As part of MidwayUSA’s Black Friday Week Sale, which ends today, Nov. 29th, MidwayUSA has discounted its popular Competition Series range bags. Both the compact version and the full-size range bags are deeply discounted for the remainder of today. The Compact Range Bag is just $29.99 in either black or olive drab, and the Large Range Bag, which is almost the size of a travel duffle, is $39.99 in black or OD. We think you’ll be very satisfied with either product (we like the OD color best). In April we field-tested the compact model and we were very impressed with the design and the quality. Below are highlights from our field-test. CLICK HERE for FULL TEST STORY.
MidwayUSA Compact Competition Range Bag
Measuring 16″L x 12″W x 10″H, this Compact Range Bag is definitely smaller than MidwayUSA’s popular Large Range Bag (22″L x 15″W x 10″H). However, the “Compact” version will hold plenty of gear — pretty much all a pistol shooter will need at the range. For a rifle shooter, it will haul ammo boxes, earmuffs, magazines, and other miscellaneous gear. The bag is made from a strong, heavy-duty PVC-coated polyester, with high-quality, large-toothed zippers. A comfortable, curved carry strap is secured by sturdy, all-metal clips. The “build quality” is visibly much better than most range bags on the market.
Deceptively Large Capacity for a ‘Compact’ Bag
To test the carrying capacity of the MidwayUSA bag, we loaded it up with 100 rounds of rifle ammo, 600 rounds of centerfire pistol ammo, 500 rounds rimfire, earmuffs and FOUR pistols tucked in the padded side sleeves. All that gear fit nicely with room to spare. (We recommend putting handguns in protective sleeves if you load two per side). The padded, full-width, zippered main pocket keeps seven spare magazines organized and protected. On the reverse side of the bag, a similar, full-length padded pocket provides undivided storage space. The bag’s many pockets make it easy to organize miscellaneous gear such as staple gun, target stickers, small binoculars, timers, and radios.
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Here’s a good deal for a hunter or a tactical competitor who needs a solid, no-BS rucksack with tough construction, good stitching, and sturdy metal fasteners. Sportsman’s Guide is selling genuine U.S. Military Medium ALICE packs for $17.97. These are USED packs, but in good to very good condition. These are the same ALICE (“All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment”) packs carried by U.S. soldiers prior to the introduction of MOLLE system packs.
Note, the $17.97 surplus ALICE packs come without frames. They have adjustable 2 3/4″ shoulder straps with twin 4 1/2 x 11″ shoulder pads, plus lower and upper back pads. The central storage area is enclosed with a drawstring and 2-strap top flap. On the outside are three 5″ x 10″ outer gear pouches secured with metal buckles and web straps. These surplus ALICE Packs are available for $17.97 in either Olive Drab (OD) or Woodland Camo.
ALICE Packs with Frames at ArmyGear.net
If you need an ALICE pack with metal frame, ArmyGear.net has surplus ALICE packs with frames at super-low prices. A Large (2200 cubic-inch capacity) ALICE with frame is just $26.98. This big pack MUST be used with an ALICE Frame — you cannot attach shoulder straps alone. These $26.98 large ALICE packs include frame, shoulder straps, and kidney belt. The 1500-cubic-inch Medium ALICE pack with frame is also $26.98, in woodland camo. The medium pack can be used with or without a frame. ArmyGear.net sells the Medium ALICE without frame in OD for $18.98 with shoulder straps ($19.98 Woodland), or $12.98 without shoulder straps.
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21st Century Shooting has just introduced what may be the most advanced powder funnel on the market. It has everything you could want. The top section is precision ground and polished for a smooth flow. The center has a see-through tube so you can watch the progress of your powder dropping into the case. At the bottom of each funnel is a precision brass collar insert that allows the funnel to stand on the case without tipping off. The collars are offered in nine, caliber-specific sizes: 17cal, 20cal, 22cal, 30cal, 5mm, 5.5mm, 6mm, 6.5mm, and 7mm. In addition, 21st Century offers custom-milled collar inserts fitted precisely to your cases. That way you can get a perfect fit on neck-turned brass. Just mic your casenecks and 21st Century will craft a custom insert.
Each funnel, with one caliber-specific insert, costs $21.75. Additional standard inserts are $5.75. Call 260-273-9909 for pricing on custom inserts.
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Gear Reviewby Germán A. Salazar, Contributing Editor
All of us have at one time or another struggled with glare in the front sight at certain ranges and certain times of year. There are a lot of ways to deal with glare, shade tubes being the most commonly seen. I prefer to avoid any type of extension on the front or rear sight, especially anything that hangs past the muzzle where the muzzle blast can cause damage and in any event, I haven’t found those tubes to be very effective. However, the need to do something about the glare at our south-facing range at the Phoenix Rod & Gun Club has become essential for me. At this time of year, the sun is directly in front at this range and I really struggle to get a clear sight picture.
The photo above, taken on 10/16/2010 clearly illustrates the problem at PRGC as the early morning sun is from the left and front. Note the backlit flag and the direction of the shadows. As the sun continues to rise, it aligns itself right down the range towards the shooters. Apart from the glare, the bull is hard to see on the targets once they’re up because the light is coming from behind the target, not from the front. A very challenging set of light conditions which will worsen from now through February as the sun stays lower in the sky month by month.
Anti-Glare Filters from Art Neergaard
I recently spoke to Art Neergaard about this problem. Art manufactures a number of innovative products for rifle sights through his company ShootingSight LLC and he had an idea for me. The idea was simple in concept, a “donut” filter for the front sight with a hole in the middle so as not to darken the already dim bull and yet, it would cut the glare that otherwise enters the front sight. The picture at left shows the filter mounted on the sight. When you’re looking through the sights, there isn’t the large gap around the aperture, it’s actually a very close match. Sticking the camera right into the sight obviously changes the perspective a bit.
I wanted to evaluate the Centra Goliath 30mm sight on my new Palma tubegun. Since Art intended to make the filters for the 30mm size, this was a good time to begin that evaluation as well. My last match score with this rifle, five weeks ago before the light got bad, was a 600-42X, since then, I’ve had a couple of poor matches with other rifles as the light and glare have really troubled me. With the 600-42 as a “good condition baseline” with this rifle I was eager to see how the filters would work.
Art sent me a few items: two filters (one gray, one orange), and one filter-holder for them, as well as a fixed aperture cut in the same material as the filters, with a beveled edge like the ones available for many years for smaller sights. The filters are interchangeable in the holder and can be changed in a minute or so. The aperture, however, is fixed as the hole is drilled in a lathe after mounting the disc in the holder — this ensures perfect concentricity for the aperture.
Gray Filter Preferred
Arriving at the range, I mounted the high-contrast orange filter first and looked through it. Frankly, although it cut glare well, I hate the look of an orange world! A quick change of filter and another look through the sights showed a good, glare-free and natural-looking sight picture with the gray filter. At right is a photo that shows the relative glare-cutting effect of the gray filter.
Scores Improved with Anti-Glare Filtration
Shooting a good mid-range .308 load with Winchester brass, Federal primers, IMR 4064 (manufactured in 1960, just like me) and moly-coated Sierra 190 gr. bullets, the rifle showed it’s good breeding giving me a 200-12X, 200-15X and 200-14X for a 600-41X, my 22nd score of 600! Well, quite a dramatic improvement over the last couple of weeks when I struggled to shoot 590, and back to the score I shot five weeks ago when the light was still good. Hooray! So yes, I’m very satisfied with the concept of the filter with a hole in it. All the extraneous glare that was hurting my sight picture was gone and the bull remained unimpaired. Not that the bull was too good to begin with as all I can see is a fuzzy gray blob out there, but keeping the center unfiltered was better than some solid filters I’ve tried in the past.
Clear Rain Filters for Front Sights
Art plans to make clear donut filters to use as rain shields for shooters with a front lens in their sight. That would keep raindrops off the lens — especially the middle of the lens where a drop could destroy the shooter’s ability to see the bull properly.
Filter Works with Fixed & Variable Apertures
Although I intended to try the fixed aperture also, I ended up shooting the entire match with the filter and the Centra variable aperture. I’ll try to use the fixed aperture (photo at left) next week. The value of a fixed aperture shouldn’t be underestimated. It provides a lower cost way to use a 30mm sight, an important consideration given the current $175 price of the adjustable aperture. Perhaps just as important, the fixed aperture is something that should be in every high-end shooter’s kit in case of failure of the adjustable, which has been known to happen. If I were traveling across the country or around the world to a match, you can be sure there would be a set of fixed apertures of various sizes in my kit to back up the adjustable iris.
Monitor Barrel Heat with Pocket InfraRed Gauges
You never want to run the barrel of a precision rifle too hot. Excessive barrel heat kills accuracy, increases copper fouling, and can cause rapid barrel throat wear. Over the years people have devised various means to cool their barrels — from electric fans to dunking in tubs of ice water.
But how do you know if your barrel is too hot? Consider a “non-contact” thermometer that reads your barrel’s “infrared signature”. The Kintrex or Actron pocket-sized, non-contact IR thermometers are ideal for shooters at the range or in the prairie dog fields. Both are handy and inexpensive — costing about twenty bucks (on sale).
Just 3.2″ long, and weighing a mere 1.3 ounces, the waterproof Kintrex IRT0401 (IP67) is small enough to carry in your pocket, and will easily stow in any range bag/box. The unit measures from -67 to 428 °F (-55 to 220 °C). Kintrex is a respected manufacturer that also makes larger hand-held IR thermometers for industrial and shop applications. Priced at just $21.11 on Amazon.com, the tiny Kintrex is one gadget that every serious shooter should have. Given the cost of replacing barrels these days, can you afford NOT to have a temp gauge for your match or varmint barrel?
Actron PocketTherm for just $18.22
The compact Actron CP7875 PocketTherm Infrared Thermometer is on sale right now on Amazon.com for just $18.22. Roughly 4″ x 1.5″ in size, it is slightly larger than the Kintrex, but still small enough to carry in a pocket. It features an angled head and may be easier to hold than the Kintrex for some users. It works instantly with intuitive one-button operation, measuring temp ranges from -27º to 428º F (-33º to 220º C). Rated battery life is 20-25 hours. The backlit display is easy to read. However, you need to place the Actron PocketTherm close to the “target”. Most larger “industrial” spot thermometers (both laser and infrared), have beam ratios from 6:1 to 10:1, allowing them to measure a 1″ circle at 6″-10″. The CP7875 has a 1:1 ratio, so it measures a 10″ circle at 10″ distance. To get an accurate temp on a barrel, you must hold the thermometer within an inch or so. That’s not a big deal when measuring barrel heat, but the beam ratio may limit the usefulness of the PocketTherm for other tasks.
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If you don’t have a portable GPS yet, here is a great deal. The very popular Garmin Nüvi 260W with voice instructions is on sale for the next few days for just $99.99, with FREE shipping. This unit is easy to program, and instantly switches from Map view to a Trip Info view that provides current speed, average speed, miles to destination, and more. Click the lower right corner of the Map view at any time to bring up Next Turn info.
This Editor has been using a Garmin Nüvi for a year now and it works marvelously. I now take it on any long trip, and it has also been very useful when navigating to local locations. If you miss a turn, it will usually recalculate within seconds. The spoken turn-by-turn instructions are easy to follow — it’s like having a human navigator by your side. Click the link below right for best pricing and FREE Shipping.
North American Maps are Pre-Loaded
The Garmin Nüvi 260W comes preloaded with City Navigator NT North America–road coverage for the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico and nearly 6 million points of interest. City Navigator North America NT gives you everything you need to travel North America. Powered by NAVTEQ, a world leader in premium-quality digital map data, City Navigator brings you the most detailed street maps available so you can navigate with exact, turn-by-turn directions to any address or intersection.
The battery will run a few hours, but I recommend keeping the unit plugged in via your cigarette lighter outlet or other DC power port. When the unit is not in use for a few days, I also recommend removing the battery. Even with the unit switched “off” Garmin maintains a “fast access” mode that draws a small amount of current.
Handy Vent Mount Secures GPS
I’ve experimented with a half dozen GPS mounts and my favorite is the i.Trek Vent Mount. This snaps on quickly and places your GPS in an ideal position to the right of the steering wheel. It is a little tricky to remove, but otherwise works great and only costs $6.50 at Amazon.com. The Vent Mount can jiggle a bit on big bumps, but the GPS is normally plenty stable, and it is easy to adjust viewing angle. It’s a great little device — much better in my opinion than windshield mounts (which are illegal in some states).
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South African Pieter L.R. (aka “Baboonstalker” in our Shooters’ Forum), has crafted an impressive single-torch annealing machine with a compact footprint. Pieter’s new KinetiX Precision Annealer holds cartridge brass cases in a dished carousel (wheel) machined from billet. An electric motor advances the carousel while a separate belt-driven spindel rotates each case when it in positioned in the flame. The standard wheel holds cases up to .308 bolt-face in diameter, and Magnum wheels are available.
Precision Mount for Torch-Head
One of the most impressive features of the new machine is the 4-way mount that holds the torch tip. This adjusts for height, flame angle (up/down), and flame distance to case. It can also rotate around a vertical axis. The mount looks like something NASA would produce for vectoring rocket thrusters.
Compared to some other annealers, Pieter’s KinetiX unit is quite compact, with a small footprint. The entire unit (less torch) would fit in a large hat-box. Pieter kept the footprint small by placing all the drive motors and gears under the carousel, rather than off to the side. Pieter optimized his machine for a single torch: “Dual torches are good on some other models to distribute the heat around the neck or to get longer exposure time on the constant-motion models. On this model the case turns in the flame so i do not see a real need for a secondary torch. However, if you want two or more torches i would be more than happy to add brackets for them.”
Basic KinetiX Annealer Will Cost $540.00
Pieter plans to put his KinetiX annealer into production: “I will be selling these units for $540 USD not including shipping, which is about $105 USD for airmail and $35 USD for surface mail. I hope to have my own website up and running soon but you can reach me on gokinetix[at]telkomsa.net in the meantime.” The $540.00 price includes the annealing machine, speed controller, power supply (100-260V) and standard wheel which up to .308-rim-diameter cartridges (including 284s). Pieter tells us: “I have tested [the standard wheel] down to .22 Hornet, but anything that sticks out above the plate (7/8″) should work fine. If you have a specific case in mind that does not fit, i can just make up a special wheel for you.” Pieter also plans to offer Magnum wheels for cases up to .338 Lapua, and Super Magnum wheels for cases up to .50 BMG.
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In our feature article on Case Neck Tools we explained the importance of case neck uniformity and reviewed the best tools for measuring case neck thickness. But having uniform case neck walls is only part of the accuracy equation. You also want your cases to exhibit minimal run-out, as measured by a precision tool. For this reason, a quality concentricity gauge belongs on your loading bench if you are looking for the Nth degree of accuracy.
We’ve worked with quite a few concentricity gauges. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but some just didn’t perform well at all with very short cases like the 6BR and 6PPC. One of our regular readers suggested we check out the H&H Concentricity Gauge, made by Bill Herron in Oregon. So far we are very impressed. A 6BR or PPC case doesn’t tip or rock, causing the needle to jump. We were able to get good, repeatable readings off a seated bullet, which wasn’t easy at all with some of the other units. Our friend agreed with our positive assessment of the H&H, saying: “I have four concentricity gauges. Among these tools, the H&H is the least expensive and the easiest to use of those designed for loaded round measurement AND bullet straightening. It is also built like a brick. However, the Sinclair is [probably] the best for looking at the case alone due to the bearing balls and their adjustability.”
The H&H uses an indicator block to eliminate off-center indicator readings. It will accept .22 PPC through .375 length cases. A reversible spindle acts as a pilot for checking neck thickness. Bill Herron says the unit can also re-align bullets, but we didn’t try out that capability. For more info, visit the H&H Industries website, or call Bill at (541) 327-1411.
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Werner Mehl, the engineering genius behind Kurzzeitmesstechnik (Kurzzeit), a German technology company, has come up with another spectacular ultra-slow-motion video. Werner has developed some of the most advanced video equipment in the world, allowing him to film bullets in flight with frame rates up to 1,000,000 frames per second. That’s not a misprint — some of the Kurzzeit video cameras can record at ONE MILLION frames per second, though typical Kurzzeit “high-speed” videos might be shot at 200,000 or 250,000 frames per second.
This 10-minute video was specially prepared by Werner for the 2009 SHOT Show. A masterpiece of high-speed movie-making, Werner’s video displays an amazing array of projectiles and targets. You can see bullets hitting armored and non-armored targets, bullets ripping through ballistic gelatin, bullets shattering glass, and even shotgun pellets striking rifle bullets in mid-air. Look for the effect of hollow points as they pass through the ballistic gelatin, and at the 4:26 mark you can see an airgun pellet slice though a paper target.
High-Tech Equipment from Kurzzeit
In addition to producing high-speed video equipment, Kurzzeit builds the PVM-21, one of the most advanced consumer chronographs on the market. The “all-infrared, all the time” PVM-21 works in any lighting conditions, including total darkness. It employs two banks of infrared sensors (front and back — the black boxes in right photo). These are aligned vertically and placed 8″ apart (left to right.) That gives you a huge 4.5″ x 8″ sensor area to register shots. We’ve worked with some other chronographs where the practical “sweet spot” for reliable results was just 2″ x 2″, when using an air rifle. The PVM-21’s large sensor area makes it easy to align your rifle, and you don’t get errors if your shot is just a little off-center.
The PVM-21 can hook up directly to a lap-top computer. That way you can record all your shot velocity data directly into a spreadsheet. The PVM 21’s large sensor area and software interface make the PVM one of this Editor’s favorite chronos, along with the classic Oehler model 35P. In the USA, the Kurzzeit PVM-21 is sold by Neconos.com. The $749.95 price includes sensor unit (with infrared), processing/display unit, infrared remote control, and software. It’s an impressive package — we just wish Werner would upgrade the display unit to include a rechargeable 12V DC battery. Right now you need to use an inline 120V AC to 12V DC transformer, or carry a separate 12V battery. I personally prefer to use a 3.5″x1.5″ rechargeable 12V battery rather than a 120v transformer and extension cords.
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Do you know of a great new shooting or reloading product? Here’s a chance to acknowledge quality new products. Shooting Sports USA Magazine, the NRA’s Competitive Shooting Journal, is collecting nominations for the best competitive shooting products of the year. The finalists will be featured in the magazine’s SHOT Show issue, which will be handed out at the NRA booth at the Las Vegas tradeshow in January, 2011. Send one or two nominations, high-resolution photograph, and 200-word description to email@example.com with 2010 PRODUCT as the subject line. The deadline is October 20, 2010, one month away.
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by Zak Smith
The simple and well-made rifle cases my dad and I used when I was a kid are hard to find and don’t fit the kinds of long-guns I shoot most these days: long-range precision rifles and AR-15s. There are plenty of “tactical” rifle cases on the market, but between poor construction and bad design features, it’s hard to really like most of them. One notable poor design feature is putting the zip opening on the bottom of the case (opposite the carry handle). The use of junky, low-quality zippers is another all-too-common defect.
MidwayUSA’s new “Pro Series” tactical rifle cases happily do not have those problems. The cases work well and have some good features. You can select between “tactical” black or a handsome OD green. Three sizes are offered, giving buyers a choice of 35″, 43″, or 47″ overall case lengths. Right now through the end of September, 2010, both colors and all three sizes are on sale.
I am not a fan of overloading rifle cases with a lot of extra junk, or bulky pockets that encourage it. The MidwayUSA case has plenty of internal compartments, and a large external pocket that may fit a compact M4/AR-15. Inside the main compartment, there are Velcro retention straps to hold your gun in place. The case also has angled, internal slash pockets on both ends. These help protect the muzzle on one end and help secure the buttstock on the other end.
Although the case is designed more for an AR-15 (with a half-dozen magazine pouches on the outside), I threw my Accuracy International AW — chambered in .260 Remington — into the case and took it down to the Sporting Rifle Match held at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM. Although the bolt rifle wouldn’t normally fit in an AR case, with the AW’s stock folded, it fit perfectly with room to spare.
Editor’s Note: The 47″ version of the case can swallow fixed-stock rifles with barrels up to about 25.5 inches. In the 43″ Pro Series case, a non-folding Accuracy International AW with 20″ barrel plus factory muzzle brake fit fine, with no clearance problems.
I don’t use a thread protector on the rifle’s muzzle when the suppressor is removed, so the muzzle “pocket” in the MidwayUSA case was nice. My suppressor, rear shooting bag, and some ammo went in the outer pocket. The top zipper opening is reminiscent of the full-on sniper drag bags, or more pertinently, easy to pull the rifle out with the bag set on the ground or in the bed of my truck.
With a glut of rifle cases on the market, the MidwayUSA Pro Series is built well and has pricing that cannot be beat. Now through September 30, 2010, the Pro Series Cases are on sale at MidwayUSA. 35″ models are $38.99, the 43″ case is $42.99, and the largest 47″ case is $44.99.
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Here’s a new gun storage vault with an innovative “stealth” design. The “BedBunker” from Heracles Research Corp., provides secure storage for up to 32 rifles and 70 pistols, in side-by-side locked steel compartments. BedBunker modular safes are designed to replace the box spring under twin, queen, or king size mattresses and are compatible with most standard bed frames. The BedBunker is equipped with eight 1″-diameter threaded legs for height and leveling adjustments. NOTE, the weight of the BedBunker is supported by the eight metal legs, NOT by the bed frame.
Pros and Cons of BedBunker Design
The patented, under-mattress design of the BedBunker has many benefits. Number 1, the safe is in a “stealth” location that thieves may ignore completely. The best gun safe is one that doesn’t call attention to itself. Second, an installed Bedbunker is very large and would be difficult to move. Third, Bedbunkers use floor space that is otherwise wasted.
What are the negatives? First, BedBunkers are very expensive. The $4200.00 Cal-King-size BedBunker is more than twice as expensive as a typical gunsafe of equal (1500 lb.) weight. The $2200 twin-size BedBunker is more affordable, but the $3700 price of the Queen Double-safe unit will easily buy you two (2) conventional large safes.
We also have concerns about the Bedbunker locking system. We don’t think the key locks are as secure as a typical UL Group II (or better) safe lock and we don’t think the vertical lift doors (with small cross-bolts) would withstand a pry-bar attack as well as a premium gun safe equipped with multiple, large-diameter cross-bolts on all door sides.
For more information, visit www.bedgunsafe.com, or call Heracles Research Corp. of Spokane, WA, at (509) 624-2555.
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Vince Bottomley, an ace shooter from the United Kingdom, also operates the excellent Precision Rifle website. On Vince’s handsome, informative site, you’ll find gear reviews, gunsmithing tips, competition reports, and in-depth features on interesting rifles.
Vince, who competes successfully in a variety of shooting disciplines from 100 yards to 1000 yards, has also authored articles explaining how to set up your equipment for optimal accuracy and best performance. One such feature is Choosing and Using the Machine Front Rest. Whether you’re a novice shooter, or a seasoned competitor, this article is worth reading. Vince reviews a number of the premium front rests, including the Farley Coax, and the SEB Co-axial rest.
In this feature, Vince explains how to adapt a heavy BR front rest for F-Class use in the field. He also explains how to optimize a front rest on the bench and how to use the windage and elevation controls.
Vince’s article on front rests is definitely worth reading. Plus, on the same page, you’ll find other informative features including a discussion of Case Prep, and an interesting article on barrel cleaning.
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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