September 23rd, 2016

How to Avoid Having a ‘Train Wreck’ at the F-Class Nationals

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

Today is practice day for the Mid-Range F-Class Nationals, which commence bright and early tomorrow morning in Lodi, Wisconsin. In any shooting competition, you must try to avoid major screw-ups that can ruin your day (or your match). In this article, reigning F-TR National Mid-Range and Long Range Champion Bryan Litz talks about “Train Wrecks”, i.e. those big disasters (such as equipment failures) that can ruin a whole match. Bryan illustrates the types of “train wrecks” that commonly befall competitors, and he explains how to avoid these “unmitigated disasters”.

Urban Dictionary “Train Wreck” Definition: “A total @#$&! disaster … the kind that makes you want to shake your head.”

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballisticsTrain Wrecks (and How to Avoid Them)
by Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics LLC.

Success in long range competition depends on many things. Those who aspire to be competitive are usually detail-oriented, and focused on all the small things that might give them an edge. Unfortunately it’s common for shooters lose sight of the big picture — missing the forest for the trees, so to speak.

Consistency is one of the universal principles of successful shooting. The tournament champion is the shooter with the highest average performance over several days, often times not winning a single match. While you can win tournaments without an isolated stellar performance, you cannot win tournaments if you have a single train wreck performance. And this is why it’s important for the detail-oriented shooter to keep an eye out for potential “big picture” problems that can derail the train of success!

Train wrecks can be defined differently by shooters of various skill levels and categories. Anything from problems causing a miss, to problems causing a 3/4-MOA shift in wind zero can manifest as a train wreck, depending on the kind of shooting you’re doing.

Below is a list of common Shooting Match Train Wrecks, and suggestions for avoiding them.

1. Cross-Firing. The fastest and most common way to destroy your score (and any hopes of winning a tournament) is to cross-fire. The cure is obviously basic awareness of your target number on each shot, but you can stack the odds in your favor if you’re smart. For sling shooters, establish your Natural Point of Aim (NPA) and monitor that it doesn’t shift during your course of fire. If you’re doing this right, you’ll always come back on your target naturally, without deliberately checking each time. You should be doing this anyway, but avoiding cross-fires is another incentive for monitoring this important fundamental. In F-Class shooting, pay attention to how the rifle recoils, and where the crosshairs settle. If the crosshairs always settle to the right, either make an adjustment to your bipod, hold, or simply make sure to move back each shot. Also consider your scope. Running super high magnification can leave the number board out of the scope’s field view. That can really increase the risk of cross-firing.

2. Equipment Failure. There are a wide variety of equipment failures you may encounter at a match, from loose sight fasteners, to broken bipods, to high-round-count barrels that that suddenly “go south” (just to mention a few possibilities). Mechanical components can and do fail. The best policy is to put some thought into what the critical failure points are, monitor wear of these parts, and have spares ready. This is where an ounce of prevention can prevent a ton of train wreck. On this note, if you like running hot loads, consider whether that extra 20 fps is worth blowing up a bullet (10 points), sticking a bolt (DNF), or worse yet, causing injury to yourself or someone nearby.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

[Editor’s Note: The 2016 F-Class Nationals will employ electronic targets so conventional pit duties won’t be required. However, the following advice does apply for matches with conventional targets.]

3. Scoring/Pit Malfunction. Although not related to your shooting technique, doing things to insure you get at least fair treatment from your scorer and pit puller is a good idea. Try to meet the others on your target so they can associate a face with the shooter for whom they’re pulling. If you learn your scorer is a Democrat, it’s probably best not to tell Obama jokes before you go for record. If your pit puller is elderly, it may be unwise to shoot very rapidly and risk a shot being missed (by the pit worker), or having to call for a mark. Slowing down a second or two between shots might prevent a 5-minute delay and possibly an undeserved miss.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics4. Wind Issues. Tricky winds derail many trains. A lot can be written about wind strategies, but here’s a simple tip about how to take the edge off a worse case scenario. You don’t have to start blazing away on the command of “Commence fire”. If the wind is blowing like a bastard when your time starts, just wait! You’re allotted 30 minutes to fire your string in long range slow fire. With average pit service, it might take you 10 minutes if you hustle, less in F-Class. Point being, you have about three times longer than you need. So let everyone else shoot through the storm and look for a window (or windows) of time which are not so adverse. Of course this is a risk, conditions might get worse if you wait. This is where judgment comes in. Just know you have options for managing time and keep an eye on the clock. Saving rounds in a slow fire match is a costly and embarrassing train wreck.

5. Mind Your Physical Health. While traveling for shooting matches, most shooters break their normal patterns of diet, sleep, alcohol consumption, etc. These disruptions to the norm can have detrimental effects on your body and your ability to shoot and even think clearly. If you’re used to an indoor job and eating salads in air-conditioned break rooms and you travel to a week-long rifle match which keeps you on your feet all day in 90-degree heat and high humidity, while eating greasy restaurant food, drinking beer and getting little sleep, then you might as well plan on daily train wrecks. If the match is four hours away, rather than leaving at 3:00 am and drinking five cups of coffee on the morning drive, arrive the night before and get a good night’s sleep.”

Keep focused on the important stuff. You never want to lose sight of the big picture. Keep the important, common sense things in mind as well as the minutia of meplat trimming, weighing powder to the kernel, and cleaning your barrel ’til it’s squeaky clean. Remember, all the little enhancements can’t make up for one big train wreck!

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September 23rd, 2016

The “Mental Game” — Mantras for Competitive Shooting Success

shooting training applied ballistics bryan litz

The 2016 F-Class National Championships commence today in Lodi, Wisconsin. The Mid-Range Championships will run through September 27th, followed immediately by the Long Range Championships which conclude on October 1st.

Hopefully, this article may provide a little inspiration for our readers who will be competing at the Nationals in the days ahead. Here are some motivational messages that shooters can use to stay calm and focused, and to tune up their “mental game”.

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics“Shoot Like a Champion”. Bryan Litz, author of Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting, says he often sees notes like this tucked in shooter’s gear (or taped to an ammo box) at matches. What “marksmanship mantras” do you use? Do you have a favorite quote that you keep in mind during competition?

On the Applied Ballistics Facebook Page, Bryan invited other shooters to post the motivating words (and little reminders) they use in competition. Here are some of the best responses:


    “Shoot 10s and No One Can Catch You…” — James Crofts

    “You Can’t Miss Fast Enough to Win.” — G. Smith

    “Forget the last shot. Shoot what you see!” — P. Kelley

    “Breathe, relax, you’ve got this, just don’t [mess] up.” — S. Wolf

    “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” — J. McEwen

    “Keep calm and shoot V-Bull.” — R. Fortier

    “Be still and know that I am God[.]” (PS 46:10) — D.J. Meyer

    “Work Hard, Stay Humble.” — J. Snyder

    “Shoot with your mind.” — K. Skarphedinsson

    “The flags are lying.” — R. Cumbus

    “Relax and Breathe.” — T. Fox

    “Zero Excuses.” — M. Johnson

    “SLOW DOWN!” — T. Shelton

    “Aim Small.” — K. Buster

    “Don’t Forget the Ammo!” (Taped on Gun Case) — Anonymous

PARTING SHOT: It’s not really a mantra, but Rick Jensen said his favorite quote was by gunsmith Stick Starks: “Them boys drove a long ways to suck”. Rick adds: “I don’t want to be that guy”, i.e. the subject of that remark.

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September 22nd, 2016

Aiming Techniques for F-Class Competition

F-Class Aiming Long Range Score Shooting
The movie “The Patriot” gave us the phrase “Aim small, miss small”. While that’s a good mantra, aiming strategies for long-range competition are a bit more complicated, as this article explains…

The U.S. Mid-Range and Long Range Nationals kick off tomorrow, September 23rd, in Lodi, Wisconsin. Here are some tips that can help F-TR and F-Open shooters aim more precisely, and achieve higher scores. F-Class ace Monte Milanuk reviews reticle choices and strategies for holding off.

In our Shooters Forum, one newcomer wanted some advice on selecting a reticle for F-Class optics. He wondered about the advantage of Front (first) Focal Plane (FFP) vs. Second Focal Plane scopes and also wondered if one type of reticle was better for “holding off” than others.

In responding to this question, Forum regular Monte Milanuk provided an excellent summary of aiming methods used in F-Class. For anyone shooting score targets, Monte’s post is worth reading:

Aiming Methods for F-Class (and Long-Range) Shootingby Monte Milanuk

600-yard F-Class TargetF-Class is a known-distance event, with targets of known dimensions that have markings (rings) of known sizes. Any ‘holding off’ can be done using the target face itself. Most ‘benefits’ of Front (first) focal plain (FFP) optics are null and void here — they work great on two-way ranges where ‘minute of man’ is the defining criteria — but how many FFP scopes do you know of in the 30-40X magnification range? Very, very few, because what people who buy high-magnification scopes want is something that allows them to hold finer on the target, and see more detail of the target, not something where the reticle covers the same amount of real estate and appears ‘coarser’ in view against the target, while getting almost too fine to see at lower powers.

Whether a person clicks or holds off is largely personal preference. Some people might decline to adjust their scope as long as they can hold off somewhere on the target. Some of that may stem from the unfortunate effect of scopes being mechanical objects which sometimes don’t work entirely as advertised (i.e. one or two clicks being more or less than anticipated). Me personally, if I get outside 1-1.5 MOA from center, I usually correct accordingly. I also shoot on a range where wind corrections are often in revolutions, not clicks or minutes, between shots.

Some shooters do a modified form of ‘chase the spotter’ — i.e. Take a swag at the wind, dial it on, aim center and shoot. Spotter comes up mid-ring 10 at 4 o’clock… so for the next shot aim mid-ring 10 at 10 o’clock and shoot. This should come up a center X (in theory). Adjust process as necessary to take into account for varying wind speeds and direction.

John Sigler F-Class

600-yard F-Class TargetOthers use a plot sheet that is a scaled representation of the target face, complete with a grid overlaid on it that matches the increments of their optics — usually in MOA. Take your Swag at the wind, dial it on, hold center and shoot. Shot comes up a 10 o’clock ‘8’… plot the shot on the sheet, look at the grid and take your corrections from that and dial the scope accordingly. This process should put you in the center (or pretty close), assuming that you didn’t completely ignore the wind in the mean time. Once in the center, hold off and shoot and plot, and if you see a ‘group’ forming (say low right in the 10 ring) either continue to hold high and left or apply the needed corrections to bring your group into the x-ring.

Just holding is generally faster, and allows the shooter to shoot fast and (hopefully) stay ahead of the wind. Plotting is more methodical and may save your bacon if the wind completely changes on you… plotting provides a good reference for dialing back the other way while staying in the middle of the target. — YMMV, Monte

Permalink Optics, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
September 20th, 2016

Home-Built F-Open Rifle and Dual-Belt-Drive Front Rest

Tikka 590 Essex Custom

We like Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects. It takes initiative, creativity, and dedication to make your own hardware, and that’s worth acknowledging. With the U.S. F-Class Nationals kicking off later this week, we thought it timely to feature a DIY F-Open rig, complete with home-built, belt-drive front rest.

Some of our mechanically-skilled readers chamber their own barrels or bed their own stocks. But these are relatively simple tasks compared to the jobs of constructing an entire rifle plus building an advanced front rest from scratch. Well that’s exactly what Forum member Steve B. (aka Essexboy) did a couple seasons back. He built his own rifle and an impressive twin-belt-drive pedestal rest. (Click photo below for large version). And get this, Steve’s home-made rifle was victorious in its first-ever match. Steve reports: “I shot my first Comp with the rifle … and managed to win with a score of 239-21!” (The match was shot at 300/500/600/1000/1100 with English scoring of 5 points for center bullseye).

Do-It-Yourself F-Open Rig from England
Steve, who hails from Essex in the UK, constructed virtually every component of his skeleton-style rifle except the 28″ HV Bartlein barrel (chambered as a 6mm Dasher) and the Tikka 590 donor action. Steve also did all the design and fabrication work on his one-of-a-kind front rest. Steve tells us: “Over the last year or so, I made this rifle stock and rest. I managed to make it all on a little Myford Lathe, as you can tell I’m no machinist but it saved me a load of money — so far I’ve got about $200 invested plus the barrelled action. The stock is aluminum except for the stainless steel bag runner. The rifle came in at one ounce under weight limit for F-Class Open division.” Steve did get help with the chambering and barrel-fitting, but he hopes to do all the barrel work himself on his next project.

Tikka 590 Essex CustomThe gun is very accurate. Steve notes: “I have shot the rifle to 1100 yards and it shoots well. Last time out the rifle dropped just one point at 1000 yards and 5 points at 1100 yards [English scoring system]. I know it’s not pretty, but it got me shooting long range F-Class for peanuts.” Message to Steve: Don’t worry how it looks. As another Forum member observed: “Any rifle that shoots well at 1100 yards is beautiful….”

Steve started with a Tikka 590 action: “The whole stock was made on a small (6.5×13) lathe and a vertical slide. This caused a few head scratching moments, figuring out how to hold the T6/HE30 alloy for the milling/turning operations, but it did teach me a few things. The hardest parts were clamping the longer sections (such as the fore-end) and keeping it all square. Due to the short cross-slide travel I had to keep re-setting the parts. I managed to keep all measurements to 0.001″ (one thousandth). I’m most proud of the trigger guard (photo below). This took a full day but came out really well, even if I say so myself.”

Tikka 590 Essex Custom

Belt-Driven Front Rest
We’re impressed with Steve’s ingenious front rest. Steve explains: “The rest is belt-driven and still in the experimental stage — hence no powder coating or polishing yet. I may have gone over the top as the key moving parts (the pulleys) run on three (3) types of bearings: radial; reamed bush; and a ball race. The main post runs on a radial bearing and the feet even have bearings in them, so when I raise the main body up (for rough height adjustment) the foot stays static.”

Tikka 590 Essex Custom

Will Steve build another rifle? Steve says he will, and he’s upgraded his tools: “Since building the rifle I have acquired a bigger lathe (Harrison m250) and a milling machine. For the next project I hope to be able to do the barrel work (threading, chambering, crowning) as well.” The next gun might be another Dasher. Steve explains: “After extensive reading on AccurateShooter.com, I chose the 6mm Dasher chambering, as I have a shoulder problem and can’t shoot a rifle with a lot of recoil.”

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
September 14th, 2016

FREE Printable 300-Yard F-Class Training Targets

F-Class Target center NRA

The 2016 F-Class Nationals kick off in nine days. The nation’s top F-Class shooters head to Lodi, Wisconsin for the Mid-Range Championship (Sept. 23-27) followed by the Long-Range Championship (Sept. 27 – Oct. 1). If you want to polish your skills with some last-minute practice at your home range, here’s a handy option for F-Class shooters. Here are some reduced 300-yard target centers that let you duplicate the MOA size of the official F-Class targets, but at closer range.

These reduced-size target centers were created by Forum member SleepyGator, an F-Class competitor who needed practice targets he could use at 300 yards. There is an official reduced-distanced standard for 300-yard F-Class matches. This utilizes the NRA No. MR-63FC – F-Class Target Center which is pasted over the MR-63 target. It provides a 1.42″ X-Ring, 2.85″ 10-Ring, and 5.85″ Nine-Ring. (The dimensions of F-Class targets are found in the NRA High Power Rules, Sec. 22, part 4, page 70 — see sample below.)

F-Class Reduced Target Centers

CLICK HERE to Download F-Class 300-yard Target Centers (.Zip archive with three targets)

To duplicate the 300-yard target, SleepyGator has prepared a printable version of the MR-63FC Target Center, along with a pair of training targets with two bulls and five bulls. The two-bull and five-bull targets mirror the scoring rings on the MR-63FC, but they display only the innermost three rings and two rings respectively. All three targets are Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files that can be easily printed. You may need to adjust the scale (sizing) on your printer to get the dimensions exactly correct. As noted above, when printed, the 10-Ring on all three targets should measure 2.85″. This should provide some handy practice targets you can use between matches. Thanks to SleepyGator for providing these targets. You can download all three as a .Zip archive. After downloading the .Zip file, just click on the .Zip archive to extract the individual targets.

CLICK HERE to Download NRA High Power Rules with F-Class Target Dimensions

F-Class Target Paste Center

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September 11th, 2016

F-Class Nationals September 23 – October 1 in Lodi, Wisconsin

F-Class national Championship Lodi Wisconsin

Yes, F-Classers, it’s time for the Nationals. Is your ammo loaded? Scope zeroed? The 2016 NRA F-Class Nationals will be held in Lodi, Wisconsin at the Winnequah Gun Club from September 23 through October 1, 2016. This will be a combined Mid-Range and Long Range event, with the Mid-Range activities running September 23-27, followed immediately by the Long-Range Nationals which conclude October 1, 2016. F-TR and F-Open shooters will compete for both individual and team honors. Here is the schedule:

F-Class national Championship Lodi Wisconsin

Electronic Scoring at F-Class Championships
F-Class national Championship Lodi WisconsinThis is big news. For the first time ever in the USA, electronic (sonic-sensor) targets will be used for both the Mid-Range and Long Range F-Class National Championships. NOTE: These are NOT like the self-contained Kongsberg target systems at the CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park.

At Lodi, Competitors will still aim at conventional paper target faces but sonic sensors on the target frames will allow instant shot plotting and scoring. This target system was developed by Silver Mountain Targets of Canada. The Silver Mountain system uses sonic sensors (essentially high-tech microphones) to triangulate shots with great precision. Monitors will be positioned at each firing station. The Silver Mountain system has been extensively tested and the match directors have hard-wired the target “brains” back to the scoring center to ensure reliable communications. Before the championship, match officials will be conducting a mandatory class on the operation of the electronic target monitors.

Looking downrange at Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, WI:
F-Class Nationals Lodi, Wisconsin F-TR

2016 NRA F-Class National Championships FEE Schedule:

Mid-Range – Individual entries all individual matches – $230
Mid-Range – Each Team match (pay at range) – $80
Long Range – Individual entries all individual matches – $230
Long Range – Each Team match (pay at range) – $80
Combined Individual entry Mid-Range and Long Range – $400

STATE of the ART — F-TR and F-OPEN

Here is the sleek .308 Win rig Bryan Litz used to win the 2015 Mid-Range AND Long-Range F-TR Championship at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix.

And here is the 7mm RSAUM F-Open rifle belonging to Kenny Adams. The reigning F-Open World Champion, Kenny will be one of the favorites in Lodi…

U.S. F-Class Nationals Kenny Adams Lodi Wisconsin

Kenny’s World-Beating 7mm RSAUM Load
For his 7mm RSAUMs Kenny loads Hodgdon H4350 powder and Federal 215m primers into Nosler or Norma RSAUM brass. In the RSAUM he runs Berger 180gr Hybrid bullets seated “just touching” the lands. Kenny is very precise with his charge weights. Using a Sartorius Magnetic Force Restoration scale, Kenny tries to hold his powder charges to within 1-2 kernels charge-weight consistency.

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September 7th, 2016

Shiraz “Three-Peats” in Canada — Wins 3rd Straight F-Open Title

Shiraz Balolia Bullets.com .300 WSM F-Open Connaught Ranges Ottawa Ontario Canada

Grizzly Industrial and Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia pulled off a stunning feat of marksmanship recently, winning his third straight F-Open title at the Canadian F-Class National Championships. It wasn’t easy — conditions were tough, as was the competition — there were top shooters from around the world, including many past U.S. Champions. Shiraz had a slim, one-point lead after Day 2, but Balolia ended up tied on total points (and V-Count) with Emil Kovan at the end of the third and final day. But when the cards were compared, a string of Vs on Day 3 secured Shiraz the win via tie-breaker. Thus Shiraz achieved the memorable “three-peat”, winning Canada’s 2016 F-Open National Championship to complement his 2015 and 2014 victories.

Three-Peat at Connaught — 2016 F-Open Canadian Championship

by Shiraz Balolia
Shiraz Balolia Bullets.com .300 WSM F-Open Connaught Ranges Ottawa Ontario CanadaThis trip to Ottawa for the Canadian National Championship was a specially important one. The U.S. Team tryout process and practice was to take place for two days prior to the National Championship as the next F-Class World Championship is going to be held in Ottawa in August of 2017.

Connaught Range is a fantastic range that is very well run. Pullers are provided as part of your entry fee and matches are run at different times of the day, even into the evening. The flags are heavier than the ones we use in USA and are notorious for lying to the shooter. Matches are shot in pair firing mode which means one shooter takes a shot and the other scores. You cannot simply rattle off a shot as soon as the target comes up.

Crazy Hot Conditions at the Connaught Range
The first day the winds were mild, but tricky and the temperature was 102° F. I had never shot in such weather and ended up in the 6th place for the day. The second day had several matches at 900 meters and the wind picked up, with a 105° F recorded temperature, causing havoc with everyone. In one of my matches at 900 meters I took my two sighters and my first shot for record was a 3 (equivalent to an 8 in USA). To top it off I shot another 3 a few shots later. Liar, Liar, flags on fire! Anyway, I dropped 7 points in that match only to find out some very good shooters had dropped over 10! I moved to top position for the two-day Aggregate.

The third and final day was one string of 20 shots with shooters squadded by their two-day Aggregate ranking. So I was paired with Emil Kovan, while the third position shooter was paired with the fourth-ranking shooter et cetera. We all shot in identical conditions.

Après Moi, le Déluge — Not Your Gentle Drizzle
Then came a vicious rainstorm. We waited out the storm for two hours before we shot. The rain was really, really nasty and coming down really hard. We were all huddled under the U.S. Open Team’s tent.

Shiraz and Emil Battle to the End…
Finally, after the long delay, we got back to the firing line. And it went down to the wire. Emil shot a 100 with 3 Vs and I shot a 99 with 12 Vs. When the dust settled, we ended up with the same score and total V-Count (611-61V). The tie would be resolved by a “count-back” procedure. I had a stack of Vs at the end of my string and that won the match. What a fight!

Shiraz Balolia Bullets.com .300 WSM F-Open Connaught Ranges Ottawa Ontario Canada

Shiraz told us that this third championship was the toughest: “A while back, I had rotator cuff surgery on my shooting arm and had not shot a match in 9 months. I barely was able to test loads for three weeks before I shipped my ammo and did not know what to expect.” He says that winning “did not even sink in for a few days and looking back, I think this will be something I will cherish forever.”

Shiraz’s win came against very tough competition. Shiraz notes: “The whole U.S. Team, the whole Canadian Team, many South Africans, Germans, British, Ukrainians and others were present. We had several past US National Champions present as well and it was a great honor to shoot with all of them.”

Shiraz F-Class
Note: This is a photo from 2013, there may be slight changes in the rifle.

The rifle features a BAT Machine ‘M’ action, with a 31″, 1:10″-twist Bartlein barrel. The scope is a March 10-60x52mm, which sits on a +20 MOA angled rail. The primary stockwork, including fitting of the adjustable cheek-piece and buttplate, was done by Alex Sitman of Master Class Stocks. Shiraz customized the stock with finger grooves, fore-end channel, and a bottom rear slide. Shiraz did the final stock finishing as well.

Gun Components

BAT Machine Action
Master Class Stock, modified by Shiraz
Bartlein Barrel, 1:10″ Twist, 31 inches long
Fitted Barrel Harmonic Tuner
March 10-60x Scope with fine crosshair and 3/32″ dot

Caliber & Load

.300 Winchester Short Magnum (WSM)
215gr Berger Hybrid bullets, 2870 FPS
Norma .300 WSM Cases
H4831SC Powder
Tula (Russian) Primers

NOTE: Shiraz was not running anywhere near max: “I chose a light load for Ottawa due to the range limits as my other accurate node is 100 FPS faster and almost at the range limit.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 3 Comments »
September 6th, 2016

Stock Reborn: Second-Hand Anschutz Becomes F-Open Beauty

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Here is an interesting project by one of our Forum members. Martin C. (aka “Killick”) modified an Anschutz 1411 Match 54 rimfire prone stock to become a comfortable, great-tracking F-Class Open Division Stock. No Killick didn’t sacrifice a perfectly good rimfire rifle for this project — he bought the Anschutz stock by itself on eBay, then transformed it…

Killick explains: “This project started about seven years ago. I bought the Anschutz prone stock on eBay and whittled it a bit into a Palma rifle with a Barnard action and block and a Doan Trevor cheek piece and scope rail. Then about two years ago I decided to re-task the stock/action assembly into an F-Open rig. With more whittling, gluing, sanding, body fillering, sanding, filling, sanding, more sanding…and sanding, forming, priming, sanding, painting, waiting, painting, painting…painting and before you know it, Bob’s your uncle.”

Here is the eBay-sourced Anschutz 1411 stock, with new high-gloss blue finish, as initially modified for use in Killick’s centerfire Palma rifle. Looks nice!

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Next step was the addition of a 3″-wide wood fore-end for F-Open duties with front rest:

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Almost done here… just needs priming and final painting:

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Here is Killick’s completed F-Open rifle with its much-modified Anschutz stock now finished in fire-engine red lacquer. This image shows the detail of the grip and customized cheekpiece.

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

To learn more, visit Killick’s Anschutz Stock F-Class Project Thread on our Shooters’ Forum.

Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing No Comments »
August 31st, 2016

Anatomy of the Modern F-Open Rifle

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Emil Kovan is one of the top F-Class shooters in the world. He won the 2014 United States F-Open Championship. Earlier this month Emil finished second in F-Open Division at the 2016 Canadian National F-Class Championship in Ontario. Emil actually tied Open-class winner Shiraz Balolia for overall score AND “V”-count, but Emil was awarded second on the tie-breaker.

The Anatomy of a Modern F-Class Open Rifle

Report by Emil Kovan
Kovan Match Rifles LLC, www.matchrifles.com

“What are the best components for an F-Open class rifle, and why?” That’s a question that I get asked all the time and will try to answer in this article. Two months ago, I was contacted by Duane, a gentleman I met at the 2015 F-Class Nationals. He was interested in building a rifle with the new Master Class Low Profile F-Open Stock, created by Carl Bernosky and Alex Sitman of Master Class Stocks.

I have known Alex Sitman for many years, and use his stocks exclusively, but was not very familiar with his new Low Profile F-Open stock. After a brief conversation with Alex, I placed an order, and had the stock inletted and bedded at my shop in a month. My first impression was “Wow that’s a long stock” — the forearm is significantly longer than on the original Master Class F-Class prone stock. I bolted the barreled action in, and squeezed the end of the forearm and barrel together, the stock flexed a little bit, but not as much as other designs that I have tested. I think that’s due to having “more meat” in the receiver area. The full stock depth continues farther forward that on some other “low profile” designs. That makes the stock stiffer in the vertical plane, reducing the hinging effect forward of the action. The stock was finished in gloss black per the customer’s request. Interestingly, I found that the multiple layers of paint and clearcoat stiffened the stock up quite a bit.

CLICK IMAGE below for full-screen version
.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Low Center of Gravity Tames Torque
Compared to the original Master Class F-Open stock, the barrel sits about an inch lower. Lower center of gravity equals less torque, and that is very important when shooting heavy bullets in fast twist barrels. Another significant improvement is that the toe of the stock is flat and parallel to the forearm. I added a 3/4″ track rail in the rear, and milled the underside of the fore-end to create two parallel “rails” in the front to help the stock track better.

One of the biggest reasons why I like Master Class stocks, is the pistol grip. I don’t shoot “free recoil” and a comfortable pistol grip is super important to me when selecting a stock. The new Master Class Low Profile stock shares the same grip as the old model. This allows the stock to accommodate either a “hard hold” style or a more free-recoil style of shooting — whatever the rifle’s owner prefers. This design versatility is one reason I recommend Master Class stocks. Shooters may experiment with either shooting style to find what suits them best.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Cartridge Choice — A 40° .284 Win Improved
Duane decided to have the barrel chambered for my 284 KMR IMP (Improved) wildcat. What is .284 KMR IMP and why choose it over the straight .284 Winchester? Improved by definition means “made better”, I took a great cartridge, and modified it to increase capacity, reduce pressure, and increase brass life.

There are many “improved” variants of the original .284 Winchester: 7mm Walker, .284 Shehane, .284 Ackley and so on. My version, the 284 KMR IMP, shares the .010″ blown-out sidewalls of the .284 Shehane, but I have further increased the case capacity by changing the shoulder angle from 35 to 40 degrees. The 284 KMR IMP allows you to almost match magnum cartridge velocity in a standard-bolt-face action. If you want to run 180gr-class 7mm bullets over 2900 FPS, it is cheaper and more convenient to have a barrel chambered in 284 KMR IMP than to spend $650 for a magnum bolt.

Tuning Loads for the .284 Win Improved Cartridges
The 284 KMR IMP seems to have two nodes, one around 2820 fps and other at 2940 fps. My match load clocks at 2935 fps with single-digit ES. Note –I selected that load based on accuracy, NOT raw speed. A lot of novice (or hard-headed) shooters make the mistake to push their cartridges to the max, and disregard more accurate loads at lower velocity.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

The sport of F-Class is rapidly growing, and the equipment used is improving constantly. I remember that only few years ago, an F-Open rifle that could shoot sub-one-inch of vertical at 300 yards was considered competitive. Now, we are pursuing sub-one-inch vertical at 600 yards! It takes a great rifle to approach that goal, but it is also up to the shooter to learn and experiment as much as possible in order to achieve success.

Dies for an Improved .284 Win Cartridge
One of the biggest challenges in campaigning a wildcat cartridge has been obtaining great dies. When searching for custom dies, it almost seems like that the odds are stacked against us. The most common problem is wait-time — custom die orders can take months to be completed. Also, most custom die makers want you to send them two or three cases, each fire-formed three times. I find that funny because if could somehow properly size the cases for three fire-forming cycles, I would not need a sizing die.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Custom-made dies should size the case just right, but sometimes the die’s internal dimensions are slightly off, and this leads to problem number two: dies sizing too much (or even worse) too little. I had a one “custom” die that would not size the bottom of the case enough. This made the extraction of fired cases very difficult. I feel that the best option (if available) for shooters interested in wildcat chambers is to have their gunsmiths make the dies. I offer that die-making service in addition to barrel chambering.

BAT Machine “M” Action
Duane decided to use a BAT M action for this rifle, and I think that he could not have made a better choice. We are blessed with many good match-quality receivers: Barnard, BAT, Borden, Kelbly, Nesika, and Stiller just to mention a few. These are all very well-made and suitable for F-Class. Among BAT Machine Co.actions, I like BAT models M, MB, and 3LL best. I prefer these because because of their size (large bedding footprint) smoothness, timing, options available, and last but not least visual appearance.

Trigger: I recommend and use Jewell triggers. Other good options are: Kelbly, CG Jackson (good 2-Stage) Anschutz (best 2-Stage for Bat and Kelbly actions), Bix’N Andy, and David Tubb.

Barrel: Duane made another good choice here. He decided to go with a Brux 1:8.5″-twist, 4-groove cut-rifled barrel. If you look at the F-Class and Long Range benchrest equipment lists, you will see that cut-rifled barrels are currently dominating. Many records have been shot with both button-rifled, and cut-rifled barrels. I have shot both, and prefer cut-rifled barrels. I am not saying that button-rifled barrels are not capable of shooting as well as cut-rifled barrels, but on average, in my experience, four out of five cut-rifled barrels (from top makers) will shoot well, vs. three out of five buttoned barrels. YMMV, but this is what I’ve observed.

Brux Barrels is not the only company that produces very accurate cut-rifled barrels. We know that Krieger, Bartlein, Satern, and Hawk Hill Custom all make fine cut-rifled barrels as well.

Scope: Duane’s rifle was fitted with a Nightforce 15-55x52mm Competition scope with DDR-2 reticle. This optic is ultra clear, reasonably lightweight (28 oz.), super reliable, and has 1/8 MOA clicks — what you want for long range F-Class competition. In this 15-55X NF model, I like the DDR-2 reticle best, because fine cross hairs (FCH) are hard to see in heavy mirage. The DDR-2 has a heavier horizontal line, with a center dot. March scopes are also very popular and very well-made.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Thanks for reading, and keep ‘em in the middle…

Emil Kovan F-Class competition bio photoEmil Kovan Competition History:

– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion

– 2016 F-Class Open Canadian Championship, Silver Medal (tied for first on score)

– 2015 F-Class Open National Championship, Silver Medal

– F-Class Open National Championship Teams, 2015, 2014, 2013, Shooting Team Member

– Over 15 wins in Regional and State Championships in Palma, F-TR, F-Open

– 2013 U.S. National Team Member

– 2017 U.S. National Development Team Member

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gunsmithing 3 Comments »
August 28th, 2016

Father Develops .223 Rem F-TR Load for His Daughter

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

Jeremy Rowland decided to put together an F-TR rifle for his eldest daughter, who enjoys competitive shooting. For his daughter, Rowland chose the .223 Rem option because it has less recoil and components are less costly than the .308 Win. Here is Rowland’s account of how he developed a .223 Rem load. For more details (with data charts), read Jeremy’s FULL STORY on Sierra Bullets Blog.

Journey to Find a .223 Rem F-Class Load

by Jeremy Rowland, Reloading Podcast
My oldest daughter has been to several matches with me, and has even competed in several, using her .243. I decided this coming season (2016), she would compete with a .223 Rem in FT/R. Looking for a good starter rifle, I settled on the Savage Axis Heavy Barrel since it has a 1:9″ twist. This would be a great little rifle for her to learn on. The rifle was shot unmodified, as it came from the factory. A Sinclair F-Class Bipod w/micro elevation adjustment was fitted to the front.

Next came finding the components I wanted to use for her match loads. After spending hours and hours running numbers on JBM stability calculator as well as in my iPhone Ballistic AE app, the 69 gr Sierra Tipped MatchKing® (TMK®) looked really good. So that’s what I decided to go with. I jumped in head first and ordered a bulk pack of the Sierra 69 gr TMKs. I had settled on Hodgdon CFE 223 since it shows good velocity. I decided to go with once-fired Lake City brass with CCI BR4 primers.

Next came the testing. I decided to run a ladder test (one shot per charge from min to max looking for the accuracy node). The ladder test ranged from 23.5 grains to 25.6 grains, in 0.3 grain increments.

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

Ladder Test Conditions: Temp: 59.4° | Humidity: 63% | Elevation: 486 | Wind: 5-12 mph

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

Bullet: 69 gr Sierra Tipped MatchKing®
Case: Lake City (mixed years, sorted by case capacity)
Primer: CCI BR4
Powder: Hodgdon CFE 223 (one round each from 23.5 to 25.6 grains)
Cartridge OAL: 2.378″
Base to Ogive: 1.933″ (.020″ off lands)

After his ladder test, Rowland settled on a load of 25.2 grains of Hodgdon CFE 223. He then fine-tuned his load with different seating depths: “I loaded up 5 rounds each at .020″ off lands, .015″ off lands, .010″ off lands, and .005″ off the lands. Here are the results from the best group for OAL/Ogive fine tuning. As you can see, I think I’ve found a winner in these 69 gr Sierra Tipped MatchKings.”

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

Seating Depth Test Conditions: Temp: 36.3° | Humidity: 73.8% | Elevation: 486 | Wind: 5-7 mph

This article originally appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 2 Comments »
August 27th, 2016

New Kestro F-Open Stock from McMillan

Kestro F-Class f-Open stock long range low profile Low boy

McMillan Fiberglass Stocks is introducing a new F-Class Open Division stock. This offers a low profile fore-end and parallel geometry for improved tracking. This is similar to McMillan’s previous F-Open stock, but with important enhancements. Here is Kelly McMillan’s report:

“Our new Kestro is … made specifically for F-Class Open competition. Notice we have kept the low profile fore-end while increasing the mass and rigidity. The fore-end is not only ‘dead nuts’ in line with the butt stock, but it is also on an exactly parallel plane so when it recoils there is no rise or lateral shift in the cross hairs.

Kestro F-Class f-Open stock long range low profile Low boy

This model comes with an integral adjustable cheek-piece and can have our standard buttplate or our lightweight 3-way adjustable butt plate. My estimation is that this stock will weigh as light as 4.5 pounds fully dressed, or as much as 8 pounds depending on what you need.

Kestro F-Class f-Open stock long range low profile Low boy

We are currently working on the cheek-piece free model for those of you who don’t put your face on the stock. One more thing, this color combination we call a Tiger Stripe Maple.” Editor’s NOTE: Though “maple” is in the stock color name, this is a reinforced fiberglass stock, not wood.

Permalink Competition, New Product 1 Comment »
August 10th, 2016

Canadian F-Class National Championships Commence

Canada Canadian F-Class Championships Connaught Ontario Canada F-TR F-Open

Many of the world’s best F-Class shooters have traveled to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada this week to compete at the Canadian F-Class National Championships. F-Open ace Shiraz Balolia, who won back-to-back Canadian F-Open Championships in 2015 and 2014, will pursue a “three-peat” at Canada’s Connaught Ranges. There will be plenty of F-TR talent on hand as well, including Bryan Litz, reigning U.S. Mid-Range and Long-Range F-TR Champion. The first challenge for the shooters will be the weather, which can be notoriously wet and windy at Connaught. The weather forecast looks good for today and tomorrow, but thunderstorms (and rain) are predicted for Friday and Saturday.

Get Ready for the Thunderstorms…
Canada Canadian F-Class Championships Connaught Ontario Canada F-TR F-Open
Weather.com 5-Day Forecast. CLICK HERE for update.

U.S. F-TR Rifle Team Prepares for the Canadian Championships:

Canada Canadian F-Class Championships Connaught Ontario Canada F-TR F-Open

Shown above is the U.S. F-TR Rifle Team, which will compete in the F-TR division. In the America Match, teams from Canada, South Africa, and the United States will battle head-to-head for national honors.

Many Companies Help Sponsor U.S. F-TR Rifle Team
It takes significant resources to field a large shooting team in international competition. The U.S. F-TR Rifle team is fortunate to have many great sponsors helping the team with equipment and financial support. The team’s top-level “Gold Medal” sponsors, are, in alphabetical order: Berger Bullets, Gemtech, Kelbly’s, McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, Nightforce Optics, Pierce Engineering, and 5.11 Tactical. CLICK HERE for a list of all sponsors.

Permalink - Videos, Competition, News 1 Comment »
July 15th, 2016

Interview with F-Class Ace Dan Pohlabel

Team Sinclair F-TR interview F-Class Reloading Load Development Training dry-fire
Team Sinclair F-Class

In response to many requests from Forum members who shoot F-Class, we are republishing this informative interview, which first appeared last summer. You’ll find many “solid good” tips that can help any long-range rifle competitor.

Dan Pohlabel is a member of the all-conquering Team Sinclair F-TR squad. This talented group of shooters hasn’t lost a team match in years. What’s the secret of Team Sinclair’s success? Well there is not one single factor. These guys have very accurate rifles, they work hard on load development, and they practice in all conditions. In this interview, Dan Pohlabel talks about F-TR competition, reviewing the hardware (and skill set) it takes to win. He offers some great tips on developing loads. You’ll find a longer version of this interview on the Sinclair Int’l website. CLICK HERE to Read Full Interview.

Q: What do you find most challenging in F-TR Shooting?
It has to be keeping up with the competition, our sport has grown so quickly with new talented shooters. Staying at the top requires having a laser of a rifle, perfect loads, near perfect wind reading, and, of course, breaking good shots.

Q: How can novice shooters improve their game?
Seek out the local F-TR shooters and go to matches with them, listen and learn. Attend team matches and offer to score for one of the teams. As a scorer, you will sit close enough to hear the coach make wind calls and see the results on the target. Through the spotting scope you will see changes in mirage and it’s the quickest way to learn the basics of wind reading. Choosing and buying equipment is relatively easy, learning to read the wind is a journey.

Q: What’s in your range bag for match days?
Rear bag, towel, shooting glasses, canned air, ear protection, data book, pen, rifle rain cover, hat, rifle tools, timer, ammo, and bug spray.

Q: What specialized gear can you not live without?

1. A good set of elbow pads. It’s hard to keep concentrating on shooting when your elbows are rubbed raw from days of competing on them.

2. Good bug spray. We shoot from the ground but our shooting mats aren’t that big. It’s hard to concentrate with bugs crawling or chewing on you.

Q: Load Development — How do you work up a load?
First, I call Derek Rodgers and get his load data, he is the best load development shooter I know! Otherwise, here is the procedure I recommend. Measure throat length with bullet of your choice, to determine how much room is left in the case. The above measurement determines what powders you can use. We use only Hodgdon Extreme powders. Shoot a ladder test, five rounds each in 0.2 grain increments, to find the accuracy node for that bullet/powder combination. Take the best two loads and do a jump test with five rounds each, test at .005″, .025″, .060″ jump. One of these groups will be significantly better than the rest, now you can tweak that measurement +/- .002” or .005” to get the best accuracy.

Test at least three different primers to determine which offers a little better ignition for your load, a 5-shot test will usually tell you which is the best. Go back and test the two best combinations in a 10-shot test at least twice, pick a cool overcast day and also a hot sunny day and compare results. Take your final “best load” back and do a “simulated match”, 20 shots, waiting at least 20 seconds between shots. If you like those results it’s probably a reliable and accurate load.

Q: What rear bag do you use?
I use a two-bag system, large bag on bottom with a smaller bag on top. I had the bags made of marine canvas, zippered and filled with plastic beads. I can adjust the amount of fill to make them a perfect height for my shooting position. Teammate Jeff Rorer uses a similar system and mine is nearly a copy of his rear bags.

Q: How often do you practice and how many rounds do you shoot per year?
In good weather I practice a couple times a week at the local range, a couple more dry-firing practices/week at home. I typically shoot between 2,000-2,500 rounds per year.

Q: How do you prepare mentally before a match?
[I do] lots of visualization — run the video in my head of what I expect to see and of my performance. I think about the correct strategy for the conditions, staying disciplined to the strategy.

Q: What do you avoid before a shoot?
No late nights or excessive alcohol. Very little caffeine in the morning. Leave your cell turned off. Avoid emotional people.

Q: What’s your procedure on a Match day?
I arrive early, get squadding card, move gear, watch wind speed/direction, check over rifle and gear, sit and relax, visualize and focus on the most important goal of the day. Most days we shoot three relays of 20 shots. It’s important to eat and hydrate continually all day. My focus and concentration are better when I snack all day with fruit and energy bars, and lots of water. While taking my turn in the pits, I try to relax and only focus on what is ahead of me and [not] what’s already happened.

Q: What is your favorite reloading product?
My favorite reloading product is the Sinclair Premium Neck Turning Tool with Handle, I also use the expander mandrels provided by Sinclair for sizing the brass in preparation for the turning process. Correct and repeatable neck tension begins with turning necks to a uniform thickness. Sinclair also has mandrels to size the necks after neck turning that accurately size the necks for a specific neck tension.

Q: What is your preferred scope?
The scope I find the most useful is the Nightforce Competition Scope. This scope is very light-weight, has 15-55X magnification, world-class quality glass, 10 MOA per revolution on the turrets, 1/8 moa adjustments. It’s perfect for F-Class competition.

Q: What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into the sport?
Find a local club with some F-TR shooters and ask for their help. Most shooters will be happy to take you with them to a match, listen and learn while you’re there. You may find out it’s not what you thought, or you may be hooked. If you decide to jump in, start with an inexpensive rifle. This sport is expensive and you don’t need a $5000 rifle to learn good wind-reading skills. Start with a used Savage F-TR rifle and learn the basics, shoot for a year at least before making a larger investment. The money you saved buying a used Savage rifle will help pay for your divorce lawyer, LOL.

Q: What training drills do you use?
Dry-firing the rifle at home is a good way to practice when you can’t get to the range and shoot. It allows me to practice set-up, rifle handling, and position. When I can practice at a local range, I also dry-fire between shots to increase the amount of repetitions and increase the time spent in position.

Q: Who has been your biggest influence in shooting?
Eric Bair, 2006 F-Open National Champion helped me get started and gave me great advice. Most of the shooters on Team USA and Team Sinclair help each other, nobody knows all the answers but we share what we have learned. Danny Biggs, 2008 and 2009 F-TR National Champion also helped me when I was struggling to learn some of the ranges. I learned a lot from Danny.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
July 10th, 2016

Powder Comparison Test: H4350 vs. IMR 4451

Hodgdon H4350 IMR 4451 temperature powder test

Many Forum members have been looking for a good substitute for Hodgdon H4350 powder, which remains hard-to-find in many parts of the country. One of the best alternatives is IMR 4451, part of IMR’s new Enduron line of powders. Last year, top F-Class shooter Rick Jensen did a comparison between H4350 and IMR 4451, shooting the two powder in a wide range of temperatures. His data suggests that both powders show good temp stability.

Powder Comparison Test: H4350 vs. IMR 4451

Rick Jensen, Captain of the U.S. F-Open Rifle Team, has tested some of the new IMR 4451 powder. Rick and other team members were looking for a good powder that could replace Hodgdon 4350 which is difficult to obtain currently. The makers of IMR 4451 claim that it is not sensitive to temperature and that it delivers competitive accuracy. So far, Rick’s tests, done with a .284 Winchester and 180gr Berger Hybrids, appear to confirm those claims. Rick posts:

“I did a little informal powder comparison of H4350 versus the new IMR 4451. Rifle used was a Kelbly Panda with a 30″, 1:8.75″ twist 5R Bartlein barrel [chambered in .284 Win]. All charge weights were 50.0 grains using CCI BR2 primers. I was very impressed with this new powder and I believe it to be equal to H4350 as far as temperature sensitivity.

I did not test for accuracy but I will tell you my groups were pretty much equal between the two and all were in the .2-.3 MOA range. I will defiantly be shooting more of this powder in the weeks to come, assuming the supply chain will allow. It looks very encouraging to finally have a alternative to H4350 that we might actually be able to buy.”

Hodgdon H4350 IMR 4451 temperature powder test

Chronograph Results with Temps from 23° F to 101°
Here are chronograph results of a comparison test between IMR 4451 and H4350. Rick’s rifle was cleaned and allowed to cool between each test. Five fouling shots were fired before each test. Important: Note that for both Test #1 and Test #2, the powder order is reversed in the mid-temp fields (IMR 4451 first, then H4350). For the low and high temp entries, H4350 is listed first.

Hodgdon H4350 IMR 4451 temperature powder test

Here are the IMR 4451 fired cases, displayed Left to right, coldest to the hottest (in terms of case temp when fired). All charge weights were the same: 50.0 grains.

Hodgdon H4350 IMR 4451 temperature powder test

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 5 Comments »
July 8th, 2016

Tubb T7T Two-Stage Trigger for Rem-Clone Actions

David Tubb two-stage 2-stage T7T trigger Rem 700 Remington clone high power

Multi-time National High Power champion David Tubb has developed an impressive two-stage trigger for Remington 700 rifles, the Model T7T. Priced at $385.00, the T7T Trigger is a true two-stage design: first and second stages are independently adjustable for both weight and feel. Overall (combined stage) trigger pull weight can be adjusted from just under 1 pound to slightly over 3.5 pounds.

The new T7T is a quality product. We’ve used the T7T and it proved crisp, repeatable, and reliable. If you are looking for a two-stage trigger for a precision rifle, this is a good option. We like a two-stage trigger for PRS applications, and the T7T can be adjusted high enough for that role. Or, it can go all the way down to under a pound — low enough to suit most F-Class shooters.

If you are interested in the T7T, watch these two videos. The first shows how to adjust pull-weights for both stages. The second video shows how to modify your stock to provide clearance for the T7T.

This video shows how to adjust the new Tubb T7T two-stage trigger for Remington 700s:

T7T Trigger Installation Tips
While installation of the T7T may require minor modifications to your action, most gun owners with basic mechanical skills can install the T7T by themselves. Note: As installed, the T7T trigger (either Right-Hand or Left-Hand) also requires a companion T7T bolt release, which you can get from DavidTubb.com for $10.00.

David Tubb two-stage 2-stage T7T trigger Rem 700 Remington clone high power

This video shows how to modify your stock to fit the T7T trigger:

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
July 5th, 2016

The Best-Performing Cartridge Types For F-Class Competition

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Covan

Cartridge Choices for F-Class Competition

By Emil Kovan
Kovan Match Rifles LLC, www.matchrifles.com

There are hundreds of cartridge types capable of winning in F-Open. For F-TR you can shoot either the .223 Rem or .308 Win, but you have many load options. This article will focus on proven choices, currently used by the top F-Class shooters in the world. Our discussion will analyze cartridge selection based on the four different F-Class sub-disciplines: Open Mid-Range, Open Long-Range, F-TR Mid-Range, and F-TR Long Range.

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Kovan
Click image to view full-screen photo.

Mid-Range F-Open Cartridges

For starters, a .300 WSM is certainly capable of winning mid-range matches but it is not ideal. So what is ideal, and why? F-Class Mid-Range matches usually are usually shot at 300, 500, or 600 yards — or all three. At those distances the 6mm and 6.5mm cartridges rule. In moderate conditions, the 6mm Dasher is unbeatable. Its low recoil along with its super grouping ability and good ballistics make it my number one choice for Mid-Range.

Best bullets for the 6mm Dasher are: Vapor Trail 103gr, Berger 105 Hybrid, 108 BT, and 105 VLD (hunting). Best powders are: Varget, H4895, and Reloder 15.

Choices for Mid-Range in Tougher Conditions:
We all know that conditions are not always “moderate” that’s why something a little bit bigger will save you a “Nine” or two. The 6.5X47 Lapua was designed for 300-meter competition, but as soon as it was released, it was adopted by F-Class, benchrest, and tactical shooters. It offers great ballistics with very low recoil and big “accuracy window”. Lapua makes great brass for it (no surprise there) and Berger makes great bullets: 130gr VLD, 140gr VLD, 140gr Hybrids. Best powders in most barrels are Varget and H4350, I don’t use double-based powders such as Reloder 17 and the Vihtavuori N500 series because of their unpredictable performance day to day (greater temp sensitivity).

The 6.5X47 Lapua necked down to 6mm is also a great option for mid range matches. I was able to easily get 3200 fps with 105 hybrids and H4350.

Choice for Long-Range F-Open Competition

In Long-Range F-Open Class (out to 1000 yards), the big, high-BC bullets rule. If I had to pick one cartridge for F-Class (both mid- and long-range) I would pick the .284 Winchester or one of its variants. The .284 Win is currently dominating in F-Open competition. It offers great barrel life, it is super-easy to tune and its recoil is very manageable. The best bullets for it by far (in my opinion), are the Berger 180 Hybrids. But Sierra’s new 183gr MK bullet (with factory-uniformed meplats) seems to perform very well as does the Berger 180 VLD. Best powders for the .284 Win are H4350 and H4831SC.

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Covan

Long-Range Only F-Open Cartridge
As much as I like the .284 Win, for long-range competitions I like the .300 WSM even more. If you look at a .300 WSM and a 6mm Dasher side by side, they appear almost identical in geometry — the .300 WSM looks like an “super-sized” Dasher. Both cartridges are currently the “darlings” of long-range benchrest due to their extraordinary grouping ability and huge “node’’ windows. Big accuracy windows allow loads to perform well in different conditions and geographical locations. That’s obviously very important if you travel to compete. The .300 WSM loaded with Berger 215gr or 230gr Hybrids is very tough to beat at long range, and it is currently my number one choice.

The 7mm RSAUM is another outstanding long-range round. It resembles a 6BR on steroids and it is almost as easy to tune. Best bullets for it are Berger 180gr Hybrids, 195gr EOLs, and Sierra’s 183gr MatchKing. Best powders for the 7mm RSAUM are: H4350, H4831SC, and VV N160.

Top Caliber/Bullet Combos for F-TR

In F-TR competition, the choice is clear — a .308 Win throated for Berger 185gr BTLRs and 200gr Hybrids will win in mid-range AND long-range comps. Many championships have been won, and many records set with those two bullets in the .308 Win. To quote Danny Biggs (a two times FTR National Champion) “The 185 BTLR is the best bullet for .308 Win ever made”.

The Berger 215gr Hybrids have been used to win many competitions including recently the 2015 F-Class Nationals. Bryan Litz won both the Mid-Range and Long-Range 2015 Championships using 215s. Bryan’s rifle is shown below:

Bryan Litz F-TR 2015 National Championship rifle

I recommend chambers throated for the 185/200 grain projectiles over the 215/230 grain bullets. The reason is that if you have your barrel throated out for the 215s or the 230s, you could have a “slow” barrel and max out on pressure before the desired velocity is reached. Optimum freebore for the 230s is too long for the 185/200s, so you would be limited to using only 215/230gr bullets in that barrel.Furthermore, the recoil increase with heavier bullets is substantial, causing the rifle to be more difficult to shoot.

.223 Remington Cartridge Diagram.223 Rem — Not A Competitive Option
I would stay away from the .223 Remington. On paper the 90gr VLD will shoot inside most .308 Win loads even at a 1000 yards. But in reality, on average, the .223 Rem, regardless of what powder/bullet combo is used, cannot compete with the .308 Win. [Editor: The equipment lists at major F-TR matches will confirm Kovan’s conclusion here.]

Conclusion (and Other Options)
This article covers only the (currently) most popular cartridge/bullet combos for F-Class (F-Open and F-TR). As I said in the beginning, many cartridge types are capable of winning but are not listed due to their low popularity, case design, or lack of quality components. All of the above information is based on my personal experience and it is meant to help new shooters choose the right cartridges for F-Class matches. Thanks for reading and good luck — Emil Kovan

Emil Kovan F-Class competition bio photoEmil Kovan Competition History:

– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion

– 2015 F-Class Open National Championship, Silver Medal

– F-Class Open National Championship Teams, 2015, 2014, 2013, Shooting Team Member

– Over 15 wins in Regional and State Championships in Palma, F-TR, F-Open

– 2013 U.S. National Team Member

– 2017 U.S. National Development Team Member

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 5 Comments »
June 23rd, 2016

Eliseo Offers “PickleFork” Fore-End Rails for Tubeguns

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Competition Machine’s Gary Eliseo is a very smart designer as well as a talented shooter. The inventor/builder of the popular Competition Machine Tubegun chassis systems, Gary has come up with something new, which he calls the PickleForks. These are rails that fit to the sides of the tubular fore-end/handguard on his chassis systems. This allows you to use a pedestal-style front rest for F-Class competition. It also provides a much more stable platform for load testing, varmint hunting, or any kind of rest-assisted precision shooting. These new PickleForks transform a Tubegun into an ultra-stable, straight-tracking rig when used with a competition-style front rest.

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Gary explains: “Now you can have the same super low-boreline, long ‘wheelbase’ and vertical sides of our innovative F1 F-Class chassis system for your tube chassis. The new PickleForks attach directly to the sides of the F-Class/Tactical fore-ends, no modifications are required. They are very rigid with no flex or twist and make the rifle track like it’s on rails.” The new Eliseo Competition Machine PickleForks are offered for a very reasonable $70.00 per pair, with Cerakote finish. (You get two metal units, one for each side of the fore-arm). For more information, visit www.GotXRing.com or call (928) 649-0742.

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

New Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Gear Review, New Product 1 Comment »
May 28th, 2016

The Color Purple — A Father’s Gift to His 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 dad 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.

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 has 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.

After hearing about the U.S. F-Class Under 25 (U25) Rifle Team selection trials in Raton this upcoming summer, 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. Amberleeana is eager to take the rifle to Raton this summer: “I would like to make the Under 25 U.S. Rifle Team and compete at the F-Class World Championship in Canada in 2017. My main focus now is on the upcoming team try-outs in Raton, New Mexico.”

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

Erik Cortina 6.5x47 Lapua F-Class Rifle Daughter

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Gunsmithing 7 Comments »
May 17th, 2016

2016 Sierra Cup — Multi-Discipline Fun in St. Louis

2016 Sierra Cup F-Class 600-yard F-Bench

Something interesting took place in St. Louis, Missouri this weekend — F-Bench competitors shot next to Sling, F-TR, and F-Open prone shooters and all had fun. We like events that bring shooters together from multiple disciplines, and we like matches that allow F-Class folks to shoot from the Bench for a change. (We’d love to see a 300-yard match that allows short-range PPC and 30BR shooters to compete side-by-side with F-Class shooters — the more the merrier.)

Read 2016 Sierra Cup Match Comments in the AccurateShooter Forum.

2016 Sierra Cup F-Class 600-yard F-Bench

The 2016 Sierra Cup Match took place at the Bench Rest Rifle Club (BRRC) of St. Louis on Saturday, May 14, 2016. Some 57 shooters braved some chilly weather to compete at 600 yards. Competitor Jim K. (aka 500Stroker in our Forum) said this was “another great match” despite challenging conditions: “It was freezin’ cold, with major switching winds, but I loved every minute. Congrats to all the winners — they earned every point at this match.”

2016 Sierra Cup Winners
by Division

F-Open — Tony Francik
F-TR — Drew Rutherford
F-Bench — Neil Greenwell
Sling — Jeff Lindblom

New, Experimental Sierra Projectiles Perform Great
Two Sierra staffers competed this year, shooting prototype Sierra bullets in the final stages of testing. Congrats to Sierra’s Tommy Todd who took Second Place in F-TR class, and to Sierra’s Mark Walker who finished third in F-Open. That bodes well for the new, experimental Sierra bullets. Based on Tommy’s and Mark’s results, the new Sierra bullets appear to be very accurate indeed.

2016 Sierra Cup F-Class 600-yard F-Bench

Forum member Drew R. (aka SkiUtah2) drove all the way from North Dakota to attend the Sierra Cup:

“This was my first time at BRRC and it was as anticipated — a great place to shoot. I met many gracious and talented shooters. I love getting to try new ranges and meeting people from the AccurateShooter Forum. It’s fair to say that even the guy from North Dakota was chilled when we started on Saturday. The warm welcome helped take the edge off.

Organizing a match of this caliber takes a lot of work even with an army of people behind the scenes, and without a core group herding the cats it doesn’t run well as this one did. Thanks Brett, Joe, and everyone who made this match run so smoothly. Coordinating with sling, bench, F-TR and F-Open shooters’ needs must have been remarkably challenging and you made it look effortless.

It was a fun time. I can highly recommend this range and this match to everyone wanting an enjoyable and memorable experience. Conditions on Saturday were definitely not a trigger-pulling contest, and (for me) that adds to the fun. The amenities are top tier. Many of the ranges I shoot at do not even have running water, much less showers onsite.

Thanks to Sierra for the sponsorship and very generous prize table. And thanks for the award waiving my entry fee as the ‘Long Distance Shooter’ for my trek. That was classy and completely unexpected.” — Drew R.

2016 Sierra Cup F-Class 600-yard F-Bench

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
May 15th, 2016

NRA Competition Rule Changes for 2016

2016 NRA Competition Rules

The NRA has released new, updated versions of Competition Rules, with changes that have been adopted for 2016. There are quite a few minor changes affecting rifle competitors in High Power, Service Rifle, Prone AR Platform Rifle, F-Class, and Smallbore Disciplines. There are also new rules for matches with Electronic Targets.

You can read a detailed Summary of the Rule Changes on the Shooting Sports USA Website. Discipline by discipline, this SSUSA article lists the text of the new/modified rules.

You can download the updated rules, discipline by discipline, on the NRA Rulebook Page: http://rulebooks.nra.org. Bound copies of NRA Rule Books may be ordered online from the NRA Store: http://materials.nrahq.org.

NRA Official Rule Books

Discipline PDF Rule Book With Updates
Action Pistol Download the NRA Action Pistol Rule Book
Action Pistol Rule Changes
BB Gun Download the NRA BB Gun Rule Book
BB Gun Rule Changes
Black Powder Target Rifle Download the NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Rule Book
Black Powder Target Rifle Rule Changes
Precision Pistol Download the NRA Precision Pistol Rule Book
Precision Pistol Rule Changes
High Power Rifle Download the NRA High Power Rifle Rule Book
High Power Rifle Rule Changes
High Power Sporting Rifle Download the NRA High Power Sporting Rifle Rule Book
High Power Sporting Rifle Rule Changes
International Fullbore Rifle Prone Download the NRA International Fullbore Rifle Prone Rule Book
International Fullbore Rifle Prone Rule Changes
Int’l Pistol (Includes Air Pistol) Download the NRA International Pistol Rule Book
International Pistol Rule Changes
Muzzle Loading Rifle, Pistol, Shotgun Download the NRA Muzzle Loading Rule Book
Muzzle Loading Rule Changes
Police Pistol Combat Download the NRA Police Pistol Combat Rule Book
Police Pistol Combat Rule Changes
Precision Air Rifle Position Download the NRA Precision Air Rifle Rule Book
Precision Air Rifle Rule Changes
Silhouette Pistol Download the NRA Silhouette Pistol Rule Book
Silhouette Pistol Rule Changes
Silhouette Rifle Download the NRA Silhouette Rifle Rule Book
Silhouette Rifle Rule Changes
Smallbore Rifle Download the NRA Smallbore Rifle Rule Book
Smallbore Rifle Rule Changes
Sporter Air Rifle Position Download the NRA Sporter Air Rifle Rule Book
Sporter Air Rifle Rule Changes
Permalink Competition, News No Comments »