Most F-TR rifles are essentially prone rifles adapted for use with bipod and rear bags. They feature prone or tactical-style stocks designed to allow a firm grip on the gun, with cheek, hand, and shoulder contact. This has worked very well. Unquestionably, a skilled F-TR shooter can achieve outstanding scores with such a configuration — it works. However, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”.
At the Berger Southwest Nationals, Eric Stecker introduced a new type of rifle, and a new type of gun-handling, to the F-TR ranks. Shooting “free-recoil” style* (i.e. with virtually no contact on his rifle) Eric managed to finished second overall in F-TR (with the highest X-count), beating some past national champions in the process. Thinking “outside the box” worked for Stecker in Phoenix. The success of Eric’s benchrest-style rifle and shooting technique definitely drew the attention of other F-TR shooters.
Click photo to zoom
VOICE FILE: Eric Stecker Talks About the SWN and his Radical F-TR Rifle.
Eric’s F-TR rig was built by John Pierce using a stiff, light Scoville carbon-fiber stock. The stock is so light that Eric’s rifle came in 1.5 pounds under the F-TR maximum weight limit (8.25kg or 18.18 pounds). The gun features a Pierce action, Bartlein barrel, Jewell trigger, and a Gen 1 Nightforce 15-55X52mm Comp scope. From the get-go, Eric’s strategy was to “aim small” and shoot his rig like a bench-gun. He actually focused on shooting really small groups rather that just trying to keep shots within scoring rings and “hold waterline”. With a .308 Win that could shoot bugholes at 100 yards, this strategy paid off.
Rifle builder John Pierce explains the thinking behind this rifle: “The stock choice was mine — I had built two prototype rifles last year based on the premise that the game is Benchrest in the prone position. I still feel very strongly regarding [this concept]. I chose Bob Scoville for obvious reasons — he is an artisan and his stocks have won so much, they just flat work. We built Eric the latest configuration along these lines, and the tool worked for him. Without a doubt, Eric is a shooter, and we were all pleased to watch him perform so well.”
Eric sets up rifle before match. During live fire his hands do not contact the stock.
Eric employed a benchrest-style shooting technique with his F-TR rig — he shot pretty much free recoil, with no cheek pressure, no hand contact, and just a “whisper” of shoulder contact. Eric explains: “I shoot what’s called ‘free recoil’. Now the rifle is butted up against my shoulder very lightly, but no other part of my body touches the rifle except for my finger on the trigger.” Eric has even used this technique when shooting a 7mm cartridge in F-Open at other matches: “Someone suggested that this style wasn’t possible with the larger [7mm] cartridges, but I found it very successful so I continue to do it that way.”
VOICE FILE: Eric Stecker Talks About Shooting F-TR with Benchrest Technique.
Eric also employed an unconventional strategy — he was focused on shooting small groups (not just holding ring values): “Since I have started shooting F-Class, I treat [the target] like a benchrest target. What I mean by that is that I regard the center as my first shot, and so my objective is to create the smallest group. So, I will hold whatever… is required to end up with the bullet ending up in the center — that’s probably true of any F-Class shooter, but I guess the perspective’s a little different when you have a benchrest background.” Eric explained that “maybe I aim a little smaller than others might”, because in the benchrest game, “the slightest miss ends up costing you quite dearly”.
Click to Zoom Photo(This is not Eric Stecker’s rifle, but a “sistership” built by John Pierce.)
Eric Talks about F-TR Trends
Will other F-TR shooters build rifles suited for free-recoil-style shooting? Eric isn’t sure: “I don’t know if this type of rifle is the future of F-TR. I shoot a lot of benchrest, so putting those kinds of components into an F-TR gun made a lot of sense to me. One thing I like about F-TR is that there are a lot of different types of approaches being tried and some of them are successful. So I think it’s still pretty wide-open[.] But I think the really great part of what we found at the Southwest Nationals is that shooting [with] a benchrest-style approach certainly doesn’t hurt you. What I mean by that is … aiming small, trying to make the group as tight as possible rather than trying to hit a particular area. I actually tried to shoot tight groups — that was a focus and that worked for me — I had quite a high X-Count.” NOTE: Eric finished with 51 Xs, 14 more than F-TR Grand Agg winner Radoslaw Czupryna (37X). James Crofts had the second highest X-Count with 48 Xs.
Even Berger’s Boss did pit duty at the Berger SW Nationals.
*”Free Recoil” style shooting has its variations. Some would say “pure free recoil” would not even allow shoulder contact. Eric Stecker lightly touches the back of the stock with his shoulder.
Share the post "Stecker Succeeds at SWN with Radical Benchrest-type F-TR Rig"
Interest in the .222 Remington cartridge has revived following Lapua’s decision in 2009 to resume production of .222 Remington Brass. If you’re thinking of chambering a rifle in this very accurate caliber, or if you already have a .222 Rem, we’ve found a useful resource on the web for you.
Forum member Peter Simonsen has created a content-rich website, TripleDeuce.Net, with plenty of valuable info for .222 shooters. Peter tells us: “I started a little informative (non-commercial) web site about the .222 Remington, TripleDeuce.Net. You’re welcome to visit and share your thoughts and ideas.” Peter’s site includes extensive reloading advice, a list of recommended components, plus links to the major bullet-makers and powder manufacturers. His Reloading Page includes load data for a wide selection of bullets, while Peter’s photo archive shows cartridge diagrams and targets shot with Peter’s .222 Rem rifles. There is even an extensive section dedicated to the 20-222 Wildcat, an excellent varmint cartridge. The 20-222 is very efficient and very accurate.
Peter offers this advice for those getting started with the Triple Deuce cartridge:
“I religiously use the load data right off the Hodgdon web site. Recently I have gravitated toward using the old tried and true IMR4198 and H4198 powders for hunting using 40gr bullets. These two powders provide a velocity edge over the other powder choices while still maintaining safe and acceptable pressure levels. You can see this in the Hodgdon data where a max load of IMR4198 yields 3583 fps whereas H322 produces 3313 fps. So for hunting where higher velocity and terminal performance are important and accuracy is as good or close I would choose one of the two 4198 powders. This situation is similar, although not as dramatic, with 50gr bullets.
For target shooting H322 works extremely well. H4895 also provides impressive results and is a chosen powder for accuracy baseline testing by some manufacturers. I have begun experimenting with Vihtavuori N133 and Accurate 2015. Both seem very promising. But H322 and H4895 are two [dependable choices.]“
Share the post "TripleDeuce.Net Website for .222 Remington Shooters"
With the Berger Southwest Nationals kicking off February 4, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona, we thought our readers might enjoy a very interesting interview with the top decision-makers at Berger Bullets, namely company founder Walt Berger, plus Eric Stecker, Berger’s Executive Vice President.
This interview covers a wide range of topics in seven (7) separate segments. We’ve embedded the first two interview sections in this article, with links for the other five below.
Sinclair Int’l has released a 7-part series of video interviews with Walt Berger (founder of Berger Bullets) and Eric Stecker (Berger’s Exec. VP and Master Bulletsmith). The series is hosted by Bill Gravatt (who was Sinclair’s President at the time the interview was filmed). You can watch Parts 1 and 2 of the interview here, and we’ve provided links to the remaining Parts 3 through 7. All seven interview segments offer interesting material. Part 6 mentions the Berger Reloading Manual (many years in the making). Part 7, over 13 minutes long, contains interesting discussions of bullet testing and the hunting performance of Berger VLDs.
NOTE: You can view this entire video series (and many other videos) on Sinclair’s YouTube Channel Page.
Here’s a true “Blast from the Past”, a video featuring our friend Stuart Elliott of Brisbane, Australia. This 2011 video has now racked up nearly 452,000 views, making it probably the most-watched long-range benchrest video ever uploaded to YouTube. The video shows Stuart shooting a 10-shot Heavy Gun string at the Brisbane range, Queensland, Australia, in July 2011. In this example, Stuart elected to “run a condition” with his big, .300 WM Heavy Gun, shooting fast with slight hold-off adjustments as the wind increased during the string. The cartridge is a .300 Winchester Magnum, loaded with moly-coated 190gr Berger VLDs. Stuart has an unusual bolt configuration. After each shot, Stuart removes the bolt completely with his right hand, and then uses the bolt to “shuck” the fired cartridge while loading the new cartridge with his left hand. That sounds awkward, but Stuart makes it all look easy. Stuart runs BRT Shooters Supply, a leading vendor of precision shooting equipment (including March scopes), in Australia and nearby regions.
Share the post ".300 WM Aussie Style — Most Popular 1000-Yard Benchrest Video"
It’s official. Representatives of Lapua announced at SHOT Show 2014 that Nammo has purchased Vihtavuori, acquiring the “VV” line of propellants, and, most importantly, taking over Vihtavuori’s powder production facility in Vihtavuori, Finland.
This means that Vihtavuori is now officially under the Nammo umbrella as is Lapua, producer of brass, bullets, and loaded ammunition. Lapua engineer Tommi Tuuri has visited the Vihtavuori plant in person. Tommi says all operations are going well and the plant is running at normal capacity (but Nammo does plan some upgrades in the months ahead). Vihtavuori powders will continue to be imported into the United States as before and the powders will be made available through existing distribution channels.
Learn More about Nammo Purchase of Vihtavuori Powder Factory
The Vihtavuori Powder factory is located in Vihtavuori, Finland. Click marker to zoom.
The International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) has announced the IBS 2013 Shooters of the Year (SOY). Congratulations to these talented IBS shooters who took top honors in their respective disciplines:
1000-Yard SOY – Mike Wilson | 600-Yard SOY – Mike Moses / Tom Jacobs (tie)
Score SOY – Herb Llewellyn | Group SOY – Russ Raines
Many New Records Set in 2013
For IBS shooters, 2013 was a record-breaking year. Numerous records were broken at all distances from 100 yards out to 1000. Truly noteworthy was the new 600-yard, 5-shot group record set by Rodney Wagner. This has now been officially “sanctified” as a 0.336″ group. No, that’s not .336 MOA — the actual size of the group was 0.336 inches, measured center to center. Many folks would be happy with a group that size at 100 yards. Rodney did it at 600 yards! You can see Rodney with his astonishing 0.336″ (50 Score) five-shot group at right.
Also at 600 yards, Mike Hanes had a great year, posting two new Group Aggregate Records: 1.4901″ (Light Gun), and 1.7797″ (Two-Gun).
In the long-range game, James O’Hara set three new 1000-Yard Light Gun Aggregate records in 2013: Six-Match LG Group Agg, 3.072″; Six-Match LG Score Agg, 49.83; and Ten-Match LG Group Agg, 4.4374″.
In addition to the new records, two Non-Record 250-25X aggregates were logged this year in Score Matches. Kevin Donalds Jr., and Herb Llewellyn each shot a “perfect” 250-25X Agg in 2013.
IBS Annual Winter Meeting in Pennsylvania
This weekend, the IBS holds its Annual Meeting (better known as the “Winter Meeting”) in Harrisburg, PA. After Friday’s social, the business meeting convened at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. All the officers and board members will be working together to set the goals the organization will pursue in 2014.
Report find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Share the post "IBS 2013 Shooters of the Year and New Benchrest Records"
For 2014, Kelbly’s is introducing a new series of rifles for competition, tactical disciplines and hunting. The Arcas™ Series rifles are complete packages designed with Kelbly’s recommended specifications and top-grade components. Pick your application (Benchrest, F-Open, F-TR, Hunting, Tactical) and Kelbly’s can provide a complete build with all the bells and whistles.
Shown below are the four Arcas competition rifles currently offered. In addition to these four comp guns, the Arcas series includes two tactical-style rifles and two hunting rifles (starting at $2799.00). All these Arcas series rifles will be on display at SHOT Show next week. Let us know (via comments) which Arcas models interest you the most, so we’ll be sure to feature those in our SHOT Show reports.
Every Arcas Series rifle comes with premium components and a wide choice of stock colors. In addition you can have an Arcas rifle customized. For example, the Arcas F-Open rifle shown below can be customized with an extra long barrel ($20 per inch), fluted barrel ($199.00 extra), polished metal (all parts, $249), a GRS Laminated Stock with ergonomic grip (no charge), or a PRT Lowboy stock with high gloss finish ($799 extra).
Share the post "Kelbly’s Introduces Arcas Series Rifles for 2014"
Here’s a simple solution for lumpy front sandbags. Cut a small block the width of your fore-end and place that in the front bag between matches. You can tap it down firmly with a rubber mallet. This will keep the front bag nice and square, without bunching up in the center. That will help your rifle track straight and true. Rick Beginski uses wood (see photo), while our friend John Southwick uses a small block of metal. The metal block might work a little better, but the wood version is easier to make with simple tools. John Loh of JJ Industries offers a slick Delrin block with a built-in bubble level. Loh’s block helps ensure that the actual top surface of your front bag is level, as distinct from the front rest assembly.
Share the post "TECH TIP: Use a Block to Maintain Front Bag Shape"
When introduced last year, the original Nightforce 15-55x52mm Comp Scope sold for $2231.00 (or more). Now that same 2013 edition Nightforce Comp Scope can be yours for just $1850.00. This is a special promotion for AccurateShooter.com readers and Forum members. The 2013 Edition Comp Scopes are on sale because the Gen One model has been replaced by a second-generation model.
Call (570) 368-3920 to Get 15-55 NF Comp Scope for $1850.00
IMPORTANT: To get the super-low $1850.00 price you must call or email EuroOptic and mention that you saw this offer on Accurateshooter.com. Otherwise the price on EuroOptic’s website is $1950.00. To get the $1850.00 price call (570) 368-3920 or email sales [at] eurooptic.com and request the AccurateShooter.com Nightforce 2013 Competition Scope Special.
The 2014 version of the Nightforce 15-55 Comp Scope will cost at least $2352.00 (MAP) and it will not arrive at dealers for many more weeks (or months). If you buy the 2013 Edition NF Comp Scope you can save $502.00 compared to the 2014 model, and you can get your scope right now. Saving over $500.00 provides a pretty compelling reason to go with a Gen One 2013 model. NOTE: This is a LIMITED-QUANTITY Offer. When these scopes are gone they’re gone (2013 model NF 15-55x52mm Comp Scope has been discontinued).
What’s the Difference Between 2013 Comp Scope and 2014 Model?
The 2014 edition has turrets with 10 MOA per revolution instead of 5 MOA per revolution. The 2014 model also has a zero-stop feature and more reticle choices. Other than that, the previous 2013 Edition is pretty much the same as the later version. Both have 15-55X magnification, boht have 0.125 MOA click values, both have 52mm front objectives, and both have 80-90mm eye relief. The 2013 does have some advantages — it offers 60 MOA of elevation and 60 MOA of windage travel. The 2014 version only has 55 MOA of elevation and 50 MOA of windage. Also, the SILVER COLOR is only offered in the 2013 Edition. The 2014 model comes only in Black.
Share the post "Gen 1 Nightforce 15-55X Comp Scope $1850.00 at EuroOptic.com"
It was big news when Nightforce introduced its 15-55x52mm Competition Scope last year. Now this impressive optic has been made even better. The turrets have been redesigned, and you now get 10 MOA per revolution (up from five MOA in 2013). With these new turrets, ZeroStop™ and Hi-Speed™ adjustments are now standard equipment. In addition, two fast, easy-to-read windage caps are included with every riflescope. Total elevation travel is 55 MOA, while total windage travel is 50 MOA. (That’s down from 60/60 in the 2013 model).
The 2014 version of the 15-55x52mm Competition scope still boasts the key qualities that attracted attention last year. The 15-55 Comp weighs just 27.87 ounces, making it 24% lighter than Nightforce’s 12-42x56mm Benchrest scope. The 15-55 still offers superb ED (low dispersion) glass, giving it excellent brightness and sharpness. The 15-55 Comp also retains its handy, fast-focus European-style eyepiece for 2014.
More Reticle Options for 15-55x52mm Comp Scope
When the 15-55×52 Comp scope was introduced last year, many shooters said “That scope looks fantastic, but I wish there were more reticle choices.” Well Nightforce listened to its customer base. Nightforce now offers four reticles for the Comp Scope: FCR-1, DDR-2, CTR-2, CTR-3. For long-range applications, we really like the new FCR-1, which features .016 MOA stadia lines with vertical and horizontal hash marks and numbers in one-MOA increments. Since the scope has MOA-based clicks, this makes it easy to do hold-overs or hold-offs (for wind) at long range.
Also new is the DDR-2 “double-dot” reticle. This features a .172-MOA horizontal stadia outside of .016-MOA center lines. There is a .026 MOA center dot, plus a second dot 3 MOA below center. Vertical indicators are located in 0.5, 1.0, 2.0 and 2.5 MOA increments.
Specifications for 2014 15-55x52mm Competition Scope
Share the post "Nightforce 15-55x52mm Comp Scope Gets New Features for 2014"
There was “Thunder Down-Under” last week at the 2013 World Benchrest Championships (WBC 2013) in Australia. The event was held at the Silverdale Range, a 1.5 hour-drive west of Sydney, NSW. This event drew roughly 80 of the world’s best 100/200 yard Benchrest group shooters who competed both individually and on national teams. Squads from Australia, Canada, Finland, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the USA vied for WBC team honors. Both Australia and the United States fielded three teams, while New Zealand and South Africa each fielded two squads.
Conditions were vicious at times, with extremely high winds in a few relays. To show you how tough things were, legendary shooter Tony Boyer had a 1.560″ group during the LV 200-yard match, while Tom Libby shot a shocking 2.280″ group in the same relay. We can’t remember when we’ve ever seen groups like that posted by shooters of this skill level.
In team competition, the strong USA ‘A-Team’ finished first followed by South Africa A (second place) and Australia A (third place). Ed Adams, Tony Boyer, Gene Bukys, and Bob Scarbrough Jr. were the members of the winning USA A-Team.
In individual competition, Americans finished 1-2-3 in the Two-Gun. Texan Charles Huckeba topped the field, winning the Two-Gun Overall with a 0.2804 Grand Agg. Gene Bukys (0.2863) was second, and Bob Scarbrough Jr. (0.2881) finished third. In fourth place overall was South African Roland Thomsen (0.2919), while New Zealander Peter Haxell (0.2940) finished fifth. The top five for each of the LV and HV yardages are listed below.
Complete WBC 2013 Results have been posted on the Australian Benchrest Bulletin website. Scroll down and look for the blue “Latest Stuff” tab on the lower left. There you’ll find links for WBC 2013 events under the “Latest Results” header.
Light Varmint Grand Agg
1. Gene Bukys (USA-A) .2796
2. Todd Tyler (USA-C) .2817
3. Roland Thomsen (SA-A) .2952
4. Peter Haxell (NZ-A) .2971
5. Jan Hemmes (SA-A) .3024
If you have a digital camera or scanner, you can measure your shot groups easily with the FREE On-Target software (read our On-Target Software Review). However, not many people want to lug a laptop to the range just to measure their groups. Most folks measure their groups at the range with a small ruler, or a set of calipers. That works pretty well, but there is a much more precise method.
Neil Jones Target Measure Tool
Neil Jones makes a specialized group-measuring tool that fits a special optical viewing lens and shot-size template to your precision calipers. There are two main parts to the tool. The first part, attached to the fixed caliper jaw, is a block holding a spring-loaded plunger with a sharp point (used to anchor the tool). The second part is clamped to the sliding jaw assembly. This viewing unit has a magnifying lens plus a plexiglass plate with scribed centerline and circular reticles for various calibers (.224, 6mm, 30 cal). This device works with both conventional and digital calipers. You’ll find the Jones Target Measure Tool used by the official target measurers at many big benchrest matches. Jones claims that his tool “will speed up the measuring process and be more accurate than other methods.” The Neil Jones Target Measure Tool costs $80.00, which includes magnifier, but not calipers. It comes in two versions, one for dial calipers, the other for digital calipers. Neil Jones also sells his tool complete with dial calipers for $120.00, or with digital calipers for $150.00. It is probably cheaper to source your own calipers.
To order the Jones Tool, visit Neiljones.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone (814) 763-2769.