SHOT Show is a cornucopia of products, with everything gun-related under the sun on display. The SHOW features a vast array of items for hand-loaders. Here are some of the most notable reloading and ammunition products we found at SHOT Show, Wednesday, January 18th.
Alliant Reloder 16 — Great Powder — Accurate and Temp-Stable
If you like Hodgdon H4350, you should like Alliant’s Reloder 16 powder. First revealed at SHOT Show 2016, the impressive Reloder 16 is now widely available at vendors nationwide. This advanced-formulation powder is extremely temp stable. We confirmed that during hot weather testing sessions last summer. In addition, in mid-sized match cartridges such as the 6XC, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, and 6.5 Creedmoor this powder has shown impressive accuracy. No hype — our Forum guys who’ve used Reloder 16 have told us this stuff can deliver match-winning results. This is definitely a viable rival to H4350. We recommend you buy a pound and test it.
Reloder 16 is NOT just a slower version of Alliant’s double-based Reloder 15 (which words great in the 6mmBR and Dasher cartridges). Reloder 16 is a completely new formulation, produced in Sweden by Bofors for Alliant. Reloder 16 utilizes TZ technology, which resists the natural tendency to generate more pressure at higher temperatures and less pressure at lower temperatures. Based on the test results we’ve seen, if you are using H4350 or IMR 4451 currently, you should definitely give Reloder 16 a try. The powder also boasts excellent lot-to-lot consistency and contains a proprietary de-coppering additive.
Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor Brass
The 6.5 Creedmoor has been “all the rage” at SHOT Show 2017. This cartridge, a proven winner in PRS competition, is riding a huge wave of popularity right now. There are many great factory rifles now offered with this chambering. And now we have superb Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor brass. You read that right Lapua is now producing ultra-premium 6.5 Creedmoor brass that will “raise the bar” for this cartridge. Lapua’s new brass features a small primer pocket and small flash hole (just like Lapua’s superb .220 Russian, 6mmBR, and 6.5×47 Lapua brass). This small primer pocket design can deliver longer brass life, and (potentially) enhanced velocities. We predict serious 6.5 Creedmoor shooters will be switching to this brass as soon as it becomes available later this year. NOTE: The new Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor brass can also be easily necked down for the 6mm Creedmoor.
New RCBS ChargeMaster Lite
RCBS unveiled a new, more affordable electronic powder scale/dispenser system. Called the ChargeMaster Lite, this new-for-2017 unit has some features we really like. The touch screen is easy to use and the power tray cover slips off easily — no more hinges to fight. Most importantly the CM lite has a redesigned, fluted dispensing tube which delivers powder kernels is a smooth flow with no clumps. The RCBS Rep told us “No more McDonald’s straw required”. We tested the unit and it does seem like the newly-designed dispensing tube is better. In fact, this new design will be adapted to the next generation of larger ChargeMasters.
Here is the RCBS Press Release: “The new RCBS ChargeMaster Lite packs unparalleled powder-measuring accuracy in a compact package. The one-piece unit features an LCD touchscreen display that ensures accurate data input. The hopper holds nearly a pound of smokeless powder, and can dispense anywhere between 2 to 300 grains with a +/-0.1-grain accuracy. The ChargeMaster Lite is an effective, accurate powder-measuring tool. Featuring 120/240 switching power supply, the ChargeMaster Lite is EU/UK/AUS compliant, includes a cleaning brush and two calibration/check weights and has an MSRP of $299.99.”
22 Nosler Brass and Ammunition
Here’s a new higher-capacity cartridge designed for folks who want to step up from the .223 Remington in their AR-platform rifle. Nosler has created a new SAMMI-spec cartridge which is similar to a 6.8 SPC necked down to .224 caliber. Nosler says the .22 Nosler cartridge will deliver significantly more velocity* than a .223 Remington, when shooting the same weight/type of bullet. For varminters using AR-style rifles, that’s a significant performance gain. We hope to test the 22 Nosler this spring in the varmint fields. This little round should definitely out-perform the standard .223 Rem cartridge while still operating from a standard AR platform, using the same bolt carrier group but with different, 6.8 SPC magazines.
Nosler explains: “Retrofitting a standard AR-15 chambered in .223 Rem / 5.56 NATO to a 22 Nosler is simple. All that is required is a simple barrel swap to the new 22 Nosler chambering, run 6.8 Remington SPC magazines instead of 5.56 magazines and the swap out is complete. Approaching 22-250 velocities in a significantly smaller package, the 22 Nosler® yields nearly 25% more capacity than the 223 Rem/ 5.56 NATO making the round capable of pushing a 55gr Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet at 3,350 fps out of an AR-15 fitted with an 18″ barrel and a 77gr Custom Competition® bullet at 2,950 fps.”
*When Nosler’s listed 22 Nosler velocities for 55gr and 77gr bullets are compared with .223 Rem maximum loads from Hodgdon load manuals, it looks like the speed gains with the 22 Nosler are 250-300 FPS, or about ten percent.
Images courtesy of Bernard Martinage and AmVIEWnition
At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.
1. Midsouth — End of Year Clearance with 42% to 77% Off
Now through 12/31/2016, Midsouth Shooters Supply is running its incredible End of Year Clearance (E.O.Y.C.) Sale. Prices are lowered each day as we approach the end of 2016. Eventually prices will be 77% off. The deals get better with time…but if you wait too long, someone else may grab the item(s) you want. We suggest you check back daily.
NORMA BRASS on SALE: As part of Midsouth’s E.O.Y.C., Norma match brass is on sale. For example, right now .22 PPC, 6mm PPC, and 6mmBR Norma brass are 35% off. This is excellent brass — maybe not quite as hard as Lapua, but still very, very good. You can get the 6BR brass today for just $57.38 per hundred — that’s a huge savings compared to new Lapua 6mmBR brass.
2. CDNN Sports — Ruger .308 Win American, $299.99
If you want a simple, reliable, and very affordable deer rifle, look no further. Right now the Ruger American in .308 Win is on sale for just $299.99. This rifle features a crisp trigger, short-lift 3-lug bolt, and smooth-feeding flush-fit rotary magazine. An integral bedding block system positively locates the receiver and free-floats the 22″, 1:10″-twist barrel. The polymer stock has a matte camo finish and soft rubber recoil pad. For a basic, work-horse hunting rifle it’s hard to beat this 6.1-lb Ruger for $299.99.
3. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99
Looking for a great holiday gift for a family member getting started in metallic cartridge reloading? This RCBS Kit has everything a new reloader needs: single-stage press, powder measure, scale, powder trickler, priming tool, cartridge tray, “rocket” chamfer tool, case lube and more. This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, on sale for just $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supplies. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you may want to add an additional, large heavy press, but this will get the job done. For the combined package, with all the tools one needs to hand-load quality ammo — this is a stunningly good deal at $199.99.
4. Cabela’s — Vortex Crossfire II 1-4x24mm scope, $99.99
New NRA/CMP Service Rifle rules allow the use of optics up to 4.5X magnification. You don’t need a big budget to equip your AR Service Rifle with a suitable scope. This week, Cabelas is offering the Vortex Crossfire II 1-4x24mm scope for just $99.99. That’s a true bargain. This scope can also work for a bolt-action hunting rifle, providing fast acquisition and a wide field of view. Along with this low price you can get $5 Flat Shipping with Code 2016FLAT (this applies to all orders over $99.00).
5. Stocky’s Stocks — Composite Stock with Bedding Block, $179.99
Here’s a killer deal on a versatile Stocky’s Long Range Stock with aluminum V-block bedding system. For just $179.99, order this for Rem/Rem Clone long actions or short actions, with either narrow or wide (varmint/tactical) barrel channel. This would be a good choice for a varmint rifle. This is also offered with a matte black, tan, or olive baked-on textured finish for $199.99.
6. Amazon — Motorola Walkie Talkies, $46.99 per Pair
Walkie-Talkies are “must-have” items for long-range shooting. The 22-CH Motorola MH230R Two-Way Radio is Amazon’s #1 Best Seller in FRS/GMRS Handheld Radios. This under-$50.00 set offers 22 channels with a claimed range up to 23 miles (We’ve used them and they worked at 3 miles line of sight). The kit includes: 2 radios, 2 belt clips, 1 dual drop-in charger, 1 charging adapter, 2 NiMH rechargeable battery packs. Run-time is about 10 hours — plenty for a full day of shooting. There is also a newer version, the Motorola T260 for $58.99.
7. Amazon — Frankford Quick-N-EZ Case Tumbler, $34.99
Look no further for a great deal on a reliable tumbler. We’ve used this very same machine to tumble both pistol brass and rifle cases. We like the see-through, transparent top and the large capacity — this will hold up to 350 .223 Rem cases. With 1000+ customer reviews on Amazon.com, this Frankford Quick-N-Easy Case Tumbler has earned a 4.5-star rating. If you need a tumbler, you might want to order soon — this is the best price we’ve seen in a while.
Need quality .22 LR rimfire ammo at an affordable price? Consider Norma. Most folks think Norma only produces centerfire ammo and cartridge brass. As a result, people haven’t been looking for Norma rimfire ammo. Their loss is your gain. Accurate, reliable Norma .22 LR ammunition is in-stock right now at leading online vendors. This is good quality ammo, made in Europe. Bullets.com has Norma Tac-22 ammo in stock at $5.25 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL7819). In addition, Bullets.com offers Norma Match-22 ammunition at $7.50 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL11887).
We like reactive targets. It’s fun to “ring steel” and see a target move instantly when hit. For just twenty bucks (including shipping), it’s hard to go wrong with this 8″ AR500 Steel Gong. The 8″-diameter size is big enough for zeroing at 200 yards, yet offers a nice challenge at 500 yards and beyond. There is also a 6″-diameter model for $16.00.
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We call them “black rifles”, but that shouldn’t refer to all the carbon and gunk on the inside. 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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Rimfire shooting is one of the fastest-growing firearm sports in the USA. One of the most important rimfire events of 2016 was the NSSF Rimfire Challenge World Championship held October 14-16 at the Cavern Cove rimfire facility in Woodville, Alabama (near Huntsville). Hundreds of shooters of all ages attended this fun event.
Families Enjoy Rimfire Fun at the NSSF Rimfire Challenge
At the 2016 NSSF Rimfire Challenge Championship in Alabama, Smith & Wesson was on hand with demo rifles and pistols. See the action in the S&W-produced video above. Competitive shooting is one activity in which entire families, both oldsters and youngsters, can come together in a supervised setting to enjoy the spirit and camaraderie of competition. At the October event, attendees were able to try out the Smith & Wesson® SW22 Victory pistol and the M&P 15-22 rifle.
In this video, our friend Julie Golob explains the features of Smith & Wesson’s AR-style M&P 15-22 rifle. We’ve shot the semi-auto M&P 15-22 and it’is a ton of fun. It offers familiar AR15-type ergonomics and balance, with excellent reliability, and the inherently low recoil of the .22 LR rimfire cartridge. All that combines for affordable fun for the whole family.
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Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. In this article, the USAMU’s reloading gurus address a question frequently asked by prospective handloaders: “Should I buy a single-stage press, or a progressive?” The USAMU says the best answer is Solomon-esque in both its wisdom and simplicity: “Get BOTH!” However, there is definitely more to the issue, as the USAMU explains below.
Progressive Press Safety Considerationsby USAMU Staff
Many are the beginning handloaders who have asked a friend about their “setting up” a progressive press for them. The idea is that the newbie could then just feed in components and crank out buckets of practice ammo without needing to really learn much about handloading. Tempting though this might be, that’s simply not how it works. Such an approach might be ok if there were never a malfunction with either press or operator, but that’s unrealistic. Our hypothetical newbie would then lack the knowledge to problem-solve most situations.
This video from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit focuses on two key fundamentals of marksmanship: 1) Sight Alignment; and 2) Trigger Squeeze. This video can assist any Service Rifle or metallic sights shooter. The USAMU instructor explains: “You’ve probably heard a lot about fundamentals — Breathe, Relax, Aim, Squeeze… Well that gives a shooter a lot to think about. Here we teach two main firing tasks: 1) align the sights, and 2) squeeze the trigger without moving the rifle. This allows the shooter a much more simplified format.”
The following tips are transcribed from the video:
Task One: Sight Alignment
Sight alignment is the process of putting the tip of the front sight post, the rear aperture, and the shooter’s eyeball all on the same plane. It’s very important to maintain the tip of the front sight post centered in the rear aperture. Just .002″ of deviation can cause a miss at 300 meters. Allow your eye to do its job. While firing, the focus should remain on the tip of the front sight.
Task Two: Trigger Control
Your second firing task is [to] fire the rifle without moving it. This is done through proper trigger control. You’ve probably heard a lot of words about trigger control — “surprise break”, “snatch”, “pull”, “squeeze”… well we teach one thing here: “smooth”. No matter the speed at which I engage the trigger, it’s always going to be smooth. Imagine trying to pull the trigger straight through the rear of the buttstock, holding it to the rear while the gun recoils. It’s important to constantly engage the trigger, never letting your trigger finger disengage from the trigger while firing. This is achieved through natural trigger finger placement.
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Kevin Muramatsu’s black rifle book, the Gun Digest Guide to Customizing Your AR-15, is a great resource for fans of AR-platform rifles. All the AR options you can imagine are covered: suppressors, premium barrels, adjustable stocks, free-float handguards, ergonomic grips, buffer systems, tactical lights and much more. Those planning an AR rifle build will find application-specific suggestions for 3-Gun, Service Rifle, High Power (Space Gun), Hunting, and Self-Defense use.
Firearms expert Muramatsu offers advice on choosing the right stock/barrel/optics configuration for your particular game. He also discusses the wide variety of options for slings, grips, magazines and other accessories. With over 520 photos, the book includes a large photo gallery of customized ARs, and includes bonus coverage of the FAL and other “tactical” firearms. The Gun Digest Guide to Customizing Your AR-15 is available from Amazon.com for $21.87, and a Kindle eBook version is offered for $14.99. The book is also sold by Barnes & Noble, and most other major booksellers.
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One of our Forum members asked us the question: “Does anybody make a good range box with cradles for cleaning at the bench?” The answer is yes — the MTM model RBMC Range Box offers slide-in plastic cradles that provide a reasonably sturdy platform for a quick clean when you’re done shooting. The RBMC box also offers plenty of storage for jags, brushes, solvents, ammo boxes and other miscellaneous gear you need for the range.
Among the many range boxes available, the MTM model RBMC Range Box leads the pack in terms of versatility. It is rugged, it has plenty of storage space, and it doubles as a handy cleaning station. This Editor has used the MTM Range Box to clean rifles and as a “range expedient” rifle holder when adjusting scopes and tensioning action screws. It’s a good product that does the job and stands up to rough handling.
Fitted Cleaning Cradles
The key feature setting MTM’s RBMC apart from most range boxes is the rubber-coated cradle system. Wide enough to fit a 3″-wide fore-arm, the cradles slide into vertical slots on either end of the box. This allows your range box to serve as a maintenance station. The RBMC is really pretty stable in this role, and the cradles won’t mark your stock. The cradles even feature slots on each side to hold your cleaning rods. The MTM Range Box is secure enough to stay in place when you’re brushing the barrel. However, if you’re working on a carpeted bench top, keep one hand on the box when running a cleaning rod through the bore, just to ensure the box doesn’t slide.
Versatile Upper Tray with Dividers
The MTM Range Box has two major components — the box base (with cradles), and a large upper tray with hinged top and carry handle. This large upper tray clamps securely to the bottom unit for transport. The top tray has a long section that holds cleaning rod guides, long brushes, grease syringes and the like. There are two, clear-plastic fitted divider trays. These will hold your patches and jags, plus comparators, ring wrenches, and other small tools.
What Might Be Improved
Though we really like the MTM Range Box, it’s not perfect. First, we wish the box was a bit deeper, to have added carrying capacity. The dimensions of the MTM Range Box are: 25″ long x 11.5″ wide x 8.75″ high. We’d like to see it 12″ high/deep to allow larger solvent bottles to stand upright and to provide more space to carry tools and shooting muffs. However, it is deep enough to hold the large 100-round MTM cartridge boxes that are popular with many shooters (see photo at right).
While we like the twin clear plastic dividers that fit into the removable top-tray, but we wish the dividers had individual hinged tops. This would keep small items more secure.
At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.
The RCBS Rock Chucker remains a classic — a big, strong, versatile press that can handle most reloading chores with ease. And now you can get a genuine Rock Chucker Supreme for $126.99 — a very good deal. The Rock Chucker offers plenty of leverage for case-sizing and the “O” is tall enough for long cartridges. The Rock Chucker has a very strong base and should last a lifetime. We’re not fans of the Rock Chucker’s priming system but most serious reloaders use a separate priming tool.
2. Midsouth — 17 HMR V-Max Ammo, $10.45 for 50 rds
Need 17 HMR ammo for your varmint safaris? Then grab this Hornady V-Max ammo while you can at $10.45 for a 50-round box. This is a great price. Other vendors are selling the same Hornady ammo for as much as $15.00 per box. We’ve used this ammo and it was very accurate out of both semi-auto (Savage A17) and bolt-action (CZ 455) 17 HMR rifles.
3. Aero Precision — Upper and Lower Stripped Receivers, $189.99
If you want to build your own AR for varminting, self-defense, or competition, here is a great value for the basics. Right now Aero Precision is offering a combo set of AR15 Stripped Upper Receiver PLUS AR15 Gen 2 Stripped Lower Receiver all for $189.99 with free shipping. The upper and lower are both machined from from 7075-T6 aluminum forgings and have a tough, Cerakote finish. This upper/lower set features 0.250″ takedown pin holes and M4-style feedramps. Both upper and lower take standard AR15 components so you can choose from a wide selection of trigger groups.
The Jewell trigger is still probably the most commonly-used trigger in benchrest competition. Right now at Grafs.com you can get a Remington 700-compatible Jewell benchrest trigger for $179.99 — that’s $20.00 of the regular price. This single-stage trigger adjusts from 1 ounce to 3 ounces pull-weight, and has a crisp, precise release. This will fit Rem 700 actions as well as Rem-compatible custom actions. This trigger does NOT have a safety and it is NOT recommended for hunting applications. (Sale tip from EdLongrange.)
5. Cabelas — Howa 1500 Mini-Action in .223 Rem, $349.99
Here’s a good deal on a great little rifle. Right now at Cabela’s you can get the Howa 1500 Mini-Action in .223 Rem for just $349.99. That’s a bargain — other vendors are charging $500.00 or more for this rifle. The Howa 1500 Mini Action is nearly an inch shorter than a Rem 700 short action, making for a nice, compact carry-around varminter. Your Editor checked out the Howa Mini Action Rifle at SHOT Show. The bolt opens and closes VERY smoothly (way better than most mass-produced bolt guns). The two-stage HACT trigger is excellent — it’s plenty light, with a crisp release and no annoying spring-loaded blade in the middle.
If you shoot long range, you need a scope level. This Discovery scope level is fully CNC-machined to close tolerances for a good fit. It is available with three inner diameters to fit scopes with 1″, 30mm, or 34mm main tubes. The 1″ version is just $11.99 while the 30mm model is $13.95 and the large 34mm version is $15.95. You could easily pay $35.00 or more for a 30mm scope level. Purchasers have praised this product: 89% of verified buyers rated this five stars.
7. Eabco.com — Pillar-Bedded Laminated Stock for Savage
For a Savage-based general purpose rifle, this Laminated Thumbhole Savage Stock is a good choice, and a fine value at just $175.00 including installed pillars. (Most bargain-priced laminated stocks do NOT include pillars). This stock fits Savage actions with detachable magazines. There are four color options: Camo laminate (shown in photo), Brown Laminate, Gray Laminate, and walnut color.
8. RCBS — Buy Green, Get Green Rebate
RCBS is running a very attractive Rebate Program currently. If you spend $300.00 on qualifying products you get a $75.00 rebate. Spend $50 and get a $10.00 Rebate. This program is limited to one (1) rebate redemption per calendar year, with a maximum of $75.00. CLICK HERE for more information. NOTE: To qualify, you must supply completed RCBS rebate coupon, original UPC barcodes from package, and original cash register receipt and/or dated, itemized sales invoice.
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Many of our readers have never had a chance to shoot much past 600 yards. How far away does a 1000-yard+ target really seem to the naked eye? Well this short video answers that question. Gorilla Ammo, the video’s producers, used a camera-carrying aerial drone to fly downrange from the firing line all the way out to 1122 yards (and back again). Watch the drone footage at 0:00-0:07 and especially 0:48-1:03. The “bird’s-eye view” really gives you a sense of the distance. The “fly-back” at 0:48-1:03 time-mark is what makes this video worth watching.
The video features prone shooting at steel targets placed at 750 and 1122 yards. We do apologize for the lame, “oh so serious” voice-over which attempts to make this rather ordinary range session seem like some kind of life-changing experience. (Frankly, you may just want to turn the sound off — it’s that annoying.) It’s really not that big a deal to hit steel at 750 yards with a quality AR-15, chambered in .223 Rem, shooting Sierra 77 grain MatchKings.
Hitting Steel at 1122 Yards with 2540 FPS Ammo Can Be Challenging
The 1122-yard hits are a bit more impressive. Gorilla Ammo lists a relatively sedate 2540 fps Muzzle Velocity for its .223 Rem 77gr SMK ammunition. According to JBM Ballistics, at 1125 yards, that 2540 fps load has 68.3 MOA of drop from a 100-yard zero (firing at sea level and 80° F ambient). Morever the bullet goes trans-sonic around 750 yards (losing stability) and is traveling just 933 fps at impact. And the wind’s the killer — at 1125 yards, with this bullet/load, a mere 2 mph, full-value wind change can move the Point of Impact over three feet!
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This summer, our friend Dennis Santiago made his first-ever pilgrimage to Camp Perry, Ohio to compete in the National Matches. He recounts his experience in a fascinating, informative, and often humorous story on his Dennis Talks Guns Blog. When you have a few moments to spare, you should definitely read Santiago’s account of his First Time at Camp Perry. This is much, much more than a match report. Dennis gives insights into the human side of the experience — and the little things that make Camp Perry so special. CLICK HERE to Read Full Camp Perry Story.
Dennis competed in a number of events during his two-week stay. Shooting “classic” service rifle and his new scoped, “modern AR” service rifle Dennis competed solo (in Presidents 100 and NTI matches among others) and also as a member of the California Adult Team in the 4-man NTT match.
Santiago’s First Time at Camp Perry report is a “must-read” for anyone contemplating a Camp Perry visit. Here are some highlights — but honestly folks, do read the entire story — it’s well worth it.
First Time at Camp Perry, by Dennis Santiago
Perry Ain’t Like Home
Iron Sights and “Perry-Vision”
This range is kicking me hard. I tell people about how hard I was pushing my eye into my aperture. They smile that “welcome to Camp Perry” smile again. They ask what sights I’m shooting on my A2 and I tell them I’ve got an 0.050″ front and 0.038″ rear to maximize depth of field. They smile more broadly and tell me my problem is that I’m from the Western provinces where the sun is bright and the ground is devoid of flora. Lots of light. It’s green here and we have clouds I’m told. Not nearly the same ambient lighting. You have the wrong sights my son. Where the green grass grows you want a big fat 0.072″ front the size of an aircraft carrier deck and a huge 0.046″ hole in the morning and maybe close it down to an 0.042″ rear aperture later if the sun comes out. But that desert glare sight system of yours will lose you about 5-8 points in these parts. Well there you go. Learn something every day.
Baptism at Camp Perry
One’s first visit to Camp Perry is a series of baptismal rites. I shall now enumerate them…
Walk the Base. Do not drive around. Get used to walking. Walk from your hut to everything. Walk to the administration buildings. Walk to the ranges. Walk to commercial row. Walk to the CMP North Store. Walk to the CMP or Army trailer to have the triggers of your rifles(s) weighed. Walk. This is your primary mode of transportation while on base for the next couple of weeks.
Go Shopping. It’s called Commercial Row. It is the best shopping mall for competitive shooters ever. The sale prices here are Black Friday quality. You stock up on supplies. You can buy elusive powders in quantity with the same lot number. Same with bullets and primers. Everything you need to keep making your pet loads. Oddly, not cases. This is a service rifle tournament. Pretty much everyone is using LC or WCC cases. I stocked up. Then I began politely watching my expected cubic feet and gross weight capacity for the drive home as other people asked if I could take stuff back for them instead of shipping their loot.
Learn about the Perils of Perry. One, evacuate the range. It rains at Camp Perry. Sometimes that rain comes with lightning. When that happens range controls issues an evacuation order. Depending on where you are and how much time you have, you either grab your stuff and make for a sheltered structure or leave your stuff under whatever rain cover you have and leave it there until the storm cell passes. This happened on squadded practice day. There was no squadded practice. There was learning to make a better rain cover for the next two weeks because it’d probably happened again. I was particularly proud of my final design which involved a very large tarp and many bungee cords. Modern art to be sure. I received many compliments.
Peril Two — Cease fire, boat in the impact area. One has not truly been to Camp Perry until your shooting string is put on hold while range control sends someone out to tell an errant yacht or jet ski that it’s not a good idea to go into that area with all the buoys with the signs on them that say, Danger. Live Fire. Keep Out.
I brought two rifles with me to Camp Perry. The first was my iron sights-configured AR-15. Being my very first trip to the Nationals, I wanted to check off a bucket list item to shoot irons at a National Match. The gun has a Geiselle trigger and an upper I assembled from White Oak Armament parts. The barrel is a Krieger that had 3,800 rounds arriving at Perry. The sights are pinned 1/4×1/4s. I run Sierra 77gr SMKs short line and 80gr SMKs seated .015″ off the lands Long Line with it.
The other rifle I brought was for NRA week. It’s a 2016 Rule Service Rifle, Optic. It has a collapsible UBR stock and a Geiselle Mk VII quad rail. The barrel is an older DPMS .223 that was cryo-treated back in the day. Round count on arrival at Nationals was around 1,800. Same ammunition combination [as the iron sights rifle]. The chamber on this barrel has a shorter throat so I brought a Lee Hand Press with an RCBS competition seater die to set the 80gr SMKs back to proper jump for NRA week. The sighting system for this gun was one of the very new Nightforce 4.5X Competition SR’s with the CMP R223 reticle. Parallax is set to 200 yards. It’s mounted using Nightforce’s superbly engineered AR-15 service rifle Unimount.
Members of the State of California Teams at Camp Perry. Dennis is front row left.
Coaching — When It All Comes Together, at Last
I coached one of the California teams in the NTIT Rattle Battle match. This was the day I finally began to be comfortable at Camp Perry. Walking up and down the field, first as a verifier and then as a coach, I felt back in the game. At team matches you get to confer with your teammates comparing wind calls and observing the effects of their calls as the shooting members of their squads send rounds downrange. You watch the traces of bullets arcing in the air going left or right of the bull’s center depending whether or not the call was right. This process was cathartic. I began to remember that I really can read a range once I get the hang of it.
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The rear stock and grip (shown above) come from the commercial LUCID AR Stock Kit. But Forum member Brian V. custom-made this one-piece walnut forearm.
Forum member Brian V. (aka “Carbide”) wanted a new look for his “modern sporting rifle”. He was tired of looking at black plastic (or FDE, OD green) and aluminum components on his AR15. So he decided to fit wood “furniture” on the rifle. He ordered a wood butt-stock and fore-arm set made by Lucid, but he didn’t like the two-piece fore-arm of the Lucid stock set. He decided he could build something better than the commercially-available, Lucid-made wood fore-arm.
Lathe-Turned Custom Walnut Sleeve in Front
So Brian took his existing AR tubular fore-arm and epoxied a walnut sleeve to it. With a lathe, Brian then turned the walnut sleeve to his desired dimensions: 2.250″ diameter in back and 2.200″ diameter in front, so there’s a little taper. Brian says “I could have gone a little thinner.” The wood fore-end was then sanded and stained to match the Lucid-made rear section. Brian says “the stain is not quite a perfect match, but but it looks a lot better.”
Does Brian like his new wood-stocked AR? Absolutely. He says the conversion makes the gun more user-friendly: “The wood is warmer to carry in winter and quieter.” He adds that the wood sleeve added about four ounces of weight to the fore-end, but that did not affect the handling.
We think this is a good “do-it-yourself” project that could be done by many of our readers. You can simply install the Lucid stock set or customize the front end like Brian did. Either way, you end up with a good-looking rifle that feels better in your hands.
Establishing zero at 300 yards. Dennis says: “Wow you can really drive that crosshair into the center of the bull with ease” with the 4.5X optic.
Dennis Santiago recently received the all-new Nightforce Competition SR Fixed 4.5x24mm Service Rifle scope. He will be using this at Camp Perry soon, so he needed to get zeros (and click values) for all his yardages. Off he headed to the Burbank Rifle and Revolver Club (BRRC) for a Zero Session.
After establishing a 100-yard, base-line zero from the bench, Dennis put on his sling and jacket to work out to 200, 300, and 600 yards. When shooting at 200, Dennis said: “The target is huge in that 4.5X scope. Fun to drive. Next stop NRA Week at Camp Perry!”
Above you can see Dennis working up two elevation zeroes for 600 yards. First he fired a center hold using the crosshair inside the circle to “pie” the bull. Next, he shot with a 12 o’clock hold using the lower leg of the crosshair to bisect the target. You can see the target at 600 yards in the top right of the photo.
Zeroing Task accomplished, Dennis is ready to take this rifle to Camp Perry for the National Championships. He says: “In the end, it’s always about your handy-dandy notebook.”
New 2016 CMP/NRA Rules Allow 4.5X Optics
Dennis Santiago explains the Service Rifle rule changes that now allow scopes up to 4.5X max magnification (and max 34mm objective):
“Per the 2016 Rulebooks of the CMP and NRA, today’s Service Rifle is now defined to include an M-16/AR-15 variant with an optical sighting system not to exceed 4.5X magnification. So, this optic-equipped rifle goes head-to-head with the match-tuned M-16A2/AR-15A2 iron sight guns in the same class. The rules were updated to take into account that some military branches no longer train service members to shoot iron sights as their primary marksmanship method and have switched to reliance combat optics. The rules were debated and tried in 2015 and codified at the beginning of this year. This will be the first Nationals where the old and new generation guns compete side-by-side.
Here is my personal prediction: There will be improved scores by Expert class shooters who figure out how to work with optics jumping into Master class. At the High Master level, there may be a slight rise in numerical scores but there will be a massive jump in X-Count. EICs will remain the all-out race they’ve always been; whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins the day.”
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California Governor Jerry Brown just departed for a luxurious European vacation. But before he left the state, he savaged the Second Amendment rights of millions of California gun owners. Less than 24 hours after they arrived on his desk, Brown signed six anti-gun bills railroaded through the Democratic-controlled California Legislature. Among the bills signed by Brown was SB 1446 which will require Californians to forfeit, destroy, or ship out of the state ALL firearms magazines that can hold more than ten rounds. Owners of legally-obtained magazines, previously “grandfathered”, will receive no compensation though they must give up their property. Those who fail to comply will be fined and charged with an infraction, a low-level crime. This magazine restriction goes into effect July 1, 2017.
Gov. Brown also signed SB 1235 which will require background checks for the purchase of any and all ammunition. Ammo buyers’ names and personal information will be logged and tracked in a database.
Notice from NSSF RE California Legislation
The NSSF issued this statement: “The National Shooting Sports Foundation is extremely disappointed that Gov. Brown today chose to sign into law these highly restrictive and unneeded gun control measures, all of which will affect law-abiding Californians while doing nothing to stop the criminal misuse of firearms. By acting within 24 hours after being sent these bills, and not allowing the public to voice their opinions in order to depart for his European vacation, the governor compounded the miscarriage of legislative process and procedure while demonstrating disdain for Californians who now face laws that clearly infringe on their Constitutional rights.”
Gov. Brown SIGNED the following bills into law:
AB 1135 (Levine) and SB 880 (Hall) Firearms: Assault Weapons – Expands the definition of assault weapons based on whether a semiautomatic firearm has a detachable magazine, banning thousands of popular firearms.
SB 1235 (de Leon) Ammunition – Requires authorization to purchase ammunition and track what and how much ammunition each person buys, creating a database of ammunition purchasers.
SB 1446 (Hancock) Firearms: Magazine Capacity – Makes it illegal to possess magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds no matter how long a person has owned them.
AB 1511 (Santiago) Firearms: Lending – Makes it illegal to loan a firearm to a person who is personally known to you (except for family members with restrictions).
AB 1695 (Bonta) Firearms: False Reports – Creates a 10-year prohibition on owning firearms for someone convicted of falsely reporting a lost or stolen firearm.
Gov. Brown VETOED the following bills:
SB 894 (Jackson) Firearms: Lost or Stolen: reports – Would have made it a crime not to report lost and stolen firearms to law enforcement within the arbitrary time limit.
AB 1673 (Gipson) Firearms: Unfinished frame or receiver – Would have expanded the definition of a firearm to include partially finished frames and receivers (no definition of what this means) and require their registration.
AB 1674 (Santiago) Firearms: Transfers – Would have made it illegal to buy or receive more than one firearm in any 30-day period.
If you wish to Contact Gov. Brown’s office to voice your concern about his signing of six anti-gun measures, here is the contact information:
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could adjust the bolt cycling energy on your AR-platform rifle? Turn down the cycling rate for slow fire at the bench or varmint hunting. Crank up the energy for 3-Gun matches and rapid-fire disciplines. This IS possible with a handy accessory that fits on your barrel. Wilson Combat offers an Adjustable Lo-Profile AR Gas Block for direct gas impingement AR-type rifles. Wilson Combat’s adjustable gas block replaces a standard AR gas block and allows you to tune your AR’s gas system for smoother cycling and enhanced reliability. Wilson Combat explains: “Adjusting your rifle’s gas port will lower or increase your bolt’s cyclic rate. This tailors your rifle’s performance to your unique needs.”
A simple adjustment of the hex screw at the front of the block modulates the gas volume allowing you to tune your rifle’s function to your favorite loads. This is very handy when shooting non-standard AR calibers, unusual hand-loads, or suppressed rifles. Adjustable Gas Block systems are sold as complete kits starting at $74.95. Wilson Combat offers two diameters (.750″, .937″) and three lengths (Carbine Length, Mid-Length, & Rifle Length), so you can select the right dimensions for your rifle configuration and barrel diameter. The blocks are Chromoly steel with a Melonited finish.
Adjustable Gas Block (Melonite Finish)
Adjustment Set Screw (Installed)
Straight Gas Tube (Installed, Gas Tube Pin Installed)
12″-Long Allen Wrench to Adjust Inside Handguard
$74.95 – $79.95
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For sheer versatility, it is hard to beat the AR-15 platform. An AR can function in a multitude of roles — defending your home, hunting varmints, or competing in Service Rifle or High Power matches. If you’re planning a new AR project, it all starts with the lower. That’s the part that carries the serial number and is logged into the books of your FFL. Once you’ve got your lower, then the fun begins — you choose all the other components: trigger group, stock, handguards, and upper.
Right now, Brownells is running a great deal on stripped lower receivers. You can get an Aero Precision Stripped Lower for just $59.99. It’s hard to beat that price. Aero Precision is a good manufacturer that makes durable and dimensionally-correct lowers. And these lowers are backed by Brownells’ 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
Aero Precision Lower Receiver Features
This small pin, mil-spec lower receiver is precision-machined from a 7075 T6 aluminum forging. This versatile lower can be the foundation for rifle builds on 5.56/.223, 6.5mm, 6.8mm, 300 AAC Blackout, 9mm Luger, or other chamberings. Holes, inletting and pin locations have been cut to final dimensions and accept standard AR-15 magazines and components. The safe/fire switch position indicators are stamped on the receiver. FFL required for purchase.
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By Dennis Santiago
It’s called the “Rattle Battle” or more formally, the National Trophy Infantry Team Match (NTIT) at the U.S. National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. It requires practice. It takes teamwork. To optimize one’s Rattle Battle practice in California you need a pre-ban AR-15 properly CA DOJ registered [that’s California law] service rifle — something that civilians in California are now banned from acquiring (along with high-capacity magazines). Glad I have my 1989 Roberti-Roos era registered rifle because I do want to represent my state as well as I can at the Nationals. It’s legal to insert a 30-round magazine into this CA-registered rifle.
This is a practice drill shooting 29 rounds in 50 seconds. Hyperventilate, shoot multiple rounds per breath, put them all into the silhouette target. This was slow. I need to build speed to create time to make one or two sight corrections on command in the middle of the string. Practice makes perfect. As they say: “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.”
The CMP’s National Trophy Infantry Team Match (NTIT) has been a staple at the National Matches since 1922. Also known as the “Rattle Battle,” the event is one of the most unique in the competitive rifling world — scoring is based on how many hits six-person teams can score on a bank of targets during a series of 50-second firing periods at four yardages.
Teams begin the NTIT match with 384 rounds of ammunition, which they fire upon eight silhouette targets from 600, 500, 300, and 200 yards during successive 50-second periods. After each rapid-fire string, team members move forward (to the next-closest distance) carrying all equipment from firing line to firing line. The match emphasizes extremely fast, accurate fire and good communication among teammates. The Rattle Battle is always an exciting competition for spectators to watch.
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We like AR-style .22LR rigs for Rimfire Tactical Matches and 3-Gun cross-training. With an AR-style rimfire rifle you can train with low-cost ammunition while enjoying the same ergonomics, controls, and sighting systems found on your centerfire ARs.
Smith & Wesson has upgraded its M&P 15-22, a fun rifle that we’ve praised in the past. The new M&P 15-22 Sport MOE SL model (Magpul Original Equipment Slim Line) features a more comfortable handguard, an improved grip, and an adjustable Magpul buttstock. The dedicated .22 LR M&P rifle retains the look and features of the company’s popular M&P rifle line, with the enhanced ergonomics of Magpul furniture. Click HERE for Spec Sheet.
In our Shooters’ Forum, one member recently asked: “What makes an AR accurate? What parts on an AR can really affect accuracy — such as free-floating handguards, barrels, bolts, bolt carriers?” He wanted an honest, well-informed answer, not just sales pitches. Robert Whitley posted a very comprehensive answer to this question, based on his experience building and testing dozens of AR-platform rifles. Robert runs AR-X Enterprises, which produces match-grade uppers for High Power competitors, tactical shooters, and varminters.
Building an Accurate AR — What is Most Important
by Robert Whitley
There are a lot of things that can be done to an AR to enhance consistent accuracy, and I use the words “consistent accuracy” because consistency is a part of it (i.e. plenty of guns will give a couple great 5-shot groups, but won’t do a very good 10- or 20-shot groups, and some guns will shoot great one day and not so good on others).
Here are 14 key things we think are important to accuracy.
1. Great Barrel: You’ll want a premium match-grade barrel, well-machined with a good crown and a match-type chambering, true to the bore and well cut. The extension threads must also be cut true to the bore, with everything true and in proper alignment.
2. Rigid Upper: A rigid, heavy-walled upper receiver aids accuracy. The typical AR upper receiver was made for a lightweight carry rifle and they stripped all the metal they could off it to make it light to carry (which is advantageous for the military). The net result are upper receivers that are so thin you can flex them with your bare hands. These flexible uppers are “strong enough” for general use, but they are not ideal for accuracy. Accuracy improves with a more rigid upper receiver.
3. True Receiver Face: We’ve found that truing the receiver face is valuable. Some may argue this point but it is always best to keep everything related to the barrel and the bore in complete alignment with the bore (i.e. barrel extension, bolt, upper receiver, carrier, etc.).
4. Barrel Extension: You should Loctite or glue the barrel extension into the upper receiver. This holds it in place all the way front to back in the upper receiver. Otherwise if there is any play (and there typically is) it just hangs on the face of the upper receiver completely dependent on the face of the upper receiver as the sole source of support for the barrel as opposed to being made more an integral part of the upper receiver by being glued-in.
5. Gas Block: You want a gas block that does not impose pointed stress on the barrel. Clamp-on types that grab all the way around the barrel are excellent. The blocks that are pinned on with tapered pins that wedge against the barrel or the slip on type of block with set screws that push up from underneath (or directly on the barrel) can deform the bore inside of the barrel and can wreck the accuracy of an otherwise great barrel.
6. Free-Float Handguard: A rigid, free-float handguard (and I emphasize the word rigid) really makes a difference. There are many types of free-float handguards and a free-float handguard is, in and of itself, a huge improvement over a non-free-float set up, but best is a rigid set-up. Some of the ones on the market are small diameter, thin and/or flexible and if you are shooting off any type of rest, bipod, front bag, etc., a rigid fore-end is best since ARs want to jump, bounce and twist when you let a shot go, as the carrier starts to begin its cycle before the bullet exits the bore.
7. Barrel Contour: You want some meat on the barrel. Between the upper receiver and the gas block don’t go real thin with a barrel (we like 1″ diameter if it’s workable weight-wise). When you touch off a round and the bullet passes the gas port, the gas system immediately starts pressuring up with a gas impulse that provides vibrations and stress on the barrel, especially between the gas block back to the receiver. A heavier barrel here dampens that. Staying a little heavier with barrel contour through the gas block area and out to the muzzle is good for the same reasons. ARs have a lot going on when you touch off a round and the gas system pressures up and the carrier starts moving (all before the bullet exits the bore) so the more things are made heavier and rigid to counteract that the better — within reason (I’m not advocating a 12-lb barrel).
8. Gas Tube Routing Clearance: You want a gas tube that runs freely through the barrel nut, through the front of the upper receiver, and through the gas key in the carrier. Ensure the gas tube is not impinged by any of them, so that it does not load the carrier in a stressed orientation. You don’t want the gas tube bound up so that when the gas tube pressures up it immediately wants to transmit more force and impulse to the barrel than would normally occur. We sometimes spend a lot of time moving the gas block with gas tube on and off new build uppers and tweaking gas tubes to get proper clearance and alignment. Most gas tubes do need a little “tweaking” to get them right — factory tubes may work OK but they typically do not function optimally without hand-fitting.
9. Gas Port Tuning: You want to avoid over-porting the gas port. Being over-gassed makes the gas system pressure up earlier and more aggressively. This causes more impulse, and increases forces and vibration affecting the top end and the barrel. Tune the gas port to give the amount of pressure needed to function properly and adequately but no more.
10. Front/Back Bolt Play: If accuracy is the game, don’t leave a lot of front/back bolt play (keep it .003″ but no more than .005″). We’ve seen factory rifles run .012″ to .015″ play, which is OK if you need to leave room for dirt and grime in a military application. However, that amount of play is not ideal for a high-accuracy AR build. A lot of front/back bolt play allows rounds to be hammered into the chamber and actually re-formed in a non-consistent way, as they are loaded into the chamber.
11. Component Quality: Use good parts from a reputable source and be wary of “gun show specials”. All parts are NOT the same. Some are good, some are not so good, and some aftermarket parts are simply bad. Don’t be afraid to use mil-spec-type carriers; by and large they are excellent for an accuracy build. Also, remember that just because a carrier says “National Match” or something else on it does not necessarily mean it’s any better. Be wary of chrome-plated parts as the chrome plating can change the parts dimensionally and can also make it hard to do hand-fitting for fit and function.
12. Upper to Lower Fit: A good upper/lower fit is helpful. For quick and dirty fit enhancement, an Accu-Wedge in the rear helps a lot. The ultimate solution is to bed the upper to a specific lower so that the upper and lower, when together, are more like one integral unit. For the upper receivers we produce, we try to get the specs as close as we can, but still fit the various lowers in the market place.
13. Muzzle Attachments: Don’t screw up the muzzle (literally). Leave as much metal on the barrel at the muzzle as you can. People like to thread the muzzle for a flash hider, suppressor, muzzle brake, or some other attachment, but if you really want accuracy, leave as much metal as you can there. And, if you have something that screws on, set it up so that it can be put on and have it stay there without putting a lot of torque and stress on it right where the bullet exits the bore. If you are going to thread the end of the barrel, make it concentric with the bore and make sure what you screw on there is as well. For all muzzle attachments, also ensure that the holes through which the bullet passes through are dead true to the bore. Many aftermarket screw-on things are not so good that way. Anything that vents gas should vent symmetrically (i.e. if it vents left, it should vent equally right, and likewise, if it vents up, it should vent down equally). Uneven venting of gas can wreck accuracy.
14. Quality Ammunition: Ammo is a whole story by itself, but loads that are too hot typically shoot poorly in an AR-15. If you want accuracy out of an AR-15, avoid overly hot loads. Shown below are test groups shot with four (4) different uppers, all with moderate loads. These four uppers all pretty much had the same features and things done to them as explained in this article, and they all shot great.
Geissele Automatics manufactures a line of two-stage triggers favored by top Service Rifle, High Power, and 3-Gun shooters. Geissele now offers a variety of trigger models for both large-pin and small-pin lowers, with pull weights from 1.8 lbs to 6.0 lbs. You select the Geissele trigger with the appropriate first and second stage pull for your discipline (refer to chart below for trigger model specs).
Video Shows Geiselle Trigger Installation in AR15
Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com has crafted a video showing how to install a Geissele National Match Trigger in an AR15. This video covers installation of the trigger assembly, the trigger guard, the safety selector lever assembly, and the pistol grip.
AR15 Trigger Installation Video
Follow-Up Video for AR10 Trigger Install
Gavin recently released a follow-up video which covers the installation of a Geissele Super Dynamic Trigger in an AR10. The procedure is mostly the same as for the AR15, but this video also covers removal of the AR10 factory trigger, so it’s worth watching. You may want to turn the volume down on your computer’s speakers before playback. CLICK HERE for Geissele Trigger Instruction Manual
AR10 Geissele Trigger Installation
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