November 20th, 2017

Precision Targets By the Roll from Midsouth

benchrest target adhesive stick-on load development Midsouth 6x4

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.

benchrest target adhesive stick-on load development Midsouth 6x4

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November 8th, 2017

Great Video Shows Custom 6.5×47 Lapua Rifle Build by S&S

S&S Precision 6.5x47 Custom Rifle gunsmithing Texas Stick Starks

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….

S&S Precision 6.5x47This 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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October 29th, 2017

Rise of the Railguns — Potential Records Set at IBS Match

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California
Gary Ocock let the event’s youngest competitor, 12-year-old Gavin Lichtenwalter, shoot Gary’s new Railgun for the last three matches on Sunday afternoon. The day before Gary shot what should be a new IBS 100-yard, five-shot HB group record. Photo credit: Ben Zentner

Heavy Benchrest (Unlimited) rifles, also known as “Railguns”, are the most accurate competition firearms ever invented. And these amazing examples of shooting technology showed their capability recently, with potentially four (4) new records being set at an IBS Heavy Benchrest Invitational match in Visalia, California. If you are curious about the most accurate rifles on the planet, then read on…

2017 Visalia Invitational — IBS Heavy Benchrest Match

Report by Boyd Allen, IBS Exec. Vice President
There was some amazing shooting at a recent Invitational Heavy Benchrest match* held in Visalia, California on October 21-22, 2017. No less than FOUR new Heavy Benchrest (HB) records may have been set. Three individual targets were submitted for the 100-yard HB five-shot group record, a .039 by Gary Ocock (photo below), along with two targets by Jim Nicolas, a .040 and .041.

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California

Multiple Aggregate records (at both 100 and 200 yards) may also have been set. Larry Boers shot a 100-yard, five-target 0.1232 Aggregate that will be submitted for the IBS HB 100-yard, five-shot group Agg record. And Gary Ocock may have set two additional HB Agg records. Gary’s five-target 200-yard Agg (0.1310) is a potential new five-shot-per-target record, as is his ten-target Grand Agg (0.1480) (that covers 100 AND 200 yards, five targets per yardage, ten targets total).


CLICK HERE for Complete Match Results (PDF) »

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California

Top Guns Come to IBS Match in California
This California match attracted some of the best Railgun pilots in the game today. On the firing line were three current NBRSA Unlimited record holders: Larry Boers (one record), Steve Kostanich (two records), and Gary Ocock (three current NBRSA UNL records, plus one HV). All three shot well enough in this match that their targets are being submitted to the IBS for consideration as Group, Aggregate, or Grand Aggregate records. NOTE: The “Heavy Benchrest” IBS category is equivalent to “Unlimited” under NBRSA rules. CLICK HERE for Complete Match Results.

Top Shooters for the Match included: Larry Boers (Two Gun, HB GrAgg1, HB 100-yd); Gary Ocock (HB 200-yd and HB GrAgg2); Francis Lee (HB 200-yd).

Two-Gun Overall Results
Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California
Note: The computer software shows the results for one Grand Agg as “Heavy Varmint”. In fact the SAME HB Railguns were used for both Grand Aggs, so the “Two-Gun Agg” is actually a pair of HB Aggs.

Top Equipment List
Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California
Saturday Winners: George Lozano, Larry Boers, Lawrence Weisdorn, Gary Ocock, Joe Stanovich, and Jim Nicolas. Photo by: Dan Lutke.

Conditions: It rained on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday were sunny and slightly cool at first and perfect after that. Saturday at 10:00 am it was 62°, 64%, and the wind was light, increasing slightly later in the day. Sunday’s conditions were similar with a slightly higher wind speed, but still light. The wind was from the West at 3-10 mph, generally stronger closer to the firing line than down range. This normally is more of a picker’s range than a runner’s venue. However, there was some “running” of groups this weekend since rail guns are particularly suited for that style of shooting.

Hall of Famer Helps Young Novice
Along with the seasoned veterans, there was a new competitor, a 12-year-old shooting his very first match. As with life, there were highs and lows. Young Gavin started out with an equipment failure — the rifle he brought wasn’t working, so shooter Bob Hatley let Gavin borrow Bob’s bag gun. Then Gavin got some expert assistance from one of the world’s best — Hall of Famer Gary Ocock. Gary let Gavin shoot the last three 200-yard matches with Gary’s new integral block, Jay Young-built Railgun, one of the most accurate firearms on the planet. Gary shot this rig on relay #1 and let Gavin shoot it in relay #2. How many of us will ever get this kind of opportunity, much less a first time 12-year-old competitor? It’s like a school kid getting to drive an Indy-winning race car.

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California
This photo shows Gavin with family and friends: Grandmother Mary Oulrey, father Mark Lichtenwalter (second from left), grandfather Gary Oulrey (far right). Bob Hatley (extreme left) stepped up to share his bag rifle with Gavin, and Gary Ocock (right of Gavin) let Gavin shoot his Railgun. Note Gavin is wearing Gary’s Hall-of-Fame jacket.

The Facility at Visala — Dale Wimp Rifle and Pistol Range
The Visalia Range has a covered firing line with 28 fixed, monolithic steel-reinforced concrete benches. The direction of fire is north. The cover extends well past the front of the benches as does the concrete. There are covered loading areas both at the level of the benches, directly behind them, and one level up farther to the rear. The firing line and range are below the level of the surrounding land, having been excavated in flat ground with the material from the excavation surrounding the range on three sides, higher in the back, forming an impact berm. A major construction project is about to be finished that will extend the range to 300 yards, and provide a new 10-station, 25-yard pistol range.

Surrounded by fields, the Visalia Range is located in California’s Central Valley, a rich agricultural area.
visalia benchrest shooting range unlimited benchrest railgun heavy gun

Notables on the Visalia Firing Line

Three of the competitors at the match deserve special mention because of their recent accomplishments in the world of Benchrest shooting and the interesting equipment they had on display.

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California

Jim Nicholas was on fire on Saturday. During Saturday morning’s 100-yard Aggregate he shot a .040 in the fourth match, and a .041 in the fifth. Both targets and the .039 that Gary Ocock shot were sent in to be measured for a record. All are substantially smaller than the current record, Hap Zeiser’s .063. In the photo above, note the tuner. Jim adjusted a little less than 8 degrees just before he shot .040 in the fourth match and .041 in the fifth. That must have been the “sweet spot”. Jim’s blue Railgun, built by Craig Kinsler, features a barrel block that is integral with the rig top. This is like the new Jay Young Railgun Ocock shoots.

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California

Larry Boers owns the NBRSA Unlimited, 100-yard 10-shot group record (.097). This makes the fourth time that he has won the Two-Gun Overall for this match. Larry is not just a trigger-puller — he makes his own bullets and chambers his own barrels. This year he shot a bullet he still lists under his bullet-making mentor’s name (Del Bishop) a 65 grain, double radius 5/9 FB made from J4 .790 jackets, out of a Nemi point die. Del originally made the bullet and the story is that Nemi at first refused to make the die because he was sure that it wouldn’t shoot well. Later, after some cajoling by Del, he made it, tried a few and excitedly called Dell to tell him just how good the bullets shot. Larry set his record shooting a .750 jacket short BT (.040) bullet from the same die.

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California

Steve Kostanich, a long-time competitor and highly-respected gunsmith from Washington State, recently received official confirmation that he will go in the record books with a pair of 10-shot Unlimited NBRSA world records. The first record is a 10-shot 200-yard 0.1839 Aggregate, while the second is Steve’s 100-200 yard 0.1951 Grand Aggregate.

Parting Shot — This is what happens when you set your Wind Flag stand too high.

Visalia Heavy Benchrest Unlimited Railgun record Visalia CA California


* Course of Fire: This was a two-day Heavy Benchrest (aka HB or “Unlimited”) weekend match with targets at 100 and 200 yards, five shots per target. Saturday all shooting was at 100 yards. Sunday all shooting was at 200 yards. There were two (2) Grand Aggregates. One Grand Agg combined Saturday morning (100) with Sunday afternoon (200). The Second Grand Agg combined Saturday afternoon (100) and Sunday morning (200). The match had two HB Grand Aggs because only one class of gun (Heavy Benchrest or “Unlimited”) was shot. The computer software shows the results for one Grand Agg as “Heavy Varmint”, but all matches were for Heavy Benchrest (Unlimited) guns. NOTE: Some competitors did shoot bag guns as these are allowed under HB/Unlimited rules.

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October 22nd, 2017

Pioneers of Precision Shooting — Legendary L.E. “Sam” Wilson

lewilson15001
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.

lewilson1503

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.

lewilson1504

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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September 21st, 2017

Where to Buy Official Competition Targets

Official Target Printer Vendor Source

Need targets — not just any old targets, but the correctly-sized targets for specific shooting disciplines (such as NRA Smallbore, F-Class, and 1K Benchrest)? Well you won’t find them at your neighborhood Wally World store. Precise, dimensionally-correct competition targets are producted by a half-dozen specialty printers. In this article we provide links to the leading target sellers, with a chart showing “who’s got what”. Look for your particular discipline and the vendors will be specified.

Sources for Official Shooting Competition Targets:

ALCO Target Company

American Target Company

Kruger Premium Targets

National Target Company

Pistoleer.com

U.S. Target Company

AccurateShooter.com offers dozens of FREE, printable targets for target practice, load development, and fun shooting. We also offer a few of the most popular NRA Bullseye targets. One or more of these printable targets should work for most training purposes. However, some readers have asked: “Where can we get the real targets… exactly like the ones used in NRA, IBS, and NBRSA shooting matches?”

Official targets NRA IBS NBRSA

All these vendors carry nearly all the NRA High Power and Smallbore targets, including the new, smaller F-Class targets. National Target has the F-Class and High Power targets, including 100-yard reductions of the 200, 300, and 600-yard military targets. Germany’s Kruger Targets sells all the important NRA targets, and international (ISSF) air rifle and smallbore targets too.

NRA Target IBS Hunter Rifle Target

Orrville Printing currently sells IBS targets for rimfire (50 yard) benchrest, short-range centerfire Benchrest (100, 200, 300 yards), Hunter BR Rifle (100, 200, 300 yards), plus the official 600-yard and 1000-yard IBS targets. National Target Company also has most of the IBS targets. NBRSA short-range, 600-yard, and 1000-yard benchrest targets are available directly from the NBRSA Business Office. Call (307) 655-7415 to order for the season.

Available Official Competition Targets
Vendor NRA High Power F-Class NRA Smallbore Air Rifle/Pistol IBS NBRSA Other
ALCO Target
Company
Yes, All No Yes Yes No No Archery, IDPA, IPSC, Police, Realistic, Shoot-N-C, Silhouette, Fun Targets, Pasters.
American Target
Company
Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No USBR, Sight-in, Muzzle-Loading, Police Silhouette
Kruger Premium
Targets
Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No IDPA, IPSC, Animal Shapes, ISSF, Sight-in, Fun Targets
National Target
Company
Yes, Nearly All Yes Yes, All Yes Yes* No IDPA, IPSC, FBI, Police Silhouette, Sight-in, Target Backers, Pasters
Pistoleer.com Yes Yes Yes, most and color training Yes Yes No Bianchi, FBI, IBS, IDPA, IPSC, Silhouette, Archery, Pasters
U.S. Target, Inc. Yes Yes Yes, All Yes No No Bianchi, FBI, Police Silhouette, IPSC, Realistic Silhouette, Varmint

Kruger Targets

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September 2nd, 2017

IBS Match Report: 2017 Group Benchrest Nationals in Michigan

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer
The IBS Groups Nationals has a 4-man team competition based on the HV Grand Aggregate results. The 2017 winning team was a “Murderer’s Row” consisting of Wayne Campbell, Billy Stevens, Bart Sauter, and Larry Costa. Each boasts Hall of Fame and/or multiple World Team accomplishments. Hamming it up in the background is HOF shooter Jack Neary.

2017 IBS Group Benchrest National Championships

Holton Gun & Bow Club, Holton, Michigan
August 14-19, 2017

Report by Jeff Stover, IBS President
This year the 2017 IBS Group Benchrest Championship was held at the Holton Gun & Bow Club, in Holton, Michigan. This is a pretty facility boasting an impressive firing line with forty (40) concrete benches. Monday morning in western Michigan saw the Heavy Bench (HB) shooters hauling their big railguns to the line. Hall of Fame and multiple World Team shooter Wayne Campbell shot a nice .1858 aggregate for five 10-shot groups. The only other “Teen Agg” was Iowa’s Dave Coots with a .1978. Wayne’s win foretold what was to come the rest of the week.

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer

Wayne Campbell and Jeff Summers Put on a Show
On Tuesday, the bag guns came out for Light Varmint (LV) and Sporter (SP). Mr. Campbell maintained his mojo, shooting yet another “Teen Agg”. Wayne’s .1788 edged fellow HOF member Larry Costa’s .1854. The Light Varmint 100 was also contested on Tuesday. Peter Smith shot a very fine .1658 to beat out Canadian Bill Mitchell at .1960.

Wednesday was reserved for Heavy Varmint (HV) at 100 yards. Holton is Bob Scarbrough’s home range, but he can shoot “lights out” anywhere. Nevertheless, his .1518 had to be satisfying. Wayne Campbell, still on fire, laid down a .1694. In third place, Tennessean Jeff Summers posted a .1800. Mr. Summers is always near the top of any benchrest leader board. He is coming off another Super Shoot win. Most of the time Jeff does not win the small group of the day, but he wins many Aggregates. He is one of the most mistake-free shooters in the game.

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer
File photo courtesy Holton Gun & Bow Club

Benchrest for Group Basics — Four Classes at Nationals
IBS group competition is contested at 100 and 200 yards. At the National Championships, it takes thirty targets of five shots each and ten targets of 10-shot groups to win a “4 Gun Nationals”. That includes four (4) gun classes: Light Varmint, Heavy Varmint, Sporter, and Unlimited. For all practical purposes, the first three are known as “bag guns” while the heavy bench rifles are “railguns”.

In fact, most competitors shooting a bag gun opt for a single rifle, which has been benchrest standard for decades: a 10.5-lb rifle chambered in 6PPC. This can compete in three classes: Sporter, Light Varmint, and Heavy Varmint. The fourth class shot at the Nationals is Unlimited (aka Heavy Benchrest or “HB”). This class features the big, heavy railguns — the most sophisticated Benchrest rigs of all which shoot 10-shot groups at 100 and 200 yards.

For the IBS Nationals, group-shooting competition features 100-yard targets for the first three days followed by three days at 200 yards. Six days total. It is done this way to require only one change of wind flags. Nationals competition requires “full rotation”. That means that every time a shooter goes to the line for the next match target, he or she must move a requisite number of benches to the right. At the end of the day a shooter will shoot across the full width of the line. Some ranges offer unique properties that render some parts of the range harder or easier to shoot small groups. Bench rotation is important to even out those factors.

Thursday was set for 200 yards. Starting off was Heavy Bench (HB), the big railguns. Upper Midwest shooter, Mark Buettgen shot steadily for a .2406 Agg, aided by a small .378. His largest group was a .527. Consistency wins bench matches. Lee Hachigian drove in from the Detroit area with his railgun to be next to the winner with a .2608.

On Friday, two Aggs were shot, Light Varmint and Sporter. Larry Costa nearly nicked a Teen Agg to win LV 200 with a .2027. Lurking high in the standings once again was Jeff Summers and his .2352. Wayne Campbell was not asleep. He was merely third at .2480. The Sporter competition was won by the best benchrest shooter of all time, Tony Boyer. Tony shot a .2287 to edge Billy Stevens. Mr. Boyer added another Hall of Fame point. His 170 points are 120 more than the next shooter (Lester Bruno, no slouch!) in the ranking.

Benchrest legend Tony Boyer added another Hall of Fame point to his amazing total. (File photo from 2016 IBS Group Nationals in Weikert, PA)
IBS Benchrest Group Nationals Holton Michigan

The HV guns came out to contest 200 yards on the last day of the Nationals. Jeff Summers worked a .1868 to the winner’s circle. The always tough Larry Costa was close at .1929.

At the IBS Group Nationals, shooters compete for Grand Aggregate (100+200) honors in four classes: LV, HV, Sporter, and HB. In addition, there are multi-gun titles: 2-Gun (all HV and LV targets in 100 & 200); 3-gun (all HV, LV, SP in 100 & 200), and 4-gun (all HV, LV, SP and Heavy Benchrest in 100 & 200).

The Grand Aggregate (100+200) winners were:
Heavy Varmint: Bob Scarbrough, Jr. (.1824)
Light Varmint: Jeff Summers (.2313)
Sporter: Wayne Campbell (.2119)
Heavy Bench: Lee Hachigian (.2374)

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer

In the prestigious multi-gun competition, Jeff Summers won the 2-Gun. Wayne Campbell added more HOF points by winning BOTH the 3-Gun AND the 4-Gun. With his impressive 3-Gun and 4-Gun victories, the talented Mr. Campbell claimed the title of Top Overall shooter after six days of trigger-pulling.

CLICK HERE for FULL IBS GROUP Nationals RESULTS »

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer

2017 IBS Nationals Powderpuff Exhibition Shoot
For decades, IBS hosts an exhibition shoot on the afternoon of a day when only one Aggregate is contested instead of two. It is called the Powderpuff and is intended to allow family members and others who do not shoot competitively to give benchrest shooting a try. Each shooter is assisted by a coach who instructs the shooter. World-class shooters such as Billy Stevens and Bob Scarbrough give their time and talents to assist the novice competitors. There is no time limit to rattle the inexperienced shooters.

IBS Group Nationals international benchrest shooters 2017 Holton Michigan Powderpuff 6PPC Wayne Campbell Tony Boyer
File Photo from previous Powderpuff Event at 2015 IBS Group Nationals

The competition is financially supported by the IBS President’s Fund. This year, at Holton in Michigan, we had four youth and 11 adult competitors. Chris Jeffers won the adult category with a nice .204″ group, while Jake Henderson put his five shots into a .244″ to win the youth division. Congratulations to all the Powderpuff competitors — we hope this inspires them to get more involved in Benchrest shooting.

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September 2nd, 2017

Fore and Aft Rifle, Rest, and Bag Positioning for Accuracy

Benchrest stock

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.

front rest Sally benchrest IBS
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

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.

stock position benchrest forearm sandbag front rest
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.

Rifle photo courtesy Johnson’s Precision Gunsmithing (Bakersfield, CA).

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August 31st, 2017

Vortex 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle Scope Review by James Mock

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Review by James Mock
If you were charged with building a scope for F-Class or long range Benchrest, what features would you want? Vortex asked that question, received feedback from many competitors, and then set out to build a new high-magnification, zoom comp scope that would set a new “performance for price” standard.

The new Vortex Golden Eagle has features that this shooter really appreciates. It has a power range of 15x to 60x with a 52mm objective lens. Vortex has attempted to keep the weight as low as possible and the cost reasonable. My initial impression is that Vortex spared no expense in developing this scope. The “street price” for this premium scope is a reasonable $1499.00. Plus it has Unconditional Lifetime Warranty. Given its features, performance, and price, I believe that this scope will sell very well.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Here are the important features of the new 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle:

Quality Construction

Premium HD, extra-low dispersion glass
APO (apochromatic) objective lens system with index-matched lenses
XRP multi-coated lenses for max light transmission
ArmorTek extra-hard lens coating to protect lens from dust, dirt, and smudges
Fogproof and Waterproof (Argon gas purged)

Specifications

Field of View at 100 yards: 6.3 feet at 15X; 1.7 feet at 60X
Main Tube: One-piece 30mm
Length: 16.1 inches; Weight is 29.7 ounces
Objective Lens: 52mm
Eye Relief: 3.9 inches
Reticles: SCR-1 FCH; ECR-1 MOA

Testing the Golden Eagle

I recently tested a Golden Eagle with the ECR-1 reticle. On this model the Hash Marks subtend 1 MOA at 40X. There is also a fine crosshair reticle (SCR-1) available. Initial tests with the scope were done on June 28th and I was very impressed with what I saw. With a new scope I always shoot the square (box test) to test tracking and amount of movement. I shot the square today after shooting a 5-shot group at 250 yards (my longest available distance). Below is a picture of the box test target that I shot. Yes, shot #5 went through the exact same hole as shot #1.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Below is the 250-yard target I shot before doing the box test. To get to the 100-yard target, I clicked down 14 clicks (1/8th MOA) and the scope was spot on. It is really a pleasure to use instruments that do exactly what they are supposed to do. With the Louisiana mirage, I shot this orange/white target at 40X instead of the maximum 60X. I did not have any problem seeing the 6mm bullet holes at 40X. The optics in this scope are to my old eyes are as good as any that I have used (regardless of price).

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TRCompetition Test Success — Golden Eagle Delivers a Win
My next use of this scope was at our monthly 600-yard match on July 15th. It was a typical mid-July day in north Louisiana — very hot and humid with light switching winds. The mirage was terrible, but I managed to squeak out a victory with a 188/5X score out of 200/20X possible. I shot the Golden Eagle at 40X all day and it performed perfectly. No one could see bullet holes today, even with the high powered premium spotting scopes. This is a quality scope and it may be a “lucky” scope in that I did not expect a win with a 6mm Dasher barrel with 2500 or more rounds through it.

Point of Aim Test with Hood Scope Checker
I also tested the Golden Eagle for holding Point of Aim (POA). For this procedure, I used the Hood scope checker (loaned to me by Bart Sauter). To use this, one mounts two scopes side by side. Ideally one scope has proven its ability to hold POA. Here I used a Valdada 36X BR model as my control scope. It has proven over an 8-year period of time to hold its point of aim. I mounted these scopes on my BAT/Leonard 6mm PPC and adjusted each to the same point on the target.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

As one can see in the above picture, these are big scopes. After the first shot, I noticed that the reticle dot on the Vortex seemed to be about 1/8th MOA to the right of its original position. I stopped to check for ring slippage (which I had experienced in prior tests). There was no apparent slippage, so I checked the parallax and found that there was some parallax correction needed. This was probably the source of the apparent shift in point of aim, but I cannot be sure of that. I fired three more shots (checking after each) and found no shift.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

After testing for POA shift, I fired the remaining rounds using different aiming points. I fired 5 rounds (upper left) using the Vortex and 3 rounds to the right of those using the Valdada scope.

CONCLUSION — A Very Fine Optic at a Reasonable Price
While testing this Vortex Golden Eagle scope, I developed a real fondness for it. I appreciate its great optics, eye relief and crispness of adjustments. If I thought that this scope did not hold POA, I would use my old Valdada in the 600-yard matches in which I participate. Further testing has shown no tendency to shift point of aim.

If I am allowed to keep this scope until the fall, I am sure that I will be able to see 6mm bullet holes in the white at 600 yards. Seeing those 6mm holes is very difficult, but that is my dream for a premium high-powered scope. During the summer months in north Louisiana, the air is much too “dirty” to spot small holes at 600 yards. By October, there should be some conditions in which one can use the premium optics to see bullet holes in the white at 600.

In summary, let me say that this scope has become one of my all-time favorites because of its bright, clear images and its great reliability. If you are looking for a great long-range scope that is reasonable in cost, try the Golden Eagle from Vortex.– James Mock

Permalink Gear Review, Optics 5 Comments »
August 24th, 2017

Burris Signature Zee Rings — Low Cost, High Performance

Burris Signature Zee rings

Burris Signature Zee ringsMore and more folks are using Burris Signature Rings these days. These unique rings feature polymer inserts. That allows you to pre-load some elevation in your scope set-up, or you can center-up the windage. Additionally, the polymer inserts hold your scope securely without leaving marks on the tube. Lastly, some folks believe that Signature rings may offer advantages for benchrest competition. Rodney Wagner shot the best 600-yard group in history using Burris Signature Zee Rings (“Zee” denotes the Weaver-rail model). James O’Hara set multiple IBS 1000-yard records using Burris Signature Zee Rings. James will tell you he thinks “all his guns seem to shoot best with these rings”.

Records Have Been Set with Signature Zee Rings
Are Signature Zees good enough for competition? Absolutely. Some folks scoff at these Burris rings, given their low price. A set of 1″-diameter Sig Zees cost just $38.79 at Grafs.com. But consider this, Rodney Wagner shot the smallest 600-yard group in history, a 0.336″ 5-shot stunner, using Signature Zee Rings on his IBS Light Gun. Here’s a photo of Rodney showing the record-setting rifle, outfitted with affordable Signature Zee 30mm rings.

Signature Zee Rings Burris

Vendors Have Burris Signature Rings in Stock Now
A quick search of webstores shows that various models of Burris Signature Rings are available from many vendors. NOTE: You may have to check with more than one seller to get the exact size, height, and model you prefer. But right now these vendors have pretty good selections of Signature Zees, including the hard-to-find 30mm High and Extra High models. If you check all three sellers, you’ll probably find what you need.

Midsouth Shooters Supply Grafs.com Bruno Shooters’ Supply

Signature Zee Rings Burris

Permalink Competition, Optics 12 Comments »
August 18th, 2017

IBS Releases Updated, Improved Scoring Reticle

ibs benchrest shooters score scoring shot diameter reticle domed magnifier

IBS Scoring Reticle Updated with Brighter Circles
In an ongoing effort to improve the two-piece IBS scoring reticle, a material change has been made to the plate showing bullet diameters. The new material displays white circles that are brighter than the previous version and does not require the circles to be colored.

The complete scoring reticle continues to have two components: 1) the Plate, and 2) the Domed Magnifier. The reverse laser-etched Plate displays 12 bullet diameters: .224, .243, .257, .264, .277, .284, .308, .323, .338, .358, .375 and .408. The etched circles are in direct contact with the target. The 4X domed magnifier provides a clear visual image that aids in accurate scoring.

New Laser-Etched Scoring Plate (12 Bullet Diameters):
ibs benchrest shooters score scoring shot diameter reticle domed magnifier

UPGRADE Your Scoring Reticle

Plate Only Upgrade for $15.00
The new “plate only” is available to customers who have purchased the complete reticle package in the past. This is an upgrade for past customers. The price for the “plate only” is $15.00 which includes shipping within the USA.

Complete Scoring Reticle for $40.00
The complete reticle package is being shipped with the improved plate. The price for the complete reticle package is $40 which includes shipping within the USA.

If you have questions, contact Frank at: (603) 878-1474 or by e-mail at frank30br@comcast.net


Send your payment to:
Frank Danisienka
P.O. Box 97
New Ipswich, NH 03071

HOW to USE IBS SCORING RETICLE — INSTRUCTIONS

1. Depending on the condition of the hole, it may be necessary to turn the target onto its face and fold the torn pieces of the target back toward the center of the hole.

2. Lay the target face up and place the plate on the target centering the proper circle (bullet diameter) over the bullet hole.

3. At times the scribed hole will be larger than the bullet hole making the positioning of the scribed circle critical for accurate measurement.
ibs benchrest shooters score scoring shot diameter reticle domed magnifier
4. Place the plate and magnifier on the target over the hole to be scored.

5. With the magnifier remaining on the plate and the scribed circle of the correct diameter PERFECTLY CENTERED over the bullet hole — score the target using the OUTSIDE EDGE of the scribed circle to determine the results.

Scoring Reticle Maintenance
When not in use, place the scoring plate on the magnifier carton to keep it clean and away from abrasive or dirty surfaces. Fine scratch remover, such as Novus #2, can be used with a paper towel to remove scratches.

Permalink Competition, New Product, Tech Tip No Comments »
August 14th, 2017

Gary Ocock Shoots Amazing 0.0840 Aggregate with Railgun

Gary Ocock Rail Gun Unlimited Target Visalia CA 6 PPC IBS NBRSA
Want to see the details? CLICK HERE to view full-screen photo.

Check out those five targets. The Aggregate (average) of all five targets is a tiny 0.0840 inches! These were shot by Gary Ocock at 100 yards in a California benchrest match on August 6, 2017. Though Gary’s 0.0840 Agg beats existing records, this was not a “sanctioned” match, so Gary’s killer Agg will NOT be submitted for IBS or NBRSA records. So, sadly, the Agg won’t appear in the record books, but this remains a spectacular, verified feat of rifle accuracy, accomplished in competition.

The argument can be made that this is the Most Accurate Gun Ever Built. As far as we can determine, no one has ever shot a smaller 5-target Agg anywhere, at any time.

The Unlimited Benchrest Record That Will Never Be (Official)

Report by Boyd Allen
Gary Ocock’s stunning unlimited Aggregate is beyond amazing. That’s an average of five, 5-shot groups of .0840. Shot under sanctioned match rules, but at an unsanctioned 100-yard fun match, this Aggregate is well under the current 100-yard official records of the IBS (.1386), and the NBRSA (.1242). The fourth of the five groups measured a minuscule .018, less than half the size of the existing NBRSA Unlimited record of .049 (also shot by Gary). Check it out:

Gary Ocock Rail Gun Unlimited Target Visalia CA 6 PPC IBS NBRSA

Gary Ocock Rail Gun Unlimited Target Visalia CA 6 PPC IBS NBRSA
When the top 15 shooters all post teen Aggs, conditions must be pretty favorable. However there were some light switchy winds — Gary said that he shot better in the left to right condition.

GUN SPECIFICATIONS
Ocock’s red Jay Young Unlimited Railgun features one major difference from Young’s typical Railgun designs. The bottom of the barrel block is integral with the top (moving part), of the gun. The barrel is Ocock’s usual 1:13.5″-twist Krieger chambered for the 6 PPC. The BAT Neuvo action* is unusual in that its lugs are horizontal at lock-up instead of the usual vertical. With horizontal lugs, both lugs maintain contact with their abutments when the action is cocked. In the more normal configuration when cocked the top lug is forced off of its seat by a combination of the angle of the trigger cocking piece interface, the pressure of the striker spring, and bolt clearance at the rear of the action.

LOAD SPECIFICATIONS
Gary shot this remarkable Agg with well-used brass, Vihtavuori N133 powder, and self-made 66gr BT bullets** seated at “jam”. This amazing Agg was shot on the second day of a 2-day Unlimited Benchrest match. On Day 1 Gary had experimented with various loads using both surplus IMR 8208 and Vihtavuori N133, but was not satisfied with the results. For his first group on Day 2, Gary tried a light load of N133. After seeing the result, however, he decided to go to the other extreme — a super stout N133 load — with the same powder. As you can see, Gary’s willingness to experiment paid off.

Gary Ocock Rail Gun Unlimited Target Visalia CA 6 PPC IBS NBRSA

Notably, Gary used light neck tension. Ocock found that for these bullets and this barrel, light neck tension worked best (contrary to “normal” N133 benchrest practice). Ocock used a bushing that only produces .001″ difference between the diameters of sized and loaded case necks.

Comment on Ocock’s Achievement
Congratulations to Gary Ocock for superb shooting (and smart loading). Even though the match was not sanctioned (so the Agg will never be a record), Ocock has raised the bar very high, and given us a new standard of ultimate accuracy.

Though this 0.0840 Aggregate and 0.018 group will never go into the record group, they are still noteworthy. There’s virtually no doubt that they would have survived inspection by any record committee. Except for the lack of fixed backers, an IBS requirement (for detecting cross-fires), all other conditions were met for an officially-sanctioned match.

*The new BAT Neuvo actions are the result of a collaboration between Dwight Scott, and Bruce Thom, featuring Dwight’s ideas and BAT’s proven manufacturing expertise.

** Ocock shot his own, boat-tail match bullets, made with George Ulrich-crafted dies using Hood cores. Although he said that it had been a while since he had weighed any, his best guess was that they weigh something around 66.5 grains.

Permalink Competition, Reloading, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
July 25th, 2017

A Look Inside the Kelbly’s Manufacturing Facility

Kelbly Kelbly's Stolle Panda Video Action Stock Super Shoot F-Class Action

Want to see new-born Pandas? No, not the furry kind — rather Stolle Panda actions produced with state-of-the-art CNC machinery. If you’ve ever wondered how precision benchrest, long-range, and tactical rifles are built, check out video from Kelbly’s. You’ll see actions finished, barrels chambered and crowned, pillars installed in stocks, barreled actions bedded, plus a host of other services performed by Kelbly’s gunsmiths and machinists.

CLICK Triangle to Launch Kelbly’s Video

If you’re a fan of fine machine-work, this video should be both informative and entertaining. You can see how precision gun work is done with 21st-Century technology. Tip of the hat to Ian Kelbly and crew for producing this excellent video visit to the Kelbly’s production center.

Kelbly's Panda Action gunsmithing video barrel stock bedding

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing 5 Comments »
July 24th, 2017

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 »
July 19th, 2017

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

Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »
July 1st, 2017

Erin Go BR — Great Rimfire Benchrest Video From Ireland

National Rimfire Benchrest Association of Ireland (NRBAI) .22 LR Air Rifle smallbore

Rimfire Benchrest can be fun and rewarding. It can also be frustrating because sourcing superior lots of ammo is a never-ending challenge. Still we like rimfire benchrest because you don’t need to load at the range. Plus rimfire barrels last a very long time (our friend Joe Friedrich set an ARA Benchrest record with a 100,000+ round-count barrel). Here’s a great video from the National Rimfire Benchrest Association of Ireland (NRBAI). Production quality is excellent! We highly recommend you watch this video, which does a great job illustrating both the fun and challenge of rimfire benchrest competition.

If you’ve never seen 50m Rimfire Benchrest competition, this video is well worth watching:

National Rimfire Benchrest Association of Ireland (NRBAI) .22 LR Air Rifle smallbore

“If you need to get your mind away from everything… then look down a scope, concentrate, and be disciplined.”

National Rimfire Benchrest Association of Ireland (NRBAI) .22 LR Air Rifle smallbore

“Comradery is one of our organization’s key traits… there are no barriers of gender, age or mobility. Just a very diverse, bunch of good people enjoying a sport together.”

National Rimfire Benchrest Association of Ireland (NRBAI) .22 LR Air Rifle smallbore

“The skill, in brief, is having the ability to hit the equivalent of the top of a pinhead at 50 meters, in all conditions with a .22 round. Not easy, especially when you have to do it 50 times to get a maximum score of 500 [points], 250 per sheet.”

National Rimfire Benchrest Association of Ireland (NRBAI) .22 LR Air Rifle smallbore

National Rimfire Benchrest Association of Ireland (NRBAI) .22 LR Air Rifle smallbore

National Rimfire Benchrest Association of Ireland (NRBAI) .22 LR Air Rifle smallbore

Credit Boyd Allen for finding this NRBAI Benchrest Video, released on 6/28/17.
Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition No Comments »
June 24th, 2017

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 No Comments »
June 18th, 2017

Panda Perfected — Ignition Timing for Kelbly Panda Action

Alex Wheeler Accuracy gunsmith Panda Kelbly Stolle action timing receiver benchrest video

Kelbly makes outstanding actions, including the Stolle Pandas. In the past 20 years, Pandas have probably won more benchrest matches than any other action (though BATs and Bordens are increasingly in the winning circle). Recently gunsmith Alex Wheeler of Wheeler Accuracy worked his magic on an aluminum Panda, optimizing the “ignition timing” of the action. This involves many small mods to bolt, camming surfaces, trigger, and firing pin: “The whole cam helix and detent shelf is re-cut. The firing pin and cocking piece are modified as well.” When executed properly, Ignition Timing has a number of benefits, including a smoother bolt opening/closing, improved firing pin fall, and enhanced accuracy (though the accuracy improvements can be subtle).

BEFORE Action Timing — Stiff and Clunky

Alex reports: “Normally Panda actions have plenty of firing pin fall. For one reason or another this one was very low. Before timing, firing pin fall was .210 with a Bix’N Andy (BNA) trigger. After trigger timing firing pin fall is .244 with zero cock on close.” Here is how the action functioned before timing work:

CLICK Photo to start VIDEO

Alex notes: “As you can see, after the cocking piece rides out of the detent notch it then
falls to the trigger and is then re-cocked. This is normal on most un-timed actions.”

AFTER Action Timing — Smooth and Refined

Alex explains the modifications he made for this Panda action: “Moving the trigger back adds cock on close. The whole cam helix and detent shelf is re-cut. The firing pin and cocking piece are modified as well. I do love a timed Panda. In fact, I like aluminum actions, I think there is something to them. But yes, I also recommend Borden as my first choice.’

CLICK Photo to start VIDEO

Fix for Right-Bolt Actions Only
After seeing these videos on Facebook, one poster asked: “I do like my Panda but this is exactly why I bought a Borden action and I love it. It’s good to know you can make a Panda better. Alex, can you time a left bolt Panda?”

Alex replied: “No, the tooling I built is all for right hand actions sorry….”

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
June 14th, 2017

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 »
June 6th, 2017

Adjustable Stock Rudders for Long-Range Benchrest Stocks

adjustable benchrest stock foot rudder bag-rider McMillan Alex Wheeler Accuracy

Gunsmith/stockmaker Alex Wheeler is a very smart guy. Among his many clever innovations is an adjustable bag-rider that fits on the underside of the buttstock at the rear. Alex calls this a “Rudder” because it allows the shooter to align the tracking perfectly. The rudder assembly can swing left and right using an adjustment bolt. You can also adjust the Rudder’s vertical “angle of attack” with simple shims. Some guys like the Rudder’s 3/4″-wide bottom perfectly parallel with the bore axis. Others prefer a slight angle so the stock slides down a bit during recoil.

adjustable benchrest stock foot rudder bag-rider McMillan Alex Wheeler Accuracy

Adjustable Rudders Now For Sale
Alex has fitted these innovative, adjustable Rudders in the stocks and complete rifles he sells.And now owners of other stocks can benefit from Wheeler’s invention. Alex is offering the Rudders for sale: “I have made my adjustable Rudders for sale. Price including mounting hardware is $125 shipped. These are the same rudders I install in most ever stock I build. They’re the only way to achieve perfect tracking every time.”

Watch how the Wheeler Rudder works in this video. Alex explains: “If you pull your rifle back in the bags and the cross-hair moves, your stock is not straight. The easiest fix is to use an adjustable Rudder. They come standard on all my stocks. The white box on the 1000-yard target is 4″. With a properly-adjusted rudder it’s easy to obtain less than 1″ of cross-hair movement at 1000 yards.”

Rudder-Equipped Stock In Action (with 1000-Yard Champ Tom Mousel)
This second video shows how well a Rudder-equipped stock performs. This shows IBS 1000-yard Champ Tom Mousel running five (5) shots with his 17-lb Light Gun chambered in 6BR Ackley Improved. Note how perfectly the stock tracks. It runs smoothly straight back then comes right back on target when pushed forward by Mousel. Check it out — this is impressive.

It’s relatively easy to install these rudders on most wood and wood laminate stocks. Alex says: “Just notch the stock, and install the anchors for the adjustment bolts.” In addition, McMillan will soon be offering fiberglass stocks with a notch designed to fit the Wheeler rudder. Based on Alex’s Deep Creek Tracker stock design, these new McMillan stocks with have metals rails in the front also.

New Rudder-Equipped McMillan LRB Stock
Alex explains: “The new McMillan Rudder-equipped stock will be a version of the Deep Creek Tracker, most likely called a Wheeler LRB (Long Range Benchrest). It will feature factory installed 1/2″ wide aluminum rails in the 4″ fore-arm. It will come with the rear notch molded in for the Rudders which I will install on each stock. I will be exclusive dealer on these and hope to see the first one in June. I also have got with Edgewood to make 4″ wide front bags that will fit a standard rest top and will cost the same as their standard 3″ bag. I will have some in stock but anyone can order them direct and not have to pay the $125 price for a custom bag.”

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May 17th, 2017

Budget Co-Axial Rest — The $200 Caldwell (Plus Upgrade)

fire control rest conversion

Available for under $200.00 including front bag, the Caldwell Fire Control front rest is a remarkable value. It makes the co-axial, joystick design more affordable than ever. We used the Fire Control front rest when testing our Ultimate Varminter 20 Practical AR. Once we removed some sand from the tri-lobe front bag, the rest worked quite well.

Get a Fire Control Rest for $197.99
Precision Reloading is running a sale this week on Caldwell products. Now through May 23rd you can get the Caldwell Fire Control Front Rest for just $197.99. That’s a great deal for guys on a tight budget who want a modern joystick-style front rest. With the conversion described in this article, you can put together a system that works pretty darn well, and is more than adequate for many applications, including prairie-dog hunting (from a bench).

fire control rest conversion

Upgrading Fire Control Front Rest with Sinclair Top

While most Fire Control owners are happy with the product, many have wanted to replace the tri-lobe front bag with a more conventional front bag from Protektor or Edgewood. This isn’t as easy as it looks because the width of the Fire Control top is too narrow for most standard 3″-wide front bags. On a “special order” basis, Protektor has crafted some narrower leather front bags that fit pretty well, but some shooters have decided to “upgrade” the entire front assembly.

Forum member Doug M. (aka DrJeckyl), has come up with an elegant solution that allows a Sinclair Int’l Benchrest Rest Top to be fitted to the Fire Control Rest. Doug notes: “The Caldwell Fire Control is a nice rest for the money, but it comes up short in the rest top department. The Sinclair RT-3 [or its replacement, the Gen II B/R top] fits perfect with minor modifications.” Shown below are the main components:

fire control rest conversion

To adapt the Sinclair RT-3 or Gen II B/R top, Doug merely had to drill a couple holes in the RT-3 baseplate, and adapt a spacer to get the height correct: “The Caldwell factory top has a raised mounting portion so a 1/8″ piece of stock will be needed as a spacer to the flat-bottom RT-3. The spacer needs to be cut to the same length as the movable portion on the rest. And you should plan the mounting accordingly so the left thumbscrew clears the vertical height column at full left position (there is a cutaway in the rest under the thumbscrew that allows for easy access to the screw).” We have labeled the photo with dimensions, but Doug cautions you should measure your own original plate to insure the drill locations are correct for your unit.

fire control rest conversion

The completed installation, with the RT-3 installed on the Fire Control rest is shown at the top of this article. Doug says it works very well. To learn more about this conversion, with Doug’s measurments for the hole-spacing and his specs on the fasteners, go to the original thread in our Shooter’s Forum. NOTE: Sinclair no longer sells the RT-3 top, but Sinclair’s $75.99 Gen II B/R top can be converted just as easily. LINK to Fire Control Rest Top Conversion Forum Thread.

fire control rest conversion

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