February 2nd, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Nat’l Champion F-Open Rifle and Cerus Twin

Brian Bowling F-Class F-0pen Open National Champion Brian Blake Barrel Blake Machine .284 Winchester Win RAHM rifle competition

With the Berger Southwest Nationals commencing this week, we thought our readers would appreciate a showcase of two impressive, state-of-the-art F-Open match rifles. The first, show above, is the .284 RAHM (40° .284 Win Imp) with which Brian Bowling captured the 2019 F-Class Open Division Long Range National Championship. The second rifle belongs to barrel-maker Bryan Blake. Like Bowling’s rifle, Blake’s rig features a low-profile Cerus stock, but with purple highlights. Both rifles have 6-groove, cut-rifled barrels from Blake Barrel & Rifle and both sport Nightforce scopes.

Brian Bowling F-Class F-0pen Open National Champion Brian Blake Barrel Blake Machine .284 Winchester Win RAHM rifle competition

Twin World-Class F-Open Rifles

Report from Bryan Blake of Blake Barrel & Rifle
We had been producing gun barrels for about 1.5 years prior to the 2019 NRA Long Range F-Class Nationals. Brian Bowling started shooting our 7mm barrels in May of 2019. Bowling and I are both on the Rutland team, Team Cerus, which has seven members. Bowling and I received the first Cerus XL stocks from Cerus Rifleworks in August of 2018. The stock was a very straight design.

With our barrels, these F-Open rigs can shoot! In 2018, Brian Bowling and I had the only two clean scores for the first match at the 1000-yard team NRA Nationals. In spring of 2019, I worked with Will of Cerus Rifleworks to see if we could come up with a lower center of gravity design to enhance what was already the straightest stock out there. We developed the Cerus XR stock which features stepped metal rails on the fore-end. I cut my XL Cerus stock and designed the rail system attached to the sides of the fore-end. Bowling’s stock (with black rails) was the second XR in the shooting world. On his very first weekend match at 600 yards he shot a 200-20X with the new XR stock and Blake 7mm 1:8.5″-twist barrel. He was using Berger 184gr 7mm bullets.

Brian Bowling F-Class F-0pen Open National Champion Brian Blake Barrel Blake Machine .284 Winchester Win RAHM rifle competition

In 2019, at the NRA F-Class Long-Range Nationals, Brian Bowling won the F-Open National Championsship with a strong performance. He finished with a ton of Xs, three points ahead of the second place competitor. Before Brian’s impressive victory, we were told by many top shooters that a 6-groove barrel has never won any F-Class Mational event, and hypothetically never would. Well with Brian Bowling’s excellent shooting and reloading capabilities, we achieved a feat many said couldn’t be done.

Brian Bowling F-Class F-0pen Open National Champion Brian Blake Barrel Blake Machine .284 Winchester Win RAHM rifle competition

Bowling’s Championship-winning rifle features a Bat Model B action in the Cerus XR stock. His Blake barrel is chambered for the .284 RAHM wildcat cartridge. This is a 40-degree (40°) version of the .284 Winchester. The .284 RAHM has a straighter case body compared to the original .284 Win.

We built Bowling’s rifle, doing everything except the final clear finish. We can do that work, but were short on time for the Nationals last year. We are proud of the chambering work we do and the quality of our bedding jobs.

Brian Bowling F-Class F-0pen Open National Champion Brian Blake Barrel Blake Machine .284 Winchester Win RAHM rifle competition

Bryan Blake’s F-Open Rifle — the Purple XR

Brian Bowling F-Class F-0pen Open National Champion Brian Blake Barrel Blake Machine .284 Winchester Win RAHM rifle competition

The Purple XR-stocked gun I shoot was built in August of 2019, right before the 2019 NRA F-Class Nationals. The natural wood is complimented by highlights finished with a bright purple metallic epoxy resin that Will from Cerus dreamed up. For this rifle we mated a BAT 3LL action with Blake barrels (switch-barrel configuration). Up front the fore-end rails are painted purple “plum crazy” to match the purple resin. The purple XR is finished with automotive “high solids” clear-coat, and block-sanded for a smooth, flawless look.

Brian Bowling F-Class F-0pen Open National Champion Brian Blake Barrel Blake Machine .284 Winchester Win RAHM rifle competition

Blake’s Rifle is a Switch Barrel — 7mm and .30 Caliber
This Purple XR was set up to be a switch barrel rig, with both a 7mm BBM and a .30 BBM*. These BBM wildcats are based on shortened and straightened .300 WSM with a 40-degree shoulder. On my purple XR rifle as well as Bowling’s rifle, we employ Nightforce optics and load Berger bullets. These are the only glass and projectiles we use in our rifles.

The Purple XR is extremely accurate. Check out this 2.6″ group, shot at 1000 yards during a club match at the Ben Avery Range in Arizona. Yes, that is 1/4-MOA at 1K! Many folks would be very happy with that group at 600 yards. At 1000 yards it is remarkable. No, the rifle can’t do that every time. But this does demonstrate that the Purple XR is a tack-driver. CLICK HERE to see a 3.9 inch, 15-shot group at 1000 yards on the F-Class target (150-15X).

Brian Bowling F-Class F-0pen Open National Champion Brian Blake Barrel Blake Machine .284 Winchester Win RAHM rifle competition

Brian Bowling F-Class F-0pen Open National Champion Brian Blake Barrel Blake Machine .284 Winchester Win RAHM rifle competition

About Blake Barrel and Rifle — History and Barrel-Making Process
Blake Barrel and Rifle was re-launched in 2018. The business was actually started by my grandfather, Robert Blake, in 1966. In 1969 my grandfather stopped doing gunsmithing and making single-point cut-rifled barrels. He transitioned to doing industrial work, and less work for the public. After all those years he and my father, Dave Blake, kept the barrel-making equipment in storage. They kept the gun-drilling machines in the shop as they used them to drill long, deep holes in anything from aircraft parts to electric motor rotors.

In 2012 we got the diamond single-point, sine-bar rifling machine out of storage, along with the Pratt and Whitney double-spindle reaming machine. We then completely rebuilt and updated the equipment. We modified the gun-drill to be a counter-rotating drilling system. What that means is the drill spins at about 20% of the rotational speed, and the barrel at 80%. The counter-rotation keeps the drill on the center axis of the barrel more precisely than just rotating the barrel, or just rotating the drill. We are able to consistently drill holes in our barrel steel (primarily 416R) that at the end of a 33.25″ blank that is only .005″ off of center axis.

We then ream the barrels to be .0004″ below desired finish bore size. After the reaming process we mandrel-hone the bores to be .0001″ below finish bore size. This process eliminates reamer marks in the barrel bore. Therefore very minimal lapping is needed after rifling to remove any tooling marks. We then rifle the barrel to any twist rate we like. With a fine lap after rifling, the barrel has no tooling marks and all surface metal is flowing in the direction of the twist of the rifling.

* 7mm BBM stands for “Blake Bramley Magnum”. Dan Bramley and I developed that cartridge together in October of 2017. The .30 BBM is the “Blake Barrel Magnum”, which I developed in May of 2018.

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May 14th, 2018

Beast for the King — Reigning King of 2 Miles Gets .416 Barrett

Derek Rodgers .416 Barrett ELR KO2M king of 2 miles Beast 2 McMillan stock Nightforce ATACR scope extreme long range New Mexico

Current F-TR World Champion Derek Rodgers is also the reigning King of 2 Miles champ, so he knows something about Extreme Long Range (ELR) shooting. While Derek won his KO2M title at Raton shooting the .375 CheyTac cartridge, Derek decided that something even bigger was in order. This season, Derek will be shooting a .416 Barrett. Last week we showcased his impressive .416 Barrett ammo, with massive Cutting Edge bullets.

Derek Rodgers .416 Barrett ELR KO2M king of 2 miles Beast 2 McMillan stock Nightforce ATACR scope extreme long range New Mexico

Now we can show the Big Rig that will deliver those .416-caliber projectiles. This monster weighs 40+ pounds and sports a 40″ Bartlein barrel — more length for more velocity. Derek’s new ELR rifle features a McMillan Beast 2 stock, BAT EX action, and Nightforce ATACR 7-35x56mm scope. Derek explained why he moved up to a bigger caliber: “I built a new rifle with the anticipation of seeing impacts easier. It was not just a larger caliber being more effective on hitting ELR targets, but rather hoping that a missed shot would have a much larger impact. Impacts beyond a mile become harder to see due to terrain and vegetation. So any added dust or splash erupting from the earth is a decisive benefit over an equally-accurate smaller caliber.” Here is Derek’s full report on his new .416 Barrett rifle.

Derek Rodgers Campaigns a .416 Barrett

Report by Derek Rodgers
Cartridge Choice — I chose a standard .416 Barrett cartridge as it allows for bullets up to and slightly exceeding 550 grains. It really does bridge the gap between the .375 variants and a 50 BMG. There are several great solid ELR bullet options from manufactures like Cutting Edge that range from 475-550 grains. These offer a variety of extremely high BC options for barrels that have different twist rates. Most loads will utilize the slowest burn rate powders commercially available. Good options are Vihtavuori 20N29, RL50, H50BMG and other powders with a similar burn rate.

Derek Rodgers .416 Barrett ELR KO2M king of 2 miles Beast 2 McMillan stock Nightforce ATACR scope extreme long range New Mexico

Shooting the .416 — Tamer than Expected
An initial observation is that the rifle is very controllable and feels much like a larger F-TR gun. The rifle weighs 40+ pounds, balanced and stays on target very well. The recoil is manageable and linear. This seems to give a straight rearward impulse that does not affect positioning. This allows for quick repositioning into battery and faster follow-up shots.

Derek Rodgers .416 Barrett ELR KO2M king of 2 miles Beast 2 McMillan stock Nightforce ATACR scope extreme long range New Mexico

Rifle Details — BAT EX Action, Bartlein 40″ Barrel, McMillan Beast 2 Stock
Derek’s .416 Barrett ELR Rig features a BAT EX action with a Bix N’ Andy trigger. Out front is a gigantic 40” long, 1:9″-twist Bartlein barrel fitted with a Terminator T5 muzzle brake. The handsome McMillan Beast 2 stock combines a lower center of gravity design with a higher butt location. Given that high butt geometry, McMillan cleverly fitted the higher buttpad with a port allowing the cleaning rod to pass through (see photo below). On top is a Nightforce ATACR 7-35x56mm scope in NF rings on a +60 MOA rail, with Holland 34mm bubble level. The stock is supported by a Phoenix bipod and rests in an Edgewood bag designed for the McMillan Xit F-TR stock.

Derek Rodgers .416 Barrett ELR KO2M king of 2 miles Beast 2 McMillan stock Nightforce ATACR scope extreme long range New Mexico

Note the extended Buttpad height. That helps with recoil in prone position. This McMillan Beast 2 stock includes a pass-through hole for the cleaning rod.

Derek Rodgers .416 Barrett ELR KO2M king of 2 miles Beast 2 McMillan stock Nightforce ATACR scope extreme long range New Mexico

Gunsmithing by Blake Barrel and Rifle in Arizona
Derek’s rifle was built and chambered by Bryan Blake of Blake Barrel and Rifle in Phoenix, Arizona. The chambering was done with a Manson Precision reamer. Derek explains: “Bryan and his family have been in the machine shop business for several generations and have the expertise and equipment to handle larger barrel diameters associated with F-Class to ELR type rigs. I tried to consider all angles and potential pitfalls that might occur during the building process. However, Bryan added his own touches to make the project his own. He truly created a work of art and supplied a turn-key rifle that is meticulously built from the inside out and looks as great as the tolerances it holds.”

Derek Rodgers .416 Barrett ELR KO2M king of 2 miles Beast 2 McMillan stock Nightforce ATACR scope extreme long range New Mexico

.416 Barrett Derek Rodgers Action

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