September 29th, 2019

Report from Precision Rifle EXPO in Georgia

Precision Rifle Expo Arena Blakely GA Georgia PRS NRL

The 2-day Precision Rifle EXPO wraps up today at the Arena Training Facility in Blakely, Georgia. Over 700 visitors have attended the two-day event. This year, manufacturers will be showing off actions, optics, ammo, reloading equipment, stocks, chassis, electronics, supporting equipment (bags and tripods), rifles, triggers, suppressors, and much more. There will be training sessions on precision handloading, wind reading, marksmanship, ballistic devices, and introduction to competition.

There was so much to see and do at the EXPO, with over 50 companies displaying their wares, including some exciting new products. As a teaser, here are three highlights from Sunday in Georgia.

1. Shooting .22 LR Rimfire Ammo at 625 and 850 Yards

.22 lr rimfire extreme long range Arena Facility Vudoo Gun works

David Lott was shooting his .22 LR Vudoo Gun Works Rifle at what can be called “Extreme Long Rang” — at least for a .22 LR rimfire cartridge. David achieved multiple hits on 18″ square targets at 650 yards and 850 yards. Note the TACOM HQ Charlie TARAC Prism on the front of the scope. This $1700 optical device allows David to see the target even with the rifle aimed at an extreme up-angle to compensate for huge bullet drop.

2. AMP Annealing Team — All the Way from New Zealand

Annealing Made Perfect load cell bullet seating

Alex Findlay and son Matt, creators of the impressive Annealing Made Perfect (AMP) Annealing Machines, traveled all the way from New Zealand to attend the EXPO. There the AMP team displayed the AMP Mark 2 Machine, plus a new servo-motor bullet seating machine.

Applied Ballistics Mobile Lab Bryan Litz

Alex reports: “The bullet seater has been putting in some work today. Having some fun playing around with a few variables and how they effect neck tension. So far the results are pretty fascinating!” Yes, that silver gadget is a new, prototype high-tech Load Cell Bullet Seating Press. This uses an electric servo motor to move a ram downwards on the Wilson seating die. A wealth of precise data is collected during the bullet seating process. Alex noted: “Thanks for Berger Bullets for supplying the bullets and the Lapua brass!”

Watch “Smart” Load Cell Seating Press in Action

This interesting video shows how the new, prototype Load Cell Bullet Seating Press with Auto-Drive works. (AMP plans a production version for 2020 or sooner). There’s never been a press like this before! Everything else is old technology.

3. Applied Ballistics Mobile Ballistics Lab

Applied Ballistics Mobile Lab Bryan Litz

Applied Ballistics Mobile Lab Bryan LitzApplied Ballistics brought its Mobile Ballistics Lab down to Georgia. To demonstrate its capabilities, the AB crew set up the big gray Doppler Radar unit for testing. LabRadars were set on ground level as well (see below). Applied Ballistics Guru Bryan Litz lamented that he was spending more time looking at computer screens than having fun shooting rifles on the impressive ranges at the Arena Training Facility.

The Mobile Lab carries both hardware and electronics. Bryan reports: “The Mobile Lab will transport most everything that’s in the main lab including the Doppler radar. This rig is new, so the load-outs will be somewhat flexible depending on the venue we are supporting.”

Applied Ballistics Mobile Lab Bryan Litz

Arena Training Facility — 2300 Acres with Ranges out to 2100m

arena training facility Georgia

The 2300-acre Arena Training Facility is a premier shooting facility with multiple shooting ranges from 50m to 2100m. Arena’s 1000-yard covered Known Distance range offers multiple benches, steel and paper targets out to 1000 yards. On Arena’s UKD (unknown distance) range shooters can engage steel out to 2300 yards. This 2100m UKD range boasts a 3-Story Shooting Tower, Air-Conditioned Shoot House, and multiple Positional Challenges.

At last year’s EXPO, Long-Range Clinics were held on the 1000-yard Range:
arena training facility Georgia Precision Rifle expo

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December 26th, 2018

All-Star Hardware — Favorite Reloading Equipment

Wilson hand die arbor press Sierra Bullets

Sierra Bullets asked a few hand-loaders to reveal their favorite reloading tool or accessory: “What is your favorite ‘don’t know how you ever lived without it’ piece of reloading equipment?” Some of the answers are listed below. We were interested to see some high-tech, micro-processor items mentioned, such as the AMP Annealer, and the AutoTrickler powder dispenser. Old standbys, such as the rugged RCBS Rockchucker and Dillon 650, also made the favorites list. You can nominate your own favorite reloading hardware in the comments section of the Sierra Bullets Blog.

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin answered: “A comparator gauge to measure from the base of a case to the ogive of the bullet. This bypasses the tip of the bullet, so I can repeat the same seating depth the next time I visit a specific combination.”

Forster Co-ax press

Bill, Editor of Rifleshooter.com, answered: “I have so many favorite reloading tools, it’s hard to pick one. But if I had to, it would be my Forster Co-Ax press. I like the ease [with which] you can change dies and that it doesn’t require traditional shell holders. It’s a great tool to have!”

Forster Co-Ax Press

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks answered: “I don’t know that you would actually call this equipment, but the item that comes to mind would be my reloading room/shoot house. I had always had to squeeze everything into a corner or even an unheated shed. After we bought our current house, I built a garage and placed it so that I had a window looking down a 250-yard range. I built a dedicated room with heat and A/C. It contains my reloading bench and a shooting bench. The shooting bench lets me slide open the window and shoot down the range. It is very handy to not have to load everything up to go to the range. It also makes load development a lot simpler and efficient. I don’t know how I ever got along without it.

I also wonder what I did before I acquired the Lyman 1200 DPS Powder Dispenser. This has made the process so much simpler and much easier. I also have a Lee Precison Universal Decapping Die that I would gladly spend the money on again. This may be a small thing, but it certainly is handy. The Lee would accommodate some very large cases that some of the others were too small for.”

Jon Addis answered: “Putting an A&D FX-120i scale with AutoTrickler and Auto-Throw on the bench has changed the way I reload. It’s kernel accurate in about 15 seconds. Saves time and reduces a variable. And of course, the system is made better by the Area 419 Billet Adjustable base for the trickler and Billet Powder Cup.”

This video shows the AutoTrickler V2 and Auto-Throw Combo:

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Carroll Pilant answered: “Dillon 550 and 650 presses.”

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box answered: “The Lee Precison hand priming tool.”

Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd answered: “A brass annealing machine and a RCBS Chargemaster complimented with a Sartorious scale.”

RCBS RockchuckerSierra Bullets Ballistician Gary Prisendorf answered: “RCBS Rock Chucker Press, it’s built like a tank, and it will last me a lifetime.”

Sierra Bullets Production Manager Chris Hatfield also answered: “RCBS Rock Chucker single-stage reloading press.”

Jeremy Kisner answered: “My Giraud trimmer has taken [three operations] and combined them into one easy task. I can now size my brass and then sit down and trim, chamfer, and debur to a 0.001″ tolerance in one motion.”

Dan Blake answered: “My Annealing Made Perfect (AMP) annealer. With consistent neck tension being one of the largest contributions to small Extreme Spread on muzzle velocities, I believe this induction annealer is truly the best on the market.”

This manufacturer-produced video shows how the AMP annealing machine operates:

Trevor Aldinger answered: “Area 419 Master Funnel Kit. In the past I’ve used plastic funnels and even other metal ones. This system fits case necks and flows much better than any others I’ve used, and there is no static since it’s metal. We spend a lot of time and money to get precise charges, I don’t want to lose or miss a kernel because of a cheap funnel.”

Area 419 Master Funnel kit

Tyler Riley answered: “My RCBS bench primer (priming tool). It has a lot more leverage than a hand primer and still has a good feel to how tight primer pockets are. Makes it much easier on my hands to prime large runs, especially new brass with tight pockets.”

Craig Arnzen answered: “My Annealeez [annealing machine] is one of the best tools in my reloading room. Neck tension is SO important, and annealing every firing really helps with that. This is an inexpensive tool that can anneal a lot of cases at once, and help me produce more consistent ammo.”

Josh Temmen answered: “Time is critical for me so my RCBS Chargemasters are indispensable (pun intended.) They cut down on time at my reloading bench while maintaining the weight tolerances required for long range shooting.”

Josh Bartlett answered: “I have my Dillon 650 set up with Whidden floating tool heads to do decapping and sizing on my match ammo. The case feeder and progressive function of the press save me a TON of time when doing lots of several hundred rounds.”

Ryan Brandt answered: “… A quality set of calipers. My reloading room is full of very nice equipment but little does more to satisfy my perfectionism than a good check with the calipers.”

Sierra Bullets

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January 24th, 2018

SHOT Show Day One — People and Products

SHOT Show 2018 David Tubb Bryan Litz ELR AMP Annealing Sierra Bullets

We had a great time on Day One of SHOT show. We saw some amazing products, including a remarkable upgrade to the Annealing Made Perfect system — a computer-controlled automated case feeder. We met with legendary Champions Carl Bernosky and David Tubb. David’s son-in-law Nate Stallter recently set a World Record at the first-ever ELR Challenge match, hitting 3 of 3 shots at 2011 yards with no sighters. We also attended a seminar with Bryan Litz and saw a host of new rifles and pistols which we will showcase in the next few days.

New ELR World Record Holder Nate Stallter with David Tubb
We met with Nate Stallter, the young marksman who dominated the first-ever ELR Record match held January 21, 2018 in Nevada. Shooting a Tubb LR rifle chambered for the .375 CheyTac cartridge, Nate went 3 for 3 at 2011 yards, after doing the same at one mile. Nate’s spotter was his father-in-law David Tubb, 11-time National High Power Champion. We recorded a long interview with Nate and David that provides many interesting insights into the ELR game.

SHOT Show 2018 ELR AMP Sierra Bullets Kelly McMillan Best stock fiberglass

AMP Induction Annealer — New Automated Power Feeding System
The micro-processor controlled AMP Annealer, already the most advanced personal annealing system on the planet, is now even better. The Annealing Made Perfect team of Alex (father) and Matt (son) Findlay showcased the new automated case-feeding option for AMP owners. This can load brass from a hopper, completely processing each case in about 10 seconds. We filmed video we’ll run in a follow-up story. There is also an important new software upgrade that allows AMP owners to precisely determine the right setting for their brass.

SHOT Show 2018 ELR AMP Annealing Made Perfect

Kelly McMillan Shows Off ‘The Beast’
At the McMillan Stocks booth, we met with Company President Kelly McMillan. We talked about the growing popularity of Extreme Long Range (ELR) shooting. Kelly showed us the stock McMillan has developed for the ELR discipline, fittingly named ‘The Beast 2′. This is a very long stock designed to tame the recoil of big cartridges like the .375 CheyTac and .338 Lapua Magnum.

SHOT Show 2018 ELR AMP Sierra Bullets Kelly McMillan Best stock fiberglass

TargetVision Offers New High-Rez and 2-Mile TargetCam Systems
We talked at length with Clay Rhoden, the talented young owner of TargetVision, producers of the most highly-rated target cam systems on the market. Clay showed us his best $899 high-end systems, the UltraHD targetcam, along with the new Extreme Long Range product rated for two miles. TargetVision, which outputs WiFi signal directly to your smartphone or tablet, is the official Target Camera of the U.S. F-TR Rifle team.

SHOT Show 2018 ELR targetvision clay Rhoden

Litz Talks Kestrels and ELR
At the Kestrel booth, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics, along with firearms trainer Todd Hodnett, gave a short seminar on Kestrel features/capabilities, ballistics, and bullet design. We asked Bryan “Should competitive shooters tip their bullets?” He answered “It depends…”. Bryan explained that if the bullets are very uniform, with small meplats out of the box, the benefits of tipping may not be so obvious.

SHOT Show 2018 David Tubb Bryan Litz ELR AMP Annealing Sierra Bullets

Wheelguns Galore at the Smith & Wesson Booth
No SHOT Show experience would be complete without a stop at the Smith & Wesson booth. There were some new Performance Center revolvers on display. The long-barreled wheelguns in the foreground below are chambered for the mighty 500 S&W Magnum cartridge.

SHOT Show 2018 David Tubb Bryan Litz ELR AMP Annealing Sierra Bullets

Sierra Bullets Has New High-BC MatchKings
We visited the Sierra Bullets booth to pick up samples of the new High-BC 95gr .224 MatchKing and 150gr 6.5mm MatchKing. While there we spotted this stunning F-Class rig decked out in Sierra Green livery. This beautiful rifle was crafted by Kelbly’s. It has a Panda action and a stunning green, metal-flake paint finish.

SHOT Show 2018 David Tubb Bryan Litz ELR AMP Annealing Sierra Bullets

Peterson Brass Showcases New Cartridge Brass
Peterson Cartridge Company showcased a quartet of new brass products that will enter production later this year. Peterson is expanding its line of American-made cartridge brass to include 6mm Creedmoor (both large and small primer), 6XC (both large and small primer), .270 WSM, and .300 WSM. We like the availability of 6XC in with a small primer pocket option. This should be very popular with the PRS crowd. Peterson’s .270 and .300 Win Short Mag brass gives hunters and target shooters new options.

SHOT Show 2018 Peterson Brass

New Faster-Reacting Electronic Muffs from Howard Leight
We wanted to take home these new Howard Light electronic muffs with advanced, faster internal circuitry. Offered in a variety of colors, the new Impact Sport Bolt muffs offer a lighting-fast 0.5 millisecond reaction time, plus improved digital sound compression and wind noise reduction. These new muffs carry a 22 db total noise reduction rating (NRR).

SHOT Show 2018 Peterson Brass

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January 2nd, 2018

Good Reading — Shooting Sports USA January “Rifle Issue”

Sighting in rifle technique zero zeroing

There are three notable articles in the latest January 2018 Digital Edition of Shooting Sports USA Magazine. F-Class competitors will definitely want to read the report on the 2017 World Championships. And hand-loaders will appreciate the insightful article on the AMP induction annealing machine. The third recommended article provides tips and techniques for sighting in hunting, tactical, and benchrest rifles. Access the entire SSUSA 54-page January 2018 eZine by clicking THIS LINK.

F-Class 2017 World Championships in Canada
Story by Larry Bartholome

Sighting in rifle technique zero zeroing

Fifteen years ago, the very first F-Class World Championships were held in Canada. In 2017, the Championships returned to Canada for the fifth edition of the match. This year there were triple the number of entries, representing the growing popularity of F-Class competition. Notably, this year’s event was preceded by the Canadian F-Class National Championships. This issue contains a full report on the event, written by Larry Bartolome, a past National F-Open Champion. Shown at right above is the new F-TR World Champion, our friend Derek Rodgers from New Mexico.

AMP Annealing Machine — Annealing .30-06 Brass for Vintage Military Rifles
Story by Art Merrill

Sighting in rifle technique zero zeroing

Produced in New Zealand, the AMP (Annealing Made Perfect) unit is a sophisticated, microprocessor-controlled annealing machine that achieves ultra-consistent results using an electrical INDUCTION process. By contrast, with butane torch systems you may have to adjust the system when the ambient temperature changes, or even if your butane fuel is slightly different. In this month’s issue of Shooting Sports USA, Field Editor Art Merrill uses the AMP to anneal .30-06 brass for vintage military rifles. The review shows how to use the AMP and explains the advantages of the Induction Annealing vs. flame-based annealing.

Sighting In Your Rifle — Tips for All Shooters
Story by Jim Shults

Sighting in rifle technique zero zeroing

This month’s “Rifle Issue” of Shooting Sports USA focuses on rifle shooting in various forms. Author Jim Shults has written an lengthy article offering tips and techniques for sighting-in your rifle. Shults says “The trick in effective sighting-in (zeroing) is shot-to-shot consistency”. To achieve that consistency, you must first eliminate driver error. You need a stable set-up. Good ammo is also essential and Shults offers an important tip: “Keep your ammo cool and out of direct sun at the range”. Shults also explains there is a big difference between load testing and zeroing. You want to finalize your zero AFTER you have developed your match or hunting load.

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December 1st, 2017

Going Big — Very Big, with AMP Induction Annealing Machines

AMP 50 BMG annealing annealer pilot
Public domain photo from Wikipedia.

AMP Annealing, the New Zealand-based manufacturer of advanced, computer-controlled annealing machines, has some new items in the works. First, AMP is bringing out a new, jumbo-sized pilot for the large .50 BMG case, which has a fat base diameter of 0.804″ (20.44 mm). The folks at AMP say: “The new 50-Caliber pilot is as large as the boss it screws into. We also had to add some insulation to the grip to stop it from heating up. We know a lot of your have been patiently waiting for the .50 Cal unit and we are on track for release early next year [2018].”

AMP 50 BMG annealing annealer pilot

Along with the creating more pilot holders for brass, AMP is working on enhancing the performance of its annealing machines, offering even greater precision and efficiency. Here AMP engineers at the Auckland University of Technology test upgrades with AMP Annealing machines. AMP says: “Exciting times ahead… What’s new? We can’t say at this stage. But it will involve the use of your USB cable.”

AMP 50 BMG annealing annealer pilot

.50 BMG — Just for the Fun of It All…
But back to the .50 BMG. Why would anyone want to shoot this beast? Well, because you can. It also offers excellent extreme long range performance. And nothing (well as least nothing civilians can purchase readily) beats the knock-down power of a big 50. This video shows what the .50 BMG can do to a truckload of pumpkins.

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