder pads, plus lower and upper back pads. The central storage area is enclosed with a drawstring and 2-strap top flap. On the outside are three 5″ x 10″ outer gear pouches secured with metal buckles and web straps. These surplus ALICE Packs are available for $17.97 in either Olive Drab (OD) or Woodland Camo.
ALICE Packs with Frames at ArmyGear.net
If you need an ALICE pack with metal frame, ArmyGear.net has surplus ALICE packs with frames at super-low prices. A Large (2200 cubic-inch capacity) ALICE with frame is just $26.98. This big pack MUST be used with an ALICE Frame — you cannot attach shoulder straps alone. These $26.98 large ALICE packs include frame, shoulder straps, and kidney belt. The 1500-cubic-inch Medium ALICE pack with frame is also $26.98, in woodland camo. The medium pack can be used with or without a frame. ArmyGear.net sells the Medium ALICE without frame in OD for $18.98 with shoulder straps ($19.98 Woodland), or $12.98 without shoulder straps.
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21st Century Shooting has just introduced what may be the most advanced powder funnel on the market. It has everything you could want. The top section is precision ground and polished for a smooth flow. The center has a see-through tube so you can watch the progress of your powder dropping into the case. At the bottom of each funnel is a precision brass collar insert that allows the funnel to stand on the case without tipping off. The collars are offered in nine, caliber-specific sizes: 17cal, 20cal, 22cal, 30cal, 5mm, 5.5mm, 6mm, 6.5mm, and 7mm. In addition, 21st Century offers custom-milled collar inserts fitted precisely to your cases. That way you can get a perfect fit on neck-turned brass. Just mic your casenecks and 21st Century will craft a custom insert.
Each funnel, with one caliber-specific insert, costs $21.75. Additional standard inserts are $5.75. Call 260-273-9909 for pricing on custom inserts.
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Gear Reviewby Germán A. Salazar, Contributing Editor
All of us have at one time or another struggled with glare in the front sight at certain ranges and certain times of year. There are a lot of ways to deal with glare, shade tubes being the most commonly seen. I prefer to avoid any type of extension on the front or rear sight, especially anything that hangs past the muzzle where the muzzle blast can cause damage and in any event, I haven’t found those tubes to be very effective. However, the need to do something about the glare at our south-facing range at the Phoenix Rod & Gun Club has become essential for me. At this time of year, the sun is directly in front at this range and I really struggle to get a clear sight picture.
The photo above, taken on 10/16/2010 clearly illustrates the problem at PRGC as the early morning sun is from the left and front. Note the backlit flag and the direction of the shadows. As the sun continues to rise, it aligns itself right down the range towards the shooters. Apart from the glare, the bull is hard to see on the targets once they’re up because the light is coming from behind the target, not from the front. A very challenging set of light conditions which will worsen from now through February as the sun stays lower in the sky month by month.
Anti-Glare Filters from Art Neergaard
I recently spoke to Art Neergaard about this problem. Art manufactures a number of innovative products for rifle sights through his company ShootingSight LLC and he had an idea for me. The idea was simple in concept, a “donut” filter for the front sight with a hole in the middle so as not to darken the already dim bull and yet, it would cut the glare that otherwise enters the front sight. The picture at left shows the filter mounted on the sight. When you’re looking through the sights, there isn’t the large gap around the aperture, it’s actually a very close match. Sticking the camera right into the sight obviously changes the perspective a bit.
I wanted to evaluate the Centra Goliath 30mm sight on my new Palma tubegun. Since Art intended to make the filters for the 30mm size, this was a good time to begin that evaluation as well. My last match score with this rifle, five weeks ago before the light got bad, was a 600-42X, since then, I’ve had a couple of poor matches with other rifles as the light and glare have really troubled me. With the 600-42 as a “good condition baseline” with this rifle I was eager to see how the filters would work.
Art sent me a few items: two filters (one gray, one orange), and one filter-holder for them, as well as a fixed aperture cut in the same material as the filters, with a beveled edge like the ones available for many years for smaller sights. The filters are interchangeable in the holder and can be changed in a minute or so. The aperture, however, is fixed as the hole is drilled in a lathe after mounting the disc in the holder — this ensures perfect concentricity for the aperture.
Gray Filter Preferred
Arriving at the range, I mounted the high-contrast orange filter first and looked through it. Frankly, although it cut glare well, I hate the look of an orange world! A quick change of filter and another look through the sights showed a good, glare-free and natural-looking sight picture with the gray filter. At right is a photo that shows the relative glare-cutting effect of the gray filter.
Scores Improved with Anti-Glare Filtration
Shooting a good mid-range .308 load with Winchester brass, Federal primers, IMR 4064 (manufactured in 1960, just like me) and moly-coated Sierra 190 gr. bullets, the rifle showed it’s good breeding giving me a 200-12X, 200-15X and 200-14X for a 600-41X, my 22nd score of 600! Well, quite a dramatic improvement over the last couple of weeks when I struggled to shoot 590, and back to the score I shot five weeks ago when the light was still good. Hooray! So yes, I’m very satisfied with the concept of the filter with a hole in it. All the extraneous glare that was hurting my sight picture was gone and the bull remained unimpaired. Not that the bull was too good to begin with as all I can see is a fuzzy gray blob out there, but keeping the center unfiltered was better than some solid filters I’ve tried in the past.
Clear Rain Filters for Front Sights
Art plans to make clear donut filters to use as rain shields for shooters with a front lens in their sight. That would keep raindrops off the lens — especially the middle of the lens where a drop could destroy the shooter’s ability to see the bull properly.
Filter Works with Fixed & Variable Apertures
Although I intended to try the fixed aperture also, I ended up shooting the entire match with the filter and the Centra variable aperture. I’ll try to use the fixed aperture (photo at left) next week. The value of a fixed aperture shouldn’t be underestimated. It provides a lower cost way to use a 30mm sight, an important consideration given the current $175 price of the adjustable aperture. Perhaps just as important, the fixed aperture is something that should be in every high-end shooter’s kit in case of failure of the adjustable, which has been known to happen. If I were traveling across the country or around the world to a match, you can be sure there would be a set of fixed apertures of various sizes in my kit to back up the adjustable iris.