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 »
July 30th, 2017

Doan Trevor Builds Raffle Rifle for U.S. National Palma Team

Doan Trevor Rifle Raffle U.S. Palma Team Pierce Brux

Our friend Doan Trevor is creating a new raffle rifle. This will be raffled off this fall to support the USA Palma Team. Doan is donating his labor and building the stock from a walnut blank. Pierce Engineering will supply the action and Brux Barrels will provide the barrel.

Doan tells us: “I have volunteered to build another raffle rifle for the U.S. Palma National Rifle Team. Work has begun. I am hoping to have this completed for the Spirit of America Match in Raton, NM this fall. The action has been donated by Pierce Engineering and the long Palma barrel has been donated by Brux Barrels. The one item we are lacking at this point is a Remington-style competition trigger.”

Doan says he will craft the stock from hand-selected American Walnut: “This is [my own] Doan Trevor prone design, modified to be used for F-TR. This can be shot either prone or F-TR (with bipod). This will be similar to the stock that I custom-designed for Derek Rodgers, which won several National Championships and other awards.” The photos below show Doan crafting the wood and starting the bedding on the 2017 U.S. Palma Team Raffle Rifle:

Doan Trevor Rifle Raffle U.S. Palma Team Pierce Brux

Doan Trevor Rifle Raffle U.S. Palma Team Pierce Brux

Another Doan Trevor Raffle Rifle — for the Veterans’ Team
What will the rifle look like when it’s complete? We can’t show you that yet, but here’s another custom Palma rifle Doan crafted for the 2011 U.S. Veterans’ Team. Doan says: “This is the finished rifle for the U.S. Veterans Palma Team raffle for 2011. It carries a unique serial number signifying the 2011 World Championships in Australia.”

Doan Trevor Rifle Raffle U.S. Palma Team Pierce Brux

Doan Trevor Rifle Raffle U.S. Palma Team Pierce Brux

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
July 26th, 2017

Krieger Video Shows How Cut-Rifled Barrels Are Made

Pratt & Whitney Cut rifling hydraulic machine

“At the start of World War Two, Pratt & Whitney developed a new, ‘B’ series of hydraulically-powered rifling machines, which were in fact two machines on the same bed. They weighed in at three tons and required the concrete floors now generally seen in workshops by this time. Very few of these hydraulic machines subsequently became available on the surplus market and now it is these machines which are sought after and used by barrel makers like John Krieger and ‘Boots’ Obermeyer. In fact, there are probably less of the ‘B’ series hydraulic riflers around today than of the older ‘Sine Bar’ universal riflers.” — Geoffrey Kolbe, Border Barrels.

How Krieger Builds Barrels

This video shows the process of cut-rifled barrel-making by Krieger Barrels, one of the world’s best barrel manufacturers. Krieger cut-rifled barrels have set numerous world records and are favored by many top shooters. The video show the huge, complex machines used — bore-drilling equipment and hydraulic riflers. You can also see how barrels are contoured, polished, and inspected.

Click Arrow to Watch Krieger Barrels Video:

For anyone interested in accurate rifles, this is absolutely a “must-watch” video. Watch blanks being cryogenically treated, then drilled and lathe-turned. Next comes the big stuff — the massive rifling machines that single-point-cut the rifling in a precise, time-consuming process. Following that you can see barrels being contoured, polished, and inspected (with air gauge and bore-scope). There is even a sequence showing chambers being cut.

Here is a time-line of the important barrel-making processes shown in the video. You may want to use the “Pause” button, or repeat some segments to get a better look at particular operations. The numbers on the left represent playback minutes and seconds.

Krieger Barrel-Making Processes Shown in Video:

00:24 – Cryogenic treatment of steel blanks
00:38 – Pre-contour Barrels on CNC lathe
01:14 – Drilling Barrels
01:28 – Finish Turning on CNC lathe
01:40 – Reaming
01:50 – Cut Rifling
02:12 – Hand Lapping
02:25 – Cut Rifling
02:40 – Finish Lapping
02:55 – Outside Contour Inspection
03:10 – Engraving
03:22 – Polish
03:50 – Fluting
03:56 – Chambering
04:16 – Final Inspection

Krieger Barrels

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
July 25th, 2017

John Whidden Wins 2017 NRA Long Range Championship

Whidden Gunworks 2017 Long Range High Power National Champion Camp Atterbury Indiana

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks has won his fifth Long Range National Championship, his second title in a row (he also won the LR Title in 2016). This year, competing at Camp Atterbury in Indiana, Whidden pulled together a gritty, come-from-behind victory. John won the title by shooting a perfect 450-28X (not dropping a point) in the final Palma match on the last day of the Long Range Championship. While Whidden, who finished at 1246-91X, edged runner-up Phillip Crowe (1245-68X) by just one point, John enjoyed a huge X-Count margin. Finishing third was past High Power and Long Range National Champion Nancy Tompkins (1244-65X). Here are the Top Ten finishers:

Whidden Gunworks 2017 Long Range High Power National Champion Camp Atterbury Indiana

Whidden’s Perfect Palma Match
Whidden secured the 2017 LR Title by shooting “clean” (not dropping a point) in the tough Palma competition. In the NRA Palma match, rifles must be .223 Rem or .308 Winchester, with metallic sights (no scopes). The match is conducted at three yardages, 15 shots at each distance of 800/900/1000 yards, with unlimited sighters at 800 and two sighters at 900 and 1000.

John liked the Camp Atterbury facility and he credited his equipment for his 2017 victory: “With the change to the new Camp Atterbury venue, many shooters were a little unsure how things were going to shake out. But it all turned out really well. All of my equipment shot fantastic all week long — that certainly made shooting a big score easier.”

Whidden’s Championship-Winning Rifle
Since John captured his fifth Long Range crown with a superb performance in the Palma match, we thought we’d give readers a look at John’s very special Palma rifle. This unique .308 Win prone rifle features a Barnard “P” action in a converted aluminum Anschutz “Precise” smallbore (rimfire) stock. The combo of Barnard action and Anschutz ergonomics is hard to beat, says John, who told us: “this is easily the best Palma rifle I’ve ever had.” John told us this gun handles like no other: “After recoil, with this Anschutz stock, the sights fall right back on target — better than any other prone rifle I’ve shot”.

As a bonus, the Barnard “drop-in” required no modification of the Anschutz Precise stock. This means John can actually swap in his rimfire barreled action and shoot smallbore with the same stock.

Sling Rifle Evolved: The Ultra-Accurate Hybrid Palma Rifle

by John Whidden
The mental component of Long Range competitive shooting is always challenging but having tremendous confidence in the accuracy of your equipment is a huge benefit. There’s nothing to start your Palma match off well like knowing that you are shooting the most accurate Palma rifle you’ve ever owned.

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

Whidden Palma Rifle
Action: Barnard “P” (three lugs, 60° bolt lift)
Barrel: Bartlein 32″, Light Palma contour, cryo-treated by 300 Below.
Stock: Anschutz Precise aluminum smallbore stock, set up for centerfire barreled action.
Trigger: Barnard Two-Stage adjustable

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

Whidden’s Wonder-Gun: German Stock, New Zealand Action, American Barrel
John built this Palma rifle in early 2016. With it, John won back-to-back long-range Championships in 2016 (Camp Perry) and 2017 (Camp Atterbury). The major components are: Barnard ‘P’ action, Anschutz Precise smallbore stock, and Bartlein barrel. The caliber is .308 Win, as dictated by the Palma rules. Palma matches are fired from 800, 900, and 1000 yards utilizing iron sights only. No optical sights are allowed.

The Anchutz Precise stock is so well-designed that once I finished adjusting the details, I realized that my hold was about 1/3 smaller than with the stocks I shot previously. While in recoil the gun will track vertically and fall back down right on my own target just as it should. In the past, with my other Palma rifles, it was frankly sometimes a struggle to get them to settle back on target after a shot.

Whidden Gunworks has installed a variety of different actions in the Anschutz Precise stocks. Though the stocks are designed for the .22 LR caliber 2013 action rifles, we’ve successfully installed Barnard, Kelbly, Bat, Nesika, and Remington clone actions into them. The Barnard Model P makes a particularly simple installation because there is no modification necessary to the stock at all. A competitor can then shoot both his centerfire rifle as well as his smallbore gun in the exact same stock. The location of the trigger and bolt handle on the Barnard are positioned just right to make this work. Other actions do require at least some amount of modification to the stock, and we have found the Barnard works the best.

Barnard manufactures several models of actions as part of their lineup. All of the actions in the lineup use three lug bolts which give a shorter 60-degree bolt lift when opening and closing. All of the critical surfaces are machined after heat treating. This means that they are exceptionally true and square, more so than other actions. The Model P action is most familiar to Palma and F-Class shooters and are commonly seen on the firing line. The fact that Model P actions include an excellent two-stage trigger makes also the pricing very attractive.

Based on my previous excellent experiences, I selected Bartlein barrels for this rifle. When shooting internationally in the Palma matches we are restricted to 155 grain .308 bullets, but I made the unusual choice of a 1-10″ twist for these bullets. I’ve shot this fast twist for some years with the 155s with good success and it’s pleasing to know that Bryan Litz is finding benefits in some cartridges to shooting faster twist rates than we previously thought we needed. The load is Vihtavuori N140 Powder with Berger 155gr Hybrid bullets. The chamber is the 2011 Palma and the barrel is a Light Palma contour finished at 32” length. The barrel was cryo-treated by 300 Below. The point of impact isn’t changed at all by barrel heating and the accuracy is incredible regardless of the temperature of the barrel. This can’t be said of all the barrels I’ve owned.

John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stock

Get Your Own Whidden Wonder-Gun for $4500.00
Like what you see — but wonder how much it will cost? Whidden Gunworks can build you a rig like this, fitting a centerfire barreled action in the Anschutz Precise stock. John tells us: “The price of a rifle like this one but without sights or mounts would be just under $4500.00. We attempt to keep all of the parts except the stock in inventory, so lead time should be under eight (8) weeks.”

Stock Offers Great Adjustability
John Whidden Palma Rifle .308 Win Barnard Anschutz P action smallbore stockOne thing that is quickly noticed about the Anschutz Precise stock is its adjustability. The engineers did a very good job of allowing many of these adjustments to be made while in the shooting position, most notably the cheekpiece adjustments. When a shooter picks up a Precise stock for the first time they also notice how narrow the fore-end is. This really contributes to reducing the pain in the forward hand in prone when shooting with a sling. This stock is, by far, the most comfortable sling stock I’ve ever handled.

This rifle was very accurate right away and very comfortable to shoot. I’ve built some really good shooting Palma rifles but this is easily the best Palma rifle I’ve ever had. The Barnard action with its superb quality and excellent two-stage trigger has been the best choice I could have made. When you can go to the firing line knowing that you have the very best, the foundation for success has been set.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 6 Comments »
July 25th, 2017

A Look Inside the Kelbly’s Manufacturing Facility

Kelbly Kelbly's Stolle Panda Video Action Stock Super Shoot F-Class Action

Want to see new-born Pandas? No, not the furry kind — rather Stolle Panda actions produced with state-of-the-art CNC machinery. If you’ve ever wondered how precision benchrest, long-range, and tactical rifles are built, check out video from Kelbly’s. You’ll see actions finished, barrels chambered and crowned, pillars installed in stocks, barreled actions bedded, plus a host of other services performed by Kelbly’s gunsmiths and machinists.

CLICK Triangle to Launch Kelbly’s Video

If you’re a fan of fine machine-work, this video should be both informative and entertaining. You can see how precision gun work is done with 21st-Century technology. Tip of the hat to Ian Kelbly and crew for producing this excellent video visit to the Kelbly’s production center.

Kelbly's Panda Action gunsmithing video barrel stock bedding

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing 5 Comments »
July 19th, 2017

Can We Predict Useful Barrel Life? Insights from Dan Lilja

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

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

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

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

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

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

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July 16th, 2017

Tactical .260 Rem from Short Action Customs in Ohio

260 rem tactical rifle

260 rem tactical rifleA popular feature of our Shooters’ Forum is the long-running Pride and Joy thread. There you’ll find photos and descriptions of dozens of interesting rifles — from rimfire rigs to big-bore boomers. Forum member Ryan M. (aka “Dieselgeek”) posted a handsome .260 Remington tactical rifle built by Short Action Customs in Wellington, Ohio. The rifle features top-of-the-line hardware. The coated, stainless Alpha 11 action (from Defiance Machine) carries a Bartlein M24-contour 26″ barrel with muzzle brake. The stock is a thumbhole T5A from Manners Composites, fitted with APA bottom metal for AW magazines. On top is a Bushnell ERS 3-21x50mm scope with G2 reticle. Riding on an under-mounted rail is an Atlas bipod with quick-release lever.

(more…)

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July 14th, 2017

Cartridge Headspace — Understanding the Basics

Brownells Headspace Gauge cutaway chamber drawing SAAMI ANSI

Do you know what the inside of a rifle chamber (and throat zone) really looks like? Do you understand the concept of headspace and why it’s important? If not, you should read the Brownells GunTech article Gauging Success – Minimum Headspace and Maximum COL. This article explains the basics of headspace and shows how to measure headspace (and length to lands) in your barrels with precision. The article also explains how to adjust your full-length sizing dies to “bump the shoulder” as needed.

Why is headspace important? The article explains: “Controlling headspace and setting proper C.O.L. also represent improved safety and reduced cost of handloading. Excessive headspace can cause case head separation and gases in excess of 60,000 PSI escaping from a rifle’s chamber. Too little headspace can result in a chamber forced bullet crimp and a bullet that becomes an obstruction more than a properly secured projectile. Excessive C.O.L. can result in a rifling-bound bullet, a condition that could result in spikes of excessive pressure.” [Editor’s NOTE: It is common for competitive benchrest shooters to seat bullets into the rifling. This can be done safely if you reduce your loads accordingly. With some bullets we often see best accuracy .010″ (or more) into the lands. However, this can generate more pressure than the same bullet seated .010″ away from initial lands contact. As with all reloading, start low and work up gradually.]

Brownells Headspace Gauge cutaway chamber drawing SAAMI ANSI

How is headspace specified? Most cartridges used within the United States are defined within ANSI/SAAMI Z299.3-4. Brownells explains: “In the case of the .243 Winchester, as an example, there are pressure specifications, cartridge drawings and, as pictured above, chamber drawings. Armed with a chamber drawing, each manufacturer producing a firearm for the .243 Winchester knows the proper standard dimension to cut chambers and set headspace. Notice there are two headspace reference dimensions for the chamber. The upper is a place in the chamber where the shoulder is .400″ in diameter; the “datum” or “basic” line. The lower is the 1.630″~1.640″ minimum – maximum dimension from the breech face (bolt face) to that point in the chamber that measures .400″.”

The actual headspace of any firearm is the distance from the breech face to the point in the chamber that is intended to prevent forward motion of a cartridge.

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July 3rd, 2017

New Pierce 15.2 Ounce Featherweight Titanium Action

Pierce Engineering Titaniun action Ti Bolt featherweight action hunting rifle

When it comes to a “carry-around” hunting rifle, “light is right”. You don’t want to haul around unnecessary mass when you’re chasing game up and down mountains. When building an ultralight field rifle, it makes sense to prioritize the poundage — weight saved in the action, bottom metal, and stock can allow a heavier-contour barrel that may shoot better (and not heat up as quickly).

Now Pierce Engineering has developed a truly light-weight action, ideal for hunting rigs. The new Pierce Featherweight Titanium Action weighs just 15.2 ounces for the short action version. And the long action is barely more — just 16 ounces (one pound even). Pierce achieves this remarkable lightness with full Titanium construction — both action body AND bolt are super-high-grade Titanium.

Pierce Engineering Titaniun action Ti Bolt featherweight action hunting rifle

Pierce Engineering explains: “This fully Titanium action features a solid Titanium bolt. Utilizing a rare, high-grade Titanium ensures this action is built to last. This is not standard grade 5 Titanium; it is very strong and the hardness is 44-45 RC. Every Titanium bolt comes standard with a Black Nitride Finish that adds lubricity and prevents galling. We have tried many coatings and found this to be far superior than anything else that is out there. All the Titanium Bolts come with a threaded titanium handle and an aluminum teardrop knob.”

Featherweight Titanium Short Action: $1,785.00 | Featherweight Titanium Long Action: $1,835.00

Product tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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July 2nd, 2017

Exhibition Grade F-Open Rifle from Master Class Stocks

Alex Sitman Master Class StocksAlex Sitman of Master Class Stocks in Pennsylvania is widely considered one of the finest rifle-stock craftsmen in the country, if not the world. Alex’s workmanship and dedication to excellence is top-of-the-line. Alex normally custom-fits each stock to his customer precisely. Many hours are dedicated to stock prep and inletting, and his bedding jobs are flawless. Each stock is exactingly hand-crafted with great attention to detail, and then the stock is “dressed” in the customer’s choice of finishes.

Doing all that takes time — a lot of time. That’s why Master Class Stocks has a long waiting list, and it can take months before a big job is completed. But when Alex is involved, you can count on the final product being a work of stock-making art. Here’s an example. Alex recently stocked an F-Class rifle using eye-popping, exhibition-grade Bastogne walnut. The wood was sourced from Cecil Fredi of GunstockBlanks.com. Alex says: “Cecil’s wood is some of the best I’ve ever used. This blank cost over $1000.00, but it was truly spectacular.” Since the blank was less than 3″ wide, Alex (with assistance from 8-time NRA High Power Champion Carl Bernosky) laminated on the 3″-wide forearm “wings” using spare wood left after the blank was cut. See how Alex and Carl carefully matched the grain of the wood on the forearm. And note how perfectly the adjustable cheek-piece is fitted. If you want a stock like this on your next rifle, contact Alex Sitman at Master Class Stocks, (814) 742-7868.

The Bastogne Beauty — More Construction Details
Eric Kennard tells us: “This rifle was built for Mike Dana in Florida. Kelbly’s did the metal work. [The action is a Stolle Panda F-Class.] Barrel by Brux. Chambering? 6mmBR of course! Mike added a March 10 x 60 scope. Let me tell you this is beyond a work of art! The fit is absolutely perfect! There is not one flaw in the wood-work. The pillar bedding is also perfect! Did you notice the ebony inserts? Or Alex’s custom trigger guard? Alex out did-himself this time. Most of us would not dare to shoot [this gun]!”

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June 27th, 2017

.338 Lapua Magnum Improved Barrel Block Beast for K02M

.338 Lapua Magnum Improved KO2M David Tubb Corbin Shell Tall Target

Report by Corbin Shell
Not long ago, I learned of the King of 2 Miles (KO2M) shoot held in Raton, NM and was fortunate enough to get an entry slot. I will be shooting with David Tubb, multi-time High Power and Long Range National Champion, on a team we call the “Second Amendment Cowboys”. Given such short notice, I scrambled to find the necessary components to build a suitable rifle for the event. I turned to longtime friend and owner of X-Treme Shooting Products (XTSP), Tom Myers, to see if he might have a suitable action. XTSP is known for its premium titanium rifle receivers, however XTSP also manufactures stainless actions. As luck would have it, Tom was completing a small run of .338 Lapua Magnum-sized stainless steel single-shot actions. Other components were sourced as quickly as possible and the building began in earnest.

.338 Lapua Magnum Improved KO2M David Tubb Corbin Shell Tall Target

Before acquiring the first component for this build I already knew who was going to perform the work, Doyle Anglin at Dixie Guns, inc.. Doyle’s attention to detail and rifle building knowledge is second to none! I came to Doyle with the idea of building a rifle to shoot in the King of 2 Miles match and his ears perked up. Once all the components were in hand Doyle began construction. Doyle was given free liberty to build whatever he felt best for the job given the time constraints and components that were readily available on such short notice. I cannot thank Doyle Anglin enough for the stellar job he did!

Rifle Builder: Doyle Anglin, Dixie Guns, doylebbang@windstream.net
1010 Hancock Bridge Road | Winder, GA 30680 | 706-654-8400 phone

.338 Lapua Magnum Improved KO2M David Tubb Corbin Shell Tall Target

KO2M .338 Lapua Magnum Improved — Rifle Components

— Custom laminated stock Doyle Anglin designed and created from scratch
— 10″-long aluminum barrel block designed and made by Doyle Anglin
— XTSP (X-Treme Shooting Products) PH420 stainless single shot receiver 1.450” diameter. PVD-coated receiver body. FNC-coated one piece bolt.
— XTSP +35 MOA and +60 MOA tapered Picatinny rails, PH420 stainless, PVD-coated
— XTSP two-stage trigger with safety
— Krieger 1:9.3″-twist barrel. 1.450” for 6.5” tapering to 1.100” at the muzzle. 33.5″ finished length
— Piercision Rifles 3/4×24 slab-sided, 5-port muzzle brake
— BAT stainless trigger guard
— Masterclass cheek piece with extended rods
— Masterclass butt plate hardware
— Duplin Bipod
— Spuhr +20.6 MOA one piece scope mount
— Ivey +175 MOA adjustable scope mount
— Sightron SIII 6-24x50mm MOA-value scope (100 MOA of total travel)
— Geier & Bluhm 10 minute precision bubble level mounted to barrel block via extension rod
— Manson .338 Lapua Magnum Improved 30-degree reamer, .375” neck diameter

.338 Lapua Magnum Improved KO2M David Tubb Corbin Shell Tall Target

Load Information
— Sierra 300 grain MatchKing, meplats trimmed and pointed, seated .010″ into lands*
— Hodgdon Retumbo Powder, 101 grains
— Peterson .338 Lapua Magnum brass
— Federal 215 primers
— Jim Carstenson custom reloading dies: inline seater, full-length bushing, neck bushing and threaded micrometer seating die

This load has achieved 3050fps with low single-digit SDs

Given the 12-pound barrel weight, Doyle strongly suggested a barrel block to offer additional support and increase rigidity. Doyle created a split ten-inch aluminum barrel block and mating steel plate that is inletted into the forend of the custom laminated stock. The 1:9.3″-twist Krieger barrel is epoxied into the barrel block as well as being held in place by the ten socket head cap screws. Two hardened and ground pins locate and index the barrel block onto the steel mating plate. The steel mating plate acts as the recoil lug which mates up to the cut on the reward section of the barrel block. The Krieger barrel is chambered with a 30-degree Lapua Magnum Improved reamer and throated accordingly, yielding a loaded round of approximately 4.000 inches.

The barrel is capped with a very effective Piercision Rifles 3/4×24 slab-sided, five port muzzle brake. The size proportions of the muzzle brake work well with the 1.100” muzzle diameter, however it will work on barrels up to 1.450″ in diameter.

.338 Lapua Magnum Improved KO2M David Tubb Corbin Shell Tall Target

Doyle Anglin worked his creative magic and constructed the multi-color laminated stock from a blank. The five inch fore-end allows the rifle to be utilized in a dual role — either benchrest or prone with bipod. The cheek piece hardware is from Master Class Stocks and is adjustable for cast on/off with preset elevation settings via half-moon shaped clips. The two-way adjustable butt plate hardware also comes from Alex Sitman at Master Class Stocks. The multi-colored laminate stock is clear-coated with special marine UV inhibitor paint. The glass smooth finish makes the wood appear wet and is extremely smooth to the touch.

.338 Lapua Magnum Improved KO2M David Tubb Corbin Shell Tall Target

Lots of Elevation on Tap with Angled Rails, Spuhr and Ivey Mounts
Topping off the rifle is either a +35 or +60 MOA X-Treme Shooting Products Picatinny scope rail. The receiver and scope rails are pinned for accurate repeatability when interchanging. Five 8×40 socket head cap screws firmly hold the scope rail in place. A SPUHR +20.6 MOA tapered, one-piece scope mount securely grasps the Sightron SIII 6-24x50mm MOA scope. I cannot say enough good things about the quality of the SPUHR scope mount! This is the only fixed scope mount that I will use going forward and a special thanks goes out to Ulf at SPUHR! The 35 MOA rail and 20.6 MOA SPUHR mount setup allows full utilization of the Sightron’s 100 MOA of internal travel. The second scope setup is comprised of an Ivey +175 MOA adjustable scope base and Sightron SIII 6-24x50mm optic.

Scope in SPUHR mount shown below:
.338 Lapua Magnum Improved KO2M David Tubb Corbin Shell Tall Target

Scope in IVEY Mount with barrel block-mounted precision bubble level:
.338 Lapua Magnum Improved KO2M David Tubb Corbin Shell Tall Target

When shooting extended long range (ELR) it is important that the scope’s crosshairs remains level. Should the crosshairs be canted it will induce impact shift which increases with the angle of cant and distance. The decision was made not to use any of the lesser quality/precision bubble levels that currently flood the market. These levels have poor resolution usually between one and two and a half (1-2.5) degrees. It must be noted that not all levels are created equal. The fine folks at Geier & Bluhm offered up a solution with a precision glass vial horizontal level with an accuracy of ten minutes. As a refresher, one degree is comprised of 60 minutes of angle. The level setup we chose for this rifle is, at minimum, six times more accurate than the best scope or picatinny level on the market. The 10 MOA bubble level sensitivity is just about perfect and does not create a situation of having to “chase” the bubble left and right when in position.

.338 Lapua Magnum Improved KO2M David Tubb Corbin Shell Tall Target

A portable 150 MOA tall target was created to test both scope tracking and crosshair alignment. When testing at the local 100-yard range I got a lot of strange looks and a few inquiries as to why in the world was I shooting thirteen FEET above the aiming bullseye.

As the F-TR shooters have learned, it is very important that the rifle travel freely and repeatable under recoil. I turned to Ray Gross who custom made a rubber and Cordura shooting mat which the bipod rides on. This mat is of the same material and construction that most of the F-TR team is utilizing. The rubber durometer is correct so the rifle does not bounce or hop when fired. The bipod skis slide very easy on the Cordura-topped mat. A big thanks goes to Ray Gross for assisting with the mat setup. In addition, high molecular weight polyethylene (HMWPE) tape was applied to the butt stock of the rifle. The HMWPE tape allows for extremely low friction between the butt stock and rear sand bag. This configuration tracks very well and slides rearward like it is on rails.

.338 Lapua Magnum Improved KO2M David Tubb Corbin Shell Tall Target

As load development progressed I tested three different brands of projectiles. A ladder test was performed at 300 yards to determine where the node was with my barrel and powder combination. The rifle liked between 99-101 grains of Hodgdon Retumbo. I then proceeded to shooting ten shot groups at 1000 yards. In this rifle the Sierra 300gr Matchking was hands down the winner for smallest groups and the best elevation at 1000 yards. The load settled on is 101 grains of Retumbo and 300 grain Sierra Matchking. 500 Sierra bullets were measured base to ogive and the spread over the entire 500pc measured .003” with 490pc varying by .001”. Keep up the good work Sierra Bullets! A special thank you goes to John Whidden for generously allowing me to come to his shop and repoint the Sierra .338 projectiles and allowing me to test at his 1000 yard range.

Preparation for the King of 2 Miles match has been a great learning experience and a lot of fun! Next year’s rifle design is already in the works and should be an over the top build. Stay tuned to AccurateShooter.com for further details!


* The Sierra 300gr MatchKings were meplat-trimmed and pointed using the original pointing system made by Ferris Pendell for Jim Hardy. A big thank you goes out to John Whidden for allowing me to come to his shop and use the original bullet pointing system.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 4 Comments »
June 26th, 2017

Living History — Custer’s Ghost and the Trapdoor Springfield

1873 Springfield trapdoor carbing musket

1873 Springfield trapdoor carbing musketA few season back, Kevin Thomas of Lapua USA acquired a bit of living history — a reproduction Model 1873 Trapdoor Springfield. Here is Kevin’s story of his new rifle and the legacy it carries.

Yesterday marked the 141st Anniversary of Lt.Col. George Armstrong Custer’s historic ride into the valley of the Little Big Horn, along with 200+ men of the U.S. Seventh Cavalry. June 25, 1876 did not go well, as Custer and his men became a well-known, sad footnote in U.S. history. [Editor: Well it was sad for Custer fans. Native Americans have a different perspective.]

For years now, I’ve wanted one of the rifles Custer and his men carried that day, a Model 1873 Trapdoor Springfield, chambered for the 45/70 cartridge. I finally acquired one, when I walked into a gunstore a while back and saw a handsome repro Trapdoor sitting peacefully on the shelf. It called to me.

Somewhere in the distance, I could hear the bugle calls, the Sioux and Cheyenne war cries and the thundering of cavalry across the plain. It simply had to go home with me, and so it did. It seemed an especially insistent demand with this being the 138th anniversary and all, so I took it along to our regular Wednesday night practice session. All I can say is, I’m glad we don’t have to do rapid-fire with one of these in our matches today, because they do have a mule-like kick to them!

1873 Springfield trapdoor carbing musket

The Trapdoors were a cost saving measure that the Armory came up with at the end of the Civil War, to convert muzzle-loading Springfield muskets into breech-loading cartridge arms. A quick look will give several dead giveaways that many of the parts on the “new” rifle were actually interchangeable with the old 1861 and 1863 Springfield muskets. The parts that were altered or newly fabricated were relatively minor changes.

1873 Springfield trapdoor carbing musket

Above, you can see where these rifles got their name. Loading was done by flipping a lever which opened up a trap door that provided access to the chamber. Flipping that same lever and opening the trap door then ejected the case after firing.

1873 Springfield trapdoor carbing musket

Here is the opposite side, trapdoor open. The ring and slide on the side of the stock was to facilitate an attachment point for a lanyard that the troopers wore over their shoulders. Remember, they often used these while at a full gallop, not an easy feat!

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June 23rd, 2017

A Slice of (Barrel) Life — Inside Look at Barrel Erosion

So what does a “worn-out” barrel really look like? Tom Myers answered that question when he removed a 6.5-284 barrel and cut it down the middle to reveal throat wear. As you can see, there is a gap of about 5mm before the lands begin and you can see how the lands have thinned at the ends. (Note: even in a new barrel, there would be a section of freebore, so not all the 5mm gap represents wear.) There is actually just about 2mm of lands worn away. Tom notes: “Since I started out, I’ve chased the lands, moving out the seating depth .086″ (2.18 mm). I always seat to touch. My final touch dimension was 2.440″ with a Stoney Point .26 cal collet.”

Except for the 2mm of wear, the rifling otherwise looks decent, suggesting that setting back and rechambering this barrel could extend its useful life. Tom reports: “This was something I just thought I’d share if anyone was interested. I recently had to re-barrel my favorite prone rifle after its scores at 1,000 started to slip. I only ever shot Sierra 142gr MatchKings with VV N165 out of this barrel. It is a Hart and of course is button-rifled. I documented every round through the gun and got 2,300 over four years. Since I have the facilities, I used wire EDM (Electro Discharge Machining) to section the shot-out barrel in half. It was in amazingly good shape upon close inspection.”

Tom could have had this barrel set back, but he observed, “Lately I have had to increase powder charge to maintain 2,950 fps muzzle velocity. So to set it back would have only increased that problem. [And] I had a brand new 30″ Krieger all ready to screw on. I figured it was unlikely I’d get another full season on the old barrel, so I took it off.”

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
June 20th, 2017

Tactical Twins: Micarta-Stocked PRS Rigs for SFC Brandon Green

SFC Brandon Green PRS Rifle Micarta Foundation Stocks

What does a two-time High Power National Champion choose for PRS comps? A set of twins. Twin rifles that is. SFC Brandon Green of the USAMU is one of America’s best marksmen. He’s excelled in Service Rifle and High Power disciplines, and now he’s getting very serious about the Precision Rifle Series (PRS). Brandon recently took delivery of “Twins” — two impressive rifles optimized for PRS competition. Green told us: “The Twins are ready for business! The silver one is a 6XC and the black one is a 6.5×47 Lapua”. Both rifles feature Impact Precision actions (with AICS-type mags), 24″ Proof stainless barrels, and Fat Bastard muzzle brakes. Rifle work was done by Stuteville Precision (Wade Stuteville) and Exodus Rifles (Joe Walls).

SFC Brandon Green PRS Rifle Micarta Foundation Stocks
In the 6XC, Brandon runs Berger 105gr VLDs in Norma 6XC brass. For the 6.5×47 Lapua he shoots 140gr Berger Hybrids or 143gr Hornady ELD-Xs in Lapua brass. Both rifles have stainless steel Proof barrels, but the 6.5x47L has a matte black Cerakote finish.

Brandon loves his new Twins. He said he likes the “feel” of the guns with the Foundation stocks: “These rifles weigh around 17 pounds with optics. They feel very solid under recoil — without the ‘tuning fork’ vibration you can get with a metal-chassis gun. They feel like a good wood-stocked gun, but the material is stronger and more rigid than wood. I’ve heard that guys are having success with these Foundation stocks with the actions installed without pillars or conventional bedding.” Currently Brandon is running both guns without action-screw pillars. He did have one skim-bedded, but he doesn’t think that was really needed. “Both rifles hammer now”, Brandon tells us.

Green Runs Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56mm FFP scopes on both rifles:
SFC Brandon Green PRS Rifle Micarta Foundation Stocks

High-Tech Micarta Stock Material
At first glance, those stocks may look like wood, but they are actually a special “Micarta” material that is strong, durable, and stable. Micarta, often used for knife handles, is a “a brand name for composites of fiberglass, carbon fiber, or other fabric in a thermosetting plastic.” The stock-maker, Foundation Stocks, says Micarta offers some distinct advantages over laminated wood or conventional fiberglass: “The solid block of material gives us a dense, homogenous material that is absent of any voids or air pockets commonly found in composite stocks. The high compression strength of the material allows us to build an action/DBM specific stock that requires no bedding or pillars. The material is very durable and stable in extreme environments. We use advanced CAD software to design and model our stocks, working in conjunction with action manufacturers and rifle builders to provide exact fitment.”

Here is a close-up of a Foundation Stock showing the distinctive Micarta texture:
SFC Brandon Green PRS Rifle Micarta Foundation Stocks

Tactical Competition vs. NRA High Power Competition
Brandon says PRS competition is tough: “PRS can be pretty humbling, but it’s been a lot of fun and a great challenge. For a shooter (like me) with a Service Rifle/High Power background, the variations in stages combined with the time limits can be very challenging. And the unusual shooting positions put a new spin on things. PRS is definitely a different ball game, but I really enjoy it. After the National Championships this summer I hope to shoot three or four PRS matches in September and October.”

SFC Brandon Green 2015 High Power National Championship
SFC Brandon Green honored as the 2015 High Power National Champion.

Life before the Twins… Here is Brandon, with his previous PRS rig, at the MasterPiece Arms Precision Rifle Shootout, a PRS event at the CORE Shooting Solutions Range in Florida:

SFC Brandon Green PRS Rifle Micarta Foundation Stocks

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Tactical 12 Comments »