October 18th, 2018

Definitive Book for AR-Platform Gear-A-Holics

AR AR15 Armalite Black Rifle Book Gun Digest
Photo Courtesy Cabela’s Gun Sports

Kevin Muramatsu’s black rifle book, the Gun Digest Guide to Customizing Your AR-15, is a great resource for fans of AR-platform rifles. All the AR options you can imagine are covered: suppressors, premium barrels, adjustable stocks, free-float handguards, ergonomic grips, buffer systems, tactical lights and much more. Those planning an AR rifle build will find application-specific suggestions for 3-Gun, Service Rifle, High Power (Space Gun), Hunting, and Self-Defense use.

AR AR15 Armalite Black Rifle Book Gun Digest AR AR15 Armalite Black Rifle Book Gun Digest

Firearms expert Muramatsu offers advice on choosing the right stock/barrel/optics configuration for your particular game. He also discusses the wide variety of options for slings, grips, magazines and other accessories. With over 520 photos, the book includes a large photo gallery of customized ARs, and includes bonus coverage of the FAL and other “tactical” firearms. The Gun Digest Guide to Customizing Your AR-15 is available from Amazon.com for $20.13, and a Kindle eBook version is offered for $14.99. The book is also sold by Barnes & Noble, and most other major booksellers.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical No Comments »
October 13th, 2018

SAKO Factory Tour — Visiting Production Facility in Finland

Beretta Factory SAKO Tour Finland

Beretta, makers of fine shotguns, rifles, and pistols, also owns Finnish rifle-maker SAKO. In this article, which first appeared in the Beretta Blog, hunting guide Mia Anstine writes about her visit to the Sako factory and her live-fire shooting test to secure her hunting permit. CLICK HERE for full story.

Visiting the SAKO Factory in Finland, by Mia Anstine
What a joy to wake up in Finland and prepare for a tour of Sako. I enjoyed a European breakfast with a view of downtown Helsinki. Shortly I joined the hosts and writer’s group, and we boarded the bus for a ride to Riihimaki, to the manufacturing facility.

Sako built its original manufacturing facility during World War I. To this day they still utilize the original buildings but have also grown over the years to include larger production areas and updated equipment.

Video shows Sako Rifle-Making and Hunting in Finland’s Backcountry (worth watching):

Beretta Holding’s acquisition of the Sako company brought additional opportunity for growth. The company added state-of-the-art machinery which has aided in increased production. However, they’ve still maintained their signature quality-built products by keeping the human element integrated throughout the production line.

After a quick tour of the Sako facility, we headed to the shooting range. We shot a number or Sako and Tikka rifles, but first, we sighted in our hunting rifles in preparation for a brown bear and moose hunt. I would be hunting with a Sako model 85 Hunter chambered in 9.3 mm. (Editor: For fans of this big 0.366 caliber, Sako offers both 9.3x62mm and 9.3x66mm Sako chamberings).

Beretta Factory SAKO Tour Finland

Hunters Must Pass Marksmanship Tests
To hunt bear in Finland, you must first pass a hunting test as well as shooting test. The timed, live-fire event [requires] five rounds in the kill zone of a brown bear at 100 meters. Of course, the ever-courteous Finns had ladies go first, so I felt more than a bit of pressure, and I know I shot a bit faster than necessary. Regardless, I cycled rounds and passed with ease.

Next, we headed to a different bay at the shooting range where we experienced the hunting test from days of old. In this test, we shot from standing position at a moose target. First, we shot three rounds in the kill zone, from 100 meters, and then three at the moose target as it raced by, from right-to-left and left-to-right, at 20 kilometers per hour. While this test is no longer required, it was a pleasure to try our hands at it.

CLICK HERE for full story on BERETTA BLOG

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
September 29th, 2018

Norm Harrold and His Championship-Winning F-Open Rig

F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

After Norm Harrold won the 2018 F-Open National Championship in Raton, New Mexico, setting a new 1000-yard National Record in the process, many of our Forum members wanted to see Norm’s championship-winning rifle, and learn more about Norm’s experience at the Nationals. Read on for coverage of Norm’s equipment and .284 Shehane ammo. Scroll down and you’ll find a detailed video showing how McMillan builds the advanced Kestros ZR stocks, like the one Norm used at Raton.

Norm posted: “I made it home from Raton 2018 F-Class Nationals and what an unbelievably amazing week I had. I was blessed enough to bring home a new F-Open 1000-yard record and the National Championship! Our Team McMillan took second in Mid-range and fourth overall in Long Range. I am so thankful and blessed to have this opportunity and to be able to do it with such a stand-up group of competitors and lifelong friends. Thanks to all our sponsors: McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, Nightforce Optics, Kelbly’s [Actions], Bartlein Barrels, and Berger Bullets.”

F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

Gun and Load: Norm’s F-Open rig features a McMillan Kestros ZR stock and Bartlein barrel chambered for the .284 Shehane, which has a bit more case capacity than a standard .284 Winchester. Norm loaded Berger 184gr 7mm bullets in Lapua brass. Norma revealed his load in an Erik Cortina YouTube Video. Fellow shooter Erik Cortina joked — “the minute this video goes live, the 184s will be hard to find”. Norm says “Stock up guys — they shoot good!”

F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

Here Norm Harrold shows his shooting form. Note how low the McMillan Kestros ZR forearm sits on Norm’s SEB NEO front rest. Norma also uses a large footprint rear bag for enhanced stability.

Harrold Shoots 200-22X to Smash 1000-Yard F-Open Record
On a rainy day at Raton, Norm shot brilliantly to set a new F-Open National Record: 200-22X at 1000 yards. (The previous record was 200-17X.) How could he get 22 Xs for a 20-shot string? Under NRA rules, if you shoot all Xs for the full string, you are allowed to keep shooting for as long as you can put shots in the X-Ring. Norm almost missed the chance to extend his X-Count. After his 20th shot, Norm recalled, “I said ‘I’m done, give me my target’, but … my shooting partner said ‘No! Keep shooting!’” So Norm did, drilling two more Xs to set the new National Record.

F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

Kelly McMillan Shows Design and Construction of the Kestros ZR:

In this video, Kelly McMillan explains the design features and construction methods for the Kestros ZR, a fiberglass Kestros with aluminum extension rails in the front. Kelly explains “how and why we made the stock the way we did” and he shows how to retro-fit standard Kestros stocks with the new front rails. On the ZR the rails are anchored to a reinforced area for extra rigidity. In addition, the cantilevered rails are milled to be perfectly parallel. If you shoot F-Class we strongly recommend you watch this video.

Kelly McMillan Kestros ZR front rail prototype
Kelly McMillan showed us the prototype Kestros ZR at the 2018 Berger Southwest Nationals.

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
September 28th, 2018

How to Clear-Coat Laminated Wood Stocks

Laminated wood stocks offer an excellent combination of price and performance, and they can be obtained in a myriad of styles to suit your discipline — hunting, benchrest, tactical, silhouette, or high power. Laminated stocks can be a little trickier to finish compared to a hardwood such as walnut, as laminates are often delivered in bright or highly contrasting colors. Traditional wood finishes can alter the colors. Also, filling the pores in laminated stocks is an issue.

Automotive clear-coat products have become popular for finishing laminated wood stocks because they won’t alter the stock’s colors, and the clear-coat provides a durable weather-resistant finish. Clear-coat is also easy to “touch up” and it fills pores better than some other alternatives. Mike Ricklefs has written a comprehensive article on stock painting that includes a special section on clear-coating over laminated woods. If you want to clear-coat a stock, Mike’s article is a must-read!

In that Stock Painting Article, Mike offers these tips:

1. When finishing laminated stocks with clear-coat, you need to prepare the wood carefully, and build up quite a few thin layers one at a time. Begin by sanding, with progressively finer paper, all the way to 400 grit. Certain laminated stocks are so rough when they come from the stock-maker, that you may have to be very aggressive at first. But be careful with angles and the edges of flats. You don’t want to round these off as you sand.

2. After sanding, use compressed air to blow out all dust from the pores of the wood. This is very important to avoid a “muddy” looking finish. If you don’t blow the dust out with air before spraying the clear it will migrate out as you apply the clear. Also, after each sanding session, clean your painting area to remove excess dust. I also wet down the floor of my spray booth to keep the dust down.

3. Some painters recommended using a filler to close the pores. That’s one technique, but the filler can detract from the clarity of the final finish. Rather than use a pore-filling sealer, I use a high solids or “build” clear for the initial applications. This is slightly thicker than “finish” clear and does a good job of sealing the pores. Three (3) fairly heavy coats of “build” clear are applied. If you get a thick spot or a run in the finish at this point, it is not the end of the world but this does create more sanding work.”

There is a helpful thread in our Shooters’ Forum that discusses the use of clear-coating on laminated stocks. Member BHoges offered this advice: “Stick with Diamont, Glassurit, and Spies. If anyone has questions, I painted cars for a long time.”

Clear-coat Laminated woodForum member Preacher, whose bolt-action pistol is shown at right, states: “I buy my two-part clear-coat from the local NAPA dealer. They recommended Crossfire mixed 4:1. I really like the end results. There are six coats on that stock that were sanded down to bare wood for the first two, and then 600 wet-sanded for the other four coats. Two to three coats would be sufficient if the pores were filled first, but I would rather fill ‘em with the clear as it seems to make it appear deeper and I have the time to devote to it. I have PPG’s Deltron DC 3000 clear-coat on a few stocks of mine, but I like the NAPA better price wise, and it seems to hold up just as good as the Deltron.”

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
September 21st, 2018

Figure Out Exact Barrel Weight with Pac-Nor Calculator

Online Pac-Nor Barrel Calculator

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
Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »
September 20th, 2018

Best of Both Worlds: Hybrid Wood and Aluminum F-Class Stock

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

NOTE: This is an older article, but with the F-Class National Championships underway this week in Raton, NM, we thought our readers might enjoy this view of a very rare and unique F-Class rig. This hybrid wood and aluminum stock is a “one-of-kind” custom, crafted by Sebastian (“Seb”) Lambang, creator of the SEB Coaxial Rests and Coaxial Joystick Bipod.

Back in 2013, our friend Seb Lambang engineered an impressive wood and aluminum F-Class stock. The stock features a long, box-section aluminum fore-end with a wood rear section and wood-trimmed “wings” on the front bag-rider. The aluminum fore-arm has “buick vents” for weight reduction. From the end of the action rearward, the stock is mostly wood, with light and dark fancy wood laminates on opposite sides (left and right).

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

The foot of the buttstock has a very wide aluminum rear bag-rider with rails. The rear wood section appears to be two solid pieces of wood — but that is deceiving. Seb explains: “To save weight, the buttstock is hollow (using thin-walled wood)”. To strengthen the construction, Seb added carbon fiber inside the buttstock. So what you see is a wood outer shell with carbon fiber layers on the inside. The stock sports vertically-adjustable cheek-piece and buttplate. The thick, rubber buttpad should diminish felt recoil even when shooting big cartridges with heavy bullets.

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

This is an interesting, innovative stock design. And as with everything Seb produces, the craftsmanship, fit and finish are superb.

To go with this gun, Seb also crafted a handsome set of angled scope rails with beautifully-machined scope rings. Imagine being able to custom-make one-off products of this quality in your own machine shop!

Accurateshooter.com Seb Lambang F-Class wood aluminum stock bag rider

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
September 15th, 2018

Tack-Driving .22 PPC Tubegun — Eliseo Chassis and Pierce Action

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifle

We know that Competition Machine (Gary Eliseo) makes great chassis systems and Pierce Engineering (John Pierce) makes great actions. But sometimes a project comes together even better than one can imagine. The folks at Pierce Engineering recently completed an Eliseo Tubegun that displayed some mind-blowing accuracy during initial testing. This was a special rifle built to a client’s spec in .22 PPC.

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifle

After his team completed the rifle, John Pierce took the Tubegun to the range to make sure everything was working right. The rifle was chambered for the .22 PPC, a known accuracy cartridge. Would this cartridge shoot in this gun? Heck yeah was the answer! The first two shots out of the gun were touching. That was promising enough. But then John drilled a five-shot group that was basically one hole! Here is that target. First two shots upper left, then the five-shot group below and to the right. Chassis-maker Gary Eliseo commented: “that’ll do just fine…”

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifle

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifleDisclaimer: John shot some more groups with this Tubegun that were definitely NOT one-holers. That first five-shot masterpiece could not be duplicated. However, we’re told that the rifle shot other groups in the 2s, 3s, and 4s — impressive performance for a rifle designed for prone and position shooting. This shows how well the Pierce action mates to the Competition Machine chassis.

And if the owner ever wants to show off a “wallet group” for his new rifle — well he’s got that, thanks to John’s great trigger-pulling and rifle-building. Using On-Target software we measured that five-shot group at 0.189″ (see photo at right). That’s crazy small for a new gun with zero load development. That’s also a testimony to the quality of the Norma .22 PPC brass.

Why the .22 PPC Chambering?
The customer owns other Eliseo Tubeguns, but wanted something that combined extreme accuracy with very low recoil. He also wanted to be able to shoot factory brass without fire-forming. Norma makes very high-quality .22 PPC cartridge brass that is an easy load and shoot solution. In fact the folks at Pierce Engineering custom-loaded a quantity of .22 PPC ammo for this Tubegun and shipped it off to the customer along with the new rifle. NOTE: Loading ammo is not something that Pierce normally does, but this was a special client request.

Norma .22 PPC Cartridge Brass is available from Grafs.com for $98.76 per 100 cases.

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifle

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Gunsmithing No Comments »
September 9th, 2018

“REMAGE” Remake — Converting Remington to Barrel Nut System

Remage Savage Remington Rebarrel Rifleshooter.com 6BR 6mmbr
Barrel nut system allows “Pre-Fit” barrel installation on a Remington action. CLICK photo to zoom.

REMAGE Project Report by Bill, Rifleshooter.com Editor
Installing a new barrel on your Remington 700 (especially without a lathe) may seem like a daunting task, but thanks to companies like McGowen Precision Barrels, there are easier alternatives. By adopting a Savage-style barrel nut on a 1 1/16″ thread for a Remington 700 receiver, pre-chambered (aka “pre-fit”) barrels can be easily swapped with just a few hand tools. This system is sometimes called a REMAGE conversion (for “REMington savAGE”). With simple tools a “Pre-fit” 6mmBR-chambered barrel was installed on the author’s Remington action — no machining or lathe-work required.

Remage Savage Remington Rebarrel Rifleshooter.com 6BR 6mmbr

Using a few tools from Brownells: Remington 700 Action Wrench, Barrel Vise, Go and No-Go Gauges, Recoil Lug Alignment Tool, and a Savage Barrel Nut Wrench, I was able to swap the .308 Winchester barrel off of my Remington 700 short action and install the new McGowen pre-fit, pre-chambered barrel, converting it to a tack-driving 6BR (aka 6mmBR Norma).

The existing barrel is simply removed from the action (normally the hardest part) and the new barrel is screwed on with the Go Gauge in place. After headspace is verified with the Go Gauge, the barrel nut is tightened against the action and you are off to the range. It takes all of the machine work out of the barreling process.

Note: Because barrel nut has a slightly larger diameter, some stocks may require minor inletting. Also, if you are shooting fired brass from another rifle with the same chambering, you should FL-size the brass before loading it for your new pre-fit barrel. And always check the set-up with a dummy round loaded to normal cartridge length BEFORE you head to the range. With Pre-Fits, the freebore should be adequate for your cartridge, but always check and adjust your seating depth as needed.

remage 6mm BR 108 berger best group 360

My McGowen Remage barrel looks and shoots great. I’ve written two longer articles that provide greater detail about this project. To learn more about how the barrel was installed, read: Rebarrel a Remington 700 without a lathe: McGowen’s Remage barrel conversion. To see how the rifle performed at the range, read: McGowen Remage Barrel Review: Spoiler Alert- It Shoots!.

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 1 Comment »
September 8th, 2018

F-TR Tech — the Low-Profile Solution Pioneered by Pierce

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 [a 2015] 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 No Comments »
September 6th, 2018

A Shotgun Fit for Royalty — Westley Richards 12 Gauge SxS

Westley Richards 12 gauge shotgun Princess Diana Spencer Princed Charles wedding shotgun gift

Here is some eye candy for fans of fine firearms. Made for the 1981 nuptials of Lady Diana Spencer and HRH Prince Charles, this Westley Richards & Co. side-by-side, 12 gauge shotgun was engraved by the Brown Brothers with gold crests and floral accents. The British royal seal and other heraldic emblems of the couple are included in the decoration. This amazing piece is now in the NRA Museum Collection.

Westley Richards 12 gauge shotgun Princess Diana Spencer Princed Charles wedding shotgun gift

Princess Diana’s Westley & Richards Shotgun
It’s not an uncommon practice for people who like firearms to be given one for a big occasion, such as a graduation or a birthday. Today’s GOTD was given to a very special person on a very special occasion that took place 35 years ago today. This 12 gauge Westley Richards side-by-side shotgun was given to Lady Diana Spencer when she married Prince Charles on July 29, 1981. The gun was engraved by the Brown Brothers — Paul and Alan — and features a variety of artistic elements, including the royal seal and the couple’s wedding date.

Westley Richards 12 gauge shotgun Princess Diana Spencer Princed Charles wedding shotgun gift

Westley Richards 12 gauge shotgun Princess Diana Spencer Princed Charles wedding shotgun gift

Photos courtesy NRA National Firearms Museum, www.nramuseum.org.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting 2 Comments »
August 28th, 2018

Remington Pre-Fit Barrels with Savage-Style Barrel Nut

Mcree Precision Mcrees Savage Remington pre-fitted pre-chambered pre-fit barrel system kit nut
McRee’s Precision Remington DIY Barrel Kit includes Criterion Pre-Fit Stainless Barrel, Barrel Nut, Recoil Lug, Thread Protector, and Barrel Nut Wrench:

Need a new barrel for your Rem-actioned hunting or tactical rifle? Here’s a great DIY option for riflemen. McRee’s Precision offers complete, no-gunsmithing re-barreling kits for Remington and Rem-clone actions. These feature a high-quality, pre-chambered “PRE-FIT” stainless barrel from Criterion, a Savage-style barrel nut, a recoil lug, and a special barrel-nut wrench. Most of the Pre-Fit barrels are 24″ long and threaded at the muzzle. CLICK Here for all Pre-Fit barrel specs.

With this system you can easily re-barrel your favorite Remington rifle yourself in less than an hour. You don’t need to pay gunsmithing fees, or wait weeks (or months) for a busy smith to do the job. And the price is under $500.00. Kits are currently available for these chamberings: 6.5 Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor, .243 Win, .308 Win, .308 Winchester Magnum. You can buy with confidence — McRee’s Precision offers a Half-MOA Accuracy Guarantee with its pre-fitted barrel kits.

Mcree Precision Mcrees Savage Remington pre-fitted pre-chambered pre-fit barrel system kit nut
The stainless steel Barrel Nut is set up for 1 1/16 x 16 barrel threads, while the stainless steel recoil lug has a 1/8 inch removable locator pin and is set up for 1.0625 dia barrel threads.

McRee’s Precision sells Rem-action Pre-Fit barrel packages (complete with barrel nut, recoil lug, and wrench) starting at $489.52. Choose from five chamberings: 6.5 Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor, .243 Win, .308 Win, and .300 Win Mag. These Pre-Fit barrel kits come ready-to-install. All you need to do is remove your current barrel, place the recoil lug, spin on the new tube, follow the instructions for setting head-space with standard go/no-go gauges, then torque the barrel nut against the lug. NOTE: You may require a barrel vise and action wrench to remove the original barrel. Chambering-specific headspace gauges required. Minor inletting changes may be needed forward of the action.

Mcree Precision Mcrees Savage Remington pre-fitted pre-chambered pre-fit barrel system kit nut

The folks at McRee’s Precision say their Pre-Fit system offers many advantages: “Remington Pre-Fitted Barrel Kits have become popular over the years. If Savage can do it, why not for our Remingtons? Our [Criterion-supplied] barrels are spec’d to the McRee standard of performance. There are several places to get the tools required to remove your factory barrel correctly. Once you have your barrel removed all you have to do is follow the normal Savage procedure to install your new barrel. We recommend that you contact your local gunsmith for the install. Feel free to call us with any questions.”

Product Tip from Ed LongRange. We welcome readers’ submissions.
Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »
August 26th, 2018

How to Build Your Own AR-15 — Step-by-Step

AR-MPR-Build-2-AR-15-Tools
Here are the main tools you’ll need to assemble an AR-platform rifle

Planning to put together an AR-platform rifle? Or are you looking to upgrade your AR with a new barrel, stock, or trigger group? Then you should check out the AR-15 Rifle Build DVD from our friends at UltimateReloader.com. This DVD covers all the details of a custom build, using high-resolution video sequences, and helpful supporting graphics.

AR-15 DVD ultimatereloder.com

In this DVD, Ultimate Reloader’s Gavin Gear guides you through the entire process including selecting components, acquiring and using the necessary tools, assembly steps and details for each component, and even mounting a scope. Building an AR-15 can be overwhelming, but with the right guidance and help it’s not difficult and can be very rewarding. With this DVD you’ll be able to build your AR-15 with confidence.

Upper: Barrel / Gas Block / Gas Tube
AR-MPR-Build-4-Barrel-and-Gas-Tube-2

Upper: Handguard Installation
AR-MPR-Build-5-Handguard

UltimateReloader.com’s AR-15 Build DVD is available just $9.90 (plus $3.80 shipping/handling). This DVD can pay for itself many times over by showing you how to do your own gunsmithing (and get quality AR components at attractive prices).

Gavin in Action — Seven-minute AR-15 Build
To preview the AR Build DVD, check out this YouTube video from UltimateReloader.com. This 12-minute video shows the basics of assembling a standard AR15 with Del-ton components. Gavin shows how to install the AR trigger group and other parts in an AR-15 lower. You’ll also see the basics of barrel and handguard installation. This video covers the highlights, but we strongly recommend you buy the full DVD before starting your first AR-15 build.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical, Tech Tip No Comments »
August 25th, 2018

Guns of Summer — Pride and Joy Collection for August

AccurateShooter.com Pride Joy F-Open KW Precision wood stock
Gorgeous wood stock crafted by Joel Russo: “A customer from Texas commissioned me to make him a one-of-a-kind stock, so I pulled a slab out of inventory, and put it all together.”

One of the most popular items in our Shooters’ Forum is the ongoing “Pride and Joy” thread. Since 2009, Forum members have posted photos and descriptions of their most prized firearms. Here are some of the most recent “Pride and Joy” rifles (and one wheelgun) showcased in our Forum. Do you have a gun you’d like to see featured there? Register for the Forum and you can add your favorite gun to the list.

Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles 6BRX Lapua Berger

Above is a nice field rifle built up by a father for his daughter. Forum member FrankZ explains: “This is my favorite rifle and it will become my daughter’s first centerfire. The action is from the first rifle I purchased with my own money 21 years ago (700VSS).” The rifle now sports a 24″ Brux barrel chambered in 6mm Creedmoor, with aftermarket PT&G Bolt and DBM metal.

Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles wheelgun Ruger Revolver hunter

Here is a 6BR Ackley Improved built by Alex Wheeler. This blue marble-painted beauty features a BAT “B” action timed by Alex, fitted with Jewell trigger, and Borden trigger guard. The barrel is a Hawk Hill HV contour finished at 28 inches. The stock is a Deep Creek Tracker with 4″ forearm and rudder system (the toe of the stock adjusts for angle, allowing better tracking). This scope is a Vortex 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle riding in Burris Signature Zee rings.

Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles 6BRX Lapua Berger

Forum member Grimstod posted this nice 6BRX in a scenic setting: “Bill Goad at Premier Accuracy crated this fantastic 6BRX. It shoots better then I do.” The rifle features a single-feed Alpin action, with Hart 26″ 1:8″-twist barrel, chambered for the 6BRX (6mmBR wildcat) with .269 neck. Grimstod currently runs 95gr Berger VLDs in Lapua brass. On top is a Leupold 40x45mm scope on a Picatinny rail that Grimstod machined himself. The stock is an HS Precision painted by Premier Accuracy.

Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles 6BRX Lapua Berger

Here’s a gorgeous green 6mm Dasher. Forum Member Gunnermhr states: “This is my new 12-lb Dasher for the 1000 Yard Benchrest silhouette matches. My good friend at CRS Custom Rifle Stocks in Aaronsburg, PA made and painted the stock. It’s similar to a Tooley MBR with a few modifications. It still supported on a 3″ forearm and is full length. Hard to imagine it still makes weight with a wood stock and a 36 power Leopold. Crossed the scale at 11.7lbs. The rifle features a BAT “B” Action. The paint is Candy Apple Green, the forearm has a white base-coat, center section is gray base coat and the buttstock is black base coat, all covered with five coats of clear. It’s the new pride of the fleet as it shoots as good as it looks. This gun hammers with 105gr Berger Hybrids.”

Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles 6BRX Lapua Berger
Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles 6BRX Lapua Berger

Here’s a state-of-the-art Benchrest rifle, finished proudly in bright red. Forum Member JimmyMac posted: “Picked up my new 6 PPC today. This red rig features a Borden B action (Jewell trigger) fitted with a Lederer 1:14″-twist barrel with a Loker tuner. The barrel action rides in a Roy Hunter stock. On top is a Nightforce 42x44mm Competition scope in BAT rights. The rifle was smithed by Dave Bruno.

Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles wheelgun Ruger Revolver hunter

This impressive rifle features an “antique” 1917 Enfield action chambered for the .338 Win Magnum cartridge. The lovely Maple stock was hand-carved by Forum member Spitfire_ER. He tells us: “I found this piece of wood as a return at a lumber yard about 7-8 years ago. I asked the guy in the yard about it and he said it had been returned because it had too much figure for the job the customer was working on. First thing I thought was, ‘That would make a nice stock’.”

Not a Rifle But Still a Stunner…
Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles wheelgun Ruger Revolver hunter

Last but not least is one of the nicest stainless Ruger revolvers we’ve ever seen. Forum member Longcarbine says: “This is not a rifle, but it’s my favorite weapon”. The Ruger is fitted with a custom Picatinny scope rail with matching silver-tone Bushnell Trophy handgun scope, plus handsome faux Ivory grips. This wheelgun is almost too pretty to hunt with…

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
August 21st, 2018

Barrel Break-In — Essential Procedure or Total Waste of Time?

Barrel Breakin Break-in conditioning cleaning Wade Hull Shilen Walther Varminter.com Eric Mayer Video interview barrels
Photo courtesy Sierra Bullets.

The question of barrel break-in is controversial. Some folks advocate an elaborate, lengthy cycle of shooting and brushing, repeated many times — one shot and clean, two shots and clean and so on. This, it is argued, helps barrels foul less and shoot more accurately. Others say minimal break-in, with patching and brushing after 10-15 rounds, is all you need. Still others contend that break-in procedures are a total waste of time and ammo — you should just load and shoot, and clean as you would normally.

We doubt if there will ever be real agreement among shooters concerning barrel break-in procedures. And one must remember that the appropriate break-in procedure might be quite different for a factory barrel vs. a custom hand-lapped barrel. This Editor has found that his very best custom barrels shot great right from the start, with no special break-in, other than wet patches at 5, 10, and 15 rounds. That said, I’ve seen some factory barrels that seemed to benefit from more elaborate break-in rituals.

What’s the best barrel break-in procedure? Well our friend Eric Mayer of Varminter.com decided to ask the experts. A while back Eric interviewed representatives of three leading barrel manufacturers: Krieger, Lothar-Walther, and Shilen. He recorded their responses on video. In order of appearance in the video, the three experts are:

Wade Hull, Shilen Barrels | Mike Hinrichs, Krieger Barrels | Woody Woodall, Lothar Walther

Barrel Breakin Break-in conditioning cleaning Wade Hull Shilen Walther Varminter.com Eric Mayer Video interview barrelsDo I Need to Break-In a New Rifle Barrel?
Eric Mayer of Varminter.com says: “That is a simple question, [but it] does not necessarily have a simple answer. Instead of me repeating my own beliefs, and practices, on breaking-in a new rifle barrel, I decided to answer this one a bit differently. While we were at the 2016 SHOT Show, we tracked down three of the biggest, and most popular, custom barrel makers in the world, and asked them what they recommend to anyone buying their barrels, and why they recommend those procedures. We asked the question, and let the camera run!” Launch the video above to hear the answers — some of which may surprise you.

Long-Term Barrel Care — More Experts Offer Opinions
Apart from the debate about barrel break-in, there is the bigger question of how should you clean and maintain a barrel during its useful life. Some folks like aggressive brushing, other shooters have had success with less invasive methods, using bore foam and wet patches for the most part. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. In reality, there may not be one solution for every barrel. Different fouling problems demand different solutions. For example, solvents that work well for copper may not be the best for hard carbon (and vice-versa).

CLICK HERE for Long Term Barrel Care Article »

Shooting Sports Lohman Barrel

Chip Lohman, former Editor of Shooting Sports USA Magazine, has authored an excellent article on barrel maintenance and cleaning: Let the BARREL Tell You — Match Barrel Care. In this article, Chip shares the knowledge of a dozen experts including respected barrel-makers Frank Green (Bartlein Barrels), John Krieger (Krieger Barrels), Dan Lilja (Lilja Barrels), and Tim North (Broughton Barrels).

“Why worry about a little barrel fouling when the throat is subjected to a brutal 5,600° F volcano at 55,000 PSI? To investigate these and other questions about taking care of a match barrel, we spoke with a dozen experts and share their knowledge in this first of a series of articles.

After listening to folks who shoot, build barrels or manufacture cleaning solvents for a living, we concluded that even the experts each have their own unique recommendations on how to care for a match barrel. But they all agree on one thing — the gun will tell you what it likes best. Because the life expectancy of a match barrel is about 1,500 to 2,500 rounds, the objectives of cleaning one should include: preserve accuracy, slow the erosion, and remove fouling — all without damaging the gun. This article doesn’t claim that one cleaning method is better than the next. Rather, we set out to interject a little science into the discussion and to share some lessons learned from experts in the field.” — Chip Lohman

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August 19th, 2018

Zediker Book Helps with Build-You-Own AR-15 Projects

AR15 Varmint rifle AR gunsmithing robert whitley

AR15 construction guideMany of our readers use AR-type rifles for Service Rifle matches, varmint hunting, 3-Gun competition, or defensive use. AR-platform rifles can be configured in a multitude of ways to suit the application. But if you plan to put together your own purpose-built AR rifle, how do you get started?

For AR Do-It-Yourselfers, we suggest reading Glen Zedicker’s book, the Competitive AR-15 Builders Guide. Following on Zedicker’s New AR-15 Competitive Rifle book (2008), the Builders Guide provides step-by-step instructions that will help non-professional “home builders” assemble a competitive match or varmint rifle. This book isn’t for everyone — you need some basic gun assembly experience and an aptitude for tools. But the AR-15 Builders’ Guide provides a complete list of the tools you’ll need for the job, and Zedicker outlines all the procedures to build an AR-15 from start to finish.

One of our Forum members who purchased the AR-15 Builders Guide confirms it is a great resource: “Much like any of the books Mr. Zediker puts out this one is well thought-out and is a no nonsense approach to AR building. I can not stress how helpful this book is from beginner to expert level.”

Along with assembly methods, this book covers parts selection and preparation, not just hammers and pins. Creedmoor Sports explains: “Knowing how to get what you want, and be happy with the result, is truly the focus of this book. Doing it yourself gives you a huge advantage. The build will honestly have been done right, and you’ll know it! Little problems will have been fixed, function and performance enhancements will have been made, and the result is you’ll have a custom-grade rifle without paying custom-builder prices.” Creedmoor Sports sells this Zediker AR-15 book and many other excellent shooting books. Visit www.creedmoorsports.com/category/Books or call 1-800-CREEDMOOR.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
August 18th, 2018

E-Commerce Company Restricts Online Firearms Sales

Shopify ban ecommerce shopping cart anti-gun Marksman terms of service

Sad to say, here’s another example of a large tech enterprise bullying the firearms industry. Some very large credit card processors have refused to process firearms transactions, and we’ve heard reports of business insurers dropping policies for gunsmiths and gun accessory producers, or raising rates by as much as 700%. This is not a good time to be a gun retailer or gun manufacturer. These issues are part of larger battle, with major media, tech, and financial institutions targeting the firearms industry.

Many firearms retailers and ranges may be impacted by a new “Acceptable Use Policy” from Shopify. This policy blocks a wide variety of firearms products from online stores. Many mag-fed semi-auto rifles can no longer be sold, and unfinished lower receivers are also on the “prohibited products” list.

Shopify ban ecommerce shopping cart anti-gun Marksman terms of service

Report by NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)
Spike’s Tactical, a Florida-based firearms manufacturer and retailer, is just one of the businesses who received an alarming email from its online store management platform, Shopify — a company used by more than 600,000 merchants [for] marketing, inventory management, payments, and shipping.

Cole Leleux, General Manager of Spike’s Tactical, said a three-sentence email from Shopify was the only notice Spike’s Tactical received alerting them to a new change in Shopify’s “Acceptable Use Policy” that will now “restrict the sale of certain firearms and firearm parts.”

According to an article by Ammoland.com, some of the new arbitrarily amended rules in Shopify’s policy “now include banning the sale of semi-automatic firearms that have an ability to accept a detachable magazine and are capable of accepting more than 10 rounds. Additionally, unfinished lower receivers are also prohibited[.] Most of Spike’s Tactical’ s products include AR-15 parts and full rifles, which would fall under those new restrictions.”

“It’s just crazy to go from no firearm policy to no guns overnight,” said Leleux, “We’ve been sitting back quietly while Google stops us from advertising — we can’t advertise on Facebook, we can’t advertise on Instagram. We are a legal business in this country and I can’t use the most popular platforms to advertise.”

Aside from how Shopify’s new policy will affect his business, Leleux says what bothers him most is the hypocrisy… Leleux says Shopify assured him it was firearm-friendly and he would have no problems. Shopify’s about-face came after Leleux spent $100,000 and signed the contract.”

Gun Shops Also Impacted by Shopify Policy Change
Shopify has also restricted a Washington state gun shop and range. Canada-based Shopify recently notified The Marksman, an indoor gun range and retail shop in Puyallup (WA), that it must remove a number of products from its online store, including semi-auto rifles. Shopify’s new Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) no longer allows the sale of many popular (and legal) firearms sold by The Marksman.

The Marksman’s Mike Grabowski explains: “The Marksman has been in business for over 38 years and has always enjoyed great community support by the public and Law Enforcement. We provide a safe place for our community to shoot and learn about safe firearms handling. Over the years we have educated … thousands of people on how to safely handle and use firearms.”

Shopify ban ecommerce shopping cart anti-gun Marksman terms of service

Grabowski says Shopify’s policy change was unwarranted and unexpected: “When we entered into our relationship with Shopify they expressed no concern about the products we sell. We have spent thousands of dollars building and maintaining our e-commerce presence, as well as contributing to Shopify’s income. It is unacceptable to us that they now decided that they don’t like guns and therefore will proceed to terminate their relationship with [us] and many other firearms-related companies.”

Editor’s Comment: It will become increasingly difficult for Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights, and for hunters and target shooters to pursue their hobbies, if firearms-related enterprises are denied the ability to sell products, collect invoices, insure their facilities, or communicate with the public.

This is a worrisome trend. The example of Shopify and The Marksman is just the tip of the iceberg. Other gun-related businesses are now facing “black-balling” by big companies that handle banking, insurance, and payment processing.

Permalink Gunsmithing, News, Tactical 3 Comments »
August 17th, 2018

ScatterGun Revealed — Cut-Away Winchester Model 12 Shotgun

Model 12 function shotgun cutaway see-through cut-away larry potterfield

Even wonder how a pump shotgun works? Then watch this fascinating video from MidwayUSA. The operation of a pump-action shotgun is illustrated with a special cut-away version of a Winchester Model 12. The shotgun has been modified to reveal the inner workings. This cut-away Model 12 still loads and ejects dummy shells, but you can see how the lugs, slides, locks, ramps, springs and other internal parts work. You’ll be amazed how complicated this old pump-gun is. (The Model 12, Winchester’s first hammerless shotgun, is one of the most popular scatterguns ever made. Over 2,000,000 were sold.)

Skip Ahead to 3:00 to See Cut-Away in Action

To see how the Model 12 works, you can skip forward to the 3:00 minute mark in the video. The first part of the video shows how the Model 12 was “sliced and diced” to expose the inner workings. Larry Potterfield of MidwayUSA explains that “the factories often used cut-aways as sales tools to show how a specific model operated”. In addition the U.S. Military used cut-aways for training purposes.

Here is the cut-away completed. Even the pump grip has been sliced to reveal the inner workings.
Model 12 function shotgun cutaway see-through cut-away larry potterfield

A round has been picked up from the feed tube, and then is lifted into the chamber.
Model 12 function shotgun cutaway see-through cut-away larry potterfield

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August 14th, 2018

6.5 Creedmoor Hunting Rifle Upgrade — Re-Stocking a Ruger

Ruger American Rifle Predator 6.5 Creedmoor Boyds Stock inletting bedding

The NRA’s American Rifleman showcased an interesting project this week — an upgraded Ruger American Rifle Predator in 6.5 Creedmoor. The video below shows how a laminated wood stock from Boyds Gunstocks was adapted for the Ruger. A Boyds Prairie Hunter model in gray laminate was selected. This was custom-bedded to the Ruger’s action using Brownell’s Acraglas.

Ruger American Rifle Predator 6.5 Creedmoor Boyds Stock inletting beddingAll Ruger American Rifle models employ dual aluminum V-Blocks to support the action. These fit slots in the underside of the action. Boyds makes its own version of these V-Blocks which were installed in the Boyds stock to secure the action.

Project leader Joe Kurtenbach says the size, shape, and geometry of the Boyds V-Blocks is very accurate, so they fit the Ruger action well. To further support the action, Acraglas bedding compound was applied to the inside of the stock, after release compound was applied to the barreled action. With this DIY bedding job, the Boyds laminated stock is definitely an improvement over this original “Tupperware” factory stock.

Ruger American Rifle Predator 6.5 Creedmoor Boyds Stock inletting bedding

DIY Bargain Hunter Upgrade
American Rifleman states: “The Ruger American has some great features—hammer-forged barrel, reliable action, crisp trigger — but many would not consider the molded, polymer stock to be among them. Luckily, there are aftermarket options to enhance the rifle’s utility and aesthetics. A durable, attractive stock from Boyds Gunstocks and some DIY action bedding, using Brownells Acraglas, is the next step in the precision-driven hunting rifle build.”

Choice of Gun and 6.5 Creedmoor Chambering
For this project, American Rifleman’s Joe Kurtenbach selected one of his favorite cartridges, the 6.5 Creedmoor. Introduced in 2007 by Hornady, the accurate, flat-shooting 6.5 Creedmoor has proven very popular with both hunters and tactical/PRS shooters. The Ruger American Rifle Predator was chosen for its affordable price, reliable action, and Ruger Marksman adjustable trigger.

In this video, Kurtenback explains how and why the 6.5 Creedmoor chambering and Ruger American Rifle were chosen for the Precision Hunter rifle build project.

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting 2 Comments »
August 12th, 2018

6.5 Creedmoor Barrel Length Test — Velocity Per Inch Revealed

Rifleshooter.com 6.5 Creedmoor cut-down test

Rifleshooter.com does some great original research — providing “hard data” you can’t find anywhere else. Here are the eye-opening results of Rifleshooter.com’s 6.5 Creedmoor barrel cut-down test. You may be surprised at the results. Read on…

What do you get when you cut a 6.5 Creedmoor-chambered barrel down to just over 16 inches? A lot more velocity than you might think. Our friends at Rifleshooter.com recently did a barrel cut-down test with 6.5 Creedmoor test rifle, shortening the barrel from 27 to 16.1 inches in one-inch increments. Surprisingly, with a 142gr Sierra MK, the total velocity loss (as measured with a Magnetospeed) was just 158 FPS, an average of 14.4 FPS per inch of barrel length. With the lighter 120gr A-Max bullet, the total velocity loss was 233 FPS, or 21.8 FPS average loss per inch of barrel.

» CLICK HERE to SEE All Velocity Values at All Barrel Lengths

To perform this velocity test, our friend Bill, Rifleshooter.com’s editor, built up a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle using a Remington Model 7 action, 1:8″ twist Green Mountain CM barrel, and MDT LSS Chassis, all obtained from Brownells.com.

Test Procedure
Five (5) rounds of each type of cartridge were fired at each barrel length and the velocity data was recorded with a MagnetoSpeed V3 barrel-mounted chronograph. The rifle was then cleared and the barrel was cut back one inch at a time from 27″ to just over 16″. NOTE: During this winter test, the air temperature was a very chilly 23° F. One would expect higher velocities across the board had the outside temperature been higher.

» Read Full Story with All Test Results at Rifleshooter.com

The photo below shows how the barrel was cut down, inch-by-inch, using a rotary saw. The barrel was pre-scored at inch intervals. As the main purpose of the test was to measure velocity (not accuracy) the testers did not attempt to create perfect crowns.

Rifleshooter.com 6.5 Creedmoor cut-down test

6.5 Creedmoor vs. Other Mid-Sized 6.5mm Cartridges
The 6.5 Creedmoor is a very popular cartridge with the tactical and PRS crowd. This mid-size cartridge offers good ballistics, with less recoil than a .308 Winchester. There’s an excellent selection of 6.5mm bullets, and many good powder choices for this cartridge. When compared to the very accurate 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge, the 6.5 Creedmoor offers similar performance with less expensive brass. For a tactical shooter who must sometimes leave brass on the ground, brass cost is a factor to consider. Here’s a selection of various 6.5mm mid-sized cartridges. Left to right are: 6.5 Grendel, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5 Creedmoor with 120gr A-Max, 6.5 Creedmoor with 142gr Sierra MK, and .260 Remington.

6.5 Creedmoor Rifleshooter.com velocity barrel cut cut-down test saw blade

When asked to compare the 6.5 Creedmoor to the 6.5×47 Lapua, Rifleshooter.com’s editor stated: “If you don’t hand load, or are new to precision rifle shooting, get a 6.5 Creedmoor. If you shoot a lot, reload, have more disposable income, and like more esoteric cartridges, get a 6.5×47 Lapua. I am a big fan of the 6.5×47 Lapua. In my personal experience, the 6.5×47 Lapua seems to be slightly more accurate than the 6.5 Creedmoor. I attribute this to the quality of Lapua brass.” Now that Lapua offers 6.5 Creedmoor brass with small primer pockets, the 6.5 Creedmoor is even more attractive.

The creator of Rifleshooter.com also operates a Custom Rifle Building enterprise and gun shop in Long Island, New York: 782 Custom Guns Ltd.. He tells us: “We offer an unparalleled level of gunsmith machine shop services in the Long Island region. From precision rifles (USMC M40A3/A5/A6 XM3 clones) to customized Remington 870 and Mossberg 590 shotguns, and customized 1911s, chances are if you can dream it, we can build it!”

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical, Tech Tip 12 Comments »
August 3rd, 2018

Can We Predict Useful Barrel Life? Insights from Dan Lilja

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Barrel-maker Dan Lilja’s website has an excellent FAQ page that contains a wealth of useful information. On the Lilja FAQ Page as you’ll find informed answers to many commonly-asked questions. For example, Dan’s FAQ addresses the question of barrel life. Dan looks at factors that affect barrel longevity, and provides some predictions for barrel life, based on caliber, chambering, and intended use.

NOTE: This article was very well-received when it was first published last year. We are reprising it for the benefit of readers who missed it the first time.

Dan cautions that “Predicting barrel life is a complicated, highly variable subject — there is not a simple answer. Signs of accurate barrel life on the wane are increased copper fouling, lengthened throat depth, and decreased accuracy.” Dan also notes that barrels can wear prematurely from heat: “Any fast varmint-type cartridge can burn out a barrel in just a few hundred rounds if those rounds are shot one after another without letting the barrel cool between groups.”

Q. What Barrel Life, in number of rounds fired, can I expect from my new barrel?

A: That is a good question, asked often by our customers. But again there is not a simple answer. In my opinion there are two distinct types of barrel life. Accurate barrel life is probably the type most of us are referencing when we ask the question. But there is also absolute barrel life too. That is the point where a barrel will no longer stabilize a bullet and accuracy is wild. The benchrest shooter and to a lesser extent other target shooters are looking at accurate barrel life only when asking this question. To a benchrest shooter firing in matches where group size is the only measure of precision, accuracy is everything. But to a score shooter firing at a target, or bull, that is larger than the potential group size of the rifle, it is less important. And to the varmint hunter shooting prairie dog-size animals, the difference between a .25 MOA rifle or one that has dropped in accuracy to .5 MOA may not be noticeable in the field.

The big enemy to barrel life is heat. A barrel looses most of its accuracy due to erosion of the throat area of the barrel. Although wear on the crown from cleaning can cause problems too. The throat erosion is accelerated by heat. Any fast varmint-type cartridge can burn out a barrel in just a few hundred rounds if those rounds are shot one after another without letting the barrel cool between groups. A cartridge burning less powder will last longer or increasing the bore size for a given powder volume helps too. For example a .243 Winchester and a .308 Winchester both are based on the same case but the .308 will last longer because it has a larger bore.

And stainless steel barrels will last longer than chrome-moly barrels. This is due to the ability of stainless steel to resist heat erosion better than the chrome-moly steel.

Barrel Life Guidelines by Caliber and Cartridge Type
As a very rough rule of thumb I would say that with cartridges of .222 Remington size you could expect an accurate barrel life of 3000-4000 rounds. And varmint-type accuracy should be quite a bit longer than this.

For medium-size cartridges, such as the .308 Winchester, 7×57 and even the 25-06, 2000-3000 rounds of accurate life is reasonable.

Hot .224 caliber-type cartridges will not do as well, and 1000-2500 rounds is to be expected.

Bigger magnum hunting-type rounds will shoot from 1500-3000 accurate rounds. But the bigger 30-378 Weatherby types won’t do as well, being closer to the 1500-round figure.

These numbers are based on the use of stainless steel barrels. For chrome-moly barrels I would reduce these by roughly 20%.

The .17 and .50 calibers are rules unto themselves and I’m pressed to predict a figure.

The best life can be expected from the 22 long rifle (.22 LR) barrels with 5000-10,000 accurate rounds to be expected. We have in our shop one our drop-in Anschutz barrels that has 200,000 rounds through it and the shooter, a competitive small-bore shooter reported that it had just quit shooting.

Remember that predicting barrel life is a complicated, highly variable subject. You are the best judge of this with your particular barrel. Signs of accurate barrel life on the wane are increased copper fouling, lengthened throat depth, and decreased accuracy.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Benchrest Barrel Life — You May Be Surprised
I thought it might be interesting to point out a few exceptional Aggregates that I’ve fired with 6PPC benchrest rifles with barrels that had thousands of rounds through them. I know benchrest shooters that would never fire barrels with over 1500 shots fired in them in registered benchrest matches.

I fired my smallest 100-yard 5-shot Aggregate ever in 1992 at a registered benchrest match in Lewiston, Idaho. It was a .1558″ aggregate fired in the Heavy Varmint class. And that barrel had about 2100 rounds through it at the time.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Another good aggregate was fired at the 1997 NBRSA Nationals in Phoenix, Arizona during the 200-yard Light Varmint event. I placed second at this yardage with a 6PPC barrel that had over 2700 rounds through it at the time. I retired this barrel after that match because it had started to copper-foul quite a bit. But accuracy was still good.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

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