January 21st, 2015

Norma to Make 6mm Dasher and .284 Win Brass for Bullets.com

Bullets.com has contracted with Norma to produce 1,000,000 pieces of .284 Winchester and 6mm Dasher brass (500,000 of each type). This is big news for competitive shooters. The .284 Win cartridge is a proven winner in F-Class competition and the 6 Dasher is a record-setting mid-range benchrest cartridge. It’s tough to beat the Dasher at 300-600 yards, and the .284 Win is probably the most successful cartridge for F-Open shooters.

Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia (left) and Norma Managing Director Paul-Erik Toivo “ink the deal”.
Bullets.com Norma .284 Winchester Dasher 6mm Brass contract order

Shooters should be excited about these new offerings. Bullets.com’s contract with Norma calls for advanced production methods to make sure the new brass is truly “match-grade” and long-lasting. To ensure that primer pockets stay tight for many firings, the caseheads on the new brass will be double-stamped for improved hardness and strength. Additionally the new brass will go through an additional draw stage to ensure ultra-uniform casewall thickness. With these extra manufacturing steps, this new 6mm Dasher and .284 Win brass should be the best brass Norma has ever produced, as Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia explains in the video below:

Shiraz Balolia Explains the Qualities of the New Brass

Shiraz reports: “Normally, Norma has about 25 steps of quality control (QC) during the production process of brass. They told us that our first shipments will have almost 30 steps to make sure that the brass is absolutely flawless when it leaves the factory.”

For illustration only — actual specifications may be slightly different.

6mm Dasher

Bullets.com Dasher 6mm 6 Norma brass Balolia Shiraz

.284 Winchester

Bullets.com Dasher 6mm 6 Norma brass Balolia Shiraz

6mm dasher brass6mm Dasher without Fire-Forming Hassles
Until now, if you wanted to shoot a Dasher, you had to go through the time-consuming and laborious process of forming brass from the parent 6mmBR Norma case. You had to blow the shoulder forward, either through fire-forming or hydro-forming. Now that’s all changed — you will soon be able to take perfect 6mm Dasher brass out of the box, and “load and shoot”.

The Deal is done. New Norma .284 Win brass will start arriving in the USA in March, 2015, while the new Dasher brass is expected in late summer 2015.
balnorma02

IMPORTANT — The above diagrams were made 4 years ago with QuickDESIGN. They are for illustration purposes ONLY. These are NOT reamer prints, and there may be small differences compared to the Norma .284 Win and 6mm Dasher brass ordered by Bullets.com. Do NOT spec reamers based on the above illustrations. Wait ’til we have the actual Norma brass to measure.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 19 Comments »
January 19th, 2015

F-TR Top Guns Share Their Secrets

F-TR Stan Pate SavageOver the past few years, interest in F-Class competition has grown dramatically. SHOT Show opens tomorrow, so we thought we’d reprise an interesting interview captured two years back. At the 2013 SHOT Show we had a chance to talk about F-TR competition with U.S. National F-TR Team members Mike Miller and Stan Pate, two of America’s top F-TR shooters. We are reprising this interview for readers who may have missed it the first time around. If you shoot F-TR (even if you’re a High Master), we think you’ll learn a few things from this interview.

In this interview, Mike and Stan agreed to share their vast store of knowledge about long-range shooting. In a wide-ranging dialog, we discussed many topics of interest to F-Class shooters: position set-up, bipod shooting techniques (and hardware), gun-handling, and bullet selection. In addition, Mike and Stan offer some great advice on wind reading and precision reloading. These general tips will benefit all competitors, no matter what their discipline.

Mike Miller Stan Pate F-TR F-T/R

If you shoot F-TR or you are considering getting involved in this fast-growing shooting sport, definitely watch this 14-minute video interview from start to finish. Mike and Stan are true F-TR gurus whose knowledge of the F-TR game has been gleaned from years of top-level competition. If you shoot a .308 from a bipod, we guarantee you can learn much from Mike and Stan. If you follow their advice, we bet you’ll see your scores improve in future matches.

Watch Video for Tips from U.S. National F-TR Team Members Mike Miller and Stan Pate

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January 6th, 2015

The Eyes Have It — Reduced 300-Yard F-Class Targets

NRA Target Printable target Center 300yd 300 yard AccurateShooterIt’s much easier to see bullet holes “in the white” than in the black center of a High Power or F-Class Target. That’s why some shooters use “negative” black-to-white targets for practice sessions. Also, even those who compete at 800-1000 yards find it useful to practice at 300 yards. At that shorter distance, you can, on most days, see bullet holes with a good spotting scope. (Forget trying to see bullet holes at 1000 yards with any spotting scope, no matter how expensive).

The only problem with practicing at 300 yards is finding a correctly “shrunken” version of the target actually used in long range competition. Well guys, you’re in luck. One of our Forum members, Sleepygator, has produced “reduced-distance” targets (with black ring-lines on white background) for practice use at 300 yards. Only the center 10 and X rings are black, so you can see bullet holes easily “in the white” on most of the target (and this uses less ink when printing). There is an official reduced-distanced standard for 300-yard F-Class matches. This utilizes the NRA No. MR-63FC – F-Class Target Center which is pasted over the MR-63 target. It provides a 1.42″ X-Ring, 2.85″ 10-Ring, and 5.85″ Nine-Ring. (The dimensions of F-Class targets are found in the NRA High Power Rules, Sec. 22, part 4.)

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

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

Permalink Competition, Tactical 1 Comment »
January 4th, 2015

F-Class Nationals Featured in January Shooting Sports USA eZine

The 2014 F-Class National Championships were held in Phoenix this past October. It was a well-attended match with nearly 170 competitors from around the nation. In a tight battle, James Crofts (1574-59X) edged past champion Derek Rodgers (1573-65X) by a single point in the F-TR division. In F-Open, Emil Kovan (1587-83X) shot well to beat Danny Biggs (1585-83X) by a two-point margin. Both Kovan and Biggs racked up 83 Xs — that’s mighty impressive shooting. Overall, conditions were generally good (if hot), and many new records were set. The course of fire was 160 shots, all at 1000 yards.

Shooting Sports USA Larry Bartholome

An excellent, detailed day-by-day report on the F-Class Nationals appears in the January edition of Shooting Sports USA, just released. Prepared by past National F-Open Champion Larry Bartholome (aka “LBart” in our Forum), this article provides unique insights by one of the leading competitors in the game. Larry may be a senior citizen but he can still shoot. In fact, Larry observes that age is no barrier to success in the F-Open division: “In the ten-year history of F-Class, the F-Open discipline has been won four times by senior or grand senior shooters. John Brewer was 73 when he won in 2004. In 2007 Bob Bock won as a 65-year-old senior in Raton, NM. Jim Murphy was a 65-year-old senior when he won in lodie, WI. Finally, Larry Bartholome won in 2013 at Raton at the age of 73, even though he felt like 103. All of these senior/grand senior champions are members of Team Berger, and still shoot.”

Another highlight of the 2014 F-Class Nationals was the performance of Team Long Shots. Team members pleased the crowd by shooting in their Halloween costumes on October 31st. The colorful costumes (Snow White and the four dwarfs) didn’t seem to hurt their performance. In fact it may have brought the Long Shots some luck. All four marksmen went through the match without dropping a single point. This gave Team Longshots an 800-42X score at the end of the day to secure the team win, setting a new team record in the process. Larry Bartholome writes: “This is the first-ever 800-point team score in the history of F-Class.”

Shooting Sports USA Larry Bartholome

You can read the FREE eZine version of Shooting Sports USA online. Along with Larry’s F-Class article, this January edition includes coverage of various state and regional shooting championships, plus a field test of the new Match-Grade .30-06 Springfield Ammunition from Creedmoor Sports. This is excellent stuff, produced with premium Lapua brass and Lapua Scenar bullets. Tester Art Merrill reported this ammo was very straight, and demonstrated excellent accuracy on target. If you shoot Garand matches, you may want to get your hands on this high-quality ammo. See the test results below.

New Creedmoor Sports .30-06 Ammo Reviewed:
Creedmoor Sports .30-06 Ammunition Ammo

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December 9th, 2014

Champ ‘Feels the Joy’ — Shoots 200-9X at 1K with Joy-Pod

James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-classThis past weekend, reigning F-TR National Champion James Crofts shot a match using the latest generation of the SEB Joy-stick Bipod, aka “Joy-Pod”. Apparently, James didn’t have any problems adjusting to the coaxial Joy-Pod. James definitely “felt the joy”, shooting a 200-9X score, his first-ever perfect 200 at 1000 yards in F-TR.

James reports: “I used the SEB Joy-Pod, it was amazingly stable. The Joy-Pod works amazing.” James is a “releaser” not a holder. When shooting with the Joy-Pod, he releases the joy-stick handle right as he fires: “I let go when breaking the shot”. Some other guys maintain light contact, allowing the joy-stick shaft to float back between/over their fingers during recoil. But it looks like James has a method that works.

SEB Joy-Pod Fitted on Savage-Actioned PR&T F-TR Rig
Here’s the rig James was shooting. Yes it has a Savage action, complete with AccuTrigger. James proves you don’t have to have a $1200.00+ custom action to shoot 10s and Xs at long range. The rifle was built by Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool. James wanted to thank Keith Trap (Forum member KT) for helping James do all of the testing on this rifle. James tells us: “I have decided this year I want to work more on myself as an individual shooter and not spend as much time [working with] my ammo and my rifles.”

CLICK PHOTO to See Full-screen image with more detail:
James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-class

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and yes that’s a Savage action in this rig!
James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-class

Note the grippy suede base-pad under the Edgewood rear bag, which features low-friction ear material.
James Crofts F-TR bipod joy-pod joystick bipod F-class

USA F-TR National Champion James Crofts.
James Crofts FTR F-class joy-pod joystick F-TR SEB
Photo by Kent Reeve.

Permalink Competition, New Product 7 Comments »
November 5th, 2014

F-TR Triumph — Team Sinclair’s Record-Breaking Performance

Want to see how some of the best rifle shooters in the world operate in high-stakes, 1000-yard competition? This video shows Team Sinclair powering to victory at the 2014 F-Class National Championships in Phoenix. Scoring an impressive 792-38X, Team Sinclair topped the field, winning the 4-man team title and setting a new 1000-yard F-TR National Team Record in the process. It was a close match, with America’s “powerhouse” F-TR teams battling it out for the top three spots: Team Sinclair (Gold), Team X-Men (Silver), and Team Michigan (Bronze). Team Sinclair’s wind coach Ray Gross did a superb job. Ray also serves as the Captain of the USA F-TR Rifle Team.

F-Class nationals Team video Sinclair X-Men

Along with the Team Sinclair shooters, this video also features Team X-Men (orange shirts), and Team Michigan. Starting at the 2:05 time-mark, you can hear Bryan Litz calling wind for Team Michigan. Watch the mirage in the video and see if you can match Bryan’s wind calls with the movement of the mirage. This is a great opportunity to see F-TR Top Guns in action. Team score cards appear in the video, starting at the 3:01 time-mark.

Watch Team Sinclair, Team X-Men, and Team Michigan at 2014 F-Class Nationals:

Warning — Video starts with loud rock music. You may want to turn down your speakers if at work.

F-Class nationals Team video Sinclair X-Men

F-Class nationals Team video Sinclair X-Men

Thanks to Paul Phillips for editing and uploading this video. Photos courtesy Nightforce Optics.
Permalink - Videos, Competition 1 Comment »
November 2nd, 2014

Jim Crofts and Emil Kovan Top Field at U.S. F-Class Championships

Congratulations to James Crofts (F-TR) and to Emil Kovan (F-Open), our new 2014 F-Class U.S. National Champions. Crofts, F-TR Team USA Vice-Captain, won the F-TR Title with a 1574-59X score. Emil Kovan took the F-Open National Championship with a 1587-83X. Well done, gentlemen!

Battle of the Ages in F-TR Division
USA F-TR teammates James Crofts and Derek Rodgers entertained all with a 3-day battle that will be remembered for many years to come. James Crofts took home the title of US F-TR National Champion by just one point, scoring 1574-59X to Derek’s 1573-65X. These two great shooters, both at the top of their game, were neck and neck right down to the final shot. Rodgers had the higher X-Count but fell just one point short. He was shooting Berger 200gr Match Hybrid bullets with Varget powder. Crofts was also shooting heavy .30-caliber projectiles.

The battle between James Crofts (left) and Derek Rodgers (right) went down to the wire.
F-Class 2014 Championship Phoenix

In the F-TR Division, William Litz was third with 1563-58X. Brad Sauve, 3-Time National Champ, was close behind, with 1563-54X, to finish fourth in a very high-scoring event.

F-Class 2014 Championship Phoenix

James wanted to give credit to others who helped him along the way: “There are a lot of people that I need to thank that have helped me in my quest to become the U.S. National Champion, twice. First, I thank my family for giving me there unconditional support throughout it all. Second is Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle and Tool, he builds the best F-Class rifles in my opinion hands down. The rifle I used was the second F-TR rifle Ray has built for me. Thank you Ray.

Next, [I want to thank] all my teammates from the NorthState X-Men: Phil Kelley, Tracy Hogg, Joseph Conley, Mike Hardy, Ian Klemm and Radoslaw Czupryna. Your quest for perfection and determination make us all better and it is my honor to be your coach and captain.

F-Class 2014 Championship Phoenix

Last [I want to thank] all my team mates from F-TR Team USA — thank you all. I just hope I can represent our growing sport in a positive manner. — James E Crofts, 2012 and 2014 F-TR US FTR National Champion

Congratulations to all those who participated in the 2014 F-Class National Championship. There were many superb performances at this event, and new National individual and team records were set in Phoenix this past week. F-Class continues to grow in popularity, and with each passing year, the standard of precision improves, and the competition gets tougher.

F-Class 2014 Championship Phoenix

Medal photo by Shiraz Balolia, Captain of Team Grizzly, winners of the F-Open Team Championship.

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November 1st, 2014

Top Teams Smash Records at F-Class Nationals

There have been some remarkable team performances at the 2014 F-Class Nationals. With good conditions, talented shooters, and ultra-accurate rifles, three teams have “raised the bar” with record-breaking performances this week in Phoenix.

Team Long Shots Breaks Records with 800-42X Score at 1000 Yards
Congratulations to the Long Shots rifle team for breaking the 80-shot, 1000-yard, F-Open Civilian and Open Team Match National Records with a score of 800-42X. That is amazing shooting! Give credit to Michelle Gallagher, David Bailey, Ken Dickerman, David Gosnell, and Mark Walker.

Michelle Gallagher (as Snow White) on Halloween with her four team-mates.
F-Class National Championship team F-TR Phoenix

Team Grizzly — F-Open National Champions
Shiraz Balolia reports: “Team Grizzly just won the F-Open National Team Championship. This is the third major match that Trudie Fay has coached four shooters into winning. She was also our coach when she coached us to a win at the last National Championship in Raton, and then again in February this year (2014) when we set a new National record in the Palma course in Phoenix at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. Trudie is a heck of a wind reader!” Shooters are: Kenny Adams, Shiraz Balolia (Captain), Emil Kovan, and John Myers.

F-Class National Championship team F-TR Phoenix

Team Sinclair — Six-Time National F-TR Champions
Ray Gross Posted: “I just got home after the Team Sinclair victory dinner… teammate Derek Rodgers set a new 1000-yard national record Wednesday, then beat it for a new, higher, record Thursday. Then we won the team National Championship today and set a new National Record doing it! We are ‘stone cold’, 6-time National Champions. I’m proud to be a part.”

F-Class National Championship team F-TR Phoenix

Permalink Competition, News 2 Comments »
October 28th, 2014

Monte’s Manfrotto — F-Class Spotting Scope Stand

Here’s a very interesting spotting scope stand, from Forum member (and ace F-Class shooter) Monte Milanuk. You can see this stable rig can be adjusted super-low for prone shooting. The components are from Italian photography accessory maker Manfrotto (but it’s not as expensive as you might think).

Click for larger image
Spotting Scope Stand Monte Milanuk Manfrotto

Monte tells us about his spotting scope stand, which is really a conventional photography tripod adjusted to a very low position, with a special head:

This stand has a Manfrotto 322RC2 pistol-grip head to make positioning easier. It actually goes even lower, and much, much higher. Both the head and the tripod are about $170-ish each, so it’s a bit more expensive than a Ray-Vin, a little less than a Creedmoor Polecat, and a whole lot more flexible overall.

This Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod is actually a little on the big side – probably should have gone with a Manfrotto 190 model (couple inches shorter on the legs) so it can be a bit of a hassle to set up when you have to shoot two-to-a-mound a la Fullbore.

It’s probably not as [expensive] as you might think… a Ray-Vin F-Class stand (without head) is about $170 from Creedmoor Sports. A Ray-Vin stand head is $150, plus the outrigger attachment is another $100+. I’ve got two of them downstairs for when I used to shoot conventional prone[.]

Comments from Facebook Fans:
Pretty high end setup, should work well for prone, not sure about other positions. — John T.

An excellent and sturdy Manfrotto stand. I have one that I use not only for a spotting scope but to mount the rifle on when allowed for unknown distance tactical matches.–Dennis Santiago

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October 14th, 2014

Shooting a Tubegun in F-Class — German Salazar Talks Equipment

When we recently ran a story about Dennis Santiago’s new snakeskin Eliseo Tubegun, folks asked us if this kind of rifle can be competitive in F-Class competition. Here’s a detailed answer to that question by German Salazar, who runs the Riflemans Journal Website.

German Salazar F-Class TubegunA while back, German Salazar published a three-part article on Shooting The Tubegun in F-Class. Links for all three segments are found below. The article covers some of the hardware German engineered to adapt his tubegun for long-range F-Class shooting with scope. If you’re an F-Classer, or just a fan of tubeguns, you should read German’s article, in all its parts.

READ Tubegun in F-Class Part 1
READ Tubegun in F-Class Part 2
READ Tubegun in F-Class Part 3

In the intro to his multi-part F-Class Tubegun article, German explains:

Salazar: The tubegun has truly changed the face of High Power shooting over the past five years or so. Specifically, the CSS (Gary Eliseo) tubeguns, which are made for a broad variety of actions and configurable to single-shot or repeater, have truly helped the sport to grow. That’s not just idle talk, the two principal factors that made the tubegun so important to our growth are the ease of transition for AR15 shooters moving into a bolt-action rifle and the absolutely ridiculous length of time it currently takes to get a stock from the conventional stock makers. My last conventional stock took well over two years from order to delivery (plain fiberglass). One of my friends has now been waiting four years for a simple wood stock for a smallbore rifle. By contrast, tubeguns, which are largely CNC machined, are delivered in a reasonably short time — weeks or a couple of months at most.

German Salazar F-Class Tubegun

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the tubegun would never have attained its present success if it weren’t for one simple fact — they are brutally accurate. I have three CSS tubeguns, one chambered in .308 and two in .30-06 and they are my favorite prone rifles due to their accuracy and great ergonomics. Those factors are just as appealing to an F-Class competitor as to a prone shooter, and indeed, the tubegun is making solid inroads into F-Class. READ MORE…

READ MORE of Part 1, The Tubegun in F-Class

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October 8th, 2014

F-Class Video Reveals a Variety of Shooting Styles

Ben Avery Shooting Facility Phoenix AZ Arizona

Forum member Rick Curtis, a shooter from the Phoenix area, put together an interesting video showing some of the F-Class shooters at a recent club match at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. Rick notes: “As you can see (hear) at the beginning of the video the first relay was fired in a ‘frisky’ headwind.” (Don’t worry about the awful wind noise — it moderates 35 seconds into the video.) It is interesting to see the different shooting styles, and the wide variety of hardware on the line.

Watch F-Class Shooting Video from Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, AZ

One fellow who watched the video made an interesting comment: “A couple of those shooters sure do a lot of moving around before and after the shot. I shoot sling and jacket and definitely try to minimize my movement. Is minimizing movement as important in F-Class?”

Rick Curtis replied: “I sent some of the individual videos back to the shooters who were in them with some recommendations that included minimizing movement, spotting scope placement, shot routine suggestions and a few other observations.”

Permalink - Videos, Competition 4 Comments »
October 3rd, 2014

Hard-To-Find Products at Grafs.com Now

Grafs.com is now featuring some hard-to-find products that are very popular with our Forum members. These are items that sell out quickly, or may be back-ordered for months. Grab ‘em while you can.

grafs.com graf magnetospeed co-ax forster berger hybrid 7mm bullets

Berger 7mm 180gr Hybrids
Graf’s has the ultra-accurate, high-BC 7mm 180gr Berger Hybrid bullet. This 7mm Hybrid is probably the most popular projectile in use by top F-Class Open shooters. Yes, 7mm Hybrids are in stock now and ready to ship for $45.99 per 100.

Forster Co-Ax Reloading Press
Graf’s has the superb Forster Co-Ax Press in stock and ready to ship. This unique product is the “Cadillac of reloading presses”. Sizing and seating dies slide into universal jaws for quick die changes. The dies can also self-align in the press for reduced run-out on your loaded rounds. If you’ve been wanting a Co-Ax, grab one now as they can be hard to find between production runs.

Magnetospeed V3 Chronograph
Graf’s now sells the remarkable Third Generation Magnetospeed Chronograph. The original Magnetospeed was a “game-changer” in the shooting industry. This compact chrono attaches directly to your barrel so you don’t need to set up a tripod, and fiddle around aligning sky-screens or diffusers. You also don’t have to worry about putting a bullet hole (or two) in the middle of your chronograph. The latest “V3″ model Magnetospeed features an improved attachment system, an upgraded display/control module, plus software enhancements. And Magnetospeed now provides a rugged polymer case that holds the “bayonet” sensing unit, display module, and all other components. Price is $379.99

NOTE: All these prices include shipping with one $7.95 flat fee per order.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals No Comments »