February 5th, 2012

From BAT: New Bolt Knob, Barrel Extensions and Muzzle Brakes

BAT machine tactical bolt knob handleBAT Machine in Idaho is now offering some new products, plus some new options for its popular actions. For tactical guys and those who prefer a bigger bolt knob, BAT now sells an optional threaded, tactical-style bolt knob. Cost is $35.00 on top of the regular action price. Buyers of two-lug actions should also note that BAT is now Tig-Welding the bolt handles on two-lug actions.

If you’re building an AR and what a precision-machined barrel extension, BAT has added AR10 and AR15 barrel extensions to inventory. These are completely machined after heat treating in only two setups. According to BAT: “This allows us to manufacture the extension with more consistency and tighter tolerances than others on the market.” AR10 bolt extensions cost $55.00, while AR15 and M4 bolt extensions cost $30.00.

BAT machine tig Weld bolt

Last but not least, BAT is now offering canon-style (horizontally-ported) CNC-machined precision muzzle brakes in two sizes. The smaller size, for barrels with muzzle diameter between 0.675 and 0.800 inch cost $115.00. The large size muzzle brakes, which fit barrels 0.800 inch and larger in muzzle diameter, run $125.00. For either size, you need to specify caliber when ordering.

BAT machine tactical bolt knob handle

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 1 Comment »
February 4th, 2012

Innovative New Eliseo HD Bipod for Tube Guns

Gary Eliseo of Competition Shooting Stuff (CSS) is about to release his new Heavy-Duty (HD) bipod for his CSS tubegun chassis systems. In development for over a year, this unit is very innovative. To place the bipod’s rotational (swivel) axis as close as possible to the bore axis, the bipod actually attaches with a cylindrical bushing fitted to the front tube (handguard). This keeps the center of gravity low and significantly reduces perceived torque, particularly with .308 and larger calibers.

Eliseo HD Bipod Tubegun

You’ll also notice the large half-spherical leg bases. These have been called “golf-ball” feet or, alternatively, “mushroom heads”. Extensive testing showed that this design works really well, particularly for shooting off an uneven or inclined surface. Because the half-spheres contact the ground in just one point, you can easily adjust your rifle’s angle to the target. By contrast, some of the popular sled-type and ski-type bipod feet will dig one end into the ground if the rifle is angled up or down significantly relative to the ground plane. With the golf-ball feet you can shoot on a steep down-angle hill with no problems.

Eliseo HD Bipod Tubegun

Gary also found that the spherical “mushroom head”-style feet work real well on a shooting mat, sliding back smoothly on recoil without hopping too much. This is good for those guys who like to allow their rifle to slide back a bit to smooth out the recoil and follow-through. If you prefer to hold hard and brace firmly against the backward push of the rifle, you can screw down pointed spikes from the bottom of the ball feet. These spikes can be planted in the ground to anchor the gun against rearward movement. So, the spherical bases offer a choice of two shooting styles.

Gary explains: “The new CSS HD Bipod is designed specifically for my chassis systems. As you can see, the bipod mounts in the end of the hand guard so the rifle rotates on its central axis. Our testing shows that this mounting system works really well at controlling torque effects. The spherical feet are made of delrin so they slide easy if you want to let the recoil move back on recoil. But the round leg bases are drilled and tapped to accept track shoe spikes so you pre-load the bipod and hold hard if you prefer.”

Eliseo HD Bipod Tubegun

Eliseo HD Bipod TubegunBoth bipod legs are individually adjustable for height with an inner rod sliding in an outer tube on each side. Adjustment is continuous, with height fixed by way of a tensioning knob. It’s fast and easy to adjust height. One or both legs can also be retracted upwards in an arc, so they can be stowed parallel to the barrel (with tips facing either to the front or to the rear). The new Eliseo HD Bipod weighs 1 pound, 10 ounces — reasonably light considering how sturdy these units are. Pricing has not yet been set, but Gary says they should retail for under $200.00. For info, visit CompetitionShootingStuff.com.

Permalink Competition, New Product 2 Comments »
February 3rd, 2012

New $5.99 Ballistics App for Windows-OS Smart Phones

Ballisitica ballistics app WindowsExcellent ballistics apps have been available for iPhones and Android phones for quite some time. Well, Windows-phone users can now join the party. Ballistica, a $5.99 software App for WP7-OS smartphones (ver. 7.5+), is now on the market. Ballistica has all the features you’d expect from a modern ballistics solver. To get a solution, first enter your bullet info, MV, and BC (either G1 or G7). Then input the target distance, up/down angle, temp, altitude, barometric pressure, wind speed and wind angle. The program will create a drop chart with values of your choosing (MOA clicks or Mils). Conveniently, you can save Ballistic Profiles for particular loads (bullet/velocity combinations). CLICK HERE for Ballistica USER MANUAL (PDF file).

Ballisitica ballistics app Windows

The user interface for Ballistica is simple and straightforward, with five primary screens:

Projectile Page: Enter data on bullet of choice: Caliber, Weight, Sight Height, BC (G1 or G7).
Conditions Page: Set ambient conditions such as altitude, humidity, and wind direction/velocity.
Target Page: Set target distance, target speed, and up/down line of sight angle.
Chart Page: Shows POI drop chart with distance intervals you select. Mil- or MOA-segmented clicks.
Quick Shot Page: This provides a fast firing solution at one distance. You can change variables as conditions change.

Video Review of Ballistics for Windows Phones

If you have a Windows-OS smart phone, Ballistica is definitely worth checking out. A FREE trial version is available. The trial version lets you access most of the features, however, you won’t be able to save profiles. You can download Ballistica from the Windows Phone Marketplace. You’ll find a “Try for Free” link for the free version right below the purchase link. You can also download a FREE USER Manual for Ballistica. NOTE: Ballistica requires Windows Phone ver. 7.5 or higher.

Ballisitica ballistics app Windows

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Optics 2 Comments »
February 1st, 2012

Sandia Labs Develops Laser-Guided Bullet — Amazing Technology

Two Sandia National Laboratories engineers, both hunters, have developed a patented design for a laser-guided bullet. The 4″-long laser-guided projectile has made hits at ranges up to 2000 meters. No this is NOT an April Fools’ joke. The projectile shoots from a smooth-bore rifle and uses small, movable fins to adjust its trajectory. The fins are controlled by micro-sized actuators in response to signals from a tiny, onboard laser-sensor. Plastic sabots provide a gas seal and protect the delicate fins while the projectile is in the firearm’s barrel.

Click Here for Video News Report on Sandia-developed Guided Bullet

Sandia researchers Red Jones and Brian Kast (and colleagues) have invented a dart-like, self-guided bullet for small-caliber, smooth-bore firearms that could hit laser-designated targets at distances of more than a mile. “We have a very promising technology to guide small projectiles that could be fully developed inexpensively and rapidly,” Jones said. Researchers have had initial success testing the design in computer simulations and in field tests of prototypes, built from commercially available parts, Jones said. While engineering issues remain, “we’re confident in our science base and we’re confident the engineering-technology base is there to solve the problems,” he said.

Sandia Labs, laser-guided bullet

Sandia’s design for the four-inch-long bullet includes an optical sensor in the nose to detect a laser beam on a target. The sensor sends information to guidance and control electronics that use an algorithm in an eight-bit central processing unit to command electromagnetic actuators. These actuators steer tiny fins that guide the bullet to the target.

Fin-Stabilization — Like on a Guided Missile
The guided projectile is shot from smooth bore barrel with no rifling. While conventional bullets are spin-stabilized, Scandia’s guided bullet doesn’t spin in flight. To enable the guided bullet to adjust its trajectory toward a target and to simplify the design, the spin had to go, Jones said. As on most guided missiles, fins both stabilize and steer the projectile. But on this projectile, the fins are tiny — just a few millimeters tall.

The bullet flies straight due to its aerodynamically stable design, which consists of a center of gravity that sits forward in the projectile and tiny fins that enable it to fly without spin, just as a dart does, he said. The four-inch-long bullet has actuators that steer tiny fins that guide it to its target.

Projectile Flies at 2400 fps — More Speed Is Possible
Testing has shown the electromagnetic actuator performs well and the bullet can reach speeds of 2,400 feet per second, or Mach 2.1, using commercially available gunpowder. The researchers are confident it could reach standard military speeds using customized gunpowder.

Sandia Labs, laser-guided bullet

Sub-MOA Accuracy at 1000m — No Matter What the Wind Does
Computer aerodynamic modeling shows the design would result in dramatic improvements in accuracy, Jones said. Computer simulations showed an unguided bullet under real-world conditions could miss a target more than a half mile away (1,000 meters away) by 9.8 yards (9 meters), but a guided bullet would get within 8 inches (0.2 meters), according to the patent.

The prototype does not require a device found in guided missiles called an inertial measuring unit, which would have added substantially to its cost. Instead, the researchers found that the bullet’s relatively small size when compared to guided missiles “is helping us all around. It’s kind of a fortuitous thing that none of us saw when we started,” Jones said.

As the bullet flies through the air, it pitches and yaws at a set rate based on its mass and size. In larger guided missiles, the rate of flight-path corrections is relatively slow, so each correction needs to be very precise because fewer corrections are possible during flight. But “the natural body frequency of this bullet is about 30 hertz, so we can make corrections 30 times per second. That means we can over-correct, so we don’t have to be as precise each time,” Jones said.

Projectile Becomes More Stable After Launch
Researchers also filmed high-speed video of the bullet radically pitching as it exited the barrel. The bullet pitches less as it flies down range, a phenomenon known to long-range firearms experts as “going to sleep.” Because the bullet’s motions settle the longer it is in flight, accuracy improves at longer ranges, Jones said. “Nobody had ever seen that, but we’ve got high-speed video photography that shows that it’s true,” he said. (See below)

Read Related Story

Permalink New Product, News 5 Comments »
February 1st, 2012

Handy Dual-Purpose Box Holds Ammo and Cleaning Gear

The NRA is offering a smart new variation of the classic Ammo Box that helps you keep your range items organized. You can store your ammunition in the bottom, and then put your smaller items in divided trays above. The top compartment is perfect for holding stuff such as jags, patches, brushes, sight inserts, bullet comparators, and small tools. Three interior trays with removable dividers are included.

This Modular Ammo Can and Dry Box features dual hinges, a weather seal around the lid, and slots for locks. The carry handle folds flush with the top of the lid so you can stack these boxes vertically. Made from heavy-duty high-density polyethylene, the NRA modular Ammo Can / Dry Box is completely resistant to solvents and chemicals, making it ideal for storing cleaning supplies as well as ammunition and small parts.

NRA Modular Ammo Can and Dry Box

The box is a bit pricey at $31.95, but remember that it’s waterproof, modular, stackable and lockable. The OD Green Ammo Can/Dry Box carries up to 70 pounds of equipment and can hold the weight of a full grown adult. To order, visit the NRAStore.com and add item SA 24410 to your shopping cart.

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January 31st, 2012

New Dimension Switch-Barrel Rifle from Thompson/Center

Thompson Center T/C Dimension rifle
At Media Day right before SHOT Show, Thompson/Center Arms unveiled an innovative hunting rifle that features interchangeable barrels and multiple bolts. This allows a single gun to shoot a wide range of chamberings — from .204 Ruger all the way up to the large, belted magnums. The gun employs some unusual engineering, with an AR-type barrel nut on a barrel extension which contains the bolt-lug recesses. There is no conventional recoil lug. Instead a slot on the underside of the barrel extension mates to a metal bar molded into the stock. With the supplied tools, the entire gun can be assembled or disassembled in under one minute (in the Video, a T/C rep assembles the gun in 55 seconds.)

T/C’s Dimension rifle is definitely innovative; there is nothing like it on the market anywhere near its price range (MSRP is $648.00 with tools). For a walking-around deer hunter who is satisfied with factory barrels, and who doesn’t shoot with a rear bag, the gun will probably have appeal. On the other hand, varminters won’t be impressed — the stock won’t work well with a bipod or rear bag, and T/C will be the only source for barrels. The nature of the design, for practical purposes, precludes the use of affordable 3rd-party barrels. You won’t be able to buy a Shilen or PacNor prefit barrel, as you can for a Savage.

Thompson Center T/C Dimension rifle

Factory Promo Video (Loud Soundtrack — turn down speakers before playback!)

Action Features
Pro: One size fits all — single hard-anodized aluminum action can be used to shoot multiple chamberings from .204 Ruger to .300 Win Mag with bolt, barrel, and magazine swap. For all chamberings, T/C guarantees 3-shot accuracy of one MOA with premium ammo.
Con: You have to replace complete bolt assembly to go from one family of cartridges to another (e.g. from .308 Win to Magnum). This is much more expensive than swapping a bolt head on a Savage.

Barrel Fitting
Pro: Barrels can be quickly exchanged using provided tools.
Con: Bolt recesses are machined into barrel extension section, so barrels must be supplied by T/C. We were told that both bolts and barrels “absolutely have to come from Thompson/Center”.

Stock Features
Pro: Stock is lightweight with rubberized surface texture — good for wet climates.
Con: Stock is ugly. Forearm too flexy to use with bipod. Concave arc on underside of buttstock is terrible for use with rear bag. Stock finish tends to retain dust and grit.

Scope Mounting
Pro: T/C offers a bridge scope base that mounts to the barrel (like on Blasers). This allows an optic to stay with a barrel — so you could have a low-power close-range scope mounted and zeroed on one barrel, with a higher-power variable scope on another barrel.
Con: If you keep optics on the barrels, you need to buy a separate bridge for each barrel. That’s an added expense, plus many hunters can’t afford multiple scopes anyway. Thankfully, conventional Weaver bases can be fitted on top of the action.

Commentary: On viewing and handling the rifle, and watching the assembly process, it was obvious that some intelligent, clever engineering went into the gun. The AR-style barrel engagement system functions very well — the whole gun can be disassembled in under one minute. T/C provides some fairly sophisticated assembly tools with the gun, including wrenches that automatically set correct torque values. That’s cool. The gun is relatively light and balances well. On the other hand, the stock design fails in many ways. The fore-arm is short and too flexy for serious use with bipod. The curving underside of the buttstock is a odd-looking, but what is worse, the curve is just about the worst possible profile for use with a rear sandbag. Most observers thought the gun was ugly.

T/C Dimension Caliber Groups
The T/C Dimension LOC™ System has 7 parts — a universal stock and receiver that accept multiple barrels, magazine groups (magazine and housing), bolts and bridge scope mounts. Dimension hand tools work with all Dimension rifles. Interchangeable parts are stamped with letters: A, B, C or D. Match the letter on the barrel with the one on the bolt and magazine group.

A Family: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem
B Family: 22-250 Rem, .243 Win, 7mm-08 Rem, .308 Win
C Family: .270 Win, .30-06 Sprg
D Family: 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag

Permalink - Videos, Hunting/Varminting, New Product 24 Comments »
January 30th, 2012

HS Precision offers Factory-Made PPC and F-Class Comp Rifles

Our sharp-eyed researcher EdLongrange spied something very interesting in the 2012 HS Precision Catalog. Among HS Precision’s complete rifle offerings are two competition rifles — an F-Class gun, and (believe it or not) a short-range Benchrest rig chambered in either 6 PPC or 22 PPC. It’s been a long time since a major gun builder came up with a turn-key rifle for the short-range (100/200) benchrest discipline. The HS Precision BCR™ Rifle complies with all NBRSA short-range rules and is even set up with a tight-neck 6 PPC or 22 PPC chamber. The BCR Rifle features a single-shot action, competition trigger and an aluminum trigger guard. And get this — with each BCR Rifle, HS Precision supplies a 5-shot test target measuring .250″ or less. For guys who don’t compete, but would like to use this rifle for varminting, other short-action calibers are available with a ½”, 3-shot 100-yard accuracy guarantee.

HS Precision PPC Rifle BCR

Will we see this BCR 6 PPC rifle on the firing line at registered benchrest matches? Probably not, as the $3375.00 price is comparable to what you’d spend for a full custom gun. On the other hand, we’re pleased that HS Precision is building something for the accuracy market. If the gun is a commercial success, perhaps other large gun-makers will follow suit.

New HS Precision F-Class Rifle
In addition to the surprising “point-blank” BCR rig, HS Precision is introducing a new F-Class competition gun, the FCR™, designed to compete straight out of the box. The rifle is available in short or long actions, and in chamberings such as 6.5×284. With multiple barrel lengths, stocks, and accessories available, this rifle “can be made as individual as its user” according to HS Precision. We don’t have a price on the HS Precision FCR, but it looks like a well-thought-out F-Open rig. The listed barrel length is 26″, but we imagine many F-Classers will prefer a longer tube. Hopefully HS Precision will offer a .284 Win or 7mm WSM version with a 28-30″ barrel. For more information, visit HSPrecision.com, or call (605) 341-3006. HS Precision is based in Rapid City, South Dakota.

HS Precision F-Class Rifle FCR

CLICK HERE to Download 2012 HS Precision Catalog (PDF File).

Permalink Competition, New Product 8 Comments »
January 30th, 2012

SHOT Show: New RCBS Reloading Products for 2012

RCBS rolled out some handy new products at SHOT Show 2012. The first item will be welcomed by AR and Service Rifle shooters who reload inexpensive military .223 Rem (5.56×45) and .308 Win (7.62×51) brass. RCBS now has a Primer Pocket Swager Bench Tool that removes military primer pocket crimps quickly and easily. Watch the video and you can see how effortlessly it does the job in just seconds. A hardened steel rod supports the case from the inside allowing the case to float for perfect alignment with the swager head. The RCBS Swager comes complete wtih hardened steel small and large swaging heads and rods to accommodate cases 22-caliber and larger.

We think the RCBS Swager certainly rivals Dillon’s Super Swage 600 which performs the same task. The Dillon employs a vertical (up/down) lever, while the new RCBS Swager uses a horizontal lever arm, with a nice cushioned handle. MSRP on the RCBS Swager is $106.00 compared to $100.95 for the Dillon Super Swage. Either tool will pay for itself by allowing you to reload inexpensive milsurp brass.

RCBS Primer Pocket Swager Bench Tool

RCBS Adds Universal Shell-Holder to Trim Pro
RCBS has also updated its popular Trim Pro® case trimmer with the addition of a spring-loaded universal shell holder. This has spring-loaded jaws that can hold anything from a 17 Fireball case up to the large magnums. No more fiddling around with cartridge-specific shell-holders — you just snap your cases (of any size) in and out of the spring-loaded jaws. The system works well and the jaws hold cases securely during the trimming process. Again, watch the video to see the system in action.

Pistol Bullet-Feeder Kit
Last but not least, RCBS has released an inexpensive, gravity-fed bullet feeding system. Much cheaper and simpler than a motor-driven feeder, this system, which combines a tube with a special die, reliably drops pistol bullets, one by one, as you operate your progressive press. Importantly, this manual bullet-feeder works with jacketed, plated, cast or swaged lead bullets. (Some other bullet feeders cannot handle lead bullets). This device should be a major time-saver for those who load a lot of pistol rounds.

This Editor was sufficiently impressed with the gravity-fed bullet feeder that I ordered one for my own RCBS Pro 2000 Progressive. Note, however, the RCBS feeders work on Dillon and Hornady presses also — these Bullet Feeder Kits are designed to be used with ANY 7/8″-14 threaded progressive press. Each clear tube holds 20-25 bullets depending on weight and profile. Two bullet tubes are included with each unit. Extra bullet tubes sold separately. MSRP is just $36.00.

RCBS 2012 Rebate — $10 Off $50.00 Order
RCBS has a “Get Green” Rebate Offer that runs through December 31, 2012. When you purchase $50.00 of any RCBS product, you qualify for a $10.00 mail-in rebate. Then, earn a bonus $5.00 mail-in rebate when you purchase one of the following: 5 sleeves of Federal Premium or CCI primers, 1 pound of Alliant Powder, 1 box of Speer Bullets, 1 bag of Federal Premium brass. There is also a $50.00 Rebate on a purchase of $300.00 worth of RCBS Products.

CLICK HERE for RCBS 2012 Rebate Form

Permalink - Videos, New Product, Reloading 2 Comments »
January 29th, 2012

SHOT Show: Remington RACS Modular Stock for Rem 700s

Remington once again showcased a “civilian” production version of the Remington Arms Chassis System (RACS), first shown at the 2011 SHOT Show. The full-adjustable, modular RACS are designed as drop-in upgrades for any Rem 700 action. A Rem 700 action is clamped directly (metal on metal) to the center section of the RACS, which has a V-block type profile and central magazine well. There are both short-action and long-action versions of RACS. These look nearly identical in design, other than the length of the action section (see photos below by EdLongrange.)

Remington RACS Rem 700

Remington RACS Rem 700

The RACS features a folding stock, with adjustable cheekpiece, LOP, and buttplate height/cant/cast-off. This stock will accept AI magazines which also come with the kit.

Remington RACS Rem 700

No Release Date or Price Yet
What we still don’t have is a firm price and a date when RACS will actually be released to vendors. This system attracted much attention when first introduced, and it appears Remington has made evolutionary upgrades, but right now Remington is still not disclosing a final prices or a reliable delivery date. So keep your figures crossed, but don’t get too excited. Rem’s RACS may remain “vaporware” for an extended time.

Remington RACS Rem 700

Video from SHOT Show 2011

2012 Photos by EdLongRange, used by permission

Permalink New Product 11 Comments »
January 27th, 2012

Accuracy Int’l Updated AX PSRII Rifle — Tooley Reports

Noted gunsmith Dave Tooley saw our coverage of Accuracy International (AI) “Skins” in the Daily Bulletin, and he wanted to inform our readers about updates to AI’s AX line of rifles.

Updated 2012 AI AX Rifle for PSRII
Dave wrote: “As you know I do AI’s smithing in this country. Attached is a picture of the latest version of the AX rifle. This is what was submitted to SOCOM for PSRII the first of January. AI has incorporated a right-hand hinge to make the rifle more compact when folded. There are some other major improvements. First, the way the rails lock up on the tube now completely eliminates any chance of movement (that’s important for lasers and other things). The buttstock is now considerably lighter than the older version, and it now uses simple knobs on the cheekpiece, the LOP adjustment, and the adjustable recoil pad. I think the knobs are more user-friendly than push-buttons.”

Accuracy International PSRII 2012

New Barrel Swap Kit
The most significant improvement to the AX, according to Tooley, is the ability for the operator to change barrels with minimal tools. Tooley explains: “The complete barrel change tool-kit is one 4mm Allen wrench stored in the cheek piece. If you look at the picture you will see a screw about midway under the receiver. Loosen two captured screws under the forearm and the tube comes off. Then loosen the screw under the receiver and unscrew the barrel. This is dead simple and it works. I’ve tested six rifles with a total of 10 barrels and there were no issues. This is a great precision sniper rifle.”

Accuracy International PSRII 2012

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product No Comments »
January 27th, 2012

Hyskore’s New “Bench Beast” Linked Front/Rear Rifle Rest

Editor’s NOTE: Though the product has some shortcomings, we wanted to show you guys the Hyskore Bench Beast Coaxial Competition Rest because it has some interesting engineering features (such as the scissors-jack primary elevator). The front bag holder won’t accept very wide fore-ends, and the high sides of the rear rest compromise your ability to get in close to the gun and work the rear controls while aiming. Still, there are few integrated front/rear rests on the market, so we thought you’d want to see this new offering from Hyskore.

At SHOT Show 2012, Hyskore unveiled an combined front/rear mechanical rest system appropriately named the Bench Beast. The front rest has a coaxial-type control activated by a long, angled joystick. Hyskore claims the joystick control provides 110 MOA adjustment for both windage and elevation.

For gross elevation changes, this contraption uses a scissors-jack type lift in the front that is definitely industrial in origin. In fact, the Bench Beast looks like something made in a Latvian tractor factory. But this may be useful for someone who wants a linked front and rear mechanical rest that can support a very heavy rifle (50 lbs. or more). It looks like the max width in the front is limited to 3″ so this would not work with a super-wide stock without modification. Too bad. Moreover, the front bag supplied with the Bench Beast is designed for narrow, hunter-style fore-ends. Even to run a 3″-wide gun, you’ll need to purchase an aftermarket bag. While Hyskore calls this a “competition rest”, the Bench Beast is not really set up for competition rifles.

About $500.00 for Combined Front and Rear Rests
The front and rear units can be purchased separately. Exact pricing is not yet set, but the front section should cost about $300, with the rear priced about $200.00. People should note, however, that, if you have full windage and elevation adjustment in the rear, you really only need gross height control in the front (to get on target). With a good rear rest, all the fine windage and elevation adjustment can be done from the rear, and, because of the geometry, a little bit goes a long way. It would be interesting to combine the Bench Beast’s rear unit with a simple (non-joystick) front pedestal rest.

Design Concerns
We’re intrigued with the Bench Beast’s rear unit, since there are few mass-produced, mechanical rear rests on the market. However, we have some concerns about the footprint, height, and overall size of the rear unit (SEE video 1:00-1:10). Ideally, a rear mechanical rest should allow the shooter to tuck in comfortably beside the gun. The Bench Beast has fat control knobs and tall support shafts placed far out from the centerline, on the extreme edges of the rear base.

While the wide rear base provides a solid platform, the outboard support columns and control knobs, we believe, make it difficult for the shooter to position his upper body close to the gun.

The main rear rest control knobs are also not conveniently placed. Look at the video carefully. Better rear rests have the controls further forward and closer to the centerline where they can be easily reached by the shooter’s non-trigger-pulling hand, in a comfortable shooting position. That way a right-handed shooter can easily use his left hand to work the controls while viewing the target through the scope, and holding the rifle grip with his right hand. We like the idea of an affordable rear mechanical rest, but we think the rear section of the Bench Beast would benefit from a major redesign.

Permalink Competition, New Product 2 Comments »
January 26th, 2012

SHOT Show: New 1-8x28mm & Hunting Scopes from U.S. Optics

Background: Last year, when Leupold introduced its 1.1-8x24mm FFP Mark 8 CQBSS scope at a whopping $3,999.00 price, jaws dropped in the shooting world. Folks rightly wondered whether anyone (other than Uncle Sam) would pay four grand for a small, compact scope, even if it did offer a broad magnification range and other innovative features.

U.S. Optics SN-8 Is Thousands Cheaper than Mark 8
Well U.S. Optics has just undercut Leupold by a couple thousand dollars, providing a much more affordable 1-8X option for tactical shooters and 3-gunners. If you were thinking about the Mark 8, you better take a close look at the new 1-8x28mm SN-8 from U.S. Optics. From what we can see, the SN-8 performs on a par with the Mark 8, plus it features a true 1X magnification on the low end — which is best for fast, both-eyes-open target engagement. The new SN-8 is offered in two models. The 1-8x28mm SN-8 Standard version retails for $1945.00, while the higher-end version with Red Dot-equipped eyepiece runs $2445.00, still substantially under the cost of Leupold’s Mark 8. These new SN-8s should start shipping in June, 2012.

U.S. Optics sn-8 1-8x28 scope

New “Slim-Line” Hunting Scopes from U.S. Optics
For 2012, U.S. Optics is bringing out a series of compact, light-weight “Slim-Line” hunting optics: 1.5-6X, 1-4X, and 3.2-17X. Though they offer a significant weight-savings over typical hunting scopes, these new Slim-Line hunting scopes are built for hard use, and U.S. Optics backs them with an impressive, transferrable, “full lifetime” warranty. Prices start at $1100.00 and the Slim-Line Hunting scopes should hit the market in late March or April, 2012. We like what U.S. Optics is doing with this “Slim-Line” scope series. For daylight deer and varmint hunting, many hunters are better served with a compact 1.5-6X variable, than with a large, bulky high-power scope with a relatively small field of view.

U.S. Optics Scopes

At SHOT Show, in addition to its all-new SN-8, U.S. Optics also showcased its innovative dual-focal-plane tactical scopes. Offered in 1-4X and 1.5-6X, these offer the best of both worlds. The FFP reticle allows consistent ranging at all magnifications, while the Second Focal Plane functionality allows more precise aiming, since reticle line thickness does not increase as the magnification goes up.

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

SHOT Show: Savage Smallbore & Big Bore Highlights

Correspondent Kelly Bachand visited the Savage booth at SHOT Show 2012. As always we were impressed with the wide range of affordable, rimfire rifles marketed by Savage. The popular Mark II BTVS is a good choice for rimifire tactical games, and it is also a nice carry-around varminter for squirrels and other small critters. The model 93 ‘Package Series’ rifles are real bargains. MSRP on the model 93R17 XP Camo package (which includes 3-9x40mm scope) is $456.00, while the “street price” is around $385.00.

What really caught Kelly’s eye was the impressive Model 110 FCP chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum. This rifle features a stiff, high-quality HS Precision fiberglass tactical stock with V-block insert. New for 2012 is the .300 Win Mag chambering. (Other chamberings are .338 LM and .308 Win, both introduced last year). The Model 110 FCP HS Precision features a 5-round detachable box magazine, 26″ heavy fluted barrel, muzzle brake, and AccuTrigger. It even comes with scope rail.

In .338 Lapua Magnum, the m110 FCP weighs 10.7 lbs. The .300 WM and .300 Win are somewhat lighter, tipping the scales at 9 lbs. without optics. MSRP for the .300 WM version is $1192.00 — a good value, considering what the stock would cost by itself. The big .338 Lapua Magnum version has a $1549.00 MSRP on Savage’s website.

If you’re on a tight budget, Savage also offers a long-range big-caliber rifle in a polyethylene (tupperware) Accustock. The Model 11/111 Long Range Hunter is a lighter hunting variant that features a composite AccuStock with 3D bedding and a Karsten adjustable cheekpiece. It also has a 5-round detachable magazine, heavy fluted barrel, muzzle brake and AccuTrigger. MSRP for a Long Range Hunter in .300 Win Magnum, is $989.00.

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January 25th, 2012

SHOT Show: JGS Precision Mfg. — Reamers and More…

Robert Whitley of AR-X Enterprises visited the JGS booth to review the Oregon-based tool-maker’s offerings for 2012. In the video below, Cary Pugh of JGS Precision Mfg., spotlights some popular JGS products including chamber reamers, headspace gauges, core drills, counter-bores, and more….

JGS Precision

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January 24th, 2012

SHOT Show: Quick Reviews of New-for-2012 Optics

Show Report by Jason Baney
Nearly every major optics manufacturer showcased innovative new products at this year’s SHOT Show. And some of the scope-makers surprised us by venturing into new product areas. For example, Vortex came out with a nice, compact Laser Rangefinder, and Sightron released a 1-7×24 hunting/tactical scope. Here are new product highlights from Kahles, Meopta, Schmidt & Bender, Sightron, and Vortex.


New Tactical Scope with Parallax Control On Elevation Turret
Kahles has brought out a beefy 34mm-tubed tactical scope with some smart features. The parallax adjustment on Kahles’s new 6-24x56mm scope is located at the base of the elevation turret — not on the side like an Nightforce NXS. It may seem odd to put the parallax control BELOW the elevation adjustment, but when you think about it — this is pretty clever. Locating the parallax below the elevation is very convenient — when you dial for longer range, you can quickly dial the new parallax without changing your hand position, or fiddling around for a second turret. Putting the parallax control on the central turret allows the illumination rheostat to be placed on the left side of the tube. This allows much more scope-mounting freedom — you don’t have a big illumination module positioned next to the rear ring, limiting how far forward you can position the scope.

Kahles 6-24x56mm scope

Initially the Kahles 6-24×56 will be offered with just two (2) reticles. We would like to see a wider zoom range, but overall, this is a very well-thought-out scope. Kahles is also offering a 1-6 with nicely designed reticles.The 6-24×56 is expected to cost about $3000 while the 1-6 should be priced around $2700. Both scopes should be on dealers’s shelves by summer 2012.


All-New 82mm Spotting Scope and iPhone Adapter
Meopta has totally redesigned its top-end spotting scope to keep up with current market trends. But we’re pleased that Meopta has maintained a more moderate price-point than most in this class of 80mm spotters. The new spotter has a 82mm objective, solid rubber armor and is available straight or angled. Two eyepiece options are offered: a 30-60X Wide-Angle and a 20-70X standard eyepiece. Meopta’s new 82mm spotter should be available in March 2012, priced at about $2200 for a complete spotter with eyepiece. Meopta has also introduced a handy adapter to allow iPhone users to take pictures through the spotter. This adapter retails for $50.00.

Meopta 82mm Spotting Scope

Schmidt & Bender

New PMIIs — at Higher Prices
Schmidt & Bender had a few new scopes on display, most notably, a redesigned (and still unavailable) 3-20×50 PMII as well as S&B’s 1-8x PMII. The most obvious difference on the revised 3-20 was the updated locking turret that is different, and much better than it was 2 years ago. Street price on the PMII scopes will be in the $3500-$4000 range depending on reticle choice. We also noted the very aggressive tactile fins on the magnification adjustment dial. Also shown was a prototype compact, tan 1.5-6x20mm straight tube dot scope. Based on S&B’s track record, this 1.5-6X might actually make it to North American dealers in 2014.

Schmidt & Bender 2012 Scope


New Compact 1-7X Variable
Sightron unveiled a new 1-7×24 scope, which should please hunters and 3-Gun shooters. The new 1-7×24 is only offered with one reticle currently; this appears similar to the Meopta 4C red dot reticle. The reticle features an illuminated red dot in the middle, with a thinner upper post and thicker left, right and bottom posts. The scope features 0.1 MRAD clicks and 5 mils per turn with covered low profile target turrets. We hope to see an improved reticle with holdover stadia for longer range shooting in the future. The 1-7×24 will retail for $799.00 and should be at dealers by the end of March, 2012.

Sightron 1-7x24mm scope


New Compact Rangefinder with Angle Correction
Vortex introduced a very cool little laser rangefinder at a nice price point. The Ranger 1000 is rated for 1000 yards, has a great feel, great size, pleasant red-cross aim point display, and unlike any other similar laser products out there, offers a LIFETIME warranty. Along with all these features, it also gives angle-corrected readings for shooting more accurately uphill and downhill. The Ranger 1000 is very easy to operate one-handed and has a nice rubber coating and removable pocket clip as well. Retail price will come in at $379 with availability in May 2012.

Vortex Ranger 1000 laser rangefinder

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January 24th, 2012

SHOT Show: New Skin Kits for Accuracy Int’l AE and AW Rifles

Accuracy Internation AW AE chassis skin

Accuracy Internation AW AE chassis skinAt SHOT Show, Accuracy International (AI) unveiled a new line of pistol-grip skins that will allow owners of the AE and AW rifles to match the ergonomics of the pistol grip on AI’s new AX rifles. This “skins” bolt on to the underlying AI chassis system, providing a new look from fore-arm to buttplate. We expect these new skins will be hugely popular among AI shooters, many of whom will ditch their old thumbhole skins and bolt on the new pistol grip models. Availability is unknown at this point, but pricing will be in line with AI’s other skins.

Accuracy Internation AW AE chassis skin

Accuracy Internation AW AE chassis skin

Accuracy Internation AW AE chassis skin

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January 23rd, 2012

SHOT Show: Crosman’s New .177 Air Rifle Upper for AR15s

Crosman unveiled a great new product at SHOT Show — a dedicated upper that transforms your AR-platform gun into a .177-caliber air rifle. Smart idea. Crosman deserves praise — we wish this was on the market decades ago. This is great for service rifle shooters who can now practice at a fraction of the cost of centerfire ammunition. Since the lower is unchanged, and the sights are the same as on a service rifle, the shooter doesn’t have to adapt to a different trigger or sight height/radius.

Crosman mar177

As Crosman representative Mark Deboard explains: “With the [MAR 177 upper kit], you can take off your AR’s centerfire upper, replace it with the Crosman upper and go to your basement or garage to shoot .177 pellets. You’re getting great trigger time without going to the range and without buying .223 ammo. You can buy a tin of 500 pellets for about five bucks.” (With a good pellet trap you could practice in your basement — but first consult your state and municipal regulations).

Crosman MAR 177 air rifle AR15The 7.4-lb Crosman MAR177 Conversion Kit replaces your existing AR/M4 style upper and converts it into a PCP .177-caliber competition air rifle with 21″ free floating Lothar Walther™ barrel. Designed to support 10-meter match air rifle competition, the MAR177 is also suited for service rifle shooters who want to practice indoors in winter. Fitted with a 10-shot rotary magazine, all the shooter has to do work the bolt back every time after firing. The air reservoir offers up to 120 shots per fill.

It looks like the Crosman MAR177 will be popular. Crosman’s Deboard noted that: “We took the MAR177 to Camp Perry last summer for the High Power Rifle Championships, shot it inside the 20 foot Crosman Trailer and everyone loved it.”

Price and Availability
The MAR177 starts shipping 1/25/2012. It is available initially at crosman.com, creedmoorsports.com, and pilkguns.com. Look for retail price around $700, though Creedmoor Sports has a pre-order price of $600.

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January 23rd, 2012

SHOT Show: 1903-A3s and 1903-A4s Coming to Creedmoor Sports

At SHOT Show, Creedmoor Sports’ General Manager, Dennis DeMille, spotted something that he thought would be a big hit with his customers — new builds of Springfield 1903-A3s and 1903-A4s using Remington or Smith Corona receivers with parkerized finishes. These rifles are built by Curt Wolfe at Rockridge Machine Works in Pennsylvania. DeMille learned about these rifles from Hornady’s Dave Emary, who gave Curt’s work at Rock Ridge a strong endorsement.

Dennis reports: “These rifles are NICE! Issue condition nice. Much nicer than the one I set a National Record with.” The A4s feature original Remington actions with turned-down GI bolt, fitted to new 30-06 4 groove, 1:10″ twist barrels chambered in .30-06. All fire-control parts are original GI. The A4s come with walnut-stained reproduction “C” stock, Malcolm reproduction of original Weaver 330C (M73B1) scope, original GI buttplate, and repro GI military leather sling. The A3s have original Smith Corona M1903 actions, click-adjustable iron sights, and will be available in both “Scant C” stocks and straight stocks. NOTE: Both the A3s and A4s use intact receivers, NOT re-welded decommissioned versions.

Creedmoor Sports 1903 Springfield

1903s Should Be Avaialble in Mid-February
Vintage military rifle shooters should find these rifles affordable. Dennis says: “We’ll be selling the A4s for $1,075.00, while the A3s will sell for $875.00. We should have some of all models in stock within a few weeks.” CLICK HERE for more info on Creedmoor’s new 1903-A3 or 1903-A4 rifles. Creedmoor Sports expects its first shipment from Rockridge in mid-February.

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