Who hasn’t dreamed of having a professional-quality, permanent shooting bench on their own property? Well here’s an article that can help you make that dream come true. This “how-to” feature from the archives of RifleShooter Magazine shows how to build a quality concrete shooting bench step-by-step.
All aspects of the construction process are illustrated and explained. The author, Keith Wood explains: “Construction happened in three phases — first creating the slab foundation, then the support pillars (legs), and finally the table.”
Click image below to load article with slide show.
Each step in the process is illustrated with a large photo and descriptive paragraph. Starting with framing the foundation (Step 1), the article illustrates and explains the 15 Steps that produce the finished, all-concrete bench (see top photo).
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There are still some openings left for the June 2017 Williamsport 1000 Yard Benchrest School. “If you have been considering long range competition, come on out and learn from some of the top shooters in the game. This school will take years off of the typical learning curve.”– Eric Wolfgang, Original PA 1000 Yard Benchrest Club Secretary/Statistician.
Praise from a 1K Benchrest School Grad
Here’s a testimonial from a recent graduate: “I can attest to the knowledge that you gain. I went last year and loved it. Have renewed my membership in the Club and would love to go this year. I would love to take the course again. In the photo above I am in the back row, fourth from the right — sunglasses and blue shirt.” — Bob, Class of 2016
The 10th Annual Williamsport 1000-Yard Benchrest School will be held Saturday June 3 and Sunday June 4, 2017. There are still a few slots available for this year’s session. Classes, taught by top 1K shooters, are held at the Original Pennsylvania 1000-Yard Benchrest Club Range, one of the best 1K ranges in the country. See photos at: www.PA1000yard.com
Participants will learn all aspects of long-range benchrest shooting from some of the most skilled marksmen in the country. Much time is spent at the loading bench and on the firing line. Classes cover load development, precision reloading, bench skills, and target analysis. You don’t even need guns and ammo — all equipment and ammunition will be provided.
School instructors tell us: “This year’s benchrest school will be a 2-day weekend event. (There is also an optional ‘Meet and Greet’ gathering Friday evening). The school is a beginner class designed to teach the fundamental skills needed to be competitive at at 600 and 1000 yards. Saturday will be spent in class covering a range of topics including reloading ‘dos and don’ts’, load development and equipment handling. Sunday we will shoot an actual match to see what you’ve learned.”
Cost for the class is $375.00 including lunches on Sat/Sun and dinner on Saturday. Don’t hesitate if you want to attend the 2017 school. For more INFO email Ray McKinsey, Joe Saltalamachia, or Eric Wolfgang via this Club Contact Page.
This slideshow was produced by Sebastian Reist an alumnus of the 2009 Williamsport 1000-yard BR school. SEE: www.sreistphotography.com.
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The NBRSA has liberalized its rules regarding front sandbags. Until this year, NBRSA rules required that benchrest competitors be able to lift their rifle fore-ends freely from the front bag. Accordingly, front bags could not “capture” the forearm or hold the gun down (i.e. keep it from rising). In order to meet this requirement, “legal” bags had straight sides that didn’t stand too far up.
Now the NBRSA rules have changed. You no longer have to be able to lift the gun up freely from the bag without interference. It’s now permissible to have a bag that offers some up/down retention. Check out this new bag from Edgewood Shooting Bags. Call “The EDGE”, it offers taller side sections that can hold the fore-arm in place and counter torque.
Edgewood’s designers state: “There are a couple of [NBRSA] rule changes for 2017. The change we found most intriguing was that the requirement of being able to lift your fore end freely from the front rest has been removed. So, we came up with a new design with super tall ears which will allow the innovators to push the envelope. Let’s see what you can do with these…”
We expect this new type of front bag will help stabilize short-range benchrest rifles, particularly in the 10.5-lb Sporter and Light Varmint classes. But we expect the biggest gains will be had with the big-caliber rifles used in Mid-Range and Long Range benchrest competition. In the 1000-yard game, heavy-recoiling 7mm and .30 caliber cartridges are popular with many shooters. These big guns generate considerable torque despite their ample weight. We predict these “super-sized” front bags will reduce both hop and rolling motion (torque) in the big guns.
We also expect that some varmint hunters will experiment with high-sided front bags that wrap around the fore-end. Such front bags may prove a real boon for guns with narrower, sporter-style fore-ends. And it would be interesting to see if this kind of tall-sided bag design will be incorporated into portable sandbags for the PRS game. We shall see…
Rule Change and Product Tip from EdLongrange. Product Tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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We’ve been giving a lot of coverage to tactical rigs and gas guns lately, so we though it was time to showcase a purebred, state-of-the-art 1000-Yard Benchrest rig. This article features the impressive .284 Shehane Light Gun used by Henry Pasquet to capture the 2013 IBS 1000-yard Nationals.
With a 5″-wide “hammerhead” front and a special 3″-wide bag-rider plate in the rear, this 17-lb rig is ultra-stable in the bags, and tracks like a dream. In this story, Henry explains his set-up plus his processes for loading super-accurate ammo. Every long-range shooter can benefit from some of tips revealed here. And F-Class guys — if you’re shooting a .284 Win-based case in F-Open you should definitely read Henry’s precision reloading advice.
EDITOR: Guys, there is a ton of solid gold information in this article — take your time and read it carefully.
Yes old dogs can learn new tricks. Just five years ago Forum member Henry Pasquet (aka “HenryP”) got started in 1000-yard benchrest shooting. He was 66 at the time. Henry worked hard, learned fast, and pursued accuracy with a vengence. That all paid off when Henry won the 2013 IBS 1000-yard Nationals this summer, finishing as the Two-Gun Overall National Champion. Henry was kind enough to talk about his rifle, his reloading methods, and his strategy for success. In fact, Henry was eager to share “everything he knows, so that other guys can fast-track their learning process”. Henry told us: “I want to share every lesson I’ve learned, so that other guys can improve their game and enjoy the sport more.” Henry also wants to encourage other senior shooters: “If you pay attention to details (when reloading), and get a good rifle with a good barrel, age is not a handicap. With a good set-up, older guys can compete with anyone out there. This is one sport where you can be a champion in later life.”
Click on Rifle Photos to View Full-screen Versions
Q&A with Henry Pasquet, IBS 1000-Yard National Champion
Q: First, do you have any advice for older shooters getting started in their golden years?
Henry: You’re never too old. In this sport, you can excel even in your 60s, 70s and beyond. At this stage in life, we now have the time and money to get good equipment and rifles. Plus, our years of work experience help us to think, analyze, and thereby make progress. In this game, we older guys can definitely compete on a par with younger shooters.
Q: Tell us about your Nationals-winning rifle and bench gear. Is there anything unique about your hardware that gave you an edge?
Henry: At the Nationals, I used my 17-lb Light Gun for both Light and Heavy Class. This rifle has a 1.55″, round BAT LP/RE action, fitted with a Bartlein barrel chambered for the .284 Shehane (an improved version of the .284 Winchester). The barrel was near-new; this was the first time I had used it this year. A great barrel and great batch of Berger 180gr VLDs all made a difference. Jay Cutright chambers my barrels. Jay’s metal-work is so precise that I can screw any barrel he’s chambered to any BAT action I own. The laminated stock was modified by Tommy Shurley from a standard 3″-wide fore-end to a 5″-wide True-Trac with an adjustable 3″-wide rear plate. It’s not pretty but it tracks like a Heavy Gun stock. Tommy made my other stocks as well.
On top is a Nightforce 12-42x52mm Benchrest scope with CH-3 reticle. I used a Fulghum (Randolph Machine) front rest with an Edgewood bag made with the low-friction 3M material. In the rear I use a special-order Protekor rear “Doctor” bag with ears spaced 3 inches apart. The rear bag also has the new 3M material on contact surfaces (photo at right).
Q: During the Nationals, at the last minute you switched guns. Why did you go from a 6mm Dasher to a 7mm Shehane?
Henry: I had planned to use my Light and Heavy Dashers, but after placing the Dasher on the ready line, decided to switch to the .284 Shehane. It was still early in the morning and I felt that the heavier bullets would be easier to see against the berm. The Dasher had actually been giving tighter groups under perfect conditions, but seeing the impact is important.
Q: Tell us about the combined tuner/muzzle brake on some of your barrels. How does this improve rifle performance and how do you set the “tune”? Do you tune the barrel to the load?
Henry: I use a tuner or tuner/brake on every barrel. I started with Time Precision tuners. Art Cocchia advised getting a load with a good known accuracy node with minimum extreme spread, which controls vertical. Do not go for the hottest loads, which just reduces brass life. Then use the tuner and tune the barrel to the load. The .284 Light Gun needed a muzzle brake and tuner. I had a local gunsmith cut a thread on the muzzle brake for a tuner I got from Sid Goodling. (Eric Bostrom developed an almost identical unit at the same time. I use Eric’s tuner/brakes on all my new barrels.) Just before Nationals, I tried going up and down one marker. Down one mark cut the group in half! Think how much range time (and barrel life) that saved me. Using a tuner is easier than messing around changing loads and tweaking seating depths. Tuners definitely can work. Last year I shot a 3.348″ 10-shot group at 1000 with my .284 Win Heavy Gun fitted with a Time Precision Tuner.
Q: What are the advantages of your stock’s 5″-wide fore-end and 3″-wide rear plate? Is there a big difference in tracking and/or stability? Does the extra width make the rifle easier to shoot?
Henry: I had true Heavy Guns with 5-inch fronts and 3-inch rears. They tracked well. I felt the same result could be had with a Light Gun. I talked two stock makers into making them. I initially had the standard rear stock until Tommy Shurley and Mike Hearn came out with an adjustable rear plate. The stocks track perfectly. You can see your scope’s crosshairs stay on the target the whole time and push the rifle back for the next shot. There is no torquing (gun wobbling) when cycling the bolt. Us old guys need all the help we can get. I am getting rid of my 45-pound Heavy Guns and replacing them with Light Guns with heavy barrels.
Q: Some people say the .284 Shehane is not as accurate as the straight .284 Winchester. You’ve proved them wrong. Why do you like the .284 Shehane? More speed, less pressure?
Henry: The reason I rechambered my 7mm barrels to .284 Shehane was not velocity, pressure, or brass life. It was all about bolt lift. My straight .284 almost required me to stand up to eject brass. I damaged an extractor and had to send the bolt back to BAT. With the .284 Shehane, my bolt cycles like there is no case to eject.
Q: People want to know about your load and your loading methods. What can you reveal?
Henry: For my .284 Shehane at the Nationals, I loaded 52.5 grains of Hodgdon H4350 and Federal BR-2 primers behind Berger 180gr VLDs. I usually anneal the brass each winter. I have used the same brass for years. I use Redding bushing dies, apply Imperial sizing wax, resize, wipe off wax, clean and uniform the primers pockets using the RCBS Trim Mate Case prep center, then apply Imperial dry neck lube with a bore mop.
To dispense powder, I use a RCBS ChargeMaster set 0.1 grain below my desired load and then weigh them on a Sartorius GD-503 magnetic force restoration scale to get identical charges. I use a K&M Arbor Press with seating force gauge when seating the bullets with a Wilson inline die. My “target” seating force on the K&M dial is 20-23 units for Dashers and 35-40 units for the .284 Shehane. I put any variables aside for sighters. I do not weigh brass, bullets, or primers. My bullets were so consistent that I did not sort by bearing surface. I did trim the Berger VLDs to the shortest bullet length with a Hoover Trimmer, and then pointed the meplats just enough to close them with a Whidden pointer. I sort my bullets to 0.005″ overall length, rejecting about five percent.
Q: What kind of precision are you looking for in your reloads? Do you trickle to the kernel? Does this really help reduce extreme spread?
Henry: I try to keep my charge weights consistent to one kernel of powder. I use the Omega powder trickler with a Sartorius GD-503 lab-grade balance to achieve that. For accurate dispensing, put very little powder into the Omega so you can drop one kernel at a time. Single digit ES (Extreme Spread) is the goal. This does make a difference at 1000 yards. If you get the same push on the same bullet with the same neck tension, good things are going to happen.
Q: You believe consistent neck tension (i.e. grip on the bullet) is really important. What methods are you using to ensure consistent bullet release?
Henry: I apply Imperial dry neck lube to the inside of my case-necks with a bore mop. The K&M arbor with seating force gauge shows the need to do this. If you put a bullet into a clean case, it will be jerky when seating the bullet. You may see 40 units (on the K&M dial) dropping to 20, then slowly increasing pressure. I explained to a friend that not lubing the neck is like overhauling an engine without lubing the cylinders. Smooth entry gives the bullets a smooth release.
Q: You go 60-80 rounds between cleaning and the results speak for themselves. What is your barrel cleaning procedure? Do you think some guys clean too often or too aggressively?
Henry: I cringe when I see people wearing out their barrels with bronze brushes between relays. I clean my barrels at the end of each day when I get home. I shot my best-ever 1K Heavy Gun group (3.348″) at day’s end after 60 to 80 rounds. After trying other solvents, I have gone back to Wipe-out’s Carb-Out and Patch-Out products. I use about four patches of Carb-Out, let it sit a few minutes, then use one stroke of a nylon brush followed by Patch-Out until the barrel is clean. I use a bore mop to clean inside the chamber, then some Break Free LP on the bolt followed by bolt grease on the lugs and cocking part. I use a bore guide when anything goes down the barrel.
Shooting Skills and the Learning Process
Q: Henry, you can shoot long-distance on your own property in Missouri. How important is practice, and what do you do during a typical practice session?
Henry: I can shoot 1000 yards on my farm. I have a concrete bench using a slab from a yard furniture place on concrete blocks. Two 4 x 8 sheets of plywood hold four IBS targets. I never practice. I only test, keeping a notebook with all the info. I do most of my testing at 300 to 500 yards, shooting off my deck so I can see my shots immediately.
Q: How much of your success do you credit to really accurate rifles, versus superior shooting skills?
Henry: I do not consider myself another Carlos Hathcock or some master marksman. I am an average 1000-yard shooter, but I do work hard getting the most out of my rifles. Four other people have shot their first 1000-yard matches with my rifles, including my wife, and all of them won relays! I loaned my Dasher to another shooter two years ago and he got second at the 600-yard Nationals. Others will tell you that the rifle must be “on” to win. If your barrel or bullets are average, don’t expect to perform above average in competition.
Q: What you do enjoy most about long-range benchrest shooting? What are the attractions of this sport?
Henry: The sport offers good people and a real challenge. 1000-yard shooting keeps us all humble, but we still keep trying to see how good we can do. I am thankful for Robert Ross providing the only match location that I can shoot regularly.
Q: Henry, you have been a Forum member for many years. Have you learned important techniques from other Forum members and other shooters?
Henry: I have followed the AccurateShooter Forum since 2008. At my age I am not good at computers. I copied and analyzed many articles, especially on the .284 and the Dashers. Without AccurateShooter.com, I would probably still be shooting double-digit (10″+) groups at 1000 yards, and I sure wouldn’t have my name on a National Championship trophy.
Q: You are in your 70s now and have only been shooting competitively for a few years. How did you get so good so fast? How did you manage to beat shooters who are decades younger?
Henry: I had 20/10 vision when I was young, but am down to only 20/20. I have been interested in long range shooting for a long time including ground hog hunting. I went to some VHA jamborees also. In 2008, I went to the Williamsport Benchrest School with a friend from Pennsylvania, John Haas. We would compare notes frequently. I bought a BAT three lug from Tom Mousel in Montana. We also compared notes and made each other better. At IBS matches I studied other shooters’ equipment and techniques. I tried some, accepting some and rejecting some.
Here’s my advice:
Always be ready to learn something new. If it makes sense, try it. I would also encourage other older shooters not to quit. Stick to it. You can make enormous progress in a few seasons.
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TEN Shots in 0.303″ (0.289 MOA) at 100 Yards
How does Dan’s XP-100 pistol shoot? Look at that target showing TEN shots at 100 yards, with eight (8) shots in the main cluster at the top. The ten-shot group measures .303″ (0.289 MOA), as calculated with OnTarget Software. Not bad for a handgun! What do you think, can your best-shooting rifle match the 10-shot accuracy of this XP-100 pistol?
Report by Boyd Allen
This pistol belongs to Dan Lutke, a Bay Area benchrest shooter who publishes the results for the Visalia matches to the competitors and the NBRSA. He has been an enthusiastic competitor for an number of years, at various ranges, notably Visalia and Sacramento. The action is a Remington XP-100, to which a Kelbly 2 oz. trigger has been fitted. On top is an old Japanese-made Tasco 36X scope (these were actually pretty darn good). The Hart barrel (a cast-off from Dan’s Unlimited rail gun) was shortened and re-chambered for the 6x45mm, a wildcat made by necking-up the .223 Remington parent case. The custom stock/chassis was CNC-machined by Joe Updike from 6061 Billet Aluminum to fit the XP-100 action and mount a target-style AR grip with bottom hand rest. The gun was bedded and assembled by Mel Iwatsubu. In his XP-100 pistol, Dan shoots 65gr custom boat-tails with Benchmark powder.
This diagram shows the most common 6x45mm wildcat, which is a necked-up version of the .223 Remington parent cartridge. NOTE: The dimensions for Dan Lutke’s benchrest version of this cartridge may be slightly different.
ACAD drawing by Peter Gnanapragasam CC by SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Title Added.
Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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Forum member Bill Goad’s 6XC II Hunter Rests in a Whitetail Rack taken this past year.
One of the most popular items in our Shooters’ Forum is the ongoing “Pride and Joy” thread. Since 2009, Forum members have posted photos and descriptions of their most prized rifles. Here are some of the most recent “Pride and Joy” rifles showcased in our Forum. Do you have a gun you’d like to see featured there? Just Register for the Forum and you can add your favorite gun to the list.
TT Freestyle’s Husband and Wife Borden Benchrest Rifles
Here’s a pair of “His and Hers” rigs delivered by Santa in December. Forum member TT Freestyle reports: “After our rookie year in Short Range Benchrest with good used equipment, my wife and I decided we liked it enough to get two new Bordens for Christmas!”
FalconPilot’s Fabulous F-Classer in Shurley Claro Walnut Stock
This beauty belongs to Forum member FalconPilot. He tells us that his “Lastest F-Classer features a Shurley Brothers SOD stock in beautiful Claro Walnut.” Components include Bat M action, Bix-N-Andy trigger, and Nightforce Comp scope. FalconPilot has several barrels for this Open-Class rig, including tubes chambered for .284 Win and 6mm Dasher.
Eric’s Blacktical .308 Win for Precision Rifle Series
Forum member Eric32 spent months building out this rifle, “getting it to work just right for PRS”. Designed for practical/tactical matches, this rugged rig features a blue-printed Rem 700 action (with 1.5-lb 40X trigger) in an XLR Element chassis. On the end of the .308 Bartlein 5R barrel is a JP brake. Other components include: PiG skins barricade grips, Atlas Bipod, and GGG bungee sling. On top is a SWFA HD 5-20x50mm optic with Vortex scope level and custom throw-lever.
Forum member Willow reports: “Here is my new F-Open gun. It features a hydro-dipped LowBoy stock and LH Barnard Model P action with ‘V’ bedding block. The barrel is a straight profile 32″, 1:8.5″ twist Bartlein 5R, chambered in 280AI by Matt Paroz”. On top is a Vortex 10-60x52mm Golden Eagle in a Spuhr 3001 mount. Willow says his lightning bolt rig is a shooter: “After 42 rounds through the barrel, I’m liking what I am seeing so far”. Check out that trick aluminum base for his rear Edgewood bag.
Stinnett’s 6.4×47 Lapua Tactical Rig
Forum member Stinnett tells us: “This is my third 6.5×47 Lapua rifle — the 6.5×47 is the best cartridge ever! I’m not a huge fan of muzzle brakes. I look at them as tools — use the correct tool for the job. The ’47 doesn’t need a brake. .308 Winchester and up need muzzle brakes. For this rifle, I’m going to start out with 123gr Scenars and Reloder 15. I also like to shoot the 123gr SMKs and Varget. The SMKs are much less seating-depth sensitive. Very easy to find a load! Also gonna try the Berger 130 Hybrids and H4350.”
Components: McMillan A5 adjustable stock in GAP Camo, Stiller TAC 30 A/W action, Jewell HVR trigger, Badger bottom metal and DBM, Atlas Bipod, Nightforce NXS F1 3.5-15×50 with MLR 2.0 reticle. Metal has been Cerakoted graphite black.
6mm BRX Benchgun with Home-Made Cherry/Redheart Stock
You have to give credit to a guy who crafts his own custom wood stock. This 6mm BRX benchgun features a custom-built laminated stock featuring Cherry wood with vivid Redheart pieces on the sides and Redwood Burl on the buttplate. The front of the stock is 4″ wide. The action is a Benchrest Borden RBLP Right Eject unit, with custom titanium scope rings on top. Owner Erick C. is proud of this stock, saying it is “the best one I’ve built so far”. We agree it’s a beauty.
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A while back our Aussie friend Stuart Elliot of BRT Shooters Supply recently filmed some interesting videos at the QTS range in Brisbane, Australia. Stuart told us: “I was shooting in an Air Gun Benchrest match here in Brisbane, Australia. I finished my target early and was awaiting the cease fire and took a short, slow-motion video of windflag behavior.” You may be surprised by the velocity changes and angle swings that occur, even over a relatively short distance (just 25 meters from bench to target).
Here are windflags in slow motion:
The flags show in the videos are “Aussie Wind Flags”, developed by Stuart Elliot. These are sold in the USA by Butch Lambert, through Shadetree Engineering.
Here is a video in real time:
Stuart says this video may surprise some shooters who don’t use windflags: “Many people say the wind doesn’t matter. Well it sure does — whether for an airgun at 25 meters or a long range centerfire at 1,000.” This video illustrates how much the wind can change direction and velocity even in a small area.
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At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.
The LabRadar is the most advanced chronograph on the market. When it was first released, you had to wait months to get one of these Doppler Radar units. Now they are in-stock and ready to ship at Bruno Shooters Supply for $559.95. Once you learn how to position and adjust the LabRadar, you should find the machine reliable and versatile. We do recommend getting a separate battery pack. If you are considering purchasing a LabRadar Chronograph, we strongly suggest you read the very thorough and informative LabRadar Review by Ray Gross, Captain of the USA F-TR team.
2. CDNN — ANSI Z87.1-Approved Safety Eyewear, $1.35 Each
You won’t find a better deal on name-brand ANSI Z87.1-approved safety glasses. Choose from Pyramex, Radians, or Winchester brands on sale now at CDNN Sports. We have used Pyramex safety eyewear for years. These are lightweight, comfortable and fairly rugged. The Radians Maverick features a stylish silver frame, while the Winchester eyewear features wrap-around amber lenses.
3. Eurooptic.com — Leupold VX-6 Scope Super-Sale
Eurooptic.com has received hundreds of brand-new Leupold VX-6 riflescopes, and will sell them at very deep discounts. Leupold’s VX-6 line spans 15 models, all with 6:1 zoom magnification ranges. From the 1-6x24mm CDS optic to the impressive 7-42x56mm Side Focus Target model, you can find a VX-6 for virtually any rifle application. And now you can save hundreds by purchasing overstock VX-6s on sale.
Benchrest Matches have been won (and many records set) with 36X Weaver T-Series optics. Our friend Boyd Allen observed “You can pay three or four times as much for a scope but not necessarily be more competitive — a 36X front objective Weaver is enough to win with…” The Classic T-Series Weaver has proven to be one of the most reliable high-magnification scopes ever made. The “old-fashioned” adjustable objective works well and the Weaver Micro-Trac turret system delivers precise and repeatable elevation and windage control. Now just $369.99 at Natchez, this is a great deal.
5. Able Ammo — 247 Rounds .223 Rem, HP Bullets
Here you go — instant varmint safari. This Hornady-made .223 Rem ammo features quality hollowpoint bullets, rather than the not-so-accurate FMJ bullets with most bulk .223 ammo. This stuff is much more accurate (with lower ES/SD) than other low-priced ammo. Users report sub-MOA accuracy with this stuff. If you’re planning a varmint safari this spring but don’t have the time (or gear) to reload, pick up a couple boxes of this stuff and you’re good to go. There are 247 rounds in each polymer ammo “can”. This ammo usually comes loaded with Hornady’s XTP (eXtreme Terminal Performance) bullets which work great on varmints.
6. Amazon.com — Lee Universal Shell Holder Set, $26.62
Every hand-loader needs one of these Lee Universal Shell Holder Sets. The kit contains 11 shell-holders for most popular rifle and pistol cartridge types. This editor bought one of these kits 25 years ago, and I still use it every week. It’s nice having one, compact container that has every shell-holder I need for both pistol and rifle cartridges. Even if you prefer more expensive Redding shell-holders, this 11-piece kit serves as a valuable back-up. Right now the Shell Holder Set is on sale at Amazon.com for $26.62, with free shipping for Amazon Prime members.
This is quality, CCI made-in-USA ammo with reloadable, brass casings. We have used this CCI-made Blazer 9mm ammo in Sig, HK, and Glock pistols and it performed very well. This stuff won’t last long at this price (less than $0.20 per round). If you need 9mm practice ammo, order soon — this very same 1000-round case of Blazer 9mm ammo costs $60.00 more at MidwayUSA. Blazer Brass is loaded in boxer-primed, reloadable brass cases for added value.
8. EABCO.NET — $20 Off $200.00 Order
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Want to shoot better scores at your next match? Here’s a smart, inexpensive do-it-yourself project from the good folks at Criterion Barrels. For less than one dollar in materials, in just a few minutes you can create a handy, effective mirage shield, custom-fitted to your favorite rifle.
All precision shooters should be familiar with mirage, a form of optical distortion caused primarily by variations in air temperature. Savvy shooters will use mirage as a valuable tool when gauging wind speed and direction. Natural mirage is unavoidable, but there are many techniques designed to limit its influence in long-range marksmanship.
A form of mirage can be produced by the barrel itself. Heat rising from the barrel may distort sight picture through your optics, leading to erratic results. Mirage caused by barrel heat can be reduced dramatically by a simple, light-weight mirage shield.
How to Make a Mirage Shield
A mirage shield is an extremely cost-effective way to eliminate a commonly-encountered problem. Making your own mirage shield is easy. Using old venetian blind strips and common household materials and tools, you can construct your own mirage shield for under one dollar.
1. Vertical PVC Venetian blind panel
2. Three 1”x1” pieces adhesive-backed Velcro
3. Ruler or tape measure
4. Scissors or box cutter
5. Pencil or marker
1. Measure the distance from the end of the receiver or rail to the crown of the barrel.
2. Using a pencil and ruler, measure the same distance and mark an even line across the blind.
3. Cut across the line using scissors or a box cutter, shortening the blind to the required length. (Remember, measure twice, cut once!)
4. Expose the adhesive backing on the loop side of the Velcro. Center and apply the Velcro strips on the barrel at regular intervals.
5. Expose the adhesive backing of the fuzzy side of the Velcro.
6. Place the blind on the upper side of the barrel. Apply downward pressure. Once the Velcro has secured itself to the barrel, separate the two sides. Proceed to mold both sides of the Velcro to fit the contour of their respective surfaces.
7. Reaffix the blind. Barrel related mirage is now a thing of the past!
NOTE: You can attach the Velcro on the opposite side of the blind if you want the blind to curve upwards. Some folks thinks that aids barrel cooling — it’s worth a try.
How to Remove and Re-Attach the Mirage Shield
Removal of your mirage shield is accomplished by simply removing the blind. You can un-install the Velcro by pulling off the strips and then gently removing any adhesive residue left behind using an appropriate solvent. (Simple cooking oil may do the job.) Caution: With fine, high-polish blued barrels, test any solvent on a non-visible section of the barrel. Before storing the gun, re-oil the barrel to remove active solvents and residual fingerprints.
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Our friend and product tester Joe Friedrich is the proud owner of a spectacular Pappas front rest. Built by James Pappas, this rest is used for both air rifle and rimfire benchrest matches. The fancy Pappas front rest is a shortened, front-support-only version of the Pappas one-piece rest, which is popular with rimfire benchresters. Pappas engineered this rest to comply with air rifle benchrest rules which do not allow use of integrated (one-piece) front and rear rests. The end result was a 30.8-lb masterpiece of machining. Sadly, James Pappas passed away in 2014. This beautifully-crafted rest, built in 2011, is one of the finest examples of his work — a fitting legacy.
The workmanship on this Pappas front rest is astounding. Accurately described as a “work of art” by Joe Friedrich, this rest, crafted of aircraft-grade aluminum, sets new standards for “Benchrest BLING”. It looks like it should be on display in an art museum. Nearly all components of this rest, including the adjustment controls, have been polished to a mirror finish.
Convenient Rear Windage and Elevation Controls
The Pappas front rest features separate fine-tuning controls for windage and elevation, plus a central gross-elevation control. Normally, once the rest is centered-up on the target, you can make all needed elevation and windage adjustments with the rear (fine-adjustment) controls. In the video below, Joe explains how the controls work as he practices with his modified Theoben Rapid MFR air rifle. (Note: In the last minute of the video, the back-lighting was so intensely bright that we lost detail in the foreground. We apologize for that flaw, but you can still hear the audio.)
Price for this Masterpiece? Don’t Ask…
If you are interested in getting a similar rest, visit PappasRimfireProducts.com, or call (325) 754-5771. Be forewarned — “If you need to ask about the price, you probably can’t afford it.” This is truly the “Rolls-Royce” of front rests, and it will be priced accordingly.
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Sam (L.E.) Wilson actively competed in benchrest matches until he passed. He’s shown here with an Unlimited benchrest rifle of his own design.
If you’ve used hand dies with an arbor press, chances are you’ve seen the L.E. Wilson company name. You may not know that the founder of L.E. Wilson Inc. was an avid benchrest competitor who pioneered many of the precision reloading methods we used today. Known as “Sam” to his friends, L.E. Wilson was one of the great accuracy pioneers who collected many trophies for match victories during his long shooting career.
The photo above shows Sam (foreground) with all of his children at a shoot. Behind Sam are Jim, Jack and Mary, shooting in the Unlimited Class. What do they say — “the family that plays together stays together”? Note the long, externally-adjusted scopes being used. Learn more about Sam (L.E.) Wilson and his company on the L.E. Wilson Inc. Facebook Page.
Unlimited Class was Sam’s favorite discipline, because in the “good old days” top competitors normally would craft both the rifle and the front/rear rests. This rewarded Sam’s ingenuity and machining/fabrication skills. In the “build-it-yourself” era, one couldn’t just order up an unlimited rail gun on the internet. How times have changed…
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Who wouldn’t like to save a cool hundred bucks, particularly on a BAT action? BAT Machine Co. in Idaho produces some of the most beautifully-machined, and smooth-running custom actions you can buy. There’s a reason so many world Benchrest and F-Class records have been set with BAT actions — they really are THAT good. The quality of machining, smoothness of bolt operation, precision of firing pin function, and general fit and finish are top-flight.
Right now you can SAVE $100.00 on all BAT Machine actions in stock at Bruno Shooters Supply. NOTE: This is a limited-time offer that applies to current, in-stock inventory only. All listed BAT action prices are a check or money order price. Any action purchased with a credit card will incur an additional 4% service fee. Moreover, there is an additional $40.00 for shipping per action, which must be shipped to a FFL dealer since the action itself is considered the “firearm” under Federal law.
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Match Report by David and Donna Matthews
The 2016 IBS 1000-Yard National Championships were held September 4-5 at the Cool Acres Sporting Camp in Swainsboro, Georgia. The event was well attended with 87 Registered Light Gun shooters and 76 Heavy Gun competitors. After a hurricane-filled practice day, the competitors put forth their best effort to master the sometimes tricky Georgia range. The 1000-Yard National Match for 2016 featured a three-target Aggregate for each Division (i.e. six targets total for both classes).
The Cool Acres Range and Facility is one of the best in the country. The facility features a wide 1000-yard range lined with Georgia pines on each side. Conditions held constant for most relays. Mother Nature blessed the shooters with temperatures that were cooler than during preceding weeks. The management of Cool Acres put on a great event this year. In addition, upgraded restrooms and a new cleaning shed were added — these were very much appreciated by all. Several shooters had very positive comments about the upgrades and changes made to the Cool Acres facility in Swainsboro.
The Two-Gun Champion and Overall winner was Tom Mousel from Montana with 24 rank points. Tom also won the Light Gun Overall title. Notably, Tom placed first in Light Gun Group with a stunning 3.356″ Group Agg — remember this was at 1000 yards folks. That’s a 1/3 MOA Agg at 1000 yards — truly remarkable precision.
Tom came to Georgia with one thing on his mind and that was winning. He accomplished that with his Wheeler Accuracy-built 6mm Dashers with Krieger barrels. Tom ran Vapor Trail bullets pushed by Hodgdon H4895. Finishing second in the Two-Gun Overall was 2015 winner Jim Bauer with 36 rank points. Jim took First Place honors in Light Gun Score with his Gordy Gritters-built 6mm Dasher shooting Vapor Trails pushed by Hodgdon Varget powder. The bright star of the show was Junior Division Winner Amber Brewer. Remarkably, this talented young lady topped the entire Heavy Gun field, winning Heavy Gun Score (97.667 average) and winning Heavy Gun Overall against all comers (of all ages). Her father, Henry Brewer Jr., played a role in her HG win — Henry smithed Amber’s class-winning 6.5×47 Lapua Heavy Gun, and even crafted the stock. Amber shot Berger bullets with H4895. Sally Bauer was top female shooter with her Douglas-barreled 6mm Dashers LG and HG, both built by Gordy Gritters. Sally also shot Vapor Trail Bullets with Varget.
Mousel won Light Gun Group with a stunning 3.356″ 5-shot Group Aggregate. That’s a 1/3 MOA Agg at 1000 yards — amazing, awe-inspiring accuracy.
Overall Winner Tom Mousel shot the 6mm Dasher cartridge in both Light Gun and Heavy Gun Classes. This little wildcat, shown below, has accuracy to spare. Alex Wheeler smithed Tom’s Rifles. Tom is shown below at his home range in Montana with an older rifle (not one used in Georgia this year).
Big Prize Table — Over $18,000 Worth of Hardware
Over $18,000 worth of prizes were awarded at this year’s IBS 1000-Yard Nationals. Prizes included: Nightforce scopes, Sightron Scopes, SEB Coaxial Rest, BAT Action, Bench Source Annealing Machine, Defiance Action, Baity Action, Shehane stocks, reloading tools, Sierra bullets, Berger bullets, and much more. Many thanks go to Stanley Taylor from Douglas Barrels for his time and energy in acquiring prizes for the match. And the IBS thanks ALL of the generous sponsors for the 2016 1K Nationals.
Great Southern Hospitality and BBQ
On Saturday evening competitors were rewarded with a fantastic Southern meal prepared by the talented cooks of Real South BBQ from Swainsboro, Georgia, sponsored by Vapor Trail Bullets.
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Here’s one of the most popular videos from the Daily Bulletin archives. If you’ve ever wondered how a top-flight, custom rifle is built, watch carefully….
This video, produced for the folks at S&S Precision in Denton, 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.
We’re told that the founder of S&S Precision, the inimitable “Stick” Starks, is retiring from full-time gunsmithing duties. This video is a nice tribute to Stick’s dedication to his craft for so many decades.
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Sierra has just announced a new, high-BC .30-caliber projectile. This provides a very interesting new option for F-TR competitors and long-range benchrest shooters. The new 195-grain Tipped MatchKing (TMK) boasts an impressive 0.610 G1 Ballistic Coefficient. That compares well with any conventional bullet in this caliber and weight range. The key to the high BC is the green acetal resin tip that lowers drag while making the BC more consistent for every bullet in the box. NOTE: This .30-caliber 195 grain TMK requires a twist rate of 1:10” or faster to stabilize.
The new 30 cal. 195 grain Tipped MatchKing® bullets will be available in 500-ct boxes (product #7795C) with a $243.84 MSRP as well as 100-ct boxes (product #7795) with MSRP of $51.19 per box. Note, this new 195gr TMK is designed for competition use — primarily as a paper-puncher. Sierra says: “Tipped MatchKing® bullets are not recommended for most hunting applications.”
New Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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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.
To get the best accuracy out of any benchrest rifle, you need to find the optimal position of front rest and rear bag. The important point to remember is that each rig is different. One gun may perform best with the front rest right at the tip of the forearm (Position ‘D’ in photo), while another gun will work best with the rest positioned much further back. This Editor’s own 6BR sits in a laminated stock that is pretty flexy in the front. It shoots best with the front rest’s sandbag located a good 6″ back from the forearm tip (position ‘A’).
Here’s some benchrest advice that can help you reduce vertical and shoot tighter groups… without spending another penny. Many benchrest shooters spend a fortune on equipment and devote countless hours to meticulous handloading, but they never experiment with their rifle’s position/balance on the bags. This article explains why you should test your rifle in various positions. What you learn may surprise you (and improve your scores).
Next time you go to the range, experiment with the position of your rifle on the front rest, and try a couple different positions for the rear bag. You may find that the rifle handles much better after you’ve made a small change in the placement of your gun on the bags. Recoil can be tamed a bit, and tracking can improve significantly, if you optimize the front rest and rear bag positioning.
This competitor has the front rest positioned fairly far forward but not all the way out. Note the stop on the front rest — this limits forward stock travel.
Balance Your Gun BEFORE You Spend Hours Tuning Loads
In the pursuit of ultimate accuracy, shooters may spend countless hours on brass prep, bullet selection, and load tuning. Yet the same shooters may pay little attention to how their gun is set-up on the bags. When you have acquired a new rifle, you should do some basic experimentation to find the optimal position for the forearm on the front rest, and the best position for the rear bag. Small changes can make a big difference.
Joel Kendrick, past IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year, has observed that by adjusting forearm position on the front rest, he can tune out vertical. He has one carbon-fiber-reinforced stock that is extremely rigid. When it was placed with the front rest right under the very tip of the forearm, the gun tended to hop, creating vertical. By sliding the whole gun forward (with more forearm overhang ahead of the front sandbag), he was able to get the whole rig to settle down. That resulted in less vertical dispersion, and the gun tracked much better.
Fore/aft stock position is important even with very wide fore-ends.
Likewise, the placement of the rear bag is very important. Many shooters, by default, will simply place the rear bag the same distance from the front rest with all their guns. In fact, different stocks and different calibers will NOT behave the same. By moving the rear bag forward and aft, you can adjust the rifle’s overall balance and this can improve the tracking significantly. One of our shooters had a Savage 6BR F-Class rifle. By default he had his rear bag set almost all the way at the end of the buttstock. When he slid the rear bag a couple inches forward the gun tracked much better. He immediately noticed that the gun returned to point of aim better (crosshairs would stay on target from shot to shot), AND the gun torqued (twisted) less. The difference was quite noticeable.
A small change in the position of the forearm on the front rest, or in the placement of the rear bag, can make a big difference in how your gun performs. You should experiment with the forearm placement, trying different positions on the front rest. Likewise, you can move the rear bag back and forth a few inches. Once you establish the optimal positions of front rest and rear bag, you should find that your gun tracks better and returns to battery more reliably. You may then discover that the gun shoots smaller groups, with less vertical dispersion. And all these benefits are possible without purchasing any expensive new gear.
Here’s a smart new product from Midsouth Shooters Supply: 250 self-adhesive Benchrest Targets on a convenient roll. Not just for benchrest competitors, these stick-on targets work great for anyone doing load development. Each target offers a precision 1/4″ grid at the top with diamond aiming box below. This is similar to official targets used in Benechrest matches, with the addition of the upper grid lines which allow you to instantly estimate group size. These targets also include an area to list your load components. Midsouth sells the 250-target roll for $14.98.
This target was designed for benchrest shooting, developing new loads or cataloging existing ones. This easy-to-use target has a 1/4″ grid pattern at the top which helps measure groups. The vertical aiming square at the bottom helps align the cross hairs of your scope for consistent shot placement. At the very bottom of the target there is room to record your reloading information. Each Target sticker measures 6″ x 4″ with a 4.5″ x 2.5″ printed area.
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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.
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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 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.
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.