September 30th, 2008

Sinclair Releases New, Advanced Neck Turning System

Sinclair International has just introduced a new Neck-Turning Tool. Part of a complete system with carbide mandrels, this product promises to be one of the best neck-turners on the market. The new tool has many improved features we really like:

▪ The cutter body is big, and curved to fit the hand. So, it is easier to hold than the old Sinclair tool or the K&M tool.

▪ The cutter-depth adjustment works really well. A large, knurled rotary knob on the back of the cutter body connects to an eccentric mechanism. This moves the mandrel shaft (and case) in and out relative to the cutter tip. You start by setting the cutter with feeler gauges, then fine-tune with the knob. Adjustments are very positive and precise, with laser-engraved index marks. This is a very good adjustment system, we think.

▪ The end of the tool is open so you can easily eyeball the caseneck as you’re cutting.

▪ High-grade carbide mandrels in 17 through 338 calibers will be offered with the new cutter system. At about $45 per caliber, they’re expensive, but the carbide mandrels DO work better — you’ll notice smoother case rotation and less heat build-up than with conventional (non-carbide) mandrels. If you already have mandrels, don’t worry. Sinclair says: “Our single-ended stainless mandrels will work fine with the new Neck-Turning Tool.”

Sinclair Neck-turning tool

Precise Adjustments Possible
With the eccentric adjustment system, you can make quick cut-depth changes with great precision. The cutter adjustment knob is click-adjustable in .0002″-.00025″ per click increments. The cut depth can be adjusted through a range of .004″-.005″ using the adjustment dial. A mandrel adjustment screw is included to make mandrel set-up and adjustment easier.

Sinclair Neck-turning tool

Sinclair’s new Premium Neck-Turning Tool includes three (3) feeler gauges for quickly setting cutter depth in the approximate range of the cut desired. With the cutter in range using the feeler gauge, the eccentric adjustment knob can make final adjustment for the exact neckwall thickness you desire. Sinclair claims: “Cutter adjustment is very fast and sure with none of the usual trial and error experienced with other tools.”

The $145.95 Premium Neck Turning Tool Kit (item NT-4000) includes three feeler gauges and a case-holder Turning Handle. Or you can save ten bucks and get the Tool and gauges without handle for $135.95 (item NT-4100). All popular Sinclair neck-turning tool accessories, including expander mandrels, will work with the Premium Tool. Order caliber-specific carbide turning mandrels separately for $44.75 per mandrel (items 95-0XX).

Sinclair Neck-turning tool

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September 20th, 2008

Keep That Barrel Cool — Temp Strips Display Barrel Temperature

Bad things can happen if your barrel gets too hot. First, with some barrels, the point of impact (POI) will shift or “walk” as the barrel heats up excessively. Second, even if the POI doesn’t change, the groups can open up dramatically when the barrel gets too hot. Third, if the barrel is very hot, the chamber will transfer heat to your loaded cartridge, which can lead to pressure issues. Finally, hot barrels wear out faster. This is a very real concern, particularly for varmint shooters who may shoot hundreds of rounds in a day. For this reason, many varminters switch among various guns, never letting a particular barrel get too hot.

Bar-L shooting temp strips

How do you monitor your barrel temperature other than guessing by “feel”? offers Bar-L Benchrest strips that visually display heat readings from 86 to 140 degrees. Think of these strips as compact, unbreakable thermometers. With adhesive backing, they can also be used to monitor barrel heating. Put a strip on the side of the barrel and the barrel’s temp will be indicated by a stripe that changes from black to green. There is also a “general purpose” strip that reads to 196 degrees (bottom row). The Benchrest strip (86F to 140F) is in the middle. Bar-L temp strips cost $9.00, or $25.00 for a 3-pack.

Value-Priced Temp Strip 10-packs
If you have many rifles, (a large industrial supply house) offers the same reversible, 7 temperature, 86F to 140F strip (item 59535K13) for $11.86 per pack of ten (10) strips. That’s an excellent value. Thanks to reader Josh B. for this tip!

Controlling Ammo Temperature is Important Too
Keeping your loaded cases at a controlled temperature is vital for maintaining good ES and case life. At a late summer varmint match we observed pressure signs with cases that had been sitting in direct sunlight for about 15 minutes. As we were running a “moderate” RL15 load, the pressure indications were surprising. Testing over a chronograph, cases that had been sitting in direct sunlight showed velocities up to 70 fps higher than those that had been kept in the shade. Using QuickLoad’s temperature function, we calculated from the rise in velocities that case pressures had increased by over 4,000 psi–just from 15-20 minutes in direct sunlight!

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September 19th, 2008

User Report: CED Millenium Chronograph

Which chronograph do you prefer? That’s the subject of a current thread in our Shooters’ Forum. Forum member Dennis (aka “Flatlander”) had praise for his CED Millenium unit. Dennis explained: “I bought an Oehler M33 back in 1985 and worked around its shortcomings for 20yrs. before buying a CED Millenium. Initially, I set both chronos up and fired some standard velocity 22 LR rimfire ammo over both sets of skyscreens to compare velocities. They were within less than 10fps of each other, and that’s the last time I’ve set the M33 up and used it.

CED Chronograph with Carry Case (sold separately)
CED chronograph

While I feel I got good data out of the M33 (most of the time), its skyscreens were pretty sensitive to the lighting, and I got tired of having to check all six D cells before leaving for the range. If even one of the six had dropped below about 1.495 volts, I’d often get really weird readings (like 4200 fps with a 85BTHP out of a 243 Win), and/or a lot of missed shots – that’s kind of a PITA when you’ve loaded only five rounds of a new load you’re testing. The small LED display is also hard to read in direct sunlight.

The CED seldom misses a shot — when the light gets low enough to give problems, I’ve been able to remove the diffusers and get another 20 minutes or so of shooting. The original 9 volt battery is still working just fine after three years of regular use, and I can read the large LCD display without my bifocals.”

I’d like to have one of the newer M2 CEDs, but have gotten used to transcribing data by hand (if nothing else, it gives a rifle barrel a little extra time to cool between strings), and really don’t know what the other improvements CED has made to the M2 would do for me. Meanwhile, I’d like to use the M33 & CED together to get muzzle & downrange data to compute actual BCs of some of the bullets I shoot to compare to the maker’s claims.

[Note: Flatlander uses the First Generation CED Millenium. CED now sells the upgraded “M2″ model. The new M2 has more memory and can clock a wider range of bullet speeds -– from 50 fps all the way to 7000 fps. The upgraded M2 will record velocities at much lower light levels than the previous Millennium chronograph. The M2 also features improved software, and an USB interface. That offers simple “plug and play” compatibility with laptops and home PCs.]

CLICK HERE for more information on CED’s latest M2 Chronograph.

The CED M2 Chronograph is distributed by Competitive Edge Dynamics, (610) 366-9752. It is also sold by major vendors including Brownells, Dillon Precision, and MidwayUSA.

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September 11th, 2008

Kestrel 4500 Offers Full Set of Functions Including Crosswind Values and Density Altitude

Every long-range precision shooter can benefit from an accurate, full-featured portable wind and weather monitor. Right now the relatively new Kestrel 4500 is the best hand-held weather station on the market. Introduced at the 2007 SHOT Show, The Kestrel 4500 Pocket Weather Tracker is a complete weather instrument, offering instant and accurate measurement of wind speed, wind direction (including crosswind and headwind/tailwind), temperature, humidity, density altitude, barometric pressure and numerous other derived functions. The Kestrel 4500 has a built-in digital compass, a feature not found on other Kestrels. This allows you to track and log wind direction as well as wind speed. Wind direction is displayed in degrees and cardinal compass points.

Weekend shooters and military snipers alike have been calling for a Kestrel Meter with crosswind calculation for years — and the Kestrel 4500 now offers that capability. By means of its built-in digital compass, the Kestrel 4500 provides Wind Direction and velocity, Crosswind direction and velocity, and Headwind/Trailwind direction and velocity. In addition to these wind functions, the Kestrel 4500 will also display: Max Wind Gust, Average Wind Speed, Temperature, Wind Chill, Relative Humidity, Heat Stress Index, Dewpoint Temp, Wet Bulb Temp, Barometric Pressure, Altitude, and Density Altitude. These features are illustrated in a handy flash-based “Virtual Tour” that shows all the Kestrel 4500’s product features.

CLICK HERE for Kestrel 4500 Virtual Tour with Feature Demos.

Kestrel 4500 Pocket Weather Tracker

The bright yellow Kestrel 4500 is available for $289.00 from An olive drab version with Night Vision-friendly backlighting is offered for $309.00 from the same vendor.

Full Review of Kestrel 4500 by
A very detailed field-test of the Kestrel 4500 was conducted by Sal Palma for In his write-up, Sal Palma explains why a precision shooter needs a tool such as the Kestrel 4500: “Altitude, temperature, barometric pressure, and relative humidity are critical pieces of data. As is wind speed and direction. What used to be a good 300-yard zero may now be a full minute or more off. At a range of 300 yards, a one minute error makes a 3″ difference in the point of impact. The [Kestrel 4500] has some major and significant new features not found in any of their other models. To start with, the 4500 offers a built in electronic compass, the compass can be configured to indicate true bearings as well as magnetic. In addition to the basic wind functions the [Kestrel 4500] also provides crosswind, headwind and tailwind data.”

CLICK HERE to download KESTREL 4500 Review in .pdf format.

Kestrel Sponsors U.S. Teams in Spirit of America Match
Nielsen-Kellerman, maker of Kestrel Weather trackers, is sponsoring the U.S. Long Range Rifle Teams in the Spirit of America Match (SOA) running this week at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM. The SOA features one of shooting’s most prestigious international matches, the America Trophy Match. This September, the Match will be held for the first time since 2005. The national teams from Great Britain and Australia will compete against the U.S. National Team shooting at distances from 300 to 1,000 yards. The U.S. Long Range Rifle Teams consist of the National Team (who include former members of the Palma® team), the Veterans’ team, and the USA Young Eagles Under 21 / Under 25 team.

“The effects of wind and weather play a huge role in our sport. Not only does the wind affect the flight of the bullet, but differences in altitude, pressure, and temperature can also change the bullet’s impact,” said Dennis Flaharty, Team Captain of the National / Palma® Team. “Tools like the Kestrel Pocket Weather Tracker can often mean the difference between being a winning team, or being at the weather’s mercy.”

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September 9th, 2008

Portable AC and DC Powerpacks for the Range

An electronic powder dispenser and digital scale can be very useful tools for load development. However, you’ll need a power supply if your range doesn’t offer AC outlets. Many folks have asked us “How can I use a laptop, chronograph, or electronic powder dispenser that requires 110/120 volt power when I’m at the range?” Sure you can take power from your car’s 12 volt cigarette lighter jack, but you’ll still need a very long cable and a 12 volt to 120 volt step-up transformer. If you run a cable from the parking lot to the bench or shooting bay you’ll have to leave a window open in your vehicle and fellow shooters can trip over the long cord.

Black and Decker 12v 120v powerstation

A better solution is to get a portable 12 volt/120 volt power station. These are offered by many manufacturers, starting at about $40. Most have a large lead-acid battery inside a plastic enclosure with built-in 12 volt and 110/120 volt outlets. Some units also include air compressors and jumper cables so you can inflate a flat tire or jump-start your vehicle.

Among the available units, we like the Black & Decker VEC026BD Electromate 400 AC/DC Portable Power Station. The B&D Electromate (also sold under the Vector label) offers 400 watts of 120-volt AC power, plus 12.5-volt DC output. There are two three-prong AC outlets and two cigarette-jack style 12v DC outlets on the front of the unit. The Electromate 400 also features an air compressor and permanently attached jumper cables stowed in the rear of the unit. This Black & Decker power unit is currently on sale at Tyler Tool for $99.95. If you don’t need the full 400 watts and air compressor, Black & Decker offers the VEC1026BD Electromate 250 ($61.99 at This has jumper cables, but no compressor and just one 120 volt outlet and one 12 volt outlet.

Guide Gear 12v 120v powerstation

Sportsman’s Guide offers a similar product, the Guide Gear™ Power Station. This versatile, 5-in-1 product includes Jumpstarter, Air Compressor, 12V Power Inverter, 12V outlet, 110/120 volt outlet, and Worklight. Priced at $89.97, the Guide Gear™ Power Station offers 400 watts of power and can be recharged from either home or vehicle (both AC and DC cords included). Jumpstarter cables stow neatly in the ends and the unit features heavy rubber protective edges.

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September 8th, 2008

New, Advanced Benchrest Stock from Robertson Composites

Robertson Composites has introduced a new benchrest stock design, optimized for 100- to 300-yard group and score shooting. It complies with all IBS, NBRSA, and international stock rules for short-range benchrest and is light enough to be used in a 10.5-lb Light Varmint rifle. Typical inletted bare weight, LV version, is 26 ounces. The stock was designed with input from ace Canadian and American benchresters.

While similar in external appearance to the Speedy BRX stock (also built by Robertson), the new stock has important new features. First, the forearm has raised flats on the sides to improve lateral stability and reduce the tendency to rotate in the bags. Second, the grip area is smaller and not as fat or thick as the BRX design. This should be more comfortable for those who prefer a light hold on the gun. Lastly, there are subtle changes to the area behind the action. The tang area has a greater downward slope to provide more clearance for the bolt when retracted.

Photos Courtesy Gary Walters. Rifle belongs to Victor Smith.

The new stock is currently in production and you can place an order. You can get any color combination you like (orange ‘granite’ is shown in the photo), and the stock can be built extra heavy on request. However, Ian Robertson reports: “we’re up to our ears in business right now, and it will take time to fill all the back-orders.” So, expect to wait a 8-10 weeks for delivery of your order. The new stock starts at $260.00 Canadian for a non-inletted stock in a single color, without buttplate. Two colors will cost $25.00 CND extra, and inletting is available for many popular BR actions for an additional charge.

CLICK HERE for complete Robertson Composites PRICE LIST.


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September 5th, 2008

Portable Front Rest for F-Class Shooters

The F-Class Nationals are coming up soon. The Fifth Annual F-Class Championship will be hosted Sept. 30 – Oct. 4 in Lodi, Wisconsin (Winnequah Gun Club). Over 140 shooters are expected to attend. The Course of Fire at the F-Class Nationals requires shooting at multiple distances. That means you’ve got to carry your rifle and rest back and forth to various shooting positions. With rifles that top 20 pounds, it’s no fun to haul a super-heavy front rest around. Butch Lambert has come up with a solution — a special light-weight front rest.

Winnequah Gun Club

Lambert Crafts Light-weight Front Rest
At the request of Larry Bartholome, current member and former captain of the U.S. F-Class team, Butch Lambert of Shadetree Engineering & Accuracy (S.E.A.), has designed and fabricated a lightweight yet stable front rest prototype. Larry wanted a unit that was less burdensome to haul between firing lines than the typical cast-iron or “heavy metal” front pedestal. (That’s Larry with his spectacular “Captain America” Shehane red, white, and blue MBR Tracker stock.)

Larry Batholome F-Class Shehane Tracker MBR

Other than the steel center hub, the rest is built from aircraft-grade 6061 T-6 aluminum, which can be TIG-welded and hard-anodized. To keep weight down, the three horizontal legs are hollow tubes with flutes or slots milled top and bottom. Butch sent us these photos of the new rest, noting: “It weighs 2.25 lbs without the top. I set one of our unfinished rest tops on it. I moved the back leg to the front to get it out of the way. Larry is ‘wrong handed’, so I made it left-handed. I hope to get it TIG-welded together next week and plated. It is definitely easy to lug around, but I prefer something heavier for benchrest shooting. For F-Class, under a 22-lb rifle, Larry believes it should work well.”

Lambert ShadeTree Engineering F-Class rest

Lambert ShadeTree Engineering F-Class rest

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September 1st, 2008

Bore-Stores and GoldenRods on Sale at MidwayUSA

For storing fine firearms in a gunsafe or storage locker, we recommend Bore-Stores. These thick, synthetic fleece bags are treated with silicone and a special rust inhibitor to safeguard against rust and corrosion. Bore-Stores also cushion your rifles, protecting against nicks and dings while you’re moving your guns in and out of the safe.

Bore-Store Gun Case

Right now, through the end of September, MidwayUSA has most popular sizes of Bore-Store bags on sale. Bags for 4″ and 6″-barreled pistols are marked down from $5.89 to $4.99, and the 46″ Scoped rifle Bore-Store bag (item 570349) is just $9.99, reduced from $11.49. NOTE: Even if your rifle measures a bit longer, we have found this bag is large enough to fit a Benchrest-style rifle with up to 28″ barrel. For shorter guns with big scopes, we recommend the 42″ AR15 case (item 360601).

Bore-Stores are outstanding products, much better than the thin “gun socks” made by other companies. The fleece material is breathable, so it wicks away moisture from the firearm. By contrast, typical hard cases with “eggcrate” foam interiors attract and retain moisture — they can actually breed rust on your guns. Likewise, most zippered soft cases retain moisture.

GoldenRods on Sale Too
GoldenRods are electric heating elements that help prevent corrosion in your gunsafe by maintaining a constant temperature that is above the dewpoint. This prevents rust-breeding moisture from condensing on your guns. Both large and small GoldenRods are on sale this month at MidwayUSA, starting at $15.99 marked down from $19.99. The largest “gold” model (item 621013), which protects up to 300 cubic feet, is now $10.00 off, marked down to $29.99 from $39.99.

goldenrod dehumidifier

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August 25th, 2008

Protect Your Neck from Harmful Sun

Labor Day Weekend is coming up. Here’s a smart, simple item that will come in handy during hot summer weather. The Solarstop elastic hatband will fit over the crown of any baseball-style cap. (Yep, you’ve probably got dozens of baseball caps, right?). The draped fabric provides 30+ UPF protection for your neck and ears. When things heat up, dunk the soft microfiber fabric in the water for relief–it cools you down fast and dries quickly.

This smart accessory is sold by,, and Great Outdoors Depot, for $9 to $12.00. Campmor also offers the similar “Sunday Afternoons Solarweave Cap Curtain”, featuring 50+ UPF quick-drying supplex nylon that blocks 97% of UVA and UVB rays. The Cap Curtain features decorative webbing in the front with a velcro sizing adjuster in the back.

These designs are simple enough that anyone with basic sewing skills could make their own cap-top neck drape in a few minutes. (If the wife has a sewing machine this would be a snap). If you make your own unit, be sure to use sun-blocking fabric. Plain cotton or polyester won’t work as well. UV protection is key.

[Editor’s Note: Why, you may ask, am I recommending this somewhat goofy-looking product, and why have I featured sun hats previously in the Bulletin? Well, the risk of skin cancer is very, very real. I just had a basel cell carcinoma removed last week. Trust me, sunscreen and ear/neck protection is a lot cheaper than going to the doctor. Folks who spend much time in the sun really need to watch this stuff–get yourself examined every year. A malignant melanoma can kill you in a few months. Early detection is vital.]

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August 24th, 2008

Teflon Benchrest Stock Tape Sources

Mike Ratigan, author of the definitive print guide to benchrest shooting, Extreme Rifle Accuracy, knows the importance of a smooth-tracking stock. A gun that recoils more consistently is easier to shoot accurately. Reducing friction on the fore-end and toe of your riflestock can help the gun track better in the bags. The easiest way to reduce friction is to apply stock tape. Ratigan says the best stuff he’s tried is clear 3M-brand Teflon® tape. According to Mike it adheres well, lasts a long time, and reduces friction “as well as anything you can buy”. Mike reports “You won’t wear this stuff out–it’s basically a permanent fixture”. The tape is sold by Ron Hoehn, Hoehn Sales, Inc., (636) 745-8144. Ron’s 5-mil thick Teflon tape kit ($7.00) is enough for two rifles, with 5″x5″ sections for the front and 2.5″x6″ panels for the rear.

3M Skived Teflon Stock Tape

You can purchase a Teflon stock tape kit from Sinclair Int’l for $12.50. This has four 5″x5″ segments, enough for two rifles. But if you have a large collection of rifles, you’ll save big bucks by buying directly from a bulk tape supplier. C.S. Hyde Company,, (800) 461-4161, sells 6″-wide, flexible Teflon-coated and UHMW tapes that work great, with either rubber, silicone, or acrylic adhesives. The price works out to about $1 per rifle.

MiKe Ratigan recommends the “Skived” (blade sliced) PTFE Teflon .005″ tape with silicone adhesive, item 15-5S. This is very low-friction and highly conformable, so it bends easily around your stock contours. You’ll need to call for custom 5″ or 6″ widths, and expect to pay about $50 for a 5-yard-long (180″) roll.

A less expensive option is the UHMW (ultra-high molecular weight) Polyethylene Tape with High Stick Acrylic Adhesive, item 19-5A. C.S. Hyde explains: “UHMW Polyethylene provides a nonstick, low-friction surface similar to PTFE tape but with much higher abrasion and puncture resistance. It is ideal for anywhere high-pressure sliding contact occurs.” The price is just $33.96, for a 6″-wide by 5 yard-long roll, enough for 36 rifles! Compare that to spending $12.50 for four 5″x5″ pieces. On, AbinTX reported that C.S. Hyde “sent [him] samples of various thickness to try out before ordering. They will price a roll for you depending on how wide and how long you want.”

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August 21st, 2008

Range Carts for High Power and Silhouette Shooters

High Power shooters have a bunch of gear to carry to the firing line–pad, shooting jacket, scope stand, spotting scope, ammo, log-book and rifle(s). If you’re shooting F-Class, add a heavy front rest and 15-lb sand-bag to the list. A range cart makes life much easier, particularly if the shooting area’s a long way from the parking lot. Creedmoor Sports makes a folding range cart that is very popular with the iron sights crowd. This unit features 14″ ball-bearing wheels and the frame is made from solid aluminum–not lightweight tubing that can bend or crack. Lift a simple locking lever and the cart folds. The cart can be completely dis-assembled, without tools, to fit in a suitcase (collapsed size 30″ x 17″ x 8″). The Creedmoor cart retails for $499.00, and that includes a rifle case, tray, and rain-cover. The rifle case doubles as a rack/holster.

Creedmoor Sports Range Cart

Creedmoor Sports Range Cart

If $499.00 isn’t in the budget, or you’d like to build your own range cart with a lockable storage compartment, you should look at the carts used by Cowboy Action shooters. These wooden carts are heavy, but they provide a stable platform for multiple guns and a nice, solid perch for sitting. There are many do-it-yourself designs available. One of our favorites is the GateSlinger cart shown below. This well-balanced design breaks down into two pieces for transport. Click Here for cart plans, and read this “How-to Article” for complete instructions with many photos.

wooden range cart Gateslinger

The least expensive way to go is to purchase a Dolly (Hand Truck) at Harbor Freight, or a large warehouse store such as Home Depot. Make sure to get one with wheels at least 10″ in diameter, or you’ll have problems in rough terrain. The bigger the wheels the better. Normally you can find dollies for under $30.00. Just bolt a large box or milk crate to the bottom, and voilà, instant range cart. You can clamp a piece of wood at the top with slots for barrels on one side and a flat tray for ammo on the other. Use bungee cord or leather straps to hold the barrels in place. Having built a couple all-wood range carts (both collapsible and one-piece), this editor can assure you that starting with an inexpensive welded hand truck is the cheapest, simplest way to go overall. You can buy oversize, spoked wheels from (From the Northern Tool home page, search for “spoked wheels”.)
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August 18th, 2008

SmartFit Ear Plugs — Recommended New Product

While covering the 2008 Steel Challenge, this editor tried a new style of shooter’s earplug, the 3-flange SmartFit™ from Howard Leight. First, let me say that I have, in recent years, always used the bullet-shaped soft foam earplugs because they offer the highest Noise Reduction Rating — up to 32 db NRR.

But I am VERY impressed with the SmartFits. I want you guys to know that these are VERY different than other ridged plugs on the market. Some other brands use a stiff plastic that is downright painful. Not the SmartFits. These are made of a very soft, “conforming” polymer that is surprisingly comfortable. Simple body heat actually causes the advanced material to conform to the ear channel. For me, SmartFits were at least as comfortable as soft foam plugs. If you wet the SmartFits slightly, they slide in very easily. You don’t have to roll them up with your fingers. There is a half-inch-long stub on the outside of each plug. This makes it very easy to insert or remove the units. I can definitely pop these into my ears more quickly than with the foam plugs. And, using the little stub, they come out super-fast.

The set of SmartFit plugs I tried were fitted with a braided nylon connecting cord. The cord is plenty strong and doesn’t pull out like the stretchy rubber cords on some other sets of plugs. This is a sturdy connection appropriate to a product marketed as a “multiple-use” earplug.

Sound Rating — 25 db NRR, But They Seem Quieter
The Howard Leight SmartFits are only rated to 25 db NRR. That’s “middle of the pack” noise reduction — better than most muffs but not as good as some plugs. I can tell you, however, that these things really cut sound, and in the field they performed as well or better than some foam plugs with higher ratings. With both SmartFit plugs in my ears, gun noises were masked very effectively. And to my surprise, I really couldn’t talk with someone at all unless I removed at least one SmartFit plug. With some other ear plugs I’ve found you can still hear voices even with a plug in each ear. That tells me the “real world” effectiveness of the SmartFits may be higher than the rating suggests.

Bottom line: These SmartFits are comfortable, easy to insert/remove, sturdy, and they last a long time. The SmartFits can be cleaned easily with soap and water, and they can be purchased with a flip-top dispenser for secure storage. Great Product that really works. I now keep two sets of SmartFit plugs in my range kit. There are times when I’ll still use foam plugs, but for most situations I think the SmartFits are easier to use.

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August 10th, 2008

Gammon STOKBOOT Guards Against Solvent Damage

Benchrest shooter Bill Gammon offers a nice product that helps prevent solvents and oils from marring the finish of a fine wood stock, or a painted fiberglass stock. The STOKBOOT also prevents solvents from softening the bedding, while guarding against nicks and scratches. Gammon’s STOKBOOT fits over the rifle stock during cleaning of the barrel. The quilt on the outside soaks up the solvent before it reaches the stock and holds it until it evaporates. A twin layer of vinyl on the inside stops any solvents from getting through, but Gammon cautions that you should not leave the STOKBOOT on overnight, because solvents could soak through. The basic colors are Red, Wine, Black, Blue, and Green. Typical retail price is about $16.00.

Gammon Stokboot

Gammon explains how he came up with the STOKBOOT: “My wife Barbara and I started this business in 1992 as a means to support a very expensive sport, namely Bench Rest. My wife had been in the sewing business for many years. Her experience included sewing, layout, cutting, and management, so it was only logical that the next step was opening our own business. I had complained about having to use a rag over my stock to prevent solvents that I was using from ruining the paint job on the stock, and also seeping into the bedding area and softening up the bedding. So between her expertise in the sewing world and my practical knowledge, we came up with our first STOKBOOT.”

Gammon Stokboot

Currently, Gammon offers wholesale orders. His STOKBOOTs are available through popular shooting sports vendors including: Borden Rifles, Kinneman’s Products, Russ Haydon’s Shooters’ Supply, Sinclair International. European dealers are Reloading Solutions for the UK, and Heinz Henke Online in Germany.

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August 7th, 2008

New Combo Shooting Bench and Cart from Shooters Ridge

Here’s an interesting new product that earns major points for innovation. Shooters Ridge has invented a shooting bench with wheels AND flip-up sides so it can serve as a field transporter. the Shooters Ridge new bench/cart is officially called the Voyager™ Shooting System. It will hit the market very shortly, priced with a $384.49 MSRP. The Voyager features large 20”-diameter wheels with tubeless tires, a generous 12” cushioned seat and weather-resistant frame and hardware. The wheels come off allowing the Voyager to fold flat for storage and transport.

Voyager Shooting Bench

Videos Show Voyager System Used as Cart and Shooting Bench
Shooters Ridge has two excellent videos on its website that show the Voyager bench/cart in use. If you are interested in this product, definitely watch one of both of the videos. They show varminters rolling the cart into position, setting up the bench, and then shooting.


NOTE: After clicking this link to get to Shooters Ridge Website, click “Media” in lower right. Then click “Voyager Video Streaming” (download link is not yet working).

This product is so new, we haven’t had a chance to test it ourselves. We’re a little concerned that the unit could rock or wobble when set up as a shooting bench. However, that can probably be avoided by chocking the wheels or staking down the rear support. Also, we prefer field benches that isolate the seat from the bench top. Still, the versatility of this product impresses us. You can use the Voyager to get your gear in and out of the field easily, yet it sets up quickly as a mobile shooting bench. If you’ve ever hauled a 100+ pound shooting bench around a varmint field you know it’s no fun. With the wheeled Voyager, you can easily roll to a new firing point, hauling your gear along with you. The folks at Shooters Ridge also say the Voyager is sturdy enough to haul game out of the field.

“Varmint hunters, big game hunters and all-day target shooters will appreciate the versatility of this new shooting bench,” stated Tom Knudtson of Shooters Ridge. “Whether it’s hauling game or gear, the Voyager is a rugged piece of equipment that pulls double-duty in the field. In my opinion, its quick conversion to a shooting bench is an amazing advancement.”

Voyager Shooting Bench

COMMENT: The concept of an easy-to-move bench that works as a cart is a good one. And perhaps the actual “street price” of the Voyager will be quite a bit lower than $384 MSRP. This editor has built a few gun-carts before. With wheels, wood, frame, and axles, one can easily spend over $125 just on materials. So, if this unit actually retails for $335.00 or so, it may be worth it. However, we have to reserve judgment on the Voyager until the question of stability in the field is answered.

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August 2nd, 2008

McRee's Advanced Modular Metal Stocks

McRee’s Precision, based in Post Falls, Idaho, has developed a modular metal stock system that has proven itself versatile, rugged, and capable of outstanding accuracy. There are three basic components in the system: center section (which holds the action), forearm, and buttstock. These three sections bolt together using hex-head fasteners torqued to 50 inch/pounds. A wide variety of configurations are available. Hunters and tactical shooters can choose a folding buttstock with narrow fore-end. Varminters may prefer a bag-riding assembly in the rear with raised or foam-covered cheek-piece. There is also a 3″-wide benchrest forearm. McRee-stocked guns have shown competitive accuracy in long-range matches.

The McRee Modular Stocks work well with calibers from 20 all the way to the big magnums and they have proven very popular with tactical and LEO shooters. Tactical stocks can be fitted with rails for mounting night-vision optics or other specialized gear. McRee currently produces stocks for the following actions: Rem 700 (long and short), Lawton 7000/7500 (long and short), Lawton 8000, Surgeon Short and XL, Savage Short action AccuTrigger, RPA Quadlite, 338 Xtreme (Xtreme Machine). While cost varies with the particular features, a basic McRee 3-part modular stock is priced competitively with name-brand fiberglass stocks.

For more info, visit, call (509) 226-5057, or write McRee’s MultiServices, 9528 N. McGuire Road, Post Falls, ID 83854.

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July 28th, 2008

Shehane Big Dawg 4"-Wide MBR Tracker

Bill Shehane has a new version of his MBR Tracker stock. This features a longer, deeper, and wider fore-end for added stability and more resistance to torque with the heavy calibers. Called the MBR ‘Big Dawg’, this stock is cut 4″ longer than a standard Shehane ST-1000 Tracker. This provides a “longer wheelbase” for better balance with very long (30″+) barrels. (The ST-1000 itself is 3″ longer than most benchrest stocks.) The Big Dawg is available with a 4″-wide or 5″-wide forearm, and will handle barrels up to 40″ in length and 1.5″ in diameter. In the top photo, taken by Forum member Preacher, you see a 4″-wide Big Dawg next to a normal ST-1000 Tracker. (Both stocks are symmetrical; there is distortion caused by wide-angle lens.)

This color pattern is what Bill calls “Prairie Dog Camo”, a Rutland laminate in orange and dark gray, with olive ‘accent’ layers. The price for a ‘Big Dawg’ in Rutland laminate is $525. In African Obeche wood (any color choice), the price is $725.00. For more info, contact Bill Shehane at (704) 824-7511, or visit his website,

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July 27th, 2008

Quality Eye Protection at Bargain Prices

Proper eye protection is a “must” for all shooting sports. Even when shooting rimfire guns you should wear eye protection. A wide variety of styles and shapes are available. However, any shooting glasses you choose should provide ANSI Z87+ safety standard impact protection. We see many shooters that just wear ordinary glasses with non-tempered glass lenses. That’s not wise. Ordinary glass lenses can shatter on impact.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get superior quality shooting glasses. The UVEX line of safety glasses are durable, comfortable, and inexpensive. Featuring interchangeable lenses, UVEX glasses meet ANSI Z87.1-2003, CSA Z94.3 and MIL-STD-662 standards. Uvex safety glasses are the world’s top-selling protective eyewear brand.

UVEX XC safety glasses

The popular UVEX ‘XC’ style, shown above, comes in a variety of styles, starting at $8.50 per pair (clear lenses). The most expensive you can buy are still under $12.00. Replacement lenses range from $2.50 to $8.50.

The UVEX Genesis, shown below, is our favorite model. It features extended side shields and has been rated #1 for comfort by an independent testing group. The Genesis, starting at $7.65 per pair, has an elastomer brow guard, and soft, pliable nose pads making it very comfortable to wear for extended periods. It meets the Mil V0 ballistic test for impact. Like the ‘XC’, the Genesis features interchangeable lenses (including Clear, Amber, Espresso, Gold Mirror, and SCT glare-reducing lenses), and four different frame colors (black, brown, Vapor Blue, and Patriot RWB).

You can buy UVEX glasses at gunshops or on the internet. You’ll find great prices on UVEX safety glasses (and replacement lenses) at, Cooper Safety, and Tasco Safety also carries many other stylish, ANSI Z87.1-approved safety glasses, including the Edge Dakura ($9.25 for Clear, Amber, Smoke, and mirrored lenses), and the Smith & Wesson 30-06 by Olympic Optical ($7.50).

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July 26th, 2008

SEB Front-Rest Sand-Bags — Outstanding Product

We’ve had our SEB coaxial front rest now for many months and we are impressed with its quality and performance. One of the great features of the SEB Rest is the front sandbag. It employs double-layer construction on the sides and bottom, and has a unique microfiber material on the surfaces contacting the stock. The bottom of the bag is hard and flat, so the bag sits nice and square. We whole-heartedly endorse the SEB front bag — it is an outstanding product, affordably priced at $20.00.

SEB coaxial rest bag

We’ve tested both 3″-wide and 2 1/4″-wide SEB front bags and they work great. With guns ranging from 22 lbs. to 10.5 lbs. we’ve found that that SEB front bags perform very, very well. They hold their shape, and don’t “hump up” in the middle. The microfiber material, in our opinion, is superior to either Cordura or untreated leather. Even without stock tape on your gun, the microfiber allows the rifle to slide very easily. With stock tape, friction is super-low. You don’t need to put silicone, sailcloth lube, or powder on the front bag — it’s not necessary.

Less Vertical, Better Groups with SEB Front Bag
One of our testers was experiencing vertical when shooting a 6 PPC with a different front bag. He tried both leather and Cordura front bags, and experimented with various amounts of sand fill, but the results were unsatisfactory. The leather and Cordura bags either did not hold their shape, or, with more sand fill, they were too hard and the gun jumped. Then our tester switched to a SEB front bag. He noticed an immediate improvement in gun handling and his targets showed reduced vertical with the same load. Problem solved. That tester is now consistently shooting groups in the low- to mid-ones off a SEB rest with SEB front bag.

While the SEB front bag is optimized for use with the SEB coaxial rest, it can be adapted to other front rest tops. The standard version is made from black microfiber with brown leather, but it is also available with black leather sides. The standard vertical thickness for the 3″ or 2 1/4″ section between the ears is approximately 1″, but other dimensions are available on request. The latest SEB front bags have a filler spout on each side.

SEB front bags are available in the USA from Paul Schmid in Ohio, (330) 684-2596, email: coyote [at] . Call for current pricing. Price of standard SEB front bag in the USA is $20.00, while a SEB front bag for the big Farley Rest is $25.00.

SEB coaxial rest bag

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July 18th, 2008

New Rail-Mount System for Harris Bipods

Mark Deros of Alamo Four Star, LLC, has invented a new system that attaches Harris bipods to a Picatinny Rail mounted on the fore-arm of a rifle. The new locking system, called the DLOC-S, replaces the top plate of the bipod with a quick-release clamping system. The spring-loaded DLOC clamp allows the bipod to be attached to the rail easily with no screws or bolts to tighten. Just pop open the DLOC and slide it on the rail.

The makers of the DLOC system have created a video that shows the DLOC being installed on a Harris bipod with Poc-Loc. The whole operation takes less than 30 seconds and can be done without tools.

CLICK HERE to view DLOC 30-second Installation Video

The DLOC selling price has not been finalized, but Mark Deros expects it to be “under $100.00″. Product release is set for the second half of September, 2008. For more information, call (210) 432-7006.

Permalink Gear Review 5 Comments »
July 16th, 2008

Savage 6BR Factory Rifle Delivers Superb Accuracy

Ace 600-yard shooter Terry Brady has been testing a box-stock, factory Savage 6BR F-Class rifle for This gun features a 30″, 8-twist barrel (0.100″ freebore), Savage Target Action, and heavy, laminated stock with 3″-wide fore-end. We know you guys have been eagerly awaiting the accuracy results. We’ll let the targets speak for themselves. Bottom Line: the Savage 6BR shoots… like a house on fire.

Savage Shoots under 1/2″ at 200 Yards
With Terry’s handloads (Norma 203B powder, CCI 450s, Berger 105s loaded .010″ into lands), the Savage produced three-shot groups well under 1/2″ at 200 yards. That’s right, TWO hundred. Measuring off Terry’s photos, using our target measurement software, one of the 200-yard groups was a measured .350″ or 0.167 MOA.

Orange target dots are 1″ diameter. Top row are 3-shot groups, center row (with 90gr factory ammo) are 5-shot groups.

Impressive Bugholes at 100 yards
At 100 yards, Terry had one 5-shot group with the Berger 105gr Match (non-VLD) that measured 0.140″ with our target measurement software. Measuring with calipers, Terry said this group was 0.279″ outside edge to outside edge. It’s interesting that Norma 203B shot tighter in this rifle than did Varget, as you can see.

Orange target dots are 1″ diameter.

Half-MOA or better with Lapua Factory Ammo at 300 Yards
The Savage 6BR also shot exceptionally well with Lapua factory ammo of two types, one loaded with 90gr BT Scenars, the other loaded with 105gr BT Scenars. Because Terry had a limited amount of factory ammo, at 300 yards, he shot three-shot groups. The 90gr ammo shot 1.490″ or about 1/2 MOA, while the 105gr ammo shot .780″, about 1/4 MOA. For comparison sake, Terry’s handloads (Berger 105s, 30.5 RL15) put FIVE shots in 0.650″ at 300 yards.

Complete Report Will Follow
We will provide a complete feature article on this rifle in the weeks ahead. That will include load data, more accuracy testing results, and Terry’s comments about the rifle. If someone in North Carolina can help Terry with a video camera, we’ll add video to the story.

So far Brady has been very impressed with the Savage overall, but he had two minor criticisms. First, he felt the Accutrigger spring weight is a bit too heavy, and second, he noted that the 1″-wide flat on the bottom of the stock at the rear is too wide for most bags: “It didn’t track well with my bag. I had to really hold the gun. Ideally you’ll want a bag with wider ear spacing.”

Overall, Terry gives the Savage an “A” grade: “For an out-of-the-box bench gun, it is well worth the money! I would recommend it to any shooter.”

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