April 13th, 2014
On LongRangeHunting.com, you’ll find a good article by Shawn Carlock about wind reading. Shawn is a veteran law enforcement marksman and a past USPSA national precision rifle champion. Shawn offers good advice on how to estimate wind speeds and directions using a multitude of available indicators — not just your wind gauge: “Use anything at your disposal to accurately estimate the wind’s velocity. I keep and use a Kestrel for reading conditions….The Kestrel is very accurate but will only tell you what the conditions are where you are standing. I practice by looking at grass, brush, trees, dust, wind flags, mirage, rain, fog and anything else that will give me info on velocity and then estimate the speed.”
Shawn also explains how terrain features can cause vertical wind effects. A hunter on a hilltop must account for bullet rise if there is a headwind blowing up the slope. Many shooters consider wind in only one plane — the horizontal. In fact wind has vertical components, both up and down. If you have piloted a small aircraft you know how important vertical wind vectors can be. Match shooters will also experience vertical rise when there is a strong tailwind blowing over an up-sloping berm ahead of the target emplacements. Overall, Shawn concludes: “The more time you spend studying the wind and its effect over varying terrain the more successful you will be as a long-range shooter and hunter.”
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April 8th, 2014
The NRA Outdoors Long Range Hunting/Shooting School returns to the Queen Mountain Ranch in Evanston, Wyoming for three sessions (two in May and one in June). The Long Range Hunting One course teaches proven long range shooting techniques for long-range hunters. There are still a few spots offered for the May sessions, and a June session just openeed. Cost of the class, which includes meals and accommodation, is $2,000.
Video Shows 2013 Long Range Hunting/Shooting School
The Course will cover: Ammo selection, Range Estimation, Zeroing, Ballistics, Effects of Weather, Reading the Wind, MOA and other Reticle Calibration, Bullet placement on big game for high kill percentage, Alternate Shooting Positions, trigger control, Spotter Skills, When to engage a moving target. The course will also cover some general topics, such as: Firearms maintenance, Range Safety, Rifle Building, and Scope Theory.
“The success of the first NRA Outdoors Long Range Hunting/Shooting School was a result of the combination of our excellent instructors [and] the first-class facilities at the Queen Mountain Ranch that made this class unlike anything else in the industry and a must for any serious western big-game hunter and shooter,” said NRA Outdoors President Greg Ray. The course offers access to a wide variety of terrain from the base location of Queen Mountain Ranch: “We have 1 million acres of terrain spread out over Wyoming and nearby Utah. We have all the angles covered: high desert, mountains, cross canyon and all points in between.”
Available Course Dates
May 22-25 (1 spot open) (2 days of instruction)
May 26-29 (3 spots open) (2 days of instruction)
June 19-22 (14 spots open) (2 days of instruction)
Exact curriculum will be provided before the school starts along with the announcement on details of a shooting competition (at the request of 2013 students) at the end of the course!
Course fee of $2000.00 per student includes:
Airport Pickup (Salt Lake City)
Lodging at Queen Mountain Ranch
Majority of optics gear
2 days of instruction
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March 21st, 2014
Our readers have asked, “What’s happened to Richard Franklin? Is he still making rifles?” Well, we’re pleased to tell you that Richard is doing fine. He is up in Montana, building a new house, doing most of the construction himself. The good news is that the new house will have a big workshop, and Richard hopes to start building a few rifles near the end of this year. He won’t be taking orders for quite a while. But in the meantime, Richard is still sharing his knowledge about stock-making, gunsmithing, and varmint hunting via DVDs that can be purchased online.
Groundhog Hunting with Richard Franklin
A few seasons back, gunsmith Richard Franklin and his shooting partner Roy both achieved a varmint hunter’s dream — nailing a groundhog at 1000+ yards. The guns that did it were two of Richard’s 300 Varminters. These are 300 WSMs that push a 125gr bullet through 32″, 15-twist barrels to achieve velocities approaching 4000 fps. Here is Richard’s report, condensed for the Daily Bulletin.
The 1005-Yard Groundhog Adventure, by Richard Franklin
September 20th found Roy and I on our last groundhog hunt of the year. Bow season for Deer begins Oct. 4th and we wanted time to ready ourselves. Roy had killed 99 hogs so far this year and I had killed 97. In the morning, we headed over to the Overstreet farm leased by our good friend Richard Ruff. We set up the shooting trailer on top of a hill where we had a good view of several brush piles around the pasture. In the first ten minutes Roy put a hog in the air about four feet at 497 yards with his 300 Varminter, giving Roy an even 100 hogs for the year. I shot hogs at 180 yards, 506 yards, and 456 yards. That gave me a total of 100 for the year.
Then we decided to go up to Danny’s and Bill’s hard rock dairy farm. We set up on the top of a high hill and shoot over the farm buildings to another mountain where there is a huge pasture with large rock piles. We scanned this pasture for about an hour and a half. Roy has a pair of Ziess 8-power binocs and I use a pair of the Leica 10-power Geovids with built-in laser rangefinder. I also have a “Big Eyes” set-up — two 22-power Kowa spotting scopes mounted on a bracket and used on a sturdy tripod. After some time searching the field for hogs and seeing none, we decided to pack up and go to a farm owned by Donnie Campbell. Over the years we have shot many a hog here. Roy once shot one here at 905 yards and my longest shot on this farm was 714 yards. Most kills here are made at over 400 yards. There’s a perfect place to shoot hogs from a single firing position. At the back property line was a big hill about 400 feet higher than the surrounding pastures and we could see and shoot about 200 degrees around us all the way out to 1,200 yards.
Setting Up the 1005-yard Shot
I had the first shot and nailed an easy one at about 140 yards. He was thinking he was hidden from view. Wrong! BLAM…POOF. Roy nailed a hog at 469 yards under an old pear tree. Roy nailed another hog at 522 yards by a big log pile where we had killed about ten hogs this summer. Roy was looking through the Big Eyes and called out, “Hey Rich…I got you one way over there on the next farm by the edge of the woods.” I ranged the hog with the Geovids four times, registering 1003, 1007, 1006 and 1005 yards. I decided on the 1005 as the distance. Checking my chart, I clicked up to 18 and 1/4 minutes. We had a very stiff wind blowing left to right. I have a Nightforce 8-32 power scope with the MLR reticle. I held the fourth windage dot and touched one off. I see the bullet strike nearly in line with the hog but low. I click up another minute and a half making a total of 19 3/4 minutes. Roy is watching all this through the Big Eyes and can see better than I can. He confirms where the first bullet strike was. I hold the same windage and touch off another round in my Bat-actioned, 32″, 15-twist Bartlein-barreled 300 Varminter. The hog was standing up for this shot. Through the scope I see the bullet’s vapor trail going straight for the hog. I lost the vapor trail before the bullet got there but I saw the hog flip over.
Hot damn, what a shot! After Roy shakes my hand and slaps me on the back, I walk over to the Big Eyes for a better look. “Roy, there’s another hog trying to fight that dead one,” I say. This hog (evidently both are males) is biting and dragging the dead hog. He is really going at it. Both hogs were evidently eating fallen acorns from the huge White Oak tree at the edge of the woods.
Roy Gets His Chance
I tell Roy, “Get up there on your bench and try that hog, I’ll spot for you.” Roy clicks up to 19 1/2 minutes and holds three feet for windage. Roy lets it go and I see the vapor trail going in on the hog. It hits a foot to the right and low. “Hey Roy”, I say, “click up two more minutes and hold one more foot of wind.” The hog ran in under the tree at the bullet’s impact but was back within 30 seconds. Roy is now clicked up and lets the second round go. I see the vapor trail dropping in on the hog but the bullet impacts dead in line, but still a bit low. “Roy — give it another minute and a half and hold the same wind”. I can hear Roy furiously working the bolt and chambering another round, then POW, and I see the vapor trail again. It looks like it’s gonna be in the middle of the hog but it drops right in under his neck, nearly hitting him. The hog vacates back under the tree for an instant but decides he is winning the fight against the dead hog and comes right back. Roy lets the fourth round go with the same hold as the last shot. I see the vapor trail of the 125 grain Ballistic Tip dropping right in on the hog, catching him perfectly in the shoulder. The live hog flips up and falls on top of the dead hog, his tail coming up stiff as a poker as he flags us that he is instantly dead.
Two 1000+ Yard Hits. A Record for Roy, Near-Record for Richard.
This was Roy’s longest shot ever. His previous record was 905 yards. This was my second longest shot, as I had killed a hog at 1018 yards seven years ago about 40 miles from this spot. I tell Roy that I’m putting up my hog rifle for the year. I’ll let this long shot register in my memory as the last Groundhog kill of 2008. Roy says “That’s fine, I’m gonna do the same.” Hog hunting is officially over for 2008. Now it’s time for Deer.
CLICK HERE to Visit Richard Franklin’s website and learn more about this ‘Hog hunt.
[Editor's Note: Richard's rifle has a BAT action and is able to drive the 125 Nosler at about 3975 fps. Roy has a Remington action on his 300 Varminter. The Rem doesn't take high pressures as well as the BAT, so Roy's load is down-loaded to about 3825 fps. Roy also uses a "boosted" Leupold rather than a Nightforce. Because of the difference in scopes, and the lower velocity, Roy needed more elevation clicks to reach the 1005-yard distance.]
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March 19th, 2014
If two barrels are better than one, then why not three? That’s the thinking behind the exotic new BD14 from Blaser, recently unveiled at the IWA Show in Germany. This “bockdrilling” three-barrel firearm works as a shotgun, large-caliber rifle, and small-caliber rifle all in one. Even with all those barrels, the BD14 is relatively light, at 3.3 kg (7.26 lbs) without optics. That makes this a nice, carry-around gun for stalking. As you’d expect from Blaser, the twin triggers are crisp and precise, with a pull weight of just 1.43 lbs (650 grams). The front trigger is for the large-caliber rifle barrel, while the rear trigger works both the shotgun and small-caliber barrels, via a tang-mounted selector. Sorry, we don’t yet have a USA-market price on this example of gun-making exotica, but you can bet it will be expensive.
CLICK Photo for Full-screen view
Here’s what Blaser USA has to say about its unique three-barreled BD14:
Story idea from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
“The ‘Bockdrilling’ is, put simply, an over/under (O/U) rifle-shotgun combination with a smaller caliber rifle-barrel… on the side. The barrel arrangement [allows] for an extremely slender receiver, making the BD 14 exceptionally huntable.
The brand new Vertical Block Lockup…has been filed for patent. It combines an extremely compact and solid block lockup in a closed system within the monoblock with the comfortable handling of a classic break-action rifle.
The double lock permits, if needed, a rapid second shot, the front trigger always releasing the large rifle-caliber. The … barrel selector actives the shotgun barrel when in position ‘top’ and activates the smaller rifle caliber in position ‘bottom’.”
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March 11th, 2014
If you like sweet-shooting .17 HMR rimfire rifles, and appreciate fine German engineering, then you’ll love the Anschutz model 1727. Rarely seen on American shores, this is the only varmint rifle in the world using the super-fast, straight-pull Fortner action. Developed for Olympic Biathlon competitions, the Fortner action can be cycled in the blink of an eye. Just pull back the side-lever with your forefinger and then snick the bolt back with your thumb. This slick-cycling action has been used for many years in biathlon rifles, but the model 1727 is the first example of a Fortner varminter.
Our friend Steven Boelter, author of the Rifleman’s Guide to Rimfire Ammunition, has been able to test the Anschutz model 1727 extensively, both from the bench and in the field. Steven has published an outstanding online review of the model 1727, lavishly illustrated with great photos that show all the details of this unique firearm. We strongly recommend you visit Boelter’s Rimfire Research & Development Website (RRDVegas.com) and read his Anschutz 1727 Review.
Click Photo to Read Anschutz 1727 Review by Steven Boelter
After bench-testing the model 1727 for accuracy, and then using it on a ground squirrel safari, Boelter came away hugely impressed with this unique .17 HMR rifle:
The 1727 is truly a masterpiece; there really is no other way to look at it. I can’t think of any other rimfire action which remotely comes close in design or function, and executed at this level of precision.
The 1727 combines the accuracy of a single-shot match rifle, provides the convenience of a four-shot repeater, and cycles with nearly the speed of a semi-auto without fear of a dreaded case failure or “Ka-boom”. There’s really nothing else to say about the rifle. With virtually no short-comings in design or function, superb field performance and overall accuracy, it’s to be considered a 10 out of 10.
The only downside, Boelter explains, is the price: “The rifle alone has a suggested retail price of $3,500. When you add a nice set of Talley rings and bases along with a sharp Leupold scope, you’re approaching $5,000 USD. It’s completely out of reach for the majority of varmint hunters, and that is a shame.”
Anschutz 1727 Video Review from Australia. Amazing 50-yd accuracy at 12:00 time-mark.
Story tip by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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March 7th, 2014
Here are some great rifle-centric landscape images courtesy of Nightforce Optics. Perhaps these “gunscapes” will encourage you to grab your rifle and head out into the woods this weekend. These images are part of an ongoing series of rifle photos posted on the Nightforce Facebook page. Can you identify the optics, and any of the locations? To see a full-screen version of each image, just click on any photo, and a larger version will load.
CLICK Any Image for Larger View
This is NOT a Photoshop job — that’s the actual view through a Nightforce scope of a deer. Photographer (and rifle-owner) Brandon F. says: “Ya’ll might enjoy this picture of a Fort Hood white tail… 400m away.”
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March 7th, 2014
Are you looking to save money on a factory varmint or hunting rifle? Well Thompson/Center Arms (T/C) is currently offering a $75.00 rebate with the purchase of any new T/C Venture™ rifle. The mail-in rebate program will be available to consumers who purchase a T/C Venture rifle from January 25, 2014 through April 30, 2014 in the United States or Canada.
Consumers can choose from 16 different calibers ranging from the .204 Ruger to the big .338 Winchester Magnum. Made in America and backed by Thompson/Center’s lifetime warranty, the T/C Venture provides consumers with an affordable, value-packed hunting rifle.
Click HERE for Rebate Coupon
Lifetime Warranty, One MOA Group Size Guarantee
T/C Venture rifles come with a One Minute of Angle (MOA) accuracy guarantee, plus a full lifetime factory warranty. T/C Venture bolt-action rifles features a precision barrel with 5R rifling, a user-adjustable trigger, fat bolt design with 60-degree lift, composite stock featuring traction grip panels, QD sling swivel studs, and a single stack 3+1 detachable nylon magazine. Various models are offered, including the popular T/C Venture Predator with Realtree Camo finish.
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March 2nd, 2014
Jere’s something new for you AR fans — an AR15 with laminated wood furniture. At SHOT Show 2014, Windham Weaponry introduced the VEX (Varmint Exterminator) Wood Stock line of rifles. Windham calls its first VEX model the “Pepper”, for the gray/black tones of the laminated stock. This should work better on the bags than conventional ARs. Up front, the handguard is wider on the underside (with a flared profile similar to the beavertail fore-ends on Cooper rifles). The buttstock has a dropped section at the rear for riding a sandbag. The $1480.00 VEX rifle features a 20″, 1:8″-twist fluted stainless barrel. Designed for scoped use, the A4-type flattop upper comes with optics riser blocks. There’s a Pic rail up front if you want to add a front iron sight.
Click to zoom photo
CLICK HERE to Download PDF Version of this Spec Sheet.
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February 17th, 2014
Gene F. (aka “TenRing” in our Forum), provides this basic intro to Groundhog matches, East-Coast style.
Groundhog Matches Are Growing in Popularity
Though Groundhog matches are very popular in many parts of the country, particularly on the east coast, I’ve found that many otherwise knowledgeable “gun guys” don’t know much about this form of competition. A few weeks ago, I ordered custom bullets from a small Midwest bullet-maker. He asked what type of competition the bullets would be used for, and I told him “groundhog shoots”. He had not heard of these. It occurs to me that perhaps many others are unfamiliar with this discipline.
Groundhog matches have grown rapidly in popularity. There are numerous clubs hosting them in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware, as well as other venues. They are usually open to the public. Most Eastern clubs have five to twenty cement benches, and overhead roofs. At this time, there is no central source for match schedules. If you’re interested in going to a groundhog match, post a query in the AccurateShooter Forum Competition Section, and you should get some info on nearby opportunities.
How Matches Are Run — Course of Fire and Scoring
Unlike NRA High Power Matches, there is no nationwide set of standard rules for Groundhog matches. Each club has their own rules, but the basics are pretty similar from club to club. Paper groundhog targets are set at multiple distances. There are normally three yardages in the match. Some clubs place targets at 100, 200, and 300 yards. Other clubs set them at 200, 300, or 400 yards. At my club in Shippensburg, PA, our targets are placed at 200, 300 and 500 meters.
The goal is to score the highest total. The paper targets have concentric scoring rings. The smallest ring is normally worth ten points while the large ring is worth five points. The course of fire varies among the various clubs. Most clubs allow unlimited sighters and five shots on the record target in a given time period. Only those five shots on the scoring rings are counted, so that with three yardages, a perfect score would be 150 points. Tie breakers may be determined by total number of dead center or “X” strikes; or, by smallest group at the farthest distance.
Types of Rifles Used at Groundhog Matches
The same benchrest rigs found at IBS and NBRSA matches can be utilized (though these will typically be put in a ‘custom’ class). Though equipment classes vary from club to club, it is common to separate the hardware into four or five classes. Typical firearm classes can include: factory rifle; deer hunter; light varmint custom (usually a limit of 17 lbs.with scope); and heavy varmint custom (weight unlimited). Some clubs allow barrel tuners, others do not. Scope selection is usually unlimited; however, some restrict hunter class rifle scopes to 20 power. Factory rifles usually cannot be altered in any way.
Good, Simple Fun Shooting — Why Groundhog Shoots Are Popular
Forum member Danny Reever explains the appeal of groundhog matches: “We don’t have a governing organization, or have to pay $50 a year membership just to compete in matches. Sure the rules vary from club to club, but you adapt. If you don’t like one club’s rules, you just don’t shoot there. It’s no big deal.
There are no National records, or Hall of Fame points — just individual range records. If you want to shoot in BIG matches (with big prizes), there is the Hickory Ground Hog Shoot among others. If competition isn’t your bag, many clubs offer mid-week fun matches that you can shoot just for fun. You shoot the same targets but with a more relaxed atmosphere with no time limits.
The best part is you don’t have to shoot perfect at every yardage. You always have a chance because in this sport it really isn’t over until the last shot is fired. Typically ALL the entry money goes to the host club, with much of the cash returned back to the shooters via prizes. Junior shooters often shoot for free, or at a reduced rate. The low entry cost also encourages young guys to get involved who don’t have $4000 custom rifles or the money to buy them.
There isn’t a sea of wind flags to shoot over or to put up and take down. If the range has a couple of flags so much the better, but after all it is a varmint match. No pits to spot shots and slow things down either. If you can’t see your hits through your rifle scope or spotting scope well you are in the same boat as everybody else. That’s what makes it interesting/ sometimes frustrating!
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February 3rd, 2014
Here’s an interesting product, offered by Creedmoor Sports. The innovative MOA Tactical Shooting Bag (MOA TSB) combines plastic pellets with an inflatable, inner air chamber to provide a very lightweight (and adjustable) rear support for your rifle, when shooting prone. Designed for “tactical” shooters, we think the MOA bag would work equally well for hunters and varminters. Costing $59.95, the MOA inflatable bag is priced competitively with basic rear sandbags, but it weighs much, much less than a leather or cordura bag filled with sand.
These MOA bags are built tough, with a durable inner air bladder, surgical-quality tubing, and rugged outer fabric. To help stabilize the bag, lightweight polymer (plastic) pellets are used inside. The air pump then inflates the air bladder to the degree of hardness/softness you prefer. An air valve allows you to deflate the MOA bag for more compact transport and storage.
We did try one of these bags, and it worked pretty well for prone shooting with bipod. The rear bag-rider of an Eliseo Tubegun settled nicely on the bag, and yes we could “Pump it Up” to add firmness, and raise the rear. Likewise it was simple to bleed air from the bag, lowering the bag-rider. Yes you could adjust the bipod leg height instead (raising/lowering the front relative to the rear), but it was faster and easier to make small changes with air pressure. This item will not replace a heavy sand bag for a serious F-TR shooter. However, for a tactical competitor who needs to move rapidly from one position to another, this patent-pending MOA Tactical Bag makes sense. It is a durable, well-designed product that can shave many pounds off your load-out weight (compared to a heavy sandbag).
Though this is marketed toward “tactical” marksmen, we think the MOA Tactical Shooting Bag would also be handy for hunters who walk long distances in the field. Hunters need to be concerned about weight as well. The air+pellet-filled MOA bag offers a lighter alternative to a bunny-ear bag or heavy sand sock.
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February 1st, 2014
For many years, the Varmint Hunters Association (VHA) has produced an excellent print periodical, The Varmint Hunter Magazine. Along with hunting stories, the magazine features articles about precision reloading and methods for accurizing rifles. The Varmint Hunter Magazine is available by subscription, and you can also purchase back issues through the VHA Online Store.
Right now the VHA is offering two FREE digital editions of The Varmint Hunter Magazine. Can’t beat that price. Click the links below to view (or download) the latest Winter 2014 Edition (Issue #89) and/or the previous Fall 2013 Edition (Issue #88). These digital eZines can be read on your computer or by most mobile devices. But since these are complete magazines, it make take a minute or two to download the full PDF files (be patient).
VHA Magazine tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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January 18th, 2014
CZ USA had many new (and updated) products on display at SHOT Show 2014. A new camo version of the CZ 455 Varmint Precision Trainer (VPT) caught our eye. This is one of the best options for Rimfire Tactical Competitions, and well as cross-training with low-cost rimfire ammo. Chambered in .22 LR, the Varmint Precision Trainer was designed to provide the same look and feel as a full-size tactical rifle while allowing for more economical training. The high-quality Manners Composite T4 stock wears a new camouflage paint scheme this year. The rifle features an .866-diameter heavy barrel that should offer good accuracy. MSRP is $940.00.
The black-stocked rifle below the camo VPT is another interesting rimfire from CZ. New for 2014, this CZ 455 Tacticool Suppressor-Ready sports a 16.5″ varmint-contour barrel with 1/2×28 threads for the “can”. This allows easy installation of your suppressor, while allowing a short overall package. For varmint hunters who want a quiet, stealthy rifle, this model fills the bill. NOTE: CZ does NOT provide the suppressor. That must be purchased separately and an ATF tax stamp must be obtained. Check the laws in your jurisdiction to determine whether suppressor ownership is legal where you live.
3-Gun Competitors will be impressed with CZ’s new scattergun, the 712 Practical. Priced at an affordable $699.00 (MSRP), this semi-auto shotgun, designed specifically for 3-Gun competition, features 10-round capacity (counting a shell in the chamber). The 6-position, adjustable buttstock offers various lengths of pull from 11.25 to 15 inches. The ATI fluted magazine extension provides 9+1 rounds of firepower and extends just past the 22″ barrel to help protect the muzzle. The new 712 Practical comes complete with 5 choke tubes — all for a price that undercuts some comparable 3-Gun shotguns by hundreds.
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