What kind of accuracy do you think a tubegun can deliver with factory ammo — during barrel break-in? Perhaps 0.6″ at 100 yards, half-MOA if the conditions are perfect? Well you may want to change your preconceptions about tubeguns — and factory ammo. This Eliseo R5 repeater, smithed by John Pierce with a Pierce CM action and Broughton 5C barrel, shot the Lapua 90gr factory ammo into flat ONEs during the break-in session. A day later, in tricky 8-14 mph winds, the gun nailed a witnessed and computer-measured 0.174″ 5-shot group using the 105gr factory ammo. That would be impressive for a “full-race” benchgun with precision handloads. For an across-the-course rifle shooting factory ammo, it’s pretty amazing.
Eliseo Tubegun Shoots in the Ones
This accurate rifle belongs to our friend (and designated expert trigger-puller) Joe Friedrich. During the initial break-in session, since his reloading dies had not yet arrived, Joe decided to start with some Lapua factory-loaded 6BR ammo he had on hand. After doing a few two-shot-and-clean cycles (with patches and nylon brush), Joe decided to try a 3-round group just to see if the Broughton barrel had some potential. To his astonishment, the Eliseo R5 put three rounds in 0.100″ (photo below left). Joe then cleaned the barrel again, shot a couple foulers and tried a 4-shot group. The results were just as stunning — 4 shots in a mere 0.104″ but three in virtually one hole (photo below right).
You Can’t Believe How This Gun Shoots
Joe called your Editor and said “You can’t believe how this gun shoots with factory ammo!”. So we arranged a photo session for the next afternoon, where I could verify the rifle’s accuracy. Well it turned out the conditions were way more challenging than when Joe broke in the barrel the day before. Winds were running 8-14 mph and were swinging through 180 degrees half-way down the range. Joe fired a few 90s through the Oehler chronograph at my request, then opened a box of Lapua 105gr factory ammo. It took about four rounds for the barrel to settle in after being cleaned the night before. Then Joe got serious, and with your Editor looking over his shoulder, he drilled a 0.174″ five-shot group in switching winds, doping every shot. Joe felt the gun could have shot tighter but he missed one wind call.
Serious Accuracy with a Multi-Purpose Rifle
So there you have it — a tubegun that shoots in the ones with factory ammo. Joe says that, at least with the 90s, the Elesio R5 shoots as well as his 6 PPC. Joe stressed that “steering the tubegun is hard work. You really have to concentrate compared to a purpose-built bench gun like my PPC. With the tubegun, everything has to be perfect on every shot — hand position, cheek position, stock position in the bag. If you’re off just a little bit, it’s easy to steer the gun the wrong way and send a shot out of the group.”
Accuracy Great but Fouling Heavy and ES Could Be Better
Have there been any negatives to Joe’s 6BR tubegun experiment so far? Well, the Broughton 5C barrel, while phenomenally accurate, shows signs of being a bad fouler. Copper built up pretty quickly over the first 25 rounds or so. We saw best accuracy with a recently-cleaned barrel. Hopefully the fouling will lessen as the barrel polishes in with use. And the canted land barrel is slower than average with the factory ammo. Lapua rates its 90gr naked-bullet ammo at 2950 fps with a 26″ tube. In Joe’s 27.5″ barrel we only averaged 2901 fps. With the 105gr factory ammo, which is rated at 2790 fps, we averaged just 2694 fps. That’s quite disappointing. Also the ES on the factory ammo, slightly over 50 fps for both bullet types, wasn’t particularly good. Still, the overall results were stunning. This gun shoots better than many long-range benchrest rifles running carefully-developed handloads — and it does that with factory ammo, right out of the box.
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John Perkins of 21st Century Shooting has created new, benchrest-grade hand priming tool that offers the ability to adjust primer seating depth. John is a skilled tool-maker and machinist who has designed reloading tools for major companies including Davidsons and Sinclair International. Guaranteed for life and beautifully constructed from anodized aluminum, the unit costs just $79.99 with five (5) precision brass shell-holders (Lee shellholders can be used as well). The current tool design employs Lee plastic primer trays, though billet aluminum trays will be offered in the future.
Adjustable Seating Depth and Great ‘Feel’
Brad told us: “With this new priming tool you can control, set, and adjust the seating depth of your primers. It was made adjustable because each person has a different idea about the [ideal primer seating depth]. Not only are you able to control the depth, but once you find the depth you are looking for, you lock down the adjustment and thereafter each primer is set at the same depth. So it’s a consistency thing as much or more than the seating depth. With a standard hand priming tool you are relying on feel each time, with no way to know exactly how deep you are seating them from round to round.”
Brad added: “One of the greatest things about this new tool is the quality feel of the tool while you are seating primers. I have handled almost every priming tool on the market and I have never found anything even close to this tool.”
The tool will come with five popular shell holders, including #2, #4, #5, M and PPC. Shellholders are made of brass and “fit much nicer” than the Lee shellholders, according to the tool’s designer. You can also use normal Lee shellholders.
You can order the priming tool directly from 21st Century Shooting, 260-273-9909. Price is $79.99 plus shipping. The tool comes complete with five shell-holders (#2, 4, 5, M, PPC) and allen wrench, but you will need to supply your own Lee plastic primer tray. 21st Century Shooting provides a 100% Money Back Guarantee.
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This year Kimber introduced a new line of ‘Super Carry’ 1911-style pistols. Assembled in Kimber’s Custom Shop, the Super Carry Pro (4″) and Super Carry Custom (5″) feature aluminum frames with an Ed Brown Kobra-style cut-back heel and snakeskin-style serrations. The Kimber’s slide is blackened stainless, making for a very handsome two-tone handgun. By using an aluminum frame (as found on the “classic” Sig-Sauer p226 and p228), Kimber has shaved significant weight off the Super Carrys — an important factor for guns intended to be carried all day long. The Super Carry Pro, a Commander-sized 1911 with 4″ barrel, weighs just 28 ounces (with empty mag) — that’s 7 ounces lighter than an Ed Brown Kobra Carry. Kimber’s 5″-barreled, full-size Super Carry Custom is 31 ounces with empty mag. By comparison, a full-size Smith & Wesson SW1911 weighs 41 ounces. A ten-ounce difference is significant when you’re packing.
Kimber Super Carry Pro Copies Kobra Carry
It’s obvious that Kimber copied styling features from the Ed Brown Kobra Carry, notably the slide serrations and the cut-back grip heel, which mimics Brown’s Bobtail™ frame. Kimber can’t call its frame a “Bobtail” since Ed Brown has trademarked that term, but the looks and function of Kimber’s “round-heel frame” are much the same. If you’ve every carried a 1911 right behind the hip, you know the bottom of a standard 1911 frame can dig into the kidney area. So Kimber’s adaptation of Ed Brown’s Bobtail was a smart move, as was the use of aluminum (for weight savings). What about wear? Is there a problem with steel sliding over aluminum? Well, that hasn’t been a problem with the aluminum-framed Sig Sauer pistols, and Kimber’s aluminum frames are coated with KimPro II, a proprietary coating that Kimber claims is “self-lubricating and highly durable.”
Ambi-Safety Makes Sense on Carry Gun
We like the new Kimber Super Carry models, though we could live without the snakeskin treatment on top of the slide. That’s over-doing it in our book. Having shot both the Super Carry and the Ed Brown Kobra I actually prefer the feel of the Kimber’s nicely radiused grip safety and I think Kimber is wise to put an ambi-safety on the gun by default (an ambidextrous safety is $75.00 extra on the Kobra Carry). In a self-defense scenario, a right-hander might have his strong-side arm disabled, so it is important that he be able to operate the gun left-handed.
How about accuracy? I only had a chance to shoot a few rounds with the Kimber Super Carry Pro, and it didn’t group as tight at 10 yards as the Kobra Carry I’ve shot, but the difference wasn’t that great. Also the nearly-new Kimber’s trigger was a bit heavy and gritty, and I didn’t have a chance to work up a custom load. Neither gun shot as accurately as this Editor’s SW1911 with my handloads (VV N320 and Precision Bullets 200gr semi-wadcutters) which cost just $700.00 a few years ago. That SW1911 prints easy 1/2″ groups at 10 yards with handloads. So, is the Kimber Super Carry a good buy? Street price for the Super Carry Pro is about $1300.00, and that includes night sights. That’s over $1000.00 less than a Kobra Carry which costs $2445.00 with night sights. We predict those who are in the market for a Bobtail, two-tone carry gun will look very seriously at the Kimber Super Carry Pro, given the huge price savings over Ed Brown’s Kobra Carry. This Editor likes the lighter, “round-heel” aluminum frame (particularly in the 4″ model which balances well), and I like the overall feel and appearance of the gun. For $1300.00, however, I expected more from the Kimber’s trigger. As with most production 1911s it can benefit from a trigger job by a competent 1911 smith.
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Ultra-portable mini-reloading scales have become popular with shooters who reload at the range. These can be small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. While not as precise as a bench-top unit, they can deliver read-outs to within 0.2 grains. These ultra-compact scales should prove very useful for any shooter that needs to load at the range. Additionally, they are affordable enough to be used as a back-up to a larger electronic or balance beam scale. Two models, one from MTM and the other from Acculab (Sartorius) have caught our attention.
NOTE: We haven’t yet been able to comparison-test these two scales with a laboratory scale to confirm the claimed levels of weighing precision and see if there are any serious calibration or “drift” issues. But we’ve heard no negative reports.
MTM Mini Reloading Scale — $30
The new DS-1200 weighs up to 1200 grains. MTM claims accuracy (resolution) to plus or minus 0.1 (one-tenth) grain. You can switch measurements among grains, grams, ounces and carats .The unit features a high-impact, plastic sensor cover that doubles as a large powder pan. The DS-1200 comes with a calibration weight, two (2) CR2032 Batteries, and a foam lined storage/travel case. Up to 1200 grain capacity with To save battery power, the large, backlit display shuts off automatically after 3 minutes. Here are sources for this bargain-priced new scale:
Acculab Pocket Pro PP-62 Mini Scale — $110
Sartorius, makers of the popular Acculab-123 scale and its Denver Instrument clone, the MXX-123, has introduced a new, portable reloading scale that is truly pocket-sized. The compact model PP-62 will work as a portable scale or a back-up for a benchscale. It measures 3.5″ long, 3″ wide, and just 7/8″ thick.
The Pocket Pro can handle a maximum weight of 1000 grains. Acculab claims resolution down to 0.1 (one-tenth) GRAM, which provides readability to 0.20 GRAINS. We like the fact that the unit runs on a single, easy-to-purchase AA battery. Battery life is up to 20 hours, if you turn off the back lighting on the LCD display. A sliding cover also protects the weighing mechanism during transport. The PP-62 offers easy one-button calibration with the supplied check weight.
Sinclair Int’l sells the new Acculab PP-62, for $119.95 (Item 10-6200). This includes battery, weighing pan, and 50 gram calibration weight. ScalesGalore.com offers the PP-62 (with battery, pan, and check weight), for $109.95.
CONSUMER ALERT: On the web you’ll find other versions of the Acculab Pocket-Pro® Scales, priced at $45-$60.00. These are the PP-201 (photo below) and PP-401. Though these scales appear identical to the PP-62 (Sinclair item 10-6200), they are NOT the SAME. The cheaper PP-201 and PP-401 are only rated to one-TENTH of a GRAM. The PP-62 is RATED to one-HUNDRETH of a GRAM — roughly 0.2 GRAIN precision.
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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. 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. The Voyager is surprisingly solid in the field, but we would recommend you chock the wheels, or dig in the rear handle/foot to stabilize the cart during firing. Current “street price” is about $320.00, and we’ve seen the Voyager cart as low as $309.99 at Tactical-Store.com.
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. They show varminters rolling the cart into position, setting up the bench, and then shooting. CLICK HERE TO VIEW VOYAGER VIDEOS (Select Voyager from sliding menu on Video Page).
While we prefer field benches that isolate the seat from the bench top, the versatility of the Voyager 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.”
COMMENT: The concept of an easy-to-move bench that works as a cart is a good one. 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, the $320.00 price of the Voyager is pretty reasonable, considering its hauling capacity and design features.
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Placing your loaded ammo up high, next to your rifle’s loading port, can help you shoot faster, without disturbing your position behind the rifle. Many top 600-yard shooters, such as Sam Hall and Mike Davis, have fabricated their own high-mount cartridge caddies to place 10 or more rounds right next to their loading ports. With such a set-up, and a bit of practice, ace benchresters can fire 10 rounds in as little as 30 seconds.
If you’re handy with tools, you can build your own cartridge caddy from a block of delrin or wood, and a flexible mounting arm. But it does take time, and you may end up going through two or three prototypes before you get it “just right”.
Now there’s a “store-bought” solution. Creedmoor Sports offers the new Eller Straight Line Speed Feed Cartridge Holder. The Eller caddy has a large base that will support it on the bench. The flexible black stalk allows you to set the height and angle of the ammo block to your choosing. You can arrange your ammo horizontally, vertically, or something in-between. This unit can benefit any bench competitor, and we’ve even see this type of unit adapted by F-classers for “Belly Benchrest”. The Eller Cartridge Holder costs $94.95 and comes in two sizes: Small (6mm to 6.5×284), and Large (6.5×284 to magnum). Order item #E1002SM from Creedmoor Sports.
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Many readers have asked, “Is there an ammo case that holds short BR, PPC and Grendel cases securely — one without a lot of extra clearance that allows fired brass to fall out of their slots if the box is tipped?” Yes, the J & J BR-100 Ammo Case fits BR, PPC, and Grendel cases just right. Many folks use the large green/red MTM 100-round ammo boxes for transporting 6BR and 6PPC ammo. The big MTM boxes work fine with loaded rounds, but not so great with fired cases. If you tip the MTM box on its side, the empties can spill out. That’s frustrating if you’ve meticulously sorted your cases. You won’t have this problem with the J & J 100-round BR-100 ammo case. It has tighter vertical clearance, so your empties won’t come out of their slots if the case tips over or is stacked upside down.
BR-100 cases are bargain-priced at just $4.88, and they come in Red, Blue, Smoke, or White colors. In addition to the BR-100 case, varminters who need to carry large numbers of loaded rounds should check out J & J’s 175-round Rifle Ammo Case (photo below). This foam-lined ammo transporter, item LR-175, costs $18.16 and is the largest-capacity ammo case we’ve found. For more info go to JandJProducts.Com.
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Valdada 36X Scope, First Report: Benchrest shooter and noted gun writer James Mock recently tested Valdada’s new 36X Benchrest scope on his PPC. Valdada scopes are made by IOR (Industry Optic Romania) in Bucharest, Romania. James was impressed with the scope — and it certainly didn’t hurt his performance any. With the Valdada on top of his PPC, James nailed a 0.150″ three-shot group at 200 yards during testing earlier this week. Below you’ll find Mock’s first impressions of the Valdada 36X, along with photos of the scope mounted on his rifle. James — Thanks for sharing this!
NEW Valdada 36X Benchrest Scope by James Mock
Yesterday, I received one of Valdada’s new 36X BR scopes for testing. My initial tests proved that Valdada may have a winner. The scope has 7-layer coating on their German glass optics for a superb image. The 1/8th-minute clicks are positive and they repeat well. The reticle is a 1/8th MOA floating dot with 1 MOA hash marks for both windage and elevation. The scope has a very smooth worm gear parallax side adjustment that is marked in meters. Overall I am impressed with the initial testing. The suggested retail is around $1295.00, but I don’t know what the “street price” will be. Here are a couple pictures that show the scope mounted on My BAT-actioned rifle, currently fitted with a PPC barrel.
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Huge Price Cut for Popular Gadget
If you’ve been waiting to purchase an e-Reader, now may be the time to open your wallet. Today, Amazon.com unveiled a new Kindle reader for just $139.00 — less than a third what the original Kindle cost. The introduction of Apple’s new iPad has forced Amazon to slash the price of its popular electronic book reader, which has been Amazon’s #1-selling product for the past two years. You may ask: “Why buy a Kindle when the iPad has web-browsing capability and a color screen?” Well consider these factors:
Kindle has a HUGE run-time advantage. An iPad can run about 10 hours before it needs recharging. Kindle can run for a MONTH between charges.
Books and newspaper articles are easier to read on the Kindle’s low-glare, black-on-white “virtual paper” screen.
The Kindle does NOT require an expensive data plan or web access contract. The Kindle has no connection fees, although you do pay a charge to download most recent book titles.
The Kindle is lighter and more rugged than an iPad. The new Kindle weighs just 8.7 ounces — less than a paperback book.
The Kindle has physical keys, and it is easier to flip pages on the Kindle without moving your supporting hands.
Two new Kindles, priced at $139.00 and $189.00 respectively, go on sale today, with delivery starting August 27, 2010. These new units are 15% lighter and 21% smaller than the current basic model, yet the screens offer higher resolution with easier-to-read text. The $139.00 Kindle is WiFi only, while the same-sized $189.00 version offers both WiFi and 3G cellular connectivity. Both the new compact Kindles offer a 6″ viewing screen. That is significantly smaller than the iPad screen, but the iPad starts at about $500, and you could easily pay $700 with memory upgrades. If you prefer a bigger screen, Amazon also offers a large-screen model, the Kindle DX, which costs $379.00.
Editor’s Note: Some readers may wonder what eReaders have to do with shooting. Well, there are thousands of outdoor, hunting, and shooting-related titles offered for Kindles. You can download an eBook for a fraction of the cost of buying the physical version. And the Kindle can hold up to 3,500 titles in a compact device that weighs less than a single paperback book.
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Robert Whitley sampled a recent lot of Lapua 6mmBR brass and found that the neck-walls are marginally thinner, resulting in a very slightly smaller loaded neck diameter. Here is Robert’s report….
For the last few years the different boxes of Lapua 6mmBR Norma brass I have purchased (four different lots) have yielded brass with necks that measured around .269″ – .2695″ loaded. While this worked out very well in a variety of applications, sometimes I had to neck-turn that brass because it was a little too tight for an application or chamber I had. I recently received some of the latest “blue box” Lapua 6mm BR Norma brass (Lot # P00487801) and this latest lot of 6BR brass measures right around .268″ loaded (with popular 6mm bullet types). While some may bemoan the smaller neck diameter of this latest brass lot, for others, this can be a buying an opportunity to resolve an existing clearance issue with a “no neck turn” chamber. For example, if you have a .271″ “no neck-turn” type chamber, this may help resolve clearance issues that arose with other batches of brass. Or, for those who need to turn their necks to fit a tighter chamber, this new lot of 6mmBR brass has about .001″ – .0015″ less metal to remove, making the turning process that much easier.
This lot of brass (Lot # P00487801) was obtained from Graf & Sons. Since the batches of Lapua 6mmBR Norma brass that come into this country typically sell out quickly, if this .268″-loaded-neck brass is of interest to you, get some soon as it may go fast. While in years past I tried to keep my neck clearance very close to the chamber neck diameter, as time passes, I am now finding that in some situations a little more neck clearance can help remedy an accuracy or consistency issue. A certain amount of clearance is clearly needed for the proper accuracy and consistency of ammunition, but in some situations a tight neck clearance is not optimum and may be more detrimental then beneficial. We tinker with everything else with our loads and rifles, why not neck clearance? — Robert Whitley
Editor’s NOTE: If you need some new 6BR brass, but your existing cases have no-turn necks which are .269″+ loaded, you may want to segregate the newer .268-necked brass. Segregating the new brass will allow you to use a a slightly smaller diameter bushing to maintain the same amount of grip on the bullet (as before). Other than this minor change in neck diameter with this lot of brass, this Lapua 6mm BR Norma brass is essentially the identical product as it has been all along.
Visit Robert Whitley’s 6mmAR.com website for more information on Grendel-based cartridges, and his 6mmHOT.com site for info on the 6mmBR Improved Dasher, 6-6.5×47, and 6.5×47.
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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 $499.95, and that includes a rifle case, tray, and rain-cover. A handy side-mount rifle rack (item CRC-RACK) is a great $62.95 option that will be available in September.
If $499.95 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.
Hand Dolly Conversions — Not Fancy, But Effective
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, and solid . 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 NorthernTool.com. (From the Northern Tool home page, search for “spoked wheels”.)
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Pierce Engineering has just introduced its new Tactical Multi-flat action. This handsome design, crafted from chrome-moly steel, features a built-in 20-MOA rail and an integral recoil lug. The action was designed from the get-go to fit the Accuracy International chassis with no modification. With a 1/2″ flat on the bottom and 45° angled sides, the new Pierce Multi-flat short action drops right into the AI stock. Just bolt it in and shoot. The actions will cost $1295.00 and John Pierce is taking orders right now for delivery in two months.
John Pierce reports: “Our new Tactical Multi-flat action features a low-profile, 20-minute integral Picatinny rail and integral recoil lug. We made the action to drop into the Accuracy International modular stock utilizing AI’s magazines as well. Though this is a short action for .308 Win and similar-sized cartridges, the loading port is much longer than usual for better access and ejection. The current price is $1295.00, and that price includes a 30° coned bolt and/or spiral fluting if the customer desires those options.” John noted that the coned bolt option works well in Tac Comps: “I have a coned bolt on my own tactical rifle that I used at ASC. I found it picks up the rounds more smoothly from the magazine. At ASC, quite a few guys had feeding issues, but my action ran perfectly. The coned bolt works slick.” Actions will come finished with NIC CeraKote in customer’s choice of colors including: Matte Black, Titanium, OD, Sand, Brown, Gray, and Forest Green. (CLICK HERE for CeraKote color options).
Short Actions Will Be Followed By Long Actions Later This Year
Currently the new action will be available only in a short-action design. OAL is 8.050″, about the same as a Rem 700 short action if you include the thickness of the Rem’s recoil lug. The new actions will be made to order with a two-month lead time. After placing your order, you should get your new multi-flat action within about eight (8) weeks. Later this year, Pierce plans to release a larger Tactical Multi-flat action. This long action will work for cartridges such as the .30-06, .300 Win Mag, and 7mm Magnums.
Having a quality funnel helps you get carefully-measured powder charges in your cases, with no spillage, every time. If you’ve tried cheap, plastic funnels you know that they can rock on the case mouth. Also, if the fit isn’t good, some kernels end up on your bench, instead of inside the case.
Thankfully, precision, caliber-specific metal funnels are available to reloaders for about $10-$12.00. Satern Custom Machining funnels feature an aluminum top with a caliber-specific, machined brass base/neck. The Satern funnel’s aluminum body is completely static-free so powder flows into the case without bridging. Dick Saunders makes a similar, turned-aluminum funnel sized for particular calibers. Both these metal funnels make reloading easier (and they are ideal for blackpowder loading because they do not give off static electricity). As Forum member Wes notes, with a fitted metal funnel: “the possibility of the funnel sliding to the side, and spilling powder all over the place is drastically reduced.”
Satern Aluminum/Brass Funnels
Steve Satern crafts rugged aluminum funnels with brass ends. The caliber-specific sizes offer a snug fit that keeps the funnel tight on the case neck while the powder is flowing. Forum member Danny Reever reports: “If you are tired of the generic ‘fits all’ funnels falling over and powder spraying every where, try one of the Satern funnels. Sinclair Int’l sells them and they are top notch.” SMike308 adds: “I have retired my plastic funnels after buying my first Satern funnel. I now have one for each different caliber that I load for. I especially like that the Satern has the brass weight at the bottom, which adds stability to the funnel.”
Satern funnels are sold by MidwayUSA (6mm $11.29), Satern Machining (6mm $11.25), and Sinclair International (Item 11-9XX, 6mm $11.95). Satern Machining also offers two types of universal funnels, 22-30 caliber and 30-50 caliber. Satern’s universal funnels, along with the larger .338 to .50 caliber funnels, cost $18.45.
Saunders Aluminum Funnels
Some of our Forum members prefer the turned aluminum funnels made by Dick Saunders. You’ll need to order these direct from Saunders. Specify .17, .20, .22, 6mm, 6.5mm, .30 caliber or “all-purpose”. The Saunders funnels start at about $10.00. Contact Dick Saunders at the address below:
145 Delphi Rd.
Manchester, IA 52057
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We recently tested some interesting “club benchrest” rifles created by MT Guns. Recognizing the demand for highly accurate “club-level” smallbore BR guns, Mac Tilton and his crew at MT Guns have started producing two new types of affordable rimfire benchrest rifles. One line of rifles employs Anschütz actions refitted with modern SS barrels and benchrest stocks. As its second line of rimfire BR guns, MT Guns is offering highly-modified BSA Martinis, tricked out with bag-riders and premium barrels fitted with tuners. With the hot-rod Anschütz running about $2000.00 and the modified BSA costing about $1500.00, these guns should provide an affordable alternative for club-level rimfire benchrest shooters. Plus you won’t have to wait months or years to get a “big-name” smith to build you a rifle.
Anschütz Modified for Serious Accuracy
For Anschütz fans, MT Guns has fitted high grade Benchmark barrels to the legendary Model 54-type action. These re-barreled Anschütz actions are placed in Don Stith laminated benchrest stocks. With a modern low-profile, wide-forearm stock, MT Gun’s Anschütz BR guns track beautifully. So far, MT Guns has created two of these Anschütz-based bench guns, both built from model 19XX donor rifles — which also provided superb 5018 triggers. Barrels on both guns are Benchmark — one a 2-groove, the other a 3-groove. In the Stith stocks, complete with aluminum butt plates and weighted tuners, both rifles tip the scales at about 10 pounds. Price for the Anschütz bench guns is $1995.00 with unfinished Stith stock. A fitted Hoehn barrel tuner adds $200 to the price, while a Picatinny rail is a $125.00 option.
BSA Martini — Classic Design with 21st Century Upgrades
If you want to get noticed at your club’s next smallbore rimfire match, then a modified BSA Martini may be the gun for you. These rifles, originally built for prone target shooting, earned a well-deserved reputation for accuracy. MT Guns has done some basic modifications allowing the unique BSA Martinis to be surprisingly competitive in the benchrest game. The factory barrels were “retired” in favor of a 2-groove or 3-groove reverse taper Benchmark barrel — the type of tube that has won big matches and set records. To improve the rifle’s “bench manners” MT Guns fits a custom-made low-friction polymer sled in the front. Fitted with this 3″-wide bag-rider, the gun is extremely stable. An optional Hoehn tuner allows you to tune barrel harmonics for maximum accuracy.
Speaking of which, readers may be asking “How accurate can this BSA Frankengun really be?” Amazingly accurate. Watch the slide show below. In the last frame you’ll see two very impressive 5-shot groups shot by the BSA Martini Int’l Mark III at 50 yards. The ammo was Lapua X-Act.
In the video below, Bruce Duncan of MT Guns explains the distinctive mechanical design of the lever-activated, tilting-block BSA Martini. Bruce also discusses the history of the BSA Martini marque, reviewing the many BSA Martini models produced in the last century. The BSA Martini International MK III is perhaps the most desirable in the long evolution of target Martinis built by BSA from the Great War era to the early 80s. These MK IIIs, dating from the 1960s, feature Benchmark 28 3/4″ reverse-taper barrels, Hoehn barrel tuners, and special bolt-on Picatinny rails fabricated by MT Guns. Bruce noted: “The MT Guns bag rider attaches to the rifle’s fore-end rail. During testing, we noted that the fore-and-aft position of the bag rider on the rail affected the rifle’s tune.” For more info, visit MTGuns.com or call the shop at (805) 720-7720.
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We recently had a chance to test the new Chimera Titanium Rings from TacticalRifles.net. The Chimera Rings are “ultra-premium” items designed to compete with the very best tactical rings on the market. As you’d expect, they’re expensive. The 30mm Chimera Rings retail for $224.00 per matched set, including Torx driver. Though these fat boys are beefy in size, offering 7.5 square inches of clamping area per set (way more than most rings), they are very light weight. A medium-height, 30mm Chimera ring weighs just 84 grams (2.96 ounces).
The Chimera rings are precision-machined to exacting tolerances. We had our Mark, our in-house machinist, check them out and he was very impressed: “These rings exhibit beautiful fit and finish and are extremely tough. The fit of the ring bases on a Picatinny rail is perfect. I liked the radius shapes given to most of the surfaces. The front and back faces of each ring are standard flat planes, and the ring caps have a flat disc in their centers, but the remainder of the cap and the sides of the bodies are gently curved. This design requires sophisticated machining processes to pull off, but it looks good. The larger-than-standard heads on the cap hardware, 8-32 X #25 Torx, are another departure that looks well thought out. One danger this increased head size would present if the fasteners were threading into typical 6061 aluminum bodies would be the potential to over-torque and strip the threads with the larger #25 Torx wrench. However, since the titanium bodies have approximately double the tensile strength of 6061 aluminum this is not a problem.”
Assymetrical Tensioning by Design
The Chimera Titanium Rings employ an assymetrical clamping design. This should allow the rings to provide stronger clamping force with less chance of ring distortion. Here’s how they work. After placing the scope in the lower halves of the rings, you screw down the top halves on one side only (opposite the bolt head that clamps to the Picatinny rail). After the three Torx screws are tightened fully on one side, so that the top Ring half butts firmly on the bottom half, there will still be a small gap on the opposite side of the ring (see photo). Don’t worry — that is by design. Final torque is applied to the side with the gap. With the final tensioning done on one side only, the scope is less prone to twist. Furthermore, the manufacturer claims this design puts less stress on the scope tube during mounting.
We did fit the Chimera rings to a Leupold LRT 8-25x50mm scope with 30mm tube. Fit was excellent with no high or low points. With the rings installed as instructed, with one side first clamped flush and the opposite side then torqued to spec, the scope was very secure. On removal the Chimera rings left no visible marks on the tube. I can’t say that it would be a waste of time to lap these rings, but on our Leupold scope the fit was perfect, and the “grip” was uniform over the entire clamping surface.
Tactical Precision System TSR™ Rings TSR™ rings made by Tactical Precision Systems (TPS) have a clamping design very similar to the Chimera Titanium Rings. After placing the scope in the TSR ring set, you clamp down one side (of the ring tops) until metal meets metal. This then leaves a gap of 0.020″ on the other side. The TSR Picatinny 30mm 7075 Aluminum Medium Rings cost $82 in aluminum or $94.00 in alloy steel. The TSR rings are narrower than the Chimeras, and have two Torx bolts per side, rather than the three on the Chimeras.
M3 Hinged Scope Rings from American Rifle Company
An even more radical clamping system is employed by the new, patent-pendingM3 Scope Rings from The American Rifle Company. The top section of the M3 rings is attached with a hinge on one side. After placing the scope in the bottom section of the M3 rings, you swing the upper ring half into place over the scope tube. Then the clamping is done with two inverted (head-down) machine screws that actually pull the hinged ring section downwards. This is designed to put less stress on the scope than conventional rings. The axis of the screws is tangential to the scope tube. Sophisticated finite element analysis (FEA) was used to develop the “over the top”, tangential-clamping ring design. According to the manufacturer, this design evenly distributes clamping forces over the tube and “eliminates the damaging effects of [scope] bending”. The manufacturer claims that, with its rings, “no significant stress concentrations are present on the scope tube”. American Rifle Co. backs up these claims with a series of 3D stress analyses published on its website.
Credit The Firearm Blog for reporting on the M3 ring design.
Disclosure: TacticalRifles.net loaned a pair of Chimera Titanium Rings for testing and evaluation.
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Many of our readers use iPhones to run ballistics programs and to access travel maps and weather reports. We CAUTION readers who may be planning to purchase a new Apple iPhone 4 (Fourth Generation), first released on June 24th: Wait until the flaws are fixed.
You May Want to Hold Off on Purchasing a iPhone 4
We know many of you guys are anxious to get the latest iPhone 4… but we strongly advise you to wait a week or two at least. Or perhaps wait a few months until an improved version of the new iPhone is available. The reason for this advice is simple — the glass panels on the new iPhone are prone to cracking, and there is a serious reception problem on many of the latest generation of iPhones.
iPhone 4 Major Problems
We suggest readers WAIT before purchasing an iPhone 4, based on issues we observed ourselves, as well as thousands of reports that are flooding in. There are three main problems.
1. Many iPhone 4s have hardware-related reception problems causing dropped calls. This is apparently caused by hand interference with the antenna.
2. The iPhone 4’s front screen and back plate, which are composed of a new, ultra-hard Aluminosilicate glass, are very prone to cracking. We observed this first-hand.
3. Some iPhone 4 users are reporting yellow blotches and other abnormal screen discolorations. This is apparently a manufacturing defect.
Cracked Glass on Faceplate and Backplate
On June 24th, we went to the shooting range. One of our shooters, Katrina, had just acquired a brand new iPhone 4. She carried it in a protective belt holster. After a couple hours of shooting from a sitting position at the bench, she tried to make a call, only to find that the front glass screen had a full-width diagonal crack. This phone was never dropped, tossed, or abused in any way. While the screen needs to be replaced, Katrina’s iPhone is still able to make calls — the first one of which went to Apple customer support.
Many reports are surfacing about broken iPhone 4 glass. Unlike our experience with Katrina’s phone, most of the breakages appear to be on the back plate. You’ll find reports of the breakages in the Apple forums and on major tech websites.
Gizmodo.com reports: “Cases of broken iPhone 4’s backs are already appearing. This hasn’t changed from previous generations…. But the difference is that the iPhone 4 is all glass. If you drop any other phone, you have a 50% chance of breaking its screen. With the iPhone 4, the risk will always be there, no matter how it falls. It’s just more exposed to damage because of the material choice.” Another breakage report.
Reception and Dropped Call Problem
There is a widespread problem with iPhone 4s losing reception when held in the hand. The video below shows how just picking up the iPhone and holding it normally will cause loss of reception. The problem appears to be hand contact with the iPhone 4’s metal frame, which serves as the antenna.
An article in Gizmodo.com addresses the issue: “There’s no great fix for the iPhone 4 reception issues right now. We’re also pretty sure—and Apple confirms it—that touching the antenna does affect things—whether or not it has the final result of killing calls or speed of data connection.”
Rubber Bumper Partial Reception Fix?
Here is a further CNET video report confirming the reception issue with multiple iPhone 4 test units. The problem is more acute with some users than others, and CNET did suggest that installing a $30 rubber bumper may help with the problem. Tests by igear360.com show that bumper can raise iPhone 4 downloading speeds, but uploading speeds still suffer substantially. Click here for iPhone bumper tests.
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Here is an interesting tool that lets shooters re-shape and uniform the tips of their .22 rimfire lead bullets. Paco Kelly’s Acu’Rzr comes in two basic versions, the “Phase III Nasti-Nose” and the “Phase IV Baby Scorp’n”. The Phase III tool produces a deep-dished hollowpoint (like an ash-tray) that opens quickly and efficiently. There is also a Phase III insert that creates a flatter, open dish HP for target shooting. The Phase IV Scorpion tool creates a deep hollow point with a central post. The internal post in the middle helps achieve deeper penetration in game. The designer claims that ammo modified with either tool is more accurate because the bullet diameter “comes out the same every time”. In addition to the Phase III & IV tools, which reform one round at a time, Paco offers a Maxi series for bulk production. These let you process either three rounds at once (Maxi 3) or four rounds at once (Maxi 4).
Why re-shape lead rimfire bullets? The first reason is accuracy. The tool’s designer, Paco Kelly, claims you can improve the accuracy of budget-priced ammo by using the dish nose rod with the Phase III tool: “The dish nose forming rod is for accuracy and paper targets. It makes very sharp and clean cut holes in paper. And the consistency of the [re-shaped] bullet diameter pulls the group together.”
The main reason to use Paco Acu’Rzr tools is to improve perfomance on small game such as squirrels, prairie dogs, and jack-rabbits. Kelly says: “Unlike most commercial 22 rimfire ammo with small holes and negligible HP expansion, the Nasti-Nose will open even with standard velocity ammo. Yet it will NOT explode on contact like the hyper-velocity ammo. For small eating game, such as squirrels, the Hyper ammo is too much and the medium-velocity, hollow-pointed commercial ammo often fails to open. But not so with the Nasti-Nose.” The idea, Kelly suggests, is that you get reliable expansion with medium-velocity ammo, without destroying the game the way hyper-velocity ammo does.
The Phase III tool costs $65.00, while the Phase IV tool costs $75.00. The Maxi 3 which does three (3) rounds at once, costs $100.00, and the four-round Maxi 4 is $128.00. All tools can be customized for target rifles or European chambers. To order, contact Paco Kelly, P.O. Box 1170, Cortaro, AZ 85652 or use this ORDER FORM.
EDITOR’s NOTE: Do NOT use this tool with premium-grade rimfire target ammo. It won’t help. Use it with the cheaper bulk-pack ammo. Also, we have not tested the reformed ammo on live targets, so you have to draw your own conclusions as to its benefits on small critters.
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Sinclair International has just released its completely new Competition Shooting Rest BR. It’s a beefy unit, weighing over 30 pounds… and yes, it’s fully approved for both IBS and NBRSA benchrest competition at all distances. The new rest should start shipping in mid-May, 2010. The price is $599.00 including top bracket, but not the front sand-bag (both Edgewood and Protektor bags will fit).
Key features are: 1) Very low center of gravity for stability; 2) Smooth, precise windage control built in to the base-plate; 3) Ambi-dextrous design; and 4) Built-in carry handle on the front (target) side. The windage control, which employs twin tapered roller bearings for smoothness, is a clever design that provides nearly 48″ of windage movement at 100 yards. The oversized windage control knob is positioned near the rear (vertical) speed screw so you can easily and quickly control both the vertical and horizontal with the same hand. And you Southpaws, don’t worry… the post, center column, controls and windage adjustment disassemble and reassemble on the opposite side, for left-hand use.
The Sinclair Competition Rest’s components are “super-sized” compared to older Sinclair front pedestal designs. The new rest’s center column diameter is upsized to 1.95″ from 1.375″, the threaded post is increased to 1″ diameter from 3/4″, and the leg screws are now .5″ (up from .375″). The rear fluted speed screw is also oversized. The new Competition Rest also includes mounting holes for attachment of raised ammo caddies or a timer-holder. In addition, the Sinclair Competition Rest features a new, lockable fore-end stop assembly that adjusts for length, height, and cant (angle).
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MidwayUSA recently sent us its new Compact Competition Range Bag for review. Overall, we were very impressed. The bag is made from a strong, heavy-duty PVC-coated polyester, with high-quality, large-toothed zippers. A comfortable, curved carry strap is secured by sturdy, all-metal clips. The “build quality” is visibly much better than most range bags on the market. I wish my airline carry-on bags were built as well as this. The bag is offered in black for $26.99 or olive-drab for $39.99. We tested the handsome olive-drab version which is a good match for our khaki AIM 60 Tactical Drag Bag.
Measuring 16″L x 12″W x 10″H, this Compact Range Bag is definitely smaller than MidwayUSA’s popular Large Range Bag (22″L x 15″W x 10″H). However, the “Compact” version will hold plenty of gear — pretty much all a pistol shooter will need at the range. For a rifle shooter, it will haul ammo boxes, earmuffs, magazines, and other miscellaneous gear. You CAN get a rear sandbag in the MidwayUSA range bag, but it’s probably best to use the bag for ammo boxes and the like. Overall, we really like this bag, as do most buyers. Among 43 MidwayUSA customer reviews, the average rating is 4.9 out of 5 stars. Here are two typical buyer reports:
“This bag is great. It easily holds both my S&W MP9s, hearing and eye protection, 6 magazines, magazine loader, targets and enough ammo (200-300 rds) for a good session at the range. The quality is comparable to bags costing twice as much.” — Richard B, Virginia
“I have used many different range bags over the years, but I have to say that this is by far the best…. Plenty of room for ammo, hearing and eye protection, documentation and other materials. This bag is a great buy.” — Mark C, Oklahoma
Quality Revealed in the Details
The details of this bag reveal smart design and quality construction. On the bottom, two plastic foot pads with ¼” high ribs are stitched to the fabric for grip and moisture standoff. On the inside of the bag a removable, waterproof sole further protects the contents. On both ends of the bag are full-width zippered pockets, with a handy clear identification window on one side. Metal D-rings above the end pockets provide solid attachment points for the heavy-duty shoulder strap. The shoulder strap pad has a rubberized underside that keeps the strap from sliding off your shoulder.
The main compartment is conveniently accessed through a Velcro end closure plus two long, parallel zippers whose pull-tabs are connected with a cord. The main compartment is big enough to hold two large MTM Caseguard R-100 series rifle ammo boxes, with plenty of room left over. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to lock any compartment on the bag. That’s too bad, since some jurisdictions require handgun cases to be locked during transport.
Deceptively Large Capacity for a ‘Compact’ Bag
To test the carrying capacity of the MidwayUSA bag, we loaded it up with 100 rounds of rifle ammo, 600 rounds of centerfire pistol ammo, 500 rounds rimfire, earmuffs and FOUR pistols tucked in the padded side sleeves. All that gear fit nicely with room to spare. (We recommend putting handguns in protective sleeves if you load two per side). The padded, full-width, zippered main pocket keeps seven spare magazines organized and protected. On the reverse side of the bag, a similar, full-length padded pocket provides undivided storage space. That large outside pocket also has a zippered compartment with dividers for pens and a small notepad. The bag’s many pockets make it easy to organize miscellaneous gear such as staple gun, target stickers, small binoculars, timers, and radios.
The durable fabric, thick padding, heavy-duty zippers, and quality stitching should deliver many years of hard duty. This is a bag that holds its shape more like a luggage piece, not a thin bag that will squash flat and lay on the shelf out of the way when not in use. The black Compact Range Bag is available now. The olive drab version we tested should be in in stock on 5/28/2010.
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We know many of our readers have a Ruger 10/22 for varminting, fun shooting, or rimfire tactical competition. Here’s an affordable new product for the Ruger 10/22 that will fit the highly-accurate Volquartsen rimfires as well. The new TriMag™ magazine coupler secures three standard, 10-round 10/22 rotary magazines together, giving you extra ammo capacity with full factory reliability. Yes there are long, banana-style magazines for the 10/22, but a TriMag 3-mag assembly won’t interfere with prone or off-hand shooting. And when varminting, you won’t have to set your tripod super-high to provide clearance for a long single-column magazine. This is ideal for rimfire tactical matches.
Designed and crafted by Alangator of Hayden Lake, Idaho, the $9.95 patent-pending TriMag™ is a clever, U.S.-made invention that any 10/22 or Volquartsen owner can afford. Puchasers give the TriMag™ high marks. One Cabela’s customer writes: “One of the best 10/22 products ever! As everyone who owns a 10/22 knows, aftermarket or non-factory extended capacity 10/22 magazines perform terribly. This product resolves that issue because you have 30 rounds available using your perfectly-functioning factory magazines.” Another buyer adds: “IMO one of the best accessories for the 10/22… one of those things that you can’t go without. An added bonus is that when you set your gun on a bench it holds it up right.”
Where to Buy
The TriMag™ is currently offered by Cabela’s, Volquartsen, and other vendors starting at $9.95. Volquartsen says the device fits all Volquartsen .22 LR semi-auto rifles.
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