June 21st, 2019

Wildcatter’s Road Map — Cartridge Conversion Book

handloaders guide cartridge conversion wildcat obsolete cartridges

Are you a confirmed wildcatter? Do you like to experiment with custom cartridge types? Or do you just like the extra performance you can get from a specialty cartridge such as a 20 Vartarg or 22-250 AI? Well, if you love wildcat cartridges, you’ll probably enjoy this book. Now available for the first time since 2003, The Handloader’s Manual of Cartridge Conversions explains the processes and tools needed to convert standardized brass into hundreds of different rifle and pistol cartridge types. A vast variety of case designs are covered — from vintage cartridge types to modern, cutting-edge wildcats.

handloaders guide cartridge conversion wildcat obsolete cartridges

This classic reference guide has been revised with an easy-to-search format, complete with a full index of hundreds of cartridges. This book belongs on the shelf of any hand-loader who enjoys making and shooting wildcat cartridges. However do note that much of the text is unchanged from earlier editions. For some cartridge types, the author recommends “parent” brass brands that are no longer available. In other situations, there may be more convenient conversions now offered. Nonetheless this is an important resource. As one verified purchaser explains: “Great reference for making the cartridges that are hard to get or no longer in production. Offers an alternative to the the time, expense and effort of having to re-chamber a classic. Saves ‘Grandpa’s shooters’ from becoming safe queens.”

wildcat cartridge case forming Killer Bee Hydraulic
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
April 12th, 2019

New Magazine for 6mmBR and 6 BR Improved Precision Rifles

PRS NRL magazine mag 6BR 6mmBr Norma 6 BRA Dasher BRX tactical short cartridge MDT

As the practical/tactical game has evolved, with low recoil and high accuracy becoming ever more important, many top competitors have moved to smaller cartridges such as the 6mm Dasher and its parent, the 6mmBR Norma. These cartridges deliver outstanding accuracy plus good barrel life. However, the “short, fat” 6BR/Dasher design doesn’t feed optimally in magazines designed for the .308 Win family of cases. Yes you can modify your own magazines (Mag Mod HERE), or buy a pricey conversion kit, but now there is a turn-key solution from MDT (Modular Driven Technologies).

MDT’s 6mm BR magazine fits the parent 6mmBR cartridge and all the popular varients including the 6 BRA, 6 Dasher, and 6 BRX. MDT says this new 12-round magazine is a “one-step solution [delivering] smooth, reliable feeding for the most popular rifle cartridges in precision rifle competitions.”

PRS NRL magazine mag 6BR 6mmBr Norma 6 BRA Dasher BRX tactical short cartridge MDT

MDT built this AICS-pattern mag for PRS/NRL competitors and anyone wanting to run 6mmBR-family cartridges in mag-fed actions: “The limiting factor for competitors running 6mm BR variants has been feeding. Until now, the only option has been to purchase an AICS-pattern magazine plus an additional kit to make the magazines work with the shorter cartridges. This solution costs upwards of $100 or more and can require additional tuning to work in most rifles.”

The MDT 6mm BR mag has a maximum internal length of 2.580″, which accommodates pretty much any 6mm bullet you’d want to use. These MDT magazines are crafted from quality steel, nitride-treated, then black Cerakote finished inside and out. To reduce friction between cartridge and magazine body, MDT added two internal ribs which provide a smooth transition from double stack to single-feed.

Magazine Conversion — Use .308 Win Mags with Modified Followers
A decade ago we showed our readers how to modify .308 Win magazines to feed the 6mmBR cartridge efficiently. This procedure, explained by Texas gunsmith, Mike Bryant, is easy to do with simple tools. You can modify most standard magazines, both internal-style and detachable style. CLICK HERE for full, step-by-step magazine conversion article.

The basic procedure involves trimming the rear of the magazine, and creating a rear stop with a block from a Remington .223 magazine. Next the .308 Win magazine follower is shortened and beveled. Some guys tweak the feed lips a bit, but this may not be needed. Many of our readers have performed this simple magazine modification and report their rifles feed quite reliably. One reader, who converted a 7mm-08 hunting rig into a 22 Dasher varmint rifle, tells us his modified mag feeds flawlessly.

PRS NRL magazine mag 6BR 6mmBr Norma 6 BRA Dasher BRX tactical short cartridge MDT

Permalink - Articles, Competition, New Product, Tactical 4 Comments »
December 2nd, 2018

Pynch Podcast — Jon Pynch, NRL National Champ and PRS Ace

Jon Pynch Tactical PRS NRL National Rifle League

What does it take to win in the tactical game? Ask Oregon’s Jon Pynch. He won the 2018 National Rifle League (NRL) 2018 Championship event along with three out of six of the bolt-action PRS matches in which he competed this year. And with 300 points overall this season, Jon has been a #1-rated shooter within the Precision Rifle Series (PRS). In most sports you’d call that an MVP performance.

Jon Pynch Tactical PRS NRL National Rifle League

PRS Competitor Jon Pynch had a superlative run in 2018, scoring victories in many big matches, capped off by winning top honors at the 2018 NRL Championship. And as you read this, this very day (December 2nd) Jon is shooting at the PRS Season Finale at the Triple C Range in Cresson, Texas. Here is Jon Pynch’s 2018 competition record:

2018 National Rifle League Champion
2018 National Rifle League Finale Winner
2018 Rock Lake NRL Match – Jon Pynch – 1st Place
2018 JC Steel High Mountain PRS Match – Jon Pynch – 1st Place
2018 Meaford PRS Match – Jon Pynch – 1st Place
2018 NCPPRC NRL Match – Jon Pynch – 1st Place
2018 Gunwerks PRS Match – Jon Pynch — 1st Place

NRL Champ Jon Pynch was interviewed for the NRL’s Precision Rifle Channel. Click the Red Arrow above to hear a wide-ranging 45-minute audio interview with Jon, with highlights listed below, so you can skip to key sections.

JON PYNCH PODCAST HIGHLIGHTS:

0:00 to 8:45 — 2018 NRL Championship
9:00 – The mental aspect of shooting
16:30 – Jon’s mindset going into a match
20:30 – What gear Jon ran this season
28:20 – Jon’s hunting background
30:55 – The next up-and-comers in the sport
41:20 – Plans and goals for 2019
43:55 – Three (3) under-rated items Jon can’t shoot without

Jon Pynch Tactical PRS NRL National Rifle League

Pynch won 3 out of 6 PRS bolt-action matches he shot in 2018. Pynch runs a landscaping business in Oregon. When time permits, he travels around the country to tactical matches. He grew up around guns, starting with his trusty BB gun, and the passion grew. About 14 years ago, Pynch started to dabble in long-range shooting from the hunting side. In the past few years, he has focused more on competition, observing how the sport has changed: “Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed it feels like the level of competition and the level of quality products are growing at an incredible rate.”

CLICK HERE for full size image showing gun details.
Jon Pynch Tactical PRS NRL National Rifle League

The MPA BA Competition Chassis has many notable features: RAT System and multi-function Arca Swiss Rail provide a variety of bipod locations. There is a special rotating barricade stop, plus a spigot mount on the front of the fore-end which can extend the “wheelbase” between front and rear support. A clever Weight Tuning System allows competitors to adjust gun balance and reduce felt recoil.

State of the Art PRS/NRL Tactical Rifle:
Jon Pynch Tactical PRS NRL National Rifle League

Above is Jon’s Match Rifle shown from summer 2018 with older barrel chambered for 6mm Dasher. These shots were taken during a fire-forming session. John says: “On right (below) is unfired Lapua 6mmBR round. Shoot it and it turns in the case on the left. 6mm Dasher. 25 formed… 975 to go! Alamo Precision Rifles did a great job on this chamber/barrel. It’s won a few matches and placed well in a few others, but after 1800 rounds I think I’ll use the rest of its life as a practice/fireforming barrel.”

Making Brass — 6mmBR loaded round is fire-formed into 6mm Dasher 40° improved case:
Jon Pynch Tactical PRS NRL National Rifle League

Jon Pynch’s Favored Hardware — Curtis Vector Action, Kahles Scope, MPA Comp Chassis
Like many PRS/NRL competitors, Jon uses the MPA Competition Chassis, the most-utilized chassis in the 2016 and 2017 PRS series. The match rifle above sports a Curtis Custom Vector Action with Proof Research barrel. For optics Jon has recently used a Kahles scope in the rock-solid, MPA BA Mount, the #1 Mount used in the PRS in 2017.

Jon Pynch Tactical PRS NRL National Rifle League

Jon Pynch Tactical PRS NRL National Rifle League

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Gear Review, Tactical No Comments »
July 31st, 2017

Hydro-Forming Cartridge Brass — DJ’s Brass Service

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass hydraultic hydro-forming cartridge brass 6 Dasher 6mmBR 6BR BRX BRDX

Do you shoot a popular wildcat (such as the 6mm Dasher), but hate the hassle of fire-forming all your own cartridge brass? That takes time, costs money (in bullets and powder), and consumes precious barrel life. Well there IS a better solution — you can have your new brass hydro-formed to your exact specifications for a reasonable cost.

DJ’s Brass Service now offers custom case hydro-forming to your exact specs. Darrell Jones offers this service for a variety of popular cartridges: 6mm Dasher, 6mm BRX, 6mm BRDX, and 6mm Shehane. After hydro-forming your brass, Darrell can also neck-up or neck-down the cases to meet your needs. For example, if you shoot a 22 Dasher, Darrell can hydro-form the cases and then neck them down to .22 caliber. He can also turn the necks to your specs (for an additional charge).

Darrell is a hydro-forming wizard who has perfected the process over the last couple of years. He has learned a few special techniques along the way to ensure uniform case-forming. Without revealing any trade secrets, we can say the Darrell has very special dies and Darrell doesn’t use a mallet or hammer — he has a system that is much more consistent. Darrell tells us: “Many of my customers take this brass and load it ‘as is’ and go straight to a match and shoot some very nice groups.”

Hydro-forming by Darrell costs $0.60 (sixty cents) per case with a minimum order of $60. Neck-turning is an additional $0.50 (fifty cents) per case plus actual return shipping. The turnaround is usually less than five days.

With Darrell’s hydro-forming service you don’t have to buy any special dies or other equipment. Darrell says: “Simply send me the brass you need or have it dropped-shipped to me along with a fired case that has not been sized. If you need formed brass for a new build (gun not yet fired), let me know and I will size the brass to fit within .001 of a PT&G GO gauge.”

For more information, visit DJsBrass.com, or call Darrell at (205) 461-4680. IMPORTANT: Contact Darrell for shipping instructions BEFORE sending brass for processing. In a hurry, don’t have time? Just call Darrell and he’ll make something work for you.

DJs Brass hydro-forming

Hydro-Forming Customer Reports

Here are testimonials from recent customers.

“Recently had Darrell Jones of DJ’s Brass Service hydro-form 6 BRX brass for me. The turn around time was very fast and the brass was to the exact specification I ask for. I actually shot the hydro-formed brass in a match [without further fire-forming]. It shot a 3.597″ — pretty amazing. Let DJ do the work for you!” — Mike Wilson (3 Time IBS Record Holder; 2013 and 2014 1000-yard IBS Shooter of the Year.)

“Darrell Jones of DJ’s Brass Service went far beyond the call of duty, to assist me in preparation to shoot for my first time in an IBS match. I have had an interest in 1000-yard competition for many years and finally got the opportunity to try it. After researching the winning competitors, rifles, and rounds I ordered a Panda action with Krieger barrel in 6mm Dasher from Kelby’s. It was one week before the match and I had a rifle and no rounds. I contacted Darrell to hydraulically form 6mm dasher from Lapua 6mm BR brass. He formed the brass and had it in the mail the next day[.] Since I have only reloaded for hunting or magazine fed rifles I was not familiar with proper seating to allow land engagement of the bullets for 1000-yard accuracy. Darrell took the time to advised me every step of the way to allow me to shoot a 3.158″ (5) shot group to win my first round of my first competitive match ever.” — Mike Youngblood

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
June 22nd, 2017

Wildcattin’ Wisdom — Good Resource for Wildcat Cartridges

Zegline Wildcat Cartridges ManualAre you a wildcatter? We know many of our readers like to invent new cartridge types. If that applies to you, here’s a great resource…

Fred Zeglin has released a Kindle eBook edition of his popular book Wildcat Cartridges — Reloader’s Handbook of Wildcat Cartridge Design. Gunsmith/author Zeglin explains: “The print edition of Wildcat Cartridges has gone out of print. We have plans to produce a second edition, but that is currently on the back burner. Demand of this book has remained strong so the decision to offer the first edition in a e-book format was made.” The Kindle eBook edition retails for $9.99 on Amazon.com. You can preview a FREE SAMPLE of the book to “try before you buy”.

CLICK HERE to Read FREE eBook Sample from Zeglin’s Wildcat Cartridges

This is more than just a history of cartridges. Dimensional drawings and loading data accompany many cartridge descriptions. More recent/popular designs are included as well as “classic” older wildcats. There are chapters about important cartridge designers like P.O. Ackley, Jerry Gebby, Rocky Gibbs, and Charles Newton. (The hardback edition of the book contains 288 pages of stories, illustrations, instructions, and data.)

Gunwriter Wayne Van Zwoll says Zeglin’s book is a valuable resource: “Fred has illustrated his book well, with neat line drawings and photos you probably won’t find anywhere else. It’s a rare technical treatise that draws you in with illustration, or that keeps you with an easy flow of chat that, were it lifted from print, might pop up at any gun counter or handloading bench. Fred Zeglin has done well with this book, giving wildcatters – indeed, all rifle enthusiasts – an overview of a culture often mentioned but little explored on the page.”

Writing about the 2005 Print Edition of Wildcat Cartridges, Big Bore Journal declared: “This is a fantastic book on American wildcats, U.S. loads and much more. A must have for wildcatters and gunsmiths.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting, Reloading No Comments »
April 5th, 2017

TECH Tip: Video Shows How to Hydro-Form Cartridge Brass

6mm Dasher hydroforming case die hornday

Can you form a wildcat cartridge such as the 6 Dasher without expending primer, powders, and bullets? Absolutely. Using the hydro-forming method you can form improved cases in your workshop with no firing whatsoever, so there is no wear on your precious barrel. Watch this video to see how it’s done:

6 Dasher Case Hydro-Forming Demonstration:

Forum member Wes J. (aka P1ZombieKiller) has produced a helpful video showing how to form Dasher cases use the Hornady Hydraulic forming die kit. This includes a two-part die (body and piston), and a special shell holder. To form the case, you insert a primer in your virgin brass, top the case off with with a fluid (water or alcohol), then run the case up into the Hydro-forming die. A few stout whacks with a hammer and your case is 95% formed.

6mm Dasher hydroforming hydraulic 6mmBR hornadyHydro-Forming Procedure Step-by-Step:
1. Insert spent primer in new 6mmBR brass case.
2. Fill with water or alcohol (Wes prefers alcohol).
3. Wipe excess fluid off case.
4. Place case in special Hornady shell-holder (no primer hole).
5. Run case up into Hydraulic forming die.
6. Smack top piston of forming die 3-4 times with rubber mallet or dead-blow hammer.
7. Inspect case, re-fill and repeat if necessary.
8. Drain alcohol (or water) into container.
9. Remove primer (and save for re-use).
10. Blow-dry formed case. Inspect and measure formed case.

Wes achieves very uniform cartridge OALs with this method. He measured ten (10) hydro-formed 6 Dasher cases and got these results: two @ 1.536″; 2 @ 1.537″; and 6 @ 1.538″.

Three or Four Whacks Produces a 95%-Formed Case
With a Hornady hydro-forming die, hydraulic pressure does the job of blowing out the shoulders of your improved case. The process is relatively simple. Place a spent primer in the bottom of a new piece of brass. Fill the case with water, and then slip it into a special Hornady shell-holder with no hole in the middle. Then you run the case up into the forming die. Now comes the fun part. You gently insert a plunger (hydraulic ram) from the top, and give it three or four stiff whacks with a mallet (or better yet, a dead-blow hammer). Remove the plunger and you have a 95% formed case, ready to load.

Walter Queen Hydraulic Hornady DieHornady supplies a shell holder made specifically for the hydro die; there’s no hole in the bottom of it. Just insert a spent primer into the primer pocket and you’re ready to go. The spent primer combined with the solid shell holder, keeps the water from seeping out of the primer pocket. The primer pushes out a little bit during this process, but it’s impossible for it to come out because of the way the shell holder is designed. The shell holder has a grove which allows the case to slide out of the shell holder even when the primer protrudes a bit.

Story tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.

Permalink - Videos, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
February 4th, 2017

How to Fire-Form Brass without Bullets

Fire-Form Brass Cream of Wheat Dasher BRDX

Many of our Forum members shoot an “improved” 6mmBR cartridge. This might be a 30°-shoulder 6mm BRX, or a 40°-shoulder 6mm Dasher, or the 6mm BRDX, which is very similar to the Dasher, but with a slightly longer neck. This Editor shoots a 6mm BRDX and has found it very accurate, and maybe a bit easier to fire-form than a standard Dasher. Speaking of fire-forming, in our Shooters’ Forum, we often see questions about fire-forming BRX/Dasher brass. For those who need a large number of BRX or Dasher cases, one option to consider is using pistol powder in a dedicated fire-forming barrel. Here’s an explanation of how this process can work.

Forum member Skeeter has a 6mm Dasher falling block varmint rifle. The Dasher case is based on the 6mmBR Norma cartridge with the shoulder blown forward about 0.100″ and out to 40°. This gives the Dasher roughly 3.5 grains added capacity compared to the standard 6BR.

A few seasons back, Skeeter needed to form 300 cases for varmint holiday. Skeeter decided to fire-form his brass without bullets. This method avoids barrel wear and saves on components. There are various ways to do this, but Skeeter chose a method using pistol/shotgun powder, some tissue to hold the powder in place, Cream of Wheat filled to within an 1/8″ of top of the neck, and a “plug” of tissue paper to hold it all in place. Shown below are cases filled with a pistol/shotgun powder charge topped with Cream of Wheat and then a tissue paper plug.

To ensure the case headspaced firmly in his Dasher chamber, Skeeter created a “false shoulder” where the new neck-shoulder junction would be after fire-forming. After chamfering his case mouths, Skeeter necked up all his cases with a 0.257″ mandrel (one caliber oversized). Then he used a bushing neck-sizing die to bring the top half of the neck back down to 0.267″ to fit his 0.269″ chamber. The photo below shows how the false shoulder is created.

After creating the false shoulder, Skeeter chambered the cases in his rifle to ensure he could close the bolt and that he had a good “crush fit” on the false shoulder, ensuring proper headspace. All went well.

The next step was determining the optimal load of pistol powder. Among a variety of powders available, Skeeter chose Hodgdon Titewad as it is relatively inexpensive and burns clean. The goal was to find just the right amount of Titewad that would blow the shoulder forward sufficiently. Skeeter wanted to minimize the amount of powder used and work at a pressure that was safe for his falling block action.

Working incrementally, Skeeter started at 5.0 grains of Titewad, working up in 0.5 grain increments. As you can see, the 5.0 grain charge blew the shoulder forward, but left it a hemispherical shape. At about 7.0 grains of Titewad, the edge of the shoulder and case body was shaping up. Skeeter decided that 8.5 grains of Titewad was the “sweet spot”. He tried higher charges, but the shoulder didn’t really form up any better. It will take another firing or two, with a normal match load of rifle powder and a bullet seated, to really sharpen up the shoulders. Be sure to click on the “View Larger Image” link to get a good view of the cases.


The process proved to be a success. Skeeter now has hundreds of fire-formed Dasher cases and he hasn’t had to put one bullet through his nice, new match-grade barrel. The “bulletless” Cream of Wheat method allowed him to fire-form in a tight-necked barrel without neck-turning the brass first. The only step now remaining is to turn the newly Dasher-length necks down about .0025″ to fit his 0.269″ chamber. (To have no-turn necks he would need an 0.271″ or 0.272″ chamber).

Skeeter didn’t lose a single case: “As for the fire-forming loads, I had zero split cases and no signs of pressure in 325 cases fire-formed. Nor did I have any misfires or any that disbursed COW into the action of the firearm. So the COW method really worked out great for me and saved me a lot of money in powder and bullets.”

Skeeter did have a fire-forming barrel, but it was reamed with a .269 chamber like his 10-twist Krieger “good” barrel. If he fire-formed with bullets, he would have to turn all 300 necks to .267″ BEFORE fire-forming so that loaded rounds would fit in the chamber. Judging just how far to turn is problematic. There’s no need to turn the lower part of the neck that will eventually become shoulder–but how far down the neck to turn is the issue. By fire-forming without bullets now he only has to turn about half the original neck length, and he knows exactly how far to go.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
December 13th, 2016

TECH TIP: Rebate Larger Case Rims to Shoot with PPC Actions

30BR 6 PPC rim rebated Butch Lambert

Many short-range Benchresters have thought about converting their 6 PPC to shoot a 30BR for score matches, or a Dasher for mid-range (or even 1000-yard) games. That way you have a rifle that does double duty, giving you the most bang for your buck. Though an action with a PPC bolt won’t normally work with 30BR/6BR/Dasher cases with their larger .308-class rim (0.4728″ diameter), there is a pretty easy solution that allows you to cycle these bigger cartridges with a 6PPC-style bolt (designed to fit .220 Russian rims).

“Rebating case rims … lets you shoot a 30BR in score matches using your PPC action. All you need is a new barrel. This saves buying another bolt, receiver, or rifle.” — Butch Lambert

Butch Lambert of ShadeTree Engineering provided this tip. Butch notes that many 6 PPC benchrest group shooters also enjoy shooting in score matches. But to be really competitive in the BR for score game, that means shooting a 30BR, which has a wider, .308-class rim (0.4728″ diameter). Likewise, if you want to compete in 600-yard registered BR events or in varmint matches, you probably want to run a bigger case, such as the 6BR, 6mm Dasher, or 6-6.5×47. Those cartridges also have the larger 0.4728″ rims.

30Br Butch Lambers 6 PPC

To convert a PPC-boltface action to shoot the bigger cases you can spend a ton of money and buy a new bolt. That can cost hundreds of dollars. The simpler solution is to turn down the diameter of the larger cases on a lathe. Butch explains: “We’ve seen plenty of interest in rebating case rims. This lets you shoot a 30BR in score matches using your PPC action. All you need is a new barrel. This saves buying another bolt, receiver, or rifle if you have a PPC boltface. Anyone who has access to a lathe can do this job pretty easily. Yesterday I turned 150 case in about an hour.” Below is the lathe form tool Butch uses to rebate the case rims.


Cutting Head for Rebating Rims

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
December 11th, 2016

Holiday Showcase — Behold December’s Pride & Joy Rifles

pride joy 6.5x55 Ackley Borden Action Robertson Stock F-Class F-Open, Bartlein Barrel
pride joy 6.5x55 Ackley Borden Action Robertson Stock F-Class F-Open, Bartlein Barrel
Forum member Rardoin’s handsome F-Open rig features the new Borden BRM-XD action.

One of the most popular items in our Shooters’ Forum is the ongoing “Pride and Joy” thread. Since 2009, Forum members have posted photos and descriptions of their most prized rifles. Here are some of the most recent “Pride and Joy” rifles showcased in our Forum. Do you have a gun you’d like to see featured there? Just Register for the Forum and you can add your favorite gun to the list.

Bill Goad’s 6PPC Hunter “Ranch Rifle”

pride joy Bill Goad Hunter 6mm PPC benchrest

Forum member Grimstod tells us: “This is the personal rifle of Bill Goad. He has been experimenting with it on several levels. It is shooting great and has several matches on it now. Please enjoy these photos. More can be found on the website www.PremierAccuracy.com. We like the subtle barbed wire effect on the stock.

Twin-Upper AR with Custom Wood Furniture

pride joy AR Sporting Rifle Maple Walnut Furniture AR Platform

This very unique AR belongs to Forum member Nuto-BR. He tells us: “Here are the two uppers I built. The top one is am X-caliber in 20 Practical with 24-inch, 1:11″-twist barrel. The bottom one is a WOA in .223 Rem, with 20″, 1-12″ twist barrel. They both shoot 1/2 MOA or better. Both stocks are laminated Maple and Walnut. I reversed the order of the two woods to tell them apart.”

Two Dashers and a Rimfire for Fun

pride joy 6mm Dasher Anshutz

Courtesy Forum member Dan H., here are two red-stocked Dashers plus an Anschutz 54.30 (Benchrest Stock) to make it a trio. Dan says: “The Anschutz provides good practice in trigger-pulling. It’s amazing what you can learn from a rifle that is as sensitive as this one.”

Dream Hunting Rifle with Custom Camo

pride joy Hunting stock camo custom paint 6.5-280 Ackley Improved

Here is Forum member TyDaws’s “Dream Hunting Rifle” in 6.5-280 Ackley Improved. We love the custom paint work by by Melodie Yarbrough. Smithed by West Texas Ordnance, this rifle features a Rem 700 action with fluted bolt, PT&G tapered recoil lug, and Timney 510 2-lb trigger. The barrel is a fluted 26″ 1:8″-twist Bartlein 5R #3 contour. On top is a Huskemaw Blue Diamond 4-16x42mm optic in Warne Maxima rings. That’s an Atlas bipod up front.

Three Guns for Mr. Big

pride joy .243 Win Stiller Rem 700 Tactical Farley 6.5x47 Lapua 6PPC

Forum Member Mr. Big offered up another trio of rifles — two bench guns and a tactical rig. Mr. Big says: “Here are the rifles I shoot most: Farley 6mm PPC, Stiller .243 Win, and Rem 6.5×47 Lapua. They will do just about anything I ask them to…” Challenge: Can you identify the makers of the three different stocks shown in this picture (and the different materials used in each)?

Dasher in Robertson Spider Web Stock

pride joy 6mm Dasher Robertson Stock

Here is Forum member Vahena’s 6mm Dasher. It has a no-turn-neck chamber in a 28″, 1:8″-twist barrel with 1.25″ straight contour. This has an original Robertson fiberglass stock with spider web graphics. This rifle was originally built as a 6.5×284 with a fluted barrel. Now it sports a bigger barrel for a smaller cartridge. The front rest is a SEB Neo with counterweight up front.

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
August 15th, 2016

Drop-Port Actions — Stiller’s Slick Innovation

Stiller Drop-Port

Many of you may not have seen how Jerry Stiller’s innovative Drop-Port works with a 6BR, PPC, or Dasher case. Stiller Precision has created one slick system. Just retract the bolt and your case exits, nose-first, through a small port, coming to rest right under the gun. It works by gravity alone so you don’t need a conventional ejector, with the case alignment issues an ejector can create. (An ejector pushes on one side of the rim — this can push the case out of “perfect” alignment.) While Drop-port technology could, potentially, work with nearly any size cartridge, at this time, Drop-ports are only offered for PPC, 6BR, and Dasher-sized cases. Your Editor has a Drop-Port Viper action used with the 6mm BRDX cartridge, which is similar to a Dasher but with a slightly longer neck. It works flawlessly. Our Belgian friend David Bergen was kind enough to video his Viper Drop-Port in action:

Currently, the Drop-port system is available with the Viper action (both aluminum and stainless), and the round-profile Diamondback actions (but expect to wait a LONG time if you want the flat-bottomed Viper action). Because of the nature of Drop-port geometry, this system is optimized for short-length benchrest cartridges such as the 220 Russian, 22 and 6mm PPC, 6mmBR, and the 6mmBR Improved (Dasher, BRX, BRDX). If you plan to use a Drop-port with a Dasher or other improved case, you should tell Stiller Precision when you order. Also, if your gunsmith has not built a Drop-port rifle before, he should first consult with Stiller Precision, (972) 429-5000, to ensure the exit port is placed and inletted correctly in the stock. Getting the geometry exactly right is critical with this system.

Permalink Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
August 4th, 2016

Dasher Duo: One for 1K and a Second for Groundhog Matches

6mm Dasher Shehane duo

Chuck’s Pair of Pennsylvania Dashers
There’s been a lot of interest in the 6mm Dasher cartridge lately, so we thought we’d showcase a matched pair of Dasher rifles belonging to a Forum member. The 6mm Dasher began as a wildcat improved version of the 6mmBR Norma cartridge. The 6mm Dasher has been very successful in competition, and now factory Norma-made Dasher cartridge brass is available from Bullets.com.

Forum Member Chuck L. (aka “Ridgeway”) has created a handsome duo of 6mm Dashers for competitive benchrest and varmint matches in Pennsylvania. Both guns are built on Kelbly Panda RBLP actions, with Bartlein 8-twist barrels, and Shehane Laminated Tracker Stocks. However, the two rifles are not exact twins, as you can see. One, which we’ll call the Big Dasher, is built on a Shehane ST1000 Tracker stock. The other gun, the Small Dasher, sports Shehane’s “Baby Tracker” stock — a design used with great success by Richard Schatz. The Big Dasher, optimized for 1000-yard competition, also has a slightly longer freebore — 0.136″ vs. 0.104″ for the Small Dasher.

6mm Dasher Shehane duo

Specifications for the Dasher Duo:

Small Dasher (13.5-pounder): Chambered for 6mm Dasher with approximately .104 freebore and a .264 NK. (No way of knowing exactly since it freebore was done in a separate operation by Kelbly.) Components are: Shehane Baby Tracker stock, Kelbly Panda RPLB action, Bartlein 1:8″ LV barrel at 26 ¾”, Kelbly Rings, Weaver T36, Jewell trigger. The barrel was chambered by Kelblys and the stock was bedded, glued and balanced by a shooting buddy (Forum Member johara1). I clear-coated the stock with auto urethane. Total weight is 13 lbs., 4 ounces.

Big Dasher (1K Light Gun, 17-pounder): Chambered for 6mm Dasher with a .136 freebore and .264 neck (PTG Reamer). Components are: Shehane ST-1000 stock, Kelbly Panda RPLB action, Bartlein 1:8″ HV 5R barrel at 28″, Shehane +20-MOA rings, Nightforce NXS 12-42x56mm, Jewell trigger. The barrel work, pillar installation, and bedding was done by Dave Bruno. The stock was clear-coated by Chuck with auto urethane. Chuck also made the rear butt plate and balanced the rifle. Total weight: 16 lbs., 13 ounces.

Chuck tells us: “I don’t get out shooting competition as much as I want due to time and family, but when I do compete, I shoot a Groundhog match at Southfork Rifle Club in Beaverdale, PA. Info on Southfork Club events can be found at Southforkrifleclub.com. The Southfork match is basically a 100-, 300- and 500-yard match with one sighter the entire match and 5 shots at each yardage for score. The Small Dasher, with the shorter ‘Baby Tracker’ stock, was set up for the Southfork Rifle Club’s ‘Light Unlimited’ class which has a 13.5-lb max weight.” (Editor: ‘unlimited’ is a misnomer for a weight-limited category.)

Chuck adds: “The Big Dasher with the heavy ST-1000 stock is set up for 1000-yard benchrest matches in Light Gun class. I hope to shoot a couple 1K matches with it at Reade Range in southwest Pennsylvania. I am still in load development for this rifle since it was just finished in January. One ironic thing is, it shoots the same load I’m shooting out of the lighter gun rather well. The only difference between the two chambers is the freebore is roughly thirty thousandths longer on the 1K gun (Large Dasher). I will also shoot this at Southfork in the ‘Heavy Unlimited’ class.”

6mm Dasher Shehane duo

Dasher Case-Forming: Neck-Turn then Fire-form with Bullets Hard in Lands
To fireform, I turn my cases down to fit the chamber and stop where the false shoulder makes snug contact with the chamber. Fire-forming rounds are loaded up with a 29-grain charge of H4895 or Varget and a 108gr Berger bullet seated hard into the lands about 0.020″ past initial contact with the rifling. It takes about three firings to make a nice clean Dasher case with a sharp shoulder. I anneal about every 3-4 firings. I have many cases that have about 10+ firings on them and they are still shooting well. The primer pockets are a little looser, but still hold a primer.

6mm Dasher case fire-forming fireform

Both Dashers Group in the Ones at 100 Yards
My main bullet for both rifles is the 107gr Sierra MK, loaded with Reloder 15 powder, Lapua cases and CCI 450 primers. My main load for the Small Dasher is 33.0 grains of Reloder 15. This load shoots in the ones at 100 yards. For the Big Dasher, I’m still working on a load, although the same 33.0 grain load shoots in the ones in the heavier gun as well. I’m still looking for more velocity and my ‘max’ node. So far, I’ve gone well above 33.0 grains of RL 15 without pressure signs, but that load produces vertical at 100 yards, so I’m going to tinker with the load until I see pressure or it starts to shoot.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
July 27th, 2016

DJ’s Brass Can Anneal, Turn Necks, Hydro-Form Cases and More

DJ's Brass Restoration Service

Bench Source Annealing machineWith the price of premium brass topping $1.00 per case for popular match cartridges, it makes sense to consider annealing your brass to extend its useful life. You don’t want to chuck out brass that costs a buck a case (or more)! Forum member Darrell Jones offers a full range of brass prep, brass forming, and brass restoration (annealing, ultra-sonic cleaning) at very affordable prices. Starting at just $20 per 100 cases ($25/100 for magnum cases), Darrell’s company, DJ’s Brass, will anneal your used brass using state-of-the-art Bench-Source annealing machines. Annealing plus ultrasonic cleaning starts at $35 per 100 cases ($45 for magnum cases). For a bit more money Darrell can also uniform the primer pockets and chamfer the case necks.

Custom Neck-Turning Services
Another great service DJ’s Brass provides is precision neck-turning. Darrell can neck-turn any size case to your specified neck-wall thickness. The price starts at $60.00 per hundred for standard cases or $75.00/100 for magnum size with a $25.00 minimum order. And if you’ve got a bucket of brass to neck-turn, that’s fine with Darrell — he recently neck-turned 1500 pieces of brass for one customer!

DJ’s Brass can process everything from .17 Fireball all the way up to the big magnum cases. And the job gets done quickly. Darrell normally offers a 10-day turn-around. For most jobs, Darrell tells us, he gets the processed brass to the Post Office within three business days. For more info, visit DJsBrass.com or call Darrell Jones at 205-461-4680. IMPORTANT: Contact Darrell for shipping instructions BEFORE sending any brass for processing. ALL BRASS MUST BE DE-PRIMED before you send it.

DJ's Brass Restoration Service

• Anneal Case Necks Only ($20.00/100 normal or $25.00/100 magnum)
• Ultrasonic Cleaning, Check Necks, and Annealing ($35.00/100 normal or $45.00/100 magnum)
• Full Service: Uniform primer pockets, Chamfer case mouths, Ultrasonic cleaning and Polishing, Anneal case necks (Starting at $50.00/100 call for quote)
• Neck Turning or trim-to-length Custom Order Service (Starting at $60.00/100 for standard cases and $75.00/100 for magnums)
• Hydro-Form Specialty cases (such as Dasher) $0.60 (sixty cents) each minimum of 100 pieces plus actual return shipping cost
• Expand Case Necks and Anneal brass (Call for Price)
• Create False Shoulder for Fire-Forming (Call for Price)
• Ultrasonic Cleaning of Muzzle Brake, $5.00 plus actual shipping

Hydro-Forming Cartridge Brass
Hydro-forming by Darrell costs $0.60 per case with a minimum order of 100 pieces. After hydro-forming, Darrell can also neck-turn the case for an additional charge (call for combined quote). In addition to the 6mmBR-based cases shown below, Darrell can now hydro-form 6PPC cases from .220 Russian brass.

hydroforming hydro-form Dasher 6mmBR PPC Darrell Jones

With Darrell’s hydro-forming service you don’t have to buy any special dies or other equipment. Darrell says: “Simply send me the brass you need or have it dropped-shipped to me along with a fired case that has not been sized. If you need formed brass for a new build (gun not yet fired), let me know and I will size the brass to fit within .001″ of a PT&G GO gauge.”

DJ’s Brass Offers Specialized Custom Services
Darrell tells us: “At DJ’s Brass, we can handle all your brass refurbishing needs. From ultrasonic cleaning to custom annealing for specific wildcat cartridges. We can expand your necks from .22 caliber to .30 caliber and anneal shoulders for consistent bump-back. We can turn your case-necks and trim the brass to your specs. For some cartridge types, I can pre-form cases to assist in fire-forming a wildcat cartridge. We also remove the carbon build-up in muzzle brakes. Don’t lose your accuracy by having carbon build up and close off the clearance required for the most accurate bullet release through a muzzle brake.” Note: Extra charges apply for neck-turning and neck expansion operations, or specialized cartridge-forming operations. Please call Darrell at 205-461-4680 for special services pricing.

DJ's Brass Restoration Service

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
June 2nd, 2016

Good Deal on Berger 6mm 105gr Hybrid Match Bullets

Berger Match Target Hybrid 105gr 105 grain bullet Litz 6mm .243

Need top-quality 6mm match bullets for your 6mmBR, 6mm Dasher, 6XC, 6mm Creedmoor, 6-6.5×47, or .243 Win? Then get out your checkbook, because this is a very good deal on hard-to-find Berger 6mm 105gr Hybrid Match Bullets.

Right now Precision Reloading offers big, 500-count boxes of 105gr 6mm Hybrids for just $159.99. That works out to just $31.99 per 100, a lot less than you’d pay normally. These .243-diameter premium bullets hold many records and have won many important shooting competitions. You may want to act quickly — supplies are limited. When Precision Reloading runs out of sale inventory, prices will go up. To order, visit PrecisionReloading.com

Berger Match Target Hybrid 105gr 105 grain bullet Litz 6mm .243

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals No Comments »
October 24th, 2015

The 6mm BRDX — a Longer-Necked Dasher

6mm Dasher BRDX whidden Darrell Jones

At the recent IBS 600-Yard Nationals, the 6mm Dasher cartridge was the most popular chambering for both Light Guns and Heavy Guns. The Dasher, a 40° improved version of the 6mmBR Norma case, can definitely shoot — no question about that. But the Dasher has one less-than-ideal feature — its very short neck. This makes it more problematic to shoot a wide variety of bullet types — short bullets as well as long. In addition, the short neck makes it harder to “chase the lands” over time.

For those folks who like the performance of the 6mm Dasher, but prefer a longer neck, there is an excellent alternative — the 6mm BRDX. This wildcat shares the 40° shoulder of the Dasher and has nearly the same capacity. Like the Dasher, the 6 BRDX can drive 100-107gr bullets to the same 3000-3050 FPS accuracy node. But the 6 BRDX has a longer neck than the Dasher. Depending on your “blow length”, the 6 BRDX will typically give you about .030″ to .035″ more usable neck length. That may not sound like much, but it is very useful if you have a longish (.110″+) freebore and you still want to shoot shorter bullets in the lands for some applications.

Your editor has a 6mm BRDX and I really like it. The neck is long enough to let me shoot 90-grainers loaded into the lands as well as 105-grainers. Fire-forming is pretty easy. I just load very long (so there is a firm jam) and shoot with 30.0 grains of Varget and a 100+ grain bullet. With a Brux barrel, my BRDX easily shoots quarter-MOA, with some 100-yard groups in the ones in calm conditions. This is with a Stiller Viper Action, and Shehane ST-1000 stock bedded by Tom Meredith.

6mm Dasher BRDX whidden Darrell Jones

6mm BRDX Reamer, Dies, and Hydro-Forming Service
It’s not difficult to set up a rifle to run the 6 BRDX. Dave Kiff’s Pacific Tool & Gauge has the reamer (just tell him the freebore you want). Whidden Gunworks offers excellent BRDX sizing and seating dies. And if you don’t like fire-forming, give Darrell Jones of DJsbrass.com a call. Darrell can hydro-form 6 BRDX brass and even turn the necks to your specs. Darrell’s hydro-forming service saves you time and preserves precious barrel life.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing 4 Comments »
August 31st, 2015

Can’t Find Varget or Reloder 15? Then Try IMR 4320

IMR 4320 Varget Powder Hodgdon reloading 6mm Dasher

IMR 4320 Varget Powder Hodgdon reloadingWhile Varget and Reloder 15 remain in short supply, you can often find IMR 4320 powder back in the shelves of local gun stores. IMR describes IMR 4320 as follows: “Short granulation, easy metering, and perfect for the 223 Remington, 22-250 Remington, 250 Savage and other medium burn rate cartridges.” This older-generation powder is more temp sensitive than the Hodgdon Extreme propellants, but in the right application, it looks to be a viable alternative for folks who can’t source Varget, Reloder 15, and even H4895.

IMR 4320 Shoots Well in the .308 Winchester
A while back, German Salazar wrote an excellent Riflemans Journal article, IMR 4320 — the Forgotten Powder. German developed IMR 4320 loads for his .308 Win Palma rifle and competed with IMR 4320-powered ammo at long range matches. German concluded that: “[IMR 4320] appears to be a very useful alternative to some of the harder-to-get powders. The load is working extremely well at 1000 yards. In the [2009] Arizona Palma State Championship, several high placing competitors were using the 4320 load. We got sub X-Ring elevation at 1000 yards from several rifles, and that’s all I’m looking for in a Palma load.”

IMR 4320 Works for Dasher Shooter
Forum member FalconPilot shoots a 6mm Dasher with Berger 105gr Hybrids. Looking for an alternative to Varget, he decided to give IMR 4320 a try. The results were good. FalconPilot reports: “I’ve been looking for other options (besides Reloder 15, which I love, but it’s really dirty). While at a gun shop in Ohio, I ran across 8 pounds of IMR 4320. I had never even heard of it, much less tried it. Getting ready for upcoming mid-range shoots, I loaded five rounds with IMR 4320 to the exact same specs as my winning Varget loads for the 6mm Dasher. This recipe was 32.7 grains of powder, Wolf SMR primer, Berger Hybrid 105 jumped fifty thousandths.” Falcon pilot tested his IMR 4320 load at 600 yards:

As you can see from the photo at the top of this article, FalconPilot had good results — a 1.5″ group at 600 yards. He reports: “This group was shoot during the middle of the day, mirage bad, scope set to 25X. It looks like IMR 4320 is a [very close] replacement for Varget… with a tad bit slower burn rate.” FalconPilot tell us the accuracy with IMR 4320 rivals the best he has gotten with Varget: “This gun has always shot under 2 inches [for 5 shots] at 600 yards, and most of time shoots 1.5 to 1.7 inches.”

For comparison purposes, here are Heat of Explosion and Burn Rate values from QuickLOAD for IMR 4320, and for the popular Reloder 15 and Varget powders. You can see that these powders have similar characteristics “by the numbers”:

Manufacturer Powder Brand Heat of Explosion Burning Rate Factor
IMR 4320 3890 0.5920
Alliant Reloder 15 3990 0.5200
Hodgdon (ADI) Varget 4050 0.6150

WARNING — When changing from one powder to another, always start with manufacturer’s stated load data. Start low and work up incrementally. Never assume that loads will be equivalent from one powder to another, even powders with similar burn rates.

What Other Forum Members Say:

I was using IMR 4320 in the mid 70s in my .222 Rem. Darned great powder and I never had a load that was not accurate from the .222 to .30-06 with that powder. — 5Spd

A fine powder overshadowed by the nouveau wave of “gotta have the newest — make me a better shot” powders. Try 4320 in a 22-250 — what a well-kept secret! IMR 4320 meters very well and is a flexible alternative to many of the hard-to-find powders so much in demand. — AreaOne

IMR 4320 was my “go to” powder in my .223 for many many years. This powder and Winchester 55gr soft point bulk bullets (the cheapest bullet I could buy at the time) accounted for thousands of prairie dogs, coyotes, and anything else that needed shooting. I still use IMR 4320 in some .223 loads and am very happy with it still. — pdog2062

I’ve been using it in a .308 Win for several years. I think it is very sensitive to temperature and always waited till the last minute to load my ammo with a close eye on the weekend forecast at the range. IMR 4320 Works pretty good for 155gr Palma and 168gr Hybrid [bullets] in my .308. — JayC

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 8 Comments »
January 21st, 2015

Norma to Make 6mm Dasher and .284 Win Brass for Bullets.com

Bullets.com has contracted with Norma to produce 1,000,000 pieces of .284 Winchester and 6mm Dasher brass (500,000 of each type). This is big news for competitive shooters. The .284 Win cartridge is a proven winner in F-Class competition and the 6 Dasher is a record-setting mid-range benchrest cartridge. It’s tough to beat the Dasher at 300-600 yards, and the .284 Win is probably the most successful cartridge for F-Open shooters.

Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia (left) and Norma Managing Director Paul-Erik Toivo “ink the deal”.
Bullets.com Norma .284 Winchester Dasher 6mm Brass contract order

Shooters should be excited about these new offerings. Bullets.com’s contract with Norma calls for advanced production methods to make sure the new brass is truly “match-grade” and long-lasting. To ensure that primer pockets stay tight for many firings, the caseheads on the new brass will be double-stamped for improved hardness and strength. Additionally the new brass will go through an additional draw stage to ensure ultra-uniform casewall thickness. With these extra manufacturing steps, this new 6mm Dasher and .284 Win brass should be the best brass Norma has ever produced, as Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia explains in the video below:

Shiraz Balolia Explains the Qualities of the New Brass

Shiraz reports: “Normally, Norma has about 25 steps of quality control (QC) during the production process of brass. They told us that our first shipments will have almost 30 steps to make sure that the brass is absolutely flawless when it leaves the factory.”

For illustration only — actual specifications may be slightly different.

6mm Dasher

Bullets.com Dasher 6mm 6 Norma brass Balolia Shiraz

.284 Winchester

Bullets.com Dasher 6mm 6 Norma brass Balolia Shiraz

6mm dasher brass6mm Dasher without Fire-Forming Hassles
Until now, if you wanted to shoot a Dasher, you had to go through the time-consuming and laborious process of forming brass from the parent 6mmBR Norma case. You had to blow the shoulder forward, either through fire-forming or hydro-forming. Now that’s all changed — you will soon be able to take perfect 6mm Dasher brass out of the box, and “load and shoot”.

The Deal is done. New Norma .284 Win brass will start arriving in the USA in March, 2015, while the new Dasher brass is expected in late summer 2015.
balnorma02

IMPORTANT — The above diagrams were made 4 years ago with QuickDESIGN. They are for illustration purposes ONLY. These are NOT reamer prints, and there may be small differences compared to the Norma .284 Win and 6mm Dasher brass ordered by Bullets.com. Do NOT spec reamers based on the above illustrations. Wait ’til we have the actual Norma brass to measure.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 24 Comments »
May 24th, 2014

IBS Match Report: 600-Yard Match at Piedmont

IBS Piedmont 600-yard match

Report by Jaime Hammer, IBS Social Media Manager
On Saturday, May 10, 2014, Piedmont Gun Club in Rutherfordton, NC (located near the Chimney Rock and Lake Lure area) held a 600-yard benchrest match. Weather conditions could not have been better. The air was cool, the sky was overcast, and there was very little wind. It rained for about thirty minutes in the morning, but that didn’t interfere with shooting, and the remainder of the day was dry. The match began at 9:00 AM with the Light Gun (LG) class, and the Heavy gun (HG) class shot in the afternoon. Thirty-three competitors (including many of the nation’s top 600-yard shooters) attended the event.

IBS Piedmont 600-yard match

Dominant Performance by Paul Isenhour
Paul Isenhour took home first place prizes for LG score, LG group, and HG group. He potentially set a new Two-Gun Group Size Aggregate record (the current record is 1.7797″ by Mike Hanes). In the LG class, Paul’s score total was 195 points, and his group size Agg was 1.708″. In HG class, Paul’s score total was 180, and his group size Agg was 1.769″.

In Light Gun class Paul was on fire right out of the gate — he shot a stunning 1.130″ (50-2X) on the first Light Gun target, followed by a superb 1.330″ (50) on the second LG target. That’s right, Paul shot two, 50-point, sub-1.5″ groups back to back. That is truly spectacular shooting. And Paul was quick to credit the stock-maker (Paul made the handsome stock himself). Paul’s 6mm Dasher features a Stiller Viper action, Bartlein barrel, and Leupold 45X scope. He was running Berger 105g Hybrid bullets pushed by Varget powder and Federal primers.

IBS Piedmont 600-yard match

Paul Isenhour was on fire in Light Gun! Back to back, he shot a 1.130″ with 50 points, followed by a 1.330″, again with 50 points. That is astounding accuracy!

In the LG class (score), Larry Wheeler came in second place with a score of 193. Reggie Wilson came in third place, with a score of 192. In the LG class (group), Reggie Wilson came in second place with a score of 1.861. Chad Jenkins came in third place with a score of 2.000. In the HG class (score), Chris Childers came in first place with a score of 197. Mike Hanes came in second place with a score of 193. Richard DeSimone came in third place with a score of 190. Finally, in the HG class (group), Richard DeSimone came in second place with a score of 1.917. Jeff Godfrey came in third place with a score of 2.217. Top shooters received beautiful plaques for their great shooting. All winners and shooters competed with outstanding skill and sportsmanship.

Download Piedmont 600-Yard Full Results .XLSX | (Download smaller XLS Version)
Download Piedmont 600-Yard Equipment List .XLSX | (Download smaller XLS Version)

IBS Piedmont 600-yard match
Chad Jenkins, Jeff Godfrey, Paul Isenhour, Mike Hanes, Rich DeSimone, Reggie Wilson, Chris Childers.

IBS Piedmont 600-yard match

Piedmont Gun Club has been the host club to several record-setters, three of whom (Rodney Wagner, Mike Hanes, and Chad Jenkins) attended this match. Rodney, Mike, and Chad set their records in May and July of 2013 for Group, Score, Group Aggregate, and Score Aggregate in Light Gun class, respectively. Rodney shot a spectacular 0.336″ group at Piedmont last year. An IBS Light Gun record, that was the smallest 600-yard group in history — the smallest 5-shot group ever shot at 600 yards by anyone, anywhere, in any type of shooting match. Initially measured at 0.349″, Rodney’s record group was certified at 0.336″. That is a record for the ages.


Table-Top Rifle-Cleaning Cradles

Among the interesting gear on display at Piedmont were a variety of hand-made cleaning cradles designed to fit on table tops. These typically employ a box-style design, with layer of cloth or other padding to cushion the underside of the stock. On display were both single-rifle cleaning cradle/boxes and dual-rifle rigs. This is a good do-it-yourself project that can be built with simple tools.

Click Photos to View Large Versions
IBS Piedmont 600-yard match

Notice that these cradle-boxes feature an extended lower section in the rear. This lower “lip” butts up against the edge of the table so the whole assembly stays in place. In the photo above it appears that the lower section may actually be cut from a rubber block, but we’re not sure.

IBS Piedmont 600-yard match

IBS Piedmont 600-yard match


Piedmont Runs a Great Show
Everyone at the match was extremely welcoming, friendly, and helpful. As a rookie, I found that other shooters were quick to answer any questions I had regarding shooting, reloading, the match, or the club. Rookie shooter Paul Hammer said, “The shoots at Piedmont Gun Club are always well-run and organized. Everyone is nice and willing to help new shooters.” You don’t have to win a trophy to have a great time. One shooter observed that he doesn’t really pay much attention to his score — he attends matches to have fun and socialize.

IBS Piedmont 600-yard match
Check out this nice bench set-up with an angled ammo caddy, custom “back-stop” for ejected brass, and a big, stable “gator”-style rear sandbag. If you look carefully, you’ll see another sandbag positioned just to the right side of the butt-plate. This bag helps support the shooter’s forearm for his trigger hand.

If you are interested in shooting at Piedmont, a schedule of events can be found by selecting the “Schedule” tab at the top of the website. Match registration is held at the beginning of each event. You can join the Piedmont Gun Club by logging in to PiedmontGunClub.com. Click the “About” tab at the top of the Home Page, select “Member Application”, and print that form. Once you’ve filled the form out, mail it to the address supplied on the application.

All shooters, myself included, are very appreciative of Piedmont Gun Club for hosting such a smoothly running match, where the level of camaraderie among shooters is very high. The quality of the facilities, experience in organizing events, and helpfulness of participants all came together to create a prime environment for benchrest rifle shooting.

IBS Piedmont 600-yard match
Here’s a handsome Light Gun with an Obeche “Indian Paint” laminated Shehane Tracker stock. Click the photo to see a larger full-screen version showing the whole rifle.

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
April 8th, 2014

James O’Hara — “Mr. Consistent”, Sets 1000-Yard Agg Records

James O'Hara IBS 1000 Yard Aggregate Record1000-yard Benchrest competitor James O’Hara set four (4) new IBS Records in 2013. These multi-match Light Gun Agg records were secured with O’Hara’s solid performance at the 2013 Virginia 1000-yard Benchrest State Championship. Here are the new records set by O’Hara in 2013:

10-Match Score Aggregate 47.5
6-Match Score Aggregate 49.5
6-Match Score Aggregate 49.83
6-Match group Aggregate 3.072”

During the VA state championships, O’Hara was on fire. All four groups were centered for 50s, with three groups under 3″ and the fourth a 3.715″. That’s consistency.

Target 1- Group 2.996” Score 50.2
Target 2- Group 2.433″, Score 50.1
Target 3- Group 3.715″, Score 50.4
Target 4- Group 2.188″, Score 50.1
Group Average 2.833″, Score Average 50.2

On 1000-yard benchrest targets, the 10-ring is just seven inches in diameter, while the X-Ring is a mere 3 inches in diameter. At the Virginia 1K Championships, James managed to keep all his shots within the seven-inch 10 Ring with eight of the shots inside the 3 inch X-Ring. That is amazing accuracy and consistency. David Goodridge says: “This is truly a remarkable example of superb marksmanship, rifle design, assembly, load development and equipment maintenance.” (O’Hara had previously set a 10-match Aggregate Light Gun World record of 4.5389″ in 2012).

Click image for Full-screen view
James O'Hara IBS 1000 Yard Aggregate Record

James O'Hara IBS 1000 Yard Aggregate Record

James O’Hara Talks About Record-Setting Rifles and Ultra-Accurate Long-Range Loads
James generously agreed to share his knowledge and experiences on the many facets of IBS 1000-yard benchrest preparation, reloading and shooting techniques in an intereview with Australian David Goodridge. This feature originally appeared in Australian Target Rifle Magazine. A few of O’Hara’s responses have been updated, based on a conversation with James on April 8, 2014.

Goodridge: James on behalf of the Australian LRBR community I would like to congratulate you on your achievements in 1000-yard Benchrest and thank you for [doing this] interview. To begin, could you provide an outline on your background and the reasons or factors that led you to becoming involved in 1000-yard BR at the Virginia Club.

O’Hara: I started short-range Benchrest in 1996 for a brief time and won my first 100-yard IBS match and I was hooked. Loss of eye-sight in one eye put a damper on it and I quit shooting for while, and I started shooting trap to try to switch over to left-handed. It worked and I started to pick up a gun left-handed so I went back to the rifle and built a tube gun.

I tried the local groundhog matches but the rules changed every match. I then found the Reade Range and 1000-yard matches. I restocked my gun with a long-range stock and started 1000-yard Benchrest. Finding I enjoyed the challenges associated with long range benchrest, I began 1000-yard Benchrest competition at Harry Jones Range and White Horse Range, two IBS ranges in West Virginia. I basically started after the year was under way in 2011 and I must say it was a very humbling experience. I soon learned that my previous short range [techniques] were not working.

New scales, a K&M arbor press with a force indicator, led to improvements. Then designing and obtaining reamers to my own specifications led to further substantial improvements, with the end result being that the same loads now seem to work from barrel to barrel.

James O’Hara Equipment Details

Gunsmithing: I do all the work myself, except barrel chambering/fitting is done by Dave Bruno.

Favored Caliber: I use a 6mm Dasher with a .266 neck and a .135 free bore. My load is a 103gr Spencer bullet trimmed and pointed with Hoover tools. Load is Alliant Reloder 15, 33.0+ grains weighed on a GD503 scale, with a CCI 450 primer. Right now I’m jumping the bullet about .006″. Previously, I shot them about .010” into the rifling but it was pulling the bullets or pushing them back.

Actions: For the IBS record groups I used a Bat 1.350” Bat B action in a Roy Hunter Stock. Other actions in use include a 1.530” Bat B and a Kelby F-Class Panda.
Barrels: The record barrel was a Brux Heavy Varmint, 1:7.83″ twist, finished at 28″, and fitted with a Harrell’s brake.
Stocks: I have two Roy hunter stocks and a PR&T and all track very well. They are balanced at two inches ahead of the receiver. All three stocks are glued with liquid Devcon and are pillared, so they are “glued and screwed”. I think this is the best system.
Scopes: The PR&T-stocked rifle has a March 10-60X and the two Hunter-stocked guns have Nightforce 12-42x56mm NXS scopes.
Rests: My front rest is a Sinclair Competition model that I modified with a cartridge holder that holds cartridges up by the port. I use the new super slick bag by Protektor and a rear Doctor Bag with leather ears.
Scope Mounts: Rings are Burris Signature Extra High (the ones with inserts).

Case Preparation and Reloading Techniques:
My cases are three years old, with close to 100 firings. They are all from the same lot. I anneal the cases dirty to save some work and I anneal every time to have consistent neck tension. I punch the primers out and clean the pockets and run the flash hole uniformer in to make sure there is no carbon build-up. You can use the same tool as you use to prep the new cases. Flash holes are uniformed to .0625″. (Flash holes, “out of the box”, are less consistent than you may think.)

I turn necks to .0102″ with a K&M tool. Some competitors don’t turn necks, but without uniform neck tension you will have vertical. I use a K&M VLD chamfering tool and a Wilson case trimmer for new cases and when I trim fired cases. I use a nylon brush for inside the necks and clean the cases outside with 0000 steel wool using a small power station or a drill to spin them. The cases are sized on a Forster Coax press with a Harrell’s full length bushing die. Priming is done by hand using a K&M priming tool. I throw a “close” charge with Harrell’s bench rest powder measure. That charge goes in the pan of my Sartorius GD503 scale and then I trickle up to weight with an Omega powder trickler.

James O'Hara IBS 1000 Yard Aggregate Record

For bullet seating, I now use the 21st Century Hydraulic arbor press with seating force indiciation. I previously used the K&M arbor press with force indicator — it was good, but the 21st Century unit is more sophisticated, more precise, and easier to read. I have a loading block that is color-coded in the pounds of force needed to seat the bullet. I try to keep rounds in sets of 3-lb seating force settings. Each loaded round is put in the appropriate column (based on measured seating force). All loaded rounds are color-coded to avoid mixing. Leftovers from matches are used at a later date.

Click image for Full-screen view
James O'Hara IBS 1000 Yard Aggregate Record

I have now made a tool from an old bearing surface comparator. It will contact the ogive of the loaded round and it will check the seating depth while it is sitting on a granite block. Relying completely on the force and feel of the dial indicator allows seating depths to be held to .0005″ (i.e. one-half-thousandth). Compared to others means, this seems a more accurate way to check seating depth.

Bullets are spun on a Juenke machine after they are trimmed on a Hoover trimmer and pointed on the Hoover tool. For the next step, a Tubb Bearing Surface Comparator is used to sort bullets to plus/minus .0005″. I don’t discard any bullets — if I have some small lots of bullets that have a shorter or longer measurement they are used for testing. With the Spencer and BIB bullets there are not many that are not within plus/minus .001”. I quit weighing cases because of the outside variations. I only do what makes a difference [on target] and I only test and do load development at 100 yards, where I can control the conditions.

James O'Hara IBS 1000 Yard Aggregate RecordBarrel Freezing (Cryogenic treatment)
For the 2013 season, I cut barrels back to 28″ and had them “frozen” (cryo-treated) at Cryo Plus. I think that both barrels are average in the wind, but the first shot from a clean barrel is in the group. I shot around seven 100s with my other Light Gun. In Heavy Gun, I even won the group Aggregate at the Virginia State shoot. I have cryo-treated all of my barrels and I believe I have proof that it does produce benefits. I talked to George Kelbly about this before I did it. My results agreed with what George had indicated: fire cracking was less, chambering was easier and the major benefit was that the groups did not ‘walk’ as the barrels became heated.

Bench Set-up and Shooting Procedures
I use a spotting scope to help see the flags and the mirage. The mount is a Sinclair for the bench. This really helps because I can’t see the flags far out. I think the most important part of the set up is getting the gun to track, it has to come back in the box every time and shooting under the same condition every shot. I know everybody likes to run them — I do if the condition holds — but if it doesn’t you must pick them one at a time. This is where the direction and the speed of the wind come into play; you must shoot in the same condition you zero in.

When I set up to shoot, I line up the gun on my target and I move it back and forth till I can get it coming back in the ten ring and then I set my scope. I load my record rounds in my holder and I use my sighters out of the box. I now am watching and timing the conditions and I now make the decision of the one I will use and this is the only one I sight-in with. If I have some big guns beside me with brakes, I will wait till they are done or try to get in between their shots (this doesn’t always work).

Trigger control is a must and you have to be consistent. I will give up a perfect sight picture for a perfect trigger pull. I use free recoil and only my finger is on the trigger. After the rifle recoils back, I hold the fore-arm and open the bolt — you have to be careful not to upset the gun in the bags. After loading the next round, I close the bolt and push the gun forward with my right hand on the fore-arm. I am guiding [the stock] forward in between the bags. This gives me less chance to make a mistake, and maybe half of the shots need no or very little adjustment. I know it’s hard to get accustomed to, but try not to take your eye out of the scope so you are watching the mirage and not to get caught in a change. For the best part, I shoot free recoil and do all my testing at 100 yards in my backyard range. I zero dead on at 100 and come up 24 minutes for 1000 yards.

Bore Cleaning Procedures
I never try to get the gun super clean at a match, I like to see a little gray on a clean patch. I don’t want the barrel to be squeaky clean — I like to see a little haze on a patch. When it’s like that, after one fouling shot, the next shot usually goes right where it’s supposed to. When it’s squeaky clean, it may take five shots to foul in.

I used a product called WartHog 1134, and it has served me well for a long time but now that the Hazmat stopped the shipment of it, so I went to over-the-counter products and all are equally bad compared to what I had used but they do the job, it just takes longer. I never pull a patch or brush back through (across the crown), I go one way only (outward) out and then unscrew the brush or take the patch off at the muzzle. I use a 50/50 mix of Hoppies and Kroil after I clean. Just before I shoot I run a smaller patch down the bore to leave a very thing film of oil in the bore. I never want to shoot over a dry bore. If you shoot over a squeaky clean, dry bore, you’ll get copper every time.

What the Future Holds for O’Hara
My goal last season was to set the Agg records. Now I only have one more goal — that is the single target group, so I will back off shooting the Heavy Gun. I have three excellent Light Guns and a bunch of barrels to do it… so maybe! I think the greatest enjoyment is the people you shoot with, the common interest is the bond I guess but I wouldn’t change it for anything. — James O’Hara

Goodridge: James, on behalf of all Australian IBS 1000-yard BR competitors, I would like to thank you for your great patience and cooperation in preparation of this article, and for the valuable and interesting insight that you have provided into what is required to achieve success at the highest levels of 1000-yard BR competition. Not that you need it, but good luck for the 2014 shooting season.

Permalink Competition, Reloading 4 Comments »
March 1st, 2014

How to Fire-Form Dasher and BRX Brass without Bullets

Many of our Forum members shoot an “improved” 6mmBR cartridge. This might be a 30°-shoulder 6mm BRX, or a 40°-shoulder 6mm Dasher, or the 6mm BRDX, which is very similar to the Dasher, but with a slightly longer neck. This Editor shoots a 6mm BRDX and has found it very accurate, and maybe a bit easier to fire-form than a standard Dasher. Speaking of fire-forming, in our Shooters’ Forum, we often see questions about fire-forming BRX/Dasher brass. For those who need a large number of BRX or Dasher cases, one option to consider is using pistol powder in a dedicated fire-forming barrel. Here’s an explanation of how this process can work.

Forum member Skeeter has a 6mm Dasher falling block varmint rifle. The Dasher case is based on the 6mm BR Norma cartridge with the shoulder blown forward about 0.100″ and out to 40°. This gives the Dasher roughly 3.5 grains added capacity compared to the standard 6BR.

A few seasons back, Skeeter needed to form 300 cases for varmint holiday. Skeeter decided to fire-form his brass without bullets. This method avoids barrel wear and saves on components. There are various ways to do this, but Skeeter chose a method using pistol/shotgun powder, some tissue to hold the powder in place, Cream of Wheat filled to within an 1/8″ of top of the neck, and a “plug” of tissue paper to hold it all in place. Shown below are cases filled with a pistol/shotgun powder charge topped with Cream of Wheat and then a tissue paper plug.

To ensure the case headspaced firmly in his Dasher chamber, Skeeter created a “false shoulder” where the new neck-shoulder junction would be after fire-forming. After chamfering his case mouths, Skeeter necked up all his cases with a 0.257″ mandrel (one caliber oversized). Then he used a bushing neck-sizing die to bring the top half of the neck back down to 0.267″ to fit his 0.269″ chamber. The photo below shows how the false shoulder is created.

After creating the false shoulder, Skeeter chambered the cases in his rifle to ensure he could close the bolt and that he had a good “crush fit” on the false shoulder, ensuring proper headspace. All went well.

The next step was determining the optimal load of pistol powder. Among a variety of powders available, Skeeter chose Hodgdon Titewad as it is relatively inexpensive and burns clean. The goal was to find just the right amount of Titewad that would blow the shoulder forward sufficiently. Skeeter wanted to minimize the amount of powder used and work at a pressure that was safe for his falling block action.

Working incrementally, Skeeter started at 5.0 grains of Titewad, working up in 0.5 grain increments. As you can see, the 5.0 grain charge blew the shoulder forward, but left it a hemispherical shape. At about 7.0 grains of Titewad, the edge of the shoulder and case body was shaping up. Skeeter decided that 8.5 grains of Titewad was the “sweet spot”. He tried higher charges, but the shoulder didn’t really form up any better. It will take another firing or two, with a normal match load of rifle powder and a bullet seated, to really sharpen up the shoulders. Be sure to click on the “View Larger Image” link to get a good view of the cases.


The process proved to be a success. Skeeter now has hundreds of fire-formed Dasher cases and he hasn’t had to put one bullet through his nice, new match-grade barrel. The “bulletless” Cream of Wheat method allowed him to fire-form in a tight-necked barrel without neck-turning the brass first. The only step now remaining is to turn the newly Dasher-length necks down about .0025″ to fit his 0.269″ chamber. (To have no-turn necks he would need an 0.271″ or 0.272″ chamber).

Skeeter didn’t lose a single case: “As for the fire-forming loads, I had zero split cases and no signs of pressure in 325 cases fire-formed. Nor did I have any misfires or any that disbursed COW into the action of the firearm. So the COW method really worked out great for me and saved me a lot of money in powder and bullets.” To learn more about the COW fire-forming process, read this Dasher Fire-Forming Forum Thread.

Skeeter did have a fire-forming barrel, but it was reamed with a .269 chamber like his 10-twist Krieger “good” barrel. If he fire-formed with bullets, he would have to turn all 300 necks to .267″ BEFORE fire-forming so that loaded rounds would fit in the chamber. Judging just how far to turn is problematic. There’s no need to turn the lower part of the neck that will eventually become shoulder–but how far down the neck to turn is the issue. By fire-forming without bullets now he only has to turn about half the original neck length, and he knows exactly how far to go.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
December 15th, 2013

PMA Offers Euro-Style Stickers for Popular Accuracy Cartridges

Football fans and Harley guys like to show their loyalty with branded stickers on their cars and trucks. Why shouldn’t benchresters do this same? Well now this is possible for fans of the 6mmBR, PPC, and 6mm Dasher cartridges. These small but ultra-accurate cartridges have set the “gold standard” for rifle precision. Now you can “represent” your favorite chambering — but in a subtle way that won’t spook anti-gunners on the road (or draw unwanted attention from the local constabulary).

PMA Tool offers Euro-style, black-on-white, oval stickers that look cool on your car, truck, SUV, RV, or camping trailer. As PMA says: “Let your shooting buddies know what you shoot, while leaving your non-shooting neighbors scratching their heads.” Place the stickers in the corner of a rear window or slap ‘em on a bumper. They also look nice on a range box or plastic rifle case.

PMA Bumper Sticker 6mmBR 6 PPC Dasher Benchrest

There are currently three sticker versions, “6BR”, “PPC”, and “Dasher”, priced at $5.95 per sticker. PMA Tool may produce stickers for other chamberings if there is sufficient demand. What other cartridge types would you like to see? Perhaps generic “6mm”, “6.5mm”, and “7mm” stickers?

Permalink New Product No Comments »