September 2nd, 2009
Phoenix Precision, based in Elk River, MN, crafts precision target sights for long range target shooters. Known for their outstanding reliability and repeatability, Phoenix rear sights are gaining popularity among competitors in prone, Palma, and High Power disciplines. Some of the top “sling and irons” shooters in the country have switched to Phoenix sights.
Gary LaValley, owner of Phoenix Precision, crafts his rear sights using advanced CNC machinery. The sight housings are anodized, aircraft-grade aluminum. For precise repeatability, the sights feature stainless guide pins and lead screws, plus oil-impregnated bronze guide and thread bushings. The sights offer 70 MOA of elevation, 60 MOA of windage, with 1/4-MOA clicks. Knob rotations for elevation and windage are either NRA match rifle (Counter-CW) or service rifle (CW). Quarter-minute clicks are standard, but on request for the Palma shooters, 1/2-MOA windage detent plates are available at no extra charge. Phoenix sights accept both Anschutz and Gehmann accessories.
Phoenix Precision micrometer rear sights are offered in two basic models: top mount ($380.00), and side mount ($355.00). Both types are available in either right- or left-hand configuration (no extra charge for lefties). Top mount models are designed for use on rail-equipped AR flattops, tube guns, Tubb 2000s, and Gary Eliseo stocks. Side mount models are most commonly used on bolt action rifles, but they also work on Picatinny or Weaver-style rails with the use of an adaptor. So, if you have both an older-style Palma rifle and a new, rail-topped tube-gun, you can use the sight on both rigs. Many shooters do use the same Phoenix rear sight on multiple rifles, as shown in the video below. In the video, when real competitors talk about their Phoenix sights, you hear two things time and again: “quality” and “repeatability”.
For more information about Phoenix Target Sights and Scope Rails, visit www.PhoenixPrec.com, or call Gary LaValley at (763) 263-3327.
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August 30th, 2009
Many reloaders are now using precision digital scales that can measure down to a single kernel of powder. These scales, such as the Denver Instrument MXX-123, are remarkable measuring systems, but you can’t expect them to perform optimally with inconsistent electrical output from a wall socket. We’ve seen the line voltage in some houses vary from 95 to 160 volts. That kind of fluctuation can damage sensitive electronics. A line conditioner can help you get the most from your digital scales and electronic powder dispensers. The line conditioner takes the “juice” from the outlet and actively corrects the voltage to provide a constant 120 volts AC to your machines.
Forum member Danny Reever explains: “We have talked before about the need for surge protection and line conditioning for sensitive electronic equipment like scales and powder dispensers. However the price of said equipment is perhaps a turn-off for a lot of guys.”
Thanks to Danny, now our readers can afford a heavy-duty, high-performance line conditioner/surge protector. Reever has found a quality line conditioner from APC, a well-known manufacturer, at a bargain price — Just $99.99. The APC H10, 1000VA unit is rated for 1000 Watts (continuous). The APC device automatically steps up low voltage and steps down high voltage to levels that are suitable for your equipment. The APC H10 also provides noise filtering and industrial-grade surge protection. Selling elsewhere for $275.00, the APC H10 1000VA is now available for just $99.99 from Tiger Direct.
CLICK HERE for $99.99 APC Line Conditioner (on Sale for Limited Time).
Danny tells us: “This is a real deal for 4900 joules surge protection. The unit weighs a hefty 16.1 pounds and measures 17″ wide X 9.5″ deep. I received mine yesterday and all I can say is $99.99 buys you one nice piece of equipment. It’s built like a tank for worry free and better component performance.”
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August 19th, 2009
Savage spotlights ultra-long-range accuracy in an impressive new video clip. Most rifle manufacturers might show a one-inch, 3-shot group at 100 yards and brag about it. Not Savage. In its new TV spot, Savage moves the target way out to 1169 yards (two-thirds of a mile) to demonstrate true long-range accuracy. After a Savage Palma rifle makes the shot twice in a row, Savage Chairman and CEO Ron Coburn comments: “If you think this is the same old Savage… think again.” You tell ‘em Ron. We love it.
In the video, Savage Team Captain Stan Pate, firing prone from bipod, makes back-to-back shots on steel plates set at 1169 yards. You see the plates fall, then the camera zooms all the way back to the shooter, so you can see there’s no fakery. In fact, according to Bill Dermody of Savage: “Stan nailed this shot four takes in a row while we adjusted camera angles and sound levels”. Stan was shooting a Savage Model 12 Palma® rifile chambered in .308 Winchester. This gun features a RBRP Savage Target Action with Accutrigger, 30″ barrel, and laminated stock fitted with accessory rail and adjustable cheekpiece and butt-plate.
Rifle photo courtesy Darrell Buell, a member of Team Savage.
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August 18th, 2009
Here’s a cool video created by Ed Cole and Roy Cole, twin brothers from Texas. In the video, the Coles demonstrate two Eliseo prone rifles, a bright green/orange Savage-actioned S1 and a pumpkin-colored R1 with Stiller Predator (Rem footprint) action. Both rifles are chambered for .223 Remington, and fitted with 31″ Brux cut-rifled barrels. In the video, the Coles shoot with slings and iron sights at targets 600 yards away. We have to say the day-glo colors on the Eliseo S1 will get anyone’s attention. WARNING: Loud music track and shooting sounds — turn the volume down if you are at work.
Roy Cole reports: “My orange ‘Longhorn’ R1 is a superb shooter. After breaking-in the Brux barrel, I took it to the Panola County 600-yard range. The first round was a low 9 on the target. A simple sight adjustment yielded a 10-shot string with eight Xs. With no load development the R1 just ate up the X-Ring. The most amazing thing is how the gun simply falls into your shoulder and fits! One of the greatest surprises of the gun is how nice the Timney tactical trigger is. It is not the most expensive trigger around but it performs as if it is! The Stiller Predator action works right out of the box. Put a barrel and a trigger on it and slip it into the tube stock and have the most fun that you have ever had. My brother Ed’s two S1 guns shoot just as well as my R1 does. His guns use Savage target actions with factory-issue Accutriggers.” Shown below is Ed Cole with another one of his Savage-actioned, Eliseo S1 match rifles. This example is a more ‘sedate’ Candy-Apple red.
To learn more about the Eliseo B1, R1, S1, R5, RT10, and RTS rifle chassis kits, or other products from Gary Eliseo, visit CompetitionShootingStuff.com or call Gary at (714) 630-5734.
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August 14th, 2009
Many readers already have a gunsafe, but if you’re like most gunowners, your safe is completely filled with guns, scopes, and personal valuables. Wouldn’t it be nice to have additional secure storage for items such as shooting rests, barrels, tripods, and expensive tools? Here’s a useful item that can safeguard your tools, outdoor gear, and shooting accessories. In a pinch, it can augment the storage capacity of your gun safe, though we recommend a conventional gun safe with UL-rated locking mechanism for long-term firearms storage.
The Better Built® 48″ Steel Job Site Safe is now on sale at Lowe’s for $249.00, marked down from $288.00. Offering 17.5 cubic feet of storage space, the Site Safe (Lowe’s item # 195894) will hold tools, barrels, tripods etc. up to 48″ in length. It is 25″ high, 24″ front to back, and is built of powder-coated 14 gauge steel. The design includes recessed lift handles to assist in installation. In the front are two lock ports which can be secured with padlocks.
This unit can be very handy in your garage or workshop to secure expensive tools and other equipment. Also, its low, horizontal design allows it to fit in places where a conventional, vertical style safe will not fit. Better Built® also offers 36″-wide (item 37224145), and 60″-wide (item 37224142) Site Safes, but these products are not currently sold at Lowe’s.
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August 12th, 2009
Virginia Gunsmith Richard Franklin sold his stock-making business to Greg West, but Richard is still making stunning, one-off custom rifles using laminated fancy woods such as Crotch Claro Walnut, Turkish Walnut, Curly Maple, Bloodwood, and burls. One of Richard’s favorite sources for fancy woods is Northwest Timber, based in Oregon. NW Timber has one of the largest collections of highly-figured Claro Walnut and fancy Maple blanks in the country, including many “book-matched” sets that are ideal for a three-layer laminated stock. The two, mirror-image, book-matched pieces form the outer layers, with a central spine of contrasting wood.
When shopping for fancy wood for a laminated stock application, be sure to consider the length and thickness required. For a tri-laminated benchrest stock with a 3″ forearm, you’ll need a block at least 2.5″ wide and 32″ to 35″ long (depending on overall stock length). After sawing that will give you two 1 1/8″-wide slabs, so that a contrasting 3/4″-wide section of wood can be placed in the middle. Thinner blocks of fancy wood can be used in a 5-layer laminate. If you can’t find a block at least 32″ long, a contrasting end cap could be placed on the fore-end. However, Richard prefers to work with blanks that are long enough for the whole stock.
Above is a book-matched set from Northwest Timber in Crotch Claro Walnut. Note how there are two matching pieces, top and bottom.
This above photo shows how spectacular Quilted Maple can look when stained and finished with contrasting highlights. A popular material for fine musical instruments, Quilted Maple can look just as good on a gunstock (below).
For more information, contact:
3229 Jefferson-Scio Drive
Jefferson, OR 97352
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August 11th, 2009
This time of year, many of our readers are traveling far and wide to shooting events, including the National Championships at Camp Perry. Security is vital on those long trips when you’re hauling lots of guns and shooting gear. A custom, high-end Benchrest, F-Class, or High Power rifle can cost upwards of $4000.00. And that’s without optics, which can run another $2000.00 per rifle. If you’re transporting three or four match rifles with premium scopes, you could be hauling $16,000 worth of firearms. Bring along a rangefinder, Co-Axial rest, spotting scope, and chronograph, and that could push the total closer to $20,000.
How do you safeguard that kind of investment? One of the best storage systems available is the TruckVault, built in Washington state. TruckVaults are custom-fitted, locking storage cabinets that fit in a pickup truck bed, SUV, or station wagon. Various designs are available, including a waterproof “Extreme Series”. Both single-drawer and multi-draw layouts are offered with lengths up to 60″ overall, and top-load capacity of 2000 pounds. A variety of interior configurations are available.
For transporting scoped match rifles, we suggest TruckVault’s “Magnum Line”, which has two drawers with 10.5″ of vertical clearance. This offers two primary sliding compartments (on roller casters), plus smaller storage boxes where you can keep valuable gear securely out of sight.
TruckVaults carry a big price-tag. SUV models start at $1485, but expect to pay closer to $2000.00 for a unit with all the bells and whistles. That’s serious money, but you have to balance that against the cost of the firearms and accessories you are transporting. If you spend much time on the road with a pricey collection of guns, optics, and accessories, a TruckVault may be a wise investment. This editor first saw a TruckVault on a Chevy Suburban belonging to an Arizona gunsmith who does work for the military. It was not unusual for him to haul $50,000 worth of Class III weapons. For him, the TruckVault was an essential security feature. For more info, visit TruckVault.com or call (800) 967-8107.
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August 8th, 2009
Sam’s Club is offering one of the best deals in gun safes right now — a 60″ H x 30″ W x 22″ L Liberty Centurian safe for $688.00. That is the store pick-up price. The safe weighs 520 lbs. and has 23 cubic feet of exterior volume. Walls are 12 gauge steel and the safe is fire-rated for 30 minutes at 1200° F. The lock is a Sargent & Greenleaf electronic, one of the best units in its price range. This very same safe is sold by Liberty Dealers for $999-$1099.00. If you’re able to get this safe home on your own, this is an excellent value from a respected safe-builder. I’ve got a friend who purchased one of these safes and I helped him install it and set up this interior. I can assure you that you’ll have trouble finding more safe for the money. I consider it better than a $1000.00 Canon I used to own.
Note, you’ll have to call your local Sam’s Club for availability and exact price. If it’s not available at the closest outlet, try other nearby Sam’s Club stores (you can search for availability on the Sam’s Club website). Typically a Sam’s Club outlet will get a half-dozen of these and they’ll sell out in a few days. Also, we want to caution people that this safe, while far more secure than a typical “security cabinet” with a locking key, is a far cry from a serious 1500-lb commercial-grade safe. On the other hand this safe is just about the biggest size that can be easily handled by a couple non-professional guys working with a furniture dolly. The unit is delivered on a wood pallet — we recommend leaving the pallet on until you get the unit inside and positioned. Then remove the wood and bolt down the safe through the four holes are pre-drilled in the bottom (these are hidden by the carpet).
Here’s a review from a buyer who purchased this Liberty Safe at Sam’s Club: “We really shopped the competition prior to purchasing this safe. For the fire rating and the storage space, this was consistently $200-$600 less than many of the other membership retailers in addition to ALL sporting good stores (even the Mega stores.) The safe is packaged well and the instructions are pretty thorough also. The mechanics are as good as any gun-store-bought safe, better in most cases. The S&G lock is easy to program and use. Just be sure the lock handle is twisted all the way counterclockwise [after you close the door]. The modular interior is great. We store some paperwork, ammunition and of course firearms in the safe and there’s more than enough room. Sam’s Club is untouchable on the price of this safe. Do the homework yourself — it’s the best value for the money anywhere.”
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August 3rd, 2009
The August issue of Target Shooter, the excellent UK-based webzine, is now available FREE online. As usual, this edition is chock full of interesting feature articles written “by shooters, for shooters”. You can either read the monthly e-magazine online, OR you can now download the entire August issue to your computer. This lets you peruse multiple articles at your leisure. (For readers with a slow web connection, reading offline may be more convenient, once you’ve downloaded the file.)
Among the featured articles this month are an authoritative section on rifle maintenance and scope-mounting by Vince Bottomley (p. 13), a user’s guide to the Redding T7 press by Laurie Holland (p. 55), and an excellent guide to Rimfire Ammo selection and sorting by Carl Boswell (p. 40). If you follow Carl’s procedures (including the visual inspections shown at right), you’ll experience fewer unexplained “flyers” — we can guarantee that.
Complete F-Class Worlds Report
Amazingly, Target Shooter’s August issue contains a detailed, 4-page report on the 2009 F-Class World Championships which concluded just a few days ago in England. You’ll enjoy the reports from the field and interviews with top F-Classers from around the world. In addition to the match report, the August Target Shooter profiles Britain’s Gary Costello, the winner of the Individual World F-Class Championship.
Gary’s rifle was built by American gunsmith Alan Warner and is chambered as a 7mm-270 WSM. (The 270 case is used because it has a slightly longer neck and slightly less capacity). The action is an aluminium Stolle Panda with RBLP configuration. The scope is a March 10-60X mounted in Kelbly rings. The stock is an Alex Sitman Master Class laminated long-range thumbhole model. Sadly, the handsome gray/blue stock broke at the thumb-hole during shipping from the USA. However, Pet Walker of Walker Customer Rifles in West Yorkshire restored the stock to better than new condition, providing Gary with a beautiful rig that carried him to victory.
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July 29th, 2009
Here at AccurateShooter.com, we have promoted the “20 Practical”, a great little cartridge created by simply necking down the .223 Remington to 20 caliber. Popularized for bolt guns by Warren B (aka “Fireball”), the 20 Practical is also an excellent choice for an AR-platform varmint rifle. It offers better ballistics than a .223 Rem, with less recoil, and more velocity. Plus the 20 Practical, by all indications, appears to be an inherently accurate cartridge that “wants to shoot”. Our own AR ‘Ultimate Varminter’ project rifle, developed with Robert Whitley, was chambered as a 20 Practical. That gun shot “lights out”, demonstrating how well the little cartridge works.
Forum member ‘Dennis in VA’ recently put together his own 20 Practical AR with all-premium components. Dennis took his impressive new gun to the range yesterday, and it looks to be a tack-driver. Check out the target below, shot with Sierra 39gr BlitzKing bullets. That’s three shots in 0.375″ edge-to-edge, at 100 yards. (NOTE: regarding this H335 load, we advise to start 10% low and work up.)
Dennis got his upper from Whitley’s AR-X Enterprises. It features a heavy billet upper receiver (with side charging handle), fitted with a 24″ PacNor SS Super Match 11-twist barrel. Mounted to the upper is a +20 MOA, GS-1 Scope Rail from GG&G. Riding on top is a Nightforce 5.5-22X50 NP-R1 scope in Nightforce ultra-light rings.
The lower is equally exotic. Machined from billet by American Precision Arms, it is fitted with with a RRA LPK and a Geissele trigger. The tan, adjustable stock is a Magpul PRS model (Gen II). An Ergogrip tactical deluxe Suregrip completes the build. Dennis in VA has put together a very nice set-up to say the least. And it definitely shoots.
To learn more about the 20 Practical cartridge for AR rifles, visit Robert Whitley’s 20 Practical Webpage. There you’ll find load data, info on dies and reloading, plus advice on hardware and barrel selection. Robert also has a video showing how to form 20 Practical brass.
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July 20th, 2009
We generally don’t put too much stock in awards handed out by print magazines, nor the NRA’s Golden Bullseye awards (which often seem to be the “Golden Ad Revenue Payback Awards”), but we were pleased to see the Sako 85 rifle receive some recognition. The Sako 85 Finnlight stainless model received an “Excellent” rating from Outdoor Life magazine in its annual review of hunting rifles. The Finnlight ST was the only rifle tested to receive an overall rating of 4 Stars, or the classification of “Excellent”. READ Sako 85 Finnlight REVIEW.
Each year Outdoor Life performs tests and offers awards in various product categories. This year 13 new rifle models were tested and more than 3,500 rounds of ammunition were fired. “Our rigorous … testing protocol offers the toughest, most honest comparison of new hunting rifles on the market,” according to John B. Snow, Executive Editor. The Finnlight ST received “A” grades in both Workmanship and Performance. Outdoor Life’s tester wrote: “The proven Sako 85 action is as slick and reliable as they come, and the accuracy of our test sample (in .308 Win.) was impressive, especially in light of the rifle’s unscoped weight of 5 pounds 6 ounces. One of my 5-shot groups using Hornady 168gr A-Max ammo measured a scant .581″. The Finnlight is a rifle you can trust your hunt to, which is about the highest praise of all.”
The complete 2009 Hunting Rifle Test can be read online on the Outdoor Life Website. Guns tested are listed alphabetically below, and you can click the links to read individual reviews:
CLICK HERE to Read 2009 Outdoor Life Hunting Rifle Reviews.
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July 11th, 2009
Having a quality funnel can help you get a carefully-measured powder charge in your cases, with no spillage, every time. If you’ve messed around with cheap plastic funnels you know that they can rock on the case mouth. Also, if the fit isn’t good, some kernels can end up on your bench, instead of inside the case.
Thankfully, precision, caliber-specific metal funnels are available to reloaders for about $10-11. Satern Custom Machining funnels feature an aluminum top with a caliber-specific, machined brass base/neck. Dick Saunders makes a simliar, 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 $10.49), 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.
Saunders Aluminum Funnels
Some of our Forum members prefer the turned aluminum funnels made by Dick Saunders.
These are sold by Russ Haydon’s Shooters Supply for $9.95 each. Specify .17, .20, .22, 6mm, 6.5mm, .30 caliber or “all-purpose”. If you have questions, you can contact contact Saunders directly:
145 Delphi Rd.
Manchester, IA 52057
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July 8th, 2009
Long-range benchresters and varminters seeking extra stability should take a look at the “Big Dawg” MBR Tracker from Bill Shehane (D&B Supply). This features a longer, deeper, and wider fore-end for added stability and more resistance to torque with the heavy calibers. Called the MBR ‘Big Dawg’, this stock is cut 4″ longer than a standard Shehane ST-1000 Tracker. This provides a “longer wheelbase” for better balance with very long (30″+) barrels. (The ST-1000 itself is 3″ longer than most benchrest stocks.) The Big Dawg is available with a 4″-wide or 5″-wide forearm, and will handle barrels up to 40″ in length and 1.5″ in diameter. In the top photo, taken by Forum member Preacher, you see a 4″-wide Big Dawg next to a normal ST-1000 Tracker. (Both stocks are symmetrical; there is distortion caused by wide-angle lens.)
This color pattern is what Bill calls “Prairie Dog Camo”, a Rutland laminate in orange and dark gray, with olive ‘accent’ layers. The price for a ‘Big Dawg’ in Rutland laminate is $525.00. In African Obeche wood (any color choice), the price is $725.00. For more info, contact Bill Shehane at (704) 824-7511, or visit his website, www.ScopeUsOut.com.
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July 6th, 2009
Carl Bernosky, 8-time winner of the Camp Perry National High Power Championships, will be switching back to a bolt gun for the 2009 competition. Last year, Carl shot an AR15-based spacegun built on Smith & Wesson M&P15 components. With that rifle, Carl became the first competitor to win the Camp Perry High Power Championship shooting an AR15-type semi-auto.
But this year Carl will be shooting a 6.5 Creedmoor CSR-1 TubeGun from Creedmoor Sports. Based on a TubeGun Chassis and buttstock by Gary Eliseo (of Competition Shooting Stuff), the CSR-1 features a Pierce Precision Rem 700-clone receiver, and a 28″ Broughton barrel.
Both the buttstock and the handguard are adjustable to suit the shooter. The handguard/float tube can rotate 15 degrees from center in either direction, allowing the shooter to adjust his desired rifle cant. The 4-way buttstock adjusts for length-of-pull, cant, buttpad height and offset. There is an adjustable cheekpiece and even two 4.8-ounce removeable weights to allow precise balancing of the rig.
The CSR-1 is offered in five (5) chamberings: 308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6XC, and .223 Rem. At Camp Perry, Carl Bernosky will be shooting a 6.5 Creedmoor version of the rifle, using Hornady components.
CLICK HERE to learn more about specs and features of CSR-1 ($3750.00 complete).
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June 18th, 2009
The full line of K&M reloading tools and accessories is now offered by PrecisionReloading.com. The popular K&M Arbor press (with optional seating force measurement gauge) is in stock. The K&M arbor costs $78.00, or $115.00 with the force measurement system. This clever design uses a Belleville washer stack and linkage to show the force required to seat your bullet on a standard dial indicator mounted on the top (dial indicator is $22 extra.) In addition, Precision Reloading offers K&M neck-turning tools, primer seaters, expanders, neck reamers, and flash-hole uniformers.
This editor has tried out many different arbor presses. The K&M is my favorite. For me, the force measurement system acts like a warning light, telling me if something is way off in the bullet seating process. If you see the dial indicator needle jumping around wildly, or spiking too soon, you know that case has excessive neck tension, or perhaps the bullet is oversize in diameter (it happens). Currently, the K&M is the only arbor press with a seating-force gauge. The only down-side to the K&M arbor is that you must adjust multiple bolts to set the ram height. By contrast, the Sinclair Int’l Arbor and some other arbors feature a quick-release lever that lets you adjust ram height quickly and easily.
Based in Mitchell, South Dakota, Precision Reloading is run by active, knowledgeable shooters. In addition to centerfire reloading supplies and tools, Precision Reloading offers a full line of shotshell components and shotgun reloading equipment, plus optics, cleaning supplies, gun cases, and hunting gear. This month Precision Reloading is running an optics sale on Bushnell, Sightron, and Vortex scopes, binoculars, and spotting scopes.
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June 9th, 2009
Capitalizing on the strong consumer interest in AR15-style rifles, Remington Arms recently introduced its 597-VTR, a semi-automatic 22LR with AR-style ergonomics. Inside the matte black, slab-sided “upper” is the venerable Remington 597 receiver, updated with a nickel-Teflon® plated bolt, hammer and sear. On the outside, the 597-VTR features a AR-15 pistol grip, and AR collapsible stock, and a round AR-style float tube/handguard. On top of the receiver is a 1913 Picatinny-spec scope rail. Street price for the new rifle is about $450.00, complete with compact 10-round magazine. A standard Remington 597, without the tactical goodies and black paint, costs under $200.00.
Good for 3-Gun Cross-Training and Tactical Rimfire
While we snicker a bit at an older rimfire design tarted up in new tactical clothing, the 597-VTR makes sense for some users. Three-gun competitors should like this rifle. Most multi-gun match shooters use ARs for the rifle stages. With the 597-VTR, they can cross-train using inexpensive 22LR ammo, while maintaining the same basic ergonomics. For 3-gun shooters, who engage targets from a wide variety of shooting positions (often behind barriers), the collapsible stock has utility. It will allow the shooter to make his rifle more compact when practicing CQB or house-clearing stages.
With mods, the 597-VTR should also work well for the tactical rimfire discipline. The Picatinny rail makes it easy to swap over good optics from your centerfire gun. The tubular forearm should provide a strong mount for a bipod. However, for the tactical rimfire game, which is shot mostly prone, we don’t like the collapsible stock at all. Junk it. The LOP is too short, the bottom of the stock is terrible with sandbags, and the cheek weld is wrong. Tactical rimfire shooters would be wise to replace the collapsible stock with an upgraded design with longer length of pull and a proper cheekpiece. (The 597-VTR will accept most AR15 stocks). And, in reality, with a bedding job, a basic 597 in a laminated stock (see below) would probably work just as well.
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May 7th, 2009
Butch Lambert sent his new ShadeTree Engineering F-Class rest base to German Salazar in Phoenix for testing and evaluation. The Daily Bulletin previewed a prototype rest base last month. (CLICK HERE for previous report.)
ShadeTree Rest is Lightweight and Easily Assembled
Designed to be light for air travel and easy carrying at the range, the anodized aluminum rest base weighs just 3 pounds without the top or feet. Once fully assembled, this rest base is lighter than anything else on the market, but provides all the stability needed on the range. The legs attach with thumbscrews and the center section slides right in. Assembly was a matter of a minute or two and can be done at the range without any tools. The legs have an I-beam section for light weight and rigidity, the anodizing is well-executed. Almost any currently-made top assembly will fit the base as will the leg screws. We found the rest to be well designed and manufactured.
Bruno Wins Match Using ShadeTree Rest Base
Well-known benchrester Lester Bruno of Bruno Shooters’ Supply also shoots F-Class in matches at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. Lester volunteered to give the rest a workout. Lester used the rest in a local 600-yard match May 2nd. Lester’s first comment was that the ShadeTree rest was a lot easer to carry on and off the firing line than a heavy cast iron rest. After shooting the match, Lester confirmed the rest’s ease of use and stability. Given that Lester won the match, we can surmise that the rest was an effective tool for the job and a worthwhile product for any F-Class shooter, particularly one who travels by air. To learn more about price and availability of the F-Class rest base, call Butch Lambert at (972) 524-2247 or email papawlambert [at] starband.net.
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May 7th, 2009
Last year, the Cornell Ornithology Lab conducted ScopeQuest 2008, a detailed comparison test of 36 spotting scopes. Optics (ranging in price from $220.00 to $4500.00) were viewed side-by-side and rated according to sharpness, color fidelity, edge-to-edge focus, brightness, distortion, and general optical quality. The testing team also considered ease of handling/focus, and eye relief (scopes with longer eye relief are better for eyeglass wearers). Two of the finest spotting scopes AccurateShooter.com has used, the Zeiss Diascope 85 T FL, and the Swarovski APS 80 HD, performed very well as expected, and ended up near the top of the list. The TeleVue-85 APO, a very large refractor, received the highest ratings for image quality (both at 20X and 60X), but lost points for easy of use and general “feel”. The overall winner among the 36 spotting scopes tested was the Kowa TSN-883 Prominar, a new-generation spotter with a huge 88mm objective, dual focusing knobs, and spectacular flourite glass. The results of Cornell’s spotting scope test are found on the LivingBird.org website. Click the link below for a charrt ranking all 36 scopes according to their overall ratings.
CLICK HERE for Spotting Scope Test Summary (.pdf file)
CLICK HERE for large photo of Kowa TSN-883 on Tripod.
Ken Rosenberg, summarizing the findings of Cornell’s ScopeQuest testers, named the Kowa TSN-883 the big winner. Rosenberg writes: “Fifteen models competed in the most expensive category, including 12 conventional zoom scopes and three astronomy “cross-overs”[.] Among the conventional scopes, the surprising (to us) and virtually unanimous top-of-the-line ranking went to the Kowa TSN-883 Prominar. In side-by-side comparisons with Swarovski, Leica, Zeiss, and Nikon, both Kowa scopes provided a slightly, but noticeably, brighter and crisper image at 60x than any other scope. The three-dimensional detail visible … with these scopes, even in dim light, is simply phenomenal.”
Rosenberg also gave high praise to the Swarovski ATS 65 HD, noting that it was much lighter and compact than the Kowa 883, while offering nearly the image quality. Rosenberg concludes: “For birders willing to take the plunge for the very best optics at whatever cost, the top choices, in my view, are either the Kowa 883/884 or 773/774 or the Swarovski HD 80mm or 65mm scopes. Any of these top scopes will give you years of pure birding pleasure. Although the larger Kowa offers the brightest, sharpest image available from a conventional zoom scope under the toughest birding conditions, the small Swarovski still delivers the best image per ounce of any scope.”
More Products Worth Considering
The Cornell Test did NOT include some premium spotting scopes, including Pentax’s top-of-the-line PF-100ED, or the new Leica 82mm Televid APO HD. The big Leica APO is considered by many experts to be the new benchmark for spotting scope quality. However, it is enormously expensive. The 82mm Leica APO HD retails for $3200 for the body only. That’s nearly $900 more than the Kowa TSN-883 Prominar body only.
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May 3rd, 2009
The RCBS Chargemaster 1500 Combo is the #1-selling electronic powder dispenser/scale system on the market. It was the top-performing unit in the Powder Dispenser Comparison Report we did a couple years back, and it still probably offers the best combination of features, speed, and weighing precision. Since its introduction, the RCBS Chargemaster has received a number of refinements. The internal software has been updated, the timing (of the powder drop) has been adjusted, the keypad has been upgraded and other smaller “tweaks” have been made.
If you haven’t tried one of these machines yet, you should. Provided you set it up correctly, making sure it’s level, and away from drafts, the Chargemaster will normally throw charges to ± 0.1 grains. That’s better accuracy than most persons can achieve using a manual powder measure and a balance beam scale (we know… we’ve checked on that.)
Video of RCBS Chargemaster in Slow-Motion
This video, created by a shooter in Norway, shows an RCBS Chargemaster dispensing 43.0 grains of Vihtavuori N140 powder. Using a Casio EX-F1 camera, the video was recorded at a high frame rate — up to 1200 frames per second. This allows very cool “Slow-Motion” playback. Check it out… you can see individual kernels of powder as they drop into the pan. At the end of the video you can watch the charge being thrown in “real-time”. Note how it slows down to trickle the last few tenths of a grain.
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May 1st, 2009
Forum Member Mark E. (Shooter65) is the proud owner of a handsome, very accurate SAKO Finnfire ‘Range’ 22LR rimfire. Fitted with a full-size stock that replicates Tikka’s Master Sporter stocks, SAKO’s Range model has the look and feel of a centerfire gun. The size and ergonomics of the Finnfire Range makes this an excellent cross-training rifle. If you want to train with inexpensive rimfire ammo with a rifle that duplicates the feel of a centerfire, the Finnfire Range is hard to beat. Mark has competed successfully with this rifle in Southern California Rimfire Tactical matches.
Mark recently replaced the factory tube with a hand-lapped Lilja barrel. The Lilja barrel has demonstrated superb accuracy. Below is a 10-shot group at 50 yards (left), and a “dot-drill” tactical target shot at 100 yards (right).
In the video below, Mark explains the features of his SAKO Finnfire ‘Range’. This video was produced before the addition of the Lilja barrel, but the gun still shot extremely well. Unfortunately, as Mark notes, SAKO has halted production of the Finnfire Range. As a result, prices are rising for this highly desirable rimfire — guns that sold for $850 two years ago are now fetching $1100.00 or more.
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