This is one amazing .50-caliber rifle. Along with the lever-actuated falling block, it has a massive swing-out breech block like you’d find on a field artillery piece. The action is so wide that the sights and scope are offset. You’ve heard of the “Beauty and the Beast”? Well here the Beast IS a Beauty….
View looking down at the action from above. Note the hinged Breech-Block.
There is a new tactical action from Canada with some very interesting features. The innovative U300 Bolt Action from Ultimatum Precision features a Rem 700 footprint and three-lug bolt with 60° bolt lift (like a Barnard). The floating bolt head is quickly removable, so you can swap to a different rim size in a few minutes. Another interesting feature is a special “Battery Safety”. The firing pin can only protrude from the bolt face if the lugs are locked and in battery. This ensures that if the bolt head is not properly installed, the rifle does not fire.
The black Cerakoted U300 action is strong and tough — the 4340 steel is hard-nitrided for surface durability. The action-maker says the hard nitride and Cerakote coatings improve wear resistance, corrosion resistance, chemical resistance, and hardness. The U300 action fits AICS-compatible detachable box magazines.
Designed for Savage-type Barrel Nuts
The Ultimatum U300 system was design to accept a barrel nut so “pre-fit” barrels (configured for the U300 bolt) can be easily installed (or swapped) by the owner with no gunsmithing required. The U300 uses standard 1-1/16″ x 16 Remington 700 tenon threads, so it can fit pre-chambered barrels with Remington-style threading. NOTE: Barrels headspaced properly by a smith can also be mounted conventionally without a nut. The user can choose the system he prefers.
Ultimatum U300 Action features:
· Removable Floating 3-Lug Bolt Head
· 5/16″ Integrated Recoil Lug
· Battery Safety
· 20 MOA Picatinny rail, secured with six #8-40 bolts and two pins
· 4340 Steel with Hard Nitride Finish and Cerakote.
· Compatible with AICS-style magazines
Ultimatum Precision has started shipping the first U300 short actions. Suggested MSRP starts at $998.00 U.S. Dollars. The action-maker plans to release both a long action model and a .338-specific model later this year. Ultimatum Precision is located in Abbotsford, BC, Canada, with a subsidiary in Washington state, USA. For more info, visit www.UltimatumPrecision.com.
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Here is a very interesting rifle, a true metal/wood hybrid that combines an aluminum front section with figured walnut in the rear half. As you can see, this unique rifle also features a barrel block that allows the Savage action to float. You may be wondering “how is the metal section connected to the wood?” The gun’s owner/builder epoxied a stainless steel tube in the wood and that tube is secured in the aluminum fore-end with set screws.
Forum member Justin V. reports: “Sometime last fall my buddy wanted to build barrel-blocked Bavage. He is a machinist by trade so he was able to build all of the custom components himself. I know he put a ton of time into this thing over the winter, taking his time to get it done right. If you shoot in Cadillac or Midland, Michigan you will probably see him around. He tried to shoot a match this past weekend but was rained out. Hopefully it will stop raining in Michigan so he can see what it can do at 600 yards. Here are the results….” Learn more about this gun in this FORUM Thread.
“Here is a sneak peak of my new barreled action for ELR. Compliments of Lethal Precision Arms. This Bartlein barrel is chambered in .375 Lethal Magnum. This massive cartridge will be launching the 405 grain Berger solids with a BC of 1.09 @ 3200+ FPS. The 38″ barrel is screwed on to a two-inch round .50 Cal Action from BAT Machine. This barreled action weighs 35 pounds and is approximately 48 inches long as shown in the photo. Yes that’s 35 pounds NOT counting stock, scope, muzzle brake, and bipod.
This barreled action is now being sent to McMillan Group International for custom in-letting and a custom Big Mac Stock optimized for Extreme Long Range. Stay tuned for more progress on this new ELR Beast for the next King of 2 Miles competition.”
Our buddy Paul Phillips is an outstanding shooter who has competed with the U.S. National Team and is currently a member of the U.S. Rifle Team F-TR. Paul has been interested in extreme long-range (ELR) shooting for quite some time, but the King of 2 Miles (KO2M) event this fall at Raton, NM really brought things into focus for Paul. A member of the K02M-winning Applied Ballistics squad, Paul now knows exactly what kind of hardware (and cartridge) it takes to win at two miles (and beyond). Now he’s ready for more, and he’s building a very special (and very big) rifle.
After his experience at the King of 2 Miles event, Paul decided he needed his own world-class rifle for the ultra-long-range game. For this rifle, Paul acquired a massive BAT action and a ginormous Bartlein barrel, finished at 38 inches. The .375 Lethal Magnum chambering is wildcat that starts with the 585 Hubel Express (HE) case, adapted for a Cheytac boltface. This jumbo cartridge can propel 405gr Berger solids at 3200+ FPS. The G1 BC of these prototype solids is a stunning 1.09. Note: Berger has no current plans to market this .375-caliber solid bullet — it is still in the prototype stage.
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Many folks think the ultra-smooth Bix’N Andy triggers are the best match triggers you can buy. But until now Bix’N Andy trigger units, with their light pull-weights, have been intended primarily for benchrest and F-Class disciplines, where light pull weights are favored by many competitors. Well, Bix’N Andy has just released a new TacSport trigger that can be adjusted to a pull-weight of up to five (5) pounds (combined first and second stages). But remarkably, the same new TacSport trigger can still go down to about one ounce — that way you can adjust the pull weight through a very wide range to suit the application. Length of trigger shoe travel can also be set from zero to 7mm.
This trigger can operate as a single stage or as a two-stage. Each stage can be adjusted independently. Set the trigger at a few ounces for load testing from the bench, then crank it up to 2.5 pounds for a tactical match. Run it as a single stage for the bench or a two-stage for field work. With this flexibility and wide pull-weight adjustment range, the new Bix’N Andy TacSport trigger is well-suited for tactical shooters, hunters, and LEO marksman. The TacSport trigger also comes with a right-side top safety.
The new Bix’N Andy TacSport trigger is now available from BulletCentral.com for $495.00. Yes, that’s pricey, but this trigger offers features and “feel” you can’t find anywhere else.
Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Forum member Keith W. (aka “Cigarcop”) is a talented riflesmith whose projects display outstanding finish work and attention to detail. Keith does some of the best bedding work we’ve ever seen. Recently Keith completed a rifle for tool-maker John Perkins, owner of 21st Century Shooting. John, who recently competed at the F-Class Nationals in Lodi, WI, wanted a new F-Open rifle with top-of-the-line hardware and a sweet-tracking stock. We think John will be impressed with this gun — and we bet it proves to be an tack-driving “hammer”. John will use the 21.5-lb rifle for F-Open competition and some mid-range and long-range benchrest competition in HG class.
This stock sports 12 coats of Urethane, wet-sanded between each coat.
This competition rifle features a melonited BAT “M” action (with Bix’N Andy trigger), a pair of 7mm Brux barrels chambered in .284 Win, and a Precision Rifle & Tool (PRT) Low-Boy stock. As you can see from these photos Keith posted in our Shooters’ Forum, this is a beautifully-finished rifle. If you have questions about this project, direct them to Cigarcop in this FORUM Thread.
Build Details for a Beautiful F-Open Rig
Keith reports: “The rifle is built on a PRT Laminated Low-Boy F-Class Stock with a Bat M Melonited Action, +20 MOA rail, Pillar bedded in Devcon 10110. After bedding and inletting I clear-coated the stock with 12 Coats of a 3-part Urethane finish which was wet-sanded between each coat and sanded out to 2000 before final polishing. John Perkins provided two Brux 1:9″-twist, 1.250″-contour barrels. They are both finished at 31″ and chambered in straight .284 Win with .313″ neck and .213″ freebore to shoot the 180gr Berger Hybrids.
Cigarcop does superb bedding work, as you can see…
John chose the Bix’N Andy trigger after sampling one of Erik Cortina’s rifles at the Berger SW Nationals. “I tried the BNA trigger on Erik’s gun and I was so impressed. It is very light but 100% consistent. After an injury I’ve lost some feel in my trigger finger and the BNA helps because it is so smooth. I would never go back to anything else.”
New Seating Die from 21st Century
While talking about his new rifle, John Perkins revealed that he has developed a very sophisticated new micrometer seating die: “This is something very new, and unlike anything else on the market. Each die is tailored to the dimensions and ogive curve of your particular bullet which we measure with an optical comparator. The customer provides fired, sized brass and sample bullets and we can produce a perfect match.”
John says his new seating dies produce ultra-consistent base-to-ogive load lengths along with exceptionally low run-out. “This new die produces incredibly straight ammo — there are some special features inside the die that help straighten the bullet during the seating process”. That delivers “truly superior concentricity” according to John. 21st Century Shooting will be taking orders soon for the new seating die. Call (260) 273-9909 for more information.
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This feature story is the third (and final) installment of a three-part series by 2016 National Long-Range Champion John Whidden. In this article John, who runs Whidden Gunworks, talks about the Palma rifle he used at the 2016 Camp Perry National Matches. This unique .308 Win prone rifle features a Barnard “P” action in a converted aluminum Anschutz “Precise” smallbore (rimfire) stock. The combo of Barnard action and Anchutz ergonomics is hard to beat, says John, who told us: “this is easily the best Palma rifle I’ve ever had.”
As a bonus, the Barnard “drop-in” required no modification of the Anschutz Precise stock. This means John can actually swap in his rimfire barreled action and shoot smallbore with the same stock.
Sling Rifle Evolved: The Ultra-Accurate Hybrid Palma Rifle
by John Whidden
The mental component of Long Range competitive shooting is always challenging but having tremendous confidence in the accuracy of your equipment is a huge benefit. There’s nothing to start your Palma match off well like knowing that you are shooting the most accurate Palma rifle you’ve ever owned.
After winning the 2016 NRA Long Range National Championships at Camp Perry, there are always plenty of questions about the equipment used by those at the top. Shooters are always looking to learn what is the best equipment at any given time so that when the time comes to spend our own hard earned dollars we can make the best choices. Even if you shoot an entirely different discipline knowing which manufacturers are making winning gear is very valuable.
Whidden 2016 Palma Rifle
Action: Barnard “P” (three lugs, 60° bolt lift)
Barrel: Bartlein 32″, Light Palma contour, cryo-treated by 300 Below.
Stock: Anschutz Precise aluminum smallbore stock, set up for centerfire barreled action.
Trigger: Barnard Two-Stage adjustable
Whidden’s Wonder-Gun: German Stock, New Zealand Action, American Barrel
The Palma rifle I shot this year at Camp Perry is one that I have been super pleased with. I built the rifle early this year and the major components are a Barnard P action, Anschutz Precise smallbore stock, and Bartlein barrel. The caliber is .308 Win, as dictated by the Palma rules. Palma matches are fired from 800, 900, and 1000 yards utilizing iron sights only. No optical sights are allowed.
The Anchutz Precise stock is so well-designed that once I finished adjusting the details, I realized that my hold was about 1/3 smaller than with the stocks I shot previously. While in recoil the gun will track vertically and fall back down right on my own target just as it should. In the past, with my other Palma rifles, it was frankly sometimes a struggle to get them to settle back on target after a shot.
Whidden Gunworks has installed a variety of different actions in the Anschutz Precise stocks. Though the stocks are designed for the .22 LR caliber 2013 action rifles, we’ve successfully installed Barnard, Kelbly, Bat, Nesika, and Remington clone actions into them. The Barnard Model P makes a particularly simple installation because there is no modification necessary to the stock at all. A competitor can then shoot both his centerfire rifle as well as his smallbore gun in the exact same stock. The location of the trigger and bolt handle on the Barnard are positioned just right to make this work. Other actions do require at least some amount of modification to the stock, and we have found the Barnard works the best.
Barnard manufactures several models of actions as part of their lineup. All of the actions in the lineup use three lug bolts which give a shorter 60-degree bolt lift when opening and closing. All of the critical surfaces are machined after heat treating. This means that they are exceptionally true and square, more so than other actions. The Model P action is most familiar to Palma and F-Class shooters and are commonly seen on the firing line. The fact that Model P actions include an excellent two-stage trigger makes also the pricing very attractive.
Based on my previous excellent experiences, I selected Bartlein barrels for this rifle. When shooting internationally in the Palma matches we are restricted to 155 grain .308 bullets, but I made the unusual choice of a 1-10″ twist for these bullets. I’ve shot this fast twist for some years with the 155s with good success and it’s pleasing to know that Bryan Litz is finding benefits in some cartridges to shooting faster twist rates than we previously thought we needed. The chamber is the 2011 Palma and the barrel is a Light Palma contour finished at 32” length. The barrel was cryo-treated by 300 Below. The point of impact isn’t changed at all by barrel heating and the accuracy is incredible regardless of the temperature of the barrel. This can’t be said of all the barrels I’ve owned.
Get Your Own Whidden Wonder-Gun for $4500.00
Like what you see — but wonder how much it will cost? Whidden Gunworks can build you a rig like this, fitting a centerfire barreled action in the Anschutz Precise stock. John tells us: “The price of a rifle like this one but without sights or mounts would be just under $4500.00. We attempt to keep all of the parts except the stock in inventory, so lead time should be under eight (8) weeks.”
Stock Offers Great Adjustability
One thing that is quickly noticed about the Anschutz Precise stock is its adjustability. The engineers did a very good job of allowing many of these adjustments to be made while in the shooting position, most notably the cheekpiece adjustments. When a shooter picks up a Precise stock for the first time they also notice how narrow the fore-end is. This really contributes to reducing the pain in the forward hand in prone when shooting with a sling. This stock is, by far, the most comfortable sling stock I’ve ever handled.
This rifle was very accurate right away and very comfortable to shoot. I’ve built some really good shooting Palma rifles but this is easily the best Palma rifle I’ve ever had. The Barnard action with its superb quality and excellent two-stage trigger has been the best choice I could have made. When you can go to the firing line knowing that you have the very best, the foundation for success has been set.
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If you have a Remington bolt-action rifle, you may qualify for a trigger upgrade, a voucher, or reimbursement of costs spent changing out your trigger mechanism.
These benefits result from the settlement of a class action lawsuit which alleged that Remington trigger mechanisms with “trigger connectors” and X-Mark Pro® triggers could have accidental discharges without the trigger being pulled. The settlement involves two classes. The first class includes owners of firearms that utilize a trigger connector. The second class includes owners of firearms that utilize the X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism that is the subject of a voluntary safety recall. The settlement allows owners of Remington models 700, Seven, and related models to have their trigger replaced free of charge, among other benefits.
WHO IS INCLUDED?
The Settlement provides benefits to: Current owners of Remington Model 700, Seven, Sportsman 78, 673, 710, 715, 770, 600, 660, XP-100, 721, 722, and 725 firearms containing a Remington trigger mechanism that utilizes a trigger connector; Current owners of Remington Model 700 and Model Seven rifles containing an X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism manufactured from May 1, 2006 to April 9, 2014 who did not participate in the voluntary X-Mark Pro product recall prior to April 14, 2015; and Current and former owners of Remington Model 700 and Model Seven rifles who replaced their rifle’s original Walker trigger mechanism with an X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism.
WHAT DOES THE SETTLEMENT PROVIDE?
Settlement Class Members may be entitled to: (1) have their trigger mechanism retrofitted with a new X-Mark Pro or other connectorless trigger mechanism at no cost to the class members; (2) receive a voucher code for Remington products redeemable at Remington’s online store; and/or (3) be refunded the money they spent to replace their Model 700 or Seven’s original Walker trigger mechanism with an X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism.
HOW CAN I OBTAIN BENEFITS?
If you are in the affected class you can submit a claim form electronically by clicking the link below:
Even if you do nothing you will be bound by the Court’s decisions. To keep your right to sue the Defendants yourself, you must exclude yourself from the Settlement Class by November 18, 2016. If you stay in the Settlement Class, you may object to the Settlement by November 18, 2016. For more info, or to make a claim, call 1-800-876-5940 or visit www.remingtonfirearmsclassactionsettlement.com.
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A while back, RifleShooter online magazine published a list of the purported Ten Best Bolt-Action Rifles of All Time. Ten classic rifle designs (including the Remington 700 and Winchester Model 70) were featured with a paragraph or two explaining their notable features.
“Best” Lists Stir Controversy…
These Top 10 lists are always controversial. While most readers might approve of half the entries, there are always some items on the Top 10 list that some readers would challenge. Here is RifleShooter’s Top 10 list. What do you think? Are there some other bolt-actions that are more deserving?
1. Springfield M1903
2. Mauser 98
3. Winchester Model 70
4. Remington Model 700
5. Weatherby V
6. Sako L61/AV
7. Savage Model 110
8. Ruger M77
9. Tikka T3
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Did you know that Shilen Rifles Inc. offers barreled actions and complete rifles? And that Shilen offers a Savage-style, barrel-nut system for its Rem-clone actions? After several years of development, Shilen now offers custom actions ($950.00), barreled custom actions with triggers ($1500.00), and complete rifles ($3200.00 and up).
The new Shilen custom actions are CNC-milled from high-grade stainless steel. Two types are offered — the multi-shot DGR (Repeater) or the single-shot DGV (Varminter) action. Both actions will be offered in most common bolt faces and both right-hand and left-hand actions are immediately available. The DGR and DGV actions have a 1.350″ diameter with 8-40 scope base mounting screw holes, and an 0.300″ pinned recoil lug. The spiral-fluted bolts feature a floating bolt head with an interchangeable bolt handle knob. These actions feature a footprint similar to the Remington Model 700. Both DGR and DGV actions will accept many aftermarket components crafted for Rem-700 style actions, including triggers and bottom metal.
Barreled Actions with Barrel-Nut System for Easy Barrel Exchanges
Along with the stand-alone DGR and DGV actions, Shilen is offering barreled action assemblies, chambered and ready to drop into Rem 700-inletted stocks. The actions are fitted with Shilen match-grade barrels and Shilen triggers. The barrels feature a 1-1/16″x20 barrel thread and are attached to the action by a barrel nut. This Savage-style barrel nut system simplifies headspacing, allowing easy swapping from one barrel to another. With the simple barrel-exchange procedure, you can shoot multiple chamberings with a single action/rifle. For example, shooters can change from a .223 Remington to a .204 Ruger or a .22-250 to a 6mm BR in a matter of minutes.
Complete Rifles with McMillan Stocks
With Shilen’s complete rifles, buyers can choose their chambering, and select barrel and stock configuration. Shooters can choose between a sporter weight wood stock or a variety of McMillan fiberglass stocks. With all complete rifles, the entire package is delivered in a quality gun case and Shilen even includes table mat, cleaning rod, bore guide, jag, bore brush, and cleaning patches. For more info, call (972) 875-5318 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Here’s something truly innovative — a 3D-printed metal rimfire receiver!
Forum member Marcos G. (aka MFP_BOP) has designed and created his own rimfire action. But it’s not machined or forged. This new action was created with a 3D sintered metal printer. A 3D modeler by profession, Marcos has the requisite skill set and access to a very high-tech (and expensive) metal printer. As printed, the actual receiver is shown below. It has just been sent out to be age-hardened to 40 HRC, after which final finish work (e.g. cleaning up tenon threads) will be done. To learn more about this 3D-printing project, read this FORUM Thread.
When most of us think of 3D printing, we think of small plastic parts — nothing as strong as steel. But there are 3D printers that employ sintered metal to build complex metal components. Marcus says the receiver he’s created should have “stated yield and tensile strength similar to investment casting.” The material used for the action is 15-5 PH® Stainless Steel (in sintered form).
The action was designed to use a PT&G 40X rimfire bolt. Marcos notes that “There is an extraction cam inside of the action, something that would be very hard or impossible to do by regular machining and/or EDM.”
Born in Brazil, Marcos now lives in New Zealand. He tell us that: “New Zealand is a very gun-friendly country. I just need my A-CAT license to make [a receiver.]” So there are no special legal restrictions (as might apply in the USA). The printer is EOS270 laser metal sintering machine. Marcos says: “The current price for one of those machines is in five figures, but I am 99.99% sure that in 5-7 years this technology will be readily available to anyone.”
As designed, the receiver was 1.4″ in diameter. Marcos reports it came out of the printer at 1.403″. The designed boltway is .690″ and it came out .687″. Marcos notes: “I haven’t noticed any warping. The threads are rough, really! Interior and exterior finishes are really good though, probably because of the way it’s been printed: upside down (must have gone through tumbling afterwards). I will have to run some taps and single-point-cut the tenon threads to clean them up.”
Marcos says the actual printing process took a lot of time: “I should have asked how long it took to be printed!” But consider this, the 7″-long receiver is created in layers only 20 microns thick, so you can understand why the process took so long.
Reasons to Print a Rimfire Receiver
Marcos 3D-printed his own action basically to save money: “Some may be asking why I printed this receiver. Here’s a little history… I tried different ways to bring a Stiller 2500X action into New Zealand. The final price to my door was NZ $3000.00 (about $2195.00 USD). Designing and making one would be way cheaper, but I felt nobody here could machine the internal abutments with precision. Also printing was still a little cheaper and printing offered the chance to put in it all details I wanted — such as M4 threads, internal cam, and fillets.”
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We like Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects. It takes initiative, creativity, and dedication to make your own hardware, and that’s worth acknowledging. With the U.S. F-Class Nationals kicking off later this week, we thought it timely to feature a DIY F-Open rig, complete with home-built, belt-drive front rest.
Some of our mechanically-skilled readers chamber their own barrels or bed their own stocks. But these are relatively simple tasks compared to the jobs of constructing an entire rifle plus building an advanced front rest from scratch. Well that’s exactly what Forum member Steve B. (aka Essexboy) did a couple seasons back. He built his own rifle and an impressive twin-belt-drive pedestal rest. (Click photo below for large version). And get this, Steve’s home-made rifle was victorious in its first-ever match. Steve reports: “I shot my first Comp with the rifle … and managed to win with a score of 239-21!” (The match was shot at 300/500/600/1000/1100 with English scoring of 5 points for center bullseye).
Do-It-Yourself F-Open Rig from England
Steve, who hails from Essex in the UK, constructed virtually every component of his skeleton-style rifle except the 28″ HV Bartlein barrel (chambered as a 6mm Dasher) and the Tikka 590 donor action. Steve also did all the design and fabrication work on his one-of-a-kind front rest. Steve tells us: “Over the last year or so, I made this rifle stock and rest. I managed to make it all on a little Myford Lathe, as you can tell I’m no machinist but it saved me a load of money — so far I’ve got about $200 invested plus the barrelled action. The stock is aluminum except for the stainless steel bag runner. The rifle came in at one ounce under weight limit for F-Class Open division.” Steve did get help with the chambering and barrel-fitting, but he hopes to do all the barrel work himself on his next project.
The gun is very accurate. Steve notes: “I have shot the rifle to 1100 yards and it shoots well. Last time out the rifle dropped just one point at 1000 yards and 5 points at 1100 yards [English scoring system]. I know it’s not pretty, but it got me shooting long range F-Class for peanuts.” Message to Steve: Don’t worry how it looks. As another Forum member observed: “Any rifle that shoots well at 1100 yards is beautiful….”
Steve started with a Tikka 590 action: “The whole stock was made on a small (6.5×13) lathe and a vertical slide. This caused a few head scratching moments, figuring out how to hold the T6/HE30 alloy for the milling/turning operations, but it did teach me a few things. The hardest parts were clamping the longer sections (such as the fore-end) and keeping it all square. Due to the short cross-slide travel I had to keep re-setting the parts. I managed to keep all measurements to 0.001″ (one thousandth). I’m most proud of the trigger guard (photo below). This took a full day but came out really well, even if I say so myself.”
Belt-Driven Front Rest
We’re impressed with Steve’s ingenious front rest. Steve explains: “The rest is belt-driven and still in the experimental stage — hence no powder coating or polishing yet. I may have gone over the top as the key moving parts (the pulleys) run on three (3) types of bearings: radial; reamed bush; and a ball race. The main post runs on a radial bearing and the feet even have bearings in them, so when I raise the main body up (for rough height adjustment) the foot stays static.”
Will Steve build another rifle? Steve says he will, and he’s upgraded his tools: “Since building the rifle I have acquired a bigger lathe (Harrison m250) and a milling machine. For the next project I hope to be able to do the barrel work (threading, chambering, crowning) as well.” The next gun might be another Dasher. Steve explains: “After extensive reading on AccurateShooter.com, I chose the 6mm Dasher chambering, as I have a shoulder problem and can’t shoot a rifle with a lot of recoil.”
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Alex Sitman of Master Class Stocks in Pennsylvania is widely considered one of the finest rifle-stock craftsmen in the country, if not the world. Alex’s workmanship and dedication to excellence is top-of-the-line. Alex normally custom-fits each stock to his customer precisely. Many hours are dedicated to stock prep and inletting, and his bedding jobs are flawless. Each stock is exactingly hand-crafted with great attention to detail, and then the stock is “dressed” in the customer’s choice of finishes.
Doing all that takes time — a lot of time. That’s why Master Class Stocks has a long waiting list, and it can take months before a big job is completed. But when Alex is involved, you can count on the final product being a work of stock-making art. Here’s an example. Alex recently stocked an F-Class rifle using eye-popping, exhibition-grade Bastogne walnut. The wood was sourced from Cecil Fredi of GunstockBlanks.com. Alex says: “Cecil’s wood is some of the best I’ve ever used. This blank cost over $1000.00, but it was truly spectacular.” Since the blank was less than 3″ wide, Alex (with assistance from 8-time NRA High Power Champion Carl Bernosky) laminated on the 3″-wide forearm “wings” using spare wood left after the blank was cut. See how Alex and Carl carefully matched the grain of the wood on the forearm. And note how perfectly the adjustable cheek-piece is fitted. If you want a stock like this on your next rifle, contact Alex Sitman at Master Class Stocks, (814) 742-7868.
The Bastogne Beauty — More Construction Details
Eric Kennard tells us: “This rifle was built for Mike Dana in Florida. Kelbly’s did the metal work. [The action is a Stolle Panda F-Class.] Barrel by Brux. Chambering? 6mmBR of course! Mike added a March 10 x 60 scope. Let me tell you this is beyond a work of art! The fit is absolutely perfect! There is not one flaw in the wood-work. The pillar bedding is also perfect! Did you notice the ebony inserts? Or Alex’s custom trigger guard? Alex out did-himself this time. Most of us would not dare to shoot [this gun]!”
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Tech Milestone — Norm Crawford won the 2016 Wimbledon Cup at Camp Perry using a carbon-fiber composite barrel. That’s a first for composite barrel technology.
With a score of 200-16X, Norman Crawford won the Wimbledon Cup Match during the 2016 National Long Range Rifle Championships using a 32″ Proof Research carbon-fiber composite barrel chambered in .284 Shehane. The Wimbledon Cup Match, a prestigious 1,000-yard shooting competition, dates back to 1875. The current course of fire consists of 20 timed shots, fired from prone. Crawford’s win represents the first time in the Cup’s 141-year history that it has been won with anything other than an all-steel barrel. The Proof Research barrel features a steel core with an external multi-axis carbon wrap.
Crawford’s Wimbledon Cup win really is an important technological milestone. Crawford’s performance may encourage other competitors to consider steel/carbon composite barrels for a variety of shooting disciplines. Without question, composite technology barrels offer significant weight-savings over conventional all-steel barrels. And Crawford proved that a composite barrel can deliver winning accuracy, at least in a sling/prone discipline.
“I don’t know of anyone else in this sport using a carbon fiber [composite] barrel,” said Crawford, who has been shooting Proof composite barrels since 2013.
“The benefits over a steel barrel are that you get a larger-diameter, stiffer, faster-cooling barrel that weighs less than a standard, medium Palma-taper barrel. [There is] no real downside I’ve been able to identify in three years of shooting them. All five Proof barrels I own are capable of winning any match — providing I do my part.”
A 30-year Army vet and former Army Special Operations Sniper, Crawford has been shooting competitively since 1990. He has won many major titles, including the NRA National Long Range Championship in 2005. His 2016 Wimbledon Cup victory was his second — Norm also won the Cup in 2003. A three-time member of the U.S. Rifle Team at the World Championships, Crawford also used a Proof Research barrel to tie the national record for a 600-yard Any Gun, Any Sight competition in North Carolina last November, one of five national records he has set or tied during his shooting career.
Proof Research CEO Larry Murphy praised Crawford: “We are honored that Norm chose our barrel to go up against the best shooters in the world with. By putting our barrels to the test in intense competition, he pushes us to do our best as well.”
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The rear stock and grip (shown above) come from the commercial LUCID AR Stock Kit. But Forum member Brian V. custom-made this one-piece walnut forearm.
Forum member Brian V. (aka “Carbide”) wanted a new look for his “modern sporting rifle”. He was tired of looking at black plastic (or FDE, OD green) and aluminum components on his AR15. So he decided to fit wood “furniture” on the rifle. He ordered a wood butt-stock and fore-arm set made by Lucid, but he didn’t like the two-piece fore-arm of the Lucid stock set. He decided he could build something better than the commercially-available, Lucid-made wood fore-arm.
Lathe-Turned Custom Walnut Sleeve in Front
So Brian took his existing AR tubular fore-arm and epoxied a walnut sleeve to it. With a lathe, Brian then turned the walnut sleeve to his desired dimensions: 2.250″ diameter in back and 2.200″ diameter in front, so there’s a little taper. Brian says “I could have gone a little thinner.” The wood fore-end was then sanded and stained to match the Lucid-made rear section. Brian says “the stain is not quite a perfect match, but but it looks a lot better.”
Does Brian like his new wood-stocked AR? Absolutely. He says the conversion makes the gun more user-friendly: “The wood is warmer to carry in winter and quieter.” He adds that the wood sleeve added about four ounces of weight to the fore-end, but that did not affect the handling.
We think this is a good “do-it-yourself” project that could be done by many of our readers. You can simply install the Lucid stock set or customize the front end like Brian did. Either way, you end up with a good-looking rifle that feels better in your hands.
Can you guess what your next barrel will weigh? In many competition disciplines, “making weight” is a serious concern when putting together a new match rifle. A Light Varmint short-range Benchrest rifle cannot exceed 10.5 pounds including scope. An F-TR rifle is limited to 18 pounds, 2 oz. (8.25 kg) with bipod.
One of the heaviest items on most rifles is the barrel. If your barrel comes in much heavier than expected, it can boost the overall weight of the gun significantly. Then you may have to resort to cutting the barrel, or worse yet, re-barreling, to make weight for your class. In some cases, you can remove material from the stock to save weight, but if that’s not practical, the barrel will need to go on a diet. (As a last resort, you can try fitting a lighter scope.)
Is there a reliable way to predict, in advance, how much a finished barrel will weigh? The answer is “yes”. PAC-NOR Barreling of Brookings, Oregon has created a handy, web-based Barrel Weight Calculator. Just log on to Pac-Nor’s website and the calculator is free to use. Pac-Nor’s Barrel Weight Calculator is pretty sophisticated, with separate data fields for Shank Diameter, Barrel Length, Bore Diameter — even length and number of flutes. Punch in your numbers, and the Barrel Weight Calculator then automatically generates the weight for 16 different “standard” contours.
Calculator Handles Custom Contours
What about custom contours? Well the Pac-Nor Barrel Weight Calculator can handle those as well. The program allows input of eight different dimensional measurements taken along the barrel’s finished length, from breech to muzzle. You can use this “custom contour” feature when calculating the weight of another manufacturer’s barrel that doesn’t match any of Pac-Nor’s “standard” contours.
Caution: Same-Name Contours from Different Makers May Not be Exactly the Same
One final thing to remember when using the Barrel Weight Calculator is that not all “standard” contours are exactly the same, as produced by different barrel-makers. A Medium Palma contour from Pac-Nor may be slightly different dimensionally from a Krieger Medium Palma barrel. When using the Pac-Nor Barrel Weight Calculator to “spec out” the weight of a barrel from a different manufacturer, we recommend you get the exact dimensions from your barrel-maker. If these are different that Pac-Nor’s default dimensions, use the “custom contour” calculator fields to enter the true specs for your brand of barrel.
Smart Advice — Give Yourself Some Leeway
While Pac-Nor’s Barrel Weight Calculator is very precise (because barrel steel is quite uniform by volume), you will see some small variances in finished weight based on the final chambering process. The length of the threaded section (tenon) will vary from one action type to another. In addition, the size and shape of the chamber can make a difference in barrel weight, even with two barrels of the same nominal caliber. Even the type of crown can make a slight difference in overall weight. This means that the barrel your smith puts on your gun may end up slightly heavier or lighter than the Pac-Nor calculation. That’s not a fault of the program — it’s simply because the program isn’t set up to account for chamber volume or tenon length.
What does this mean? In practical terms — you should give yourself some “wiggle room” in your planned rifle build. Unless you’re able to shave weight from your stock, do NOT spec your gun at one or two ounces under max based on the Pac-Nor calculator output. That said, the Pac-Nor Barrel Weight Calculator is still a very helpful, important tool. When laying out the specs for a rifle in any weight-restricted class, you should always “run the numbers” through a weight calculator such as the one provided by Pac-Nor. This can avoid costly and frustrating problems down the road.
Credit Edlongrange for finding the Pac-Nor Calculator
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Here is an interesting project by one of our Forum members. Martin C. (aka “Killick”) modified an Anschutz 1411 Match 54 rimfire prone stock to become a comfortable, great-tracking F-Class Open Division Stock. No Killick didn’t sacrifice a perfectly good rimfire rifle for this project — he bought the Anschutz stock by itself on eBay, then transformed it…
Killick explains: “This project started about seven years ago. I bought the Anschutz prone stock on eBay and whittled it a bit into a Palma rifle with a Barnard action and block and a Doan Trevor cheek piece and scope rail. Then about two years ago I decided to re-task the stock/action assembly into an F-Open rig. With more whittling, gluing, sanding, body fillering, sanding, filling, sanding, more sanding…and sanding, forming, priming, sanding, painting, waiting, painting, painting…painting and before you know it, Bob’s your uncle.”
Here is the eBay-sourced Anschutz 1411 stock, with new high-gloss blue finish, as initially modified for use in Killick’s centerfire Palma rifle. Looks nice!
Next step was the addition of a 3″-wide wood fore-end for F-Open duties with front rest:
Almost done here… just needs priming and final painting:
Here is Killick’s completed F-Open rifle with its much-modified Anschutz stock now finished in fire-engine red lacquer. This image shows the detail of the grip and customized cheekpiece.
Helpful “How-To” Maintenance Videos from BAT
BAT actions are beautifully made — but they represent a substantial investment. If you’re fortunate to one one or more BAT actions, it’s important that you understand how to properly clean and lubricate the action, and how to assemble the bolt components. To help BAT owners with maintenance chores, The BAT Machine website features a Video Archive with many informative videos about bolts, ejectors, are action maintenance, and other technical matters. Here are two video:
How to Grease and Maintain Your BAT Action and Bolt:
How to Remove (and Re-Install) Firing Pin Assembly:
Jewell triggers are still the most-used triggers on competition benchrest and F-Class rifles and they are also popular for hunting, varmint, and tactical rifles (with or without safeties). While a Jewell trigger can work for years with minimal maintenance, if the trigger becomes gunked up, it may be necessary to disassemble the trigger for a thorough cleaning. Our friends Ed and Steve, aka the 6.5 Guys, have produced a helpful video that shows how to disassemble and then reassemble a Jewell trigger.
Why You May Need to Disassemble Your Jewell Trigger — the 6.5 Guys
Jewell triggers are a popular choice in the sport of long range precision shooting, and like everything else require regular cleaning and maintenance. In most cases they can be cleaned with charcoal lighter fluid or dropped into an ultrasonic cleaner. Should the situation require, they can be completely disassembled according to the Jewell Trigger Manual.
We ran into a situation where we had to dissemble a trigger due to the entrapment of some sticky dirt that couldn’t be removed with an ultrasonic cleaner. Our first step was to find some step-by-step instructions but we couldn’t find anything.
Recognizing that other shooters might be in the same situation we produced a step-by-step guide and video, published in full on 65Guys.com. These instructions will work with a left- or right-handed trigger. In our case we worked with a left-handed BR model trigger with safety and bolt release.
Step-by-Step Instructions are provided on 65Guys.com website. We recommend you read all the instructions carefully before you even think about disassembling your trigger. This video explains the process so you can get a sense of what is involved.
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Emil Kovan is one of the top F-Class shooters in the world. He won the 2014 United States F-Open Championship. Earlier this month Emil finished second in F-Open Division at the 2016 Canadian National F-Class Championship in Ontario. Emil actually tied Open-class winner Shiraz Balolia for overall score AND “V”-count, but Emil was awarded second on the tie-breaker.
“What are the best components for an F-Open class rifle, and why?” That’s a question that I get asked all the time and will try to answer in this article. Two months ago, I was contacted by Duane, a gentleman I met at the 2015 F-Class Nationals. He was interested in building a rifle with the new Master Class Low Profile F-Open Stock, created by Carl Bernosky and Alex Sitman of Master Class Stocks.
I have known Alex Sitman for many years, and use his stocks exclusively, but was not very familiar with his new Low Profile F-Open stock. After a brief conversation with Alex, I placed an order, and had the stock inletted and bedded at my shop in a month. My first impression was “Wow that’s a long stock” — the forearm is significantly longer than on the original Master Class F-Class prone stock. I bolted the barreled action in, and squeezed the end of the forearm and barrel together, the stock flexed a little bit, but not as much as other designs that I have tested. I think that’s due to having “more meat” in the receiver area. The full stock depth continues farther forward that on some other “low profile” designs. That makes the stock stiffer in the vertical plane, reducing the hinging effect forward of the action. The stock was finished in gloss black per the customer’s request. Interestingly, I found that the multiple layers of paint and clearcoat stiffened the stock up quite a bit.
CLICK IMAGE below for full-screen version
Low Center of Gravity Tames Torque
Compared to the original Master Class F-Open stock, the barrel sits about an inch lower. Lower center of gravity equals less torque, and that is very important when shooting heavy bullets in fast twist barrels. Another significant improvement is that the toe of the stock is flat and parallel to the forearm. I added a 3/4″ track rail in the rear, and milled the underside of the fore-end to create two parallel “rails” in the front to help the stock track better.
One of the biggest reasons why I like Master Class stocks, is the pistol grip. I don’t shoot “free recoil” and a comfortable pistol grip is super important to me when selecting a stock. The new Master Class Low Profile stock shares the same grip as the old model. This allows the stock to accommodate either a “hard hold” style or a more free-recoil style of shooting — whatever the rifle’s owner prefers. This design versatility is one reason I recommend Master Class stocks. Shooters may experiment with either shooting style to find what suits them best.
Cartridge Choice — A 40° .284 Win Improved
Duane decided to have the barrel chambered for my 284 KMR IMP (Improved) wildcat. What is .284 KMR IMP and why choose it over the straight .284 Winchester? Improved by definition means “made better”, I took a great cartridge, and modified it to increase capacity, reduce pressure, and increase brass life.
There are many “improved” variants of the original .284 Winchester: 7mm Walker, .284 Shehane, .284 Ackley and so on. My version, the 284 KMR IMP, shares the .010″ blown-out sidewalls of the .284 Shehane, but I have further increased the case capacity by changing the shoulder angle from 35 to 40 degrees. The 284 KMR IMP allows you to almost match magnum cartridge velocity in a standard-bolt-face action. If you want to run 180gr-class 7mm bullets over 2900 FPS, it is cheaper and more convenient to have a barrel chambered in 284 KMR IMP than to spend $650 for a magnum bolt.
Tuning Loads for the .284 Win Improved Cartridges
The 284 KMR IMP seems to have two nodes, one around 2820 fps and other at 2940 fps. My match load clocks at 2935 fps with single-digit ES. Note –I selected that load based on accuracy, NOT raw speed. A lot of novice (or hard-headed) shooters make the mistake to push their cartridges to the max, and disregard more accurate loads at lower velocity.
The sport of F-Class is rapidly growing, and the equipment used is improving constantly. I remember that only few years ago, an F-Open rifle that could shoot sub-one-inch of vertical at 300 yards was considered competitive. Now, we are pursuing sub-one-inch vertical at 600 yards! It takes a great rifle to approach that goal, but it is also up to the shooter to learn and experiment as much as possible in order to achieve success.
Dies for an Improved .284 Win Cartridge
One of the biggest challenges in campaigning a wildcat cartridge has been obtaining great dies. When searching for custom dies, it almost seems like that the odds are stacked against us. The most common problem is wait-time — custom die orders can take months to be completed. Also, most custom die makers want you to send them two or three cases, each fire-formed three times. I find that funny because if could somehow properly size the cases for three fire-forming cycles, I would not need a sizing die.
Custom-made dies should size the case just right, but sometimes the die’s internal dimensions are slightly off, and this leads to problem number two: dies sizing too much (or even worse) too little. I had a one “custom” die that would not size the bottom of the case enough. This made the extraction of fired cases very difficult. I feel that the best option (if available) for shooters interested in wildcat chambers is to have their gunsmiths make the dies. I offer that die-making service in addition to barrel chambering.
BAT Machine “M” Action
Duane decided to use a BAT M action for this rifle, and I think that he could not have made a better choice. We are blessed with many good match-quality receivers: Barnard, BAT, Borden, Kelbly, Nesika, and Stiller just to mention a few. These are all very well-made and suitable for F-Class. Among BAT Machine Co.actions, I like BAT models M, MB, and 3LL best. I prefer these because because of their size (large bedding footprint) smoothness, timing, options available, and last but not least visual appearance.
Trigger: I recommend and use Jewell triggers. Other good options are: Kelbly, CG Jackson (good 2-Stage) Anschutz (best 2-Stage for Bat and Kelbly actions), Bix’N Andy, and David Tubb.
Barrel: Duane made another good choice here. He decided to go with a Brux 1:8.5″-twist, 4-groove cut-rifled barrel. If you look at the F-Class and Long Range benchrest equipment lists, you will see that cut-rifled barrels are currently dominating. Many records have been shot with both button-rifled, and cut-rifled barrels. I have shot both, and prefer cut-rifled barrels. I am not saying that button-rifled barrels are not capable of shooting as well as cut-rifled barrels, but on average, in my experience, four out of five cut-rifled barrels (from top makers) will shoot well, vs. three out of five buttoned barrels. YMMV, but this is what I’ve observed.
Scope: Duane’s rifle was fitted with a Nightforce 15-55x52mm Competition scope with DDR-2 reticle. This optic is ultra clear, reasonably lightweight (28 oz.), super reliable, and has 1/8 MOA clicks — what you want for long range F-Class competition. In this 15-55X NF model, I like the DDR-2 reticle best, because fine cross hairs (FCH) are hard to see in heavy mirage. The DDR-2 has a heavier horizontal line, with a center dot. March scopes are also very popular and very well-made.
Thanks for reading, and keep ‘em in the middle…
Emil Kovan Competition History:
– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion
– 2016 F-Class Open Canadian Championship, Silver Medal (tied for first on score)
– 2015 F-Class Open National Championship, Silver Medal
– F-Class Open National Championship Teams, 2015, 2014, 2013, Shooting Team Member
– Over 15 wins in Regional and State Championships in Palma, F-TR, F-Open
– 2013 U.S. National Team Member
– 2017 U.S. National Development Team Member
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