September 7th, 2018

Past PRS Champion Showcases Barricade Skills in New Video

PRS Tactical precision Dave David Preston 2015 National Champion POV video barricade stage

Report by Craig Arnzen, Area 419
As the PRS and other tactical/practical competitions continue to grow, a guy tends to wonder, just how good are the top competitors? And what are they actually doing (and viewing) as they complete a stage? Well, a great video from the new Long Range Precision Shooters YouTube Channel let us see what the best in the sport see through their scopes when they shoot.

This video features Dave Preston, 2015 National Champion and perennial powerhouse, shooting the PRS Skills barricade. Dave Preston is widely considered the best in the nation running this PRS stage. Dave nearly always shoots 100% with the fastest recorded time. In this video you’ll see him successfully engage all eight shots in under 43 seconds — that’s crazy fast. This includes a POV sequence (4:35 time-mark) showing the actual view through Dave’s scope as he completes the stage.

Watch this video! Dave offers excellent advice on gun-handling and body positioning for barricades. Listen to what he says and you WILL shoot better.

This video features the PRS Skills Barricade, an 8-round, 4-position stage featured at the majority of PRS matches throughout country. It’s called a “Skills Stage” as it is run the same way at every national match and gives shooters the ability to compare skill levels based on hit percentage and speed.

The target is a 10″ plate at 400 yards. There are four different positions, with two shots each. Most people run this stage in about 70 seconds, some in the mid-60s, the greats in the high 50s, and Dave does it in the low 40s… mighty impressive!

PRS Tactical precision Dave David Preston 2015 National Champion POV video barricade stage

The Right Gear Aids Stability and Lets You Shoot Faster
Let’s also take a look at two pieces of gear that really helped Dave Preston get stable and shoot fast.

1. BARRICADE BAG — To Get Stable, Really Stable
In the video Dave is using a Solo Sac from Short Action Precision This bag was designed by USMC Solomon Mansalala, and $5 of every purchase goes to help the Marine Scout Snipers buy gear. It’s a very soft/dense bag and is popular at matches.

PRS Tactical precision Dave David Preston 2015 National Champion POV video barricade stage

The other bag that sees a LOT of use, and is far and away the most used, is the patented Gamechanger Bag from Reasor Precision Solutions and Armageddon Gear.

2. MUZZLE BRAKE — To Make Your Follow-Up Faster
You’ll notice that in the video the rifle is very steady through firing, even though he is not applying a lot of pressure to the rifle. Dave is using a Hellfire Muzzle Brake from Area 419. Combined with the soft-recoiling 6mmBR cartridge he is able to spot his impacts and make adjustments, and can also make very fast follow-up shots as his rifle hasn’t bounced way off target.

PRS Tactical precision Dave David Preston 2015 National Champion POV video barricade stage

More Long Range Precision Shooters Videos Coming Soon
I think this series from Long Range Precision Shooters (LRPS) will be a good one. They already have a couple more videos ready to release including one with 2018 King of 2 Miles Champion Robert Brantley. CLICK HERE for the LRPS YouTube Channel.

This TECH TIP brought to you by Area 419
Oven anneal annealing Alpha Munitions Craig Arnzen Area419.com

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, Shooting Skills, Tactical 1 Comment »
May 12th, 2018

Six Tips for Better Results at Local Fun Shooting Matches

tip advice training prep club varmint groundhog match

Every summer weekend, there are probably 400 or more club “fun matches” conducted around the country. One of the good things about these club shoots is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to have fun. But we’ve seen that many club shooters handicap themselves with a few common equipment oversights or lack of attention to detail while reloading. Here are SIX TIPS that can help you avoid these common mistakes, and build more accurate ammo for your club matches.

Benchrest rear bag1. Align Front Rest and Rear Bags. We see many shooters whose rear bag is angled left or right relative to the bore axis. This can happen when you rush your set-up. But even if you set the gun up carefully, the rear bag can twist due to recoil or the way your arm contacts the bag. After every shot, make sure your rear bag is aligned properly (this is especially important for bag squeezers who may actually pull the bag out of alignment as they squeeze).

Forum member ArtB adds: “To align my front rest and rear bag with the target, I use an old golf club shaft. I run it from my front rest stop through a line that crosses over my speed screw and into the slot between the two ears. I stand behind that set-up and make sure I see a straight line pointing at the target. I also tape a spot on the  golf shaft that indicates how far the back end of the rear bag should be placed from the front rest stop. If you don’t have a golf shaft, use a wood dowel.

2. Avoid Contact Interference. We see three common kinds of contact or mechanical interference that can really hurt accuracy. First, if your stock has front and/or rear sling swivels make sure these do NOT contact the front or rear bags at any point of the gun’s travel. When a sling swivel digs into the front bag that can cause a shot to pop high or low. To avoid this, reposition the rifle so the swivels don’t contact the bags or simply remove the swivels before your match. Second, watch out for the rear of the stock grip area. Make sure this is not resting on the bag as you fire and that it can’t come back to contact the bag during recoil. That lip or edge at the bottom of the grip can cause problems when it contacts the rear bag. Third, watch out for the stud or arm on the front rest that limits forward stock travel. With some rests this is high enough that it can actually contact the barrel. We encountered one shooter recently who was complaining about “vertical flyers” during his match. It turns out his barrel was actually hitting the front stop! With most front rests you can either lower the stop or twist the arm to the left or right so it won’t contact the barrel.

3. Weigh Your Charges — Every One. This may sound obvious, but many folks still rely on a powder measure. Yes we know that most short-range BR shooters throw their charges without weighing, but if you’re going to pre-load for a club match there is no reason NOT to weigh your charges. You may be surprised at how inconsistent your powder measure actually is. One of our testers was recently throwing H4198 charges from a Harrell’s measure for his 30BR. Each charge was then weighed twice with a Denver Instrument lab scale. Our tester found that thrown charges varied by up to 0.7 grains! And that’s with a premium measure.

4. Measure Your Loaded Ammo — After Bullet Seating. Even if you’ve checked your brass and bullets prior to assembling your ammo, we recommend that you weigh your loaded rounds and measure them from base of case to bullet ogive using a comparator. If you find a round that is “way off” in weight or more than .005″ off your intended base to ogive length, set it aside and use that round for a fouler. (Note: if the weight is off by more than 6 or 7 grains you may want to disassemble the round and check your powder charge.) With premium, pre-sorted bullets, we’ve found that we can keep 95% of loaded rounds within a range of .002″, measuring from base (of case) to ogive. Now, with some lots of bullets, you just can’t keep things within .002″, but you should still measure each loaded match round to ensure you don’t have some cases that are way too short or way too long.

Scope Ring5. Check Your Fasteners. Before a match you need to double-check your scope rings or iron sight mounts to ensure everything is tight. Likewise, you should check the tension on the screws/bolts that hold the action in place. Even on a low-recoiling rimfire rifle, action screws or scope rings can come loose during normal firing.

6. Make a Checklist and Pack the Night Before. Ever drive 50 miles to a match then discover you have the wrong ammo or that you forgot your bolt? Well, mistakes like that happen to the best of us. You can avoid these oversights (and reduce stress at matches) by making a checklist of all the stuff you need. Organize your firearms, range kit, ammo box, and shooting accessories the night before the match. And, like a good Boy Scout, “be prepared”. Bring a jacket and hat if it might be cold. If you have windflags, bring them (even if you’re not sure the rules allow them). Bring spare batteries, and it’s wise to bring a spare rifle and ammo for it. If you have just one gun, a simple mechanical breakdown (such as a broken firing pin) can ruin your whole weekend.

Permalink Competition, Tech Tip No Comments »
May 7th, 2018

Recoil Comparison — .223 Rem vs. 6mmBR 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 may well average somewhat 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 better selection of high-BC projectiles and small-maker match projectiles (such as Bart Sauter’s “Hammer” and the Vapor Trail line). The 6BR will also 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. (The story changes with .308s with very long barrels pushing the 180-210 grain projectiles). Plus, for most people, the 6BR is just easier to shoot than a .308. Recoil is less than half of the .308 Win cartridge. Both the .308 and 6BR chamberings offer good barrel life, but the 6BR uses 15-18 grains less powder, saving you money. Here’s how the 6BR stacks up vs. a number of popular calibers:

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
March 18th, 2018

PacNor Barrels Can Shoot — 1.240″ Group at 500 Yards Is Proof

6BR 6mmBR Preacher PacNor

You don’t hear much about PacNor barrels in long-range competition, but FORUM member Wes J (aka P1ZombieKiller), proved that they can shoot “lights-out” in a rig assembled by a talented gunsmith. A few seasons back, Wes decided to upgrade a 6mmBR for mid-range benchrest and varmint matches. Wes tells us: “Since I restocked my 6BR … I have not had a chance to shoot it much since I have been playing the 100-200 game. I decided to take it out and do some playing at 500 yards. I have to give some serious props to my buddy (and fellow FORUM member) ‘PREACHER’ who did the chambering and barrel work for me. He can certainly make a gun shoot good. The barrel is a PacNor 1:8″ twist. My load was 105gr Berger VLDs pushed by 29.6 grains of Varget.” The five-round, 500-yard group shot by Wes J with his 6BR, measured just 1.240″, as measured by OnTarget software. Now that’s one accurate rig!

Five by Five — 5-Shot Group at 500 Yards, 1.240″, 0.237 MOA
6BR 6mmBR Preacher PacNor

This Editor knows something about the potential of a PacNor barrel. I have a 3-groove stainless PacNor SuperMatch on a Savage-actioned 6BR. This barrel shoots honest quarter-MOA in calm conditions, and it cleans up super-easy. The interior finish is so good, I’ve never had to brush the bore or use abrasives, and after 750 rounds it shoots as well as ever. I attribute the easy cleaning to the fact the lands in a PacNor 3-groove are wide and flat, so they are gentle on bullet jackets. I think accuracy is helped by the fact that my PacNor runs on the tight side (0.236 land dimension) with a good amount of choke. That works well with the 105gr Lapua Scenars and 103gr Spencers I like to shoot. You can read more about my rifle, nick-named the “Poor Man’s Hammer”, in this Feature Article from our archives. On one particularly calm day, in the hands of my friend (and ace trigger-puller) Joe Friedrich, the Poor Mans’ Hammer put 3 shots in under 0.200″ (measured center to center) at TWO Hundred yards. If you get a good one, PacNor three-grooves can definitely shoot.

OnTarget SoftwareTarget Measurement with OnTarget Software
We used OnTarget software to measure the 5-shot group in the target above. This easy-to-use software is very repeatable, once you get a feel for plotting the shots. The latest On Target v2.25 Precision Calculator is FREE for a 15-day evaluation period. If you like it (and you will, trust us) there’s a modest $11.99 registration fee to activate the program. In addition to group size (in inches), OnTarget plots distance to aiming point, and the software automatically calculates the group’s vertical height, horizontal dispersion, average to center (ATC), and group size in MOA.

You can run a measurement on a scanned target or a photo of a target. You’ll need some known reference to set the scale correctly. The target above had a one-inch grid so it was easy to set the scale. Once you’ve set the scale and selected bullet diameter and target distance, you simply position the small circles over each bullet hole and the OnTarget software calculates everything automatically, displaying the data in a data box superimposed over the target image. To learn more about OnTarget Software, read AccurateShooter.com’s OnTarget Product Review. This article covers all the basics as well as some advanced “power user” tips. NOTE: Since the review was written, On Target has updated the software, and the free version now has a time limit.

Permalink - Articles, Gear Review 1 Comment »
November 26th, 2017

Half-MOA Handgun — 6mm BR Savage Striker Pistol

Savage Striker pistol 6mmBR 6BR

Here’s something you’ve probably never seen before — a single-shot, bolt-action pistol chambered for the 6mm BR Norma cartridge. Featured as one of our Guns of the Week a while back, this Green Machine is a Savage Striker upgraded by Chuck G. from Arizona, a self-described “Savage Maniac”.

Chuck transformed this Savage Striker single-shot from a ho-hum .308 into a reliable half-MOA precision 6BR that can run with accurized rifles all the way out to impressively long ranges. Here we provide highlights from our original article. Click the link below to read our full Savage Striker article, which is three times longer than this story, and has more photos, plus videos and a detailed load development section.

READ Full Savage Striker 6mm BR Gun of the Week Story »

The Striker Project — Pursuit of Precision, by Chuck G.
I didn’t even know Savage Strikers existed until I saw one for sale on Gunbroker.com. I snagged it with a $400 bid. My idea was to build an accurate, long-range pistol on a pauper’s budget. As purchased, the Striker had a .308 barrel with an unknown round count, the standard center-grip, black synthetic stock, an odd two-piece custom brake, and an old Burris 4X pistol scope in a Conetrol 2-piece ring set. The trigger was very heavy, 6-8 lbs I’d estimate, with a lot of take-up and over-travel.

Initial Disappointments — Too Much Recoil, Poor Accuracy
My initial attempts to get the Striker to shoot well at even 100 yards were disappointing. I was never able to get better than a 3″, 5-shot group at 100. Not what I was looking for. Being used to benchrest triggers, the pull on this one was hard for me to manage. The gun would roll around on any type of front rest I had, and from a cement bench on a bipod it would jump about 18 inches up and sideways with every round. Not being used to this type of gun, I found the recoil and muzzle blast to be unsettling. It was hard not to flinch. I started off using my 1K .308 rifle load, 175 SMKs over 44 grains of Varget. That probably would have knocked the hell out of a deer, but it wasn’t much fun to shoot from the bench.

Savage Striker Pistol 6mm BR 6BR

New Caliber, New Barrel — Way Better Accuracy!
I decided to rebuild the Striker in a caliber that would be more fun to shoot. 6mmBR was an obvious choice for all the usual reasons–good brass, wide choice of match bullets, easy to load, low recoil, very accurate, and relatively cheap to shoot. As part of a SavageShooters.com group buy, I ordered a 15″, SS match grade, 3-groove, heavy varmint contour, 10-twist barrel from Pac-Nor. To set the freebore, I provided Pac-Nor with a dummy case with an 88gr LD Berger bullet seated to use as a guide. Total delivered price was $340 chambered and threaded for a muzzle brake from JP Rifles.

Savage Striker 6mmBR 6BR PacNor

When I bought it, the Striker, with factory .308 barrel, shot 3″ groups at 100. Now, with a Pac-Nor 6BR Match barrel, 3″ fore-arm plate, upgraded trigger, 24X scope, and match bullets, the gun consistently groups 1/2″ or better at 100 yards. What a transformation!”

Striker Project — Mission Accomplished
With further load development and bench practice, the gun is showing even more accuracy potential. Using a 24X target scope, the Striker has delivered 5-shot groups in the 3s and 4s during recent range visits. All in all, I’m very satisfied with the project. I ended up with an accurate, fun-to-shoot gun for under $1,000 including scope, paint, and bedding materials.

Savage Striker 6BR 6mm BR Norma

Stock Modifications
While waiting for the barrel I started working on the stock. As virtually no aftermarket stocks were readily available for the center-grip Striker, I decided to rebuild the standard black synthetic stock. The grip fit my hand poorly so I worked it over with a Dremel tool and sandpaper, built up the grip with Bondo, filled in some holes and bedded the action using Devcon Plastic Steel. This was my very first attempt at these tasks so progress was slow. Once I had re-shaped the stock, I sprayed five coats of “John Deere” green topped by several coats of auto clear. It came out surprisingly well considering I had never painted a stock before. I had originally planned to build up the fore-end to 3″ wide using Bondo but later decided to just use a Sinclair Benchrest Adapter that I had on hand.

Savage Striker 6BR 6mmBR

Chuck notes: “I’m really pleased with the C & J one-piece Rest. It’s solid, heavy, and well-designed. There is no real need for a windage top; small adjustments are easily made by slightly shifting the pistol butt. Elevation adjustments are positive and once the pistol is set up on this rest NOTHING moves.”

READ Full Savage Striker Gun of the Week Story »

Permalink - Articles, Handguns 3 Comments »
September 19th, 2017

Eight-Year-Old English Schoolgirl Shines at 1000-Yard Benchrest

Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl Kales Scope Light Gun Record
Emily has won many awards — including a screamer at 1000 yards — and her accomplishments have not gone unrecognized. At a recent UK Shooting Show, Emily was presented with a Kahles 10-50x56mm scope by UK Importers RUAG which will come in very useful for the UK winter 600-yard benchrest series. She also received a one-off Hausken suppressor in her favorite color — pink!

English Emily and Her Record-Breaking 6mmBR Stolle

Report by Vince Bottomley
Turning back the clock a decade or so to 2006 and Accurateshooter’s Gun of the Week #71 you will see my smiling face and my 7mm WSM BAT which had just set a new UK Light Gun record for 1000-yard benchrest with a 5-shot group measuring 2.67 inches. That record has now been broken — sadly not by me but by Emily’s Grandfather with a gun I built for this talented schoolgirl. Here’s the story of the precocious Emily and her record-setting rifle…

In 2006, when I set the record, young Emily Lenton wasn’t even born but, a couple years later she arrived – into the shooting-mad Lenton family. Both father Bruce Lenton and Granddad Tony have represented their Country at European and World Benchrest Championships and it was no surprise to see Emily, at just eight years old, shooting in her first 1000-yard benchrest competition.

Eight-year-old Emily shoots 6mm BR Heavy Gun at 1000 yards.
Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl Light Gun Record

Recoil is always going to be a problem for an 8-year-old, so Emily’s first bench-gun was Granddad’s 1000-yard Heavy Gun chambered for the 6mmBR cartridge. It hardly moves when Emily pulls the trigger and she soon became a serious contender.

Under her father Bruce Lenton’s careful supervision, Emily loads all her own ammunition.
Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl 6mmBR 6BR vince bottomley Light Gun Record

Of course, she wanted her own gun and who better to ask to build it than the current record holder — me of course! Emily chose a Stolle action RBLP as this was to be a 17-lb Light Gun, bedded into a UK-made Joe West laminate stock. The barrel was a heavy-profile 1:8″-twist Krieger chambered in 6mm BR Norma (6BR) with a ‘no-turn’ neck (reamer from Pacific Tool & Gauge) and fitted with a UK Tier One muzzle-brake.

Emily’s Light Gun begins to take shape…
Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl 6mmBR 6BR vince Bottomley Light Gun Record

Emily buckles down to some winter load-development (note the fleece coat and wool gloves).
Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl 6mmBR 6BR vince bottomley Light Gun Record

It was down to Granddad to help Emily with load-development and of course, he could also shoot it in competition — after all Emily had just about shot-out Granddad’s Heavy Gun with a full season of rapid-fire 10-shot groups!

Granddad Tony gets ready to shoot Emily’s gun.
Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl vince bottomly 6mmBR 6BR Light Gun Record

Then something happened – Granddad went and broke my ten-year old record with Emily’s gun! Well, I suppose there was some consolation — at least I’d built the record-breaking gun. The new UK Light Gun 1000-yard five-shot record now stands at 2.462 inches. For those who like load details, Emily uses Lapua brass, Vihtavuori N150 powder, CCI 450 primers, and Berger 105 grain VLD bullets loaded with Wilson hand-dies.

Tony Lenton with Emily’s gun just after he broke my 1000-yard record. I’m doing my best to smile!
Emily Benchrest 1000 yards England UK schoolgirl 6BR 6mmBR Vince Bottomley Light Gun Record

Next Stop… New Zealand! 2017 World Benchrest Championships Down Under
Emily has now got her own 6PPC gun for short-range benchrest and she will be travelling to New Zealand this fall with her family. She’ll be helping her father and Granddad who are part of the United Kingdom squad competing at the 2017 World Benchrest Shooting Championships to be held at the Packers Creek Range in Nelson, NZ. How long will it be before Emily makes her own ‘World’ debut?

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Gunsmithing, News 6 Comments »
June 15th, 2017

Sako Extractor Upgrade for Rem 700 Works Great

Sako Extractor Remington bolt

Jonathan Ocab, a High Power shooter from California, had gunsmith Doan Trevor install a Sako-style extractor in the Rem 700 bolt in Ocab’s 6mmBR Eliseo R5 tubegun. Jonathan produced an excellent video showing how the Sako extractor improves the ejection of the short, fat 6mmBR cartridges in his rifle. Jonathan’s video demonstrates 6mmBR case ejection with an unmodified Rem 700 factory bolt versus a factory bolt fitted with a Sako-style extractor.

Johnathan explains: “Note how even when slowly operating the bolt, the bolt with the Sako extractor easily ‘kicks’ out the brass on ejection with minimal chance of operator error resulting in a failure to extract. While the unmodified bolt has issues ejecting brass on slow operation, it will eject if the operator pulls the bolt back quickly (fast and with some force).

While a Sako-style extractor isn’t an absolute necessity, this video shows the definite improvement this modification provides. For short cartridges like the 6mmBR, this is very useful. This modification is highly recommended for competition shooters, especially High Power competitors who seek improved function in rapid-fire stages. This modification is fairly inexpensive and any competent gunsmith should be able to perform the work (usually under $100 with parts and labor).”

EDITOR’s NOTE: In his video, Jonathan deliberately worked the unmodified Remington bolt slowly to show how the standard Rem extractor can struggle with short fat cases like the 6mmBR. In fact, when you work a standard, unmodified bolt more quickly, the extraction can be much more positive. Cycling the bolt with more “snap” provides more energy to eject the cases. We have run an R5 Tubegun chambered in 6mmBR with an unmodified Rem 700 bolt (no SAKO extractor), and the extraction was reliable, provided the bolt was worked quickly.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
April 10th, 2017

Groundhog Match Basics — What to Expect

Groundhog Matches Rules Pennsylvania

If your local shooting club wants to attract new members, and provide a new form of competition, consider starting a series of groundhog (varmint) matches. These can employ paper targets, metal silhouette-style targets, or both. Groundhog matches are fun events with straight-forward rules and simple scoring. You don’t need to bring windflags or load at the range, so a Groundhog match is more “laid back” than a registered Benchrest match. Normally there will be three or four rifle classes, so you can compete with a “box-stock” factory gun, or a fancy custom, as you prefer. Many clubs limit the caliber or cartridge size allowed in varmint matches, but that’s just to protect reactive targets and keep ammo costs down. In this article, Gene F. (aka “TenRing” in our Forum), provides a basic intro to Groundhog matches, East-Coast style.

Groundhog Matches Are Growing in Popularity
Though Groundhog matches are very popular in many parts of the country, particularly on the east coast, I’ve found that many otherwise knowledgeable “gun guys” don’t know much about this form of competition. A while back, I ordered custom bullets from a small Midwest bullet-maker. He asked what type of competition the bullets would be used for, and I told him “groundhog shoots”. He had not heard of these. It occurs to me that perhaps many others are unfamiliar with this discipline.

Groundhog matches have grown rapidly in popularity. There are numerous clubs hosting them in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware, as well as other venues. They are usually open to the public. Most Eastern clubs have five to twenty cement benches, and overhead roofs. At this time, there is no central source for match schedules. If you’re interested in going to a groundhog match, post a query in the AccurateShooter Forum Competition Section, and you should get some info on nearby opportunities.

How Matches Are Run — Course of Fire and Scoring
Unlike NRA High Power Matches, there is no nationwide set of standard rules for Groundhog matches. Each club has their own rules, but the basics are pretty similar from club to club. Paper groundhog targets are set at multiple distances. There are normally three yardages in the match. Some clubs place targets at 100, 200, and 300 yards. Other clubs set them at 200, 300, or 400 yards. At my club in Shippensburg, PA, our targets are placed at 200, 300 and 500 meters.

The goal is to score the highest total. The paper targets have concentric scoring rings. The smallest ring is normally worth ten points while the large ring is worth five points. The course of fire varies among the various clubs. Most clubs allow unlimited sighters and five shots on the record target in a given time period. Only those five shots on the scoring rings are counted, so that with three yardages, a perfect score would be 150 points. Tie breakers may be determined by total number of dead center or “X” strikes; or, by smallest group at the farthest distance.

Types of Rifles Used at Groundhog Matches
The same benchrest rigs found at IBS and NBRSA matches can be utilized (though these will typically be put in a ‘custom’ class). Though equipment classes vary from club to club, it is common to separate the hardware into four or five classes. Typical firearm classes can include: factory rifle; deer hunter; light varmint custom (usually a limit of 17 lbs.with scope); and heavy varmint custom (weight unlimited). Some clubs allow barrel tuners, others do not. Scope selection is usually unlimited; however, some restrict hunter class rifle scopes to 20 power. Factory rifles usually cannot be altered in any way.

Good, Simple Fun Shooting — Why Groundhog Shoots Are Popular
Forum member Danny Reever explains the appeal of groundhog matches: “We don’t have a governing organization, or have to pay $50 a year membership just to compete in matches. Sure the rules vary from club to club, but you adapt. If you don’t like one club’s rules, you just don’t shoot there. It’s no big deal.

There are no National records, or Hall of Fame points — just individual range records. If you want to shoot in BIG matches (with big prizes), there is the Hickory Ground Hog Shoot among others. If competition isn’t your bag, many clubs offer mid-week fun matches that you can shoot just for fun. You shoot the same targets but with a more relaxed atmosphere with no time limits.

The best part is you don’t have to shoot perfect at every yardage. You always have a chance because in this sport it really isn’t over until the last shot is fired. Typically ALL the entry money goes to the host club, with much of the cash returned back to the shooters via prizes. Junior shooters often shoot for free, or at a reduced rate. The low entry cost also encourages young guys to get involved who don’t have $4000 custom rifles or the money to buy them.

There isn’t a sea of wind flags to shoot over or to put up and take down. If the range has a couple of flags so much the better, but after all it is a varmint match. No pits to spot shots and slow things down either. If you can’t see your hits through your rifle scope or spotting scope well you are in the same boat as everybody else. That’s what makes it interesting/ sometimes frustrating!

Permalink Competition, Hunting/Varminting 3 Comments »
January 1st, 2017

Solid Gold Shooting Tips from Sam Hall

At the request of many Forum members, we’re reprising this archived video from past IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year Samuel Hall. Without a doubt, Sam is one of the best mid-range benchrest shooters in the nation. While the video quality is rough (to say the least), Sam’s offers plenty of tips you can “take to the bank”. Even if you don’t shoot competitively, the techniques described here can improve your accuracy when shooting from a bench.

2008 IBS 600-yard National Champion Samuel Hall has prepared a 9-minute VIDEO showing his techniques for shooting from the bench. Sam covers a number of topics including bag set-up, body position, bolt manipulation, and loading skills. He also explains the importance of having a relaxed, comfortable posture and keeping your head in the same position shot to shot.

If you’re serious about accurate benchrest shooting, at ANY distance, you should watch this video. Sam’s tips can really help you. We guarantee it. While the video itself is grainy and wind noise affects the audio, you can still glean many great points from the video. From minute 8:00 on Sam shoots a 5-shot string on camera with his BAT-actioned, Leonard-stocked 6BR. Though he was fighting 20-mph winds Sam achieves a half-inch group at 200 yards. Quarter-MOA in such conditions is good shooting.

IBS Sam Hall Benchrest

Permalink - Videos, Competition No Comments »
June 19th, 2016

Accuracy Woes? Multiple Shooters Can Rule Out ‘Driver Error’

When a rifle isn’t shooting up to it’s potential, we need to ask: “Is it the gun or the shooter?” Having multiple shooters test the same rifle in the same conditions with the same load can be very revealing…

When developing a load for a new rifle, one can easily get consumed by all the potential variables — charge weight, seating depth, neck tension, primer options, neck lube, and so on. When you’re fully focused on loading variables, and the results on the target are disappointing, you may quickly assume you need to change your load. But we learned that sometimes the load is just fine — the problem is the trigger puller, or the set-up on the bench.

Here’s an example. A while back we tested two new Savage F-Class rifles, both chambered in 6mmBR. Initial results were promising, but not great — one gun’s owner was getting round groups with shots distributed at 10 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 8 o’clock, and none were touching. We could have concluded that the load was no good. But then another shooter sat down behind the rifle and put the next two shots, identical load, through the same hole. Shooter #2 eventually produced a 6-shot group that was a vertical line, with 2 shots in each hole but at three different points of impact. OK, now we can conclude the load needs to be tuned to get rid of the vertical. Right? Wrong. Shooter #3 sat down behind the gun and produced a group that strung horizontally but had almost no vertical.

Hmmm… what gives?

Shooting Styles Created Vertical or Horizontal Dispersion
What was the problem? Well, each of the three shooters had a different way of holding the gun and adjusting the rear bag. Shooter #1, the gun’s owner, used a wrap-around hold with hand and cheek pressure, and he was squeezing the bag. All that contact was moving the shot up, down, left and right. The wrap-around hold produced erratic results.

Shooter #2 was using no cheek pressure, and very slight thumb pressure behind the tang, but he was experimenting with different amounts of bag “squeeze”. His hold eliminated the side push, but variances in squeeze technique and down pressure caused the vertical string. When he kept things constant, the gun put successive shots through the same hole.

Shooter #3 was using heavy cheek pressure. This settled the gun down vertically, but it also side-loaded the rifle. The result was almost no vertical, but this shooting style produced too much horizontal.

A “Second Opinion” Is Always Useful
Conclusion? Before you spend all day fiddling with a load, you might want to adjust your shooting style and see if that affects the group size and shape on the target. Additionally, it is nearly always useful to have another experienced shooter try your rifle. In our test session, each time we changed “drivers”, the way the shots grouped on the target changed significantly. We went from a big round group, to vertical string, to horizontal string.

Interestingly, all three shooters were able to diagnose problems in their shooting styles, and then refine their gun-handling. As a result, in a second session, we all shot that gun better, and the average group size dropped from 0.5-0.6 inches into the threes — with NO changes to the load.

That’s right, we cut group size in half, and we didn’t alter the load one bit. Switching shooters demonstrated that the load was good and the gun was good. The skill of the trigger-puller(s) proved to be the limiting factor in terms of group size.

Permalink Shooting Skills, Tech Tip No Comments »
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 17th, 2015

Shoot BR Cases from Your PPC Action with Rebated Rims

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

To convert a PPC-boltface action to shoot the bigger cases you can spend a ton of money and buy a new bolt. That can cost hundreds of dollars. The simpler solution is to turn down the diameter of the larger cases on a lathe. Butch explains: “We’ve seen plenty of interest in rebating case rims. This lets you shoot a 30BR in score matches using your PPC action. All you need is a new barrel. This saves buying another bolt, receiver, or rifle if you have a PPC boltface. Anyone who has access to a lathe can do this job pretty easily. Yesterday I turned 150 case in about an hour.” Below are photos of a rebated 6BR case, along with the lathe form tool Butch uses to rebate the case rims.

Cutting Head for Rebating Rims

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
August 27th, 2015

DJ’s Brass Service Hydro-Forms Cartridge Brass

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass hydraultic hydro-forming cartridge brass 6 Dasher 6mmBR 6BR BRX BRDX

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

Darrell is a hydro-forming wizard who has perfected the process over the last couple of years. He has learned a few special techniques along the way to ensure uniform case-forming. Without revealing any trade secrets, we can say the Darrell has very special dies and Darrell doesn’t use a mallet or hammer — he has a system that is much more consistent. Darrell tells us: “Many of my customers take this brass and load it ‘as is’ and go straight to a match and shoot some very nice groups.”

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

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

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

DJs Brass hydro-forming

Hydro-Forming Customer Reports

Here are testimonials from recent customers.

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

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

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
April 20th, 2015

Adapt .308 Precision Mic for 6BR Family and 6.5×47 Cartridges

The $52.99 RCBS Precision MIC is a well-made and useful tool for measuring cartridge headspace and bullet seating depth. The Precision Mic measures from a datum point on the case shoulder to the base. Unfortunately the Precision MIC is not specifically made for the 6mmBR Norma, 22BR, 6XC or 6.5×47 Lapua cases. Don’t despair. Reader Caduceus devised a clever way to adapt a .308 Win Precision Mic for short cases that match the .308 Win in rim diameter and case body diameter. He simply creates a spacer out of a pistol cartridge. He trimmed a 9mm case to 0.511″ and “found this to be a perfect fit which gave a zero micrometer reading when the FL-sized 6BR case was placed in it.” We expect many readers already own a Precision Mic for their .308s. Now you can adapt this tool for the 6BR family of cartridges, for no extra cost. Cut the spacer shorter for the 6.5×47 Lapua and 6-6.5×47 cartridges.

How to Use the Precision Mic with a Spacer
RCBS Precision Mic 6BRCaduceus explains: “I can use the .308 version of the RCBS Precision Mic to compare brass which has been fully sized in my 6BR body die with brass which has been fired in my chamber. With the spacer inserted, FL-resized cases mic 0.000″ at the datum point on the shoulder. Using the same set-up, fire-formed cases measure +0.005″. In other words, my chamber has a headspace of +0.005″ above minimum dimensions. This is fairly typical of a custom rifle set up for switch-barrel use. If I were to FL-resize my brass down to minimum spec each time, this excessive working would shorten its life-cycle and might lead to case head separation. Now that I know the headspace of the chamber, I can substitute the standard shell holder on my press with a Redding +0.004″ competition shell-holder. This ensures that my cases only receive 0.001″ of shoulder set-back.”

Click HERE for a full article explaining how to adapt an RCBS Precision Mic for use with a 6BR. You can do the same thing with a 6XC or 6.5×47 case–just cut the spacer to a shorter length (for an 0.000″ mic reading). Note: You can also use this procedure with an RCBS .243 Winchester Precision Mic.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 3 Comments »
December 15th, 2013

PMA Offers Euro-Style Stickers for Popular Accuracy Cartridges

Football fans and Harley guys like to show their loyalty with branded stickers on their cars and trucks. Why shouldn’t benchresters do this same? Well now this is possible for fans of the 6mmBR, PPC, and 6mm Dasher cartridges. These small but ultra-accurate cartridges have set the “gold standard” for rifle precision. Now you can “represent” your favorite chambering — but in a subtle way that won’t spook anti-gunners on the road (or draw unwanted attention from the local constabulary).

PMA Tool offers Euro-style, black-on-white, oval stickers that look cool on your car, truck, SUV, RV, or camping trailer. As PMA says: “Let your shooting buddies know what you shoot, while leaving your non-shooting neighbors scratching their heads.” Place the stickers in the corner of a rear window or slap ‘em on a bumper. They also look nice on a range box or plastic rifle case.

PMA Bumper Sticker 6mmBR 6 PPC Dasher Benchrest

There are currently three sticker versions, “6BR”, “PPC”, and “Dasher”, priced at $5.95 per sticker. PMA Tool may produce stickers for other chamberings if there is sufficient demand. What other cartridge types would you like to see? Perhaps generic “6mm”, “6.5mm”, and “7mm” stickers?

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February 6th, 2013

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

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. Here’s how the 6BR stacks up vs. a number of popular calibers:

Permalink News, Tech Tip 14 Comments »
October 23rd, 2012

Tech Tip: Same Load Varies in Velocity with Different Barrels

Put the same load in a variety of barrels (with the same length and chamberings) and you’ll see a wide variance in muzzle velocity. In fact, it’s not unusual to see up to 100 fps difference from one barrel to the next. We demonstrated this with a comparison test of Lapua factory ammo.

Chron Testing Lapua Factory Ammo
At our Southern California test range, we chronographed Lapua 105gr 6mmBR factory ammo in three different 8-twist barrels of similar length. The results were fascinating. Lapua specs this ammo at 2790 fps, based on Lapua’s testing with its own 26″ test barrel. We observed a speed variance of 67 fps based on tests with three aftermarket barrels.

barrel speed testing

Brand ‘S’ and Brand ‘PN’ were pre-fit barrels shot on Savage actions. Brand ‘K’ was fitted to a custom action. All test barrels were throated for the 100-108 grain bullets, though there may have been some slight variances in barrel freebore. With a COAL of 2.330″, the rounds were “jumping” to the rifling in all barrels. Among the four barrels, Brand ‘PN’ was the fastest at 2824 fps average — 67 fps faster than the slowest barrel. Roughly 10 fps can be attributed to the slightly longer length (27″ vs. 26″), but otherwise this particular barrel was simply faster than the rest. (Click Here for results of 6mmBR Barrel Length Velocity Test).

Results Are Barrel-Specific, Not Brand-Specific
These tests demonstrate that the exact same load can perform very differently in different barrels. We aren’t publishing the barrel-makers’ names, because it would be wrong to assume that ‘Brand X’ is always going to be faster than ‘Brand Y’ based on test results from a single barrel. In fact, velocities can vary up to 100 fps with two identical-spec barrels from the SAME manufacturer. That’s right, you can have two 8-twist, 26″ barrels, with the same land-groove configuration and contour, from the same manufacturer, and one can be much faster than another.

Don’t Demand More Than Your Barrel Can Deliver
We often hear guys lament, “I don’t get it… how can you guys get 2900 fps with your 6BRs and I can only get 2840?” The answer may simply be that the barrel is slower than average. If you have a slow barrel, you can try using more powder, but there is a good chance it may never run as fast as an inherently fast barrel. You shouldn’t knock yourself out (and over-stress your brass) trying to duplicate the velocities someone else may be getting. You need to work within the limits of your barrel.

Factory Ammo Provides a Benchmark
If you have a .223 Rem, 6BR, .243 Win, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5×55, .308 Win, 30-06, or 300 WM Rifle, we recommend you buy a box of Lapua factory-loaded ammo. This stuff will shoot great (typically around half-MOA), and it can give you a baseline to determine how your barrel stacks up speedwise. When you complete a new 6BR rifle, it’s wise to get a box of the factory ammo and chronograph it. That will immediately give you a good idea whether you have a slow, average, or fast barrel. Then you can set your velocity goals accordingly. For example, if the factory 6BR ammo runs about 2780-2790 fps in your gun, it has an average barrel. If it runs 2820+ in a 26″ barrel (or 2835 fps in a 28″), you’ve got a fast tube.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 21 Comments »
October 15th, 2012

Quick Tips for Reloading the 6mmBR Cartridge

One of our readers has been shooting his 6BR with considerable success in tactical/practical matches. Thus far he’s been using Lapua factory-loaded 105gr ammo. The factory ammo has delivered superb accuracy for him — under 1/4 MOA at 100 yards. Now, he is making the jump into reloading. He asked for some tips on working up a good load for an 8-twist 6BR with a no-turn neck, and selecting reloading tools. Since other readers may be 6BR novices as well, here are some helpful hints…

Accurate Reloading Tips for the 6mmBR Cartridge

6mmBR reloading tips▪ Brass Prep — You need to look at the flash-holes to make sure they’re not occluded. A few lots of Lapua brass came with a little sliver/flake of brass in the hole, sort of like a quarter moon. You can clean that up with an inexpensive pin vise. Otherwise, there is no need to ream flash holes or uniform primer pockets.

▪ Neck Chamfering — You want to develop a good feel for neck chamfering. You don’t want/need to remove a lot of brass — just knock off the sharp edge. I use a Forster 45 deg “rocket” tool. It works fine. After a couple light turns, spin backwards to smooth the cut and then finish with a twist with a green scotch pad. If you use a deep-angle chamferer, be very careful not to overcut and remove too much brass.

▪ Neck Tension — On brand new, unfired Lapua 6BR brass, neck tension is excessive. You should run an expander mandrel down the case necks before the first firing. This will reduce the neck tension while it fixes necks that may be dented or out of round. After the first firing, we suggest sizing the necks so that, after they come out of your sizing die, the neck outside diameter (OD) is .002″ less than the neck diameter of a loaded round with bullet seated. If that doesn’t work, try the next size up bushing for .001″ tension. Many top shooters like low neck tension, but we’ve also seen heavy tension work. The .002″ under loaded OD is a good starting point with the 6BR. (But note — if you have thin-walled turned necks, you may need to use a smaller bushing, running your sized necks .003 or .0035 under the OD of a loaded round.)

▪ Primers — A lot of guys like the CCI 450 primers. They’re a lot cheaper than the Federal and CCI BR primers and may give a little more velocity. The cups are also hard, which lets you run faster loads with less concern about cratering. Wolf/Tula primers also have hard cups, but you must make sure to seat them deep enough.

▪ Load Development and Bullet Choice — With the 6BR and 100-108gr bullets, load development should be relatively easy. With Varget, Reloder 15, Norma 203B, or VV N150, between 30.0 and 30.7 grains should work as your final load. My match load is 30.3 Varget and that has shot under 2.0″ at 600 yards. Start at 29.0 grains and and work up in 0.2 grain increments, checking for pressure. DO weigh every load… twice. If possible, use a chronograph during your load work-up. 2880-2920 fps is a nice “sweet spot” for the 6BR, but slower can be very accurate too. (With custom actions, tight chambers, and long barrels, some guys are going even faster — but that’s hard on brass.)

If you have a barrel on the slow side, consider shooting the Berger 100gr ‘Match Target’ BTs. These bullets are very accurate, and we’ve found that you can drive them 75-100 fps faster than the Berger 108s or Sierra 107s at similar pressure levels. With the 100-grainers, you may find that you can hit a superior velocity/accuracy node, so they may shoot better overall than the 105-108 class bullets. Varget, RL15, and IMR 8208 all work great with this 100gr bullet.

For shooting from 300-500 yards, you should consider the lighter-weight bullets: Sierra 95gr MK, Lapua 90gr Scenar, Berger 95gr and 87gr VLD. The Sierra and Lapua bullets are very accurate and not sensitive to seating depth. In addition to the powders mentioned above, H4895 and IMR 8208 XBR work very well with the 90-grain-class bullets. One note about the smaller Berger VLDs — the Berger 95gr VLD and 87gr VLD both have very short bearing surfaces, so they work best in a chamber with a short-to-moderate Freebore. We had the best luck with the 95gr VLD about .010″ into the lands. We could achieve that with an 0.075″ Freebore chamber. But you won’t be able to hit the rifling with the 95s in a long-throated chamber. With this bullet we recommend sorting bullets by base to ogive.

Berger 87gr VLDFor guys with 10-twist barrels, try out the new Berger 87gr VLD. It was expressly designed to work great in the 1:10″ twist barrels. Forum member Mark Schronce reports that this bullet is extremely accurate and can be driven fast. It has an 0.412 G1 BC. Note: The new 87gr VLD, product #24524, is hard to find on the Berger website, but it IS available. Berger calls it a “hunting bullet”, but it works great on paper also. MidwayUSA has the 87-grainers in stock as item #77854.

▪ Pure Accuracy — If you are looking for bughole accuracy out of your 6BR, try the Berger 80gr FBHP ‘Match Varmint’ bullets (item #24321). Many folks have reported these bullets will shoot in the ones and low twos, even in 8-twist barrels. For 100- to 200-yard distances, these bullets are hard to beat for pure accuracy. Beyond those distances, you’ll want something with a higher BC. We’ve had good luck with the Berger 80s pushed by Vihtavuori N135, and IMR 8208 XBR.

▪ C.O.A.L. — Bullet seating depth is very important. You should get the Hornady (Stoney Point) O.A.L. Gauge (shown below). This will let you discern the OAL at which the bullets just contact the rifling. The trick is tapping gently on the stick. (Get a wood dowel as the bullet can get stuck if you tap a little too aggressively.) With some practice, measuring is quick and you can get repeatable measurements of your distance to lands within .001-.002″.

Hornady OAL gauge

A good starting point for the Berger and Lapua 105s is about .010-.015 IN the lands and then work back. Each barrel is different, but about .010″ in the lands works for many folks. One guy I know started at .012″ in the lands with Berger 105s, adjusted his load up from 30.0 to 30.4 Varget, and within an hour he was done with load dev — the gun was shooting in the low 2s. He went out and won his first match with that load the next day! With the Sierra 107s you might want to start .020″ out of the lands.

▪ Seating Die — We recommend the Wilson Micrometer Seating Die. The adjustable top makes it really easy to play with seating depths. Keep in mind, however, that moving 5 hash marks on the die may not give you exactly .005″ seating depth change — it will be close, but you should measure and write down the actual base to ogive length. FYI, I measure base to ogive of every loaded round. Occasionally you’ll find a bullet that ends up seated a little long or short.

NOTE: The fit of the 6BR Wilson seating die is very tight. You may have difficulty getting a fired case into the die if you do not full-length size the case first. Even with FL-sized cases, there may be a vacuum fit that makes the loaded round a little hard to remove. If you can’t easily extract your loaded round, try lifting the entire micrometer head and attached stem. This can release the vacuum so the case can slide out easily (unless there is a really tight fit). If that doesn’t work, here’s another trick — use the end of a Popsicle stick placed under the cartridge rim to lever the case out. I’ve found that the “working” end of a metal spoon works well too, but be careful not to nick the bottom of the die.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
June 14th, 2012

Profiles in Accuracy: Jenkins Sets 600-Yard Agg Record with 6BR

Last month, shooting at the Piedmont Gun Club, Chad Jenkins put together a stunning 1.495″ Aggregate at 600 yards. Once certified, that will be a new IBS 4-target Light Gun record. Chad’s smallest group was a 1.033″. Chad’s 1.495″ Agg breaks the existing 1.6068″ record set by Sam Hall in 2011. Chad was shooting a no-turn-neck 6mmBR featuring a BAT action, Krieger barrel, and Shehane ST-1000 fiberglass stock. We had the chance to talk with Chad and learn more about his record-setting rifle, and the methods he uses to achieve superior accuracy. Chad was kind enough to tell us about his equipment and what he does to build very, very accurate ammo. For starters, Chad wanted to “say thanks to Lewis Winkler, James Coffey, Mike Davis, and Larry Isenhour” all of whom provided invaluable help and support over the years.

The Record-Setting Rig
Chad credits much of his success to an “fantastic Krieger barrel that shot great right out of the gate”. It’s a 1:8″ twist, HV contour, finished at 28″ — nothing unusual there. Mike Davis did the chambering, barrel-fitting, and barrel crowning. One reason the gun shoots so well is that Chad’s friend James Coffey did the stock work and bedding, and also added weight to the Shehane ST-1000. Chad says “James really knows what he’s doing”. For optics, Chad uses a Leupold 45X competition scope, with fine cross-hair (FCH). Chad says he can “aim at the ‘X’ at 600 yards more precisely with the cross-hairs than with a target dot.”

Chad Jenkins Aggregate IBS Record

$200 Front Rest Good Enough to Set Record
You may be surprised that Chad set his record with an inexpensive Caldwell Fire Control Joystick rest, that sells for about $203.00 on Amazon.com. The Caldwell isn’t fancy, but it did the job. Chad says: “I have a family and a young boy. I don’t have the money to pour into equipment like some other people. I will continue to use my Caldwell, but I have recently modified the base. The record though was set with an unmodified unit, just as it appears in the photo.”

Chad Shoots a “Classic” 6BR Load, But He Jumps his Berger VLDs
Chad gets great accuracy with a pretty “standard” 6mmBR match load: 30.5 grains Varget, CCI 450 primers, Berger 105gr VLDs, in Lapua “Blue Box” brass. (Editor’s Note: That load can be too hot in some guns in summer conditions). Chad loads his ammo with a Redding bushing full-length sizing die with an 0.266″ bushing. Chad says: “That’s a good size for the ‘Blue Box’ Lapua brass (I tried a 0.268″ and I could pull the bullets out with my fingers). I seat my bullets about 0.020″ OFF the lands with a Redding Comp seater die.” The brass that shot the record Agg had about 10-11 firings on it, and Chad has NOT annealed the cases yet. While Chad is a very exacting reloader, he believes in the KISS principle — he doesn’t ream flash holes or uniform primer pockets. While he weighs every load with an RCBS Chargemaster, he normally does not double-check charges with a second balance. Chad tells us: “I just get the Chargemaster to where where it is going consistently and run with it.”

Chad Jenkins Aggregate IBS Record

Knowing that gun-handling and barrel maintenance are key elements of accuracy, we asked Chad about his shooting style, rest set-up, and his cleaning regimen:

Shooting style: “I try not to touch the gun, except with my thumb on the back of the triggerguard, and my index finger on the trigger. I use just a slight amount of pressure as the finger pulls the trigger. I don’t have any pressure on my shoulder. The buttplate is just barely touching my shirt.”

Rest position: “I usually let the gun run out to the stop. But there’s not much overhang. It hangs over an inch and a half. That’s where I always shot it. In the rear the ears are pretty much centered on the underside of the buttstock.”

Cleaning: “I use Montana X-Treme with patches and bronze brushes, and I clean every 35-45 rounds. I don’t brush a lot — I kind of go on feel, anywhere from 4-10 strokes. The gun shoots so incredibly well, I want to baby it, so I try not to over-clean.”

View Chad Jenkins’ Four (4) Targets

Common Sense Tips for New Shooters
Chad offered some advice for shooters starting out in the 600-Yard Benchrest game:

Reloading — I don’t claim to be an expert. But I will say that consistency is all-important. I learned this first from my friend Lewis Winkler (who passed away), and then James Coffey. Lewis always told me that the main thing is that you must be consistent in everything — when you’re sizing, when you’re weighing, when you’re seating bullets. You can’t be deviating and expect your loads to shoot.

Mental Game — I don’t go to a match to beat anybody, or to compete against anyone in particular. I shoot the best I can shoot and let the chips fall where they may. Even in practice, I basically compete against myself and I try to do the same thing in a match.

Focus (when to have it and when to relax) — I do try to stay focused when I’m shooting. But I also try to get away from the pressure between relays. A lot of the guys spend 15-20 minutes looking at everybody’s targets. I just look at my own targets and go back and sit down and relax. I don’t try to overthink things. When I was a teenager I was a successful competitive golfer. And in those days, I didn’t think about it … I just stepped up to the ball and hit it. I think, with some competitive activities, “thinking too much” can probably mess you up more than it helps.

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May 13th, 2012

Chad Jenkins Sets IBS 600-Yard LG Record with 1.495″ Aggregate

Piedmont Gun Club RutherfordtonThe regular, monthly 600-yard benchrest match at the Piedmont Gun Club in Rutherfordton, NC rivals a National event in terms of the quality of the shooters and the rifles. And just yesterday, a pending new IBS 600-yard, four-target Light Gun Group Aggregate Record was shot. Chad Jenkins put together a stunning 1.495″ Aggregate shooting a Light Gun with Shehane Tracker stock and Krieger barrel. Chad’s smallest group was a 1.033″. The caliber was a ‘Plain Jane’ 6mmBR. Chad’s 1.495″ Agg breaks the existing 1.6068″ record set by Sam Hall in 2011.

Sam Hall reports: “Congratulations goes out to Chad Jenkins today at Piedmont Gun Range, Rutherfordton, NC. Chad shot a 1.495″ four-target aggregate in LG this morning! The old record (1.6068″) was shot by yours truly last July. That is some kind of great shooting! Chad has been shooting great and kicking our tails for two years now. You will probabbly be hearing more from him. What I know is: he was shooting 105gr Berger VLDs (with Varget and CCI Primers) in a standard 6BR, with BAT action, ST-1000 stock, and 1:8″-twist Krieger barrel. I think it is safe to say it is a ‘hummer’!”

Piedmont Gun Club Rutherfordton

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