September 25th, 2018

IBS 1000-Yard Benchrest Nationals Featured on Shooting USA

IBS 1000 yard nationals national championship Whitehorse West Virginia

Get a video view of 1000-yard Benchrest competition tomorrow on Shooting USA television. This week’s Wednesday episode of Shooting USA features the 2017 IBS 1000-Yard National Championship held at the Whitehorse Shooting Center in Peeltree, West Virginia. This Shooting USA episode takes you to the Whitehorse 1K Range in September 2017. You can see the action on the firing line and the Shooting USA team also interviews many competitors. Watch this episode on the Outdoor Channel at these times: 9:00 PM Eastern and Pacific; 8:00 PM Central.

IBS 1000 yard nationals national championship Whitehorse West Virginia

If you want to learn about the 1000-yard Benchrest game, definitely tune in to Shooting USA on September 26, 2018 (tomorrow) to watch last year’s IBS action. There were nearly 120 shooters competing (118 in Light Gun, 107 in Heavy Gun).

IBS 1000 yard nationals national championship Whitehorse West Virginia

To learn more about on this event, read our detailed 2017 IBS 1K Nationals Match Report. At the 2017 Nationals, conditions were challenging to say the least, with rain storms, spiraling winds, and fog. In fact, rain and fog on Saturday (with cancelled relays) caused the Nationals to be extended by one day through Monday. What’s more, of the 107 shooters listed in the Two-Gun Overall results who actually shot both guns, there were dozens of DQs. (Yes, the wind was very tricky at this year’s Nationals.)

Read 2017 IBS 1000-Yard Nationals Match Report HERE »

Top Guns at the 2017 IBS 1000-Yard Nationals were Edward Kenzakoski (Two-Gun Overall Champion), Mike Gaizauskas (Light Gun Overall, plus LG Score Agg), and Mike Brennan (Heavy Gun Overall, plus HG Score Agg). Group Agg winners were Richard Schatz for LG, and Charlie Lentz for Heavy. Two ladies also deserve mention. Sally Bauer shot the smallest group of the match, a 1.923″ 5-shot group in LG — that’s 0.184 MOA! Ruth Edwards drilled a 2.104″, also mighty impressive. Here’s Sally below with her very patriotic Heavy Gun…

IBS Heavy Gun Sally Bauer benchrest HG 1000 yard

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September 16th, 2018

Wave Pattern POI — How Barrel Tuners Alter Point of Impact

Tuner Pascal Bukys Point of Impact shift test 6 PPC benchrest

6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine waveHave a good look at the photos below — this may be one of the most noteworthy target strings we’ve ever published. What you can see is the effect of barrel tuner position on point of impact (POI). You can clearly see that the tuner position alters the up/down POI location in a predictable fashion.

This remarkable 15-shot sequence was shot by French benchrester Pascal Fischbach using his 6 PPC fitted with a CG (Carlito Gonzales) action and a Bukys barrel tuner.

Pascal reports: “After [bullet] seating and load validation, I put the Bukys tuner on, screwing it out 10 turns. According to Carlito, the CG’s super stiff action-to-barrel fit gives a faster vibration modulus that is detrimental below 10 turns [position of the tuner].” Pascal’s procedure was to screw out the tuner 1/4 turn progressively from one shot to the next. He shot one bullet at each tuner position, with a total of 15 shots.

15-Shot Sequence with Tuner Changes
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave
CLICK HERE to SEE Large Version of Complete Test Strip (All 15 shots in a row).

Left Half of Target Strip (shots with 1/4 rotation change of tuner in sequence)
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

Right Half of Target Strip (shots with 1/4 rotation change of tuner in sequence)
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

Pascal observed: “Note the point of impact displacement [from shot to shot] tracks clearly along a sinusoide (sine wave curve).” This is indeed notable and significant! This shows how the tuner’s ability to change barrel harmonics can alter the position of the muzzle as each bullet exits, resulting in a higher or lower POI. Pascal sent his results to Carlito Gonzales in Argentina for analysis.

Pascal poses this question to readers: “Guess which three positions Carlito recommends to try?”

Editor’s Note: While this target sequence clearly shows how tuner position can alter bullet point of impact, this, by itself, does not tell us which tuner position(s) are best for accuracy. That will require further multi-shot group testing, involving careful experimentation with tuner position (and powder charge weights). But for those folks who doubt that a tuner can make a difference on a short, fat barrel, just take another look at the photos. The up/down changes are undeniable, and noteworthy in the wave pattern they follow.

Shooting Set-up and Test Conditions:
Pascal did this test at an outdoor range under very good conditions: “This was shot at my home range, outdoors, with four Smiley flag. The range is a narrow cut in high woods. Wind was consistent with readable flags. I started testing the tuner from 10 turns out and on to 15. I recently… found a sweet spot very close to the rearmost position of the tuner, so the rigidity provided by this super long tenon (just short of 70mm) was not a reason to overlook the recommended Bukys tuning procedure.”

6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
September 5th, 2018

TECH Tip — 30 BR Case-Forming Explained by Experts

30BR 30 BR case forming benchrest randy robinette al nyhus

30BR 30 BR case formingThe 30BR is an amazing little cartridge. However, 30BR shooters do have to neck-up 6mmBR brass and then deal with some issues that can arise from the expansion process. One of our Forum members was concerned about the donut that can form at the new (expanded) neck-shoulder junction. Respected bullet-maker Randy Robinett offers tips on how to deal with the “dreaded donut”.

The Forum member was concerned about thinning the brass if he turned his 30BR necks after expansion: “Everything I have found on 30BR case-forming says to simply turn off the bulge at the base of the neck caused by the old 6BR shoulder. I expanded my first case and measured the neck at 0.329″ except on the donut, where it measures 0.335″. Looking inside the case… reveals a groove inside the case under the donut. Now, it is a fact that when I turn that neck and remove the donut, the groove is still going to be there on the inside? That means there is now a thin-spot ring at the base of the neck that is .005 thinner than the rest of the neck. Has anyone experienced a neck cracking on this ring?”

Randy Robinett, who runs BIB Bullet Co., is one of the “founding fathers” of the 30BR who help prove and popularize the 30 BR for benchrest score shooting. Randy offers this advice on 30BR case-forming:

While the thinner neck-base was one of our original concerns, unless one cuts too deeply INTO the shoulder, it is not a problem. For my original 30BR chamber, thirty (30) cases were used to fire 6,400 rounds through the barrel. The cases were never annealed, yet there were ZERO case failures, neck separations, or splits. The case-necks were turned for a loaded-round neck diameter of .328″, and, from the beginning, sized with a .324″ neck-bushing.

The best method for avoiding the ‘bulge’ is to fire-form prior to neck-turning (several methods are successfully employed). Cutting too deeply into the shoulder can result in case-neck separations. I have witnessed this, but, with several barrels and thousands to shots fired, have not [personally] experienced it. The last registered BR event fired using that original barrel produced a 500-27x score and a second-place finish. [That’s] not bad for 6K plus shots, at something over 200 firings per case.

Check out the 30BR Cartridge Guide on AccurateShooter.com
You’ll find more information on 30BR Case-forming in our 30 BR Cartridge Guide. Here’s a short excerpt from that page — some tips provided by benchrest for score and HBR shooter Al Nyhus:

30BR Case-Forming Procedure by Al Nyhus
The 30BR cartridge is formed by necking-up 6BR or 7BR brass. You can do this in multiple stages or in one pass. You can use either an expander mandrel (like Joe Entrekin does), or a tapered button in a regular dies. Personally, I use a Redding tapered expander button, part number 16307. This expands the necks from 6mm to .30 cal in one pass. It works well as long as you lube the mandrel and the inside of the necks. I’ve also used the Sinclair expander body with a succession of larger mandrels, but this is a lot more work and the necks stay straighter with the Redding tapered button. This button can be used in any Redding die that has a large enough inside diameter to accept the BR case without any case-to-die contact.

Don’t be concerned about how straight the necks are before firing them the first time. When you whap them with around 50,000 psi, they will straighten out just fine! I recommend not seating the bullets into the lands for the first firing, provided there is an adequate light crush-fit of the case in the chamber. The Lapua cases will shorten from approx. 1.550″ to around 1.520″ after being necked up to 30-caliber I trim to 1.500″ with the (suggested) 1.520 length chambers. I don’t deburr the flash holes or uniform the primer pockets until after the first firing. I use a Ron Hoehn flash hole deburring tool that indexes on the primer pocket, not through the case mouth. — Al Nyhus

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
August 29th, 2018

Legends of Accuracy — The Secrets of the Houston Warehouse

From the late ’70s through 1983, a huge, concrete-walled warehouse in Houston was used for benchrest testing. Virgil King and Bob Fisher set up a bullet-catching backstop at the end of a 30-yard-wide, 325-yard-long fire lane that remained unobstructed even when the warehouse was in use. This allowed accuracy tests in virtually perfect “no wind” conditions. Over a six-year period, about 30 shooters were invited to test their rifles. The results were amazing, with numerous “zero groups” being shot in the facility. Many of the lessons learned in the legendary Houston Warehouse still help benchresters achieve better accuracy today.

Dave Scott wrote a superb article, the Secrets of the Houston Warehouse which appeared in a special issue of Precision Shooting Magazine. That issue has long been sold out, but, thankfully, Secrets of the Houston Warehouse is now on the web: CLICK HERE to READ Secrets of the Houston Warehouse.

Houston WarehouseDave Scott explains why the Warehouse was so unique:

“Over a period of six years, the levels of accuracy achieved in the Houston Warehouse went beyond what many precision shooters thought possible for lightweight rifles shot from sandbags and aimed shot-to-shot by human eye. For the first time, a handful of gifted, serious experimenters — armed with the very best performing rifles (with notable exceptions) — could boldly venture into the final frontiers of rifle accuracy, a journey made possible by eliminating the baffling uncertainties of conditions arising from wind and mirage. Under these steel skies, a shooter could, without question, confirm the absolute limits of accuracy of his rifle, or isolate the source of a problem. In the flawlessly stable containment of the Houston Warehouse … a very few exceptional rifles would display the real stuff, drilling repeated groups measuring well below the unbelievably tiny .100″ barrier. The bulk of rifles, however, embarrassed their owners.”

Scott’s article also reveals some interesting technical points: “One thing that IS important is that the bullet be precisely seated against the lands. T.J. Jackson reported this fact in the May 1987 issue of Precision Shooting. In a letter to the Editor, T.J. wrote, ‘…in all our testing in that Houston warehouse… and the dozens and dozens of groups that Virgil King shot in there ‘in the zeroes’… he NEVER fired a single official screamer group when he was ‘jumping’ bullets. All his best groups were always seated into the lands, or at the very least… touching the lands. Virgil said his practice was to seat the bullets so the engraving was half as long as the width of the lands. He noticed an interesting phenomenon with rifles that could really shoot: if the bullets were seated a little short and the powder charge was a bit on the light side, the groups formed vertically. As he seated the bullets farther out and increased the powder charge, the groups finally became horizontal. If he went still farther, the groups formed big globs. He said the trick is to find the midway point between vertical and horizontal. That point should be a small hole.”

You should definitely read the complete article, as it provides many more fascinating insights, including shooting technique, barrel cleaning, neck-turning, and case prep.

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August 23rd, 2018

Insanely Small Groups — World Champion Reveals His Techniques

200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia tiny group 6 PPC

With the recent IBS 100/200 Group Nationals in Pennsylvania, we thought our readers might like to learn more about the short-range Benchrest game. Seeing the tiny groups 6 PPC aces produce, it’s easy to think the precision is all about the equipment. But there is a lot more involved. A talented human still has to watch the flags, run the gun properly, and tune his loads for the conditions. Here are some tips from one of the world’s best benchresters, Charles Huckeba.

Texan Charles Huckeba was the top individual shooter at the 2013 World Benchrest Championships (WBC) held near Sydney Australia in October 2013. In this video, 2013 WBC Two-Gun Overall winner Charles shoots a 1/8th MOA group at 200 yards — “a little bitty dot” as a fellow Team USA shooter observes. That’s impressive. If you can describe Huckeba’s style in a nutshell it would be “smooth, consistent, and rapid but not hurried”.

Charles also employed some unusual hardware. In the video, take a close look at the joystick on the Farley Coaxial front rest. There’s no knob at the end. In its place is a small, wood ammo caddy. Charles removed the standard knob from the handle of his Farley rest and replaced it with a home-made wood block that holds cartridges for the record target. The 10.5-lb Light Varmint rifle is chambered in 6PPC with a BAT Machine Action and a composite wood and carbon-fiber stock.

Watch Charles Huckeba Shoot 1/8 MOA, 200-yard group at World Benchrest Championships

Here is the actual 200-yard, 5-shot group Charles shot in the video. Photo (by Stuart Elliot) taken through the lens of Huckeba’s 50X March scope (reticle has 1/16th MOA Dot).
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia

Analyzing the Fine Points — What Makes Huckeba So Good

Short-range benchrest shooter Boyd Allen saw some interesting things in Huckeba’s WBC performance, as captured on video. Boyd noticed Huckeba’s smooth gun-handling and efficient loading. But Boyd also spied some interesting equipment, including an innovative joystick “handle-caddy”.

1. Low Friction Bags — When Huckeba slid his rifle, there was very little apparent friction. The front bag features the new 3M material (ScotchLite) on the sliding surfaces. The rear Protektor bag has ears of the same low-friction material.

2. Pause Before Chambering — While he was watching the flags and deciding when to start firing, Charles kept his first round in the action, but out of the barrel’s chamber, probably so as not to heat the cartridge and change the round’s point of impact.

Charles Huckeba PPC World Benchrest joystick handle3. Ammo Caddy on Joystick Arm – Charles shoots a Right Bolt/Left Port action, so he pulls his rounds with his left hand. Note that Huckeba’s record rounds rest in a small, wood ammo caddy attached to the end of the joystick shaft. Look carefully, you’ll see the wood ammo block in place of the normal black ball at the end of the joystick. That allows Charles to pull shots with the absolute minimum of hand movement. Ingenious! Huckeba is very fast, with a great economy of motion. I believe that because his ammo was literally at hand, Charles was better able to keep his focus on aiming and the flags.

4. Smooth-Cycling BAT Action — Note how smoothly Huckeba’s action operates. When Charles lifts the bolt handle (to extract a round and cock the firing pin), this does not disturb the rifle. Likewise, as he closes the bolt, the gun doesn’t wobble. The smooth action allows Charles to hold point of aim even when shooting relatively quickly. Huckeba’s BAT action is chrome-moly steel. Some shooters believe this metal makes for a smoother action than stainless steel or aluminum.

5. Long-Wheelbase Stock — The wood and carbon fiber stock is light, long, and stiff. Yet, importantly, the stock is also well-damped. The longer-than-average stock length (with extended forearm) seems to help the gun track well without jumping or rocking. The longer forearm allows a longer “wheelbase”, effectively shifting the weight distribution rearward (less weight on the front, more weight on the rear). This places a greater share of the gun’s weight on the rear bag, as compared to a more conventional benchrest stock. Huckeba’s stock, built by Bob Scoville, is at the cutting edge of short-range benchrest design. Its light-weight balsa wood and carbon fiber construction provides a combination of stiffness and vibration damping that allows its relatively long fore-end to be fully utilized to increase the weight on the rear bag (always an issue with 10.5-pound rifles).

To learn more about this benchrest stock design, read the comments by stock-builder Bob Scoville in our PPC with Pedigree story in our Gun of the Week Archives. Bob observed:

“There is a lot more to the structure of the stocks than meets the eye. The carbon fiber skin with which I cover the stocks creates a light, tough exterior surface. However, this contributes very little to the overall performance of the stocks. The real strength and stiffness is the result of an internal beam utilizing balsa core/carbon fiber technology.

This type construction can be found in aircraft, race cars, powerboats, and sailboats. It is interesting to note, balsa has the highest strength to weight ratio of all woods and carbon fiber is one of the lowest stretch (modulus of elasticity) relative to weight of all materials. The marriage of these two materials is common in the high-performance world. Additionally, balsa is used commercially for vibration dampening and sound reduction.”

Video find by Boyd Allen. Video by Stuart Elliot of BRT Shooters Supply, Brisbane, Australia.
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August 14th, 2018

Blast from the Past — Hitting a Quarter at 800 Yards

t-dome birdog 6 BRDX diamondback Tennessee Junebug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

t-dome birdog 6 BRDX diamondback Tennessee Junebug

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

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

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
August 3rd, 2018

Can We Predict Useful Barrel Life? Insights from Dan Lilja

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Barrel-maker Dan Lilja’s website has an excellent FAQ page that contains a wealth of useful information. On the Lilja FAQ Page as you’ll find informed answers to many commonly-asked questions. For example, Dan’s FAQ addresses the question of barrel life. Dan looks at factors that affect barrel longevity, and provides some predictions for barrel life, based on caliber, chambering, and intended use.

NOTE: This article was very well-received when it was first published last year. We are reprising it for the benefit of readers who missed it the first time.

Dan cautions that “Predicting barrel life is a complicated, highly variable subject — there is not a simple answer. Signs of accurate barrel life on the wane are increased copper fouling, lengthened throat depth, and decreased accuracy.” Dan also notes that barrels can wear prematurely from heat: “Any fast varmint-type cartridge can burn out a barrel in just a few hundred rounds if those rounds are shot one after another without letting the barrel cool between groups.”

Q. What Barrel Life, in number of rounds fired, can I expect from my new barrel?

A: That is a good question, asked often by our customers. But again there is not a simple answer. In my opinion there are two distinct types of barrel life. Accurate barrel life is probably the type most of us are referencing when we ask the question. But there is also absolute barrel life too. That is the point where a barrel will no longer stabilize a bullet and accuracy is wild. The benchrest shooter and to a lesser extent other target shooters are looking at accurate barrel life only when asking this question. To a benchrest shooter firing in matches where group size is the only measure of precision, accuracy is everything. But to a score shooter firing at a target, or bull, that is larger than the potential group size of the rifle, it is less important. And to the varmint hunter shooting prairie dog-size animals, the difference between a .25 MOA rifle or one that has dropped in accuracy to .5 MOA may not be noticeable in the field.

The big enemy to barrel life is heat. A barrel looses most of its accuracy due to erosion of the throat area of the barrel. Although wear on the crown from cleaning can cause problems too. The throat erosion is accelerated by heat. Any fast varmint-type cartridge can burn out a barrel in just a few hundred rounds if those rounds are shot one after another without letting the barrel cool between groups. A cartridge burning less powder will last longer or increasing the bore size for a given powder volume helps too. For example a .243 Winchester and a .308 Winchester both are based on the same case but the .308 will last longer because it has a larger bore.

And stainless steel barrels will last longer than chrome-moly barrels. This is due to the ability of stainless steel to resist heat erosion better than the chrome-moly steel.

Barrel Life Guidelines by Caliber and Cartridge Type
As a very rough rule of thumb I would say that with cartridges of .222 Remington size you could expect an accurate barrel life of 3000-4000 rounds. And varmint-type accuracy should be quite a bit longer than this.

For medium-size cartridges, such as the .308 Winchester, 7×57 and even the 25-06, 2000-3000 rounds of accurate life is reasonable.

Hot .224 caliber-type cartridges will not do as well, and 1000-2500 rounds is to be expected.

Bigger magnum hunting-type rounds will shoot from 1500-3000 accurate rounds. But the bigger 30-378 Weatherby types won’t do as well, being closer to the 1500-round figure.

These numbers are based on the use of stainless steel barrels. For chrome-moly barrels I would reduce these by roughly 20%.

The .17 and .50 calibers are rules unto themselves and I’m pressed to predict a figure.

The best life can be expected from the 22 long rifle (.22 LR) barrels with 5000-10,000 accurate rounds to be expected. We have in our shop one our drop-in Anschutz barrels that has 200,000 rounds through it and the shooter, a competitive small-bore shooter reported that it had just quit shooting.

Remember that predicting barrel life is a complicated, highly variable subject. You are the best judge of this with your particular barrel. Signs of accurate barrel life on the wane are increased copper fouling, lengthened throat depth, and decreased accuracy.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Benchrest Barrel Life — You May Be Surprised
I thought it might be interesting to point out a few exceptional Aggregates that I’ve fired with 6PPC benchrest rifles with barrels that had thousands of rounds through them. I know benchrest shooters that would never fire barrels with over 1500 shots fired in them in registered benchrest matches.

I fired my smallest 100-yard 5-shot Aggregate ever in 1992 at a registered benchrest match in Lewiston, Idaho. It was a .1558″ aggregate fired in the Heavy Varmint class. And that barrel had about 2100 rounds through it at the time.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Another good aggregate was fired at the 1997 NBRSA Nationals in Phoenix, Arizona during the 200-yard Light Varmint event. I placed second at this yardage with a 6PPC barrel that had over 2700 rounds through it at the time. I retired this barrel after that match because it had started to copper-foul quite a bit. But accuracy was still good.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

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July 28th, 2018

Williamsport World Open 1000-Yard Championship

Williamsport World Open original Pennsylvania 1000 yard benchrest club

Held July 14-15 at the Original Pennsylvania 1000-Yard Benchrest Club, the 2018 Williamsport World Open attracted a large field, with over 130 competitors. During the two-day event, shooters competed in a four-match Aggregate comprised of one Light Gun Match and one Heavy Gun Match on Saturday followed by LG and HG matches on Sunday. The conditions this year were switchy at best, with light rain Sunday morning preceding the start, and typical Williamsport winds. CLICK HERE for complete results.

Check out this superb 100-8X group. Could your rifle do that at 1000 yards?
Williamsport World Open original Pennsylvania 1000 yard benchrest club

Pit Duty at Williamsport.
Williamsport World Open original Pennsylvania 1000 yard benchrest club

Kieffer Dominates Match, Winning Both Classes and Overall
David Kieffer dominated the 2018 World Open. This talented shooter earned multiple titles: Two-Gun Grand Champion, Light Gun Grand Champion, and Heavy Gun Grand Champion. David had a steller performance with a 5.433 Two-Gun Group Size Aggregate. Shooting a 6.5×47 Lapua rig smithed by Mark King, Kieffer won the Two-Gun Overall with 10 Rank points (lower is better). Second in Two-Gun was Charlie Lentz with 47 Rank Points. Third was Charles Loebsack with 52 points. There was a turn-out this year of 130 entries in Light Gun Class (17-lb limit, 10 shots per target) class and 130 shooters in Heavy Gun Class (Unlimited weight, 10 shots per target).

Winning Equipment: Dave Kieffer’s winning rifle was a Mark King built 6.5×47 Lapua using H4350 and 140 grain Berger bullets. This featured a BAT action, Krieger barrel, and Nightforce action.

Williamsport World Open original Pennsylvania 1000 yard benchrest club

Williamsport World Open original Pennsylvania 1000 yard benchrest club

At Willliamsport, the range drops away beyond the firing line, and then rises up again for the target line and pits. There is even a pond down range. This makes for a very scenic view, but also challenging conditions. The Williamsport range is known for tricky winds, with switches and let-ups. There are several flags between the firing line and the 1000-yard targets. It is common to see them pointing in different directions, adding to the challenge.

Williamsport World Open original Pennsylvania 1000 yard benchrest club

New Benches at Williamsport 1000-Yard Range
The firing line for the 1000-yard range went through a complete renovation before the 2018 season. Added were 15 new masonry benches with block bases and concrete/plywood tops. The structure over the benches is completely new as is the concrete pad underneath the benches.

Williamsport World Open original Pennsylvania 1000 yard benchrest club

Permalink Competition 3 Comments »
June 6th, 2018

Cool Suhl — Rimfire Benchrest Rig with Home-Built Stock

Suhl 150 IR 50/50 cedar stock

Forum member Evan K. (aka “Katokoch”) has crafted a nice rimfire benchrest rig using a Suhl action fitted into a handsome home-built cedar and carbon fiber stock. This shows what a skilled hobbyist wood-worker can create in his garage. Evan tells us: “Here is my Suhl 150-1 with a factory 1:19″ twist barrel, Leupold 36X scope, Harrell tuner, and my handmade cedar/carbon fiber stock. I started working on the laminate blank a couple years ago and finally finished it earlier this year. I’ve been using it in my IR 50/50 matches this summer. I haven’t shot a 250 with it yet but I know the rifle is very capable — as usual, I am the weak link!”

Suhl 150 IR 50/50 cedar stock

We think Evan did a great job on his stock, though he has limited stock-building experience. Evan explained: “The stock is my first attempt at making a very lightweight laminate and also gluing both vertical and horizontal seams in a blank. The wood is Spanish and Red Cedar and I made the trigger guard and buttplate with carbon fiber too (great use for small scrap pieces). The finish is hand-rubbed spar urethane and the action is semi-glued-in with Devcon 10110 and stainless pillars.”

Suhl 150 IR 50/50 cedar stock

USRA-IR50/50 is a popular .22 rimfire benchrest discipline with three (3) classes: 13.5 lb., 10.5 lb., and 7.5 lb. (Sporter). The matches are shot at 50 yards and 50 meters.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
May 12th, 2018

Six Tips for Better Results at Local Fun Shooting Matches

tip advice training prep club varmint groundhog match

Every summer weekend, there are probably 400 or more club “fun matches” conducted around the country. One of the good things about these club shoots is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to have fun. But we’ve seen that many club shooters handicap themselves with a few common equipment oversights or lack of attention to detail while reloading. Here are SIX TIPS that can help you avoid these common mistakes, and build more accurate ammo for your club matches.

Benchrest rear bag1. Align Front Rest and Rear Bags. We see many shooters whose rear bag is angled left or right relative to the bore axis. This can happen when you rush your set-up. But even if you set the gun up carefully, the rear bag can twist due to recoil or the way your arm contacts the bag. After every shot, make sure your rear bag is aligned properly (this is especially important for bag squeezers who may actually pull the bag out of alignment as they squeeze).

Forum member ArtB adds: “To align my front rest and rear bag with the target, I use an old golf club shaft. I run it from my front rest stop through a line that crosses over my speed screw and into the slot between the two ears. I stand behind that set-up and make sure I see a straight line pointing at the target. I also tape a spot on the  golf shaft that indicates how far the back end of the rear bag should be placed from the front rest stop. If you don’t have a golf shaft, use a wood dowel.

2. Avoid Contact Interference. We see three common kinds of contact or mechanical interference that can really hurt accuracy. First, if your stock has front and/or rear sling swivels make sure these do NOT contact the front or rear bags at any point of the gun’s travel. When a sling swivel digs into the front bag that can cause a shot to pop high or low. To avoid this, reposition the rifle so the swivels don’t contact the bags or simply remove the swivels before your match. Second, watch out for the rear of the stock grip area. Make sure this is not resting on the bag as you fire and that it can’t come back to contact the bag during recoil. That lip or edge at the bottom of the grip can cause problems when it contacts the rear bag. Third, watch out for the stud or arm on the front rest that limits forward stock travel. With some rests this is high enough that it can actually contact the barrel. We encountered one shooter recently who was complaining about “vertical flyers” during his match. It turns out his barrel was actually hitting the front stop! With most front rests you can either lower the stop or twist the arm to the left or right so it won’t contact the barrel.

3. Weigh Your Charges — Every One. This may sound obvious, but many folks still rely on a powder measure. Yes we know that most short-range BR shooters throw their charges without weighing, but if you’re going to pre-load for a club match there is no reason NOT to weigh your charges. You may be surprised at how inconsistent your powder measure actually is. One of our testers was recently throwing H4198 charges from a Harrell’s measure for his 30BR. Each charge was then weighed twice with a Denver Instrument lab scale. Our tester found that thrown charges varied by up to 0.7 grains! And that’s with a premium measure.

4. Measure Your Loaded Ammo — After Bullet Seating. Even if you’ve checked your brass and bullets prior to assembling your ammo, we recommend that you weigh your loaded rounds and measure them from base of case to bullet ogive using a comparator. If you find a round that is “way off” in weight or more than .005″ off your intended base to ogive length, set it aside and use that round for a fouler. (Note: if the weight is off by more than 6 or 7 grains you may want to disassemble the round and check your powder charge.) With premium, pre-sorted bullets, we’ve found that we can keep 95% of loaded rounds within a range of .002″, measuring from base (of case) to ogive. Now, with some lots of bullets, you just can’t keep things within .002″, but you should still measure each loaded match round to ensure you don’t have some cases that are way too short or way too long.

Scope Ring5. Check Your Fasteners. Before a match you need to double-check your scope rings or iron sight mounts to ensure everything is tight. Likewise, you should check the tension on the screws/bolts that hold the action in place. Even on a low-recoiling rimfire rifle, action screws or scope rings can come loose during normal firing.

6. Make a Checklist and Pack the Night Before. Ever drive 50 miles to a match then discover you have the wrong ammo or that you forgot your bolt? Well, mistakes like that happen to the best of us. You can avoid these oversights (and reduce stress at matches) by making a checklist of all the stuff you need. Organize your firearms, range kit, ammo box, and shooting accessories the night before the match. And, like a good Boy Scout, “be prepared”. Bring a jacket and hat if it might be cold. If you have windflags, bring them (even if you’re not sure the rules allow them). Bring spare batteries, and it’s wise to bring a spare rifle and ammo for it. If you have just one gun, a simple mechanical breakdown (such as a broken firing pin) can ruin your whole weekend.

Permalink Competition, Tech Tip No Comments »
April 30th, 2018

Amazing Accuracy — Sauter Shoots 0.282″ Group at 600 Yards

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gun
World Record group shot by Bart Sauter in IBS 600-yard Match on April 21, 2018 in Memphis, TN.

0.282 inches, 0.04 MOA… at 600 Yards. Simply amazing…

What can we say… this 0.282″ 5-shot group 600 yards represents one of the most impressive feats of rifle accuracy in history. Shot in competition, this five-shot group at 600 yards easily fits inside a dime with plenty of room to spare!

Bullet-maker Bart Sauter recently shot this 0.282″ five-shot group at a 600-yard IBS match. Yep, you read that right — 0.282″ at 600. Most shooters would be happy with that group at 100 yards. At 200 it would be remarkable. But at 600 — it is truly amazing. Readers, 0.282″ at 600 works out to 0.04 Minutes of Angle (MOA). Not point four MOA, but point ZERO four MOA, and it was all in the TEN RING for a 50 score. Even measured outside edge to outside edge, that group is just 0.525″, so Bart’s group will easily fit inside a dime (0.705″ diameter).

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gun

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gun

Sauter’s amazing 0.282″ 50 group smashes the existing IBS Heavy Gun 600-yard record, a 0.404″ shot by John Lewis way back in 2008. It also happens to beat the existing IBS Light Gun group record — the stunning 0.336″ by Rodney Wagner in 2013. (A group many said could never be bettered). Bart’s group will be a new score record too — many 50s have been shot before, but the group size is the tie-breaker, and no one has ever shot smaller at 600 than Bart.

Sauter Smashes IBS World Records with Stunning 600-Yard Group

Report by Boyd Allen, IBS Vice President
On the 21st of April, at the beautiful Memphis Sport Shooting Assn. 600-yard benchrest range, bullet-maker Bart Sauter made history. About 11:00 O’clock with 12-15 MPH switchy winds, Bart Sauter waited for his chosen condition and then ran five shots into an incredible 0.282″ record-breaking group, with a score of 50. Shot in Heavy Gun Class (with his Light Gun), this combination of group and score bettered the previous HG group and score records with sufficient margins that their records in both categories are virtually guaranteed. The previous group record, a 0.404″, belonged to John Lewis and stood for ten years. The previous score record was 50/.513 (group size being the tie breaker) shot by B.J. Francis last year. Bart’s target was 50/.282.

CLICK HERE for More Photos | CLICK for Related Forum Thread

To put it in perspective Bart’s record has the equivalent angular dispersion (MOA) of a .04″ group shot at 100 yards. (Bart’s exact MOA is 0.0448) But consider that crosswinds have roughly 36 times more effect at 600 yards than at 100 yards (by the “Rule of the Square”).

Record-Setting Cartridge and Load with Bart’s Own 105gr Bullets
Bart shot a 6mmBR Ackley Improved (6BRA) wildcat cartridge with an 0.272″ neck. This is basically the 6mmBR Norma with a 40° shoulder. The neck is long like the parent cartridge, not short like a 6mm Dasher. Bart was shooting his own 105 grain, 13 Ogive VLD bullets. He calls this new bullet design “The Hammer” (for good reason). Bart’s Hammer 105s were loaded in Lapua brass with Hodgdon H4895 powder and Wolf primers. Bullet tips were trimmed on a Giraud bullet point trimmer, but not pointed. Bart feels that there is too much potential for damaging bullets during pointing, so he does not point his match bullets. Bart had his LabRadar chrono on the bench during the match. Velocities were 2970-2975 fps with single-digit ES.

Record-Setting Rifle — IBS Light Gun Shot in Heavy Gun Class
Bart’s rifle features a melonited BAT B action, with a 26″, 1:8″-twist, HV contour James Lederer barrel, fitted with a Mike Ezell tuner. The Jewell trigger was set to 1.5 ounces. On top was a March 40X in BAT rings. The initial build was by Mike Moses, with chambering by Dean Stroud, and final (glue and screw) bedding by Billy Stevens. The handsome wood JB 1000 stock (3″-wide fore-end) boasts an aluminum keel added by Alex Wheeler after the initial build. Bart said that it only took him 15 minutes to adjust the keel so that the cross hairs did not wiggle on the target when the gun was pulled back a full 2 ½ inches. Bart is definitely a fan of the adjustable keel.

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gun

Bench Equipment and How Rifle Was Shot
Bart used a Farley Coaxial front rest with soft leather Edgewood front back sprinkled with baby powder. In the back was a Protektor Model DR rear bag with Cordura ears and no added lube (not needed with aluminum keel) borrowed from Mike Moses. Bart shot the rifle lightly pinned between his shoulder and the fore-end stop. Interestingly, Bart kept his Labradar chronograph on his bench throughout the day, and recorded velocities during the record group: 2970-2975 fps with single-digit ES.

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gunReloading Equipment and Methods
After firing, cases are annealed with a Benchsource flame annealer. The inside of the case-necks are brushed with a nylon brush (no lubricant is used). Cases are sized with a custom Whidden Full-length sizing die (with bushings), and a cut-down Wilson micrometer seater that was originally made for the Dasher.

Bullets are seated with a 21st Century Shooting Hydro Bullet Seater, used with the Wilson cut-down Wilson seating die. This state-of-the-art arbor press boasts a hydraulic seating pressure cylinder and gauge. During seating, the force gauge reads about 27.

The powder charge is first thrown from a manual measure and usually trickled onto an A&D 120 FXi magnetic force restoration scale using an Adams automatic trickler, but this time Bart had to settle for his old RCBS trickler because the drive band of the Adams auto-trickler wore out.

Brass Prep — The chamber is a 0.272″ no turn. Bart lightly skims the necks AFTER the first firing just enough to achieve batch to batch uniformity in neck thickness. He uses a .266 bushing which gives him .003 neck tension.

Pre-Loading vs. Loading at the Range
I asked Bart if he pre-loads, or loads at the range. Unexpectedly his answer was “Both…depending”. Bart will identify his “in tune” velocity at his home range and then pre-load that load before the match. However, Bart takes all of his reloading equipment to the match, and if the conditions are such that his pre-loaded ammunition does not give the velocity he wants (as revealed by the LabRadar), he will load at the match.

Another test that he feels is important is to be able to pass a bullet all the way through the neck of his fired cases. Bart thinks that even if the shank of a seated bullet does not directly contact a doughnut, that doughnut can have a negative effect on accuracy.

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gun

Bart has brought short range benchrest know-how to 600-yard competition. He uses a full set of short range flags, shown above. At last year’s Nationals, at the same Memphis range, Bart was one of the only shooters with a set of flags. Now other 600-yard competitors are following suit.

Final Throughts — The 6BR Ackley vs. 6mm Dasher
Given its prominence, it is inevitable that comparisons be made between the 6mmBR Ackley Improved and the Dasher. On this subject Bart told me that, based on his experience, he is a “Dasher basher”. He believes the Dasher can be finicky, and has a tendency to flip shots out of the group. For Bart, the 6BR Ackley has been a lot easier to work with and more predictable.

Below is a test target Bart shot at 100 yards. The load yielding the smallest 3-shot group, measuring 0.092″, was the load Bart took to the match. As you can see, the positions of the various load adjustments did not change on the targets. Bart said that that is the kind of positive compensation that he likes to see.

While Bart does most of load testing at short range, he can shoot out to 500 yards near his home. He says his record-setting gun has produced multiple 500-yard, 3-shot groups in the “three-quarter inch range” when testing in calm conditions. That’s 0.14 MOA for three shots. At 500…

Bart Sauter IBS 600 yard record bullets benchrest 0.282 600-yard best ever

Congratulations to Bart on His Great Shooting
Finally, I would like to add my congratulations to Bart Sauter for this spectacular group. I also want to thank Bart for generously taking the time to share the details of his load, reloading methods, and rifle components. Bart has shown that applying some short-range benchrest techniques to the mid-range game can produce remarkable results.

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gun

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Reloading 10 Comments »
April 21st, 2018

Amazing Rimfire Accuracy — 0.93″ 5-Shot Group at 200 Yards

Australia Australian SSAA Rimfire smallbore .22 LR Fly Shoot 200 yard record group accuracy Canberra Australia Eley Tenex

Australian John Lavaring recently shot a group at 200 yards that would make most centerfire shooters proud. The five-shot group, with all shots in the center 10-ring, measured just 0.93 inches. That works out to 0.44 MOA at 200 — mighty impressive for a .22 LR. Recorded at a Rimfire Fly Shoot benchrest event in Canberra, Australia, this 200-yard target set two new Australian SSAA National records! John was using ELEY Tenex ammunition.

Congratulations to John Lavaring for a spectacular demonstration of how well a rimfire rig can shoot — even at 200 yards. We rarely shoot our .22 LR rifles past 50 meters. Maybe it’s time to start a Rimfire ELR series, with targets at 200 or even 300 yards. What do you think of the Rimfire ELR idea? Leave comments below.

Australia Australian SSAA Rimfire smallbore .22 LR Fly Shoot 200 yard record group accuracy Canberra Australia Eley TenexAnschutz 54 Benchrest Rig
The rifle was a Anchutz model 54 Match in a custom benchrest stock. John’s record-setting rig features a barrel block, which you can see forward of the action. Scope is a Bausch & Lomb BR model. We don’t have the round count on Lavaring’s barrel, but good rimfire benchrest rifles can often get 10,000 rounds (or more) of accurate life.

Rimfire Ballistics at 200 Yards
Some folks may be wondering about .22 LR ballistics at 200 yards. Well, with a 25-yard zero, the 200-yard drop for John’s 40gr Tenex ammo is 54 inches, assuming 0.145 G1 BC and 1085 fps muzzle velocity per ELEY website. And at 200 yards, a 10 mph crosswind will push that little bullet 15.3 inches! We’re told the winds were pretty tricky when Lavary shot his record group. This makes his achievement all the more impressive — we have to admire John’s wind-reading ability.

This ELEY ammo has proven to be exceptionally accurate. Here is a short video showing TEN rounds of Tenex shot from a machine rest with target at 50 meters.

Ten Rounds ELEY Tenex at 50 meters:

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 6 Comments »
April 19th, 2018

Complete 6.5×47 Benchrest Rifle Build — Start to Finish on Video

S&S Precision 6.5x47This video, produced for the folks at S&S Precision in Argyle, Texas, shows a full custom 6.5×47 bench rifle being crafted from start to finish. It is a fantastic video, one of the best precision rifles video you’ll find on YouTube. It shows every aspect of the job — action bedding, chambering, barrel-fitting, muzzle crowning, and stock finishing.

You’ll be amazed at the paint job on this rig — complete with flames and four playing cards: the 6, 5, 4, and 7 of spades. Everyone should take the time to watch this 13-minute video from start to finish, particularly if you are interested in stock painting or precision gunsmithing. And the video has a “happy ending”. This custom 6.5×47 proves to be a real tack-driver, shooting a 0.274″ three-shot group at 400 yards to win “small group” in its first fun match. NOTE: If you have a fast internet connection, we recommend you watch this video in 720p HD.

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April 17th, 2018

If You’re Not Using Wind Flags You’re Throwing Away Accuracy


Forest of Windflags at World Benchrest Championships in France in 2011

There’s a simple, inexpensive “miracle device” that can cut your groups in half. If you’re not using this device, you’re giving away accuracy. The “miracle device” to which we refer is a simple wind indicator aka “windflag”. Using windflags may actually improve your accuracy on target much more than weighing charges to the kernel, or spending your life savings on the “latest and greatest” hardware.

Remarkably, many shooters who spend $3000.00 or more on a precision rifle never bother to set up windflags, or even simple wood stakes with some ribbon to show the wind. Whether you’re a competitive shooter, a varminter, or someone who just likes to punch small groups, you should always take a set of windflags (or some kind of wind indicators) when you head to the range or the prairie dog fields. And yes, if you pay attention to your windflags, you can easily cut your group sizes in half. Here’s proof…

Miss a 5 mph Shift and You Could DOUBLE Your Group Size

The table below records the effect of a 5 mph crosswind at 100, 200, and 300 yards. You may be thinking, “well, I’d never miss a 5 mph let-off.” Consider this — if a gentle 2.5 mph breeze switches from 3 o’clock (R to L) to 9 o’clock (L to R), you’ve just missed a 5 mph net change. What will that do to your group? Look at the table to find out.

shooting wind flags
Values from Point Blank Ballistics software for 500′ elevation and 70° temperature.

Imagine you have a 6mm rifle that shoots half-MOA consistently in no-wind conditions. What happens if you miss a 5 mph shift (the equivalent of a full reversal of a 2.5 mph crosswind)? Well, if you’re shooting a 68gr flatbase bullet, your shot is going to move about 0.49″ at 100 yards, nearly doubling your group size. With a 105gr VLD, the bullet moves 0.28″ … not as much to be sure, but still enough to ruin a nice small group. What about an AR15, shooting 55-grainers at 3300 fps? Well, if you miss that same 5 mph shift, your low-BC bullet moves 0.68″. That pushes a half-inch group well past an inch. If you had a half-MOA capable AR, now it’s shooting worse than 1 MOA. And, as you might expect, the wind effects at 200 and 300 yards are even more dramatic. If you miss a 5 mph, full-value wind change, your 300-yard group could easily expand by 2.5″ or more.

If you’ve already invested in an accurate rifle with a good barrel, you are “throwing away” accuracy if you shoot without wind flags. You can spend a ton of money on fancy shooting accessories (such as expensive front rests and spotting scopes) but, dollar for dollar, nothing will potentially improve your shooting as much as a good set of windflags, used religiously.

Which Windflag to buy? Click Here for a list of Vendors selling windflags of various types.

Aussie Windflag photo courtesy BenchRestTraining.com (Stuart and Annie Elliot).

Permalink Shooting Skills, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
March 30th, 2018

Check Out the Legendary .009″ Group By Mac McMillan

Mac McMillan .009 benchrest record group nbrsa

Mac McMillan .009 benchrest record group nbrsa.009″ — The Record That Stood for 40 Years.
In 1973 Mac McMillan shot an amazing 100-yard, .009″ five-shot group in a benchrest match. The .009″ group was measured with a 60x microscope for verification. Mac McMillan shot the group using a handbuilt prototype McMillan rifle with an early McMillan stock.

Mac’s .009″ group was the “Holy Grail” of rifle accuracy. This .009″ record was considered by many to be unbreakable, a record that would “stand for all time”. Well, it took 40 years, but someone finally broke Mac’s record with an even smaller group. In 2013, Mike Stinnett shot a .0077″ five-shot group using a 30 Stewart, a .30 caliber wildcat based on the 6.5 Grendel. Stinnett’s .0077″ group now stands as the smallest 100-yard group ever shot in registered benchrest competition.*
Read About .0077″ group HERE.

Stinnett’s success doesn’t diminish the significance of Mac McMillan’s .009″ group in the history of benchrest competition. For four decades Mac’s group stood as the ultimate standard of rifle accuracy*. For those of you who have never seen Mac McMillan’s .009″ group, here it is, along with the NBRSA World Record certificate. The target now hangs in the McMillan Family Museum.

Mac McMillan .009 benchrest record group nbrsa

*Somebody else might claim a smaller group, but unless moving backers or electronic targets were used, it cannot be verified. Moving target backers are used at registered benchrest matches to ensure that five (5) shots are actually fired in each group. That eliminates any doubt.

Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills 10 Comments »
March 30th, 2018

TECH TIP: Use a Block to Maintain Front Bag Shape

John Loh Front Rest JJ Industries

front rest bag blockHere’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.

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
March 27th, 2018

How to Tame Vertical Stringing — Tips from Speedy

Speedy Vertical Stringing Tech tip

One of our Shooter’s Forum members recently built a new benchrest rifle. He was concerned because his groups were stringing vertically. This is a common problem that all precision shooters will face sooner or later. In addition to ammo inconsistencies, many other factors can cause vertical stringing. Accordingly, it’s important that you analyze your gun handling and bench set-up systematically.

Hall of Fame benchrest Shooter Speedy Gonzalez has written a helpful article that explains how to eliminate mechanical and gun-handling problems that cause vertical spread in your groups. Speedy’s article addresses both the human and the hardware factors that cause vertical. CLICK HERE to read the full article. Here are a few of Speedy’s tips:

Front Bag Tension — Vertical can happen if the front sand bag grips the fore-arm too tightly. If…the fore-arm feels like it is stuck in the bag, then the front bag’s grip is too tight. Your rifle should move in evenly and smoothly in the sand bags, not jerk or chatter when you pull the gun back by hand.

Sandbag Fill — A front sandbag that is too hard can induce vertical. Personally, I’ve have never had a rifle that will shoot consistently with a rock-hard front sandbag. It always causes vertical or other unexplained shots.

Stock Recoil — Free-recoil-style shooters should be sure their rifle hits their shoulder squarely on recoil, not on the edge of their shoulder or the side of their arm. If you shoulder your gun, you need to be consistent. You can get vertical if your bench technique is not the same every shot. One common problem is putting your shoulder against the stock for one shot and not the next.

Front Rest Wobble — You will get vertical if the top section of the front rest is loose. Unfortunately, a lot of rests have movement even when you tighten them as much as you can. This can cause unexplained shots.

Stock Flex — Some stocks are very flexible. This can cause vertical. There are ways to stiffen stocks, but sometimes replacement is the best answer.

Rifle Angle — If the gun is not level, but rather angles down at muzzle end, the rifle will recoil up at butt-end, causing vertical. You may need to try different rear bags to get the set-up right.

Last Shot Laziness — If the 5th shot is a regular problem, you may be guilty of what I call “wishing the last shot in”. This is a very common mistake. We just aim, pull the trigger, and do not worry about the wind flags. Note that in the photo below, the 5th shot was the highest in the group–probably because of fatigue or lack of concentration.

CLICK HERE for Speedy’s full article with more tips and advice.

Permalink Shooting Skills, Tech Tip No Comments »
March 18th, 2018

PacNor Barrels Can Shoot — 1.240″ Group at 500 Yards Is Proof

6BR 6mmBR Preacher PacNor

You don’t hear much about PacNor barrels in long-range competition, but FORUM member Wes J (aka P1ZombieKiller), proved that they can shoot “lights-out” in a rig assembled by a talented gunsmith. A few seasons back, Wes decided to upgrade a 6mmBR for mid-range benchrest and varmint matches. Wes tells us: “Since I restocked my 6BR … I have not had a chance to shoot it much since I have been playing the 100-200 game. I decided to take it out and do some playing at 500 yards. I have to give some serious props to my buddy (and fellow FORUM member) ‘PREACHER’ who did the chambering and barrel work for me. He can certainly make a gun shoot good. The barrel is a PacNor 1:8″ twist. My load was 105gr Berger VLDs pushed by 29.6 grains of Varget.” The five-round, 500-yard group shot by Wes J with his 6BR, measured just 1.240″, as measured by OnTarget software. Now that’s one accurate rig!

Five by Five — 5-Shot Group at 500 Yards, 1.240″, 0.237 MOA
6BR 6mmBR Preacher PacNor

This Editor knows something about the potential of a PacNor barrel. I have a 3-groove stainless PacNor SuperMatch on a Savage-actioned 6BR. This barrel shoots honest quarter-MOA in calm conditions, and it cleans up super-easy. The interior finish is so good, I’ve never had to brush the bore or use abrasives, and after 750 rounds it shoots as well as ever. I attribute the easy cleaning to the fact the lands in a PacNor 3-groove are wide and flat, so they are gentle on bullet jackets. I think accuracy is helped by the fact that my PacNor runs on the tight side (0.236 land dimension) with a good amount of choke. That works well with the 105gr Lapua Scenars and 103gr Spencers I like to shoot. You can read more about my rifle, nick-named the “Poor Man’s Hammer”, in this Feature Article from our archives. On one particularly calm day, in the hands of my friend (and ace trigger-puller) Joe Friedrich, the Poor Mans’ Hammer put 3 shots in under 0.200″ (measured center to center) at TWO Hundred yards. If you get a good one, PacNor three-grooves can definitely shoot.

OnTarget SoftwareTarget Measurement with OnTarget Software
We used OnTarget software to measure the 5-shot group in the target above. This easy-to-use software is very repeatable, once you get a feel for plotting the shots. The latest On Target v2.25 Precision Calculator is FREE for a 15-day evaluation period. If you like it (and you will, trust us) there’s a modest $11.99 registration fee to activate the program. In addition to group size (in inches), OnTarget plots distance to aiming point, and the software automatically calculates the group’s vertical height, horizontal dispersion, average to center (ATC), and group size in MOA.

You can run a measurement on a scanned target or a photo of a target. You’ll need some known reference to set the scale correctly. The target above had a one-inch grid so it was easy to set the scale. Once you’ve set the scale and selected bullet diameter and target distance, you simply position the small circles over each bullet hole and the OnTarget software calculates everything automatically, displaying the data in a data box superimposed over the target image. To learn more about OnTarget Software, read AccurateShooter.com’s OnTarget Product Review. This article covers all the basics as well as some advanced “power user” tips. NOTE: Since the review was written, On Target has updated the software, and the free version now has a time limit.

Permalink - Articles, Gear Review 1 Comment »
March 3rd, 2018

Thunder for Down-Under — Twin 30 BR Score Benchrest Rigs

30BR Hunter Class Rifle
This story, from our Gun of the Week Archives, offers a good intro to the 30 BR cartridge, which is still the leading chambering for short-range Score Benchrest.

What’s better than one custom-built 30 BR with gorgeous wood and top-shelf components? A matching pair of course. Just ask Australian shooter Greg Roche (“Caduceus” in our Forum). A decade ago, Greg spent two years living and working in the USA. While in America, he commissioned two matched custom rifles to bring back to Australia for Hunter Class BR matches. Though the look-alike rigs are both chambered in 30 BR, one is designed for the Australian “Traditional” centerfire Hunter Class (10-lb limit), while the other is purpose-built for the “Custom” centerfire Hunter Class (14-lb limit). The 10-lb Traditional rifle features a fully-functioning two-round magazine and a 6-power scope. In contrast the Custom Class rifle is a single-shot action, with a 45X Leupold scope. The Custom weighs 13.5 pounds so it can also be used in traditional Heavy Varmint Benchrest matches if desired.

30BR Hunter Class Rifle

Tale of Two Rifles
Story and Photos by Greg Roche (“Caduceus”)

The USA boasts some of the finest precision rifle-builders and Benchrest parts suppliers in the world. Before returning to Australia after two years in the States, I decided to have two special BR rifles built using American components and skilled labor. I wanted a matched pair–twin guns that would be as handsome as they were accurate. The heavier gun of the pair, the 13.5-lb Custom Class rifle, features top-of-the-line (but well-proven) technologies and components. With the 10.5-lb Traditional Class rifle, we had to develop new solutions to allow the 30 BR cartridge to feed from a functional two-round magazine. Here is my saga of how my twin 30 BRs were conceived and built, and how they have performed in competition.

30BR Hunter Class Rifle

BACKGROUND — The 30 BR for Score Competition

The 30 BR is a wildcat cartridge based on a necked-up version of the 6mmBR Norma case. It originated in U.S. Benchrest circles where it found its niche in Varmint For Score (VFS) matches. Unlike traditional Benchrest, where group size determines the winner, VFS matches are shot on a target with multiple, concentric-ringed bullseyes. Point total is based on “best edge” shot location (one shot per bull). In score competition, the 30 BR’s “supersized” .308-diameter hole offers an advantage over the 6mm hole created by a 6 PPC, the dominant group BR chambering.

30 BR cartridge

The starting point for loading the 30 BR wildcat is Lapua 6mmBR brass. These are necked up as a single-step operation using a .30 caliber tapered expander ball (or dedicated expander mandrel). This will leave a bulge in the neck, so the expanded case neck is normally turned to bring the thickness down to the correct dimension for the chamber. I turned these necks down to .010″ wall thickness using a Stiller neck-turning tool. It features an eccentric mandrel similar to the Nielson “Pumpkin”. Loaded rounds measure .328″ neck diameter. This gives minimum clearance in my .330″ neck chamber, so very little neck resizing is needed after firing. Cases are trimmed to 1.500″ prior to turning to ensure consistency since the Stiller tool indexes the length of cut off the case mouth. Other than that, cases are just chamfered, loaded and made ready to shoot. No special fire-forming is required.

17-Twist Barrels for Both Rifles
Texan gunsmith Mike Bryant chambered both barrels. Mike also polished both barrels to a high-gloss to match the receivers. In this game, barrels are consumables, much like powder and primers, so most owners wouldn’t bother to polish their barrels. However a 30 BR barrel can provide up to 5000 rounds of accurate life (unlike a 6PPC barrel which might be tossed after 800-1000 rounds.) So, these barrels are likely to be on the rifles for many seasons. Given the high-gloss finish of the Grizzly actions and the beauty of the Red Cedar stocks, it would have been an injustice to leave a dull finish on the barrels.

The chambers were both cut with the same reamer supplied by Dave Kiff of Pacific Tool and Gauge. Randy Robinett, one of the originators of the 30 BR wildcat, specified the reamer dimensions. Randy’s 118gr, 10-ogive custom BIB bullets and the 30 BR cartridge enjoy a winning track record in the USA. The 30 BR Robinette reamer has zero free-bore and a .330″ neck, and is optimized for the BIB 118s. The bullets perform best when seated far enough out to jam firmly into the rifling as the bolt is closed. The long ogive means the bullet’s bearing surface is very short.

Slow Twists for Maximum Accuracy
You may note the unusually slow twist rate of both barrels. In most .30-caliber chamberings, the barrel twist rate is 1:11 or 1:12 to stabilize 150gr to 200gr bullets. The 30 BR is optimized for 115gr to 118gr flat-base bullets and 1:17 provides sufficient stability at muzzle velocities around 2900-3000 fps. In competitive Benchrest, where every thousandth of an inch counts, over-stabilization of projectiles can hurt accuracy, so “just stable enough” is the goal; hence the 1:17 twist.

Case Forming, Case Prep, and Reloading Methods

Sinclair Neck Micrometer, 30 BR Neck Turning
A Sinclair case neck micrometer indicates neck thickness of 0.010″ after neck turning.

Sinclair Neck Micrometer, 30 BR Neck Turning30 BR dies are readily available from a number of manufacturers. I personally use Wilson neck and seating dies with a Sinclair Arbor press, but Redding and Forster both supply high-quality threaded dies for use in a conventional press. For under $100.00 US, custom full-length dies can be obtained from Hornady and CH Tool & Die by sending them reamer prints or a couple of fired cases. Harrell’s Precision offers “semi-custom” dies. Just send them some fired cases and they select a pre-made CNC-cut die that ideally fits your chamber. You can ask the Harrell brothers for a die that’s tighter at the shoulder or base, or otherwise customized to your preferences.

Load Development and Accuracy Testing
With cases formed and bullets selected, load development is simply a matter of choosing the right primer, powder and charge weight, and loading the most consistent ammunition possible. The Lapua BR cases use a small rifle primer. The choice here was Federal 205 Match primers vs. CCI BR4 Benchrest primers. Some shooters have also had success using CCI 450 Magnum primers but it is very unlikely the small case needs this much spark to light off regular extruded powders. In my case, I selected Federal primers because availability tends to be better in Australia.

The relatively large bore-to-capacity ratio of the 30 BR case means that fast burning powders are the order of the day. Once again, US experience suggests H4198 (the Hodgdon equivalent of ADI AR2207) is the choice of match winners. The fact that H4198/AR2207 is an Australian-made product is an added bonus. So, I loaded up test rounds with AR2207 from 32.5 grains to 35.0 grains in approximately 0.3 grain increments. All bullets were seated to jam +0.010″ into the lands. This places the bullet base about two-thirds of the way down the neck and well short of the neck-shoulder junction.

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February 28th, 2018

FREE Shooting Bench Plans — 14 Build Your Own Bench Designs

Free shooting bench plansFREE shooting Bench Plans
Do you like the Chris Byrne bench at left? For more details, CLICK HERE.

FREE Bench Plans on the Web

Building your own portable shooting bench is a great do-it-yourself project. You can build a sturdy bench for well under $100 in materials. Compare that to some deluxe factory-built benches which may cost $600.00 or more. You’ll find a wide assortment of home-built shooting bench designs (both portable and fixed) on the internet. Renovation Headquarters has links to FREE Plans and building instructions for fourteen (14) different shooting benches. There are all-wood shooting bench designs as well as benches that combine a wood top with a metal sub-frame or legs.

CLICK HERE for Shooting Bench FREE Plans Webpage »

Among Renovation HQ’s fourteen featured shooting benches, here are five designs we liked:

Larry Willis Shooting Bench

Sandwiched Plywood top, 1.5″ Galvanized Pipe Legs

Manuel Ferran’s
Steel Shooting Bench

Steel (welded) legs and frame, painted plywood top. Folds flat.

eHow Permanent All-Wood
Shooting Bench

Heavy-duty, very solid and sturdy, but easy to build. Good for right- or left-handed shooters.

Bill Clarke’s
Basic Shooting Bench

Restaurant table Cast Metal Pedestal Base, plywood top.

Missouri Hillbilly’s
All-Wood Bench

3/4″ ACX Plywood with 4×6 Beams and Legs

Heavy Wood Bench That Converts to Three Sections for Transport
In addition to the fourteen benches mentioned above, here is an interesting break-down bench design. Call it a “semi-portable” bench. The legs and frame are made from stout 4×4 post segments so the bench is fairly heavy. However, this bench can break down into three (3) sections for easier transport to and from the range. Dado-cut channels assure proper top alignment. This might be a good choice if you plan a multi-day excursion to a location without fixed benches. This three-leg bench design can be made from easy-to-locate materials. Note: The dimensions of this bench are are larger than typical fixed benches to accommodate 50 BMGs and other big rifles. CLICK HERE for more details.

FREE shooting Bench Plans

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