August 2nd, 2012

Innovative Vertical-Feed Annealing Machine from Giraud Tool

This report was first published in 2011. Due to numerous requests, we are republishing the story. The time is right because the Giraud Annealer is currently on display on vendors’ row at Camp Perry. Doug Giraud will be at Perry through the morning of August 4th.

Doug Giraud of Giraud Tool Company has created a new bulk Cartridge Annealing Machine that uses an innovative vertical hopper feed. Giraud’s patent-pending design allows the machine to process as many as 700 .223 Rem cases with no hand-feeding required. The new Giraud Cartridge Case Annealer, using a single propane torch, will anneal most cases in 6-8 seconds (that dwell time will melt 750° Tempilaq inside the neck). Annealing dwell times can be adjusted using a simple rotary knob on the right side of the machine. During annealing, each case is rotated in the flame through the motion of a Trolley Plate which moves right to left under the case. At the left-most limit of Trolley Plate movement, each case drops vertically down for air cooling. CLICK HERE for Giraud Annealer Users’ Manual (PDF)

Giraud Cartridge Case Annealer

The Giraud annealer uses a large, V-shaped hopper to hold up to 700 .223 Rem cases or 450 .308 Win cases for annealing. You can switch from small cases to larger cases by swapping out the rotary Feeder Wheel below the hopper. Changing Feeder Wheels takes a couple minutes. Five available Feeder Wheels (with different size cartridge slots) let you anneal pretty much any size cartridge — from .17 Remington all the way up to .50 BMG. The common .223 Rem and .308-sized cases used by High Power shooters are served by the Red Feeder Wheel and Blue Feeder Wheel respectively. The Blue Wheel will also work with 6mmBR, .243 Win, and .30-06 cases. The three other Feeder Wheels are: Black (.300 Win Mag); Purple (WSM, RUM, RSAUM, Lapua and Norma Mags); and Green (.50 BMG). For the large mags you also need to switch to a wider Trolley Plate.

Watch Video to See Giraud Annealer in Action

Giraud Annealer Can Process Hundreds of Cases in One Session
The biggest advantage of this machine is its ability to run with minimal user “intervention”. Once you’ve determined the right dwell time for your cartridge type, you can stack hundreds of cases in the V-shaped hopper, turn on the torch and let the machine do its thing. With a typical 8-second dwell time, the Giraud annealing will process about 450 cases an hour. While other multi-torch annealing machines may be faster, Giraud prefers the single-torch design: “With a single torch, you can control total heat input over a longer time. You don’t over-cook the case in a half-second — you have a lot more leeway with a 6-9 second dwell time.”

Giraud Cartridge Case Annealer
Yes the case spins in the flame — the Trolley Plate running under the case rotates it. The user may wish to experiment with the speed control knob on the right side panel near the power switch. Typical annealing operations will require the cartridge cases to be positioned in the torch flame for between 6 and 9 seconds.

Much smart thinking went into the Giraud Annealer design. Doug Giraud tells us: “We went through a couple different ideas. Our key goal was to vertically stack a large quantity of cases that would self-feed. The automatic feeding capability of the machine means that the operator can perform another task while the machine is running. The user doesn’t have to load cases one by one. I would caution, however, that you don’t want to turn on the annealer and just walk out of the room… but you can be doing some other reloading task while the annealer is running nearby.”

Giraud wanted a machine that could process lots of cases cheaply and efficiently. The machine’s single torch is optimized to run on inexpensive propane gas. Doug says: “You can process 15,000 cases on a single $2.00 disposable propane bottle.” If the user wants faster processing, the torch is rated for MAP gas, but Doug cautions that, “with more heat, you’ll have to adjust the dwell time accordingly.”

Giraud Annealer Impresses High Power Shooters
The new Giraud Cartridge Case Annealer has already attracted considerable interest. Doug took some early production models to Camp Perry in 2011, and he immediately got orders for 50 machines. Doug told us: “The response from the High Power guys was amazing. There was a pent-up demand for a simple, robust annealer that can process hundreds of cases without having to feed them one by one, and that’s what we created. We’re selling these units as fast as we can build them.”

Giraud Annealers Cost $435.00 — Delivery in Six Weeks from Order Date
Doug has components for 100 more machines, and he’s producing them at a rate of 15 units per week. He’s been back-ordered, but if you order soon, Doug believes he can ship the Annealing machines in about six weeks from date of order. The basic price, with one Feeder Wheel and one Trolley Plate, is $435.00. Additional Feeder Wheels cost $20.00 while extra Trolley Plates are $10.00. For more information, visit GiraudTool.com. To place orders, call (281) 238-0844 Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm CST. You can also email doug [at] giraudtool.com.

Giraud Tool Company, Inc.
3803 Dawn Lane
Richmond, Texas 77406
281-238-0844 (orders)
281-232-0987 (fax)
Website: www.GiraudTool.com

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Reloading 6 Comments »
July 26th, 2012

New Modular Swarovski Spotting Scope: 65mm, 85mm, 95mm

Swarovski has just announced a truly revolutionary spotting scope system. Imagine a “normal” spotting scope sliced in half, with separate objective (front) units and separate eyepiece (rear) units. This way you can have both straight and angled viewing options, and you can select from three (3) different objectives (65mm, 85mm, 95mm), depending on the light-gathering and max magnification you need for the job (and the weight you’re willing to carry).

Swarovski ATX Modular Spotting Scope

The new Swarovski Optik ATX/STX Modular Spotting Scope combines a straight (#49902) or angled (#49901) rear eyepiece module with any one of three front objective sections, the largest of which is a whopping 95mm. All three available objectives have coated HD lenses for high contrast, low chromatic aberration, and optimal light transmission. These lenses are bright, with excellent color fidelity.

Swarovski ATX Modular Spotting Scope

Both eyepiece modules have extended-eye-relief ocular lenses, with a “field-flattener” lens design that provides high contrast and correct geometry all the way out to the edge of the image. The eyepiece modules deliver either 25-60X or 30-70X power depending on front module. NOTE: The eyepieces are built into the rear modules — they are non-removable and you can’t swap in a third-party eyepiece. However, digiscoping adapter can also be fitted in the rear.

Watch Video to See Product Features and Lens Modules Changed in Field

Swarovski ATX Modular Spotting ScopeWith front and rear modules joined, the zooming and focusing rings are located right next to each other. This allows you to zoom quickly, and then easily fine-tune the focus without moving your hand. Centralizing both controls is smart because you don’t have to take your head away from the eyepiece to look for one control or the other. Your hand can stay in one position. We’ve always liked the large-diameter focus rings on Swarovski spotting scopes. Now, with the new modular Swarovski system, you get the advantage of a large-diameter, centralized zoom control as well.

Swarovski ATX Modular Spotting ScopeBig Money for Complete System
As you might expect, the Swarovski ATX/STX system commands a premium price. Either angled or straight eyepiece module is $2179.00 at EuroOptic.com. The 65mm front objective module is $879.00, but you’ll pay $1599.00 for the 85mm objective module. The biggest 95mm objective module costs $1899.00. So, for an angled rear module plus the jumbo 95mm objective, you’re looking at $4078.00 total. If you want BOTH rear modules AND the 95mm objective, you’ll need to pony up $6257.00! That’s got to be some kind of record for consumer spotting scopes. The minimum you can spend (for one rear module and 65mm objective), will be $3058.00, which is still pretty pricey. There are some significant advantages to this modular system though. For example, transport and storage is simplified, and we like the ability to choose the objective size based on the “mission”. You don’t need a 95mm objective to see bullet holes at 100 yards. But at long range, a bigger objective can be very useful.

Permalink - Videos, New Product, Optics 1 Comment »
July 25th, 2012

New Wheel-Drive Concentricity Gauge from Accuracy One

Talented tool-maker Curt Knitt has designed a better mousetrap — a new Concentricity Gauge that makes it easier than ever to get fast, repeatable results when measuring case and bullet run-out (aka “eccentricity”). The breakthrough design feature is the large-diameter wheel which spins the case. With most other concentricity gauges you must rotate the case with your finger(s). Anyone who has tried this knows that it is difficult to get a full, 360° rotation of the case without disturbing the indicator. Typically you can get two-thirds of a rotation or so, but then you have to reposition your finger to complete the rotation. Moving your finger often causes the case to jiggle or move slightly, and more often than not, the dial indicator jumps a bit, interrupting your measurement. Been there, done that.

Accuracy One Concentricity Gauge

Drive Wheel Smoothly Spins Cases for Fast, Error-Free Readouts
With the new Accuracy One Concentricity Gauge from CTK Precision, the rubber-rimmed drive wheel has a much larger diameter than any cartridge case (7:1 diameter ratio on magnums). So, when you rotate the drive wheel just a half-turn or so (using knurled knob on the wheel axis), you can easily and smoothly turn the cartridge three (or more) full rotations. The drive wheel maintains a constant, even load on the case, so the case doesn’t wobble and the dial indicator gives a continuous, un-interrupted read-out. What’s more, clever cartridge support design geometry pulls the case back against the rim stop as you engage the drive wheel. This holds the case in position laterally during measurement. Morever, this allows very fast one-handed operation. You don’t have to hold the case down with your fingers while maintaining side force against the case rim stop.

Watch Video Showing Concentricity Gauge Used with Small and Large Cartridges

Accuracy One Concentricity GaugeThe Accuracy One Concentricity Gauge works with the full range of cartridges — everything from .22LR to .50 BMG. Adjusting the tool for different-length cases is incredibly easy, because the roller blocks (case supports) are held in place by magnets. You just slide the blocks to the desired position — no tools needed! The indicator stand is also held by magnets so it can slide to any position you want along the case body or bullet. And, the indicator can be moved to the front rail and rotated 90°. This way you can measure on the inside of the case neck.

Does this new design really work? Absolutely — it works brilliantly and it’s FAST. Watch the video and see for yourself. We could do two-rotation (720°) measurements on cases in a third the time it takes to do a one-rotation gauging operation with other tools. And the actual measuring operation can be done one-handed, leaving your free hand to pic up the next case (or bullet) to be measured. And yes, this tool can also measure bullet concentricity — measured from tip, ogive, bearing surface, and/or boatail.

Accuracy One Concentricity Gauge

1. Directional Drive Wheel pushes the cartridge or bullet into the stop for accurate, repeatable readings with equal pressure. The replaceable rubber drive ring will not harm cartridges or bullets.

2. Two-position bullet and cartridge stop.

3. Precision ball bearings provide friction-free movement.

4. Heavy steel base with E-coat finish and bolt-on rubber feet.

5. Indicator stand and roller blocks ride in machined slots and are held in place by N42 Neodymium magnets. This allows rapid, smooth, tool-free adjustments.

6. Indicator stand can be place in front OR rear machined slots. This allows for both internal and external measurements.

7. Fine-Adjustment Horizontal Indicator Stand allows very precise indicator angle/load adjustments.

8. Indicator Stand will accept horizontal indicators that are .350″ wide or narrower, and are 1.75″ to 2.25″ from the indicator contact point to the center of the main body.

9. Adjustable mechanical arm stop holds the arm up for one-handed operation.

10. Precision Drive Wheel has a 13:1 ratio for .22 rimfire, 7:1 for magnums, and 3.7:1 for 50BMG.

11. Concentricity Gauge accepts cartridges from .22LR rimfire to .50 BMG.

The Accuracy One Concentricity Gauge is available from BulletTipping.com. Price for the unit, complete with quality horizontal indicator, is $325.00. Price, without indicator, is $280.00. The initial run of Concentricity Gauges is now in final production. Gauge sets should hit the market in 4 to 6 weeks. To place an advance order, fill out the PDF Order Form, or call (814) 684-5322. To learn more about setting up and using this new tool, read the Concentricity Gauge Instructions, and watch the video above.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Reloading 8 Comments »
July 20th, 2012

Sako Quad Rimfire Trainer — Buyer-Configurable Special Edition

Looking for the perfect rimfire training rifle, one that has the look, feel, and ergonomics of your favorite centerfire field/tactical rifle? Well here’s a unique opportunity. EuroOptic.com is putting together a special limited edition run of 49 Sako Quad rifles, configured exactly as the buyer specifies, with McMillan Stocks, Lilja Barrels, and Cerakoted Metal. There will only be 49 such rifles available, and the deadline to order is July 31, 2012. EuroOptic.com has a few offerings left, but it expects all 49 Special Edition Quads will be sold by the end of this month.

The Sako Quad was a great concept — one rimfire rifle with a quiver of barrels in different rimfire chamberings. However, many potential buyers didn’t need or want all four barrels. Many potential buyers liked the idea of the Quad as a rimfire trainer, but they wanted a rifle fitted with a full-size, fiberglass stock, so the gun would have the same ergonomics and feel as their centerfire bolt-guns. That would make it the ideal rimfire training rig.

Eurooptic.com Sako Quad

Eurooptic.com Sako QuadWell, this dream is now a reality. EuroOptic.com has decided to make a special limited run of 49 custom rimfire trainer rifles with premium components.

These Special Edition Quads will feature Sako Quad actions, McMillan fiberglass stocks, Lilja custom barrels, as well as quality third-party scope rails, triggerguards, and bolt knobs. The bedding and coating work will be done by GA Precision.

49 Special Quads — With McMillan Stocks, Lilja Barrels, and Cerakoted Metal
Each rifle will be “made to order” for the 49 lucky guys who sign up before orders close. The pre-order price (including ONE barrel, no optics) is $2195.00 + $30.00 for insured shipping in a hard card. Those who pre-order the rifles will be able to select the colors and special features they prefer. Buyers can chose among six (6) different McMillan stocks (with your choice of finish). Each rifle comes with one (1) .22 LR barrel. For an additional $350.00 per barrel, you can also order extra Lilja barrels chambered for any of these rimfire cartridges: .22 WMR, .17 HMR, or 17 Mach 2.

Each rifle will have the following standard features:

  • SAKO Quad receiver engraved with EuroOptic Logo and 1 of 49, 2 of 49 etc.
  • Lilja custom drop-in bull barrel in .22 LR. Other barrels/calibers can be added.
  • McMillan stock of your choice, bedded by GA Precision.
  • Cerakote metal color of your choice: Black, Desert Tan, Mil-Spec OD.
  • Picatinny +20 MOA scope rail by DIProducts.
  • Billet Aluminum trigger-guard by DIProducts.
  • KMW bolt knob.

You can choose from a variety of popular McMillan fiberglass stock designs. These include: A2, A3, A3-5, A5, HTG (M40), and Sako Varmint. The purchaser can also select the stock color/pattern. Click here to view some stock color options.

Additional Features (Extra-cost Options)

Threaded muzzle with cap — $125 per barrel
Coating of one additional barrel — $75.00
KMW cheekpiece installed — $150.00
Sling stud — $7.50 | Flush cup — $13.00
Limbsaver butt-pad — $23.00
Adjustable LOP with Spacer System — $116.00
2-way vertical butt-plate — $116.00
3-way butt-plate — $180.00
Saddle Cheekpiece — $116.00
Integral thumbwheel cheekpiece — $142.00
Anschutz fore-end rail — $53.00
Seekins fore-end PIC rail for bipod — $33.25

Ordering Instructions

To order, call EuroOptic at (570) 220-3159 or email: alex [at] eurooptic.com . When ordering, please specify McMillan stock model and color choice, as well as any extras you would like (including additional barrels), along with your choice of metal color. NOTE: Eurooptic.com requires a 25% non-refundable deposit for these rifles. Once the deposit is taken, the stock will be ordered as specified. The Quads are to be delivered by Sako in August 2012, and all 49 rifles should be completed before the end of 2012.

Eurooptic’s special pricing will continue until all 49 rifles are sold or until JULY 31st, whichever comes first. July 31st is the last day to pre-order a rifle to your spec. If any rifles remain unsold at that point they will be sold at normal price reflected on the Eurooptic.com website.

Permalink Hot Deals, New Product No Comments »
July 17th, 2012

Monitor Balance Beam with Magnified Image on SmartPhone

If you use a balance-beam scale to weigh powder and reloading components, here’s a clever way to magnify the view of the beam tip. Of course you can use an old-fashioned magnifying glass, clamped in place, to upsize the view. But now there’s a parallax-free, electronic solution that works for anyone with an iPhone or Android OS smartphone.

Forum member Allan E. (aka “1066”) discovered that he could use the camera on his smartphone to display and magnify the image of a balance-beam tip. This works via a Magnifying Glass App you can download for free. Just turn on the smartphone, activate the Magnifying Glass App and zoom-in to suit your preference. Alan explains: “This saves those tired eyes. It’s much more accurate because there’s no parallax — the lens is directly in line with the pointer so we can see [the pointer] off the screen from any angle. It’s a much clearer view, and it costs nothing.”

You’ll need to fabricate some kind of stand or clamp for the phone. Allan created a smartphone mount with a bit of wire, rubber bands, and a bullet box. You can see the system working in the video below. (The video starts by showing a webcam + laptop balance-beam monitor system. The Smartphone system demo begins at the 1:30″ time-mark.)

Magnifying Glass Apps AndroidMagnifying Glass Apps for iPhones and Android Phones
There are numerous ‘magnifying glass’ programs for Apple and Android smartphones that use the built-in camera. Most include a zoom function and auto-focus. You might try a couple different Apps and see which works best for you. Some perform better in low light, while others resolve better. All of the following have 4-star or better user ratings:

Magnifying Glass App, (iBeam), Apple iPhone/iPod, $0.99.

Magnifying Glass App, (David Perry), Android OS, Free.

Magnifying Glass App, (Perun Labs), Android OS, Free.

Magnify App, (Appd Lab), Android OS, Free.

Ultra-Magnifier +, (zapDroid), Android OS, include Flashlight Function, Free.

Story find by Boyd Allen. We welcome readers submissions.
Permalink - Videos, New Product, Optics 1 Comment »
July 17th, 2012

New Polymer AR15 Lower Receiver from ATI

ATI Omni AR15 lower polymerAmerican Tactical Imports (ATI) has introduced its new ATI Omni Lower Receiver, a multi-caliber AR15 lower made of reinforced polymer. Since it was designed to milspec dimensions, ATI claims the Omni polymer lower is compatible with most current AR15 lower parts kits, grips and stocks. ATI says the durable polymer material “can withstand harsh environments as well as everyday wear and tear.” The Omni lower will be available as either a stripped lower, OR a complete finished kit including all lower internal parts and collapsible stock. ATI claims the Omni lower has tested reliably with .22 LR, 5.56×45 (.223 Rem), and .410 but is “not recommended for larger calibers“.

ATI Omni AR15 lower polymer

The Omni stripped lower has an MSRP of just $49.95 while the complete finished kit has an MSRP of $129.95. The Omni lower comes in either black or dark earth colors. The .22LR version is available now. The .223 (5.56) version is slated for release in August, 2012, and a .410 version will be offered in the fall. To learn more about the ATI Omni Polymer AR15 lower, visit www.AmericanTactical.us.

Editor’s NOTE: This story is based on a press release by ATI. We have not examined or tested the product. Accordingly we can give no opinions as to fit/function, durability or safety. Likewise, we cannot venture an opinion as to whether the ATI Polymer lower would be legal in restrictive jurisdictions such as California. Nonetheless, this is an interesting technology that may prove useful in some applications. For example, the inexpensive ATI lower could work well with the Crosman MAR177 AR15 Airgun Upper, keeping total system cost down.

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 8 Comments »
July 10th, 2012

New Saguaro Compact BR Action from Marsh Industries LLC

Product Preview by Boyd Allen
Saguaro Benchrest Action MarshMarsh Industries LLC of Cave Creek, Arizona, has just started production of its new “Saguaro” benchrest action. (Saguaro is the distinctive tall cactus plant found in the Southwest.) If the Saguaro action looks familiar, that’s by design. The idea was to produce a Panda-type action with 1 1/16″ removed from the middle to allow for reduced weight, and importantly, shorter bolt “draw” during cycling. In addition, Marsh Industries wanted smoother function and optimal accuracy. In that quest, Marsh crafted a state-of-the art striker assembly, configured specifically for short cartridges typically used for 100- and 200-yard benchrest matches.


The Saguaro action is like a Stolle Panda with 1 1/16″ removed from the middle.

Design and Testing of New Saguaro Action
After spending some time with “Doc” Marsh, (the owner of Marsh Industries), I must say that I am impressed with his new product. After learning what has gone into the design and production of these actions, and hearing how well Saguaro prototypes shot, this is one action I want to add to my collection.

Beneath the shiny exterior, the heart of any benchrest action is the striker assembly. Its specifications and adherence to tolerance are a formula that ultimately determines the potential of the action. Striker fall, weight, and spring rate, all work together to put the sharpest edge on accuracy, or if they are not right, result in run of the mill (for a benchrest action) accuracy, even if all the other details are perfectly executed. Rather than leave these details to the expertise of one person, several big names in the benchrest community were consulted about this part of the design. Intelligent input was received, and the design was improved from one prototype to the next. The final result is impressive to say the least. When the late prototype Saguaro was tested in a very good tunnel, using a rail-gun, the results were unequivocally outstanding. (Editor: This means the Saguaro action shot small enough groups to be “more than competitive” with any other hardware on the market.)


Saguaro Actions Can Use Barrels And Stocks Now Fitted to Pandas
The truth is that no one can quite put his finger on what makes the difference between a good action and a great action. Designs are created, actions built, they become parts of rifles, and only then is the truth revealed. Whether you believe that it was skill or luck, it would seem that the details that comprise this new action just happen to have the exact right stuff. For many of you, who already know how your barrels shoot on your rifles that have Panda actions, for the first time, a direct comparison is available. This is because Panda barrels fit Saguaro actions. So current Panda owners can remove one of their barrels, place it on a Saguaro-actioned rig, and see if the barrel shoots as good or better. That allows direct testing of one action vs. another.

You can use that closet full of barrels, on your new action, without modification, (and have a couple of more ounces toward that tuner that you have been waiting to try). For that matter, other than having to do a little filling in at the front of the action, you can replace your Panda with a Saguaro, and keep using the same stock. That offers a significant savings on a new build.


Saguaro Actions Start at $1050.00
For serious benchresters, an action that comes out of the box a potential winner is almost priceless. Saguaro actions will cost $1,200.00 polished, or $1,050.00 with a 400 grit finish. That’s reasonable given the build quality and performance. While you could pay a bit less for some other actions, if you are in the game to win, a less-than-competitive action isn’t worth owning (even if it is inexpensive).

Marsh Industries, LLC
7040 E. Lone Mt. Rd. North
Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Email: info [at] marshindustriesllc.com
Phone: 480-699-2902 | Fax: 480-699-2397

And so there you have it — Part One of my report on a brand new action. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, I will have a chance to do more than just cycle the bolt (felt good) and actually shoot a rifle built around one. Until then, I will have to content myself with trying out some of Bergers new Column bullets, and doing some more work with the slower but otherwise identical brother to the yet to be released Accurate LT 32 powder, some of that Canadian 2015, as soon as the temperatures get out of the triple digits on a day when the wind is suitable.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, New Product 1 Comment »
July 9th, 2012

Colt 901 Modular Carbine Shoots Both .308 Win and .223 Rem

Colt Manufacturing Company (“Colt”) has finally released T&E versions of the long-promised Colt 901 “Modular Carbine” first revealed in 2011. This rifle shoots both .223 Rem and .308 Win cartridges using the SAME LOWER with different uppers. The Colt accomplishes this task by using a unique magwell insert, along with different mags and buffer assemblies. The 901 is very different than other AR variants which squeeze a short .30-caliber cartridge, such as the .300 AAC BLK, into a .223-length AR magazine. The Colt 901 shoots regular .308 Winchester cartridges, from .308-Win sized magazines. The key is the proprietary magwell insert, which allows standard 5.56×45 (.223 Rem) AR mags to fit inside the lower. To move from .308 to .223, once the insert is in place, you simply switch the buffer spring and buffer, and then attach your .223 Rem upper.

Colt 901 GunsAmerica.com ReviewGunsAmerica Review
You’ll find a detailed review and field test of the Colt 901 in the latest GunsAmerica Blog. The testers say the Colt 901 caliber-changing system works as advertised: “It can be adapted from .308/7.62, using standard P-Mags, to .223/5.56, using standard AR mags, and back again, in literally seconds. The design uses one proprietary part, and you have to swap out the recoil system. It is that simple, and it works fantastic…. What [Colt] did was to design a very simple part that adapts both the lug and the magazine size from one size upper to the other. The part itself is made from aluminum, and weighs exactly 3 ounces, including the captured steel push pin. It is simply an adapter, and its genius is in its simplicity.”

The GunsAmerica Review of the Colt 901 is worth reading if you’re interested in a dual-caliber AR. The review offers plenty of photos (zoomable to large size), with close-ups of the magwell insert and the buffer systems. In addition, the reviewers field-tested the Colt 901 with both .223 Rem and .308 Win uppers. Accuracy at 100 yards was not impressive (1.5″ group with the .308, about 2″ for the .223 version), but the reviewers believe the rifle could have shot better with a trigger upgrade.

Colt 901 Video from Military.com (2011 Unveiling)

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June 30th, 2012

Walther Goes It Alone — Ends Distribution Deal with S&W

German gun-maker Walther will be selling its own firearms in the USA, starting in 2013. Previously, Smith & Wesson distributed Walther firearms and accessories in the United States. Walther has decided to handle the marketing, distribution, sales, and servicing of its firearms in the USA through the newly-formed Walther Arms Inc., a subsidiary of the PW Group of Arnsberg, Germany. (PW owns both CARL WALTHER GmbH Sportwaffen and Umarex.) Starting January 1, 2013, Walther sales and marketing will be handled by Walther Arms Inc., with the exception of the Walther P22 and PK380 models, which Smith & Wesson will continue to sell and distribute through April 30, 2013.

Walther GmbH Smith Wesson

Walther GmbH Smith WessonWalther Will Continue to Build M&P22 Pistol
and Umarex Licenses Smith & Wesson Name

Though Walther will now import and distribute its own guns, Smith & Wesson will continue to manufacture the PPK for Walther Arms, Inc. and CARL WALTHER GmbH will continue to manufacture the M&P22 handgun for S&W. Additionally, Umarex will continue to license the Smith & Wesson brand for airgun products. “We are extremely thankful for the relationship we have had and will continue to have with the quality organization of Smith & Wesson,” said Wulf-Heinz Pflaumer, President of the PW Group, who added: “Smith & Wesson has been an outstanding partner.”

New Walther Arms Inc. Enterprise Will Be Based in Arkansas
Walther Arms will begin operations sharing a corporate campus in Fort Smith, Arkansas with Umarex USA, another company in the PW Group. “The new U.S.-based Walther Arms Inc. allows a more direct influence from the U.S. consumer’s wants and needs into our product development.” said Karl Heinz-Luther, V.P. of Sales & Marketing, CARL WALTHER GmbH. The President & CEO of Walther Arms will be Adam J. Blalock, who will also remain as President & CEO of Umarex USA. Blalock stated: “We will have a dedicated team focused on meeting the needs of U.S. consumers. We are very thankful for the many loyal Walther customers and we’re excited for the opportunity to serve them.” For more information visit www.carl-walther.de.

Permalink New Product, News No Comments »
June 24th, 2012

Dan Lilja Now Offers Pre-threaded Barrel Option ($30 Extra)

Lilja Rifle Barrels prethreadedDan Lilja of Lilja Barrels has announced that, starting this month (June), his company will offer a pre-threading option for in-stock and made-to-order Lilja barrels. The price for the threading option is $30 per barrel. The first offerings will be for Rem 700 actions, and Lilja will, later on, offer pre-chambered barrels as well. Dan tells us: “To begin with we are threading for the Remington 700 actions. Other action types will be added in the future. And we are also planning to offer chambering along with the threading for a limited number of cartridges in the near future.”

CLICK HERE for CAD drawing .PDF file showing pre-threaded Rem 700 barrel shank dimensions.

Details of Pre-Threaded Barrels — Gunsmithing Still Required
Pre-Threading will only be offered, initially, on 28″ or 30″ blanks (length prior to threading). The barrel will NOT be finish-crowned, and Lilja does not offer muzzle threading except for drop-in AR-type barrels. Dan points out that his pre-threaded barrels are not ready to install: “The barrels will still require a gunsmith, experienced at fitting barrels to actions, to make the final fitting and headspacing adjustments on a lathe and using headspace gauges. Lilja will turn these threads for the nominal dimensions for the action type. But action makers have tolerances and other operations such as truing an action face or bolt or lapping bolt lugs can change dimensions enough that headspace or thread shank length may need to be modified.”

Lilja Rifle Barrels prethreaded

Story lead from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 1 Comment »
June 19th, 2012

Gear Review: EVO F-TR Bipod from Third Eye Tactical

Review by Alan de Lacy of F-TR Ireland
EVO Leisure (the makers of Third Eye Tactical products) provided four brand-new EVO F-TR bipods for review and testing. When we collected the bipods from Stuart Anselm of Osprey Rifles, the European and Worldwide exporter of Third Eye Tactical products, I was struck by the lightness of the bipods. Carrying four bipods under one arm, I noted how light, neat, and tidy they were.

Osprey EVO F-TR Bipod Ireland

Build-quality is excellent, as one might expect from a Third Eye Tactical product. Manufactured from what appears to be hard-anodized CNC-machined solid aluminum parts — each element appears to have been machined from solid billet aluminum. No pressed- or sintered-aluminum parts here!

Osprey EVO F-TR Bipod IrelandThese EVO-FTR bipods are available in two colors: A very tacticool satin black and a nice satin gray. The finish appears to be hard-anodized, rather than painted or powder-coated. Milled from solid aluminum, the structural integrity is retained, while reducing the weight, by machining out sections of the aluminum to form a “honey-comb” or lattice-structure within the leg elements, on the underside.

Vertical adjustment is by way of a capstan turn-wheel, readily accessible from the prone position (even for those with short arms). The vertical adjustment is fast yet positive. When set, there doesn’t appear to have any play or backlash. The aluminum feet are decent-sized, 75mm-long curved sled-feet, finished to match the bipod.

Attachment to the rifle is by way of an aluminum mounting-block which fits quickly and neatly to a standard Universal Rail. Securing the mount is by way of a PodLoc-type lever and fixing is positive and secure. Also available from Osprey Rifles is a mount for a standard-sized QD sling-stud. The adjustment for cant is also easily provided by way of a Podloc lever and has a wide range. Again, this can be operated and adjusted while in the prone position.

EVO F-TR Bipod Specifications:

  • Overall Weight (including attachment): A fraction under 1.75 lbs. (800 grams)
  • Lowest Height (Ground-to-Underside-Rail): 13.5cm (5.3 inches)
  • Maximum Spread-of-Feet (at Lowest Setting): 48cm (18.9 inches)
  • Highest Height (Ground-to-Underside-Rail): 25cm (9.8 inches)
  • Minimum Spread-of-Feet (at Highest Setting): 36.5cm (14.3 inches)

Osprey EVO F-TR Bipod Ireland

Field-Testing at Long Range
To provide two qualified opinions and to ensure that the new bipods were truly put through their paces, the reviewer, Alan de Lacy, was duly assisted by his regular F-TR team-mate and shooting-buddy, Adrian Casey. After some initial short-range bench-testing completed, we headed out to the 1000-yard Firing Line for the serious field-test. As F-TR shooters, we were shooting prone from-the-ground at 1000 yards onto the standard ICFRA F-Class 800-1000 yard target. The .308 Win rifles used in the range-test were a factory Sako TRG-22 (with a custom 32″ barrel) and a Savage 12 FTR (with custom 32″ barrel and stock). Both rifles had Anschutz-type UIT Universal accessory rails to which the bipods were attached. Both rifles are tried and tested in national and international competitions.

Osprey EVO F-TR Bipod Ireland

Adjustment (Range and Ease of Use) – The range of vertical adjustment is excellent as is the speed with which the EVO can be adjusted. A couple of quick rotations (3 or 4) of the capstan-wheel and the cross-hairs were on the target. No more time-consuming fiddling to bring the cross-hairs out of the vegetation or down from the clouds! While the vertical adjustment is as fast and extensive as we’ve seen on any F/TR bipod, the capstan-wheel also allows for a surprisingly welcome amount of fine-tuning of the vertical point-of-aim. The fine-tune vertical adjustment is positive and solid. Both guns stayed in position and the scopes’ point-of-aim did not falter once during the entire range-day.

Solidity – Throughout the day’s shooting, the rifles remain solidly planted in position. Any initial misgivings we may have had about a small amount of slack and looseness “in-the-hand” were dispelled once the ‘pods were fitted onto the rifles and weight of the guns loaded onto the bipods. Set-up on the firing point, the bipods (and the rifles) were rock-solid.

Tracking – Over the day, both shooters fired the equivalent of roughly three details each, all at 1000 yards, with over 100 rounds sent down-range. Rifle tracking and the guns’ return-to-battery were exceptional. “What I like best about this bipod is it tracks like it’s on rails”, commented tester Adrian.

Summary
Craig Coote of Third Eye Tactical, with design input from 2011 Euro F-Class FTR Champion Stuart Anselm, has produced one of the best bipods we have had the pleasure of using. Adrian was so impressed with the one he tested, he wouldn’t hand it back! While there are indeed lighter bipods and there are cheaper bipods, we think the EVO F-TR bipod has set a benchmark in terms of build-quality, adjustment, and ease of use. This bipod, while aimed squarely toward the F-Class F-TR market, would be equally at home on any range and in other disciplines. Everyone who has tested and inspected this new bipod is convinced that we’ve found a cost-effective, performance-for-weight optimized, great-tracking and great-looking new piece of equipment.

A more detailed version of this review originally appeared on the F-TR Ireland Facebook Page.
CLICK HERE to read full review with more field test information and shooter comments.

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June 17th, 2012

Great Father’s Day Gift: Custom Hitch Covers by John Niemi

Here’s a great gift for Father’s Day that any dad with a truck should appreciate. Forum member John Niemi crafts custom hitch covers that look like the end of a cartridge case, complete with head-stamp. Costing $70.50 (delivered), they are made out of solid brass with a stainless steel “primer”. The diameter of the brass is 4 inches and the engraved letters are about half an inch tall. The section that slides over the trailer hitch is aluminum, so you don’t have to worry about rust.

Niemi custom hitch cover Niemi custom hitch cover

The “headstamp” can include your favorite cartridge-maker and caliber (wildcats too!), or you can include the name of your business. John tells us: “I can engrave any text on one as long as there is enough room for it. Turn around time is usually less then a week after payment. I have sold many of these and everyone has been extremely happy with the quality and workmanship that I put into my product. These make great one-of-a-kind gifts.”

$70.50 Delivered in the USA
Niemi custom hitch coverThe current price for brass bullet hitch covers from John Niemi is $70.50 shipped anywhere in the USA. To order, send email to JohnNiemi [at] charter.net or call (503) 440-1954.

Forum member Wayne (aka WAMBO) ordered a custom hitch cover from John, featuring the 30/338 Lapua Improved wildcat he calls the 300 WAMBOMAG. Wayne reports: “The hitch cover is very well made. I’m impressed with the quality. Buy with confidence.”

We’ve seen John’s craftsmanship on many of these hitches, and we can confirm that the hitches are beautifully made, and make a handsome addition to any vehicle. If you order one (or more), be sure to mention you learned about the hitch covers on AccurateShooter.com.

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June 15th, 2012

Modular Low-Profile Competition Stocks from Wayne Young

Texas stock-maker Wayne Young has created an innovative modular stock. The fore-end side-plates bolt on to an aluminum sub-chassis so you can alter the width, or run an offset on either side of center. You can transform the stock from 3″ wide to 5″ wide in a couple minutes. Or, if you want to experiment with offset (i.e. having more fore-end width on one side of the barrel than the other side), you can simply remove a few bolts, and stack up the sideplates on one side.

Wayne's Gun Stocks

Wayne's Gun Stocks

The ability to quickly (and inexpensively) transform a stock from 3″ wide to 5″ wide is a definite plus for shooters who want to use the same rig in both F-Class and benchrest. You can run your rifle at max-legal 3″ width for F-Class, then bolt on additional fore-end “wings” to run at 5″ for bench competition. The 5″-wide stocks are now legal for 600-yard and 1000-yard benchrest, at both IBS and NBRSA registered matches. Those folks who have tried out 5″-wide stocks on Light Guns have been impressed with the results. The extra width stabilizes the rifle on the bags, reducing perceived twist (torquing) and hop. There is less “Rocking and Rolling”. With the gun torquing less, the tracking during recoil normally shows an improvement as well. (But we should say that, even with the standard 3″ width, these stocks track great.)

Wayne's Gun Stocks

Video Demonstrates Superior Tracking
How does a Wayne Young stock track? Straight and true — with virtually no hop. You can see for yourself. In the video below, Wayne shoots a test rifle chambered in .284 Winchester, a popular F-Class cartridge. The load is a 175gr Berger XLD bullet pushed at 3010 fps by Reloder 17 powder. That’s a stout, fast load — the recoil force easily meets or exceeds a typical F-Open match load. To better demonstrate the gun’s handling characteristics, Wayne deliberately shoots the gun free-recoil style — without gripping hard or shouldering the stock*. As you can see, the gun recoils straight back. The forearm and buttstock also slide perfectly in the bags, without “grabbing”. (Note: In the video, the rifle’s front bag-rider section is aluminum without polymer “wings”. This particular gun was built with a wider aluminum channel to fit a large-diameter, straight-contour barrel).

Stock Specifications and Design Features
Finished stocks weigh approximately 7 pounds, 4 ounces. If needed, stocks can be lightened to just under 7 pounds. Overall length is 36″. Length of pull is adjustable from 13 to 13.75 inches with standard two-way adjustable butt pad. The main chassis is machined from billet 6061-T6 (Tee Six) aluminum, while the fore-end chassis section is 6063-T5 (Tee Five). The black side sections, fore-end plates, and buttstock lowers are CNC-machined from high-grade HDPE, a rugged, chemically-resistant polymer.

The chassis for round actions features a “V-Block” seating area. There is a flat configuration for Panda and Stiller flat-bottom actions. With either the round- or flat-bottom configuration, actions can be mounted directly on the 1.25″-square aluminum chassis, using supplied action bolts. (Skim bedding is optional.) No inletting, pillar-installation, or stock finishing (painting) is required. Just bolt your barreled action into the chassis and head to the range.

Wayne’s stocks come with two-way adjustable butt-plate, adjustable cheekpiece, trigger guard, and all fasteners. If you consider all that standard equipment and the fact that Wayne’s gunstocks require no inletting and no finishing, these stocks are attractively priced. Wayne’s F-Open/Benchrest Stock, with 3″ fore-end, costs $499.00 plus $25.00 S/H. There is also a $499.00 F-TR version with a fore-end set up for bipod attachment. (Wayne produces an integral, adjustable and removable F-TR bipod for $75.00.) Add $100.00 extra if you want the aluminum components hard-anodized. With long actions or Savage actions, there is an extra charge to configure the central chassis to fit. For more information visit WaynesGunstocks.com or call (210) 288-3063 from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday.

* If Wayne was shooting a .284 Win in an F-Class match, he would grip the gun and put some shoulder into it. But for demonstration purposes in the video, Wayne free-recoiled the rig so you can see how well it tracks with no holding or steering by the shooter.
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June 11th, 2012

Get $300.00 Gift Certificate with Purchase of AiR-15 Air Rifle

Creedmoor Sports offers an Air Rifle that mates an Olympic-quality Anschütz 8000-series barreled action (and Anschütz 5065 trigger) with AR15-style stock, chassis, and sights. This system, dubbed the AiR-15™ National Match Air Rifle, allows Service Rifle and High Power competitors to cross-train between centerfire matches and during the off-season. Although the rifle is supplied with a mock magazine (for correct off-hand ergonomics), the gun is a single-shot, using manual-fed 0.177 pellets.

Creedmoor Sports AR15 Air Rifle Anschutz

Creedmoor sells the complete AiR-15 (including Anschütz 8001 barreled action) for $1850.00. The receiver sleeve, front sight housing, carry handle, and handguard are all machined from solid aluminum. The remaining components, such as the butt stock, pistol grip, sling swivels, front sight post, and rear sight are genuine Bushmaster parts.

Creedmoor Sports AR15 Air Rifle Anschutz

Get $300.00 Gift Certificate with Purchase of AiR-15 Rifle
Right now if you buy an AiR-15, you can get a $300.00 Gift Certificate good on other Creedmoor Sports merchandise. That $300.00 certificate can be used to buy ammo, brass, dies, optics, pretty much anything in the Creedmoor Sports catalog. This is a super deal if you’ve been thinking about getting an Air Rifle. Please note — this is a LIMITED TIME offer. Also, the gift certificate cannot be used toward the purchase of the rifle. The $300.00 Gift Certificate will be attached to the AiR-15 NMAR packing slip.

Creedmoor Sports AR15 Air Rifle AnschutzBenefits of Air Rifle Cross-Training
Dennis DeMille, past Camp Perry Champion and Creedmoor Sports General Manager, believes Service Rifle and High Power shooters can greatly benefit from Air Rifle cross-training with the AiR-15 . Dennis tells us: “Look, you can shoot this in your basement in the dead of winter. The ergonomics are identical to the AR15. The sights, front and rear, are in exactly the same position. And by using Anschütz 8001 barreled actions and triggers, the system offers superb accuracy. The AR Air Rifle will deliver one-pellet-hole accuracy at 10 meters. I’ve visited the Anschütz factory. Every one of these barreled actions is tested and they all come with test targets verifying their accuracy.”

Dennis wanted to stress that practice with the AiR-15 can benefit even the best High Power shooters improve their scores. Dennis explained: “While this air rifle is capable of one-hole accuracy (at 10m), it is also very unforgiving of flaws in form or hold. Because the pellets are moving so slowly (about 575 ft/sec.), any mistake will move you out in the scoring ring. This air rifle will help you develop perfect trigger control, perfect follow-through, and perfect natural point of aim. Trust me — you can’t BS any part of your hold with an air rifle. I know if you train with an air rifle in the off season, your centerfire scores will improve.”

CMP NMARThe AiR-15 for CMP Air Rifle National Match Program
The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) has developed a National Match Air Rifle (NMAR) discipline consisting of High Power-style matches shot at reduced distances with air rifles. NMAR is a multi-faceted air rifle competition fired indoors or outdoors on 10-meter ranges. NMAR events simulate High Power rifle shooting and are fired on reduced-size High Power rifle targets. At the CMP’s NMAR tournaments, you can use sporter, precision or AR-type air rifles to shoot in 10-meter standing and three-position (prone, sitting and standing) courses of fire that simulate outdoor High Power rifle shooting.

Creedmoor Gift Certificate tip by EdLongrange. We welcome user submissions.
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June 8th, 2012

High-Tech Benchrest Stocks from Roy Hunter and Terry Leonard

James Mock spotted some impressive new benchrest stocks at the recent Super Shoot. James told us: “Your readers may be interested in pictures of some striking stocks I saw at the Super Shoot. The purple one on the left belongs to Greg King. It is an HV with BAT action that has been coated and features a maple/carbon fiber laminated stock by Terry Leonard. Terry stained it purple (under the epoxy) at the request of Greg. The tuner was made by Sid Goodling.”

Terry Leonard can be reached at (423) 323-9327. Terry told us that a stock like this (tinted or natural wood colors) would typically run $1250.00 to $1300.00.

Terry Leonard stock Roy Hunter Stock

James Mock also spotted a handsome Walnut composite stock made by Roy Hunter. James writes: “The rifle on the right belongs to Sid Goodling (that’s Sid holding it), and it also features a BAT action. The rifle is a Light Varmint with a composite stock made from Balsa, English Walnut, and Carbon Fiber. The creator of this beautiful stock is Roy Hunter. Sid told me that a custom stock like this from Roy would cost about $1150.00. This is in line with other wooden composite stocks.” NOTE: The barrel on Sid’s gun is 21.5″. It may appear short because Roy Hunter builds his stocks “about 2″ longer than standard” according to Goodling. For more information on this rifle, contact Sid Goodling at www.GoodlingRifles.com.

Terry Leonard stock Roy Hunter Stock

Stock-Maker Roy Hunter Learned to Work Wood as a Master Furniture Craftsman
Although Terry Leonard is well-known to the BR community, Roy Hunter is a newcomer to the stock-making trade. But make no mistake — Roy is a highly-skilled craftsman who knows how to create both functional and beautiful stocks. This man knows his wood — Roy is an experienced furniture-maker who specializes in classic furniture of the 1700s and 1800s. Roy Hunter can be reached by phone at: (410) 259-7944.

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June 8th, 2012

Hi-Lux Externally-Adjusting 8X Scope for Vintage Military Rifles

Last fall we announced that Leatherwood/Hi-Lux Optics would be adding an 8X Unertl-type scope to its William Malcolm Series of externally-adjusting riflescopes. Well, the wait is finally over folks. The Hi-Lux Malcolm 8X USMC-Sniper Scope is now in stock and on sale at Creedmoor Sports for $549.00. This should prove quite popular with Vintage Sniper Rifle Match competitors. The new USMC repro scope duplicates the original windage and elevation controls on the 50s/60s-era USMC scope — but the new Hi-Lux offers modern multi-coated lenses.

Hi-Lux Malcom USMC - Sniper Unertl 8x scope

Scopes of this design, with micrometer click external adjustment, were once favored by long range shooters. The Marine Corps utilized this style of externally-adjusting scope on sniper rifles during WWII, Korea, and the early stages of the Vietnam conflict. Today, a mint-condition, original USMC-marked scope can sell for as much as $5,000. And with the current interest in vintage sniper rifles, just a working standard model Unertl scope in good condition can still bring $2,000 or more.

With its $549.00 price at Creedmoor Sports, the Hi-Lux USMC-Sniper repro scope is far more affordable than a serviceable original. Like all Leatherwood/Hi-Lux Optics, the Wm. Malcolm USMC-Sniper model comes backed with a limited lifetime warranty. Each 8X USMC-Sniper repro scopes will be serial numbered — as were the original USMC models. Leatherwood/Hi-Lux also sells a variety of long-tube, external-adjusting scopes that are quite popular with BPCR shooters and vintage rifle fans.

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June 6th, 2012

State Dept. Policy Shift May Allow Return of So. Korean Garands

In 2009, to raise money for its defense budget, the Korean Defense Ministry announced plans to sell 87,000 M1 Garands to American collectors. Initially, it looked like there was a “green light” for the return of these historic arms, which were originally provided to South Korea by the American government. The rifles’ return was widely anticipated by American military rifle match shooters and gun collectors.

However, in March of 2010, the State Department blocked importation of the South Korean M1 Garands based on the expressed fear that the rifles would fall into the wrong hands. According to FoxNews.com, a State Department spokesman said that: “The transfer of such a large number of weapons … could potentially be exploited by individuals seeking firearms for illicit purposes.”

State Department Apparently Will No Longer Block Return of South Korean Garands
It looks like the State Department may have reversed itself. In response to pressure from Senator Jon Tester of Montana, the State Department now says that it will allow South Korea to return the rifles, once a qualified importer is selected. Sen. Tester’s office asserts that “the rifles will be sold in the U.S. through the Civilian Marksmanship Program” (CMP), which has sold many thousands of other surplus M1 Garands.

Sen. Tester declared: “From World War II to Korea and Vietnam, M1 Garand rifles played a crucial role in history. These American-made firearms will always be valued as collector’s items, and law-abiding Americans have the right to keep them under our Constitution’s Second Amendment. I’m glad the State Department listened to my concerns and those of America’s gun collectors.”

South Korean M1 Garand CMP

CMP States It Will NOT Sell Commercially Imported Garands
Senator Tester’s office has said the CMP will sell the Korean Garands. However, if the South Korean Garands are imported commercially, and NOT simply returned to the U.S. Army, it appears that these rifles would not be able to be sold or distributed by the CMP. Orest Michaels, CMP Chief Operating Officer, explained that the CMP would not re-sell commercially imported rifles:

“The CMP is not a firearms importer and we would not have any involvement of any kind in anything that may happen with these Korean rifles and carbines if they were ‘sold’ to an importer. The only way any rifle or carbine from any country can find its way to the CMP is if the country returns ‘loaned’ rifles back to the U.S. Army — at no cost to the U.S.[.] When that happens, the CMP ‘may’ possibly receive some of those rifles. Korea does not plan on returning (repatriating) any rifles to the U.S. Army, but plans to ‘sell’ these rifles to an importer. According to the recent news and rumors, the U.S. State Dept. has agreed to allow Korea to sell the rifles, even though the U.S. Army claimed the rifles and carbines should be returned to the U.S. Army at no cost. CMP will not have any involvement in this.” Michaels added: “There is no need to wait for the Korean Garands to make a purchase. CMP has plenty of M1 Garands for sale now.”

We commend the State Department for reversing its misguided policy blocking return of these historic arms. We wonder if this reversal can be attributed in large part to Tester’s efforts in Washington. After the State Department blocked the rifle’s sale in 2010, Tester drafted legislation blocking Executive-branch interference with importation of American-made guns that were originally provided to a foreign government. Tester, Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, also led efforts in the U.S. Senate to block U.S. funding to promote the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

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June 5th, 2012

ORNL Builds Reticle-Compensating Sight with Laser Barrel Sensor

Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a system that uses lasers and fiber optics to measure very small changes (deflections) in a rifle barrel. These deflections are recorded with laser sensors, and then algorithms are used to compute the resultant changes in bullet trajectory. Using computer-calculated trajectories, the digital sighting system’s “virtual” reticle automatically adjusts to compensate for barrel deflection, as well as changing environmental conditions. The microprocessor-controlled digital reticle can adjust to 1/1000th of a Minute of Angle (MOA). That makes it far more precise than any conventional riflescope reticle.

ORNL Barrel Sensor with Compensating Reticle
Shown below is a laboratory prototype of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Reticle Compensating Rifle Barrel Reference Sensor. This system precisely measures the deflection of the barrel relative to the sight and then electronically makes the necessary corrections. The system was developed by a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Slobodan Rajic, shown in the photo.

Oak Ridge Barrel sensorThe Reticle Compensating Rifle Barrel Reference Sensor takes the guesswork out of shooting by shifting the burden of knowing the relative position between the barrel and the weapon sight axes from the shooter to an electronic sensor. The system precisely measures the deflection of the barrel relative to the sight and then electronically realigns the moving reticle, or crosshairs, with the true position of the barrel, or bore axis.

“When a weapon is sighted in, the aim point and bullet point of impact coincide,” Rajic said. “However, in the field, anything that comes into contact with the barrel can cause perturbation of the barrel and induce errors.”

With modern high-caliber rifles boasting ranges of up to two miles, even very small barrel disruptions can cause a shooter to miss by a wide margin. That makes this technology indispensable from a marksman’s perspective, Rajic said.

From a technological standpoint, the approach is straightforward. ORNL starts with fluted barrels (the flutes play a key role). With the ORNL technology, glass optical fibers are placed into the flutes. The sensor system contains a laser diode that sends a signal beam into the optical fibers parallel to the bore axis of the barrel.

“The optical fibers are designed to split the laser beam twice, sending one beam along the top of the rifle barrel and another light beam along the side of the barrel,” Rajic said. “Thus, we can measure both the vertical and horizontal barrel deflection.”

Through a combination of algorithms, optics and additional sensor inputs, the system can take into account distance and other factors affecting the bullet trajectory. Ultimately, the whole optical/laser/digital system provides the shooter with crosshairs that automatically adjust for conditions in real time.

A Compensating Reticle with 1/1000 MOA Precision
Skeptics of electronic sighting systems have complained that the resolution of a digital rifle-sight is too crude to allow precise aiming. There simply aren’t enough pixels on a viewscreen to allow ultra-precise aiming at long-range targets, shooters have said. In fairness, the existing commercially-available digital rifle sighting systems HAVE been crude — with a lo-rez screens like you might find in a portable GPS.

Well you can forget all that. ORCL has achieved a break-through in digital sighting. The bar has been raised — by an order of magnitude. The resolution of ORNL’s digital, sensor-informed Compensating Reticle is 125 times better than that of traditional target reticles, which can normally be adjusted by one-eighth Minute of Angle (MOA) (at best). Now get this — the ORNL sensor can sense angular displacement and shift the reticle by 1/1,000th of a minute of angle. While this system is expensive, and designed (at this point) for the military, this technology could eventually benefit sport shooters. A decade from now, we would not be surprised if long-range civilian shooters commonly use electronically-enhanced optics, with digital reticles that automatically compensate for bullet drop (and maybe even windage).

ORNL scientists are also working on technology that could yield much more precise and accurate plots of bullet trajectories. We will no longer have to rely on “guesstimated” data inputs, and certain assumptions about bullet drag factors. Rajic and colleagues are developing a laser-based, bullet tracking system that would record plot the bullet’s actual flight path while the bullet is in the air. In other words, this tracking system would be able to plot the bullet’s true trajectory from muzzle to target. That is much differerent than current ballistic “solvers” which merely draw a predicted arc based on muzzle velocity, wind and temp inputs, and a reference BC value.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a multi-program science and technology laboratory managed for the U.S. Department of Energy by UT-Battelle, LLC. Over 3000 scientists and engineers at ORNL conduct basic and applied research and development to create scientific knowledge and new technology in key areas of science, energy, the environment, and national security.

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June 3rd, 2012

New Elesio H1 Rimfire Tubegun Kit from Competition Machine

Gary Elesio of Competition Machine has come up with a new product for smallbore shooters. Gary has a new H1 Tubegun Chassis for the Hall custom rimfire action, a very high-quality, single-shot action that can be fitted with a Jewell trigger. The new H1 Chassis, like other Elesio tubegun kits, features a fully-adjustable skeleton-style stock, and a tubular forearm. The forearm can be rotated so a sling-shooter can “dial in” the best angle for his hand-stop. We think this new H1 action should be popular with rimfire prone and position shooters who are looking for an affordable, all-American alternative to expensive European match rifles. Below is a “sneak peek” at Elesio’s new H1. This shows the H1 receiver housing fitted with a Picatinny-style rail. MSRP for the H1 has yet to be announced.

Elesio H1 rimfire chassis

About the Hall Action
The $1075.00 Hall action is a high-quality, custom-crafted design built to benchrest standards. The action is 1 3/8″ diameter by 7 ” long and is made of 416 stainless steel, with heat-treated, tool steel locking lugs. The action features an Anschutz-type feed ramp, and it comes with a trigger housing which uses 40X Remington-type triggers (Jewell Remington triggers will work). The Hall action is currently available with either right or left port, but only right bolt.

Hall rimfire Action

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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June 2nd, 2012

Stan Ware’s Radical Short-Necked Wolfpup for Hunter Benchrest

Stan Ware SGR Custom RiflesStan Ware of SGR Custom Rifles, is one of the finest gunsmiths with whom we’ve worked. He’s also a talented shooter and an innovative wildcatter who’s not afraid to think “outside the box”. Stan competes in both Hunter Benchrest (HBR) and Varmint for Score (VFS) disciplines. In his quest to build the ultimate Hunter Benchrest cartridge, Stan created the radical “Wolfpup” wildcat, based on a 6mmBR parent case. Noting the dominance of 30 BRs in VFS matches, Stan wondered if a stretched 30 BR could work in HBR competition. The challenge was case capacity. Under HBR rules the cartridge must hold at least 45.0 grains of water, equal to the capacity of the classic 30/30 case.

To get the requisite HBR case capacity, Stan figured he needed to boost the volume of a 30 BR case significantly, so he would have to move the shoulder forward — a lot. He did this by running a 30 BR reamer deeper and deeper, test-firing brass along the way. After three reamer passes, he ended up with the capacity he needed (the Wolfpup holds 45.3 grains of water). But then he looked at the finished product — a case with almost no neck, and he wondered “how could this possibly work?”.

Stan Ware Wolfpup SGR Custom Rifles

Stan Ware SGR Custom RiflesFrom Trashbin to Winner’s Circle
Ware’s prototype Wolfpup ended up so short-necked, so unlike any “normal” cartridge, that Stan figured it was “dead on arrival”. Stan told us: “I said ‘this ain’t going to work’ and I threw the brass in the trash can. Honest. But later I thought I better shoot it and see what it does.” There was one problem — Stan didn’t have a seating die. He noticed the short neck provided a bit of tension after fire-forming, so he literally seated some bullets, BIB 118s and 125s, with his fingers. For powder he used H4198 and started with 35 grains, one grain more than a 30 BR load. Stan then did a pressure work-up: “I actually went up to 41.0 grains and didn’t have a sticky bolt. I ended up at 37.9 grains of Hodgdon 4198 — that gave 3150 fps, where the sweet spot is.” (Later testing revealed a second accuracy node at about 3020 fps, using 36.4 grains of H4198).

Stan’s radical short-necked Wolfpup shot great from the get-go. Once he found the right velocity node, the gun shot in the ones and zeros with both 7-ogive and 10-ogive bullets, both 118s and 125s. The Wolfpup proved easy to tune — it’s not finicky at all. And it’s a winner. Stan began shooting the Wolfpup in 2006 in both VFS and HBR matches and the ‘Pup’ started winning matches right away. In 2007, Stan won the Wisconsin State VFS Championship shooting the Wolfpup. Most recently, in June 2010 at a Webster City, Iowa VFS match, Stan won the Grand Agg and posted high X-Count for the match, while placing first at 100 yards and second at 200 yards. How’s that for a cartridge that almost ended up in the trash bin?

Does Stan deserve an award for “most innovative benchrest cartridge design”? Stan chuckles at that notion: “I’m not a hero, not a genius. I really didn’t do anything. The fun part is thinking outside the box — for me anyway. Shooting is an age-old process of experimentation. You never learn it all.”

Stan Ware Wolfpup HBR SGR Custom Rifles

Stan Ware Wolfpup HBR SGR Custom RiflesWhy Does It Work?
How can such a radical case design perform so well? “That’s a good question,” Stan admitted. He then explained: “The 30 BR is inherently accurate, so I figured something based on the 30 BR should be accurate too. My personal belief is that the short neck doesn’t hurt you. Plus if the throat in the barrel is straight, the bullet can self-align. If the chamber is good, the bullet will self-center in the throat. In a regular case there’s not much room to do that, so a bullet can start off-center, and you don’t get the same results every time. A bullet in a conventional case is stopped from self-centering by the stiffer neck, particularly in a tight-clearance BR gun.”

Reloading the .30 Wolfpup
Stan’s Wolfpup chamber has a neck dimension of 0.330″. He turns his necks for a 0.327″ loaded round. Bullets are jammed .020″ forward of first contact with the lands. When he closes the bolt it pushes the bullet back in the case — almost a soft seat. Stan notes: “To start with I normally bump the shoulder .0005-.001″ so they go in easy. Just by doing that I get a little neck tension. I also use a bushing. Right now I’m running a .322, but it’s not particularly sensitive. I’ve tried one-thousandths increments up to a .325 bushing and couldn’t tell a lot of difference.”

Currently there are no production sizing dies for the Wolfpup. Stan uses two dies to size his fired brass: “I use a 30 BR bushing full-length die after each firing, but that doesn’t size the bottom half of the case. But I can shoot the brass four or five times with no problems.” After four to five firings Stan hits the bottom of the brass with a modified 6mmBR body die. Stan hogged out the top half of the body die so it doesn’t contact the top of the brass. For bullet seating, Stan uses a Wilson 30 BR seater die into which he ran the chamber reamer. This gives perfect case fit during seating operations.

If You Want a Wolfpup Rifle
Stan has received a number of requests to chamber Wolfpups for Hunter Benchrest shooters, and he will be building some for next season. Stan charges $300.00 for chambering, crowning, and headspacing a barrel. He also sells Wilson micrometer-top seater dies, customized for the Wolfpup, for about $110.00. If there is sufficient demand, he may start producing “one-pass” full-length sizing dies for the cartridge. Stan can also build complete benchrest, hunting, and long-range rifles in your choice of calibers. Visit SGRCustomRifles.com, or call (507) 274-5649.

Stan Ware Wolfpup SGR Custom Rifles

About the Illustrated Gunstock
You’ll notice Stan’s stock contains scenes from Vietnam and a quotation. Here’s the story. A Vietnam combat veteran, Stan served “in-country” with the Army’s 509th Non-Divisional Combat Unit (out of Fort Riley) from 1965-1966. Shortly before he left Vietnam, Stan went to a shop to have a souvenir lighter engraved. He asked the vendor for an appropriate inscription. The shop’s metal-worker engraved: “War is a tragedy. It takes mans’ best to do mans’ worst.” That message, along with the combat scenes, were hand-painted on Stan’s rifle by his wife Susan, a talented artist. She spent more than 20 hours painting the rifle stock.

Photos courtesy Ryan Ware and Stan Ware, SGR Custom Rifles.

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