Rick Jensen, Captain of the U.S. F-Open Rifle Team, recently 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.”
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.
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.
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Today marked the third day of competition at the Berger Southwest Nationals. The superstitious types among the competitors viewed the day with some trepidation. There was actual bad luck for some folks, including Mid Tompkins, who broke his leg in a parking lot accident in the morning. But most shooters didn’t worry too much about the date — they were more concerned about calling the wind correctly. As Bryan Litz said: “I don’t believe in superstition. We make our own luck”. In the video below, you’ll see highlights of Day 3 at the SW Nationals from the break of dawn to the final shots on the 1000-yard line.
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Thursday at the Berger Southwest Nationals was Team Match day. Teams of sling shooters as well as F-TR and F-Open marksmen competed at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. Conditions on Thursday (Feb. 12) were much better than on Wednesday (Feb. 11) when strong, fish-tailing winds created big problems for the shooters. For the Thursday Team Match, the winds were variable, but generally the mirage was a good indicator of speed, and the flags were showing the angles. The wind coaches for the teams told us that the conditions “were quite readable”.
Here is AccurateShooter.com’s video wrap-up of the Team Match on Thursday. F-TR shooters should watch carefully — Ray Gross, captain of the F-TR USA Team. talks about the latest equipment used by the top shooters. In addition, Ray announced a Team Try-Out Session on Monday February 16, 2015.
In team competition, the shooter relies on his coach and spotter.
This could be the most beautiful F-Open rifle we’ve ever seen. Look at the figure in that wood.
Nancy Tompkins dials wind for Anette Wachter (aka “30 Cal Gal”).
Matt Schwartzkopf excels despite lacking two lower legs. He works as a range manager at Ben Avery.
Tube-gun chassis-maker Gary Eliseo shot in the Sling Division. His company, Competition Machine, is now based in Cottonwood, Arizona.
Dan Polabel’s F-TR Rifle with Flex Bipod.
Walt Berger enjoyed the Team Match. “Seems like the wind’s a bit better today” he joked.
It was just a warm, beautiful day at Ben Avery….
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Was this Ben Hur or Ben Avery? With all the wheels rolling around the place, the Berger SW Nationals looked a bit like the Chariot scene from the 1959 Hollywood blockbuster movie.
Folks attending a big match such as the Berger Southwest Nationals must haul a lot of gear — both to the range and from vehicles to the firing lines (and then back again). This transportational necessity has inspired shooters to develop a wide variety of modern chariots. Here’s a selection of the “wheeled contrivances” we found at Ben Avery This week.
Don’t mess with Texas. That kind of says it all…
Folding carts were the favored mode of transport. Yes there are TWO carts in the back of this SUV.
Grizzly President Shiraz Balolia, appropriately enough, customized his cart with ursine artwork.
This rig had a custom bracket to support a rifle vertically. This clever invention preserves space in the main cargo section.
Felix Solis of the U.S. Veterans’ Rifle Team customized his travel van’s interior. Rifles are secured upright in the left compartment, with shooting coats on the right.
The little red wagon offers four-wheel stability. This one even has its own license plate.
Wait a minute — is that a stroller? Actually these rigs can be easily adapted to hold rifles and rests. Check out Craigslist for low-cost, “previously owned” strollers.
Past F-Class Nat’l Champ Larry Bartholome was seen rolling around with a familiar cart. This cart used to belong to our good friend German Salazar. Hey German, we all miss your presence at Ben Avery…
The Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) kicked off Tuesday, February 10th, with an instructional clinic at the Ben Avery 1000-yard Range. This combined a lecture/Q&A session with live-fire training. Ballistics “Professor” Bryan Litz reports: “The clinic was a big hit as usual, with lots of competitor participation. There was a big crowd this year, as you can see.”
The clinic started with a class on Exterior Ballistics hosted by Bryan. This focused on why ballistics is important to competitive shooters, and how to balance ballistic performance objectives against real world constraints. Topics included bullet weight options for F-TR (155 to 215 grains), barrel/chamber considerations, plus the real-world trade-offs involved with heavy bullets (yes the BC may be better but recoil becomes an issue). Many of the questions related to content from Bryan’s recent books, and discussions in AccurateShooter.com’s Ballistics sub-Forum and Daily Bulletin.
Following the ballistics class, shooters made their way to the firing line for one-on-one instruction with experienced shooters in each discipline (sling, F-TR and F-Open). During this segment of the clinic, champion shooters worked directly with novice and intermediate shooters. Bryan said: “It was great to see the ‘top guns’ sharing their knowledge.”
Last but not least, Mid Tompkins directed a wind clinic with live fire demonstrations. Bryan reports: “Mid has a way of getting your attention. Personally, I thought his 2 MOA wind call that put the very first shot in the 5 inch X-ring at 1000 yards got everyone’s attention!” After the demonstrations, clinic “students” went to the firing line to put wind-clinic lessons into practice, and to verify their zeroes.
Mid Tompkins at the SWN Shooters’ Clinic
Here are some more images from the instructional clinic held last year at the 2014 SW Nationals.
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It’s almost time for the Berger SW Nationals. Phil Kelley says he’s ready for this view…
February in Phoenix… For many of us February is all about the Berger Southwest Nationals, which kicks off Tuesday, February 10th with a Shooting Clinic and runs through Sunday, February 15th. This prestigious match, hosted at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, draws top F-Class and sling shooters from around the country. One of those F-Class shooters, Phil Kelley, posted the above photo, saying he’s ready to make the trek from his North Carolina home to Arizona. Good luck to Phil and all the competitors. A record number of shooters should be on the firing line this year.
Are you trying to decide what components to use for your next F-Class build, or are you looking to upgrade your current rig? Wonder what the “big dogs” in the sport have selected as their hardware? Here’s what United States F-Open team members are using. The most popular chambering is the .284 Winchester, followed by the 7mm Walker (a 40° .284 Winchester Improved). Kelbly and BAT actions are the most popular, and nearly all team members are using cut-rifled barrels. A wide variety of stocks are used, with PR&T holding a slight edge over second-place McMillan.
Guest Article By Michelle Gallagher, Berger Bullets
Let’s face it. In the world of firearms, there is something for everyone. Do you like to compete? Are you a hunter? Are you more of a shotgun shooter or rifle shooter? Do you enjoy running around between stages of a timed course, or does the thought of shooting one-hole groups appeal to you more? Even though many of us shoot several different firearms and disciplines, chances are very good that we all have a favorite. Are we spreading ourselves too thin by shooting different disciplines, or is it actually beneficial? I have found that participating in multiple disciplines can actually improve your performance. Every style of shooting is different; therefore, they each develop different skills that benefit each other.
How can cross-training in other disciplines help you? For example, I am most familiar with long-range prone shooting, so let’s start there. To be a successful long-range shooter, you must have a stable position, accurate ammunition, and good wind-reading skills. You can improve all of these areas through time and effort, but there are other ways to improve more efficiently. Spend some time practicing smallbore. Smallbore rifles and targets are much less forgiving when it comes to position and shot execution. Long-range targets are very large, so you can get away with accepting less than perfect shots. Shooting smallbore will make you focus more on shooting perfectly center shots every time. Another way to do this with your High Power rifle is to shoot on reduced targets at long ranges. This will also force you to accept nothing less than perfect. Shoot at an F-Class target with your iron sights. At 1000 yards, the X-Ring on a long range target is 10 inches; it is 5 inches on an F-Class target. Because of this, you will have to focus harder on sight alignment to hit a center shot. When you go back to the conventional target, you will be amazed at how large the ten ring looks.
Also, most prone rifles can be fitted with a bipod. Put a bipod and scope on your rifle, and shoot F-TR. Shooting with a scope and bipod eliminates position and eyesight factors, and will allow you to concentrate on learning how to more accurately read the wind. The smaller target will force you to be more aggressive on your wind calls. It will also help encourage you to use better loading techniques. Nothing is more frustrating than making a correct wind call on that tiny target, only to lose the point out the top or bottom due to inferior ammunition. If you put in the effort to shoot good scores on the F-Class target, you will be amazed how much easier the long-range target looks when you return to your sling and iron sights. By the same token, F-Class shooters sometimes prefer to shoot fast and chase the spotter. Shooting prone can help teach patience in choosing a wind condition to shoot in, and waiting for that condition to return if it changes.
Benchrest shooters are arguably among the most knowledgeable about reloading. If you want to learn better techniques about loading ammunition, you might want to spend some time at benchrest matches. You might not be in contention to win, but you will certainly learn a lot about reloading and gun handling. Shooting F-Open can also teach you these skills, as it is closely related to benchrest. Benchrest shooters may learn new wind-reading techniques by shooting mid- or long-range F-Class matches.
Position shooters can also improve their skills by shooting different disciplines. High Power Across-the-Course shooters benefit from shooting smallbore and air rifle. Again, these targets are very small, which will encourage competitors to be more critical of their shot placement. Hunters may benefit from shooting silhouette matches, which will give them practice when shooting standing with a scoped rifle. Tactical matches may also be good, as tactical matches involve improvising shots from various positions and distances. [Editor: Many tactical matches also involve hiking or moving from position to position — this can motivate a shooter to maintain a good level of general fitness.]
These are just a few ways that you can benefit from branching out into other shooting disciplines. Talk to the other shooters. There is a wealth of knowledge in every discipline, and the other shooters will be more than happy to share what they have learned. Try something new. You may be surprised what you get out of it. You will certainly learn new skills and improve the ones you already have. You might develop a deeper appreciation for the discipline you started off with, or you may just discover a new passion.
This article originally appeared in the Berger Bulletin. The Berger Bulletin blog contains the latest info on Berger products, along with informative articles on target shooting and hunting.
Article Find by EdLongrange.
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Bullets.com has contracted with Norma to produce 1,000,000 pieces of .284 Winchester and 6mm Dasher brass (500,000 of each type). This is big news for competitive shooters. The .284 Win cartridge is a proven winner in F-Class competition and the 6 Dasher is a record-setting mid-range benchrest cartridge. It’s tough to beat the Dasher at 300-600 yards, and the .284 Win is probably the most successful cartridge for F-Open shooters.
Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia (left) and Norma Managing Director Paul-Erik Toivo “ink the deal”.
Shooters should be excited about these new offerings. Bullets.com’s contract with Norma calls for advanced production methods to make sure the new brass is truly “match-grade” and long-lasting. To ensure that primer pockets stay tight for many firings, the caseheads on the new brass will be double-stamped for improved hardness and strength. Additionally the new brass will go through an additional draw stage to ensure ultra-uniform casewall thickness. With these extra manufacturing steps, this new 6mm Dasher and .284 Win brass should be the best brass Norma has ever produced, as Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia explains in the video below:
Shiraz Balolia Explains the Qualities of the New Brass
Shiraz reports: “Normally, Norma has about 25 steps of quality control (QC) during the production process of brass. They told us that our first shipments will have almost 30 steps to make sure that the brass is absolutely flawless when it leaves the factory.”
For illustration only — actual specifications may be slightly different.
6mm Dasher without Fire-Forming Hassles
Until now, if you wanted to shoot a Dasher, you had to go through the time-consuming and laborious process of forming brass from the parent 6mmBR Norma case. You had to blow the shoulder forward, either through fire-forming or hydro-forming. Now that’s all changed — you will soon be able to take perfect 6mm Dasher brass out of the box, and “load and shoot”.
The Deal is done. New Norma .284 Win brass will start arriving in the USA in March, 2015, while the new Dasher brass is expected in late summer 2015.
IMPORTANT — The above diagrams were made 4 years ago with QuickDESIGN. They are for illustration purposes ONLY. These are NOT reamer prints, and there may be small differences compared to the Norma .284 Win and 6mm Dasher brass ordered by Bullets.com. Do NOT spec reamers based on the above illustrations. Wait ’til we have the actual Norma brass to measure.
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Over the past few years, interest in F-Class competition has grown dramatically. SHOT Show opens tomorrow, so we thought we’d reprise an interesting interview captured two years back. At the 2013 SHOT Show we had a chance to talk about F-TR competition with U.S. National F-TR Team members Mike Miller and Stan Pate, two of America’s top F-TR shooters. We are reprising this interview for readers who may have missed it the first time around. If you shoot F-TR (even if you’re a High Master), we think you’ll learn a few things from this interview.
In this interview, Mike and Stan agreed to share their vast store of knowledge about long-range shooting. In a wide-ranging dialog, we discussed many topics of interest to F-Class shooters: position set-up, bipod shooting techniques (and hardware), gun-handling, and bullet selection. In addition, Mike and Stan offer some great advice on wind reading and precision reloading. These general tips will benefit all competitors, no matter what their discipline.
If you shoot F-TR or you are considering getting involved in this fast-growing shooting sport, definitely watch this 14-minute video interview from start to finish. Mike and Stan are true F-TR gurus whose knowledge of the F-TR game has been gleaned from years of top-level competition. If you shoot a .308 from a bipod, we guarantee you can learn much from Mike and Stan. If you follow their advice, we bet you’ll see your scores improve in future matches.
Watch Video for Tips from U.S. National F-TR Team Members Mike Miller and Stan Pate
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It’s much easier to see bullet holes “in the white” than in the black center of a High Power or F-Class Target. That’s why some shooters use “negative” black-to-white targets for practice sessions. Also, even those who compete at 800-1000 yards find it useful to practice at 300 yards. At that shorter distance, you can, on most days, see bullet holes with a good spotting scope. (Forget trying to see bullet holes at 1000 yards with any spotting scope, no matter how expensive).
The only problem with practicing at 300 yards is finding a correctly “shrunken” version of the target actually used in long range competition. Well guys, you’re in luck. One of our Forum members, Sleepygator, has produced “reduced-distance” targets (with black ring-lines on white background) for practice use at 300 yards. Only the center 10 and X rings are black, so you can see bullet holes easily “in the white” on most of the target (and this uses less ink when printing). 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.)
To duplicate the 300-yard target, Forum member 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 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.
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The 2014 F-Class National Championships were held in Phoenix this past October. It was a well-attended match with nearly 170 competitors from around the nation. In a tight battle, James Crofts (1574-59X) edged past champion Derek Rodgers (1573-65X) by a single point in the F-TR division. In F-Open, Emil Kovan (1587-83X) shot well to beat Danny Biggs (1585-83X) by a two-point margin. Both Kovan and Biggs racked up 83 Xs — that’s mighty impressive shooting. Overall, conditions were generally good (if hot), and many new records were set. The course of fire was 160 shots, all at 1000 yards.
An excellent, detailed day-by-day report on the F-Class Nationals appears in the January edition of Shooting Sports USA, just released. Prepared by past National F-Open Champion Larry Bartholome (aka “LBart” in our Forum), this article provides unique insights by one of the leading competitors in the game. Larry may be a senior citizen but he can still shoot. In fact, Larry observes that age is no barrier to success in the F-Open division: “In the ten-year history of F-Class, the F-Open discipline has been won four times by senior or grand senior shooters. John Brewer was 73 when he won in 2004. In 2007 Bob Bock won as a 65-year-old senior in Raton, NM. Jim Murphy was a 65-year-old senior when he won in lodie, WI. Finally, Larry Bartholome won in 2013 at Raton at the age of 73, even though he felt like 103. All of these senior/grand senior champions are members of Team Berger, and still shoot.”
Another highlight of the 2014 F-Class Nationals was the performance of Team Long Shots. Team members pleased the crowd by shooting in their Halloween costumes on October 31st. The colorful costumes (Snow White and the four dwarfs) didn’t seem to hurt their performance. In fact it may have brought the Long Shots some luck. All four marksmen went through the match without dropping a single point. This gave Team Longshots an 800-42X score at the end of the day to secure the team win, setting a new team record in the process. Larry Bartholome writes: “This is the first-ever 800-point team score in the history of F-Class.”
You can read the FREE eZine version of Shooting Sports USA online. Along with Larry’s F-Class article, this January edition includes coverage of various state and regional shooting championships, plus a field test of the new Match-Grade .30-06 Springfield Ammunition from Creedmoor Sports. This is excellent stuff, produced with premium Lapua brass and Lapua Scenar bullets. Tester Art Merrill reported this ammo was very straight, and demonstrated excellent accuracy on target. If you shoot Garand matches, you may want to get your hands on this high-quality ammo. See the test results below.
New Creedmoor Sports .30-06 Ammo Reviewed:
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