Our friend (and ace benchrest shooter) Lou Murdica recently tested some prototype Accurate LT-30 powder from Western Powders. This is a new formulation similar to LT-32, but with a slightly faster burn rate. That makes LT-30 ideal for the 30 BR and other cartridges that presently work well with Hodgdon H4198. Lou tells us: “At a 100/200-yard group benchrest match in Phoenix this weekend, I shot the new LT-30 powder in a 30BR. I used Berger 115gr bullets in a rifle with a Shilen barrel. This powder is just like the LT-32 powder… just a little faster.”
Lou added that, in the 30 BR, this powder delivers accuracy similar to Hodgdon H4198, but 30 BR loads with match bullets can be pushed up to 200 FPS faster without apparent pressure issues. That’s significant. Lou posted some targets which do indicate that LT-30 offers excellent accuracy. Here are 5-shot groups shot with Berger 115s and LT-30 powder:
Western Powders has not yet announced an “arrival date” for LT-30, so we can’t tell you when you will see LT-30 at retail powder vendors. It appears this new propellant will go into production in the near future, though LT-30 is not yet listed on the Accurate Powders website.
Accurate’s New LT-30 Powder Is Like LT-32 but a Little Bit Faster…
LT-32 is a fine-grained extruded powder that was developed for 6mm PPC benchrest competitors. Already a proven match winner, LT-32′s excellent shot-to-shot consistency and low standard deviation (SD) make this a very good choice for competitive benchrest shooting. Due to its small grain size, LT-32 flows like a spherical powder and allows for very precise hand-loading. It also offers impressive accuracy in varmint and tactical cartridges, including the .223 Rem, and 20 Tactical. If you haven’t tried LT-32 in your PPC or varmint cartridges yet, you should give it a try. LT-32 is one of the most accurate powders on the market, when used with appropriate bullet/cartridge combos.
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Stiller’s Precision Firearms is now offering its new line of rear lug, benchrest-grade rimfire actions, the 2500X (single-shot) and the 2500XS (sporter class mag-fed). These actions have already performed superbly in competition (see below). These actions represent the state-of-the-art in rimfire receivers. Top rimfire benchrest shooters are building rifles around the new Stiller actions and the results have been very promising. These actions offer true benchrest-grade manufacturing tolerances plus a superior firing pin system that should allow greater shot-to-shot consistency. Expect fewer unexplained fliers with these Stiller actions compared with older, factory-based actions (such as the Rem 40X).
Stiller 2500X Rimfire Action
The 2500X is Stiller’s new rear lug rimfire benchrest action. This features an Anschutz-style loading ramp, center recoil slot, side bolt release, and a unique shroud/firing pin system for perfect alignment (and more consistent ignition). Unlike many rimfire actions, the 2500X has a trigger hanger for easy trigger maintenance. The 2500X’s body and bolt are crafted from 416R stainless steel with a nitride finish for smooth and trouble-free operation. The outside is OD ground after nitriding for precise tolerances and a distinctive two-tone look.
Stiller 2500SX Rimfire Sporter Action
The 2500XS is a rear lug rimfire benchrest action for the Sporter Class. The “XS” model features a Sako magazine and easy-to-use loading ramp. Like the 2500X, the “XS” has an advanced shroud/firing pin system, plus a trigger hanger for easy trigger maintenance. The bolt and body are nitrided, 416R stainless OD ground for a dimensionally precise, two-tone finish. This lightweight action is specifically designed for IR50/50 sporter class benchrest. It comes with one (1) magazine.
Proof of Performance — 2500X Action Shoots 250-25X
Mike Kuklis’s new rimfire BR rifle built on a Stiller 2500X action delivered an impressive 250-25X in competition last week. Mike drilled this superb 250-25X card at the Tuckertown BR Barn on the way to a 1000-86X match win. Credit J. Miller for the photos from Benchrest Central.
Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Story by Jaime Hammer, IBS Social Media Manager
Paul Hammer was introduced to benchrest rifle shooting by his friend Bill Adcox at the Greenville Gun Club (in Greenville, SC) about five years ago. He has been an avid skeet shooter for most of his life, but his daughter never fell in love with that sport. The first time he took her to the rifle range with him, she was hooked. She loved the precision of it and that it’s very relaxing. If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I’m his daughter. What began slowly as a fun hobby that we could enjoy together picked up speed a year and a half ago, when we went to our first IBS match, a 100/200 yard match at Piedmont Gun Club. From then on, he spent much of his free time learning about the sport, from techniques to types of guns to how to reload his own ammunition.
Paul Hammer and Daughter Jaime Enjoy Time at the Range Together…
He frequently practices or competes in both group and score matches at 100, 200, and 600 yards at Piedmont Gun Club, Polk County Gun Club, and Greenville Gun Club. This year, he even competed for the first time in the annual Groundhog and Egg Shoot in Hickory, NC hosted by Bull’s Eye Sporting Goods. His smallest group, made while practicing at 100 yards with a 6 PPC, was 0.17 inch. His best score, made at 100 yards at the NC State Championship with a 6 PPC, was 249 with 8 Xs (he commented that he “made a perfect score with 5 Xs on the sighter target!”).
He said, “For me, benchrest rifle shooting is enjoyable because there’s so much to learn, and the people you meet along the way are nice and helpful. It’s fun and challenging.” Although he always tries and wants to shoot well, at the end of the day, he just enjoys the sport, spending time with his daughter, and meeting new people.
Part of his benchrest education has come from helping plan benchrest matches for Polk County Gun Club. Last September, in conjunction with Tony Moss, Paul began organizing monthly 100/300 yard groundhog and egg shoots. In doing so, he has learned more about shooting and what it takes to put together a successful benchrest rifle match. Paul and Tony are currently working with the board of directors to improve Polk County Gun Club’s rifle range and install target backers to get approval to hold IBS matches there.
If you would like to contact Paul to discuss the monthly Polk County Gun Club rifle matches or chat about general benchrest topics, send email to: paulhammer [at] bellsouth.net.
Photos by Jaime Hammer.
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In these two videos from the Rekyyli Ja Riista (Recoil and Game) YouTube Channel, you can see how a modern, short-range benchrest rifle is shot. Note how the gun tracks superbly, returning right on target, shot after shot. As a result, the shooter doesn’t have to adjust the rifle position after firing (other than pushing the gun forward), so he can quickly load and fire within seconds of the previous shot. Good rests and consistent, smooth bolt actuation keep the gun from rocking.
It does take practice to perfect the right technique for shooting free recoil (or nearly free recoil — with just a pinch on the trigger guard). And, of course, you must have a very good bag/rest set-up and the stock geometry and rifle balance must be perfect. The ammo caddy also helps by placing the cartridge up high, right next to the left-aide loading port. Hats off to Forum member Boyd Allen for finding these videos. Boyd told us: “Watch carefully — Now this is how it’s done.” [Work Warning: Loud gunshot noises — Turn Down Volume before playback.]
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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. The latest online edition 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, shown below.
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This video, produced for the folks at S&S Precision in Argyle, Texas, shows a full custom 6.5×47 bench rifle being crafted from start to finish. It is a fantastic video, one of the best precision rifles video you’ll find on YouTube. It shows every aspect of the job — action bedding, chambering, barrel-fitting, muzzle crowning, and stock finishing.
You’ll be amazed at the paint job on this rig — complete with flames and four playing cards: the 6, 5, 4, and 7 of spades. Everyone should take the time to watch this 13-minute video from start to finish, particularly if you are interested in stock painting or precision gunsmithing. And the video has a “happy ending”. This custom 6.5×47 proves to be a real tack-driver, shooting a 0.274″ three-shot group at 400 yards to win “small group” in its first fun match. NOTE: If you have a fast internet connection, we recommend you watch this video in 720p HD.
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So, you want to put five shots through one hole at 100 yards? That may be asking a bit much, but with the right rifle, the right technique, and the right load, you might just be able to shoot “in the ones” (i.e. a group measuring 0.1 to 0.199 MOA). You could consume a lot of time and money trying to achieve this level of precision. Or you could learn from “the man”, Tony Boyer, unquestionably the most successful shooter in the history of short-range benchrest competition.
You can literally “go inside Boyer’s brain” by reading his 323-page treatise, The Book of Rifle Accuracy. First published in 2010, this is a beautiful book, full of color photos from cover to cover. Every serious benchrest shooter should read Tony’s book. He has dominated registered benchrest in a fashion that will never be duplicated. Tony Boyer has 164 U.S. Benchrest Hall of Fame points. The next closest shooter, Lester Bruno, has 48 Hall of Fame points. (Totals current 9/21/13).
The full-color book is 323 pages long, with color photos or color illustrations on nearly every page. The hard-cover edition costs $42.50, while the soft cover version is $34.50. Purchase from Amazon.com, or you can buy directly the publisher by visiting www.RifleAccuracyBook.com. The Boyer books are also available from Bruno Shooters Supply, 1-800-455-0350.
The Book Of Rifle Accuracy, By Tony Boyer
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Here’s the deal of the year if you need a quality, windage-adjustable front rest. Pay just $165.00 for a competition-grade rest that normally sells for well over four hundred bucks! You heard that right. Bullets.com is offering aluminum-base front rests, with flex-shaft remote windage adjustment, for just $165.00! Choose either the popular slingshot-style rest (model BE1005) or a triangle base version (model BE1004). These front rests previously retailed for $425.00 each (with windage drive). But Bullets.com is having an “overstock” sale so you can get blow-out pricing on both these rests. At these prices ($165.00) you can afford two rests — one for yourself and one for a shooting buddy.
Slingshot-Style Front Rest Now $165.00 (BE1005)
Here is the slingshot model BE1005. Note, the optional bag is NOT included in the $165.00 sale price.
Remote Windage Adjustment System What looks like a cable connected to a knob is actually a flexible drive shaft. This connects to the front bag carrier assembly (windage top) and moves it left and right as you rotate the knurled knob. This allows you to conveniently (and precisely) adjust windage from any shooting position.
Triangle-Base Front Rest $165.00 (BE1004)
Here is the triangle-base model BE1004. Note: Optional front sand bag is sold separately.
Premium Rests at a Blow-Out Prices
These Bald Eagle front rests can be used on the bench or on the ground for prone shooting. Designed by a benchrest shooter and refined by a member of the U.S. F-Class Open Rifle Team, this rest system has been thoroughly tested and proven to be capable of quick, precise adjustments during string shooting. There are two different models available for $165.00 — Slingshot base or Triangle base. The Slingshot model has an elongated front leg to keep the rest stable as well as keep the Windage adjustment knob within easy reach. These Bald Eagle rests feature a flex-shaft-drive Windage System that allows you to quickly and easily adjust for changing wind conditions. Front bags are sold separately. Minor modifications are required for left-hand shooters.
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Way back in 1955 Sierra Bullets offered a $1000 prize for anyone setting a new Aggregate benchrest record with a 6mm (or larger) bullet. At the time the .222 Remington ruled the roost, and Sierra wanted to promote the larger caliber. Sierra also offered a $250.00 prize for a record-breaking performance with any size caliber (including the .22s). Here is the story of how a Tulsa shooter claimed the $250.00 award with a world-record-setting Aggregate involving 10-shot groups at 100 and 200 yards.
Barney M. Auston of Tulsa, OK with rifle he built to break NBRSA record and win $250 cash award from Sierra Bullets. (From cover of Precision Shooting magazine. May 1956).
The rifle is built on an FN Mauser action with double set trigger, with a Hart stainless steel barrel, 30″ x 1 1/8″ and chambered for the .222 Remington cartridge. The stock, made by Auston, has a Hydraulic bedder as made by L. F. Landwehr of Jefferson City, MO. The scope is a 24 power, 2″ inch Unertl. Mr. Auston shot 50 grain bullets, custom made by W. M. Brown of Augusta, Ohio, with .705″ Sierra cups and soft swedged. His powder charge was 21 grains of 4198. The rifle rests, both front and rear, were also made by Mr. Auston.
On August 20, 1955, shooting at night in a registered shoot on the John Zink range near Tulsa, Oklahoma, Barney M. Auston of Tulsa broke the existing National Match Course aggregate record and, as the first to do that in 1955, won the Sierra Bullets $250 cash award. Here is the original Sierra Bullets prize offer from 1955:
10-Shot Groups at 100 and 200
Mr. Auston’s winning Aggregate for the National Match Course (five 10-shot groups at 100 yards and five 10-shot groups at 200 yards) was .4512 MOA. He also broke the 200-yard aggregate with an average of .4624 MOA, beating the .4801 match MAO record set by L.E. Wilson only a month earlier.
Barney Auston was a custom rifle maker in Tulsa who fabricated the rifles used by many of the leading benchrest competitors in the Mid-Continent and Guild Coast Regions. Auston was himself one of the top benchrest shooters in those regions during his shooting career.
Editor’s Note: Both of Mr. Auston’s records were broken before the end of the 1955 shooting season, but Auston was the first to win the Sierra Prize. Interestingly, in setting his record, Austin broke the existing Agg record by L.E. Wilson of Cashmere, Washington — yes, the same L.E. Wilson that now makes dies.
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We know that many of our readers have never seen a “Hammerhead” benchrest stock before. This is a design with an extra wide section in the very front, tapering to a narrow width starting about 6″ back. When paired with a super-wide front sandbag, the hammerhead design provides added stability — just like having a wider track on a racing car. Some folks think mid-range and long-range benchrest stocks can only be 3″ wide. Not so — IBS and NBRSA rules now allow much wider fore-ends. While F-Class Open rules limit fore-end width to 3″ max, there is not such restriction on IBS or NBRSA Light Guns or Heavy Guns for 600- and 1000-yard competition. Here’s a 5″-wide Hammerhead design from Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T).
Ray Bowman of PR&T sent us some photos of another hammerhead benchrest rig. Ray reports: “Precision Rifle & Tool this week finished and delivered this BR rifle. The customer will be shooting this rifle at the 2014 IBS 1000-yard Nationals in West Virginia.” [The match runs August 29-30, 2014 at the Harry Jones Range]. This IBS Light Gun sports PR&T’s “Low Boy Hammer Head” stock in red/black laminate. Other components are a 6mm BRUX 30″, 1:8″-twist barrel, Borden BR Action, and a PR&T 20 MOA scope rail.
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If you have a digital camera or scanner, you can measure your shot groups easily with the FREE On-Target software (read our On-Target Software Review). However, not many people want to lug a laptop to the range just to measure their groups. Most folks measure their groups at the range with a small ruler, or a set of calipers. That works pretty well, but there is a much more precise method.
Neil Jones Target Measure Tool
Neil Jones makes a specialized group-measuring tool that fits a special optical viewing lens and shot-size template to your precision calipers. There are two main parts to the tool. The first part, attached to the fixed caliper jaw, is a block holding a spring-loaded plunger with a sharp point (used to anchor the tool). The second part is clamped to the sliding jaw assembly. This viewing unit has a magnifying lens plus a plexiglass plate with scribed centerline and circular reticles for various calibers (.224, 6mm, 30 cal). This device works with both conventional and digital calipers. You’ll find the Jones Target Measure Tool used by the official target measurers at many big benchrest matches. Jones claims that his tool “will speed up the measuring process and be more accurate than other methods.” The Neil Jones Target Measure Tool costs $80.00, which includes magnifier, but not calipers. It comes in two versions, one for dial calipers, the other for digital calipers. Neil Jones also sells his tool complete with dial calipers for $120.00, or with digital calipers for $150.00. It is probably cheaper to source your own calipers.
To order the Jones Tool, visit Neiljones.com, email email@example.com, or phone (814) 763-2769.
Report by Jeff Stover, IBS President Photos by Vera Carter
Smooth. Efficient. Well-run. Lots of small groups. Those words pretty much spell out the 45th annual IBS Group Nationals at Fairchance, PA. Match Director Bill Reahard and his crew put on a great show that consists of six days of competition from Monday through Saturday. Bill and his team spent days getting their southwestern Pennsylvania range ready for the nearly 80 shooters who attended. Fairchance is no stranger to big matches as the club has hosted previous Nationals and World Team qualifiers.
Six Days of Competition in Four Classes
Some say that the IBS Group Nationals is a marathon. Six days of competition at both 100 and 200 yards with four classes of rifles: Light Varmint (10.5 lb.); Sporter (10.5 lb. – 6mm min caliber); Heavy Varmint (13.5 lb.) and Heavy Bench (known as ‘Unlimited’ in NBRSA-land). The first three classes are simply known as the “bag guns”. Most competitors use a 10.5-lb. rifle in 6PPC and compete in all three classes. The Heavy Bench (HB) class requires 10-shot groups as opposed to 5-shot groups for the bag guns. There is no prohibition to shooting your 10.5 lb. rifle in HB, but bag guns are simply outclassed by the rail guns, especially for 10-shot groups.
All 100-yard targets were shot the first three days followed by three days at 200 yards. It is done in this sequence to require only one change of wind flags.
Natalie from the Target Crew during the Powder-Puff match.
The week delivered pretty typical mid-Atlantic August weather: hazy sun with 80% humidity in the morning dropping to 50% as the temperature warmed. Fairchance is sometimes known to offer strong crosswinds that challenge the best of shooters. This week, however, the breezes were light to moderate and switchy. A shooter on his game with a well-tuned rifle could assemble a string of good groups. There were many ‘Teen Aggs’ (sub-.200 five target averages) shot this week.
Musical Chairs at the Group Nationals
IBS 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.
View looking down-range. This is a beautiful place to shoot.
Monday morning saw the Heavy Bench (HB) shooters hauling the big rail guns to the line. Bill Symons led the way at 100 yards with the only ‘Teen Agg’ in HB, a fine .1972. The 200-yard stage for HB would not be held until Saturday morning.
On Tuesday the bag guns came out for Light Varmint (LV) and Sporter (SP). Conditions allowed for quite a few very good groups. When the top five are under .1900 you know two things — Nationals competitors brought their “A Game” and the conditions were manageable. Sporter was not too much different as the first four were in the ‘teens. Ohio’s Jeff Gaidos led the way in LV with a .1714. In SP, Wayne Campbell from Virginia won with a .1902.
Sporter 100 “Top Guns” (L to R): Charles Miller, Steve Lee, Al Auman, Wayne Campbell, Larry Costa.
Wednesday was reserved for Heavy Varmint (HV) at 100 yards. Steve Lee worked his magic with a .1742. Reportedly, he was using some new Bart’s bullets on new Bart’s jackets. Steve shot well all week. Those new bullets certainly contributed to his success.
Wednesday afternoon saw the moving of flags for the 200-yard stage of the competition. The SP and LV 200 yard targets were Thursday’s course of fire. In LV, Hal Drake shot a .2045 Aggregate which edged Larry Costa’s .2076. At 200 yards the Aggregates are measure on MOA. Therefore, Hal’s .2045 Aggregate translates to an average 200 yard target measurement of .409”. The afternoon was reserved for SP targets. Wayne Campbell shot a .2250 to win the afternoon’s contest.
On Friday, a single Aggregate of five record targets were shot for Heavy Varmint (HV) at 200 yards. Harley Baker had his mojo working with a tiny .1674 Aggregate — not far off from the IBS record. On Friday afternoon many of the awards for the bag guns were given out. Saturday was reserved for HB 200. Since some of the bag gun shooters do not shoot a rail gun a number of competitors left Friday afternoon. The rail guns came out to contest 200 yards on the last day of the Nationals. The winner was Jack Neary who shot a .2324 Aggregate to edge Steve Lee’s .2361.
IBS 2014 Group Shooting National Championships — Top Fives
About the IBS Awards at the Group Nationals
The IBS recognizes winners as follows: Range Aggregates for each of the four classes of rifles; Grand (100 and 200) Aggregates in each of the four classes; 2-Gun (all HV and LV targets in 100 & 200); 3-gun (HV, LV, SP in 100 & 200) and 4-gun (HV, LV, SP and HB in 100 & 200). For the multi-gun competition, Florida’s Larry Costa won both the 2-Gun and 3-Gun titles. In the 4-gun, however, it was Michigander Bill Symons who took the 4-Gun title with an excellent .2332.
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Did you know that, since 2009, Canada has had its own dedicated website for short-range benchrest: www.Benchrest.ca? Founder/webmaster Rick Pollock notes: “As Benchrest up here in the great white north has little or no web presence, a website was long overdue. It is non-commercial and not affiliated with any one sanctioning body. The only aim is to get more people into Benchrest in Canada.”
The site is a valuable resource. You’ll find upcoming BR matches (in Benchrest.ca online forum), a list of clubs, recent news, and, of course, match reports. In addition there is a buy/sell “classifieds ads” section, as well as a photo gallery. Benchrest.ca also has a YouTube Video Archive with clips showing many of the legends of the sport. Here’s a 2010 Benchrest.ca video showing Tony Boyer at the 2010 NBRSA Nationals:
If you live “North of the Border” and shoot benchrest for score and/or group, definitely visit (and bookmark) www.Benchrest.ca.
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Farley Manufacturing has just introduced a new gravity-fed cartridge caddy that puts your rounds right next to your rifle’s loading port. Farley’s new G-Feed Cartridge Elevator has a unique switchback-type feed path that provides high capacity in a compact unit. This unit is handy and fast to use. Farley says that, with a little practice, a skilled benchrest shooter can run five shots in less than 18 seconds. We believe that — provided a shooter has quality rests, a stock that tracks well, and good technique.
The G-Feed Elevator is held up by a 3/4″-diameter spring steel gooseneck (similar to 50s-style lamp support arm). You can easily adjust the gooseneck to the exact height and angle you want. (But Farley recommends at least 10 degrees of “tilt” to ensure proper feeding.)
Made from machined 6061 aluminum, the G-Feed Caddy ranges in price from $125.00 to $160.00 depending on cartridge size. Currently three sizes are offered: PPC, BR/PPC, and .284 Winchester. The BR/PPC model holds 22 rounds of BR cases or 23 rounds of PPC cases. The larger .284 Win model has a 25-cartridge capacity.
Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Forum member Evan K. (aka “Katokoch”) has crafted a nice rimfire benchrest rig using a Suhl action fitted into a handsome home-built cedar and carbon fiber stock. This shows what a skilled hobbyist wood-worker can create in his garage. Evan tells us: “Here is my Suhl 150-1 with a factory 1:19″ twist barrel, Leupold 36X scope, Harrell tuner, and my handmade cedar/carbon fiber stock. I started working on the laminate blank a couple years ago and finally finished it earlier this year. I’ve been using it in my IR 50/50 matches this summer. I haven’t shot a 250 with it yet but I know the rifle is very capable — as usual, I am the weak link!”
We think Evan did a great job on his stock, though he has limited stock-building experience. Evan explained: “The stock is my first attempt at making a very lightweight laminate and also gluing both vertical and horizontal seams in a blank. The wood is Spanish and Red Cedar and I made the trigger guard and buttplate with carbon fiber too (great use for small scrap pieces). The finish is hand-rubbed spar urethane and the action is semi-glued-in with Devcon 10110 and stainless pillars.”
USRA-IR50/50 is a popular .22 rimfire benchrest discipline with three (3) classes: 13.5 lb., 10.5 lb., and 7.5 lb. (Sporter). The matches are shot at 50 yards and 50 meters.
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