November 22nd, 2008

Lee Classic Cast Iron Press — Great Press for a Great Price

Lee reloading products have always represented good “bang for the buck”. The Lee Classic Cast “O”-style press is no exception — it works as well as some other presses costing twice as much. One well-known “boutique” bullet maker has recently switched to Lee presses because the tolerances and lack of slop were actually superior to more expensive presses.

Though relatively inexpensive, the Lee Classic is a well-designed unit with a strong, cast-iron frame and all-steel linkage. It has important (and very cool) features you won’t find on an RCBS RockChucker. First, the ram is drilled in the center and fitted with a plastic drop tube so spent primers drop right out the bottom (where you position your trash can). Second, the handle adjusts for length and “attack angle”. This allows you to change the leverage to suit your task. As Lee explains: “The start and stop position is adjustable with a 48-tooth, ratchet-type handle clamp. In addition, the handle length is completely adjustable. Shorten when you’re loading handgun and short rifle cases.” As you can see from the photos, you can also mount the handle on either side, left or right.

Lee Classic Cast Iron PressLee Classic Cast Iron Press

You can purchase the Lee Classic Cast Press for under $75.00 at major vendors. MidwayUSA sells the Lee Classic (item 317831) for $72.99. Natchez Shooters Supply also offers the Lee Classic for $72.99, item LEE90998.

Lee Classic Cast Press Primer systemMark Trope of SurplusRifle.com has written a detailed Review of the Lee Classic Press. He notes that the press is “southpaw friendly” and he praises the priming system. Mark found that the spent primer drop tube worked very well and that the press “works perfect and has great sensitivity” when seating primers.

Not yet convinced? CLICK HERE to read comments from actual Lee Classic owners. Here are some highlights:

“It has a large, heavy-duty 1-1/8″ diameter ram that has been drilled out for spent primers … and a long clear plastic hose attached to it so you can route it to a trash can. [This is] a VERY well thought-out way to collect ALL primers to your trash can when you’re decapping.” –D. Oldham

“Fit and finish are impeccable. The spent primer disposal system is simple and neat. There is no spring or flexing of any kind. There is virtually no play in the ram, which is a good tight fit in the frame. Operation is totally smooth.” –R. Smith

“Totally outclasses any other press in its price range. Runs with presses in the $100-$120 range.”–W. Rose

“I like…the position of the ram at priming. The Lee seats the primer with the ram at the bottom of the stroke vs. the RC II, which seats in the middle of the stroke. Priming at the bottom of the stroke gives you a much better ‘feel’.” –M. Gallagher

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November 16th, 2008

Praise for 6mmBR for 600-Yard High Power

Forum member Russ T. is an experienced High Power shooter, with a Tennessee LR State championship to his credit among other excellent performances. He recently reviewed the performance of his Eliseo Tubegun chambered in 6mmBR. Russ writes:

“Got a good chance to shoot my tube gun today at 600 yards. I put a new Bartlein barrel on it chambered in 6BR. I had to do VERY little load develpment to find a good load. In fact all loads I tried would have shot a 200 out 200 possible at 600 yards. The winner load is a classic 6BR recipe right from the pages of this web site: 30.0 grains Hodgdon Varget, CCI 450 primers, 105gr Berger VLD seated .010″ into the lands, Norma brass with two-thousandths (.002) neck tension.

The gun, built on an Eliseo B1/R1 (single shot) tube stock*, has a trued Remington action with Dave Kiff (PT&G), fluted, coned bolt with Sako extractor, GTR firing pin, spring and shroud, and Rifle Basix trigger. The barrel is a 30″ Bartlein, 1:8″ twist 5R heavy Palma. My reamer is a .272 neck for Norma brass and .104 Freebore. Centra rear iron sights are fitted.

Weather was very dark and cloudy but there was very little wind. On the MR-1, 600-yard target I squeeked out a 200-16X. This little case is a flippin’ hammer at 600 yards! What a lot of fun to shoot. Lynwood Harrell just sent me a die in the mail so I’m ready for the season. I can see why the Europeans shoot this case at the very demanding 300-meter target!

This little case is a real winner at 600 yards. The nice thing about it is there is no false-shoulder/fire-forming hassle, and no necks to turn. Just load it and shoot it. I have two rifles that have turned necks and that is a lot of work when you’re doing 200 pieces of brass per rifle. The 6BR is just not picky. In fact the bullets just seem to know where to go.

My 6BR was built by Wald Precision Rifles. Call (701) 527-6447 and ask for Steve. Steve has produced Three National Championship quality rifles for me. I really have to thank Steve for doing such great work, he really stands behind his product. I know every one reading this can appreciate a good craftsmen when you’re putting your hard-earned money into a project such as this. So who deserves the credit — the Archer or the arrow-maker?”

Eliseo tubegun

*The B1 is the original Eliseo single-shot Tubegun stock, designed for the Barnard action. The newer R1 has a similar design, but is configured for a Remington 700 or Rem-clone actions.

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November 13th, 2008

Harrell's Combo Press — Compact and Well-Designed

If you are looking for a very solid, beautifully fabricated, loading press that can do double-duty at home as well as the range, consider the Harrell’s Combo Press. Though it is very compact, it has plenty of leverage to full-length size cases. As you can see in the photo, the Harrell’s combo works BOTH as an arbor press and as a standard press that functions with shell-holder and conventional screw-in dies. The arbor section on the left is tall enough to hold a Wilson micrometer-top seater. The threaded die section on the right has enough clearance for .308-sized cases.

One of the best features of the Combo Press from Harrell’s Precision is its sturdy clamp. This mounts solidly to a wood loading bench or table top. It also has enough vertical clearance between the jaws to work with most range benches. Forum member Boyd Allen has written a detailed review of the Harrell’s press, with additional photos by Paal Erik Jensen of Norway.

CLICK HERE to read COMBO PRESS REVIEW

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November 8th, 2008

Whitley builds Ultimate AR Prairie Dog Rifle

Some months ago, AccurateShooter.com and Robert Whitley teamed up to build a new 20-caliber AR15-based rifle. Our project goal was to create the “ultimate” semi-automatic prairie dog rifle. We wanted a low-recoiling, flat-shooting AR that worked great with a front rest and rear sandbag on a transportable field bench (such as the Coyote Jakes bench). We knew the basic AR15 design needed some “upgrades”, so Robert developed Delrin bag-riders for the forearm and buttstock. But we wanted the bag-riding components to be removable so the gun could be easily returned to standard configuration for shooting with sling or bipod. Robert worked with EGW to develop machined Delrin bag-riding units front and rear. The 3″-wide front “sled” attaches to the threaded anchor for the sling swivel stud, while the rear bag-rider mounts in place of the standard rear sling loop.

20 Practical AR15

20 Practical AR1520 Practical AR15

Our Ultimate Prairie Dog Rifle (PDR) features a 24″ Bartlein 11-twist cut-rifled barrel, DPMS side-charging upper, and a Jewell trigger. It is chambered in “20 Practical”, a cartridge popularized by Warren “Fireball” Brookman. This is simply the .223 Remington necked down to .204. You can use your existing .223 brass — no special case-forming required! The 20 Practical is accurate, flat-shooting, and has almost no recoil. The advantage over the standard .223 Remington is that, grain for grain, the bullets have a higher BC and travel at a higher velocity for more dramatic effect on a small varmint. The ultra-low recoil allows you to easily see your hits, even without a muzzle brake. The 20 Practical, launching 40-grainers at about 3750 fps, shoots flatter than a .223 Rem with 55gr hollowpoints.

20 Practical AR15

Robert has lots of experience building AR15 uppers and he has developed advanced features that make the gun much more ergonomic and easier to shoot from a prone position or from the bench. First, Robert offers a side charging handle. This lets you keep your head in shooting position while charging the gun or retracting the bolt. Second, he has fitted a GG&G extended scope rail. This permits the scope to be mounted far enough forward to allow proper eye relief while using a high-magnification scope. Without an extended scope rail you typically have to move way back on the gun to get enough eye relief and then you can’t seat the buttpad properly on your shoulder.

YouTube Preview Image
CLICK HERE for another 20 Practical AR15 video by Robert Whitley

20 Practical AR15In the video above, Robert shoots the Ultimate PDR with Berger 40gr BTHP bullets. Robert is using the Caldwell Fire Control front rest and rear sandbag. The Fire Control Rest is an affordable, joystick-style mechanical rest that allows you to easily adjust windage and elevation with a single movement of the joystick. The rest is solid and sturdy; Robert says it worked well.

In this session, Robert shot three five-shot groups. Each group could be covered by a dime, which measures 0.705″ in diameter. Subtract the 0.204″ bullet diameter, and you can see this rifle easily shoots under half-MOA, even rapid fire (groups 1 & 2). For the third (and last group), Robert slowed down the pace, aimed more precisely, and put five shots in 0.257″. Not bad for shooting off a wooden bench without wind flags! Like what you see? As soon as accuracy testing is complete, this rifle will be auctioned off to benefit this website. EGW will be offering the front and rear Delrin bag-riders. They will cost $40 each or both front and rear for $75.00 total. Robert will also be offering 20 Practical uppers for your AR15. Email rcw3 [at] erols.com or visit 6mmAR.com for upper specs, options, and prices.

20 Practical AR15 bullets .204

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
October 27th, 2008

SEB Products (Coaxial Rests) Changes U.S.A. Dealer

SEB coaxial benchrestSEB Coaxial Rests are premium joystick-style front rests favored by many leading Benchrest shooters. The movement of the front support (both horizontally and vertically) is smooth and positive, and the rest can be easily adjusted so the arm won’t “droop” even if you remove your hand after adjustment. The base is beefy and stable, and the quality of machining is excellent. This Editor shoots off a SEB rest. I can testify that it helps me get on target faster and shoot smaller groups.

Until recently, Paul Schmid has been the U.S.A. dealer for SEB Rests and other products from innovative designer Sebastian Lambang. Sadly, however, Schmid passed away in late August. SEB Products has secured a new dealer for the American market: Ernie Bishop of Gillette, Wyoming, phone: 307-257-7431, email: ernieemily [at] yahoo.com

Seb Lambang tells us: “I have a new USA dealer for the SEB products now…Ernie Bishop in Gillette, WY. I am trully sorry that Paul Schmid, my mentor and the last US dealer for my products, passed away last August 30. He died suddenly several days after hip surgery. Paul was a man of honor, very trustworthy, and a great friend in the same time. He was truly a great loss for me! He and his family will always be in my heart and prayers….

Just like Paul, Ernie Bishop is a man of honor, trustworthy, and a very friendly guy, too. Ernie and I became close friends during a visit (for prairie dog shooting) to Wyoming after the 2008 Super Shoot. I asked Ernie to be the new US dealer because I know he can handle the dealership well and he will provide good service. Ernie will have rests, bags, ammo holder sets (etc) around mid-November, next month. I am preparing the items at this moment.

Please feel free to contact/email me anytime, or Ernie, if you have any questions, or problems, with SEB products. Email me at sebastianlambang [at] yahoo.com or visi [at] telkom.net.

All the best, Seb”

For more info, visit www.SebCoax.com

Sebastian SEB front rest

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October 14th, 2008

Soft Gun Cases for Long-Barreled Rifles

Typical soft cases for scoped rifles are 45-46″ overall. These may lack clearance for large, high-magnification scopes, and the front section may be too tight for rifles with a 3″-wide forearm. Our Assistant Editor Jason Baney recently posed the question, “Who makes a high-quality soft case for large varmint and BR-style rifles with wide forearms and barrels 27″ or longer?”

We’ve done some research and identified some affordable options. While there are dozens of possible choices, the products shown below all offer some nice features and cost less than $45.00. NOTE: The Plano case offers a plastic-reinforced rubberized muzzle protector box. These are found on many Kolpin soft cases as well. We think a rubber/plastic nose guard is very important. This ensures your gun can’t slip out of the case muzzle first. A nose-guard also shields the delicate crown against hard objects and metal zippers. (Sooner or later you WILL drop a rifle, and they usually fall nose-first.) Remember that even the finest soft case is no substitute for a sturdy hard case. Also, hard cases are mandatory for airline transport.

48

48″ Length
Plano’s model 64860 (Brown) or 64800 (Gray) are nice cases that feature hard nose protectors and high-density foam padding. At 48″ overall, the Plano is 2″ longer than most cases. It boasts interior tie-down straps, two external zippered pockets, and an adjustable, padded shoulder strap. Users report the padding is excellent and the 600 dernier material and zippers are very durable. Price is $25.95 at PyramidAir.com.

49

49″ Length
The Gamo case (item 6212374) is very inexpensive (just $12.99 at AirGunWarehouse), but owners report it is a “great value for the money”. The 48″ interior length should handle most rifles with a 28″ barrel, and there is ample space for a large scope. The case has one large pocket and a fabric shoulder strap on the reverse side. The interior has a soft, fleece-like lining and there is a rubberized, protective layer on the front, rear, and bottom. However, we warn that, because there is no hard nose box, if you leave a gap in the zippers near the front, the muzzle could exit the case. There are two zipper pull-tabs, front and back. Zip them up so they meet near the middle. Also we suggest putting a small rubber cap on the muzzle so it doesn’t catch on the zipper. The same advice applies to any soft case without a plastic nose guard.

50

50″ Length
The Allen “Euro” is a quality 50″-long case with enough interior space to handle 29-30″ barrels. This deluxe case features a fatter/taller front section to fit guns with wide forearms or attached bipods. This would be a good choice for a long-barreled varmint rifle. It features very thick foam padding (1.5″ per side) and multiple, velcro-closed external pockets. Midsouth Shooters Supply offers this case in hunter green (item 168-91550) for $35.66. A similar Allen-made case in blue or tan sold as the Remington Yukon. The Yukon is $33.66 at Cheaper than Dirt.

52

52″ Length
Among the ultra-long soft cases, the Kolpin Deluxe Soft Armor Gun Boot is one of the best you can buy. It has the nose-guard we recommend and is very thickly padded. A molded EVA foam bottom with a rubberized “track” allows the case to stand on its own. What are the negatives? Because Kolpin’s Soft Armor Gun Boot is designed for both scoped rifles and shotguns, the width of the front third of the case is pretty narrow. Also there is less clearance at the top than with some other soft cases. However, unless you have an extremely high scope mount or very long stock, this case should work for those long rifles with 30-32″ barrels. The Soft Armor Gun Boot is typically priced from $40-$55.00. Natchez Shooters Supply lists it for $45.50 but they are currently out of stock.

52

Bulldog Cases offers a bargain-priced 52″ soft case. If your rifle has a 31-32″ barrel, this Bulldog case should handle the length. The 52″ Bulldog features 2-1/4″ total padding thickness, a zippered slash pocket, and a shoulder strap. The 52″ Bulldog is offered in tan (BD242-52), green (BD241-52), or Mossy Oak camo (BD244-52). This case is available directly from Bulldog for $29.99. It is also sold by other vendors on the web for similar prices. NOTE: This case has no nose guard and has less padding than the cases listed above. It’s a “bare-bones” case, but if you have a super-long barrel, there aren’t many other inexpensive choices.

Battle Lake Predator Case — Plenty Long, but Pricey
Battle Lake Outdoors makes a 52″-long “Predator” rifle case that “has the best protection possible in a semi-soft case” according to one of our Forum members, Ron G. (aka “Radar”). The “Predator” case has an impact resistent .070″ plastic shell topped by high-grade 1000 Dernier Cordura nylon. The linining is soft “Chambrelle” fiber, which wicks away moisture. Overall, it is an impressive product, but it lacks a plastic nose guard and it costs $89.95. That puts it out of our list of “under $45.00″ products, but this case is worth considering if price is not a major factor.

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October 13th, 2008

Custom Cartridge Caddy Design from Australia

Forum Member Jeff R. (“aJR”) from Australia has crafted a slick, handsome cartridge holder to use with his heavy Benchrest Gun. This is a simple, elegant design that would be relatively easy to build in a home workshop. Composed of two blocks of wood with parallel metal arms, the unit adjusts for height and block angle. Jeff tells us: “This is my new cartridge dispenser I knocked up in the shed. I wanted to get the record rounds up next to the action and this is adjustable for just about any gun/port configuration, right or left.” The cartridge caddy has ten round holes (for record shots) in the top wood block, stacked in two rows. The base piece has five holes for sighters, with the holes cut at an angle for easy access.

Benchrest Cartridge Holder

For the blocks, Jeff used “Jarrah” wood, a deep, red hardwood native to West Australia. Jeff says he did not stain the wood–what you see is the natural color, just sprayed with acrylic lacquer. A similar wood available in the USA is Satiné, also known as “Bloodwood”.

Benchrest Cartridge Holder

By the way, Jeff’s 1000-yard rifle is worth mentioning in its own right. The gun shoots a large 30-cal magnum wildcat cartridge and has set many Australian BR records. The rifle features a tensioned barrel system, custom Magnum drop-port action, and a metal/composite stock. Click HERE for more info. There’s even a YouTube Video showing Jeff shooting his big boomer.

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October 11th, 2008

Popular MidwayUSA Range Bag on Sale, $39.99

Now through October 31st, the MidwayUSA Competition Range Bag is on sale for $39.99, marked down from $59.99. This is a BIG bag, almost the size of an airline carry-on. Padded full-length pouches line each side and offer plenty of room for handguns. A drawstring bag for spent brass is also included. The main bag has multiple accessory pockets, two padded pistol rugs, and a water bottle pouch with drain grommet. The MidwayUSA Competition Range Bag is actually two bags in one. Inside the main compartment is a removable open-top bag with wrap-around web handles. It contains 6 magazine pouches and 2 hook and loop internal dividers.

Competition Range Bag MidwayUSA

Here are reports from actual owners, as posted on GlockTalk.com, which has no affiliation with MidwayUSA:

“Yes, the bag is huge. I’ve been using the bag for the last two years and really like it. I carry lots of stuff to the range, including several handguns.”

“Own it, Love it! It is a great deal if you ask me. I have plenty of room for weapons, targets, ammo, eye and ear protection and it even has a drink holder. It also comes with a brass bag!”

“The MidwayUSA range bag is money well spent! I bought one when they were 50% off, and it’s an awesome bag. Plenty of room for pistols and ammo, front and side pockets, drink holder, brass bag, shotgun shell bag, and two pistol sleeves. It’s great!”

“I got it and I love it. It’s well made and you can’t beat the price. Best 40 dollars I ever spent. And if they would sell it for 60 or 70 dollars, it would still be a bargain.”

Over 160 other user reviews are available on MidwayUSA’s website — just click the “Review” tab on the Product Page. The most recent review was posted yesterday by Brian in Kent, WA: “I cannot say enough good things about this bag. I looked at a few range bags that were double or even triple the price of the Midway USA Competition Range Bag, and none of them stacked up. Everything about this bag is high quality — the stitching, zippers, shoulder strap, fabric — and every time I open this bag I find another pocket or pouch. You will not find another bag of this quality with these features for under $60. Trust me I have looked.”

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October 1st, 2008

Leatherman Skeletool CX on Sale at Natchez

Natchez Shooters Supplies has the Leatherman Skeletool CX on sale for $53.49, marked down from $96.00. Light-weight (just 5 oz.), compact (4″ closed), and versatile, the Skeletool CX features pliers, wirecutter, screwdriver (with changeable bits), and a very nice semi-serrated cutting blade. The handle is tungsten-coated steel and carbon fiber. We’ve checked around the web, and the next lowest price for the versatile Skeletool CX is $62.99 at Toolup.com. If you do order from Natchez, please mention that you saw this deal on AccurateShooter.com.

Buyer Reviews of the Skeletool CX have been extremely positive. One owner declared: “I’ve owned practically every Leatherman and SOG multi-tool produced over the past 15 years; a few Gerbers and Swiss Army brands thrown in there as well. And I’ve got to just jump in and say, this is arguably the best Leatherman ever.” Another Skeletool user wrote: “I’ve owned this product for about 4 months now and really do love it. I appreciate that this Leatherman has done away with all the extraneous tools that add bulk and weight but are rarely used. Instead of needing a holster, I can wear it in my pocket like I would any other knife.”

Leatherman Skeletool CX

Better Than a Blade Alone
For years, this Editor’s favorite, carry-around cutting instrument has been a semi-serrated Spyderco Delica. I may finally retire the Delica and replace it with the Skeletool CX. For not much more money than a Delica costs today, the Skeletool provides a semi-serrated stainless cutting blade, plus pliers and a bit-driver. The overall package isn’t much larger than my Delica, and it’s just as easy to carry. The Skeletool CX has a removeable pocket clip PLUS a handy, carabiner type carry loop (see photo at right).

Specs:
• Length: 4 in. / 10 cm closed
• Weight: 5 ounces / 142 grams
• Features: Combination Straight/Serrated Cutting Blade (154CM stainless steel), Pliers, Wire Cutters, Screwdriver with bits, Bit Storage in handle, Bottle Opener, Lanyard Ring, Carabiner snap-loop, Removable Pocket Clip
• Materials: Stainless Steel, Tungsten DLC Coating, 154CM, Carbon Fiber (handle)

Included Bits:
• Phillips #1 and #2
• Screwdriver 3/16″ and 1/4″

Leatherman Skeletool CX

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September 30th, 2008

Sinclair Releases New, Advanced Neck Turning System

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

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

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

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

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

Sinclair Neck-turning tool

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

Sinclair Neck-turning tool

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

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

Sinclair Neck-turning tool

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September 20th, 2008

Keep That Barrel Cool — Temp Strips Display Barrel Temperature

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

Bar-L shooting temp strips

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

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

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

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September 19th, 2008

User Report: CED Millenium Chronograph

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

CED Chronograph with Carry Case (sold separately)
CED chronograph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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September 11th, 2008

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

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

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

CLICK HERE for Kestrel 4500 Virtual Tour with Feature Demos.

Kestrel 4500 Pocket Weather Tracker

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

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

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

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

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

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September 9th, 2008

Portable AC and DC Powerpacks for the Range

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

Black and Decker 12v 120v powerstation

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

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

Guide Gear 12v 120v powerstation

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

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September 8th, 2008

New, Advanced Benchrest Stock from Robertson Composites

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

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


Photos Courtesy Gary Walters. Rifle belongs to Victor Smith.

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

CLICK HERE for complete Robertson Composites PRICE LIST.

robertsoncompositesgunstocks

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September 5th, 2008

Portable Front Rest for F-Class Shooters

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

Winnequah Gun Club

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

Larry Batholome F-Class Shehane Tracker MBR

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

Lambert ShadeTree Engineering F-Class rest

Lambert ShadeTree Engineering F-Class rest

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September 1st, 2008

Bore-Stores and GoldenRods on Sale at MidwayUSA

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

Bore-Store Gun Case

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

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

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

goldenrod dehumidifier

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August 25th, 2008

Protect Your Neck from Harmful Sun

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

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

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

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

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August 24th, 2008

Teflon Benchrest Stock Tape Sources

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

3M Skived Teflon Stock Tape

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

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

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

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August 21st, 2008

Range Carts for High Power and Silhouette Shooters

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

Creedmoor Sports Range Cart

Creedmoor Sports Range Cart

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

wooden range cart Gateslinger

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