September 27th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Shelly Davidson’s Amazing “Tinker Toy” 30 BR

Shelly Davidson Tinker Toy 30 BR

Editor’s NOTE: Shelley Davidson passed away in 2008 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was one of the great innovators in benchrest rifle design. This article, written before Shelley died, showcases Shelley’s creative talents at their best. His “Tinker Toy” design will always be a tribute to Shelley’s fabricating skills and imagination.


Shelley Davidson — a brilliant innovator. R.I.P. Shelly — you will not be forgotten.

Shelley Davidson’s peers called his radical rifle the “Tinker Toy” gun. We call it revolutionary. Even now, 14 years after its creation, there’s nothing quite like it. This innovative, skeleton design threw conventional wisdom to the winds. Shelley readily concedes he “broke the rules” of benchrest rifle building. But this was inspired rule-breaking, because Davidson’s rifle shot like a house on fire. The Tinker Toy gun won its first matches, both for Score AND for Group. And this rifle also delivered many “zero groups” in Gene Begg’s Texas Tunnel. Hats off to Shelley for conceiving and building a truly radical rifle that was also wicked accurate and successful in competition.

Tinker Toy 30BR — Radical as it Gets

Report by Shelley Davidson
Although I’m not big on naming rifles, my shooting buddies have christened the gun “Tinker Toy.” I can live with that as it does kind of look as if it was made with a Tinker Toy set.

Origins of the Project
This project began with some wild ideas I had in the fall of 2006 about using magnets to tune a barrel. My idea was to use one magnet on the barrel and another on the stock so they pushed against each other to counter gravity-induced barrel sag (and possibly) tame barrel vibration in a beneficial manner. The only way to test these ideas was to build the device and mount it on a gun. That meant I had to build a new rifle because there was no place to mount a magnet on the stock of a conventional benchrest rig. I had a Kelbly-stocked heavy varmint stock with a Michael Kavanaugh paint job on it. I didn’t think Kav would ever forgive me if I started drilling holes in one of his works of art. My light varmint was in a carbon fiber Scoville stock that costs about a grand. Drilling into the Scoville for an experiment just smacked of bad judgment. So, the magnet thing was my first motivation for designing a new stock. As long as I was building from scratch I decided to offset the barrel and action 0.75″ to the right to counteract the spin/torque from the bullet.

Although there’s nothing new here, my second motivation was to build a 30BR that could shoot in the 10.5 lb light varmint class in NBRSA. The magnetic tuner will automatically make this gun illegal in the IBS. The IBS has declared all barrel attachments un-safe and have outlawed them. I personally feel that the IBS really outlawed all barrel attachments to prevent experimentation and innovation. But at least we have NBRSA matches.

Designing the New Gun — Thinking “Outside the Box”
Once I’d decided to build a lightweight stock that could support experimental devices out near the muzzle, I started drawing up some rough plans. I also took a trip to Jerry Stiller’s shop in Wylie, Texas for a brainstorming session with Jerry, the maker of Viper and other Benchrest actions. Jerry is a school-trained mechanical engineer and thinks differently than I do. I came away from Stiller’s shop with my design roughed out and sketched on paper. The design violated several covenants of conventional wisdom for building competition BR rifles. For instance, two-piece stocks stress the action. Stress reduction is why most BR rifles are glued into the stock. Another myth is that metal stocks vibrate too much so wood or foam-filled fiberglass or carbon fiber are used.

Tinker Toy Rifle DESIGN FEATURES

Shelly Davidson’s Rifle was so innovative, that almost every feature, except the bare action, is very different than you’ll find on most Benchrest rigs. Accordingly we felt it would be useful to isolate and describe the key design features, from stem to stern. Click thumbnails to view FULL-SIZE PHOTOS.

Front Bracket with Magnetic Tuner
The tuner consists of one rare earth magnet attached to the stock and another attached to a barrel sleeve with the magnets oriented so as to make the magnetic force repel each other. The purpose is to counter “barrel droop” and, hopefully, dampen barrel vibration. The lower magnet is carried on a threaded shaft (with lock ring), allowing the magnet to be raised up and down to adjust the “up push” on the barrel.

Tubular Fore-Arm Supported by Brackets
Three brackets support two tubes, one on either side of the barrel. The rear-most bracket is sandwiched between the barrel and the action. Four inches forward (max distance allowed for barrel blocks) a second bracket grips the barrel. Near the muzzle a third bracket secures the ends of the tubes and holds the magnetic tuner. To allow barrel offset, the left tube is 1″ diameter tube while the right tube is 5/8″ diameter.

Offset Barrel
The rifle rests on a 3″ wide plate attached to the underside of the two fore-end tubes. With the plate centered in the front sandbag, the barreled action is actually offset 0.75″ to the right (looking forward from the breech). The purpose of this offset is to keep more weight on the right side to counter the tendency of the rifle to torque counter-clockwise. Two different diameter tubes allow for the built-in offset.

Floating Action without Sub-Support or Bedding
On the Tinker Toy gun, the action serves as a load-bearing assembly, holding the barrel in the front, and the skeleton buttstock (or “keel”) in the rear. Shelley was told that accuracy would suffer if you stressed a benchrest action in this manner but that proved untrue. It is a very simple solution to building a rifle, and it eliminates the need to bed the action. The forearm attaches to the action via a bracket installed like a recoil lug.

Skeleton Rear “Keel” Affixed Directly to Action
Davidson’s Tinker Toy does not have a conventional rear buttstock. Instead there is low-profile, v-shaped metal “keel”, as Davidson calls it, that rides the rear bag. The keel is supported by a tubular backbone that attaches at the rear of the Diamondback action. At the butt end is an aluminum plate covered with bubble wrap that serves as a butt pad. The skeletonized rear section helps the rifle maintain a very low center of gravity.

Locked Scope with External Windage and Elevation Adjustment
Shelley ran an older Leupold 36X Benchrest Scope with front-adjusting objective. To eliminate slop or loose tolerances in the erector mechanism that could cause changes in point of impact, the internals have been locked up by Jackie Schmidt. To move the cross-hairs relative to the bore axis, Shelley has a special Jewell/Foster rear ring that allows a limited amount of lateral and vertical movement of the entire scope body.

TINKER TOY SPECIFICATIONS

Action: Stiller SS Diamondback Drop-Port (1/2″ short), with .308 Bolt Face.
Barrel: Shilen .308 caliber, 17-twist, HV.
Chambering: 30BR, .330″ neck, Pacific Tool & Gauge Robinett Reamer.
Stock: Davidson Custom Tubular Stock with 0.75″ Offset Barreled Action.
Tube Construction: 6061 Aluminum, 1″ diameter (left), 5/8″ diameter (right).
Load: H4198 powder and 118gr Ronnie Cheek bullets. Loaded to 2980 fps.
Trigger: Jewell, 2 ounce BR.
Tuner: Custom, Adjustable with Opposing Magnets.
Optics: Leupold 36X (locked by J. Schmidt).
Rings: Jewell Foster External Adjusting Rings.

Stiller Diamondback Action and Shilen 17-Twist Barrel
I had wanted to use an aluminum Stiller Cobra drop port with a 6mmBR bolt face but Jerry had none in stock and he estimated it would be a year before one was available. Although I’ve waited for up to a year for an action in the past, I wanted to build this rifle during the fall of 2006 while the weather was pleasant enough to work in my unheated and un-air-conditioned garage shop. Jerry did have a 1/2″ short stainless steel Diamondback in stock so I purchased it even though it would add 3 ounces to the gun compared to the aluminum Cobra. Three ounces is a lot of weight when you’re working with a 10.5-lb limit. I had a heavy varmint contour Shilen 17-twist barrel that would work nicely and I had a Jewell trigger on a rifle that I wasn’t using at the time. I also decided to use my Leupold 36X (locked-up by Jackie Schmidt) with the Jewell/Foster adjustable rings.

Building the Tube Fore-Arm and Brackets
I took a wild guess as to tubing thickness and settled on .035″ for the 1″ left fore-arm tube and .058″ for the 5/8″ right fore-arm tube. All of the flat stock and tubes are 6061 Aluminum. I did the lathe work and the mill work and every evening I’d put the parts together and think about the proper way to proceed.

tube benchrest rifle

When the parts were mostly made, I started thinking that this was a truly ugly rifle. I thought about painting it but that wasn’t a good option as many of the parts are designed to slide over others and glue together. Anodizing was the best answer so while looking on the Internet for local anodizing shops I Googled “Home Anodizing”. Sure enough there were a few sites that told about how to anodize at home. I picked up some battery acid from NAPA Auto Supply, some Rit Clothes Dye from Wal-Mart, and a bunch of distilled water from the grocery store. Using an old battery charger as my dc power supply I started anodizing and dying the eighteen parts that went into the stock. Although I had to strip and re-anodize some of the parts, the work turned out acceptable.

Putting it All Together–Lug-Mounting the Fore-Arm and Lots of Epoxy
The barrel contour had to be modified to work with the stock which attaches by way of a rear plate which mounts like a recoil lug and a plate that ties the barrel and the stock tubes together 4″ forward of the bolt face. The four-inch maximum distance is a NBRSA rule concerning barrel blocks.

Davidson Benchrest 30BR

Davidson 30BR group targetThe recoil lug-style stock mount is probably the only truly innovative thing I did other than the opposing-magnet tuner. Basically, the rear bracket is sandwiched between the receiver face and the barrel shoulder–positioned where a conventional recoil lug would go. I also added a brass ring (visible in photo) between the anodized bracket and the barrel. This was done to distribute loads over a wider surface area. (I was concerned that the bracket material was fairly soft and I didn’t want to crush it as I torqued the barrel in place.) After fitting the barrel and plates I glued the entire gun together using epoxy and various LocTite adhesives. The rest of the parts were assembled but I did not Loctite the scope bases since I thought I’d be disassembling the rifle for re-work after the first trials. That came back to bite me during later testing when the gun started shooting erratically and I went down a couple of blind alleys before finding the loose bases.

Range Testing–Results Are Very Positive
The first range session was a real shocker. Even though the wind was up to 10mph and twitchy, the rifle showed promise from the very first shot. I really didn’t expect that kind of performance without, at least, some rework. After sighting in, I shot five, 5-shot groups that, when averaged together, measured .223″. That’s good enough to win some benchrest group matches. But I wasn’t finished with the gun yet–I still wanted to try out my magnetic tuner concept.

Magnetic Benchrest Tuner Davidson

The Magnetic Tuner
Next, I built the magnetic tuner. The tuner consists of one rare earth magnet attached to the stock and another attached to a barrel sleeve with the magnets oriented so the magnetic forces repel each other. In order to test the magnets and to determine if the rifle really shot as well as it seemed to, I took it to Gene Beggs’s shooting tunnel in Odessa, Texas. I spent two days at the tunnel testing loads and then installed the magnetic tuner. The gun shoots well with the magnets and shoots well without them. I suppose I can’t make any claims as to how much, if any, improvement the magnets make. Gene said that my gun was the most accurate rifle to be tested at his one-year-old shooting facility: “Shelley Davidson brought one of the most unusual rifles I had ever seen; he called it his ‘Tube Gun.’ And boy, did it ever shoot! It still holds the record in the tunnel as the rifle that shot more zeros than any other to date.” I definitely recommend Gene’s facility for testing and refining shooting techniques and loads.

Competition — Tinker Toy Won Both Score and Group Matches

Finally the big day arrived when I’d shoot the first match with my new gun. The North Texas Shooters Association was holding its first club match of the 2007 season. At the Denton, Texas matches we shoot a Score Match in the morning and a Group Match in the afternoon. The March event was at 100 yards and the April match will be at 200 yards and so on alternating throughout the benchrest season.

Davidson tube BR rifle Score MatchMatch One–Tinker Toy Wins Score with a 250 – 17X
Since the gun is chambered in 30BR and that chambering is almost immune to tuning woes, I preloaded 130 rounds with H4198 powder and 118gr Cheek bullets. I used my SEB front rest and rear bag which are made by Sebastian Lambang in Indonesia. Everything came together, and Tinker Toy demonstrated that the accuracy it showed in the tunnel was no fluke. The gun shot great and I won the morning match with a 250, 17X. The day was quite windy and the next best shooter scored a 250, 15X. So I’d chalked up my first win.

Match Two–Tinker Toy Wins Group with a .2282″ Agg
Tinker Toy won the afternoon group match I entered with a five-group Aggregate of .2282″. (The second place score was .2568″.) My groups were .149″, .197″, .243″, .302″ (oops), and .250″. You know how some folks say a 30BR can’t be competitive with a PPC? Well that .2282″ Agg won’t break any records, but it is good enough to win some regional registered BR matches. So this rifle has demonstrated an ability to win in both Score and Group matches. Obviously I have a very good Shilen barrel, great Cheek bullets and the rest of the components are doing their jobs as well. But, the stock is also working well.

Score Shooting vs. Group Shooting–The Rules
In a score match, the shooter shoots one bullet at each of five record targets, which are clustered on one target sheet. The Aggregate score of five of these targets determines the winner. If the shooter touches the 10 ring on all of his 25 targets he can score a “clean” 250 score. Usually there will be more than one shooter who scores a 250 so the winner is determined by the X-count. The 1/2″ 10-point ring has a 1/16″ dot in its center. Touching the X dot adds to the shooters X count. In short-range group matches, the shooter must try to put five bullets through the same hole. At each distance (100 or 200), five, 5-shot matches are scored, the group sizes are added together (MOA equivalent at 200) and the total is divided by five to arrive at an Aggregate score.

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August 26th, 2020

IBS Match Report: 2020 100/200 Meter Score Nationals

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina

2020 has been a challenging year for the shooting sports. The CMP National Matches at Camp Perry and NRA National Championships at Camp Atterbury were cancelled due to Pandemic health concerns. Other major matches have been dropped from the calendar due to COVID-19. That’s why we are pleased to report that the IBS was able to conduct the 2020 Benchrest for Score 100/200 Meter National Championships. Attendance was solid, and competitors had a good time. Here is the match report from IBS member Todd Payseur.

IBS 100/200 Score Nationals at Mid-Carolina Gun Club

Report from Todd Payseur
The morning light breaks and shooters begin to set the final touches on their wind flags. Yes, it’s time for the Nationals! For what has been a crazy COVID-impacted year with a lot of cancelled matches, dates being changed, and some states still not able to hold matches, many shooters had cabin fever for the Nationals.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina

Several people had concerns beforehand with even having a match in August at the Mid-Carolina Gun Club because of how brutal our summers can be, but Mother Nature really blessed us with a calm weekend. Saturday started with overcast skies and projected highs around 87 degrees, which for August is almost unheard of. A few showers during the day, but nothing that really amounted to much or effected any of the relays. The winds stayed calm and 20 VFS shooters stayed clean and 2 Hunter guns went for 250-10X with Peter Hills creedmooring Ronnie Milford for the top 6-power at 100 meters. In VFS a familiar face, Wayne France shot a great 250-21X edging out rookie shooter Will Till at 250-20X.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Lisa Moore, grandmother of Gage and Remy Logsdon, prepares for the next relay with bolt removed.

This is Will’s second season in VFS and he has steadily improved. His second place finish at 100 meters is the start of many great finishes ahead for this young man. Speaking of young people, I’m pleased to say we had a great showing of Junior shooters this year and they all deserve to be mentioned. Defending rookie of the year Tori Allen (below right) was the top junior, followed by first-year rookie Remy Logsdon. Gage Logsdon rounded out the top three junior shooters. With such young talents coming into the benchrest game, we are very optimistic about the future of our sport.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Wayne France (Left) with 100-yard 1st Place Agg patch. Tori Allen (Right) was the top Junior shooter.

Sunday at 200 meters was the Lin Smith show! Lin shot both a Heavy and a Light Varmint rifle and turned in a very impressive 500-17X for the day. This fine work led him to two of the top three places at 200 meters and a first and fourth in the Grand Agg. I can’t say enough about how happy everyone is for Lin. He is one good man that those of us in the southeast region are honored to compete with and call a friend.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Grand Agg winner Lin Smith really put on a display of fine shooting this weekend.

In the 6-power Hunter Rifle class, Jim Cline turned in an impressive 249-5X at 200 meters for the win and that led him to his first place finish in the Grand Agg followed by a solid 245-4X by Ronnie Milford who took second-place in the Grand Agg.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Here are all the winners with their wood. Left to Right: Will Till, Gage Logsdon, Lee Martin, Tori Allen, John Bosley, Lin Smith, Peter Hills, John Ridgeway, Remy Logsdon, Wayne France, Jim Cline and Ronnie Milford.

CLICK Chart for Full Spreadsheet with Results for ALL Shooters
IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeberg south carolina

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
View back to the benches from the 100-meter targets at Mid-Carolina Gun Club. the Orangeburg swirl is lurking in those trees… just waiting to push bullets where they just shouldn’t go!

Great Competition, Great Food, Great Location
Overall we had a good turnout with 35 VFS guns and 8 V/VH guns on Saturday and 34 and 7 on Sunday. Competitors came from as far away as Maine and Michigan and everywhere in between. The food was outstanding with meals available both Friday and Saturday evenings at the range along with lunches Saturday and Sunday. One thing is for certain, if you enjoy great food and great company, then the IBS VFS circuit is something you should come check out, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

About the Mid-Carolina Gun Glub in South Carolina
CLICK HERE for more information on the Mid-Carolina Gun Club in Orangeburg, South Carolina. This club boasts a great facility with plenty of room for cleaning/loading, plus a large, covered eating area with serving line. There is also parking for campers on the club property. I would like to personally thank Jim Cline and the whole Mid-Carolina Crew for another great weekend and cherished memory!

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Jerry Powers from the Ashe County gang setting up a SEB MAX. SEB rests, both MAX and NEO, are very popular with score BR shooters.

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August 2nd, 2020

Expanding Cartridge Brass in Stages with Progressive Press

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass Service expanding brass 6mmBR 6BR BRX 30BR Hornady press
Photos from DJ’s Brass Service.

Have you ever expanded a .22 or 6mm cartridge all the way up to .30-caliber? If so, you know this can be a difficult procedure that stresses the case necks and neck-shoulder junction. A significant neck-size expansion done in one big jump can increase run-out, cause doughnuts, or worse yet, even split the brass. Therefore you want to proceed in increments, increasing the neck diameter in stages. One smart way to do that is to use a Progressive Press. This article explains how…

The most successful short-range brenchrest-for-score cartridge is the 30 BR. That cartridge, as well as 30 BR variants such as the 30 BRX, all start with the 6mmBR Norma parent cartridge, typically with Lapua 6mmBR brass. To get a nice 30 BR case you want to expand in stages, increasing the inside neck diameter incrementally from .243 to .308.

Darrell Jones of DJ’s Brass Service creates thousands of 30 BR cases each year. He has found a clever way to speed up the process — Darrell uses a Progressive Press. He runs his 6BR brass through four (4) separate Hornady neck-sizing dies with expander mandrels. First there is a .257 die, followed by .264 (6.5mm), .284 (7mm), and then .308. Then a fifth and final K&M die provides one last, slight expansion so the newly-fashioned 30 BR cases perfectly fit the arbor of Darrell’s neck-turning tool.

So to repeat, the case starts as .243 (6mm), then moves in up stages .257, .264, .284, and .308, with a final “finishing” step prior to neck-turning. You can see the expansion in this video, which starts with 6mmBR brass that was first hydro-formed to 6 BRX:

Watch 6mm Cases Expanded to 30-Caliber (6BRX to 30 BRX)

For this demo video, Darrell expands just one case at a time. However, he can also put multiple cases in the progressive — one per station. This takes a little more effort, Darrell says, but the results are still excellent. Darrell tells us: “I do put multiple cases in the progressive to save time. The results are the same — I just wanted to show a single-step process and how it reduces run-out by not stressing the shoulder with one big expansion from 6mm straight to 30 caliber. Doing the operation in multiple stages avoids binds and helps keep the shoulders concentric.”

This same multi-stage procedure can be use to expand other cartridge types. For example you could take .221 Fireball brass in stages up to .308 to create 300 Blackout brass.

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass Service expanding brass 6mmBR 6BR BRX 30BR Hornady press

Darrell uses caliber-specific, Hornady neck-sizing-only dies with elliptical expanders. Darrell tells us: “The Hornady elliptical expander has a reduced bearing surface that puts less strain on the brass when expanding the necks to the next size.” The fitting at the bottom of the die is the Lock-N-Load die bushing that allows fast die changes.

These particular cases used in the video were first hydro-formed to 6BRX then expanded to 30 BRX before neck turning. DJ’s Brass offers hydro-forming for many popular wildcat cartridges such as 6 PPC, 6mm Dasher, and .284 Shehane.

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass Service expanding brass 6mmBR 6BR BRX 30BR Hornady press

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June 23rd, 2020

How to Form 30 BR Cases — Experts Explain Best Methods

30BR 30 BR case forming benchrest randy robinette al nyhus

30BR 30 BR case formingThe 30 BR is an amazing little cartridge. However, 30 BR shooters do have to neck-up 6mmBR or 7mmBR brass and then deal with some issues that can arise from the expansion process. One of our Forum members was concerned about the donut that can form at the new (expanded) neck-shoulder junction. Respected bullet-maker Randy Robinett offers tips on how to deal with the “dreaded donut”.

The Forum member was concerned about thinning the brass if he turned his 30 BR necks after expansion: “Everything I have found on 30 BR case-forming says to simply turn off the bulge at the base of the neck caused by the old 6BR shoulder. I expanded my first case and measured the neck at 0.329″ except on the donut, where it measures 0.335″. Looking inside the case… reveals a groove inside the case under the donut. Now, it is a fact that when I turn that neck and remove the donut, the groove is still going to be there on the inside? That means there is now a thin-spot ring at the base of the neck that is .005 thinner than the rest of the neck. Has anyone experienced a neck cracking on this ring?”

Randy Robinett, who runs BIB Bullet Co., is one of the “founding fathers” of the 30 BR who help prove and popularize the 30 BR for benchrest score shooting. Randy offers this advice on 30 BR case-forming:

While the thinner neck-base was one of our original concerns, unless one cuts too deeply INTO the shoulder, it is not a problem. For my original 30BR chamber, thirty (30) cases were used to fire 6,400 rounds through the barrel. The cases were never annealed, yet there were ZERO case failures, neck separations, or splits. The case-necks were turned for a loaded-round neck diameter of .328″, and, from the beginning, sized with a .324″ neck-bushing.

The best method for avoiding the ‘bulge’ is to fire-form prior to neck-turning (several methods are successfully employed). Cutting too deeply into the shoulder can result in case-neck separations. I have witnessed this, but, with several barrels and thousands to shots fired, have not [personally] experienced it. The last registered BR event fired using that original barrel produced a 500-27x score and a second-place finish. [That’s] not bad for 6K plus shots, at something over 200 firings per case.

Check out the 30 BR Cartridge Guide on AccurateShooter.com
You’ll find more information on 30 BR Case-forming in our 30 BR Cartridge Guide. Here’s a short excerpt from that page — some tips provided by benchrest for score and HBR shooter Al Nyhus:

30 BR Case-Forming Procedure by Al Nyhus
The 30 BR cartridge is formed by necking-up 6mmBR or 7mmBR brass. You can do this in multiple stages or in one pass. You can use either an expander mandrel (like Joe Entrekin does), or a tapered button in a regular dies. Personally, I use a Redding tapered expander button, part number 16307. This expands the necks from 6mm to .30 cal in one pass. It works well as long as you lube the mandrel and the inside of the necks. I’ve also used the Sinclair expander body with a succession of larger mandrels, but this is a lot more work and the necks stay straighter with the Redding tapered button. This button can be used in any Redding die that has a large enough inside diameter to accept the BR case without any case-to-die contact.

Don’t be concerned about how straight the necks are before firing them the first time. When you whap them with around 50,000 psi, they will straighten out just fine! I recommend not seating the bullets into the lands for the first firing, provided there is an adequate light crush-fit of the case in the chamber. The Lapua cases will shorten from approx. 1.550″ to around 1.520″ after being necked up to 30-caliber I trim to 1.500″ with the (suggested) 1.520 length chambers. I don’t deburr the flash holes or uniform the primer pockets until after the first firing. I use a Ron Hoehn flash hole deburring tool that indexes on the primer pocket, not through the case mouth. — Al Nyhus

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June 8th, 2020

For Less Run-Out, Try Rotating Your Cases During Bullet Seating

Bullet Seating Reloading rotate cartridge Run-out TIR

Here is a simple technique that can potentially help you load straighter ammo, with less run-out (as measured on the bullet). This procedure costs nothing and adds only a few seconds to the time needed to load a cartridge. Next time you’re loading ammo with a threaded (screw-in) seating die, try seating the bullet in two stages. Run the cartridge up in the seating die just enough to seat the bullet half way. Then lower the cartridge and rotate it 180° in the shell-holder. Now raise the cartridge up into the die again and finish seating the bullet.

Steve, aka “Short Range”, one of our Forum members, recently inquired about run-out apparently caused by his bullet-seating process. Steve’s 30BR cases were coming out of his neck-sizer with good concentricity, but the run-out nearly doubled after he seated the bullets. At the suggestion of other Forum members, Steve tried the process of rotating his cartridge while seating his bullet. Steve then measured run-out on his loaded rounds. To his surprise there was a noticeable reduction in run-out on the cases which had been rotated during seating. Steve explains: “For the rounds that I loaded yesterday, I seated the bullet half-way, and turned the round 180 degrees, and finished seating the bullet. That reduced the bullet runout by almost half on most rounds compared to the measurements from the first test.”

READ Bullet Seating Forum Thread »

run-out bullet

run-out bullet

Steve recorded run-out measurements on his 30 BR brass using both the conventional (one-pass) seating procedure, as well as the two-stage (with 180° rotation) method. Steve’s measurements are collected in the two charts above. As you can see, the run-out was less for the rounds which were rotated during seating. Note, the change is pretty small (less than .001″ on average), but every little bit helps in the accuracy game. If you use a threaded (screw-in) seating die, you might try this two-stage bullet-seating method. Rotating your case in the middle of the seating process won’t cost you a penny, and it just might produce straighter ammo (nothing is guaranteed). If you do NOT see any improvement on the target, you can always go back to seating your bullets in one pass. READ Forum Thread..

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April 23rd, 2020

Rebating Case Rims Let You Shoot BR Brass with PPC Action

30BR 6 PPC rim rebated Butch Lambert

Many short-range Benchresters have thought about converting their 6 PPC to shoot a 30BR for score matches, or a Dasher for mid-range (or even 1000-yard) games. That way you have a rifle that does double duty, giving you the most bang for your buck. Though an action with a PPC bolt won’t normally work with 30BR/6BR/Dasher cases with their larger .308-class rim (0.4728″ diameter), there is a pretty easy solution that allows you to cycle these bigger cartridges with a 6PPC-style bolt (designed to fit .220 Russian rims).

“Rebating case rims … lets you shoot a 30BR in score matches using your PPC action. All you need is a new barrel. This saves buying another bolt, receiver, or rifle.” — Butch Lambert

Butch Lambert of ShadeTree Engineering provided this tip. Butch notes that many 6 PPC benchrest group shooters also enjoy shooting in score matches. But to be really competitive in the BR for score game, that means shooting a 30BR, which has a wider, .308-class rim (0.4728″ diameter). Likewise, if you want to compete in 600-yard registered BR events or in varmint matches, you probably want to run a bigger case, such as the 6BR, 6mm Dasher, or 6-6.5×47. Those cartridges also have the larger 0.4728″ rims.

30Br Butch Lambers 6 PPC

Cutting Head for Rebating Rims
To convert a PPC-boltface action to shoot the bigger cases you can spend a ton of money and buy a new bolt. That can cost hundreds of dollars. The simpler solution is to turn down the diameter of the larger cases on a lathe. Butch explains: “We’ve seen plenty of interest in rebating case rims. This lets you shoot a 30BR in score matches using your PPC action. All you need is a new barrel. This saves buying another bolt, receiver, or rifle if you have a PPC boltface. Anyone who has access to a lathe can do this job pretty easily. Yesterday I turned 150 case in about an hour.” At right is the lathe form tool Butch uses to rebate the case rims.

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March 15th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Twin 30 BR Score Rigs — Thunder Down-Under

30BR Hunter Class Rifle
This story, from our Gun of the Week Archives, offers a good intro to the 30 BR cartridge, which is still the leading chambering for short-range Score Benchrest.

What’s better than one custom-built 30 BR with gorgeous wood and top-shelf components? A matching pair of course. Just ask Australian shooter Greg Roche (“Caduceus” in our Forum). A decade ago, Greg spent two years living and working in the USA. While in America, he commissioned two matched custom rifles to bring back to Australia for Hunter Class BR matches. Though the look-alike rigs are both chambered in 30 BR, one is designed for the Australian “Traditional” centerfire Hunter Class (10-lb limit), while the other is purpose-built for the “Custom” centerfire Hunter Class (14-lb limit). The 10-lb Traditional rifle features a fully-functioning two-round magazine and a 6-power scope. In contrast the Custom Class rifle is a single-shot action, with a 45X Leupold scope. The Custom weighs 13.5 pounds so it can also be used in traditional Heavy Varmint Benchrest matches if desired.

30BR Hunter Class Rifle

Tale of Two Rifles
Story and Photos by Greg Roche (“Caduceus”)

The USA boasts some of the finest precision rifle-builders and Benchrest parts suppliers in the world. Before returning to Australia after two years in the States, I decided to have two special BR rifles built using American components and skilled labor. I wanted a matched pair — twin guns that would be as handsome as they were accurate. The heavier gun of the pair, the 13.5-lb Custom Class rifle, features top-of-the-line (but well-proven) technologies and components. With the 10.5-lb Traditional Class rifle, we had to develop new solutions to allow the 30 BR cartridge to feed from a functional two-round magazine. Here is my saga of how my twin 30 BRs were conceived and built, and how they have performed in competition.

30BR Hunter Class Rifle

BACKGROUND — The 30 BR for Score Competition

The 30 BR is a wildcat cartridge based on a necked-up version of the 6mmBR Norma case. It originated in U.S. Benchrest circles where it found its niche in Varmint For Score (VFS) matches. Unlike traditional Benchrest, where group size determines the winner, VFS matches are shot on a target with multiple, concentric-ringed bullseyes. Point total is based on “best edge” shot location (one shot per bull). In score competition, the 30 BR’s “supersized” .308-diameter hole offers an advantage over the 6mm hole created by a 6 PPC, the dominant group BR chambering.

30 BR cartridge

The starting point for loading the 30 BR wildcat is Lapua 6mmBR brass. These are necked up as a single-step operation using a .30 caliber tapered expander ball (or dedicated expander mandrel). This will leave a bulge in the neck, so the expanded case neck is normally turned to bring the thickness down to the correct dimension for the chamber. I turned these necks down to .010″ wall thickness using a Stiller neck-turning tool. It features an eccentric mandrel similar to the Nielson “Pumpkin”. Loaded rounds measure .328″ neck diameter. This gives minimum clearance in my .330″ neck chamber, so very little neck resizing is needed after firing. Cases are trimmed to 1.500″ prior to turning to ensure consistency since the Stiller tool indexes the length of cut off the case mouth. Other than that, cases are just chamfered, loaded and made ready to shoot. No special fire-forming is required.

17-Twist Barrels for Both Rifles
Texan gunsmith Mike Bryant chambered both barrels. Mike also polished both barrels to a high-gloss to match the receivers. In this game, barrels are consumables, much like powder and primers, so most owners wouldn’t bother to polish their barrels. However a 30 BR barrel can provide up to 5000 rounds of accurate life (unlike a 6PPC barrel which might be tossed after 800-1000 rounds.) So, these barrels are likely to be on the rifles for many seasons. Given the high-gloss finish of the Grizzly actions and the beauty of the Red Cedar stocks, it would have been an injustice to leave a dull finish on the barrels.

The chambers were both cut with the same reamer supplied by Dave Kiff of Pacific Tool and Gauge. Randy Robinett, one of the originators of the 30 BR wildcat, specified the reamer dimensions. Randy’s 118gr, 10-ogive custom BIB bullets and the 30 BR cartridge enjoy a winning track record in the USA. The 30 BR Robinette reamer has zero free-bore and a .330″ neck, and is optimized for the BIB 118s. The bullets perform best when seated far enough out to jam firmly into the rifling as the bolt is closed. The long ogive means the bullet’s bearing surface is very short.

Slow Twists for Maximum Accuracy
You may note the unusually slow twist rate of both barrels. In most .30-caliber chamberings, the barrel twist rate is 1:11 or 1:12 to stabilize 150gr to 200gr bullets. The 30 BR is optimized for 115gr to 118gr flat-base bullets and 1:17 provides sufficient stability at muzzle velocities around 2900-3000 fps. In competitive Benchrest, where every thousandth of an inch counts, over-stabilization of projectiles can hurt accuracy, so “just stable enough” is the goal; hence the 1:17 twist.

Case Forming, Case Prep, and Reloading Methods

Sinclair Neck Micrometer, 30 BR Neck Turning
A Sinclair case neck micrometer indicates neck thickness of 0.010″ after neck turning.

Sinclair Neck Micrometer, 30 BR Neck Turning30 BR dies are readily available from a number of manufacturers. I personally use Wilson neck and seating dies with a Sinclair Arbor press, but Redding and Forster both supply high-quality threaded dies for use in a conventional press. For under $100.00 US, custom full-length dies can be obtained from Hornady and CH Tool & Die by sending them reamer prints or a couple of fired cases. Harrell’s Precision offers “semi-custom” dies. Just send them some fired cases and they select a pre-made CNC-cut die that ideally fits your chamber. You can ask the Harrell brothers for a die that’s tighter at the shoulder or base, or otherwise customized to your preferences.

Load Development and Accuracy Testing
With cases formed and bullets selected, load development is simply a matter of choosing the right primer, powder and charge weight, and loading the most consistent ammunition possible. The Lapua BR cases use a small rifle primer. The choice here was Federal 205 Match primers vs. CCI BR4 Benchrest primers. Some shooters have also had success using CCI 450 Magnum primers but it is very unlikely the small case needs this much spark to light off regular extruded powders. In my case, I selected Federal primers because availability tends to be better in Australia.

The relatively large bore-to-capacity ratio of the 30 BR case means that fast burning powders are the order of the day. Once again, US experience suggests H4198 (the Hodgdon equivalent of ADI AR2207) is the choice of match winners. The fact that H4198/AR2207 is an Australian-made product is an added bonus. So, I loaded up test rounds with AR2207 from 32.5 grains to 35.0 grains in approximately 0.3 grain increments. All bullets were seated to jam +0.010″ into the lands. This places the bullet base about two-thirds of the way down the neck and well short of the neck-shoulder junction.

READ FULL Story on AccurateShooter.com Main Site »

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October 25th, 2019

IBS Match Report — 2019 100/200 Meter Score Nationals

IBS meter 100 200 score nationals national championship benchrest South Carolina Mid-Carolina
View through 6X scope at 2019 Metric Score Nationals in South Carolina. This is exactly what Jeff Stover’s camera recorded — it is not a Photoshop job.

IBS meter 100 200 score nationals national championship benchrest South Carolina Mid-CarolinaMatch Report by Jeff Stover, IBS President
“You need to come shoot with us” said Jim Cline at the January 2019 meeting of the IBS. Jim is both a Match Director at Mid-Carolina and an IBS Vice-President. I, as IBS President, considered it for a few seconds. Virtually all of my shooting is short-range group, but I wanted to see why IBS Score Benchrest was so hot — and growing — in the Southeast. “I will be down in October for the Score Nationals” was my response. Bottom line — The event was great, and I should have made the trip years earlier.

The Mid-Carolina Rifle Club is located about 35 miles southeast of Columbia, South Carolina. It sports 20 solid and well-designed concrete benches. A nice feature is the very deep, behind-the-firing-line roof for cleaning rifles, and chatting with fellow shooters.

The main competition at the Score Nationals is for the “Varmint for Score” 13.5-pound rifles. The cartridge of choice is the 30 BR (6mmBR parent cartridge). The extra .065″ bullet diameter over a 6mm helps with the Best Edge Scoring, but the 30 BR gives nothing away to the 6PPC in the accuracy department. As any score shooter can tell you, the 30 BR is an inherently accurate cartridge that is relatively easy to tune.

IBS meter 100 200 score nationals national championship benchrest South Carolina Mid-Carolina
Firing Line at Mid-Carolina Rifle Club with ample behind-the-Line roof coverage.

It was a dream shoot for me. I don’t have a VFS 30 in my gun cabinet, but that was all taken care of. Both rifle and ammo came courtesy of Mike Clayton, one of the circuit’s top shooters. All I needed to bring were my rests! Mike’s rifle was a laser which I did not fully exploit. Mike showed true Southern Hospitality.

IBS meter 100 200 score nationals national championship benchrest South Carolina Mid-Carolina
Mike Clayton ready to pull the trigger on his 30 BR rifle.

About 70 shooters made their way to Orangeburg. More had preregistered but the threat of Tropical Storm Nestor kept a few away. The storm was projected to bring 25+ mph gusts and heavy rain on Saturday. Those dire predictions did not materialize. We had somewhat light, but quickly switching, winds and mostly light rain. It was a dreary day for 100 meter competition but the mood along the firing line was convivial.

IBS meter 100 200 score nationals national championship benchrest South Carolina Mid-Carolina
Tropical Storm Nestor delivered only rain and switchy breezes instead of the predicted gales.

At 100 meters, Brud Sheats led the way with a very nice 250-23X. On his heels were Ronnie Milford and Jim Cline with 22 and 21 Xs respectively. Jim and Ron are leading the Score Shooter of the Year standings. In 6-power class, Jim Cline’s had a good 250-14X for high score with Dewey Hancock 3 Xs behind.

IBS meter 100 200 score Emilee nationals national championship benchrest South Carolina Mid-Carolina

Young Lady Shines at Her First Registered Match
Above is young competitor Emmalee McMurry (from eastern Tennessee) with her 6 PPC Heavy Varmint rifle. This was her very FIRST registered match. Her father Bill is her coach and mentor. Using her 6 PPC she shot two really good targets, a 50-5X and 50-4X. I shot next to her, and was impressed — she has composure and was very comfortable shooting a bench gun. If she stays with it, she could be a future force in Score Benchrest competition. — Jeff Stover, IBS President

Sunday, the targets and stationary backers were moved to the 200 meter butts. The weather started as Saturday had finished — light misty rain with some fog and 10 mph switchy wind. By mid-morning, however, the rain stopped and around lunchtime things brightened. After lunch the sun started to make more frequent appearances and the Orangeburg mirage returned. At the conclusion of the 200 meter stage only three of 65 shooters shot “clean” — i.e. a 250 score, with a 50 on every target.

IBS meter 100 200 score nationals national championship benchrest South Carolina Mid-Carolina
Jim Cline aligning rifle. The multiple bolts are for his Light and Heavy VFS rifles and 6X Hunter Class rifle.

Mid-Carolina Rifle Club Extends the Red Carpet with Fine Food
All shooters were treated to a free grilled chicken and macaroni and cheese luncheon. In the evening, for a small charge, the Mid-Carolina club hosted a catered prime rib dinner. It was the “real deal” — premium beef carved to order. We had hoped for a pleasant Carolina evening instead of poor weather, but the great food made up for it.

At 200 meters, Brud Sheats lost none of his score-shooting mastery from Saturday. He won VFS 200 with a 250-5X. Ken Habadank followed with a Creedmoored 5X and Miles Gibby was 3rd with a 250-2X. The golden rule of score shooting is “stay clean”. That is, shoot a 50 on every target (five tens). The Xs are gravy, especially at 200. Anthony Isner shot a really nice 12 Xs in those conditions. But a wayward shot cost him a point on one target. A 250 beats a 249 despite the X counts. Having won both yardages Mr. Sheats won the 100-200 Grand aggregate with a 500-28X. Ken Habadank’s second place was six Xs behind. Miles Gibby, the only other 500 shooter, had 17 Xs to complete the podium.

IBS meter 100 200 score nationals national championship benchrest South Carolina Mid-Carolina

See Complete 2019 100m/200m IBS Score Nationals Match Results HERE on IBS Website.

So what about the 6-power-max optics rifles? Shooting a 6-power scope at 100 meters is tough enough. At 200, well, it is twice as difficult, especially in Sunday’s conditions. Anthony Isner’s 243-4X won the day followed by Maine’s Orland Bunker at 242-3X. In the 6X Grand Agg, Dewey Hancock took the title with a 491-16X, closely followed by Brian Fitch with a 490-16X.

IBS meter 100 200 score nationals national championship benchrest South Carolina Mid-Carolina
After Cease Fire is called, competitors show detached bolts to ensure safety.

Great Match — With Many Fine Shooters Returning to the Ranks
This was a fine, well-run match by any standard. I did not embarrass myself with a score rifle, so that was a plus! I made the trip to see “what’s what”, and was delighted to find a range full of enthusiastic and fun competitors. And these fellows really know how to shoot. I talked to several shooters who have come back to the sport after years, if not decades, of being away from benchrest. The PR efforts of Jim Cline, Ronnie Milford and other stalwarts in the region are beating the drum and many are answering the call.

IBS meter 100 200 score nationals national championship benchrest South Carolina Mid-Carolina

IBS meter 100 200 score nationals national championship benchrest South Carolina Mid-Carolina
Score Benchrest rifles racked and ready for the next relay.

IBS meter 100 200 score nationals national championship benchrest South Carolina Mid-Carolina
30 BR ammo with timer, and bolt lube, on bench.

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April 21st, 2019

Sunday GunDay — Forum Fan Favorites

6 PPC flame paint nude forearm surprise killerpaint.com
This 6 PPC features a Nesika Extended ‘C’ action, Krieger 1:13.5″-twist LV barrel, Kelbly stock, and stunning paint by Mike Lavalle of killerpaint.com. For an eye-catching R-Rated paint surprise, Click HERE.

One of the most popular items in our Shooters’ Forum is the ongoing “Pride and Joy” thread. Since 2009, Forum members have posted photos and descriptions of their most prized firearms. Here are some of the most recent “Pride and Joy” rifles showcased in our Forum. Do you have a gun you’d like to see featured there? Register for the Forum and you can add your favorite gun to the list.

30 BR Roy Hunter Curly Maple stock wood Bat action James Lederer barrel
Click image to view large, full-screen photo!

For this week’s Sunday GunDay we’ve selected five fan favorites from the Pride and Joy archives. First up is this custom 30 BR brought to you by ANSHUTER2013 and built by Dave Bruno. We were captivated by the clean lines and handsome looks of the Roy Hunter Curly Maple stock. Nestled in that stock is a BAT B action fronted by a 1:17″-twist James Lederer 24″ HV barrel. A Jewell trigger with fixed 42x44mm Nightforce scope round out this beauty.

6 PPC benchrest Seb NEO Lenzi bad Bat action Bix'N Andy Bartlein barrel
6 PPC benchrest Seb NEO Lenzi bad Bat action Bix'N Andy Bartlein barrel

This state-of-the-art 6 PPC boasts all top-tier components. And owner Wes R. shoots it with a superb rest/bag/pad set-up that inspires envy. This “Bughole 6 PPC” features a Bat DS action, Bix’N Andy trigger, with Bartlein 1:13.75″-twist barrel. The stock is a super-low-profile Scoville with carbon strengthening. The front rest is a SEB NEO, while in the rear is the new Lenzi sandbag. Folks tell us the Lenzi is super stable, which improves tracking from shot to shot. Note the timer attached to the front rest as well as the nice Edgewood leather bench “blanket” and arm-rest pad.

Eliseo R1 tube gun tubegun chassis F-Class F-Open .284 Winchester

Eliseo R1 tube gun tubegun chassis F-Class F-Open .284 Winchester

Forum Member Killick attached PickleForks to his handsome blue Eliseo R1 TubeGun now chambered in .284 Winchester, a top choice for the F-Open discipline. Killick explains: “Behold! An Eliseo R1 F-Classer. This started out as an R1 Long Range sling rifle (6XC) with a Borden TubeGun action. It is now rebarreled in .284 Win with Gary’s PickleFork fore-end adaptor. Props to Gary Eliseo at Competition Machine LLC.

.308 Win Rifle Manners Stock
.308 Win Rifle Manners Stock

Sometimes clean and simple is the way to go — particularly with a hunting rifle. WEATHERBYFAN’s 6.5 Creedmoor is built around a Stiller Predator single-shot action in a texturd, green Wildcat Var-Tac stock. The 1:8″-twist Bartlein barrel is finished at 28″. That’s pretty long for a hunting rig, but it delivers added velocity. Finishing off this nice rigle is a Zeiss 6-24x50mm optic. Sometimes less is more and this is a perfect example of that.

.308 Win Rifle Manners Stock
.308 Win Rifle Manners Stock

Our final offering is from Forum member 300_WHISPER. Completed just months ago by gunsmith CALEB85, this .308 Win rifle features a Bighorn TL3 action with a Bartlein M40 26″ 1:10″-twist barrel, and Manners TA Elite stock. Other components include Trigger Tech Special, Area 419 self-timing muzzle brake, and a Weaver Tactical 3-15x50mm FFP mil/mil optic. When test-fired by Caleb with ammo using Berger 175gr OTM Tactical bullets, this nice .308 Win delivered a 1.6″ 5-shot group at 400 yards. The owner says “It’s my dream rifle. I couldn’t be happier”.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
December 11th, 2018

Tech Tip: Shoot BR Cases with Rebated Rims in PPC Actions

PPC 6mm BR .308 bolt face Cutting Head for Rebating Rims

Butch Lambert of ShadeTree Engineering provided this tip. Butch notes that many 6 PPC benchrest group shooters also enjoy shooting in score matches. But to be really competitive in the BR for score game, that means shooting a 30 BR, which has a wider, .308-class rim (0.4728″ diameter). Likewise, if you want to compete in 600-yard registered BR events or in varmint matches, you probably want to run a bigger case, such as the 6BR, 6BRA, 6mm Dasher, or 6-6.5×47. Those cartridges also have the larger 0.4728″ rims.

PPC 6mm BR .308 bolt face Cutting Head for Rebating Rims

To convert a PPC-boltface action to shoot the bigger cases you can spend a ton of money and buy a new bolt. That can cost hundreds of dollars. The simpler solution is to turn down the diameter of the larger cases on a lathe. This is a relatively simple procedure with the right cutting tool.

Butch explains: “We’ve seen plenty of interest in rebating case rims. This lets you shoot a 30 BR in score matches using your PPC action. All you need is a new barrel. This saves buying another bolt, receiver, or rifle if you have a PPC boltface. Anyone who has access to a lathe can do this job pretty easily. Yesterday I turned 150 case in about an hour.” At right is the lathe form tool Butch uses to rebate the case rims.

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December 3rd, 2018

2018 IBS 100/200 Score Nationals in North Carolina

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

IBS Score Nationals  North Carolina  2018Report by Boyd Allen, IBS Vice President
Over the weekend of October 27-28, 2018 forty-four shooters competed at the IBS 2018 Score Nationals held at the Ashe County Wildlife Club in Laurel Springs, North Carolina. The match had been rescheduled from its original, earlier date because of Hurricane Florence. Forty-three shooters shot Varmint for Score, and two of those also shot Varmint Hunter. One competitor strictly shot in Varmint Hunter class, for a total of three in that category.

Despite challenging winds and weather, there were some impressive performances. Brud Sheats won the VFS Grand Aggregate with 499-35X, with Richard Sissel second, 499-24X. Brud also topped the 200-yard VFS field, while Chris Gibby was the leading 100-yard VFS shooter.

IBS Score Nationals  North Carolina  2018
This photo was taken on the cold and damp Saturday morning. Ashe County Wildlife Club’s 30 benches are generously proportioned and extremely well-built.

The Weather/Conditions
According to my source, Saturday morning was cool and cloudy, after a morning low of 40 degrees the day would only get up to a high of 48. As you can see from the picture of the firing line there was a little rain. The wind light and shooting conditions generally good, but on Sunday things changed. The wind became a more significant factor. According to my good friend Lee Martin, who shot the match and was kind enough to send me many good pictures, “Sunday brought 20 mph gusts that switched constantly.” Weather records show that the temperature ranged from an early morning low of 39 degrees with an eventual high of 56 and just a .01” of rain.

IBS Score Nationals  North Carolina  2018

IBS Score Nationals  North Carolina  2018

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

Photos by Clint Johnson and Lee Martin.

The Ashe County Wildlife Club
This impressive rural facility is far more than just a benchrest range. It has a Trout Pond, Skeet Field, Sporting Clays, 5-Stand Sporting, Wobble tower, Trap field, 300-yard Rifle range with 30 covered benches, and a 50-yard Pistol / Rimfire range. The 300-yard benchrest range has a newly constructed firing line and loading/multipurpose building that any club would be proud of. The firing line runs along the north east wall of the building and is covered by its extended eave.

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

Top Shooters, Results, and Equipment List

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

The above photo includes most of the “top guns” at the 2018 IBS Score Nationals. Shown, from left to right: Dean Breeden – 1st 100 Hunter, High X-Count Hunter & 2 Gun Grand Agg Hunter; Wayne France – 5th 200 & 4th Grand Agg; Dewey Hancock – 2nd 100; Chris Gibby – 1st 100 & 5th Grand Agg; John Cascarino – 4th 200 & 5th Grand Agg; Rick Hudak – 3rd 100 plus 2017 defending Grand Agg Winner; Brud Sheats – 1st 200 & 2018 Grand Agg Winner; Nick Breeden – 1st youth; David Richardson – 3rd 200; Orland Bunker – 1st 200 Hunter & 1st Grand Agg Hunter; K.L. Miller – 2nd 100 Hunter; Richard Sissel – 2nd 200 & 2nd Grand Agg. (Anything not designated as Hunter refers to VFS.)

CLICK HERE for Complete Match Results and Equipment List »

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018
Brud Sheats, 1st @ 200 & 2018 VFS Grand Agg Winner; Right — Richard Sissel, Grand Agg Runner-Up.

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018
IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

See More Match Photos from the 100/200 Score Nationals
If you want to see more photos from the Score Nationals, here are links to two web photo albums with many more images from the event:

Clint Johnson’s Photo Archive | Lee Martin’s Photo Archive

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

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October 30th, 2018

Hydro-Forming Cases by the Experts — DJ’s Brass

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass hydraulic hydro-forming cartridge brass 6 Dasher 6mmBR 6BR BRX BRDX
Along with these popular cartridge types, DJ’s Brass can hydro-form 6 PPC, 30 PPC, 6 BRA, 30 BR, .260 AI, .284 Shehane and other wildcats.

Do you shoot a popular wildcat (such as the 6 BRA), but hate the hassle of fire-forming all your own cartridge brass? That takes time, costs money (in bullets and powder), and consumes precious barrel life. Well there IS a better solution — you can have your new brass hydro-formed to your exact specifications for a reasonable cost.

DJ’s Brass Service now offers custom case hydro-forming to your exact specs. Darrell Jones offers this service for a variety of popular cartridges: 6 PPC, 30 PPC, 30 BR, 6 BRA (BR Ackley), 6mm Grinch, 6 BRDX, 6 BRX, .260 Ackley, .284 Shehane and of course the very popular 6mm Dasher. After hydro-forming your brass, Darrell can also neck-up or neck-down the cases to meet your needs. For example, if you shoot a 22 Dasher, Darrell can hydro-form the cases to a 6 Dasher and then neck them down to .22 caliber. He can also turn the necks to your specs (for an additional charge).

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass hydraultic hydro-forming cartridge brass 6 PPC 6PPC 6 Dasher 6mmBR 6BR BRX BRDXDarrell is a hydro-forming wizard who has perfected the process over the last couple of years. He has learned a few special techniques along the way to ensure uniform case-forming.

Without revealing any trade secrets, we can say the Darrell has very special dies and Darrell doesn’t use a mallet or hammer — he has a system that is much more consistent. Darrell tells us: “Many of my customers take this brass and load it ‘as is’ and go straight to a match and shoot some very nice groups.”

Hydro-forming by Darrell costs $0.60 (sixty cents) per case with a minimum order of $60. Neck-turning is an additional $0.50 (fifty cents) per case plus actual return shipping. The turnaround is usually less than five days.

With Darrell’s hydro-forming service you don’t have to buy any special dies or other equipment. Darrell says: “Simply send me the brass you need or have it dropped-shipped to me along with a fired case that has not been sized. If you need formed brass for a new build (gun not yet fired), let me know and I will size the brass to fit within .001 of a PT&G GO gauge.”

For more information, visit DJsBrass.com, or call Darrell at (205) 461-4680. IMPORTANT: Contact Darrell for shipping instructions BEFORE sending brass for processing. In a hurry, don’t have time? Just call Darrell and he’ll make something work for you.

DJs Brass hydro-forming

Hydro-Forming Customer Reports

Here are testimonials from recent customers.

“Recently had Darrell Jones of DJ’s Brass Service hydro-form 6 BRX brass for me. The turn around time was very fast and the brass was to the exact specification I ask for. I actually shot the hydro-formed brass in a match [without further fire-forming]. It shot a 3.597″ — pretty amazing. Let DJ do the work for you!” — Mike Wilson (3 Time IBS Record Holder; 2013 and 2014 1000-yard IBS Shooter of the Year.)

“Darrell Jones of DJ’s Brass Service went far beyond the call of duty, to assist me in preparation to shoot for my first time in an IBS match. I have had an interest in 1000-yard competition for many years and finally got the opportunity to try it. After researching the winning competitors, rifles, and rounds I ordered a Panda action with Krieger barrel in 6mm Dasher from Kelby’s. It was one week before the match and I had a rifle and no rounds. I contacted Darrell to hydraulically form 6mm dasher from Lapua 6mm BR brass. He formed the brass and had it in the mail the next day[.] Since I have only reloaded for hunting or magazine fed rifles I was not familiar with proper seating to allow land engagement of the bullets for 1000-yard accuracy. Darrell took the time to advised me every step of the way to allow me to shoot a 3.158″ (5) shot group to win my first round of my first competitive match ever.” — Mike Youngblood

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
October 6th, 2018

Prize Rifle for IBS Shooters in the Southeast Region

IBS International Benchrest shooters 30 BR prize rifle Kelbly action Brux barrel Nightforce scope
If you’ve never been to a benchrest match, visit the IBS website to find an affiliated club in your area. You’ll find schedules for upcoming events where you can learn about the sport.

This article describes an impressive complete benchrest rifle that will be awarded next month to an IBS competitor in the IBS Southeastern Region. This premium benchrest rig was a collaborative effort, with components and build labor donated by many companies. The rifle and scope prize will be awarded at a Banquet on November 10, 2018. The winner will be chosen from shooters who have accumulated “tickets” (essentially prize credits) over the course of the year. Tickets are earned through match attendance and shooting performance: 1 ticket for each match attended in the SE region ranges listed above (AFTER attending five matches). Shooters get additional tickets for a perfect 2,500 score, plus 10 additional tickets for attending at least one match at each and every participating range.

A Magnificent Prize
by Boyd Allen, IBS Vice President
Coming up with prizes for shooting events is always a challenge, and results can vary considerably from match to match. This rifle is at the apex of the prize pyramid. Few complete rifles are seen on prize tables, because of their cost, and because they are generally built to order from select components, produced by multiple manufacturers. There are no off-the-shelf benchrest rifles, and if there were, the price of one, complete with a quality scope, would be too great to ask of a single source, given the size of the typical businesses that serve this sport.

IBS International Benchrest shooters 30 BR prize rifle Kelbly action Brux barrel Nightforce scope

Any score shooter would be glad to have this rifle and feel quite fortunate to win it. It is a fine example of its type, made of top components, and stocked with a “Indian Blanket” pattern Obeche laminate that will not be seen again once the supply runs out, because the factory that produced it burned down. As you would expect for this type of competition, it is chambered for the 30 BR.

This prize rifle was built to increase interest and participation in centerfire score shooting in the Southeast Region of the International Benchrest Shooters (IBS), as well as to encourage competitors to visit more ranges and attend more IBS matches. Ranges participating in this prize campaign are:

Bluegrass Sportsmen’s League (Wilmore, KY), Buck Creek Gun Club (Somerset, KY), Georgia Mountain Shooting Association (Eastanollee, GA), Mid-Carolina Gun Club (Orangeburg, SC), Piedmont Gun Club (Rutherfordton, NC), and Palmetto Gun Club (Ridgeville, SC).

Good luck to everyone for the remainder of the 2018 season. NOTE: There are more detailed rules than we can reproduce here (for space reasons). If you intend on taking a serious run at this prize, take the time to inquire about all of the specifics.

IBS International Benchrest shooters 30 BR prize rifle Kelbly action Brux barrel Nightforce scope
Left to Right: Jim Cline, Doyle Anglin, and Ronnie Milford.

Background of the IBS Rifle Prize
Ronnie Milford explained: “Near the completion of the Southeastern Regional, I [asked] some of our fellow shooters about increasing participation. One of them suggested that we have one big prize that would be participation-based. I ran the idea of building a complete rifle by my personal gunsmith Doyle Anglin. He warned me that he had seen others try to do the same thing, and that it would be hard to get people to donate products. That lit a fire. First phone call was to Jim Kelbly who offered to donate the action. For the trigger Jim recommended a Bix & Andy from Chris at Bullet Central. I then called Jim Cline, and he got Brux to donate the barrel. Then, I talked to my NightForce contacts, Allen Stillwell and Wayne Dayberry. They donated a competition scope.

My next phone call was back to Doyle Anglin and I told him what had been donated. He then talked about ‘fitting and chambering, pillar bedding, and stock by Dixie Guns’. When Dave Short heard what we were doing, he donated a trigger guard, chamber cleaning kit, and a barrel tuner. Jim called Linwood Harrell who donated our scope rings. We were almost complete, and I told them that I would spray the finish on the stock. When this news got out, it caused a great deal of excitement.”

IBS International Benchrest shooters 30 BR prize rifle Kelbly action Brux barrel Nightforce scope

Prize Rifle Eligibility and Award Procedures
This custom rifle will be given away at the awards banquet on November 10, 2018 in Orangeburg, SC. The winner will be chosen using tickets earned during the season. A shooter will “earn” 1 prize chance ticket for each match attended in the SE region ranges listed above, AFTER attending five (5) matches. (If you attend four matches or less you will receive 0 tickets for attendance.) You can get 5 additional tickets for a perfect 2,500 score and 10 additional tickets for attending one match minimum at each participating range. We will keep track of the tickets earned and they will be passed out at the banquet for you to personally place them in the container.

Prize Rifle Being Constructed at Doyle Anglin and Ronnie Milford shops:

IBS International Benchrest shooters 30 BR prize rifle Kelbly action Brux barrel Nightforce scope

IBS International Benchrest shooters 30 BR prize rifle Kelbly action Brux barrel Nightforce scope

IBS International Benchrest shooters 30 BR prize rifle Kelbly action Brux barrel Nightforce scope

Support the Sponsors — This is a very impressive prize. Keep the generosity of all who donated to the project in mind the next time that you are in the market for products they make or sell. In the future we may offer a follow-up story about the rifle winner and his/her first competition with this 30 BR benchrest rifle. In any case, on November 10, 2018, someone is going to be very happy with their valuable prize.

Built to Shoot — Remember this rifle was created by donations, to grow the sport, and promote shooting, not to sell for monetary gain. If you do not plan on shooting this rifle, please donate it to an upcoming shooter. Ronnie Milford, and Jim Cline worked hard to make this dream become a reality. Let’s not let down the sponsors who continue to support us.

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September 21st, 2018

IBS Match Report: 2018 200/300-Yard Score Nationals

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Report by Boyd Allen, IBS Vice President
Photos by Hillary Martinez
Many of the nation’s best Score Benchrest shooters came to Maryland last month for the IBS 200/300-Yard Score Nationals. This is a one-shot-per-bullseye discipline dominated by accurate 30-caliber cartridges such as the 30 BR. Over the weekend of the 4th and 5th of August, 42 shooters participated in the 2018 IBS 200/300-Yard Score Nationals, held at the Thurmont Conservaton & Sportsman’s Club, in Thurmont, Maryland. Forty-one competitors shot Varmint for Score (VFS). Between the two 6X disciplines there were six competitors, equally divided between Hunter (H) and Varmint Hunter (VH). Dewey Hancock was “Top Gun” for the match, winning the VFS 200/300 Grand Agg with 500-23X, a possible new record.

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

VIEW Complete Match Results on IBS WEBSITE »

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC
There are six bullseyes on an IBS Score target. Competitors take one shot per bull for five scored shots. The sixth (bottom right) bullseye is reserved for sighter shots.

Rising River After Rain
This match had some unique challenges — caused by a river that overflowed after a rain. Thankfully, the match proceeded without major problems once needed equipment was moved. It rained nearly half an inch the Friday night before the match, as it had for several days. Given the flooding, there was a slight delay Saturday morning. The scoring trailer had to be moved because it been parked (before the rain) in a low area adjacent to where Big Hunter Creek empties into the Monocacy River. (In the satellite view, the firing line cover is in the middle, about one-third up from the bottom.)

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Hot and Humid in Maryland — The match director described the weather as very hot and humid. On Saturday, the temperature varied from 66 to 81 degrees, the humidity from 62 to 100 %, and the wind speed from 0 to 9 mph. On Sunday, things warmed up a bit, the humidity was reported as a little lower, as was the wind speed.

The Green Fields of Thurmont — With recent rains at Thurmont, lush green grass stretched from firing line to targets. This elicits envy from a shooter who has spent all of his time on ranges that do not have a single blade of green anywhere, except for a few weeks during a short rainy season. To my eyes, this range is beautiful.

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Thurmont shooters are blessed with a truly outstanding facility that serves all types of shooting. There are fifteen covered benches of mixed construction under a sturdy cover, with plenty of parking both for vehicles and RVs. Learn more about the Thurmont Club at TCandSC.org.

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

TOP TEN Match Results, and Equipment List

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC
Can anyone identify that big gold-tone coaxial rest on the right?

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPCThe VFS Grand Aggregate Top Five were: Dewey Hancock (1st Place), John Bosley (2nd), Ronnie Milford (3rd), Brian Fitch (4th), and Jim Cline (5th). VFS winner Dewey Hancock shot a possible new 200/300 yard record with a 500-23X.

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC
Top shooters left to right: Dewey Hancock, Nick Breeden, Brian Fitch, Glen Olenick, Robert Brooks, Steve Cameron, Dean Breeden (arms raised), KL Miller, Jim Cline, Ronnie Milford, John Bosley.

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC
Wayne France — with the “I just won a Nightforce” smile!

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC
Steve Eller smiling — BIB Bullets from Randy Robinette are always a good choice.

Dean Breeden, Match Director and Competitor

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

Match directors do not get the appreciation they deserve. The match calendar would be blank without them. Score Nationals Match director Dean Breeden ran a great show here. In addition to rescuing a trailer from flood waters, and running the 200/300 Score Nationals, Dean also himself competed at the Nationals, shooting two rifles. He did well, with Top Ten finishes at both distances, in both VFS and Hunter classes (3rd in Hunter at 300 yards).

While Dean may be under-appreciated as a match director, Dean is widely recognized as one of the best IBS score shooters out there. Dean holds six (6) current IBS Score Shooting records.

In his Match Report, Dean acknowledged and thanked the generous match sponsors:

BIB Bullets
Brunos Shooter Supply
Brux Barrels
Dave Short Customs
Eddie Harren
Krieger Barrels
Nightforce
PMA Tool
Redding Reloading
ShadeTree Engineering
Wilson Dies

Parting Shot — Down by the Riverside…

Thurmont Conservation club IBS International Benchrest Score Championship Nationals Maryland VFS 30 BR PPC

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September 5th, 2018

TECH Tip — 30 BR Case-Forming Explained by Experts

30BR 30 BR case forming benchrest randy robinette al nyhus

30BR 30 BR case formingThe 30BR is an amazing little cartridge. However, 30BR shooters do have to neck-up 6mmBR brass and then deal with some issues that can arise from the expansion process. One of our Forum members was concerned about the donut that can form at the new (expanded) neck-shoulder junction. Respected bullet-maker Randy Robinett offers tips on how to deal with the “dreaded donut”.

The Forum member was concerned about thinning the brass if he turned his 30BR necks after expansion: “Everything I have found on 30BR case-forming says to simply turn off the bulge at the base of the neck caused by the old 6BR shoulder. I expanded my first case and measured the neck at 0.329″ except on the donut, where it measures 0.335″. Looking inside the case… reveals a groove inside the case under the donut. Now, it is a fact that when I turn that neck and remove the donut, the groove is still going to be there on the inside? That means there is now a thin-spot ring at the base of the neck that is .005 thinner than the rest of the neck. Has anyone experienced a neck cracking on this ring?”

Randy Robinett, who runs BIB Bullet Co., is one of the “founding fathers” of the 30BR who help prove and popularize the 30 BR for benchrest score shooting. Randy offers this advice on 30BR case-forming:

While the thinner neck-base was one of our original concerns, unless one cuts too deeply INTO the shoulder, it is not a problem. For my original 30BR chamber, thirty (30) cases were used to fire 6,400 rounds through the barrel. The cases were never annealed, yet there were ZERO case failures, neck separations, or splits. The case-necks were turned for a loaded-round neck diameter of .328″, and, from the beginning, sized with a .324″ neck-bushing.

The best method for avoiding the ‘bulge’ is to fire-form prior to neck-turning (several methods are successfully employed). Cutting too deeply into the shoulder can result in case-neck separations. I have witnessed this, but, with several barrels and thousands to shots fired, have not [personally] experienced it. The last registered BR event fired using that original barrel produced a 500-27x score and a second-place finish. [That’s] not bad for 6K plus shots, at something over 200 firings per case.

Check out the 30BR Cartridge Guide on AccurateShooter.com
You’ll find more information on 30BR Case-forming in our 30 BR Cartridge Guide. Here’s a short excerpt from that page — some tips provided by benchrest for score and HBR shooter Al Nyhus:

30BR Case-Forming Procedure by Al Nyhus
The 30BR cartridge is formed by necking-up 6BR or 7BR brass. You can do this in multiple stages or in one pass. You can use either an expander mandrel (like Joe Entrekin does), or a tapered button in a regular dies. Personally, I use a Redding tapered expander button, part number 16307. This expands the necks from 6mm to .30 cal in one pass. It works well as long as you lube the mandrel and the inside of the necks. I’ve also used the Sinclair expander body with a succession of larger mandrels, but this is a lot more work and the necks stay straighter with the Redding tapered button. This button can be used in any Redding die that has a large enough inside diameter to accept the BR case without any case-to-die contact.

Don’t be concerned about how straight the necks are before firing them the first time. When you whap them with around 50,000 psi, they will straighten out just fine! I recommend not seating the bullets into the lands for the first firing, provided there is an adequate light crush-fit of the case in the chamber. The Lapua cases will shorten from approx. 1.550″ to around 1.520″ after being necked up to 30-caliber I trim to 1.500″ with the (suggested) 1.520 length chambers. I don’t deburr the flash holes or uniform the primer pockets until after the first firing. I use a Ron Hoehn flash hole deburring tool that indexes on the primer pocket, not through the case mouth. — Al Nyhus

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August 27th, 2018

How to Expand Cartridge Brass in Stages with Progressive Press

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass Service expanding brass 6mmBR 6BR BRX 30BR Hornady press
Photos from DJ’s Brass Service.

Have you ever expanded a .22 or 6mm cartridge all the way up to .30-caliber? If so, you know this can be a difficult procedure that stresses the case necks and neck-shoulder junction. A significant neck-size expansion done in one big jump can increase run-out, cause doughnuts, or worse yet, even split the brass. Therefore you want to proceed in increments, increasing the neck diameter in stages. One smart way to do that is to use a Progressive Press. This article explains how…

The most successful short-range brenchrest-for-score cartridge is the 30 BR. That cartridge, as well as 30 BR variants such as the 30 BRX, all start with the 6mmBR Norma parent cartridge, typically with Lapua 6mmBR brass. To get a nice 30 BR case you want to expand in stages, increasing the inside neck diameter incrementally from .243 to .308.

Darrell Jones of DJ’s Brass Service creates thousands of 30 BR cases each year. He has found a clever way to speed up the process — Darrell uses a Progressive Press. He runs his 6BR brass through four (4) separate Hornady neck-sizing dies with expander mandrels. First there is a .257 die, followed by .264 (6.5mm), .284 (7mm), and then .308. Then a fifth and final K&M die provides one last, slight expansion so the newly-fashioned 30 BR cases perfectly fit the arbor of Darrell’s neck-turning tool.

So to repeat, the case starts as .243 (6mm), then moves in up stages .257, .264, .284, and .308, with a final “finishing” step prior to neck-turning. You can see the expansion in this video, which starts with 6mmBR brass that was first hydro-formed to 6 BRX:

Watch 6mm Cases Expanded to 30-Caliber (6BRX to 30 BRX)

For this demo video, Darrell expands just one case at a time. However, he can also put multiple cases in the progressive — one per station. This takes a little more effort, Darrell says, but the results are still excellent. Darrell tells us: “I do put multiple cases in the progressive to save time. The results are the same — I just wanted to show a single-step process and how it reduces run-out by not stressing the shoulder with one big expansion from 6mm straight to 30 caliber. Doing the operation in multiple stages avoids binds and helps keep the shoulders concentric.”

This same multi-stage procedure can be use to expand other cartridge types. For example you could take .221 Fireball brass in stages up to .308 to create 300 Blackout brass.

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass Service expanding brass 6mmBR 6BR BRX 30BR Hornady press

Darrell uses caliber-specific, Hornady neck-sizing-only dies with elliptical expanders. Darrell tells us: “The Hornady elliptical expander has a reduced bearing surface that puts less strain on the brass when expanding the necks to the next size.” The fitting at the bottom of the die is the Lock-N-Load die bushing that allows fast die changes.

These particular cases used in the video were first hydro-formed to 6BRX then expanded to 30 BRX before neck turning. DJ’s Brass offers hydro-forming for many popular wildcat cartridges such as 6 PPC, 6mm Dasher, and .284 Shehane.

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass Service expanding brass 6mmBR 6BR BRX 30BR Hornady press

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March 3rd, 2018

Thunder for Down-Under — Twin 30 BR Score Benchrest Rigs

30BR Hunter Class Rifle
This story, from our Gun of the Week Archives, offers a good intro to the 30 BR cartridge, which is still the leading chambering for short-range Score Benchrest.

What’s better than one custom-built 30 BR with gorgeous wood and top-shelf components? A matching pair of course. Just ask Australian shooter Greg Roche (“Caduceus” in our Forum). A decade ago, Greg spent two years living and working in the USA. While in America, he commissioned two matched custom rifles to bring back to Australia for Hunter Class BR matches. Though the look-alike rigs are both chambered in 30 BR, one is designed for the Australian “Traditional” centerfire Hunter Class (10-lb limit), while the other is purpose-built for the “Custom” centerfire Hunter Class (14-lb limit). The 10-lb Traditional rifle features a fully-functioning two-round magazine and a 6-power scope. In contrast the Custom Class rifle is a single-shot action, with a 45X Leupold scope. The Custom weighs 13.5 pounds so it can also be used in traditional Heavy Varmint Benchrest matches if desired.

30BR Hunter Class Rifle

Tale of Two Rifles
Story and Photos by Greg Roche (“Caduceus”)

The USA boasts some of the finest precision rifle-builders and Benchrest parts suppliers in the world. Before returning to Australia after two years in the States, I decided to have two special BR rifles built using American components and skilled labor. I wanted a matched pair–twin guns that would be as handsome as they were accurate. The heavier gun of the pair, the 13.5-lb Custom Class rifle, features top-of-the-line (but well-proven) technologies and components. With the 10.5-lb Traditional Class rifle, we had to develop new solutions to allow the 30 BR cartridge to feed from a functional two-round magazine. Here is my saga of how my twin 30 BRs were conceived and built, and how they have performed in competition.

30BR Hunter Class Rifle

BACKGROUND — The 30 BR for Score Competition

The 30 BR is a wildcat cartridge based on a necked-up version of the 6mmBR Norma case. It originated in U.S. Benchrest circles where it found its niche in Varmint For Score (VFS) matches. Unlike traditional Benchrest, where group size determines the winner, VFS matches are shot on a target with multiple, concentric-ringed bullseyes. Point total is based on “best edge” shot location (one shot per bull). In score competition, the 30 BR’s “supersized” .308-diameter hole offers an advantage over the 6mm hole created by a 6 PPC, the dominant group BR chambering.

30 BR cartridge

The starting point for loading the 30 BR wildcat is Lapua 6mmBR brass. These are necked up as a single-step operation using a .30 caliber tapered expander ball (or dedicated expander mandrel). This will leave a bulge in the neck, so the expanded case neck is normally turned to bring the thickness down to the correct dimension for the chamber. I turned these necks down to .010″ wall thickness using a Stiller neck-turning tool. It features an eccentric mandrel similar to the Nielson “Pumpkin”. Loaded rounds measure .328″ neck diameter. This gives minimum clearance in my .330″ neck chamber, so very little neck resizing is needed after firing. Cases are trimmed to 1.500″ prior to turning to ensure consistency since the Stiller tool indexes the length of cut off the case mouth. Other than that, cases are just chamfered, loaded and made ready to shoot. No special fire-forming is required.

17-Twist Barrels for Both Rifles
Texan gunsmith Mike Bryant chambered both barrels. Mike also polished both barrels to a high-gloss to match the receivers. In this game, barrels are consumables, much like powder and primers, so most owners wouldn’t bother to polish their barrels. However a 30 BR barrel can provide up to 5000 rounds of accurate life (unlike a 6PPC barrel which might be tossed after 800-1000 rounds.) So, these barrels are likely to be on the rifles for many seasons. Given the high-gloss finish of the Grizzly actions and the beauty of the Red Cedar stocks, it would have been an injustice to leave a dull finish on the barrels.

The chambers were both cut with the same reamer supplied by Dave Kiff of Pacific Tool and Gauge. Randy Robinett, one of the originators of the 30 BR wildcat, specified the reamer dimensions. Randy’s 118gr, 10-ogive custom BIB bullets and the 30 BR cartridge enjoy a winning track record in the USA. The 30 BR Robinette reamer has zero free-bore and a .330″ neck, and is optimized for the BIB 118s. The bullets perform best when seated far enough out to jam firmly into the rifling as the bolt is closed. The long ogive means the bullet’s bearing surface is very short.

Slow Twists for Maximum Accuracy
You may note the unusually slow twist rate of both barrels. In most .30-caliber chamberings, the barrel twist rate is 1:11 or 1:12 to stabilize 150gr to 200gr bullets. The 30 BR is optimized for 115gr to 118gr flat-base bullets and 1:17 provides sufficient stability at muzzle velocities around 2900-3000 fps. In competitive Benchrest, where every thousandth of an inch counts, over-stabilization of projectiles can hurt accuracy, so “just stable enough” is the goal; hence the 1:17 twist.

Case Forming, Case Prep, and Reloading Methods

Sinclair Neck Micrometer, 30 BR Neck Turning
A Sinclair case neck micrometer indicates neck thickness of 0.010″ after neck turning.

Sinclair Neck Micrometer, 30 BR Neck Turning30 BR dies are readily available from a number of manufacturers. I personally use Wilson neck and seating dies with a Sinclair Arbor press, but Redding and Forster both supply high-quality threaded dies for use in a conventional press. For under $100.00 US, custom full-length dies can be obtained from Hornady and CH Tool & Die by sending them reamer prints or a couple of fired cases. Harrell’s Precision offers “semi-custom” dies. Just send them some fired cases and they select a pre-made CNC-cut die that ideally fits your chamber. You can ask the Harrell brothers for a die that’s tighter at the shoulder or base, or otherwise customized to your preferences.

Load Development and Accuracy Testing
With cases formed and bullets selected, load development is simply a matter of choosing the right primer, powder and charge weight, and loading the most consistent ammunition possible. The Lapua BR cases use a small rifle primer. The choice here was Federal 205 Match primers vs. CCI BR4 Benchrest primers. Some shooters have also had success using CCI 450 Magnum primers but it is very unlikely the small case needs this much spark to light off regular extruded powders. In my case, I selected Federal primers because availability tends to be better in Australia.

The relatively large bore-to-capacity ratio of the 30 BR case means that fast burning powders are the order of the day. Once again, US experience suggests H4198 (the Hodgdon equivalent of ADI AR2207) is the choice of match winners. The fact that H4198/AR2207 is an Australian-made product is an added bonus. So, I loaded up test rounds with AR2207 from 32.5 grains to 35.0 grains in approximately 0.3 grain increments. All bullets were seated to jam +0.010″ into the lands. This places the bullet base about two-thirds of the way down the neck and well short of the neck-shoulder junction.

READ FULL Story on AccurateShooter.com Main Site »

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September 5th, 2017

Thinking Outside the Box — Stan Ware’s Wicked No-Neck Wolfpup

Stan Ware Wolfpup SGR Custom Rifles

Think you need a relatively long case-neck for good accuracy? Think again. Stan Ware broke all the rules with his radical Wolfpup cartridge, proving that a near-no-neck design can deliver match-winning accuracy. Read on to learn how the Wolfpup works…

Stan Ware SGR Custom RiflesRetired gunsmith Stan Ware is a talented shooter 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 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. 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.” 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.

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.
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October 25th, 2016

IBS Match Report: 2016 200/300-Yard Score Nationals

IBS Score Nationals Orangeburg South Carolina 30BR Score Benchrest 200 300 H4198 National championships Paul Hammer

Earlier this month the International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) held its annual 200/300 Yard Score Nationals at the Mid-Carolina Gun Club in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The event was attended by 40 shooters from the Mid-Atlantic states. Despite sometimes tricky conditions the IBS competitors produced impressive results. Wayne France shot a great match to win the Grand Agg with 497-14X as well as take top honors at 300 yards (249-6X). Steve Hill won the 200-yard stage with a 250-10X, not dropping a point even in challenging conditions. Finishing a close second in the Grand Agg was bullet-maker Allie Euber with 497-11X. Third overall was Jim Cline with 496-10X.

IBS Score Nationals Orangeburg South Carolina 30BR Score Benchrest 200 300 H4198 National championships Paul Hammer

TOP TEN Grand Aggregate Results
IBS Score Nationals Orangeburg South Carolina 30BR Score Benchrest 200 300 H4198 National championships Paul Hammer

IBS 200/300 Yard Score Nationals, South Carolina, Oct. 14-16, 2016

Report by Paul Hammer, IBS Editor
I attended the 200-300 Yard IBS Score Nationals this year, being held for the first time at the Mid-Carolina Gun Club in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The Mid-Carolina Club is a well-established, multi-discipline shooting facility that offers Benchrest matches, as well as other types of rifle, pistol, skeet, and trap shooting. The well-designed Benchrest facility at the club is fairly new.

The Mid-Carolina Gun Club Benchrest range featured 20 benches, with a new and very nice covered area. There is plenty of room for the competitors to “set up shop” for reloading and do gun maintenance between relays. The Benchrest area even has its own office for weighing in the guns etc., and its own restrooms. The Benchrest area also has a modern PA system that permits the range officers to run the match safely and efficiently.

The Mid-Carolina Gun Club offered 20 concrete benches, sheltered from the sun.
IBS Score Nationals Orangeburg South Carolina 30BR Score Benchrest 200 300 H4198 National championships Paul Hammer

Mother Nature provided extra nice southern weather for everyone for the entire weekend, except for some persistent and tricky winds to keep the shooters on their toes. Friday was the first day of this exacting Benchrest shoot that gave the competitors time for practice and to set up the wind flags before the Saturday 200-yard event. And Saturday’s conditions proved that the wind flags would be necessary!

Shifting Conditions on Saturday Challenged Shooters
Saturday morning started out with lots of erratic shifting winds which tested the competitors’ wind-reading skills. The winds did subside later in the day, but not much, and after each relay shooters were talking about the one or two that “got away” from them.

Benchrest Score shooting is all about trying to “hit the dot” on 25 separate bullseye targets over five relays. The center “dot” is only about 1/16th of an inch in diameter, and if you hit it, the hits score an “X” for you. Perfect scores of 250 are the goal of top competitors in this exacting rifle competition. Hits on the Xs are what break the ties.

IBS Score Benchrest shooting is fun for young and old alike….
IBS Score Nationals Orangeburg South Carolina 30BR Score Benchrest 200 300 H4198 National championships Paul Hammer

Most score rifle shooters usually use a co-axial (Joystick-type) front rest that enables them to rapidly position their rifle for each shot, moving from target to target quickly and precisely.

“Blonde on Blonde” — Here’s a lovely blonde maple stock resting in a custom light-colored wood cleaning cradle box. Handsome gun, nice workmanship on the cleaning box.
IBS Score Nationals Orangeburg South Carolina 30BR Score Benchrest 200 300 H4198 National championships Paul Hammer

Rifles for Score Benchrest are usually built especially for the sport. The 30 BR is by far the most popular cartridge for this discipline. The 30 BR’s larger-diameter bullet hole gives the shooter a scoring edge over a 6mm or smaller caliber. Though the 6PPC is “King of the Hill” in group matches, the larger-caliber 30 BR rules the roost in Score competition.

Mr. Ronnie Long is one of the leading developers of the 30 BR and also an excellent riflesmith. Ronnie showed up Saturday morning for the match to see many of his friends. It was good to see him at the match! It is not surprising that many of the competitors use his rifles. I would also mention that the 30 BRs that Ronnie crafts are really works of art. Ronnie’s custom-built rifles display precision metal and beautiful stock work (many have exotic paint jobs), and of course they are very accurate!

Sunday’s 300-Yard match concluded the tournament. The competitors really seemed to enjoy this match, which gave them the opportunity to pursue perfection in shooting, and to learn from others. Many thanks to the Mid-Carolina Gun Club, whose members assisted with the targets and cooked some great meals. The Mid-Carolina Club proved an excellent host facility, delivering a well-run match and excellent meals for the competitors.

The Mid-South Club in South Carolina hosted this year’s 200/300 Score Nationals.
IBS Score Nationals Orangeburg South Carolina 30BR Score Benchrest 200 300 H4198 National championships Paul Hammer

If you’d like to try out the sport of Benchrest shooting then you’ll be welcome to join us at any of our matches. The IBS offers a variety of rifle-shooting disciplines: Group BR Matches, Score BR Matches, Mid-Range Matches, and Long-Range Matches. It’s a great way to learn a lot about rifle shooting and meet some nice folks too!

For complete match results from the 200/300 Nationals, visit the IBS Website. You’ll find full individual results, plus a full equipment list. Shown below is the the Top TEN equipment list (click to enlarge).

TOP TEN Equipment List — CLICK to VIEW Full-Screen:
Benchrest IBS Equipment list

While some competitors shoot, others reload — that’s the nature of the short-range Benchrest game.
IBS Score Nationals Orangeburg South Carolina 30BR Score Benchrest 200 300 H4198 National championships Paul Hammer

IBS Score Nationals Orangeburg South Carolina 30BR Score Benchrest 200 300 H4198 National championships Paul Hammer

IBS Score Nationals Orangeburg South Carolina 30BR Score Benchrest 200 300 H4198 National championships Paul Hammer

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
August 7th, 2016

30 BRX Wildcat — a 30 BR Improved That Runs Significantly Faster

30 BR 6mmBR 30 BRX wildcat Al Nyhus

We first ran this story a few years back. But it’s still a very interesting subject for benchrest shooters. Shown above, the 30 BR (a 6mmBR necked up to .30 Caliber) currently rules the benchrest-for-score game. However, a 30 BR Improved offers some potential advantages, particularly when the winds are strong or tricky. In this article Al Nyhus explains his 30 BRX wildcat. Running Hodgdon H4198, Al says he gets an easy 150 -200 FPS more than the conventional 30 BR. That can translate to less drift in the wind. It also lets you pursue a higher speed node, which can lead to improved accuracy with some barrels.

30 BRX wildcat cartridge VFSForum member Al Nyhus is a top-level score shooter who has competed successfully with the 30 BR cartridge in VFS (Varmint for Score) matches. Al has been working on an “improved” 30 BR cartridge that delivers extra velocity. Al’s 30 BRX cartridge is inspired by the 6mm BRX cartridge, popular in 600-yard benchrest and across-the-course competition. The 6mm BRX cartridge maintains the same sidewall profile and shoulder angle as the parent 6mmBR case. Likewise, the 30 BRX retains the 30° shoulder used on the popular 30 BR cartridge.

Al reports: “Thought you might like to see what I’ll be working with in my VFS gun this season. It’s a true 30 BRX — a 30 BR with the shoulder moved forward 0.100″ with the standard BR shoulder angle. Stan Ware of SGR Custom Rifles built one last season for Steve Grosvenor and I was really impressed by the performance of Steve’s gun. The 30 BR barrel on my VFS gun needed replacing, so the new 30 BRX got the nod.”

30 BRX Delivers 150-200 FPS More Velocity than 30 BR
Al says his 30 BRX gives a solid 150-200 fps speed gain over the 30 BR at the top, while needing just 2.5-3.0 more grains of Hodgdon H4198 to do so. A 30 BR case holds on average 40.8 grains of water, while the 30 BRX holds 42.3 grains (roughly 4% more). So the 30 BRX delivers a 7% increase in velocity with a mere 4% increase in H20 capacity. That’s pretty good efficiency. [Editor’s Note: Assuming 34 grains of H4198 is a typical 30 BR match load, Al’s increase of 2.5-3.0 grains for the 30 BRX represents roughly a 7.5-8.5% increase in actual powder burned. That explains the higher velocities.]

Why did Nyhus decide to try an “improved” 30 BR?

Al explains: “The 30 BRX was created to operate at a [higher] velocity level than can be achieved with the standard 30 BR case, while at the same time keeping the easy-tuning characteristics of the standard 30 BR case. We also wanted to use the same powders currently used with the 30 BR and maintain similar operating pressures.” Is the 30BRX harder to shoot because of the increased velocity? Al doesn’t think so: “In a 13.5-lb HV gun, the 30 BRX case is a pleasure to shoot with just a flea bite of recoil.”

Will the 30 BRX Replace the 30 BR in Score Competition?
The 30 BR is already an exceptionally accurate cartridge that dominates short-range Benchrest for Score competition. Will the 30 BRX make the standard 30 BR obsolete? Nyhus doesn’t think so. However, Al believes the 30 BRX offers a small but important edge in some situations: “On any given day, it’s the shooter that hits the flags best and makes the fewest mistakes that ends up on top. No amount of velocity will save you when you press the trigger at the wrong time. Missing a switch or angle change at 200 yards that results in 3/4″ of bullet displacement on the target can’t be compensated for with another 200 fps. That’s the hard fact of benchrest shooting. But on those days when, as Randy Robinett says, ‘our brains are working’, the BRX may offer enough of an advantage to turn a close-but-no-cigar 10 into an ‘X’ at 200 yards. Or turn a just-over-the-line 9 into a beggar 10.” Given the fierce competition in Score matches, an extra 10 or another X can make the difference between a podium finish and also-ran status.

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