May 7th, 2009

Birders Test 36 Spotting Scopes — Kowa 88mm Tops Field

Spotting Scope ReviewLast year, the Cornell Ornithology Lab conducted ScopeQuest 2008, a detailed comparison test of 36 spotting scopes. Optics (ranging in price from $220.00 to $4500.00) were viewed side-by-side and rated according to sharpness, color fidelity, edge-to-edge focus, brightness, distortion, and general optical quality. The testing team also considered ease of handling/focus, and eye relief (scopes with longer eye relief are better for eyeglass wearers). Two of the finest spotting scopes AccurateShooter.com has used, the Zeiss Diascope 85 T FL, and the Swarovski APS 80 HD, performed very well as expected, and ended up near the top of the list. The TeleVue-85 APO, a very large refractor, received the highest ratings for image quality (both at 20X and 60X), but lost points for easy of use and general “feel”. The overall winner among the 36 spotting scopes tested was the Kowa TSN-883 Prominar, a new-generation spotter with a huge 88mm objective, dual focusing knobs, and spectacular flourite glass. The results of Cornell’s spotting scope test are found on the LivingBird.org website. Click the link below for a charrt ranking all 36 scopes according to their overall ratings.

CLICK HERE for Spotting Scope Test Summary (.pdf file)

Kowa TSN-883 Prominar
CLICK HERE for large photo of Kowa TSN-883 on Tripod.

Ken Rosenberg, summarizing the findings of Cornell’s ScopeQuest testers, named the Kowa TSN-883 the big winner. Rosenberg writes: “Fifteen models competed in the most expensive category, including 12 conventional zoom scopes and three astronomy “cross-overs”[.] Among the conventional scopes, the surprising (to us) and virtually unanimous top-of-the-line ranking went to the Kowa TSN-883 Prominar. In side-by-side comparisons with Swarovski, Leica, Zeiss, and Nikon, both Kowa scopes provided a slightly, but noticeably, brighter and crisper image at 60x than any other scope. The three-dimensional detail visible … with these scopes, even in dim light, is simply phenomenal.”

Swarovski ATS Spotting ScopeRosenberg also gave high praise to the Swarovski ATS 65 HD, noting that it was much lighter and compact than the Kowa 883, while offering nearly the image quality. Rosenberg concludes: “For birders willing to take the plunge for the very best optics at whatever cost, the top choices, in my view, are either the Kowa 883/884 or 773/774 or the Swarovski HD 80mm or 65mm scopes. Any of these top scopes will give you years of pure birding pleasure. Although the larger Kowa offers the brightest, sharpest image available from a conventional zoom scope under the toughest birding conditions, the small Swarovski still delivers the best image per ounce of any scope.”

More Products Worth Considering
The Cornell Test did NOT include some premium spotting scopes, including Pentax’s top-of-the-line PF-100ED, or the new Leica 82mm Televid APO HD. The big Leica APO is considered by many experts to be the new benchmark for spotting scope quality. However, it is enormously expensive. The 82mm Leica APO HD retails for $3200 for the body only. That’s nearly $900 more than the Kowa TSN-883 Prominar body only.

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May 3rd, 2009

RCBS ChargeMaster Slow-Motion Video

RCBS Chargemaster 1500The RCBS Chargemaster 1500 Combo is the #1-selling electronic powder dispenser/scale system on the market. It was the top-performing unit in the Powder Dispenser Comparison Report we did a couple years back, and it still probably offers the best combination of features, speed, and weighing precision. Since its introduction, the RCBS Chargemaster has received a number of refinements. The internal software has been updated, the timing (of the powder drop) has been adjusted, the keypad has been upgraded and other smaller “tweaks” have been made.

If you haven’t tried one of these machines yet, you should. Provided you set it up correctly, making sure it’s level, and away from drafts, the Chargemaster will normally throw charges to ± 0.1 grains. That’s better accuracy than most persons can achieve using a manual powder measure and a balance beam scale (we know… we’ve checked on that.)

Video of RCBS Chargemaster in Slow-Motion
This video, created by a shooter in Norway, shows an RCBS Chargemaster dispensing 43.0 grains of Vihtavuori N140 powder. Using a Casio EX-F1 camera, the video was recorded at a high frame rate — up to 1200 frames per second. This allows very cool “Slow-Motion” playback. Check it out… you can see individual kernels of powder as they drop into the pan. At the end of the video you can watch the charge being thrown in “real-time”. Note how it slows down to trickle the last few tenths of a grain.

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YQlFWdT9-U”]

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May 1st, 2009

Sako Finnfire for Rimfire Tactical Competition

Forum Member Mark E. (Shooter65) is the proud owner of a handsome, very accurate SAKO Finnfire ‘Range’ 22LR rimfire. Fitted with a full-size stock that replicates Tikka’s Master Sporter stocks, SAKO’s Range model has the look and feel of a centerfire gun. The size and ergonomics of the Finnfire Range makes this an excellent cross-training rifle. If you want to train with inexpensive rimfire ammo with a rifle that duplicates the feel of a centerfire, the Finnfire Range is hard to beat. Mark has competed successfully with this rifle in Southern California Rimfire Tactical matches.

Sako finnfire 22LR

Rimfire Tactical SAKO

Mark recently replaced the factory tube with a hand-lapped Lilja barrel. The Lilja barrel has demonstrated superb accuracy. Below is a 10-shot group at 50 yards (left), and a “dot-drill” tactical target shot at 100 yards (right).

Sako finnfire target Sako finnfire target

In the video below, Mark explains the features of his SAKO Finnfire ‘Range’. This video was produced before the addition of the Lilja barrel, but the gun still shot extremely well. Unfortunately, as Mark notes, SAKO has halted production of the Finnfire Range. As a result, prices are rising for this highly desirable rimfire — guns that sold for $850 two years ago are now fetching $1100.00 or more.

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvRPwxoh1_Q”]

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April 26th, 2009

Outstanding Range Box from MTM Case-Gard

A good range box is a truly essential piece of kit. Among the many range boxes available, the MTM model RBMC-11 Range Box leads the pack in terms of versatility. It is rugged, it has plenty of storage space, plus it doubles as a handy cleaning station. This Editor has used the MTM Range Box to clean rifles and as a “range expedient” rifle holder when adjusting scopes and tensioning action screws. It’s a good product that does the job.

MTM Range Box

Fitted Cleaning Cradles
The key feature setting the RBMC-11 apart from most range boxes is the rubber-coated cradle system. Wide enough to fit a 3″-wide fore-arm, the cradles slide into vertical slots on either end of the box. This allows your range box to serve as a stable maintenance station. The RBMC-11 is really pretty stable in this role, and the cradles won’t mark your stock. The cradles even feature slots on each side to hold your cleaning rods when not in use. The MTM Range Box is secure enough to stay in place when you’re brushing the barrel. However, if you’re working on a carpeted bench top, you may want to keep one hand on the box when running a cleaning rod through the bore, just to ensure the box doesn’t slide.

MTM Range Box

Versatile Upper Tray with Dividers
The MTM Range Box has two major components — the box base (with cradles), and a large upper tray with hinged top and carry handle. This large upper tray clamps securely to the bottom unit for transport. The top tray has a long section that holds cleaning rod guides, long brushes, grease syringes and the like. There are two, clear-plastic fitted divider trays. These will hold your patches and jags, plus comparators, ring wrenches, and other small tools.

MTM Range BoxWhat Might Be Improved
Though we really like the MTM Range Box, it’s not perfect. First, we wish the box was a bit deeper, to have added carrying capacity. The dimensions of the MTM Range Box are: 25″ long x 11.5″ wide x 8.75″ high. We’d like to see it 12″ high/deep to allow larger solvent bottles to stand upright and to provide more space to carry tools and shooting muffs. However, it is deep enough to hold the large 100-round MTM cartridge boxes that are popular with many shooters (see photo at right).

The cradles are very nicely designed, and will hold your rifle securely without marking the stock. However, we’ve found that sometimes the rear cradle grips the gun so well that the cradle slides out as you lift the gun up. This is not a big deal, but it does demand a little extra attention when you’ve finished cleaning. We really like the twin clear plastic dividers that fit into the large removeable top-tray, but we wish the dividers had individual hinged tops. This would keep patches and small parts more secure.

The MTM Range Box costs about $50.00 at most vendors. CLICK THIS LINK to order from Amazon.com for $48.95: MTM® Shooting Range Box.

(FYI, Amazon.com rebates a portion of the purchase price from each sale to AccurateShooter.com. This helps support this website.)

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March 29th, 2009

Quick Review: Sightron SIII 6-24×50 LR Mildot

Review by LARRY BANEY

The Sightron 6-24×50mm Mildot is the latest in Sightron’s SIII line-up of side-focus, 30mm riflescopes. This follows the hot-selling 8-32×56mm SIII, which we reviewed last fall. While our 6-24x50mm test sample has a Mildot reticle, Sightron’s new 6-24x50mm scope is also offered with a fine cross-hair (FCH) with target dot reticle. Both Mildot and FCH versions are 14.96″ overall with a near-constant 3.6-3.8 inches of eye relief. Clicks are 1/4 MOA (15 MOA per revolution), and total elevation (and windage) adjustment is listed as 100 MOA (50 MOA on either side of center). That’s a class-leading amount of elevation, which should make the new 6-24×50mm popular with long-range shooters.

Sightron SIII Mildot

Shown above is the Sightron 6-24×50mm Mildot, flanked by a Leupold 8-25×50mm LRT and the Sightron 8-32×56mm. The controls on the 6-24 Sightron are identical to those of its big brother, but it is shorter, with a smaller objective. The shorter length and 50mm front objective allow a 2.8 ounce weight savings over the larger model (21.9 oz. vs. 24.7 oz.).

Sightron SIII Mildot

Sightron 6-24x50mm Quick Review
Assistant Editor Jason Baney has been evaluating the optical qualities of the new Sightron 6-24 Mildot scope. Jason also had a chance to test the scope’s real-world performance in a tactical match. Here is Jason’s report:

“When the new 6-24x50mm mil-dot Sightron SIII arrived, it looked like the little brother of the Sightron 8-32x56mm. Controls and “styling” are similar. This family relationship was made clear as my review of its performance progressed. It shared the same ergonomics, same superior glass, and same unbeatable tracking.

Sightron SIII MildotI had a Leupold 8.5-25x50mm LRT for comparison purposes. The Leupold, which is actually 24.3x at max power, is a popular scope with a good reputation for clarity and sharpness. However, the new 6-24x50mm Sightron seemed better in many respects than the Leupold LRT. The Sightron’s glass appeared superior, giving better color rendition, a brighter field of view, and better contrast.

Also, with the Sightron, there was no noticeable parallax lash in the side-focus system. There was no need to start the side-focus at a travel stop every time. You could simply dial the side parallax adjustment and get the observed target in sharp focus with minimal parallax. This has been a problem with some Leupolds (i.e. you can’t get minimal parallax and best focus at the same time.) While observing bullet holes in different colored targets at 300 yards, the Sightron also appeared to show slightly better resolution than the Leupold and therefore better ability to locate individual bullet holes in the paper.”

Field Testing at the Allegheny Sniper Challenge (ASC)
In any competition riflescope, precise, repeatable tracking is absolutely vital. When you crank-in elevation and/or windage you want the reticle to move the exact value you dialed. Then you want the scope to repeat exactly when you return to the original zero. To test the Sightron’s tracking, Jason did more than a simple range test. He tested the scope’s tracking in the “real world”, during a two-day tactical comp.

Jason reports: “The 6-24 was thrown into action right away at the Allegheny Sniper Challenge (ASC) in Seneca Rocks, WV in August 2008. This was a team match that I shot with my father. ASC entails interesting weather, and even more interesting shots. In a matter of two days, over 100 shots are expended and a scope’s adjustments are REALLY put to the test. Maintaining zero is very important, because there are no sighters to check your zero. Shots range from less than 100 yards to nearly 1200 yards, and in the end, everyone has clicked their scope up-and-down 40 times or more. This means 40+ up/down repetitions on the elevation knob. This is as tough a test of a scope’s tracking ability as you’ll find.”

Great Tracking Ability, Excellent Value
So how did the Sightron’s tracking rate? The new Sightron 6-24×50 returned from ASC with the EXACT same 100-yard zero as when it started. This scope maintained its zero as well or better than any other scope out there, including those costing $3000.00+. The scope’s great elevation range was also much appreciated. Jason reports: “With 100+ MOA of elevation available and a 20 MOA base on the rifle, I had enough ‘up’ to shoot all the way out to 1200 yards with no problem.”

Sightron SIII Mildot

In Jason’s opinion this scope will be very hard if not impossible to beat in its price range in many aspects. The new Sightron 6-24 certainly rivals the overall optical quality of the Sightron 8-32×56, and that’s saying a lot. But since it is a Mildot scope there is another level of scrutiny needed. This scope is not a purpose-built tactical scope, but it represents a good base on which to build if Sightron offers enhancements in the future. If a shooter wishes only to use the mil-dots for holdover, he will be well served, but a Front Focal Plane (FFP) reticle would be more useful for serious tactical work. An illuminated reticle would also be welcome, and Jason would like to see a different reticle design with half-mil markings.

Also, some tactical shooters would prefer to have mil-based click values, rather than 1/4 MOA clicks. In raising these points, we need to stress that the $800.00 Sightron 6-24x50mm Mildot is affordable and works well as a general-purpose scope with reticle marks that allow hold-overs. This scope was not designed to compete with a $2700.00 Schmidt & Bender PMII. Jason explains: “I just want the serious tactical guys to understand that the Sightron won’t give you all the features of a dedicated FFP mildot optic with mil-based clicks. However, at about $800.00 average retail, the Sightron 6-24x50mm costs less than a third of what you’ll pay for high-end tactical scopes from S&B or U.S. Optics.”

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March 18th, 2009

John Loh Front Rest Now Offered by Sinclair Int'l

John Loh produces some of the most beautifully-machined shooting hardware on the planet. The Loh pedestal from JJ Industries is truly the “Rolls-Royce” of conventional (non-joystick) front rests. This editor has tried all the premium joystick (co-axial) rests, and numerous windage-top conventional rests. The Loh has the smoothest, steadiest horizontal tracking of any rest I’ve ever tried. F-classers who prefer to “hold-off” rather than dial clicks for windage changes will absolutely love the Loh. The vertical controls are extremely precise and allow you to make very minute movements of the cross-hairs with none of the “notchiness” or jumping you’ll find with some other models.

John Loh Front Benchrest Pedestal

Sinclair International now offers the Loh front rest for $879.95. Sinclair says: “The windage control system is built directly onto the baseplate so the entire top, post, and handwheel assembly moves as one complete unit. If you are looking for a premium made front rest that functions smoothly and is rock solid, then look no further.” Here are key features of the Loh rest:

– Weighing 17.7 lbs., the Loh is rock solid, with a very low center of gravity
– Full 100″ of windage travel at 100 yards
– A 3″-wide filled Edgewood front bag is included
– Large bubble level installed in easy-to-view position
– Large-diameter fluted mariner wheel for major elevation changes
– Solid brass speed screw
– All stainless hardware
– Durable black satin finish

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February 19th, 2009

Detailed Review of SEB Coaxial Rest

Mark Trope, Webmaster of the Gun Owner Network website, has written a very thorough review of the SEB Coaxial front rest. Mark’s SEB Rest Review covers all the bases, showing how the rest works with a variety of rifle types, including both wide-forearm match rifles and narrow-forearm sporter rifles. Mark provides dozens of clear photos of the rest, showing many of the fine points of SEB’s impressive design. The review shows how to set-up and level the rest, and how to tune the “feel” of the joystick to suit your preferences. Some rest users prefer the joystick to move quite freely, while others prefer to dial in some resistance so there is no chance of movement when you remove your hand from the joystick.

SEB Coaxial Rest Review

SEB Bigfoot bag eviewAfter covering the features and performance of the SEB Rest, Trope turns his attention to the SEB “BigFoot” rear bag. He explains why it’s a super-stable choice in rear bags, one of the best products available. You’ll note we acquired a SEB BigFoot rear bag for our latest AccurateShooter.com Project Rifle (see story above). After providing tips on how to fill the bag with heavy sand, Trope shows how to adapt a RubberMaid “ActionPacker” plastic storage bin to carry both the SEB Front Rest and the BigFoot Bag.

If you are considering the purchase of a joystick-style front rest, or joystick-style rest top, you should definitely read Trope’s Rest Review. It will definitely help you identify the features you need, so you can make an informed decision, whatever brand you ultimately choose. To learn more about the SEB coaxial rest, or to place an order, contact Sebastian Lambang’s American dealer, Ernie Bishop:

Ernie Bishop
306 West Flying Circle Drive
Gillette, WY 82716
(307) 257-7431
ernieemily [at] yahoo.com

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February 12th, 2009

Impressive Accuracy with 6mmBR Tubegun and Bergers

Just how accurate can a 6BR Tubegun be, when shot from the bench with bag-riding attachments? Would you believe 0.170 MOA at 200 yards? Yep, that’s benchrest-grade accuracy out of an across-the-course rifle.

Eliseo R5 Accuracy

Eliseo R5 AccuracyForum member Milan recently tested his new Eliseo R5 6BR tubegun with Berger 80gr Varmint bullets. We’ve found the Berger 80s to be extraordinarily accurate, and Milan confirmed that fact. His R5 features a Krieger barrel, Pierce action, and Jewell trigger. At right is his first 5-shot group, with the size calculated with On-Target software. The calculated group size is 0.355″, or 0.170 MOA at 200 yards. (Measured by Milan with calipers, it was slightly smaller, 0.350″.)

Milan reports: “Today, I took my brand new R5 rifle (stock made by Gary Eliseo with Pierce Engineering Action and gunsmithing, and Krieger barrel) to a shooting range for the first time. I was shooting at 200 yards and my very first shot was on target. I shot one more time in the same spot and cleaned my rifle. I shot another three shots to find the center of the target. I cleaned the rifle again and shot my first 5-shot group. Looking through my scope, it all looked like one hole. I got a big smile on my face and could not get any happier. When I got home and measured the group, it measured less than 0.350″. Bummer… I was looking forward to the challenge of finding a good load for this rifle but it seems like now I will have to look for another challenge. My load was Berger 80gr Varmint Bullets, 31.0 grains of Varget, Remington 6.5 primer, and bullet was seated 0.015″ in lands.”

Eliseo R5 Accuracy

Milan added: “The silver rear bag rider attachment came from CSS. I only modified it a little. I lowered my rifle about 1″. I also made my own design, shown below, which allows me to make fine height adjustment on my rear bag when shooting from a bipod and to keep the front of my rifle as low as possible. I would like to thank to Gary Eliseo and John Pierce (Pierce Engineering) for a great job. I highly recommend the services of both these guys.”

Eliseo R5 Accuracy

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January 28th, 2009

Bushnell Elite 1500 RangeFinder on Sale

Precision Reloading currently has the Bushnell Elite 1500 Rangefinder on sale for just $309.99. This is a very good price for Bushnell’s top-of-the-line LRF. For comparison, both Cabela’s and Optics Planet are charging $399.99, and SWFA.com is selling the Elite 1500 for $364.99.

busnell elite 1500The Elite 1500 is probably the best of the domestic Laser Rangefinders. It includes two optional modes which really help in special situations. BullsEye mode automatically selects the closest ranged object, when you might otherwise get multiple, conflicting returns. Brush Mode is very handy. It will ignore returns from brush or rocks in the foreground, so you get the true range to your target. Fully waterproof, the Elite 1500 also features Bushnell’s effective Rainguard lens coating.

Overall, the Elite 1500 lacks some of the refinements of the higher-priced Leica, Swarovski, and Zeiss laser rangefinders. The Beam Divergence is worse than a Leica or Swaro. But at $309.99, the Elite 1500 is roughly half the price of the euro-brand competition. An Elite 1500 will probably prove completely serviceable when ranging out to 800 yards or so.

CLICK HERE for our Comprehensive Laser Rangefinder Comparison Guide

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January 18th, 2009

SHOT Show Report: Volquartsen Fusion–Ultimate 'Rimfire Tactical' Rifle?

Some months ago, AccurateShooter.com ran a feature story on the new Rimfire Tactical discipline that has become hugely popular on the West Coast. A Rimfire Tactical comp is a challenging “fun match” using both bolt-action and semi-auto 22LR rifles at distances from 20 to 200 yards. You engage a wide variety of static and reactive targets, shooting from prone, kneeling, and standing positions. It’s fun, challenging, and affordable. Competing in Rimfire Tactical matches is also a great way to develop skills that carry over to centerfire shooting. By “cross-training” with rimfire 22s you get more “trigger time” and improve your wind-reading skills without spending a fortune on ammo or burning out your centerfire barrels.

Volquartsen Fusion

As the Rimfire Tactical discipline evolves with more matches, and more participants, we’re learning what kind of hardware it takes to win. Thus far all sorts of rifles have turned in winning performances — Savage Mark IIs, CZs, “Souped-up” Ruger 10/22s, even Anschütz Silhouette and Biathlon rifles. What will prove to be the “Ultimate” Rimfire Tactical rifle? It just might be the impressive “Fusion” from Volquartsen Custom.

Volquartsen Fusion

The Volquartsen Fusion has the right components for Rimfire Tactical. There’s a stiff, free-floating tubular shroud (like an AR15 spacegun). This provides a rigid support for the bipod, and works well when shooting from barriers. The action features an integrated Picatinny rail so you can easily swap optics from your centerfire tactical rifle to the Fusion. The trigger is clean and crisp — WAY better than the standard trigger on a Ruger 10/22. The rear stock section has a near-vertical style grip and a high comb that work great when shooting prone. An integral comp on the barrel allows quick and precise follow-up shots, which is important because many Rimfire Tactical “scenarios” are on the clock.

Volquartsen Fusion

What’s also really cool about the Fusion is that you can swap barrels in under a minute with no special tools. So, you can shoot 22LR ammo in a tactical match, then switch to a 17 Mach 2 barrel to shoot varmints with the same rifle. (There is also a .17 HMR/.22 WMR model.) The switch-barrel design also allows the rifle to be broken down quickly and easily for compact storage. Watch the Video below. The last minute of the 3.5 minute video shows how easy it is to remove and swap barrels.

Fusion Take-Down VIDEO. Barrel Removal Starts at 2:25.

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3n8BAWpHJk”]

How much? The Fusion semi-auto, with BOTH .22LR and 17 Mach 2 Barrels, retails for $1,807.00. For more info, visit Volquartsen.com.

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January 11th, 2009

J & J Ammo Boxes for BR and PPC Cartridges

Many readers have asked, “Is there an ammo case that holds BR and PPC cases securely without a lot of extra space?” Yes, the J & J BR-100 Ammo Case fits BR-sized cases just right, and costs just $4.38. Available in semi-transparent Blue, Red, White, Smoke, and Camo, you can purchase different-colored cases to suit different loads. Or keep your match ammo in one color case, and your varmint ammo in another color box.

The J & J cases aren’t your only option of course. Many folks use the large green/red MTM 100-round ammo boxes for transporting 6BR and 6PPC ammo. The big MTM boxes work fine with loaded rounds, but not so great with fired cases. If you tip the MTM box on its side, the empties can spill out. That’s frustrating if you’ve meticulously sorted your cases. You can put a layer of foam over the empty brass to avoid the problem, but the J & J cases are a cheaper, more compact solution. J & J’s 100-round BR-100 ammo case has tighter vertical clearance, so your empties won’t come out of their slots if the case tips over or is stacked upside down.

In addition to the BR-100 case, varminters who need to carry large numbers of loaded rounds should check out J & J’s 175-round Rifle Ammo Case. This foam-lined ammo transporter, item LR-175-2, costs $16.54 and is the largest-capacity ammo case we’ve found. For more info go to JandJProducts.Com.

30 BR Ammo

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January 10th, 2009

Shooting Mats for Bipod and Prone Shooters

We’ve been doing a lot of bipod shooting lately with the Anschütz 64R Biathlon rifle we’ve received for testing. (Great little rifle by the way — accurate, ergonomic, versatile. It’s a definite winner for the Rimfire Tactical game.)

Anschutz 64R biathlon rifle

rifle shooting mat padShooting off the ground with bipod has taught us the importance of a good, comfortable shooting pad, with non-slip areas for the ‘pod legs and sufficient length (and thickness) to cushion our middle-aged hips and knees. Creedmoor Sports offers a high-quality Shooting Pad for $75.00. This mat, popular on the High Power rifle range, has a waterproof vinyl bottom and a marine finished top with extended textured non-slip pads for elbow placement. Interior jute padding provides ample protection for the shooter in the shooting position. The Creedmoor pad measures 29.5″ X 68″.

ChampionShooters.com offers a similarly-sized shooting mat with some additional features. The 27″x72″ Champion Deluxe Roll-up Mat is soil-resistant canvas with a vinyl waterproof bottom. It has a 25″ X 21″ rubberized section added to the shooting area. To provide additional protection there are leg flaps on either side at the bottom, together with a dust flap in the front. This pad weighs 8 lbs. and costs $74.00.

rifle shooting mat pad

Desired Upgrades for F-Class Shooting
For F-Class shooting, one thing we’d like to see from the pad manufacturers is a second no-slip, rubberized section in the middle of the mat for the rear sand-bag. We’ve seen some pads that have been modified with a rubber-covered aluminum plate in the middle of the mat for the rear sandbag. That provides great stability for the rear bag, but a hard plate demands that you fold the mat, rather than roll it up.

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January 9th, 2009

QuickLOAD Software Updates Available

QuickLOAD reloading softwareQuickLOAD is a unique software product that draws upon a vast database of cartridges, bullets, and powders to analyze (and predict) load pressures and velocities. While QuickLOAD data should NOT be substituted for careful, conservative load recipes based on powder manufacturers’ recommendations, QuickLOAD is still a remarkable tool that can save you time and money. QuickLOAD can help you identify the most efficient powders for a particular cartridge/bullet combination, and it can also predict how changes to barrel length or seating depth can affect velocities and pressures. We recommend that serious reloaders consider investing in QuickLOAD, a $149.95 product from Neconos.com. To learn more about QuickLOAD, read our SOFTWARE REVIEW.

CLICK HERE for AccurateShooter.com QuickLOAD Review and User’s Guide

Update Your QuickLOAD Software
New Bullet, Cartridge, & Powder Data in Ver. 3.4 — Including Reloder 17
For $14.95, QuickLOAD verion 3.0 – 3.3 users can also purchase a CD-based upgrade to the latest version 3.4. The upgrade provides complete data for many more bullets and cartridges, plus it includes hundreds of cartridge diagrams and photos. We think the upgrade to version 3.4 is well worth the cost for the updated bullet info alone, and the cartridge diagrams are a great new feature. And yes, the latest update includes Alliant Reloder 17 powder. If you are shooting a 6XC, 6-6.5×47, Rem 260, .284 Win, or a Magnum cartridge–Reloder 17 may boost your velocities significantly.

If you are a current owner of QuickLOAD version 2.9 or earlier on floppy disk, you can upgrade to the new CD-ROM for $50.00 + S&H. The latest CD offers more powders (218 total), cartridges (1200+) and bullets (2500+). Order through Neconos.com or call 800-451-3550.

NOTE: If you have QuickLOAD 3.0, 3.1 or 3.2 and want to use QuickLOAD with Windows VISTA you need a VISTA-compatible version. Send in your old CD and Neconos can replace it with a Vista-compatible CD (also works with Windows 98SE, ME, 2000, XP) for $14.95 plus S & H.

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January 4th, 2009

KMW Pod-Lock: Essential Accessory for Bipod Shooters

Pod-loc Harris swivelMost “tactical” shooters are already familiar with the Pod-Loc, created by Terry Cross (KMW Long Range Solutions). But varminters and our foreign readers may not know about this product, a simple adjustable handle that makes a world of difference when shooting a Harris swivel bipod.

The Pod-Loc is a “must-have” accessory for anyone using a Harris swivel-model (S-series) bipod. This unique device (priced about $25.00) transforms a Harris Swivel into an easy-to-use platform for target-shooting or varminting. The Pod-Loc cures the one major flaw of Harris Swivel bipods — the tensioning system. It is very difficult to dial out all “bipod flop” using the standard Harris tensioning knob. You just can’t get enough torque on the standard knurled swivel adjuster without resorting to a pair of pliers, and that would mar the metal. The Pod-Loc solves that problem with a short handle providing more leverage. With one hand, you can lock the bipod rock-solid, and just as easily reduce tension any time you want.

Pod-Loc

Using the Pod-Loc is easy, once you get the handle situated right. With the handle at a 4 o’clock position, the rifle should be free to swivel. Adjust the cant angle until your gun is positioned correctly for the terrain. Then just rotate the handle clockwise until you feel resistance. You can set the Pod-Loc so the rifle can still swivel a little with some effort, or you can crank the handle over farther to the left (clockwise) and effectively lock the unit in place. Once you’ve set the tension, the spring-loaded handle can be rotated out of the way without altering the tension setting. Just push the center button, pull straight back on the handle and swing it to 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock as you prefer. We advise doing this when you are carrying your rifle in the field.

Installation is a little time-consuming, but if you follow the instructions below, it shouldn’t be difficult. No special tools are required other than a pair of pliers, a flat-blade screwdriver, and a 1/4″ socket with driver. You really do need exactly the right socket however.

CLICK HERE for illustrated Pod-Loc Installation Instructions.

The Pod-Loc is available from Sinclair Int’l (item 04-140, $25.50), Brownells (item #100-000-326, $26.50), or you can buy direct from:

Terry Cross
KMW – Long Range Solutions
129 Fish Hatchery Road
Forest Hill, LA 71430
Phone: (318) 748-8732

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December 26th, 2008

CG Trigger for High Power and Long-Range Rifles

The two-stage CG Universal Match Trigger has proven very popular with High Power and Long-Range Shooters. The CG-Jackson trigger is a Robert Chombart design, like the RPA Quadlock and the Millennium actions. The trigger’s final stage pull-weight adjusts from 10 ounces to over 63 ounces, and both a curved or straight trigger finger is offered. Notably, this new design works with a very wide range of actions, both custom and factory. In addition to a Remington 700 version, for example, there are versions for Barnard, Mauser, RPA, SAKO, Tikka, and Winchester Model 70 actions. That makes this CG Trigger one of the most versatile match triggers ever offered. In Europe, the trigger is sold by Jackson Rifles. In the USA, the CG trigger is solf by Tom Myers, through his company X-Treme Shooting Products.

German Salazar has tested the CG Trigger and written a detailed product review. CLICK HERE for CG Trigger Review by Salazar.

CG Universal Trigger

The CG Universal Trigger uses a variety of upper frames to fit each specific rifle action. The upper frame contains the final lever(s) of the trigger. A universal main housing is attached to this upper frame. This ensures similar function, settings and “feel”, whatever action the trigger is fitted to. The CG Universal is a true two-stage trigger, so that (unlike modified direct-pull triggers fitted to some “tactical” rifles), the sear engagement reduces and fully recovers with the first-pull movement of the trigger finger. The CG Universal trigger system was designed by Robert Chombart, who also designed the CG MILLENNIUM, CG INCH and other target rifle actions.

The CG Universal Trigger System works with numerous rifle actions including:

ANSCHUTZ
BARNARD
CG INCH
CG MILLENNIUM
MAUSER 98
MUSGRAVE
PARAMOUNT
PARKER-HALE M85, L81A2
REMINGTON 700
RPA 2000
RPA QUADLITE
RPA QUADLOCK
SAKO 75
SAKO FINNFIRE
SAKO TRG
SPRINGFIELD
SWING
TIKKA 5xx/6xx
TIKKA T3*
US 1917 – P14
WEATHERBY MK V
WINCHESTER M70

CG Universal Trigger

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December 24th, 2008

Spotting Scopes — Straight vs. Angled

We’ve looked through many different types of spotting scopes. Initially we thought angled was the only way to go. This lets a shooter mount the spotting scope at his side and easily glance through the lens with the scope body rotated 30 to 90°. However, at matches where you spot for a partner, the straight scopes seem to work better. You don’t have to bend your neck down or remove your hat and your “free” eye can scan downrange for wind changes. When spotting for your partner (while seated or standing), a tripod-mounted straight scope was definitely the most “user-friendly” set-up.

Straight (in-line) Spotting Scope

Danny Reever, author of our Spotting Scope Review, tell us: “Straight vs. angled? Man, that’s a tough call! Having used both personally for over a year I’d have to say this: I feel the straight gives you a clearer, sharper image. One less mirror to contend with. If you have a dealer that can give you a side-by-side look at a couple of hundred yards the difference is apparent. That’s one reason Chip Allen chose the straight Zeiss over the angled. On the other hand the angled gives you more options in the way of setup which can be a bonus between cramped benches, when you’re spotting for yourself. I don’t shoot prone, but I think the angled would be the way to go for a solo prone shooter, again more setup options. Another benefit of the angled is that you can keep the tripod lower, a plus on a windy day. The 100MM scopes like the Pentax and Optolyth do not offer an angled body option — maybe there are some engineering issues, or perhaps that’s just to control costs.”

Angled Spotting Scope

Scope Stands for Bench Use
It you plan to use an angled spotting scope on the bench, Ray-Vin has a great clamping system that allows you to position the eyepiece exactly where you want it. The clamp mount Ray-Vin Benchrest Scope Stand allows you to easily adjust the scope height and horizontal position relative to the shooter. A twist handle with a ball joint on the end then lets you set the scope (and angled eyepiece) to any angle you want. It’s a very slick system. At $199.00 for the complete system (not including scope) shown below left, it’s not inexpensive. However, if you already own a Ray-Vin scope head with ball joint, the Benchrest Clamp is just $119.00. Another option for bench use is the Ray-Vin C-2004 “Tactical Tripod” (photo below right). This low-profile, $199.00 unit can be used on the bench or on the ground. Note: the Tactical Tripod uses a 3/4″-diam. vertical shaft, while the Benchrest Scope Stand has a 1″-diam. vertical shaft. Accordingly, the scope heads are not interchangeable between the two units.

Ray-Vin Scope StandRay-Vin Scope Stand

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December 23rd, 2008

Last Minute Stocking Stuffers For Shooters

Gun Gear ShoppingYep, there’s only two more shopping days left before Christmas. If you didn’t order months ago, Santa probably won’t arrive with a new gain-twist barrel, carbon-fiber stock, custom action, and 10-40×56 Benchrest scope on Christmas day. The expensive goodies required advance planning. However, there’s still time to do some online shopping for other gun gear, with delivery later this week.

Here are a few suggestions for Stocking Stuffers:

Handy Tools:
Hood Kwik Estimator — Use this handy $2.50 tool to measure your 6mm groups. Bracket the group within the diverging lines of the Kwik Estimator to get a close approximation of group size.
• Hornady Comparator body with Comparator — This simple device, mounted on your calipers, lets you measure the base to ogive of your bullets, or bottom of rim to ogive of your loaded rounds. A “must-have”.
• Pin Vise with #53 Bit — This will let you clean up the flash hole of Lapua PPC and BR cases. The number 53 bit measures .0595″, the perfect size for the .059″ BR flashholes.

gun gear shopping

Solvents and lubes:
• Ballistol — Extremely versatile, non-toxic case cleaner/lube. Use this to remove the carbon from the necks of your cases. It is also an outstanding case lube for regular resizing of small cases.
• CARB-OUT — The product name explains its function. The stuff plain works on carbon–as well or better than anything out there.
• Eezox — This product outperformed Break-Free and most other rust preventatives in our tests. It displaces water and leave a dry barrier on the surface of metal. Use it on your barrels, dies, and tools.
• Kroil — A classic penetrating lube, Kroil has myriad uses in the reloading room and home workshop. It can be combined with other solvents and used for bore cleaning.
• KG12 — Tests have shown KG12 to be a super-effective copper cleaner. It works fast and there’s no ammonia smell. Should you dump your other bore cleaners? No. But we recommend you give KG12 a try.

gun gear shopping

Full Holiday Buyer’s Guide
For more Holiday shopping ideas, check out our 2006 Holiday Buyers’ Guide. In that story we recommended dozens of products ranging in price from $1.99 to over $2000.00. While prices have changed since 2006, you’ll still find many bargains among the featured items in the Buyers’ Guide.

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December 21st, 2008

CARB-OUT — If It's Good Enough for Tony B…

Tony Boyer, all-time benchrest Hall of Fame points leader, has had a spectacular year, racking up many major wins. Of course, most of that success is due to his shooting skills, but Tony also benefitted from his superb Bartlein gain-twist barrels, and a new bore-cleaning product, CARB-OUT™ from SharpShoot-R™ Precision Products of Kansas. Boyer has been using CARB-OUT for the past year, and Tony enjoyed one of his best seasons ever. The use of CARB-OUT has helped Tony to remove carbon from his match barrels, reducing the need for abrasives. CARB-OUT, we’ve found, can also reduce the amount of brushing you need to do.

SharpShootR Precision Carb-Out solventOur friend Boyd Allen tested CARB-OUT on a rifle that had stubborn carbon fouling. Boyd had previously applied conventional solvents which did a good job of removing copper and conventional powder fouling. However, when examining the barrel with a borescope, Boyd saw heavy “burned-in” deposits of carbon. In this situation, Boyd observed, scrubbing with an abrasive such as Iosso or JB would normally be required. But Boyd had received a sample of CARB-OUT and Boyd decided to give it a try: “After working with a nylon brush and patches, getting all that I could out, I was able to see heavy carbon next to the lands, extending forward. This I removed by wetting the bore with the nylon brush, letting it soak for 20 minutes, and brushing with a bronze brush. I did this twice. Previously I would have expected to have done a lot of strokes with an abrasive to get the same result, since this was a worst case situation. Being able to to remove hard carbon without the use of abrasives is a ‘great leap forward’ to steal a phrase”.

Using this regimen, Boyd was able to remove the stubborn carbon. “CARB-OUT really works”, Boyd told us. “This was that baked-on black stuff that normal solvents won’t touch. After a good soak, the CARB-OUT on a wet [bronze] brush knocked it out.” Boyd observed, “Others may differ, but after using this stuff, I think abrasives may be a thing of the past.” Boyd observed: “If Boyer, who has been at the top of the BR heap for years, believes in the stuff… that’s significant.”

While Boyd used CARB-OUT with a bronze brush, Terry Paul says the product is designed to work well without brushing. For the typical type of carbon fouling seen in barrels, Terry says: “You simply put it on a patch or a mop and swab it thru the barrel. CARB-OUT also leaves behind a protective coating that prevents future carbon adherance. This coating is less than 100th of a micron in thickness, so it will not affect first shot accuracy.” For more info, visit SharpShootR.com, or call (785) 883-4444.

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