The “Holy Grail” of prairie dog shooting is dispatching a dog at ultra-long-range — the farther the better. Here we recount the quest of Forum member VolDoc to nail a Prairie Dog at 1000+ yards with a Savage .20-caliber rifle. If you’re a fan of the “Terrific 20s”, or have an interest in ultra-long-range varminting, you’ll enjoy this story. VolDoc, a dentist by trade, is a seasoned Prairie Dog Hunter who has made many trips to the P-Dog fields in Colorado with his hunting buddies. But until recently he had never managed to nail a P-Dog at 1000 yards with a .20-caliber rifle. Nor, as far as we can determine, had any one else. But VolDoc did it — accomplishing a verified Prairie Dog kill at 1032 yards, possibly the longest recorded with a .20-Caliber rifle.
Modified Hart-Barreled 20BR Savage Does the Job
Shooting Prairie Dogs at extreme long range takes highly specialized equipment. To make his 1032-yard kill shot, VolDoc used a modified Dual-Port Savage chambered in 20 BR. The stock was geometrically-uniformed and pillar-bedded by smith Kevin Rayhill, who fitted a 28″ Hart barrel with a Rayhill muzzle brake. VolDoc loaded his 20BR with 55gr Berger BT LR Varmint bullets (0.381 G1 BC) pushed by a stout charge of Hodgdon Varget.
It took good conditions, and patience to make the successful 1000+ yard shot. Voldoc explains:
“We were out on the Colorado prairie at daylight and the conditions were perfect. The sunrise was at my back and we had about a 10 mph tailwind. I looked through my Leica Geovid Rangefinder Binos and the Prairie Dogs were out for breakfast. I quickly ranged the targets and found a group at about 1,050 yards.
My first shot was very, very close. I added about four clicks up and a couple of clicks left for windage and let another go. That shot threw dirt all over, but the dog didn’t even flinch. On the fourth shot, I saw the dog go belly up and kick its final throws. My quest for the 20-Caliber 1,000-yard Prairie Dog had become a reality. We confirmed the distance with our lasers at 1,032 yards.”
Voldoc’s Accurate Arsenal
In our report on VolDoc’s successful 1K Prairie Dog quest, we spotlighted two of VolDoc’s other accurate varmint guns. First, fans of fine wood will love VolDoc’s switch-barrel, drop-port Stiller Diamondback rifle. The wood on this gun is stunning. The custom stock was crafted from 40-year-old English Walnut to match the profile of a Shehane ST-1000. The rifle has three barrels with three different chamberings: 6BR Brux 1:8″-twist HV; 6BRX Krieger 1:8″-twist HV, and 6mm Dasher Krieger 1:8.5″-twist fluted straight contour (no taper). The scope is a Nightforce 12-42x56mm, with 2DD reticle.
VolDoc’s “Go-To” Prairie Dog Rifle — Big Orange Crush Dasher
Next, check out VolDoc’s “Big Orange Crush” rifle. This features a stainless Nesika ‘J’ action in a painted fiberglass Shehane ST-1000 stock. Originally a 6BR, the gun is now chambered as a 6mm Dasher with a .271″ no-turn neck. The barrel is a 1:12″-twist Krieger fited with Vais muzzle brake. Big Orange Crush shoots 87gr V-Maxs into bugholes at 3,400 fps, according to VolDoc. He tells us that “The barrel now has more than 3,000 rounds down the tube and exhibits little throat fire-cracking and no loss of accuracy. I can’t explain why, it just hasn’t deteriorated yet. This rifle is my best-ever ‘go-to’ Prairie Dog rifle.”
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Ed Connors placed three consecutive shots all on target at 2160 yards for a sub-3/8 MOA group. Wow.
Amazing shooting — that’s how we’d describe what Ed Connors accomplished recently with his Speedy-built .338 Lapua Magnum LR rifle. Ed nailed a 3-shot group at 2160 yards that would be great at 1000 yards. Check out the target above. Now consider that the shooter was a full mile PLUS 400 yards away. That is truly remarkable accuracy.
At this distance, 2160 yards, one MOA is 22.61″. This three-consecutive-shot group, measuring about 8 inches, works out to less than 3/8 MOA. Think about that — most guys would be elated to shoot 3/8 MOA at two hundred yards. Ed did that at over two thousand yards!
That takes a great rifle, as well as great ammo. Ed says: “I believe in loading like a benchrest shooter to achieve these ultra long-range shots”.
Gunsmith Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez writes: “Anytime you build a customer a rifle to work out beyond the 1000-yard mark you must work hand-in-hand with your customer and explain everything you are doing to ensure performance at distances most shooters never even contemplate (except in their dreams).
Ed was involved in all aspects of the projects from the reamer print to what we needed for both single-shot work and mag-fed function in timed competition. This was Ed’s very first work-out with his reborn Surgeon-actioned .338 Lapua Magnum. He did great to say the least!”
Pretty Darn Good at One Mile as Well…
While “tuning up” for his 2160-yard session. Ed also produced some very impressive results at one mile (1760 yards). Once he got “dialed in” he delivered three shots you can cover with the palm of your hand. That’s spectacular consistency at one mile.
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Serious ammo — .375 Lethal Magnum rounds loaded with 400gr Cutting Edge Lazer bullets. One wag posted “They look like SCUD missiles.”
In the Extreme Long Range (ELR) game, great ballistics are paramount, but you also need excellent accuracy. The top ELR shooters campaign large-caliber rifles that boast truly remarkable accuracy, considering the massive cartridges they’re shooting (with 160+ grains of powder). These big boomers, such as the .375 Lethal Magnum shown above, can really hammer.
The winner of the 2016 King of 2 Miles (KO2M) event was Mitchell Fitzpatrick, shooting a .375 Lethal Mag cartridge, as part of Team Applied Ballistics. Another member of that squad, Paul Phillips, is also campaigning a new rifle chambered for the .375 Lethal Magnum. Paul was recently doing load development for his new beast, which features a McMillan stock, Nightforce scope, and Phoenix Bipod. Among his barrels for this rig is a massive, 38″-long Bartlein.
“I had a great time today doing load development at Applied Ballistics LLC laboratory with Bryan Litz, Bill Litz, and Mitchell Fitzpatrick. I was testing loads for my .375 Lethal Mag built by Lethal Precision Arms LLC. The last several test groups were sub half-min at 300 yards. Next testing is at 1800 yards.” — Paul Phillips
For this test, Paul’s load featured 400gr Cutting Edge Lazer bullets launched at a blistering 3290 FPS with Hodgdon H50BMG powder. Looks like Paul got his load dialed in “good and proper”. He fired a 0.9″ group at 300 yards, and the Oehler System 88 chronograph showed a very low Extreme Spread (ES) of just 5 FPS. That’s impressive even for just three shots.
A little snow on the ground can’t stop the Applied Ballistics testing team…
Look carefully and you’ll find the powder charge weight — a bit more than you’d load in a 6PPC…
Bryan Litz inspects the .375-caliber barrel with bore-scope.
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Today, December 16th, 2016, Creedmoor Sports is offering FREE SHIPPING on ALL orders within the Continental USA. Orders must be placed by 11:59 PM EST, on Friday, December 16. And now through January 2, 2017, Creedmoor is offering holiday sale prices on a host of products, including match ammo, shooting coats, gun cases, gloves, spotting scopes, shooting mats, eyewear, and much more.
In its Holiday Shopping Catalog, Creedmoor has also cut prices on its best-selling instructional DVDs. You can save up to $9.50 per disc, with typical savings of 20% or more. Serious High Power rifle competitors can definitely benefit from these informative DVDs which combine instruction with photos, video, and interviews. Here are three highly recommended DVDs, the first from Triple-Distinguished Marksman Jim Hill and the other two from 11-Time National High Power Champion David Tubb. You can ORDER these DVDs Online.
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Kelly McMillan with his lastest creation — the “ELR Beast”.
The design team at McMillan Fiberglass Stocks is working on a new heavy-duty stock for the Extreme Long Range (ELR) game. This beefy gunstock is designed to handle the heavy torque and recoil of big-caliber cartridges such as the .408 Cheytac and .50 BMG. The stock is also designed to balance the ultra-long barrels favored by ELR shooters and King of 2 Mile competitors. Shown above is the boss-man himself, Kelly McMillan, with the new ELR stock prototype. Kelly calls this “the ELR Beast”. Note how the cheekpiece is slotted to allow unimpeded movement of the extra-long bolt.
Kelly tells us: “Making headway on the ELR Beast. Using Paul Phillips’s barrel and action we have been able to make some progress in both the design and the cosmetics of the stock. I am pleased with where we are at this time. As is, this set up weighs 46 pounds, I suspect we can get this stock to weigh between 8 and 9 pounds maximum, and maybe 5 pounds minimum.”
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Nosler has just introduced a new SAAMI-spec .338-caliber cartridge, the 33 Nosler, which is based on the 404 Jeffrey parent case. This efficient new cartridge rivals the velocity and energy of the proven .338 Lapua Magnum while using significantly less powder. AND, the Nosler 33 fits in a standard, long action receiver. Accordingly the 33 Nosler should be popular with extreme long range (ELR) shooters and big game hunters. The 33 Nosler fires .338-caliber bullets which are tough on big game and typically boast high Ballistic Coefficients and sectional densities. For long-range target work, Nosler will offer 33 Nosler match ammo with a high-BC 300gr bullet.
Notably, the 33 Nosler will fit in a standard-length Long Action. That’s a big deal because it means you can now achieve .338 LM performance in a rifle that is lighter and less costly to build. Nosler lists a 3.340″ COAL for the 33 Nosler. Compare that to 3.681″ for the .338 LM. Nosler will offer loaded ammunition as well as 33 Nosler brass.
The above chart was created by Nosler. It shows the 33 Nosler can push a 225gr AccuBond at 3025 fps and the 265gr AccuBond at 2775 fps. That’s 275 fps faster (with 20% more energy) than the .338 Winchester Magnum using the same length action. According to the chart, the 33 Nosler is also 25 fps faster than the .338 Lapua Magnum at the muzzle while burning 18% less powder. However, the numbers quoted by Nosler for the .338 LM are conservative.
The 33 Nosler® is SAAMI-standardized for consistent industry-wide brass and chamber dimensions. Nosler will be supporting this new cartridge with Nosler Brass, factory ammunition, and Nosler factory rifles. Expect 33 Nosler products to be available in early 2017.
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Applied Ballistics team dominates the King of 2 Miles match: Mitchell Fitzpatrick (1st Place), Bryan Litz (2nd Place), and Paul Phillips (4th Place).
The King of 2 Miles event has come to an end, the scores have been tallied, and Team Applied Ballistics finished first, second, and fourth. That’s dominance. The “Top Gun” was young Mitchell Fitzpatrick, who blitzed the field with his impressive .375 Lethal Precision Arms LLC rifle shooting prototype solid 400gr Berger bullets. Mitchell built this rifle himself using a McMillan A5 Super Mag stock. Remarkably, Mitchell nailed first- and second-shot hits at the 2477-yard target, a full 1.4 miles away. That’s amazing shooting. The photo below illustrates the vast distance from firing line to target.
Mitchell gave credit to his team-mates: “We had the best ballistic solutions possible thanks to the work done at Applied Ballistics LLC by the one and only Bryan Litz. Bryan is also a world-class wind coach and world champion shooter. Paul Phillips, also a world-class wind coach, world champion shooter, and just an all-around class act. Paul was invaluable to making the wind calls we needed to win this match. One of the most important parts of any rifle system is the projectile… Berger’s new prototype .375-cal 400gr projectile we have been developing gave us a monumental ballistic advantage. [It was] without a doubt, a key to our success.”
Berger Ballistician Bryan Litz took second place shooting a .338 Edge (the only .338 rifle in the Finals). Durvin Wick finished third, while Paul Phillips, shooting Bryan’s rifle, placed fourth overall.
Report by Bryan Litz, Team Applied Ballistics
The 2016 King of 2 Miles event is in the books. Today the Top 10 teams engaged targets at 2011 yards, 2477 yards, and 3375 yards. All three Applied Ballistics teams had hits at 2011 yards, and two out of three of us scored first-round hits at 2477 yards! Note that no competitor (from any team) hit the two-mile (3375-yard) target, but that gives us a goal to shoot for next year. Many factors contributed to the success of the Applied Ballistics shooters in this event:
1. Teamwork. We shoot together on the U.S. Rifle Team. The standardized communication protocols between coaches and shooters was a big advantage in this timed event. We had excellent team-work, and are already discussing ways to improve and adapt our approach to ELR events.
2. Science. Applied Ballistics specializes in the science of accuracy. First round hits in this event are scored highly and you can get more first round hits if you know your ballistics. The top two shooters in this event both had first round hits at 2477 yards today which was key, and is not possible without highly accurate ballistic solutions.
3. Ballistic Performance. The performance of Mitchell Fitzpatrick’s .375 Lethal Precision Arms LLC rifle with the prototype 400 grain Berger Bullets solid is unmatched (G7 BC of 0.56 at over 3000 fps). This performance helped Mitch win the match by a sizable margin. The other two Applied Ballistics teams were shooting Bryan Litz’s .338 Edge with the Berger Bullets 300 grain Hybrid. Despite being a smaller caliber (compared to the .375s, .416s, and .50-calibers), the .338 Cal 300 grain Berger Hybrid proved to be a great performer.
There were quite a few big .50 Cals on the line, but a .375 topped the field. Sheri Judd photo.
Thanks to Eduardo Abril De Fontcuberta, Founder of the KO2M Event
We would like to thank all those who worked hard to make this event happen especially Eduardo Abril De Fontcuberta (shown below with Mitchell Fitzpatrick and Paul Phillips). Eduardo has worked hard to organize a great event that pushes the limits of ELR shooting in a fun and competitive way. We’re very grateful for the chance to participate and look forward to competing in the King of 2 Miles event next year. Also, thanks to Kelly McMillan for his support of our team. Kelly has been an awesome sponsor of our efforts here, as well as the U.S. Rifle Team, and the shooting community in general.
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The King of 2 Miles Extreme Long Range (ELR) competition is underway at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. Many of the nation’s top shooters are competing — aiming for hits on targets as far out as 3500 yards.
Day One went well. I was the third shooter this morning. Started out good with 4/5 hits at 1454 yards including a first-round hit which is worth a lot of points. The second target was only 100 yards further, but the wind cycled and I missed the first two shots. If you miss three shots on any target after the first, you’re out! So cautiously, and with help from my teammates/spotters Paul Phillips and Mitchell Fitzpatrick, I scored a third round hit at 1550 and was able to advance to the 1720-yard target. I manage to hit that 1720-yard target three out of three times.
The final target on Day One was at 2011 yards. Unfortunately I had three close misses. (Editor: Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, Bryan…)
Twenty teams shot today and about 15 more will shoot the qualifying stage tomorrow then the top 10 from the two days will shoot on Thursday at over 3300 yards for the crown. My score of about 29,000 points is good. But I won’t know for certain if I’ve made the Top 10 until all tomorrow’s teams fire.
Mitchell Fitzpatrick hit every target on his first two shots and finished with 40,000 points on Day One. His farthest shots were just over 2000 yards.
So that’s my story so far, but that’s not THE story. Teammate Mitchell Fitzpatrick (with rifle above) topped the field today with a monster score, hitting all targets and racking up over 40,000 points! The prototype Berger .375-caliber, 400gr bullets and Mitch’s .375 Wildcat from Lethal Precision Arms LLC are a super high-performance combination that made short work of the ELR course.
Also, teammate Paul Phillips, who originally was only here to spot, has entered the competition. He’ll be shooting my .338 Edge tomorrow. Luckily I brought plenty of ammo!
Picture below is the full Applied Ballistics team with sponsor Kelly McMillan. Kelly has been great to our team and we’re looking forward to some future projects with him in ELR.
In all the King of 2 Miles event is very enjoyable. It’s a great place to come and learn from fellow ELR shooters what works and what doesn’t work at these ranges. The spirit of the match is education and growing the knowledge base and I think it’s doing a great job at that. We’re thrilled to be a part of it!
DAY 2 UPDATE: Top TEN Shooters
Results of King of 2 Miles After Day Two
The Top 10 listed below continue to Day Three. On this final day, the ten remaining competitors will engage targets from 1-2 miles. Paul Phillips reports: “I managed to finish today with the highest score of the day. That placed me 7th overall and allows me into the shoot-off tomorrow. Team Applied Ballistics place three shooters in the 10 Final: Michael Fitzpatrick, Bryan Litz, Paul Phillips.”
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Berger Ballistician Bryan Litz has been preparing for the King of Two Miles match next week. He’s been out testing a VERY high-BC bullet — Berger’s new prototype .375 caliber 400-grainer. In the photo above, you can see Applied Ballistics intern Mitch Fitzpatrick (flanked by twin LabRadar chronos) shooting at a target set at 2400 yards. Next week, at the King of Two Miles event, the challenge will be even greater — Bryan and his team will be shooting out to roughly 3600 yards.
Bryan reports: “We’ve been preparing for the King of Two Miles match next week. Last Friday we shot 2400 yards at Thunder Valley Precision in Ohio, measuring time of flight and refining the custom drag model for our bullet. We are logging flight times over three seconds and the bullet is still supersonic at 2400 yards! Tomorrow we’re shooting 1800 yards as a final verification before we load up and begin traveling out west.”
OPTICS for Extreme Long Range
Bryan is running Nightforce ATACR scopes on his .375 rifles. These ATACRs offer 120 MOA (or 35 Mils) of elevation. That’s impressive, but you still need more “up” for these extreme distances.
Bryan notes: “No scope has enough elevation to dial direct to two miles even with these large-caliber, high-performance rifles. You need some kind of external adjustment, or use a steep rail (e.g. +80 MOA). This works but can sacrifice your ability to zero under 1000 yards.”
This video shows a hit at 2400 yards with the .375-caliber bullet. The target is 8’x8′ square. The targets Bryan will shoot at next week’s King of Two Miles competition will be up to 1200 yards further than this. (Two miles is 3520 yards).
If you’re interested in this kind of Extreme Long Range shooting, consider attending the Applied Ballistics Seminar. The next seminar will be held July 18-19 in Michigan. Bryan says: “We’ll be sharing our experiences and lessons learned in the Two Mile shooting match among many other things we’re working on.” CLICK HERE for Seminar INFO and Registration.
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The Coriolis Effect comes into play with extreme long-range shots like this. The rotation of the earth actually moves the target a small distance (in space) during the course of the bullet’s flight. Photo by Dustin Ellermann at Whittington Center Range.
When you’re out at the range, the Earth seems very stable. But it is actually a big sphere zooming through space while spinning around its axis, one complete turn every 24 hours. The rotation of the earth can create problems for extreme long-range shooters. During extended bullet flight times, the rotation of the planet causes an apparent deflection of the bullet path over very long distances. This is the ballistics manifestation of the Coriolis Effect.
Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics has produced a short video that explains the Coriolis Effect. Bryan notes that Coriolis is “a very subtle effect. People like to make more of it than it is because it seems mysterious.” In most common shooting situations inside 1K, Coriolis is not important. At 1000 yards, the Effect represents less than one click (for most cartridge types). Even well past 1000 yards, in windy conditions, the Coriolis Effect may well be “lost in the noise”. But in very calm conditions, when shooting at extreme ranges, Bryan says you can benefit from adjusting your ballistics solution for Coriolis.
Bryan explains: “The Coriolis Effect… has to do with the spin of the earth. You are basically shooting from one point to another on a rotating sphere, in an inertial reference frame. The consequence of that is that, if the flight time of the bullet gets significantly long, the bullet can have an apparent drift from its intended target. The amount [of apparent drift] is very small — it depends on your latitude and azimuth of fire on the planet.”
Coriolis is a very subtle effect. With typical bullet BCs and velocities, you must get to at least 1000 yards before Coriolis amounts to even one click. Accordingly, Bryan advises: “Coriolis Effect is NOT something to think about on moving targets, it is NOT something to think about in high, uncertain wind environments because there are variables that are dominating your uncertainty picture, and the Coriolis will distract you more than the correction is worth.”
“Where you could think about Coriolis, and have it be a major impact on your hit percentage, is if you are shooting at extended range, at relatively small targets, in low-wind conditions. Where you know your muzzle velocity and BC very well, [and there are] pristine conditions, that’s where you’re going to see Coriolis creep in. You’ll receive more refinement and accuracy in your ballistics solutions if you account for Coriolis on those types of shots. But in most practical long-range shooting situations, Coriolis is NOT important. What IS important is to understand is when you should think about it and when you shouldn’t, i.e. when applying it will matter and when it won’t.”
The Coriolis Effect — General Physics
The Coriolis Effect is the apparent deflection of moving objects when the motion is described relative to a rotating reference frame. The Coriolis force acts in a direction perpendicular to the rotation axis and to the velocity of the body in the rotating frame and is proportional to the object’s speed in the rotating frame.
A commonly encountered rotating reference frame is the Earth. The Coriolis effect is caused by the rotation of the Earth and the inertia of the mass experiencing the effect. Because the Earth completes only one rotation per day, the Coriolis force is quite small, and its effects generally become noticeable only for motions occurring over large distances and long periods of time. This force causes moving objects on the surface of the Earth to be deflected to the right (with respect to the direction of travel) in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. The horizontal deflection effect is greater near the poles and smallest at the equator, since the rate of change in the diameter of the circles of latitude when travelling north or south, increases the closer the object is to the poles. (Source: Wikipedia)
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Our friend Darrell Buell has a new Beast — a monster 64-inch-long .375 CheyTac that weighs more than 70 pounds! Designed for ultra-long-range shooting (two miles and beyond), this beast represents the state-of-the-art in extreme long-range rifles.
Darrell reports: “This rifle is pretty much purpose-built to shoot 2+ miles extremely accurately. It is a .375 CheyTac (lengthened) built on a BAT 2.5″ action. The custom 35″, 1:10″-twist Brux barrel is a fat, 2″-diameter ‘straight taper’ with fluting. A custom 5″-long muzzle brake is fitted at the end. All barreled action work was done by R.W. Snyder Custom Rifles. The stock was created to fit the build by PDC Custom, and the massive muzzle brake as well.” The “bridge” at the end may look like a barrel block, but it’s not — the barrel completely free-floats. (The Picatinny rail on top of the bridge allows use of an overhanging bipod as an alternative to the JoyPod).
Darrell has lots of elevation on tap: “With 150 MOA in the Ivey rings, another 20 MOA in the scope rail, 55 MOA in the Nightforce Competition scope, and 10 MOA in the FCR-1 reticle, there’s an impressive +235 MOA available.”