July 29th, 2018

Transform Your TubeGun with PickleFork Front Rails

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

Are you a sling shooter who would like to get into the F-Class game? Gary Eliseo has a great, affordable solution for TubeGun owners. A simply bolt-on forearm accessory lets your TubeGun ride a conventional front bag like a dream, with less torque effect and great tracking.

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

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

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

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

New Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, Gear Review, New Product 1 Comment »
July 28th, 2018

F-Class — Best Cartridge Options 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 1 Comment »
July 17th, 2018

Lights, Camera, Actions! — Video Tour of Kelbly’s Shop

Kelbly's Panda Action gunsmithing video barrel stock bedding

Want to see new-born Pandas? No, not the furry kind — rather Stolle Panda actions produced with state-of-the-art CNC machinery. If you’ve ever wondered how precision benchrest, long-range, and tactical rifles are built, check out video from Kelbly’s. You’ll see actions finished, barrels chambered and crowned, pillars installed in stocks, barreled actions bedded, plus a host of other services performed by Kelbly’s gunsmiths and machinists.

If you’re a fan of fine machine-work, this video should be both informative and entertaining. You can see how precision gun work is done with 21st-Century technology. Tip of the hat to Ian Kelbly and crew for producing this excellent video visit to the Kelbly’s production center.

Click Volume Control to Activate Sound for Kelbly’s Video:

Kelbly's Panda Action gunsmithing video barrel stock bedding

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing, New Product 4 Comments »
July 8th, 2018

F-Class Beauty from KW Precision LLC

Delaware F-Open F-Class rifle Cerus Brux barrel Panda Action

Forum member Keith W. (aka “Cigarcop”) of KW Precision LLC is a talented riflesmith whose projects display outstanding finish work and attention to detail. Keith does some of the best bedding work we’ve ever seen. Here is one of his latest creations. Keith recently completed a stunning F-Class rig for a shooter in Delaware. It’s a beauty, that’s for sure. Keith has posted more details about this rifle in a Shooters’ Forum Thread.

Delaware F-Open F-Class rifle Cerus Brux barrel Panda Action

This handsome rifle features a polished Stolle (Kelbly) Panda Action, and two (2) Brux barrels, both chambered for the .284 Winchester cartridge. The real eye-catching component of this rifle is the stunning Cerus F-Open stock. This features multiple laminations with highly-figured Walnut on the sides. This certainly ain’t your “off-the-shelf” laminated stock. This just shows the beauty that can be achieved with carefully-chosen lamination layers (plus 12 coats of clear).

Delaware F-Open F-Class rifle Cerus Brux barrel Panda Action
This beautiful F-Open rig features a laminated wood stock with stunning figured walnut on the outside.

Keith of KW Precision LLC is renowned for his bedding work, and this rifle shows why. Keith takes great pride in his work, and his attention to detail is second to none. This bedding job is as good as it gets.

Delaware F-Open F-Class rifle Cerus Brux barrel Panda Action

Bringing out the figure in the wood requires multiple finish coats (and careful sanding between coats). But the results are worth it. Shown below is the Cerus stock, BEFORE the finish coats were applied. It took time and effort to transform the “naked” Cerus stock into a true stunner. Keith applied twelve (12) coats of PPG Automotive Clear with wet sanding between each coat.

Delaware F-Open F-Class rifle Cerus Brux barrel Panda Action

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 4 Comments »
June 30th, 2018

Improve Your Shooting Skills with Multi-Discipline Training

Michelle Gallagher Cross Training

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.

Michelle Gallagher Cross Training

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.

Michelle Gallagher Cross TrainingPosition 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.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
June 13th, 2018

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

Tikka 590 Essex Custom

We like Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects. It takes initiative, creativity, and dedication to make your own hardware, and that’s worth acknowledging. For you dedicated DIY guys, here’s a great project that should inspire. Here is an owner designed and crafted F-Open rig, complete with home-built, belt-drive front rest.

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

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

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

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

Tikka 590 Essex Custom

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

Tikka 590 Essex Custom

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

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 3 Comments »
June 8th, 2018

Yanks Enjoy Irish Hospitality at Emerald Match

Emerald Match Ireland 2018 Tullamore Midland range Phil Kelley James Crofts

American shooters have been enjoying Irish hospitality this week in Ireland, while attending attending the Emerald 2018 match at Midlands National Shooting Centre of Ireland (Tullamore). Our friends James Crofts, Phil Kelley, and Aussie Jenni Hausler provided these images from the event — both at the range and off. The Yanks are off to a good start. James reports: “Day one scores are out and Team USA is on top. Madison Bramley topped F-Open and I held on for F-TR. I also won the 1000-yard match. My equipment performed flawlessly — rifle built by Keith Weil of KW Precision, Cerus Stock by Will McCloskey, and BRM action by Jim Borden.”

Emerald Match Ireland 2018 Tullamore Midland range Phil Kelley James Crofts

American Phil Kelley posted: “As always our hosts are outstanding. Man, love this range! Ready for the big match starting tomorrow.”

Emerald Match Ireland 2018 Tullamore Midland range Phil Kelley James Crofts

Phil Kelley enjoyed the Team Match and long-range Clays Fun Match which preceded the main event. Phil posted: “A great day, with a busy line at 1100 and 1200 yards in Ireland. Last fun day included some great competition. Team USA did well. After getting completely destroyed at 1100 yards, I was able to win the 1200 yard match; with a miss! First ever board miss, it’s only 6’ wide. 12-14 mph winds with a lying, heavy mirage.”

Emerald Match Ireland 2018 Tullamore Midland range Phil Kelley James Crofts

The day finished with a fun (and challenging) Clay Pigeon Shoot at roughly 1235 yards. Phil noted: “Ellis Berry, James Crofts and myself were one of only a handful to hit the 4.25″ clay target within 5 shots in these conditions.” Think you can do that? That 4.25″ clay bird represents a mere 0.338 MOA at 1200 Yards! Not easy folks…

Emerald Match Ireland 2018 Tullamore Midland range Phil Kelley James Crofts
Competitors in the Clay Pidgeon Shoot at 1200+ yards.

Posting on Facebook, Mias Nieuwoudt had an interesting observation about the challenge of 1200 yards: “On average it seems the old 308s ran out of steam compared to our F-Open rigs at 1200 yards. Maybe a 40° scope rail with the targets angled backwards at 30° so you can lob the points like mortars!”

Emerald Match Ireland 2018 Tullamore Midland range Phil Kelley James Crofts

Emerald Match Ireland 2018 Tullamore Midland range Phil Kelley James Crofts

Touring the Emerald Isle — Countryside and Castles
On June 5, Phil Kelley observed: “Another great group touring day. A morning stop at Donamass Castle ruins provided incredible Irish views, then on to the town of Kilkenny for the Smithwicks Brewery tour, visit to Kilkenny Castle and a walk on the Medieval Mile.”

Eire Ireland Emerald Match James Crofts Jim Kelley Team Berger Tullamore Midlands Centre
Interior of Kilkenny Castle

Eire Ireland Emerald Match James Crofts Jim Kelley Team Berger Tullamore Midlands Centre
Nancy Tompkins (left) and Michelle Gallagher (right) give a shout out to friends.

Eire Ireland Emerald Match James Crofts Jim Kelley Team Berger Tullamore Midlands Centre
The American contingent — enjoying the good life in Ireland.

Facebook Photo Credits: Jenni Hausler, James Crofts, Phil Kelley, Pat Hunt, the Bramleys.

Permalink Competition, News No Comments »
May 22nd, 2018

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

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

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

Journey to Find a .223 Rem F-Class Load

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

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

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

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

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

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

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

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

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

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

This article originally appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 5 Comments »
March 21st, 2018

Save Over $200 On Vortex Golden Eagle 15-50x52mm

Vortex Golden Eagle Bargain 15-50x52mm ECR-1
Non-member price is $1499.99. The “Members price” is $1349.00. Using CODE SK1602 at checkout knocks the final price to $1249.99 (plus tax and shipping).

Here’s a super deal if you need a high-quality, high-magnification zoom scope for F-Class and long-range target shooting. Right now, the Vortex Optics Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm ECR-1 is on sale at Sportsman’s Guide for $1249.99 (member price) with Coupon Code SK1602. That Code gives you a “double discount”. However, it will cost you $39.99/year to join the Buyer’s Club to get member pricing. You can cancel Buyer’s Club membership anytime.

IMPORTANT: The $1249.99 Price is for BUYER’s CLUB only. And you MUST use CODE SK1602!

Still a deal if you’re not yet a member? You bet. This same scope sells elsewhere for around $1500.00. For example the price today, 3/21/2017, at Amazon.com is $1499.00 (see below). If you figure you’ll pay at least $1490.00 elsewhere for this scope and you net out the $39.99 membership cost, we calculate you’ll still save $200.00+ by taking advantage of this deal.

Here is the price on Amazon.com on March 21, 2018:
Vortex Golden Eagle Bargain 15-50x52mm ECR-1

The Golden Eagle has earned good reviews from our Forum members. This scope features 60X max magnification, sharp lenses, low-dispersion glass, 1/8-MOA clicks, and a reticle that features MOA-based hold-offs and hold-overs subtensions are MOA-based at 40X magnification:

Vortex Golden Eagle Bargain 15-50x52mm ECR-1

Permalink Hot Deals, Optics 1 Comment »
March 15th, 2018

Sierra Bullet Sale at Midsouth Through 3/18/2018

Sierra MatchKing Tipped Bullet sale midsouth varmint bullets

Need bullets for your 2018 High Power Campaign, F-Class Matches, PRS Comps, or Varmint Safaris? Check out this deal at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Now through March 18, 2018 at 11:59 pm, Midsouth has knocked ten percent (10%) off the price off all Sierra Bullets in stock. And Midsouth’s prices were already very competitive. The sale applies to all Sierra projectiles for rifles and pistols: match bullets, hunting bullets, varmint bullets, self-defense bullets.

This is your opportunity to grab some of Sierra’s great new generation MatchKing bullets. Many of these new SMKs come with the bullets “tipped” at the factory for more uniform BC. We have hear very positive comments from shooters running the tipped SMKs in .30 Caliber, 7mm, 6.5 mm, and 6mm. If you are shooting F-Open, you should definitely try the new 197gr MatchKing, with its stellar 0.780 G1 BC. Likewise if you shoot PRS or mid-range benchrest, you should check out the new 110gr SMK. It boasts an impressive 0.617 G1 BC.

More High-BC MatchKings in All Your Favorite Calibers
Sierra now offers very slippery, heavy-for-caliber MatchKings that have raised the BC Bar for their respective calibers. For example, the 150gr 6.5mm bullet really “pushes the envelope”. In past years, 140-142 grains was considered “high end” for a 6.5mm match projectile. Here are Sierra’s BC Leaders for 6mm, 6.5mm, 7mm, and .308 calibers. Many of these New Generation MatchKings now come “tipped” from the factory for more uniform BC.

Heavy-for-Caliber, Ultra-High BC Sierra MatchKings

6mm (.243 Caliber)
110 grain MatchKing #1575
0.617 G1 BC

7mm (.284 Caliber)
197 grain MatchKing #1997
0.780 G1 BC

6.5 mm (.264 Caliber)
150 grain MatchKing #1755
0.713 G1 BC

7.62mm (.308 Caliber) NEW
230 grain MatchKing #2251
0.800 G1 BC

Sierra Bullets Midsouth Sale

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals No Comments »
March 5th, 2018

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 1 Comment »
March 2nd, 2018

F-Class Team USA Invites Shooters to Championship Quest

Team USA U.S. U.S.A. f-class f-open Raton Ben Avery F-TR Under 25 Dan Bramley Phil Kelley Rick Jensen

How would you like to represent the United States in top-level International Shooting competitions? Well, if F-Class is your game, here is your opportunity. F-Class Team USA will be conducting try-outs for the United States squads who will represent our country in F-TR and F-Open divisions (plus Under-25) at the 2021 World Championships. The try-outs are open to any competitive shooter with a class-compliant rifle and the will to win. Team leadership expressly welcomes newcomers.

Team USA U.S. U.S.A. f-class f-open Raton Ben Avery F-TR Under 25 Dan Bramley Phil Kelley Rick Jensen

Initial and primary tryouts are planned during the 2018 U.S. National Championships in Raton, NM, and the 2019 SW Nationals in Phoenix, AZ. There may also be an early 2019 tryout date at Butner, NC.

Dan Bramley Invites Shooters to Team USA F-Class Try-Outs

Official Invitation to Team USA F-Class Try-Outs
To the F-Class Community–

On behalf of Team USA 2021, we are pleased to invite the best of USA F-class to consider joining our effort for the 2021 World Championships in Bloemfontein, South Africa. We are reaching out with this invitation to provide some general information on our plans for 2021 and for upcoming try-out dates for the unified Team USA: F-TR, F-Open, and Under 25.

We are moving forward with F-Open, F-TR, and Under 25 unified as one USA F-class 2021 Team. This will allow us to take advantage of each team’s strengths and provide needed purchasing power and coordination for event and logistic costs. We also believe this will help encourage and grow our sport. We will share ideas, event/facility dates and best practices within this unified team, however, individual team segments will make their own decisions. Therefore, please direct your responses and inquiries to the appropriate team leadership.

Team USA U.S. U.S.A. f-class f-open Raton Ben Avery F-TR Under 25 Dan Bramley Phil Kelley Rick JensenBeing part of Team USA is a major commitment of time and resources. We do have wonderful and sizable sponsorship partners who we thank and rely on for moderating individual team member costs. However, due to the location of this World Championship effort, one can expect to help cover a commensurate level of the costs.

We are now moving into the USA “development team” stage of the process. This team is open to newcomers… there are many newer names showing up on the top of leader-boards and many new teams that are making positive impacts. If you are interested in being part of Team USA, please consider making that commitment. We would like to hear from you by March 23, 2018.

Team Time Expectations
Attendance at SWN and US Nationals will be expected for 2019 and 2020. We will also likely expect the final team to attend the Berger SWN in 2021 or have an alternative site for a final practice prior to our trip. We will try to have afternoon or evening team sessions during these events however we may have team days just prior or after these events to maximize the use of individual travel dollars and time. We will also likely have additional team training dates in 2019 and 2020, likely on east coast ranges to facilitate best availability for all.

Shooting/Coaching Position Opportunities
We are equally passionate about developing coaching/shooting teams for winning gold medal efforts in both the Richardson Cup (8-man) and Rutland Cup (4-man) World Championship Events. Obtaining a shooting or coaching spot on one of these teams is an absolute gauntlet of a commitment and consistent strong results will be required as the USA is blessed with wonderful depth. We encourage all, with proven success in our sport, to test themselves at this highest of levels.

Team Try-Out Dates and Locations
Initial and primary tryouts are planned during the 2018 US National Championships in Raton, NM and the 2019 SW Nationals in Phoenix, AZ. There may also be an early 2019 tryout date at Butner, NC.

If you are interested in further information, please contact our Team USA leadership:

Dan Bramley, Captain USA F-Open
usrifleteam2021fopen [at] gmail.com
Phil Kelley, Jr., Captain USA F-TR
usarifle2021 [at] gmail.com
Rick Jensen, Captain USA U25
U25USAFclass [at] gmail.com

Team USA U.S. U.S.A. f-class f-open Raton Ben Avery F-TR Under 25 Dan Bramley Phil Kelley Rick Jensen

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February 12th, 2018

Berger SW Nationals 2018 — Looking Back at a Great Event

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone
Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher

The 2018 Berger SW Nationals are now history. The fun, action, challenges, and rewards now pass into memories. Once again, the Berger SWN was a great shooting match — a great way to advance your shooting skills, reconnect with old friends, and enjoy warm weather. If you are a serious long-range shooter, this is definitely one of the best-managed, most rewarding matches on the planet. In 2018 the match “sold out” in a matter of hours. If you plan to go next year, watch for the registration notices. You don’t want to be left out.

Berger Southwest Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Capstone

2018 Berger Southwest Nationals Long Range Results

The SWN has three new individual champions. Congratulations to the three divisional Match Winners: Bob Sebold (F-Open), Phillip Kelley Jr. (F-TR), and Allen Thomas (Sling).

Top Five Overall – F-Open
Bob Sebold, 843-49X
Keith Glasscock, 843-38X
Jay Christopherson, 841-45X
Stephen Potter, 841-37X
James Crofts, 841-34X
Top Five Overall – F-TR
Phillip Kelley Jr., 838-35X
Ellis Berry, 837-42X
Niklas Montin, 836-35X
Peter Johns, 835-36X
Edward Shelley, 832-33X
Top Five Overall – Sling
Allen Thomas, 844-37X
Oliver Milanovic, 843-45X
Trudie Fay, 842-32X
Nancy Tompkins, 840-43X
Angus McLeod, 840-43X

View Complete SWN Match Results on McMillan Facebook Page »

Berger Southwest Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Capstone

The Berger SW Nationals are made possible through the principal support of Berger Bullets and Lapua, both part of the Capstone Precision Group, which also distributes Vihtavuori powder and SK Ammunition in the USA. Berger and Lapua both generously donated product prizes for 2018 SWN competitors.

Berger Southwest Nationals Berger Lapua Capstone

Today’s Champions… And Tomorrow’s New Talent

Here is the Sling Winner, Allen Thomas, with Bill Gravatt, President of Capstone Precision Group. (Bill was formerly the President of Sinclair International).

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

Bob Sebold, of Team Lapua/Brux/Borden also won the individual F-Class SWN Title. He’s definitely one of the nation’s top F-Open pilots.

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

There were a dozen or so talented juniors competing at the Berger SW Nationals. Some of the youngsters posted scores that would put the “old guys” to shame. We definitely expect to see some of these young shooters standing on the podium at future Berger SWN events. We asked them to strike a “cool pose” and the Harris boys delivered…

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

Berger SW Nationals Gallery — Parting Shots

Does this competitor know something we don’t know. Perhaps he is testing a new “Stealth” rifle stock from McMillan. Or maybe this is some kind of Zen body/mind melding practice. We do advocate “dry firing”, but that normally involves holding a real rifle…

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

Look carefully and you’ll see quite a lot reflected in this SWN competitor’s shooting eyewear. Can you identify the type of rifle?

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

Michelle Gallagher — She’s probably smiling at an ‘X’ — or maybe she just nailed a tough wind call. The SW Nationals is a great event because of the hard work and dedication of talented folks like Michelle.

Berger Southwest Nationals Ben Avery Phoenix Capstone

Can you name all the pieces of hardware in this image? We see at least a dozen. Don’t forget the little items like the bubble level and mirage shield.

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

How do you anchor a SEB MINI coaxial rest in under ten seconds? With MAXI feet of course! These over-size hooves belong to shooter Mark Fairbairn, a very tall, MAXI-sized Australian. Who needs to pound those F-Class feet into the ground with a mallet when you can simply “stand and deliver”.

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

We think some competitors came to Ben Avery just for the great Barbecue lunches — well that plus the great weather and the amazing prize table. Everyone goes home a winner in one way or another.

Berger Southwest Nationals food barbecue BBQ

Texas gunsmith Richard King showed us the biggest rifle action we’ve ever seen. This 13-lb monster is the BAT .50 BMG Action. Honestly it was HUGE — with the bolt fully extended it was the size of your forearm (to the finger tips). Richard joked “This weighs almost as much as an F-TR rifle (before optic) all by itself”.

Berger Southwest Nationals Bill Gravatt Capstone

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February 10th, 2018

Berger SWN 2018 — Friday Match and Gear Highlights

Berger SW Nationals John Whidden Palma F-TR
Reigning NRA National Long-Range Champion John Whidden in action on the 1000-yard line. John’s rifle features a centerfire action in an aluminum Anschutz small-bore stock.

There are now two more days left for the 2018 Berger SW Nationals, with the competition heating up. From this point on, all shooting will be at 1000 yards. Friday was challenging, with increasing wind velocities over the day. Shifts were harder to figure out, and some talented shooters dropped 8-10 points. Competition was fierce. In the sling division, our friend Gary Eliseo of Competition Machine came out on top via tie-breaker. Gary and Stuart Mackey shot identical scores on Friday at each distance: 150-8X, 150-7X, and 149-8X, both finishing with 449-23X. That’s as close as it gets.

One shot left… will that last bullet end up in the X-ring? We hope so…

Saturday Shooting — Team and Individual Competition at 1000
Today, Saturday 2/10/18, all shooting will be at 1000 yards, with both Individual and 4-person Team competition. The format calls for two, 20-shot matches for both individuals and teams. Good luck to all!

MATCH RESULTS: Complete Daily Scores and On-Going Match Standings are posted on the McMillan Fiberglass Stocks Facebook Page. Here are Top Five in each Division, at day’s end on Friday, 2/9/2018:

Top Five F-Open
Bob Sebold — 449-30X
Danny J. Biggs — 449-26X
Jay Christopherson — 448-28X
Stephen Potter — 448-23X
Ubaldino De Arellano — 448-23X
Top Five F-TR
Ellis Berry — 448-26X
Peter Johns — 448-25X
Philip Kelley Jr. — 448-21X
Doug Boyer — 447-27X
Greg Barkley — 447-23X
Top Five Sling
Gary Eliseo — 449-23X
Stuart Mackey — 449-23X
Bill Vaughn — 448-28X
Curtis Gordon — 448-23X
Nancy Tompkins — 447-30X

No Worries Mate — Mark Swaps Stocks in Mid-Match

Berger SW Nationals Mark Fairburn Australia  Palma F-TR

Australian Mark Fairbairn performed a “Quick Fix” during Thursday’s match. His F-Open rifle, in a conventional fiberglass stock, was giving him random vertical during one yardage: “I had a bit of a problem with elevation — the stock was hitting somewhere [causing vertical]. I was X-X-X then a shot popped up in the 9 ring with no good reason. So I figured I better put a new stock on it. I got my old aluminium stock I brought from Australia and quickly adjusted it to fit on the Stolle.” Right on the berm he swapped his barreled action into the metal stock of his own design. The clock was ticking… but the story had a happy ending. For the next yardage Mark shot a brilliant 150-7X, not dropping a point. So the “Quick Fix” did the trick. As they say Down Under — “Good on Ya, Mate!”

Patriotic Pair of Stars and Stripes F-Open Rigs

Berger Stars Stripes rifles SWN F-TR

There were two very patriotic F-Open rifles side-by-side on the firing line yesterday. These Stars and Stripes rigs were squadded right next to each other just by chance — but it made for a great show.

Like Father, Like Daughter — The Cortinas

Berger SW Nationals Erik Amber Cortina F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

Erik Cortina, member of Team Lapua/Brux/Borden, is one of the nation’s top F-Class shooters. But on Friday he was only the second-best Cortina at 1000 yards. Erik’s daughter, Amberleeana, posted a 147-7X to edge her Dad by 3 Xs (Erik scored 147-4X) from the 1000-yard line.

F-Class is for Everyone – All Ages, Guys AND Gals

Berger SW Nationals female shooter F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

F-Class is not just a man’s game. There were many lady shooters on the firing line, in both F-Open and F-TR Divisions. Some shooting instructors says females learn faster than their male counterparts, so they can excel quickly in the shooting sports.

Cool Gadget (Literally) — The BarrelCool Device

Barrel Cool F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

The clever BarrelCool is a dual-purpose device that serves as an Empty Chamber Indicator (ECI) while cooling your barrel with a battery-powered fan. This is American ingenuity at its best.

Spotting Scope Support Arm Attached to Front Rest

Berger SW Nationals Richard King F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

Texas gunsmith Richard King of King’s Armory had a very clever set-up for his spotting scope. He has fabricated a support arm that holds the spotter very close to his rifle. With this configuration, Richard can view through the spotting scope without shifting his position on the rifle. This puts the spotting scope’s eyepiece just a few inches from his riflescope eyepiece so he can move easily from one optic to the other. This set-up also reduces the amount of gear Richard carries to the line. No separate spotting scope base, stand, or tripod is needed. This is a simple, elegant solution. We bet, with a little tinkering and design work, a similar system could be mounted to a SEB or Bald Eagle front rest

Labor of Love — Do-It-Yourself F-TR Stock Milled from Aluminum

Berger SW Nationals Erik Cortina F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

We saw many interesting F-TR rigs. Here’s an one-of-a-kind stock, machined from aluminum billet by shooter/owner Mark Roberts of Lone Star Tumblers. There are a ton of man-hours in this unique stock.

Bird’s Eye Ben Avery — A Look at the Range

If you’ve never visited the Ben Avery Facility north of Phoenix, Arizona, here is a video shot in 2016 that shows the 1000-yard range (including drone footage). The desert range at Ben Avery is something special — check out this “birds-eye view”. This video also includes an interview with Derek Rodgers, the current F-TR World Champion, King of 2 Miles, and the only man who who has earned both F-Open AND F-TR National titles.

Ben Avery by Air — We are repeating this 2016 video here because it has a great aerial view of the Mid Tompkins 1000-yard Range at Ben Avery

Erik Stecker of Berger Bullets visited the match Friday. Here he talks with members of Team Berger Bullets. Eric now oversees operations of Berger, as part of the Capstone Precision Group (Berger, Lapua, SK, Vihtavuori). That’s Walt Berger in the background in the red shirt.

Berger SW Nationals Capstone Precision Berger Bullets F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

There were plenty of smiles on the firing line — the Berger SW Nationals event offers great weather, great competition, great camaraderie, and a great prize table.

Berger SW Nationals Erik Cortina F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

Swap-Meet at Ben Avery
After the matches concluded on Friday, a Swap Meet was held in the Club House. There were some great bargains to be found. Can you name the past National Champions in the background of this photo?

Berger SW Nationals Swap Meet Nancy Tompkins James Crofts F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

Parting Shot: Glamtactical by Cerus Rifleworks

Berger SW Nationals Capstone Precision Berger Bullets F-Class Sling Palma F-TR

We spotted a stunning “Glamtactical” rig from Cerus Rifleworks in the Nightforce booth. Believe it or not, Cerus owner Will McCloskey found this stunning wood buried in a “bargain bin”, and snagged the highly-figured walnut blank for under $10. Steal of the year! This rifle features a carbon-wrapped barrel with muzzle brake.

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February 6th, 2018

Weakside Bolt Placement — The Competitive Advantages

left port McMillan Rifle

Most bolt-action rifle shooters work the bolt with their trigger-pulling hand. This is because most rifles sold to right-handed shooters come with right-side bolts, while “lefty” rifles come with left-side bolts. This “standard” configuration requires the shooter to take his dominant, trigger-pulling hand off the stock to cycle the bolt, then re-position his hand on the stock, and “re-claim” the trigger. Often the shooter must lift or move his head to work the bolt, and that also requires him to re-establish his cheek weld after each and every shot. Not good.

This really doesn’t make much sense for precision shooting with fore-end support*. There is a better way. If you leave your trigger hand in position and work the bolt (and feed rounds) with the opposite hand, then you don’t need to shift grip and head position with each shot. All this requires is a weakside-placed bolt, i.e. a left bolt for a right-handed shooter or a right bolt for a left-handed shooter. The video below shows a “Lefty” working a right bolt. Note how efficient this is:

As our friend Boyd Allen explains: “If you think about it, if you are going to work with a factory action where your options are left bolt and left port or right bolt and right port, and you are building a rifle that will only be shot from a rest, using the left/left for a RH shooter or using a right/right for a LH shooter works better than the conventional configuration”.

Shoot Like a Champ and Work the Bolt with Your Weakside Hand
Derek Rodgers, the current F-TR World Champion, the reigning King of 2 Miles, and the only person to have won BOTH F-Open and F-TR U.S. National Championships, runs this kind of “opposite” bolt set-up. Yep, Derek shoots right-handed with a left bolt. Though Derek is a right-hander, he shoots with a Left Bolt/Left Port (LBLP) action. He pulls the trigger with his right index finger, while working the left-side bolt with his left (weakside) hand. This allows him to stay in position, and maintain his cheekweld. He places his right hand on the grip, while manipulating the bolt (and feeding rounds) with his non-trigger-pulling hand.

Current King of 2 Miles (and F-TR World Champion) Derek Rodgers
left port McMillan Rifle Derek Rodgers

This is the rifle with which Derek won the 2013 F-TR National Championship.
left port McMillan Rifle Derek Rodgers

*For true standing, off-hand shooting (whether in competition or on a hunt), a conventional strongside bolt placement makes sense, since the non-dominant arm must support the front of the rifle all the time. When shooting from bipod or rest, it’s a different story.

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing, Shooting Skills 6 Comments »
February 5th, 2018

New Official Load Data for Latest High-BC Sierra MatchKings

Sierra MatchKing 2018 New bullets 95gr 150gr 200gr 230gr .223 Rem .308 Win

In recent months, Sierra has unveiled four very serious, ultra-high-BC MatchKing bullets in .224, .264 (6.5 mm), and .308 calibers. And just last week Sierra has released initial load data for these four new projectiles. CLICK HERE to get the latest official load data for these four new bullets.

High-BC MatchKings Tipped at Factory
Sierra recently released a new-for-2018, 95-grain .224 projectile, Sierra product #1396, with a claimed G1 BC of 0.600 — mighty impressive for a .22-caliber bullet. Next up is the new 6.5mm (.264 caliber) 150-grainer with an 0.713 G1 BC. This could be a game-changer for the 6.5-284 and new 6.5 PRC short magnum. There are also two new .308-caliber MatchKings, a 200-grainer with 0.715 G1 BC, and a new 230-grainer with a stunning 0.800 G1 BC. Many of these New Generation MatchKings now come “tipped” from the factory for more uniform BC.

Sierra Bullets has LOAD DATA for these four new bullets. If you handload for .223 Remington, 22-250, 6.5 x284 Norma, .308 Winchester, or .300 Winchester Magnum, check out this new reloading data.


» GET 2018 New Bullet DATA from Sierra in PDF format

.224 Cal 95gr HPBT MatchKing #1396
6.5mm 150gr HPBT MatchKing #1755
.308 Cal 200gr HPBT MatchKing #2231
.308 Cal 230gr HPBT MatchKing #2251

Sierra Bullets Load Data MatchKing .223 .224 6.5 mm .308 200gr 230gr
Sierra MatchKing 2018 New bullets 95gr 150gr 200gr 230gr .223 Rem .308 Win

Sierra MatchKing 2018 New bullets 95gr 150gr 200gr 230gr .223 Rem .308 Win

Sierra MatchKing 2018 New bullets 95gr 150gr 200gr 230gr .223 Rem .308 Win

Sierra MatchKing 2018 New bullets 95gr 150gr 200gr 230gr .223 Rem .308 Win

Sierra bullets header

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 4 Comments »
January 28th, 2018

Stunning New F-TR Rifle for James Crofts

James Crofts CigarCop KW Precision Cerus Walnut Laminated Stock Borden Brux fluted fluting Phoenix bipod

A past F-TR National Champion, James “Jimmy” Crofts is one of America’s top F-Class competitors. And now this F-TR ace has a stunning new rifle in his arsenal. AccurateShooter Forum member CigarCop, head honcho of KW Precision LLC, recently completed a new F-TR rig for Crofts. This handsome, state-of-the-art rifle features top-tier components: Borden action, twin Brux barrels, Cerus RifleWorks F-TR Stock, and Jewell trigger, all resting on a wide-base Phoenix Bipod.

James Crofts CigarCop KW Precision Cerus Walnut Laminated Stock Borden Brux fluted fluting Phoenix bipod

James Jim Crofts f-class f-tr rifle brux borden cerus
James Crofts photo by Kent Reeve.

Have a good look at these photos below. Yes, envy is the appropriate reaction. With the smooth operation of the Borden action and the predictable accuracy of Brux barrels, we bet James’s new rig will shoot as good as it looks.

James Crofts CigarCop KW Precision Cerus Walnut Laminated Stock Borden Brux fluted fluting Phoenix bipod

CigarCop actually chambered two barrels for James, with different fluting patterns — conventional linear flutes for one tube, and lines of staggered ovals for the other. Finished length for both barrels is 30″. Yes it looks cool, but the fluting was done mainly to save weight with the 30″-long lengths. CigarCop tells us the complete rifle, without scope and rings, weighs just under 15 pounds. Max allowed weight for an F-TR rifle, with scope, is 18.18 pounds (8.25 kg).

James Crofts CigarCop KW Precision Cerus Walnut Laminated Stock Borden Brux fluted fluting Phoenix bipod

To learn more about this impressive F-TR rifle build by CigarCop, visit our AccurateShooter Forum and read KW Precision’s F-TR Gun-Building Thread. The stock was created on an automated CNC milling machine by Cerus Rifleworks.

James Crofts CigarCop KW Precision Cerus Walnut Laminated Stock Borden Brux fluted fluting Phoenix bipod

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 5 Comments »
January 2nd, 2018

Good Reading — Shooting Sports USA January “Rifle Issue”

Sighting in rifle technique zero zeroing

There are three notable articles in the latest January 2018 Digital Edition of Shooting Sports USA Magazine. F-Class competitors will definitely want to read the report on the 2017 World Championships. And hand-loaders will appreciate the insightful article on the AMP induction annealing machine. The third recommended article provides tips and techniques for sighting in hunting, tactical, and benchrest rifles. Access the entire SSUSA 54-page January 2018 eZine by clicking THIS LINK.

F-Class 2017 World Championships in Canada
Story by Larry Bartholome

Sighting in rifle technique zero zeroing

Fifteen years ago, the very first F-Class World Championships were held in Canada. In 2017, the Championships returned to Canada for the fifth edition of the match. This year there were triple the number of entries, representing the growing popularity of F-Class competition. Notably, this year’s event was preceded by the Canadian F-Class National Championships. This issue contains a full report on the event, written by Larry Bartolome, a past National F-Open Champion. Shown at right above is the new F-TR World Champion, our friend Derek Rodgers from New Mexico.

AMP Annealing Machine — Annealing .30-06 Brass for Vintage Military Rifles
Story by Art Merrill

Sighting in rifle technique zero zeroing

Produced in New Zealand, the AMP (Annealing Made Perfect) unit is a sophisticated, microprocessor-controlled annealing machine that achieves ultra-consistent results using an electrical INDUCTION process. By contrast, with butane torch systems you may have to adjust the system when the ambient temperature changes, or even if your butane fuel is slightly different. In this month’s issue of Shooting Sports USA, Field Editor Art Merrill uses the AMP to anneal .30-06 brass for vintage military rifles. The review shows how to use the AMP and explains the advantages of the Induction Annealing vs. flame-based annealing.

Sighting In Your Rifle — Tips for All Shooters
Story by Jim Shults

Sighting in rifle technique zero zeroing

This month’s “Rifle Issue” of Shooting Sports USA focuses on rifle shooting in various forms. Author Jim Shults has written an lengthy article offering tips and techniques for sighting-in your rifle. Shults says “The trick in effective sighting-in (zeroing) is shot-to-shot consistency”. To achieve that consistency, you must first eliminate driver error. You need a stable set-up. Good ammo is also essential and Shults offers an important tip: “Keep your ammo cool and out of direct sun at the range”. Shults also explains there is a big difference between load testing and zeroing. You want to finalize your zero AFTER you have developed your match or hunting load.

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December 5th, 2017

Competition Hardware — The Modern F-Open Rifle

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

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

The Anatomy of a Modern F-Class Open Rifle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion

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

– 2015 F-Class Open National Championship, Silver Medal

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

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

– 2013 U.S. National Team Member

– 2017 U.S. National Development Team Member

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gunsmithing 6 Comments »
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 »