June 30th, 2020

Berger 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo Shoots Great in PRS Rifle

Erik Cortina Berger Factory ammo ammunition OTM tactical PRS rifle MPA chassis Lapua brass

Is factory 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition good enough to win a PRS or NRL competition? The answer is a resounding “YES” if we’re talking about Berger ammunition. Produced with Berger match bullets and premium Lapua brass, this Berger 6.5 ammunition demonstrated excellent accuracy, impressive velocity, and very good ES/SD numbers. When tested at 1000 yards with an MPA-stocked PRS rig with Rem 700 action, this ammo showed just half-MOA of vertical, and produced a group that would have been a 50-1X in F-Class competition. That’s quite impressive for a PRS rig.

Erik Cortina Berger Factory ammo ammunition OTM tactical PRS rifle MPA chassis Lapua brass

This ammo test was performed by our friend Erik Cortina from Texas. Erik is a top F-Class competitor who also shoots tactical matches (for fun and glory). Erik recently built a new 6.5 Creedmoor with a Remington 700 action. Though this rifle sports a top-shelf MPA chassis and premium Kahles scope, Erik calls this his “budget build” because it has a plain Rem 700 factory action rather than the elite Borden actions he normally runs. Erik’s actions of choice are the Borden Mountaineer for PRS and Borden BRM-XD for F-Class.

Erik Cortina Berger Factory ammo ammunition OTM tactical PRS rifle MPA chassis Lapua brass

Erik posted: “Shot my budget 6.5 Creedmoor today with Berger Bullets factory ammo. I shot five rounds over the chrono to get speed. I used BC info from the box and it all lined up properly. I adjusted my ECTuner to tune load and it took just 15 shots to get it shooting well. It’s simple with good components.”

This Berger factory ammo features Berger 130gr Hybrid OTM Tactical bullets. The Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor cases have a large rifle primer. You can see this ammo displays good velocity with Extreme Spread and Standard Deviation rivaling good hand-loads.

Erik Cortina Berger Factory ammo ammunition OTM tactical PRS rifle MPA chassis Lapua brass

Erik Cortina Berger Factory ammo ammunition OTM tactical PRS rifle MPA chassis Lapua brassCortina says the very accurate Brux barrel and razor-sharp 6-24x56mm Kahles scope help achieve this kind of outstanding performance at 1000 yards. Here are the key components for Erik’s latest PRS rig:

Masterpiece Arms BA Competition Chassis
Brux Heavy Varmint 26-inch, 1:8″-twist barrel
Remington 700 Action (custom bolt knob)
ECTuner (by Erik Cortina)
Kahles 6-24x56mm MIL Scope
MPA 1-piece 30mm Scope Mount

Barrel Tuner by Erik Cortina — Fits Behind Muzzle Brake
This rifle features a barrel tuner designed and crafted by Erik Cortina. You can the ECTuner alone, or, as you can see, the ECTuner can be fitted BEHIND a muzzle brake. Erik tells us: “The ECTuner allowed me to tune the barrel to my ammo rather than tuning the ammo for barrel as is done when reloading. With the tuner, there is no need to try different brands of ammo as they can all be tuned to shoot as good as possible in my rifle.”

MPA Chassis Configuration Guide
Erik’s “budget” PRS rifle employs a MasterPiece Arms (MPA) BA Competition Chassis with Rapid Adjustment Technology (RAT). This MPA Arms Video shows how to set up an MPA Chassis to suit the owner:

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Tactical 2 Comments »
April 14th, 2020

Tech Tip: Lapping the Inside of Seating Stems

Erik Cortina bullet seating stem polish lap lathe

Here’s a simple task you can do that will give your seater die a more perfect fit to your match bullets. You can lap the inside of the seater stem so that it matches the exact profile of the bullet. This spreads out the seating force over a larger area of the bullet jacket. That allows smoother, more consistent seating, without putting dents, creases, or sharp rings in your bullets.

Erik Cortina bullet seating stem polish lap lathe

This process is demonstrated here by our friend Erik Cortina of Team Lapua-Brux-Borden. Erik, one of the nation’s top F-Class shooters and a skilled machinist, explains: “Here I’m lapping my new seater die stem with lapping compound. I chuck up a bullet in the lathe and lap the inside of the seating stem. I put lapping compound on the bullet and also in the stem. You can do the same with a hand drill and bore paste. You can see in the piture below how much contact area the stem has on the bullet after being lapped. This bullet is a Berger 7mm 180-grain Hybrid. ”

Erik Cortina bullet seating stem polish lap lathe

READ Related Article on Polishing Seating Die Stems »

Q1: Is Lapping Seating Stems really necessary?

It can be helpful but it’s not necessary to make your seating stem an exact match to a bullet, particularly if you’re loading hunting or varmint rounds. But it is helpful to do some mild internal stem polishing. This should eliminate any ring (or dent) that forms on the bullet jacket during seating.

bullet seating stem lapping Erik Cortina
Photo credit Sierra Bullets.

Sharp edges on a seating stem can cause a ring to be pressed into the bullet jacket — especially with compressed loads that resist downward bullet movement.

Q2: Is there any down-side to the process?

Not really. However, if you shoot many different bullet types for a particular cartridge, you may not want to conform the stem aggressively to one particular bullet design. Lightly lap the inside of the stem to remove burrs/sharp edges but leave it at that. A light lap will prevent a ring forming when seating bullets.

bullet seating stem lapping Erik Cortina
Photo credit Sierra Bullets.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
March 15th, 2020

Accurate Cartridges — The .284 Shehane, an Improved .284 Win

F-Class Reloading .284 Winchester Win Shehane Accuracy

If you look at that 5-round group you might think it was shot with a 6 PPC or maybe a 6mmBR. But no, this was done with heavy 180gr Berger Hybrid bullets and the .284 Shehane, an improved version of the .284 Winchester. In fact, this impressive sub-quarter MOA group was shot while fire-forming with a very well-worn barrel! Gun builder Ryan Pierce of Piercision Rifles explains:

Here’s a 5-shot 0.191″ group at 100 yards with my .284 Shehane fire-forming loads. This barrel has 2200 rounds through it. It had 2000 as a straight .284 Win and then I set it back to .284 Shehane to form brass with. This was the first five rounds through it after I cleaned it after the last match. [The load was] 180 Hybrids with 54.0 grains of H4831 SC.

Ya, I figured why not I had some old barrels laying around so I just chopped 2″ off the back and 1″ off the front and chambered it up as a Shehane. Had 1000 pieces to fireform and didn’t want to do all that on a brand new barrel.

My fireform loads are going 2765 FPS. I have a 29″ barrel also though since it’s a setback. Once you get it formed I would push it faster than that or I wouldn’t even bother with the Shehane. My old straight .284 load at 2890 fps had ES spread in single digits for 10 shots. I figured if I get it up to 2935-2950 fps that will be a point or two saved in a several day match.

.284 Winchester Shehane Reamer Print PT&G

Our friend Erik Cortina notes that the .284 Shehane has a velocity edge over the straight .284 Win because it holds more powder: “The Shehane has more capacity than the .284 Winchester. Ryan is using 54.0 grains simply as a fire-forming load. Typical load for a Shehane is around 57.0 grains of Hodgdon H4831 SC.” By blowing the sidewalls out 0.010″, the .284 Shehane picks up about 3.3 grains of extra case capacity. That enhancement makes a BIG difference. The extra boiler room is enough to drive the 180s at 2900-2950 fps with H4831sc, with long barrels.

Forum member Jim Hardy has shot the .284 with great success. He tells us: “In my humble opinion, the .284 Shehane is the best balanced long-range round there is — bar none. Here is why:

You have to shoot a 30 Cal Magnum with a 240gr bullet to equal the performance of most 7mm chamberings with the 180 Berger VLD. With the .284 Shehane, you have a .308 bolt face, medium action, and Lapua brass. You use less powder than the 7 mags, and have great accuracy and ballistics even while fire-forming. The .284 Shehane shoots inside the 6.5 AND the straight .284, the .300 WSM, and the .300 Win Mag with less recoil. What is not to love about the 284 Shehane? It is a no-brainer for long range — F-Class or Prone or 1000-yard Benchrest.”

Scotland’s Grant Taylor. who used the .284 Shehane to finish third at the 2009 F-Class Worlds in England says the .284 Shehane is “very accurate with superb vertical spreads at 1000 yards. [This] caliber… has awesome accuracy. I’m getting 2930-2950 fps with spreads in the 3-5 fps range. I use Hodgdon H4831sc powder, CCI BR2 primers, and pointed 180gr Bergers.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Reloading 1 Comment »
February 17th, 2020

Team Lapua-Brux-Borden — Big Winners at Berger SW Nationals

Lapua brux borden Team Berger SW southwest Nationals SWN Jay Christopherson Tod Hendricks

Dominators — that’s what these blue-shirted guys were at the 2020 Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN). For the third straight year, Team Lapua-Brux-Borden won the coveted F-Open Team Grand Aggregate award at the Berger Southwest Nationals, finishing with a score of 2584-160X (out of a possible 2600). And Team Member Jay Christopherson (AccurateShooter’s System Admin) won the F-Open Overall title, while Team Member Tod Hendricks won the 600-yard Mid-Range Event. Mighty impressive…

Lapua brux borden Team Berger SW southwest Nationals SWN Jay Christopherson Tod Hendricks

Team members are Jay Christopherson, David Christian, Tod Hendricks, Pat Scully, and Jeremy Smith (alternate), with Bob Sebold serving as Coach and Erik Cortina as Captain. Remarkably Jay (1247-83X), Pat (1247-72X), and Tod (1245-81X) placed first, second, and third respectively in the F-Open Grand Aggregate individual awards. That’s right, three team-mates secured ALL the podium places. And all three were separated by only two points!

Record-Setting Performances by Team
Notably Team Lapua-Brux-Borden established a new Ben Avery range record along the way to winning the Palma Team Match with a score of 1791-113 (out of a possible 1800). We’re told that the Team’s 793-47X LR score was also a new match record. Jay set a LR Aggregate Record with 799-50X, while Tod set a LR individual relay record of 200-18X.

Berger SW Nationals 2020
Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.

Team Lapua-Brux-Borden — Winning “Team First” Philosophy
Commentary by Jay Christopherson
For Team Lapua-Borden-Brux, winning gold is the entire focus. To that end, ego is the only enemy. Sure, we all have egos as individual shooters, but as a team, ego is subsumed into that one overriding goal. If you can’t do that, then you can’t shoot on Lapua-Borden-Brux. No matter how good you think your rifle is or how well you are shooting individually, the coach is the only arbiter — no exceptions. Every job on the team is focused towards that single goal of gold and no job is more or less important than another. Our plotter saves points by spotting high or low trends and calling that out, and ensuring we don’t lose points when a scorer misses a shot. Our back-coach saves points by spotting upcoming condition changes or making observations. Our target-puller strives to provide an example of the best possible target service. And our scorer focuses on providing attentive service to the team next to us. A failure in one job is a failure in all and we either win or lose together as a team. That is only possible when each individual understands that there is only one goal.

The Berger Southwest Nationals, hosted by the Desert Sharpshooters Rifle Club, took place February 5-9, 2020 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, AZ with a sold-out roster of 400 competitors. America’s biggest rifle match west of the Mississippi, the Southwest Nationals is a “must-attend” event for long-range shooters competing in F-Open, F-TR, and Sling disciplines. Competitors from at least nine different countries were in attendance. The Grand Aggregate is the total score from firing points of 600, 800, 900, and 1,000 yards.

Lapua brux borden Team Berger SW southwest Nationals SWN Jay Christopherson Tod HendricksPraise from Team Captain
“I am very proud of the team”, stated Team Captain, Erik Cortina: “From setting a new range record to placing first in the F-Open Grand Aggregate, our success is directly attributed to Lapua’s premium components.”

About Lapua — Premium Brass, Bullets, and Ammunition
Lapua produces the highest-quality small caliber cartridges and components for civilian and professional use. Lapua is a part of the Capstone Precision Group, exclusive U.S. distributor for Berger, Lapua, Vihtavuori, and SK-Rimfire products. For more information, visit Lapua.com.

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
January 1st, 2020

2020 Gun Video Fest — Eight Great Videos for a New Decade

AccurateShooter video 2020 gun youtube Erik Cortina Borden PRS Mike Bryant
Image courtesy Nightforce Optics.

It’s 2020! Welcome the new year and a new decade. We know many of our readers will be spending the winter day indoors. If you need a break from the bowl games on TV, here are eight interesting and informative videos that are worth watching. The subject matter runs the gamut from benchrest gunsmithing to long-range varmint silhouette competition. There are also reviews of some of the best precision rifle options for PRS and NRL22 disciplines. Enjoy our New Year 2020 Video Fest.

1. UltimateReloader — 14 Reloading Presses Compared

Epic Reloading Hardware Test — 14 Single-Stage Presses. In this remarkable video, Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com reviews fourteen (14) single-stage reloading presses. This is the most comprehensive reloading press comparison test ever done by anyone, anywhere. The presses range from compact units to large-frame exotics from Europe. If you are in the market for a single-stage press in 2020 this is a MUST-watch video. Brands include Forster, Hornady, Lyman, MEC, RCBS, Redding, Turban (Prazipress).

2. Precision Riflesmith — Profile of Benchrest Smith Mike Bryant

Texas gunsmith Mike Bryant is a talented benchrest shooter and a highly respected builder of competition and hunting rifles. In this wide-ranging interview, Mike talks about benchrest competition, the key factors that contribute to rifle accuracy, and about his career as a gunsmith.

3. Erik Cortina — Mag-Feed Testing Borden Action with 6BR


Click the Speaker Icon (lower right) to HEAR AUDIO

Our friend Erik Cortina has built a new PRS/NRL rifle based on the new Borden Super Short 6 Action. This video show Erik’s first mag-feeding test with ten 6BR loaded rounds. You’ll see there is NO problem speed-feeding the short 6BR case. Erik tells us: “I removed the firing pin from bolt for safety. The magazine has not been modified in any way. I would say there is no need to do anything to it, she’s ready to run!” Impressive indeed.

4. Shooting USA — Texas Varmint Benchrest Match

Varmint Benchrest silhouette TexasThis episode of Shooting USA TV features long-range varmint silhouette competition in Texas. This discipline combine the pure accuracy of benchrest competition with the fun of knocking down critter targets. These are smaller than standard silhouettes, so it’s quite a challenge to hit them at 300 yards and beyond.

In this episode, host John Scoutten competes with his 6.5 Creedmoor PRS rifle. Most shooters use benchrest-grade rifles with premium front rests. NOTE: This video shows some top-flight benchrest rifles, and also covers the origins of benchrest varmint silhouette in Pennsylvania. There are even some AccurateShooter Forum members on screen.

5. Vickers Tactical — .308 Win Bolt Gun Vs. .308 Win Gas Gun

This interesting video from Vickers tactical compares and contrasts two tactical style rifles both chambered for the .308 Winchester. The test team compares functionality, accuracy, ergonomics, and versatility. Each platform has its advantages, as the video reveals.

6. Outdoor Life — The Best New Affordable Precision Rifles

This video showcases three modern tactical-style rifles suitable for the PRS Production (Factory) Class which is limited to $2000 for rifle alone, not counting optics (Rule 2.3.1). Outdoor Life Shooting Editor John Snow puts three capable rifles through their paces: Patriot Valley Arms John Hancock, BadRock Precision SouthFork, and Seekins Precision Havoc Bravo.

7. Aerial View of Deep Creek Shooting Range in Montana

The Deep Creek Range near Missoula, Montana, is one of the best 1000-yard ranges in the country. Many long-range benchrest records have been set in this scenic, tree-lined facility. Now, thanks to Forum member David Gosnell (aka “Zilla”), you can see Deep Creek from the air. David flew a camera drone over the Deep Creek Range, soaring from firing line to the target bay and back again. This video gives you a “birds-eye view” of one of America’s elite ranges.

8. Nat’l Rifle League — Intro to NRL22 Rimfire Tactical Matches

NRL22 is a great way to get into competition shooting with minimal expense. There are Five (5) classes: Open, Base, Ladies, Young Guns (8-16), and Air Rifle. Base Class is for the budget-minded shooter — the combined MSRP of Rifle and Optic may not exceed $1050.00 (so you could spend $550 on a rifle and $500 on a scope for example). That keeps the sport affordable. Open, Youth, and Ladies Classes have no price limits on Rifle and Optic. Visit NRL22.org to find an NRL22 match near you.

NRL22 rimfire tactical steel targets KYL JC Steel hangers

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing, New Product, Reloading, Tactical 1 Comment »
December 6th, 2019

Power to the People — Cortina Reviews Giraud Power Trimmer

Power Trimming Technology Saves Time
Trimming and chamfering brass are tasks hand-loaders grow to hate. Those chores are time-consuming and tiresome. Thankfully there are faster, better alternatives to manual trimming/chamfering. In this article, Forum member Erik Cortina shows how to use the Giraud tool which trims and chamfers in one operation. Erik has his own YouTube Channel dedicated to precision reloading and accurizing. Here we feature Erik’s video about the “mother of all brass trimmers”, the Giraud powered case trimmer. Erik says: “If you do volume reloading… this is the only trimmer to get. It not only trims to length but it also chamfers your case mouth inside and out.” In his video, Erik offers some very clever and useful tips that will help you get the most from your Giraud.

This is a manufacturer’s photo showing an older model.
Erik Cortina Meplat Giraud Case Trimmer YouTube Video Lapua

The Giraud trimmer is very precise. When set up correctly, it can trim brass with amazing consistency. In the video, Erik trims five pieces of brass in 15 seconds (6:32 mark). He then measures all five with precision calipers (7:00-8:08). All lengths are exact within .0005 (half a thousandth). Erik notes that the Giraud trimmer indexes off the case shoulder. As long as you have fire-formed brass with consistent base-to-shoulder dimensions, you should get very consistent trim lengths.

The secret to the system is a 3-way cutting head. This cutter can be swapped in and out in a couple minutes with wrenches provided with the kit. Erik has three different heads; one each for 6.5mm, 7mm, and .30 caliber. The video shows how to adjust the cutting heads to match caliber diameter (and to get the desired amount of inside/outside chamfer).

To trim and chamfer cases, you simply insert them nose-first into the cartridge-specific case-holder. Erik offers a smart tip — He uses a die locking ring to position the cartridge holder (3:15). This can be locked in place. Erik says die locking rings work much better than the hex-nuts provided by Giraud (with the hex-nut, one must re-set cut length each time you change case-holders.)

Erik Cortina Meplat Giraud Case Trimmer YouTube Video Lapua

The Giraud can be used in either horizontal or vertical modes. Erik prefers to have the trimmer aligned vertically, allowing him to push cases down on the trimmer head. But the trimming unit has twin sets of rubber feet, allowing horizontal or vertical orientation.

Erik Cortina Meplat Giraud Case Trimmer YouTube Video Lapua

Improved Case-Holder Made with Chamber Reamer:
For his .284 Shehane, Erik had to create his own case-holder (Giraud does not make one for that wildcat cartridge). Erik used his chamber reamer. To his surprise, Erik found that the brass was easier to trim in the custom case holder (compared to the Giraud-made spring-loaded holders). With a perfect fit, trimming and case extraction went more smoothly and the process was easier on his hands. (See 9:00-10:00). Based on Erik’s experience, you may want to create your own custom case-holder.

Trim Bullet Meplats Also
With a special bullet-holder fitting and meplat cutter head, the Giraud power trimmer can be used to trim bullet meplats. Trimming meplats can help make the Ballistic Coefficents of a batch of bullets more consistent. Uniforming meplats is also often done as a first step in the process of “tipping” bullets to improve BC.

Erik Cortina Meplat Giraud Case Trimmer YouTube Video Lapua

Giraud Power Trimmer

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Reloading 2 Comments »
September 6th, 2019

Making Modified Cases, SEB Rest Upgrades, ChargeMaster Tuning

Erik Cortina Video SEB Rest NEO Upgrade coaxial Lambang Modified Case Hornady Length gauge RCBS Chargemaster

Erik Cortina is one of the nation’s top F-Class shooters. A member of Team Lapua-Brux-Borden, Erik has been a top performer at National and World F-Class Championships. Erik is also a very smart guy and a skilled toolsmith who has upgraded his shooting equipment in interesting ways. Today we feature three “How-To” videos from Erik. These show how to upgrade a SEB Coaxial Rest, how to improve the performance of an RCBS Chargemaster, and how to create your own Modified Case for measuring length to lands. Watch and learn…

1. How to Make a Modified Case for the Hornady OAL Tool

Hornady Stony Point Tool OAL O.A.L. gauge bullet seating length ogive checker

In this video, Forum member Erik Cortina shows how to create a custom modified case for use with the Hornady Lock-N-Load Overall Length Gauge (formerly the Stoney Point Tool). While Hornady sells modified cases for many standard cartridges, if you shoot a wildcat such as the 6mm Dasher or .284 Shehane, you’ll need to create a custom modified case. And even if you shoot a standard cartridge such as the .308 Win, you can get more consistent measurements if you make a custom modified case from a piece of brass fired in your chamber.

MORE INFORMATION: Want to learn more? We published a much longer story in which Erik explains in greater detail how to made the Modified Case. That article illustrates the 5/16″ – 36 RH HSS Tap required and shows how to set up the lathe to drill and tap your case. If you are serious about making your own Modified Cases, you should Read the Full Article.

2. How to Upgrade your SEB Co-Axial Joystick Rest

Erik Cortina Joystick SEB Rest accessory f-class feet holder

Joystick (coaxial) rests are used by top shooters in benchrest and F-Open disciplines. With coaxial rests, you can adjust both vertical and horizontal aim instantly in one fluid movement — there are no mariner wheels to spin or knobs to turn. Just gently stir the joystick to move up, down, or sideways. Erik Cortina explains: “If you want to get into F-Class (Open) and want to win, you should get a SEB rest. SEB makes an excellent product, but the one thing we upgrade automatically … is adding the F-Class feet. These have a bigger footprint and a spike on the bottom [so you can] dig the feet into the ground and make your rest a lot more stable.” In this video Erik installs a set of Blake Machine Co. F-Class feet. These feature a set-screw, so they are easy to attach and then remove for travel (no Loctite!). “Simple yet effective” declares Erik.

In the second half of the video (starting at 5:30), Erik installs a Dan Bramley Joystick Holder. This features two clamp-on cradles that hold the joystick crosswise below the top (see photo). This handy accessory ensures your handle always remains with the rest (and doesn’t get left at home when you travel to a big match). This joystick holder has been popular with competitors. Erik says, “The Bramley Joystick holder is $60.00 — money well spent.” To order, email Dan at dbramley [at] yahoo.com.

3. How to Make the RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 Work Better

Erik Cortina has been fiddling around with his RCBS ChargeMaster and he discovered something interesting. Through a series of tests he determined that the ChargeMaster dispensed slightly more precise charges when he trickled the last few 10ths of a grain on to the RCBS pan. Erik wasn’t expecting this result, but he confirmed there may be a slight benefit to this trickling method (as opposed to allowing the ChargeMaster to dispense the full charge). You can see Erik’s test procedure in this video:

We should note that Erik’s preferred method of weighing powder is to first dispense a slightly lower charge with the RCBS, transfer the pan to a laboratory-class Sartorius magnetic force restoration scale, then trickle up with his Omega (Dandy Products) Powder Trickler. However, if you don’t have a $800+ laboratory-grade scale, you might just try trickling on to the ChargeMaster pan.

MORE INFORMATION: We have published a more lengthy Bulletin Article that covers Erik’s Chargemaster Performance Findings in greater detail. That article has more photos plus a clever, bonus “Beep Defeat Tip”. If you own a Chargemaster, we recommend you READ the Full Article.

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
August 25th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: The Color Purple — Dad’s Gift to Daughter

Erik Cortina 6.5x47 Lapua F-Class Rifle Daughter

“My daughter’s favorite color is purple, so I built her a purple rifle….”

Here’s a feel-good story about a family that shoots together, and a father who did something very special for his daughter. All fathers create things for their children, but it’s unusual to find a Dad who has the skills (and motivation) to build a top-level competition rifle for his child. Our friend, Erik Cortina, did just that. Here is the story of the lovely purple maple F-Class rig Erik built for his girl Amberleeana. We first ran this story in 2016. Now Amberleeana is a bit older and she has competed successfully with her purple rifle.

Erik Cortina 6.5x47 Lapua F-Class Rifle Daughter

AUDIO FILE: Erik Cortina and Daughter Amberleeana Talk about the Purple Rifle. (Sound file loads when you click button).

My daughter would always tell me when I would go to a match, “Remember Dad, only Xs matter, the other stuff on the target is just there for decoration!” — Erik Cortina

A Father’s Gift: An F-Classer for Amberleeana

by Erik Cortina
My daughter Amberleeana had been wanting to shoot F-Class for a long time because I have been dragging her to matches since she was a little girl. She would come into my reloading room and watch me reload while she asked a million questions, all which I tried to answer to the best of my abilities. At age 9, she started hunting with a semi-custom rifle her grandfather gave her, a 6×47 Lapua built on a Remington 700 action with a Bartlein barrel. She has been very successful as a hunter so she decided to move to the next step and start shooting F-Class.

She shot my backup rifle before and she really enjoyed it. Here’s a YouTube video from a while back. This shows Amberleeana, at age 11, shooting at 500 yards for the very first time. You can see she does very well. (Editor’s NOTE: She is now three years older, and has completed more matches.)

After hearing about the U.S. F-Class Under 25 (U25) Rifle Team selection trials in Raton in 2016, Amberleeana wanted to try out for the U25 Team. I told her that was OK, but we had to modify the rifle she was currently using so that it could fit her better. After some consideration, I decided instead to sell that rifle and build her a brand new one.

Erik Cortina 6.5x47 Lapua F-Class Rifle Daughter

Her favorite color is purple, so I built her a purple rifle with adjustable cheek piece and butt pad. Shurley Brothers (Austin, TX) crafted the stock from maple, and then applied a purple gloss finish. We think it turned out great.

I hope that my daughter enjoys F-Class as much as I have, which will allow us to spend more time together on the range and in the reloading room.

6.5×47 Lapua Load Development
The purple rifle is chambered for the 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge. Our preliminary load work up shows great promise using Vihtavuori N140 powder, 136gr Lapua Scenar bullets, and CCI 450 primers. We tried a variety of charge weights, starting at 35.7 grains of N140 and ending up at 38.2 grains. The photo below shows an initial series of 3-shot test groups at 120 yards. What do you think is the best node? What charge weight would YOU select among these? [Editor: That final load of 38.2 grains looks very good, but we would want to check for pressure signs and repeat with 10-round strings checking for ES and SD. Also, if you go by the vertical only, the 36.0 and 36.3 loads are worth further testing.]

Erik Cortina 6.5x47 Lapua F-Class Rifle Daughter

Erik Cortina 6.5x47 Lapua F-Class Rifle DaughterPurple Rifle Specifications:
Stock: Shurley Brothers Lowrider XL stock (Maple)
(Finished by Shurley Brothers, bedded by Speedy Gonzalez)
Action: Kelbly F-Class Panda
Trigger: Flavio Fare
Barrel: Brux 32″-long, 1:8″-twist, 4-groove stainless, chambered in 6.5×47 Lapua
(Barrel work and assembly done by Erik Cortina)
Barrel Tuner: ECTuner (matches barrel contour)
Scope: Nightforce 15-55x52mm Competition
Front Rest: SEB NEO front rest
Rear Sandbag: Edgewood
Load: VV N140, 136gr Scenars, CCI 450 primers

Eric told us that he really likes that Flavio Fare trigger: “The FF trigger is outstanding. It is much smoother than a 1.5 oz Jewell trigger and more consistent as well.”

Erik Cortina 6.5x47 Lapua F-Class Rifle Daughter

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gear Review 2 Comments »
June 6th, 2019

Neck-Turning Brass on Milling Machine with Erik Cortina

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina

Here’s the super-speedy way to turn case-necks. Our friend Erik Cortina figured out how to turn his match cartridge case-necks using his milling machine. Erik told us: “While in Raton, Mid Tompkins told me that he turns his brass on milling machine. He said he could do about 500 in two hours, so I decided to try it.”

Erik fitted a Don Nielson “Pumpkin” neck-turner to the mill, and he used a modified 21st Century case holder to secure the brass. As you can see from this video, Erik was very successful with the process. The tool spins at 1500 rpm, turning Lapua 6.5-284 cases that have been necked up to 7mm.

Video Shows Eric Cortina Neck-Turning Cases with Milling Machine:

Cartridge Brass: Lapua 6.5-284 necked up to 7mm
Lubricant: Lithium grease inside and outside of neck
Neck-Turner: Nielson Pumpkin running at 1500 RPM

It’s hard to argue with Erik’s results. Here are his turned Lapua cases, which have neck-wall thickness consistent to two ten-thousandths of an inch. Think you could do better turning manually?

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina

Some of Erik’s Facebook friends had questions about this process:

Q: Who makes the shell-holder?

Erik Cortina: I did! The shell-holder you can get from 21st Century. I Tig-welded a punch as a handle.

Q: I love the idea of working smarter not harder! Any galling issues? What are your mitigation techniques?

Erik Cortina: No issues. I use lithium grease in spray can. Makes a foam that I dip necks into.

Q: Shouldn’t either the case or the cutter be floating to allow most precise neck turning?

Erik Cortina: Up until [I tried this] I believed the same thing. I was going to build a floating case holder but decided to try rigid setup on a few cases before I built it. Results were great. Neck thickness doesn’t vary more than .0002″, which is same as when I was doing it with floating case holder on the lathe.

Q: Any problems with the Pumpkin changing the cut as it heats up?

Erik Cortina: No — there were no issues with that.

NOTE: Erik Cortina is a very skilled machinist who custom-crafted fittings used for this process. This kind of neck-turning with a milling machine may not be for the everyday hand-loader!

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina

Nielson “Pumpkin” Neck-Turner

Don Nielson Pumpkin neck turning toolThe circular orange cutting fixture on Erik’s Milling Machine is a Don Nielson “Pumpkin” neck-turning tool. Don designed this tool to be used by hand or with power. The Pumpkin boasts an eccentric mandrel that allows the cut to be adjusted easily in precise .0001″ increments. Benchresters like this as it allows for very precise control of cut depth and neck-wall thickness.

Jason C., commenting on Erik’s YouTube video stated: “I have a couple of those too. Nothing cuts like a Pumpkin. [Don Nielson] made the best cutter tool ever.” These are still available if you ask around. The photo shows Don with a case-holder mounted to a power assembly. A talented machinist and tool-maker, Don has also been a successful short- and long-range benchrest shooter, who has won NBRSA 600-Yard Championships. CLICK HERE to read about Don’s success with the 6.5×47 Lapua.

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina
Nielson Neck Turner with carbide mandrel. Photo Courtesy Butch’s Reloading.

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June 2nd, 2019

.284 Shehane — Winning Wildcat for F-Open Competition

7mm .285 shehane improved f-class f-open caliber cartridge chambering

High-BC 7mm Bullets7mm (.284) remains the caliber to beat in F-Class Open Division (though some shooters have had success with .30-Cal short magnums.) With a standard .284 Winchester, or better yet, a .284 Improved, you can drive the high-BC Berger 180gr and 184gr bullets to competitive velocities.

The straight .284 Win is an excellent cartridge, quite capable of winning F-class matches. However, in most barrels, it can’t push the 180s at 2900-2950 fps velocity levels*. A lot of barrels will top out at about 2850 fps. That’s where the .284 Shehane comes into play.

The .284 Shehane is a slightly modified wildcat that retains the same 35° shoulder as the parent case. However, by blowing the sidewalls out 0.010″, the .284 Shehane picks up about 3.3 grains of extra case capacity. That enhancement makes a BIG difference. The extra boiler room is enough to drive the 180s at 2900-2950 fps with H4831sc. With N560 or Reloder 17 you can go even faster.

Norm Harrold Won 2018 F-Class Open Division Nationals with .284 Shehane Rifle
F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

Norm Harrold (above) won the 2018 USA F-Class Nationals shooting a .284 Shehane. Norm’s F-Open rig features a McMillan Kestros ZR stock and Bartlein barrel chambered for the .284 Shehane, which has a bit more case capacity than a standard .284 Winchester. Norm loaded Berger 184gr 7mm bullets in Lapua brass. Norm revealed his load in an Erik Cortina YouTube Video.

F-Class shooter Erik Cortina notes that the .284 Shehane has a velocity edge over the straight .284 Win because it holds more powder: “The Shehane has more capacity than the .284 Winchester. Ryan is using 54.0 grains simply as a fire-forming load. Typical load for a Shehane is around 57.0 grains of Hodgdon H4831 SC.” By blowing the sidewalls out 0.010″, the .284 Shehane picks up about 3.3 grains of extra case capacity. That enhancement makes a BIG difference. The extra boiler room is enough to drive the 180s at 2900-2950 fps with H4831sc, with long barrels.

Forum member Jim Hardy has shot the .284 with great success. He tells us: “In my humble opinion, the .284 Shehane is the best balanced long-range round there is — bar none. Here is why:

You have to shoot a 30 Cal Magnum with a 240gr bullet to equal the performance of most 7mm chamberings with the 180 Berger VLD. With the .284 Shehane, you have a .308 bolt face, medium action, and Lapua brass. You use less powder than the 7 mags, and have great accuracy and ballistics even while fire-forming. The .284 Shehane shoots inside the 6.5 AND the straight .284, the .300 WSM, and the .300 Win Mag with less recoil. What is not to love about the 284 Shehane? It is a no-brainer for long range — F-Class or Prone or 1000-yard Benchrest.”

Scotland’s Grant Taylor. who used the .284 Shehane to finish third at the 2009 F-Class Worlds in England says the .284 Shehane is “very accurate with superb vertical spreads at 1000 yards. [This] caliber… has awesome accuracy. I’m getting 2930-2950 fps with spreads in the 3-5 fps range. I use Hodgdon H4831sc powder, CCI BR2 primers, and pointed 180gr Bergers.”

.284 Shehane Shines in 1K Benchrest Competition Too
The .284 Shehane has won in Benchrest as well as F-Class competition. In 2013, Henry Pasquet won the IBS 1000-Yard Nationals shooting a .284 Shehane. Henry’s Championship-winning rig is shown below. Note the 5″-wide fore-end which is not legal for F-Class. Henry also runs a combo tuner/muzzle-brake.

.284 Shehane Henry Pasquet ibs 1000 yard championship

.284 Shehane Henry Pasquet ibs 1000 yard championship

Amazing Accuracy When Fire-Forming .284 Shehane

7mm .285 shehane improved f-class f-open caliber cartridge chambering

If you look at that 5-round group you might think it was shot with a 6 PPC or maybe a 6mmBR. But no, this was done with heavy 180gr Berger Hybrid bullets and the .284 Shehane. In fact, this impressive sub-quarter MOA group was shot while fire-forming with a very well-worn barrel! Gun builder Ryan Pierce of Piercision Rifles explains: “Here’s a 5-shot 0.191″ group at 100 yards with my .284 Shehane fireforming loads. This barrel has 2200 rounds through it. It had 2000 as a straight .284 Win and then I set it back to .284 Shehane to form brass with. [The load was] 180 Hybrids with 54.0 grains of H4831 SC.”


*Some exceptional barrels chambered in straight .284 Win can reach 2900 fps with the 180s. Ryan Pierce has a 32″ Brux barrel that is delivering 2900 fps with the straight .284. However, Ryan acknowledges that his velocities are not typical: “A lot of .284 Win barrels top out at around 2850 fps with the 180s”.

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February 21st, 2019

Ireland vs. USA — 2019 Creedmoor Cup Competition

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

The Creedmoor Cup is an historic challenge match between American and Irish marksmen. The first match was held in in 1874 between American and Irish Teams in Creedmoor, New York. (Read Match History). The Match was revived in 2011 and is now held every four years.

In 2019, the match was held this week at the Ben Avery Range in Arizona, following the Berger Southwest Nationals. It proved to be a great match, with Team USA coming out on top. Erik Cortina stated: “What a great experience this has been. Team USA won the 2019 Creedmoor cup vs Ireland. It had been over 100 years since match was shot in the United States. Glad to see this tradition continue.”

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

Congrats to the Members of Winning Team USA:

F-TR Riflemen
Alan Barnhart
Ellis Berry
David Conrath
Tracy Hogg
Ian Klemm
Matthew Schwartzkopf
Ed Shelley
Keith Trapp
F-Open Riflemen
Larry Bartholome
Erik Cortina
Ken Dickerman
David Gosnell
Rick Jensen
Jim Murphy
Pat Scully
Keith Weil
Coaches
Kent Reeve (Head Coach)
James Crofts
Scott Fulmer
Bob Seabold
Nancy Tompkins
Team Staff
Captain Phil Kelley
Vice-Captain Dan Bramley
Adjutant Stephen Ireland

Team USA Captain Phil Kelly told us this was a great match: “USA wins the Creedmoor Cup in a great competition with Team Ireland! Two days of cold and windy conditions challenged both 16-shooter teams. Final ceremonies included Native American dancers and great camaraderie among all the competitors. Thank you to all from Team Ireland who made the trip! The best of competitors and friends.” Phil added: “Special thanks to additional Creedmoor Committee members including Michelle Gallagher, Pete Ricci, and Mark Walker. We look forward to the next gathering in four years. Safe travels all.”

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

Nancy Tompkins looks down-range. With the wind-chill, competitors and coaches dressed warm.
Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

Not Your Typical Warm Arizona Days at Ben Avery
There were variable conditions at the match — first easy, then tough. USA Captain Phil Kelley reported: “On Day 1 of the 2-day match, things started good then got tougher. The morning and 800-yard line saw 34° and light winds leading to high scores.

That changed as the 16-shooter teams made their way to the 900-yard line as sun, moderate wind and building mirage hit the range providing more challenging conditions.

After an excellent lunch both teams were in for a challenge. Winds of 12-16 mph with constant angle changes and surging mirage made communications and coordination among five coaches critical. The wind chill also dropped as teams stayed on the line for the majority of allotted time.”

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

The First-Ever Creedmoor Challenge Match in 1874
The Irish International Shooting team arrived in New York on the 16th of September and proceeded to “take in the sights”, which was understandable, before some practice at the Creedmoor range. On September 26th they presented themselves for the match with confidence and in high spirits. The crowds that day were reported to be between 5,000 and 10,000 strong, which showed the huge support already growing for the fledgling sport in America.

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

The course of fire was 15 shots to each man at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. Unfortunately, the details of each mans scores at the individual distances have been lost to time but we do know that the Americans were well ahead after the 800-yard shoot. The Irish then caught up after the 900-yard and finished the 1000-yard shoot ahead by 1 point. The Americans still had one man left to shoot and it came down to his very last shot with which he scored a 4 giving the American team the win over the Irish by 3 points.

Arizona Ireland USA American Creedmoor Challenge Cup rifle competition

Post-Competition Camaraderie and “Craic” at the Pub
“Craic” is an Irish term referring to positive interaction among people through conversation, stories, and music. The Craic was strong after the 2019 Creedmoor Match.

Desert Sharpshooters posted: “The ‘Craic’ is amazing tonight with the Irish rifle team to finish the Creedmoor. Thank you to the USA team members that came out tonight to show the Irish a good time. This is truely what the Creedmoor Cup is about, Friendship and good times.”

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January 23rd, 2019

‘Quit Neck Sizing’ — Cortina Explains Full-Length Sizing is Better

Full-Length Sizing Erik Cortina Neck Sizing Video

Our friend Erik Cortina is at Raton, NM this week at the F-Class Nationals. When he’s not shooting (or working) Erik produces YouTube videos. One of his most popular videos explained why you should full-length size cartridge brass. In no uncertain terms Erik says: “Quit Neck Sizing!!!” Watch the Video:

Why It’s Smart to Full-Length Size Your Brass

Commentary by Erik Cortina

Should You Full-Length Size Your Cartridge Brass?

Absolutely. Let Me Explain Why…

I have seen it time and time again, shooters on the line wrestling with their rifle trying to get the bolt closed while the wind is switching. They were too focused trying to get their bolt to close and getting their rifle settled back on the bags that they missed the wind switch. Bang… Eight! The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was at the 2017 Canadian Nationals. I was paired up with a young girl and she would try really hard to close the bolt on her rifle. The majority of the time she would get it to close, but often times she could not even get the round to chamber. She was focused on her rifle the entire time rather than on the conditions. When we completed our strings, she had five rounds that did not chamber our of 15! That is way too many!. I told her she needed to think about Full-length sizing with 0.002″ shoulder bump, or Controlled Full-length Sizing like I call it. I told her not to worry about losing accuracy. I told her that I full-length size all my rounds and asked if she noticed how smooth my bolt was and noticed my score. She said yes, they were both great!

Full-Length Sizing Erik Cortina Neck Sizing Video

Controlled Full-length Sizing Does NOT Harm Accuracy
I have found that Controlled Full-length Sizing does NOT hurt accuracy or shorten brass life. I find that I can focus much more on the conditions when I don’t have to think about chambering a round nor extracting it. It has become second nature. After firing, I keep my head welded to the stock, I open the bolt by placing my thumb on top of stock and rotating hand upwards. I reach in and retrieve spent case, place it back in ammo box, and pick up another loaded round and put in chamber. I verify conditions and when ready, I push the bolt in and close it with my index and middle finger.

With Controlled Full-length Sizing you “bump” the shoulder around .002″ for bolt guns.*
full length sizing
Image courtesy Sinclair International which carries a variety of Full-length dies.

Whidden Gunworks DiesWhidden Full-Length Sizing Dies
by AccurateShooter.com Editor
For proper Full-length sizing, you want a quality die that’s a very good match to your chamber. For our project rifles we usually turn to Whidden Gunworks which offers both bushing and non-bushing FL dies. And if you want the hot new option, check out Whidden’s patent-pending, click-adjustable FL-sizing die. This gives instant, precise control over shoulder bump. It works great.

*With gas guns, such as the AR10, you may want to increase shoulder bump to .003″ or more. With some benchrest cartridges, .0015″ bump may prove optimal. But .002″ is a good starting point.

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January 22nd, 2019

Make Your Own Threaded Case for Measuring Length to Lands

Hornady Stony Point Tool OAL O.A.L. gauge bullet seating length ogive checker

In this video, Forum member Erik Cortina shows how to create a custom modified case for use with the Hornady Lock-N-Load Overall Length Gauge (formerly the Stoney Point Tool). While Hornady sells modified cases for many standard cartridges, if you shoot a wildcat such as the 6mm Dasher or .284 Shehane, you’ll need to create a custom modified case*. And even if you shoot a standard cartridge such as the .308 Winchester you can get more consistent measurements if you make a custom modified case from a piece of brass fired in your chamber.

The process is straight-forward. Take a piece of brass fired in your chamber and full-length size it (with about .002″ shoulder bump). Then you need to drill out the primer pocket. Erik uses a mini-lathe for the operation, but this general process can be done with a drill press or other tools. Erik shows how to do this with a 0.290″ HSS (High Speed Steel) drill bit on a mini-lathe. After drilling the hole comes the tricky part — you need to tap the case with the precise 5/16″ x 36 threads per inch (tpi) right-hand thread that matches the male thread on the O.A.L. Gauge. This 5/16″ x 36 tpi tap is pretty uncommon, but you can order it from Amazon.com if you can’t source it locally.

Hornady Stony Point Tool OAL O.A.L. gauge bullet seating length ogive checker

If you use a mini-lathe, Erik suggests loosening the tailstock slightly, so it can float while cutting the threads. Erik also says: “Make sure you get the tap on pretty tight — it’s going to want to spin.” Erik turns the case at about 100 rpm when tapping the threads. Once the case and tap are rigged, the actual tapping process (see video at 6:00) takes only a few seconds. While the mini-lathe makes the tapping process go more quickly, the threading can also be done with other systems.

TIP: Don’t just make one modified case, make three. That gives you one for your range kit, one for your home reloading bench, plus a spare (since you WILL eventually lose or misplace one).


Here’s the Stuff You Need

Hornady Stony Point Tool OAL O.A.L. gauge bullet seating length ogive checker

5/16″-36 TPI Threading Tap
The required thread is somewhat uncommon. You need a 5/16″ – 36 tpi Right Hand Thread Tap. If you can’t find it locally, Amazon.com carries the correct tap. Erik notes: “The 5/16-36 tpi tap is not a common size. I think Hornady did this on purpose to make it more difficult for the average guy to make his own modified cases.”

0.290″ Drill Bit
Erik uses an 0.290″ HSS “L” drill bit. (This “L” Letter Gauge code designates a 0.290″ diameter bit). A close metric equivalent would be 7.3 mm (0.286″). Erik says: “A 9/32″ drill will also work but it will be harder to run the tap in since the hole will be .281″ instead of .290″ with the Letter Gauge L bit.”

Tips for Using O.A.L. Gauge with Modified Case
We’ve noticed that many folks have trouble getting reliable, consistent results when they first start using the Hornady O.A.L. Gauge (formerly the Stoney Point Tool). We’ve found this is usually because they don’t seat the modified case properly and because they don’t use a gentle, consistent method of advancing the bullet until it just kisses the lands.

Here is our suggested procedure for use the O.A.L. Gauge. Following this method we can typically make three of four measurements (with the same bullet), all within .001″ to .0015″. (Yes, we always measure multiple times.)

1. Clean your chamber so there is no build-up of carbon, debris, or lube. Pay particular attention to the shoulder area.

2. Screw the modified case on to the O.A.L. Gauge. Make sure it is seated firmly (and doesn’t spin loose). Note, you may have to re-tighten the modified case after insertion in the chamber.

3. Place your selected bullet so that the ogive (max bullet diameter) is behind the case mouth. This prevents the bullet from “snagging” as you insert the tool in the action.

4. Insert the O.A.L. Gauge into your chamber smoothly. Push a little until you feel resistance. IMPORTANT — You need to ensure that the shoulder of the modified case is seated firmly against the front of your chamber. You may have to wiggle and twist the tool slightly. If you do not have the modified case seated all the way in, you will NOT get a valid measurement.

5. Advance the bullet slowly. (NOTE: This is the most important aspect for consistency!). Push the rod of the O.A.L. tool gently towards the chamber. DON’T shove it hard! Easy does it. Stop when you feel resistance.

6. IMPORTANT. After gently pushing on the rod, give the end of the rod a couple forward taps with your finger. If your bullet was slightly skewed, it may have stopped too far back. Adding a couple extra taps will fix that. If the bullet moves after the taps, then again push gently on the rod. NOT too much! You just want to push the bullet until it just “kisses” the lands and then stops. Do NOT jam the bullet into the rifling. If you do that you will never get consistent results from one measurement to the next.

* For a $15.00 fee, Hornady will make a custom modified case for you if you send two fired pieces of brass. Send two fired cases and $15.00 check to: Hornady Manufacturing, Attn: Modified Cases, 108 S. Apollo St., Alda, NE 68810. More Info HERE.

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May 13th, 2018

Trijicon 5-50x56mm Long Range Scope — New and Powerful

Trijicon 5-50x56 scope accupower March Nightforce 10 times zoom long range optic new

At the 2018 NRA Show in Dallas last week, Trijicon unveiled a notable new scope that should interest Benchrest shooters and Long-Range competitors. The all-new Trijicon AccuPower 5-50x56mm Long Range Scope offers an impressive ten times zoom range, plus an illuminated reticle. This RS50 Series Second Focal Plane scope with 34mm main tube is offered in both MOA and MIL systems. The MOA version features 1/8 MOA clicks plus a reticle with 1 MOA subtensions at 40X power. The MIL version has 1/20 Milrad click values and a ranging style reticle with wind hold dot system. Both MOA and MIL versions have a full 100 MOA of elevation travel.

New Trijicon 5-50x56mm Scope Revealed at NRA Show in Dallas:

Credit Erik Cortina for providing this video.

With a $2700 MSRP, we expect Trijicon’s new 5-50X scope to have a “street price” of about $2400. That lines up with the NightForce 15-55x52mm Competition, now priced at $2352.00 on Amazon.

CLICK HERE for Trijicon Brochure with Full 5-50x56mm Specs »

The new Trijicon 5-50x56mm (RS50 Series) scope boasts some nice features. Employing extra-low dispersion glass, the scope offers high light transmission with minimal chromatic aberration. The magnification control lever can be moved to two different positions to suit the operator. Both MOA and MIL reticle styles are illuminated with 5 red and 5 green user-selectable brightness settings.

We hope to get our hands on one of these new Trijicon 5-50X scopes soon for testing. We’ll let you know how it stacks up against other high-magnification zoom scopes, such as the Vortex 10-60x52mm Golden Eagle, the Nightforce 15-55x52mm, and the March 5-50x56mm.

Trijicon 5-50x56 scope accupower March Nightforce 10 times zoom long range optic new

Trijicon 5-50x56 scope accupower March Nightforce 10 times zoom long range optic new

Please note, along with this 5-50x56mm scope, Trijicon has also introduced a 4.5-30x56mm RS30 Series scope. This 4.5-30X optic will be offered in both First Focal Plane and Second Focal Plane versions. SEE AccuPower Scope Brochure.

Product Tip from EdLongrange. Video and Trijicon Brochure from Erik Cortina.
Permalink New Product, News, Optics 6 Comments »
December 27th, 2017

Three Great How-To Videos from Erik Cortina

Erik Cortina Video SEB Rest NEO Upgrade coaxial Lambang Modified Case Hornady Length gauge RCBS Chargemaster

Erik Cortina is one of the nation’s top F-Class shooters. A member of Team Lapua-Brux-Borden, Erik has been a top performer at National and World F-Class Championships. Erik is also a very smart guy and a skilled toolsmith who has upgraded his shooting equipment in interesting ways. Today we feature three “How-To” videos from Erik. These show how to upgrade a SEB Coaxial Rest, how to improve the performance of an RCBS Chargemaster, and how to create your own Modified Case for measuring length to lands.

1. How to Upgrade your SEB Co-Axial Joystick Rest

Erik Cortina Joystick SEB Rest accessory f-class feet holder

Joystick (coaxial) rests are used by top shooters in benchrest and F-Open disciplines. With coaxial rests, you can adjust both vertical and horizontal aim instantly in one fluid movement — there are no mariner wheels to spin or knobs to turn. Just gently stir the joystick to move up, down, or sideways. Erik Cortina explains: “If you want to get into F-Class (Open) and want to win, you should get a SEB rest. SEB makes an excellent product, but the one thing we upgrade automatically … is adding the F-Class feet. These have a bigger footprint and a spike on the bottom [so you can] dig the feet into the ground and make your rest a lot more stable.” In this video Erik installs a set of Blake Machine Co. F-Class feet. These feature a set-screw, so they are easy to attach and then remove for travel (no Loctite!). “Simple yet effective” declares Erik.

In the second half of the video (starting at 5:30), Erik installs a Dan Bramley Joystick Holder. This features two clamp-on cradles that hold the joystick crosswise below the top (see photo). This handy accessory ensures your handle always remains with the rest (and doesn’t get left at home when you travel to a big match). This joystick holder has been popular with competitors. Erik says, “The Bramley Joystick holder is $60.00 — money well spent.” To order, email Dan at dbramley [at] yahoo.com.

2. How to Make a Modified Case for the Hornady OAL Tool

Hornady Stony Point Tool OAL O.A.L. gauge bullet seating length ogive checker

In this video, Forum member Erik Cortina shows how to create a custom modified case for use with the Hornady Lock-N-Load Overall Length Gauge (formerly the Stoney Point Tool). While Hornady sells modified cases for many standard cartridges, if you shoot a wildcat such as the 6mm Dasher or .284 Shehane, you’ll need to create a custom modified case. And even if you shoot a standard cartridge such as the .308 Win, you can get more consistent measurements if you make a custom modified case from a piece of brass fired in your chamber.

MORE INFORMATION: Want to learn more? We published a much longer story in which Erik explains in greater detail how to made the Modified Case. That article illustrates the 5/16″ – 36 RH HSS Tap required and shows how to set up the lathe to drill and tap your case. If you are serious about making your own Modified Cases, you should Read the Full Article.

3. How to Make the RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 Work Better

Erik Cortina has been fiddling around with his RCBS ChargeMaster and he discovered something interesting. Through a series of tests he determined that the ChargeMaster dispensed slightly more precise charges when he trickled the last few 10ths of a grain on to the RCBS pan. Erik wasn’t expecting this result, but he confirmed there may be a slight benefit to this trickling method (as opposed to allowing the ChargeMaster to dispense the full charge). You can see Erik’s test procedure in this video:

We should note that Erik’s preferred method of weighing powder is to first dispense a slightly lower charge with the RCBS, transfer the pan to a laboratory-class Sartorius magnetic force restoration scale, then trickle up with his Omega (Dandy Products) Powder Trickler. However, if you don’t have a $800+ laboratory-grade scale, you might just try trickling on to the ChargeMaster pan.

MORE INFORMATION: We have published a more lengthy Bulletin Article that covers Erik’s Chargemaster Performance Findings in greater detail. That article has more photos plus a clever, bonus “Beep Defeat Tip”. If you own a Chargemaster, we recommend you READ the Full Article.

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December 15th, 2017

Erik Cortina and Dan Dowling on Kelly McMillan Radio Show

Kelly McMilland Taking Stock Radio Show Voice America
NOTE: Audio may auto-start when you click this graphic — turn down speakers at work

You should tune in to Kelly McMillan’s Taking Stock Internet Radio Show today, Friday, December 15, 2017. Two very smart and talented guys are featured on the show. Kelly’s first guest, Erik Cortina, is Captain of Team Lapua-Brux-Borden and one of American’s Top F-Class competitors. The second guest, Dan Dowling, is a respected name in the field of bolt-action rifle work, with his main focus being benchrest rifles and similar high-accuracy rifles. Today’s live show, and recorded archives, are hosted on the VoiceAmerica Sports Channel.

Liston to December 15 LIVE SHOW and Access Taking Stock Internet Radio Archives »

We have followed Erik’s career as he has risen to be one of the best F-Class and long-range shooters in the world. Texas State LR Champion (3 years in a row), Erik has placed Top 10 in the Berger SW Nationals, won a Bronze medal in World Championship with Rutland team (Team USA Red), placed 3rd in F-Class Nationals. Erik also has produced very informative shooting/reloading videos on his YouTube Channel. Erik tells us: “I am honored to be on Taking Stock with Kelly McMillan. As you all know, I enjoy passing on what I know so that other shooters can benefit from my experience. I received a lot of help from others, epecially Mike Downey and Mark Pharr, starting out, so I’m paying it forward. I also believe it’s a good way to grow the shooting sports.”

Erik Cortina Kelly McMillan Taking Stock Radio Show

On today’s radio show, Erik added: “We will also discuss the importance of using quality equipment as it is the most reliable and gives me the best chance at winning. Another topic we will discuss is learning to win. I believe learning how to shoot is fairly easy, especially with all the info out there these days, but learning how to win, is the difference between a great shooter and a Champion.”

Erik Cortina Radio Show Kelly McMillan Taking Stock
Erik Cortina shows one of his handsome F-Open Rifles at Berger SW Nationals.

You can also access previous episodes. Recent guests have included F-TR World Champion and King of 2 Miles Derek Rodgers, Multi-Time National High Power Champion Carl Bernosky, USA F-TR Team Captain Ray Gross, and GA Precision’s George Gardner.

CLICK HERE for Taking Stock Radio Show Past Episodes (Warning — Loud Audio May Start)

About McMillan Fiberglass Stocks
Kelly McMillan is the president of McMillan Fiberglass Stocks (MFS). This company began in 1973 when Gale McMillan starting crafting benchrest stocks at home in his carport/garage. In 1975 MFS hired its first employee, Kelly McMillan. By 1979 Kelly was made a partner, and by 1984 Kelly was in charge of running the stock shop. Since that time MFS has continued to grow with innovation and design. Today McMillan Fiberglass Stocks has a 15,000 sq/ft facility and 65 employees.

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November 4th, 2017

Going Grendel — Erik Cortina Converts AR15 to 6.5 Grendel

6.5 Grendel AccurateShooter.com cartridge Erik Cortina

Here’s an interesting project — using a second-hand barrel to upgrade an AR15. Our friend Erik Cortina decided to make his AR15, originally chambered in 6.8 SPC, into a 6.5 Grendel. Erik acquired a “pre-owned” 6.5-06 match barrel through our Shooters’ Forum. Erik inspected the barrel with a bore-scope and confirmed it was in good shape after the first few inches (past the chamber).

Erik Cortina barrel 6.5 Grendel

The 6.5-06 barrel had more than enough length, so he trimmed off the chamber end, then contoured the barrel to fit his AR15. This is a smart way to upgrade a gun without spending $350 or more on a brand new barrel.

In the first video, Erik explains the process of converting his 6.8 SPC AR15 into a 6.5 Grendel: “I take the upper completely apart and pull barrel off which will be used to take dimensions for new barrel. The new barrel will be turned from an old competition heavy barrel. All the barrel reaming will be done using JGS reamers. I will also use JGS reamers to make a seating and F/L sizing die.”

In the second video, Erik contours the “pre-owned” barrel to fit his AR. He uses an old bolt-action 6.5-06 competition barrel and cuts it to 17″ long and contours it to fit his AR-15. The barrel is turned down on a manual lathe to .750″ outside diameter for the majority of its length in order to fit the gas system barrel block that is made for a .750″ barrel. After contouring, the barrel will be threaded and chambered.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical 4 Comments »
October 18th, 2017

Stop Neck Sizing! Why You Should Full-Length Size Your Brass

Full-Length Sizing Erik Cortina Neck Sizing Video

Why It’s Smart to Full-Length Size Your Brass

Commentary by Erik Cortina

Should You Full-Length Size Your Cartridge Brass?

Absolutely. Let Me Explain Why…

I have seen it time and time again, shooters on the line wrestling with their rifle trying to get the bolt closed while the wind is switching. They were too focused trying to get their bolt to close and getting their rifle settled back on the bags that they missed the wind switch. Bang… Eight! The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was at the 2017 Canadian Nationals. I was paired up with a young girl and she would try really hard to close the bolt on her rifle. The majority of the time she would get it to close, but often times she could not even get the round to chamber. She was focused on her rifle the entire time rather than on the conditions. When we completed our strings, she had five rounds that did not chamber our of 15! That is way too many!. I told her she needed to think about Full-length sizing with 0.002″ shoulder bump, or Controlled Full-length Sizing like I call it. I told her not to worry about losing accuracy. I told her that I full-length size all my rounds and asked if she noticed how smooth my bolt was and noticed my score. She said yes, they were both great!

Controlled Full-length Sizing Does NOT Harm Accuracy
I have found that Controlled Full-length Sizing does NOT hurt accuracy or shorten brass life. I find that I can focus much more on the conditions when I don’t have to think about chambering a round nor extracting it. It has become second nature. After firing, I keep my head welded to the stock, I open the bolt by placing my thumb on top of stock and rotating hand upwards. I reach in and retrieve spent case, place it back in ammo box, and pick up another loaded round and put in chamber. I verify conditions and when ready, I push the bolt in and close it with my index and middle finger.

With Controlled Full-length Sizing you “bump” the shoulder around .002″ for bolt guns.*
full length sizing
Image courtesy Sinclair International which carries a variety of Full-length dies.

Full-Length Sizing Erik Cortina Neck Sizing Video

Whidden Gunworks DiesWhidden Full-Length Sizing Dies
by AccurateShooter.com Editor
For proper Full-length sizing, you want a quality die that’s a very good match to your chamber. For our project rifles we usually turn to Whidden Gunworks which offers both bushing and non-bushing FL dies. And if you want the hot new option, check out Whidden’s patent-pending, click-adjustable FL-sizing die. This gives instant, precise control over shoulder bump. It works great.

*With gas guns, such as the AR10, you may want to increase shoulder bump to .003″ or more. With some benchrest cartridges, .0015″ bump may prove optimal. But .002″ is a good starting point.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Reloading 10 Comments »
October 7th, 2017

F-Open Nat’l Champ Talks Wind Reading and Cartridge Choice

Lodi Wisconsin F-Class National Championship Ian Klemm Robert Mead Jay Christopherson F-TR F-Open Borden Brux
“A big congratulations to Bob Mead (1582-68X), who utterly destroyed the competition in tricky wind conditions to take the Gold.” — Jay Christopherson, 2017 F-Open Nationals Second Place.

In this 15-minute video, Team Lapua’s Erik Cortina interviews Robert Mead, the 2017 LR F-Open Champion. Robert (Bob) discusses his wind reading techniques with Erik, and the newly-crowned F-Open Champ explains how to set up a reliable wind zero. Bob also discusses cartridge choices in F-Open. He admits the straight .284 may be the tightest grouping 7mm cartridge, but he has used the 7mm RSAUM for a decade now. He believes the RSAUM may the best cartridge for 1,000 yards in 7mm, all things considered (grouping ability, ballistics): “To me it’s a light magnum, it’s capable of high speed, yet burns less powder than your regular magnums. [But] it’s a finicky cartridge — you’ve got to do a fair amount of load development.”

Every serious F-Class competitor should watch this video start to finish:

Credit Erik Cortina for video and the photo of Robert Mead with trophy above.

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
October 1st, 2017

Report from F-Class Nationals in Lodi, Wisconsin

Lodi Wisconsin F-Class National Championship Ian Klemm Robert Mead Jay Christopherson F-TR F-Open Borden Brux
“A big congratulations to Bob Mead (1582-68X), who utterly destroyed the competition in tricky wind conditions to take the Gold.” — Jay Christopherson, F-Open Second Place.

The 2017 F-Class National Championships in Lodi, Wisconsin are now history. Hail the new Champions: Robert Mead, F-Open (1582-68X) and Ian Klemm, F-TR (1557-56X). Hosted by the Winnequah Gun Club, the Nationals drew about 75 F-Open shooters and 45 F-TR competitors, down from last year. In F-Open, Robert Mead shot brilliantly in tough conditions to finish 14 points ahead of his closest competitor, AccurateShooter.com’s System Administrator Jay Christopherson. Erik Cortina was just one point behind Jay, but Erik had the high X-Count for the match at 71X.

Lodi Wisconsin F-Class National Championship Ian Klemm Robert Mead Jay Christopherson F-TR F-Open Borden Brux
Photos of Robert Mead and Ian Klemm courtesy Erik Cortina.

In F-TR, Ian Klemm also won by a margin of 14 points. This was an impressive win by Ian, given the challenging winds and weather. F-TR runner-up Todd Sanders also shot remarkably well, considering he is a relative newcomer to F-Class. Forum member KyBountyHunter observed: “Outstanding shooting this week gentlemen, in some of the most challenging conditions that I’ve seen. Congrats to all the winners. Ian — fantastic job taking First Place (well deserved) [and] special congrats to Todd. For this only being his second year in F-TR, he’s going to be force to be reckoned with for a long time!”.

Lodi Wisconsin F-Class National Championship Ian Klemm Robert Mead Jay Christopherson F-TR F-Open Borden Brux

CLICK HERE for Match Results. Sorry — no equipment list yet.

Final Results for F-Open (TOP 10):
1. Robert Mead: 1582-68X HM
2. Jay Christopherson: 1568-59X HM
3. Erik Cortina: 1567-71X HM
4. John Myers: 1558-64X HM
5. Pat Scully: 1558-50X HM
6. Larry Bartholome: 1554-55X HM
7. Robert Sebold: 1554-41X HM
8. Steve Harp: 1553-58X HM
9. Jeff Hopkins: 1551-49X MA
10. Lou Murdica: 1550-46X MA

Final Results for F-T/R (TOP 10):
1. Ian Klemm: 1557-56X HM
2. Todd Sanders: 1543-43X MA
3. Brad Sauve: 1542-44X MA
4. Laura Perry: 1539-46X EX
5. Daniel Pohlabel: 1534-49X MA
6. Josh Moore: 1529-37X EX
7. Ken Klemm: 1528-38X MA
8. Bob Lorenz: 1525-47X EX
9. Raymond Weaver: 1522-36X HM
10. Alan Barnhart: 1521-31X HM

Strong Performances by Members of Team Lapua-Borden-Brux
Jay Christopherson posted: “A big congratulations to Bob Mead (1582-68X), who utterly destroyed the competition in tricky wind conditions to take the Gold. This was a great end to the 2017 competition season for me as I managed to hang on by the skin of my fingertips to win Silver at the 2017 F-Class US National Championships (F-Open).” For the record, Team Lapua-Borden-Brux ended up with all five present members of the team in the Top 8 of the Grand Aggregate.

Jay Christopherson (2nd, 1568-59X, Silver)
Erik Cortina (3rd, 1567-71X, Bronze)
Pat Scully (5th, 1558-50X)

Bob Sebold (7th, 1554-41X)
Steve Harp (8th, 1553-58X)

In team competition, Team Lapua-Borden Brux won the F-0pen Long Range Championship as well as the Mid-Range Championship. Jay told us: “That was some outstanding shooting by great team members. I’m really looking forward to the 2018 season.” Erik Cortina added: “So proud of our team. We conquered the 2017 LR National Championship as well as the Mid-Range National Championship. We could not have done it without our sponsors: Lapua, Borden Actions, and Brux Barrels.”

Lodi Wisconsin F-Class National Championship Ian Klemm Robert Mead Jay Christopherson F-TR F-Open Borden Brux

In the F-TR Team Competition, mighty Team Sinclair triumphed yet again, winning its 10th Long Range National Championship. Team member Paul Phillips offered this interesting factoid: “This year we won with the original four members we had in 2004 plus Dan Pohlabel. It’s pretty awesome to be shooting with the same guys for 13 years! What a great run since 2004.” And those same four also all hail from Midland, Michigan (Midland County Sportsman’s Club). Team Sinclair still holds the 4-man Team 1000-yard National Record. Shown below, L to R, are team members: Daniel J. Pohlabel, Paul Phillips, Raymond Gross (Coach), Brad Sauve, and John Droelle.

Lodi Wisconsin F-Class National Championship Team Sinclair F-TR
All Team Sinclair members use identical hardware: McMillan XiT stock, Kelbly Panda action, Bartlein barrel, Nightforce scope, and Phoenix Precision bipod. All shoot Berger 200-20X bullets in Lapua brass.

The One that Got Away — Almost Matching F-Open 20-Shot Record
Erik Cortina shot a superb 200-16X during the competition (see electronic target scoring screen below). That was just one X shy of the current 200-17X National Record. Erik observed: “So close, yet so far. Almost matched the National Record of 200-17X but shot a ten on my very last shot. Everything felt good but luck was not on my side.”

Lodi Wisconsin F-Class National Championship Ian Klemm Robert Mead Jay Christopherson F-TR F-Open Borden Brux


File photo from Lodi at past F-Class Nationals.

Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »