December 1st, 2019

Sunday GunDay: Dennis Builds an Eliseo Tubegun Palma Rig

Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals

Our friend Dennis Santiago is a talented Service Rifle shooter, who normally competes with an AR shooting the .223 Rem cartridge. Recently he decided to go over to the “dark side”, putting together a Palma (fullbore) rifle chambered for the .308 Winchester. Dennis selected a Competition Machine (Gary Eliseo) R1 Chassis for the project. Here’s Santiago’s account of his “true blue” Palma build…

Palma Rifle Report by Dennis Santiago
“Here’s my new project — a .308 Win Palma rifle with an Eliseo R1 chassis, Rem 700 action (blue-printed with PT&G upgrades), Jewell trigger, Boots Obermeyer 1:11″-twist barrel, and Phoenix sights holding Gehmann apertures. Next comes chassis and sling set-up, initial mechanical zeroing, and load development. Yup, I have a bunch of Peterson small primer .308 brass, Sierra #2156 155gr MKs, and Varget to get started with. I’m told I can drive 155gr pills to stay supersonic to 1K. Should make for an interesting 2020. My goal is to be cozy with this blue beast by the time the Berger Southwest Nationals kick off in February 2020. Hey, you gotta have goals!”

Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals

Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals
CLICK Image for full-screen photo with more detail.

Pinning the Picatinny — For a Super-Solid Mount
Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals

One of the key parts of the build, Dennis explains, is mounting the top rail with pins: “Once the rail is aligned using a spin-centered optic, it locks down with three 3/16″ roll pins. That way there is no reliance on screws that can come loose. Above is a photo of the top of the Eliseo tube chassis showing the three, 3/16″ roll pins that unitize the Picatinny rail. You can also see the four brass screws that just kiss the action to fully stabilize it in the tube. The recoil ring buttresses completely around the action with metal to metal contact. There are a million details hidden inside a Gary gun.”

Phoenix Sights Front and Rear
Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals

Rise of the Phoenix — Here are the sights for the Eliseo R1. There are very few manufacturers left making these kinds of ultra-precise and repeatable iron sights.

Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals

These Ray-Vin tools help set mechanical zero on the sights. Dennis notes: “Finally a reason to pull out the Ray-Vin calibration paraphernalia to set up a mechanical zero. This photo is for all of you who still remember that those barrel flats and screws in our sight towers actually had a purpose once upon a time.”

Sling ‘N Irons — Classic Palma Configuration
Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals
Dennis plans to use an Eric Hollis sling with his new blue Palma rifle.

Peterson Small Primer .308 Win Brass for Santiago’s Rig
Berger southwest SW Nationals

Dennis plans to use Peterson Cartridge Small Rifle primer .308 Win brass. Peterson offers a “Select” version weight-sorted and length-sorted at the factory. All Select casings (in a 50ct box) are guaranteed to be within 1 grain in weight and .001″ in OAL. Peterson Select brass is available for 20 different cartridge types, including .308 Win both small primer/small flash hole and large primer/large flash hole.

Getting the Blue Rifle Ready for the 2020 Berger SW Nationals

Berger southwest SW Nationals

Dennis plans to campaign his rifle at the 2020 Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN). He may shoot iron sights, or fit a scope and shoot in the “Any Sights” category. That’s not yet decided. The week-long Berger SWN is the biggest rifle match in the Western United States. Hundreds of shooters compete in both individual and team events. The SWN begins with the Mid-Range Nationals at 600 yards. Then the Long-Range matches are held, with targets out to 1000 yards. Watch the video to see the Ben Avery facility, home of the Berger SWN:

Chassis-maker Gary Elesio at the 2017 Berger SW Nationals. Gary shoots what he sells:

Gary Eliseo Chassis Dennis Santiago Palma .308 Win

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
June 9th, 2019

Ammo Reference Book Covers 200+ Cartridge Types

Ammunition Ammo Factory commerical hunting load data ballistics hunt Bob Forker

Do you use factory ammo in your hunting rifles? Perhaps you buy bulk centerfire ammo for your AR15 or varmint rifle. Then this book is for you.

If you ever shoot factory ammo, you should consider getting Ammo & Ballistics 6. This resource book lists over 2,600 different loads for 200+ cartridge types from 17 Mach 2 up to .700 Nitro Express, including the most popular centerfire and rimfire cartridges (both rifle and handgun). In this updated-for-2017 Sixth Edition, there are over 3,000 tables covering virtually every caliber and every load for all commercially-loaded hunting ammunition sold in the USA. Tables include velocity, energy, wind drift, bullet drop, and ballistic coefficients up to 1,000 yards.

Ammunition Ammo Factory commerical hunting load data ballistics hunt Bob Forker

Ammo & Ballistics 6 helps you select ammo for a hunt — quickly compare the velocity and knock-down power of various commercial ammo. This book can help you choose a caliber/chambering for your next hunting rig.

Verified Book Purchaser Reviews
“Outstanding reference guide for shooters and ballistic enthusiasts alike. Has data on velocity, energy delivered, Taylor KO index, windage and elevation on numerous loadings for hundreds of [cartridge types]. Each cartridge has all dimensions labeled (i.e rim, case length, neck, etc.), and has an informative description of the cartridges history/relevance.” — S. Step, 2017

“Great heaps of data! This volume has pages and pages of new data for .22LR like the hot Velocitor, and also on the .22 WMR from 30 grains up into the 50s. Most importantly there is lots of range data, drop, windage, kinetic energy, etc. — Terrific reference guide….” — E. Svanoe

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
June 2nd, 2019

Sunday GunDay: .308 Win for PRS and NRL Tactical Division

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger

This .308 Win was purpose-built for PRS/NRL tactical competition. With all the focus on the 6.5 Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor, and smaller 6mm cartridges, it’s easy to forget that the PRS has a Tactical Division limited to .223 Rem and .308 Winchester. This gun was built by Jim See of Elite Accuracy LLC to compete in that class, which also has a .308 bullet-weight limit of 178 grains, and a velocity limit of 2800 fps.

With those restrictions, this is truly a Tactical Tack-Driver, as you can see from those 100-yard targets in the photo above. This gun seems to shot great with everything Jim has tried. He started the season with Sierra 168gr Tipped MatchKings. Later he switched to 168gr Berger Hybrids. For both bullet types he uses Varget powder, CCI 200 primers, and Lapua large primer .308 Win brass. His current match load runs about 2765 FPS, with impressive 5-7 FPS standard deviation. The gun hammers — even at very long range. Jim told us: “That soda bottle was shot at one mile with a 168gr Berger Hybrid on top of Varget.” Jim says the 1:9″ twist rate helps deliver a “clean sub-sonic transition” at that distance.

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger
With its heavy-contour barrel, the gun weighs in at a hefty 22 pounds, including optics and bipod. If you like this rig, Jim See can build you one just like it, or with the chambering of your choice. Visit EliteAccuracy.com to learn more about Jim’s gunsmithing services.

This rig features a RBRP Impact Precision 737 Action which was designed specifically for PRS-type tactical applications. This action features an integral lug, and built-in +20 MOA Picatinny rail. Both receiver and bolt are black-nitrided for slickness and durability. Jim loves the action: “It is really slick operating. It functions really well and doesn’t get gummed up with dirt or grit, so it has caught on for the PRS/NRL game. This action has won a major share of 2-day PRS matches this past season.”

Barrel Is a Resurrected .300 WSM
This rifle has one “resurrected” component — the barrel. The 1.25″ straight-contour, 1:9″-twist Brux was originally chambered as a .300 WSM finished at 30 inches. As acquired from Pat Scully, the barrel had 1200 WSM rounds through it. See then re-chambered the Brux as a .308 Winchester, finished it at 25 inches, and attached a 4-baffle side-discharge muzzle brake. Jim says the brake really helps control muzzle lift.

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger

Jim See .308 Win Tactical Rifle Specifications:

Action: Impact Precision 737R
Action Finish: Black Nitride (bolt + body)
Barrel: Brux 1:9″ twist, 25″ finished
Chambering: .308 Win, PT&G Std. Match Reamer
Muzzle Brake: Custom 4 baffle, side discharge
Trigger: Trigger-Tech Diamond, straight shoe
Magazine: Accuracy International

Scope: Vortex Razor HD Gen II, 4.5-27x56mm FFP EBR reticle
Scope Base: Integral +20 MOA rail
Stock: J. Allen Enterprises (JAE) chassis
Front Rail: JAE Swiss ARCA rail
(extends bipod mount 2″ forward)
Bipod: Atlas PSR

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger

Running the Rifle in Competition
Jim says this rifle performed well right out of the gate: “For about three years I wanted to shoot Tactical division and in 2018 it happened to work out. I decided it was a good year to test the .308 Win waters and see how the .308 could stack up competitively against the Open Class rifles.

I dug around the shop and found an 11-twist 30″ M-24 from an old F-class rifle and chopped it down to 23″ and fit it to an Impact action. [EDITOR: This barrel was later replaced with the 1:9″ Brux finished at 25 inches.] I had not received my 168gr Berger Hybrids yet so I ran the Sierra 168gr Tipped MatchKings in the first couple matches of the season. Those SMKs were used for the target and chrono pictures here.

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger

The first spring match was ‘The Battle for Breakneck’ in Nebraska. This is a true field match with mostly prone stages with a few natural rock barricades thrown in for positional shooting. The yardages went out to a little over 1400 yards. I went in feeling good and shot very well in the windy conditions, hitting targets out to 1350 yards. I finished with a score of around 105 out of 135 points. The Open Class winner shot a 117 score I believe. I ended up being First-Place Tactical and 16th overall in a field of 100 shooters.”

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger

Consistency and Preparation — Keys to Success in PRS/NRL Competition
Through his Elite Accuracy LLC company, Jim offers skills training for tactical shooters. When we asked Jim if he had any advice for PRS/NRL competitors, Jim replied: “Consistency is what will continually put you at the top of a match. In addition, your gear needs to be prepared (100% sorted out) and your mind needs to be prepared and ready. Don’t let your mind get in your own way. Mental preparation and confidence will be key to success.”

Jim See Elite Accuracy .308 Win Winchester Brux Impact PRS NRL Precision Vortex Viper Lapua Berger

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Shooting Skills 5 Comments »
June 1st, 2019

Change Out Your Barrels Quickly and Easily with Muzzle Mod

Warren Dean Hex Barrel John Whidden Larry Racine

Competitor Warren Dean has employed a hex-end barrel to permit rapid barrel changes on his F-Class rig. Warren wrote: “I have been running what is commonly known as a switch barrel on my F-T/R rifle. Basically it allows for removal and reinstallation of the barrel with basic hand tools and with no, or very minimal, shift in zero. The two gunsmiths that I trust, Larry Racine and John Whidden, both told me that the switch barrel system would return to a very close zero with no problems. [This system] can be a great benefit to the traveling shooter and a money-saver for the shooter wanting to shoot different calibers on the same chassis.” READ Dean Switch-Barrel Report.

Larry Racine Barrel Sytem
Larry Racine is a respected gunsmith based in New Hampshire. He is also a two-time member of the U.S. Palma Team, and a five-time New Hampshire State Highpower rifle champion. Larry, who runs LPR Gunsmithing, has developed a brilliantly simple means of switching rifle barrels with an ordinary spanner or open-end wrench. With this set-up you can switch barrels in the field in seconds without the need for a barrel vise.

For most barrels, Larry mills a hex with six flats on the end of the barrel. This allows a shooter to change barrels quickly at home or on the line with a simple box-head wrench or a socket wrench. Larry says: “You don’t even have to take the barreled action out of the gun. Just set the buttstock on the ground, between your feet, put a wrench on it, hit it with the palm of your hand — and off comes the barrel.” For barrels fitted with a muzzle brake, Larry has a slightly different system. He mills two flats behind the brake so you can use an open-end wrench to do the job.

With either a hex on the end, or two flats for a brake-equipped rifle, the system works with any medium- to heavy-contour barrel with a muzzle-diameter of at least 0.700″. This will even work for high-power rigs using clamp-on sights or bloop tubes. Larry explains: “A lot of us here in New England use clamp-on front sights. The barrel will be turned to 0.750 for the sight, with the hex on the end. A bloop tube can go right over the end, no problem.”

Larry has used this system over the past few years to win a number of matches. In one 600-yard 3 by 20 prone match, Larry used three different barrels, with three different chamberings, on the same Savage rifle. Larry changed the barrels on the line.

Larry was able to do this because the system has little to no loss of zero from one installation of a given barrel to the next installation of that barrel. This lets the shooter start the match with confidence that the first sighter will be on paper. Larry reports that the simple system works great: “To date we have used this system on Savage, Remington, Winchester, RPA, and Nesika actions.”

Varminters Take Note — This Is Great in the Field
If you are a varminter shooting hundreds of rounds in a day, consider this system. We know some guys who bring 3 or 4 rifles into the field because their barrels get hot during long days of prarie dog hunting. With this smart system, you can easily swap barrels in a couple minutes. And no special equipment or barrel vises are required.

Modifying Barrels is Affordable
Racine’s system for rapid barrel removal/changing is very affordable. If Larry does the chamber work on your barrel he charges $45.00 extra to mill a hex or two flats on your barrel. The customer chooses the configuration.

If you only want the hex or flats done, Larry may charge a higher fee — call for current rates. Note this can also work for barrels with muzzle brakes or threads for suppressors. For more info, visit LPRGunsmith.com or call Larry at (603) 357-0055.

E-mail: Larry[at]LPRGunSmith.com
LPR Gunsmithing
11 Suburban Acres
N. Swanzey, NH 03431

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »
May 24th, 2019

Loading for the AR10 Using a Progressive Press

Lock and Load Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader AR-10
Gavin Gear tests .308 Win ammo with his DPMS LR-308B, AR10-type rifle.

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com owns a DPMS LR-308B, an AR10-type semi-auto rifle. Gavin finds that his DPMS has a healthy appetite for ammunition. So, he set up his Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive press to produce .308 Win ammo. This video shows the process of press set-up and operation, complete with Hornady’s automated Case Feeder and Bullet Feeder. Employing elevated rotary hoppers, the case feed and bullet feed systems really speed up production. The automated feeders allow the operator to produce cartridges without ever touching case or bullet with his hands.

If you need large quantities of .308 Win ammo for 3-Gun matches or tactical games, and if you value your time, a progressive press may be a wise investment. The progressive can load a complete round with every cycle of the press handle. With Case Feeder and Bullet Feeder in place, the Hornady L-N-L can easily crank out a new .308 round every 3-4 seconds (watch video at 5:25). Conservatively speaking, that’s 15 rounds per minute sustained production (and some guys can go even faster).

To learn more about the Hornady Lock-N-Load Progressive Press (with case/bullet feed options), and to see a list of the dies and accessories Gavin uses, click the link below:

Hornady Rifle Bullet Feeder Part 5: Loading .308 for the AR-10

Lock and Load Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader AR-10

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
May 15th, 2019

Peterson Cartridge Now Produces Loaded Ammunition

Peterson Cartridge ammo ammunition
Peterson now offers 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win, and .300 Norma Mag loaded ammo.

Peterson Cartridge, a leading USA-based cartridge brass maker, is expanding its product line. Peterson recently announced that it will produce loaded ammunition. This new Peterson Precision Ammunition, of course, features Peterson brass, along with bullets from Berger, Hornady, and Sierra. There will be four (4) ammo types initially: 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win Match, and .300 Norma Mag. (NOTE: We’ve also seen a photo labeled “7mm” so perhaps a .284 Win is on its way, or maybe a 7mm SAUM?)

The ammo is reasonably priced. For example, the 6.5 Creedmoor ammo costs $35.00 for 20 cartridges, or $1.75 per round. Here are the product specs for the four cartridge types currently offered. You can access Full DROP CHARTS by clicking each photo below.

6mm Creedmoor Peterson cartridge ammo Ammunition

6mm Creedmoor
Projectile: Hornady 108 Grain ELDM
Velocity: 3080 FPS (24″ bbl)
G1 BC: 0.536

6.5 Creedmoor Peterson Cartridge ammo ammunition

6.5 Creedmoor
Projectile 1: Sierra 142 Grain SMK
Velocity: 2700 FPS (24″ bbl)
G1 BC: 0.595
Projectile 2: Hornady 140 Grain ELDM
Velocity: 2750 FPS (24″ bbl)
G1 BC: 0.646
Projectile 3: Hornady 147 Grain ELDM
Velocity: 2650 FPS (24″ bbl)
G1 BC: 0.697

Peterson Cartridge .308 Win Winchester ammo ammunition

.308 Win Match
Projectile 1: Sierra 168 Grain Tipped MatchKing
Velocity: 2803 FPS (24″ bbl)
G1 BC: 0.535
Projectile 2: Sierra 175 Grain Tipped MatchKing
Velocity: N/A
G1 BC: 0.545

Peterson Cartridge .300 300 Norma mag magnum ammunition ammo

.300 Norma Magnum
Projectile: Berger 215 Grain Hybrid Target
Velocity: 2950 FPS (24″ bbl)
G1 BC: 0.696

This ammo is all assembled in the USA, using Peterson brass and American components: “The entire manufacturing process, from creating the brass to loading the full rounds of precision ammunition takes place in our manufacturing facility located in Warrendale, Pennsylvania. Peterson Cartridge is dedicated to producing the best American-Made ammunition possible.”

Peterson Cartridge
761 Commonwealth Drive, Suite 201
Warrendale, PA 15086
Phone: (724) 940-7552
Email: info@petersoncartridge.com

Peterson ammo tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Tactical No Comments »
May 4th, 2019

Super Deal — Lake City 7.62×51 Primed Brass $49.99/250

Midsouth Shooters Lake City Surplus pull-down primed .308 Win 7.62x51 brass sale bulk 250

Do you shoot a Springfield M1A rifle chambered for the .308 Win/7.62×51? Or maybe you have a rugged, semi-auto FN-FAL in 7.62×51 NATO? Are you looking for very strong, durable brass you can shoot in these semi-auto battle rifles, without breaking the bank?

M1A Camp Perry 2009 6.5 Creedmoor .308 Win Winchester
Photo of 2009 M1A Match at Camp Perry. Shooter is Nick Till, 2007 Service Rifle Champion.

Semi-autos such as the M1A are tough on brass. You want brass that isn’t too costly, but at the same time is very strong and durable. For decades, USA-made Lake City brass have been a solid choice for 7.62×51 semis, and now you can get quality, unfired 7.62×51 Lake City brass for just $49.99 for 250 cases at Midsouth. That’s just $0.20 (twenty cents) per case! That’s a fourth what you’ll pay for premium, virgin .308 Winchester brass. These cases are never-fired brass, with CCI #34 primers seated in crimped, military-style primer pockets.

Midsouth Shooters Lake City Surplus pull-down primed .308 Win 7.62x51 brass sale bulk 250
springfield armory M1a service rifle m14 6.5 CM Creedmoor

This 7.62×51 Lake City brass comes from disassembled “pull-down” ammunition. It has NOT been fired, but it has been previously assembled. So, there may be some cosmetic issues with the brass. Note that these are primed cases. If you choose to neck-size or FL-size the brass before loading for the first time, REMOVE the decapping rod in your sizing die. This brass has LIVE PRIMERS!! Do NOT use a die with a decapping rod for the first loading of this brass. Got that guys? This is important!!

Midsouth Shooters Lake City Surplus pull-down primed .308 Win 7.62x51 brass sale bulk 250

We have shot FN-FAL-type rifles built on DS Arms semi-auto lowers with European uppers. Those beasts were tough on brass, so we relied on Lake City brass when available. If you have a FN-FAL or STG-58, you should give this Lake City primed, pull-down brass a try. (Federal Gold Medal Match ammo shot great in our DSA/STG-58 but the brass was toast after a few firings).

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals, Tactical No Comments »
April 5th, 2019

Half-MOA with Factory Ammo? Weatherby VMC Comes Close

Weatherby Vanguard Modular Chassis PRS rifle .308 Winchester American Rifleman
Three factory ammo types shot 0.53″, 0.55″, and 0.57″ respectively. That’s impressive.

Chassis rifles are hugely popular for PRS/NRL practical rifle competition. There are many good options for Production Class. You may not know that Weatherby, a company that built its reputation on hunting rifles, offers a great-shooting chassis rifle for PRS comps and other tactical disciplines.

Called the Vanguard® Modular Chassis (VMC), this rig has shown remarkable accuracy. Vanguard’s VMC features a Modular Driven Technologies (MDT) aluminum stock, Luth AR MBA-1 buttstock, and 22″ heavy barrel. The Weatherby Vanguard action is fitted with an adjustable 2-stage trigger. Priced at $1519.00 MSRP, this rifle can be campaigned in the PRS “Production Class”, which limits complete rifles to $2000.00 without optics. The rifle is offered in three chamberings: .223 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Winchester.

Weatherby says its Vanguard Modular Chassis tactical rifle is very accurate. To back that claim, Weatherby offers a SUB-MOA accuracy guarantee — Weatherby guarantees the rifle will shoot .99” or smaller 3-shot groups at 100 yards when used with Weatherby® factory or premium ammunition.

Weatherby Vanguard Modular Chassis PRS rifle .308 Winchester American Rifleman

Near Half-MOA Accuracy with Factory Ammo (5-Shot Groups)
It turns out Weatherby’s accuracy claims are conservative. This tactical rifle is closer to a half-MOA rig than a 1-MOA gun. American Rifleman tested a .308 Win version of this rifle and recorded really stellar accuracy — close to half-MOA. What’s more, this rifle is not fussy — with a 1:10″-twist barrel it proved very accurate with six types of factory ammo, with three of types registering 0.57″ or better.

The rifle delivered near-half-inch 5-shot groups with two types of Hornady ammo along with Black Hills 168gr. The worst group of six ammo types tested, Black Hills 175gr, was 0.76″, still very impressive for factory fodder. With good hand-loads this gun could go well under half-MOA (for five shots).

Vanguard Modular Chassis FIVE-SHOT Factory Ammo Test Groups:

0.53 inches | Hornady 168gr Match BTHP (2718 fps)
0.55 inches | Hornady 155gr Steel Match (2612 fps)
0.57 inches | Black Hills 168gr BTHP (2608 fps)
0.66 inches | Federal Premium 168gr MatchKing BTHP (2659 fps)
0.70 inches | Hornady 155gr American Gunner (2697 fps)
0.76 inches | Black Hills 175gr BTHP (2603 fps)

NOTE: Group sizes are for 5-shot groups shot from bench at 100 yards with Caldwell pedestal rest and rear sandbag. Pentax Lightseeker 6-24x50mm scope. Velocities in FPS from PACT Chronograph.

READ American Rifleman’s FULL REVIEW of Weatherby Vanguard Modular Chassis Rifle

The accuracy testing was done by gunwriter Mike Detty, who notes: “My single best group was fired with Hornady’s Match 168-gr. BTHP ammunition. Five shots measured just slightly more than a half-inch. Hornady’s 155-gr. Steel Match ammo wasn’t far behind with a group of .55″. Also accounting for the small groups is the VMC’s wonderful trigger. It is a two-stage affair and the first stage has about 3/8” take up with about a pound of pressure until it reaches the second stage where another 1 ¾ lbs. was required to break the shot.”

Vanguard Modular Chassis FEATURES:
Action with Fully Enclosed Bolt Sleeve, Integral Recoil Lug
CNC-machined, hard-anodized, 6061 aluminum chassis
Fully adjustable LUTH-AR MBA-1 buttstock
Adjustable 2-stage trigger with 3-Position Safety

PRS Production Class Cost Limits
Production Division combined rifle and scope MSRP as listed on the company’s website shall not exceed $3,000 USD, the rifle shall not exceed $2,000 USD and the optic not exceed $2,000 USD. [Editor: For example, you could have a $2,000 rifle with a $1000.00 scope or vice-versa. The total system cannot exceed $3000. Rifle alone cannot exceed $2000.00 retail sale price.]
Production Division rifles are not permitted to be altered or improved in any way from the original factory configuration.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Tactical No Comments »
April 1st, 2019

NRA Approves E-Class Competition — F-Class on a Budget

F-Class E-Class E-Open claming rules cost limit high power NRA

First there was F-Class, and now there will be E-Class, the “E” standing for “Economy”. The NRA Competitive Shooting Division has just approved a new form of rifle competition starting in 2020: E-Class. Unlike F-Class, E-Class will have tight rifle and gear cost controls. This is a clear response to rising F-Class costs, which have spiraled out of control. The first major E-Class National event will be a preview match held this summer at Camp Atterbury in Indiana.

READ NRA Proposed NRA E-Class Rules HERE »

The NRA’s sanctioning of E-Class competition makes sense. Let’s face it, top-level F-Class competition, both F-TR and F-Open, has become just too expensive. A modern F-Open rifle capable of winning a championship can now cost $9000.00 or more, including rest, premium trigger, and optics. Under the NRA’s new E-Class Rules, rifles can cost no more than $2000.00 total, including optics and rest (E-Open) or bipod (E-TR). In addition, new E-Class rules will recognize a special division, called E-Factory, that is limited to factory rifles, such as the Savage F-Class rig and Ruger Precision Rifle. Factory Class will be restricted to .223 Remington to keep costs down.

COST COMPARISON — F-Open, E-Open, and E-Factory

F-Open (Current High End)
Action: $1500
Barrel (chambered): $700
Stock: $1600
Trigger: $450
Optics: $3000 (10-50X)
Front Rest: $1300
Rear Bag: $200
Total: $8750.00

E-Class Open
Action: $400
Barrel (Rem/Age Pre-Fit): $370
Stock: $200 (Stocky’s)
Optics: $500
Trigger: $0 (factory)
Front Rest: $200
Rear Bag: $50
Total: $1720.00

E-Class Factory Division
Complete Rifle RPR: $1200
Barrel: Included
Stock: Included
Optics: $400
Trigger: Included
Bipod: $100
Rear Bag: $50
Total: $1750.00

Under the new E-Class rules, TOTAL Cost for an E-Open or E-TR Rifle is limited to $2000.00, including optics, front rest or bipod, and rear bag. There are specific gear limits. Scope maximum is $500.00. Front rest or bipod is limited to $200.00. In the chart above you see how an E-Open rifle could be built for under $1800 with a factory action (such as Howa or Savage) and a $400.00 optic. In the third column we’ve priced out an E-Factory rifle, based on a Ruger Precision Rifle, at $1750.00.

F-Class E-Class NRA competition
A top-of-the-line F-Open set-up like this can cost more than $8000.00 with custom stock, high-end optic, and coax front rest. All new E-Class rifles must cost less than $2000 including rests and scope.

Either way these E-Class rigs cost ONE-FIFTH of the Top-of-the-line $8750.00 F-Open Rig. That’s a huge savings, that will allow more shooters to enjoy competitive shooting. E-Class combines the fun challenge of the F-Class course of fire, with a vastly lower investment. With the rising costs of taxes, food, fuel, and everything else, it’s high time we get serious about the money we throw away on competition rifles. We know the wives will approve!

F-Class E-Class E-Open claming rules cost limit high power NRA

Keeping on Lid on Expenses

In the Wings — Controls on Ammo Costs as Well
Shooters know that the price of the rifle, optics, and rests is only part of the cost equation. The price of ammunition is also significant. Currently, in F-Open, competitors can easily pay $1.00 per round just for the expendables — bullets, powder, and primer. Add in the cost of premium .284 Win brass and the cost per shot goes up significantly. One competitor lamented “Shooting a match these days really empties your wallet. I cringe every time I pull the trigger, knowing what it costs.”

Therefore, the NRA is considering E-Class ammo restrictions. Starting in 2021, E-Factory class competitors would be required to shoot recycled bulk brass and blem bullets. Bulk Lake City 5.56 brass will be offered by ARMorAlly.com, and blem bullets will be offered by Midsouth Shooters Supply. Purists may complain about using surplus brass, but it only costs $93 for 500 cases! That’s a huge savings.

F-Class E-Class E-Open claming rules cost limit high power NRA

The Final Step — Claiming Rules for E-Class
As in every competitive endeavor, there may be temptation to bend or even break the rules. Predictably, some E-Class competitors may try to substitute more expensive components, such as high-cost triggers, or modified actions. To prevent this, the NRA plans to impose claiming rules for E-Class matches. This means that any rifle that captures first or second place in a major match can be claimed by another competitor for the fee of $2000.00. This procedure may seem radical but it is used in other sports to ensure parity among the competitors. If a shooter wins with a “cheater” $5000.00 rifle, he can be forced to sell it to a competitor for $2000.00.

Photos courtesy Bankstown-Chatswood Rifle Clug, Australia.

Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills 17 Comments »
January 21st, 2019

RifleShooter.com .308 Win Barrel Cut-Down Velocity Test

rifleshooter.com barrel .308 win cut-down test saw ammo GMM velocity magnetospeed

With barrels, one wonders “Can a little more length provide a meaningful velocity gain?” To answer that question, Rifleshooter.com performed an interesting test, cutting a .308 Win barrel from 28″ all the way down to 16.5″. The cuts were made in one-inch intervals with a rotary saw. At each cut length, velocity was measured with a Magnetospeed chronograph. To make the test even more interesting, four different types of .308 Win factory ammunition were chronographed at each barrel length.

rifleshooter.com barrel .308 win cut-down test saw ammo GMM velocity magnetospeed

READ RifleShooter.com .308 Win Barrel Cut-Down Test Article.

Test Barrel Lost 22.7 FPS Per Inch (.308 Win Chambering)
How much velocity do you think was lost, on average, for each 1″ reduction in barrel length? The answer may surprise you. With a barrel reduction from 28″ to 16.5″, the average speed loss of the four types of .308 ammo was 261 fps total. That works out to an average loss of 22.7 fps per inch. This chart shows velocity changes for all four ammo varieties:

rifleshooter.com barrel .308 win cut-down test saw ammo GMM velocity magnetospeed

Summary of Findings: The average velocity loss per inch, for all four ammo types combined, was 22.7 FPS. By ammo type, the average loss per inch was: 24.6 (Win 147 FMJ), 22.8 (IMI 150 FMJ), 20.9 (Fed GMM 168gr), and 22.5 (Win 180PP).

Interestingly, these numbers jive pretty well with estimates found in reloading manuals. The testers observed: “The Berger Reloading manual says for the 308 Winchester, ‘muzzle velocity will increase (or decrease) by approximately 20 fps per inch from a standard 24″ barrel’.”

How the Test Was Done
The testers described their procedure as follows: “Ballistic data was gathered using a Magnetospeed barrel mounted ballistic chronograph. At each barrel length, the rifle was fired from a front rest with rear bags, with five rounds of each type of ammunition. Average velocity and standard deviation were logged for each round. Since we would be gathering data on 52 different barrel length and ammunition combinations and would not be crowning the barrel after each cut, we decided to eliminate gathering data on group sizes. Once data was gathered for each cartridge at a given barrel length, the rifle was cleared and the bolt was removed. The barrel was cut off using a cold saw. The test protocol was repeated for the next length. Temperature was 47° F.”

rifleshooter.com barrel .308 win cut-down test saw ammo GMM velocity magnetospeed

CLICK HERE to Read the Rifleshooter.com Test. This includes detailed charts with inch-by-inch velocity numbers, multiple line charts, and complete data sets for each type of ammo. Rifleshooter.com also offers ballistics graphs showing trajectories with different barrel lengths. All in all, this was a very thorough test by the folks at RifleShooter.com.

Much Different Results with 6mmBR and a Longer Barrel
The results from Rifleshooter.com’s .308 barrel cut-down test are quite different than the results we recorded some years ago with a barrel chambered for the 6mmBR cartridge. When we cut our 6mmBR barrel down from 33″ to 28″, we only lost about 8 FPS per inch. Obviously this is a different cartridge type, but also our 6mmBR barrel end length was 5″ longer than Rifleshooter.com’s .308 Win start length. Velocity loss can be more extreme with shorter barrel lengths (and bigger cartridges). Powder burn rates can also make a difference.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 4 Comments »
January 1st, 2019

The Modern F-Open Rifle — Action, Stock, Optics, and Cartridge

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

Emil Kovan is one of the top F-Class shooters in the world. He won the 2014 United States F-Open Championship, and finished second in F-Open Division at the 2016 Canadian National F-Class Championship in Ontario. He is a great shooter and a great gun-builder as well.

The Anatomy of a Modern F-Class Open Rifle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion

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

– 2015 F-Class Open National Championship, Silver Medal

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

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

– 2013 U.S. National Team Member

– 2017 U.S. National Development Team Member

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
December 13th, 2018

Just in Time for Christmas — Stunning Ruby Red F-TR Rig

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock
Proud owner Dirk L. says: “This is my first build — never thought it would be a .308!”

Here’s a handsome F-TR rifle with a beautiful red stock that suits the holiday season. This ruby red beauty was a recent addition to the long-running Pride and Joy Rifle thread in our Shooters’ Forum. The rifle belongs to Forum member Dirk L. (aka “Pinkes”) who hails from South Africa. This is a .308 Win, with 30″ Bartlein barrel, and X-Max action. The stock is a custom composite with carbon fiber for strength and lightness. And yes this rifle shoots as good as it looks. Check out the impressive 5-shot groups below…

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

X-Max for Xmas — Impressive Metal-work
Along with that beautiful red stock, this F-TR rig has some very cool features, including a South African-crafted X-Max Action. The action designer Piet Welgemoed explains: “The X-Max action body is 17-4PH stainless steel pre-hardened to 44° Rockwell. Bolt and handle are one-piece stainless steel, nitrated to 55° Rockwell 0.2mm deep. Bolt is also fluted. Inside is the firing pin with washers (see below). The washer cuts the lock-time almost by half and also weighs less. The bolt-knob and bolt shroud are CNC aluminum. The action has very tight tolerances.” The complete action with +20 MOA rail and trigger weighs 1.475 kg (3.25 lbs).” Owner Dirk notes that the competition trigger, set at 3.0 ounces, is also Welgemoed’s design.

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

Wicked Accuracy with Bartlein Barrel, Varget, and 220gr SMKs
This gun has already proven to be a great shooter. Below are two FIVE-shot groups at 100 meters. The group on the left is in the low threes, with three of five shots essentially in one hole. Dirk loads Lapua .308 Palma brass and #2231 200gr Sierra Matchkings, seated 20 thousandths off the lands. The Varget powder and CCI primers drives the 200gr SMKs at 2620 fps.

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

Brass: Lapua .308 Win Palma (small primer) | Primers: CCI 450 | Powder: Varget
Bullet: New 200gr SMK #2231 | Seating: 0.020″ Off | Velocity: 2620fps

Composite Stock — One of Three by Renier Mostert
And what about that beautiful red stock? The rifle’s owner told us: “This was one of three similar stocks built as a test run by Renier Mostert, a professional composite stock builder and former benchrest shooter from Pretoria, South Africa. Renier was approached by three friends, who were all looking for decent, custom-built FTR composite stocks. There were a number of stocks available to them (mostly imported), but [those] were either made of wood or aluminum. The requirements for the composite stock build was very specific. Aluminum V-Blocks for the actions were required. The stocks had to be light enough to carry some beefy barrels and optics without compromising rigidity and still be within the F-TR weight limit. The three friends supplied Renier with an imported wooden stock as their shape of choice. Although the shape was quite straight-forward, Renier made a few dimensional changes to features which were not symmetrically correct on the sample, and then built a mold from it.”

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

Renier uses several methods to craft composite stocks for various disciplines: F-Class, benchrest, competition rimfire, hunting, and tactical. For this build he chose to build a shell constructed of a well-planned mix of woven fiberglass cloth and bi-directionally woven carbon fiber with aerospace quality epoxy resin to reduce weight in some areas and increase stiffness in other areas. He used a wet lay-up process where the two halves gets laid up and joined together while still wet to form a complete, continuous shell. The closed mold gets cured under pressure in an oven for several hours at very specific temperatures. After curing, the shell is filled with a high-tech mix of lightweight filler and epoxy resin. The composition of the mix varies in different areas of the stock to facilitate more strength or reduced weight where applicable.

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

After the initial build, the aluminum hardware was installed. An adjustable cheek piece, Anschutz rail, and adjustable recoil pad mechanism were installed. The stocks were inletted by Renier, while the final fitting and bedding procedures were left for each customer’s gunsmith to complete. The stocks were light enough for the rifles to comfortably be within the F-TR weight limit. A barrel tuner was mounted on one of the rifles, and the rifle still made the F-TR Class weight limit, 8.25 kg (including bipod). The bipod shown in photos in the SEB Joy-Pod.

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

Paint — Candy Apple Red over Metallic Silver Base
After final gunsmithing, the stocks were returned to Renier Mostert for custom painting. The rifle featured in this article was done in Candy-Apple Red paint from DNA Paints (an Australian company). To get the desired effect, a metallic silver base coat was used, enhanced with a modest amount of medium coarse glitter, followed with multiple layers of candy until the correct shade was achieved. A high-quality automotive clear coat was used to finish off the paintwork.

Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing, News 6 Comments »
November 8th, 2018

Great Accuracy — Criterion Pre-Fit Barrel and Creedmoor Ammo

criterion barrel black creedmoor sports .308 Win Ammunition ammo

Check out that 0.188″ group. Can you believe that was shot with factory .308 Win ammo? A couple seasons ago our friends at Criterion Barrels tested some .308 ammo from Creedmoor Sports. This was loaded with Lapua’s 175gr Scenar HPBT bullet. The results speak for themselves. Any time factory ammo can shoot inside quarter-MOA, that’s impressive. This ammo was used in a “Rem/Age” project rifle. That term refers to a Remington action rifle that has been re-barreled with a pre-fit Criterion barrel. The new barrel is secured with a Savage-style barrel nut. Hence the term “Rem/Age” or “Rem-Age”.

shooting target accurateshooter load developmentCriterion posted: “I think we may have a new favorite factory match load for the nitrided Rem/Age build.” Another reader added: “[Creedmoor’s] 175 Scenar .308 ammunition is top notch.” FYI, this group was shot on our load development target, which you can download for free from our Targets Page.

Why do Criterion barrels shoot so well? One reason is that Criterion’s barrel steel is carefully stress-relieved. In the photo below, Criterion Rack 1A (aka the “Coffin”) has been loaded with barrel blanks — made ready for the stress-relieving process.

criterion barrel black creedmoor sports .308 Win Ammunition ammo

Working with Pre-Fit Barrels
While they may require the purchase of some additional tools and a bit of a learning curve to install, using Rem/Age pre-fit barrels offer advantages over gunsmith chambering and barrel-fitting. In this video, 8541 Tactical explains how to install a Criterion 6.5 Creedmoor “pre-fit” barrel. You save money and time — you don’t have to wait for a gunsmith to chamber the barrel. While Criterion recommends that a competent gunsmith oversee the pre-fit installation, if you understand the use of go/no-go gauges and you have a barrel vise and action wrench set up to remove the original barrel, putting on a pre-fit barrel CAN be a DIY project. You don’t have to pack up your rifle to ship it off to a smith.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 3 Comments »
October 5th, 2018

Changing Primer Types Can Alter Load Velocities and Pressures

Primer Wolf CCI Federal Muzzle velocity FPS reloading

We are often asked “Can I get more velocity by switching primer types?” The answer is “maybe”. The important thing to know is that changing primer types can alter your load’s performance in many ways — velocity average, velocity variance (ES/SD), accuracy, and pressure. Because there are so many variables involved you can’t really predict whether one primer type is going to be better or worse than another. This will depend on your cartridge, your powder, your barrel, and even the mechanics of your firing pin system.

Interestingly, however, a shooter on another forum did a test with his .308 Win semi-auto. Using Hodgdon Varget powder and Sierra 155gr Palma MatchKing (item 2156) bullets, he found that Wolf Large Rifle primers gave slightly higher velocities than did CCI-BR2s. Interestingly, the amount of extra speed (provided by the Wolfs) increased as charge weight went up, though the middle value had the largest speed variance. The shooter observed: “The Wolf primers seemed to be obviously hotter and they had about the same or possibly better ES average.” See table:

Varget .308 load 45.5 grains 46.0 grains 46.5 grains
CCI BR2 Primers 2751 fps 2761 fps 2783 fps
Wolf LR Primers 2757 fps 2780 fps 2798 fps
Speed Delta 6 fps 19 fps 15 fps

You can’t extrapolate too much from the table above. This describes just one gun, one powder, and one bullet. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) as they say. However, this illustration does show that by substituting one component you may see significant changes. Provided it can be repeated in multiple chrono runs, an increase of 19 fps (with the 46.0 grain powder load) is meaningful. An extra 20 fps or so may yield a more optimal accuracy node or “sweet spot” that produces better groups. (Though faster is certainly NOT always better for accuracy — you have to test to find out.)

WARNING: When switching primers, you should exercise caution. More speed may be attractive, but you have to consider that the “speedier” primer choice may also produce more pressure. Therefore, you must carefully monitor pressure signs whenever changing ANY component in a load. Glen Zediker recommends decreasing your load ONE FULL GRAIN when changing to a different primer type, one that you haven’t used before.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 8 Comments »
September 26th, 2018

Hail the Champions: 2018 F-Class Nationals at Raton, NM

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua
The winning Klemm clan. Ian Klemm won his Second Straight F-TR National Championship last week. Here he is with parents Karen and Ken Klemm. Father Ken also competed at the Nationals, shooting great in both individual and team events.

The 2018 F-Class Nationals recently concluded at Raton, NM. The event was well-attended, with excellent turn out for both the Mid-Range and Long-Range cycles. The weather was variable, with wet but very calm conditions to start the 1000-yard match, resulting in new F-TR and F-Open National Records being set for 20-shot strings.

Long-Range F-Nationals Results | Mid-Range F-Nationals Results

Congratulations to the new F-Class Champions. Ian Klemm shot great to win the F-TR National Championship. This was the second straight F-TR title for Ian, who also won at Lodi, Wisconsin in 2017.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team LapuaIt was a family affair this year for the Klemm clan. Ian’s father, Ken Klemm, finished third among High Masters, and also nailed the highest score among ALL shooters in the 1000-Yard F-TR team match. Well done father and son! Mike Plunkett finished second, while also setting a new F-TR record, 200-16X, also matched by Ray Gross.

Winning F-TR Rifle and Load:
Ian Klemm’s winning .308 Win featured a Kelbly Panda action, 30″ Bartline 1:10″-twist barrel, and McMillan X-IT left-hand stock. Ian used a Vortex 15-60X52mm Golden Eagle scope (as did runner-up Ted Plunkett). Ian loaded Berger 200.20X Hybrid bullets in Lapua brass with Vihtavuori N140 powder and CCI BR4s. MV is 2680 FPS.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua

Ian, who won his first title last year in Lodi, Wisconsin, said this year was tougher. To travel down to New Mexico and win at Raton was very satisfying — as I had to come from behind.” Ian told us: “This Championship was especially difficult as a particularly strong challenger [and new 1000-yard record-holder] Mike Plunkett had earned an early lead and I would have to make up 6 points in the final day to win. Fortunately, the Range at Raton saved some of its most challenging conditions for the final match of the championship. This gave me the right amount of wind to work with. The Vortex Golden Eagle HD scope showed the mirage I needed in order to make timely wind-hold decisions.”

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua

In the F-Open division, Norm Harrold of Team McMillan shot great from the start, topping the field to win the F-Open division. Tom was shooting a .284 Shehane cartrdige in the new McMillan Kestros stock. Our buddy Erik Cortina interviewed Norm in this video, starting at 00:15:

Interview with F-Open Champ Norm Harrold at 00:15:

Team Competition Champions

In Team competition, Team X-Men won the 1000-Yard F-TR Team Title, with a 1568-61X score. Members shown are: Alan Barhardt, Tracy Hogg, Ian Klemm, Ken Klemm, Matt Schwartzkopf, Phil Kelley (Captain), James E Crofts (Coach). In second place was Team McMillan with 1553-53X: Paul Phillips, Derek Rodgers, Jeff Rorer, Brad Sauve, John Droelle (Captain), Ray Gross (Coach).

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua

In F-Open Division, Team Grizzly won the 1000-Yard Team Championship with a 1580-81X score, edging runner up Team Lapua-Brux-Borden by two points (1578-81X). Here are the team members, with Grizzly President Shiraz Balolia top left and coach Trudie Fay in the middle.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua
Team Grizzly: Shiraz Balolia, Emil Kovan, David Mann, John Myers, Trudie Fay (Coach).

Team Pierce Engineering won the F-TR Mid-Range Team event. Team members included: Doug Boyer, Josh Moore, Richard Nixon, John Roethlisberger, Coach Tom Majewski.

Team Lapua-Brux-Borden captured the F-Open Mid-Range Championship with a strong performance. Team “LBB” shot well, to earn a second straight Mid-Range National Title, and grab second (Silver) at Long Range. Team member Jay Christopherson praised his team-mates and also gave credit to his rivals: “Team Grizzly was outstanding for the LR Open Gold”.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua
Team LBB: Jay Christopherson, Erik Cortina, Tom Hendricks, Pat Scully, Coach Bob Sebold.

Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills No Comments »
July 21st, 2018

Kevin Nevius Wins 2018 NRA Long Range Championship

NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana David Tubb Bob Gill John Whidden

Our friend Kevin Nevius, best known for his smallbore skills, went head to head against the nation’s top long-range aces this past week, and emerged on top. Besting the likes of past multi-time Long Range Champions David Tubb and John Whidden, Kevin Nevius shot superbly at Camp Atterbury to win his first NRA National Long Range Championship. Kevin finished with 1245-64X, one point ahead of Phillip Crowe, 1244-74X. Bob Gill, shooting a .223 Rem with iron sights, was third on X-Count, with 1244-68X. Kevin built his own rifles for the match, using Kelbly centerfire actions in a Grunig & Elmiger smallbore stock. Here is Kevin’s first-hand report of his 2018 LR Championship victory.

Click Here for 2018 NRA High Power Long Range Championship Full Results

2018 NRA Long Range Championship — Rising to the Challenge

by Kevin Nevius
NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana David Tubb Bob Gill John WhiddenThis was my first opportunity to shoot the NRA Long Range Nationals since its relocation to Camp Atterbury, and it was great to see everyone and get back to the matches. It is always so humbling walking onto the range and seeing all of the people I read about and admire so much. I can’t think of another sport where people so accomplished will share so much and be so helpful.

Regarding the weather, we had generally great conditions with very mild winds in the mornings, building gradually as the days progressed. By the afternoon hours, there were certainly challenges as the air started moving. Obstructions to the wind on either side of this range vary, so you needed to pay attention for sure — it may be calm at the targets or firing line, only to show something to worry about on the mid-range flags. Mirage is my primary indicator shooting smallbore, but mirage over 5/8ths of a mile is a little less telling (and a lot more confusing, at least for me!). I think most competitors, including me, use some combination of mirage and flags to make corrections. At the start of the string, I try to gauge a predominant condition, and more importantly which indicator is the most reliable to look at to determine that condition.

NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana David Tubb Bob Gill John Whidden

Smallbore shooting is where I learned to build a good position, and so much of that carries forward to Long Range High Power. It was a huge shock though, the first time I looked at a 44” aiming black through aperture sights at 1000 yards! Smallbore aiming blacks are twice as big, at one tenth the distance — the fact that we can hit something at 1000 yards with that sight picture still amazes me!

NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana David Tubb Bob Gill John Whidden

Kevin’s Arsenal — 6.5×47 Lapua and .308 Win Barreled Actions in Smallbore Stock
I have always build my own rifles, and always struggled to get the individual rifles you need for the LR aggregate (Any and Palma) and smallbore to feel, balance and fit identically. This year for the first time, I machined bedding blocks that allowed me to put almost identical centefire barreled actions into my smallbore prone stock – effectively making the position and fit of all the rifles for all disciplines identical (it is, after all the same stock used for everything).

NRA Long Range National Championship Kevin Nevius Lapua 6.5x47 .308 Win Palma Camp Atterbury Indiana

I used two modified Kelbly Grizzly actions (one barreled in 6.5×47 for the any rifle matches, and one barreled in 308 for Palma) fitted to two identical aluminum bedding blocks. The bedding block footprint matches my smallbore barreled action – a Grunig & Elmiger Racer WC. The stock is a Grunig & Elmiger Hybrid, which is a composite aluminum skeleton and carbon fiber skin.

Championship-Winning 6.5×47 Lapua and .308 Win Loads
I was using a 6.5×47 Lapua in the “Any Rifle” matches. The barrel is a 1:8″-twist Benchmark medium Palma contour finished at 35 inches, throated +0.060″. My 6.5×47 load was Lapua brass, CCI 450 primers, VV N160 powder, and 140 grain Berger Hybrid bullets. For the Palma match, a .308 Win barreled action was fitted in the same Grunig & Elmiger smallbore stock. The .308 barrel was another Benchmark 35″ medium Palma, using the current Fullbore chamber throated +0.120″. I was using Lapua .308 Palma small primer brass, Federal 205M primers, VV N140, and 155 grain Lapua Scenar L bullets.

Shooting Between Champions — Tubb on the Left, Whidden on the Right
On the final day (the Palma Individual), we were squadded based on seed position, so David Tubb was on my left, and John Whidden on my right. I am not sure if a more intimidating position on the firing line exists, but it was so clear to me especially on that last day how blessed I was to be there. In every match, there is an element of luck — regarding weather, squadding assignment, target service, firing point condition, even equipment malfunction. A host of things can go wrong…

I lost my very first shot at 900 mostly due to elevation (I was coming a little unhinged with the realization I might be in the lead – just being completely honest!), and settled down to clean the remainder of the string. The wind had built by then, and would run both right and left with the small boils in between. At 1000 I lost two, and was pretty happy with that. It was getting pretty dicey, and I resigned myself to the fact that it was becoming one of those days where 10s were enough (and Xs were pure luxury!). John shot well at 1000, but he always does — I don’t think there is a better long range shooter in the country and it’s been that way for a bunch of years. I can’t say enough about him – he is a dear friend and everything a champion should be. (Editor: Whidden finished fourth overall, at 1243-78X, with high X-count for the event.)

To put it all together takes so many things — preparation, tuning, load development, position practice. And yes, it takes some divine intervention for sure. I will never forget this experience, and am so grateful to have been successful this year.

John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks congratulated Kevin: “I was really proud of my friend Kevin Nevius and his fine shooting over the match. Kevin is respected both for his shooting and his character. The match went well and a number of improvements were made over last year. The targets were better, the number boards better, and the match ran very efficiently. Kudos to those who made these positive changes happen.”

Tough Time for Tubb on Last Day
Kevin noted that it was intimidating to be squadded between David Tubb and John Whidden, two multi-time Champions. Unfortunately Tubb, who had shot brilliantly (800-50X) throughout the Long Range event, had issues with his .308 Palma rifle on the final day. Kevin noted: “Yes David had some problems with his .308. When we arrived at the range on the last day, for the Palma Individual, David was in the lead with 800-50X, having shot ‘clean’ (not dropping a point). Bob Gill was second with 798-43X, and I was in third place with 798-42X. As we started the 800-yard string, there was some commotion going on to my left, and all I know is that as we finished and started moving to 900 yards, David was not happy. I believe he had lost 4 points at 800. We went to the pits, and he said his rifle was not shooting well, and he was pretty unhappy to say the least. He tried to adjust the seating depth of his ammunition before heading back out to the 900-yard line, in the hopes the gun would shoot better”. But it ended up a very tough day for David, as his chances for another LR Championship vanished.

Editor: With a 800-50X total, David Tubb was the Winner of the Canadian Cup Trophy, earned before the last day.

Bob Gill Proves the .223 Remington (and Iron Sights) Can Be Competitive
There were many interesting stories at this year’s Long Range Championship. The .223 Rem Eliseo Tubegun belonging to Californian Bob Gill proved to be “the little rifle that could”. Gill shot his .223 Rem Palma rifle for the entire Long Range Championship cycle. And yes Bob shot irons the whole way, even during the Remington and Wimbledon “Any Sight” matches where scopes are allowed. Kevin observed: “Bob Gill was amazing, and that rifle must be pretty awesome too. I don’t think I have ever seen someone shoot a .223 Rem at 1000 yards that well — ever. I believe Bob was shooting 80 grain bullets. As I pulled for Gill on the third day, I can testify that his bullets were still plenty supersonic!”

Editor: Gill finished 3rd overall, just one point down from Kevin, and six Xs behind runner-up Phillip Crowe. Gill also won the Sierra Trophy.

CLICK HERE for all NRA 2018 National Championships Results

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July 14th, 2018

NRA High Power and LR Championships at Camp Atterbury

NRA High power national championships SFC Brandon Green

Brandon green 2018 NRA High Power ChampionCongratulations to SFC Brandon Green, the 2018 NRA National High Power Champion. Brandon won yet another High Power title in convincing fashion, with a 2394-147X overall score. Two other soldiers finished second and third, separated by X-Count. Second-place SFC Shane Barnhart scored 2386-137X, while SGT Benjamin Cleland was third with 2386-128X. In fourth place, and top civilian, was Ronald Zerr with 2383-126X. (CLICK HERE for High Power Results.)

Now it’s time for High Power Long Range. For the next few days, the nation’s top long-range “hard-holders” will be competing at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. The NRA High Power Long Range Championships run July 13-17, with the Long Range Palma match on Tuesday the 17th. Many notable shooters will be there, including John Whidden, who is aiming for a “three-peat” after winning the LR Championship for the past two years running (and five times in total: 2007, 2008, 2010, 2016, 2017).

Camp Atterbury Indiana
Long Range competitors at 2017 NRA National High Power Rifle Championships.

Long Range and Mid-Range National Matches at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, 2018:
Friday, July 13 – Monday, July 16: NRA Long Range (awards ceremony on concluding day)
Tuesday, July 17: NRA Long Range Palma, Palma Team Awards Ceremony
Wednesday, July 18 – Saturday, July 21: NRA Mid Range Individual
Sunday, July 22: NRA Mid Range Teams, Mid Range Awards Ceremony
Monday, July 23: Range Clean Up/Clear Out

CLICK HERE for All 2018 NRA National Championships Results

Whidden’s Perfect 2017 Palma Match
Whidden secured the 2017 LR Title by shooting “clean” (not dropping a point) in the tough Palma competition. In the NRA Palma match, rifles must be .223 Rem or .308 Winchester, with metallic sights (no scopes). The match is conducted at three yardages, 15 shots at each distance of 800/900/1000 yards, with unlimited sighters at 800 and two sighters at 900 and 1000.

Whidden Palma rifle .308 Win winchester Camp Atterbury

John liked the Camp Atterbury facility and he credited his equipment for his 2017 victory: “With the change to the new Camp Atterbury venue, many shooters were a little unsure how things were going to shake out. But it all turned out really well. All of my equipment shot fantastic all week long — that certainly made shooting a big score easier.”

Whidden Palma rifle .308 Win winchester Camp Atterbury

Whidden Palma Rifle
Action: Barnard “P” (three lugs, 60° bolt lift)
Barrel: Bartlein 32″, Light Palma contour, cryo-treated by 300 Below.
Stock: Anschutz Precise aluminum smallbore stock, set up for centerfire barreled action.
Trigger: Barnard Two-Stage adjustable

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April 2nd, 2018

Vihtavuori Reloading Data Updates for 2018

VV Vihtavuori finland powder propellant reloading recipe data information mobile app pistol rifle .260 Rem .45 Acp .223 Rem .338 Lapua Magnum 2018 update

Vihtavuori markets a full line of quality, European-made powders for rifles and pistols. Finland-based Vihtavuori is operated by the same parent company, Nammo, that owns Lapua and Berger Bullets. If you haven’t tried Vihtavuori powders yet, you may be pleasantly surprised. For loading .45 ACP, our favorite powder is VV N320 — it burns clean and is very accurate. Likewise, VV makes excellent powders for rifle applications — from small varmint cartridges to large magnums.

New Reloading Data Released
VV Vihtavuori finland powder propellant reloading recipe data information mobile appVihtavuori offers free reloading data on its website, and through a free Mobile App. And now those resources are even more complete…


Rifle DATA | Pistol DATA | Mobile APP

Last week, Vihtavuori added new reloading data for ten different cartridge types, including some of the most popular pistol and rifle cartridges. You’ll find new pistol data for 9mm Luger and .45 ACP, and extensive new load data for .223 Rem, .260 Rem, .308 Win, and .30-06 Springfield (among others). Overall the 2018 data update features over 20 new bullets, with more than 140 new lines! All new data is also available in FREE Vihtavuori Reload App for iOS and Android. The updated online information supplements Vihtavuori’s Reloading Databases, which have dedicated sections for Rifle Cartridges, Pistol Cartridges, and Cowboy Action.

New Reloading Data is available for these TEN cartridge types:

VV Vihtavuori finland powder propellant reloading recipe data information mobile app pistol rifle .260 Rem .45 Acp .223 Rem .338 Lapua Magnum 2018 update

Story tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News, Reloading 3 Comments »
February 5th, 2018

New Official Load Data for Latest High-BC Sierra MatchKings

Sierra MatchKing 2018 New bullets 95gr 150gr 200gr 230gr .223 Rem .308 Win

In recent months, Sierra has unveiled four very serious, ultra-high-BC MatchKing bullets in .224, .264 (6.5 mm), and .308 calibers. And just last week Sierra has released initial load data for these four new projectiles. CLICK HERE to get the latest official load data for these four new bullets.

High-BC MatchKings Tipped at Factory
Sierra recently released a new-for-2018, 95-grain .224 projectile, Sierra product #1396, with a claimed G1 BC of 0.600 — mighty impressive for a .22-caliber bullet. Next up is the new 6.5mm (.264 caliber) 150-grainer with an 0.713 G1 BC. This could be a game-changer for the 6.5-284 and new 6.5 PRC short magnum. There are also two new .308-caliber MatchKings, a 200-grainer with 0.715 G1 BC, and a new 230-grainer with a stunning 0.800 G1 BC. Many of these New Generation MatchKings now come “tipped” from the factory for more uniform BC.

Sierra Bullets has LOAD DATA for these four new bullets. If you handload for .223 Remington, 22-250, 6.5 x284 Norma, .308 Winchester, or .300 Winchester Magnum, check out this new reloading data.


» GET 2018 New Bullet DATA from Sierra in PDF format

.224 Cal 95gr HPBT MatchKing #1396
6.5mm 150gr HPBT MatchKing #1755
.308 Cal 200gr HPBT MatchKing #2231
.308 Cal 230gr HPBT MatchKing #2251

Sierra Bullets Load Data MatchKing .223 .224 6.5 mm .308 200gr 230gr
Sierra MatchKing 2018 New bullets 95gr 150gr 200gr 230gr .223 Rem .308 Win

Sierra MatchKing 2018 New bullets 95gr 150gr 200gr 230gr .223 Rem .308 Win

Sierra MatchKing 2018 New bullets 95gr 150gr 200gr 230gr .223 Rem .308 Win

Sierra MatchKing 2018 New bullets 95gr 150gr 200gr 230gr .223 Rem .308 Win

Sierra bullets header

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 7 Comments »
January 7th, 2018

Can You Hit a Watch Face at 200 Yards — With Iron Sights?

Marksmanship M1A M14 .308 Win shooting watch challenge

Marksmanship M1A M14 .308 Win shooting watch challengeWhen two or more guys get together at a shooting range, sooner or later, a challenge will ensue. It’s a guy thing — guys are competitive. We’ve seen it on varmint hunting trips too: “Bet I can hit that P-dog at 700 yards.” “No you can’t.” “Yes I can.” “Wanna Bet?”

You know how it goes. There are challenges for pride, bragging rights, and often some money is involved, or perhaps a six-pack.

In this GunVenture video, three shooters take on the challenge of hitting the face of a watch at 200 yards using an M1A rifle with standard iron sights. The rules were exact — you had to hit the FACE of the watch, not just the strap. And the bullet had to penetrate the center of the watch — no splash shots or ricochets allowed. Not an easy shot — we figure that watch face is about 1.5″ in diameter or roughly 0.75 MOA at 200 yards. They were shooting factory .308 Win ammo with 155gr bullets — a Palma load.

GunVenture Video — 200 Yard Watch Challenge with Iron Sights M1A

One of the shooters, range owner Justin Watts, rose brilliantly to the challenge. You can see Justin’s remarkable shot at 3:20 time mark. Holding slightly for wind, he drilled the watch face dead center, obliterating it, but leaving most of the band intact. At 4:25 the video reveals that the whole center of the watch (the works) was blown out, leaving nothing but a rubber doughnut. Mighty Impressive.

Marksmanship M1A M14 .308 Win shooting watch challenge

After making the impressive shot, Justin explained to his buddies what they did wrong. Among other things they did not compensate for the wind. Justin also observed that the first shooter sent his shot right because of the M1A’s heavy trigger pull: “Probably what happened is the trigger pull is so heavy [he] pulled it to the right. Most of the time when you have a right-handed shooter and a heavy trigger like that, it’s going to pull you off to the right.”

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