Report by John Morgan-Hosey
Civilian Service Rifle (CSR) is a shooting sport in the United Kingdom shot with bolt action rifles and ‘Straight-Pull’ derivatives of semi-auto centerfire rifles. Why do the UK shooters use manual-operating versions of popular self-loaders? Well, that’s because of legal restrictions. Civilian ownership of semi-auto centerfire rifles was banned in the United Kingdom in 1987.
Give credit to the ingenuity of competitive shooters in the UK. The ban on semi-autos has not stopped shooters from adapting modern rifles such as the AR15. In fact, CSR is the UK NRA’s fastest growing shooting discipline. There are four classes for competitors:
1. Historic Class — Vintage Rifles, mostly Lee Enfields with iron sights.
2. Iron Sights Class — all non-Historic Rifles with Iron (open) sights.
3. Practical Optic Class — Rifles with bipods (and scopes 4.5X or greater magnification).
4. Service Optic Class — Rifles without bipods (and scopes with no more than 4.5X power).
Surprisingly, shooters in the Service Optic Class dominate these matches. So you don’t need a high-magnification scope or a bipod to do well. The most popular rifles are modified AR-platform rifles. These are set-up in the UK with no gas system to ensure they comply with our laws. Side-charger cocking handles are fitted to allow the rifles to be operated easily while in the shooting position. You can see in the photo above a modified AR with the Union Jack on the buttstock. Notice the bolt handle on the right. This opens and closes the bolt.
This video clip shows the side-charging ARs in use.
Note the side bolt handle that cycles the action on this non-semi-auto AR.
Here shooters advance 100 yards to engage the targets at the next firing line.
Dave Wylde Sets Impressive Record at the Civilian Service Rifle League Match.
The last matches in the 2014/15 CSR League took place on Sunday, 5 April. With final places in all four classes up for grabs, the fine weather and light winds made for some impressive scores, none more so than Dave Wylde in Service Optic Division. Dave scored a mighty impressive 246 (of a possible 250) in the PM Match. Breaking 235 is tough enough and scoring over 240 a rarity with the match includes standing snap shooting at 100 yards, a sitting rapid at 200 yards, and prone snap shooting at 300 yards with and two run downs to raise the shooters heart rate.
The most popular class, Service Optic, had Peter Cottrell retaining the trophy for the fourth consecutive year with a score of 993. Adam Chapman pushed him hard all season to finish a close second on 987 points, with Bill Ellis, one of the most consistent CSR shooters, third with 972.
Civilian Service Rifle Grows in Popularity
As CSR continues to grow in popularity, the sale of ‘Straight-Pull’ AR-platform rifles is increasing year after year. Accordingly, the United Kingdom NRA is allocation more range space at the Bisley National Shooting Centre to accomodate the increasing number of competitors.
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AR-platform rifles can be maintenance-intensive beasts. But some AR owners make the situation worse by not regularly cleaning important small parts, or by using too much oily/greasy lubricants in the wrong places. A properly maintained and lubricated AR15 can shoot hundreds of rounds (between cleanings) without a problem. If you learn where (and where not) to apply lubricant, you’ll find that your AR will run more reliably and the task of cleaning the bolt and bolt carrier will be less of a burden.
Here is a good video that explains AR-15 Cleaning and Maintenance. In this 30-minute NSSF video, Gunsite Academy instructor and gunsmith Cory Trapp discusses the proper way to clean and maintain the AR-15 carbine. Very knowledgeable, Trapp provides rock-solid advice for AR owners. Along with cleaning producedures, this video explains how to inspect key components and how to function-test your AR before each shooting session.
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The 14th Edition of Cartridges of the World is a handy reference that contains illustrations and basic load data for over 1500 cartridges. If you load for a wide variety of cartridges, or are a cartridge collector, this book is a “must-have” resource. The latest edition (released in December 2014) includes 50 new cartridges. This important reference guide can be ordered through Amazon.com for $28.42 (or just $20.99 for a Kindle eBook version).
Cartridges of the World, the most widely-read cartridge reference book, has been totally updated, with a newly expanded, full-color 64-page color section featuring essays from some of today’s most prominent gun writers. The 14th Edition of Cartridges of the World (ISBN: 9781440242656) includes updated cartridge specs, plus essays by leading writers on the topics of SAAMI guidelines, wildcatting, and new cartridge design trends. Cartridges of the World is the most authoritative cartridge reference guide in print.
Cartridges of the World by author Frank C. Barnes was first published in 1965. The 14th Edition is edited by W. Todd Woodard, Editor of Gun Tests magazine and author of several firearms reference books. Frank Barnes (1918-1992) began collecting information on handgun cartridges at the early age of 12, thanks to his father, a police officer. Frank Barnes was an innovative cartridge designer, who invented the original 308 x 1.5″ Barnes, predecessor of the 30BR case.
Before Frank began a law enforcement career, he was a college professor. Frank was also a pilot, and a race-car driver. Learn more about Cartridges of the World (14th Ed.) at www.gundigest.com.
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Here’s something you may not have seen before — a left-port, side-charging AR15 Upper. This unit was developed by John Scandale of Keystone Accuracy. While this was designed for left-handed High Power shooters, the lefty upper also works well for right-handed F-TR shooters. This design allows a prone shooter to single-load with his left hand, an efficient system for a right-handed shooter. Here is a review of the lefty upper from German Salazar’s Rifleman’s Journal website. Like John Scandale, German is a southpaw.
The Lefty AR Upper from Keystone Accuracy
by German Salazar, RiflemansJournal.com
We left-handed shooters are always the last to get the benefit of new firearms developments, or so it seems to us most of the time. There is no rifle more popular today than the AR15, whether for competitive shooting or plain recreational use; but even for that ubiquitous black rifle, left-handed items are few and far between. However, Keystone Accuracy run by left-handed High Power shooter John Scandale has some good stuff for us.
John is a long time High Power shooter, a member of the National Guard’s All-Guard rifle team and a Distinguished Rifleman. He knows exactly what makes a good High Power rifle — unlike many of the mail-order parts and pieces you see offered for sale by someone who only shoots his computer keyboard… John is a real shooter, I’ve known him for many years and trust his work.
The most interesting item from Keystone is the left-hand billet upper receiver for the AR15 match rifle. This thick-wall, CNC-machined piece appears to be very durable and fits all existing AR15 lower receivers.
When the AR15 was becoming popular in High Power shooting in the mid-1990s, I had a match rifle built on one. To solve the left-hand problem, I had a second port milled into the left side to allow me to load the rifle comfortably in slow-fire, single-load matches. Unfortunately, sometimes the round I flicked into the left port would fall right out of the right port! That was a bit frustrating and this receiver, along with an appropriate left-handed bolt assembly will work for the lefty just as we desire.
I’ve seen quite a few AR15 based rifles in F-TR at our local club matches over the past year. This upper would be a good choice for many right-handed shooters using the AR for F-Class as it allows loading with the left hand while the right hand remains on the pistol grip and ready to fire when the target appears. In light of the fact that the bolt release is on the left side, that makes life a lot simpler than using the right hand! So if you’re a left-handed shooter or even a right-handed F-Class shooter, give this some thought, it might be just what you’ve been waiting for and didn’t even know it!
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You probably know by now that the ATF is seeking comments on a proposed regulation that would ban the importation and sale of M855 steel-core 5.56x45mm ammunition. The ATF has proposed banning this “green-tip” ammo (and similar products) on the grounds that it is “armor piercing”.
Nobody knows whether the proposed ban will actually go into effect. The ATF is solicting comments through March 16, 2015. The mere possibility of a ban has spurred a feeding frenzy of ammo sales. If you are looking for genuine M855-type Green Tip ammo, suitable for use in AR-platform rifles, Creedmoor Sports recently obtained a large supply. Creedmoor just located quantities of Lake City-produced, American Eagle-brand XM855 in cardboard boxes: “Our team found another source for 5.56 mm XM855F Federal Lake City Green Tip Ammo. This ammo is becoming almost impossible to source the closer we get to the [March 16th end] of the ATF comment period.”
Lake City M855 5.56 62gr Green Tip Ammunition (300 Rounds)
High-quality 5.56x45mm ammo made in the USA by Lake City. This is “XM855″ ball ammo with a steel penetrator in the core, surrounded by a copper jacket. The projectile is color-coded with a green-painted tip as is traditional with US-made M855.
* Manufacturer: Federal / Lake City
* Model: XM855
* Caliber: 5.56 NATO (5.56x45mm)
* Grain Weight: 62 Grains
* Type: Full Metal Jacket with Penetrator
* Units per Case: 300 (in two 150ct boxes)
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In her latest video, Kirsten Joy Weiss shows off the 300 AAC Blackout, a popular .30-caliber cartridge for AR-platform rifles. Kirsten explains the advantages for the 300 BLK for hunters as well as those using an AR for self-defense. The 300 BLK is popular with suppressor owners because it works well with heavy bullets launched at subsonic velocities.
Reasons to Shoot a 300 AAC Blackout:
— You can use your current AR Bolt, Bolt Carrier, Buffer, and Magazine. The only part you need to change is the barrel.
— 300 BLK conforms to state hunting regulations which may require a cartridge larger than .22 Caliber. The 300 BLK shoots .308 caliber bullets.
— Lapua now sells 300 AAC Blackout brass so no case-forming is required. Just load and shoot.
— You can shoot light bullets supersonic or heavier bullets subsonic. The subsonic capabilities of the 300 BLK make it ideal for use with a suppressed AR.
— With a .30-caliber bore and a modest powder charge, barrel life is outstanding with the 300 BLK.
— You can make 300 BLK cartridges from fired .223 Rem brass, which is plentiful and cheap.
— The .300 BLK performs well with some very accurate powders, such as Hodgdon H4198 and IMR 4227.
The 300 AAC Blackout was created by Advanced Armament Corp. and Remington primarily for the military as a way to shoot .30-caliber bullets from the M4/AR15 platform while using standard magazines. As explained by Robert Silvers, AAC’s R&D Director: “Now there is a way to shoot 30 caliber from your AR while still using normal magazines with full capacity. Even the bolt stays the same, and all that changes is the barrel.” For more information visit www.300aacblackout.com and download the 300 BLK Cartridge Information Guide (PDF).
SAAMI, the industry standards organization, adopted and standardized the AAC 300 Blackout in 2010. The SAAMI diagram for the 300 BLK is shown above. Lapua now makes 300 BLK cartridge brass.
300 BLK for 3-Gun Competition
The 300 AAC Blackout has been touted as an important new hunting round, but we see it more as a specialized “rule-beater” 30-cal option that lets 3-Gun competitors “make major” with a low-recoil cartridge that also offers long barrel life. For those who need to run a .30-caliber cartridge from a standard AR15 platform (as opposed to the AR10), the 300 AAC Blackout makes some sense. But for hunters using a bolt gun, there are any number of tried and true options, such as the 7.62×39, .30-30, and, of course, the .308 Winchester (7.62×51 NATO).
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Can you fill a 30-round AR15 magazine in the blink of an eye — less than half a second? Well watch this video to see how it’s done, using the Israeli-designed Maglula Range BenchLoader™. In fairness, it takes about 20 seconds to fill the cleverly-designed device with thirty 5.56x45mm cartridges, but once they’re in place, a quick swipe of the hand is all it takes. Thirty rounds are zipped into the mag in 0.3 seconds (by our stopwatch). Don’t believe us? Watch the video. The magic happens at 0:42 and again at 1:17. Don’t blink — you’ll miss it.
Maglula Benchloaders are rugged CNC-machined tools designed to load 5.56/.223 Rem magazines in a single hand stroke. In the video below, a manufacturer’s rep demonstrates the speedloader, along with the “Lula” lever-action plastic loader/unloader.
Frankly, we prefer using the original straight 10-round and 20-round magazines in our ARs since they extract easier and feed flawlessly. But, if you use 30-round mags for 3-Gun matches or other tactical disciplines, these Benchloaders look like they can really speed up the loading process.
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Planning to put together an AR-platform rifle? Or are you looking to upgrade your AR with a new barrel, stock, or trigger group? Then you should check out the AR-15 Rifle Build DVD from our friends at UltimateReloader.com. This DVD covers all the details of a custom build, using high-resolution video sequences, and helpful supporting graphics.
In this DVD, Gavin Gear guides you through the entire process including selecting components, acquiring and using the necessary tools, assembly steps and details for each component, and even mounting a scope. Building an AR-15 can be overwhelming, but with the right guidance and help it’s not difficult and is a lot of fun. With this DVD you’ll be able to build your AR-15 with confidence.
Right now, as a New Year’s promotion, the AR-15 Build DVD is on sale for just $9.90 (plus $3.80 shipping/handling). This DVD can pay for itself many times over by showing you how to do your own gunsmithing (and get quality AR components at attractive prices).
Tools: AR-15 and general tools required
Upper: Barrel / Gas Block / Gas Tube
Upper: Handguard Installation:
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The AR-10 was designed to handle the 7.62×51/.308 Winchester and other .308 “family” cartridges such as the .243 Win and .260 Remington. Our friend Dennis Santiago recently put together an AR-10 to shoot the accurate .260 Rem cartridge. Here is his initial report:
AR-10 Platform Chambered for .260 Remingtonby Dennis Santiago
I was very curious to see how the .260 works in the AR-10 compared to a .308. I’ve always thought about chambering a bolt gun in .260 but before doing so I thought it’d be good to try it using a less expensive entry point. With an AR platform’s easy interchanging of barrels, it seem like the best way to test out the .260 Rem chambering. So far, it’s most impressive.
DPMS LR-308 in .260 Remington getting function cycle tuned and zeroed
I took the AR-10-type .260 Rem a step closer to being ready for matches yesterday. The first order of business was to confirm which buffer spring to use with both the 123 grain and 140 grain bullet loads. My .260 Rem loads, on average, are using 4-5 grains less powder than the .308 loads. In a semi-automatic action that means less gas/energy to work the mechanics. The solution in an AR-10 platform is to either cut coils in the .308 spring or use a weaker AR-15 buffer spring; yup they are not the same. In this case, a CS flat spring for the AR-15 did the trick.
I also put a very nice NightForce Benchrest 12-42x56mm scope that came via friend Mark Gravitt on it and got zeros. This scope’s 1/8th MOA clicks are nice. The AR-10 had previously mounted a NightForce F1, a more “field tactical” 3-15X system. This 12-42X scope now sets this gun up as more of a target cannon. Field of view is limited when your minimum magnification is twelve. Maybe I’ll put an auxiliary red dot on it just to find the target.
Pet Loads: H4350 and Lapua 123gr Scenars Comment by Daily Bulletin Editor
Over a two-year period, this Editor put a lot of rounds through a .260 Remington. I did a ton of load testing with that Savage-actioned rifle (before it was rebarreled as a 6mmBR Norma). I tried two dozen load recipes with five different powders and bullets ranging from 100 grains to 142 grains. Hodgdon H4350 was my “go-to” powder. As many 260 Rem shooters have discovered, H4350 is a winner in the .260 Rem. This propellant delivered the lowest ES in my rifle and nothing beat H4350 for consistent accuracy with bullets in the 120-140 grain range. My most accurate load was with Lapua 123gr Scenars, pushed by H4350 and CCI 250 primers. The 123gr Scenars worked well jumped as well as seated into the lands. Best accuracy, in my 24″-barreled .260 Rem, was right about 2950 fps. Other powders work well, but H4350 is a very good choice for the .260 Remington (as well as the smaller 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge).
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Can a human being, hand-holding a rifle, out-shoot a mechanical test rest? Who would win in this battle between man and machine? You might just be surprised. At 600 yards, with an AR-platform rifle, the results can be remarkably close, based on targets provided by the USAMU. When clamped in a test rig, a USAMU M16A2 produced a 200-18X group with handloads. The USAMU says this was “one of our better 20-shot groups at 600 yards, testing ammo from a machine rest”. Can a human do better?
Remarkably, a human soldier came very close to matching the group shot from the machine rest. The photo below shows a 20-shot group shot by a USAMU marksman with sling and iron sights, using USAMU-loaded ammunition. The score, 200-16X, was nearly the same. As you can see, the USAMU rifleman didn’t give up much to the machine rest, even at 600 yards!
In fairness, this was no ordinary human performance. The 200-16X score was a new National Record set in December, 1994. This was fired by PFC Coleman in an Interservice Match at Okeechobee, Florida. Nice shootin’ soldier!
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Here’s a simple product that performs a very important function. Magazine Marker Bands from Faxon Firearms help you keep track of your AR- and AK-platform mags. Color-coded and marked with the cartridge type (5.56/.223, 7.62×39, 300 BLK), these bands help ensure you never load the wrong type of ammo into your semi-automatic rifle. Maybe you’re thinking “I’d never make that mistake” but remember Murphy’s law — “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” The consequences of shooting the wrong type of ammunition in a rifle can be dire, if not catastrophic.
In addition to the safety benefits, these color bands also help you organize your magazines during transport and storage. If you have a variety of AR uppers in various calibers, it would be sensible to purchase a set of these color-coded bands. Price is $9.99 per set of ten (10) bands of one color (blue 5.56/.223, yellow 7.62×39, or red 300 BLK). Unfortunately, Faxon does not currently offer a “Mix and Match” option. So, if you want all three types, you’ll have to buy three different sets. That’s a bit annoying.
We’d like to see a marker band product like this for other types of magazines, including rimfire mags. We’ve seen varminters try to stuff a 17 HMR magazine into a 22LR and vice-versa. We’ve also seen shooters pick up the wrong Detachable Box Magazine (DBM) for their centerfire bolt guns. This can easily happen on a varmint hunt when you have multiple rifles in different calibers (such as .223 Rem and .204 Ruger).
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Got fifty bucks? Well that’ll buy you an AR Lower this week. Quite simply, this is the best AR deal we’ve seen this year, and one of the best values on a firearm receiver we can remember. Right now, while supplies last, Brownells.com is offering Bushmaster-brand AR-15 stripped lower receivers for just $49.99. You read that right — you can get a major manufacturer AR lower for under fifty bucks. That’s a savings of $120.00 off the normal price. Get them while you can.
NOTE: Stripped lowers are considered the firearm, so this must be delivered to an FFL-holder. It is fairly easy to complete the lower with readily available parts and the trigger group of your choice.
Bushmaster Stripped Lower Receiver Product Description
Receiver is a rigid 7075 T6 aluminum forging with extra metal in the right places for added strength without unnecessary bulk. Features a beefy, M16A2-pattern reinforced area around the front pivot pin, a strengthening ridge over the receiver extension threads, and a ridge around the mag release button to guard against accidental magazine drop by preventing unintentional button activation. Bead blasted after machining to ensure a uniform, non-reflective surface before application of lusterless black military hardcoat A8625, Type III, Class 2 anodized finish that adds surface strength and resists abrasion. A final, nickel acetate seal coat provides extra protection against corrosion. Stripped lower is the perfect companion for Bushmaster Lower Receiver Parts Kit, available separately
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