December 5th, 2017

Competition Hardware — The Modern F-Open Rifle

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Emil Kovan is one of the top F-Class shooters in the world. He won the 2014 United States F-Open Championship. Earlier this month Emil finished second in F-Open Division at the 2016 Canadian National F-Class Championship in Ontario. Emil actually tied Open-class winner Shiraz Balolia for overall score AND “V”-count, but Emil was awarded second on the tie-breaker.

The Anatomy of a Modern F-Class Open Rifle

Report by Emil Kovan
Kovan Match Rifles LLC, www.matchrifles.com

“What are the best components for an F-Open class rifle, and why?” That’s a question that I get asked all the time and will try to answer in this article. Two months ago, I was contacted by Duane, a gentleman I met at the 2015 F-Class Nationals. He was interested in building a rifle with the new Master Class Low Profile F-Open Stock, created by Carl Bernosky and Alex Sitman of Master Class Stocks.

I have known Alex Sitman for many years, and use his stocks exclusively, but was not very familiar with his new Low Profile F-Open stock. After a brief conversation with Alex, I placed an order, and had the stock inletted and bedded at my shop in a month. My first impression was “Wow that’s a long stock” — the forearm is significantly longer than on the original Master Class F-Class prone stock. I bolted the barreled action in, and squeezed the end of the forearm and barrel together, the stock flexed a little bit, but not as much as other designs that I have tested. I think that’s due to having “more meat” in the receiver area. The full stock depth continues farther forward that on some other “low profile” designs. That makes the stock stiffer in the vertical plane, reducing the hinging effect forward of the action. The stock was finished in gloss black per the customer’s request. Interestingly, I found that the multiple layers of paint and clearcoat stiffened the stock up quite a bit.

CLICK IMAGE below for full-screen version
.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Low Center of Gravity Tames Torque
Compared to the original Master Class F-Open stock, the barrel sits about an inch lower. Lower center of gravity equals less torque, and that is very important when shooting heavy bullets in fast twist barrels. Another significant improvement is that the toe of the stock is flat and parallel to the forearm. I added a 3/4″ track rail in the rear, and milled the underside of the fore-end to create two parallel “rails” in the front to help the stock track better.

One of the biggest reasons why I like Master Class stocks, is the pistol grip. I don’t shoot “free recoil” and a comfortable pistol grip is super important to me when selecting a stock. The new Master Class Low Profile stock shares the same grip as the old model. This allows the stock to accommodate either a “hard hold” style or a more free-recoil style of shooting — whatever the rifle’s owner prefers. This design versatility is one reason I recommend Master Class stocks. Shooters may experiment with either shooting style to find what suits them best.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Cartridge Choice — A 40° .284 Win Improved
Duane decided to have the barrel chambered for my 284 KMR IMP (Improved) wildcat. What is .284 KMR IMP and why choose it over the straight .284 Winchester? Improved by definition means “made better”, I took a great cartridge, and modified it to increase capacity, reduce pressure, and increase brass life.

There are many “improved” variants of the original .284 Winchester: 7mm Walker, .284 Shehane, .284 Ackley and so on. My version, the 284 KMR IMP, shares the .010″ blown-out sidewalls of the .284 Shehane, but I have further increased the case capacity by changing the shoulder angle from 35 to 40 degrees. The 284 KMR IMP allows you to almost match magnum cartridge velocity in a standard-bolt-face action. If you want to run 180gr-class 7mm bullets over 2900 FPS, it is cheaper and more convenient to have a barrel chambered in 284 KMR IMP than to spend $650 for a magnum bolt.

Tuning Loads for the .284 Win Improved Cartridges
The 284 KMR IMP seems to have two nodes, one around 2820 fps and other at 2940 fps. My match load clocks at 2935 fps with single-digit ES. Note –I selected that load based on accuracy, NOT raw speed. A lot of novice (or hard-headed) shooters make the mistake to push their cartridges to the max, and disregard more accurate loads at lower velocity.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

The sport of F-Class is rapidly growing, and the equipment used is improving constantly. I remember that only few years ago, an F-Open rifle that could shoot sub-one-inch of vertical at 300 yards was considered competitive. Now, we are pursuing sub-one-inch vertical at 600 yards! It takes a great rifle to approach that goal, but it is also up to the shooter to learn and experiment as much as possible in order to achieve success.

Dies for an Improved .284 Win Cartridge
One of the biggest challenges in campaigning a wildcat cartridge has been obtaining great dies. When searching for custom dies, it almost seems like that the odds are stacked against us. The most common problem is wait-time — custom die orders can take months to be completed. Also, most custom die makers want you to send them two or three cases, each fire-formed three times. I find that funny because if could somehow properly size the cases for three fire-forming cycles, I would not need a sizing die.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Custom-made dies should size the case just right, but sometimes the die’s internal dimensions are slightly off, and this leads to problem number two: dies sizing too much (or even worse) too little. I had a one “custom” die that would not size the bottom of the case enough. This made the extraction of fired cases very difficult. I feel that the best option (if available) for shooters interested in wildcat chambers is to have their gunsmiths make the dies. I offer that die-making service in addition to barrel chambering.

BAT Machine “M” Action
Duane decided to use a BAT M action for this rifle, and I think that he could not have made a better choice. We are blessed with many good match-quality receivers: Barnard, BAT, Borden, Kelbly, Nesika, and Stiller just to mention a few. These are all very well-made and suitable for F-Class. Among BAT Machine Co.actions, I like BAT models M, MB, and 3LL best. I prefer these because because of their size (large bedding footprint) smoothness, timing, options available, and last but not least visual appearance.

Trigger: I recommend and use Jewell triggers. Other good options are: Kelbly, CG Jackson (good 2-Stage) Anschutz (best 2-Stage for Bat and Kelbly actions), Bix’N Andy, and David Tubb.

Barrel: Duane made another good choice here. He decided to go with a Brux 1:8.5″-twist, 4-groove cut-rifled barrel. If you look at the F-Class and Long Range benchrest equipment lists, you will see that cut-rifled barrels are currently dominating. Many records have been shot with both button-rifled, and cut-rifled barrels. I have shot both, and prefer cut-rifled barrels. I am not saying that button-rifled barrels are not capable of shooting as well as cut-rifled barrels, but on average, in my experience, four out of five cut-rifled barrels (from top makers) will shoot well, vs. three out of five buttoned barrels. YMMV, but this is what I’ve observed.

Brux Barrels is not the only company that produces very accurate cut-rifled barrels. We know that Krieger, Bartlein, Satern, and Hawk Hill Custom all make fine cut-rifled barrels as well.

Scope: Duane’s rifle was fitted with a Nightforce 15-55x52mm Competition scope with DDR-2 reticle. This optic is ultra clear, reasonably lightweight (28 oz.), super reliable, and has 1/8 MOA clicks — what you want for long range F-Class competition. In this 15-55X NF model, I like the DDR-2 reticle best, because fine cross hairs (FCH) are hard to see in heavy mirage. The DDR-2 has a heavier horizontal line, with a center dot. March scopes are also very popular and very well-made.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Thanks for reading, and keep ‘em in the middle…

Emil Kovan F-Class competition bio photoEmil Kovan Competition History:

– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion

– 2016 F-Class Open Canadian Championship, Silver Medal (tied for first on score)

– 2015 F-Class Open National Championship, Silver Medal

– F-Class Open National Championship Teams, 2015, 2014, 2013, Shooting Team Member

– Over 15 wins in Regional and State Championships in Palma, F-TR, F-Open

– 2013 U.S. National Team Member

– 2017 U.S. National Development Team Member

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October 1st, 2017

Report from F-Class Nationals in Lodi, Wisconsin

Lodi Wisconsin F-Class National Championship Ian Klemm Robert Mead Jay Christopherson F-TR F-Open Borden Brux
“A big congratulations to Bob Mead (1582-68X), who utterly destroyed the competition in tricky wind conditions to take the Gold.” — Jay Christopherson, F-Open Second Place.

The 2017 F-Class National Championships in Lodi, Wisconsin are now history. Hail the new Champions: Robert Mead, F-Open (1582-68X) and Ian Klemm, F-TR (1557-56X). Hosted by the Winnequah Gun Club, the Nationals drew about 75 F-Open shooters and 45 F-TR competitors, down from last year. In F-Open, Robert Mead shot brilliantly in tough conditions to finish 14 points ahead of his closest competitor, AccurateShooter.com’s System Administrator Jay Christopherson. Erik Cortina was just one point behind Jay, but Erik had the high X-Count for the match at 71X.

Lodi Wisconsin F-Class National Championship Ian Klemm Robert Mead Jay Christopherson F-TR F-Open Borden Brux
Photos of Robert Mead and Ian Klemm courtesy Erik Cortina.

In F-TR, Ian Klemm also won by a margin of 14 points. This was an impressive win by Ian, given the challenging winds and weather. F-TR runner-up Todd Sanders also shot remarkably well, considering he is a relative newcomer to F-Class. Forum member KyBountyHunter observed: “Outstanding shooting this week gentlemen, in some of the most challenging conditions that I’ve seen. Congrats to all the winners. Ian — fantastic job taking First Place (well deserved) [and] special congrats to Todd. For this only being his second year in F-TR, he’s going to be force to be reckoned with for a long time!”.

Lodi Wisconsin F-Class National Championship Ian Klemm Robert Mead Jay Christopherson F-TR F-Open Borden Brux

CLICK HERE for Match Results. Sorry — no equipment list yet.

Final Results for F-Open (TOP 10):
1. Robert Mead: 1582-68X HM
2. Jay Christopherson: 1568-59X HM
3. Erik Cortina: 1567-71X HM
4. John Myers: 1558-64X HM
5. Pat Scully: 1558-50X HM
6. Larry Bartholome: 1554-55X HM
7. Robert Sebold: 1554-41X HM
8. Steve Harp: 1553-58X HM
9. Jeff Hopkins: 1551-49X MA
10. Lou Murdica: 1550-46X MA

Final Results for F-T/R (TOP 10):
1. Ian Klemm: 1557-56X HM
2. Todd Sanders: 1543-43X MA
3. Brad Sauve: 1542-44X MA
4. Laura Perry: 1539-46X EX
5. Daniel Pohlabel: 1534-49X MA
6. Josh Moore: 1529-37X EX
7. Ken Klemm: 1528-38X MA
8. Bob Lorenz: 1525-47X EX
9. Raymond Weaver: 1522-36X HM
10. Alan Barnhart: 1521-31X HM

Strong Performances by Members of Team Lapua-Borden-Brux
Jay Christopherson posted: “A big congratulations to Bob Mead (1582-68X), who utterly destroyed the competition in tricky wind conditions to take the Gold. This was a great end to the 2017 competition season for me as I managed to hang on by the skin of my fingertips to win Silver at the 2017 F-Class US National Championships (F-Open).” For the record, Team Lapua-Borden-Brux ended up with all five present members of the team in the Top 8 of the Grand Aggregate.

Jay Christopherson (2nd, 1568-59X, Silver)
Erik Cortina (3rd, 1567-71X, Bronze)
Pat Scully (5th, 1558-50X)

Bob Sebold (7th, 1554-41X)
Steve Harp (8th, 1553-58X)

In team competition, Team Lapua-Borden Brux won the F-0pen Long Range Championship as well as the Mid-Range Championship. Jay told us: “That was some outstanding shooting by great team members. I’m really looking forward to the 2018 season.” Erik Cortina added: “So proud of our team. We conquered the 2017 LR National Championship as well as the Mid-Range National Championship. We could not have done it without our sponsors: Lapua, Borden Actions, and Brux Barrels.”

Lodi Wisconsin F-Class National Championship Ian Klemm Robert Mead Jay Christopherson F-TR F-Open Borden Brux

In the F-TR Team Competition, mighty Team Sinclair triumphed yet again, winning its 10th Long Range National Championship. Team member Paul Phillips offered this interesting factoid: “This year we won with the original four members we had in 2004 plus Dan Pohlabel. It’s pretty awesome to be shooting with the same guys for 13 years! What a great run since 2004.” And those same four also all hail from Midland, Michigan (Midland County Sportsman’s Club). Team Sinclair still holds the 4-man Team 1000-yard National Record. Shown below, L to R, are team members: Daniel J. Pohlabel, Paul Phillips, Raymond Gross (Coach), Brad Sauve, and John Droelle.

Lodi Wisconsin F-Class National Championship Team Sinclair F-TR
All Team Sinclair members use identical hardware: McMillan XiT stock, Kelbly Panda action, Bartlein barrel, Nightforce scope, and Phoenix Precision bipod. All shoot Berger 200-20X bullets in Lapua brass.

The One that Got Away — Almost Matching F-Open 20-Shot Record
Erik Cortina shot a superb 200-16X during the competition (see electronic target scoring screen below). That was just one X shy of the current 200-17X National Record. Erik observed: “So close, yet so far. Almost matched the National Record of 200-17X but shot a ten on my very last shot. Everything felt good but luck was not on my side.”

Lodi Wisconsin F-Class National Championship Ian Klemm Robert Mead Jay Christopherson F-TR F-Open Borden Brux


File photo from Lodi at past F-Class Nationals.

Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
February 25th, 2017

Henry’s Hammer — State-of-the-Art .284 Shehane for 1K BR

Henry Pasquet IBS 1000 yard Nationals champion two gun overall .284 shehane

We’ve been giving a lot of coverage to tactical rigs and gas guns lately, so we though it was time to showcase a purebred, state-of-the-art 1000-Yard Benchrest rig. This article features the impressive .284 Shehane Light Gun used by Henry Pasquet to capture the 2013 IBS 1000-yard Nationals.

With a 5″-wide “hammerhead” front and a special 3″-wide bag-rider plate in the rear, this 17-lb rig is ultra-stable in the bags, and tracks like a dream. In this story, Henry explains his set-up plus his processes for loading super-accurate ammo. Every long-range shooter can benefit from some of tips revealed here. And F-Class guys — if you’re shooting a .284 Win-based case in F-Open you should definitely read Henry’s precision reloading advice.

EDITOR: Guys, there is a ton of solid gold information in this article — take your time and read it carefully.

Henry Pasquet IBS 1000 yard Nationals champion two gun overall .284 shehaneYes old dogs can learn new tricks. Just five years ago Forum member Henry Pasquet (aka “HenryP”) got started in 1000-yard benchrest shooting. He was 66 at the time. Henry worked hard, learned fast, and pursued accuracy with a vengence. That all paid off when Henry won the 2013 IBS 1000-yard Nationals this summer, finishing as the Two-Gun Overall National Champion. Henry was kind enough to talk about his rifle, his reloading methods, and his strategy for success. In fact, Henry was eager to share “everything he knows, so that other guys can fast-track their learning process”. Henry told us: “I want to share every lesson I’ve learned, so that other guys can improve their game and enjoy the sport more.” Henry also wants to encourage other senior shooters: “If you pay attention to details (when reloading), and get a good rifle with a good barrel, age is not a handicap. With a good set-up, older guys can compete with anyone out there. This is one sport where you can be a champion in later life.”

Click on Rifle Photos to View Full-screen Versions

Protektor bag benchrest rifle Light gun IBS 1000 yard Nationals champion two gun overall .284 shehane

Q&A with Henry Pasquet, IBS 1000-Yard National Champion

Q: First, do you have any advice for older shooters getting started in their golden years?

Henry: You’re never too old. In this sport, you can excel even in your 60s, 70s and beyond. At this stage in life, we now have the time and money to get good equipment and rifles. Plus, our years of work experience help us to think, analyze, and thereby make progress. In this game, we older guys can definitely compete on a par with younger shooters.

HARDWARE

Q: Tell us about your Nationals-winning rifle and bench gear. Is there anything unique about your hardware that gave you an edge?

Henry: At the Nationals, I used my 17-lb Light Gun for both Light and Heavy Class. This rifle has a 1.55″, round BAT LP/RE action, fitted with a Bartlein barrel chambered for the .284 Shehane (an improved version of the .284 Winchester). The barrel was near-new; this was the first time I had used it this year. A great barrel and great batch of Berger 180gr VLDs all made a difference. Jay Cutright chambers my barrels. Jay’s metal-work is so precise that I can screw any barrel he’s chambered to any BAT action I own. The laminated stock was modified by Tommy Shurley from a standard 3″-wide fore-end to a 5″-wide True-Trac with an adjustable 3″-wide rear plate. It’s not pretty but it tracks like a Heavy Gun stock. Tommy made my other stocks as well.

Protektor bag benchrest rifle Light gun IBS 1000 yard Nationals champion two gun overall .284 shehane

Protektor sand bag 3M material IBS 1000 yard Nationals champion two gun overall .284 shehaneOn top is a Nightforce 12-42x52mm Benchrest scope with CH-3 reticle. I used a Fulghum (Randolph Machine) front rest with an Edgewood bag made with the low-friction 3M material. In the rear I use a special-order Protekor rear “Doctor” bag with ears spaced 3 inches apart. The rear bag also has the new 3M material on contact surfaces (photo at right).

Q: During the Nationals, at the last minute you switched guns. Why did you go from a 6mm Dasher to a 7mm Shehane?

Henry: I had planned to use my Light and Heavy Dashers, but after placing the Dasher on the ready line, decided to switch to the .284 Shehane. It was still early in the morning and I felt that the heavier bullets would be easier to see against the berm. The Dasher had actually been giving tighter groups under perfect conditions, but seeing the impact is important.

Q: Tell us about the combined tuner/muzzle brake on some of your barrels. How does this improve rifle performance and how do you set the “tune”? Do you tune the barrel to the load?

Henry: I use a tuner or tuner/brake on every barrel. I started with Time Precision tuners. Art Cocchia advised getting a load with a good known accuracy node with minimum extreme spread, which controls vertical. Do not go for the hottest loads, which just reduces brass life. Then use the tuner and tune the barrel to the load. The .284 Light Gun needed a muzzle brake and tuner. I had a local gunsmith cut a thread on the muzzle brake for a tuner I got from Sid Goodling. (Eric Bostrom developed an almost identical unit at the same time. I use Eric’s tuner/brakes on all my new barrels.) Just before Nationals, I tried going up and down one marker. Down one mark cut the group in half! Think how much range time (and barrel life) that saved me. Using a tuner is easier than messing around changing loads and tweaking seating depths. Tuners definitely can work. Last year I shot a 3.348″ 10-shot group at 1000 with my .284 Win Heavy Gun fitted with a Time Precision Tuner.

IBS 1000 yard Nationals champion two gun overall muzzle brake tuner .284 shehane

Q: What are the advantages of your stock’s 5″-wide fore-end and 3″-wide rear plate? Is there a big difference in tracking and/or stability? Does the extra width make the rifle easier to shoot?

Henry: I had true Heavy Guns with 5-inch fronts and 3-inch rears. They tracked well. I felt the same result could be had with a Light Gun. I talked two stock makers into making them. I initially had the standard rear stock until Tommy Shurley and Mike Hearn came out with an adjustable rear plate. The stocks track perfectly. You can see your scope’s crosshairs stay on the target the whole time and push the rifle back for the next shot. There is no torquing (gun wobbling) when cycling the bolt. Us old guys need all the help we can get. I am getting rid of my 45-pound Heavy Guns and replacing them with Light Guns with heavy barrels.

Protektor bag benchrest rifle Light gun IBS 1000 yard Nationals champion two gun overall .284 shehane

Q: Some people say the .284 Shehane is not as accurate as the straight .284 Winchester. You’ve proved them wrong. Why do you like the .284 Shehane? More speed, less pressure?

Henry: The reason I rechambered my 7mm barrels to .284 Shehane was not velocity, pressure, or brass life. It was all about bolt lift. My straight .284 almost required me to stand up to eject brass. I damaged an extractor and had to send the bolt back to BAT. With the .284 Shehane, my bolt cycles like there is no case to eject.

Reloading Methods

Q: People want to know about your load and your loading methods. What can you reveal?

Henry: For my .284 Shehane at the Nationals, I loaded 52.5 grains of Hodgdon H4350 and Federal BR-2 primers behind Berger 180gr VLDs. I usually anneal the brass each winter. I have used the same brass for years. I use Redding bushing dies, apply Imperial sizing wax, resize, wipe off wax, clean and uniform the primers pockets using the RCBS Trim Mate Case prep center, then apply Imperial dry neck lube with a bore mop.

K & M arbor seating force dial gaugeTo dispense powder, I use a RCBS ChargeMaster set 0.1 grain below my desired load and then weigh them on a Sartorius GD-503 magnetic force restoration scale to get identical charges. I use a K&M Arbor Press with seating force gauge when seating the bullets with a Wilson inline die. My “target” seating force on the K&M dial is 20-23 units for Dashers and 35-40 units for the .284 Shehane. I put any variables aside for sighters. I do not weigh brass, bullets, or primers. My bullets were so consistent that I did not sort by bearing surface. I did trim the Berger VLDs to the shortest bullet length with a Hoover Trimmer, and then pointed the meplats just enough to close them with a Whidden pointer. I sort my bullets to 0.005″ overall length, rejecting about five percent.

Q: What kind of precision are you looking for in your reloads? Do you trickle to the kernel? Does this really help reduce extreme spread?

Henry: I try to keep my charge weights consistent to one kernel of powder. I use the Omega powder trickler with a Sartorius GD-503 lab-grade balance to achieve that. For accurate dispensing, put very little powder into the Omega so you can drop one kernel at a time. Single digit ES (Extreme Spread) is the goal. This does make a difference at 1000 yards. If you get the same push on the same bullet with the same neck tension, good things are going to happen.

Q: You believe consistent neck tension (i.e. grip on the bullet) is really important. What methods are you using to ensure consistent bullet release?

Henry: I apply Imperial dry neck lube to the inside of my case-necks with a bore mop. The K&M arbor with seating force gauge shows the need to do this. If you put a bullet into a clean case, it will be jerky when seating the bullet. You may see 40 units (on the K&M dial) dropping to 20, then slowly increasing pressure. I explained to a friend that not lubing the neck is like overhauling an engine without lubing the cylinders. Smooth entry gives the bullets a smooth release.

Barrel Cleaning

Henry Pasquet IBS 1000 yard Nationals champion Carb out Carb-out WipeOut .284 shehaneQ: You go 60-80 rounds between cleaning and the results speak for themselves. What is your barrel cleaning procedure? Do you think some guys clean too often or too aggressively?

Henry: I cringe when I see people wearing out their barrels with bronze brushes between relays. I clean my barrels at the end of each day when I get home. I shot my best-ever 1K Heavy Gun group (3.348″) at day’s end after 60 to 80 rounds. After trying other solvents, I have gone back to Wipe-out’s Carb-Out and Patch-Out products. I use about four patches of Carb-Out, let it sit a few minutes, then use one stroke of a nylon brush followed by Patch-Out until the barrel is clean. I use a bore mop to clean inside the chamber, then some Break Free LP on the bolt followed by bolt grease on the lugs and cocking part. I use a bore guide when anything goes down the barrel.

Shooting Skills and the Learning Process

Q: Henry, you can shoot long-distance on your own property in Missouri. How important is practice, and what do you do during a typical practice session?

Henry: I can shoot 1000 yards on my farm. I have a concrete bench using a slab from a yard furniture place on concrete blocks. Two 4 x 8 sheets of plywood hold four IBS targets. I never practice. I only test, keeping a notebook with all the info. I do most of my testing at 300 to 500 yards, shooting off my deck so I can see my shots immediately.

Protektor bag benchrest rifle Light gun IBS 1000 yard Nationals champion two gun overall .284 shehane

Q: How much of your success do you credit to really accurate rifles, versus superior shooting skills?

Henry: I do not consider myself another Carlos Hathcock or some master marksman. I am an average 1000-yard shooter, but I do work hard getting the most out of my rifles. Four other people have shot their first 1000-yard matches with my rifles, including my wife, and all of them won relays! I loaned my Dasher to another shooter two years ago and he got second at the 600-yard Nationals. Others will tell you that the rifle must be “on” to win. If your barrel or bullets are average, don’t expect to perform above average in competition.

Q: What you do enjoy most about long-range benchrest shooting? What are the attractions of this sport?

Henry: The sport offers good people and a real challenge. 1000-yard shooting keeps us all humble, but we still keep trying to see how good we can do. I am thankful for Robert Ross providing the only match location that I can shoot regularly.

Q: Henry, you have been a Forum member for many years. Have you learned important techniques from other Forum members and other shooters?

Henry: I have followed the AccurateShooter Forum since 2008. At my age I am not good at computers. I copied and analyzed many articles, especially on the .284 and the Dashers. Without AccurateShooter.com, I would probably still be shooting double-digit (10″+) groups at 1000 yards, and I sure wouldn’t have my name on a National Championship trophy.

Q: You are in your 70s now and have only been shooting competitively for a few years. How did you get so good so fast? How did you manage to beat shooters who are decades younger?

Henry: I had 20/10 vision when I was young, but am down to only 20/20. I have been interested in long range shooting for a long time including ground hog hunting. I went to some VHA jamborees also. In 2008, I went to the Williamsport Benchrest School with a friend from Pennsylvania, John Haas. We would compare notes frequently. I bought a BAT three lug from Tom Mousel in Montana. We also compared notes and made each other better. At IBS matches I studied other shooters’ equipment and techniques. I tried some, accepting some and rejecting some.

Here’s my advice:
Always be ready to learn something new. If it makes sense, try it. I would also encourage other older shooters not to quit. Stick to it. You can make enormous progress in a few seasons.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
October 4th, 2016

Toolmaker’s New Hammer — .284 Win F-Open Rig by Cigarcop

John Perkins 21st Century Shooting Cigarcop F-Open .284 Winchester

Forum member Keith W. (aka “Cigarcop”) is a talented riflesmith whose projects display outstanding finish work and attention to detail. Keith does some of the best bedding work we’ve ever seen. Recently Keith completed a rifle for tool-maker John Perkins, owner of 21st Century Shooting. John, who recently competed at the F-Class Nationals in Lodi, WI, wanted a new F-Open rifle with top-of-the-line hardware and a sweet-tracking stock. We think John will be impressed with this gun — and we bet it proves to be an tack-driving “hammer”. John will use the 21.5-lb rifle for F-Open competition and some mid-range and long-range benchrest competition in HG class.

This stock sports 12 coats of Urethane, wet-sanded between each coat.
John Perkins 21st Century Shooting Cigarcop F-Open .284 Winchester

This competition rifle features a melonited BAT “M” action (with Bix’N Andy trigger), a pair of 7mm Brux barrels chambered in .284 Win, and a Precision Rifle & Tool (PRT) Low-Boy stock. As you can see from these photos Keith posted in our Shooters’ Forum, this is a beautifully-finished rifle. If you have questions about this project, direct them to Cigarcop in this FORUM Thread.

Build Details for a Beautiful F-Open Rig
Keith reports: “The rifle is built on a PRT Laminated Low-Boy F-Class Stock with a Bat M Melonited Action, +20 MOA rail, Pillar bedded in Devcon 10110. After bedding and inletting I clear-coated the stock with 12 Coats of a 3-part Urethane finish which was wet-sanded between each coat and sanded out to 2000 before final polishing. John Perkins provided two Brux 1:9″-twist, 1.250″-contour barrels. They are both finished at 31″ and chambered in straight .284 Win with .313″ neck and .213″ freebore to shoot the 180gr Berger Hybrids.

Cigarcop does superb bedding work, as you can see…
John Perkins 21st Century Shooting Cigarcop F-Open .284 Winchester

John chose the Bix’N Andy trigger after sampling one of Erik Cortina’s rifles at the Berger SW Nationals. “I tried the BNA trigger on Erik’s gun and I was so impressed. It is very light but 100% consistent. After an injury I’ve lost some feel in my trigger finger and the BNA helps because it is so smooth. I would never go back to anything else.”

John Perkins 21st Century Shooting Cigarcop F-Open .284 Winchester

New Seating Die from 21st Century
While talking about his new rifle, John Perkins revealed that he has developed a very sophisticated new micrometer seating die: “This is something very new, and unlike anything else on the market. Each die is tailored to the dimensions and ogive curve of your particular bullet which we measure with an optical comparator. The customer provides fired, sized brass and sample bullets and we can produce a perfect match.”

John says his new seating dies produce ultra-consistent base-to-ogive load lengths along with exceptionally low run-out. “This new die produces incredibly straight ammo — there are some special features inside the die that help straighten the bullet during the seating process”. That delivers “truly superior concentricity” according to John. 21st Century Shooting will be taking orders soon for the new seating die. Call (260) 273-9909 for more information.

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
August 19th, 2016

New Temp-Stable Alliant Reloder 16 Now Available

Reloder Reloader 16 Alliant Powder Propellant Bofors TZ temperature stability temp stable H4350

Here’s an important announcement for anyone who uses a powder in the 4350 range. Alliant is now shipping the all-new Reloder 16 powder. The burn rate is slightly faster than Reloder 17, and a bit slower than Varget or Reloder 15. Notably, this new Reloder 16 powder is very temp stable. AccurateShooter.com was shown “top secret” test results comparing Reloder 16 with other popular propellants, including Hodgdon Extreme series powders. The results for Reloder 16 were remarkable. Reloder 16 showed extremely constant velocities even with very high ambient temps — so this is a powder you can shoot even on hot Arizona summer days.

CLICK HERE for Reloder 16 Suggested Load Recipes

This is NOT just a slower version of Alliant’s double-based Reloder 15 (which words great in the 6mmBR and Dasher cartridges). Reloder 16 is a completely new formulation, produced in Sweden by Bofors for Alliant. Reloder 16 utilizes TZ technology, which manipulates the response of the propellant and resists the natural tendency to generate more pressure at higher temperatures and less pressure at lower temperatures.

Reloder Reloader 16 Alliant Powder Propellant Bofors TZ temperature stability temp stable H4350

As a result, Reloder 16 offers outstanding temperature stability. Based on the test results we’ve seen, if you are using H4350 or IMR 4451 currently, you should definitely give Reloder 16 a try. The powder also boasts excellent lot-to-lot consistency and contains a proprietary de-coppering additive.

Reloder Reloader 16 Alliant Powder Propellant Bofors TZ temperature stability temp stable H4350

Match and Hunting Cartridge Applications:
Alliant tells us that Reloader 16 “is ideal for traditional hunting cartridges, such as .30-06 Springfield and .270 Winchester, as well as 6.5mm target loads and tactical applications wherein temperature stability is required.” We also think the powder may work very well in these popular match cartridges: 6XC, .243 Win, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5 Creedmoor, .260 Rem, .284 Win, and .300 WSM. For example, Alliant’s Load Data Sheet shows a 2772 FPS load with 142gr SMKs in the .260 Rem.

Permalink New Product, News, Reloading 3 Comments »
January 15th, 2015

7mm Shehane — Winning Wildcat for F-Open

After we posted Erik Cortina’s video featuring the trimming of 7mm Shehane cartridges with a Giraud Power Trimmer, many of our readers asked: “What’s a 7mm Shehane? How does it differ from a standard .284 Winchester?” To answer that question, we’re reprising a “cartridge profile” we ran a couple seasons back. This talks about the qualities of the 7mm Shehane, and includes a reamer print. The 7mm Shehane is an excellent “upgrade” to the .284 Win. The added capacity may not seem like much, but it allows some Shehane shooters to reach a higher, optimal velocity node.

AccurateShooter.com .284 Shehane Wildcat Winchester F-Class

High-BC 7mm Bullets7mm is the caliber to beat in F-Class Open Division (though many guys are looking hard at the big 30s.) With a standard .284 Winchester, or better yet, a .284 Improved, you can drive the high-BC Berger 180gr bullets to competitive velocities. A .284 Improved will shoot well inside a 6.5-284, and you’ll probably get significantly longer barrel life (at least 1800 rounds vs. as little as 1200 for the 6.5mm).

The straight .284 Win is a good cartridge, but in most barrels, it can’t push the 180s at 2900-2950 fps velocity levels*. A lot of barrels will top out at about 2850. That’s where the .284 Shehane comes into play. The .284 Shehane is a slightly modified wildcat that retains the same 35° shoulder as the parent case. However, by blowing the sidewalls out 0.010″, the .284 Shehane picks up about 3.3 grains of extra case capacity. That enhancement makes a BIG difference. The extra boiler room is enough to drive the 180s at 2900-2950 fps with H4831sc. With N560 or Reloder 17 you can go even faster.

Scotland’s Grant Taylor used the .284 Shehane to finish 3rd overall in the 2009 individual F-Class World Championships at Bisley, England. Grant reports: “I have a .284 Shehane and it’s very accurate with superb vertical spreads at 1000 yards. I have to thank Jim Hardy for putting me onto the caliber, it has awesome accuracy. I’m getting 2930-2950 fps with spreads in the 3-5 fps range. I use Hodgdon H4831sc powder, CCI BR2 primers, and pointed 180gr Bergers.”

7mm .284 Winchester Shehane

Forum member Jim Hardy has shot the .284 with great success. He tells us: “In my humble opinion, the .284 Shehane is the best balanced long range round there is — bar none. I (perhaps_ have shot more of this chambering than anyone else, and it has proven better than I ever expected. Here is why:

You have to shoot a 30 Cal magnum with a 240gr bullet to equal the performance of most 7mm chamberings with the 180 Berger VLD. With the .284 Shehane, you have a .308 bolt face, medium action, and Lapua brass. You use less powder than the 7 mags, and have great accuracy and ballistics even while fire-forming. The .284 Shehane shoots inside the 6.5 AND the straight 284, the 300 WSM, and the 300 Win Mag with less recoil. The .284 Shehane offers twice the competitive barrel life of the 6.5-284, an easy 2950 fps with H4831 SC, [and it] can run 3000+ with N560 and Reloder 17, which is right there with the 7mm WSM. What is not to love about the 284 Shehane? It is a no-brainer for long range — F-Class or Prone or 1000-yard Benchrest.”

*Some exceptional barrels chambered in straight .284 Win can reach 2900 fps with the 180s. Ryan Pierce, who recently set a 450-24X Pending F-Open record, has a 32″ Brux barrel that is delivering 2900 fps with the straight .284. However, Ryan acknowledges that his velocities are not typical: “A lot of .284 Win barrels top out at around 2850 fps with the 180s.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo 3 Comments »
May 2nd, 2013

Navy Man Commissions Eye-Catching Blue .284 Win F-Open Rig

KT rifle .284 Winchester F-Class

Forum member Keith T. (aka “KT”) is in the U.S. Navy, so he has a fondness for seafaring, nautical color-schemes. Here is KT’s new F-Open rifle, smithed by Accurate Ordnance out of Winder, Georgia. The gun is chambered in .284 Winchester for Lapua brass (necked up) and 180gr Berger Hybrids.

KT rifle .284 Winchester F-Class
KT rifle .284 Winchester F-Class

KT admits, “It’s a little bit different than most in appearance!” But KT likes it that way: “When I had Accurate Ordnance build it, the only thing I specified was the stock, action, caliber and barrel length. I left the rest up to them. I think they did a pretty awesome job.”

The gun features a Pierce cone-bolt long action (with Jewell trigger) in a McMillan F-Class stock. The barrel is a Brux 31″, 1:9″ twist in the Brux “F-Class contour”. Sitting on top is the new Nightforce 15-55x52mm Competition scope with turrets and sun-shade coated blue to match the blue-coated action, bolt handle, rings, trigger guard and barrel.

KT rifle .284 Winchester F-Class

KT rifle .284 Winchester F-Class

KT rifle .284 Winchester F-Class

The build came out great, but there were a few “bumps on the road”. KT explains: “This rifle took a long time to finish. When it comes to building guns I always joke and say if it weren’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have any luck at all. We started ordering parts in September 2012. Somehow I managed to order the stock from McMillan for the wrong Pierce action. After a bunch of scrambling and hard work on Accurate Ordnance’s part we were able to get my screw-up fixed. Then we ran into a few more snags. AO wanted to have the scope on hand before doing the coating. The first trigger was not up to standard with AO so they ordered another one and the list goes on. The rifle is finally done though and I couldn’t be happier.”

Photos by Richard King Photography.
Permalink Gunsmithing, Optics 5 Comments »