November 1st, 2017

Long Range Load Development for F-Class

7mm F-Class long range load development Mark Walker Sierra Bullets

This article was written in 2014 for the Sierra Bullets Blog. It describes one method of load development that is commonly used. There are other methods that can work also. Some guys first isolate seating depth and then fine-tune velocity with charge weights. Other guys may aim for a known velocity node (speed range) and then optimize accuracy by adjusting seating depth. Still others look for smallest ES and tightest vertical to minimize 1000-yard vertical dispersion. There are many ways to skin a cat. Different rifles (and even different barrels) can demand different styles of load development.

In this instance the writer achieved desired results seating his bullets .007″ back from max “jam” length. For other applications (and other barrels) you may get the best, most consistent results seating off the rifling by .020″ or more. In disciplines with quick-fire such as PRS, it may be wise to develop loads that “jump” the bullet.

F-Class Long Range Load Development Methodology

by Mark Walker, Sierra Bullets Product Development Manager
Since I just put a new barrel on my F-class rifle… I figured it might be a good time to discuss load tuning for long range shooting. Getting the most accuracy out of your rifle is one of the most important aspects of load tuning. For long range shooting in particular, using a load that produces the least amount of vertical variation is vital. There are several steps to the process that I use, so I will go through the basics of each.

When I first get a new barrel installed, I like to determine what the loaded cartridge “jam” length is. I do this by taking an empty case (no powder or primer) that has been neck sized with the proper bushing (I like to shoot for 0.002 smaller than the loaded cartridge neck diameter) and seat a bullet long in it so that the throat of the rifle will move the bullet back into the case when I close the bolt. I close the bolt several times until the bullet stops moving back into the case at which point I use a comparator with my calipers and get a length measurement on the cartridge. This is what I consider to be the “jam length” for this barrel and chamber. I came up with 3.477″ as the “jam length” for this particular barrel. [Editor: In this instance, Mark is using “Jam length” to mean max seating depth he can achieve without bullet set-back.]

Next, I will fire-form some brass using a starting load of powder and bullets seated to “jam” while breaking in the barrel. My barrel break in process is not very technical; it’s mostly just to get the brass formed and the rifle sighted in. I do clean every 5 rounds or so just because I feel like I have to.

Once I have the brass formed, I use them to load for a “ladder test” to see what powder charge the rifle likes. With a ladder test, you take your starting load and load one round each with a slightly increasing amount of powder until you reach your max load for that cartridge. You then fire each round using the same aiming point to see where the bullets start to form a group. For this barrel and cartridge, I started at 53.3 grains of H4831SC powder and increased the load by 0.3 grains until I reached 55.7 grains. I always seat my bullets to “jam” when doing a ladder test. We will determine the final seating depth in another test later. It’s usually best to shoot this test at a minimum of 200 yards because at closer ranges the bullets will impact too close together making it hard to determine which load works best. I shot this test at 300 yards.

7mm F-Class long range load development Mark Walker Sierra Bullets

As you can see from the target, the lightest load #1 had the lowest velocity and impacted lowest on the target. Shots #2 and #3 were a little higher and in the same hole. Shots #4 thru #6 were slightly higher yet and all had the same elevation. Shots #7 and #8 were the highest on the target however pressure signs were starting to show. For some reason shot #9 went back into the group and the chronograph didn’t get a reading so I ignored that shot.

When picking a load, I am looking for the most shots at the same vertical location on the target. As you can see that would be shots #4 through #6 so I would pick a powder charge from those shots which would be 54.2 grains to 54.8 grains. As a side note, shots #2 and #3 are only 0.851 lower so I wouldn’t be afraid of using one of those loads either. I settled on 54.5 grains as the load I wanted to use. It’s right in the middle of the group so if the velocity goes up or down slightly, the bullet should still hit in the same place on the target.

Now that we’ve settled on a powder charge, I want to find the seating depth the rifle likes. I usually start at jam length and [shorten the COAL] in 0.003 increments until I get to 0.015 deeper than jam. [Editor: By this he means he is seating the BULLET deeper in the case, NOT deeper into the lands. He ended up at .007″ shorter than his hard jam length of 3.477″.]

I load 3 rounds at each depth using the 54.5 grain powder charge and shoot a group with each depth at 150 yards. As you can see from the target, the first two groups are not good at all. Next one looks good and is the smallest group on the target. The next three are not quite as small but the vertical location on the target is almost the same which indicates a sweet spot which will help keep the vertical stringing to a minimum on target. I went with 3.470″ which is right in the middle once again and should give some flexibility with the seating depth.

7mm F-Class long range load development Mark Walker Sierra Bullets

So after all of that, my load is 54.5 grains of H4831SC and a cartridge length of 3.470. I plan on loading up enough ammo to shoot five groups of five shots and see exactly how this load works on target as well as what the extreme velocity spreads are over several groups.

I sincerely hope some of this information helps you to get the best accuracy out of your rifle. I do not take credit for coming up with any of this, a whole lot of good shooters use this same method or a variant of it when working up their loads.

For more information about load development, please contact the Sierra Bullets technical support team at 1-800-223-8799 or by email at sierra [at] sierrabullets.com.

Disclaimer: Load data represented here may not be safe in your rifle. Always start low and work up, watching for pressure signs.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
October 19th, 2017

Paul Hill Wins European F-Open Championship with 7mm RSAUM

Paul Hill Bisley Europe European F-Class Championship

Shooter Profile by Des Parr, UK
We have a new European F-Open Champion: Paul Hill from the UK. If he looks familiar, it’s because Paul appeared here 12 months ago when he set a new F-Open record score of 100-17X at 900 yards at last year’s European Championships. There are some factors which make Paul’s victory all the more significant. First, he didn’t employ a top gunsmith to do his work — he’s a real working-class here who did it all himself. To keep costs down he taught himself to do all his own machining and bedding. Paul acquired a lathe, learned how to run it, and then carefully did all his own chambering and fitting. He then taught himself how to bed the rifle too. You have to admire a man who teaches himself how to build Championship-winning rifles.

Paul Hill Bisley Europe European F-Class Championship

Another unusual factor is Paul’s choice of components. Paul used the Lapua Scenar 180-grain bullet, the same bullet used to set his 2016 record. The 180gr Scenar is a fairly “old-fashioned” shape, but Paul points them using a “shooting shed” pointing tool. For seating, he uses his own home-made die with a Wilson top. Whatever the Lapuas may lack in BC, they more than compensate for in consistency, and that’s the key to success. As an aside, they compare very favourably in tests on the Juenke ICC machine, indicating that they’re very well made indeed.

7mm RSAUMPaul Hill Equipment List
Paul shot in the F-Open class firing the 7mm RSAUM cartridge, a short magnum. He ran a 30″ Krieger 1:9″-twist barrel mated to a Barnard Model P action bedded in a Joe West laminated stock. His pushed those Lapu8a Scenar with the relatively new Reload Swiss RS70 powder. Paul rates this RS70 propellant very highly. It may be unfamiliar to shooters in the USA, but RS70 is REACH compliant and is likely to become more popular when many other powders are forbidden from the EU next year. Paul is also a big fan of the Russian KVB-7 primer, a very mild and consistent primer — marketed under “Wolf” in the USA.

It is not just about having the right equipment though, it is also all about the application of skills and techniques and Paul was very keen to acknowledge his debt of thanks to Erik Cortina for his reloading techniques and Brian Litz for his writings on range mind set and diet. There is another, until now, secret factor that may have helped Paul. He is an Apiarist (bee-keeper) and he swears by the beneficial effects of his daily honey on toast. Who knows? Perhaps he’s on to something — nothing sells like success, so Paul’s honey sales may take off now just like his shooting career.

Here’s a good video showing F-Class Shooters at Bisley (FieldSports Channel 2015)

2016 Wasn’t So Bad Either
Paul Hill’s 2017 Championship win followed an impressive performance last year. At the 2016 European F-Class Championships at the Bisley Ranges, Paul set a record score at 900 yards: 100-17V! That’s 17 shots placed in a five-inch circle the size of a CD (compact disc) at over half a mile. [NOTE: At Bisley, the maximum score is FIVE points, not ten points. So the maximum score for 20 shots is 100. Also what Americans call an “X” is called a “V” at Bisley.]

Paul Hill Bisley Europe

Record Set with Slower Pair Firing Method
The style of shooting in Great Britain is pair-firing. Under this procedure, each of two competitors shoots alternately, taking turns from shot to shot. Each shooter has 45 seconds to take his shot. Allowing for the target pullers to do their jobs, this means that each shot can take up to one minute. As Paul was pair firing, he had to concentrate for up to 40 minutes to get all 20 shots off! You can imagine how many times the wind changed course in those 40 minutes –pick-ups, let-offs, changes of angle and direction. Paul had to counter each change and still managed to put 17 shots in that 5-inch circle!

Permalink Competition, News, Reloading No Comments »
October 11th, 2017

The Transformer — Anschutz Stock Adapted for F-Open Rifle

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 Competition, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
October 8th, 2017

F-TR Glamour Gun — Canadian Carbon-Wrapped Stunner

Star Shooter F-TR Carbon Stock Rifle Bipod
Click Image for Large-Screen Version

Here is some serious Sunday “gun glamour” from the folks at Star Shooter Precision, a bipod-builder and stock-maker based in Montreal, Canada. This stunning .308 Win F-TR rifle features a carbon-wrapped Star Shooter stock, angle-adjustable tubular bag-rider, star-shaped escutcheons, and a Kelbly Panda action. Up front is Star Shooter’s signature lightweight bipod.

Click Each Image for Large, Full-Screen Version

Star Shooter F-TR Carbon Stock Rifle Bipod

Star Shooter F-TR Carbon Stock Rifle Bipod

Star Shooter F-TR Carbon Stock Rifle Bipod

Star Shooter F-TR Carbon Stock Rifle Bipod


Star Shooter Montreal Canada Quebec BipodAbout the Rifle Builders
Star Shooter Precision is a company located on the south shore of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Fred Harvey is the designer. Fred says: “Our goal is to perfect the art of competition shooting the best we can with our custom bipods. The Star Shooter bipod is designed for shooters in F-Class competition, varmint hunting, load testing, tactical shooting and sighting in rifles.”

Star Shooter Montreal Canada Quebec Bipod

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
October 7th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
September 24th, 2017

Washington Squad Sets New F-Open National Team Record

Washington F-Open Team Jay Christopherson F-Class Montana Deep Creek National Record
WA Team members, left to right: Tod Hendricks, Jay Christopherson, Monte Milanuk, David Oakes.

F-Class competition continues to evolve, as guns and shooters get better every season. That means records get broken. Yet another record was smashed this month as the “Washington F-Open” team scored 1794-121X, a new pending National Record. That stunning combined team score beats the previous best by five points and more than 20 Xs. We believe the current record is 1789-100X, set at the 2017 Berger Southwest Nationals.

The new 1794-21X team record was set at the 2017 Northern Rockies LR F-Class Regional Match, held September 6-8 at the Deep Creek Range outside Missoula, Montana. This is a three-day, long range regional F-Class match consisting of two individual days and one team day.

Washington F-Open Team Jay Christopherson F-Class Montana Deep Creek National Record

Team Member Jay Christopherson, who won the F-Open Division, was proud of his Team’s accomplishment: “We were very excited when our shooting held up at 1000 yards to break the record.” Forum member Pat F., who also shot the match in Montana, said this was a really impressive performance: “I think that record will stand for a while.”

Washington F-Open Team Jay Christopherson F-Class Montana Deep Creek National Record

World’s Most Accurate IT Guy Wins F-Open with Brilliant Performance
Our AccurateShooter.com Systems Administrator, Jay Christopherson, won the F-Open Division with a superb 1047-62X individual performance. Remarkably, when you combine that 1047-62X with his 449-33X score in the team match, Jay dropped only four (4) points the entire weekend over 150 shots (105 shots in individual competition and another 45 in the team match). That is a combined percentage 99.73% in the Ten-Ring. Amazing! Jay is definitely “The World’s Most Accurate IT Guy”. Congrats Jay.

Jay was shooting a new F-0pen rifle built with his favorite hardware: a smooth-cycling Borden BRMXD action riding in a hardwood X-Ring stock. The barrel was a 32″-long, 1:9″-twist Bartlein chambered for the .284 Winchester cartridge. All team members were shooting straight .284 Wins with Berger 180gr Hybrid bullets. Jay was using a new scope, a fixed-power 48x52mm March High Master. Jay was impressed with the sharpness, clarity, and reliability of this scope. He said that during the match he never felt the need to dial-down power, so the 48X fixed magnification worked fine.

Jay reports: “Conditions were generally pretty good. Not perfect, but almost… There was enough change to push you out of the 10-Ring if you were not careful, but overall, the conditions were about as consistently good as you can expect. There was also some smoke haze, particularly on Friday and Saturday, that made seeing the target a challenge and looking at mirage was basically impossible. But, for all that, the wind was mostly very, very kind.”

“This is the fourth year I have traveled to shoot this match and as always, it was an excellent match. Jamey Williams does an outstanding job of herding cats and ensuring that the match runs smoothly. Bob Evans ran the line and really did an excellent job of keeping everyone safe and the match moving.”

Here is an aerial view of the Deep Creek Range (Drone video by David Gosnell):

Northern Rockies LR F-Class Regional Match Results
Individual Top Three Shooters (1050-105X Possible)

F-Open Division:
Jay Christopherson, 1047-62X, MW

Tod Hendricks, 1043-61X, 2nd MW
Jim Williams, 1041-51X, 3rd MW

F-TR Division:
Justin Covey, 1030-48X, MW

Tom Hubbard, 1030-41X, 2nd MW
John Van Santford, 1027-36X, 3rd MW

F-Class Team Matches (1800-180X Possible)

F-Open Winning Team:”Washington F-Open”, 1794-121X
Jay Christopherson, 449-33X
Tod Hendricks, 448-28X
David Oakes, 448-30X
Monte Milanuk, 449-30X

F-TR Winning Team: “Misfits”, 1751-50X
John Van Santford, 436-14X
Beverly Van Santford, 441-13X
Phil Brackenbury, 436-12X
Larry Bandaccari, 438-11X

Course of Fire: The individual days are a 105-shot aggregate, consisting of a 45-shot Palma (800/900/1000) followed by a 20-shot x 1000 (Day 1) and a 40-shot x 1000 match (Day 2). The team match is a 45-shot per team member Palma match (800/900/1000).

Permalink Competition, News, Optics 6 Comments »
September 21st, 2017

Where to Buy Official Competition Targets

Official Target Printer Vendor Source

Need targets — not just any old targets, but the correctly-sized targets for specific shooting disciplines (such as NRA Smallbore, F-Class, and 1K Benchrest)? Well you won’t find them at your neighborhood Wally World store. Precise, dimensionally-correct competition targets are producted by a half-dozen specialty printers. In this article we provide links to the leading target sellers, with a chart showing “who’s got what”. Look for your particular discipline and the vendors will be specified.

Sources for Official Shooting Competition Targets:

ALCO Target Company

American Target Company

Kruger Premium Targets

National Target Company

Pistoleer.com

U.S. Target Company

AccurateShooter.com offers dozens of FREE, printable targets for target practice, load development, and fun shooting. We also offer a few of the most popular NRA Bullseye targets. One or more of these printable targets should work for most training purposes. However, some readers have asked: “Where can we get the real targets… exactly like the ones used in NRA, IBS, and NBRSA shooting matches?”

Official targets NRA IBS NBRSA

All these vendors carry nearly all the NRA High Power and Smallbore targets, including the new, smaller F-Class targets. National Target has the F-Class and High Power targets, including 100-yard reductions of the 200, 300, and 600-yard military targets. Germany’s Kruger Targets sells all the important NRA targets, and international (ISSF) air rifle and smallbore targets too.

NRA Target IBS Hunter Rifle Target

Orrville Printing currently sells IBS targets for rimfire (50 yard) benchrest, short-range centerfire Benchrest (100, 200, 300 yards), Hunter BR Rifle (100, 200, 300 yards), plus the official 600-yard and 1000-yard IBS targets. National Target Company also has most of the IBS targets. NBRSA short-range, 600-yard, and 1000-yard benchrest targets are available directly from the NBRSA Business Office. Call (307) 655-7415 to order for the season.

Available Official Competition Targets
Vendor NRA High Power F-Class NRA Smallbore Air Rifle/Pistol IBS NBRSA Other
ALCO Target
Company
Yes, All No Yes Yes No No Archery, IDPA, IPSC, Police, Realistic, Shoot-N-C, Silhouette, Fun Targets, Pasters.
American Target
Company
Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No USBR, Sight-in, Muzzle-Loading, Police Silhouette
Kruger Premium
Targets
Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No IDPA, IPSC, Animal Shapes, ISSF, Sight-in, Fun Targets
National Target
Company
Yes, Nearly All Yes Yes, All Yes Yes* No IDPA, IPSC, FBI, Police Silhouette, Sight-in, Target Backers, Pasters
Pistoleer.com Yes Yes Yes, most and color training Yes Yes No Bianchi, FBI, IBS, IDPA, IPSC, Silhouette, Archery, Pasters
U.S. Target, Inc. Yes Yes Yes, All Yes No No Bianchi, FBI, Police Silhouette, IPSC, Realistic Silhouette, Varmint

Kruger Targets

Permalink Competition, Gear Review No Comments »
September 12th, 2017

Custom Rimfire F-Class Rifle for a Grand-Daughter

Doan Trevor .22 LR rimfire Mango stock Anschutz model 54
The dots and dashes are Morse Code for the shooter’s initials. The wood is Mango with Walnut fore-end wing inlays. The barreled action is an older Anschutz Model 54 that spent years in a prone stock.

Build Report by Doan Trevor
How do you build a stock for the grand-daughter of an award-winning shooter? Over the years I have built five or six rifles for this shooter, and now his grand-daughter had taken an interest in F-Class. He wanted her new rifle to mirror his own F-Class rifle, and he provided me with an old Anschutz Model 54 barreled action. Her new rifle would get her started in rimfire with the possibility of graduating to High Power (centerfire) shooting. The dots and dashes on the sides of the stock are Morse Code for his grand-daughter’s initials — “AMS”.

Rimfire F-Class Stock Design Factors
Typically when I build a rimfire F-Class stock I use the same pattern as I do for High Power stocks. The pattern has evolved from my prone stocks, as it has proven very successful with time. Also, there is a known issue of using wood for a stock in F-Class. The wood needs to be cured, and unfortunately, finding wood in the specific dimension for the stock is near to impossible. Therefore, I inlay pieces in the fore-end making sure that it is straight and on center. Other materials can be used for an F-Class stock, but keeping them straight and centered can be very difficult. Using cured wood during the build process, I continually check the centerline from fore-end to the rear slider, ensuring that the stock stays centered. This helps ensure good tracking and return to point of aim.

Doan Trevor .22 LR rimfire Mango stock Anschutz model 54

Adapting Prone Stock for F-Class Use
There is a current trend of older Palma and prone shooters to convert their rifles for F-TR and F-Open due to eyesight problems and other disabilities. The stocks that they have been using (and loving) can be recycled to their new shooting styles with a few design changes. I have been doing this successfully for the last several years. Whether it be a new shooter or an older one, you can either plan for the future or adapt older equipment so that all can shoot the style that they want. My philosophy in rifle building is to create every rifle with the potential to win a national or world championship. I am proud to say that I have build rifles for Derek Rodgers, Trudie Faye, Lige Harris, Barry Smith, Eric Rhodes, Kent Reeves, Terry Glen and many more award-winning shooters. And I look forward to many more.

Doan Trevor .22 LR rimfire Mango stock Anschutz model 54

What the Heck is .22 LR Rimfire F-Class?
There is no official NRA F-Class rimfire discipline (at least not yet). However, many F-Class shooters (both F-0pen and F-TR) employ .22 LR rifles for low-cost training. For example, James Crofts practices extensively with his 40X rimfire F-TR rig. In addition, many shooting clubs offer F-Class style rimfire fun matches, shot prone with front rest or match bipod. This rifle was built for an F-Class fun match hosted regularly by the Los Angeles Rifle & Revolver Club (LAR&R).

The photo below displays a different Doan Trevor-crafted rifle, a rimfire benchrest rig with Turbo action. This shows how Doan makes the 3-inch-wide fore-end. Outboard left- and right-side wings are bonded to the central stock material, then the wings are carefully shaped for straightness. Getting the geometry “just right” helps the rig track perfectly.

Doan Trevor .22 LR rimfire Mango stock Anschutz model 54

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
August 31st, 2017

Vortex 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle Scope Review by James Mock

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Review by James Mock
If you were charged with building a scope for F-Class or long range Benchrest, what features would you want? Vortex asked that question, received feedback from many competitors, and then set out to build a new high-magnification, zoom comp scope that would set a new “performance for price” standard.

The new Vortex Golden Eagle has features that this shooter really appreciates. It has a power range of 15x to 60x with a 52mm objective lens. Vortex has attempted to keep the weight as low as possible and the cost reasonable. My initial impression is that Vortex spared no expense in developing this scope. The “street price” for this premium scope is a reasonable $1499.00. Plus it has Unconditional Lifetime Warranty. Given its features, performance, and price, I believe that this scope will sell very well.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Here are the important features of the new 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle:

Quality Construction

Premium HD, extra-low dispersion glass
APO (apochromatic) objective lens system with index-matched lenses
XRP multi-coated lenses for max light transmission
ArmorTek extra-hard lens coating to protect lens from dust, dirt, and smudges
Fogproof and Waterproof (Argon gas purged)

Specifications

Field of View at 100 yards: 6.3 feet at 15X; 1.7 feet at 60X
Main Tube: One-piece 30mm
Length: 16.1 inches; Weight is 29.7 ounces
Objective Lens: 52mm
Eye Relief: 3.9 inches
Reticles: SCR-1 FCH; ECR-1 MOA

Testing the Golden Eagle

I recently tested a Golden Eagle with the ECR-1 reticle. On this model the Hash Marks subtend 1 MOA at 40X. There is also a fine crosshair reticle (SCR-1) available. Initial tests with the scope were done on June 28th and I was very impressed with what I saw. With a new scope I always shoot the square (box test) to test tracking and amount of movement. I shot the square today after shooting a 5-shot group at 250 yards (my longest available distance). Below is a picture of the box test target that I shot. Yes, shot #5 went through the exact same hole as shot #1.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Below is the 250-yard target I shot before doing the box test. To get to the 100-yard target, I clicked down 14 clicks (1/8th MOA) and the scope was spot on. It is really a pleasure to use instruments that do exactly what they are supposed to do. With the Louisiana mirage, I shot this orange/white target at 40X instead of the maximum 60X. I did not have any problem seeing the 6mm bullet holes at 40X. The optics in this scope are to my old eyes are as good as any that I have used (regardless of price).

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TRCompetition Test Success — Golden Eagle Delivers a Win
My next use of this scope was at our monthly 600-yard match on July 15th. It was a typical mid-July day in north Louisiana — very hot and humid with light switching winds. The mirage was terrible, but I managed to squeak out a victory with a 188/5X score out of 200/20X possible. I shot the Golden Eagle at 40X all day and it performed perfectly. No one could see bullet holes today, even with the high powered premium spotting scopes. This is a quality scope and it may be a “lucky” scope in that I did not expect a win with a 6mm Dasher barrel with 2500 or more rounds through it.

Point of Aim Test with Hood Scope Checker
I also tested the Golden Eagle for holding Point of Aim (POA). For this procedure, I used the Hood scope checker (loaned to me by Bart Sauter). To use this, one mounts two scopes side by side. Ideally one scope has proven its ability to hold POA. Here I used a Valdada 36X BR model as my control scope. It has proven over an 8-year period of time to hold its point of aim. I mounted these scopes on my BAT/Leonard 6mm PPC and adjusted each to the same point on the target.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

As one can see in the above picture, these are big scopes. After the first shot, I noticed that the reticle dot on the Vortex seemed to be about 1/8th MOA to the right of its original position. I stopped to check for ring slippage (which I had experienced in prior tests). There was no apparent slippage, so I checked the parallax and found that there was some parallax correction needed. This was probably the source of the apparent shift in point of aim, but I cannot be sure of that. I fired three more shots (checking after each) and found no shift.

Vortex Optics Golden Eagle Scope 15-60x52mm review F-Class F-TR

After testing for POA shift, I fired the remaining rounds using different aiming points. I fired 5 rounds (upper left) using the Vortex and 3 rounds to the right of those using the Valdada scope.

CONCLUSION — A Very Fine Optic at a Reasonable Price
While testing this Vortex Golden Eagle scope, I developed a real fondness for it. I appreciate its great optics, eye relief and crispness of adjustments. If I thought that this scope did not hold POA, I would use my old Valdada in the 600-yard matches in which I participate. Further testing has shown no tendency to shift point of aim.

If I am allowed to keep this scope until the fall, I am sure that I will be able to see 6mm bullet holes in the white at 600 yards. Seeing those 6mm holes is very difficult, but that is my dream for a premium high-powered scope. During the summer months in north Louisiana, the air is much too “dirty” to spot small holes at 600 yards. By October, there should be some conditions in which one can use the premium optics to see bullet holes in the white at 600.

In summary, let me say that this scope has become one of my all-time favorites because of its bright, clear images and its great reliability. If you are looking for a great long-range scope that is reasonable in cost, try the Golden Eagle from Vortex.– James Mock

Permalink Gear Review, Optics 5 Comments »
August 18th, 2017

F-Class Team Worlds: USA Wins F-TR, Australia Wins F-Open

F-TR F T/R Canada Connaught Ranges F-Class Team World Championship
Photo Credits Laura Perry(top) and Kelly McMillan (bottom)

The 2017 F-Class World Championships wrapped up August 17 with the final day of Team competition. Over the past two days, 8-shooter squads competed in the major international challenge match while 4-shooter teams vied for honor in the Rutland match. Team USA F-TR stole the show with a stirring come-from-behind victory over a very strong Australia F-TR squad. Not to be denied, Aussie F-Open shooters countered America’s F-TR success with a solid win for Australia in the 8-shooter F-Open match. It was Deja Vu… this result was a replay of the 2013 Worlds, where Team USA won the F-TR Team Title, while Team Australia won F-Open.

CLICK HERE for full 2017 F-Class World Championships Team and Individual Results

F-TR World Champions: Team USA, Richardson Trophy — Score: 3400-264V
PERRY, LAURA, AL — 419v31
DROELLE, JOHN, MI — 418v27
BARNHART, ALAN, MI — 433v36
HOGG, TRACY, NC — 424v31
KLEMM, IAN, WI — 426v39
RODGERS, DEREK, NM — 435v39
RORER, JEFFREY, NC — 429v35
POHLABEL, DANIEL, OH — 416v26
GROSS, RAYMOND, MI
HARDIN, CARLTON, GA
PHILLIPS, PAUL, MI
LENTZ, DANIEL, WI
LITZ, BRYAN, MI
FULMER, SCOTT, NY
REEVE, KENT, NC
BOYER, DOUGLAS, MI

F-Open World Champions: Team Australia, Farquharson Trophy — Score: 3511-342V
DAVIES, ROD — 441v45
CARTER, PETER — 437v37
LARSEN, PETER — 442v38
LOBERT, MARTY — 437v43
POHL, ADAM — 440v48
BRAUND, STUART — 431v39
BUNYAN, BRETT — 440v40
NUGENT, TIM — 443v52
MCGOWAN, CRAIG
BRAUND, RICHARD
WAITES, MICHAEL
LAZARUS, STEVE
REID, JOSH
FERRARA, BEN
TILLACK, LOWELL
DOBSON, DAVID

Team USA — Three-time World Champions deliver a come-from-behind win at the 900 meter line.
F-TR F T/R Canada Connaught Ranges F-Class Team World Championship

Along with winning F-Open, the Aussies did well in the 8-man F-TR competition, finishing second overall with a score of 3394-237V, six points behind Team USA F-TR (3400-264V). Third in F-TR was Team South Africa, with 3376-250V.

Rutland F-Class World Championship

Team Canada (3506-346V) finished second in F-Open, while Team USA (F-Open) finished third with the interesting score of 3500-350V (that’s not a misprint). We believe Calvin Waldner of Canada had the top individual F-Open score for the match — 444-51V.

The F-TR Team Battle — It Paid to Wait
The top two F-TR squads, Team USA and Team Australia, followed very different strategies. The Australians got off to a quick start, while the Americans waited… and waited … and waited. Being patient and waiting for more readable and stable wind conditions proved a winning strategy for the Yanks who overcame a 9-point deficit to finish with a six-point margin as time closed down in the firing period.

Team USA Captain Ray Gross reports: “The match came down to the last yard line. The Australians were up 11 points to start the day and the Canadians were 6 points behind. We made up 2 points at 700m and shot even with the Australians at 800m, leaving us 9 points down going into the final 900m stage.

The Aussies chose to start shooting right away in what looked liked easy conditions and we waited, hoping for better. While we waited the team stayed focused and ready. Luck was on our side, it calmed down and the shooters and coaches performed flawlessly, making up the nine points and finally pulling ahead in the last few minutes of the match.

We were the last team on the line shooting and everyone was behind us watching. After two days of very close competition, the match was not decided until our last two shooters. Our last shooter started with only 12 minutes left in the match and he finished his string of 15 shots in about five minutes. He only dropped two points giving us a six point victory.

We were so focused on delivering our best performance that we weren’t sure how the other teams had finished. After the last shot the Australian captain came over and congratulated me. They had been watching our score after they had finished and knew that we had won the match. Our gritty determination had paid off and it had been one of the most exciting matches that I’ve ever been a part of. Everyone on the team should be proud that they did not let our slim chances discourage them going into that last yard line. They stayed focused and each delivered a top performance.”

American F-Open Squads Dominate 4-Shooter Rutland Match

In the F-Open Rutland competition for 4-shooter teams, American squads dominated, taking the top 4 places. Team USA Blue (1758-177V) won the Rutland title, edging Spindle Shooters by a slim one-point margin. In third place was Team USA Red followed by the Texas State Rifle Association team.

Rutland F-Class World Championship

Rutland F-Class World Championship

In F-TR Rutland competition, Team “Da Bulls” secured a very convincing win. Da Bulls’ 1709-131V score was a full 14 points ahead of Team KP Ballistics. This was sort of an American victory… though Da Bulls did have one Canadian “ringer” on the squad, Stephen Ireland of Toronto. Runner-up KP Ballistics was just the opposite — KP had all Canadian members except one Yank, Wade Fillingame of New Hampshire.

Rutland F-Class World Championship
Above Team Da Bulls member James Crofts waives “good-bye” from the Connaught Ranges in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The next F-Class World Championships will be held in South Africa in 2021. ICFRA Web Page for 2021 FCWC.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, News 2 Comments »
August 16th, 2017

Match Shooting Strategies — How To Use a Wind Plot

wind plot Bryan Litz FCWC Canada F-Class World Championship
CLICK HERE to see full-screen version of Wind Plot.

The Battle of Nations begins. Today is Day 1 of international team competition at the 2017 F-Class World Championships (FCWC) in Ottawa, ON, Canada. Talented teams, in their nation’s colors, will be competing for glory and national pride.

Team shooting is very different than individual competition. Typically a team coach makes the wind calls for the shooters. In some cases (where the rules allow), the wind coach even dials elevation and windage changes for the active shooter. For the wind coach to do his job effectively, he must follow the changes in the wind and determine what the correct wind call should have been for each shot. (In other words — what was the “right call”)

Past F-TR USA Nat’l Champ Bryan Litz was wind coach for the winning 4-man LUM F-TR Team at the 2017 Canadian F-Class Championships, which preceded the FCWC Worlds. Here Bryan explains how he uses a Wind Plot to make better wind calls, helping his team-mates maximize their scores.

wind calling plot log technique

Wind Plot Methodology by Bryan Litz

The wind plot I use is a running history of what the correct wind call was for every shot fired. The more you shoot, the more history you have in a condition, and I find that very useful information. This kind of plot IS NOT showing where the bullet hit, and is NOT showing what you held. It’s showing what you should have held to center each shot. IMO, this is the most valuable information to have when guessing where to hold next for each shot. Here are some key points:

1. I always look for blocks of stable conditions to shoot in and wait out the rest.

2. If the wind plot shows drastic changes, either I’m not picking the right time to shoot or it’s just a really unstable wind condition.

3. When you see many shots using the same hold (e.g. Robby’s 700m and 900m strings on plot), it can indicate very fast shooting and fast pit service.

Q. What are the numbers and Markings on this Wind Plot?
Litz: The wind plot represents the rings on the target. Left 2 for example, is the 5 line on the international target, while Left 2 is the 10 line on the USA target. F-Class shooters and coaches talk about wind holds in relation to these rings. A Left 2 hold isn’t left 2 MOA or 2 MILS, it’s the second ring from center. The vertical lines on the plot represent the rings going out from center, 4 or 5 in each direction. A left or right 5 hold is edge of black on the int’l target.

wind plot Bryan Litz FCWC Canada F-Class World Championship

Q: What Does this Specific Plot Reveal?
Litz: Looking at the plot, from left to right is 700m, 800m, and 900m that we shot progressively through the day. Top to bottom shows each shooter in sequence (shooters names are shown by their blocks). To the right I note what was on the gun for that shooter, and note when it changes. Often times we run the same wind on the gun for several shooters but if it changes, I note what the new windage is and continue on. For example if we’re settled into a condition where we’re shooting Vs with a right 3 hold, I might adjust the scope 1 MOA right because a right 3 hold is equal to 1 MOA. So we can move the scope and start shooting with a center hold.

Q. Are you Plotting Where the Bullet Hits?
Litz: Not exactly. This kind of plot IS NOT specifically showing where the bullet hit, and IS NOT showing what the shooter held. It’s showing what the shooter should have held to center each shot. IMO, this is the most valuable information to have when guessing where to hold next for each shot.

On each shot, the shooter or coach takes a guess about where to hold, and fires the shot. If the bullet hits the center, you plot the point right where you held because it was the correct hold. However, if you miss the call, you plot what hold was required to put that shot in the center. For example if you shoot a right 3 and hit where you held, the correct call would have been “center”. In this way, you’re building a history of what you should have done, which may or may not be what you actually did. This shows you the trends, and brackets which can be used to make future decisions.

Q: Is this Type of Wind Plot Something New?
Litz: I didn’t invent this method, it’s been around a long time. Vertical can be plotted the same way. In team matches, we have a plotter who is advising on elevation trends and suggesting corrections. But, as wind coach, my job is the horizontal so I only keep the wind plot. I have learned lots of strategies from my coaches Emil Praslick and Steve Hardin.

There are many ways to plot and many standard work sheets for this. They’re all tools and the key is to find something that works for you in different situations. I don’t keep a plot when I am personally behind the trigger string firing because I lose more points when I take the time to do it vs. just shooting fast. When pair firing or coaching, I can keep the wind plot without compromising the shooting.

2013 F-Class World Championships
Team Australia used plots and comms linking coaches to help win the 2013 F-Open Team World Championship. We expect other teams will follow suit in Canada in 2017.

Know Your Goal — Keep It Simple
Know your goal of plotting. The simplest plot is where you write the shot number where it hit on a target face. This kind of plotting is useful for evaluating shooter performance because it shows how big the group is (in particular the vertical dispersion). However keeping a plot like this does little to help you figure out the wind. It just shows you what shots you messed up on. It does nothing to help you find the center. [Editor: That’s a whole different matter with many variables.] The wind plot I use is a running history of what the correct wind call was for every shot fired. The more you shoot, the more history you have in a condition, and I find that very useful information.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
August 12th, 2017

ICFRA F-Class World Championships Commence in Canada

FCWC F-Class World Championships

The F-Class World Championships (FCWC) commence today at the Connaught Ranges outside Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. We wish good luck to all the competitors. Based on the conditions at the recent Canadian F-Class National Championships, conditions could be challenging.

F-Class World Championships EVENT SCHEDULE:
Friday, August 11 (REST DAY – RANGE CLOSED)
Competitor Check-In for FCWC; Rifle Inspection; International Teams Reception
Saturday, August 12: Opening Ceremonies; ICFRA FCWC (Individual)
Sunday, August 13: ICFRA FCWC (Individual)
Monday, August 14: ICFRA FCWC (Individual); Awards Prize Giving
Tuesday, August 15: TEAM PRACTICE DAY
Wednesday, August 16: ICFRA FCWC (Teams)
Thursday, August 17: ICFRA FCWC (Teams): Awards Prize Giving & Closing Ceremonies

Tips for Success at the F-Class Worlds — #1, Avoid Train Wrecks

As an assist to all the competitors, we’re repeating an article by Bryan Litz, which many have found very helpful — how to avoid “Train Wrecks” at major championships.

train wreck Bryan Litz shooting tips ballistics

When you have a major, critical problem at a shooting match, i.e. a “train wreck”, this can be the end of your weekend. In this article, Ballistics Guru Bryan Litz talks about “train wrecks” — the big disasters (such as equipment failures) that can ruin a whole match. A recent USA F-TR Champion, Bryan illustrates the types of “train wrecks” that commonly befall competitors, and he explains how to avoid these “unmitigated disasters”.

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

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!

Permalink - Articles, Competition No Comments »
August 11th, 2017

Kevin Chou, Rhys Ireland, and USA Teams Win Canadian National F-Class Championships

Canada Canadian F-Class Championship Connaught Ottawa Ontario Team Litz USA

The 2017 Canadian F-Class Championships have concluded. As the event preceded the 2017 F-Class World Championship (in the same venue) by a few days, many of the world’s best F-Class shooters were on hand at the Connaught Ranges outside Ottawa, Ontario. Competition was fierce — as were the winds at times. The challenging conditions gave shooters a good test in preparation for the FCWC which gets underway in earnest on Saturday, August 12, 2017.

All 2017 CDN F-Class Nationals Individual Results | All 2017 CDN F-Class Nationals Team Results

Kevin Chou Wins Second Straight F-TR Canadian Title
Canada’s Kevin Chou (Aurora, ON) shot great to win the F-TR match with a strong 426v30 score. This made was two wins in a row for Kevin, who also took the F-TR Title in 2016. Two Yanks completed the podium, with Jeff Rorer (420v25) taking second place, and Robby Burton (418v25) placing third.

Canada Canadian F-Class Championship Connaught Ottawa Ontario Team Litz USA

Rhys Ireland Wins F-Open Canadian Championship
The F-Open Championship was a tightly-fought match that went down to the wire. Rhys Ireland won the Individual F-Open Championship with a 434v30. Just one point behind at 433v39 was Australia’s Rod Davies. Third, again just one point back, was Canadian Barry Price (433v30).

Canada Canadian F-Class Championship Connaught Ottawa Ontario Team Litz USA

Team USA (Litz) Wins F-TR Team Championship
American F-TR Teams managed a clean sweep of the top three places in the 4-shooter LUM Team Match. Team USA Litz secured the team victory with a 875v71 score. Finishing second in F-TR was USA Team Swartzkopf (871v74), followed by Team USA Hardin (870v72).

Who can explain the lines and dots on this shot tracking chart used by Bryan Litz?
Canada Canadian F-Class Championship Connaught Ottawa Ontario Team Litz USA

F-TR Team USA (Litz) members (alphabetically) Douglas Boyer, Robby Burton, Dan Lentz, Monte Milanuk; Bryan Litz (head coach), Stan Pate (asst.)
Canada Canadian F-Class Championship Connaught Ottawa Ontario Team Litz USA

Team USA (Nancy) Wins F-Open Team Title
The F-Open 4-shooter Team Competition was also dominated by American squads which finished first and second. Winning F-Open Gold, with a score of 888v98, was Team USA (Nancy), coached by Nancy Tompkins, America’s “First Lady of Shooting”. Finishing second was Team USA (Walker) with 887v100, followed by the Canadian F-Open Team at 887v90.

F-Open Team USA (Nancy) was packed with talent. Shooters were: Shiraz Balolia, Ken Dickerman, James Laney, and Pat Scully. Another American deserves mention, John Myers of the Texas F-Open Team. We believe John’s 225v27 was the high score for the team match, and he was the only competitor to shoot “clean”, not dropping a point.

Sebastian Lambang, inventor/builder of SEB Rests, competed in the Canadian Championships. Over half the competitors used SEB rests — Joy-Pods for F-TR and NEOs and MINIs for F-Open.

Canada Canadian F-Class Championship Connaught Ottawa Ontario SEB Lambang sebastian

Conditions were windy and challenging at the 2017 Canadian F-Class Championships. Will the strong winds continue for the F-Class World Championships (FCWC) starting tomorrow, August 12, 2017. Only the wind gods know for sure. Good luck to all the FCWC competitors from all nations!

Canada Canadian F-Class Championship Connaught Ottawa Ontario

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
August 5th, 2017

How to Aim True at the F-Class World Championships

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 The F-Class World Championships (FCWC) in Canada are just one week away. This August 11-17, the world’s top F-Class shooters will gather at the Connaught Ranges outside Ottawa, Ontario. 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 - Articles, Competition, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
July 27th, 2017

The Guns of Summer — F-Open Rigs for the World Championships

Kovan F-Open Rifle

The F-Class World Championships are coming up next month in Canada, August 11-17. The world’s top F-TR and F-Open shooters will compete at the Connaught Ranges outside Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. There will be a wide variety of high-end equipment on display. This article covers some of the hardware choices made by the U.S. F-Open team.

Kovan F-Open Rifle
Kovan F-Open Rifle
Black F-Open Rifle from Kovan Match Rifles LLC, www.matchrifles.com.

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 were using (as of 2016). The most popular chambering is the .284 Winchester, followed by the 7mm Walker (a 40° .284 Winchester Improved). Kelbly and BAT actions were the most popular (but many guys are using Bordens in their latest builds). 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. NOTE: This survey was taken last year.

F-Class Team USA F-Open

Click Image Below for Larger Version:

F-Class Team USA F-Open

F-0pen competitor Brett Solomon will be using this stunning Speedy-Built .284 Win. It features a “Spear of Destiny” Flame Maple stock milled by Will McCloskey, with a Melonited BAT action, and a 32″ 7mm Bartlein barrel with Stewart Barrel Tuner.

Brett Solomon F-Open rifle Speedy Bartlein

F-Class World Championships Schedule

Canadian F-Class National Championship
Monday, Aug 7: Competitor Check-In for FCNC (Inspections and Squadded Practice)
Tuesday, Aug 8: Canadian F-Class Nationals
Wednesday, Aug 9: Canadian F-Class Nationals
Thursday, Aug 10: Canadian F-Class Nationals Finals and Awards Prize Giving

F-Class World Championships
Friday, Aug 11 (REST DAY – RANGE CLOSED)
Competitor Check-In for FCWC; Rifle Inspection; International Teams Reception
Saturday, Aug 12: Opening Ceremonies; ICFRA FCWC (Individual)
Sunday, Aug 13: ICFRA FCWC (Individual)
Monday, Aug 14: ICFRA FCWC (Individual); Awards Prize Giving
Tuesday, Aug 15: TEAM PRACTICE DAY
Wednesday, Aug 16: ICFRA FCWC (Teams)
Thursday, Aug 17: ICFRA FCWC (Teams): Awards Prize Giving & Closing Ceremonies

Permalink News 3 Comments »
June 13th, 2017

Best F-Class Cartridge Choices For Mid-Range and Long-Range

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 - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 5 Comments »
June 3rd, 2017

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 »
May 28th, 2017

New Berger 200.20X 30-Cal Bullet with 0.640 G1 BC Available

Berger 200.20X Hybrid Target Bullet Team F-TR F-Class competition

Berger Bullets’ much-awaited 200.20X bullet is now available at Midsouth Shooters Supply for $54.65 per 100*. That’s not inexpensive, but this new design could well prove to be the “bullet to beat” for F-TR competition with the .308 Win cartridge. With a high Ballistic Coefficient (0.640 G1, 0.328 G7), the new 200.20X Hybrid Target projectile (Part #30417) should have less wind drift than other .30-caliber bullets in its weight range. The new 200.20X is even more slippery than Berger’s own older 200gr Hybrid (Part #30427), which has a 0.316 G7 BC. The 200.20X bullet has a shorter bearing surface than Berger’s 200gr Hybrid, which should allow higher velocities, and (perhaps) enhanced barrel life. The shorter bearing surface also makes this bullet easy to load and shoot in standard chambers, which means you don’t need a special long-throated reamer to make it work.

Berger 200.20X Bullet
The new 200.20X has a 0.328 G7 BC compared to 0.316 G7 for the older 200 grain .30 caliber Hybrid. That’s a significant, 4% reduction in drag. Recommended twist for the new bullet is 1:10″, same as with the earlier 200-grainer.

Tested and Endorsed by U.S. Rifle Team (F-TR)
Developed with extensive testing by U.S. Rifle Team members, Berger’s new 200.20X bullet is optimized for F-TR competition with the .308 Win cartridge. Compared to the standard 200 grain Hybrid Target, the 200.20X has a longer boat tail, longer nose, and a shorter bearing surface. The longer nose and tail of the 200.20X allow the bullet to fly with less drag and a higher BC, which means fewer points lost to wind. Like other Berger Hybrid designs, this bullet is more “forgiving” about seating depths that pure VLD designs. Shooters should find that the 200.20X works well at various OALs, both “jumped” and seated into the lands. Bryan Litz recommends starting with this bullet .020 or more off the lands. When the bullet is jumped a bit, the accuracy should hold pretty well even as the throat moves out.

Berger 200.20X Hybrid Target Bullet Team F-TR F-Class competition

After extensive field testing at 600-1000 yards, the U.S. Rifle Team (F-TR) has named the Berger 200.20X as the Team’s official bullet of choice. Shown above are Dan Pohlabel and Bill Litz (shooter).


*Grafs.com ($52.99/100) and PrecisionReloading.com ($53.99/100) will also sell this new bullet, but both these vendors are currently awaiting delivery. We’re told that supplies should arrive soon.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo 3 Comments »
May 22nd, 2017

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

F-Class Reloading .284 Winchester Win Shehane Accuracy

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

Gun builder Ryan Pierce of Piercision Rifles explains:

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

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

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

.284 Winchester Shehane Reamer Print PT&G

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

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Reloading No Comments »
May 4th, 2017

Kelly McMillan and Jim Borden Collaborate on F-Open Rifle

Kelly McMillan Junior Rifle Jim Borden BRMXD BRM action Accuracy

It’s great to see two important businessmen give back to the shooting sports. Kelly McMillan and Jim Borden are working together on a project — creating an F-Class Open rifle that can be loaned out to young shooters to help them get started with the sport. Great idea — we need to get more young folks involved in precision shooting. In F-Class (as well as benchrest) it seems we have an “aging population”. Engaging the next generation of shooters is vitally important.

Kelly McMillan, President of McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, reports:

“Big shout out to Jim Borden. He heard I want to build a mid-range/entry level F-Class rifle to be loaned out to new junior shooters interested in finding out whether they like competing in F-Class Open. He contacted me a couple of weeks ago and said he would like to be involved in this project and wanted to send an action on which to build this rifle. Oh boy, it has arrived. Borden’s [operation] has always been synonymous with quality firearms and components but this action is an example of quality craftsmanship in every aspect. Thanks Jim for doing what you do. Hope I can do this thing justice.”

Kelly McMillan Junior Rifle Jim Borden BRMXD BRM action Accuracy

We’d like to see the looks on the faces of the juniors who’ll get to shoot this new rifle Kelly will be building. That’s like a Driver Training student getting to pilot a Ferrari. When this Editor got started in shooting, it was with very well-worn, hand-me-down 22 LRs at a local Boy Scout summer camp. We think it’s great that juniors will be able to sample something built with all-top-quality components.

F-Class young old

Kelly McMillan Taking Stock Radio Show

Every Friday at 11:00 am, Kelly McMillan hosts the Talking Stock Radio Show on the Voice America Network. This week’s show features guest Robbie Barrkman, founder of The Robar Companies and CTI (Coating Technologies Inc.). If you have used any firearm product coated in NP3, you have Robbie to thank for it. Kelly will also interview Extreme Long Range (ELR) shooter Randy Powell from Thunder Ammo & Arms in Oklahoma.

Permalink Competition, News 5 Comments »