July 16th, 2014

The Dunbars — Father and Son F-Class State Champions

Like father, like sons. Here’s a “feel-good” story about a father and two young sons. John Dunbar and his sons Brad and Zach attend F-Class matches together. John and Zach shoot, while young Brad helps in the pits and hauls gear for his brother and father. Working together, the Dunbar family has been quite successful in the F-Class game. Father John recently won the Wisconsin State F-Class Championship, while John’s oldest son Zach won the State F-Class Junior Championship that very same weekend.

Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wisconsin

The double Dunbar victories took place during the 2014 Gillespie Memorial Long Range Individual State Championship held last month at the Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wisconsin. The battle for the F-Class (Open Division) Championship was largely a race between two Wisconsin shooters, Bob Sebold and John Dunbar. By the close of the Saturday matches, 2013 defending champion Sebold maintained a five X lead over his rival Dunbar. Both shooters had dropped a mere three points throughout the three match stages at 800, 900, and 1,000 yards.

The first Sunday match narrowed the gap between Sebold and Dunbar, with both shooters dropping two points apiece. Dunbar scored four additional Xs, allowing Sebold to retain the lead by a single X. The final 20-shot, 1,000-yard string determined the weekend’s Grand Aggregate champion. Dunbar scored an incredible 198-14X that clinched the title of Wisconsin State Long Range F-Class Champion.

Zach Dunbar Wins F-Class Junior State Championship
While John Dunbar secured one F-Class title, another, much younger Dunbar also made it to the winner’s circle. John’s oldest son Zach won the State F-Open Junior Championship that very same weekend. Zach had a comeback victory, overcoming a three-point deficit after the first day of shooting.

Youngest son Brad also helped secure the Dunbar family’s twin wins, cheering on family members while ensuring Team Dunbar remained hydrated on the firing line. From pulling targets in the pits to hauling gear across the range, young Brad’s efforts helped Team Dunbar finish first.

The range at Lodi is well-known for challenging wind conditions that are difficult to read. The 2014 Gillespie Memorial match proved to be no exception. Pick-ups and switches occurred with regularity, while mirage occasionally ran opposite to the wind flags lining the range.

Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wisconsin

Story by Josh Buege of Criterion Barrels. We welcome reader submissions.

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
July 2nd, 2014

One Dollar Do-It-Yourself Mirage Shield

make your own mirage shield for rifleWant to shoot better scores at your next match? Here’s a smart, inexpensive do-it-yourself project from the good folks at Criterion Barrels. For less than one dollar in materials, in just a few minutes you can create a handy, effective mirage shield, custom-fitted to your favorite rifle.

All precision shooters should be familiar with mirage, a form of optical distortion caused primarily by variations in air temperature. Savvy shooters will use mirage as a valuable tool when gauging wind speed and direction. Natural mirage is unavoidable, but there are many techniques designed to limit its influence in long-range marksmanship.

make your own mirage shield for rifle

A form of mirage can be produced by the barrel itself. Heat rising from the barrel may distort sight picture through your optics, leading to erratic results. Mirage caused by barrel heat can be reduced dramatically by a simple, light-weight mirage shield.

How to Make a Mirage Shield

A mirage shield is an extremely cost-effective way to eliminate a commonly-encountered problem. Making your own mirage shield is easy. Using old venetian blind strips and common household materials and tools, you can construct your own mirage shield for under one dollar.

Materials Required:
1. Vertical PVC Venetian blind panel
2. Three 1”x1” pieces adhesive-backed Velcro
3. Ruler or tape measure
4. Scissors or box cutter
5. Pencil or marker

1. Measure the distance from the end of the receiver or rail to the crown of the barrel.

make your own mirage shield for rifle

2. Using a pencil and ruler, measure the same distance and mark an even line across the blind.

make your own mirage shield for rifle

3. Cut across the line using scissors or a box cutter, shortening the blind to the required length. (Remember, measure twice, cut once!)

4. Expose the adhesive backing on the loop side of the Velcro. Center and apply the Velcro strips on the barrel at regular intervals.

make your own mirage shield for rifle

5. Expose the adhesive backing of the fuzzy side of the Velcro.

6. Place the blind on the upper side of the barrel. Apply downward pressure. Once the Velcro has secured itself to the barrel, separate the two sides. Proceed to mold both sides of the Velcro to fit the contour of their respective surfaces.

7. Reaffix the blind. Barrel related mirage is now a thing of the past!

make your own mirage shield for rifle

How to Remove and Re-Attach the Mirage Shield
Removal of your mirage shield is accomplished by simply removing the blind. You can un-install the Velcro by pulling off the strips and then gently removing any adhesive residue left behind using an appropriate solvent. (Simple cooking oil may do the job.) Caution: With fine, high-polish blued barrels, test any solvent on a non-visible section of the barrel. Before storing the gun, re-oil the barrel to remove active solvents and residual fingerprints.

Permalink Tech Tip 2 Comments »
January 11th, 2014

Criterion Barrel on Savage LRPV — Pre-Fit Does the Trick

Savage Criterion BarrelIn our Shooters’ Forum, you’ll find a lengthy thread about accuracy problems with a Savage LRPV, chambered in 6mmBR. The gun would repeatedly split groups at 100 yards, and at 300 yards, the “flyers” would open up the groups to 1.5 MOA or larger. Interestingly, the factory test target (at right) showed a split group — not a good sign.

The gun’s owner, forum member LR_Shooter, tried a variety of tweaks: “I did this, done that… [changed] torque, tang floated, bedded action, recut chamber, and [adjusted firing pin]“. But nothing really helped. Frustrated, LR_Shooter asked his fellow Forum members for help. Much advice was proffered, including the novel idea of removing the middle action screw in the Savage 3-screw target action. Some of the advice proved helpful, but none of the suggested remedies produced a major improvement. This rifle, out of the box, tossed flyers and no amount of tweaking (or changes in shooting technique) really cured the basic problem. That is, until, the factory barrel got replaced…

Savage Criterion Barrel

New Criterion Pre-Fit Barrel Works Wonders
LR_Shooter acquired a Criterion pre-fit barrel from Jim Briggs at Northland Shooters Supply (NSS). These pre-fits are designed for easy installation with the standard Savage barrel nut. Wouldn’t you know it, with a new 30″ heavy-contour barrel on the LRPV, the gun started shooting way better. No more crazy fliers, no more split groups, no more excessive vertical. And the improvement came without any other major modifications. LR_Shooter reports: “I got a replacement barrel from Jim at NSS. It is a 30″ bull Criterion barrel. So far, without playing with torque screws and having my old setup… I’m very satisfied with the barrel I got. Now I have no problem getting [groups] under 0.25 MOA. Finally this thing can shoot!” The targets below, shot with the new Criterion barrel, speak for themselves. The left target was shot at 100 yards, while the target on the right was shot at 300 yards (very impressive).

Targets Shot with Savage LRPV Fitted with Criterion Barrel
Savage Criterion Barrel

Read Thread on Savage Accuracy Issues Fixed By Criterion Barrel

Moral of the Story — Sometimes A New Barrel Really Is the Right Solution
All of us have struggled at times with a rifle that won’t live up to expectations. This Editor personally struggled for over a year with a .260 Rem Savage with a factory tube. The gun tended to split groups and the POI walked as the barrel heated. I tried one powder/primer combination after another, working through a variety of seating depths over many months. I was persistent. Out of stubbornness, I just believed that sooner or later I’d find the magic load.

Well folks, sometimes there’s really nothing you can do about a sub-par barrel. It is what it is. To really improve a gun’s accuracy (particularly a gun with a factory tube), you may need to open your wallet and get a quality aftermarket barrel. Spending months trying one recipe after another may simply be an overwhelming waste of powder, bullets, and your precious time.

Albert Einstein supposedly said: “Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” Well that sort of describes my efforts with my .260 Rem. Once I had enough evidence that my barrel split groups no matter what load combo (and seating depth) I tried, it was time to pony up for a new barrel. When I did finally screw on a nice PacNor 3-groove Supermatch, that Savage suddenly became a true tack-driver. As re-chambered in 6mmBR with the Pac-Nor, in calm conditions, my Savage will now consistently shoot in the twos with heavy bullets, and it can sometimes dip down into the ones with Berger 80gr flat-base bullets. The moral of the story here is simple — don’t waste weeks or months chasing your tail with a barrel that just won’t deliver (after a reasonable amount of testing). Save up for a custom barrel, get it chambered properly, and stop your cycle of frustration.

Contact Information for Northland Shooters Supply:
E-mail: briggs.j-b@q.com (that is Q.com not G.com)
Phone: (763) 682-4296
Fax: (763) 682-6098
Mailing address:
P.O. Box 333
Buffalo, MN 55313

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 7 Comments »
November 19th, 2013

Chambered Criterion Barrels for ’03s and Garands: $180 – $190

Here’s some good news for owners of 1903 Springfields, 1903A3s, M1 Garands, and M1 Carbines. The CMP sells brand new chrome-moly barrels for these rifles for $190.00 or less. These authentic-profile barrels are made by Criterion Barrels in Richfield, WI, using the button-rifling process. They are “semi-finished” meaning they come chambered and headspaced within .010″ of finished size, with final fitting to be done by a competent gunsmith. The barrels are also externally Parkerized to match the finish of your vintage ’03, Garand, or M1 Carbine. (NOTE: Currently the only M1 Garand Barrels offered are chambered for the .308 Winchester, NOT the .30-06 Springfield.) To order, go to the CMP eStore and click the Barrels Link in the upper left.

1903 Rifle Barrels CMP Criterion

New Criterion 1903 RIFLE Barrel, 4140 Chrome Moly Steel
Item: 065CRI/03 | $189.95 + $9.95 shipping

New 1903 barrels by Criterion Barrels, Inc., 4140 chrome moly steel, button rifled, contoured, and finish lapped after contouring. Comply with CMP competition rules and are legal for the 1903 Matches. Parkerized like the original 1903 and chambered .010 away from finish size to be fitted and headspaced when assembled to fit your receiver and bolt dimensions.

New Criterion 1903A3 RIFLE barrel, 4140 Chrome Moly Steel
Item: 065CRI/A3 | Price: $189.95 + $9.95 shipping

New 1903A3 barrels by Criterion Barrels, Inc., 4140 chrome moly steel, button rifled, contoured, and finish lapped after contouring. Comply with CMP competition rules and are legal for the 1903A3 Matches. Parkerized like the original 1903A3 and chambered .010 away from finish size to be fitted and headspaced when assembled to fit your receiver and bolt dimensions.

New Criterion Garand (.308) RIFLE Barrel, 4140 Chrome Moly Steel
Item: 065CRI/M1 | Price $189.95 plus $9.95 shipping

New Garand barrels by Criterion Barrels, 4140 chrome moly steel, button rifled, contoured, and finish lapped after contouring. Parkerized finish and chambered .010 away from finish size to be fitted and headspaced when assembled to fit your receiver and bolt dimensions. NOTE: Barrel is chambered for .308 Winchester.

New Criterion Carbine RIFLE Barrel, 4140 Chrome Moly Steel
Item: 065CRI/CARBINE | Price $189.95 plus $9.95 shipping

New Carbine barrels by Criterion Barrels, 4140 chrome moly Steel, button rifled, contoured, and finish lapped after contouring. Comply with CMP Competition Rules and are legal for the CMP M1 Carbine Matches. Parkerized like the original M1 Carbine and chambered .010 away from finish size to be fitted and head-spaced when assembled to fit your receiver and bolt dimensions. Barrel is .30 Carbine.

NOTE: For all barrel types, assembly and headspacing by a qualified gunsmith is required.

Credit Forum Member Boyd Allen for finding this CMP Barrel Special
Permalink Gunsmithing, Hot Deals No Comments »
September 8th, 2011

15-Year-Old Gal Wins Her First-Ever F-Class Match

Here’s a positive success story about a family that shoots together. Shooters’ Forum member Troy (aka ‘TTFreestyle’) is a competitive shooter whose 15-year-old daughter Michele is following in his footsteps. It looks like Michele is a born shooter, with exceptional natural talent — she won her first-ever F-Open match, shooting a 450-22x without dropping a point. Marksmanship definitely runs in the family. (Interestingly, Michele has a twin sister who also shoots, but according to Troy, “Michele’s twin doesn’t crave shooting the way Michele does.”)

Youth F-class

Troy reports: “My daughter Michele shot her first F-Open match today at Chattanooga rifle club. It was a three-relay, mid-range match with 15 shots at 300 yards and two more 15-shot relays at 500 yards. Michele shot 450-22x out of 450 with her Savage 6BR.” Troy revealed: “I was worried that I had not done enough load development for her, but I but guess it was good enough!” Troy added: “I helped Michele get set up with the rest and rear bag. I told her to have fun and follow-through. She did the rest. We were fortunate that the conditions were favorable for her relays — not too breezy and with little mirage. The wind really kicked up later while we were in the pits.”

Michele’s Rifle Specs — a Hot-Rodded Savage 110
Michele’s winning rifle, which Troy just completed two weeks ago, has some key upgrades. The barrel is a 28″ 6mmBR pre-fit Criterion from Northland Shooters Supply. Troy noted: “My wife’s gun also has a Criterion pre-fit barrel. Both Criterions shoot great — 2.5″ at 600 yards with minimal load development.” The Savage 110 action on Michele’s rifle now sits in a a href=”http://www.sharpshootersupply.com/LRBR_Stock.html” target=”new”>Sharpshooter Supply Long Range Benchrest stock, pillar- and skim-bedded by Troy. One of the new Sightron tactical 8-32x56mm scopes rides on top on an EGW +20 MOA rail. The gun has the old three-screw Savage trigger with some tweaks done by Troy, who says “I prefer the old trigger (with some mods) to the new Accutrigger.”

Troy tells us: “Michele and I are both just starting in the mid/long range game. We have so much to learn and have met some very helpful friends. At Oakridge, I met Danny Biggs who gave us some advice I’ll never forget: ‘Matches are won in the reloading room’.” The load Troy developed for Michele was 30.2 grains Varget and 107 SMK into the lands running about 2850 fps.

Youth F-class

Father, Mother, and Daughter All Love to Shoot
Troy is quick to credit Michele’s trigger-pulling skills: “Michele is solid — 45 shots in a row and she kept going. I don’t think I can out-shoot her.” Troy added, “My wife Tammy also shoots. In fact, at Chattanooga, Tammy also cleaned the 300-yard match with 150-9X but dropped a few points at 500. After seeing how well Michele and Tammy did, maybe I just need to put the guns together and watch.”

Congrats to Michele, Tammy, and Troy! A family that shoots together is a great inspiration.

Permalink Competition, News 5 Comments »
September 5th, 2011

Savage LRPV Saga — When A Barrel Upgrade Is The Only Solution

Savage Criterion BarrelIn our Shooters’ Forum, you’ll find a lengthy thread about accuracy problems with a Savage LRPV, chambered in 6mmBR. The gun would repeatedly split groups at 100 yards, and at 300 yards, the “flyers” would open up the groups to 1.5 MOA or larger. Interestingly, the factory test target (at right) showed a split group — not a good sign.

The gun’s owner, forum member LR_Shooter, tried a variety of tweaks: “I did this, done that… [changed] torque, tang floated, bedded action, recut chamber, and [adjusted firing pin]“. But nothing really helped. Frustrated, LR_Shooter asked his fellow Forum members for help. Much advice was proffered, including the novel idea of removing the middle action screw in the Savage 3-screw target action. Some of the advice proved helpful, but none of the suggested remedies produced a major improvement. This rifle, out of the box, tossed flyers and no amount of tweaking (or changes in shooting technique) really cured the basic problem. That is, until, the factory barrel got replaced…

Savage Criterion Barrel

New Criterion Pre-Fit Barrel Works Wonders
LR_Shooter acquired a Criterion pre-fit barrel from Jim Briggs at Northland Shooters Supply (NSS). These pre-fits are designed for easy installation with the standard Savage barrel nut. Wouldn’t you know it, with a new 30″ heavy-contour barrel on the LRPV, the gun started shooting way better. No more crazy fliers, no more split groups, no more excessive vertical. And the improvement came without any other major modifications. LR_Shooter reports: “I got a replacement barrel from Jim at NSS. It is a 30″ bull Criterion barrel. So far, without playing with torque screws and having my old setup… I’m very satisfied with the barrel I got. Now I have no problem getting [groups] under 0.25 MOA. Finally this thing can shoot!” The targets below, shot with the new Criterion barrel, speak for themselves. The left target was shot at 100 yards, while the target on the right was shot at 300 yards (very impressive).

Targets Shot with Savage LRPV Fitted with Criterion Barrel
Savage Criterion Barrel

Read Thread on Savage Accuracy Issues Fixed By Criterion Barrel

Moral of the Story — Sometimes A New Barrel Really Is the Right Solution
All of us have struggled at times with a rifle that won’t live up to expectations. This Editor personally struggled for over a year with a .260 Rem Savage with a factory tube. The gun tended to split groups and the POI walked as the barrel heated. I tried one powder/primer combination after another, working through a variety of seating depths over many months. I was persistent. Out of stubbornness, I just believed that sooner or later I’d find the magic load.

Well folks, sometimes there’s really nothing you can do about a sub-par barrel. It is what it is. To really improve a gun’s accuracy (particularly a gun with a factory tube), you may need to open your wallet and get a quality aftermarket barrel. Spending months trying one recipe after another may simply be an overwhelming waste of powder, bullets, and your precious time.

Albert Einstein supposedly said: “Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” Well that sort of describes my efforts with my .260 Rem. Once I had enough evidence that my barrel split groups no matter what load combo (and seating depth) I tried, it was time to pony up for a new barrel. When I did finally screw on a nice PacNor 3-groove Supermatch, that Savage suddenly became a true tack-driver. As re-chambered in 6mmBR with the Pac-Nor, in calm conditions, my Savage will now consistently shoot in the twos with heavy bullets, and it can sometimes dip down into the ones with Berger 80gr flat-base bullets. The moral of the story here is simple — don’t waste weeks or months chasing your tail with a barrel that just won’t deliver (after a reasonable amount of testing). Save up for a custom barrel, get it chambered properly, and stop your cycle of frustration.

Contact Information for Northland Shooters Supply:
E-mail: briggs.j-b@q.com (that is Q.com not G.com)
Phone: (763) 682-4296
Fax: (763) 682-6098
Mailing address:
P.O. Box 333
Buffalo, MN 55313

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 6 Comments »