November 18th, 2011

Seb’s Wild 6 PPC + .284 Win Fat-Bottom Hammerhead Convertible

You interested in a really wild, innovative bench gun that can shoot both short-range and long-range matches? Check out Seb Lambang’s latest “do-it-all” rifle. It’s a switch-barrel rifle combining two very different chamberings: 6 PPC and .284 Winchester. With that caliber combo, Seb’s covered from 100 yards (LV/HV mode) all the way out to 1000 (LR Light Gun mode). But the dual chambering is not the rifle’s only trick feature. Exploiting the new long-range benchrest rules, Seb has fitted a 3″-wide, flat rear metal keel to the buttstock. That counter-balances his 30″-long 7mm barrel, improves tracking, and adds stability. Seb built the stock and smithing was done by Australian gunsmith David Kerr.

Seb Lambang 6PPC .284 Win Benchrest hammerhead

Detachable Hammerhead Wing Section Plus Fat-Bottom Keel
To further reduce torque and improve tracking, the stock features an 8″-wide, detachable fore-end fixture. This “hammerhead” fore-end section has extended “wings” on both sides, making the rifle super-stable. The hammerhead unit can be removed, leaving the stock 3″ wide for use in registered benchrest matches where 3″ is the maximum width. The photos below show Seb’s gun in .284 Win Long-Range (LR) Light Gun mode.

Seb Lambang 6PPC .284 Win Benchrest hammerhead

Yes This Rig Shoots … In Both Configurations, Long-Range and Short
Seb has already used his switch-caliber, switch-barrel rig successfully in competition. Seb tells us: “The gun shot and tracked real well either in 6 PPC LV/HV mode or in .284 Win LG mode. I love it! With this gun I placed Top 10 for the Two-Gun at the Harry Madden Championship in Brisbane, Australia just a few days ago and took the silver medal for the 500m Flyshoot with the .284 Win on the next day. So who says a switch-barrel rifle can’t (or doesn’t) work?” And get this, Seb finished the stock just four days before the Brisbane match. He glued-in the action the evening before the match and shot it the next day in competition. Pretty impressive we’d say….

Seb Lambang 6PPC .284 Win Benchrest hammerhead

6 PPC and .284 Win Convertible Rifle Specifications
Action: Stolle Panda Short Action (glue-in plus front/rear alum. pillars), Right Bolt, Right Port, Right Eject, .473 bolt face.
LV/HV Weight: Rifle weighs 10.4 lbs in 6 PPC mode (no keel, no front wings).
LV/HV Barrel: Krieger 21.5″ OAL, 6mm (6 PPC, .270″ neck), 1:14″ twist.
Light Gun Weight: 15.5 lbs in .284 Mode with 3″ rear aluminum keel and 8″ fore-end attachment.
Light Gun Barrel: Maddco 30″ OAL, 7mm (.284 Win, .316″ neck), 1:9″ twist.
Metal: Home-made, one-piece scope base with +15 MOA scope rings.

Sebastian Lambang Hammerhead 6PPC

Seb Lambang — Indonesian Innovator
If you don’t know already, Seb Lambang is the designer/builder of the innovative SEB Coaxial rests. These are some of the best joystick rests on the market. The latest version, the SEB Neo Rest, is a brilliant design that folds flat for transport, yet offers extended vertical and horizontal travel and a rest top that can adjust from roughly 2″ wide to over 6″ in width. This Editor uses a SEB Neo for both bench and F-Class shooting and it is my favorite joystick rest. Rest in photos is a SEB Neo MAX.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, New Product 4 Comments »
November 14th, 2011

New Sinclair Height-Adjusting F-Class Bipod (3rd Generation)

Sinclair Int’l has started shipping its new, improved “3rd Gen” F-Class bipods. These are nearly a pound lighter than before, but just as stable. The key new feature is an optional, central rotary height adjustment. This was successfully tested by Danny Biggs, who won some big matches with a prototype height-adjusting bipod. While the new bipod is designed for F-TR competition, Sinclair’s wide-base bipods have also been used successfully by some F-Open Class competitors, and they have been popular with varmint hunters. Two versions of the new “3rd Gen” bipod are offered. The basic version, without central height adjustment, is currently in-stock for $199.95. The deluxe version, with central quick-adjust height control, can be pre-ordered for $249.95.

3rd generation sinclair f-class bipod height adjusting

Sinclair tells us: “The Sinclair F-Class Bipod was designed with input from many of our customers, including members of Team Sinclair. The new third generation Sinclair F-Class Bipod is offered with an optional quick-adjust elevation knob. Made from 7075 T6 aluminum, the 3rd gen bipod is lighter yet more rigid — nearly a full pound less than the previous generation.” The latest F-Class Bipod now also includes handy laser-etched height markings on the adjustable legs.

Popular features of Sinclair’s previous F-Class bipod designs have been retained, notes Sinclair: “The bipod locking feature enables you to adjust rifle cant quickly and easily. The bipod can be mounted to the rifle’s sling swivel stud in just a few seconds with the captured, hardened pin system. Two tensioning knobs then pull the stock against heavy, low-compression felt pads for a movement-free mount.”

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 1 Comment »
November 8th, 2011

New .22 LR Rimfire Version of Classic M1 Carbine

Here’s a new product that would be a great starter rifle for kids and a perfect training rifle for CMP M1 Carbine matches. Legacy Sports recently announced their new Citadel M-1.22 rifle, a .22 LR rimfire clone of the legendary M1 Carbine (which was chambered in .30 Carbine, essentially a rimless version of the .32 Winchester Self-Loading cartridge). Size, weight, and balance of the Citadel M-1.22 are very similar to the real thing. Legacy’s new rendition is set up to shoot the popular, inexpensive .22 LR round. The new Citadel M-1.22 rifle is made in Italy by Chiappa Firearms (Armi Sport). The rimfire M-1.22 features a blow-back action, an 18″-long, 1:16″ twist barrel, fixed front sight and adjustable rear sight. It will come with 10-round magazines, in either a wood stock version at $391.00 (item #CIR22M1W) or synthetic stock version at $331.00 (item #CIR22M1S).

M-1.22 M-1 Rimfire Carbine Citadel

We think the M-1.22 will be a popular Christmas gift item and, as noted already, it is an ideal “cross-training” firearm for CMP Carbine Match competitors. Learn more about the new Citadel M-1.22 at the LegacySports website. In the near future, M-1.22 rifles can be purchased through GalleryofGuns.com.

CMP M-1 Rimfire Carbine Citadel

CMP M1 Carbine Matches — Growing in Popularity
The CMP M1 Carbine Match is part of the CMP Games program that already includes Garand, Springfield and Vintage Military Rifle Matches. “As-issued” U. S. Military M1 Carbines are fired over a 45-shot course of fire at 100 yards on either the old military “A” target (or the SR target, if A targets prove to be too difficult to obtain). The course includes 5 sighters and 10 shots for record prone slow fire in 15 minutes, a 10-shot rapid fire prone series in 60 seconds, a 10-shot rapid fire sitting series in 60 seconds and 10 shots slow fire standing in 10 minutes. An M1 Carbine Match was fired during the National Matches in the early 1950s, and now is back. As a CMP Games event, it also can now be conducted as a CMP-sanctioned competition.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 6 Comments »
October 23rd, 2011

Review of Stainless Tumbling Media Brass Cleaning System

On our main Accurateshooter.com website, you’ll find a comprehensive review of the STM system for cleaning cartridge brass with stainless media. To clean brass with stainless media, start with five pounds of small stainless pins sold by StainlessTumblingMedia.com. Place these along with a gallon of water, a little liquid cleaner, and two pounds of cartridge brass in a rotary tumbler, and run the machine for one to four hours.

CLICK HERE for Stainless Media Brass Cleaning System Review

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Forum Member Tests STM System
Our reviewer, Forum member Jason Koplin, purchased the STM media and a new Thumler’s Tumbler. He then tested the STM cleaning procedure on his own brass, including some extremely dirty and tarnished “range pick-up” brass. Jason was thoroughly impressed with how well the STM process worked — as you can see from the “before and after” photos below. Brass which looked like it was ready for the scrap heap was restored to “like-new” appearance. The process works equally well on both rifle brass and pistol brass. Jason observed that one surprise benefit of the STM cleaning procedure is a big reduction in noise. Jason said the water-filled rotary tumbler was much quieter than his vibratory tumblers.

stainless tumbling Media

stainless tumbling Media

You’ll want to read Jason’s full review which shows more before and after images. In addition, the full article features a “how-to” video created by Forum member Cory Dickerson, the young man who pioneered the stainless tumbling process and founded STM. The video shows how to load brass, media, and cleaner solutions into the tumbler, and how to separate media from brass once the tumbling is done. The illustration below shows how to access the article from our new home page. Note that you can click on other featured articles as well.

AccurateShooter.com Stainless Media

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 11 Comments »
October 18th, 2011

New Tikka T3 Sporters in Stock at EuroOptic.com

Tikka has started to import its new T3 Sporter, which features an ergonomic, laminated stock, detachable magazine, adjustable cheekpiece and a nice, stiff action with integral dovetail and side bolt-release. The trigger adjusts from 2 to 4 pounds. The T3 Sporter will be produced with 20″ or 24″ barrels in a variety of popular chamberings: .222 Rem*, .223 Rem, 6.5×55 SE, .260 Rem, .308 WIN. We expect this rifle to be popular with tactical shooters and club-level match shooters who want a versatile rifle that can be used for hunting as well as target shooting. The stock is similar to the ISU “standard rifle” design used for 300m position shooting. As you’d expect, it works in all positions: prone, sitting/kneeling, and standing.

CLICK HERE for T3 Sporter Technical Specifications Page (PDF file).

T3 Is Accurate With Smooth-Working Action
We first saw the new Tikka T3 Sporter in January, at the SHOT Show Media Day. The gun we sampled had a nice trigger, smooth bolt, and shot quite accurately with factory ammo. Watch the video below for an overview of the T3 Sporter. The Tikka T3 Sporter was developed in co-operation With Finnish hunting and sport shooting organizations. The design goal was to create a rifle that performs in competition, but can also be used for hunting. The ergonomic stock features an adjustable cheekpiece and adjustable buttplate (length of pull can be changed with spacers). An integral rail allows placement of hand-stops, bipod mounts, and attachments so the rifle can be carried with a double-sling, biathlon style. T3 Sporter weight (without scope) is 9 lbs. with 20″ barrel, or 9.7 lbs. with 24″ barrel.

EuroOptic.com Has T3 Sporters in Stock
EuroOptic.com has T3 Sporter inventory in stock now, priced at $1695.00. Not all variants have arrived yet*, but we’ve been told that the following models are available: .308 Win 24″ barrel, .308 Win 20″ barrel, 6.5×55 24″ barrel, 6.5×55 20″ barrel, .260 Rem 20″ barrel. 20″ barrels are threaded with a cap (18×1 metric) while the 24″ barrels are unthreaded. View details on EuroOptic’s T3 Sporter Page (NOTE: EuroOptic’s web site may not show the latest inventory, so call (507) 220-3159 for availability.)

*Beretta, Tikka’s parent company, controls T3 Sporter imports. EuroOptic.com informed us that it “ordered all the versions we could from Beretta, but no .222 Rem was available in the USA at this time.” So, for the near term at least, it appears that the .222 Rem will be limited to the European market.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 9 Comments »
October 11th, 2011

New Berger 105gr 6mm Hybrid Bullets Perform Well

105gr Hybrid Tests Demonstrate Excellent Accuracy and Consistency
By Robert Whitley
After the initial Daily Bulletin Report on the new Berger 6mm 105gr Hybrids, I did some accuracy and consistency field testing with these new bullets. They shot so well, I thought an update was in order. My 100-yard testing has revealed much about these new bullets — all of it good so far. The test rifle was a MAK Tube Gun with a trued Rem 700 action (glued in), with a 6mm Brux 30″, 1:8″-twist barrel chambered with a no-neck-turn 6mm BRX chamber (1.563″ max case and .120″ free bore). The 6mm 105gr Hybrids fit and work well in this 6 BRX chamber configuration. (CLICK HERE to view a print of the reamer I used for the 6 BRX chamber.)

Berger 6mm 105 grain Hybrid bullet

Hybrids Show Excellent Accuracy in Prone Tests (with Sling)
As some may know, I am predominantly a prone shooter and do most of my load testing prone with a sling. I chose to do the same with these Hybrids, to see how they would perform when fired as they would be in a prone match. In this case, shooting prone with sling, I shot four 10-shot groups (two 10-shot groups in each of two range session). All four groups were right around .5 MOA (i.e. each group about .750″ edge-to-edge, minus a bullet diameter of .243″ = .507″). The new Berger 6mm 105gr Hybrid bullets had no problems doing this. The groups shot were also consistent with the best groups I have been able to shoot in the past with the Berger 108gr BT bullets and the Berger 105gr VLD bullets, and I consider both of those bullets to be excellent and accurate. There is no question in my mind that these new Hybrid bullets are accurate, and the consistency is there! Check out my test targets below.

The two 10-shot targets above were shot at 100 yards on September 30th, prone with sling. The 6 BRX load was: Berger 6mm 105gr Hybrids, Lapua brass, 32.0 grains N140, Federal 205M-AR primers, .020″ jump. Note: If you put the targets over each other the groups line up perfectly.

These two 10-shot targets (above) were shot at 100 yards on September 23, prone with sling. The 6 BRX load was: Berger 6mm 105gr Hybrids, Lapua brass, 31.0 grains H4895, Federal 205M-AR primers, .020″ jump. When I can shoot 20 Xs in a row (as I did with these two targets) the rifle is really shooting well.

Accuracy needs to be coupled with consistency, especially when running longer strings of fire or in matches demanding a larger number of hits on the target. I am pleased to report that I have found the Berger 105gr Hybrid bullets to be consistently accurate bullets (i.e. there were no anomalies or fliers, they just keep going where you pointed the rifle). At each of the last two range sessions I shot back to back 10-shot groups with no break between the two (i.e. 20 shots in a row and only switching to the next target after 10 shots). Not only did the individual 10-shot groups stay tight, but if you hold each first target over the second target, the groups are right on top of one another. This is what I look for in terms of consistency — that I can keep shooting, and the bullets keep going right into the group, with no odd fliers.

105gr Hybrid Bearing Surface and Optimum Free Bore
Shooters may wonder how the new 6mm 105gr Hybrids function with the existing freebores on chambers set up for current Berger 105gr VLDs and Berger 108gr BT bullets. Based on the investigation and measuring of various chambers, here are some general guidelines:

1. For a chamber with a 1.5° throat angle, and the bullets touching the lands, the Berger 105gr Hybrid bullets sit up in the neck a little further than both the current production Berger 105 VLD Target bullets and the Berger 108gr BT bullets.

2. Based on basic measuring and testing, for the junction of the boat tail and bearing surface of a 6mm 105gr Hybrid bullet to be in the same spot as other bullets, the 105 Hybrid (Lot #3079) would need about .020″ – .025″ less freebore than recent production Berger 105gr Target VLD bullets (Lot #3220) and about .030″ – .035″ less freebore than recent Berger 108gr Target BT bullets (lot #2791).

3. Since the Hybrids are designed to work both in the lands and jumped away from the lands, some extra freebore may not be a bad thing. In truth, the 105 Hybrid bullets should work well and fit well in various 6mm chamberings (such as 6 BRX, 6 Dasher, 6mmAR etc.) which have been optimized for the previous generation, non-Hybrid 6mm Berger 105s and 108s.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, New Product 7 Comments »
October 4th, 2011

Bolt-Tail Cleaner Tools for .223 and .308 ARs

Here’s a simple tool that may benefit you AR15 and AR10 shooters out there. The G&G Tools’ Bolt Cleaner and Polisher uses a radiused scraper with a cleaning pad to remove stubborn carbon from the tail of your AR bolts. The G&G Tool is offered in both a .223 version and a .308 version, both priced at $29.99. There is also a more basic (scraper only) unit for $19.99.

There are other ways to remove carbon (soaking in solvent and scraping with a knife), but G&G’s tools make the job quick and easy. Credit The Firearm Blog for finding this device. Watch the video below to see the tool in action.

G & G Tools AR15 bolt cleaner tool

Permalink Gear Review, New Product No Comments »
September 30th, 2011

Budget-Priced Gear Haulers for Gun Guys

Got gun gear? Need mobile storage? Here are three handy storage solutions that can haul your stuff safely without breaking your budget. In fact, our first recommended item costs less than a buck. How can you argue with that!

The 99¢ Compact Tool Box — Fits inside a Backpack
Here’s a great item for hunters and tactical guys. Right now, the 99¢ Store is selling a small, 11″x5″x4″ plastic tool box. The price — you guessed it — is just ninety-nine cents. Hey that’s less than the cost of a cup of coffee. We like this unit because it is small enough to fit in a backpack or large duffle bag. It can keep your pointy tools from poking holes in your pack, or provide hardshell protection for pricey items such as range-finders, cameras, and Kestrels. As you’d expect, the box isn’t perfect — the snap closure could be tighter. But the tool box does the job. It’s a very handy size, and the price is so cheap you can hardly go wrong. I bought two — one for gun stuff and the other for emergency gear in my vehicle. Note: This item is not listed online at 99only.com — availability may vary from store to store.

Stanley Mobile Chest 033026R

Lockable Utility Boxes — Good for Guns, Ammo, Tools
Northern Tool sells a versatile, lockable Utility Box for just $10.99. This is available in Green (Item# 26169) or Orange (Item# 26171). There is also a larger version with a top tray for $15.99 (Green, Item# 26170 or Orange, Item# 26172). We like these storage boxes. They have a rubber weather-seal, and the tupperware-type plastic is gentle on your tools or firearms. The sturdy locking system lets you use these boxes to transport handguns in jurisdictions (such as California) where a locked container is required. The smaller box can easily hold two medium-sized handguns, plus ammo and shooting glasses. It’s also nice to have a lockable box to hold expensive accessories such as wind-meters and cameras. The big box (15″L x 8″W x 11.5″H) is strong enough to sit on and holds plenty of gear. We have a few of these boxes (both large and small) and they’ve held up through years of service.

Stanley Mobile Chest 033026R

Wheeled, Lockable Mobile Chest Can Haul It All
If you need to haul a ton of gear, consider the Stanley Pro Mobile Chest (model 033026R). The main compartment of this thing is big enough to hold a front pedestal rest, a couple sand-bags, plus muffs and more. There’s also a small, see-through, pop-top parts caddy on top. Use that for stowing small tools, jags, patches, brushes and other supplies. Right now you can get this (#033026R) Mobile Chest at Ace Hardware for just $49.99. You can order online and Ace will ship the unit for free to your nearest Ace Hardware Outlet.

Stanley Mobile Chest 033026R

Permalink Gear Review, Hot Deals No Comments »
September 25th, 2011

Bald Eagle Rest Gets “Extreme Make-Over” by Bob Pastor

Forum Member Rod V (aka Nodak7mm) commissioned a full-bling “Extreme Make-Over” of his Bald Eagle Slingshot Front Rest. The visual change was dramatic — a benchrest version of “Pimp My Ride”. But Rod’s old Bald Eagle was also fitted out with new controls and new, large-diameter F-Class foot pads. Those hardware additions add more than flash — they improve function too.

Bald Eagle Front RestPlain Jane Rest Becomes
Black and Gold Beauty

The whole rest body was powder-coated black and the controls were finished in gold-tone. This has got to be the best-looking Bald Eagle in the galaxy. Rod says: “I had Bob Pastor of Viper Rests make me some F-Class feet for my Bald Eagle Slingshot rest. Since Bob does powder coating and such, I gave him the go ahead to make it look sweet. And he sure did!”

Rod adds: “Man do I have a ‘kick-butt’, hot looking rest for F-class now! Pastor did a great job and I really owe him a thanks for exceeding my expectations and for his craftsmanship. Bob is a great guy to work with. He is a top-shelf shooter too, so he knows what he wants in a rest and why.”

Bald Eagle Front Rest

What’s involved in an “Extreme Make-Over” by Bob Pastor?
Here’s the description on Bob’s Website, www.ViperBench-rest.com:

  • Each rest is customized for the individual shooter. All the brass knobs and handles are melted down rifle cases from my foundry.
    (Aluminum knobs and handles can be substituted of weight is a concern.)
  • Each knob and handle is individually knurled and turned on my lathe.
  • All threaded stainless steel rods, knob screws and knob extensions are used. These are all highly polished before installation.
  • The Viper Double-Edge F-Class Feet are 4″ wide, with a large tapered spike turned concentric to the center hole.
  • All corner stainless steel rods are ½ x 13 threads per inch for added stability.
  • All corner stainless steel rods have concentric points turned on the ends for use on a shooting bench.
  • All corner holes in base are drilled and tapped for ½ x 13 tpi., from 3/8 x 16 tpi. For better stability.
  • The base is stripped of any paint and all sharp edges and burrs are removed prior to powder coating.
  • The entire rest is either powder-coated or painted according to the material.
  • All threaded rods are burnished to remove any small burrs, before applying synthetic grease and assembly.
  • All brass is highly polished, unless a matte finish is desired.
  • Each rest is then packed in liquid hardening foam for safety during shipping.

To order an “Extreme-Makeover” visit www.ViperBench-rest.com, call Bob Pastor at (269) 521-3671, or email robpas [at] btc-bci.com . Bob says the Make-Over price “depends on the customer’s desires and is quoted before the rest is shipped to me.”

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, New Product 1 Comment »
September 17th, 2011

Bushnell Fusion 1600 ARC RangeFinder Binoculars

Bushnell 1600 ARCBushnell recently released its new Fusion 1600 ARC range-finding binoculars. With a “low street price” under $799.00, Bushnell’s 1600 ARC binoculars are less than one third the price of Leica Geovids (10×42, $2399.00) or Zeiss Victory RF Binoculars (10×45, $2,799.00).

That huge price advantage makes the Fusion very tempting — but can Bushnell’s 1600 ARC binos perform as advertised?

Forum Member Reviews Fusion 1600 ARC
Forum Member Stan (aka BigBamBoom) acquired the Fusion 1600 ARC RF binoculars and has posted a video review. Stan was favorably impressed with the quality of the glass and the exterior ruggedness of the unit. He was able to range very large objects (water-tower, trees) beyond 1200 yards. He also praised the speed of the unit, saying it ranged faster than his Leica CRF 1200. Consider however, that the very small CRF1200 is harder to aim precisely, simply because it is so small and light and held in a vertical orientation. Most people can aim the larger, heavier LRFs with more steadiness using a normal two-handed horizontal grip. In the real world, if you can hold the LRF more steady, you can get a true range on a small object more quickly.

YouTube Preview Image

Don’t Expect to Range a WhiteTail at 1600 yards
We also caution that, in our Laser rangefinder comparison tests, we learned that there is BIG difference between ranging a water tower, and ranging a deer-sized animal. We found that some units that could range a water tower at 1300+ yards could NOT reliably range an actual deer (stuffed by taxidermist) at 700 yards. Note that Bushnell lists three different effective ranging distances for the Fusion 1600, and Bushnell claims only 500-yard effectiveness on deer-sized objects. This is fairly consistent with our LRF comparison tests:

Bushnell Fusion 1600 ARC Ranging Ability (Factory Specs)

  • Reflective Ranging Performance: 1600 yards
  • Tree Ranging Performance: 1000 yards
  • Deer Ranging Performance: 500 yards

It can be fun to range buildings at a mile, but for the hunter, that may not have much practical utility. You want to be able to range deer-sized game at all practical distances. For the tactical shooter, you need a narrowly focused beam (with minimal beam divergence) that can range a gong or metallic silhouette reliably at 1000 yards. If an LRF can’t do that, it may not be all that useful, even if it the sales price is attractive.
Bushnell 1600 ARC
Fusion 1600 ARC Features
The 10×42 roof prism binoculars feature built-in battery life indicator, twist-up eye pieces, and multi-coated optics with RainGuard. The Fusion 1600 is fully waterproof and submersible, meeting IPX7 “waterproof” specification. As Stan observed, the Fusion 1600 has good glass, and the red readouts are easy to see. Bushnell employs Vivid Display Technology™ (with four display brightness settings) to enhance display readability in all lighting conditions.

The built-in laser rangefinder features ARC (Angle Range Compensating) technology, which calculates the angle to the target (-90 to +90 degrees). ARC also and gives the hold-over range for the rifle shooter, and true horizontal distance for bow hunters. We like the fact that you can choose between Inches and MOA for holdover. There is a brush mode for measuring distances in heavy cover and a bullseye mode for ranging in open areas. The brush mode can filter out false returns from closer objects. This IS a useful feature that actually does work.

The Fusion 1600 ARC laser rangefinder binoculars come with battery, neck-strap, and carrying case. MSRP is $899.00. It pays to shop around as we’ve seen advertised prices from $789.00 to $899.00. For more info, visit www.bushnell.com or call 800-423-3537 for consumer inquiries.

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, New Product 1 Comment »
September 14th, 2011

BulletFlight Ballistics App Now Offered for Android Devices

The popular BulletFlight Ballistics Program, is now available for Android OS smart phones and mobile devices. BulletFlight (from Knights Armament) has emerged over the past couple of years as one of the very best balllistics programs for iPhones and iPods. And now Android device users can enjoy the same functionality and features.

BulletFlight Balllistics Software App android

BulletFlight Android OS software comes in three different versions, all available through the Android Market. BulletFlight L1 (Level 1, $3.99) is a fast-running ballistics App with a host of features, including: user-selectable BC models (G1, G7, G8 etc.); output in inches, cm, MOA, Mils, and scope clicks; 360° wind drift calculation. BulletFlight includes a large database of bullet types (with weights, BCs etc.)

BulletFlight L2 (Level-2, $11.99) adds a full calculation screen where you may enter exact range and atmospheric details. The Level-2 version can also generate range-cards, perform cosine-angle calculations, handle mil-dot range estimations, and calculate impact energy, velocity, and flight time. What’s more, Level-2 offers GPS functionality so you can geo-locate your position, and/or download local weather information. The $11.99 L2 software package is what we recommend for most users.

BulletFlight L2 Screen Shots
BulletFlight Balllistics Software App android

Level M is Ideal for Ultra-Long-Range Shooting
Priced at $29.99, BulletFlight Level-M (Military) version further adds the ability to calculate an actual BC based on bullet drop, two velocities, or flight time. This can be useful if you make your own bullets, do extensive experimental work, or shoot at extreme long range. If you do regularly shoot beyond 1000 yards, BulletFlight Level-M is probably the best choice. The Level-M software factors bullet spin drift and Coriolis effect into the ballistics solution — making this a super-sophisticated tool. In addition, the Level-M software can calculate bullet stability based on MV, barrel twist rate, and bullet specs.

With all versions of BulletFlight, you can also create your own custom ammo profiles (with velocity, BC, bullet type), allowing you to easily output ballistic plots for multiple firearms, without having to enter the rifle/bullet profile each session.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review 3 Comments »
September 9th, 2011

Sartorius GD503 Analytical Scale Offers Amazing Precision

Sartorius GD503 force restoration magnetic scaleSuccessful long-range shooting demands very uniform ammo. Weighing charges carefully can make shot velocities more uniform within a shot string. Uniformity of velocities is good, because lower ES translates to less vertical dispersion of the shots at long range. Many competitive shooters today try to load charges that are consistent within one-tenth of a grain. Some exacting reloaders, in the relentless pursuit of perfection, go even further — they try to maintain charge weight uniformity down to the equivalent of just one or two kernels of powder.

To weigh charges with this kind of precision, you need a very high-quality scale. Even the $400.00-grade balances (such as the Acculab VIC-123), struggle to maintain single-kernel precision with their conventional strain-gauge load cell technology. But there is a new class of electronic lab scales which employ magnetic force restoration technology. These force restoration balances can reliably (and repeatably) weigh a single grain of powder. In normal use, lab-grade force restoration scales also deliver a stable reading more quickly than strain-gauge type scales. This is a boon for reloaders who like to trickle the final few kernels of a load. But the enhanced speed and precision of force restoration (magnetic) scales come with a stiff price — these technological marvels cost $900.00 and up. That could buy a custom action, or three new barrels.

Trickling Kernel by Kernel with GD503 and Omega Trickler
Do the advanced force restoration scales perform as advertised? Can they reliably recognize a single kernel of powder quickly enough to make trickling practical? Well, thanks to Forum member A.J. (aka AJ), we have a video that answers those questions. Using a Sartorius GD503 Class II force restoration balance with an Omega two-speed powder trickler, A.J. demonstrates how he can weigh charges that are consistent within a single kernel’s weight, i.e. 20-25 thousandths of a grain.

When you watch the video, note how (at 3:45 time mark) the RCBS electronic scale reads 41.7 grains, when in fact the correct charge weight was 41.830 grains, as measured by the GB503. That’s a one-tenth grain (four kernel) error right there. You will also see that the Omega Trickler from Dandy Products really can drop one kernel at a time. It takes some careful adjusting of the drop tube to achieve this sensitivity, but the Omega really is up to the task.

A.J. recently acquired his Sartorius GD503 digital scale from Balances.com. Retail price is $899.99. A.J. reports: “I have to say the [GD503] is one awesome unit. I was loading my 260 with 42 grains of H4350. The GD503 is accurate to .005 (5 thousandths) of a grain. My Acculab was supposed to be accurate to .020 of a grain but couldn’t do that on a good day. This new scale can actually weigh an individual kernel of H4350, it weighs right at .025 per kernel. I weighed a small screw about 20 times throughout one day and every time I got the same exact reading. My load for my 260 now has a SD in the single digits and an ES of 10 fps is not uncommon for 5-shot groups.”

Having seen an actual reduction in his velocity ES and SD, A.J. is sold on his $900.00 GD503: “This thing is amazingly accurate. It repeats every time. The weight does not keep changing or growing like my Acculab VIC 123 or my RCBS Chargemaster. My loads have never been so accurate. Now I don’t have to wait for a Prometheus as I have something better for a fraction of the cost.”

If you’re interested in the Sartorius GD503, below is a video from Balances.com that explains the features of the GD503 and shows how to set up and operate the unit to achieve the best results.

Strain-Gauge Scale vs. Force Restoration Scale — Responsiveness Test
This final video also shows the difference in performance between a strain gauge scale and magnetic force restoration scale (GD503). In the video, both scales are tasked with measuring tiny grains of salt, which are much smaller than extruded powder kernels. You can see that the GD503 responds more quickly when a few grains of salt are added.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Reloading 10 Comments »
September 5th, 2011

Savage LRPV Saga — When A Barrel Upgrade Is The Only Solution

Savage Criterion BarrelIn our Shooters’ Forum, you’ll find a lengthy thread about accuracy problems with a Savage LRPV, chambered in 6mmBR. The gun would repeatedly split groups at 100 yards, and at 300 yards, the “flyers” would open up the groups to 1.5 MOA or larger. Interestingly, the factory test target (at right) showed a split group — not a good sign.

The gun’s owner, forum member LR_Shooter, tried a variety of tweaks: “I did this, done that… [changed] torque, tang floated, bedded action, recut chamber, and [adjusted firing pin]”. But nothing really helped. Frustrated, LR_Shooter asked his fellow Forum members for help. Much advice was proffered, including the novel idea of removing the middle action screw in the Savage 3-screw target action. Some of the advice proved helpful, but none of the suggested remedies produced a major improvement. This rifle, out of the box, tossed flyers and no amount of tweaking (or changes in shooting technique) really cured the basic problem. That is, until, the factory barrel got replaced…

Savage Criterion Barrel

New Criterion Pre-Fit Barrel Works Wonders
LR_Shooter acquired a Criterion pre-fit barrel from Jim Briggs at Northland Shooters Supply (NSS). These pre-fits are designed for easy installation with the standard Savage barrel nut. Wouldn’t you know it, with a new 30″ heavy-contour barrel on the LRPV, the gun started shooting way better. No more crazy fliers, no more split groups, no more excessive vertical. And the improvement came without any other major modifications. LR_Shooter reports: “I got a replacement barrel from Jim at NSS. It is a 30″ bull Criterion barrel. So far, without playing with torque screws and having my old setup… I’m very satisfied with the barrel I got. Now I have no problem getting [groups] under 0.25 MOA. Finally this thing can shoot!” The targets below, shot with the new Criterion barrel, speak for themselves. The left target was shot at 100 yards, while the target on the right was shot at 300 yards (very impressive).

Targets Shot with Savage LRPV Fitted with Criterion Barrel
Savage Criterion Barrel

Read Thread on Savage Accuracy Issues Fixed By Criterion Barrel

Moral of the Story — Sometimes A New Barrel Really Is the Right Solution
All of us have struggled at times with a rifle that won’t live up to expectations. This Editor personally struggled for over a year with a .260 Rem Savage with a factory tube. The gun tended to split groups and the POI walked as the barrel heated. I tried one powder/primer combination after another, working through a variety of seating depths over many months. I was persistent. Out of stubbornness, I just believed that sooner or later I’d find the magic load.

Well folks, sometimes there’s really nothing you can do about a sub-par barrel. It is what it is. To really improve a gun’s accuracy (particularly a gun with a factory tube), you may need to open your wallet and get a quality aftermarket barrel. Spending months trying one recipe after another may simply be an overwhelming waste of powder, bullets, and your precious time.

Albert Einstein supposedly said: “Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” Well that sort of describes my efforts with my .260 Rem. Once I had enough evidence that my barrel split groups no matter what load combo (and seating depth) I tried, it was time to pony up for a new barrel. When I did finally screw on a nice PacNor 3-groove Supermatch, that Savage suddenly became a true tack-driver. As re-chambered in 6mmBR with the Pac-Nor, in calm conditions, my Savage will now consistently shoot in the twos with heavy bullets, and it can sometimes dip down into the ones with Berger 80gr flat-base bullets. The moral of the story here is simple — don’t waste weeks or months chasing your tail with a barrel that just won’t deliver (after a reasonable amount of testing). Save up for a custom barrel, get it chambered properly, and stop your cycle of frustration.

Contact Information for Northland Shooters Supply:
E-mail: briggs.j-b@q.com (that is Q.com not G.com)
Phone: (763) 682-4296
Fax: (763) 682-6098
Mailing address:
P.O. Box 333
Buffalo, MN 55313

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 7 Comments »
September 2nd, 2011

David Rolls and The Slope Doper

By Dr. Jim Clary

Rolls Slope DoperOne cannot discuss one of the most useful tools for long range shooters, The Slope Doper, without saying something about its inventor, David Rolls. David was a bold man, bigger than life, who dedicated his life to the service of others. Yet, he was full of fun and a little mischief. He had little tolerance of fools (a man after my own heart), but had great respect for those who deserved respect. It was a loss to all when he passed away in August 2008 at the young age of 61. That being said let me tell you of how he lived and what he accomplished with The Slope Doper.

David Rolls’ Background
David worked for years with the Baltimore City Fire Department as a firefighter and paramedic, retiring at 45. Not being content to sit around, he applied for a job with the Sheriff’s Department of Mineral County, West Virginia and graduated from the state police academy. No small feat for a man of any age, let alone one in his forties. David rose to the rank of Sergeant and held that rank until his passing. As a firefighter, paramedic and police officer, he was the kind of man you would want if you were in a tight spot. He never backed down when it came to helping others. Throughout his life he was active in the Boy Scouts and community activities. He was a lifetime member of the NRA holding the status of Golden Eagle and Certified Firearms Instructor.

As a shooter, David was intensely interested in tactical competitions and was a member of the American Sniper Association. Long distance tactical shooters are frequently faced with the problem of making adjustments when shooting uphill or downhill, as well as windage and normal bullet drop. Chucks Hawks provided a superb discussion of the effects of uphill/downhill shooting for the hunter. I strongly urge every reader to look up Chuck’s article to better understand the problem.

Even knowing that we will be shooting over our target (or at best higher than our aiming point), most hunters do not know how to make the required adjustments in the field. Something had to be devised that could be used quickly in the field by the average hunter. Enter David P. Rolls!

Slope Doper Debuts in 1998 at Storm Mountain
After a great deal of thought, David showed up at the Carlos N. Hathcock II Charity Sniper Competition at the Storm Mountain Training Center in 1998 with a prototype of his Slope Doper. It was somewhat crude by comparison to the current day production model, consisting of a laminated paper protractor with a weight and string, but it worked. It allowed a shooter to determine the impact point of his bullet when shooting at any angle. David had succeeded in combining the science of mathematics with the practicality required for field use. It should be noted that military shooters have used protractors for years, but they had to subtract numbers to arrive at the correct angle. Dave’s invention placed the zero degree point at the top of the arc, virtually eliminating the possibility of error. Ever the perfectionist, with an eye to the future, he asked his best friend, Fred Fischer to design a “professional” version with AutoCad, which Fred gladly did. Fred also had contacts with a manufacturer who happened to be a shooter and they were off. Fred still chuckles when he remembers all of the last minute changes that Dave came up with, but at least they had the basic artwork locked into the AutoCad program to go into production. The rest is history.

Rolls Slope Doper

The Quantico marine sniper instructor who was the first military member to see a production version of the Slope Doper (and incidentally a member of the two-man team who won the Carlos Hathcock Sniper Competition) was impressed enough by it to remove his personal protractor from his data book and replace it with the Slope Doper David gave him. The Slope Doper is now standard issue with the Marine Corp sniper weapon system; The Slope Doper is packed with each rifle and its accessories. The pointer is easily replaceable with string and a weight if it is lost and the printing on both sides is actually fire resistant. It is mil spec and made to withstand combat conditions. It is aluminum rather than plastic, so that it will not break in cold conditions.

To understand how the Slope Doper works, it is best for me to let David tell you in his own words:

To begin with, you must understand that when you shoot up or downhill, gravity has a diminished effect on your projectile such that if you do not make any adjustment for angle, you will likely shoot over your target. This applies at long distances (greater than 300 yards) at slight angles and at severe angles (greater than 30 degrees) at lesser distances. With slight angles at short distances the adjustment may not be enough to worry about. The Slope Doper is a photo etched, anodized, aluminum plate that has two scales inscribed along an arc. The first scale tells you the angle in degrees, the inner scale gives you the cosine of the angle (what I call the “Slope Angle Factor”) at 10 degree intervals.

To use the Slope Doper, you must first know the range to your target. Next you have your partner (guide) hold the Slope Doper along side the bore centerline of your rifle while you take aim and read the Slope Angle Factor. If you are alone, you can sight your target along the top edge of the Slope Doper and capture the pointer with your thumb and then read the Slope Angle Factor. If you are not at an exact Slope Angle Factor, it is easy to interpolate. Now take the known distance and multiply that by the Slope Angle Factor. The answer you get is the effective range. You should now shoot as if the actual distance is the lesser distance (at 30 degrees, a Slope Angle Factor of 0.87, 500 yards becomes 435 yards). All other environmental factors, like wind, are still in effect at the actual distance (500 yards of wind is still 500 yards of wind).

To make my life easier, I attached some Velcro to the back of my Slope Doper and on the forend of my rifle. After using my rangefinder for distance, I simply point my rifle at the target, capture the pointer with my thumb, read the Slope Angle Factor, make a quick mental calculation and shoot. If you are an experienced shooter with a scope that has a mil dot reticule, the back of the slope doper has your ranging formulas. The Slope Doper is a must-have for every person who hunts in mountainous country, from the Appalachians to the Rockies. It will help prevent you from missing your quarry. It is a bargain when compared to the $300 – $500 we pay for our rangefinders and binoculars. You can purchase the Slope Doper directly from the Slope Doper Website for $24.95 plus $5.00 shipping (PayPal or mail-order). U.S. Tactical Supply also sells the Slope Doper for $24.95.

A final note: I was watching the Outdoor Channel last week and watched a hunter on a ridge shoot over a 6×6 bull elk in the valley below. The elk disappeared, and the show ended with the hunter and guide talking about the thrill of the chase, even though they missed the elk. Good for public relations, but not so good for the freezer. They should have had The Slope Doper!

Permalink Gear Review, Optics 6 Comments »
August 21st, 2011

First Look: Sig Sauer P290 9mm Carry Pistol

Small, light-weight carry pistols and revolvers are the hottest selling handguns on the market right now. Ruger’s .380 ACP and 9mm carry guns have been hugely successful, generating revenues that have helped push Ruger’s stock price up 500% since 2009. Now Sig-Sauer is getting on the bandwagon. We had a chance to look at Sig’s new-for-2011, P290 compact 9mm carry pistol. Overall, our reaction was generally favorable. The P290’s fit and finish are excellent — as you’d expect from Sig. Keltec’s PF-9 compact 9mm seems downright junky by comparison to the Sig P290. And the machining and fit of the slide and barrel on the Sig seem superior to the hot-selling Ruger LC9. In a nutshell, here’s how the new Sig P290 stacks up to the competition — it is better crafted and more reliable than the Keltec PF-9, it is more reliable than the Ruger LC9 (which has had recall issues), and, with its optional integrated laser, it is a more complete package than the Kahr CM9 and PM9.

Sig Sauer p290

However, the P290 is not without its flaws. We wish the grip was a little longer — and other reviewers agree. Also the trigger pull, listed at “9.0 lbs. average”, is just too heavy in our opinion. We know that Double-Action-Only (DAO) carry pistols like this need high pull weights to satisfy the lawyers, but the P290 pull weight is extreme. Most people will have trouble getting best accuracy out of the gun because of the heavy trigger, which one tester measured at 12.5 pounds.

Sig Sauer p290

Sig Sauer p290SIG P290 Online Reviews
Shooting Illustrated Review
Tactical Wire Review
PoliceMag.com Review

Rich Grassi, Tactical Wire: “According to factory specifications, the trigger is supposed to average 9 pounds. The guns [we tested were] 1st Edition models and could have been underachievers. While some participants thought the triggers were a bit extreme, I found them manageable. The sample that arrived at headquarters on my return is an overachiever; my Timney scale ran out of weights at 10 pounds. Getting my old Brownells trigger pull gauge, I was able to get an average of around 12 ½ pounds(!) before bending the trigger hook! This is 12 ½ pounds to fire a gun that weighs just over a pound. You hold it still through a trigger stroke. I’ll watch.”

Paul Scarlata, PoliceMag: “The trigger pull was rather heavy with a definite staging about halfway through the stroke, although I assumed this would smooth out with use. My other concern was that the attenuated grip left the little finger of my shooting hand dangling in the air. Because of its short grip, frame recoil control was not what one would have hoped for and I actually found the pistol more comfortable to fire with an unsupported grip. [Sig informed me] that future plans call for the P290 to come with a spare eight-round magazine with a sleeve that approximates the external contour of the grip. Such magazines will provide a full, three-finger grip without compromising concealability[.]”

CONCLUSION: The Sig P290 is a well-designed, nicely-made pistol in the super-small 9mm carry pistol category. However, for this writer, I wouldn’t want to carry the gun unless the trigger pull could be reduced to a reasonable weight for a DAO application (the trigger pull on the Kahr PM9 is much better). I would also wait until the optional magazine with grip extension is available. In the meantime, when the situation calls for a very small, light carry gun, I’ll stick with my older S&W model 638 revolver. We do suspect that, despite its shortcomings, the P290 will attract many buyers based on Sig Sauer’s reputation for quality. But the P290 costs more than most other small, polymer-framed 9mms, and price may be the deciding factor for many buyers.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 2 Comments »
August 14th, 2011

Handgun Storage Options for Your Gunsafe

handgun safe rackThere are many ways to store handguns in gun safe. including hanging your handguns on the inside door panel with Velcro straps or Velcro-equipped sleeves. Some folks try wood pegs for the triggerguards. The problem with these methods is that it’s just too easy for Velcro to work loose, or a peg to come out. End result is a dropped pistol. Also, placing your handguns on a door makes them highly visible. That’s a bad idea if your safe is placed in an open area such as a garage or game room.

Our first choice is to place handguns in lockable, sliding drawers inside the safe. Tucked inside silicon-treated Bore-Store bags, and then laid flat inside a drawer, handguns are safe, secure and out of sight. Unfortunately, few safe-makers offer sliding drawer options. If you have a large-enough safe, you can fit your own lockable drawer unit or small file cabinet with locks. These can be purchased at office supply stores or Home Depot type outlets.

If you have limited space in your safe, we recommended the vinyl-covered metal handgun racks from Versatile Rack Company. The 4-Gun rack has approximately the same footprint as a single handgun laying flat. These racks have a strong, welded-steel frame, vinyl-coated to protect the finish of your pistols. We’ve found these work for virtually all size handguns, both semi-autos and revolvers, even when the guns are placed in Bore-Store bags. In fact the fit is just about perfect if you first place a handgun in a Bore-Store bag, which provides about 1/4″ of padding all around the gun.

handgun safe rack

Versatile now offers multiple models, with capacities from a single handgun up to 10 pistols. These can be purchased directly from Versatile, starting at $69.99, but other vendors sell them for less. MidwayUSAhas Versatile racks at these price: $12.49 (2-gun, item 953403) $19.99 (4-gun, item 953075), $24.49 (6-gun, item 275638), $32.99 (8-gun, item 111468). Click HERE for a 360-degree view of the 4-gun unit. There is also an optional stacking unit, shown below.

handgun safe rack

One of the better “on-door” solutions is “The Holster”, a door-top rack from Rack ‘Em Racks. The top bracket secures to the door edge with self-tapping screws. Handguns are held muzzle-down in a plastic-coated wire frame. The installation is quite secure and this system gives you very fast access to your handguns. However, this unit requires that you adjust the top shelf of your safe to fit below your longest-barreled handgun. And, unless you have a very deep safe, you have to clear off most of the items on one side of the top shelf, to avoid interference when you close the safe door. Still, Rack Em’s vertical door rack is a smart design, one that uses space much more efficiently than a door full of separate wire brackets or pegs. Price is $39.99 at Cabelas.com.

Rack 'Em Holster Pistol Rack

One other interesting design is the rotary handgun rack. Hyskore offers a 9-Gun Rotary Pistol Rack (item IJ-229069) that looks well-built, and is fairly compact. Like a carousel, it spins to allow easy access to your handguns. It features foam-padded cradles, and an oak-verneer finish. The price is $45.99 at MidwayUSA,. Unfortunately, with a compact 12″-diameter base, there is not enough clearance for scoped revolvers or pistols with red-dot sights. And, from a safety standpoint, we’d rather see the pistols stored muzzle-down than muzzle-up. Still it looks like a clever, compact design that will work with most handguns.

Hyskore 9-Gun Rotary Pistol Rack
handgun rotary rack

An even more efficient use of space is achieved with a two-tier “bunkbed-style” pistol rack. This will hold a large collection of pistols in a relatively compact space. Gun-Racks.com offers two-tier pistol racks with 10-gun ($104.00), 12-gun ($115.00), or 16-gun ($125.00) capacities. For five ollars more (per size) you can get an elevated model with mag storage. These racks are crafted from wood, with soft Rayon fabric on the sections contacting your guns. These well-made racks pack a lot of guns in a small space. However, the barrel slots are only 2.5″ apart. So you do get a very compact footprint, but the trade-off is a tight fit on larger handguns.

handgun two-level safe rack

If you have large hunting handguns with top-mounted scopes, or bullseye pistols with fat target grips, consider the Hyskore Modular Rack which holds guns with the barrel on top and level, so there is plenty of clearance for scopes. Hyskore racks are made of soft, closed-cell foam that won’t scratch metal and won’t absorb moisture. Guns are stored in individual foam bins that can be connected together horizontally.The width of each individual bin can be adjusted to fit even very wide target grips. Hyskore racks come in sets of three foam bins. Using 3/16″ threaded crosspins, you can combine the bins into one, long secure unit running the full width of a shelf.

CLICK HERE for Hyskore Rack DEMO VIDEO

handgun safe rack

Permalink Gear Review No Comments »
August 5th, 2011

Review of the GemPro 250 Scale (from My Weigh)

Gempro 250SUMMARY: This review gives high marks to GemPro 250 scale from My Weigh. It offers 0.02 grain resolution, good enough to trickle kernel by kernel. At just $165.49, the scale is quite affordable. The GemPro 250 comes with a lifetime warranty for American buyers. As this scale weighs more precisely than popular digital powder scale/dispensers, you can use the digital dispenser to throw a “close” charge and then fine-tune your load with the GemPro, kernel by kernel.

by Bill Schnauffer (aka Cover Dog)
The Importance of Precise Loads for Long-Range Shooting
The reloading scale is the life blood of anyone’s loading bench. It’s used for everything from weighing powders to cases or bullets and yes even primers. I would have never considered weighing primers but that is one of the many things I learned the weekend of May 20-22, 2011 at The Original Pennsylvania 1000-Yard Bench Rest Club’s Bench Rest Instructional School. All aspects of reloading for 1000-yard BR have to be identical. Your brass, bullets, powder and primers all have to weigh the same, for all your sighters and your 10 record shots, if you want any chance of being competitive. This can only become a reality if your scale is up to the task. Everything you do when shooting at 1000 yards is magnified 10x and your scale needs to be above all else, accurate and repeatable.

Gempro 250

I thought that a scale accurate to 1/10th of a grain was good enough. Not so in the long range BR game. Scales need to be accurate to at least 5/100ths of a grain or better if you can afford it. This prompted my search for such a scale.

GemPro Is Half the Price of Denver Instrument MXX-123
I have read reviews for several of the better scales used for reloading including the Accu-Lab VIC 123 (Accu-Lab ceased operation Dec. 31, 2010) and its predecessor the Sartorius AY-123. The scales are identical just repackaged and with a new name and color. The scale is accurate to 2/100ths of a grain, but is also a scale that many felt was affected by RF interference and the slightest air movement made it drift. This was due in part because of the strain gauge technology that is used in the manufacture of this scale. And with parts not readily available, the lead time for one is you want it is over 20 weeks. The Denver Instrument MXX-123 also had a good review but like the others above, it’s into the $320 price range. And this is out of reach for many reloaders.

This now brings me to the My Weigh GemPro 250. It uses True-Division German HBM sensors and professional components in the manufacture of this scale. It has a 50 gram weight capacity (771.72 grains) and accuracy down to 2/100ths of a grain. It features seven (7) weighing modes as listed below. And with a retail price in the $165.00 range, this is a scale that most reloaders could afford for their reloading bench. And you won’t be pressed for room on that bench. The scale is very compact, measuring 5.25″ X 3.75″ X 2.5″.

Gempro 250

NOTE: There is also a GemPro 500 which has a weight capacity of 100g (1543 grains) but only has accuracy down to 5/100ths of a grain.

Testing and Evaluation
I decided to give the GemPro 250 a try. Several days after I placed my order, Big Brown arrived. As I started to unpack the scale my heart started to sink and the first words out of my mouth were “boy is this thing small, hope it wasn’t a mistake”, only time will tell.

Gempro 250

Included with the scale was a plastic travel case that housed the accessories. They consisted of an AC power supply, ASTM class F2 calibration weight, weighing pan, plastic tweezers and a vibra-kill pad. The scale also has a built in circular bubble level, four leveling feet, hinged protective windscreen and a stainless steel weighing platform. If you load at the range, you’ll be glad to know that it also runs on four AAA batteries. Information sheets that came with the scale stated it takes the load cell one hour to come up one degree in temperature when plugged in and turned on. Instructions recommend giving the unit a 24-hour warm-up before use.

Gempro 250Scale Calibrates Rapidly
After leaving the scale on for 24 hours (my scales are always up and running), I placed the ASTM class F2 20g calibration weight on the scale after setting it to calibrate. After about 3 seconds it stopped its calibration and read 20.000g exactly what the calibration weight was supposed to weigh. When converting grams to grains you need to multiply by 15.4324 or with this scale you can just scroll through the seven weighing modes until you come to grains. Its actual weight is 308.65 grains but since this scale only reads to 2/100ths of a grain the 100ths digit must always be an even number, so it reads 308.64 grains.

For the next several minutes I started weighing everything I had in front of me. Bullets, brass, loaded rounds all were gathered up and weighed so I could get the feel for the GemPro 250.

I set the calibration weight on the scale between every one of the 30 loads I weighed. Only once did it vary from the 308.64 grain reading when it moved up to 308.66 grains.

I wish I had at my disposal a scale more sensitive than the GemPro 250 to double check its accuracy. Scales that read to 1/100th of a grain are out of my price range, and cost from $2000 for the Citizen CX265 to $4065 for the A&D Phoenix GH252. I purchased a PACT Digital Scale in late 1994 and to this day it has been my “go to” scale. In 2002 I sent it back to PACT to have the infrared port installed so I could purchase PACT’s infrared powder dispenser. I have used the PACT Scale/Dispenser as a team for the last 10+ years for all my reloading needs. So now with the GemPro 250 on my bench it was time to see how “accurate” my reloading with the PACT combo has been.

Gempro 250 scale

Editor’s Note: In this review, the GemPro 250 is used to confirm the weight of powder throws from a PACT digital dispenser. However, the reviewer did not have a laboratory-grade scale to test the displayed weights from the GemPro 250. We have another GemPro 250 on order from Amazon.com. When it arrives we will do a comparison weighing test, using a Denver Instruments lab scale as the control unit.


Gempro 250 scaleREAL WORLD TESTING
Double-Checking PACT Dispenser with GemPro 250
For the first test I used Reloder 15 (RL15), a course, long-kernel powder. After calibrating both the PACT scale and the GemPro 250 I set the Pact Dispenser to throw a charge of 27.7 grains. During the throws, if the PACT scale read 1/10th over/under, I didn’t make any correction. I just waited until it stopped dispensing and the transferred the charge in the pan to the pan in the GemPro 250.

Below are the results of those 10 thrown charges:
27.76 | 27.94 | 27.80 | 27.84 | 27.92 | 27.88 | 27.76 | 27.88 | 27.78 | 27.78

Note: As measured by the GemPro 250, none of the PACT throws hit the 27.7 grain mark exactly — all throws were slightly high. The total spread from lowest (27.76) to highest (27.94) throw was 0.18 grains and the spread from the 27.7 target weight to the highest dispensed charge was 2.4 tenths of a grain HIGH. I’m sure this could cause a little vertical at 1000 yards.

For the next round of tests, I used IMR 8208 XBR. Compared to RL15, the kernels of 8208 are shorter in length and smaller in girth. Using the same parameters as with the RL15, here are the results of 10 thrown charges with IMR 8208 XBR:
.
27.78 | 27.80 | 27.78 | 27.82 | 27.78 | 27.84 | 27.80 | 27.74 | 27.78 | 27.74

Once again, not one of the 10 dispensed charges were right on the mark according to the GemPro. Again, all thrown charges were slightly hight.The range from target weight to the highest was 1.4 tenths of a grain, and the total variance from 27.70 grain target weight was 0.14 grains.

The final powder tested was HS6. This is a spherical powder which, by most accounts, meters very well. With the same procedures in place here are the results for HS6 weighed on the GemPro 250:

27.76 | 27.74 | 27.74 | 27.78 | 27.68 | 27.74 | 27.70 | 27.74 | 27.68 | 27.70

As expected HS6 did very well in getting close to the 27.70 target and hit it on several throws. The total variance from the 27.70 target Averaging 26/100ths over for the 10 charges thrown

PACT Performance Re-Evaluated
Only able to read to 1/10th of a grain, the PACT dispenser looked to be nearly perfect with the HS6 powder. But when checked with a precision scale capable of reading to 2/100th’s of a grain, I found that the PACT still threw loads that were higher than what was programmed. I will still use my PACT to dispense my loads one grain short and then trickle in the last few kernels with the scale pan sitting on the GemPro 250.

CONCLUSION
The GemPro 250 is small, compact, portable and able to deliver repeatable accuracy to 2/100ths of a grain, time after time. That is all that one can ask of any scale. There is one last important thing to mention. The GemPro 250’s express warranty is LIFETIME (for domestic buyers) or 30 years for International Customers. A lifetime warranty is unheard of in the electronics business. I guess the people at My Weigh know what they have and are willing to stand behind it. If it should ever need servicing the My Weigh service center located in Phoenix, AZ will repair your scale and have it back to you in two business days.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 4 Comments »
July 22nd, 2011

Mossberg Five-Gun Training Set for Hunter Education Classes

Mossberg offers a set of non-functioning training firearms that includes the five gun types used in hunter education seminars: pump-action shotgun, semi-automatic shotgun, break-action shotgun, bolt-action rifle and lever-action rifle. Each training firearm in this set features blaze orange stock and fore-end to ensure safe, hands-on training. On each gun’s receiver, “Non-Functioning Gun” is clearly engraved.

Mossberg Hunter Safety gun training set

Each gun comes packed in an individual soft case and the set can be purchased with or without a rolling travel case. Iver Mossberg, CEO of O.F. Mossberg & Sons, stated: “We are pleased to offer this 5-gun training set, allowing students to learn safe gun-handling with actual firearms that have been disabled.” The Mossberg 5-Gun Training Set is available for $1,300 and the set with a handy, rolling travel case is available for $1,500. For more info please contact Mossberg Law Enforcement Sales at Conservation@mossberg.com or call (203) 230-5300.

5-Gun Training Set Technical Specifications

Story tip from EdLongrange. We welcome submissions from our readers.
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July 15th, 2011

Bore-Store Gun Storage Bags 10% Off on Updated Website

Big Spring Enterprises, the Arkansas-based maker of Bore-Store gun sacks, has completely updated the www.borestores.com website. You’ll now find a modern, easy-to-use online shopping cart system with decent-sized product photos. To mark the new website’s “grand opening”, the Bore-Store folks are offering a 10% discount on all online orders. Everything in the webstore is now 10% off. With the discount, handgun cases start at $4.95 and the smaller rifle cases are just $14.40. And there are also knife pouches and multi-pocket magazine stores starting at $450.00.

On the updated website, it’s easier than ever to select the right size and shape for your particular firearms — from pocket pistols, to long-barreled Palma rifles. If you don’t know which size Bore-Store to order, the handy “Case Finder” tool will steer you to the appropriate product after your enter your firearm’s height (with scope) and length. For most scoped rifles, you’ll want either the 10″ x 46″ scoped rifle bag or the 10 x 52″ scoped shotgun bag (this works great for long-barreled target rifles).

Bore-Stores Protect Your Guns in Many Ways
We recommend Bore-Stores and we use them. Our take on Bore-Store Gun sleeves is simple: They work great, so buy them and use them — for ALL your valuable firearms. These thick, synthetic-fleece sacks cushion your guns, preventing nicks and scratches. The breathable fabric wicks away moisture, and the fibers are coated with corrosion inhibitors. This Editor personally uses Bore-Stores for in-safe storage with all my guns, and I have never had one of my guns rust inside a Bore-Store, even when I lived a stone’s throw from the ocean.

Bore-Stores are offered in a wide range of sizes, so you can find something to fit everything from a Snub-nosed revolver to a 32″-barrelled 50 BMG. Rifle-size Bore Stores can be purchased for $17.00 – $21.00 from Brownells or MidwayUSA. Of course, you can also order direct from Big Spring Enterprises at www.BoreStores.com. Big Spring will also craft custom large or unusual sizes on request.

Story idea from Edlongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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July 7th, 2011

MidwayUSA Tactical Dual-Gun Drag Bag on Sale for $64.99

MidwayUSA has released new versions of its tactical gun case/drag bag that has earned very high marks from purchasers. This product is plenty wide, with a padded internal divider, so it really can handle two rifles. One purchaser confirms: “[This drag bag] holds my custom 300 Rem mag and my AR-15 with plenty of room.” MidwayUSA’s Sniper Drag Bag Scoped Rifle Gun Case comes in two lengths — either 50″ or 56″ overall. MidwayUSA says the internal length is 4″ shorter than the overall length, but that’s a little conservative. The 50″ length will handle most rifles with up to 25″ barrels, while the longer length should handle 30″-barreled rifles. We’re pleased MidwayUSA offers two lengths. One of the problems with many “tactical” gun cases is that they are simply too short for modern target rifles, particularly F-TR rigs. And many tactical competitors are running fairly long tubes these days.

Drag Bag

MidwayUSA’s drag bags are made from tough, Cordura-style PVC-coated nylon, with reinforced stitching, heavy-duty zippers and closed cell foam padding in all pockets. These are big bags, with three large external pockets and one internal pocket. Notably, the full-length padded divider wall allows for secure two-gun storage, although this becomes a very heavy package with two scoped rifles inside. To assist with field carry, the MidwayUSA Drag Bag features backpack-style shoulder straps.

50″ Drag Bag Now On Sale for $64.99
Here’s the good news — now through the end of July, 2011, the shorter, 50″ Drag Bag is only $64.99 in either black or OD. You can save $35 off the regular $99.99 price. If you’re a tactical shooter and your rifle can fit in the shorter 50″ bag, jump on this deal. We doubt you can easily find another gun case with so many features for just $64.99. The 56″ Drag Bag costs $129.99, in either black or olive drab.

Positive User Reviews
James D in California, who purchased one of these bags last year, writes: “I don’t post reviews much, but this deserves comment. I was looking for an inexpensive solution to get my rifles to the range, so I purchased one of these drag bags. What a shock, It’s outstanding! Quality materials, excellent design and workmanship. It’s padded, has pockets inside of pockets, supports to where it as a pack, over the shoulder or like a case. It’s got everything! I also saw one at my local gunstore — EXACTLY like it for over twice the price! If you need a bag, this is it.”

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