August 28th, 2016

The 22BR as General-Purpose Varmint Cartridge

Richard Franklin (who operated Richard’s Custom Rifles prior to his retirement), has built scores of varmint rifles, in many different calibers. One of Richard’s all-time favorite varmint rifles is a 14-twist, 22BR built on his model 11 stock in laminated Black Walnut and fiddleback maple. Richard says the rifle is versatile and deadly accurate out to 400 yards. Richard uses a Leupold 8.5-25x50mm LRT with varmint reticle.

“This is my light walking varminter. It’s built on a blueprinted SS Remington 700 short action and chambered as a no-turn 22 BR for Lapua brass. The bolt handle is a Dave Kiff replacement and I’ve fitted a Jewel BR trigger with bottom safety. Barrel is a Lilja, 1:14″ # 6 contour with a muzzle diameter of .750″. I shoot the 40gr V-Max in the rifle at 4000 FPS. Its tough on hogs if you don’t try them too far. 400 yards is about the max with it. Accuracy is outstanding and with Roy, Mike, my grandson and myself shooting this rifle I don’t believe it has missed more than 3 hogs out of over 100 shot at this summer. This rifle is carried in a ceiling rack in the truck where its handy and is used by the first person that grabs it when a hog is sighted if we are moving between setups. The Varmint reticle on the Leupold is nice for quick hold-overs as you change distances.”

Detail of Model 11 Stock (Different Rifle in Birdseye Maple)

22BR Rivals 22-250 Performance
With bullets in the 40gr to 60gr weight range, the 22BR gives up very little in velocity to a 22-250, despite burning quite a bit less powder (30-32 grains for the 22BR vs. 35-38 grains for the 22-250). With a match-quality chamber, the 22BR will probably have an edge in accuracy over a 22-250, and you should experience longer barrel life. Here are some recommended 22BR loads for 40-60gr bullets:

For more info on the 22BR for varminting, read our 22BR Cartridge Guide

Permalink Hunting/Varminting 2 Comments »
August 27th, 2016

How (and Why) To Use Binoculars with a Tripod

Everybody knows that powerful spotting scopes work best when mounted to a stable tripod or otherwise secured to a steady mount. Yet when most folks use binoculars, they never even think of using a tripod, despite the fact that tripod adapters are available for many premium binoculars. A serious hunter should learn how to glass with tripod support. With binoculars offering more that 8X magnification, you can really benefit from a steady mount. In this article, Mark Boardman of Vortex Optics, an experienced hunter, explains the benefits of using a tripod with high-magnification binoculars.

Vortex Binoculars

READ FULL ARTICLE with More Tips for Hunters

Vortex Binoculars

Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Optics No Comments »
August 26th, 2016

Reference Guide for Factory Ammo Includes 190+ Cartridge Types

Ammunition Ammo Factory commerical hunting load data ballistics hunt Bob Forker

If you ever shoot factory ammo, you should consider getting Ammo & Ballistics 5. This resource book lists over 2,600 different loads for 190 cartridge types from 17 Mach 2 up to .700 Nitro Express, including the most popular centerfire and rimfire cartridges (both rifle and handgun). There are over 1,400 tables with ballistics data for nearly all commercially-loaded hunting ammunition sold in the United States (as of 2013, the publication date). Tables include velocity, energy, wind drift, bullet drop, and ballistic coefficient.

Ammunition Ammo Factory commerical hunting load data ballistics hunt Bob Forker

This book can be helpful when choosing ammo for a hunt. You can quickly compare the velocity and knock-down power of various types of commercial ammo. In addition, this book can help you choose a caliber/chambering for your next hunting rig, as you can compare factory load options.

Book Purchaser Reviews
“The data contained in this book is invaluable. If you don’t understand momentum vs. energy, MER and MEPBR, this book will help you gain an understanding. If you don’t know what the Taylor Knock Out (KO) Index is, this book will enlighten and inform.” — Daryl ID

“Great heaps of data! This volume has pages and pages of new data for .22LR like the hot Velocitor, and also on the .22 WMR from 30 grains up into the 50s. Most importantly there is lots of range data, drop, windage, kinetic energy, etc. — Terrific reference guide….” — E. Svanoe

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
August 25th, 2016

FREE Printable Hunting Practice Targets

hunting NRA Blog Target deer buck turkey hog PDF printable target

Summer is almost over. That’s means hunting season is coming soon. To help you prepare for your fall hunts, NRABlog.com has created a set of color practice hunting targets. You can hone your skills on a trio of bucks, three gobblers, or three wild hogs.

Each target features three red bullseyes, centered on the animals. You can print the targets in black and white, but they look best in color. Click on each image below to download a FREE printable PDF file.

As the NRA Blog says: “Print out the turkey target, grab your shotgun, and head to the outdoor range. Or, try your hand at deer and hog while zeroing your rifle.”

RIght-Click Each Image to Download Printable PDF File:
hunting NRA Blog Target deer buck turkey hog PDF printable target

hunting NRA Blog Target deer buck turkey hog PDF printable target

hunting NRA Blog Target deer buck turkey hog PDF printable target

Permalink Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
August 3rd, 2016

Truckloads of Tikka T3s on Sale at EuroOptic.com Right Now

Tikka T3 sale inventory closeout reduction discount truckload

Looking for a great price on an excellent hunting rifle? Here is the Tikka Deal of the Decade. EuroOptic.com has received nearly 3,500 Tikka T3 rifles, which will be sold at deep discounts as part of an inventory clearance program by Beretta, Tikka’s parent company. The Tikka T3 is a good, stout rifle with a smooth, 3-lug action, crisp trigger, and quality barrel. Accuracy is typically well under 1 MOA (for three shots). T3 barreled actions also are a good “core” for a tactical build. The strong T3 action handles detachable magazines, and fits a variety of third-party stocks such as McRees Precision G7 and G10 chassis systems.

Our friend Jason Baney of EuroOptic.com tells us: “We have two tractor-trailer loads of Tikka T3 rifles (about 3500 units) dropping here today…and the sale prices are amazingly low. I am sure it will take a day or so to get all the rifles in the system, then they will show in stock. Everything currently showing on our site should either be in stock or coming in stock this week. Feel free to order/backorder through the link below, or give us a shout.”

LINK to TIKKA T3 RIFLE LIQUIDATION SALE

Tikka T3 sale inventory closeout reduction discount truckload

Models shown above are just part of the Sale Inventory. Nearly all Tikka T3 models are on sale.

Permalink Hot Deals, Hunting/Varminting, Tactical 2 Comments »
August 1st, 2016

DIY Hunting Rifle Upgrade — 6.5 Creedmoor Ruger American Rifle

Ruger American Rifle Predator 6.5 Creedmoor Boyds Stock inletting bedding

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

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

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

Ruger American Rifle Predator 6.5 Creedmoor Boyds Stock inletting bedding

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

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

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

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
July 31st, 2016

A Shotgun Fit for Royalty — Westley Richards 12 Gauge SxS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Permalink Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
July 28th, 2016

Norma Cartridge of the Month: 6.5×55 Swedish

6.5x55 Swede Swedish Norma Cartridge of the Month Norma USA

Cartridge of the Month Norma USAIf you haven’t checked out NormaUSA’s website, you should. There you’ll find Norma’s Cartridge of the Month Archive. This great resource provides a detailed history of popular cartridges, along with a discussion of these cartridges’ hunting and target-shooting uses. There are currently 26 Cartridge of the Month articles, the latest featuring the mighty .500/.416 Nitro Express cartridge.

Also on Norma-USA.com you’ll find information on Norma cartridge brass, bullets, powder and factory ammo. The site also offers a video archive plus links to Norma Reloading Data.

Here is a selection from 6.5×55 Swede Cartridge of the Month Article:

History of the 6.5×55 Swedish

A mild cartridge by modern standards, the 6.5×55 has impressive credentials in both the hunting field and in competition. It was developed jointly by Sweden and Norway in 1894 – one of the very first smokeless, small-bore rounds for military rifles. When Sweden boosted 6.5×55 performance in Mausers, Norway stayed with original loads in the less robust Krag. The 6.5×55 defended Scandinavia for most of a century thereafter. In 1990 the National Rifle Association of Denmark, Norway and Sweden renamed this cartridge the 6.5×55 SKAN and standardized its specifications. Still hugely popular among moose hunters there, it has also excelled in 300-meter free-rifle competition.

The long tenure of this cartridge spanned the post-war wildcatting era. Unfortunately for shooters keen to make something new of the 6.5×55 hull, its head diameter is .01 greater than that of the 7×57 (and the .270 and .30-06). The rim is thicker too. At 2.16 inches, cases mike .15 longer than the .308’s and .08 shorter than those of the 7×57 – though as originally loaded, its overall length (3.15 inches) exceeds that of the 7×57. In fact, it falls just 0.1 inch shy of the finished length of the 7mm Remington Magnum! In my view, the 6.5×55 merits at least a mid-length action, such as on Melvin Forbes’s New Ultra Light rifles. Shorter (typical .308-length) actions require deep bullet seating that throttles performance.

6.5x55 Swede Swedish Norma Cartridge of the Month Norma USA

You’ll look hard to find a better deer cartridge than the 6.5×55. Francis Sell, woodsman and rifle enthusiast whose book on blacktail deer hunting has no peer, favored the 6.5×55. Hunters coming of age in a magnum culture might question the round’s bona fides on animals as stout as elk and moose. But at modest ranges, with bullets like Norma’s factory-loaded 156-grain Oryx, it’s a sure killer. Modest recoil makes rifles pleasant to fire (read: accurate in hand!) and fast on follow-ups. In Africa the 6.5×55 – and similar 6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer – felled much bigger game than moose long before anyone necked down the .375 H&H! While its compact case won’t let the Swede match the likes of the .270 ballistically, it is a fine all-around choice for big game in the Lower 48.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
July 24th, 2016

A Short History of the .220 Swift Cartridge

Sierra Bullets 220 .220 Swift Cartridge powder loading Hodgdon

A History of the .220 Swift Cartridge

by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box
Sierra Bullets 220 .220 Swift Cartridge powder loading HodgdonThis cartridge was introduced by Winchester in 1935 in their model 54 rifle. A year later, it was added as a standard cartridge in the model 70. What might not be common knowledge to some reloaders is that the prototype for the Swift was developed in 1934-35 by Grosvenor Wotkyns by necking down the 250 Savage case, but in the end, Winchester chose the 6mm Lee Navy case for the foundation for this cartridge.

This cartridge was far ahead of its time and for that reason it received a lot of bad press. We’ve all read the horror stories through the years. Many of those stories were just simply repeated from previous articles even the wording was just slightly different. So how bad was the Swift? Let’s take a deeper look.

Some of the early Swifts had soft barrel steel and some of the rare ones even had barrels that were .223 in bore size. This stemmed from the fact that the .22 Hornets prior to the end of World War II were .223 in bore size and some of these barrels were chambered in the Swift. It was rumored that the Swift peaked in pressure far too quick. I’ll bet they did with a turkey extra full choke barrel.

Burn rates of powders were limited at that time as well, so the Swift was limited in its true ability due to that. It was almost like building a funny car for drag racing when only kerosene was available.

One of the longest lasting black eyes was that it shot barrels out so fast. If you get the barrel branding iron hot and fail to clean it often this can happen. Common sense will go a long ways here. Keep the barrel as cool as you can and properly clean it every fifteen rounds or less will go a long way to improving accuracy life of a Swift.

Sierra Bullets 220 .220 Swift Cartridge powder loading Hodgdon

So what is the real truth about this cartridge? I’m glad you ask. I’ve been shooting the .220 Swift for over 43 years now. It is one of the best varmint cartridges I’ve ever owned. It is not hard to load for, it doesn’t suddenly peak in pressure and it isn’t the barrel burner that you’ve heard. Hodgdon powders once reported a Remington 40-X with over 3,000 rounds of full power loads averaged .344” for five, 5-shot groups. My findings have been the same. It isn’t as hard on barrels as it has been made out to be.

I’ve also read that down loading it slightly will help in barrel life. This is true, but if you buy a thoroughbred you want him to run. Barrels are threaded on the end for a reason. If you have enough fun to shoot out a Swift barrel, just rebarrel it.

The bottom line is enjoy the .220 Swift for what it was meant to be. The popularity of the Swift has slipped in the last twenty years and few factory rifles are now available in this caliber. There is no reason for this and I know the Swift will always have a strong and loyal following.

Sierra Bullets 220 Swift Cartridge Guide

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 5 Comments »
July 22nd, 2016

CCI Offers Lead-Free .22 LR Ammo with Copper Matrix Bullets

Copper-22 CCI varmint HV ammo 1850 fps polymer ammunition compressed matrix

Now there is a new type of “lead-free” rimfire ammo that can be used in areas where lead is prohibited. CCI’s new .22 LR Copper-22 ammunition features hollow-point bullets made from a compressed copper + polymer matrix. This is a speedy round — Muzzle Velocity (MV) is a blistering 1850 FPS, very fast for a .22 LR round. CCI claims accuracy is excellent. We look forward to testing this new Copper-22 rimfire ammo to confirm CCI’s speed and accuracy claims. Running at 1850 FPS, this looks like it could be a very effective varmint round.

Copper-22 Ammo Features & Benefits:

  • Non-lead bullet suited for plinking, target-shooting and small game hunting.
  • 21-grain hollow-point bullet, with compressed copper-polymer construction.
  • Legal to use in California and other zones where lead is prohibited.
  • 1,850 FPS muzzle velocity with excellent accuracy.

The Copper-22 projectile is constructed from a unique mix of copper particles and polymer compressed into a potent, 21-grain bullet. This non-lead bullet is suited for plinking, target-shooting and small game hunting. Shipments of this Copper-22 ammo (CCI part No. 925CC) are now being delivered to dealers. For more info, visit www.cci-ammunition.com.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 5 Comments »
July 12th, 2016

The Silent Varminter: Squirrel Hunting with Anschutz Air Rifle

Anschutz Anschütz 8002 S2 Black Air Hunter airgun air rifle moderator squirrel hunting

Can you hunt small varmints with an air rifle? Indeed you can. At reasonably close ranges, a .177 pellet has sufficient “knock-down” power, and the near-silent operation of the air rifle keeps your prey from being alerted. Our friends at Varminter.com recently tested the Anschütz 8002 S2 Black Air Hunter, which features an integral, custom-tuned moderator. Overall, this is a very accurate, very high-tech solution to pesky squirrels (and other small furry pests).

Here’s the report: “We spent a couple of hours out in the field with the Anschutz Black Air Hunter, and took seven ground squirrels that NEVER heard the shot. This rifle is unbelievably quiet, and VERY accurate. I simply put the crosshair on the back of the eyeball, touched the super light trigger, and dropped them in their tracks. Tomorrow, we hunt a small orchard near some farm animals, and I think this rifle will really shine. Tom got some decent video, but we need a bit more out in the field for the full hunt report, so there will be more to come!”

The Anschütz 8002 Black Air Hunter is a PCP (Pre-Charged Pneumatic) air rifle in .177 caliber. This nice rig features a very comfortable, ergonomic stock with adjustable cheekpiece and buttplate. Best of all, the Black Hunter is wicked accurate. Varminter.com reports: “It took [just] three shots to sight-in, and proceeded to shoot bug holes at 25 yards the next 10 rounds.”

Anschutz Anschütz 8002 S2 Black Air Hunter airgun air rifle moderator squirrel hunting

Anschutz Black Air Hunter Product Description

The new Anschütz 8002 S2 Black Air Hunter is designed for varmint hunters and target shooters who want an accurate, quiet, versatile, and urban-friendly air rifle. Based on the 8002 S2 match rifle, the Black Air Hunter boasts the excellent balance/ergonomics of a world-class 10 meter match rifle. But the Black Air Hunter has other key features you won’t find on typical competition airguns.

The match barrel is fitted with an advanced moderator made by Tactical Solutions. This non-removable unit is smaller, lighter, and considerably quieter than the counterparts from Europe. Tactical Solutions engineered this moderator to control the sharp crack associated with pre-charged pneumatics. And yes, it works — the Black Air Hunter is VERY QUIET.

As shown here with Leupold scope, the rifle weighs just under 10 pounds:
Anschutz Anschütz 8002 S2 Black Air Hunter airgun air rifle moderator squirrel hunting

The fully-adjustable beech stock has a moisture-resistant rubberized coating that provides a secure grip in cold or damp conditions. An aluminum accessory rail under the fore-end allows sling or bi-pod mounting. The cheek piece and butt plate offer a wide range of position options, and can also be upgraded or changed to suit the shooter’s preferences.

The Black Air Hunter runs a .177” caliber pellet at 580 fps, which allows for quiet yet precise training and target shooting in an urban environment. There are more powerful air rifles, but they will be noisier and you may have concerns with down-range energy. With its ultra-low noise signature, the Black Air Hunter is well-suited for use in urban settings.

Anschutz Anschütz 8002 S2 Black Air Hunter airgun air rifle moderator squirrel hunting

Permalink Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 2 Comments »
July 9th, 2016

Summer Adventure: A North Dakota Prairie Dog Safari

North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safari

Adam Scepaniak, of The Guns and Gear Store, has written an interesting story about Prairie Dog Hunting in North Dakota. If a P-Dog safari is on your “bucket list”, you’ll want to read the full story in the Sierra Bullets Blog. Adam provides many tips that can help you plan a successful prairie dog adventure.

Prairie Dog Hunting in North Dakota with Sierra Bullets (Excerpt)
It’s that time of year where lots of men and women point their vehicles westward and try to push the limits of their rifles on prairie dogs. I was a part of this group of people just a few days ago while in northwestern North Dakota. CLICK HERE to Read Full Story.

North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safariLittle Missouri National Grassland
Once my hunting party arrived at the Little Missouri National Grassland in North Dakota we immediately began scouting for prime prairie dog towns. There is a certain amount of strategy involved in choosing a prairie dog town … for several reasons. For one, you should try to always stay “above” the prairie dogs.

Small objects like rocks, cactuses, and prairie vegetation can easily obstruct your view if you’re shooting prone on a level plane. We encountered this in the first small prairie dog town we stopped and shot at. The prairie dog town was very visible while walking and standing, but once we laid down with our rifles on bipods the two-foot prairie grass became a severe obstruction. We shortly moved on because the small town became quick-studies to our shooting.

North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safari

The second prairie dog town we hunted was at the base of a small ridge with a dried, cattle creek at the bottom. This area offered better shooting opportunities because we were above most of the prairie dog holes, and if we were not above them, a deep ravine separated us from the prairie dogs removing any obstructions from our rifle scopes which was our previous problem. This area had its own disadvantage though because of some other wildlife present. There were approximately fifty head of cattle in our close vicinity grazing, which was to no surprise because many ranchers utilize the National Grassland for grazing. We had to wait for the cattle to leave our area as to not have an incidental hit due to a rare ricochet. As the sun passed over the horizon we decided to return to this spot the next morning, but would change our shooting position to increase our advantage.

This Location Offered a Nice Overlook.
North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safari

Zoomed Image Shows Individual Prairie Dog Mounds.
North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safari

My previous varminting best was a 275-yard shot near Mobridge, South Dakota on a separate prairie dog hunting trip. With more experience and better reloading, Here in North Dakota I was able to make a solid hit on a prairie dog just over 400 yards which made me ecstatic! For a central Minnesota, shotgun-raised guy, I was pretty happy that my bullet selection and hand-loading ability produced a 125-yard improvement.

Once we cleaned and cased our rifles for the journey home we had shot a little over 200 rounds of my Sierra® reloads. This was a lot less than previous prairie dog trips I have been a part of, but our hit percentage was substantially higher as well. Traveling into a new area meant a lot more scouting and experimentation for us as a group. In future trips or hunts of your own, it can be very beneficial to schedule an extra day just for scouting[.]

Little Missouri National Grassland is a National Grassland located in western North Dakota. At 1,033,271 acres, it is the largest grassland in the country. Within its borders is Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The Little Missouri National Grasslands was once a part of the Custer National Forest, but is now a part of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands, a National Forest unit consisting entirely of National Grasslands. A predominant feature of the grassland is colorful and beautiful badlands, a rugged terrain extensively eroded by wind and water. It is a mixed grass prairie, meaning it has both long and short grass.

The boundaries of the grasslands on certain maps can be misleading. Within the boundaries of the national grassland are significant portions of state-owned and privately-owned land, much of it leased by cattle ranchers for grazing.

The grassland is administered by the Forest Service as part of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands from offices in Bismarck, ND. There are ranger district offices in Dickinson and Watford City.

Permalink - Articles, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
July 3rd, 2016

Groundhog Fun Shoots — Crowd-Pleasing, Affordable Competition

Harold Seagroves hickory groundhog shoot
Harold Seagroves’ 3-time Hickory Ground Hog Match-Winning Rifle

At clubs across the country, varmint fun shoots (also known as “groundhog matches”) are becoming more popular every year. In these matches, usually shot from the bench, you engage paper targets, clay pigeons, steel “critter” silhouettes, or some combination of paper and reactive targets. Shooters like these matches because you can shoot a wide variety of rifles, you don’t have to spend a fortune to be competitive, and there is fun for the whole family. Rules are inclusive — you won’t be turned away because your rifle is two ounces overweight. A large percentage of the match fees usually go back to shooters in the form of cash prizes. And the level of camaraderie is high.

hickory groundhog shootInclusive Rules Welcome All Shooters
Forum member Danny Reever has explained 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. You build your rifle (or even pistol) to fall within the rules of either the clubs you shoot, or to fit all the clubs rules. If not there still is a class for you to compete in. If your factory rifle doesn’t conform to the rules, it can shoot in a custom class. If your custom doesn’t make weight for Light Custom (usually 17 pounds and under), you shoot it in heavy custom class. If you want to try your Tactical rifle or F-Class rig, bring it out there’s a class you can shoot it in. 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.

Groundhog varmint fun shoot summer family

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. That lessens the burden on the family’s wallet (not a small thing in these economic times). The low entry cost also encourages young guys to get involved who don’t have $4000 custom rifles or the money to buy them.

St. Thomas Groundhog ShootMore Fun, Fewer Complications
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!

As for calibers, I’ve seen everything from .223 Rem to .338 Lapua and everything in between. Our range record at my club is held by Bill Slattery, who shot a 147 out of a possible 150 with a 22BR 13 months ago. That’s on a target with a 1.250 ten ring at 200/300/500 meters. That record will stand for awhile, and shows you that some very good shooting is done at groundhog matches.

The best part is it’s laid back, everyone gets along, there is no place for big egos here. We who shoot the Ground Hog Matches don’t begrudge the other organizations and shooting disciplines, or those that shoot in them, heck some of us cross over and compete in registered benchrest matches too. Life’s too short, live and let live is our motto so just come out and have fun!”

Fellow Forum members chimed in:

FdShuster: “I’ve competed in our local ground hog matches for several years now, have introduced a number of others to them, and we all enjoy them and more importantly, continue to learn from them. Distances are as close as 100 yards, (with a 5/8″ 10 ring) to as far as 500 meters. With a 2″ 10 ring. Wind, mirage, bullet trajectories, all make them a challenge, and unlike shooting for group, where the group can be anywhere on the paper, in this game they must be very small, but also in the 10 ring. With the different classes — Custom, Factory, Hunter — almost any rifle will fit in somewhere. And Danny is correct about the friendly attitudes. I’ve seen competitors go out of their way, and jeopardize their chances of winning, to help someone else who may have a problem on the line.”

Texas Fun ShootMike C: “Here in Texas, our version of groundhog matches involves shooting at clay pigeons at 400 yards. We use 60mm, 90mm, and 108mm clay pigeons attached to target boards. You have 10 shots to break 8 clays, with a seven-minute time limit. We have developed a good following at these matches. In past years, a Shooter of the Year Award was given based on the Aggregate score for three of our matches, which are held in Utopia, San Angelo, and Huntsville.”

40X Guy: “I would have to say upon finishing my first year ever of groundhog matches, that the average Joe can grab his Swift, or his 25-06, or his 22-250 and go rip some holes in paper. Everybody is having a good time and its a gathering of like-minded people who have all shot chucks at some point or another. Even if one does not win the match, you can look at your target and say “darn that chuck target has five holes in him at 400 yards and he’s dead” just as well as the next guy shooting a custom bench rifle. Everybody fits in and everybody, 8 to 80, is having fun! It is addictive and will drive you to spend your hard-earned currency for sure!”

Permalink Competition, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
June 22nd, 2016

Wind Wizardry for Varminters — Keep the Wind at Your Back

Varmint Hunting varmint safari wind war wagon trailer longmeadow game resort
This impressive war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado.

When you’re on a varmint expedition in the Western states you can bet, sooner or later, you’ll encounter serious winds. Here’s some advice on how to minimize the effects of cross-winds on your shooting, and easily improve your percentage of hits. In essence, you want to use your ability to change shooting positions and angles to put the wind behind you.

A benchrest or High Power shooter must operate from a designated shooting position. He must stay put and deal with the wind as it moves across the course, from whatever direction it blows. By contrast, a varmint hunter can move around and choose the spot that provides the most favorable wind direction. In most cases you’ll get the best results by moving your shooting position so the wind is at your back. This will minimize horizontal wind drift. Once you’re in position, use wind flags to direct your fire in line with the prevailing winds. A varminter who calls himself “Catshooter” explains:

The String of Death
I remember the first time I was on a dog town in the Conata Basin, in the Badlands area of southwestern South Dakota. Along with two other guys, I drove out for 21 days of shooting, and I never saw wind like that before. If all four tires of our vehicle were on the ground, the weather man said these were “mild wind conditions”.

After the first four or five days, we got smart. We would park the truck on the up-wind side of the town so the wind was at our back. Then we took a piece of string on a 3-foot stick, and set it in front of the shooters, and let the string point at the mounds that we were going to shoot.

For the rest of the trip, we didn’t have to deal with wind drift at all. We just shot the dogs that the string pointed to. We started calling our simple wind pointer the “String of Death”.

We were hitting dogs at distances that I would not repeat here (with benchrest grade rifles). After the first time out, I always took a wind rig like that.

Photos by Chris Long, taken during Chris’s Wyoming Varmint Hunt with Trophy Ridge Outfitters.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Shooting Skills 3 Comments »
June 18th, 2016

Stock Checkering by Forum Member Ray Mabry

Ray Mabry stock carving checkering

Larry Scott, who runs GreatScottShooters.com, has a friend, Ray Mabry, who is a very talented wood-worker and carver. Ray does master-grade decorative work and checkering on gunstocks, and he also carves realistic nature subjects from wood. Larry says: “If you need stock checkering/carving or any wildlife creation, check out a friend of mine, Ray Mabry. His finished products are superb.”

Ray Mabry stock carving checkering

Ray Mabry stock carving checkering

Ray Mabry stock carving checkering

Ray Mabry is a member of our AccurateShooter Forum, and you can see many fine examples of his work in this FORUM Thread. Ray tells us: “I do this work as a hobby. I do checkering and relief-carving on rifles. I also carve out of solid tupelo and bass blocks of wood. Along with rifle stock work, I carve wildlife subjects — I’ve carved eagles, owls, quail, ducks, and even prairie dogs. If you have a project in mind, call me at 270-885-6066 or send email to: rayzr [at] twc.com.”

Permalink Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
June 9th, 2016

Hundreds of Hunting Stories — Free for Downloading

Theodore Roosevelt Good Hunting Theodore Roosevelt Good Hunting

CLICK HERE for Hundreds of Vintage Hunting Books and Articles | Alternate Link

Are you looking for some summertime reading material? Do you enjoy classic hunting adventures from around the globe? Then log on to the NitroExpress.com Forum. There you’ll find links for literally hundreds of vintage hunting stories, and even complete books, such as Teddy Roosevelt’s classic African Game Trails and Good Hunting, plus the wonderful book African Campfires by Stewart E. White, one of Roosevelt’s close friends and hunting companions.

Theodore Roosevelt Good HuntingAmong the downloadable titles are The Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo (leaflet edition) by Lt.Col. J. H. Patterson, the true tale that inspired the Hollywood movie, The Ghost and the Darkness, staring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer. The online version of the Man-Eaters of Tsavo book (right) is a shorter, 140-page edition created for Chicago’s Field Museum, which purchased the skins of the lions from Patterson and put them on display.

You’ll find scores of classic adventure tales, recounting hunts in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. You’ll doubtless find something of interest, whether it be Bear Hunting in BC, Chamois Hunting in Bavaria, Reindeer (Caribou) Hunting in Iceland, Jaguar Hunting in South America, or Dangerous Game Hunting in Africa. Hundreds of articles, all scanned from original texts and saved as PDFs, are available for downloading — and they are all free for the taking. Many of these works feature handsome original illustrations, as shown below.

Theodore Roosevelt Good Hunting

Permalink Hot Deals, Hunting/Varminting, New Product 2 Comments »
June 7th, 2016

Hot Deal: Aero Precision Stripped AR Lower for $59.99

Aero Precision Stripped AR Lower Receiver Brownells $59.99

For sheer versatility, it is hard to beat the AR-15 platform. An AR can function in a multitude of roles — defending your home, hunting varmints, or competing in Service Rifle or High Power matches. If you’re planning a new AR project, it all starts with the lower. That’s the part that carries the serial number and is logged into the books of your FFL. Once you’ve got your lower, then the fun begins — you choose all the other components: trigger group, stock, handguards, and upper.

Right now, Brownells is running a great deal on stripped lower receivers. You can get an Aero Precision Stripped Lower for just $59.99. It’s hard to beat that price. Aero Precision is a good manufacturer that makes durable and dimensionally-correct lowers. And these lowers are backed by Brownells’ 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

Aero Precision Stripped AR Lower Receiver Brownells $59.99

Aero Precision Lower Receiver Features
This small pin, mil-spec lower receiver is precision-machined from a 7075 T6 aluminum forging. This versatile lower can be the foundation for rifle builds on 5.56/.223, 6.5mm, 6.8mm, 300 AAC Blackout, 9mm Luger, or other chamberings. Holes, inletting and pin locations have been cut to final dimensions and accept standard AR-15 magazines and components. The safe/fire switch position indicators are stamped on the receiver. FFL required for purchase.

Permalink Hot Deals, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
June 6th, 2016

Bargain Finder 38: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Sportsmans SuperStore — .243 Win Ruger Prec. Rifle, $1049.50

AccurateShooter Deals of the Week Ruger Precision Rifle RPR Tactical .243 Win 6mm PRS modular stock

The Ruger Precision Rifle has been one of the hottest-selling long guns in America since its releases. It has pretty much been sold out for months. And Ruger just bumped the price on the new Gen2 edition up to $1599.00 MSRP. The Superstore got hold of some of some Gen 1 production RPRs in .243 Winchester. These rifles are IN STOCK and on sale for $1049.50. That’s a great price. The venerable .243 Win cartridge is a good choice for this rifle — Gavin Gear of UltimateReloder.com has an RPR chambered in .243 Win that has proven very accurate.

2. Monmouth Reloading — 1000 Lake City 5.56 Cases, $68.95

Monmouth deals of week ar15 5.56 brass .223 Rem once-fired Lake City LC

1000 pieces of Lake City brass for under seventy bucks? Yep, that’s a deal and a half. Monmouth Reloading is selling genuine, once-fired Lake City 5.56x45mm brass, thick-walled and sourced direct from the U.S. Military. Monmouth reports: “Our current stock of Lake City 5.56 looks to be all newer year Lake City head stamp but may contain a small percentage of other NATO headstamps. Lake City is a popular, reliable brass, normally capable of many reloads.” Monmouth includes 1% overage to account for any damaged brass. NOTE: Brass has crimped primers, so the pockets will need to be reamed or swaged prior to reloading.

3. Midsouth Shooters Supply — All Berger Bullets Now 10% Off

AccurateShooter Deals of the Week Berger bullets Match Hybrid ammo sale bargain

Need super-high-quality match, hunting, or varmint bullets? Then visit Midsouth Shooters Supply. Now through June 13, 2016, Midsouth has placed its entire stock of Berger Bullets on sale. You can save 10% off Midsouth’s already competitive prices, even on Berger’s most popular projectiles, such as the 6mm 105gr Match Hybrid, 6.5mm 130g Matcrh AR Hybrid, and the ultra-high BC 7mm 180gr Match Hybrid.

4. CDNN Sports — HK 416 .22LR Rimfire Rifle, $379.99

AccurateShooter Deals of the Week .22LR rimfire discount HK 416 ar15 tactical rifle ammo sale bargain

If you are looking for an AR-type .22 LR rifle for cross-training and rimfire tactical matches, the HK 416 is a fine choice. Made by Walther under license, these HK 416 D145RS rimfire rifles are accurate and reliable. This is a good deal at $379.99! The HK 416 normally sells for $550.00 to $600.00. One purchaser writes: “Great .22. I have had this gun a couple of months and have put about 500 rounds of 5 different brands of ammo through it. Not one FTE. I have shot other brands that can’t get through one 30-round mag without a failure.” CLICK HERE for Product Details.

5. Natchez — Hornady 22-Cal Varmint Bullets, $9.99 Per 100

AccurateShooter Deals of the Week Hornady VArmint .223 .224 bullets 55 grain

Headed out for a varmint safari soon? Need inexpensive bullets for your .223 Rem or 22-250? Then check out this deal on Hornady 55-grainers from Natchez. Get 100 Soft Point .224-Caliber FB bullets for just $9.99. At that price, it doesn’t hurt so much when you shoot 1000+ rounds over a weekend. With good expansion, these bullets work great on prarie dogs and other small critters. Note: These sale bullets ship in a bag, not the box as shown.

6. Amazon.com — Howard Leight Electronic Earmuffs $40.97

AccurateShooter Deals of the Week Muffs hearing protection Howard Leight earmuffs sale bargain

Every shooter should own a pair of Electronic muffs, even if you prefer shooting with earplugs and/or standard muffs. Electronic muffs are great when you are doing spotting duties or are working near the firing line. They allow you to hear ordinary conversations while still providing vital hearing protection. Right now Amazon.com has the Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Muffs on sale for just $40.97. This is good deal — these NRR 22 muffs are currently Amazon’s #1 seller in the category. NOTE: For regular, sustained shooting we recommend muffs and/or earplugs with a higher NRR rating.

7. Natchez — RCBS ChargeMaster Dispenser, $279.99

RCBS Chargemaster scale dispenser Natchez

Here’s a very good deal on the popular RCBS ChargeMaster combo scale/powder dispenser. This unit sells elsewhere for up to $389.00. You may want to act quickly as sale pricing changes frequently. This item is also available on Amazon.com for $296.99 with free shipping for Prime members.

8. Harbor Freight – 8-Drawer Wood Tool Chest

AccurateShooter Deals of week bargain discount savings Wood Tool Chest Harbor Freight

This Wood Tool Chest makes a great addition to your reloading room. The eight (8) drawers can hold the many small tools and accessories used for hand-loading, such as bushings, shims, uniforming tools, mandrels, neck-turners and more. A deeper top compartment (under the lid) holds wrenches and other larger tools. The price is just $79.99. A lockable sliding wood panel fits in place to cover the drawers when not in use. This locking panel also secures the drawers during transport.

9. Bullets.com — Handgun Safe $49.95

AccurateShooter Deals of week bargain discount savings Ruger American Rifle 17 HMR

This pistol safe keeps your handguns secure while still permitting instant “push-button” access. The three-button lock can be personalized with 3- to 8-digit codes, and there is a key override. This safe will hold two (2) full-sized pistols and can also store passports, cash, or other valuables. The spring-loaded door gives you near-instant response. The all-steel case also includes mounting holes for fixing the safe to floor or shelf.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
May 22nd, 2016

Siebel’s Slick, 6-6.5×47 Varminter Delivers Speed and Accuracy

VarmintsForFun.com 6-6.5x47

A while back, John Siebel, creator of the Varmints for Fun website, put together a 6-6.5×47 Varminter with a Lilja 10-twist barrel and BAT RBRP three-lug action. Richard Franklin smithed the gun using a Model 10 Varminter stock, one of Richard’s own stock designs.

Varmintsforfun.com 6-6.5x47 LapuaVarmint Loads with 75gr and 87gr V-Maxs
Our Forum readers have asked for recommended 6-6.5×47 Lapua loads for the lighter bullets. Well, John has some useful load data that should provide excellent starting points for 75gr and 87gr projectiles. John writes: “The 75s and 87s will be my main groundpig/varmint rounds. I have worked up loads for all of them but I need to work on the 95s to fine tune them for the egg shoot. I used CCI 450 primers for all loads. They have shown to reduce ES greatly. This case has a small primer pocket and I reasoned with the slower burning powders I wanted to get my velocity as high as possible. I had plenty of H414 and N550 … so that’s what I tried. Velocities and case fullness seemed to be pretty dang good.”

John favored Vihtavuori N550 for the 75 V-Max, while H414 was his powder of choice for the 87gr V-Max. John found these two powders offered near 100% fill density. There are other good powder choices for these bullets. For pure accuracy, you may want to try the 80gr Berger Varmint bullet — it has shot superbly in our 6BRs.

Varmintsforfun.com 6-6.5x47 Lapua

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Reloading 4 Comments »
May 21st, 2016

Barrett Introduces Lightweight Fieldcraft Hunting Rifles

Barrett firearms fieldcraft hunting rifles

Barrett Firearms Mfg., famed for its big .50-cal sniper rifles, just introduced a new line of ultra-light hunting rifles. Barrett’s new Fieldcraft rifles feature carbon/Kevlar stocks and light-contour barrels. First unveiled at the NRA Annual Meeting in Louisville this weekend, Barrett’s new Fieldcraft rifles are expected to go on sale in the fall of 2016.

So why is Barrett now building ultralight rifles, the “polar opposite” of a 32-pound Model 82A1? The answer is that many of Barrett’s top execs are avid hunters, and they wanted a rifle that was accurate, yet easy to carry in the field. Company President Chris Barrett explained: “Even though we are known for making the world’s finest military-grade rifles, we love to hunt. Recently we introduced the Barrett Sovereign shotgun line, and now we have created the ultimate hunting rifle.” All the new Fieldcrafts are designed to be as light as possible for each specific caliber. The goal is to allow the rifle to be carried further and longer in the field.

Barrett firearms fieldcraft hunting rifles

Fieldcraft actions are scaled for each family of chamberings. The high-precision stainless steel barrels are machined to ideal contours and lengths for the specific application and caliber. Initial Fieldcraft rifles will be available in select, popular chamberings and will include left-hand models. In the future, Barrett plans to offer additional calibers and configurations.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »