October 3rd, 2015

Are These Really the TEN BEST Bolt-Action Rifles?

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.

Ten 10 best bolt action rifles shooter

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
10. Mannlicher-Schonauer


Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing 4 Comments »
September 25th, 2015

New History of the Gun TV Series Features Factory Tours

Ruger Firearms History of Gun American Outdoors Ruger

A new cable television show, History of the Gun, debuts in October. The first episode, previewed in the videos below, features Ruger firearms. The show’s producers visit Ruger’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and show how Ruger handguns and rifles are crafted using “lean manufacturing” techniques and legions of CNC machines.

History of the Gun Episode One, Part ONE — Series Introduction.

Product casting at Ruger’s Foundry in Newport, New Hampshire.
Ruger Firearms History of Gun American Outdoors Ruger

History of the Gun Episode One, Part TWO — Inside the Ruger Factory.

Rifle readied for hydro-dipping process that applies camouflage finish.
Ruger Firearms History of Gun American Outdoors Ruger

The History of the Gun will be produced by Bill Rogers, the award-winning host/producer of the popular American Outdoors TV show. Every week History of the Gun will examine the firearms of yesterday and today, and take a peek at what’s on the drawing board for tomorrow. Factory tours will be regular highlights of the show.

History of the Gun airs on the Hunt Channel (Dish Network), Time Warner Cable, and is syndicated on a number of TV stations across America. History of the Gun also airs in Canada and Europe on WILD-TV.

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September 21st, 2015

Sako Extractor Mod for Rem-Action 6mmBR Tubegun

Sako Extractor Remington bolt

Jonathan Ocab, a High Power shooter from California, had gunsmith Doan Trevor install a Sako-style extractor in the Rem 700 bolt in Ocab’s 6mmBR Eliseo R5 tubegun. Jonathan produced an excellent video showing how the Sako extractor improves the ejection of the short, fat 6mmBR cartridges in his rifle. Jonathan’s video demonstrates 6mmBR case ejection with an unmodified Rem 700 factory bolt versus a factory bolt fitted with a Sako-style extractor.

Johnathan explains: “Note how even when slowly operating the bolt, the bolt with the Sako extractor easily ‘kicks’ out the brass on ejection with minimal chance of operator error resulting in a failure to extract. While the unmodified bolt has issues ejecting brass on slow operation, it will eject if the operator pulls the bolt back quickly (fast and with some force).

While a Sako-style extractor isn’t an absolute necessity, this video shows the definite improvement this modification provides. For short cartridges like the 6mmBR, this is very useful. This modification is highly recommended for competition shooters, especially High Power competitors who seek improved function in rapid-fire stages. This modification is fairly inexpensive and any competent gunsmith should be able to perform the work (usually under $100 with parts and labor).”

EDITOR’s NOTE: In his video, Jonathan deliberately worked the unmodified Remington bolt slowly to show how the standard Rem extractor can struggle with short fat cases like the 6mmBR. In fact, when you work a standard, unmodified bolt more quickly, the extraction can be much more positive. Cycling the bolt with more “snap” provides more energy to eject the cases. We have run an R5 Tubegun chambered in 6mmBR with an unmodified Rem 700 bolt (no SAKO extractor), and the extraction was reliable, provided the bolt was worked quickly.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
September 19th, 2015

Smart Switch-Barrel System from Gunsmith Larry Racine

Larry Racine is a respected gunsmith based in New Hampshire. He is also a two-time member of the U.S. Palma Team, and a five-time New Hampshire State High Power rifle champion. Larry, who runs LPR Gunsmithing, has developed a brilliantly simple means of switching rifle barrels with an ordinary spanner or open-end wrench. With this set-up you can switch barrels in the field in seconds without the need for a barrel vise.

For most barrels, Larry mills a hex with six flats on the end of the barrel. This allows a shooter to change barrels quickly at home or on the line with a simple box-head wrench or a socket wrench. Larry says: “You don’t even have to take the barreled action out of the gun. Just set the buttstock on the ground, between your feet, put a wrench on it, hit it with the palm of your hand — and off comes the barrel.” For barrels fitted with a muzzle brake, Larry has a slightly different system. He mills two flats behind the brake so you can use an open-end wrench to do the job.

With either a hex on the end, or two flats for a brake-equipped rifle, the system works with any medium- to heavy-contour barrel with a muzzle-diameter of at least 0.700″. This will even work for high-power rigs using clamp-on sights or bloop tubes. Larry explains: “A lot of us here in New England use clamp-on front sights. The barrel will be turned to 0.750 for the sight, with the hex on the end. A bloop tube can go right over the end, no problem.”

Larry has used this system over the past few years to win a number of matches. In one 600-yard 3 by 20 prone match, Larry used three different barrels, with three different chamberings, on the same Savage rifle. Larry changed the barrels on the line.

Larry was able to do this because the system has little to no loss of zero from one installation of a given barrel to the next installation of that barrel. This lets the shooter start the match with confidence that the first sighter will be on paper. Larry reports that the simple system works great: “To date we have used this system on Savage, Remington, Winchester, RPA, and Nesika actions.”

Racine’s system is very affordable. If Larry does the chamber work on your barrel he charges $45.00 extra to mill a hex or two flats on your barrel. If you only want the hex or flats done, Larry charges $55.00. For more info, visit LPRGunsmith.com or call Larry at (603) 357-0055.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
September 13th, 2015

IBS Gear Spotlight: Steve Jordan’s “Log-Splitter” Heavy Gun

Can you really make a silk purse from a sow’s ear? Would you believe a winning benchrest rifle could be constructed with a stock fashioned from a cast-off log-splitter? Well it can.

Anyone who has attended an IBS benchrest match knows that this brotherhood of shooters includes some “backyard engineers” who can build amazing things with low-cost components. Consider Steve Jordan. He has built a winning Heavy Gun with a gunstock made out of a wood splitter. Check out the photo. The butt section is in the shape of a “V” like an ax. The “V” sits on an adjustable, flat rear sandbag. The flat shaft of the wood-splitter, running horizontally, serves as the main chassis and fore-end. The barrel block sits on top (with the action floated), while the flat, forward section of the shaft rides the front bag. Not only does this “log-splitter” stock work, but Jordan has won IBS matches with it! Sometimes simple and cheap beats expensive and fancy.

Sam Hall Says the Log-Splitter Has Been “Kicking Our Tails”
Sam Hall (multi-time IBS 600-yard champion) reports: “I was not at the first match where Steve Jordan debuted his barrel-blocked, Heavy Gun stock made out of a wood splitter. From what I heard he cleaned house with it that day. When I first heard about this log-splitter rig, I thought guys were pulling my leg. But the log-splitter Heavy Gun really exists. In fact, over the past two years at Piedmont, Steve’s home-built log-splitter HG has won numerous Heavy Gun matches, out-performing nearly all the other Heavy Guns on the line, even those that cost thousands more to build.

Steve made the rifle as economical as possible. Steve’s entire stock is made from a metal wood splitter. From what I understand, Ray Lowman gave him the barrel block. This rides on the shaft of the wood splitter. With this inexpensive, simple rig Steve has been kicking our tails! By the way, Steve’s Heavy Gun is chambered as a 6mm Dasher.”

Accurateshooter.com International Benchrest Shooters

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 3 Comments »
September 12th, 2015

Nice Suhl 150-1 Rimfire BR Rig with Home-Built Stock

Suhl 150 IR 50/50 cedar stock

Forum member Evan K. (aka “Katokoch”) has crafted a nice rimfire benchrest rig using a Suhl action fitted into a handsome home-built cedar and carbon fiber stock. This shows what a skilled hobbyist wood-worker can create in his garage. Evan tells us: “Here is my Suhl 150-1 with a factory 1:19″ twist barrel, Leupold 36X scope, Harrell tuner, and my handmade cedar/carbon fiber stock. I started working on the laminate blank a couple years ago and finally finished it earlier this year. I’ve been using it in my IR 50/50 matches this summer. I haven’t shot a 250 with it yet but I know the rifle is very capable — as usual, I am the weak link!”

Suhl 150 IR 50/50 cedar stock

We think Evan did a great job on his stock, though he has limited stock-building experience. Evan explained: “The stock is my first attempt at making a very lightweight laminate and also gluing both vertical and horizontal seams in a blank. The wood is Spanish and Red Cedar and I made the trigger guard and buttplate with carbon fiber too (great use for small scrap pieces). The finish is hand-rubbed spar urethane and the action is semi-glued-in with Devcon 10110 and stainless pillars.”

Suhl 150 IR 50/50 cedar stock

USRA-IR50/50 is a popular .22 rimfire benchrest discipline with three (3) classes: 13.5 lb., 10.5 lb., and 7.5 lb. (Sporter). The matches are shot at 50 yards and 50 meters.

Permalink Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
September 10th, 2015

F-TR State of the Art — Low Profile Rig with Scoville Stock

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

One recent trend in F-TR competition is the use of low-profile, benchrest-type stocks shot with a light hand-hold and little or no face contact. For this method of F-TR shooting to work, you need the right equipment, and practice a “minimalist” shooting technique. One of the pioneers in this style of F-TR shooting is action-maker John Pierce of Pierce Engineering. Above you can see John shooting one of his F-TR rifles at the 2015 Canadian F-Class Championships. Note the straight-line stock and see how the adjustable bipod is set quite low to the ground (in fact the bipod’s arms are almost straight out).

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

Members of the Michigan F-TR Team, including Bryan Litz, have used similar rigs with success. Bryan said it took a while to adapt his shooting technique to this kind of rig, but there is a pay-off. Armed with a Pierce-built F-TR rifle, Bryan won his first-ever F-TR Match. Bryan explains the technique he uses when shooting this kind of rifle:

“Coming over from sling shooting, I knew there would be unique challenges to F-TR which I wanted to learn prior to (not during) a major tournament. I learned a new shooting position which doesn’t involve drawing the right knee up. For F-TR I get more straight behind the gun rather than at an angle. I found that the rifle shoots best with very light cheek, shoulder and grip pressure, approaching free recoil. This is how Eric Stecker shot his similar rifle into second place in the SW Nationals [with high X-Count by a large margin]. I learned the rifle’s sensitivity to different bipod and rear bag supports, and found the best buttplate position to allow the rifle to track and stay on target after recoil. This set-up shot best with a mostly free-recoil approach, that means ‘hovering’ over the comb, rather than resting your head on the stock. This took some ‘getting used to’ in terms of neck and back muscle tone. These are the kind of details I think it’s important to focus on when entering a new discipline.”

Bryan’s Pierce-built F-TR rig is a tack-driver: “I can certainly vouch for this set-up! In last weekend’s mid-range State Championship in Midland, MI, I shot my Pierce rifle into first place with a 598-44X (20 shots at 300, 500 and 600). Once you get used to the positioning and way of shooting these rifles, they just pour shots through the center of the target.”

Pierce F-TR Rifles with Scoville Stocks
Shown below are three complete Pierce F-TR rifles, along with a barreled action for comparison. The carbon-fiber/composite stocks are built by Bob Scoville. These Scoville stocks are very light, yet very strong and very stiff.

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 5 Comments »
August 31st, 2015

Forum Member Crafts Wood Fore-Arm for his AR15

ar15 wood stock Lucid Brownells

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.

ar15 wood stock Lucid Brownells

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.”


Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 3 Comments »
August 30th, 2015

Drop-Port Actions — Stiller’s Slick Innovation

Stiller Drop-Port

Many of you may not have seen how Jerry Stiller’s innovative Drop-Port works with a 6BR, PPC, or Dasher case. Stiller Precision has created one slick system. Just retract the bolt and your case exits, nose-first, through a small port, coming to rest right under the gun. It works by gravity alone so you don’t need a conventional ejector, with the case alignment issues an ejector can create. (An ejector pushes on one side of the rim — this can push the case out of “perfect” alignment.) While Drop-port technology could, potentially, work with nearly any size cartridge, at this time, Drop-ports are only offered for PPC, 6BR, and Dasher-sized cases. Your Editor has a Drop-Port Viper action used with the 6mm BRDX cartridge, which is similar to a Dasher but with a slightly longer neck. It works flawlessly. Our Belgian friend David Bergen was kind enough to video his Viper Drop-Port in action:

Currently, the Drop-port system is available with the Viper action (both aluminum and stainless), and the round-profile Diamondback actions (but expect to wait a LONG time if you want the flat-bottomed Viper action). Because of the nature of Drop-port geometry, this system is optimized for short-length benchrest cartridges such as the 220 Russian, 22 and 6mm PPC, 6mmBR, and the 6mmBR Improved (Dasher, BRX, BRDX). If you plan to use a Drop-port with a Dasher or other improved case, you should tell Stiller Precision when you order. Also, if your gunsmith has not built a Drop-port rifle before, he should first consult with Stiller Precision, (972) 429-5000, to ensure the exit port is placed and inletted correctly in the stock. Getting the geometry exactly right is critical with this system.

Permalink Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
August 25th, 2015

Savage Recalls B.MAG 17 WSM Rifles for Bolt Safety Issue

Savage B.MAG BMAG 17 WSM Bolt cap handle recall notice safety

Savage Arms has issued a RECALL notice on B.MAG (17 WSM) rifles after discovering that the bolt on some B.MAG rifles may catch the safety button and slide it forward into the “fire” position. This condition is primarily present if downward pressure is applied to the bolt too early while pushing it forward. While Savage has received no reports of accidents related to issue, the company will offer free retrofits of all B.MAG rifle bolts. Savage 17 WSM B.MAG rifles with a serial number below J800928 are included in this recall. No other Savage firearms are affected.

The bolt retrofit includes the replacement of the existing bolt handle and bolt cap with a revised bolt handle and bolt cap. The correct, revised parts are easily identified. The old bolt cap is conical. The new, corrected bolt cap is short and stubby. See illustration:

Savage B.MAG BMAG 17 WSM Bolt cap handle recall notice safety

To avoid possible unintentional discharge or injury, do not use your B.MAG rifle until your bolt has been retrofitted with a new bolt handle and cap.

CLICK HERE for B.MAG Bolt Cap and Bolt Handle Retrofit Instructions (6-Page PDF).

Savage has a dedicated B.MAG Recall webpage (http://www.savagearms.com/recall/bmagbolt/) and hotline (844-784-3301, Mon through Fri 8 am to 10 pm EDT). Use those resources to check your serial number, file a claim, and receive a free retrofit kit with simple, step-by-step instructions.

Permalink Gunsmithing, News 2 Comments »
August 22nd, 2015

Video Shows How to Replace Remington 700 Trigger

Remington 700 trigger replacement Timney installation

Many Remington 700 rifle owners swap out the factory trigger. This is not a difficult task, but you need to follow the proper procedure so you don’t damage any important parts during installation, and so that you don’t interfere with the operation of the bolt and safety. This Do-It-Yourself video from Brownells leads you through step by step how to safely and correctly replace your Remington 700 trigger. This installation video covers the common methods used to install most of the popular after-market Rem 700 triggers. Importantly, the video also shows how to function test after installation, and how to make sure your safety is working properly.

Many Rem 700 owners fit Timney triggers to their rifles.
Remington 700 trigger replacement Timney installation

Video find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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August 17th, 2015

6mm-223 Across the Course Rifle Project

6mm 223 sinclair

Intro: Ron Dague wanted a new gun that was similar to his trusty .223 Rem rifle, but which fired 6mm bullets. There is a superb choice of bullets in this caliber, and Ron found that the 95gr Berger VLD could be driven to a healthy 2,604 fps by the small .223 Rem case. This 6mm wildcat based on the common .223 Rem offers excellent accuracy and very low recoil — something very important in the cross-the-course discipline. In addition, Ron’s 95gr load with Reloder 15 delivered an ES of just 4 fps over ten shots. That exceptionally low ES helps achieve minimal vertical dispersion at 600 yards.

6mm 223 Across the course McMilland stock Ron Dague Sinclair InternationalBy Ron Dague, Sinclair Reloading Tech
From Sinclair’s The Reloading Press

I already had a .223 Remington match rifle, and I wanted the 6mm-223 to be as close to the same as I could make it. I installed the barreled action in a wood 40X stock to work up load data and work out any magazine feeding issues. While I was working on that, I looked for a McMillan Baker Special stock and finally found one to finish this project. I bedded the action and stock, then took the rifle to the range to check zeros on the sights and scope. I was surprised that I didn’t have to change anything on the sights. I thought changing the stock would cause sight changes. The thought went through my head, “Maybe the 40X stock isn’t all that bad”.

Here’s line-up of 6mm bullets. The Berger 95gr VLD is in the middle.
berger 6mm bullet hornady sierra line up 6mm 233

I took the new rifle to the first match of the year, a National Match Course match, and my off-hand score was 83, rapid sitting 95, rapid prone 95, and slow fire prone 197 — for total aggregate 470. This may not be my best work, but on match day the wind was blowing about 15 mph and the temp was around 40° F, with rain threatening. This was a reduced course of fire — we shot at 200 and 300 yards on reduced targets.

I used 70gr Berger bullets for this match, loaded in Remington brass with 25 grains of VihtaVuori N540 and Federal 205M primers. When I worked up loads for this rifle, N540 gave the best accuracy with the best extreme spread — 2,950 fps with an extreme spread of 20 fps on a 10-shot string. The load for 600 yards was with a 95gr Berger VLD bullet, with 23.0 grains of Reloder 15, Lapua cases, and the same Federal 205M primers. This load is 2,604 fps, with an extreme spread of 4 fps over a 10-shot string. I’ve shot this load at several 3×600 yard matches, and the accuracy has proven to be very good. At the last 3×600 match, my scores were as follows: 199-10x and 198-11X with scope, and 193-10X with iron sights. Best 600-yard score so far with iron sights was 198-12X.

6mm-223 Rem Rifle Specifications: 700 BDL action and floor plate, Bartlein 6mm 1:8″ twist, McMillan Baker Special stock in Desert Camo, Centra front and rear sights, Ken Farrell bases with stripper clip guide, Sinclair hand stop, and Jewell trigger. Gunsmith Neil Keller helped me with the metal work and instructed me on the action work and rebarreling.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing 11 Comments »
August 15th, 2015

Cerakote Gun Finishing — From Start to Finish

NIC Industries Cerakote Firearms Coatings

NIC Industries Cerakote Firearms CoatingsCerakote is an advanced, highly durable, heat-cured coating that offers excellent corrosion resistance when applied to firearms. Cerakote can be applied to both metals and plastics, and many top firearms manufacturers (and custom gun builders) now offer Cerakote finishes as an option on their shotguns, hunting rifles, and tactical arms.

While Cerakote is not difficult to use, application of Cerakote is not just a simple “spray and bake” process. Best results are achieved when firearms are carefully degreased and surface-prepped prior to application. The video below, produced by NIC Industries, the manufacturer of Cerakote, shows the application process from start to finish. If you watch the video you’ll learn the importance of careful, step-by-step product prep. Metals should be surface-blasted prior to coating, and curing times need to be adjusted to the material type (polymer vs. fiberglass vs. metal). Cerakote is offered in a wide variety of colors. Multi-color finishes, including camouflage, can be applied by a skilled operator.

The video above shows a professional technician applying Cerakote finish to rifles and pistols. All gunsmiths who plan to offer Cerokote finishes should definitely watch this video. NOTE: Cerakote Firearms Coatings are designed for professionals and should be applied by an NIC-trained application specialist or a coating professional with proper training and equipment. NIC Industries stresses that “it is critical to follow all these instructions”.

Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
August 9th, 2015

39% Increase in Suppressor Ownership in Past Year

Can Suppressor Moderator Silencer BATFE ATF Guns.com Registered NFA 800,000 suppressors in USA

There has been a huge growth in the number of registered suppressors in the USA. From 2014 to 2015, the number of NFA-registered suppressors rose from 571,150 to 792,282. That’s a 39% increase in just one year! It’s remarkable that there are nearly 800,000 suppressors now registered in the USA. These stats are based on data published in the latest Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) Firearms Commerce Report.

According to Knox Williams, president of the American Suppressor Association, “The suppressor market grew more [from 2014-2015] than it did in the previous two years combined. This unprecedented growth is in large part due to educational initiatives, and the passage of 11 pro-suppressor laws and regulations last year.” (Source: Guns.com.)

We expect suppressors (also known as “cans”, “silencers” or “sound moderators”) to become even more popular in the years to come. This trend will continue: “As more target shooters and hunters realize the many benefits suppressors provide, their popularity across the United States will continue to increase,” said NSSF Senior Vice president and General Counsel Larry Keane.

Texas Leads the Way in Suppressor Ownership
Currently, 41 states permit ownership of Federally-registered suppressors. While suppressor ownership rates are increasing in all those 41 states, forty percent (40%) of all registered suppressors are found in five key states: Texas (130,769), Georgia (59,942), Florida (50,422), Utah (50,291) and Oklahoma (27,874).

Can Suppressor Moderator Silencer BATFE ATF Guns.com Registered NFA 800,000 suppressors in USA

Suppressor CAD drawing by Reimo Soosaar, hosted on GrabCAD.com.
Silencer infographic by SilencerCo.com.

Permalink Gunsmithing, News 12 Comments »
July 28th, 2015

History of Firearms Covered in Online Video Series

Sturm, Ruger & Co. has created a series of 11 short videos that trace the history of firearms, from matchlocks to modern semi-autos. Ruger’s “History of the Gun” video series provides a fascinating look at firearms technology throughout the years. The host is Garry James, Senior Editor of Guns & Ammo magazine. Featured here is Segment 7 on Rifling. Other installments in the series are linked below.

YouTube Preview Image
Flintlock mechanism
Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
July 24th, 2015

F-Open Shooter Turns to the “Dark Side”… F-TR Competition


Jay Christopherson, our Forum admin and dedicated F-Open shooter, recently ventured to the “dark side”, crossing disciplines and trying his hand at F-TR, shooting off a bipod. Jay wasn’t using just any old F-TR rig. He used a purpose-built rifle, designed to mimic the handling of his Open rifle. With this rig, Jay won two of the three matches he’s shot in, including the F-TR division at the Washington State Long Range Championships. Jay’s last 600-yard match featured two clean scores with excellent X-Counts, including a 200-13X and a 200-15X (one off the national record) for a total score of 599-36X.

The 2015 Washington State Long Range Championships was held at the infamous “Rattlesnake” range in Richland, WA, which has some of the most challenging wind conditions in the USA. At the LR Championships, shooting his .308 Win F-TR rig, Jay was right up there with the F-Open shooters. Until the final relay, Jay was within three points of the overall F-Open leader, and still finished second overall in X-Count and score. This demonstrates the capability of a state-of-the-art F-TR rig.

In this story, Jay describes his F-TR rifle and set-up. Knowledgeable readers will recognize that Jay’s gun is similar to John Pierce-built rigs successfully fielded by Michigan F-TR Team shooters.


by Jay Christopherson
I originally decided to build a F-TR rifle to shoot at local mid-range club matches. I keep burning through F-Open barrels (and components) because I shoot a lot more local club matches than “big” matches – maybe 2:1 or 3:1. The end result is that I’d be endlessly tweaking loads and burning up barrels and I just got tired of it. The endless tweaking also caused me some trouble at large matches and I thought shooting a .308 Win would be more “relaxing” from a technical point of view.  It’s a very well understood round at this point.

I’d been kicking around the idea of shooting F-TR for a couple of years, but I didn’t want an F-TR rig that handled completely different than my Open gun. I didn’t want to learn different habits from a different stock or position that would cause issues on race day. I use a Terry Leonard/Speedy Gonzales designed F-Class Open stock that is designed more along benchrest lines than the traditional prone stocks you see most F-Class shooters using. I don’t like to use any hand grip at all and my preferred position is very light pressure into the shoulder and just enough cheek touch to index. So, when I saw Eric Stecker at the 2014 Berger SWN (and later Bryan Litz) shooting an F-TR rig that was designed along the same lines, I decided to get serious about it.

The Stock is the Secret
The stock is a Scoville carbon-fiber-over-balsa model set up for a Panda action (which I had on hand). This stock is extremely stiff and stable. I purpose-built the rifle to shoot 215gr Berger bullets and I knew that I would keep my velocity relatively low-ish – in the 2500+ fps range. If I ran those 215s much faster, the recoil would become an issue for me. I bought and chambered a Benchmark 1:9″-twist barrel, in a heavier-than-normal contour. This was finished at 28″. I custom-throated the chamber with a PTG .30 Cal Uni-Throater to accommodate the longer-than-normal OAL I wanted.

F-TR rifle Jay Christopherson Washington Long-Range Championship

I modified my Phoenix bipod based on some of the pictures I’ve seen of John Pierce’s modifications and after talking to John at the 2015 Berger SWN. I sure do appreciate how open he is with the modifications he’s done. I doubt I would have thought of putting together a rifle like this without his example.

Proofing at Mid-Range
From the get-go, this F-TR rifle has been a shooter. It handles extremely well, and recoil is not a problem at my velocities. The 215s still maintain a significant wind advantage over the more usual 155gr and 185gr bullets at long distances. Ballistics Performance is not quite in the same class as the 7MM 180gr bullets I shoot in my F-Open rifle, but not that far off either.

Below is a 300-yard target shot while proofing my load in preparation for 600-yard matches. I decided to shoot a “match” string (2 “sighters” + 20 “record” shots). Looking at this target, I’m thinking that if I had clicked left one or two clicks, this might have been a 200-20X.

F-TR rifle Jay Christopherson Washington Long-Range Championship

On Race Day
I’ve shot three matches with my F-TR rifle now, two 600-yard club matches and the WA State Long Range Championships at the infamous “Rattlesnake” range in Richland, WA. The LR Championship was the first time I’ve shot the rifle at long range. At the 600-yard club matches, I’ve had several “cleans”, including a 200-13X and a 200-15X (finishing 599-36X at the last one, which is just within my normal Open scoring range). At the WA State Long Range Championship, I managed to win the F-TR division in extremely hot conditions (100+ degrees over two days of shooting) and managed to post the second highest X-count and finish second overall among all F-Class shooters (F-Open and F-TR combined). I was “in the running” for the overall win until the last relay.

Seduced by the “Dark Side” — The Lure of F-TR
I still plan to shoot my Open rifle at “big” matches, but I doubt I’ll be able to leave the F-TR rifle in the safe for all of them. My reference to the “dark side” is an inside joke between myself and another shooter. I kept saying that shooting F-TR was just for fun… that I wasn’t taking it too seriously. However, the more I shoot F-TR, the deeper into the “Dark Side” I seem to fall. F-TR is a different animal than F-Open (I use a Nascar vs. Formula 1 analogy), but it’s addicting. And not having to carry 30 pounds of front rest doesn’t make me sad when I’m traveling!

F-TR rifle Jay Christopherson Washington Long-Range Championship

Top Three F-TR shooters at WA State Championships: Jay Christopherson (Winner), Monte Milanuk (second), and Laton Crawford (third).

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
July 24th, 2015

Ray Gets His Gun… With New McMillan F-TR Stock

F-TR McMillan stock Bix 'N Andy Ray Gross

USA F-TR Team Captain has a new competition rifle, which features the brand new McMillan F-TR stock. Ray is very pleased… “It’s like Christmas”, he says. The reduced mass of the new McMillan stock helps F-TR shooters “make weight” more easily. Ray tells us:

“This McMillan stock really changes the weight budget. Kelly McMillan updated his three-way buttplate design to make it substantially lighter and the stock itself has a very light fill. Fully assembled, with a 29″ HV-contour barrel (.900″ at muzzle), Duplin bipod, and Nightforce NXS scope, the rig is about 10 ounces under weight. Switch to a Nightforce Competition scope and it will be 14-15 ounces under.” Ray says he could run a slightly longer barrel and still make weight.

Initially, Ray will install a Jewell trigger in the rifle, but he hopes to try out a Bix ‘N Andy trigger in the future. Made in Austria, the advanced Bix ‘N Andy trigger (shown below), features ball bearing internals for an ultra-smooth, creep-free pull and very short lock time.

F-TR McMillan stock Bix 'N Andy Ray Gross

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product No Comments »
July 21st, 2015

6.5×47 Lapua — Accuracy to Spare for Tactical Applications

6.5x47 Lapua Tactical Rifle Ryan Pierce Brux Barrel H4350 Berger Hybrid

We recently published our comprehensive 6.5×47 Lapua Cartridge Guide, researched by the 6.5 Guys. In case you’ve been wondering what kind of accuracy is possible for a tactical-type rifle chambered for this mid-sized cartridge, check out this tack-driver built by gunsmith Ryan Pierce. That’s a mighty impressive 0.206″ five-shot group fired with Berger 140gr Hybrids using a Brux cut-rifled barrel. The powder was Hodgdon H4350, a very good choice for this cartridge.

6.5x47 Lapua Tactical Rifle Ryan Pierce Brux Barrel H4350 Berger Hybrid

Ryan reports: “Here is a 6.5×47 I built for a customer. It features a trued Rem 700 action, Brux 1:8″ Rem varmint-contour barrel, Mcmillan thumbhole stock, Surgeon bottom metal, and 3-port muzzle brake. The customer’s preferred load is the same that has worked in the last couple dozen 6.5x47s I’ve built: 41.1-41.3 grains of H4350 with 140 hybrids .050″ off the lands. This should run about 2810-2815 fps from a 26″ barrel. The 3.128″ refers to length of a loaded round from the base to ogive including the Hornady ogive comparator tool.”

6.5x47 Lapua Tactical Rifle Ryan Pierce Brux Barrel H4350 Berger Hybrid

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical 5 Comments »
July 19th, 2015

CMP Armorer Explains Garand Headspacing Procedures

M1 Garand head space

Garand matches are among the most popular and well-attended of the CMP competition disciplines. When obtained directly from the CMP, Garands are fun to shoot and affordable. However, with these classic battle rifles, you need to ensure that the headspace is set properly to ensure safe function and good brass life.

Garand WWII posterIn the archives of The FIRST SHOT, the CMP’s online magazine, CMP Armorer John McLean has written an excellent article entitled: “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Checking M1 Garand Head Space.” We recommend all Garand shooters read the article.

McClean explains: “Excessive headspace will cause the brass to stretch more than it should and increases the likelihood of a case failure. Insufficient headspace may contribute to slam fires, light strikes on primers, misfires and more wear on parts due to the additional force needed to chamber the rounds.”

Garand Head Space Gauges
McClean writes: “Both Forster and Clymer make fine gauges but we have found that there are differences between the two companies’ gauges that make the Clymer gauges best for use with the M1. The headspace that the original manufacturers of the M1 considered correct can be determined by checking new or nearly new rifles that we have here at CMP. With that information we have determined that Springfield Armory and the other manufacturers of the M1 used gauges that were very close to the Clymer dimensions… and therefore we use, and recommend using only the Clymer gauges.”

How to Check for Proper Headspace
In the article, McClean goes on to show how to properly use the “GO”, “NO GO”, and “FIELD” gauges. You’ll want to read the Complete Article. One of the important points McClean makes is that the ejector can affect headspace reading. Accordingly, “the bolt must be disassembled and the ejector removed, or clearance notches must be made on the headspace gauges so there will be no contact between the headspace gauges and the ejector.”


Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
July 11th, 2015

Tactical Transformer: .243 Win Becomes a 6-6.5×47 Lapua

6mm-6.5x47 6x47 Lapua Tactical Accuracy International

Article by Bill, Editor of Rifleshooter.com
A few years ago I built a custom switch-barrel Remington 700 on an AICS Chassis chambered in .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester. I found the .243 Win finicky during load development and started looking at other options for the 6mm Bartlein 1:8″-twist HV barrel.

6mm-6.5x47 6x47 Lapua Tactical Accuracy InternationalInitially drawn to the 6mmBR and 6mm Dasher, I realized these cartridges wouldn’t feed from an AICS magazine system without extensive modification. I took a look at the 6mm Creedmoor, 6XC, and 6mm-6.5×47 Lapua (aka 6×47 Lapua), all of which feed well from a detachable magazine. At right you can see the 6×47 Lapua in an AICS magazine. It has the “Goldilocks factor” — not too long, not too short.

The ability to simply convert 6.5×47 Lapua brass to 6×47 brass by running the parent 6.5mm brass through a full-length Forster sizing die in a single step was what made me choose the 6×47 Lapua over the 6mm Creedmoor and 6XC (both excellent cartridges in their own right). I also own a 6.5×47 Lapua rifle, so I had a supply of 6.5×47 brass ready to neck-down. Being able to create 6×47 brass easily (one pass and done) was very appealing.

Left to right, below: 6mmBR, 6-6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5×47 Lapua, and .243 Winchester.
Rifleshooter.com6mm-6.5x47 6x47 Lapua Tactical Accuracy International

I cut the chamber end off my .243 Win barrel, threaded and chambered my rifle for the 6×47 Lapua cartridge. I have written a lengthy article on this cutting and re-chambering process. Home gunsmiths interested in this process can READ MORE HERE.

When the re-chambering was complete, I headed to the range and worked up a set of eight loads using Berger 108 BTHPs, H4350, Lapua brass, and CCI 450 primers.

Rifleshooter.com 6mm-6.5x47 6x47 Lapua Tactical Accuracy International

Load development was a little trickier than with the 6.5×47 Lapua parent cartridge. The accuracy nodes were smaller. However, once I dialed in a load with Hodgdon H4350 and the 108-grain Berger BTHP, the rest was history. The 6×47 rig is now one of the most consistent rifles I own, holding just above 0.3 MOA for 5-round groups. Below is a 100-yard test target with 108-grain Berger BT in the 6×47 Lapua. Five-shot group sizes are (L to R): .369″, .289″, and .405″. The average size was .354″ or .338 MOA. [Editor: We think that is excellent accuracy for a tactical-type rifle shot from bipod.]

6mm-6.5x47 6x47 Lapua Tactical Accuracy International

Learn More about this 6×47 Lapua Project
I’ve written more about this 6×47 rifle on my Rifleshooter.com website. To learn more about my experience with the 6×47 Lapua, click this link: 6-6.5X47 Lapua Review.

About the author: Bill has been a serious shooter for over 20 years. A former Marine Corps Sergeant, he’s competed and placed in High Power Rifle, ISPC, USPSA, IDPA, 3-Gun, F-Class, and precision rifle disciplines. In addition to being an NRA-certified firearms instructor and range officer, Bill has hunted big game in North America, South America, and Africa. Bill writes extensively about gunsmithing, precision rifles, and the shooting sports on his blog, Rifleshooter.com.

Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing, Tactical 1 Comment »