December 3rd, 2018

2018 IBS 100/200 Score Nationals in North Carolina

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

IBS Score Nationals  North Carolina  2018Report by Boyd Allen, IBS Vice President
Over the weekend of October 27-28, 2018 forty-four shooters competed at the IBS 2018 Score Nationals held at the Ashe County Wildlife Club in Laurel Springs, North Carolina. The match had been rescheduled from its original, earlier date because of Hurricane Florence. Forty-three shooters shot Varmint for Score, and two of those also shot Varmint Hunter. One competitor strictly shot in Varmint Hunter class, for a total of three in that category.

Despite challenging winds and weather, there were some impressive performances. Brud Sheats won the VFS Grand Aggregate with 499-35X, with Richard Sissel second, 499-24X. Brud also topped the 200-yard VFS field, while Chris Gibby was the leading 100-yard VFS shooter.

IBS Score Nationals  North Carolina  2018
This photo was taken on the cold and damp Saturday morning. Ashe County Wildlife Club’s 30 benches are generously proportioned and extremely well-built.

The Weather/Conditions
According to my source, Saturday morning was cool and cloudy, after a morning low of 40 degrees the day would only get up to a high of 48. As you can see from the picture of the firing line there was a little rain. The wind light and shooting conditions generally good, but on Sunday things changed. The wind became a more significant factor. According to my good friend Lee Martin, who shot the match and was kind enough to send me many good pictures, “Sunday brought 20 mph gusts that switched constantly.” Weather records show that the temperature ranged from an early morning low of 39 degrees with an eventual high of 56 and just a .01” of rain.

IBS Score Nationals  North Carolina  2018

IBS Score Nationals  North Carolina  2018

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

Photos by Clint Johnson and Lee Martin.

The Ashe County Wildlife Club
This impressive rural facility is far more than just a benchrest range. It has a Trout Pond, Skeet Field, Sporting Clays, 5-Stand Sporting, Wobble tower, Trap field, 300-yard Rifle range with 30 covered benches, and a 50-yard Pistol / Rimfire range. The 300-yard benchrest range has a newly constructed firing line and loading/multipurpose building that any club would be proud of. The firing line runs along the north east wall of the building and is covered by its extended eave.

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

Top Shooters, Results, and Equipment List

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

The above photo includes most of the “top guns” at the 2018 IBS Score Nationals. Shown, from left to right: Dean Breeden – 1st 100 Hunter, High X-Count Hunter & 2 Gun Grand Agg Hunter; Wayne France – 5th 200 & 4th Grand Agg; Dewey Hancock – 2nd 100; Chris Gibby – 1st 100 & 5th Grand Agg; John Cascarino – 4th 200 & 5th Grand Agg; Rick Hudak – 3rd 100 plus 2017 defending Grand Agg Winner; Brud Sheats – 1st 200 & 2018 Grand Agg Winner; Nick Breeden – 1st youth; David Richardson – 3rd 200; Orland Bunker – 1st 200 Hunter & 1st Grand Agg Hunter; K.L. Miller – 2nd 100 Hunter; Richard Sissel – 2nd 200 & 2nd Grand Agg. (Anything not designated as Hunter refers to VFS.)

CLICK HERE for Complete Match Results and Equipment List »

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018
Brud Sheats, 1st @ 200 & 2018 VFS Grand Agg Winner; Right — Richard Sissel, Grand Agg Runner-Up.

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018
IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

See More Match Photos from the 100/200 Score Nationals
If you want to see more photos from the Score Nationals, here are links to two web photo albums with many more images from the event:

Clint Johnson’s Photo Archive | Lee Martin’s Photo Archive

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

IBS Score Nationals North Carolina 2018

Permalink - Articles, Competition No Comments »
October 4th, 2018

Quick Tip: Mirror & Magnifier for Beam Scales

Beam Scale hack Magnify Magnifier Mirror RCBS 10-10 Scale

Here’s a simple modification that makes your classic beam balance more user-friendly. For a few dollars you can enhance your balance scale system to improve work-flow and reduce eye strain. This clever modification makes it easier to see the balance’s zero-mark center-line when weighing charges.

When he chooses to measure his loads or sort bullets by weight, Forum Member Boyd Allen likes his trusty RCBS 10-10 scale. He finds that it works predictably, time after time, and it doesn’t suffer from the drift and calibration issues that plague some of the less-expensive electronic scales on the market.

To make it easier to see the balance point, Boyd has adapted a magnifying glass with a mirror. This makes the end of his balance beam easier to view from his normal position on the bench. Boyd explains: “This set-up uses a cheap magnifier with positioning arms that was probably designed to hold and magnify small objects while soldering them. I think that it came from Harbor Freight many years ago. The mirror lets you look at the scale as if is was at eye level, and of course the magnifier makes the image easier to see.”

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
August 22nd, 2018

IBS Match Report: 2018 Group Nationals at Weikert, PA

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Weikert Pennsylvania National Group 4-Gun Championship

Many of the nation’s top 100/200-yard Benchrest Shooters came to central Pennsylvania this month for the IBS Group Nationals, held August 13-18 at the Union County Sportsmen’s Club. This major event encompassed six days of shooting, making this one of the lengthiest benchrest matches of the year. There were nearly 90 registered competitors, plus competitors’ spouses and kids were able to shoot in a fun match on Wednesday afternoon. This is a prestigious match — with National titles up for grabs in four classes: Sporter, Light Varmint, Heavy Varmint, and Heavy Bench. CLICK HERE for Full Results.

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals 2018

Report by Jeff Stover, IBS President
The Range and Conditions
This year’s venue was a return to one of the premier benchrest rifle ranges in the country. Union County Sportsmen’s Club is located near the center of Pennsylvania. It gets its name from the nearby village of Weikert. The range faces east, not ideal, but that is what the topography dealt the club. This week of competition had the usual prevailing conditions: mostly from the west, meaning from 4 o’clock to 8 o’clock. A switch green to orange and back again, with changing velocities. Sometimes readable. Many times, however, conditions are confounding.

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Weikert Pennsylvania National Group 4-Gun Championship

The Course of Fire
The IBS Group Nationals event is a bit of an endurance test as it spans six days for those shooting. The sequence of competition groups has 100-yard targets shot the first three days followed by three days at 200 yards. 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.

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Weikert Pennsylvania National Group 4-Gun Championship
Hall of Famer Jeff Gaidos taking aim. Note both eyes are open. Jeff picked up two more HOF points at Weikert this year.

Light Varmint, Heavy Varmint, Sporter, and Heavy Bench Equipment
It takes thirty targets of five shots each and ten targets of 10-shot groups to win a “4 Gun Nationals”. That would be the classes of Light Varmint, Heavy Varmint, Sporter, and Heavy Bench. For all practical purposes, the first three are known as “bag guns” while the Heavy Bench rifles are “rail guns”. In fact, most competitors shooting a bag gun opt for a single rifle, which has been the benchrest standard for decades: a 10.5-pound rifle chambered in 6 PPC.

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Weikert Pennsylvania National Group 4-Gun Championship

Peinhardt Wins 2-Gun & 3-Gun, Costa Wins 4-Gun, and Mitchell Smashes HB Record
Jeff Peinhardt won the 2-Gun and 3-Gun to dominate the “bag guns” (Light Varmint, Heavy Varmint, and Sporter). Larry Costa won the 4-Gun, with the top combined Agg for all four classes. Paul Mitchell turned in the notable railgun performance in the Heavy Bench division. Mitchell posted a 200-yard Agg of 0.1687 MOA. That should smash the old record of .2224 MOA set by Ed Watson way back in 1990! Note those figures are for MOA at 200 yards. Mitchell’s average 10-shot group size was 0.3374” (MOA x 2). That is only slightly larger than the Aggregate record for 5-shot groups with a rail gun. Mitchell said his rail has a superb Krieger barrel: “My rail gun was originally built by Bud Welch in the early ’90s. I took about ten years off from shooting from the late ’90s until 2008. When I got back I had Bruce LaChapelle take the action out of a sleeve and clamp the barrel in a Delrin sleeve. Dwight Scott chambered this Krieger barrel in January of 2017 and let me know that he thought it could be one of the hummers we all dream of and don’t waste it. This is the fourth 10-Shot teen Agg I have shot with it. It will be a sad day when it’s shot out!”

Click links below for Day-by-Day Results. Complete results may be found at the IBS Match Report Page.

Monday HB 100 | Tues LV/SP 100 | Wed HV 100 | Thurs LV/SP 200 | Friday HV 200| Saturday HB 200

Multi-Gun Results:
There are awards for combined results in multiple classes. Jeff Peinhardt won the both the 2-Gun (HV-LV) and 3-Gun (LV-HV-SP). Long time top shooter Larry Costa won the overall 4-Gun. Both Costa and Wayne Campbell (4-gun runner-up) are Hall of Famers. 4-Gun 3rd-place finisher Hugh Williamson, a Canadian, is also a barrel-maker.

The 3-Gun Top Three (from left): Jeff Peinhardt, Larry Costa, and Ronald Burdick:
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Weikert Pennsylvania National Group 4-Gun Championship

IBS Score Benchrest Nationals Multi-Gun Results
2-Gun Top Three 3-Gun Top Three 4-Gun Top Three
1. Jeff Peinhardt
2. Ronald Burdick
3. Larry Costa
.2104
.2138
.2148
1. Jeff Peinhardt
2. Larry Costa
3. Ronald Burdick
.2035
.2040
.2164
1. Larry Costa
2. Wayne Campbell
3. Hugh Williamson
.2191
.2238
.2331

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Weikert Pennsylvania National Group 4-Gun Championship
On Wednesday Afternoon first timers/novices (including spouses and children) were allowed to shot a group with the assistance of a coach. Here is PowderPuff winner Dena Wise with Coach David Halblom. Note Dena’s impressive 0.148 group. Dena is sister to Dale and Russ Boop.

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Weikert Pennsylvania National Group 4-Gun Championship

Benchrest State of the Art — Equipment

Want to know what the Top Guns were shooting at Weikert? Here is a complete Top Ten Equipment list for all four classes: Sporter, LV, HV, and Heavy Bench (Railgun):

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Weikert Pennsylvania National Group 4-Gun Championship
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Weikert Pennsylvania National Group 4-Gun Championship

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Weikert Pennsylvania National Group 4-Gun Championship

Thanks to the Hard Working Team at Weikert
The IBS is indebted to Nancy Scarbrough who did a fabulous job as match director. Mark Trutt, once again, devoted a full week as range officer and getting the range and grounds ready. The target crew was very efficient under the experienced direction of Steve Dodge.

Target Analysis from the “Wailing Wall”

This photo shows 200-yard targets for one of the relays in the Sporter Class (10.5-lb riles, all 6 PPC). At the match, the scored, 5-shot targets are put up on a board, euphemistically called the “Wailing Wall”. These groups are revealing. Note that almost all the groups are located below and to the right of the moth ball (the 10 Ring in the center). The second set of target rings denoted by an “S” are for sighters, and are not scored.

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Weikert Pennsylvania National Group 4-Gun Championship
Click photo to view large image

These targets were shot in a left to right drift (flags showing GREEN due to convention) drift. The targets show that most of the shooters sighted in during dead calm with point of impact at or below the 10 ring (mothball) for easier holding. So in a “green” condition the groups will move to the right of dead calm. These targets also demonstrate what modern benchrest bag guns can do at 200 yards! Some of those would be 100-yard ‘wallet groups’ for non-benchrest shooters. Remember these are 10.5-lb rifles, not heavy, “unlimited” rail guns. Mighty impressive precision.

IBS Shooter Profile — Bill Brawand

by Jeff Stover
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Weikert Pennsylvania National Group 4-Gun ChampionshipThere are few “characters” left in the benchrest world, but Bill Brawand is one of them. He is still competing at age 84. He started in the game way back in 1973 and has been a stalwart on both the IBS and NBRSA circuits ever since.

He grew up on a dairy farm in north central PA near the town Wilcox. In the early days he earned $100 per week. That was not near enough to support a family and a competitive benchrest habit. That was one reason he got into bullet making. If he wanted to attend a match he had to do extra farm and dairy work to justify being gone for a weekend. Those chores were in addition to making bullets to both shoot and sell. He has worked hard his entire life and earned everything he has achieved.

Some time ago, oil and gas were discovered on the large Brawand farm. With production underway, many years ago the dairy was closed so Bill could focus on real estate and managing his wells. The oil/gas boom resulted in a dramatic change in his economic fortunes but Bill did not change at all. Before he finally got a small RV, he was known to sleep on a clubhouse couch.

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Weikert Pennsylvania National Group 4-Gun Championship

Benchrest is now a family affair for Bill. One of Bill’s daughters, Sam, usually meets him at the shoots to assist him as needed. His knee problems keep him in a motorized scooter to get around the range. Sam memorialized Bill’s shooting accomplishments by sewing his many patches earned in shooting onto both a quilt and his shooting jacket (above). Check it out — that represents many decades of trigger pulling!

Permalink - Articles, Competition 2 Comments »
August 1st, 2018

2018 IBS New York State Group Benchrest Championship

IBS Camillus Sportsmens club Benchrest Group championship group PPC match

Report By Boyd Allen, IBS Vice President
Huge credit to Ken Frehm for all of the photos and most of the information.
On July 14th and 15th, at the Camillus Sportsmen’s Club, Camillus, NY, thirty-two shooters vied to win the Two Gun (and Class titles) at the NY State IBS Championship & 19th Annual Pro-Am Group Shoot. The Pro-Am is a cash match. Twenty-five of thirty-two shooters participated in the cash option — five dollars per gun per day. They were the Professionals. The remaining seven were the Amateurs.

GET N.Y. State Group Championship Results + Equipment Lists »

The weather was balmy and mild, the prize table and cash awards were generous, and the new range improvements were extensive, expensive, and well executed. Overall temperatures were seasonally moderate and the wind, while not difficult, was challenging enough that there were no Teen Aggregates shot in any class.

IBS Camillus Sportsmens club Benchrest Group championship group PPC match

IBS Competitors Talk about their Sport
Definitely check out this video — it is excellent, and well worth your time. It shows the Camillus Club Range and features informative interviews with many shooters:

The Two-Gun Overall match winner was Bob Brushingham, with Don Francis in second place, and Bob White in third. Don, who finished with a .2600 Grand Agg, edged Bob (.2601) by a mere .0001! That’s close! (SEE Full Two-Gun Results).

Camillus IBS Match NY two gun winners
Two Gun top finishers (L to R): Bob White (3rd), Bob Brushingham (1st), Don Francis (2nd)

Camillus IBS Match NY two gun winners
Click image for large version.

Below are the LV and HV Class winners, Class Top Ten results, and respective equipment lists.

IBS Camillus Sportsmens club Benchrest Group championship group PPC match

Light Varmint top finishers were (above, L to R): Bob Brushingham (2nd LV 100), Henry Miller (1st LV 200), Don Francis (1st LV 100, 3rd LV Grand), Leonard Burdick (2nd LV 200, 2nd LV Grand), Don Jeffers (3rd LV 100, 1st LV Grand).


Click image for large version.

IBS Camillus Sportsmens club Benchrest Group championship group PPC match

Heavy Varmint top finishers were (above, L to R): Bruce Lachapelle (1st HV 100), Robert Blanchard (3rd HV 100), Bob Brushingham (2nd HV 200, 1st HV Grand), Don Francis (2nd HV 200), Ron Burdick (2nd HV 100, 3rd HV Grand), and Bob White ( 1st HV 100, 2nd HV Grand).


Click image for large version.

IBS Camillus Sportsmens club Benchrest Group championship group PPC match
Here is the winning Pro-Am Team: Jennaro (Jerry) Corigliano (1st Amateur), Bruce Lachapello (1st Pro).

IBS 100/200-Yard Benchrest Competition

As with all Registered IBS 100/200-yard Group Matches, the N.Y. Championships at Camillus employed moving backers. This system ensures that a completed group includes the requisite five shots. With extremely small groups in the “ones” and “zeros” it may be impossible to distinguish five holes.

IBS Camillus Sportsmens club Benchrest Group championship group PPC match

Although pre-loading is not uncommon, most 100/200-yard group shooters typically load at the match, often between relays. This enables them to tune their loads for the current conditions. Nearly all competitors in this short-range discipline shoot the 6mm PPC cartridge, or a PPC variant.

IBS Camillus Sportsmens club Benchrest Group championship group PPC match

With group sizes so small, and group dimensions listed to the thousandth of an inch, precise measurement is an important part of the process.

IBS Camillus Sportsmens club Benchrest Group championship group PPC match

The Camillus Sportsmen’s Club Range

IBS Camillus Sportsmens club Benchrest Group championship group PPC matchThis is not just a benchrest club, but a complete, multi-discipline shooting sports facility. To my California eyes, the Camillus range is a thing of beauty, with a vast expanse of well-trimmed grass between the firing line and the berms, and a substantial wooded hill beyond. The club has just completed a host of brand new improvements that required a significant investment and, I am sure, a lot of hard work. I believe that this was the first time that an event was held after they were finished. The improvements include a new shooting pavilion (firing line cover), with the latest safety features, new all masonry benches, new berms, new target boards, and may others that are too numerous to mention.

IBS Camillus Sportsmens club Benchrest Group championship group PPC match

To see more images of the range, visit the Camillus Sportsmen’s Club website, and do a Google image search for “Camillus Club NY”.

IBS Camillus Sportsmens club Benchrest Group championship group PPC match

Backing up the range berm is a 120-foot high wooded hill. Behind the firing line, running northwest along the club’s western boundary, is the old, abandoned Erie Canal. The Club’s land is relatively flat, which has allowed it to be well-utilized for multiple shooting sports. See Google Map.

Parting Shot…
I had to smile at this picture of the target crew. Evidently the club has excellent relations with the Syracuse Police Department.

IBS Camillus Sportsmens club Benchrest Group championship group PPC match

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Competition 1 Comment »
April 30th, 2018

Amazing Accuracy — Sauter Shoots 0.282″ Group at 600 Yards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sauter Smashes IBS World Records with Stunning 600-Yard Group

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

CLICK HERE for More Photos | CLICK for Related Forum Thread

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Reloading 12 Comments »
November 13th, 2017

IBS Match Report: 2017 600-Yard Nationals in Memphis

IBS 600 Yard nationals benchrest Memphis Range wind 6mmBR 6BR

Report by Boyd Allen, IBS Executive VP
The 2017 IBS 600-Yard Nationals were held October 20-21 at the Memphis Sport Shooting Association (MSSA) Range. There was a good turn-out for the event, with 80 shooters. Conditions were challenging Saturday afternoon — strong winds that put some shooters right off the target. But those who mastered the conditions earned glory. The “Top Gun” at this year’s Nationals, earning the title of IBS 600-yard National Champion, was Andy Ferguson. In winning the Two-Gun Overall, Andy turned in a truly dominant performance, recording First Place Score in both Light Gun and Heavy Gun classes, along with second in HG group and fourth in LG Group. Finishing second Overall was Gaylan Breyans, while Jim Bauer was third.

IBS 600 Yard nationals benchrest Memphis Range wind 6mmBR 6BR

Top Shooters (L to R): Steve Wilson, Scotty Powell, Seth Wooten, Gene Ford, Lindsey Talley, Andy ”Who” Ferguson, Gaylon Breans, Jim Bauer, Justin Dale, Darrell Jones, James Lederer, Robby Miles, Jeff Godfrey, Jason Wolfe, Mike Hanes. NOTE: CLICK PHOTO for large image of top shooters.

Top Ten Competitors
IBS 600 Yard nationals benchrest Memphis Range wind 6mmBR 6BR


CLICK HERE for Complete 600-Yard IBS Nationals Results »

Today’s 600-yard benchrest rigs are capable of remarkable accuracy. Even with tough conditions in the afternoons, there was some pretty impressive shooting. Out of 640 targets that were shot by 80 competitors there were 27 scores of 50, 56 groups of 2” or less, 14 of 1.50” or less, 3 groups of 1.25″ or less, and one of 1” or less. See the FULL Results for more details.

Demonstration of Winning Form — Smooth and Fast
How do you win a 600-Yard National Benchrest Championship? Here’s a video answer to that question. To see how a top shooter handles his rifle on the bench, watch the short clip below of Two-Gun Winner Andy Ferguson shooting one of his targets with his 6BR Light Gun. Andy demonstrates smooth “table manners”. He keeps his head down, running off five shots in under 15 seconds. Note how well the gun tracks, returning to Point of Aim.

Match Winner Andy Ferguson Drills Five Shots in Under 15 seconds with his Light Gun

Notably, Andy won the match shooting the “plain vanilla” 6mmBR Norma — not a Dasher, not a 6 BRX, not a 6 BR Ackley. The parent 6mmBR cartridge can still do the job, particularly in the hands of a smooth shooter like Andy Ferguson. At the Memphis range, the usual strategy is to shoot on the sighter gong just before the switch to the record and then fire all shots on the record target as rapidly as possible to stay in the same wind condition.

600-Yard Benchrest Competition — The Basics

Two Classes — Light Gun and Heavy Gun
For those that are not familiar with this 600-yard Benchrest competition, the equipment rules are the same as for 1,000-yard Benchrest. There are two classes of rifles. The Light Gun (LG) rifles are limited to 17 pounds with no stock width or buttstock angle restrictions. The front and rear of these rifles must rest on sand bags. The rear bag may not have any provision for aiming the rifle.
Heavy Gun (HG) rifles have no weight limit. Like the LGs their stocks are not limited as to width or butt stock shape. HG rear sand bags may be supported by “mechanical” rests. Return to battery rests are not allowed for either class. Both HG and LG classes may use muzzle brakes.

Match Procedures at Memphis
In 600-yard IBS Benchrest competition, targets are measured for group size and there is also a score value based on shot placement in the target rings. Prizes are awarded for group, score, and combined. Before the first record target of an Aggregate, the sighter period is six minutes. For subsequent targets in that Agg, it is reduced to two minutes. At the end of sighter period, upon command, shooters have 10 minutes to complete their record target. Aggregates consist of eight targets. Shots that do not print on the target result in that target being disqualified (DQ), as well as the applicable Aggregate.

At this year’s Nationals, shooters rotated four benches to the right after every pair of targets was shot, continuing that rotation through both days. LG was shot on Friday, HG on Saturday. Thanks to an efficient target crew and recorded match commands, shooting was over by 2:25 pm both days.

Equipment List for Top Ten Shooters

The Top Ten Shooters all ran 6mm cartridges (6BRs and Dashers) loaded with similar components. All of the Top Ten who listed their components ran Varget powder and CCI 450 primers in Lapua brass. BAT Actions were predominant, and both Nightforce and Sightron scopes were popular. The top projectiles were Vapor Trail 103s and Berger 105s.

Top Ten Equipment List
IBS 600 Yard nationals benchrest Memphis Range wind 6mmBR 6BR
CLICK HERE for longer Equipment List.

A Well-Run Match
According to all reports the entire event ran like a well-oiled machine. The target crew was quick and skilled and all of the other details were handled efficiently. Prizes and trophies were in abundance. There was even some originality. Much to everyone’s amusement, instead of the usual (boring) plaque or trophy for the Two-Gun winner, a professional wrestling-style Prize Belt was awarded. Great idea! Showing off the Champ’s Belt is Two-Gun winner Andy Ferguson (Right) with past Shooter-of-the-Year Richard Schatz.

IBS 600 Yard nationals benchrest Andy Ferguson Prize Belt Two Gun Winner

Wicked Winds Challenge Shooters on Saturday
The conditions were variously described as “horrible”, the “worst for any match on this range this year”, and so on. Conditions were worse on Saturday than Friday, blowing like stink by the end of the day. Friday morning it was cool, humid and breezy, with a wind speed of a little over 3 mph. By mid-afternoon, when the match finished, it was 20 degrees warmer and the wind had increased significantly to about 9 mph. Saturday morning was warmer, less humid, and the wind speed was about the same as Friday afternoon. But by mid-afternoon, at the end of the match, the wind was blowing 15 mph having peaked an hour earlier at 17 mph!

IBS 600 Yard nationals benchrest Memphis Range wind 6mmBR 6BR

Doing a little research on the Berger Bullets website, with a 105gr VLD running 2950 fps, and a 15 mph wind coming from 5 O’Clock, the bullet deflection at 600 yards would be over 17.5 inches. There were a fair number of shooters with good records that missed targets.

Good Deed by Match Director Mike Moses
Match Director Mike Moses “paid it forward” this year in Memphis. Mike learned that his friend, bullet-maker Bart Sauter, had invited a young barrel-maker, James Lederer, to the Nationals. As this would be Lederer’s first 600-yard experience, Bart was going to lend Lederer one of Bart’s rifles. But it had another maker’s barrel installed. Mike decided Lederer should, fittingly, use a barrel Lederer made himself. So Mike then chambered up one of two Lederer barrels Mike had recently purchased, and fitted it to one of his own rifles. Mike then fire-formed cases, worked up a load, and assembled ammo for the match.

Mike prepared three complete rifles (and ammo) for the match — one for himself, one for his daughter (Lindsey Talley, ace photographer), and one for James Lederer. It’s hard enough to prepare a Nationals rig for one shooter. Mike did it for three people, PLUS he ran the match.

How did it work out? James Lederer finished mid-pack on Friday, and put what he had learned to good use on Saturday, taking a solid fourth place in Heavy Gun.

Both Bart and Mike have been impressed with the quality of Lederer barrels. James has several years’ experience working for a well-known barrel-maker before designing his own computer-controlled cut-rifling machine, and opening his own one-man shop.

Bauer Power — Jim and Sally Bauer at IBS 600-Yard Nationals

Bauer heavy gun 600 Yard nationals van truck transport slide-out wood caddy

Jim Bauer sends 5 record rounds down range with his “Eagle” HG in Maxi-Tracker stock.

Sally Bauer shoots sighter rounds with her Stars & Stripes HG Maxi-Tracker.

Bauer heavy gun 600 Yard nationals van truck transport slide-out wood caddy

The Bauers have a great transport set-up, with custom, slide-out rifle carriers fitted to their van. You can see the two Heavy Guns featured in the videos in the lower drawer.

The Memphis Sport Shooting Association Facility
The Memphis Sport Shooting Association operates an impressive facility with ranges for rifle, pistol, and shotgun. The 600-yard benchrest range, with covered firing line, is nicely sited, with thick stands of trees left and right. There are 24 very solid concrete-top benches. Plentiful rain and sunshine provide ideal conditions for trees and grass. For those of us in the arid West, the Memphis range seems green and lush. The trees on either side offer some (but obviously not complete) protection from wind.

Bauer heavy gun 600 Yard nationals van truck transport slide-out wood caddy

Bauer heavy gun 600 Yard nationals van truck transport slide-out wood caddy
2012 Photo by Birdog for VarmintHunters.com.

The range was built on land that had been an across-the-course High Power range, and the raised berms for intermediate firing lines are still present. That makes the wind bit more “interesting” when head- or tail-wind angles prevail. There are no pits. For each bench, at 600 yards, two record targets are posted one above the other with a 20” square steel sighter gong directly below. The sighter plates are repainted throughout the day during target changes. CLICK HERE for a 360-degree video view of the range from the covered firing line.

To the IBS Membership — Thanks for Helping with Match Reports
Putting together these match reports for the IBS page on Accurateshooter.com is challenging and enjoyable work. The hard part is coming up with pictures and videos. This time I have been lucky and I am thankful for that. The best part is that I get to talk to some very fine people. Thank you all for taking the time to make my work possible. I appreciate it. — Boyd Allen

Credit Randy Dawson (Birdog) for most of the images and videos used here.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
October 17th, 2017

IBS Chooses Boyd Allen as New Executive Vice President

IBS Benchrest Shooters Boyd Allen Executive Vice President VP

The International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) is pleased to announce the hiring of Boyd Allen as its new Executive Vice President/IBS Editor. Boyd will be responsible for guiding the IBS’s marketing and Public Relations efforts. He will handle all articles on IBS’s web partner, Accurateshooter.com, the leading rifle accuracy site on the Internet. He will also coordinate and contribute to preparation of match reports on Accurateshooter.com for IBS National Championships and other featured matches. Boyd will also work with the IBS Executive Board and discipline committees on rulebook and other administrative activities. Boyd Allen can be reached at: boydallen [at] live.com.

A long-time competitive shooter, Boyd has competed in registered benchrest matches near his home in Fresno, CA. He has written for both Precision Shooting magazine and Shooter’s News. Most recently, Boyd has been a regular contributor to Accurateshooter.com and an active Forum member. Boyd will help the IBS reach a broader audience through AccurateShooter.com and social media. He expects to enhance match reports and also do regular articles on benchrest equipment and trends. He will spearhead a proposed 300-yard exhibition match in 2018 that can bring together shooters from multiple precision rifle disciplines. (Editor: We like this idea — this 300-yard showdown could be the ultimate “bragging rights” match with “point-blank” PPC shooters dueling with Dasher pilots and F-Class aces.)

The IBS is a leading organization for group and score benchrest competition, including the 100/200/300 benchrest games, along with 600-yard and 1000-yard benchrest disciplines.

IBS Benchrest Shooters Boyd Allen Executive Vice President VP

IBS Benchrest Shooters Boyd Allen Executive Vice President VP

IBS Benchrest Shooters Boyd Allen Executive Vice President VP

IBS Benchrest Shooters Boyd Allen Executive Vice President VP

IBS Benchrest Shooters Boyd Allen Executive Vice President VP

IBS Benchrest Shooters Boyd Allen Executive Vice President VP

News Tip from Edlongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »
October 4th, 2017

IBS Match Report: 2017 1000-Yard Nationals in West Virginia

IBS 1000-yard Nationals White Horse West Virginia

2017 IBS 1000-Yard Benchrest Nationals
Report By Boyd Allen
On September 1-4, the IBS held its 2017 1000-yard Benchrest Nationals at the Whitehorse Shooting Center in Peeltree, West Virginia. There was a great turn-out this year, with 118 entries in Light Gun Class (17-lb limit, 5 shots per target) class and 107 shooters in Heavy Gun Class (Unlimited weight, 10 shots per target). The conditions this year were challenging to say the least, with rain storms, spiraling winds, and fog. In fact, rain and fog on Saturday (with cancelled relays) caused the Nationals to be extended by one day through Monday, September 4th. What’s more, of the 107 shooters listed in the Two-Gun Overall results who actually shot both guns, there were dozens of DQs. (Yes, the wind was a bit tricky at this year’s Nationals.)

IBS 1000-yard Nationals White Horse West Virginia
Sam Hall, past IBS Shooter of the Year, provided this image and most of the photos in this report.

Congratulations to the “top guns” at the Nationals: Edward Kenzakoski (Two-Gun Overall Champion), Mike Gaizauskas (Light Gun Overall, plus LG Score Agg), and Mike Brennan (Heavy Gun Overall, plus HG Score Agg). Group Agg winners were Richard Schatz for LG, and Charlie Lentz for Heavy. Two ladies also deserve mention. Sally Bauer shot the smallest group of the match, a 1.923″ 5-shot group in LG — that’s 0.184 MOA! Ruth Edwards drilled a 2.104″, also mighty impressive. Nice shootin’ ladies…


CLICK HERE for Complete 1000-Yard Nationals RESULTS »

Top Shooters — Overall, Light Gun, and Heavy Gun:
IBS 1000-yard Nationals White Horse West Virginia
CLICK HERE for Larger Chart

White Horse Wind and Weather Factors — and Topography
The firing line for the 1000-yard range has a covered structure with 14 well-spaced masonry benches with block bases and cast concrete tops. Facing southwest, the firing line is above the land between it and the target butts, which are at the head of a canyon. There is a low area with trees on the left with an elevated flat area on the right.

IBS 1000-yard Nationals White Horse West Virginia

This topography create unpredictable wind patterns that can change rapidly with no warning. Those changes can wreak havoc with competitors’ groups and scores. The wind direction at the targets can be opposite that at the firing line, with the result that a let-off down range not only carries the penalty of making a hold-off incorrect, but because the wind at the firing line can continue, adding the additional penalty of a reversal. This was the common cause of disqualifications, which were numerous at this year’s Nationals.

Light Gun and Heavy Gun Equipment Lists (Partial Sample):
IBS 1000-yard Nationals White Horse West Virginia

Barrel-Block Heavy Gun with a handsome wood stock. Wide fore-ends enhance stability.
IBS 1000-yard Nationals White Horse West Virginia

Delay Caused by Fog and Rain
On Saturday, rain and fog delays, caused the match to be extended through Monday. The rules dictate that if a full match cannot be finished because of weather, then all of the day’s results are discarded. This meant that even those shooters who completed their relays on Saturday had to shoot them over — hence another day was added to the event. Because of the prospect of worsening conditions on Saturday afternoon, even though there was daylight left, the decision was made to extend the match through Monday.

Profile of 2017 IBS 1000-Yard National Champion Edward Kenzakoski

Commenting on his performance at the Nationals, Ed said modestly:
“I didn’t shoot really good. I just shot better than them other guys.”

IBS 1000-yard Nationals White Horse West Virginia

Winning Hardware (with a 110-lb Heavy Gun)
Notably, Ed does all of his own gunsmithing, and he built his Championship-winning rifles. Both guns featured 1:11″-twist, 30″ Krieger barrels. (LG: 1.250″ shank and .950 muzzle; HG: 2″ contour untapered). Ed’s Light Gun has a BAT action, no barrel block, Jewell trigger, and McMillan Tooley MBR stock. His Heavy Gun boasts a 10″-long BAT action in a two-piece aluminum stock with barrel block. That HG beast weighs 110 pounds! Both of Ed’s rifles (light and heavy) wore Nightforce 12-42x56mm BR scopes.

Winning Numbers
To win the Two Gun Overall, Ed posted 137 LG Score, 262 HG Score, and 399 Two-Gun Score Agg. His Group numbers were: LG Group 5.659, HG Group 7.483, Two-Gun Agg: 6.571.

Winning Loads and Reloading Methods
Both rifles are chambered in 300 WSM. Ed shoots 210gr Berger VLDs (sorted every way possible), with Norma brass, Hodgdon H4350 powder, and CCI BR2 primers. For the two guns he used very different seating depths — barely touching for the HG, 0.100″ jump for the LG. He said that it takes him a full four days to load the ammunition for both rifles for a match. Yes, he weighs primers, and he even passes his bullets through a .309 bushing.

No Dark Horse at White Horse — Kenzakoski is a Proven Winner
One shouldn’t be surprised at Edward Kenzakoski’s success. Ed really cleaned up at Williamsport this year, winning one 6-match Aggregate and two 10-match score and group Aggregates. He also established a new Williamsport club Light Gun record of 3.2″.

Last year’s winner Tom Mousel sitting at the bench on Sunday. Tom finished third overall this year.
IBS 1000-yard Nationals White Horse West Virginia

IBS 1000-yard Nationals White Horse West Virginia

Record-Setting Asymmetry
In 2016 Michael Gaizauskas set the current 1000-yard IBS Heavy Gun (10 shot) group and score records. He set those records with the rifle on the left (below), then chambered in 6.5×47 Lapua. In this match, Mike won LG Group and LG Overall with the rifle on the right as chambered in his own 7mm short magnum wildcat. Mike designed and built both these distinctive assymetric stocks.

IBS 1000-yard Nationals White Horse West Virginia

Prizes and Gift Certificates Galore at White Horse
The prize table at the IBS 1000-yard Nationals was impressive, with many scopes and stocks as prizes, plus a treasure trove of gift certificates:

IBS 1000-yard Nationals White Horse West Virginia

White Horse Shooting Center Facilities, Organization, and Location
The 1000-yard range used at the IBS 2017 Nationals is part of a large shooting facility run by Whitehorse Firearms Outdoor Education Center in cooperation with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. White Horse is located off of Route 20 near the small community of Peeltree, WV. The nearest town of any size, ten miles to the south, is Buckhannon, WV, which has about 5600 residents.

IBS 1000-yard Nationals White Horse West Virginia

White Horse Geography and Climate
The White Horse range is set in wooded hill country, with lots of creeks and some smaller rivers all kept green and running by an annual rainfall of about 48 inches and about the same for snowfall. To my eyes it is beautiful county, pleasingly rural and lush, in marked contrast to where I live where every plant must be served by some sort of irrigation.

Permalink - Articles, Competition 6 Comments »
September 16th, 2017

IBS Match Report: Visalia 3-Gun California Championship

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen
The Visalia Sportsman’s Association Dale Wimp Shooting Range — a great place to shoot.

Report by Boyd Allen | Photos and video by Pete Kitrinos
The IBS is in the West! The first International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) match at the Visalia, CA range was held over the recent Labor Day Weekend. Despite scorching 106° heat, many of the West’s top short-range benchrest shooters assembled for the first IBS-sanctioned match (after a 30-year history with the NBRSA) at the Visalia range. The mix of shooters included at least one Benchrest Hall of Fame member, as well as NBRSA record holders. Competitors were happy to return to Visalia, which had been closed for seven months while range improvements were made (some parts of the East berm were still under construction). With only two ranges in the entire state holding short range group matches, the temporary loss of Visalia had a significant impact. It was time to get back to business — the business of shooting tiny groups.

This video includes Aerial Drone footage of the range — worth watching!

Surrounded by fields, the Visalia Range is located in California’s Central Valley, a rich agricultural area.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

For about thirty years the California 3-Gun Benchrest Championship match has been held at the Visalia Sportsman’s Association Dale Wimp Range over Labor Day weekend. For all those years, the matches have been put on by local shooter and current club president Dennis Thornbury. During a good part of that time, he has also managed to keep his name in the NBRSA record book, and pick up four Benchrest Hall of Fame points, as well as having recently done a tour as NBRSA president. This year’s match is sanctioned by the IBS, a first at Visalia.

Don “The Pumpkin” Nielson used an action he fabricated, a “fat bolt” aluminum 3-lug with steel insert.
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Dennis Thornbury has been putting on registered matches at the Visalia range for 30 years. He holds an NBRSA record, and has 4 Hall of Fame points.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

The format: On Saturday competitors shot 100 yards all day, Sporter in the morning, Light Varmint in the afternoon. The following day the morning competition was Heavy Varmint at 100 and at lunch the targets were moved to 200 yards with Heavy Varmint being shot that afternoon. On Monday, Labor Day, at 200 yards, Light Varmint was shot in the morning and Sporter in the afternoon. All three days consisted of five, 5-shot matches in the morning and five more in the afternoon.

Morning, Day 1 — Very few “daisy wheels”. This has been the trend for many years at this range.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Getting down to business. Shown, from right to left: Henry Pinkney, Joe Stanovich, Steve Epstein, Keith Cottrell (face obscured), Jim Nicolas (standing).
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Sunday Top Shots: Jack Childers, Keith Cottrell, John Pierce, Lester Bruno, Dennis Thornbury, and Don Nielson. (Yes that’s a corn field in the background):
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

With the big temp changes between morning and afternoon, competitors were chasing powder loads all weekend. Small groups were hard to find, so only three “screamers” were recorded all weekend, and no teen Aggs. With the oppressive heat, attrition was also a factor: “We started with 30 shooters, and ended with just 21 competitors”.

Temperatures were in the triple digits for Saturday and Sunday, backing off to the high 90s on Monday. High humidity made it feel even hotter — heat stress was a definite issue. Even the rifles seemed to be at less than their best, causing very light wind conditions to produce Aggregates that were larger than the observed wind conditions would lead one to expect. Wind was generally light and switchy. Lighter mornings with wind increasing slightly through the days. Sunday saw more wind than the other two days after ten o’clock or so.

Loading benches with the usual clutter. Note the LabRadar chronograph on a bench at the firing line. Lawrence Weisdorn tracked his velocities during the match to know when a powder charge adjustment was needed.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Top Shooters: The Top Five in the 3-Gun (HV, LV, and Sporter) Championship were: Keith Cottrell (.2534), John Pierce (.2695), Dennis Thornbury (.2714), Art Kawai (.2885), and Rich Shaw (.3016). Winners of the Class Grand Aggs were Dennis Thornbury (HV .2424), Lester Bruno (LV .2400), and Keith Cottrell (Sporter .2395). CLICK HERE for full Match Results.

Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Equipment List for Top Five Shooters
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

You can use a LabRadar during competition. This was Lawrence Weisdorn’s set-up at Visalia.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Benchrest Technique — How to Shoot at Visalia
This range is built a bit like a large bathtub, dug into a flat field with the excavated earth thrown up in steep berms on three sides. This configuration and the usual lack of strong winds creates a lot of thermal-generated switchiness with flags changing direction often and very little agreement within any shooter’s set. This places a high premium on visual memory and the ability to judge equivalent conditions, because duplicates are almost never seen. Although the opportunity to run groups can happen, this is mostly a “pickers” range, which places a high premium on visual memory.

Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Facilities at Visalia Sportsman’s Association Range
There are 28 monolithic, steel-reinforced, concrete benches (poured in place, base and top all one pour). The reloading area is behind the benches with most of it on the same level as the benches. There are permanent (fixed position) tables that have laminate tops, except for where the range house sits, mid-range, with a “wailing wall” along its east and north sides. The direction of fire is north. The benches are under a slightly pitched metal roof that has recently been extended so that it has a good amount of overhang in front of the benches. Electricity is available in the reloading area and there are a few electrical outlets in the parking lot for RVs. There are both steps and a wheelchair ramp connecting parking lot to the reloading level and the shooting level.

Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Field of (Benchrest) Dreams — Precision Shooting Among the California Corn Fields.
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing, Shooting Skills 4 Comments »
April 18th, 2017

Powder Column Height Varies with Case-Filling Methods

powder drop tube

Most of us assume that if we weigh our powder carefully (down to the tenth of a grain or less) we can achieve a uniform powder fill from case to case in our handloads. Weighing does ensure that the weight of the propellant in each case is the same, but is the column of powder the same by volume each time? “Not necessarily” is the answer. An interesting experiment by our friend Boyd Allen demonstrates that the manner in which you place kernels in the case can make a significant difference in the height of the powder column within the brass case.

Using a Gempro 250 scale, Boyd measured exactly 30.6 grains of Vihtavuori N-133 powder. He then inserted this powder in the same cartridge case multiple times. (The case has a fired primer in place.) But here is the key — Boyd used various filling techniques. He did a slow fill, and a fast fill, and he also experimented with tapping and drop tubes. What Boyd discovered was that you can start with the exact same weight of powder (in fact the very same set of kernels), yet end up with vary different fill heights, depending on how you drop the kernels into the case. Look at the photos. Despite variations in lighting, the photos show the same 30.6 grains of powder, placed in the same cartridge, with four different methods.

Using funnels with long drop tubes packs kernels more tightly, creating a shorter powder column. That allows you to get more propellant (by weight) into the case.

powder drop tube

Boyd Explains the Procedure Used for his Experiment.

EDITOR’s NOTE: So there is no misunderstanding, Boyd started with a weighed 30.6 grain charge. This identical charge was used for ALL four fills. After a fill the powder was dumped from the case into a pan which was then used for the next fill technique to be tried. So, the powder weight was constant. Indeed the exact same kernels (of constant weight and number) were used for each fill.

Boyd writes: “I used the same powder for all fills, 30.6 gr. on a GemPro 250 checked more than once. All fills employed the same RCBS green transparent plastic funnel. The fast drop with the funnel only overflowed when it was removed from the case neck, and 15 granules of powder fell on the white paper that the case was sitting on. The fast-funnel-only drop with tapping, was done with the funnel in place and the case and funnel in one hand, while tapping the case body with the index finger hard, many times (about 20 fast double taps). My idea here was to “max out” the potential of this tapping technique.

The slow drop with the funnel and 10″-long .22 cal. Harrell’s Precision drop tube, was done by holding the scale pan over the funnel and tapping the spout of the pan repeatedly on the inside of the funnel about 1/3 down from the top, with the scale pan tilted just enough so that the powder will just flow. Many taps were involved, again, to max out the technique.

Again, to be clear, after each case filling, the powder was poured from the case back into the scale pan carefully. You may notice the similarity between the fast drop with the drop tube, and the funnel only with tapping. Although I did not photograph it, fast tube drop and tapping (combined) improved on tapping alone, but only to about half as far down the neck as the slow with drop tube. Due to the endless possible permutations, I picked four and left it at that.

I believe that I can make the rough judgment that the scale pan funnel and drop tube technique, which involved a longer drop period, and probably less velocity at the top of the tube, left more room in the top of the case neck than the slow drop from the measure with the same drop tube. You have both pictures, so you can make the comparison.” — Boyd

Does Powder Column Height Variance Make a Difference?
Boyd’s experiment proves pretty conclusively that the method of dropping a given weight of powder can affect the height of the powder column in the case and the degree of powder compression (when a bullet is seated). He showed this to be true even when the exact same set of kernels (of constant weight) was used in repetitive loadings. This raises some interesting questions:

1. Will subsequent cartridge transport and handling cause the powder to settle so the variances in powder column height are diminished?

2. If significant inconsistencies in powder column height remain at time of firing, will the difference in fill level hurt accuracy, or result in a higher extreme spread in velocity?

3. Is there any advantage (beyond increased effective case capacity) for a tight (low level) fill vs. a loose (high level) fill?

We don’t know the answer to these follow up questions. This Editor guesses that, if we tested low-fill-height rounds vs. high-fill-height rounds (all with same true fill quantity by weight), we might see meaningful differences in average velocity. I would also guess that if you fired 10 rounds that exhibited quite a difference in powder column heights, you might see a higher ES/SD than if you shot 10 rounds loaded with a very consistent powder column height (either high or low). But further testing is needed to determine if these predictions are true.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 6 Comments »
February 22nd, 2017

Mirage Is Your Friend — Great Article on Reading Mirage

South Texas Mirage Reading article
Diagram from SouthTexasShooting.org.

South Texas marksmanship trainingThere is an excellent article about Mirage on the South Texas Marksmanship Training Center (STMTC) website. This article explains what causes mirage and how mirage can move the perceived aiming point on your target. Most importantly, the article explains, in considerable detail, how you can “read” mirage to discern wind speeds and wind directions.

Mirage Is Your Friend
While hot days with lots of mirage can be frustrating, mirage can reveal how the wind is flowing (and changing). If you learn how to recognize and read mirage patterns, you can use that information to shoot higher scores. That’s why many leading long-range shooters tell us: “Mirage is your friend.” As the STMTC article explains: “A mirage condition is not a handicap, since it offers a very accurate method of perceiving small wind changes[.]”

CLICK HERE to Read Complete Mirage Article

Mirage Illustrated with Diagrams
With simple but effective graphic illustrations, this is one of the best explanations of mirage (and mirage reading) we have found on the internet. This is a “must-read” for any serious competitive shooter. Here is a brief sample from the article, along with an illustration. NOTE: the full article is six times longer and has 8 diagrams.

South Texas Mirage Wind Diagram displacement

The term “mirage” as used by the shooter does not refer to a true mirage, but to heat waves and the refraction of light as it is bent passing through air layers of different density. Light which passes obliquely from one wind medium to another it undergoes an abrupt change in direction, whenever its velocity in the second medium is different from the velocity in the first wind medium; the shooter will see a “mirage”.

The density of air, and therefore its refraction, varies with its temperature. A condition of cool air overlaying warm air next to the ground is the cause of heat waves or “mirage”. The warm air, having a lower index of refraction, is mixed with the cooler air above by convection, irregularly bending the light transmitting the target image to the shooter’s eye. Figure 1 shows (greatly exaggerated) the vertical displacement of the target image by heat waves.

South Texas Mirage Reading article

Heat waves are easily seen with the unaided eye on a hot, bright day and can be seen with spotting scope on all but the coldest days. To observe heat waves, the scope should be focused on a point about midway to the target. This will cause the target to appear slightly out of focus, but since the high power rifle shooter generally does not try to spot bullet holes, the lack in target clarity is more than compensated by clarity of the heat waves.

Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Shooting Skills No Comments »
February 17th, 2017

Amazing Benchrest Pistol — Ten Shots in 0.289 MOA

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

TEN Shots in 0.303″ (0.289 MOA) at 100 Yards
How does Dan’s XP-100 pistol shoot? Look at that target showing TEN shots at 100 yards, with eight (8) shots in the main cluster at the top. The ten-shot group measures .303″ (0.289 MOA), as calculated with OnTarget Software. Not bad for a handgun! What do you think, can your best-shooting rifle match the 10-shot accuracy of this XP-100 pistol?

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

Report by Boyd Allen
This pistol belongs to Dan Lutke, a Bay Area benchrest shooter who publishes the results for the Visalia matches to the competitors and the NBRSA. He has been an enthusiastic competitor for an number of years, at various ranges, notably Visalia and Sacramento. The action is a Remington XP-100, to which a Kelbly 2 oz. trigger has been fitted. On top is an old Japanese-made Tasco 36X scope (these were actually pretty darn good). The Hart barrel (a cast-off from Dan’s Unlimited rail gun) was shortened and re-chambered for the 6x45mm, a wildcat made by necking-up the .223 Remington parent case. The custom stock/chassis was CNC-machined by Joe Updike from 6061 Billet Aluminum to fit the XP-100 action and mount a target-style AR grip with bottom hand rest. The gun was bedded and assembled by Mel Iwatsubu. In his XP-100 pistol, Dan shoots 65gr custom boat-tails with Benchmark powder.

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

This diagram shows the most common 6x45mm wildcat, which is a necked-up version of the .223 Remington parent cartridge. NOTE: The dimensions for Dan Lutke’s benchrest version of this cartridge may be slightly different.

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest
ACAD drawing by Peter Gnanapragasam CC by SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Title Added.

Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Gunsmithing, Handguns No Comments »
July 21st, 2016

Insane Railgun Accuracy — Lozano Sets Two World Records

Benchrest NBRSA Unlimited Railgun Grand Agg World Record, Visalia

You are looking at one of the most impressive examples of precision shooting in history. On each of those five targets is a five-shot group made at 100 yards. This is the best set of five targets ever shot consecutively at 100 yards in the history of firearms competition on this planet. That’s right, nobody has ever drilled a better set of five, five-shot targets. The combined Aggregate for these five targets is a stunning 0.1014″, with the individual groups measuring: 0.102″, 0.168″, 0.123″, 0.053″, and 0.061″. So, two of the five groups were in the Zeros. And the 0.1014″ Agg handily beats existing world records.

Benchrest NBRSA Unlimited Railgun Grand Agg World Record, Visalia

This is an amazing accomplishment that beats both the existing NBRSA and IBS records. The NBRSA Record 100-yard Unlimited 5×5 Aggregate is 0.1242 set by Jerry Lahr in 2012. The IBS Record Heavy Benchrest 100-yard Aggregate (for five, 5-shot groups) is 0.134″, set by R. Howell in 2004.

But there’s more…

Lozano Grand Agg of 0.1226 also Breaks IBS and NBRSA World Records
George Lozano also shot a superb five-target Aggregate at 200 yards: 0.1439. This gave him a combined 100 + 200 Grand Aggregate of .1226 which is also a new world record. NOTE: for the 200-yard Agg, the actual group measurements (in inches) are summed, averaged and then divided by two to provide equivalency with the 100-yard results. Lozano’s actual group measurements at 200 yards were: 0.205″, 0.307″, 0.220″, 0.409″, and 0.298″. As averaged and divided by two, that is 0.1439. When combined with George’s 0.1014 100-yard Agg, Lozano’s 100+200 Grand Agg is a stunning 0.1226.

Benchrest NBRSA Unlimited Railgun Grand Agg World Record, Visalia

Lozano’s 0.1226 Grand Agg breaks both NBRSA and IBS World Records. The current NBRSA Unlimited Grand Agg Record for five, 5-shot groups at both 100 and 200 yards is a 0.133 by Dave Dowd in 2012. The equivalent 100 + 200 IBS Heavy Benchrest Grand Agg Record is a 0.1575 by Lester Bruno in 2004.

Benchrest NBRSA Unlimited Railgun Grand Agg World Record, Visalia

The talented shooter, George Lozano (shown above), was modest about his achievement: “Thanks, guys. I appreciate your very kind compliments. It was a good Father’s Day weekend and a fun match.”

NOTE: These records are pending verification by the NBRSA official records committee. But based on the numbers we’ve seen, it looks like Lozano will soon find his name in the record books.

Technical Details
We don’t know much about George Lozano’s load — either the powder or bullet. We’re told he was shooting a 6PPC cartridge in an Unlimited Benchrest rig, also known as a “railgun”. Here is a photo of a modern benchrest railgun. This is NOT Lozano’s record-breaking rig, but it shows the type of hardware used in the modern Unlimited Class.

Unlimited Benchrest rifle railgun Visalia

For more information, visit the Benchrest Central Forum which has threads on Lozano’s 100-Yard Agg and Grand Agg. Great shooting George — congratulations!

Railgun Record Tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, News 5 Comments »
April 25th, 2016

Reloading Tip: Set Your Decapping Rod Insertion Depth Correctly

One of our Forum members complained that he wasn’t able to set his primers flush to the rim. He tried a variety of primer tools, yet no matter what he used, the primers still didn’t seat deep enough. He measured his primers, and they were the right thickness, but it seemed like his primer pockets just weren’t deep enough. He was mystified as to the cause of the problem.

Well, our friend Boyd Allen diagnosed the problem. It was the decapping rod. If the rod is adjusted too low (screwed in too far), the base of the full-diameter rod shaft (just above the pin) will contact the inside of the case. That shaft is steel whereas your case is brass, a softer, weaker metal. So, when you run the case up into the die, the shaft can actually stretch the base of the primer pocket outward. Most presses have enough leverage to do this. If you bell the base of the primer pocket outwards, you’ve essentially ruined your case, and there is no way a primer can seat correctly.

The fix is simple. Just make sure to adjust the decapping rod so that the base of the rod shaft does NOT bottom out on the inside of the case. The pin only needs to extend through the flash hole far enough to knock the primer out. The photo shows a Lyman Universal decapping die. But the same thing can happen with any die that has a decapping rod, such as bushing neck-sizing dies, and full-length sizing dies.

Universal decapping die

Whenever you use a die with a decapping pin for the first time, OR when you move the die to a different press, make sure to check the decapping rod length. And it’s a good idea, with full-length sizing dies, to always re-check the height setting when changing presses.

Lee Universal Decapping Die on SALE for $9.89
Speaking of decapping tools, MidwayUSA has the Lee Universal Decapping Die on sale this month (June, 2010), for just $9.89 (item 136543). There are many situations when you may want to remove primers from fired brass as a separate operation (prior to case sizing). For example, if your rifle brass is dirty, you may want to de-cap before sizing. Or, if you load on a progressive press, things will run much more smoothly if you decap you brass first, in a separate operation. The Lee Universal Decapping Die will work with cartridges from 17 Fireball all the way up to 45-70. However, NOTE that the decapping pin supplied with this Lee die is TOO LARGE for LAPUA 6.5×47, 6BR, 220 Russian, and Norma 6 PPC flash holes. Because the pin diameter is too large for these brass types, you must either turn down the pin, or decap with a different tool for cases with .059″ flash-holes. Otherwise, the Lee Decapping Die works well and it’s a bargain.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 8 Comments »
January 14th, 2016

Unlimited Class “Rail Guns” — The Epitome of Precision

Unlimited Class Rail Gun Visalia CA

Hail the Rail. If you are looking to put multiple shots through one hole, the Unlimited Class benchrest gun, aka “Rail Gun”, is the firearm of choice. These heavy Unlimited rigs are the most accurate benchtop shooting machines ever created. Campaigned by ace competitors in the 100/200-yard benchrest game, rail guns are capable of delivering the ultimate in rifle accuracy — multiple 5-shot groups in the ones and zeros.

Watch Video to Learn More about Rail Guns and See Them in Action:

In this video, YouTuber “Taofledermaus” takes a look at high-tech rail guns on display at the Visalia (CA) shooting range. He says: “The Unlimited Class rail guns are indeed the epitome of precision shooting. [These rifles] resemble something out of a ballistics test laboratory. Each [rail gun] weighs about fifty pounds…”

One-Hole Accuracy with Rail Gun
What kind of accuracy can a top-of-the-line rail gun deliver? Check out this target shot by our friend Lou Murdica in January 2015 in Phoenix. Sometimes superlatives really aren’t necessary. Just look at that target. Yes that is FIVE shots (although it truly appears like one hole). And it is centered! This remarkable group measured at 0.039″. Lou drilled this group with one of his 6 PPC railguns. Rounds were loaded with Accurate LT-32 powder and Berger 65gr BT bullets. The target was submitted to the NBRSA as a potential new 100-yard Benchrest record in the Unlimited (Railgun) Class.

Lou Murdica Unlimited Target NBRSA record Rail Gun

Lou Murdica Unlimited Target NBRSA record Rail Gun
This is a file photo with Lou Murdica with a different rail gun (not the one that shot above target).

Story/video tip by Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, Gear Review No Comments »
March 28th, 2015

That’s Precision: 10 Shots in 0.29 MOA — with a Pistol!

Report by Boyd Allen
This pistol belongs to Dan Lutke, a Bay Area benchrest shooter who publishes the results for the Visalia matches to the competitors and the NBRSA. He has been an enthusiastic competitor for an number of years, at various ranges, notably Visalia and Sacramento. The action is a Remington XP-100, to which a Kelbly 2 oz. trigger has been fitted. On top is an old Japanese-made Tasco 36X scope (these were actually pretty darn good). The Hart barrel (a cast-off from Dan’s Unlimited rail gun) was shortened and re-chambered for the 6x45mm, a wildcat made by necking-up the .223 Remington parent case. The custom stock/chassis was CNC-machined by Joe Updike from 6061 Billet Aluminum to fit the XP-100 action and mount a target-style AR grip with bottom hand rest. The gun was bedded and assembled by Mel Iwatsubu. In his XP-100 pistol, Dan shoots 65gr custom boat-tails with Benchmark powder.

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

TEN Shots in 0.303″ (0.289 MOA) at 100 Yards
How does Dan’s XP-100 pistol shoot? Look at that target showing TEN shots at 100 yards, with eight (8) shots in the main cluster at the top. The ten-shot group measures .303″ (0.289 MOA), as calculated with OnTarget Software. Not bad for a handgun! What do you think, can your best-shooting rifle match the 10-shot accuracy of this XP-100 pistol?

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest

This diagram shows the most common 6x45mm wildcat, which is a necked-up version of the .223 Remington parent cartridge. NOTE: The dimensions for Dan Lutke’s benchrest version of this cartridge may be slightly different.

XP100 target pistol 6x45 6x45mm benchrest
ACAD drawing by Peter Gnanapragasam CC by SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Title Added.

Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Handguns 4 Comments »
November 16th, 2014

Advanced Reloading: Controlling Cartridge Powder Column Height

Most of us assume that if we weigh our powder carefully (down to the tenth of a grain or less) we can achieve a uniform powder fill from case to case in our handloads. Weighing does ensure that the weight of the propellant in each case is the same, but is the column of powder the same by volume each time? “Not necessarily” is the answer. An interesting experiment by our friend Boyd Allen demonstrates that the manner in which you place kernels in the case can make a significant difference in the height of the powder column within the brass case.

Using a Gempro 250 scale, Boyd measured exactly 30.6 grains of Vihtavuori N-133 powder. He then inserted this powder in the same cartridge case multiple times. (The case has a fired primer in place.) But here is the key — Boyd used various filling techniques. He did a slow fill, and a fast fill, and he also experimented with tapping and drop tubes. What Boyd discovered was that you can start with the exact same weight of powder (in fact the very same set of kernels), yet end up with vary different fill heights, depending on how you drop the kernels into the case. Look at the photos. Despite variations in lighting, the photos show the same 30.6 grains of powder, placed in the same cartridge, with four different methods.

Boyd Explains the Procedure Used for his Experiment.

EDITOR’s NOTE: So there is no misunderstanding, Boyd started with a weighed 30.6 grain charge. This identical charge was used for ALL four fills. After a fill the powder was dumped from the case into a pan which was then used for the next fill technique to be tried. So, the powder weight was constant. Indeed the exact same kernels (of constant weight and number) were used for each fill.

Boyd writes: “I used the same powder for all fills, 30.6 gr. on a GemPro 250 checked more than once. All fills employed the same RCBS green transparent plastic funnel. The fast drop with the funnel only overflowed when it was removed from the case neck, and 15 granules of powder fell on the white paper that the case was sitting on. The fast-funnel-only drop with tapping, was done with the funnel in place and the case and funnel in one hand, while tapping the case body with the index finger hard, many times (about 20 fast double taps). My idea here was to “max out” the potential of this tapping technique.

The slow drop with the funnel and 10″-long .22 cal. Harrell’s Precision drop tube, was done by holding the scale pan over the funnel and tapping the spout of the pan repeatedly on the inside of the funnel about 1/3 down from the top, with the scale pan tilted just enough so that the powder will just flow. Many taps were involved, again, to max out the technique.

Again, to be clear, after each case filling, the powder was poured from the case back into the scale pan carefully. You may notice the similarity between the fast drop with the drop tube, and the funnel only with tapping. Although I did not photograph it, fast tube drop and tapping (combined) improved on tapping alone, but only to about half as far down the neck as the slow with drop tube. Due to the endless possible permutations, I picked four and left it at that.

I believe that I can make the rough judgment that the scale pan funnel and drop tube technique, which involved a longer drop period, and probably less velocity at the top of the tube, left more room in the top of the case neck than the slow drop from the measure with the same drop tube. You have both pictures, so you can make the comparison.” — Boyd

Does Powder Column Height Variance Make a Difference?
Boyd’s experiment proves pretty conclusively that the method of dropping a given weight of powder can affect the height of the powder column in the case and the degree of powder compression (when a bullet is seated). He showed this to be true even when the exact same set of kernels (of constant weight) was used in repetitive loadings. This raises some interesting questions:

1. Will subsequent cartridge transport and handling cause the powder to settle so the variances in powder column height are diminished?

2. If significant inconsistencies in powder column height remain at time of firing, will the difference in fill level hurt accuracy, or result in a higher extreme spread in velocity?

3. Is there any advantage (beyond increased effective case capacity) for a tight (low level) fill vs. a loose (high level) fill?

We don’t know the answer to these follow up questions. This Editor guesses that, if we tested low-fill-height rounds vs. high-fill-height rounds (all with same true fill quantity by weight), we might see meaningful differences in average velocity. I would also guess that if you fired 10 rounds that exhibited quite a difference in powder column heights, you might see a higher ES/SD than if you shot 10 rounds loaded with a very consistent powder column height (either high or low). But further testing is needed to determine if these predictions are true.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
May 2nd, 2013

NBRSA Magazine Available Online in Digital Format

NBRSA logoPrecision Rifleman, the official magazine of the NBRSA, is now available for free online. In addition to match results, equipment lists and pictures, in each eZine issue you’ll find good articles about various benchrest-related topics.

CLICK HERE to Read NBRSA Precision Rifleman Magazine

Daily Bulletin contributor Boyd Allen recommends you check out these NBRSA eZines: “For those who are considering the sport of benchrest, this is a good way to get a better ‘feel’ for what it is like. For those who are building a new rifle, the equipment lists can provide invaluable information. Take a look.” All of the back issues are available at: www.issuu.com/precisionrifleman.

NBRSA Precision Shooting Magazine

Permalink New Product, News 1 Comment »
January 8th, 2013

Outstanding Primer Seating Tool from 21st Century Shooting

The tool-makers at 21st Century Shooting have come up with a very slick new Precision Hand-Priming Tool. This extremely well-made, benchrest-grade unit raises the bar among single-primer seating tools. Feel is great, changing shell-holders is simple, and nothing else on the market offers better control over primer seating depth. The tool’s precision-adjusting head provides clicks in .0025″ increments for precise seating depth. The tool’s body, internals, and shell-holders are stainless, while the handle is anodized aluminum. Price is $118.00 for the tool itself. Shell-holders (sizes from 17 Remington up to .338 Lapua Magnum) cost $7.99 each.

21st Century Priming Tool Review
By Boyd Allen
I have been priming cases, with various hand-priming tools, for about three decades, and in the process have pretty much tried them all, from least to most expensive. When I found out that this new 21st Century tool was adjustable for seating depth, I wondered about that. After all, what do I, who believes in seating by feel, need with adjustable seating depth? Well…..I was wrong. Let me explain.

Why Adjustment for Primer Seating Depth Is Important
Most hand-seating tools do not have an adjustment for how far up the priming punch comes up into the shell holder. As a result, when priming a case with a deep pocket, especially if there has been some wear of the tool’s linkage, the finger/thumb lever may contact the tool’s body before the primer is fully seated. Having a primer seated too high can cause a myriad of problems. Prior to this, the only seater that I had used that had an adjustable linkage was the Sinclair tool, and adjusting its linkage requires disassembly — regular disassembly if you want to keep it perfect. That’s not convenient. The Sinclair is good tool, but a pain in the neck to adjust.

Precision Control Over Seating Depth — With Click Adjustment
The 21st Century Priming Tool offers quick and easy depth adjustment (unlike its rival from Sinclair). The 21st Century unit can be adjusted in precise increments (.0025”) more quickly than you can read this sentence. The knurled head of the tool is threaded onto the body, which has a very sturdy ball and spring detent indexing system that is easy to adjust and precise. Clicks are secure and positive. With this feature, you can set the tool so that the handle is in any position (distance from the tool body) that you find convenient, when the primer is fully seated. Additionally, since leverage increases as the handle approaches the tool body, different stopping points afford differing mechanical advantages (more or less effort required) and sensitivity. By doing a little experimenting, I have found a point of adjustment that give me better feel for when the primer hits the bottom of the pocket, without overshooting the mark, while keeping the force requirement within a range that is comfortable when priming a large number of cases.

Quick and Easy Shell-Holder Changing
Changing shell holders is easily accomplished. No extra hex-wrenches or tools are needed, and there are no tiny set screws to roll of the desk, to be lost forever in the carpet, never to be heard from again until you hear them rattling up the vacuum cleaner hose. To swap shell-holders, simply screw the head off of the body, lift off the one that you one that you are replacing, set the one that you intend to use in place (assuming that it used the same size primer) and screw the head back down to the setting that you want. Changing primer sizes is equally easy. NOTE: The tool requires 21st Century-made shell holders. These may be turned (relative to the handle) so that the loading slot opening faces whatever direction you prefer.

Fit, Finish, and Feel
The body and head of the tool, as well as the internal linkages, are all made from stainless steel. These closely-fitted parts are precisely machined, with an smooth, attractive finish. The handle is black anodized aluminum. Overall, the tool is well-shaped, and built like a stainless/aluminum brick.

Bottom Line: Great Tool That Works Exceptionally Well
I can’t imagine anyone, who uses a single-primer tool of this type, not liking this tool. When it comes to hand reloading tools, I can afford to have pretty much whatever I want (within reason). After testing and using this tool, I pulled my Sinclair tool from its case, and replaced it with this one. That should say it all. After using this tool, I will have to give serious consideration to other 21st Century reloading products the next time I need a new tool. One thing is for sure — we have an important new player in the design and manufacture of top end of reloading equipment. 21st Century’s Precision Priming Tool “raises the bar” among single-primer seating tools.

Tool Size Considerations
I wrote the review and then took the pictures, which, upon reflection, make the tool look smaller than it is, because of the size of my hands. I thought about putting a ruler in the pictures, but rejected that as visual clutter, so I will simply tell you that from tip of thumb to that of my little finger, my right hand measures a little over 10 inches, and the palm is 4 inches wide. The size of the tool is just right.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 14 Comments »
December 13th, 2012

How Case Filling Method Can Alter Powder Column Height

Most of us assume that if we weigh our powder carefully (down to the tenth of a grain or less) we can achieve a uniform powder fill from case to case in our handloads. Weighing does ensure that the weight of the propellant in each case is the same, but is the column of powder the same by volume each time? “Not necessarily” is the answer. An interesting experiment by our friend Boyd Allen demonstrates that the manner in which you place kernels in the case can make a significant difference in the height of the powder column within the brass case.

Using a Gempro 250 scale, Boyd measured exactly 30.6 grains of Vihtavuori N-133 powder. He then inserted this powder in the same cartridge case multiple times. (The case has a fired primer in place.) But here is the key — Boyd used various filling techniques. He did a slow fill, and a fast fill, and he also experimented with tapping and drop tubes. What Boyd discovered was that you can start with the exact same weight of powder (in fact the very same set of kernels), yet end up with vary different fill heights, depending on how you drop the kernels into the case. Look at the photos. Despite variations in lighting, the photos show the same 30.6 grains of powder, placed in the same cartridge, with four different methods.

Boyd Explains the Procedure Used for his Experiment.

EDITOR’s NOTE: So there is no misunderstanding, Boyd started with a weighed 30.6 grain charge. This identical charge was used for ALL four fills. After a fill the powder was dumped from the case into a pan which was then used for the next fill technique to be tried. So, the powder weight was constant. Indeed the exact same kernels (of constant weight and number) were used for each fill.

Boyd writes: “I used the same powder for all fills, 30.6 gr. on a GemPro 250 checked more than once. All fills employed the same RCBS green transparent plastic funnel. The fast drop with the funnel only overflowed when it was removed from the case neck, and 15 granules of powder fell on the white paper that the case was sitting on. The fast-funnel-only drop with tapping, was done with the funnel in place and the case and funnel in one hand, while tapping the case body with the index finger hard, many times (about 20 fast double taps). My idea here was to “max out” the potential of this tapping technique.

The slow drop with the funnel and 10″-long .22 cal. Harrell’s Precision drop tube, was done by holding the scale pan over the funnel and tapping the spout of the pan repeatedly on the inside of the funnel about 1/3 down from the top, with the scale pan tilted just enough so that the powder will just flow. Many taps were involved, again, to max out the technique.

Again, to be clear, after each case filling, the powder was poured from the case back into the scale pan carefully. You may notice the similarity between the fast drop with the drop tube, and the funnel only with tapping. Although I did not photograph it, fast tube drop and tapping (combined) improved on tapping alone, but only to about half as far down the neck as the slow with drop tube. Due to the endless possible permutations, I picked four and left it at that.

I believe that I can make the rough judgment that the scale pan funnel and drop tube technique, which involved a longer drop period, and probably less velocity at the top of the tube, left more room in the top of the case neck than the slow drop from the measure with the same drop tube. You have both pictures, so you can make the comparison.” — Boyd

Does Powder Column Height Variance Make a Difference?
Boyd’s experiment proves pretty conclusively that the method of dropping a given weight of powder can affect the height of the powder column in the case and the degree of powder compression (when a bullet is seated). He showed this to be true even when the exact same set of kernels (of constant weight) was used in repetitive loadings. This raises some interesting questions:

1. Will subsequent cartridge transport and handling cause the powder to settle so the variances in powder column height are diminished?

2. If significant inconsistencies in powder column height remain at time of firing, will the difference in fill level hurt accuracy, or result in a higher extreme spread in velocity?

3. Is there any advantage (beyond increased effective case capacity) for a tight (low level) fill vs. a loose (high level) fill?

We don’t know the answer to these follow up questions. This Editor guesses that, if we tested low-fill-height rounds vs. high-fill-height rounds (all with same true fill quantity by weight), we might see meaningful differences in average velocity. I would also guess that if you fired 10 rounds that exhibited quite a difference in powder column heights, you might see a higher ES/SD than if you shot 10 rounds loaded with a very consistent powder column height (either high or low). But further testing is needed to determine if these predictions are true.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 12 Comments »