September 25th, 2017

Stub Gauges — Cool Tools That Perform Important Functions

Barrel Stub Gauge

Next time you have a barrel fitted, consider having your gunsmith create a “stub gauge” from a left-over piece of barrel steel (ideally taken from your new barrel blank). The outside diameter isn’t important — the key thing is that the stub gauge is created with the same reamer used to chamber your current barrel, and the stub must have the same bore diameter, with the same land/groove configuration, as the barrel on your rifle. When properly made, a stub gauge gives you an accurate three-dimensional model of the upper section of your chamber and throat. This comes in handy when you need to bump your case shoulders. Just slide a fired case (with spent primer removed) in the stub gauge and measure from base of case to the end of the gauge. Then, after bumping, re-measure to confirm how much you’ve moved the shoulder.

Barrel Stub Gauge

In addition, the stub gauge lets you measure the original length to lands and freebore when your barrel was new. This gives you a baseline to accurately assess how far your throat erodes with use. Of course, as the throat wears, to get true length-to-lands dimension, you need take your measurement using your actual barrel. The barrel stub gauge helps you set the initial bullet seating depth. Seating depth is then adjusted accordingly, based on observed throat erosion, or your preferred seating depth.

To learn more about stub gauges, read this AccurateShooter Forum Thread.

Forum member RussT explains: “My gunsmith [makes a stub gauge] for me on every barrel now. I order a barrel an inch longer and that gives him enough material when he cuts off the end to give me a nice case gauge. Though I don’t have him cut that nice-looking window in the side (as shown in photos). That’s a neat option. You can tell how much throat erosion you are getting from when it was new as well. For measuring initial seating depths, this is the most useful item on my loading bench next to calipers. Everyone should have a case gauge made by their smith if you have a new barrel put on.”

Forum member Lawrence H. has stub gauges made with his chamber reamers for each new barrel He has his smith cut a port in the stub steel so Lawrence can actually see how the bullet engages the rifling in a newly-cut chamber. With this “view port”, one can also see how the case-neck fits in the chamber. Lawrence tells us: “My stub gauges are made from my barrels and cut with my chamber reamers. With them I can measure where my bullets are ‘touching the lands’ and shoulder bump dimensions. This is a very simple tool that provides accurate information.” The photos in this article show the stub gauges made for Lawrence by his gunsmith.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Reloading 1 Comment »
September 19th, 2017

Eight-Year-Old English Schoolgirl Shines at 1000-Yard Benchrest

Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl Kales Scope Light Gun Record
Emily has won many awards — including a screamer at 1000 yards — and her accomplishments have not gone unrecognized. At a recent UK Shooting Show, Emily was presented with a Kahles 10-50x56mm scope by UK Importers RUAG which will come in very useful for the UK winter 600-yard benchrest series. She also received a one-off Hausken suppressor in her favorite color — pink!

English Emily and Her Record-Breaking 6mmBR Stolle

Report by Vince Bottomley
Turning back the clock a decade or so to 2006 and Accurateshooter’s Gun of the Week #71 you will see my smiling face and my 7mm WSM BAT which had just set a new UK Light Gun record for 1000-yard benchrest with a 5-shot group measuring 2.67 inches. That record has now been broken — sadly not by me but by Emily’s Grandfather with a gun I built for this talented schoolgirl. Here’s the story of the precocious Emily and her record-setting rifle…

In 2006, when I set the record, young Emily Lenton wasn’t even born but, a couple years later she arrived – into the shooting-mad Lenton family. Both father Bruce Lenton and Granddad Tony have represented their Country at European and World Benchrest Championships and it was no surprise to see Emily, at just eight years old, shooting in her first 1000-yard benchrest competition.

Eight-year-old Emily shoots 6mm BR Heavy Gun at 1000 yards.
Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl Light Gun Record

Recoil is always going to be a problem for an 8-year-old, so Emily’s first bench-gun was Granddad’s 1000-yard Heavy Gun chambered for the 6mmBR cartridge. It hardly moves when Emily pulls the trigger and she soon became a serious contender.

Under her father Bruce Lenton’s careful supervision, Emily loads all her own ammunition.
Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl 6mmBR 6BR vince bottomley Light Gun Record

Of course, she wanted her own gun and who better to ask to build it than the current record holder — me of course! Emily chose a Stolle action RBLP as this was to be a 17-lb Light Gun, bedded into a UK-made Joe West laminate stock. The barrel was a heavy-profile 1:8″-twist Krieger chambered in 6mm BR Norma (6BR) with a ‘no-turn’ neck (reamer from Pacific Tool & Gauge) and fitted with a UK Tier One muzzle-brake.

Emily’s Light Gun begins to take shape…
Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl 6mmBR 6BR vince Bottomley Light Gun Record

Emily buckles down to some winter load-development (note the fleece coat and wool gloves).
Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl 6mmBR 6BR vince bottomley Light Gun Record

It was down to Granddad to help Emily with load-development and of course, he could also shoot it in competition — after all Emily had just about shot-out Granddad’s Heavy Gun with a full season of rapid-fire 10-shot groups!

Granddad Tony gets ready to shoot Emily’s gun.
Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl vince bottomly 6mmBR 6BR Light Gun Record

Then something happened – Granddad went and broke my ten-year old record with Emily’s gun! Well, I suppose there was some consolation — at least I’d built the record-breaking gun. The new UK Light Gun 1000-yard five-shot record now stands at 2.462 inches. For those who like load details, Emily uses Lapua brass, Vihtavuori N150 powder, CCI 450 primers, and Berger 105 grain VLD bullets loaded with Wilson hand-dies.

Tony Lenton with Emily’s gun just after he broke my 1000-yard record. I’m doing my best to smile!
Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl 6BR 6mmBR Vince Bottomley Light Gun Record

Next Stop… New Zealand! 2017 World Benchrest Championships Down Under
Emily has now got her own 6PPC gun for short-range benchrest and she will be travelling to New Zealand this fall with her family. She’ll be helping her father and Granddad who are part of the United Kingdom squad competing at the 2017 World Benchrest Shooting Championships to be held at the Packers Creek Range in Nelson, NZ. How long will it be before Emily makes her own ‘World’ debut?

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Gunsmithing, News 5 Comments »
September 16th, 2017

IBS Match Report: Visalia 3-Gun California Championship

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen
The Visalia Sportsman’s Association Dale Wimp Shooting Range — a great place to shoot.

Report by Boyd Allen | Photos and video by Pete Kitrinos
The IBS is in the West! The first International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) match at the Visalia, CA range was held over the recent Labor Day Weekend. Despite scorching 106° heat, many of the West’s top short-range benchrest shooters assembled for the first IBS-sanctioned match (after a 30-year history with the NBRSA) at the Visalia range. The mix of shooters included at least one Benchrest Hall of Fame member, as well as NBRSA record holders. Competitors were happy to return to Visalia, which had been closed for seven months while range improvements were made (some parts of the East berm were still under construction). With only two ranges in the entire state holding short range group matches, the temporary loss of Visalia had a significant impact. It was time to get back to business — the business of shooting tiny groups.

This video includes Aerial Drone footage of the range — worth watching!

Surrounded by fields, the Visalia Range is located in California’s Central Valley, a rich agricultural area.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

For about thirty years the California 3-Gun Benchrest Championship match has been held at the Visalia Sportsman’s Association Dale Wimp Range over Labor Day weekend. For all those years, the matches have been put on by local shooter and current club president Dennis Thornbury. During a good part of that time, he has also managed to keep his name in the NBRSA record book, and pick up four Benchrest Hall of Fame points, as well as having recently done a tour as NBRSA president. This year’s match is sanctioned by the IBS, a first at Visalia.

Don “The Pumpkin” Nielson used an action he fabricated, a “fat bolt” aluminum 3-lug with steel insert.
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Dennis Thornbury has been putting on registered matches at the Visalia range for 30 years. He holds an NBRSA record, and has 4 Hall of Fame points.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

The format: On Saturday competitors shot 100 yards all day, Sporter in the morning, Light Varmint in the afternoon. The following day the morning competition was Heavy Varmint at 100 and at lunch the targets were moved to 200 yards with Heavy Varmint being shot that afternoon. On Monday, Labor Day, at 200 yards, Light Varmint was shot in the morning and Sporter in the afternoon. All three days consisted of five, 5-shot matches in the morning and five more in the afternoon.

Morning, Day 1 — Very few “daisy wheels”. This has been the trend for many years at this range.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Getting down to business. Shown, from right to left: Henry Pinkney, Joe Stanovich, Steve Epstein, Keith Cottrell (face obscured), Jim Nicolas (standing).
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Sunday Top Shots: Jack Childers, Keith Cottrell, John Pierce, Lester Bruno, Dennis Thornbury, and Don Nielson. (Yes that’s a corn field in the background):
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

With the big temp changes between morning and afternoon, competitors were chasing powder loads all weekend. Small groups were hard to find, so only three “screamers” were recorded all weekend, and no teen Aggs. With the oppressive heat, attrition was also a factor: “We started with 30 shooters, and ended with just 21 competitors”.

Temperatures were in the triple digits for Saturday and Sunday, backing off to the high 90s on Monday. High humidity made it feel even hotter — heat stress was a definite issue. Even the rifles seemed to be at less than their best, causing very light wind conditions to produce Aggregates that were larger than the observed wind conditions would lead one to expect. Wind was generally light and switchy. Lighter mornings with wind increasing slightly through the days. Sunday saw more wind than the other two days after ten o’clock or so.

Loading benches with the usual clutter. Note the LabRadar chronograph on a bench at the firing line. Lawrence Weisdorn tracked his velocities during the match to know when a powder charge adjustment was needed.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Top Shooters: The Top Five in the 3-Gun (HV, LV, and Sporter) Championship were: Keith Cottrell (.2534), John Pierce (.2695), Dennis Thornbury (.2714), Art Kawai (.2885), and Rich Shaw (.3016). Winners of the Class Grand Aggs were Dennis Thornbury (HV .2424), Lester Bruno (LV .2400), and Keith Cottrell (Sporter .2395). CLICK HERE for full Match Results.

Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Equipment List for Top Five Shooters
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

You can use a LabRadar during competition. This was Lawrence Weisdorn’s set-up at Visalia.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Benchrest Technique — How to Shoot at Visalia
This range is built a bit like a large bathtub, dug into a flat field with the excavated earth thrown up in steep berms on three sides. This configuration and the usual lack of strong winds creates a lot of thermal-generated switchiness with flags changing direction often and very little agreement within any shooter’s set. This places a high premium on visual memory and the ability to judge equivalent conditions, because duplicates are almost never seen. Although the opportunity to run groups can happen, this is mostly a “pickers” range, which places a high premium on visual memory.

Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Facilities at Visalia Sportsman’s Association Range
There are 28 monolithic, steel-reinforced, concrete benches (poured in place, base and top all one pour). The reloading area is behind the benches with most of it on the same level as the benches. There are permanent (fixed position) tables that have laminate tops, except for where the range house sits, mid-range, with a “wailing wall” along its east and north sides. The direction of fire is north. The benches are under a slightly pitched metal roof that has recently been extended so that it has a good amount of overhang in front of the benches. Electricity is available in the reloading area and there are a few electrical outlets in the parking lot for RVs. There are both steps and a wheelchair ramp connecting parking lot to the reloading level and the shooting level.

Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Field of (Benchrest) Dreams — Precision Shooting Among the California Corn Fields.
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing, Shooting Skills 4 Comments »
September 15th, 2017

Hot Rod Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor — Major Upgrades

Ruger Precision Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor Purple Hot Rod
Check out that bolt assembly. It features a fluted stainless bolt body, laser-engraved Titanium shroud, and Titanium dragon-scale bolt knob with polished stainless handle.

You haven’t seen a Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR) like this before. Forum member TerryH has customized his Second-Gen 6.5 Creedmoor RPR with a wicked purple finish, snazzy stainless/titanium bolt, and slick HDPE (polymer) bag-riders front and rear. The mods on this Hot Rod Ruger don’t stop there. Terry added a Seekins hand rail, Timney trigger, ergonomic grip, and more…

For his Hot Rod Ruger, Terry has the right skill set, learned on the job: “I work in a body shop and have pretty much custom-painted all my stuff for many years. For this 6.5 CM RPR, colors of choice are House of Kolor PBC-65 Passion Purple and black covered with Cerakote MC-161 matte clear.” Terry even painted his Bald Eagle rest purple to match his Hot Rod RPR.

Ruger Precision Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor Purple Hot Rod

Terry reports: “I’m shooting an RPR in 6.5 CM. It has a Patriot Valley Arms 26″ barrel. Josh at PVA is making a thread protector for me so I can remove the Mad Scientist brake. The butt stock has a V-Tab adjustable butt plate and Wiebad check rest pad. Glass is a currently a Vortex Gen I PST 6-24x50mm but I have a Golden Eagle on layaway”. To learn more about this rifle or ask TerryH questions about the build, visit this Shooters’ FORUM THREAD.

Ruger Precision Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor Purple Hot Rod

Ruger Precision Rifle Modifications:
Chassis and Hanguards Painted Passion Purple
Patriot Valley Arms 26″ Barrel with Brake
Timney Trigger with Ambi Safety
Custom HDPE (Polymer) Bag-Riders front and Rear
V-Tab adjustable butt plate and Wiebad cheek-pad
Seekins Rail

Good Accuracy with Factory Ammunition
Terry reports: “The RPR is shooting .3 MOA @ 100 with factory Fed American Eagle 140s.” Terry plans to start handloading for the rifle with the goal of shooting F-Class matches next year: “I’ve successfully shot steel out to 1140 yards on the range but [I don’t know] if that will actually translate well in a match. I’m committed to practicing as much as I can and starting to shoot some matches in 2018.”

Front and Rear Bag-Riders with Protektor Rear Bag and Upgraded Bald Eagle Rest
Terry has engineered a slick set-up for F-Open competition and load testing. Up front is a Bald Eagle rest upgraded with windage knob mod, stainless F-Class feet, and longer adjusters. Terry also “changed the hardware to all stainless and added a couple of levels”. In the rear, Terry runs a Protektor Doctor rear bag with 1″ ear spacing.

Ruger Precision Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor Purple Hot Rod

The really impressive additions are custom HDPE bag-riders Terry crafted himself: “I realized that the butt stock wasn’t going to cut it on the rear bag and even though I got the 2 1/4″ front bag and the Seekins rail is 2″ wide and flat that it wasn’t as stable or smooth as I’d like.” So Terry made his own front and rear bag-riders from HDPE, a material similar to Delrin. Currently the front unit is 2.25″ wide, but Terry will be changing that to a 3″-wide front sled: “I decided that I’d get a 3″-wide front bag and mill a new front bag-rider. I’m going to recess the center to fit around the hand guard and I’ll mill a recess on the bottom of that one.”

Ruger Precision Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor Purple Hot Rod

Shown below is the Hot Rod Ruger before Terry added the HPDE Bag-Riders front and rear. Terry says the rifle now handles much better with the bag riders, and he plans to upsize the front sled to 3″ width.

Ruger Precision Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor Purple Hot Rod

Bling’s the Thing. Below is the Hot Rod Ruger’s bolt assembly. It features a custom flat-fluted bolt shaft, laser-engraved Titanium shroud and Titanium dragon-scale knob with polished stainless handle. Terry confesses: “I simply can’t resist anything shiny!”

Ruger Precision Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor Purple Hot Rod

Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing, Tactical 10 Comments »
September 13th, 2017

How Velocity Changes with Barrel Length — .223 Rem Test Results

.223 Rem Cut-Down Test barrel UMC m855

Most of us own a .223 Rem rifle. Now, thanks to our friends at Rifleshooter.com we can assess exactly how velocity changes with barrel length for this popular cartridge.

Rifleshooter.com performed an interesting test, cutting the barrel of a .223 Rem rifle from 26″ 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 .223 Rem/5.56 ammo were chron’d at each barrel length.

READ RifleShooter.com 5.56/.223 Barrel Cut-Down Test Article.

Test Barrel Lost 25.34 FPS Per Inch (.223 Rem Chambering)
How much velocity do you think was lost, on average, for each 1″ reduction in barrel length? The answer may surprise you. The average speed loss of the four types of .223/5.56 ammo, with a 9.5″ shortening of barrel length, was 240.75 fps total (from start to finish). That works out to an average loss of 25.34 fps per inch. (See inch-by-inch data HERE.)

5.56/.223 Barrel Cut-Down Speed Test 26″ to 16.5″ Start FPS at 26″ End FPS at 16.5″ Total Loss Average Loss Per Inch
UMC .223 55gr 3182* 2968 214 22.5 FPS
Federal M193 55gr 3431 3187 244 25.7 FPS
Win m855 62gr 3280 2992 288 30.3 FPS
Blk Hills .223 68gr 2849 2632 217 22.8 FPS

*There may have been an error. The 25″ velocity was higher at 3221 fps.

Rifleshooter.com observed: “Cutting the barrel from 26″ to 16.5″ resulted in a velocity reduction of 214 ft/sec with the UMC 223 55-grain cartridge, 244 ft/sec with the Federal M-193 cartridge, 288 ft/sec with the Winchester M855 cartridge and 217 ft/sec with the Back Hills 223 68-grain match cartridge.”

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. 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 45.7° F.”

CLICK HERE to Read the Rifleshooter.com Test. This includes detailed charts with inch-by-inch velocity numbers.

Much Different Results with 6mmBR and a Longer Barrel
The results from Rifleshooter.com’s .223/5.56 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 longer than Rifleshooter.com’s .223 Rem start length. Velocity loss may be more extreme with shorter barrel lengths.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Reloading 3 Comments »
September 12th, 2017

Custom Rimfire F-Class Rifle for a Grand-Daughter

Doan Trevor .22 LR rimfire Mango stock Anschutz model 54
The dots and dashes are Morse Code for the shooter’s initials. The wood is Mango with Walnut fore-end wing inlays. The barreled action is an older Anschutz Model 54 that spent years in a prone stock.

Build Report by Doan Trevor
How do you build a stock for the grand-daughter of an award-winning shooter? Over the years I have built five or six rifles for this shooter, and now his grand-daughter had taken an interest in F-Class. He wanted her new rifle to mirror his own F-Class rifle, and he provided me with an old Anschutz Model 54 barreled action. Her new rifle would get her started in rimfire with the possibility of graduating to High Power (centerfire) shooting. The dots and dashes on the sides of the stock are Morse Code for his grand-daughter’s initials — “AMS”.

Rimfire F-Class Stock Design Factors
Typically when I build a rimfire F-Class stock I use the same pattern as I do for High Power stocks. The pattern has evolved from my prone stocks, as it has proven very successful with time. Also, there is a known issue of using wood for a stock in F-Class. The wood needs to be cured, and unfortunately, finding wood in the specific dimension for the stock is near to impossible. Therefore, I inlay pieces in the fore-end making sure that it is straight and on center. Other materials can be used for an F-Class stock, but keeping them straight and centered can be very difficult. Using cured wood during the build process, I continually check the centerline from fore-end to the rear slider, ensuring that the stock stays centered. This helps ensure good tracking and return to point of aim.

Doan Trevor .22 LR rimfire Mango stock Anschutz model 54

Adapting Prone Stock for F-Class Use
There is a current trend of older Palma and prone shooters to convert their rifles for F-TR and F-Open due to eyesight problems and other disabilities. The stocks that they have been using (and loving) can be recycled to their new shooting styles with a few design changes. I have been doing this successfully for the last several years. Whether it be a new shooter or an older one, you can either plan for the future or adapt older equipment so that all can shoot the style that they want. My philosophy in rifle building is to create every rifle with the potential to win a national or world championship. I am proud to say that I have build rifles for Derek Rodgers, Trudie Faye, Lige Harris, Barry Smith, Eric Rhodes, Kent Reeves, Terry Glen and many more award-winning shooters. And I look forward to many more.

Doan Trevor .22 LR rimfire Mango stock Anschutz model 54

What the Heck is .22 LR Rimfire F-Class?
There is no official NRA F-Class rimfire discipline (at least not yet). However, many F-Class shooters (both F-0pen and F-TR) employ .22 LR rifles for low-cost training. For example, James Crofts practices extensively with his 40X rimfire F-TR rig. In addition, many shooting clubs offer F-Class style rimfire fun matches, shot prone with front rest or match bipod. This rifle was built for an F-Class fun match hosted regularly by the Los Angeles Rifle & Revolver Club (LAR&R).

The photo below displays a different Doan Trevor-crafted rifle, a rimfire benchrest rig with Turbo action. This shows how Doan makes the 3-inch-wide fore-end. Outboard left- and right-side wings are bonded to the central stock material, then the wings are carefully shaped for straightness. Getting the geometry “just right” helps the rig track perfectly.

Doan Trevor .22 LR rimfire Mango stock Anschutz model 54

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
September 12th, 2017

Care and Feeding of .50 BMGs — What You Need to Know

fifty caliber shooting association

A while back we published an Introduction to .50-Caliber Shooting authored by James Patterson. James has written a companion piece for Sinclair’s Reloading Press that covers the “care and feeding” of the big .50 Cal match rifles.

50 BMG FCSA 50 Caliber 50 BMG

Owning and Feeding ‘The Big Bore’

Is The Challenge Of Big Bore Extreme Range Shooting And Hunting Right For You?
By James Patterson

Handling a 50 BMG
Is a 50 BMG caliber rifle difficult to shoot? Not at all. The relatively heavy weight of a standard rifle at 30 pounds or more combined with a very efficient muzzle brake makes it a pleasure to shoot. The typical recoil can be compared to a .243 rifle or a 12 gauge trap load. On the other hand, the burning of a typical load of 230 grains of powder combined with that muzzle brake makes the muzzle blast experience exhilarating. A first time shooter will fire, pause for a moment in awe at the muzzle blast, and then break out into what has become known as “The 50 caliber Grin”, almost impossible to wipe from ones face. My daughter started competing with the 50 BMG at 18 (115 lbs of tall skinny girl) and happily shoots 100+ rounds in the course of a match, her grin on the last round is as wide as on the first! Many members and competitors in the FCSA are women and many have distinguished themselves as excellent marksman having set world records on numerous occasions.

50 BMG Fifty Caliber Shooting Association

Fifty 50 Caliber shooting Association

Cost of Big-Bore Shooting
Is owning and shooting a 50 BMG caliber rifle expensive? Relatively speaking yes, but one must put it into perspective. Rifles may run from $2500 to $7000, maybe even more for a top of the line custom rifle. A good scope will set you back $500 to $1500. And while excellent commercial ammo is available it runs from $3 to $5 a round. Most serious shooters start reloading for the rifle as soon as practical, not only for the economics of reloading but also for the ability to fine tune custom ammo for their specific rifle. It’s a very rare match that is won shooting commercial ammo. I recently compared the cost of my hobby — owning, shooting, and competing with the 50 BMG — with a friend whose hobby is snowmobiling. Factoring in the cost of equipment, licensing, gasoline, clothing, etc. it was soon obvious that my hobby was significantly less expensive than his.

50 BMG FCSA Fifty Caliber

50 BMG FCSA fifty Caliber

FCSA 50 Caliber 50 BMG

Getting Started
FCSA 50 BMG Fifty Caliber Shooting AssociationSo how does one get started? You could do as I did, purchase a rifle not knowing what you were really getting into; or you could come out to a FCSA-sponsored event, shoot a number of different rifles, rub shoulders with those who have already taken the plunge, and see if this sport is right for you. While membership in the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association (FSCA) is required to compete at a FSCA event, membership is not required to come and experience first hand what is going on. If you have any inclination that you are interested in the extreme sport of long rang, big bore shooting then a year’s membership in the FCSA is only $60 ($20 for active duty military) a significant bargain if it helps you make just one well-informed equipment choice. In addition one of the primary functions of the FCSA is helping to identify active members near you who can help you understand just what is involved and help you ‘get your feet wet’ in this challenging sport.

FCSA 50 Caliber 50 BMG

Photos courtesy FCSA Photo Gallery.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
September 11th, 2017

Modernizing a Veteran Benchrest Rig — “Old 87″ Gets Updates

James Mock BAT Action Terry Leonard Stock old 87

Updating a 20+ Year-Old Benchrest Rifle

by James Mock
After owning three different rifles with BAT actions, I have become a loyal fan of BAT Machine quality and customer service. Back in 2009, I traded my BAT/Scoville for the BAT/Leonard that I currently shoot. This rifle has a long history and Terry Leonard told me that “Old 87″ (as I have named it) was one of the earlier BATs that he stocked. He wrapped the stock in fiberglass and used 2-part epoxy back then. I must say that this rifle has held up remarkably well since it dates back to the 1990s. The action is a RB/LP/RE octagon Model B with .308 bolt-face.

With this gun, I have shot several barrels of different calibers (.22 PPC, .22 PPC-short .095, 6mm PPC, 6XC, 6mm Dasher, .30BR, and will soon have a 6 BR-AI). It has been an exceptionally accurate rifle in several disciplines. In the hands of previous owners, it earned several Hall-of-Fame (HOF) points, and a “middle-of-the-pack” shooter (me) even received a HOF point with this rifle.

James Mock BAT Action Terry Leonard Stock old 87

For most of its life, Old 87 served as a short range benchrest rifle, but I have used it for the last few years as a 600-yard rifle with the 6mm Dasher barrel. I was lucky enough to earn the Shooter of the Year award at the Prince Memorial Range in Louisiana for 2016.

After shooting my two Dasher barrels for last eight years, I have noticed a drop-off in accuracy at 600 yards. A decision had to be made — get a new barrel or sell the rifle and retire from competition. I will be 74 years old in six months and my competition days are limited due mainly to a chronic neck problem. After mulling over the decision to retire or not, I decided to give Old 87 one more year. Here is the story of how we upgraded the old war-horse.

Old 87 REBORN — Upgrading with New Components

I prefer cut-rifled barrels with four lands and grooves and have had success with .236 bore diameters and 1:8″ twist in long range rifles. I searched for barrels meeting those parameters and found a suitable BRUX at Bugholes.com (Southern Precision Rifles).

The 6BR-AI Option — Easy Fire Forming
I thought about having Billy Stevens chamber it for the Dasher, but decided to try something new. There seems to be a lot of interest in the 6BR-AI and I said, “Why not?” Well, I bought a shortened Dasher die from Harrell’s and will use my Wilson Dasher seating die. Bart Sauter was kind enough to let me use his reamer for chambering.

Fitting a New Roller-Type Cocking Piece on Older BAT Action
Since I was into the project this deep, I called Mike Ezell and ordered one of his Tungsten powder-dampened tuners. Since Old 87 had thousands of rounds since the firing pin spring has been replaced, I decided that it was probably needed. Well, I got to thinking (very dangerous) and asked Daryle Thom if it would be feasible to put a roller-type cocking piece and a new firing pin spring on such an old action.

The folks at BAT are very accommodating and they said that it would be no problem with such a conversion. While my bolt was in Idaho, the barrel with Ezell tuner arrived and I could not shoot it. However, my friend Jeff Turner loaned me his BAT bolt to see if it would work. Although the rifles differ in age by 15 or more years, the borrowed bolt worked perfectly in my rifle. This is a testimony to the great machine work performed at BAT Machine.

James Mock BAT Action Terry Leonard Stock old 87

New Bolt Roller Tail-Piece Makes a Big Difference in Cocking Effort
With the borrowed bolt I managed to fire-form 50 rounds and get them ready for our 600-yard match on September 16. The folks at BAT quickly fixed my bolt by replacing the mainspring and ejector spring, polishing the ejector, and replacing the tail-piece with their roller type. Pictured below is this tail piece that makes a remarkable difference in the force needed to cock the action. It is amazing what this little wheel can do… even when placed in a 20+ year old action.

James Mock BAT Action Terry Leonard Stock old 87

Working with the Ezell Barrel Tuner — Small Increments Work Best
Also, I would like to congratulate Mike Ezell on his new tuner which contains powdered Tungsten. It is easy to set up and Mike will help a buyer get maximum effectiveness from the unit. Just give him a call. Below is a picture of the tuner. I was lucky enough to have some time to “play” with it before the match.

Talking about the tuner, Mike writes: “Our new barrel tuners…
PDT stands for particle dampening technology. The science is there, we just applied it to a barrel tuner. The advantages are a wider tune window and more efficient control of barrel harmonics…in a tuner design that actually looks good.”

Mike advised me to set the tuner by turning it all the way into the shoulder and then come out to zero or the second time zero comes up if there is not at least half of a turn between the shoulder and the first zero. It is best to start with a proven load and adjust the tuner from that load. As unlikely as it seems, a rifle can go from a good tune to a very poor tune with only 5 marks (.005”) and vice versa.

James Mock BAT Action Terry Leonard Stock old 87

Mike cautions those who use his tuner to NOT make adjustments which are too large. As a matter of fact, he recommends adjustments of .001 inch at a time. Ezell’s tuners are screwed onto the barrel with .900” by 32 threads per inch and has 32 marks on the circumference of the tuner. Therefore, each mark moves the tuner in or out by .001 inch. There are three set screws with Teflon tips which provide friction for the tuner on the threads. Do not tighten the screws so tight as they damage the fine threads.

If you want the smoothest bolt possible for your BAT, call or e-mail Daryle or Bruce Thom at BAT Machine and discuss your needs with them. I am sure glad that I did. If you want a state-of-the-Art tuner for your barrel, give Mike Ezell a call or visit his Ezell Custom Rifles Facebook Page.
— Good shooting, James Mock

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September 8th, 2017

Hall of Famer ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez on Kelly McMillan’s Radio Show

Kelly McMilland Taking Stock Radio Show Voice America

Thomas Speedy Gonzalez Kelly McMillan Taking Stock Radio ShowToday’s the day — you’ll want to tune in to Kelly McMillan’s Taking Stock Radio Show today, Friday, September 8, 2017. The broadcast will feature highly-respected gunsmith and Hall of Fame Benchrest Shooter Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez. The Radio Show, which streams on the internet, runs 9/31/2017 at 11:00 AM Pacific Time on VoiceAmerica Sports Channel.

Speedy and Kelly will discuss a variety of topics, including gunsmithing, stock design/manufacture, the past/present/future of Benchrest and F-Class competition, and how Benchrest reloading/tuning methods have influenced other disciplines. Speedy will also discuss how the standards for precision shooting have evolved in recent years. The quest for accuracy is never-ending. CLICK HERE to LISTEN.

Here’s an F-Open rifle Speedy built for a competitor at the recent F-Class World Championships in Canada.

Thomas Speedy Gonzalez Kelly McMillan Taking Stock Radio Show

Along with Speedy, this week Kelly McMillan interviews Phillip Naman, host of the Firing Line Radio Show, a California-based radio show covering a wide range of firearms topics, including hunting, gun rights, gun gear, shooting events, legislation, and gun safety.

You can also access last week’s episode, which features USA F-TR Team Captain Ray Gross, and Derek Rodgers, the newly-crowned F-TR World Champion.

CLICK HERE to Launch Taking Stock Show Past Episodes (Warning — Loud Audio Starts Immediately)

About McMillan Fiberglass Stocks
Kelly McMillan is the president of McMillan Fiberglass Stocks (MFS). This company began in 1973 when Gale McMillan starting crafting benchrest stocks at home in his carport/garage. In 1975 MFS hired its first employee, Kelly McMillan. By 1979 Kelly was made a partner, and by 1984 Kelly was in charge of running the stock shop. Since that time MFS has continued to grow with innovation and design. Today McMillan Fiberglass Stocks has a 15,000 sq/ft facility and 65 employees.

Permalink Gunsmithing, News No Comments »
August 31st, 2017

Brownells Video Shows How to Cut Chamfer on Barrel Crown

brownells crown muzzle barrel bullet accuracy gunsmithing

This video from Brownells talks about a the crown of a barrel and how the crown’s condition affects accuracy. As the bullet leaves the barrel of the gun, the shape, alignment and the condition of the crown can affect the accuracy of your shot. A proper crown is essential to ensure that the bullet leaves the barrel correctly and that the propellant gasses behind the bullet are distributed evenly on firing. A square crown without burrs and a smooth transition will normally ensure consistency from shot to shot. By contrast, a damaged crown can cause unpredictable flyers that open your group. That’s why it’s important to have perfect crowns on all your barrels.

The video explains the different types of crowns that can be used. In addition, the video shows how you can chamfer your muzzle in a home shop. If you use a properly-sized pilot, cutting a shallow chamfer is something that most guys with some mechanical skill can handle. Just be sure to use lubricant, flush chips, and don’t rush the job. Cutting the barrel is another matter. At the 1:20 mark the video shows how to use a hack-saw to remove a damaged muzzle section. While this may be fine for an inexpensive rifle that needs a “quick fix”, we do NOT recommend using a hack-saw with a vise for a competition barrel. The reason is that it is too easy for a novice to produce a cut that is not square. We suggest letting a professional gunsmith cut and crown your competition barrels.

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August 30th, 2017

Left-Port, Side-Charging AR Upper — Not Just for Southpaws

left hand ar15 upper keystone accuracy

Here’s something you may not have seen before — a left-port, side-charging AR15 Upper. This unit was developed by John Scandale of Keystone Accuracy. While this was designed for left-handed High Power shooters, the lefty upper also works well for right-handed F-TR shooters. This design allows a prone shooter to single-load with his left hand, an efficient system for a right-handed shooter. Here is a review of the lefty upper from GS Arizona, who created the Rifleman’s Journal website. Like John Scandale, GS is a southpaw.

The Lefty AR Upper from Keystone Accuracy

by GS Arizona
We left-handed shooters are always the last to get the benefit of new firearms developments, or so it seems to us most of the time. There is no rifle more popular today than the AR15, whether for competitive shooting or plain recreational use; but even for that ubiquitous black rifle, left-handed items are few and far between. However, Keystone Accuracy run by left-handed High Power shooter John Scandale has some good stuff for us.

Left-handed Left AR15 Upper Keystone Accuracy  Scandale

John is a long time High Power shooter, a member of the National Guard’s All-Guard rifle team and a Distinguished Rifleman. He knows exactly what makes a good High Power rifle — unlike many of the mail-order parts and pieces you see offered for sale by someone who only shoots his computer keyboard… John is a real shooter, I’ve known him for many years and trust his work.

The most interesting item from Keystone is the left-hand billet upper receiver for the AR15 match rifle. This thick-wall, CNC-machined piece appears to be very durable and fits all existing AR15 lower receivers.

left handed billet ar-15 ar15 upper side port

When the AR15 was becoming popular in High Power shooting in the mid-1990s, I had a match rifle built on one. To solve the left-hand problem, I had a second port milled into the left side to allow me to load the rifle comfortably in slow-fire, single-load matches. Unfortunately, sometimes the round I flicked into the left port would fall right out of the right port! That was a bit frustrating and this receiver, along with an appropriate left-handed bolt assembly will work for the lefty just as we desire.

left-handed ar15 upper

I’ve seen quite a few AR15 based rifles in F-TR at our local club matches over the past year. This upper would be a good choice for many right-handed shooters using the AR for F-Class as it allows loading with the left hand while the right hand remains on the pistol grip and ready to fire when the target appears. In light of the fact that the bolt release is on the left side, that makes life a lot simpler than using the right hand! So if you’re a left-handed shooter or even a right-handed F-Class shooter, give this some thought, it might be just what you’ve been waiting for and didn’t even know it!

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 2 Comments »
August 29th, 2017

Black Rifle Blow-Ups — The Kaboom Collection

AR15 AR-15 Kaboom explosion pistol powder accident catastrophic destroyed
AR15 Kaboom big photo
This shocking photo of destroyed AR-15 bits and pieces was posted on Facebook by William Walter, a firearms instructor. William said this was “The worst AR-15 blow-up I have ever seen. The case head literally atomized …you can see the brass residue on the parts. The bolt was split in two also.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with AR-platform rifles (well, except that they run dirty). Over the past six decades Eugene Stoner’s semi-automatic design has proven its merits in military and civilian applications. You may not know, but the original AR from 1955 was a .30-caliber. The Armalite AR-10 shot the 7.62×51 cartridge. Later, at the request of the U.S. Military, Armalite created a smaller version that became the M16/AR15. The rest was history. Now there are millions of AR “black rifles” in the hands of soldiers and sportsmen.

With so many ARs in circulation, it’s no surprise that some get used by folks who don’t know how to hand-load or otherwise fail to follow safe gun practices. The AR is actually a pretty sturdy rifle, but when it’s fed bad ammo, or abused, bad things can happen. Very bad things… commonly known as Kabooms.

Black Rifle Duplex Kaboom

The American Shooting Journal (ASJ) has compiled a set of particularly extreme AR Kabooms. Compiling the “evidence” from various web sites, ASJ has published nine (9) of the most Unbelievable AR-15 Fails. Here are two of the worst “AR-15 Fails”. CLICK HERE to see them all.

Nothing but busted parts after this catastrophic Kaboom…
AR AR16 m16 AR-10 AR-16 kaboom failure catastrophic reloads American Shooting Journal

Notice the bolt is still stuck in the barrel extension … with the rest of the gun in pieces.
AR AR16 m16 AR-10 AR-16 kaboom failure catastrophic reloads American Shooting Journal

Another view of this sad blow-up…
AR AR16 m16 AR-10 AR-16 kaboom failure catastrophic reloads American Shooting Journal

These catastrophic AR failures are eye-openers, that’s for sure. ASJ cautions: “Any weapon can fail if given the wrong ammunition, faulty reloads or a plugged barrel. Always be aware of what can happen at anytime if you fail to follow common sense and gun safety rules.”

ASJ Sources: Photobucket, Armory Blog, Pinterest, Northeastern Arms, Eric Nestor

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical 2 Comments »
August 24th, 2017

Are These Really the TEN BEST Bolt-Action Rifles?

Ten 10 best bolt action rifles shooter

A while back, RifleShooter online magazine published a list of the purported Ten Best Bolt-Action Rifles of All Time. Ten classic rifle designs (including the Remington 700 and Winchester Model 70) were featured with a paragraph or two explaining their notable features.

“Best” Lists Stir Controversy…
These Top 10 lists are always controversial. While most readers might approve of half the entries, there are always some items on the Top 10 list that some readers would challenge. Here is RifleShooter’s Top 10 list. What do you think? Are there some other bolt-actions that are more deserving?

1. Springfield M1903
2. Mauser 98
3. Winchester Model 70
4. Remington Model 700
5. Weatherby V

6. Sako L61/AV
7. Savage Model 110
8. Ruger M77
9. Tikka T3
10. Mannlicher-Schonauer

10bolt1402.

Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing 18 Comments »
August 22nd, 2017

The Evolution of the Modern F-TR Rifle

F-TR Rifle laminated stock X-Ring Borden Action SEB Joy-Pod
A carpet is used up front for smoother tracking with the Joy-Pod’s flat, ski-style feet. The arms of the Joy-Pod were painted to match the stock. The rear bag features low-drag material on the ears.

The F-Class World Championships recently concluded in Canada. Our friend Derek Rodgers won the individual F-TR Championship using a rifle with a McMillan Xit stock and Kelbly F-Class Panda action. If you’re wondering what a modern F-TR competition rifle looks like, here is a new F-TR build from Forum member DM.Oakes.

F-TR Rifle laminated stock X-Ring Borden Action SEB Joy-Pod

Modern F-TR Rig with Borden Action, Krieger Barrel, and SEB Joy-Pod
This handsome .308 Win F-TR rig features a smooth-running Borden BRM action, 30-inch 1:10″-twist Krieger barrel, and an X-Ring Laminated Wood stock. Up front is a coaxial “Joy-Pod” joystick bipod. This is a state-of-the art, wide footprint bipod used by many competitors at the Worlds in Canada. The long joystick allows the “driver” to quickly adjust both elevation and windage in a smooth, continuous motion. The Joy-Pod can be adjusted so it will hold setting during the shot — you don’t have to “hard-hold” the joystick. Many shooters let the joystick slide through their fingers as the rifle moves back on recoil. With a little practice (and careful placement of the rear sand-bag), the tracking is excellent and you can slide the gun right back to point of aim after each shot.

Action: Borden BRM
Trigger: Blue-printed Jewell BR
Barrel: Krieger 30″ / 4-Grove / 1:10″ twist (.30 Cal)
Chamber: .308 Winchester with 0.170 Freebore
Stock: X-Ring Laminated F-Class
Scope: Nightforce 12-42x56mm Competition
Potential Name: Blue Thunder

F-TR Rifle laminated stock X-Ring Borden Action SEB Joy-Pod
This F-TR rifle is shown during load testing with a LabRadar chronograph.

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
August 19th, 2017

The “Baddest Little .22 LR Trainer Ever…”

Remington 40X rimfire .22LR rifle suppressor Manners stock Bartlein Bushnell EFR front rail Defiance Mack Brothers Suppressor
Brian, a gunsmith at GA Precision, built this rimfire rig with GAP colleague Anthony Soukup.

On his Facebook page, Tactical competitor Bryan Sikes posted a photo of a rimfire rig we really liked. Brian works at GA Precision. He and fellow GAP gunsmith Anthony Soukup built this rifle. With a modified Rem 40X action, Manners stock, Bartlein barrel, and Mack Brothers suppressor, this rig has top-quality components stem to stern. And Bryan tells us this rifle performs as good as it looks: “This is the baddest little .22 LR trainer ever. I’m stoked about it. With the barrel length and can, it’s the exact length of my regular comp rigs.” With length, balance, and ergonomics near identical to Bryan’s centerfire competition rifles, this 40X is a superb training tool.

• Modified Remington 40X Action
• Calvin Elite Trigger
• Bartlein #5 22″ Barrel
• Mack Brothers Vapor Suppressor

• Bedded Manners T4-A Stock
• Defiance Embedded Front Rail (EFR)
• Harris Swivel Bipod with Handle
• Bushnell DMR2 Scope w/ G3 Reticle

Many readers wanted to know about the bottom metal and the detachable box magazine. Bryan Sike reveals: “The magazine setup is designed specifically to replicate my actual competition rifles. The bottom metal is for use with AI magazines and uses a standard M5 type inlet just like any centerfire completion rifle. In this case with the .22LR, Mike Bush designed a high reliability rimfire magazine using the same outside dimensions as an AI magazine. This rifle was built no different from any other. The action was modified and trued, barreled, fully bedded, etc. using ALL components common to centerfire match rifles.” The Rem 40X action was modified by Modacam Custom Rifles to work as a repeater with box mags.

Remington 40X rimfire .22LR rifle suppressor Manners stock Bartlein Bushnell EFR front rail Defiance Mack Brothers Suppressor

Bryan adds that a new rimfire action is in the works: “My preference is modified Remington 40X actions and the soon-to-be available, V-22 action from Mike Bush. Both of which are TRUE repeaters and don’t feed from a Savage magazine. This rifle feels nothing like a .22 LR and that was the whole point.”

Remington 40X rimfire .22LR rifle suppressor Manners stock Bartlein Bushnell EFR front rail Defiance Mack Brothers Suppressor

Why You Need a .22 LR Tactical Cross-Trainer
Many guys who shoot long-range tactical matches practice with .22 LR rifles of similar configuration. Rimfire ammo is way more affordable than centerfire, you do not need a big range facility, and shooting rimfire saves wear and tear on your centerfire rifle. Further, for learning how to read the wind, there really is no better training tool than a .22 LR, even as close as 50 yards.

Our Friend “DesertFrog”, who shoots tactical matches in Southern California, explains: “I used to shoot an average of 200 rounds of .308 Match ammo a month for training (50 per weekend). These days I shoot maybe an average of 50 rounds of .308 Win per month and probably around 600 rounds of .22 LR. Using mainly the .22 LR for practice did NOT hurt my standings in actual competitions. I shot my .308 just as well in matches, but saved the cost of hundreds of rounds of .308. If I didn’t reload and was still buying boxes of Federal Gold Medal Match .308 Win [at $1.00/round], this would be a savings of [$150 per month on the centerfire ammo.]” Money saved is money earned.

Targets for Rimfire Cross-Training

SPECIAL BONUS–Rimfire Tactical Precision Targets

These FREE targets by DesertFrog are offered in Adobe Acrobat format for easy printing.
CLICK HERE to download all six targets as a .ZIP archive.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing, Tactical 4 Comments »
August 16th, 2017

PickleFork Rail Accessory for Eliseo Tubeguns

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork foreend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have one match rifle that could do double-duty — shoot position matches (with sling), and then function as an F-Open gun with front rest? Now that’s possible with Gary Eliseo’s clever “PickleFork” accessory for his line of tubeguns. This accessory also works great for load testing and varmint hunting.

Competition Machine’s Gary Eliseo is a very smart designer as well as a talented shooter. The inventor/builder of the popular Competition Machine Tubegun chassis systems, Gary has come up with something new, which he calls the PickleForks. These are rails that fit to the sides of the tubular fore-end/handguard on his chassis systems. This allows you to use a pedestal-style front rest for F-Class competition. It also provides a much more stable platform for load testing, varmint hunting, or any kind of rest-assisted precision shooting.

These PickleForks transform a Tubegun into an ultra-stable, straight-tracking rig when used with a competition-style front rest.

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Gary explains: “Now you can have the same super low-boreline, long ‘wheelbase’ and vertical sides of our innovative F1 F-Class chassis system for your tube chassis. The new PickleForks attach directly to the sides of the F-Class/Tactical fore-ends, no modifications are required. They are very rigid with no flex or twist and make the rifle track like it’s on rails.” The new Eliseo Competition Machine PickleForks are offered for a very reasonable $70.00 per pair, with Cerakote finish. (You get two metal units, one for each side of the fore-arm). For more information, visit www.GotXRing.com or call (928) 649-0742.

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

New Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing No Comments »
August 12th, 2017

Figure Out Exact Barrel Weight with PacNor 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 »
August 11th, 2017

Ruger Issues Safety Bulletin for Ruger Precision Rifle

Ruger Precision Rifle Safety Bulletin

Ruger has issued a Product Safety Bulletin for certain Ruger Precision Rifles due to the potential for interference between the aluminum bolt shroud and the cocking piece (also known as the firing pin back). This can lead to light primer strikes. The real problem is that: “If the rifle fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, it may fire when the bolt handle is subsequently lifted”. NOTE: Ruger Precision Rifles with polymer bolt shrouds are NOT affected.

Although only a small percentage of rifles appear to be affected and there are no reported injuries, Ruger is offering replacement aluminum bolt shrouds for affected rifles in order to eliminate the possibility of bolt/shroud interference. View Safety Bulletin PDF

AFFECTED RIFLES: Ruger Precision Rifles (regardless of caliber) that have an aluminum bolt shroud and fall within the following serial number ranges are potentially affected:

SN 1800-26274 to 1800-78345 OR SN 1801-00506 to 1801-30461

Ruger Precision Rifle Safety Bulletin

If you believe your rifle is affected or are unsure if your rifle is affected, you can request a FREE replacement bolt shroud by visiting Ruger.com/RPRSafety.

DESCRIPTION OF ISSUE
Some Ruger Precision Rifles may experience interference between the aluminum bolt shroud and the cocking piece (aka the firing pin back). In rare instances, the interference can disrupt the firing mechanism and cause it to not function properly. Possible results of this interference are light primer strikes or, in extreme cases, the rifle may not fire when the trigger is pulled. If the rifle fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, it may fire when the bolt handle is subsequently lifted. In rifles where this condition exists, the issue often resolves itself as parts wear and interference is reduced.

CLICK IMAGE Below to Read Full RPR Safety Bulletin PDF

Ruger Precision Rifle Safety Bulletin

Permalink Gunsmithing, News, Tactical No Comments »
August 6th, 2017

Learn How to Maintain Your BAT Action

BAT Machine Actions Receivers Idaho

Helpful “How-To” Maintenance Videos from BAT
BAT Machine’s website features an extensive Video Archive with a selection of helpful videos for custom action owners. Among BAT’s collection of videos, you’ll find informative clips covering about bolts, ejectors, action maintenance, and other technical matters. Here are two examples:

How to Grease and Maintain Your BAT Action and Bolt:

How to Remove (and Re-Install) Firing Pin Assembly:

More Helpful Information on the New BAT Website
One thing that people might easily miss is the large spreadsheet that details the specs of all BAT Machine actions. To download that .xlsx spreadsheet to your hard drive, Right Click (and “Save As”) this link: ACTION CONFIGURATION PART LIST. After opening the spreadsheet, on the “ACTION” worksheet, you’ll find action model, body shape, weight, bolt faces available, and tenon spec among several other items. Note that there are two worksheet tabs (look down at the bottom left). Use these spreadsheet tabs to switch between “Action” and “Accessories”.

Also, on the BAT website FAQ page, you’ll find prints for barrel tenon machining, firing pin sizes, torque specs, and tons of other very helpful info. This is well worth a look. — ELR Researcher.

Story Tip from Boyd Allen and EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
July 31st, 2017

Choosing Optimal Barrel Twist Rate — Tips from Glen Zediker

Glen Zediker Twist Rate .223 Rem Barrel Top Grade Ammo Midsouth
Here’s an extreme range of .224-Caliber bullets: 35gr varmint bullet and 90gr match bullet. Of course, along with bullet length/design, you need to consider MV when choosing twist rate.

Even with the same caliber (and same bullet weight), different bullet types may require different rates of spin to stabilize properly. The bullet’s initial spin rate (RPM) is a function of the bullet’s muzzle velocity and the spin imparted by the rifling in the barrel. You want to ensure your bullet is stable throughout flight. It is better to have too much spin than too little, according to many ballistics experts, including Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics. Glen Zediker has some basic tips concerning barrel twist rates and bullet stability. These come from his latest book, Top Grade Ammo.

Choosing the Right Twist Rate
I’d always rather have a twist too fast than not fast enough. Generally… I recommend erring toward the faster side of a barrel twist decision. 1:8″ twist is becoming a “new standard” for .224 caliber, replacing 1:9″ in the process. The reason is that new bullets tend to be bigger rather than smaller. Don’t let a too-slow twist limit your capacity to [achieve] better long-range performance.

Base your next barrel twist rate decision on the longest, heaviest bullets you choose to use, and at the same time realize that the rate you choose will in turn limit your bullet choices. If the longest, heaviest bullet you’ll shoot (ever) is a 55-grain .224, then there’s honestly no reason not to use a 1:12″. Likewise true for .308-caliber: unless you’re going over 200-grain bullet weight, a 1:10″ will perform perfectly well.

Glen Zediker Twist Rate .223 Rem Barrel Top Grade Ammo Midsouth

Bullet Length is More Critical than Weight
Bullet length, not weight, [primarily] determines how much rotation is necessary for stability. Twist rate suggestions, though, are most usually given with respect to bullet weight, but that’s more of a generality for convenience’s sake, I think. The reason is that with the introduction of higher-ballistic-coefficient bullet designs, which are longer than conventional forms, it is easily possible to have two same-weight bullets that won’t both stabilize from the same twist rate.

Evidence of Instability
The tell-tale for an unstable (wobbling or tumbling) bullet is an oblong hole in the target paper, a “keyhole,” and that means the bullet contacted the target at some attitude other than nose-first.

Glen Zediker Twist Rate .223 Rem Barrel Top Grade Ammo MidsouthIncreasing Barrel Length Can Deliver More Velocity, But That May Still Not Provide Enough Stability if the Twist Rate Is Too Slow
Bullet speed and barrel length have an influence on bullet stability, and a higher muzzle velocity through a longer tube will bring on more effect from the twist, but it’s a little too edgy if a particular bullet stabilizes only when running maximum velocity.

My failed 90-grain .224 experiment is a good example of that: I could get them asleep in a 1:7″ twist, 25-inch barrel, which was chambered in .22 PPC, but could not get them stabilized in a 20-inch 1:7″ .223 Rem. The answer always is to get a twist that’s correct.

These tips were adapted from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available at Midsouth. To learn more about this book and other Zediker titles, and read a host of downloadable articles, visit ZedikerPublishing.com.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing, Reloading 2 Comments »