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 »
December 22nd, 2017

Blast from the Past — Hitting a Quarter at 800 Yards

t-dome birdog 6 BRDX diamondback Tennessee Junebug

This story first ran two years ago, but we’re bringing it back to give you guys a smile this Holiday week. Anyone interested in long range accuracy should enjoy this tale of an amazing 800-yard shot by a talented fellow nick-named “Junebug”…

If you were challenged to hit a quarter (i.e. a 25-cent piece) at 800 yards, how would you respond? Well here’s the story of a man who did take that challenge, and proceeded to put a bullet right through the quarter. Forum member Randy D., aka “Birdog”, provides this entertaining account of how his friend Junebug drilled a quarter at 800 yards one Tennessee evening….

t-dome birdog 6 BRDX diamondback Tennessee JunebugHitting a Quarter at 800 Yards

Story and photos by Birdog
A friend from Indy visited the DOME last summer and returned home telling stories of eggs at 800 yards. He called me back and said his friends did not believe it and wanted to know if I could hit a quarter out at 800 and mail it to him.

Well, I had finally got the time for that challenge last Sunday. My friend Junebug came over and I told him about a new challenge. Junebug is sort of like Voldoc and does not like to be told it can’t be done and set his sights on the quarter. George Clay had his sleeved 700 6XC with 115gr DTACs and Bug had his Diamondback 6 BRDX and 103gr Vapor Trail bullets.

Junebug and Shayne. The quarter was at back fence row on left of photo, 80 yards short of a half-mile
t-dome birdog 6 BRDX diamondback Tennessee Junebug

Early to mid-afternoon is not the time for precision 800-yard shooting as the mirage was terrible and the wind was gusting in the high humidity and 95 temps. We took a few shots and got close but no HIT.

I told Junebug to go home and load some shells and come back at 7:00 and I believed we could make it happen. After 7:00 pm is the best time to shoot as the mirage disappears and the wind goes to zero. We met again at 7:00 and had Shayne Halliburton as witness. I took a few shots then Junebug took a few zeroing shots on metal. He was not satisfied with the grouping so he switched brass.

He had some new Hydro-formed brass that had never been fired. He took three sighters on the metal plate and the first two made two little black spots that were touching. Followed with a third shot that almost touched the first two. Darkness was setting in and I told Bug he better try the quarter now. Through my March scope I could barely see the bright quarter and my 1/16th dot completely covered the quarter.

Junebug moved the Diamondback to the quarter and touched her off. A half second later the bright spot on the black paper was gone. I jumped up and did a dance and war hoop and the Bug jumped up for a high five. Now we hoped we could find the quarter. Luckily it jumped out in front of the backer less than five feet and Bug found it immediately.

t-dome birdog 6 BRDX diamondback Tennessee Junebug

Junebug’s Rifle Specifications
Stock: Zebra-painted stock (Shehane ST1000 we believe)
Action: Stiller Diamondback
Scope: March 10-60x52mm with 1/8 MOA clicks
Cartridge: 6mm BRDX (6mmBR Norma 40° Improved similar to Dasher)
Bullet: 103-grain Vapor Trail
Gunsmith: Barrel smithed by Tim Claunch, Memphis, Tennessee

For more information (including history of the Zebra rifle), view this Shooters’ Forum Thread. Credit Boyd Allen for finding this story in our 6mmBR and 6BR Improved Sub-Forum. T-DOME photo by Forum member George.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Shooting Skills No Comments »
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 »
August 1st, 2017

Flash-Hole Fix — Clearing Flash-Hole Obstructions in Your Brass

Flash-hole reamer

Even with high-quality brass from Lapua, Norma, and RWS, occasionally you may find one or two cases per box which have a small flake or obstruction in the flash-hole. This will appear like a thin crescent on one side of the flash hole (see photo). You should inspect ALL new brass before loading to identify any pieces with a partially-obstructed flash hole. It’s a good idea to remove any flake or thin crescent left as an artifact of the flash-hole forming process. Because the flash-hole itself is normally centered and of the correct diameter, it is not necessary to ream the flash-hole to a larger diameter. All you really need to do is remove the small obstruction(s). This can be done quickly with inexpensive tools.

Use a Small Pin Vise to Remove Flash-Hole Obstructions
Folks have asked if there is a tool that can remove obstructions from a Lapua small, BR-sized flash hole without opening the hole size. The Lapua PPC/BR flash hole is spec’d at 1.5mm, which works out to 0.059055″. Most of the PPC/BR flash-hole uniforming tools on the market use a 1/16″ bit which is nominally 0.0625″, but these often run oversize — up to 0.066″.

If you want to just clear out any obstructions in the flash hole, without increasing the flash hole diameter, you can use an inexpensive “pin vise” with an appropriate drill bit. For $0.99, eHobbyTools.com sells a 1.5mm drill bit, item 79186, that matches the Lapua flash hole exactly. Other vendors offer a #53 pin vise drill bit that measures .0595″ or .060″ (depending or source). An 0.0595″ bit is close enough. You can find pin vises and these small-diameter drill bits at hobby stores.

Pin vises Lapua Flash hole

For quite some time, Sinclair Int’l has sold a similar device for small (PPC and BR-size) flash holes. Like the 07-3081 unit for large flash holes, the 073000 Reamer for small flash holes works from the outside, so it can index off the primer pocket. It reams to .0625″, and also costs $39.99. The standard dimension for Lapua 220 Russian and 6mmBR flash holes is 1.5mm or .0590″. This tool will permit standard-size decapping rods with .0625″ tips to work without binding. However, note that both Forster and Redding normally supply .057″ decapping pins with their PPC and BR dies. So, it is NOT necessary to ream your Lapua BR/PPC flashholes, unless you prefer to do so for uniformity. It IS, however, a good idea to check BR/PPC flash holes for burrs before loading the first time.

AccurateShooter Sinclair Flash Hole Reamer

NOTE: If you purchase either the 073081 or 073000 Sinclair Flash Hole Reamer tools, we recommend you mic the cutter tip before you process a bunch of cases. Sometimes a tip comes through that is oversize. This will ream the flash holes larger than you may intend.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 3 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 »
May 10th, 2017

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

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

Butch Lambert of ShadeTree Engineering provided this tip. Butch notes that many 6 PPC benchrest group shooters also enjoy shooting in score matches. But to be really competitive in the BR for score game, that means shooting a 30 BR, which has a wider, .308-class rim (0.4728″ diameter). Likewise, if you want to compete in 600-yard registered BR events or in varmint matches, you probably want to run a bigger case, such as the 6BR, 6mm Dasher, or 6-6.5×47. Those cartridges also have the larger 0.4728″ rims.
PPC 6mm BR .308 bolt face Cutting Head for Rebating Rims
To convert a PPC-boltface action to shoot the bigger cases you can spend a ton of money and buy a new bolt. That can cost hundreds of dollars. The simpler solution is to turn down the diameter of the larger cases on a lathe.

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

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »
April 28th, 2017

Shot Costs Calculated for .223 Rem, 6BR, 6XC, .308 Win, 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

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 7 Comments »
February 4th, 2017

How to Fire-Form Brass without Bullets

Fire-Form Brass Cream of Wheat Dasher BRDX

Many of our Forum members shoot an “improved” 6mmBR cartridge. This might be a 30°-shoulder 6mm BRX, or a 40°-shoulder 6mm Dasher, or the 6mm BRDX, which is very similar to the Dasher, but with a slightly longer neck. This Editor shoots a 6mm BRDX and has found it very accurate, and maybe a bit easier to fire-form than a standard Dasher. Speaking of fire-forming, in our Shooters’ Forum, we often see questions about fire-forming BRX/Dasher brass. For those who need a large number of BRX or Dasher cases, one option to consider is using pistol powder in a dedicated fire-forming barrel. Here’s an explanation of how this process can work.

Forum member Skeeter has a 6mm Dasher falling block varmint rifle. The Dasher case is based on the 6mmBR Norma cartridge with the shoulder blown forward about 0.100″ and out to 40°. This gives the Dasher roughly 3.5 grains added capacity compared to the standard 6BR.

A few seasons back, Skeeter needed to form 300 cases for varmint holiday. Skeeter decided to fire-form his brass without bullets. This method avoids barrel wear and saves on components. There are various ways to do this, but Skeeter chose a method using pistol/shotgun powder, some tissue to hold the powder in place, Cream of Wheat filled to within an 1/8″ of top of the neck, and a “plug” of tissue paper to hold it all in place. Shown below are cases filled with a pistol/shotgun powder charge topped with Cream of Wheat and then a tissue paper plug.

To ensure the case headspaced firmly in his Dasher chamber, Skeeter created a “false shoulder” where the new neck-shoulder junction would be after fire-forming. After chamfering his case mouths, Skeeter necked up all his cases with a 0.257″ mandrel (one caliber oversized). Then he used a bushing neck-sizing die to bring the top half of the neck back down to 0.267″ to fit his 0.269″ chamber. The photo below shows how the false shoulder is created.

After creating the false shoulder, Skeeter chambered the cases in his rifle to ensure he could close the bolt and that he had a good “crush fit” on the false shoulder, ensuring proper headspace. All went well.

The next step was determining the optimal load of pistol powder. Among a variety of powders available, Skeeter chose Hodgdon Titewad as it is relatively inexpensive and burns clean. The goal was to find just the right amount of Titewad that would blow the shoulder forward sufficiently. Skeeter wanted to minimize the amount of powder used and work at a pressure that was safe for his falling block action.

Working incrementally, Skeeter started at 5.0 grains of Titewad, working up in 0.5 grain increments. As you can see, the 5.0 grain charge blew the shoulder forward, but left it a hemispherical shape. At about 7.0 grains of Titewad, the edge of the shoulder and case body was shaping up. Skeeter decided that 8.5 grains of Titewad was the “sweet spot”. He tried higher charges, but the shoulder didn’t really form up any better. It will take another firing or two, with a normal match load of rifle powder and a bullet seated, to really sharpen up the shoulders. Be sure to click on the “View Larger Image” link to get a good view of the cases.


The process proved to be a success. Skeeter now has hundreds of fire-formed Dasher cases and he hasn’t had to put one bullet through his nice, new match-grade barrel. The “bulletless” Cream of Wheat method allowed him to fire-form in a tight-necked barrel without neck-turning the brass first. The only step now remaining is to turn the newly Dasher-length necks down about .0025″ to fit his 0.269″ chamber. (To have no-turn necks he would need an 0.271″ or 0.272″ chamber).

Skeeter didn’t lose a single case: “As for the fire-forming loads, I had zero split cases and no signs of pressure in 325 cases fire-formed. Nor did I have any misfires or any that disbursed COW into the action of the firearm. So the COW method really worked out great for me and saved me a lot of money in powder and bullets.”

Skeeter did have a fire-forming barrel, but it was reamed with a .269 chamber like his 10-twist Krieger “good” barrel. If he fire-formed with bullets, he would have to turn all 300 necks to .267″ BEFORE fire-forming so that loaded rounds would fit in the chamber. Judging just how far to turn is problematic. There’s no need to turn the lower part of the neck that will eventually become shoulder–but how far down the neck to turn is the issue. By fire-forming without bullets now he only has to turn about half the original neck length, and he knows exactly how far to go.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
January 17th, 2017

Bodacious Black Bleikers — $20K Worth of Swiss Perfection

Bleiker 300m rifle smallbore championship
You are looking at $20,100 of Competition Rifles here. (Click Image for full-screen version.)

Don’t inquire about the price of a Bleiker competition rifle. As the expression goes, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it”. At the Pardini USA booth at SHOT Show we saw a pair of bodacious black beauties — two “full-race” Bleikers, one a smallbore match rifle (.22 LR) and the other a 300m position rifle chambered in 6mmBR Norma. The combined price for the two rifles was a jaw-dropping $20,100.00. Yep, over $20K for the two. The 6mmBR rig was $10,200 while the smallbore rifle was $9,900.00.

Bleikers command such high prices because they win. At recent ISSF 300m and Smallbore Championships, Bleikers have been used by many of the medal winners. A gun is worth $10K if it can really put you on the podium or, better yet, deliver a world championship.

Bleiker 300m rifle smallbore championship
Take a look at this slick feature on the 300m gun. The adjustable cheek-pad automatically tilts up (for clearance) when you retract the bolt. That’s clever Swiss Engineering.

Bleiker 300m rifle smallbore championship

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December 13th, 2016

TECH TIP: Rebate Larger Case Rims to Shoot with PPC Actions

30BR 6 PPC rim rebated Butch Lambert

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

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

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

30Br Butch Lambers 6 PPC

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 is the lathe form tool Butch uses to rebate the case rims.


Cutting Head for Rebating Rims

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
November 23rd, 2016

Lapua Now Offers 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge Brass

Lapua Creedmoor 6.5 Brass cartridge 1.5mm tactical case

Here’s great news for mid-size cartridge fans, and especially PRS and tactical shooters. Lapua just announced it will produce 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge brass, which should be available in the first quarter of 2017. This premium-quality brass features a small primer, and 1.5mm flash hole (as found on Lapua’s 6mmBR, 6.5×47 Lapua, and 220 Russian brass). We expect Lapua’s 6.5 Creedmoor brass will set new standards for accuracy and case life for this popular mid-sized cartridge. Of course Lapua’s new 6.5 Creedmoor brass can also be necked down and loaded in 6mm Creedmoor configuration. With the small primer pocket and proven strength of Lapua brass, we think 6.5 Creedmoor shooters will see enhanced cartridge velocities with the ability to maintain tight primer pockets even with very stout loads. And we expect accuracy to be on a par with Lapua’s excellent 6.5×47 Lapua brass. Taken together, this is an exciting product release. Here is Lapua’s official announcement:

Lapua Creedmoor 6.5 Brass cartridge 1.5mm tactical case

We are happy to announce the addition of the 6.5 Creedmoor case to the Lapua line! Despite a relatively short time on the marketplace, the 6.5 Creedmoor has made a tremendous splash in the field, rapidly becoming one of the most requested cases we hear about from shooters. Lapua’s 6.5 Creedmoor is designed to function in a short action, which is also a plus for hunters, vitally concerned with the rifle’s weight and compactness. In fact, many of the same features which make for a successful competition cartridge, translate nicely to the hunting fields as well.

For most species of mid-size game such as deer or boar, the Creedmoor will prove to be a deadly performer. And while the selection of high grade Match bullets in the 6.5 bore size is tremendous, there’s no shortage of exceptionally good hunting bullets either. The 6.5s as a group have always been known as excellent performers on game.

Lapua Creedmoor 6.5 Brass cartridge 1.5mm tactical caseMade with Lapua’s typical dedication to precision, our new 6.5 Creedmoor case has been refined just a bit, to make it an even better performer. We’ve opted for the small rifle primer, which normally produces an optimized ignition and better accuracy than large primers in mid-sized cartridges like the Creedmoor.

We’ve also incorporated our smaller-diameter flash hole (1.5mm, rather than the industry-standard 2.0mm), which has proven to provide enhanced accuracy, and is used in a number of our other accuracy-oriented cases. In this respect, the new 6.5 Creedmoor joins the ranks of our other dedicated accuracy cartridges such as the .220 Russian (6mm PPC), the 6mmBR Norma, the 6.5×47 Lapua, and the .308 Win Palma cases.

And naturally, the new 6.5 Creedmoor will be made with our well-known Passion for Precision. Strictest control over the metallurgy, the forming and drawing processes, precise annealing all performed under the watchful eyes of our production experts. For you, the handloader, that means the durability for which our cases are famous, combined with consistency and long life. Already proven in competition, we predict that the 6.5 Creedmoor will be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.

Comment on Lapua’s new 6.5mm Creedmoor
Our British friend Laurie Holland was excited about the new 6.5 Creedmoor brass from Lapua: “With this and Peterson Cartridge on the bandwagon, plus another U.S. brass maker… the Creedmoor’s momentum is becoming impressive.” Laurie observes: “A small primer Lapua-cased 6.5mm Creedmoor is in effect a 6.5X47 Lapua ‘Improved’!” That’s a pretty interesting concept indeed. Which makes us wonder if the .260 Remington has finally been fully eclipsed. With Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor brass you can probably get very, very close to .260 Rem performance in a much more efficient case.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, News 13 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.

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August 7th, 2016

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

30 BR 6mmBR 30 BRX wildcat Al Nyhus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition No Comments »
June 27th, 2016

The Amazing 6mm Dasher: 10 Shots in 4.554″ at 1000 Yards

Scott Nix Dasher Record

6mm DasherHow well can the 6mm Dasher perform at 1000 yards when conditions are good, and the shooter is riding a hot streak? Well here’s a shot-by-shot record of Scott Nix’s 4.554″ 10-shot group shot at Missoula, Montana at the Northwest 1000-yard Championship a few years back. All 10 shots were centered for a 100-6X score. That’s about as good as it gets. If Scott had stopped after 5 shots, his group would have been under 3 inches!

Video Demonstrates Amazing 1000-Yard Accuracy
Watch the video. You can see the group form up, shot by shot. It’s pretty amazing. Scott’s first shot (at the 45-second mark of the video) was right in the X-Ring, and four of Scott’s first five shots were Xs. That’s drilling them! This video was recorded from the pits at the 1000-yard line, during record fire.

Permalink - Videos, Competition 2 Comments »
June 26th, 2016

Pre-Fit FIX — Savage Accuracy Improves with Criterion Barrel

Savage Criterion BarrelIn our Shooters’ Forum, you’ll find a lengthy thread about accuracy problems with a Savage LRPV, chambered in 6mmBR. The gun would repeatedly split groups at 100 yards, and at 300 yards, the “flyers” would open up the groups to 1.5 MOA or larger. Interestingly, the factory test target (at right) showed a split group — not a good sign.

The gun’s owner, forum member LR_Shooter, tried a variety of tweaks: “I did this, done that… [changed] torque, tang floated, bedded action, recut chamber, and [adjusted firing pin]”. But nothing really helped. Frustrated, LR_Shooter asked his fellow Forum members for help. Much advice was proffered, including the novel idea of removing the middle action screw in the Savage 3-screw target action. Some of the advice proved helpful, but none of the suggested remedies produced a major improvement. This rifle, out of the box, tossed flyers and no amount of tweaking (or changes in shooting technique) really cured the basic problem. That is, until, the factory barrel got replaced…

Savage Criterion Barrel

New Criterion Pre-Fit Barrel Works Wonders
LR_Shooter acquired a Criterion pre-fit barrel from Jim Briggs at Northland Shooters Supply (NSS). These pre-fits are designed for easy installation with the standard Savage barrel nut. Wouldn’t you know it, with a new 30″ heavy-contour barrel on the LRPV, the gun started shooting way better. No more crazy fliers, no more split groups, no more excessive vertical. And the improvement came without any other major modifications. LR_Shooter reports: “I got a replacement barrel from Jim at NSS. It is a 30″ bull Criterion barrel. So far, without playing with torque screws and having my old setup… I’m very satisfied with the barrel I got. Now I have no problem getting [groups] under 0.25 MOA. Finally this thing can shoot!” The targets below, shot with the new Criterion barrel, speak for themselves. The left target was shot at 100 yards, while the target on the right was shot at 300 yards (very impressive).

Targets Shot with Savage LRPV Fitted with Criterion Barrel
Savage Criterion Barrel

Read Thread on Savage Accuracy Issues Fixed By Criterion Barrel

Moral of the Story — Sometimes A New Barrel Really Is the Right Solution
All of us have struggled at times with a rifle that won’t live up to expectations. This Editor personally struggled for over a year with a .260 Rem Savage with a factory tube. The gun tended to split groups and the POI walked as the barrel heated. I tried one powder/primer combination after another, working through a variety of seating depths over many months. I was persistent. Out of stubbornness, I just believed that sooner or later I’d find the magic load.

Well folks, sometimes there’s really nothing you can do about a sub-par barrel. It is what it is. To really improve a gun’s accuracy (particularly a gun with a factory tube), you may need to open your wallet and get a quality aftermarket barrel. Spending months trying one recipe after another may simply be an overwhelming waste of powder, bullets, and your precious time.

Albert Einstein supposedly said: “Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” Well that sort of describes my efforts with my .260 Rem. Once I had enough evidence that my barrel split groups no matter what load combo (and seating depth) I tried, it was time to pony up for a new barrel. When I did finally screw on a nice PacNor 3-groove Supermatch, that Savage suddenly became a true tack-driver. As re-chambered in 6mmBR with the Pac-Nor, in calm conditions, my Savage will now consistently shoot in the twos with heavy bullets, and it can sometimes dip down into the ones with Berger 80gr flat-base bullets. The moral of the story here is simple — don’t waste weeks or months chasing your tail with a barrel that just won’t deliver (after a reasonable amount of testing). Save up for a custom barrel, get it chambered properly, and stop your cycle of frustration.

Contact Information for Northland Shooters Supply:
E-mail: briggs.j-b@q.com (that is Q.com not G.com)
Phone: (763) 682-4296
Fax: (763) 682-6098
Mailing address:
P.O. Box 333
Buffalo, MN 55313

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 2 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 »
June 2nd, 2016

Good Deal on Berger 6mm 105gr Hybrid Match Bullets

Berger Match Target Hybrid 105gr 105 grain bullet Litz 6mm .243

Need top-quality 6mm match bullets for your 6mmBR, 6mm Dasher, 6XC, 6mm Creedmoor, 6-6.5×47, or .243 Win? Then get out your checkbook, because this is a very good deal on hard-to-find Berger 6mm 105gr Hybrid Match Bullets.

Right now Precision Reloading offers big, 500-count boxes of 105gr 6mm Hybrids for just $159.99. That works out to just $31.99 per 100, a lot less than you’d pay normally. These .243-diameter premium bullets hold many records and have won many important shooting competitions. You may want to act quickly — supplies are limited. When Precision Reloading runs out of sale inventory, prices will go up. To order, visit PrecisionReloading.com

Berger Match Target Hybrid 105gr 105 grain bullet Litz 6mm .243

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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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