March 31st, 2017

500-Round Group at 300 Meters — Now That’s a Test!

Sierra Bullets 500 round tunnel test

For load development, some guys shoot 3-shot groups. Other guys shoot 5-shot groups, or even 10-shot strings. But for testing its projectiles, Sierra Bullets takes it to another level entirely. A while back Sierra was testing its .30-Caliber 175gr HPBT MatchKing in the Sierra uynderground tunnel. The results are show above — a FIVE HUNDRED Round group!

The tunnel testers sent five full boxes of bullets down-range. Here are 500 Shots shot in a 300 meter tunnel. The group size is 2.82 inches (that’s edge to edge of the farthest shots, less the bullet diameter). This was a pressure/velocity test for a commercial customer. The Cartridge was .308 Win, loaded at 2.800″.The powder was Reloder 15. A 26″ barrel was shot from a return to battery rest. The gun was cleaned every 125 rounds and two foulers shot.

What do you think — could you beat this group from a bench for 500 rounds?

One Facebook poster joked: “500-round group? Everyone knows anything less than 1000-round groups are a waste of time and statistically irrelevant.”

Sierra Bullets Test Tunnel Barrels

Sierra’s 300 Meter Testing Tunnel
Ever wonder how (and where) Sierra tests its bullets? The answer is underground, in a 300-meter test tunnel located under Sierra’s factory in Sedalia, Missouri. The photo above shows the construction of the tunnel back in May, 1990. Like most bullet manufacturers, Sierra does live-fire bullet testing of its projectiles. Sierra’s 300-meter test range is the longest, manufacturer-owned underground bullet test facility in the world. Sierra offers free tours of the test tunnel as part of Sierra’s Factory Tour Program.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo 5 Comments »
February 26th, 2017

A Few Seconds at Best — The Short Operating Life of Barrels

Stopwatch barrel life

Here’s a little known fact that may startle most readers, even experienced gunsmiths: your barrel wears out in a matter of seconds. The useful life of a typical match barrel, in terms of actual bullet-in-barrel time, is only a few seconds. How can that be, you ask? Well you need to look at the actual time that bullets spend traveling through the bore during the barrel’s useful life. (Hint: it’s not very long).

Bullet-Time-in-Barrel Calculations
If a bullet flies at 3000 fps, it will pass through a 24″ (two-foot) barrel in 1/1500th of a second. If you have a useful barrel life of 3000 rounds, that would translate to just two seconds of actual bullet-in-barrel operating time.

Ah, but it’s not that simple. Your bullet starts at zero velocity and then accelerates as it passes through the bore, so the projectile’s average velocity is not the same as the 3000 fps muzzle velocity. So how long does a centerfire bullet (with 3000 fps MV) typically stay in the bore? The answer is about .002 seconds. This number was calculated by Varmint Al, who is a really smart engineer dude who worked at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, a government think tank that develops neutron bombs, fusion reactors and other simple stuff.

On his Barrel Tuner page, Varmint Al figured out that the amount of time a bullet spends in a barrel during firing is under .002 seconds. Al writes: “The approximate time that it takes a 3300 fps muzzle velocity bullet to exit the barrel, assuming a constant acceleration, is 0.0011 seconds. Actual exit times would be longer since the bullet is not under constant acceleration.”

We’ll use the .002 number for our calculations here, knowing that the exact number depends on barrel length and muzzle velocity. But .002 is a good average that errs, if anything, on the side of more barrel operating life rather than less.

So, if a bullet spends .002 seconds in the barrel during each shot, and you get 3000 rounds of accurate barrel life, how much actual firing time does the barrel deliver before it loses accuracy? That’s simple math: 3000 x .002 seconds = 6 seconds.

Stopwatch barrel lifeGone in Six Seconds. Want to Cry Now?
Six seconds. That’s how long your barrel actually functions (in terms of bullet-in-barrel shot time) before it “goes south”. Yes, we know some barrels last longer than 3000 rounds. On the other hand, plenty of .243 Win and 6.5-284 barrels lose accuracy in 1500 rounds or less. If your barrel loses accuracy at the 1500-round mark, then it only worked for three seconds! Of course, if you are shooting a “long-lived” .308 Win that goes 5000 rounds before losing accuracy, then you get a whopping TEN seconds of barrel life. Anyway you look at it, a rifle barrel has very little longevity, when you consider actual firing time.

People already lament the high cost of replacing barrels. Now that you know how short-lived barrels really are, you can complain even louder. Of course our analysis does give you even more of an excuse to buy a nice new Bartlein, Krieger, Shilen etc. barrel for that fine rifle of yours.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
February 4th, 2017

Forum Faves — February’s ‘Pride and Joy’ Rifles

AccurateShooter.com Pride Joy rifle 6XC hunter whitetail rack deer
Forum member Bill Goad’s 6XC II Hunter Rests in a Whitetail Rack taken this past year.

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 rifles. 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? Just Register for the Forum and you can add your favorite gun to the list.

TT Freestyle’s Husband and Wife Borden Benchrest Rifles

AccurateShooter.com Pride Joy rifle Borden Accuracy Benchrest Short Range Christmas

Here’s a pair of “His and Hers” rigs delivered by Santa in December. Forum member TT Freestyle reports: “After our rookie year in Short Range Benchrest with good used equipment, my wife and I decided we liked it enough to get two new Bordens for Christmas!”

FalconPilot’s Fabulous F-Classer in Shurley Claro Walnut Stock

AccurateShooter.com Pride Joy rifle F-Class F-Open Open Claro Walnut BAT action .284 Win Dasher

This beauty belongs to Forum member FalconPilot. He tells us that his “Lastest F-Classer features a Shurley Brothers SOD stock in beautiful Claro Walnut.” Components include Bat M action, Bix-N-Andy trigger, and Nightforce Comp scope. FalconPilot has several barrels for this Open-Class rig, including tubes chambered for .284 Win and 6mm Dasher.

Eric’s Blacktical .308 Win for Precision Rifle Series

AccurateShooter.com Pride Joy rifle Rem 700 .308 PRS Precision Rifle Series Bartlein Vortex

Forum member Eric32 spent months building out this rifle, “getting it to work just right for PRS”. Designed for practical/tactical matches, this rugged rig features a blue-printed Rem 700 action (with 1.5-lb 40X trigger) in an XLR Element chassis. On the end of the .308 Bartlein 5R barrel is a JP brake. Other components include: PiG skins barricade grips, Atlas Bipod, and GGG bungee sling. On top is a SWFA HD 5-20x50mm optic with Vortex scope level and custom throw-lever.

Willow’s “Lightning Bolt” Hydro-Dipped F-Open Rifle

AccurateShooter.com Pride Joy rifle bartlein vortex golden eagle Bartlein Model P

Forum member Willow reports: “Here is my new F-Open gun. It features a hydro-dipped LowBoy stock and LH Barnard Model P action with ‘V’ bedding block. The barrel is a straight profile 32″, 1:8.5″ twist Bartlein 5R, chambered in 280AI by Matt Paroz”. On top is a Vortex 10-60x52mm Golden Eagle in a Spuhr 3001 mount. Willow says his lightning bolt rig is a shooter: “After 42 rounds through the barrel, I’m liking what I am seeing so far”. Check out that trick aluminum base for his rear Edgewood bag.

Stinnett’s 6.4×47 Lapua Tactical Rig

AccurateShooter.com Pride Joy rifle 6.5x47 Lapua Tactical Stiller Action McMillan Stock Nightforce NXS

Forum member Stinnett tells us: “This is my third 6.5×47 Lapua rifle — the 6.5×47 is the best cartridge ever! I’m not a huge fan of muzzle brakes. I look at them as tools — use the correct tool for the job. The ’47 doesn’t need a brake. .308 Winchester and up need muzzle brakes. For this rifle, I’m going to start out with 123gr Scenars and Reloder 15. I also like to shoot the 123gr SMKs and Varget. The SMKs are much less seating-depth sensitive. Very easy to find a load! Also gonna try the Berger 130 Hybrids and H4350.”

Components: McMillan A5 adjustable stock in GAP Camo, Stiller TAC 30 A/W action, Jewell HVR trigger, Badger bottom metal and DBM, Atlas Bipod, Nightforce NXS F1 3.5-15×50 with MLR 2.0 reticle. Metal has been Cerakoted graphite black.

6mm BRX Benchgun with Home-Made Cherry/Redheart Stock

AccurateShooter.com Pride Joy rifle Borden 6mm BRX Cherry Redheart Redwood custom stock

You have to give credit to a guy who crafts his own custom wood stock. This 6mm BRX benchgun features a custom-built laminated stock featuring Cherry wood with vivid Redheart pieces on the sides and Redwood Burl on the buttplate. The front of the stock is 4″ wide. The action is a Benchrest Borden RBLP Right Eject unit, with custom titanium scope rings on top. Owner Erick C. is proud of this stock, saying it is “the best one I’ve built so far”. We agree it’s a beauty.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
January 6th, 2017

Savage Turns to the Dark Side — Introduces AR-Type Rifles

Savage AR15 AR10 AR-10 Black rifle AR MSR Modern Sporting Rifle

Savage Arms has joined the black rifle bandwagon with its new MSR Series of gas guns. Savage will offer four AR-style semi-automatic rifles in 2017. Savage will offer a variety of buttstock configurations, barrel lengths, along with some interesting chambering options. The MSR 15 Patrol and Recon feature a .223 Wylde target chamber for use with 223 Rem. or 5.56x45mm. The MSR 10 Hunter and MSR 10 Long Range models are AR-10 platform rigs offered in 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win chamberings. The top-of-the-line MSR 10 Long Range model carries a hefty $2284 MSRP price-tag, but it does include a two-stage AR Blaze target trigger, adjustable gas block, and a genuine Magpul® PRS Gen3 buttstock.

While most of the engineering of the MSR series is classic AR, there are some interesting features and notable upgrades. The MSR 10 Long Range offers a non-reciprocating, left-side charging handle (along with conventional rear charging handle). All the MSR rifles have high-quality barrels with a durable surface hardening treatment known as Melonite QPQ. This should make the rifles run longer (with higher round count) before needing replacement barrels. Bill Dermody of Savage states: “These are high-performance barrels you’d have to buy as an upgrade with standard AR-15s.”

Savage MSR Notable Features:
Non-reciprocating SIDE charging handle on MSR 10 LR (plus normal charging handle)
1:8″-twist Barrels, Melonite QPQ hardening, 5R rifling (MSR 15 Patrol and Recon)
1:8″ or 1:10″-twist Barrels, Melonite QPQ hardening, 5R rifling (MSR 10 Hunter and LR)
Conventional AR-Type Gas System (No Op Rod)
Adjustable Gas Block (MSR 10 Hunter and LR)
Modular-Style Fore-end/Handguard
Flip-up Front and Rear Sights

Field Test of Savage MSR 15 Patrol
YouTube ace .22 Plinkster got his hands on one of the very first Savage MSR 15 Patrol M4 models. In this video, he tests it for function and accuracy, finding the MSR 15 to be “a good shooter”. He adds: “The Patrol is Savage’s entry-level M4. Because this rifle is brand new … you may want to check out Savage’s website at www.SavageArms.com.”

Savage AR15 AR10 AR-10 Black rifle AR MSR Modern Sporting Rifle

This Twang ‘N Bang video explains the key features of the MSR 10 Long Range, including the side charging handle and QPQ-treated barrel. It also describes the specs of the other three models.

Savage’s new MSR 10 Hunter and MSR 10 Long Range are purpose-built modern sporting rifles for game hunting and long-range shooting. Both are available in .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor chamberings. Both models are built on compact, lightweight frames and feature adjustable gas blocks, plus the MSR 10 Long Range is equipped with a non-reciprocating, side-charging handle (see below).

Savage AR15 AR10 AR-10 Black rifle AR MSR Modern Sporting Rifle

On the AR-15 platform, the new MSR 15 Patrol and MSR 15 Recon are chambered in .223 Wylde for safe, reliable function with both 223 Rem. and 5.56x45mm ammo. All Savage MSRs offer premium features such as 5R button-rifled barrels with Melonite QPQ surface hardening, new BLACKHAWK! furniture, upgraded sights and more. To learn more about Savage’s new line of MSR rifles, visit www.Savagearms.com/msr.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 6 Comments »
November 5th, 2016

If You Could Own Just One Long Gun — What Would It Be?

Sierra Bullets Gun list .30-06 Springfield .308 Winchester
Custom hunting rifle photo courtesy Kilimanjaro Rifles.

The folks at Sierra Bullets asked a few staff bulletsmiths a classic question about guns: “If you could own only one firearm which one would you choose?” There were many interesting answers including a “cheater” response — the drilling — which is really two guns in one. The most-often mentioned chambering was the venerable .30-06. Respondents cited its versatility, hunting prowess, and ready availability of ammo. The popular .308 Winchester, as expected, got mentions as did its cousins the .243 Win and 7mm-08. There were quite a few votes for classic lever guns, as well as 12-gauge shotguns. Two bulletsmiths cited the .22 LR, and we can certainly see the logic in that answer. The little rimfire cartridge is versatile, quiet, and inexpensive.

We ask our readers the same question — if you could only have one long gun, what type of firearm would it be? List the gun type and chambering in the comments section.

If You Could Have Just One Long-Gun — ANSWERS:

Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant answered: “I would NEVER own only one gun. If I HAD to pick one, it would be a drilling in 12 gauge over .30-06.”

Ballistic Technician Rich Machholz answered: “The early tang safety Ruger M77s pretty much have all you could want in a bolt gun, but I do like the Winchester lever guns and the combination guns, particularly the drillings. Since I have the first two, I’m going for a Doug Turnbull 1886 or a side by side 20 gauge over .223 drilling.”

Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin answered: “More than likely it would have to be a bolt action .30-06. The reliability is legendary on a wide range of game animals and factory ammunition has still been available at my local stores even in these tough times.”

.30-06 Springfield cartridge diagram

Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks answered: “If I had to boil it all down to one gun, it would probably be a .30-06. I have a Remington 700C (custom shop gun) that has worked very well for anything and everything I have ever wanted to do with it.”

Ballistic Technician Paul Box answered: “A .22 Rimfire.”

Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd answered: “Remington 700 in .308 Winchester.”

Sierra Bullets Gun list .30-06 Springfield .308 Winchester

VP – Sales & Marketing Matt Reams answered: “A light weight Kimber in 25-06.”

Production Toolsetter Brad Vansell answered: “Savage weather warrior 7mm-08 is my rifle of choice.”

Production Toolsetter Dan Mahnken answered: “The .308 Winchester rifle — [based on the] wide range of bullets made and the wide range of things that one can hunt with it.”

Process Engineer David Palm answered: “Savage action 243 Winchester.”

Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf answered: “Probably a .22 LR. It may not be the best choice, but you could use it for about anything if you really had to.”

Production Manager Chris Hatfield answered: “Beretta A300 Outlander 12 gauge.”

Machine Shop Manager Craig Westermier answered: “12 gauge shotgun.”

This article original appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 7 Comments »
November 3rd, 2016

Recoil Comparison .223 Rem vs. 6BR vs. .308 Win

6mmBR NormaMany visitors to the site ask us, “I’ve got a .223 and .308. What will a 6mmBR Norma (6BR) give me that I’m not getting already?” Well first you will probably average consistently smaller groups than your current .223 or .308 rifle (assuming the 6BR has a quality barrel and trigger). A good .308 Winchester can be superbly accurate, no question about that, but the lesser recoil of the 6BR works in the shooter’s favor over a long string of fire. Even with a Rem 700 or Savage action factory action, a 6BR with a benchrest stock, premium barrel, and a high-quality chambering job should deliver 5-shot groups in the high twos to mid-threes, provided you do your job. We have one 6BR rifle that shoots Lapua factory-loaded 6BR ammunition in the low twos and high ones. That’s exceptional, we admit, but it still shows how the 6BR is an inherently accurate cartridge, even with factory loads.

Compared to a .223, the 6BR offers a much better selection of high-BC projectiles, and will deliver considerably more power on the target. Compared to the .308 shooting 168gr MatchKings, a 6BR shooting 105-107gr bullets offers better ballistics all the way out to 1000 yards. Plus, for most people, the 6BR is just easier to shoot than a .308. Recoil is less than half of the .308 cartridge. Both the .308 and 6BR chamberings offer good barrel life, but the 6BR uses 15-18 grains less powder, saving you money. On the other hand the .308 is the designated cartridge for F-TR and Palma shooting, so it may be a more versatile chambering for Long-Range competition. So which would we choose between the 6BR and the .308? Actually we think you should have both. The 6BR is my favorite cartridge out to 500 yards, and I like the .308 Win for F-TR. And… if you want to shoot at the World Fullbore Championships this week at Camp Perry there’s only one choice — a .308 Win.

Permalink Tech Tip 3 Comments »
October 26th, 2016

Great Sale on Sierra Bullets at Precision Reloading

Precision Reloading Sierra Matchking Tipped TMK SMK bullets sale

Right now Precision Reloading is running a BIG SALE on Sierra MatchKing (MK) and Tipped MatchKing (TMK) Bullets. These bullets are being offered at deep discounts, with very low prices (some close to wholesale). Precision Reloading says you can save up to $37.00 on 500-ct boxes. Here are just a few examples of the dozens of types of Sierra Bullets on Sale.

Sierra 30 Cal, 200gr HPBT MK, 100 for $35.57 (marked down from $40.29)
Sierra 7mm, 183gr HPBT MK, 100 for $38.37 (marked down from $43.39) (Great new bullet)
Sierra 6.5mm, 142gr HPBT MK, 500 for $167.74 (marked down from $187.69)
Sierra 6.5 mm, 130gr TMK, 100 for $30.58 (marked down from $34.59)
Sierra 6mm, 95gr TMK, 500 for $138.75 (marked down from $156.89)
Sierra 22 Cal, 80gr HPBT MK, 500 for $117.08 (marked down from $132.39)
Sierra 22 Cal 77gr TMK, 100 for $26.19 (marked down from $29.69)

NOTE: This Sierra Bullets Sale runs through October 31, 2016, so you’ll want to place your order before the end of the month.

Sierra offers the widest selection of .30-Caliber match bullets in the world today, producing bullets suited to nearly every form of long-range competition. Along with classic HPBT and HP MatchKings, Sierra now offers the new Tipped MatchKing (TMK) line, which feature an acetal resin tip. The major advantage of adding a tip to the bullet is the reduction of drag, producing a more favorable ballistic coefficient. Another benefit is improved feeding in magazine-fed firearms.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals No Comments »
August 13th, 2016

New Howa Tactical Rig — Howa Chassis Rifle (HCR)

Howa HCR Chassis Rifle PRS Tactical Aluminum stock HACT Trigger

Here’s an item for tactical and Precision Rifle Series (PRS) shooters. Howa is releasing a new rifle with a modular metal chassis. The new Howa HCR (Howa Chassis Rifle) combines a Howa 1500 barreled action with a modern, fully-adjustable aluminum chassis. The Howa’s MSRP is $1299.00, so the HCR is directly competitive with the Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR). Available chamberings are: .223 Remington, .243 Winchester, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Winchester.

Howa HCR Chassis Rifle PRS Tactical Aluminum stock HACT Trigger

Mounted on an AR-style buffer tube system, the Howa HCR utilizes the fully adjustable LUTH-AR MBA-3 stock. Length of Pull is adjustable form 12.5″ to 16.75″. Comb height is also adjustable to fine tune for scope height-over-bore. Weight with a 24″ barrel is 10.2 pounds (before optics), so this Howa HCR is lighter that some similar rifles on the market.

Howa HCR Chassis Rifle PRS Tactical Aluminum stock HACT Trigger

Howa HCR Features

• Howa 1500 Barreled Action with 20″ and 24″ Heavy Barrel options
• Black 6061-T6 Aluminum Chassis with Free-Float M-LOK Forend
• LUTH AR Buttstock with LOP Adjustment (12.5″ to 16.75″) and Adjustable Comb
• 10-RD ACCURATE Detachable, Teflon-coated Steel Magazine
• Two-Stage H.A.C.T. Trigger
• 3 Position Safety

Howa HCR Chassis Rifle PRS Tactical Aluminum stock HACT TriggerThe HOWA HCR features an adjustable, two-stage HACT trigger, set for about 3 pounds (combined stages). Crisp and repeatable, this is an excellent trigger for a factory gun. In our opinion, the HACT trigger is clearly superior to the trigger on the Ruger RPR, as well as the Savage AccuTrigger. And there is no annoying Glock-style safety lever in the middle of the trigger blade.

Available in .223 Rem, .243 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win chamberings.

NOTE: For all chamberings, 24″ barrels are offered, with 20″ options for the .223 Rem and .308 Win as well. Twist rates are 1:9″ for .223 Rem, 1:10″ for .243 Win, 1:8″ for 6.5 Creedmoor, and 1:10″ for .308 Win. We think .243 Win shooters will NOT be happy with the 1:10″ twist. We would prefer to see a 1:8″-twist for the .243 Win so it can shoot the 105-115 grain 6mm bullets. Most competitive 6mm shooters will want a true 8-twist or even a 1:7.5″.

Permalink New Product, Tactical 11 Comments »
August 9th, 2016

Hail the 2016 High Power and Long Range National Champions

Norman Norm Houle High Power John Whidden 2016 National Long Range High Power Championship Camp Perry Barnard Action

We congratulate Norman Houle, the 2016 National High Power Champion, and John Whidden, the 2016 National Long Range Champion. Norm secured his win with an impressive 2384-130X score. Along with the title of National Champion, Norm received a Mumma Trophy Plaque, a National Champion Medallion, Krieger Barrels Certificate, Trijicon Scope, and Geissele Certificate. In second place was last year’s champion, SFC Brandon Green of the USAMU. Brandon, who won the 2015 and 2013 High Power Championships, finished with a score of 2381-120X. In third place was SGT Nick Mowrer with 2381-114X, a very impressive score with a Service Rifle. (SGT Mowrer won the Service Rifle Championship.)

Norman Norm Houle High Power John Whidden 2016 National Long Range High Power Championship Camp Perry Barnard Action

John Whidden is always strong at Camp Perry (file photo from past event).
John Whidden 2016 National High Power Championship Camp Perry Barnard Action

Whidden Wins Long Range Championship
In the Long Range Competition (Tompkins Trophy Match), John Whidden of Whidden Gunworks topped the field with a very strong 1240-77X performance. This victory secured John’s fourth Long Range National title. As in the High Power Championship, in the Long Range event SFC Brandon Green also finished in second place (1238-67X). Rounding out the Long Range podium was William Gelet with a 1238-57X tally. With his Long Range Championship win, Whidden took home a Tompkins Trophy Plaque, a Gold Championship Medallion, and a $500 Berger Bullets Certificate.

John campaigned three rifles he smithed himself. These feature Barnard actions in modified Anschutz smallbore stocks. For the open-caliber events, John shot .243 Win-chambered rifles with 6mm 105gr Berger Hybrids. For the Palma matches he shot a .308 Win with 155gr Berger Hybrids. John’s ammo was loaded on Whidden dies of course. During the Long Range cycle, matches were shot with both iron sights and scopes. John had two different .243 Win rifles, one fitted with iron sights, the other with a scope.

Norman Norm Houle High Power John Whidden 2016 National Long Range High Power Championship Camp Perry Barnard Action

High Power Hardware: The Guns of Perry

We thought our readers would like to see some of the ultra-accurate rifles campaigned by High Power competitors at Camp Perry. Both bolt-action and self-loading rifles are popular. Among bolt guns, Tubb 2000s and Eliseo tubeguns are popular. Semi-auto AR platform “Space Guns” offer some advantages (particularly during rapid-fire and for standing position), and are favored by many of the top marksmen. Many Camp Perry High Power competitors are also shooting less exotic AR service rifles.

Tubb 2000 with a shortened handguard, and custom hand support bracket forward of mag well.
Camp Perry AR15 Tubegun High Power Space Gun Tubb 2000 Rifle Standing

The modern AR Space Gun, scoped version. Note the side charging handle, and absence of forward assist. A block fitted under the handguard helps with the standing position. The scope is mounted on a “piggy-back” rail that extends forward of upper receiver’s built-in rail.
Camp Perry AR15 Tubegun High Power Space Gun Tubb 2000 Rifle Standing

Photos Courtesy NRABlog.com.

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
July 18th, 2016

Derek Rodgers Sets Pending 1000-Yard F-TR Record

Derek Rodgers F-TR 1000 yard record McMillan stock berger bullets lapua brass

Derek Rodgers, the only shooter to win both the F-Open and F-TR National Championships, has done it again. While shooting the Santa Fe Trail LR Regional match in Raton, New Mexico, it looks like Derek set a new 1000-yard record. Derek nailed his 1000-yard target, recording a 200-14X score — that’s twenty (20) shots for record, all tens with 14 in the X-Ring. Derek told us: “Yesterday at Raton New Mexico’s Whittington Center, I shot a 200-14X, which should be a new pending F-TR National Record at 1000 yards.” Derek took special pride in this accomplishment, as he held the F-TR record before: “I’m happy to have the record back. I have had three of the last four records”. Well done Derek!

Derek Rodgers F-TR 1000 yard record McMillan stock berger bullets lapua brass

Derek Rodgers .308 Win F-TR Rifle Equipment List:
McMillan Xit stock, Kelbly Panda LBLP action, Bartlein .308 Win barrel (32″, 1:11.25″ twist), Nightforce NXS 8-32x56mm scope. Note that Derek shoots right-handed, but with a LEFT BOLT. This allows him to stay in position better while cycling the bolt with his LEFT hand.

Derek Rodgers F-TR 1000 yard record McMillan stock berger bullets lapua brass

This impressive performance by Derek shows that the best F-TR rifles can rival the big F-Open rigs for pure accuracy, even though the favored F-Open chamberings, such as .284 Win and .300 WSM, are still ballistically superior to the venerable .308 Winchester used by nearly all F-TR competitors. For his record-breaking load, Derek used Berger 200gr Hybrid Target bullets in Lapua .308 Win (small primer pocket) brass, pushed by Hodgdon Varget powder.

Permalink Competition, News 5 Comments »
July 5th, 2016

The Best-Performing Cartridge Types For F-Class Competition

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Covan

Cartridge Choices for F-Class Competition

By Emil Kovan
Kovan Match Rifles LLC, www.matchrifles.com

There are hundreds of cartridge types capable of winning in F-Open. For F-TR you can shoot either the .223 Rem or .308 Win, but you have many load options. This article will focus on proven choices, currently used by the top F-Class shooters in the world. Our discussion will analyze cartridge selection based on the four different F-Class sub-disciplines: Open Mid-Range, Open Long-Range, F-TR Mid-Range, and F-TR Long Range.

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Kovan
Click image to view full-screen photo.

Mid-Range F-Open Cartridges

For starters, a .300 WSM is certainly capable of winning mid-range matches but it is not ideal. So what is ideal, and why? F-Class Mid-Range matches usually are usually shot at 300, 500, or 600 yards — or all three. At those distances the 6mm and 6.5mm cartridges rule. In moderate conditions, the 6mm Dasher is unbeatable. Its low recoil along with its super grouping ability and good ballistics make it my number one choice for Mid-Range.

Best bullets for the 6mm Dasher are: Vapor Trail 103gr, Berger 105 Hybrid, 108 BT, and 105 VLD (hunting). Best powders are: Varget, H4895, and Reloder 15.

Choices for Mid-Range in Tougher Conditions:
We all know that conditions are not always “moderate” that’s why something a little bit bigger will save you a “Nine” or two. The 6.5X47 Lapua was designed for 300-meter competition, but as soon as it was released, it was adopted by F-Class, benchrest, and tactical shooters. It offers great ballistics with very low recoil and big “accuracy window”. Lapua makes great brass for it (no surprise there) and Berger makes great bullets: 130gr VLD, 140gr VLD, 140gr Hybrids. Best powders in most barrels are Varget and H4350, I don’t use double-based powders such as Reloder 17 and the Vihtavuori N500 series because of their unpredictable performance day to day (greater temp sensitivity).

The 6.5X47 Lapua necked down to 6mm is also a great option for mid range matches. I was able to easily get 3200 fps with 105 hybrids and H4350.

Choice for Long-Range F-Open Competition

In Long-Range F-Open Class (out to 1000 yards), the big, high-BC bullets rule. If I had to pick one cartridge for F-Class (both mid- and long-range) I would pick the .284 Winchester or one of its variants. The .284 Win is currently dominating in F-Open competition. It offers great barrel life, it is super-easy to tune and its recoil is very manageable. The best bullets for it by far (in my opinion), are the Berger 180 Hybrids. But Sierra’s new 183gr MK bullet (with factory-uniformed meplats) seems to perform very well as does the Berger 180 VLD. Best powders for the .284 Win are H4350 and H4831SC.

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Covan

Long-Range Only F-Open Cartridge
As much as I like the .284 Win, for long-range competitions I like the .300 WSM even more. If you look at a .300 WSM and a 6mm Dasher side by side, they appear almost identical in geometry — the .300 WSM looks like an “super-sized” Dasher. Both cartridges are currently the “darlings” of long-range benchrest due to their extraordinary grouping ability and huge “node’’ windows. Big accuracy windows allow loads to perform well in different conditions and geographical locations. That’s obviously very important if you travel to compete. The .300 WSM loaded with Berger 215gr or 230gr Hybrids is very tough to beat at long range, and it is currently my number one choice.

The 7mm RSAUM is another outstanding long-range round. It resembles a 6BR on steroids and it is almost as easy to tune. Best bullets for it are Berger 180gr Hybrids, 195gr EOLs, and Sierra’s 183gr MatchKing. Best powders for the 7mm RSAUM are: H4350, H4831SC, and VV N160.

Top Caliber/Bullet Combos for F-TR

In F-TR competition, the choice is clear — a .308 Win throated for Berger 185gr BTLRs and 200gr Hybrids will win in mid-range AND long-range comps. Many championships have been won, and many records set with those two bullets in the .308 Win. To quote Danny Biggs (a two times FTR National Champion) “The 185 BTLR is the best bullet for .308 Win ever made”.

The Berger 215gr Hybrids have been used to win many competitions including recently the 2015 F-Class Nationals. Bryan Litz won both the Mid-Range and Long-Range 2015 Championships using 215s. Bryan’s rifle is shown below:

Bryan Litz F-TR 2015 National Championship rifle

I recommend chambers throated for the 185/200 grain projectiles over the 215/230 grain bullets. The reason is that if you have your barrel throated out for the 215s or the 230s, you could have a “slow” barrel and max out on pressure before the desired velocity is reached. Optimum freebore for the 230s is too long for the 185/200s, so you would be limited to using only 215/230gr bullets in that barrel.Furthermore, the recoil increase with heavier bullets is substantial, causing the rifle to be more difficult to shoot.

.223 Remington Cartridge Diagram.223 Rem — Not A Competitive Option
I would stay away from the .223 Remington. On paper the 90gr VLD will shoot inside most .308 Win loads even at a 1000 yards. But in reality, on average, the .223 Rem, regardless of what powder/bullet combo is used, cannot compete with the .308 Win. [Editor: The equipment lists at major F-TR matches will confirm Kovan’s conclusion here.]

Conclusion (and Other Options)
This article covers only the (currently) most popular cartridge/bullet combos for F-Class (F-Open and F-TR). As I said in the beginning, many cartridge types are capable of winning but are not listed due to their low popularity, case design, or lack of quality components. All of the above information is based on my personal experience and it is meant to help new shooters choose the right cartridges for F-Class matches. Thanks for reading and good luck — Emil Kovan

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

– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion

– 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 Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 10 Comments »
April 3rd, 2016

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).

Get updates from UltimateReloader.com via Gavin’s twitter feed: @UReloader. 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

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March 29th, 2016

PALMA World Championship on Shooting USA Television

Palma Trophy Facts Team Match National Camp Perry Wind Coach

This week’s episode of Shooting USA TV features the 2015 Palma World Championships. The World Fullbore Championships and ICFRA World Long Range Palma Team Championship were held at Camp Perry this past summer. The last time the USA hosted the Palma Championship was 1992 in Raton, New Mexico. The event won’t return to the USA for another 28 years. If you want to see the world’s best sling shooters in action, tune in to this episode of Shooting USA on the Outdoor Channel.

This Team Championship is a prestigious match at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards with national squads competing for the prized Palma Trophy (see below). The 2015 Team Championship was secured by the talented United Kingdom squad.

Team Palma Perry UK British World Championship Shooting USA

Palma Team World Championships
The Team Palma match is the oldest, continuously-running rifle match in the world. This event was first held in 1876 in Creedmoor, New York as a challenge match to mark America’s Centennial. British Commonwealth nations were invited and the American team won the first title. The Palma World Championships currently take place every four years. This summer the event was held in the USA, with the top eight teams in the world competing at Camp Perry in Ohio. The next Palma Team World Championships will be held in New Zealand in 2019.

Palma Trophy Facts Team Match National Camp Perry Wind Coach“It’s fantastic. It is the greatest honor you could ever get to represent your country. We wouldn’t give it up for anything,” says Australia Palma Team Member, Ben Emms. The match itself takes place over two days, with each team shooting at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards. Competitors shoot a modern target rifle with iron (aperture) sights. All rifles are chambered for the .308 Win (7.62×51) with 155-grain bullets. Wind calls are made by each team’s Wind Coach. “His job is very complex. He’s up there, he’s watching the mirage, the wind flags, and paying attention to the other targets down range,” says American Team Member Amanda Elsenboss.

The top individual shooter in the 2015 Team match was Great Britain’s Toby Raincock, who dropped only one point over two days to finish with 449-55V, a new record individual score that will be very hard to surpass. The next best individual score was the 447-49V by fellow Brit Jon Underwood. The top American shooter was John Whidden, who finished with a 445-45V.

Palma Trophy Facts Team Match National Camp Perry Tiffany'sThe Palma Team Trophy
Originally named the Centennial Trophy, in honor of the Centennial celebration of the independence of the United States of America, the Palma Trophy was commissioned from Tiffany’s at a cost of $1,500. The trophy was a full-sized replica of a Roman Legion standard, executed in bronze with silver and gold inlay. On the banner of the standard was the legend, “In the name of the United States of America to the Riflemen of the world”. Above the banner was an eagle, bearing in its talons a wreath of palm leaves and a plaque on which was the single word, “PALMA”, the Latin word for palm tree, which was used by the Romans to signify victory, or the ultimate in excellence.

Because the word Palma was so easily seen, the trophy soon became known as the “Palma Trophy”, and by 1878 was referred to officially by that name. The sriginal seven and one-half foot trophy is now lost, having not been seen since at least 1954. Serving in its place is a copy which was commissioned by Dr. Herbert M. Aitken of Eau Claire, WI. The copy was made from the original Tiffany blue-prints at a cost of $32,500. Dr. Aitken has given this copy of the Palma Trophy to the NRA for use in the Palma Match. The trophy is retained by the winning team until the next Palma Match.

In 2008, the Palma Trophy was returned to the NRA, and it was decided that the trophy, once refurbished, will travel to the host nation for the match every four years, then returned to the NRA for safekeeping.

The first competition for the Palma Team was a challenge match for which the British Commonwealth nations were invited. The match was fired in 1876 at the old Creedmoor Range on Long Island as part of the Centennial celebration of the United States. Teams representing Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and the United States took part. The match is currently fired on a four-year interval.

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March 8th, 2016

Cost Per Round by Cartridge Type: .223, 6BR, 6XC, .308, 6.5-284

Shooting Cost by Cartridge Caliber type USAMU

Estimating Actual Cost per Round by Caliber
This article comes from the USAMU, which provide shooting and reloading tips on its Facebook Page. This week’s USAMU TECH TIP outlines a ballpark-estimate method of calculating the actual cost per round of different calibers. Some applications, and some shooters, by virtue of their high level of competition, require the very best ballistic performance available — “Darn the cost, full speed ahead!

If you are in serious contention to win a major competition, then losing even a single point to inferior ballistic performance could cost you a national title or record. However, this “horsepower” does come at a cost! Some calibers are barrel-burners, and some offer much longer barrel life. Look at this comparison chart:

Estimated Cost Per Round by Cartridge Type

Below are some estimated total expense per round (practice and competition) based on component costs, type used, expected barrel life and a standard, chambered barrel cost of $520.00 across calibers.

5.56x45mm: $0.46/round (barrel life 6,000 rounds)*

6mmBR: $0.81/round (barrel life 2800 rounds)

6XC: $0.97/round (barrel life 2200 rounds)

.308 Win: $0.80/round (barrel life 4500 rounds)

6.5-284: $1.24/round (barrel life 1100 rounds)

*Note the high round count estimate for 5.56x45mm. This is a bit deceptive, as it assumes a period of “lesser accuracy” use. The USAMU says: “Much of the difference you see here between 5.56 and .308 is due to using the 5.56 barrel for 100-200 yard training with less-expensive, 55gr Varmint bullets after its long-range utility is spent”.

Moreover, while some applications require specialized, high-cost components, others do not. And, if the shooter is still relatively new to the sport and hasn’t refined his skill to within the top few percentile of marksmen, a more economical caliber choice can help stretch a limited budget. Translation: More skill per dollar!

In this post, the prices for all items mentioned here were taken from a major component supplier’s current advertisements, and all brass was of top quality, except in the case of 5.56mm. There, 200 top-quality, imported cases were reserved for 600-yard shooting, and the other brass used was once-fired Lake City surplus.

Cartridge cases were assumed to be loaded 10 times each. [Your mileage may vary…] Bullet prices assumed the use of less-expensive, but good-quality match bullets for the bulk of shooting as appropriate.

The cost of top-tier, highly-expensive match bullets was also calculated for a realistic percentage of the shots fired, based on ones’ application. Barrel life by caliber was taken from likely estimates based on experience and good barrel maintenance.

Brass Costs Based on 10 Loads Per Case
Often, handloaders may calculate ammunition cost per round by adding the individual costs of primers, powder charges and projectiles. Many don’t consider the cost of brass, as it is reloaded several times. Here, we’ll consider the cost of enough top-quality brass to wear out a barrel in our given caliber, at 10 loads per case, except as noted above.

Don’t Forget Amortized Barrel Costs
Few shooters factor in the full, true cost of barrel life. Depending on caliber, that can dramatically increase the cost per round. For example, consider a long-range rifle in 6.5/284 caliber. This cartridge performs amazingly well, but at a cost. Ballpark estimated barrel life [in a top-quality barrel] is 1100 rounds. Some wear out faster, some last longer, but this gives a rough idea of what to expect.

Accurate barrels are a joy to use, but they are an expendable resource!
Shooting Cost by Cartridge Caliber type USAMU

A top-quality barrel plus installation was estimated at about $520.00. At 1100 rounds, barrel life adds $0.47 per round to our total cost. Thus, what had started out as an [components-only estimate, with brass cost] of $0.76/round now totals $1.24 per shot!

Cost Considerations When Choosing a Catridge Type
Some shooters might ask themselves if they could meet their present needs with a more economical caliber. If so, that equates to more practice and matches per available dollar, and more potential skill increase on the available budget.

Each shooter knows his skill level, practice needs, and shooting discipline’s requirements. Some might shoot NRA Service Rifle or Match Rifle using a 5.56mm with a long barrel life. Others might be Match Rifle shooters faced with choosing between, say, a 6mm BR vs. 6XC. A realistic assessment of ones needs, performance-wise, may help guide the shooter toward a caliber that’s most optimized to their needs at the moment.

Admittedly, the factors affecting cost for any individuals circumstances can vary significantly. However, hopefully this will provide one useful method of evaluating one’s training and competition choices, based on their skill, goals and needs.

USAMU reloading Facebook Page army tips tech

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December 16th, 2015

How Changing Primers Can Affect Velocity in the .308 Win

primer CCI Wolf .308 Win Reloading

It may seem obvious, but you need to be careful when changing primer types for a pet load. Testing with a .308 Win rifle and Varget powder has confirmed that a primer change alone can result in noteworthy changes in muzzle velocity. To get more MV, you’ll need a more energy at some point in the process — and that potentially means more pressure. So exercise caution when changing primer types

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.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
September 21st, 2015

Profile of Derek Rodgers — F-Class Legend Shares His Secrets

Derek Rodgers Team Sinclair F-TR F-Open F-Class New Mexico

Derek Rodgers is a member of the Team Sinclair F-TR squad. This talented group of shooters hasn’t lost a team match in years. What’s the secret of Team Sinclair’s success? Well there is not one single factor. These guys have very accurate rifles, work hard on load development, and practice in all conditions. In this interview, Derek Rodgers talks about long range competition, reviewing the hardware (and skill set) it takes to win. He offers some great tips on developing loads. You’ll find a longer version of this interview on the Sinclair Int’l website. CLICK HERE to Read Full Interview.

Derek Rodgers BIOGRAPHY
Derek Rodgers (Albuquerque, NM), is the only shooter to have won BOTH the F-Open and F-TR National Championships. Derek shot his first NRA sanctioned-match in 2007, and just three years later Derek won the 2010 F-Open Nationals. He also won the 2013 F-TR Nationals, making him the only person to win both divisions. He has won other major F-TR matches, including the 2013 Sinclair East Coast Nationals and the 2015 Berger SW Nationals. Derek holds the current 1000-yard, 20-shot, National F-TR Record (200-12X). Derek enjoys spending his time outdoors with his wife and two daughters, ages 12 and 7. He is blessed by his faith and supported by his family. Derek’s goal is to pass on what he has learned to the next generation.

Q: What is your favorite reloading product?
I really like my BenchSource Case Annealer. There is something about watching fire that I find relaxing. I can watch those shells go around the wheel for hours.

Q: What’s your preferred front rest or bipod?
I’m currently using a Duplin bipod. At 17.2 ounces it allows me a solid platform to shoot from and the extra wiggle room to make weight with a heavy barrel and Nightforce NXS scope. Also, I can’t do without my board under the bipod. We shoot off sand at my local range and in most cases the feet will tend to dig holes if not supported. The board is necessary gear for me.

Q: What rear bag do you use?
I have an Edgewood bag that I’ve used for years. Recently, I got a SEB Bigfoot and like how it supports the gun and stays put under recoil.

Q: Explain your load development process. What’s your methodology?
I have two log books that have many combinations that work with 308s. I have tried to keep detailed notes in these books. Now I am reaping the rewards, as I can go back to a particular twist and barrel length and find something very close. I usually start with 3-shot groups and check the chamber behavior. If something looks promising I will go back to the range and load up 6-shot groups. If those shoot well, I take it to a match to verify it in a 20-shot string. If it passes that test it is either good to go or I table it and try another. I tend to pick mild loads that the cartridge shoots well — consistently.

Q: What piece of shooting gear helps your load development?
I use a MagnetoSpeed Chronograph to record velocities. Then I can slow down or speed up my loads to reach an accuracy node. It is amazing that most barrels will shoot very accurately when fired at certain known velocity nodes.

Q: What optics do you find most useful?
I would say Nightforce NXS Scopes.

Q: What do you carry in your range bag on Match days?
Multi-piece Brownells tool set, RX Glasses, Sunglasses, Range Rod, Towel, Empty Chamber Indicators, Jacket, Sunscreen, Foam Ear Protection, Ear Muffs, Data Book, Plot Sheets, Pen, Clip Board, iPod with ballistic data, and chewing gum.

Team Sinclair Int'l Nationals

Q: How did you get started shooting?
I was raised in New Mexico where outdoor activities are abundant. Once my father introduced me to a Crossman pellet gun, all I wanted to do was shoot and refine my skills. Shooting evolved into hunting and then into perfecting my skills in off-season matches. Shooting local F-Class matches made me better as a marksman. Now I feel like I am competitive with anyone. However, I will never forget that my roots started with hunting and still cherish the opportunity to hunt…

Q: What do you find most challenging? How do you learn from mistakes?
What I find most challenging about precision shooting sports is how great shooters are able to reflect on what was learned — both positively and negatively. It is important to slow down and perform this step. Stopping to reflect and learn from mistakes I’ve made on the firing line is challenging. Not many people enjoy accurately critiquing themselves. Also the wind usually blows here in New Mexico and choosing the right time to shoot and to stop is important. It’s often tempting to try to finish out a string of fire. But sometimes challenging yourself to quit and wait out some wind will pay off[.]

Q: What advice do you have for selecting a gunsmith?
The best recommendation I can give is for a person to get to know a gunsmith. If you can find a local gunsmith that is available — even better! If you run into a snag along the way, it is so nice to be able to work it out without sending things back and forth. Be honest, realistic with your expectations and tell the gunsmith what you want. If he only wants to do things his way, or takes extra or excessive time in meeting the goals, you may want to consider someone else.

Q: Who would you recommend for stock work on your rifle?
Alex Sitman from Master Class Stocks and Doan Trevor can build or fix most anything.

Q: What do you do to mentally prepare before a shooting competition?
I relax and try to remember I do this for fun. I anticipate what game plan I want to go to the line with. I also try to take small snapshots of the conditions. I do not like getting overloaded with staring down a spotting scope for long periods of time. I try not to get overwhelmed with the match and just shoot my game. My approach is “One shot at a time — good or bad”. I will usually tell my scorer what I’m going to do so he or she is ready as well.

Q: What advice would you give to novice competitors?
Partner up with an experienced shooter that is ranked nationally. Mentoring under a veteran shooter would be the best way to help save time learning instead of experimenting. Chances are an experienced shooter has already tried what you are considering. As a new shooter, do not get sucked into reading all of the opinionated blogs on the internet. Stick to good information. AccurateShooter.com | 6mmBR.com is a great resource with a wealth of information from knowledgeable writers. That site has articles that are based from facts and/or industry news and information.

Q: What is something you would NOT recommend before a shoot?
I do not recommend coming unprepared. If you are late, scrambling around, or do not have your gear in order, you will not perform at your best.

Q: How many rounds do you shoot in a year and how often do you practice?
I shoot 3000+ rounds a year. I try to shoot 1 x a week if I can get away in the evening or on the weekend. If I am close to finding a load I may try to get out more until I exhaust that load as an option. So there may be occasions that I will try to shoot three times a week. Fortunately, the winters are mild in New Mexico and it allows me to shoot year round. I actually shoot more when it is colder. The summer sun here can create mirage that makes it nearly impossible to learn anything.

Permalink - Articles, Shooting Skills, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
August 31st, 2015

Can’t Find Varget or Reloder 15? Then Try IMR 4320

IMR 4320 Varget Powder Hodgdon reloading 6mm Dasher

IMR 4320 Varget Powder Hodgdon reloadingWhile Varget and Reloder 15 remain in short supply, you can often find IMR 4320 powder back in the shelves of local gun stores. IMR describes IMR 4320 as follows: “Short granulation, easy metering, and perfect for the 223 Remington, 22-250 Remington, 250 Savage and other medium burn rate cartridges.” This older-generation powder is more temp sensitive than the Hodgdon Extreme propellants, but in the right application, it looks to be a viable alternative for folks who can’t source Varget, Reloder 15, and even H4895.

IMR 4320 Shoots Well in the .308 Winchester
A while back, German Salazar wrote an excellent Riflemans Journal article, IMR 4320 — the Forgotten Powder. German developed IMR 4320 loads for his .308 Win Palma rifle and competed with IMR 4320-powered ammo at long range matches. German concluded that: “[IMR 4320] appears to be a very useful alternative to some of the harder-to-get powders. The load is working extremely well at 1000 yards. In the [2009] Arizona Palma State Championship, several high placing competitors were using the 4320 load. We got sub X-Ring elevation at 1000 yards from several rifles, and that’s all I’m looking for in a Palma load.”

IMR 4320 Works for Dasher Shooter
Forum member FalconPilot shoots a 6mm Dasher with Berger 105gr Hybrids. Looking for an alternative to Varget, he decided to give IMR 4320 a try. The results were good. FalconPilot reports: “I’ve been looking for other options (besides Reloder 15, which I love, but it’s really dirty). While at a gun shop in Ohio, I ran across 8 pounds of IMR 4320. I had never even heard of it, much less tried it. Getting ready for upcoming mid-range shoots, I loaded five rounds with IMR 4320 to the exact same specs as my winning Varget loads for the 6mm Dasher. This recipe was 32.7 grains of powder, Wolf SMR primer, Berger Hybrid 105 jumped fifty thousandths.” Falcon pilot tested his IMR 4320 load at 600 yards:

As you can see from the photo at the top of this article, FalconPilot had good results — a 1.5″ group at 600 yards. He reports: “This group was shoot during the middle of the day, mirage bad, scope set to 25X. It looks like IMR 4320 is a [very close] replacement for Varget… with a tad bit slower burn rate.” FalconPilot tell us the accuracy with IMR 4320 rivals the best he has gotten with Varget: “This gun has always shot under 2 inches [for 5 shots] at 600 yards, and most of time shoots 1.5 to 1.7 inches.”

For comparison purposes, here are Heat of Explosion and Burn Rate values from QuickLOAD for IMR 4320, and for the popular Reloder 15 and Varget powders. You can see that these powders have similar characteristics “by the numbers”:

Manufacturer Powder Brand Heat of Explosion Burning Rate Factor
IMR 4320 3890 0.5920
Alliant Reloder 15 3990 0.5200
Hodgdon (ADI) Varget 4050 0.6150

WARNING — When changing from one powder to another, always start with manufacturer’s stated load data. Start low and work up incrementally. Never assume that loads will be equivalent from one powder to another, even powders with similar burn rates.

What Other Forum Members Say:

I was using IMR 4320 in the mid 70s in my .222 Rem. Darned great powder and I never had a load that was not accurate from the .222 to .30-06 with that powder. — 5Spd

A fine powder overshadowed by the nouveau wave of “gotta have the newest — make me a better shot” powders. Try 4320 in a 22-250 — what a well-kept secret! IMR 4320 meters very well and is a flexible alternative to many of the hard-to-find powders so much in demand. — AreaOne

IMR 4320 was my “go to” powder in my .223 for many many years. This powder and Winchester 55gr soft point bulk bullets (the cheapest bullet I could buy at the time) accounted for thousands of prairie dogs, coyotes, and anything else that needed shooting. I still use IMR 4320 in some .223 loads and am very happy with it still. — pdog2062

I’ve been using it in a .308 Win for several years. I think it is very sensitive to temperature and always waited till the last minute to load my ammo with a close eye on the weekend forecast at the range. IMR 4320 Works pretty good for 155gr Palma and 168gr Hybrid [bullets] in my .308. — JayC

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 8 Comments »
August 10th, 2015

August 10% Off Coupon for Surgeon Actions, Rifles, Hardware

Surgeon August 2015 10% off sale tactical actions rifles scopes suppressors

Surgeon Rifles makes excellent tactical actions and complete rifles. Now you can save 10% off all Surgeon products (actions, rifles, bottom metal, bipods, suppressors etc.) with Coupon Code SR10. The sale even includes optics (if purchased with a complete rifle).

Surgeon recently marked 10 years in business, and the company now has 10,000+ Facebook fans. To celebrate those milestones, Surgeon has announced a special Customer Appreciation Sale:

Now through August 31st, all Surgeon Rifles’ products* are 10% off MSRP! That means EVERYTHING! In-stock rifles, custom rifles*, actions, bottom metals, bolt knobs, bi-pods, small parts, apparel, and AWC suppressors** are all on sale. Surgeon is even extending 10% off MSRP to all optics that we offer when purchased with a rifle.

All you have to do is use coupon code SR10 during online checkout, or mention this sale to Surgeon’s sales reps. NOTE: Discount cannot be combined with any other offers, deals, or discounts including MIL/LE or dealer pricing. The 10% off does not include tax or shipping.


*Custom rifles must be ordered and deposit received by 5:00 pm MST, August 31st, 2015.
**Only valid on AWC Silencers’ PSR, THOR PSR, Thundertrap, THOR Thundertrap, Raider, and THOR Raider models.

Sale tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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July 25th, 2015

‘Also-Ran’ Cartridges — The .244 Remington (aka 6mm Rem)

6mm Remington .244 Rem .243 Winchester .308 Cartridge AccurateShooter Chuck Hawks Sierra Bullets

What we now know as the “6mm Remington” was originally called the .244 Remington. The cartridge was renamed because it was not a commercial success initially, being eclipsed by the .243 Winchester. The .244 Remington and the 6mm Remington are identical — only the name was changed. Why was the .244 Remington an “also-ran” to the .243 Win? Sierra Bullets Ballistics Technician Paul Box provides some answers…

Was Anything Wrong With The .244 Remington?

by Ballistic Technician Paul Box for Sierra Bullets Blog

The year was 1955. A time of carhops, drive-in movies, and Buffalo Bob. It was also the year that Winchester introduced the .243 Win and Remington counter-punched with the .244 Remington (now more commonly known as the 6mm Remington). The .243 Win was based off the time-proven .308 Win case while Remington chose the old war horse, the 7×57.

We’ve all read countless times how Winchester chose the 1:10″ twist, while Remington adopted the 1:12″ twist for their .244 Rem rifles. The first complaint in the gun magazines of that era was how the faster twist Winchester could handle 100 grain bullets, while Remington’s [12-twist factory rifles were supposedly limited to 90 grain bullets].

The first complaint I remember reading was that the 100-grainer was better suited for deer-sized game and the 1:12″-twist wouldn’t stabilize bullets in this weight range. Now, let’s look at this a little closer. Anybody that thinks a 100-grainer is a deer bullet and a 95-grainer isn’t, has been drinking too much Kool-aid. In all honesty, it’s all about bullet construction and Remington had constructed the [90s] with light game in mind. In other words, Remington got it right, but due to a lack of knowledge at the time on both bullet construction and stability, the .244 never gained the popularity it deserved. At that time, Sierra had the 100gr SMP and Hornady offered a 100gr RN that would both stabilize in the slower 1-12″ twist. The .244 Remington provides another classic example of how the popularity of a cartridge suffered due to a lack of knowledge.

.244 Rem vs. .243 Win — What the Experts Say
Respected gun writer Chuck Hawks says the .244 Remington deserved greater acceptance: “The superb 6mm Remington started life in 1955, the same year as the .243 Winchester. It was originally named the .244 Remington. Although the 6mm lost the popularity contest to the .243, it is one of my favorite rifle cartridges, and much appreciated by reloaders generally. The .244 Rem and 6mm Rem cartridges are completely interchangable, and anyone with a .244 Rem rifle can shoot [6mm Rem] ammunition in complete safety (or vice-versa). Remington .244 rifles made from 1958 on can stabilize all 6mm bullets, while those made in 1955 through 1957 are limited to loads using spitzer bullets not heavier than 90 grains for best accuracy.”

Nathan Foster, author of The Practical Guide to Long Range Hunting Cartridges, states: “In 1963 Remington attempted to regain ground by releasing .244 rifles with a new 1:9″ twist to handle heavier bullets. The cartridge was renamed the 6mm Remington and new ammunition was loaded giving the hunter the choice of either an 80gr bullet for varmints or a 100gr bullet for deer. In comparison to the .243 Win, factory loads for the .244/6mm Remington are slightly more powerful while hand loads increase this margin further.”

6mm Remington .244 Rem .243 Winchester .308 Cartridge AccurateShooter Chuck Hawks Sierra Bullets

Was the .244 Remington Actually Better than the .243 Winchester?
The .244 Remington (aka “6mm Remington”) has a velocity advantage over the .243 Winchester due to a slightly larger case capacity. The longer case neck of the .244 Remington is considered desirable by handloaders. We like the added capacity and long neck of the original .244 Remington. As renamed the “6mm Remington”, the cartridge HAS developed a following, particularly with varmint hunters looking for a high-velocity 6mm option. But it never achieved the success of the .243 Winchester for many reasons. As a member of the .308 family of cartridges, the .243 Winchester has certain obvious advantages. First, you can simply neck down .308 Win brass, which was available at low cost from many sources. Moreover, a .308 Win or 7mm-08 full-length sizing die could be used for body sizing. Still the .244 Remington (6mm Remington) presents an interesting “what if?” story…

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July 6th, 2015

ABM Ammo Releases .260 Rem Ammunition with Berger Hybrids

ABM Ammunition Ammo .260 260 Remington 6.5mm 6.5-08 Tactical, long range
Many tactical shooters have adopted the .260 Remington as an alternative to the heavier-recoiling .308 Winchester. The .260 Rem has also performed well in the hands of long-range High Power shooters such as SSG Sherri Jo Gallagher, past National High Power Champion. The .260 Remington is basically the .308 Win necked down to .264 (6.5 mm) caliber. It can launch very high-BC 130-142 grain projectiles at impressive velocities. The ballistics of the .260 Rem allow it to shoot flatter, with less wind drift, than typical .308 Win loads.

For fans of the .260 Remington, very high-quality factory ammo is now available. ABM Ammo, a division of Berger Bullets just announced that it will produce two varieties of .260 Remington ammo.

ABM’s 260 Remington 140gr Berger Match Hybrid Target ammo is designed for class-leading ballistic and superior accuracy. Using the highest-BC 6.5 mm caliber bullet offered by Berger, the 140gr Hybrid, this load features less wind deflection and more energy on target than the competition. ABM claims that this Match Hybrid ammo is “unrivaled as a long-range 260 Remington factory ammo option.” Since it pushes a higher-BC bullet than other .260 Rem factory ammo, we’d have to agree with that statement.

Match Ready 260 Remington 140gr Berger Match Hybrid Target Specifications

Distance (yds) Muzzle 100 200 300 400
Velocity (fps) 2789 2642 2500 2363 2229
Energy (ft-lb) 2418 2171 1944 1735 1545
Bullet Details
G1 BC 0.618
G7 BC 0.317

Performance based on a 26″ barrel and sea level conditions.

Mission Ready .260 Rem OTM Tactical Load for Mag-Fed Rifles
ABM Ammo also offers .260 Rem factory ammo loaded with the NEW 130gr AR Hybrid bullet. The .260 Rem 130gr Berger Match AR Hybrid OTM Tactical load is optimized for the AR-10 platform or any magazine-fed rifle. Berger’s 130gr AR Hybrid bullet offers a 0.290 G7 BC. That’s very close to the 0.317 BC of the longer 140gr Hybrid. This, combined with a 2847 FPS muzzle velocity, provides excellent performance in a shorter COAL that feeds perfectly from box magazines.

ABM Ammunition Ammo .260 260 Remington 6.5mm 6.5-08 Tactical, long range

In fact, if you run the ballistics (using JBM) using ABM’s published MVs, you’ll find that you give up nothing with the shorter bullet. At 600 yards, the 130gr “Mission Ready” load has 78.8″ (12.5 MOA) of drop. By comparison, the “Match Ready” load with 140-grainers has 80.3″ (12.8) MOA of drop at 600 Yards (That’s not a mistake — the smaller bullet has LESS drop because it has a higher MV to start.) At 1000 yards, the “Mission Ready” load is virtually identical to the “Match Ready” load: The 130gr ammo has 304.6″ (29.1 MOA) of drop at 1000 vs 303.4″ (29.0 MOA) for the 140gr ammo at the same distance. (These calculations are based on standard conditions at sea level, with ABM supplied MVs.)

Because the ballistics are so close, you may want to try both loads in your .260 Rem rifle, even if you single-load and are not restricted by mag length. Some barrels may have a preference for one bullet over the other.

Product Tip from EdLongRange. We welcome reader submissions.

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