LongRangeHunting.com recently published a helpful review of the new Nightforce 3-10x42mm SHV scope. If you’re looking for a hunting optic or you are interested in predator hunting, this review is worth a read. Author Tim Titus, an experienced hunting guide from Oregon, tests the little SHV is the field, bagging a coyote in the process.
Tim was impressed with the 3-10 SHV, given it’s price level: “While the SHV performed flawlessly on this hunt, NXS or ATACR owners will notice some subtle differences in form and function when comparing this scope to its more expensive big brothers. The Nightforce SHV won’t replace the 2.5-10X NXS for those who want to turn turrets on a consistent basis or who have the need for specialized or lighted reticles. But … for current Nightforce owners wanting a more affordable alternative … the SHV opens another playing field in what is still a very upscale optic. I’m confident this new scope will find its way onto many big game and predator hunting rifles.”
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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Forum member Scott S. (Sunbuilder) has built a sweet long-range varminter based on the 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge necked down to 6mm and then improved to 40 degrees, with slightly less body taper. Scott tells us that “improving the case adds about 2.0 grains to the case capacity”. This allows Scott to run the 103-108gr bullets at well over 3100 fps, with no pressure issues. Scott calls his Improved case a “Long Dasher”, a name suggested by Dave Kiff of Pacific Tool & Gauge.
6-6.5×47 Improved Works Well with Many Powders
Scott’s 6-6.5×47 Lapua Improved varmint rifle features a Stiller Diamondback action, Lilja 30″ 8-twist barrel, Richard Franklin stock, and a NightForce 8-32×56 NXS. Scott has had excellent success — his two longest groundhog hits were at 778 and 810 yards. Scott has tested many powders with his 6-6.5×47 wildcat: “I tried several powders (H4350, N160, N560, H4831sc), and primers (CCI 450, BR4, Rem 7 1/2, Fed 205Ms). I got better velocity with H4350, but my barrel likes the N160. I did find a [high-speed] node with H4350. The increased velocity potential of this cartridge is partially due to the slightly increased case capacity. The load I am shooting now is 40.5gr N160, Berger 105gr Match BT, .010″ jam, CCI BR4, .002″ neck tension at 3115 fps. This has an ES under 15 fps, and it will group under 2″ at 500 yards if conditions hold. This ‘Long Dasher’ (6-6.5×47) seems to have a lot of potential (and that’s an understatement).”
A Better Mount for the Spotter and Rangefinder
Scott designed and fabricated a very slick set-up to hold his Zeiss spotting scope and Leica CRF RangeFinder. He’s built a combo bracket that holds both units rock steady, with a parallel line of sight (same axis and elevation). Smart. Very smart. Scott explains: “I built a mount to connect my rangefinder to my spotting scope. The mount can be adjusted, so the spotting scope and rangefinder are both centered on the same object. The only way I have found to get repeatable long-range readings is to make them from a stable base.” Scott, we think you’ve got a winner here with your innovative and clever design.
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On April 9, 2015, the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) adopted regulations to ban the use of traditional lead-component ammunition for all hunting in the state by July 1, 2019. The Daily Caller reports: “In a unanimous vote, the Commission opted to phase out lead bullets, which hunters’ groups are calling a de-facto ban on hunting in the state.” The new regulations will be implemented in multiple phases, starting with the 2015 hunting season. These tough new regulations were issued pursuant to legislation passed in 2013 by the California legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is worried that California-style ammo bans will be adopted in other states. To some observers, California’s ban on lead-based ammunition was designed more to reduce gun sales and halt hunting than it was ever intended to help the environment. The NSSF has shown that the elimination of traditional lead ammo will do little, if anything to improve the environment in any meaningful way. What such bans WILL do is raise the cost of ammo and make it more difficult to hunt. The NSSF explains: “Anti-hunting groups use the supposed harm caused by traditional ammunition as a wedge issue to further their ultimate political agenda of banning hunting across the country.” The NSSF has provided the real facts via an infographic and the YouTube video embedded below.
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Spring has sprung. That means it’s time for varmint hunting to commence in many areas of the country. This “Blast from the Past” story recounts an epic groundhog adventure — the quest to nail a ‘hog at 1000 yards. Learn how Richard Franklin succeeded, using twin 300 WSM rifles he crafted. These bad boys drive 125-grain bullets at 3975 fps. Now THAT’s some serious groundhog-flippin’ firepower.
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 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 Zeiss 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.
[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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So, are you feelin’ lucky? The NRA is running a big contest right now through June 30, 2015. The NRA’s new Six Shooter Sweepstakes gives you a chance to win scores of valuable prizes. The Grand Prize is your choice of a 25-Gun collection, a Dodge Ram Truck, or a Brown Bear Hunt. There are numerous other prize packages as well. Overall 600 winners will be drawn and the NRA promises: “All prizes must be awarded”.
The NRA’s Six Shooter Sweepstakes is part of an effort to sign up new NRA Members. However, you don’t need to join the NRA to enter the contest, and existing NRA members may enter as well. You do have to supply your name, street address, and email address.
Here’s the Fine Print
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The Hickory Groundhog and Egg Shoot, the richest varmint shoot East of the Mississippi, is just days away. Now in its 35th year, the hugely popular Hickory Shoot will be held this upcoming Saturday, April 4, 2015 starting at 8:00 am. If you have any questions call Larry Willis of Bull’s Eye Sporting Goods, (704) 462-1948.
In years past over $7,000 worth of prizes and cash has been awarded. The normal course of fire is three sets of paper groundhog targets at 100, 300, and 500 yards, and NO Sighters. Shooters can also compete in an Egg Shoot for cash and other prizes. The basic entry fee is just $25.00 per gun. That’s cheap for a chance to win a bundle of cash, plus valuable prizes such as Shehane stocks and Nightforce optics. So get your best rifle, load up some ammo and head to the Hickory range located at 8216 Will Hudson Road, Lawndale NC 28090. The practice range will be open until 6:00 pm Tuesday-Thursday, but will close at 1:00 pm on Friday.
How to Get to the Hickory Shoot
Anatomy of a Hickory-Winning Rig — Brady’s Record-Setting 6BR
If you wonder what kind of rifle can win the big money at the Hickory Shoot, have a look at Terry Brady’s 42-lb 6BR. In 2010, Terry Brady won the Custom Class in the Hickory Shoot, setting an all-time record with a 99 score*. Terry was shooting a straight 6mmBR with 105gr Berger VLD bullets. His rifle looks “normal”, but it was actually purpose-built for Groundhog shoots, which have no weight limit in Custom Class. The fiberglass Shehane Tracker stock was stuffed with lead shot from stem to stern, so that the gun weighs nearly 42 pounds with optics. The Hickory winner, smithed by Mike Davis of Zionville, NC, featured a BAT DS action with a straight-contour, gain-twist Krieger barrel. The twist rate starts at 1:8.7″ and increases to 1:8.3″ at the muzzle. Terry was shooting a relatively moderate load of 30.5 grains Varget with Danzac-coated bullets. This load absolutely hammered, but Terry thinks the gun might shoot even better if the load was “hotted up a little.”
Minimal Recoil and Insane Accuracy at 500 yards
In the picture above you see the Hickory winner fitted with a 5″-wide front plate. This was crafted from aluminum by Gordy Gritters, and Terry said “it only adds a few ounces” to the gun. Mike Davis installed threaded anchors in the fore-end so the plate can be removed for events where forearm width is restricted to 3″. The plate is symmetrical, adding 1″ extra width on either side of the Shehane Tracker stock. Gordy can also craft a 5″ plate that offsets the rifle to one side or the other. Terry hasn’t experimented with an offset front bag-rider, but he thinks it might work well with a heavier-recoiling caliber. Terry actually shot most of the Hickory match without the front plate so he could use his regular 3″-wide front bag. Even with the plate removed, Terry’s Hickory-winning 6BR barely moves on the bags during recoil, according to Terry: “You just pull the trigger and with a little push you’re right back on target.” With this gun, Terry, his son Chris, Chris’s girlfriend Jessica, and Terry’s friend Ben Yarborough nailed an egg at 500 yards four times in a row. That’s impressive accuracy.
*The Hickory employs “worst-edge” scoring, meaning if you cut a scoring line you get the next lower score. One of Terry’s shots was right on the edge of the white and another was centered right between white and black at 3 o’clock. Accordingly he only received 27 points for each of the 300 and 500-yard stages. Under “best-edge” scoring, Terry would have scored even higher.
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In most parts of the country it’s still too early for a prairie dog safari. Spring has barely sprung, and the critters haven’t come out to play. If you are missing the fun of a prairie dog hunt, here’s an arcade-type shooting game that lets you blast the critters to your heart’s content. Just use your mouse to move the crosshair and click to shoot. A hit on a can is worth one point, a hit on a prairie dog is worth two.
Hint: Try re-centering the crosshair after each shot — that way you never have to move more than halfway across the screen when the p-dog pops up. Go to it and have fun!
WARNING: LOUD AUDIO with SHOOTING NOISES!! If you click on this link, a page will load and very loud audio starts running automatically. If you are at work, turn down your speakers!
NOTE: When the new page loads, if you click “Play Game” the loud talking will stop.
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This article originally appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog
Get the Sierra Bullets tech staff together and you have an impressive brain trust, with a vast amount of knowledge about all things shooting- and hunting-related. We asked a variety of Sierra Bullets staffers, all avid hunters, about their favorite hunting venues. Here are their answers to the question: “If you could hunt anything, anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you hunt?”
In a corner of the Blaser booth at the IWA show in Germany was a very special rifle — Blaser R8 Serial Number 100,000. This one-of-a-kind Blaser is blinged to the max, befitting its milestone status as the 100,000th R8. “Designed without compromise” this rifle features mind-blowing wood, and elaborate engraving. It is highly decorated with images of the Argali, a type of big-horned sheep.
CLICK Photo to See Large, Full-Screen Image (More Detail)
What’s in a number? Blaser tell us: “In serial number 100,000… Nothing short of perfection would be acceptable from the masters of wood and steel. Two internationally recognized artists were selected, each working in their unique mediums. Painter Rudi Kohl has drafted, in his signature style, a painstaking depiction of Argali, the king of wild sheep, in their natural habitat. Engraver Jürgen Göser was then responsible for implementation of the drafts. The master engraver went about his task in his usual manner, meticulously and with absolute attention to detail.” Skeletonized octagonal pistol grip cap and steel butt plate, inlayed with ebony, were then added to complete the frame.
This R8 has some interesting hardware. The barrel is a fluted octagonal tube, the first of its kind on a Blaser R8. Front and rear sights were custom-machined from billet to blend with the silhouette of the rifle. Both receiver and bolt housing were shaped and polished by hand.
Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Thinking about getting a Savage rifle? With the Save on a Savage Rebate you can save up to $100.00. Here’s how the promo works: Get a Savage Model 12 or 10/110 LE Series rifle and claim a $100 mail-in rebate, or choose any Model 25, Trophy Predator Hunter, or AXIS Heavy Barrel and get $50 back. Rimfire shooters who purchase any Mark ll, Model 93, 93R17 or B.MAG will be eligible for a $25 mail-in rebate. To qualify for the rebate, you must purchase the rifle before May 31, 2015, and submit a rebate form before June 30, 2015.
Read the Fine Print — Details of Offer
Firearms must be purchased between February 1, 2015 and May 31, 2015. Rebate coupon must be received by June 30, 2015. Trophy Hunter XP and Trophy Predator Hunter XP models eligible in U.S. only; Int’l Trophy Hunter XP and Int’l Trophy Predator Hunter XP models eligible in Canada only. This rebate of Federal Firearms Excise Tax is paid for the benefit of our vendee as a reduction in their original purchase price of the article. Offer valid in U.S. and Canada; U.S. funds only.
Story Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submission.
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In our Shooters’ Forum thread about Portable Shooting Benches, Forum member John H. of New Mexico (aka “Skratch”) showed off a nicely-crafted mobile shooting bench that he can haul with his ATV. This trailer-mounted, movable bench is built on a central tubular spine that also serves as the tongue for the trailer, which attaches to a standard hitch. The bench offers two (2) shooting positions so it works for both left-handed and right-handed shooters.
Up front, for storage, a surplus .50-Cal ammo can is secured to the trailer frame. The V-shaped middle section of the wood benchtop looks to be reinforced with a metal stiffener frame on the underside. The front section of the bench is supported by twin tubular uprights attached to the box-section axle housing. The two wooden bench-style seats (on left and right) ride on a cross-tube. At the ends of that cross-tube are adjustable legs for additional support.
Great Rig for New Mexico Varmint Hunting
There are plenty of great varmint hunting areas in Skratch’s home state of New Mexico — you’ll find some huge prairie dog fields there. But to get the best results on a varmint-hunting field session, you need a solid shooting station that can be easily hauled to new locations as needed. It looks like John (aka “Scratch”) has come up with an outstanding “War Wagon” for his New Mexico varmint safaris.
Nosler has just introduced a new cartridge, the 28 Nosler. This new 7mm hunting round delivers magnum-class velocities in a cartridge that fits a standard action. The 28 Nosler is capable of launching a 160gr Accubond at 3300 fps. The 28 Nosler uses the same parent case as the 26 Nosler, introduced in 2014. Designed for a maximum COAL of 3.340″, the 28 Nosler will operate in a standard action that is lighter (and more compact) than a magnum action.
The 28 Nosler offers serious knock-down power for the long-range hunter. The factory 185gr Accubond load retains over 2000 ft/lbs. of energy at 600 yards, and remains supersonic well past 1000 yards. Nosler factory ammo will be offered with 160gr and 185gr bullet-weight options.
Previewing the 28 Nosler:
For hand-loaders, Nosler will also offer 28 Nosler cartridge brass. It will be interesting to see whether some F-Class competition shooters experiment with the 28 Nosler (and heavy match bullets) as an alternative to the .284 Winchester or short magnums (WSM or RSAUM).
28 Nosler Ballistics
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Semi-auto 17 HMR — could this be the perfect light-recoiling fun gun and squirrel slayer? With its new A17, Savage has created a gun that should be hugely popular. If you like the Ruger 10/22, you’ll love the A17. It shoots a more powerful cartridge, and has a stronger action and a better trigger. With a beefy steel action that looks like it belongs on a centerfire, this gun is strong. With quality barrels (fitted, as you’d expect, with a barrel nut), the A17 is accurate. And with the capability to launch 17 HMR rounds as fast as you can pull the trigger this gun is a hoot to shoot. The ability to get a quick second shot (without disturbing the rifle by working the bolt) will be a game-changer in the varmint fields.
Watch Us Shoot the New A17 (Rapid-Fire at 1:50):
Star of the Show
Jason and I both felt that the star of this 2015 Industry Range Day was this modestly-priced little Savage A17 in 17 HMR. MSRP is $469.00 we were told. No one knows the “street price” yet but we expect that to be about $370.00. Both of us wanted to own one of these compact new rifles (Jason tried to buy one on the spot) — what does that tell you? With a strong steel action, the A17 is accurate, fun, and ultra-reliable.
Jason put the gun through three rapid fire drills — firing as fast as he could pull the trigger. We could not get the A17 to malfunction in any way. It just ripped through magazines like a sewing machine. Flawless operation. Bill Dermody of ATK says “this is one of the most thoroughly tested Savage rifles ever. We put over half a million test rounds through the rifle during development. That’s why it’s so reliable.”
The Magic Chicklet
Look below at the A17 bolt. The little black hardened metal piece (called a “chicklet” by the Savage engineers) is the secret ingredient. It works like a retracting lug, allowing the A17 to operate in delayed blow-back mode. That permits the A17 to function flawlessly with the energetic 17 HMR cartridge.
Optimized 17 HMR Ammo That’s 100 FPS Faster
CCI has developed new, higher-velocity 17 HMR ammo for the A17. Because Savage is now part of the ATK conglomerate, CCI is now Savage’s sister company. So, CCI and Savage cooperated during the development of the A17. CCI found a way to get more speed from the 17 HMR and Savage engineered an action and bolt that are strong enough to handle the new 17 HMR ammo, which runs 100 fps faster than other 17 HMR ammo on the market.
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Just another YouTube video … NOT. This video is a winner. If you want to see state-of-the-art 21st Century rifle-building, with advanced CNC milling operations, watch this clip. It shows how man and machine combine to create a fine custom rifle.
One of the best short features of its kind, this video shows the creation of a high-end, 22-250 varmint rifle from start to finish. All aspects of the build are covered. The rifle was crafted by Chad Dixon for O’Neill Ops. Once the build is complete, the video shows the rifle being tested at 440 yards. With the camera filming through the scope, you can even watch the trace, starting at the 2:36″ time mark (this is very cool).
Watch this Video in HD!
Any person with an interest in gunsmithing should watch this video. It shows barrel profiling, tenon-thread cutting, chambering, CNC stock inletting, bedding, and stock painting.
For this build, Chad Dixon of LongRifles, Inc. teamed up with O’Neill Ops. The video shows the “Coyote Rifle” build, step by step, from the cutting of the tenon threads, to the 440-yard field test at the end of the build. To learn more about this rifle’s components and its performance in the field, contact James O’Neill, www.oneillops.com, (605) 685-6085.
Chad Dixon of LongRifles, Inc.
Chad Dixon’s introduction to firearms began in 1991 as a marksmanship instructor and competitive shooter in the U.S. Marine Corps. Chad began building rifles in 2000 at the Anschutz National Service Center, where he worked with U.S. Olympic shooters. In 2003 Chad took a position with Nesika Bay Precision/Dakota Arms. After leaving Nesika, Chad deployed to the Middle East as a security contractor for the U.S. Dept. of State. On his return to the USA, Chad started LongRifles Inc., a custom rifle-building company.
Dixon-built rifles combine modern CNC manufacturing methods with traditional expert craftsmanship. Chad’s rifles have won major int’l and national level competitions in Smallbore, Smallbore Silhouette, High Power, and Long Range Palma disciplines.
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