September 12th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: John Whidden’s New .223 Rem Palma Rifle

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore
Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore

.223 Rem for Long Range Palma, by John Whidden (5-Time Nat’l LR Champion)
We’ve seen quite an amount of interest in recent years in .223s for Long Range Palma shooting. Yes, the .223 Remington is a pretty light cartridge for long range use, but the specific rules of Palma shooting make it a choice worth considering.

Back in 2019, the Int’l Confederation of Fullbore Rifle Associations (ICFRA), the international governing body for Palma shooting, made a rule change allowing .223 Rem rifles to use bullets of less than 91 grains. Previously the rule allowed the use of bullets less than 81 grains in the .223 Rem, and we have long had the popular option of .308s shooting bullets less than 156 grains. These heavier bullets such as the 85.5gr Berger LR Hybrid and 90gr Berger VLD make the .223s quite competitive in the wind with the old standby .308 Winchester. The .223 does hold the obvious advantage of much lower recoil than the .308. [Editor: The reduced recoil is quite noticeable in the video below where John is shooting his .223 Rem rifle.]

John Whidden Shoots .223 Rem Palma Rifle with 90gr Berger VLDs

Watch video at 00:25 and you’ll see the recoil of Whidden’s .223 Rem Palma rifle is significantly less than a .308 Win Palma rig. John joked: “With the .223 Rem there is just a pop and a wiggle after the shot.”

.223 Rem Palma Rifle — Barnard Action, Tec-Hro Stock

The Barnard P action imported by Whidden Gunworks is the foundation for many winning Palma rifles. As soon as our USA shooters returned from the New Zealand Palma match in 2019 they were immediately requesting bolts to convert their actions to .223 Remington.

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore

Given all of this interest in the .223 Rem, I decided to build one myself and see if all of these theories about wind performance held water. Starting with my Barnard P action, I worked with Tec-Hro in Germany to use one of their Fanatic stocks for the project. The Fanatic is a modern aluminum stock suitable for prone or Three Position use. The stock uses adapter blocks to work with a wide variety of rimfire actions such as Anschutz, Walther, and Feinwerkbau. As far as I know we were the first to test it out for centerfire use. After shooting the stock with my .308 Win barreled action installed to refine a few details and ensure the stock would stand up to recoil, I then mounted my .223 Rem barreled action and went to the range.

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore

Prior to my range visit a decision was made concerning bullets and twist rate. After discussion with Mark Buettgen at Bartlein Barrels I ordered two barrels — a 1:7″-twist and also a 1:6.25″-twist. Mark was looking for some data using the Sierra 90gr MatchKing bullet and we expected that the faster twist rate might give the best success with that MatchKing bullet. When the barrels arrived they were chambered and installed on the rifle.

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore
John uses a Warner rear adjustable sight with a Centra front sight.

Fast Twist-Rate Barrels for Long .223-Caliber Bullet
First up the 1:6.25″-twist barrel was installed and testing commenced. The barrel shot extremely well right out of the gate. All loads used Lapua brass and Vihtavuori N140 powder. I tested the Berger 85.5gr and 90gr bullets as well as Sierra 90gr and 95gr bullets. Testing with the 6.25-twist barrel went well with both of the Berger bullets looking especially good. Later the 1:7″-twist barrel was mounted and tested.

While both barrels were very accurate we decided that the 1:6.25″-twist barrel outshined the 1:7″-twist tube. Now we all know that some barrels are just a little more accurate than others. With such a small sample of data here (just two barrels) I’m not saying that a 1:6.25″-twist is decidedly better. In fact we have a number of customers shooting 7-twist barrels who are shooting them very well. With this particular rifle however, the 6.25-twist seems to be the more accurate of the two.

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore

.223 Rem Load Development for Palma Competition

The load I settled on is Lapua brass, Vihtavuori N140 powder, and Berger 90 grain VLDs which I moly-coat. I soft-seat the bullets into the lands with only .001″ neck tension or a little less.

Why the Berger 90gr VLD? The secret sauce is that the 90gr VLD is much superior in the wind after we point it up with the Whidden Pointing Die. The 85.5gr Hybrid bullet comes from Berger with this treatment already done while the 90gr VLD does not. When the 90-grainer is pointed up, the wind drift is a few percent better than the 85.5, given the velocities that I feel comfortable achieving with the rifle.

I settled on 2840 fps for the 90gr VLD and 2880 fps for the 85.5gr Hybrid from a 32″ barrel. When pointed up, the 90-grainer shoots flatter to 1000 yards by 1 MOA which indicates a G7 BC of .289 in my combination. Wind Drift in a 10 mph direct crosswind at 1000 yards is 70.8″ with this 90gr combination compared to 76.8″ for the 85.5gr load.

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullboreTesting in Competition — at Camp Perry
This past August 2021 at the CMP Long Range National Championships at Camp Perry I finally had the chance to shoot the rifle on a big stage. Winds that day were from almost directly 12:00 to about 1:30 switching headwinds. Velocity was around 8-10 mph meaning not the easiest or the hardest of conditions. I managed a third place finish in the Palma match. That proves the .223 Rem is definitely competitive in elite Palma events.

.223 Rem Performance in the Wind
My sense of the .223 Rem’s wind performance was that it was in line with the performance I’d expect from my .308 Win Palma gun. Of course the lack of recoil made the .223 Rem much easier to shoot well.

How to Order a Rifle Like This
Whidden Gunworks can build a rifle like this for Palma competitors who want to move to .223 Rem. John tells us: “We’ve built a number of these combinations of the Barnard P action, Tec-Hro Fanatic stock, and Bartlein barrel. They all shoot incredibly well and the ergonomics are top notch. One of the good points is that the current price of $3875.00 (without sights) makes it a bargain for a top-tier Palma rifle.”

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullboreAbout John Whidden
5-Time National Long Range Champion

John Whidden is founder and owner of Whidden Gunworks and a lifelong competitive shooter. Major shooting accomplishments include being a 5-Time U.S. National Long Range Champion, winner of the Australia National Queen’s Prize, and member of three USA Palma Teams. John is currently active in Long Range Highpower, 300 Meter Prone, and Smallbore prone events. John tells us that one secret of his success is having top equipment: “The mental component of Long Range competitive shooting is always challenging but having tremendous confidence in the accuracy of your equipment is a huge benefit. There’s nothing to start your Palma match off well like knowing that you are shooting the most accurate Palma rifle you’ve ever owned.”

Whidden Gunworks .223 Remington Barnard Action Palma fullbore

Whidden Gunworks stands ready to help with your shooting and reloading needs. Whidden Gunworks specializes in custom bolt action rifles, reloading dies, other reloading tools, and reloading components. Well known for match-grade custom rifles and high-quality reloading dies, Whidden Gunworks’ growing lineup includes components from Berger, Lapua, Vihtavuori, and SK rimfire ammunition. Learn more by visiting www.WhiddenGunworks.com.

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September 10th, 2021

Gone in SIX Seconds — The Brutal Truth of Short Barrel Life

Stopwatch barrel life

This thought-provoking article has been one of the most popular Daily Bulletin features in recent years. We are republishing this story today for readers who may have missed it the first time around…

Here’s a little known fact that may startle most readers, even experienced gunsmiths: your barrel wears out in a matter of seconds. The useful life of a typical match barrel, in terms of actual bullet-in-barrel time, is only a few seconds. How can that be, you ask? Well you need to look at the actual time that bullets spend traveling through the bore during the barrel’s useful life. (Hint: it’s not very long).

Bullet-Time-in-Barrel Calculations
If a bullet flies at 3000 fps, it will pass through a 24″ (two-foot) barrel in 1/1500th of a second. If you have a useful barrel life of 3000 rounds, that would translate to just two seconds of actual bullet-in-barrel operating time.

Ah, but it’s not that simple. Your bullet starts at zero velocity and then accelerates as it passes through the bore, so the projectile’s average velocity is not the same as the 3000 fps muzzle velocity. So how long does a centerfire bullet (with 3000 fps MV) typically stay in the bore? The answer is about .002 seconds. This number was calculated by Varmint Al, who is a really smart engineer dude who worked at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, a government think tank that develops neutron bombs, fusion reactors and other simple stuff.

On his Barrel Tuner page, Varmint Al figured out that the amount of time a bullet spends in a barrel during firing is under .002 seconds. Al writes: “The approximate time that it takes a 3300 fps muzzle velocity bullet to exit the barrel, assuming a constant acceleration, is 0.0011 seconds. Actual exit times would be longer since the bullet is not under constant acceleration.”

We’ll use the .002 number for our calculations here, knowing that the exact number depends on barrel length and muzzle velocity. But .002 is a good average that errs, if anything, on the side of more barrel operating life rather than less.

So, if a bullet spends .002 seconds in the barrel during each shot, and you get 3000 rounds of accurate barrel life, how much actual firing time does the barrel deliver before it loses accuracy? That’s simple math: 3000 x .002 seconds = 6 seconds.

Stopwatch barrel lifeGone in Six Seconds. Want to Cry Now?
Six seconds. That’s how long your barrel actually functions (in terms of bullet-in-barrel shot time) before it “goes south”. Yes, we know some barrels last longer than 3000 rounds. On the other hand, plenty of .243 Win and 6.5-284 barrels lose accuracy in 1500 rounds or less. If your barrel loses accuracy at the 1500-round mark, then it only worked for three seconds! Of course, if you are shooting a “long-lived” .308 Win that goes 5000 rounds before losing accuracy, then you get a whopping TEN seconds of barrel life. Anyway you look at it, a rifle barrel has very little longevity, when you consider actual firing time.

People already lament the high cost of replacing barrels. Now that you know how short-lived barrels really are, you can complain even louder. Of course our analysis does give you even more of an excuse to buy a nice new Bartlein, Krieger, Shilen etc. barrel for that fine rifle of yours.

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September 9th, 2021

Headspace Basics — What You Need to Know

Ultimate Reloader Brownells headspacing go gage gauge barrel gunsmithing
This illustration shows headspace measurement for the popular .308 Winchester cartridge, which headspaces on the shoulder. Image copyright 2015 Ultimate Reloader.

In this Brownells Tech Tip Video, Brownells gun tech Steve Ostrem explains what headspace is and why it’s one of the most critical measurements for nearly all firearms. Even if you’re an experienced rifle shooter, it’s worth watching this video to refresh your understanding of headspace measurements, and the correct use of “GO” and “NO-GO” gauges.

Headspace Definition
In firearms, headspace is the distance measured from the part of the chamber that stops forward motion of the cartridge (the datum reference) to the face of the bolt. Different cartridges have their datum lines in different positions in relation to the cartridge. For example, 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition headspaces off the shoulder of the cartridge, whereas .303 British headspaces off the forward rim of the cartridge. If the headspace is too short, ammunition that is in specification may not chamber correctly. If headspace is too large, the ammunition may not fit as intended or designed and the cartridge case may rupture, possibly damaging the firearm and injuring the shooter. (Source: Wikipedia)

Forster Headspace diagram belted magnum rimfire

Problems Caused by Too Much Headspace
Excessive headspace issues can include: light primer strikes, failure to fire, bulged/blown cases, case separations, split shoulders, or unseated primers after firing. Case ruptures caused by excessive headspace can lead to catastrophic failures causing serious injury. That is why headspace is such an important measurement.

Problems Cause by Too Little Headspace
Insufficent (or excessively tight) headspace can prevent the firearm from going into battery, resulting in failure to fire or deformation of the cartridge case. Various feeding and functioning problems can be caused by cases with too little headspace, even if a round can be chambered (with effort).

Go gauge gage NOGO no-go field gaugesHeadspace Gauges
Headspace is measured with a set of two headspace gauges: a “Go” gauge, and a “No-Go” gauge. Headspace gauges resemble the cartridges for the chambers they are designed to headspace, and are typically made of heat-treated tool steel. Both a “Go” and a “No-Go” gauge are required for a gunsmith to headspace a firearm properly. A third gauge, the “Field” gauge, is used (as the name implies) in the field to indicate the absolute maximum safe headspace. This gauge is used because, over time, the bolt and receiver will wear, the bolt and lugs compress, and the receiver may stretch, all causing the headspace to gradually increase from the “factory specs” measured by the “Go” and “No-Go” gauges. A bolt that closes on “No-Go” but not on “Field” is close to being unsafe to fire, and may malfunction on cartridges that are slightly out of spec. (Source: Wikipedia)

To learn more, read Brownell’s article Headspace Gauges and How to Use Them. Among other things, this explains the relative lengths of “Go”, “No-Go”, and “Field” gauges. The “Field” is actually the longest: “The GO gauge corresponds to the SAAMI minimum chamber length, while the FIELD gauge usually matches the maximum chamber depth, or slightly less. NO-GO gauges are an intermediate length between minimum and maximum, that, technically, is a voluntary dimension. A firearm that closes on a NO-GO gauge and does not close on a FIELD gauge may not give good accuracy and may have very short cartridge case life from the ammunition re-loader’s standpoint.”

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September 8th, 2021

How to Upgrade and Accessorize Model 1911 Pistols

Colt m1911 1911 upgrade pistol

While AccurateShooter.com focuses on rifles, we know that a large percentage of our readers own handguns, with 1911-style pistols being particular favorites. For you 1911 owners, here are six short videos from Brownells showing how to customize a 1911-style pistol with after-market upgrades.

How to Accessorize Your 1911
This six-part series by Brownells provides step-by-step instruction on how to accessorize your 1911. The videos cover changing out the mainspring housing, magazine release, slide release, hammer, guide rod, and installing a group gripper. If you want to upgrade your 1911, these videos are worth watching.

Hammer

Hammer


 

Slide Stop

Slide Stop

Full Length Guide Rod

Full Length Guide Rod

Wilson Group Gripper

Wilson Group Gripper

Model 1911 Components and Cycling — Cut-Away Animation Video
If you’re not familiar with M1911 type single-action pistols, this video animation provides an inside look at the M1911’s components and shows how the M1911 cycles:

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September 5th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Fall Multi-Discipline Rimfire Rifle Showcase

rimfire .22 LR showcase sunday gunday anschutz CA 457 benchrest prone
Top is a CZ 457 MTR; middle Anschutz with BR stock; bottom is Bergara B14R in DPT Chassis.

With the variety of rimfire disciplines, from cowboy action to Olympic three-position smallbore, there are countless different rimfire designs on the market — bolt guns, lever guns, single-shots, toggle-links and more. These may shoot the same ammo, but they certainly vary in looks and ergonomics. This is testimony to human creativity.

In our Shooters’ Forum, you’ll find a long-running thread showcasing rimfire rifles for plinking, hunting, 3P Target Shooting, Silhouette, Rimfire F-Class, NRL22 and more. Here are some of the notable recently-posted rifles in that Forum thread, with brief build/component details.

ARA Benchrest Rifle with Stiller Action, Shilen Ratchet Barrel

penrod precisions stiller 2500X shilen barrel snow Lapua testing center midas+

penrod precisions stiller 2500X shilen barrel snow Lapua testing center midas+Forum member Peebles24 showcased his cool flame-paint-job .22 LR benchrest rifle against a scenic, snowy background (never too cold to shoot right?). “I had a new rifle built this past fall by Mark Penrod at Penrod Precision. Stiller 2500X action, Shilen ratchet barrel, Jewell trigger, McMillan stock, Harrell’s tuner, Sightron SIII 10-50×60mm glass. I’m shooting it off my Arnold Machine one-piece rest made locally by Cliff Arnold. I visited the Lapua Testing Center East and got a case of Midas+.” For ammo testing results, click photo at right.

In late April the gun competed in its first ARA benchrest match in Wabash, Indiana.

Beautiful MasterClass-Stocked Rifle for Rimfire F-Class

Masterclass rimfire F-class stiller 2500X action wood stock
Masterclass rimfire F-class stiller 2500X action wood stock

Here is a handsome rifle belonging to Forum member Redd. Set up for prone Rimfire F-Class-style competition, this rig features a Shilen Ratchet barrel with Erik Cortina Tuner fitted to a Stiller 2500X action. It boasts a beautiful MasterClass figured Walnut stock and rides on a SEB Joy-Pod bipod up front. The optic is a Nightforce 40x45mm Competition.

CZ 457 .22 Magnum Transformed with KRG Bravo Stock

CZ 527 Rimfire .22 Magnum KRG Bravo stock

CZ 527 Rimfire .22 Magnum KRG Bravo stockForum member JAS-AS purchased a .22 Magnum CZ which he revived as a training rig with a new stock. He posted: “I use a CZ457 in .22 Magnum mainly as a trainer — bipod and rear bag kind of stuff. It has evolved over the last year or so. Next change will be a Lilja barrel. This because it can shoot brilliantly (at times) but not consistently. And accuracy degrades as it gets minimally dirty. Also, it doesn’t like 40gr rounds — the groups open up to 1.5 MOA. It’s at its best with 30 and 35 grain rounds running at up to 2250 fps. I believe that to be a twist-rate issue.”

The “Before” photo shows the rifle “as purchased” with a Nikon Monarch 4-16x42mm mildot scope. The “After” image shows the CZ 457 as modified. JAS-AS notes: “I added a bunch of stuff: KRG Bravo stock, Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25x56mm FFP scope, new bipod and Precision Underground bag, trigger spring. With this setup I shoot at 100 yards+ exclusively.” Show at right is a 9-shot group with the rifle at 100 yards. Three-shot groups at 100 have been below half-MOA.

Savage Mark II Squirrel/Field Rifle

Savage hunting squirrel rimfire

This Savage Mark II rifle isn’t fancy, but it has brought much satisfaction to its owner, Forum member “Ohio Varmint Shooter”. He posted: “Just a nice field gun. Less than $200 (without scope). Cheap wooden stock, thin pencil barrel. My squirrel/field gun. There is absolutely nothing special about this… except it’s lefthanded. It shoots fine, preferring CCI standard velocity rounds. I did splurge and put a more-than-needed scope on it. Most scopes with fixed parallax (in this category), have it fixed at 50 yards. I wanted variable parallax so I could set it at 35 yards. I don’t know if it really makes any difference, but I do try to go for accurate head shots. The scope is also a little overkill in magnification, but it does help with the head shots and my aging eyes.”

“As a youth in the 70s, I always dreamed of a left-handed bolt. So getting back into shooting/hunting about 8 years ago, I was delighted to discover this gun. Growing up I had a semi-auto 22, but being a lefty … it would spit powder on my face.” — Ohio Varmint Shooter

Tikka T1x Action in Eliseo Competition Machine Chassis

Gary Eliseo tikka T1x chassis competition machine .22 LR
Gary Eliseo tikka T1x chassis competition machine .22 LR

Here is Gary Eliseo’s personal Rimfire Match Target Rifle with Tikka T1x action. The T1x action is carried in Competition Machine Rimfire Chassis. Gary also posted some recent 100-yard groups, using SK rifle match ammo in this rifle. Gary runs Competition Machine LLC and produces the chassis system for this cool rig, along with outstanding Across-the-Course, High Power, and F-Class chassis systems for rimfire and centerfire rifles.

Vudoo Action Benchrest Rifle with Benchmark 3-Groove Barrel

vudoo benchmark doan trevor mcmillan stock benchrest .22 LR

Here is a classy benchrest rig belonging to Forum member FCJIM. It features a Vudoo LBRP action, Benchmark 3-groove barrel, Harrell’s Precision tuner, NightForce Benchrest scope, and McMillan Edge stock. The stock work was done by Doan Trevor, while FCJIM did the metal work himself, using a Nevius reamer. This rig likes to shoot ELEY Black and Lapua Midas+ ammo.

Classic CPA Rifles Lever-Action Single-Shot Rimfire Rifle

CPA Stevens rimfire lever action set trigger .22 LR
CPA Stevens rimfire lever action set trigger .22 LR
CPA Stevens rimfire lever action set trigger .22 LR

Last but not least, here is a “blast from the past”. This classic lever-action single shot is crafted by CPS Rifles (Paul Shuttleworth), a boutique gun-maker specializing in single-shot rifles, particularly reproductions of the Stevens 44 1/2. Note the richly-figured wood and the lovely color case-hardening on the receiver. There is a dual Set Trigger system. You pull one trigger through a relatively long stroke until it clicks. The the second trigger breaks the shot (and drops the hammer) with just a few ounces of pull weight. This rig, fitted with MPA Vernier-type tang sights, belongs to Forum member “Mills” from Texas.

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September 3rd, 2021

Barrel Break-In Methods — What Do the Experts Recommend?

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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September 2nd, 2021

F-Class Wow Factor — Borden Action, Cerus Stock, Brux Barrel

Speedy Thomas Gonzalez F-Open F-Class .284 Winchester 284 win custom rifle
Note the owner’s name, “S. Limbourne” was engraved on the bolt release (and trigger guard, see below).

Competition rifles don’t need to be beautiful, as long as they shoot. But who doesn’t like a spectacular figured-wood stock, particularly when it is combined with a superb custom action and a tack-driving barrel. This custom .284 Winchester F-Class Open division rig was crafted by gunsmith Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez for competitive shooter Scott Limbourne. The handsome Bacote wood stock comes from Cerus Rifleworks, while the action is a polished Borden RBRP BRMXD. Two Brux 1:9″-twist barrels were chambered for the project, both finished at 32″. The stock is also fitted with a R.A.D. Recoil System. This rig has top-of-the-line hardware all around.

Speedy Thomas Gonzalez F-Open F-Class .284 Winchester 284 win custom rifle

Speedy Thomas Gonzalez F-Open F-Class .284 Winchester 284 win custom rifle

Action: Borden BRMXD – Polished
Rail: 20 MOA Polished
Chambering: .284 Winchester
Trigger: Jewell BR – Blueprinted
Barrel: (2x) Brux 32″ 1:9″ Twist
Stock: Cerus F-Open in Exhibition Grade Bacote
Recoil System: R.A.D. System
Extras: Carbon Fiber Tunnel Plate, Custom Engraving Work on Action, Trigger Guard, and Bolt Release.

Speedy Thomas Gonzalez F-Open F-Class .284 Winchester 284 win custom rifle

Speedy Thomas Gonzalez F-Open F-Class .284 Winchester 284 win custom rifle

You’ll find other impressive rigs on Speedy’s Facebook Page. If you’d like a superb custom rifle like this, call Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez at 972-672-6630, or send email to: speedy.godzilla [at] msn.com.

SPEEDY GONZALEZ
9023 HUEBNER RD. STE 102
SAN ANTONIO, TX 78240

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August 19th, 2021

3D Cutaway Animations Reveal How AR15 Rifles Work

ar-15 AR15 3D animation video youtube cutaway 5.56 AR .233 Rem

Americans love AR-platform rifles. However, they can be maintenance-intensive, as hot gasses are directed right back into the action to operate the bolt. Because ARs have a somewhat unique (and dirty) semi-auto operating system, we think all AR owners should learn how their rifles operate — from the inside out. This feature provides an “inside look” at the AR, with X-Ray and Cutaway views created through advanced 3D computer modeling.

AR15 Functions Revealed with 3D Computer Animation

Ever wondered how the parts inside an AR15 work together? Just exactly how does the reciprocating bolt carrier feed rounds from the magazine? How do the elements in the trigger group work and reset after each shot? How does the gas system bleed gas from the barrel and operate the bolt carrier? These and other questions are answered in this eye-opening video from 45Snipers. Using “cutaway” 3D computer animation, this 5-minute video shows all features of an AR15 inside and out. This fascinating firearms animation allows the viewer to look inside the upper and lower receivers, into the bolt carrier, chamber, barrel, and magazine.

This video starts off slow and has annoying background music, but it is well worth watching if you own or shoot any AR-platform rifle. It illustrates all the key operations during the charging, loading, firing, and ejection processes. The cutaway animation shows how rounds are stripped from the magazine and then chambered. It then shows how every part of the trigger group works, and how the firing pin strikes the primer. You can even watch the bullet move down the barrel before the empty shell casing is removed from the chamber and tossed out the ejection port. Here are sample frames from the video:

ar-15 AR15 3D animation video youtube cutaway 5.56 AR .233 Rem

How AR-Platform Rifles Work — General Introduction
To help reader understand the general operation of AR-type rifles, this video shows the control functions of an AR and how the upper and lower sections work together.

Cutaway 3D Animation of AR15/M16 Action — Watch Video

Here is an excellent “cutaway” animation by Thomas Schwenke that shows how an AR-15 functions — how the entire loading cycle works from start to finish.

AR platform rifles are semi-automatics version of the M16. These feature distinctive upper and lower receivers which can be readily separated via front and rear pins. The upper includes the barrel, handguard, forward gas tube, and bolt assembly, while the lower contains grip, trigger group, fire selector, and mag well. In addition the lower is attached to the stock which encloses the buffer assembly.

3d firearms modeling gun CGI software encylopedia gun disassembly

The original ArmaLite AR-15 was a select-fire, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed rifle designed by American gun manufacturer ArmaLite in 1956. It was based on Armalite’s AR-10 rifle chambered for the 7.62×51 NATO (.308 Win). In 1959, ArmaLite sold its rights to the AR-10 and AR-15 to Colt. Some key modifications were made — most notably, the charging handle was re-located from under the carrying handle to the rear of the receiver. The redesigned rifle was adopted by the U.S. military as the M16 carbine, which went into production in March 1964.

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August 13th, 2021

Advanced Barrel Weight Calculator — Compare Lengths, Contours

Online Pac-Nor Barrel Calculator

pac-nor barrel weight contour calculatorCan 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.

pac-nor barrel weight contour calculator

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 key thing to remember when using the Barrel Weight Calculator is that not all “standard” contours are exactly the same, as sold 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 find 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 dimensions 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.

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August 11th, 2021

Front Forearm Sleds Stabilize ARs and Narrow Forearm Rifles

Whidden Gunworks Track Plate

ARs and Narrow-Forearm Sporters Benefit from Front Bag-Rider Blocks
Whidden Gunworks offers a smart product that will enhance the bench-rested accuracy of any rifle with an accessory rail on the forearm. The Whidden Track Plate fits securely in the forearm accessory rail on prone, cross-the-course, tactical, and Palma rifles. These guns typically have a narrow and/or rounded fore-end so they rock and wobble when used with a front pedestal rest. The TrackPlate cures that. Once installed it provides a rock-solid, 2.9″-wide platform that mates perfectly with a benchrest-type front sandbag. This gives sling-shooters maximum stability when testing loads or zeroing their sights or scope. Plus you can now shoot F-Class competitively with a prone gun. (The 2.9″ width is 100% legal for F-Open).

Whidden Gunworks Track Plate

The Track Plate is light-weight, has catamaran-style runners to aid tracking and prevent rocking, and can be easily stowed in a range bag. The Track Plate fits BOTH Anschutz and American style forends and is made in the USA of machined aluminum. The Track Plate is available from Whidden Gunworks for $49.50.

Plate designer (and 5-Time Nat’l LR Rifle Champion) John Whidden says: “The Plate is great for any rifle with a rail whether it ís smallbore, centerfire, or an air gun. Now you can try F-Class with your favorite prone rifle: the Plate has a perfect low-drag finish for riding a rest or sandbags and is competition legal.”

Bag-Riders for AR-Platform Rifles from EGW
AR owners should check out the 3″-wide Delrin bag-rider from Evolution Gun Works (EGW). There are two versions, one for front Picatinny Rails, and another that mounts via sling swivel studs. These EGW Bag-Riders were developed expressly to fit the fore-ends of ARs. The front bag-riders are contoured to match the handguard profile so they fits securely with no wobble.

EGW AR15 ar bagrider bag-rider front sled

The $49.99 EGW Picatinny Rail front Bag-Rider simply slides on your under-forearm rail and there is a a tension bolt. Attachment is quick and easy. Or, if your AR has no rail get the original $39.99 EGW front Bag-Rider that attaches to a front sling swivel stud anchor. That allows it to mount as easily as a Harris bipod — no rail needed! Just unscrew the swivel stud, put the front bag-rider in place and attach one hex-head machine screw.

EGW AR15 ar bagrider bag-rider front sled

Also with the two front Bag-Riders, EGW offers a Rear Bag-Rider for ARs that attaches via the sling swivel anchor. Overall, it is a slick system. Front and rear bag-riders can be attached in a couple of minutes. The Delrin blocks slide easily in the bags and make the gun ultra-stable. The gun tracks straight back.

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August 8th, 2021

History of The Gun Series — Informative Videos

history of the gun flintlock breechlock repeating rifles
Matchlocks, Wheellocks, Flintlocks, Breechloaders, Lever Actions — All these historically significant firearms designs (and more) are featured in a fascinating series of videos produced by Ruger.

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. If you are interested in the history of gun design and manufacturing, this series is definitely worth watching.

Flintlock mechanism
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July 29th, 2021

.308 Win Velocity vs. Barrel Length — 28″ to 16.5″ Cut-Down Test

rifleshooter.com barrel .308 win cut-down test saw ammo GMM velocity magnetospeed

With barrels, one wonders “Can a little more length provide a meaningful velocity gain?” To answer that question, Rifleshooter.com performed an interesting test, cutting a .308 Win barrel from 28″ all the way down to 16.5″. The cuts were made in one-inch intervals with a rotary saw. At each cut length, velocity was measured with a Magnetospeed chronograph. To make the test even more interesting, four different types of .308 Win factory ammunition were chronographed at each barrel length.

This is a very useful test is you’re thinking about building a .308 Win hunting rifle, or perhaps thinking of going shorter for your F-TR rifle to save weight.

rifleshooter.com barrel .308 win cut-down test saw ammo GMM velocity magnetospeed

READ RifleShooter.com .308 Win Barrel Cut-Down Test Article.

Test Barrel Lost 22.7 FPS Per Inch (.308 Win Chambering)
How much velocity do you think was lost, on average, for each 1″ reduction in barrel length? The answer may surprise you. With a barrel reduction from 28″ to 16.5″, the average speed loss of the four types of .308 ammo was 261 fps total. That works out to an average loss of 22.7 fps per inch. This chart shows velocity changes for all four ammo varieties:

rifleshooter.com barrel .308 win cut-down test saw ammo GMM velocity magnetospeed

Summary of Findings:
The average velocity loss per inch, for all four ammo types combined, was 22.7 FPS. By ammo type, the average FPS loss per inch was: 24.6 (Win 147 FMJ), 22.8 (IMI 150 FMJ), 20.9 (Fed GMM 168gr), and 22.5 (Win 180PP).

Interestingly, these numbers jive pretty well with estimates found in reloading manuals. The testers observed: “The Berger Reloading manual says for the 308 Winchester, ‘muzzle velocity will increase (or decrease) by approximately 20 fps per inch from a standard 24″ barrel’.”

How the Test Was Done

The testers described their procedure as follows: “Ballistic data was gathered using a Magnetospeed barrel mounted ballistic chronograph. At each barrel length, the rifle was fired from a front rest with rear bags, with five rounds of each type of ammunition. Average velocity and standard deviation were logged for each round. Since we would be gathering data on 52 different barrel length and ammunition combinations and would not be crowning the barrel after each cut, we decided to eliminate gathering data on group sizes. Once data was gathered for each cartridge at a given barrel length, the rifle was cleared and the bolt was removed. The barrel was cut off using a cold saw. The test protocol was repeated for the next length. Temperature was 47° F.”

rifleshooter.com barrel .308 win cut-down test saw ammo GMM velocity magnetospeed

CLICK HERE to Read the Rifleshooter.com Test. This includes detailed charts with inch-by-inch velocity numbers, multiple line charts, and complete data sets for each type of ammo. Rifleshooter.com also offers ballistics graphs showing trajectories with different barrel lengths. All in all, this was a very thorough test by the folks at RifleShooter.com.

Much Different Results with 6mmBR and a Longer Barrel
The results from Rifleshooter.com’s .308 barrel cut-down test are quite different than the results we recorded some years ago with a barrel chambered for the 6mmBR cartridge. When we cut our 6mmBR barrel down from 33″ to 28″, we only lost about 8 FPS per inch. Obviously this is a different cartridge type, but also our 6mmBR barrel end length was 5″ longer than Rifleshooter.com’s .308 Win start length. Velocity loss can be more extreme with shorter barrel lengths (and bigger cartridges). Powder burn rates can also make a difference.

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July 20th, 2021

The Tack-Driving AR — Secrets to AR Platform Accuracy

AR-X AR15 Upper

One Shooters’ Forum member asked: “What makes an AR accurate? What parts on an AR can really affect accuracy — such as free-floating handguards, barrels, bolts, bolt carriers?” He wanted an honest, well-informed answer, not just sales pitches. Robert Whitley posted a very detailed answer to this question, based on his experience building/testing scores of AR-platform rifles. Robert runs AR-X Enterprises, which produces match-grade uppers for High Power competitors, tactical shooters, and varminters.

AR-X AR15 Upper

Building an Accurate AR — What is Most Important

by Robert Whitley
There are a lot of things that can be done to an AR to enhance consistent accuracy, and I use the words “consistent accuracy” because consistency is a part of it (i.e. plenty of guns will give a couple great 5-shot groups, but won’t do a very good 10- or 20-shot groups, and some guns will shoot great one day and not so good on others).

Here are 14 key things we think are important to accuracy.

1. Great Barrel: You’ll want a premium match-grade barrel, well-machined with a good crown and a match-type chambering, true to the bore and well cut. The extension threads must also be cut true to the bore, with everything true and in proper alignment.

2. Rigid Upper: A rigid, heavy-walled upper receiver aids accuracy. The typical AR upper receiver was made for a lightweight carry rifle and they stripped all the metal they could off it to make it light to carry (which is advantageous for the military). The net result are upper receivers that are so thin you can flex them with your bare hands. These flexible uppers are “strong enough” for general use, but they are not ideal for accuracy. Accuracy improves with a more rigid upper receiver.

3. True Receiver Face: We’ve found that truing the receiver face is valuable. Some may argue this point but it is always best to keep everything related to the barrel and the bore in complete alignment with the bore (i.e. barrel extension, bolt, upper receiver, carrier, etc.).

4. Barrel Extension: You should Loctite or glue the barrel extension into the upper receiver. This holds it in place all the way front to back in the upper receiver. Otherwise if there is any play (and there typically is) it just hangs on the face of the upper receiver completely dependent on the face of the upper receiver as the sole source of support for the barrel as opposed to being made more an integral part of the upper receiver by being glued-in.

AR-X AR15 Upper5. Gas Block: You want a gas block that does not impose pointed stress on the barrel. Clamp-on types that grab all the way around the barrel are excellent. The blocks that are pinned on with tapered pins that wedge against the barrel or the slip on type of block with set screws that push up from underneath (or directly on the barrel) can deform the bore inside of the barrel and can wreck the accuracy of an otherwise great barrel.

6. Free-Float Handguard: A rigid, free-float handguard (and I emphasize the word rigid) really makes a difference. There are many types of free-float handguards and a free-float handguard is, in and of itself, a huge improvement over a non-free-float set up, but best is a rigid set-up. Some of the ones on the market are small diameter, thin and/or flexible and if you are shooting off any type of rest, bipod, front bag, etc., a rigid fore-end is best since ARs want to jump, bounce and twist when you let a shot go, as the carrier starts to begin its cycle before the bullet exits the bore.

Robert Whitley AR Accurate accuracy aR15 barrel trigger MSR gunsmithing

7. Barrel Contour: You want some meat on the barrel. Between the upper receiver and the gas block don’t go real thin with a barrel (we like 1″ diameter if it’s workable weight-wise). When you touch off a round and the bullet passes the gas port, the gas system immediately starts pressuring up with a gas impulse that provides vibrations and stress on the barrel, especially between the gas block back to the receiver. A heavier barrel here dampens that. Staying a little heavier with barrel contour through the gas block area and out to the muzzle is good for the same reasons. ARs have a lot going on when you touch off a round and the gas system pressures up and the carrier starts moving (all before the bullet exits the bore) so the more things are made heavier and rigid to counteract that the better — within reason (I’m not advocating a 12-lb barrel).

8. Gas Tube Routing Clearance: You want a gas tube that runs freely through the barrel nut, through the front of the upper receiver, and through the gas key in the carrier. Ensure the gas tube is not impinged by any of them, so that it does not load the carrier in a stressed orientation. You don’t want the gas tube bound up so that when the gas tube pressures up it immediately wants to transmit more force and impulse to the barrel than would normally occur. We sometimes spend a lot of time moving the gas block with gas tube on and off new build uppers and tweaking gas tubes to get proper clearance and alignment. Most gas tubes do need a little “tweaking” to get them right — factory tubes may work OK but they typically do not function optimally without hand-fitting.

9. Gas Port Tuning: You want to avoid over-porting the gas port. Being over-gassed makes the gas system pressure up earlier and more aggressively. This causes more impulse, and increases forces and vibration affecting the top end and the barrel. Tune the gas port to give the amount of pressure needed to function properly and adequately but no more.

10. Front/Back Bolt Play: If accuracy is the game, don’t leave a lot of front/back bolt play (keep it .003″ but no more than .005″). We’ve seen factory rifles run .012″ to .015″ play, which is OK if you need to leave room for dirt and grime in a military application. However, that amount of play is not ideal for a high-accuracy AR build. A lot of front/back bolt play allows rounds to be hammered into the chamber and actually re-formed in a non-consistent way, as they are loaded into the chamber.

11. Component Quality: Use good parts from a reputable source and be wary of “gun show specials”. All parts are NOT the same. Some are good, some are not so good, and some aftermarket parts are simply bad. Don’t be afraid to use mil-spec-type carriers; by and large they are excellent for an accuracy build. Also, remember that just because a carrier says “National Match” or something else on it does not necessarily mean it’s any better. Be wary of chrome-plated parts as the chrome plating can change the parts dimensionally and can also make it hard to do hand-fitting for fit and function.

AR-X AR15 Upper

12. Upper to Lower Fit: A good upper/lower fit is helpful. For quick and dirty fit enhancement, an Accu-Wedge in the rear helps a lot. The ultimate solution is to bed the upper to a specific lower so that the upper and lower, when together, are more like one integral unit. For the upper receivers we produce, we try to get the specs as close as we can, but still fit the various lowers in the market place.

13. Muzzle Attachments: Don’t screw up the muzzle (literally). Leave as much metal on the barrel at the muzzle as you can. People like to thread the muzzle for a flash hider, suppressor, muzzle brake, or some other attachment, but if you really want accuracy, leave as much metal as you can there. And, if you have something that screws on, set it up so that it can be put on and have it stay there without putting a lot of torque and stress on it right where the bullet exits the bore. If you are going to thread the end of the barrel, make it concentric with the bore and make sure what you screw on there is as well. For all muzzle attachments, also ensure that the holes through which the bullet passes through are dead true to the bore. Many aftermarket screw-on things are not so good that way. Anything that vents gas should vent symmetrically (i.e. if it vents left, it should vent equally right, and likewise, if it vents up, it should vent down equally). Uneven venting of gas can wreck accuracy.

14. Quality Ammunition: Ammo is a whole story by itself, but loads that are too hot typically shoot poorly in an AR-15. If you want accuracy out of an AR-15, avoid overly hot loads. Shown below are test groups shot with four (4) different uppers, all with moderate loads. These four uppers all pretty much had the same features and things done to them as explained in this article, and they all shot great.

AR-X AR15 Upper

Robert Whitley
www.6mmAR.com

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July 12th, 2021

Barrel End Threading — Bigger Diameter is Better

Barrel Threading AR15 ARX Robert Whitley bartlein

Our friend Robert Whitley of ARX Enterprises LLC has learned, through careful measurement and testing, that some barrels threaded 5/8″ x 24 TPI at the muzzle may not deliver optimal accuracy. The reason is that the end of the barrel can bell out slightly, like a trombone, because too much steel has been removed. This is particularly true with .30-caliber barrels, but it can also be a problem with smaller caliber barrels (even 6mm). Robert demonstrates this phenomenon in the video below. All gunsmiths, and anyone considering threading a barrel, should watch the video. At 1:00 – 1:30 Robert gauges a 5/8″ x 24-threaded .30-Caliber barrel. You can see the belling effect clear as day.

Barrel Threading AR15 ARX Robert Whitley bartlein

“When setting up a commercial barrel in the lathe, we noticed that the maximum-sized bushing that would fit in the bore at the chamber end was almost .0015” smaller [than what would fit] at the muzzle. That precipitated my pin-gauging of a number of different commercial barrels that were threaded for 5/8” x 24 tpi. What I found is what’s shown on the video.” – R. Whitley

Solve Problem with a Larger Thread Diameter
If 5/8″ x 24 threading is potentially harmful to accuracy, is there a solution? Yes, you simply need to leave a little more steel on the barrel. (See Video starting at 02:40.) Frank Green of Bartlein barrels states: “We get these questions all the time. I say run the largest thread diameter that is possible.” Robert Whitley has found that a 3/4″ x 28 TPI threading does not cause the “belling effect”. Accordingly Robert recommends 3/4″ x 28 if you need to thread your barrel for a muzzle brake or suppressor. Robert explains: “We only make 3/4” x 28 TPI muzzle brakes and that’s what we recommend to customers.”

Barrel Threading AR15 ARX Robert Whitley bartlein

“See how much meatier the 3/4″ threading is vs. the 5/8″. The 3/4″ threading offers a lot more metal around the bore. There’s a lot less opportunity for the bore to become bell-mouthed…” – Robert Whitley

Barrel Threading Diameter — What’s Important to Know

By Robert Whitley
In truth, the 5/8” x 24 TPI threading never came out of any accuracy-based think tank or set-up, it’s a military .30-Cal threading for barrels that someone has to carry around (they needed to keep the barrel weight down so it was smaller in diameter and the threading had to work with that situation). People have somehow assumed because the military uses that threading for certain things that it must mean that it’s also fine for a highly accurate rifle too, but that’s not really correct.

I don’t think there is any better and realistic option than the 3/4″ muzzle threading, and we also do it so there is no relief cut behind the threads on the barrel (i.e. put the relief cut on the brake or jam nut, don’t chop down on the muzzle of the barrel). For some reason many have a hard time grasping that the metal at the muzzle end of a rifle is “sacred” and you should not cut it down any more than absolutely necessary. A little threaded pencil diameter nub on the end of a barrel is not ideal for accuracy especially if it’s threaded and you need to torque on it. I cringe when I see a barrel with something like an MTU or Heavy Varmint contour, only to have an itty-bitty pencil thin threaded nub right at the muzzle so someone can “screw on a can” or a muzzle brake.

Lessons Learned Over the Years
A number of years ago I did a 30BR rifle project with Craig Kostyshyn who was big in the 30BR game and he made some of the best 30BR rifle barrels for benchrest competition. When I did the project I wanted a medium-heavy Palma type contour barrel I could use and also have a muzzle turndown for a front sight band. When he found out I was going to have the muzzle turned down he said “whoa, I need to provide for that when I make the barrel because if you turn the front down later you’ll be shooting a trombone” (i.e. the muzzle bore dimension would open up).

What he did was rough contour the barrel with the turndown (about .010” oversize) before he lapped the barrel, then when he lapped the barrel he took it easy in the muzzle area and worked the back of the barrel more. I thought he was a little bit excessive in his concerns but the barrel shot great and I wasn’t going to argue with him, after all he was shooting groups in the ones. I kind of just filed that away and never thought about it until recently when I went to have Fred from Sabreco do some chamber re-work on a commercial .30-caliber barrel I had. When setting up the barrel in the lathe and indicating things Fred noticed that the maximum-sized bushing that would fit in the bore at the chamber end was almost .0015” smaller [than what would fit] at the muzzle and he mentioned it to me. That precipitated my pin-gauging of a number of different commercial barrels I had that were threaded for 5/8” x 24 TPI. What I found is what’s shown on the video.

NOTE: This is a copyrighted article. Do not reproduce or re-link more than 75 words without written permission from AccurateShooter.com.

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July 11th, 2021

How Long Will Barrels Last? Dan Lilja Lists Factors to Consider

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Barrel-maker Dan Lilja’s website, RifleBarrels.com has an excellent FAQ page that contains a wealth of useful information. On the Lilja FAQ Page you’ll find 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. 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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July 6th, 2021

Tech Tip: Don’t Forget to Clean Your Chamber and Lug Recesses

Bolt Action Cleaning lug recess chamber cleaning

Most competitive shooters are pretty good about bore cleaning (some may even clean their bores too aggressively). However, we’ve found that many shooters neglect the chamber area and the bolt lug recesses. It’s too easy to clean the bore, slip out the guide rod and say “I’m done.” Sinclair Int’l explains why it’s important to clean the action interior: “Shooters use a lot of grease and oil on their bolts to reduce friction and to prevent wear[.] Unfortunately, both of these compounds attract grit, powder and primer residues. Cleaning your receiver is especially critical [with] custom actions where the fit between the action and bolt is held to very tight tolerances. Routine cleaning of the action will prevent unnecessary wear on the bolt body, locking lugs, and the action raceways/guide rails. Frequent action cleaning is also essential to keeping the trigger area free of debris which can cause trigger hang-ups and failures.”

PMA Action Cleaning Tool

Your rifle deserves a clean action and lug recesses. For action cleaning, our friend Danny Reever favors the PMA Action Cleaning tool. This handy tool speeds up the cleaning process, letting you do a better job in less time. Danny reports: “I’ve been using the PMA Action Cleaning Tool Kit for quite some time. Previously, I used one of the old style (round knob) action-cleaning tools with cylindrical cotton rolls. I think the PMA Action Cleaning Tool Kit is easier to use, and possibly achieves better results. Read Full Tool Review.

Cleaning the Chamber

Combustion by-products, lubricants, and solvent residues can collect in your chamber. Severe build-up of grease and carbon can interfere with chambering. Also some solvents will promote corrosion. You need to keep your chambers clean.

Bolt Action Cleaning

1) Install a clean cotton mop of the correct size on the end of a chamber rod and insert the mop into the chamber. Rotate the mop several times to remove any brush bristles left behind and any excess solvent that was between the rod guide snout and the end of the chamber. Make sure the chamber is dry. Prior to storing a rifle you can oil the chamber but make sure the oil is removed prior to firing the rifle.
2) Alternatively, install an old bore brush on a chamber rod, overlap a couple of patches on the brush bristles, and wrap them around the brush completely. Then insert the patch-covered brush into the chamber while rotating it to remove the excess solvent and debris. Push it firmly into the neck area of the chamber. A similar method is to pierce a large patch on the end of the brush loop and insert it into the action, again rotating the brush as you push the patch up against the breech.

Cleaning the Lug Recess Area

The action lug recess area is one of the dirtiest places on a bolt-action rifle. To properly clean this area, always use a tool designed for the task, such as the $26.99 Sinclair Action Cleaning Tool (part # ACT1) which is part of the full Sinclair Action Cleaning Tool Kit ($45.99, part #ACT2).

Bolt Action Cleaning

1) Insert a cotton roll or cleaning felt into your lug recess cleaning tool and wet both ends and the face of the cotton roll/felt with solvent.
2) Insert the tool into the action and push it forward until it is positioned fully in the lug recess area and rotate the tool head several times. Then reverse the rotation for another few turns. While rotating the tool move it slightly in and out to cover the entire recess area and to also clean the breech face.
3) Remove the tool from the action and inspect the surface of the felt or cotton roll. If there is quite a bit of residue on both sides of the felt/roll, then repeat with another wet felt/roll.
4) When you feel the recess area is completely clean, insert a dry cotton roll into the tool and rotate the tool head to remove any remaining solvent and debris. If necessary, use a second dry cotton roll.
5) You can follow this step up with another pass of a mop or patches into the chamber to get any debris or solvent that pushed forward out of the lug recess area.

Cleaning Tips from The Sinclair Int’l Reloading Press, used courtesy Sinclair Int’l, All Rights Reserved.

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July 2nd, 2021

M1A Tech Tips and Springfield M1A Match at Camp Perry

Springfield M1A gunsmith armorer's course AGI

Do you own a Springfield M1A (or wish you did)? Then you should watch this 5-minute video from the American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI). This video shows the basics of the operation of the popular M1A rifle, the civilian version of the military M14. In this video, gunsmith John Bush field-strips the M1A and shows how the bolt, op rod, and trigger group fits together and operates. This video contains excerpts from the M1A Rifle Armorer’s Course, AGI Course #1584. The full Armorer’s Course is available on DVD from www.AmericanGunsmith.com.

Watch Highlights of AGI M1A Rifle Armorer’s Course:

Springfield M1A rifle camp perry m14 .308 win AGI

Springfield M1A gunsmith armorer's course AGI

2021 CMP Springfield M1A Match at Camp Perry

The 14th annual Springfield Armory M1A Match will take place during the 2021 CMP National Rifle Matches. The CMP will host the event on Sunday, August 8, 2021, the day after the John C. Garand Match begins. Competitors of all experience levels are encouraged to bring their M1A rifles to Camp Perry and compete. Online REGISTRATION is still possible. The match is open to all individuals ages 12 and above. For more information contact the CMP at competitions@thecmp.org or call 419-635-2141 ext. 724 or 714.

Springfield M1A match high power rifle

The Springfield Armory M1A match began with one man’s idea and passion. Springfield Armory’s Mike Doy witnessed the waning of classic M1 Garand and M1A rifles from the competitive High Power firing lines. “I really wanted to get those M1A rifles out of safes and closets and back out onto the field. So 11 years ago, I promoted the idea of running an M1A-specific match at Camp Perry. That first year we had over 600 competitors and spectators.” Now the match offers some of the biggest pay-outs at Camp Perry. In recent years, Springfield Armory has donated over $25,000 worth of cash and prizes, including a $2,000 cash award to the overall winner.

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July 1st, 2021

Video Showcase: Sako and Tikka Finland Factory Tour

Sako Tikka Factory tour video carbon fiber hunting stock rifle Finland

Sako, and its subsidiary Tikka, make some of the finest hunting rifles you can buy. These offer smooth actions, and very good out-of-the-box accuracy for factory rifles. In addition, Sako and Tikka now offer high-tech carbon fiber stocks, along with Sako’s handsome wood stocks. With the three videos showcased today, you get a virtual tour of the Sako/Tikka production facilities in Finland.


Visit Sako Rifles Website | Visit Tikka Rifles Website

Tour of Finland Factory — 22-Minute Video

In this informative video, the Canada in the Rough team tours the Sako/Tikka factory in Riihimäki, Finland. All aspects of the production process are covered — crafting actions, barrel-making, stock fitting and more. It was interesting to see the hammer-forging process for barrels, and the exacting measurements that are performed on the actions and bolt assemblies. If you have an interest in rifle production and the type of modern, computer-controlled machinery now being used, definitely watch this video.

Sako Tikka Factory tour video carbon fiber hunting stock rifle Finland
Sako Tikka Factory tour video carbon fiber hunting stock rifle Finland

Visit to SAKO/Tikka Carbon Fiber Stock Factory

This Sako-produced video shows how the company’s modern carbon-fiber stocks are produced. The stock production process is highly automated, to ensure that the finished stocks have very precise dimensions. These carbon Sakos are some of the nicest carbon-fiber stocks we’ve ever seen.

Sako carbon fiber stock factory
Sako Tikka Factory tour video carbon fiber hunting stock rifle Finland

SAKO Factory Tour in Riihimäki Finland

In this segment, huntress and outdoor video host Mia Anstine tours the Sako manufacturing facility in Riihimäki, Finland. This video covers both firearms production and ammunition manufacturing. In a follow-up video Mia tests Sako rifles and Sako ammunition at a Finland range. Mia also reported on her Sako factory tour in the Beretta Blog. She notes: “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.”

Sako Tikka Factory tour video carbon fiber hunting stock rifle Finland
Sako Tikka Factory tour video carbon fiber hunting stock rifle Finland

Canada in the Rough Video Tip from Boyd Allen — we welcome reader submissions
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June 25th, 2021

New .416 Colossus Cartridge from John Pierce and Mark Fox

ELR john pierce colossus .416 barrett RCC Robertson brass Badlands precision Eliseo competition machine

When Bigger IS Better — The New .416 Colossus ELR Cartridge
John Pierce, founder of Pierce Engineering revealed an impressive new cartridge developed for the ELR (Extreme Long Range) game — the .416 Colossus. This has achieved 3300 fps shooting the Badlands Precision 525gr solid copper projectile (BC: 1.20 G1, .614 G7). Above is a “big rig” designed to shoot this cartridge. This rifle boasts a custom Eliseo chassis with 20X Pierce Engineering action and Krieger barrel. John Pierce noted: “Big thanks to Gary Eliseo for building this special chassis. Pete Contacos owns and tested the rifle and cartridge. He is ecstatic to say the least.”

John Pierce reported on Facebook: “After a long two years of development and waiting to see what results could be achieved, we are very pleased. The Colossus cartridge, designed by Mark Fox and myself, is showing great [results].”

ELR john pierce colossus .416 barrett RCC Robertson brass Badlands precision Eliseo competition machine

The cartridge boasts impressive velocities. John reports: “Over 3300 fps shooting the Badlands Precision 525gr .416-caliber projectiles. Zero bolt-lift issues from RCC (Robertson Cartridge Co.) brass. [We have] 25 firings on one test piece and still good to go. Big thanks to Dan Warner [at Warner Tool] for making the special, awesome dies.”

More Capacity and Higher Efficiency than .416 Barrett and .416 Warner
One Facebook commenter wanted to know how the .416 Colossus compared to other big .416-caliber cartridges created for the ELR game: “Can you or Mark share the increase in powder capacity over a standard .416 Barrett and over a .416 Warner?” John replied: “I would rather not elaborate on details of cartridge just yet…however it has a bit more capacity and higher efficiency using a large magnum primer.”

ELR john pierce colossus .416 barrett RCC Robertson brass Badlands precision Eliseo competition machine

Pete Contacos, the rifle’s owner, posted: “I would like to thank everyone who made this possible: John Pierce, Mark Fox, Gary Eliseo, Jeff at RRC Brass, Jason At Badlands Bullets, Dan Warner for dies. This is an AMAZING rifle made possible by all of the above People. THANK YOU ALL… looking forward to seeing you all at the matches this year.”

Gary Eliseo (Competition Machine) is making a similar big chassis for John Pierce. Gary posted: “Yours is almost finished”, to which John replied: “Thank you for the beautiful chassis, exciting to get my Big Red.” Gary has told us that this big new chassis is a scaled-up version of the Competition Machine UMR system. The large Pierce 20X action is epoxied in the chassis, which accepts a Rem-compatible trigger.

ELR john pierce colossus .416 barrett RCC Robertson brass Badlands precision Eliseo competition machine

ELR john pierce colossus .416 barrett RCC Robertson brassAbout RCC Brass — CNC Machined Quality
RCC manufactures brass cartridges on CNC lathes and mills starting with C272 solid bar stock. RCC reloading brass cartridges are manufactured to SAAMI, CIP, or customer specifications (yes custom cartridge and wildcats can be made). The brass does not use a conventional draw process. This allows the brass to be stronger, according to RCC:

“We machine all our cases on CNC lathes and mills and our case weight, case volume, and our case concentricity are the best available in the industry. We do not anneal the case head as it is hammer-forged to a high tensile strength which gives us the same hardness for each case. Since we use CNC equipment to manufacture our, case weight is nearly identical, the case volume is too, and our case concentricity is held to a 0.001”.

Since we are not held back by the limitations of a [traditional] draw system, we are able to use higher strength alloys to manufacture cartridges. Our C272 brass alloy has a much higher tensile strength and tighter molecular grain structure than C260 brass, without losing the needed elasticity. Test results have been very positive as we’ve had reports of increased in velocity and energy and lower shot deviations versus C260 drawn brass.

We manufacture high-quality reloading brass cartridges for vintage, obsolete, hard to find, and wildcat calibers. All cartridges are made to SAAMI, CIP, or tolerances provided to us. Our unique process allows us to manufacture over 1,500 different cartridges at tolerances up to 0.0005”. We manufacture reloading brass cartridges for any firearm.

We custom fit brass to the chamber of your firearm. Our custom fit program will give you the headspace and chamber dimensions best suited for your firearm. Customers can send us fire-formed brass, a chamber cast, or the firearm for the custom cartridge. We do Wildcats too. Send us a reamer drawing, or a dimensioned drawing and we will manufacture your wildcat cartridge. There is a one time set-up fee for all wildcats and a 100 piece minimum order. We do Custom Headstamps too. We use our CNC mills to engrave headstamps. We are able to do text and some graphics too.”

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June 24th, 2021

Popular Sniper Team Match Returns to Camp Perry

Vintage sniper team match camp perry ohio

On August 9, 2021 the Vintage Sniper Team Match returns to Camp Perry, Ohio. We’re glad to see this popular match return after it (and other Nationals events) were cancelled in 2020 due to the Pandemic. This unique Sniper Team event is a two-man team competition using scoped rifles of WWI and WWII Vintage. This has become one of the most popular CMP rifle matches held at Camp Perry, with over 200 teams competing in recent years. Many competitors use some version of the M1903 Springfield, but you’ll also see scoped M1 Garands, M1917s, K31s, Mausers, and even a Lee-Enfield or two. There are both bolt action and semi-auto classifications, with each division being scored separately.

Vintage sniper team match camp perry ohio

We expect 200+ teams to compete for the Vintage Sniper Trophy this summer. Two-person teams will fire 10 rounds in 20-second intervals from scoped vintage military rifles set on sand bags. One team marksman shoots from the prone position at 300 and 600 yards, while the other serves as a spotter to relay shot position. Marksman and spotter switch positions on the firing lines, allowing each teammate to play both roles. Scores are then combined for an Aggregate team total.

Vintage sniper team match camp perry ohio

Who can identify this rifle, with its unusual scope mount?
Vintage sniper rifle team match camp perry

“Walking down the … line one can find a plethora of various rifle models. Although 1903A4 and USMC M1941 builds made up a significant majority of the rifles on the line, other models such as the K98, M1C, M1D, M91/30, Swedish Mausers, and the No4 Mk1 (T) had their place in the hands of various shooters.” — Criterion Barrels Article

Our friends at Criterion Barrels have published a great article about the Vintage Sniper Rifle Match. This story offers a fascinating “insider’s perspective” on the Match, plus Vintage Sniper gunsmithing tips, Anyone considering shooting the Vintage Sniper match for the first time should definitely read this article.

About the Match and the Rifles
The Vintage Sniper Match was the brainchild of Hornady’s Dave Emary. The competition was inspired by his father, a World War II scout sniper, who carried a rifle similar to the 1903A4 rifle builds that can be found today on the Camp Perry firing line. Bob Schanen worked alongside Dave and the CMP staff in establishing the various competition rules prior to the first official Vintage Sniper Match in 2011. The match developers made a point to offer some level of flexibility in rifle configuration, allowing specific types of non-issue optics and rifle rebuilds. This helped make the match more inclusive.

Hornady’s Dave Emary and “Gunny” R. Lee Ermey (RIP):
AccurateShooter.com CMP Vintage Sniper Rifle Match

Camp Perry — The Venue
The hallowed grounds of Camp Perry have hosted some of the nation’s finest shooters each summer for more than a century. Some of the world’s greatest marksmen have accomplished remarkable feats on the ranges of this lakeside military outpost. Located on the coast of Lake Erie, Camp Perry is positioned just outside of the scenic town of Port Clinton, Ohio. It is our firm belief that every shooter should make the pilgrimage to the Camp Perry at least once in their lifetime. If not participating in an event, visitors should at least make an attempt to meet the competitors, witness the wide selection of firearms used by participants, and pay a visit to the various vendors on base.

Vintage sniper team match camp perry ohio

Photos from Garand Thumb Blog and NRA Blog.

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