May 20th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almost done here… just needs priming and final painting:

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

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

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

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

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May 5th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: Costello Battles Storm Hannah with .300 WSM

Gary Costello England UK F-Class .300 WSM Win Short Magnum Speedy BAT Action SG Rifles

Gary Costello recently won the Great Britain National League 600-yard Championship in F-Open class. Gary managed that impressive win despite Storm Hannah which caused torrential rain and 40 mph winds during the match, held at the Diggle ranges. Gary, a Forum member, reports that conditions were hellacious: “The weather was terrible, with horizontal rain and winds in excess of 40 mph. In fact, some shooters got blown clean off the target and many complete misses occurred.”

There’s a special story here, as Gary had been battling a life-threatening illness for many months. Gary told us: “This was my first National Competition since September 2018. I contracted a serious heart virus in October 2018. I was critically ill until January 2019. After undergoing treatment and 100% rest I recovered slowly, my focus was the 600-Yard Shoot in April. I am now 70% there and hopefully in another 4-6 months I hope to make a full recovery.” [Editor: Gary, we are glad you are on the road to recovery.]

In today’s Sunday GunDay story, we feature Gary’s American-crafted .300 WSM F-Open rifle. Note that Gary’s rifle has a Ezell barrel tuner and a recoil-reduction system in the buttstock. The .300 WSM does generate quite a kick with those big .30-caliber bullets.

Gary Costello’s .300 WSM F-Open Rifle

BAT M Action and Cerus Stock
This rifle was purchased from Jim Fowler (FalconPilot on the AccurateShooter Forum). This SG Rifles gun, crafted by smith Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez, is a .300 WSM with BAT ‘M’ action (with nitrided bolt) and Cerus riflestock. Gary owns two other Speedy-built rifles.

Gary Costello England UK F-Class .300 WSM Win Short Magnum Speedy BAT Action SG Rifles

Gary tells us: “My BAT ‘M’ action is a multi-port so I feed with my left and it ejects on the right. Speedy has worked on the firing control and timing, and I fitted the roller-cocking piece to aid smoothness and speed.” The fluted shroud is Speedy’s signature for fire control work.

Stunning Lenzi Co-Axial Front Rest
Gary tells us this impressive joy-stick rest “is a superb piece of engineering .. made by my good friend Alberto Lenzi.” Note the large stable base, and the deluxe counter-balance weight on the front end. Gary also uses a very nice leather rear sandbag crafted by Lenzi.

Gary Costello England UK F-Class .300 WSM Win Short Magnum Speedy BAT Action SG Rifles

Riflescope — Prototype March 10-60×56 High Master
Gary Costello’s company is the European distributor for March Scopes. Gary was testing this scope as it has a new temperature-tolerant lens system to be released later this year

Gary Costello England UK F-Class .300 WSM Win Short Magnum Speedy BAT Action SG Rifles

.300 WSM Load Details — H4350 with Berger 215gr Hybrids
Gary was shooting pointed Berger 215gr Hybrid bullets in Norma .300 WSM cartridge brass. The powder was Hodgdon H4350 with Muron KVB7 primers. Gary say his load runs around 2850 fps, and is very accurate. To demonstrate, here is a three-round, 100-yard test target, with a group measuring in the ones. Pretty impressive for a big bullet and a short magnum cartridge.

Gary Costello F-Class Great Britain UK .300 WSM Speedy

Gary Costello F-Class Great Britain UK .300 WSM Speedy

The UK has some wonderful places to shoot. This photo was taken at Blair Atholl in the Highlands of Scotland. Gary says “This is one of my favorite ranges and probably the hardest range to shoot in the UK. Due to the topography of the range you have to alter elevation as well as wind for pick-up and let-off. They say ‘Diggle Ranges Bark’ but Blair Atholl Bites!”

Blast from the Past — At Blair Atholl Ranges in Scotland

Gary Costello Blair Atholl Scotland Ranges

One of Europe’s very best F-Class competitors, Gary is no stranger to the winner’s circle. Here he is at the Blair Atholl Ranges in Scotland after a major victory a few seasons back. Gary says: “Blair Atholl, in the Estate of Blair Castle, is very scenic. The range is very tricky and is known as the hardest range in the UK to shoot due to the location of the targets cut into the hillside and valley. When the wind is at full value you often have to add one-half MOA elevation to every 1 MOA of wind. So thinking wind and elevation every shot is very difficult. I won this match some time ago and I do not recall the score. However it was a decisive win, and all matches in the competition were held at 1000 yards.” Gary was using a different rifle, but it also was a .300 WSM with a BAT action. His load was Hodgdon H4831 with Berger 215gr Hybrids, Murom primers, and Norma brass.

GB 600-Yard Championship — Gary’s Shot-by-Shot Report

The event was the first GB National League event of the year, our only short range (600-yard) match. This is actually one month later than usual in hope the weather would be better, sadly that wasn’t the case!

I won the Championship, five points clear of runner-up Ian Boxall. My final score was 241-18V out of a maximum of 250. The course of fire was reduced due to Storm Hannah on Saturday. It was decided by our committee that for safety we should shoot under cover (Diggle has a 600-yard covered firing point). The goal was to get at least one match to allow the competition to continue on the Sunday.

When I saw the condition and the flags I decided I needed to shoot as quick as possible as wind speed and direction were changing in seconds….

So I shot like stink only watching one flag and the other targets and my shot indication on the target screen. My first sighter was a score One left (a FIVE on the U.S F-Class target). But after adjusting, my second sighter was a One right — so there were pick-ups and let offs of about FIVE MOA!

I split the difference and went for score, my first shot was a Four (Nine on USA target) which I then adjusted on and held accordingly for the rest of the string using the other targets as indication and the one flag I had identified, it went pretty well.

Day Two (Sunday) weather was completely different, much better with no rain. We were first up at 0900 and the winds were light with subtle changes. This was a two sighters and 20-shot match, I started well with two V sighters which were converted, my partner Richard Sharman also had a good start and we proceeded through the string shooting Vs and Fives until Richard’s shots started to not register, this happened three times so it was decided I would continue and Richard would shoot again on another target. This caused a lot of delay and disruption. I had lost my path and wind, due to the delay I was allowed a non-convertible sighter which was a Three. It took two further shots to get back into the swing and I then recovered and ended the shoot with a 97-10V.

For the Final Match, the wind had picked up and was causing quite a few lost points and curses. I knew I was three points clear going into this Final Match so I had to play it real safe not to drop shots and lose critical points. I favored a left 4-5 Ring hold so not to get caught on the pick-ups. I use the March MTR-2 reticle, on 40X this reticle is subtended at exactly one-half MOA and brackets the F-class target perfectly. I was not concerned about the V bull at this time, the plan paid off and I dropped two points only.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gear Review, Shooting Skills 4 Comments »
April 28th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: The Modern .308 Win F-TR Rifle

F-TR Rifle laminated stock X-Ring Borden Action SEB Joy-Pod
A carpet is used up front for smoother tracking with the Joy-Pod’s flat, ski-style feet. The arms of the Joy-Pod were painted to match the stock. The rear bag features low-drag material on the ears.

On Sundays, we feature notable rifles that exhibit fine craftsmanship, quality components, and noteworthy shooting accessories. Today we are featuring an F-TR (F-Class Target Rifle) rig that showcases the types of components, and accessories used by top F-TR competitors — including a coaxial bipod and Labradar Chronograph. If you’re considering getting started in the F-TR game, take a close look at this modern F-TR build from Forum member DM.Oakes.

F-TR Rifle laminated stock X-Ring Borden Action SEB Joy-Pod

Modern F-TR Rig with Borden Action, Krieger Barrel, and SEB Joy-Pod
This handsome .308 Win F-TR rig features a smooth-running Borden BRM action, 30-inch 1:10″-twist Krieger barrel, and an X-Ring Laminated Wood stock. Up front is a coaxial “Joy-Pod” joystick bipod. This is a state-of-the art, wide footprint bipod used by many competitors at the Worlds in Canada. The long joystick allows the “driver” to quickly adjust both elevation and windage in a smooth, continuous motion. The Joy-Pod can be adjusted so it will hold setting during the shot — you don’t have to “hard-hold” the joystick. Many shooters let the joystick slide through their fingers as the rifle moves back on recoil. With a little practice (and careful placement of the rear sand-bag), the tracking is excellent and you can slide the gun right back to point of aim after each shot.

Action: Borden BRM
Trigger: Blue-printed Jewell BR
Barrel: Krieger 30″ / 4-Groove / 1:10″ twist (.30 Cal)
Chamber: .308 Winchester with 0.170 Freebore
Stock: X-Ring Laminated F-Class
Scope: Nightforce 12-42x56mm Competition
Potential Name: Blue Thunder

F-TR Rifle laminated stock X-Ring Borden Action SEB Joy-Pod
This F-TR rifle is shown during load testing with a LabRadar chronograph.

» Full LabRadar Field Test/Review by Ray Gross

If you are considering purchasing a LabRadar Chronograph system, we strongly suggest you read the very thorough and informative LabRadar Review by Ray Gross, past Captain of the USA F-TR team. Ray notes: “It takes me about 3 minutes to set up [my LabRadar] at the range. Because there are no downrange screens, I do not have to hold up other shooters on the range like I would when setting up a traditional chronograph. The convenience alone will mean that I will use it more often than my old chronograph. Every time I take it out, I enjoy it a little bit more.”

Bart Sauter Ray Gross LabRadar Benchrest Review Chronograph Bench tripod

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gear Review 2 Comments »
April 7th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: State-of-the-Art .284 Win F-Open Rifle

David Christian F-Class F-Open .284 Win winchester competition match rifle John Masek Borden action Brux Barrel

We know our readers like accurate rifles — the more accurate the better. You guys also love really great craftsmanship and state-of-the art componentry. To satisfy that lust for amazing, accurate rifles, we’re starting a new feature — Sunday GunDay. We’ll try to do this a couple Sundays a month, provided we have some great candidates. For our first Sunday GunDay feature, we are presenting a stunning .284 Win F-Open match rifle owned by David Christian of Team Borden/Brux/Lapua. This impressive rig is as good as it gets in the F-Open game. The write-up is by David’s friend, Forum member F-Class John.

David Christian F-Class F-Open .284 Win winchester competition match rifle John Masek Borden action Brux Barrel

Tips For Competitors from David Christian

1. Tracking is Really Important. I learned this lesson from Bill Brown. Make sure your rifle is tracking exactly on your bags. If you slide the gun back and forth and it does not line up on your original aim point, something is out of alignment with you rear bag or mat and needs to be adjusted.

2. Wind Calls — Be Brave. Don’t be timid with your wind calls. It is better to err with a slight over-correction, rather than miss a change entirely.

3. More Data is Good. Keep track of as much data as you can so that you can learn from it. For example I shoot as much as I can with my chrono and track my load speeds so that I can tell if I am drifting out of my node.

David Christian’s .284 Win F-Open Rig

Report by F-Class John
Here’s match rifle that’s as handsome as it is effective (and accurate!). In its first-ever tournament, this impressive rig took 8th place overall in F-Open at the 2019 Berger Southwest Nationals. This .284 Win hammer was wielded by David Christian, the newest member of Team Borden/Brux/Lapua. David built this .284 Winchester around a Borden BRMXD action with black PVD coating and a Jewell BR trigger. What I found fascinating is that David had built all of this before ever being approached for the team. When I asked him how that worked out, he simply said he picked the components he liked the best and knew would do the job. It was just the universe in action that he’s now on the team that matches his gear and he’s certainly not complaining that he gets to represent them now.

David Christian F-Class F-Open .284 Win winchester competition match rifle John Masek Borden action Brux Barrel

David uses a custom-contour 32″-long Brux 1:8.5″-twist barrel that tapers from 1.35” to 1.25” because he likes the extra stability and weight it brings. It’s all mounted in an amazingly-crafted Cerus Stock (Speedy Gonzales “Spear of Destiny” design). While Will McCloskey built the stock, it was finished to perfection by Devin Wiggett and mounted by Terry Wright of Right Rifle in Oregon. You might also notice that the buttstock features a R.A.D. recoil system which adds the final touch to the system.

Stunning Laminated Maple/Cherry/Walnut/Wenge Cerus Stock
When asked what people comment on when they see his gun, David says it’s the stock, hands down. Having handled this gun myself, I have to agree and believe me when I say the pictures don’t do it justice. The exterior forearms are torrified Maple while the core is made up of Brazilian Cherry, Walnut, and African Wenge wood. It makes for an ultra-strong stock with stunning beauty to match.

David Christian F-Class F-Open .284 Win winchester competition match rifle John Masek Borden action Brux Barrel

David currently tops this beauty with a Kahles K1050 10-50x56mm scope featuring the MOAK reticle. David really likes the 20 MOA per revolution dial as well as the top-mounted parallax adjustment. This is especially helpful for him as David shoots left-handed. Most scopes have a left-side parallax knob which is difficult for him to use during a match.

David Christian F-Class F-Open .284 Win winchester competition match rifle John Masek Borden action Brux Barrel

You can’t have a rifle this good-looking and functional without riding on the right gear. David uses a Protektor DR Bag and a SEB Special Edition NEO coaxial front rest. All told it took nearly six months to get all the parts delivered and assembled but he looks at that as a short term loss and a long term gain. Using Erik Cortina’s load development methods with Berger 180gr Hybrid Target or 184gr Hybrid Target bullets and quality Lapua brass, David has achieved some amazing results. Here’s a representative target from a recent match. That’s mighty fine shooting!

David Christian F-Class F-Open .284 Win winchester competition match rifle John Masek Borden action Brux Barrel

If you want to “hit the ground running” in the F-Open game, this wouldn’t be bad setup to emulate and if you see David at a match, he’s always more than happy to talk to you about it.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gear Review 2 Comments »
March 30th, 2019

F-Open Thumbhole Stock Crafted by Carl Bernosky

F-Class F-Open Rifle stock

Many F-Open shooters favor low-profile benchrest-type stocks. They shoot these with minimal hand and cheek contact. Not “free recoil” mind you, but pretty close. With practice and a high-quality front rest and rear bag, that “minimal hold” style can work very well.

F-Class F-Open Rifle stock
Modern F-Open Rifle designed for “minimalist” grip/hold. Note the complete abscence of cheekpiece.

However, other successful F-Open and F-TR shooters prefer to hold their rifles, with a firm grip and solid cheek weld. If you come from a “hard-holding” Palma rifle background this may seem more natural. In addition, this shooting style may work best for folks who also shoot PRS or tactical matches using a vertical pistol grip and solid hold.

Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpieceFor guys who want to shoot their F-Open rig as they do their prone, tactical or hunting rifles, here is a modern F-Open stock designed for this kind of shooting. And this stock was crafted by a fellow with a pretty good shooting resume — Carl Bernosky.

Most of you know as a great marksman and 10-time National High Power Champion. But you may not realize that Carl is also a superb stock-maker. A true craftsman, Carl produces outstanding laminated and fancy wood stocks for hunters and competitive shooters. Visit CarlBernosky.com to see a selection of Carl’s competition and hunting stocks.

Her is Carl’s thumbhole F-Class stock. Designed for F-Open shooters, this stock features a flat, 3″-wide fore-end, ergonomic grip, and adjustable cheekpiece. The laminated Bernosky stock featured here was crafted for Chesebro Rifles, which offers a turn-key stock package for the Barnard ‘P’ action, one of our favorite custom actions. This particular build features a MT Guns Vee Block Bedding System, MT Guns 3-Way Adjustable Butt Plate, and B&D Precision removable cheek piece.

Click Photo to view full-size image of stock.
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece

As you see it, complete with all hardware (including short fore-end rail for bipod) this stock runs $1275.00 ready to ship. Just attach your Barnard barreled action and you’re ready to compete. The stock (by itself) weighs 6.5 pounds. Contact Chesebro Rifles, (661) 557-2442, for more information.

Cheek-piece close-up shows high-quality adjustment hardware.
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece

Cheek-piece is relieved to allow full bolt travel.
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece

Short accessory rail on the underside of the fore-end can be used to mount bipod.
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece

Stock tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
March 14th, 2019

F-TR Champion Shares Winning Secrets in Vortex Video Podcast

Ian Klemm Vortex podcast F-Class F-TR shooting skills

Ian Klemm, 2017 F-TR USA National Champion, is one of America’s top F-Class shooters, both shooting individually and in team competition. Ian is known for his consistency, smooth gun handling, and an uncanny ability to shoot well even in the toughest wind conditions. In this Vortex Video, Ian and fellow long-range shooter Niles Richardson, reveal some of their competitive secrets, and wind-reading techniques. This video focuses primarily on F-Class competition but Ian and Niles also talk more broadly about the myriad factors that contribute to rifle accuracy. Topics include: match strategies, wind and mirage reading, barrel harmonics, bipods, and optics.

Vortex Nation Podcast Episode 57 Summary
From Vortex: Our original intent was to have just a podcast about the sport of F-Class shooting, but when you get these brainiacs (Ian Klemm and Niles Richardson) talking about their obsession… er… “Hobby” you better believe it’s going to turn into a full on long range shooting information assault to the brain. Fact of the matter is, in F-Class, the only thing that matters is long range accuracy – and when we say “Accuracy”, we’re talking about sub-MOA groups on paper at 1000 yards with .308 Wins. Every single aspect of an F-Class competitor’s game is completely dialed in for long range accuracy.

We talk about the guns, their bipods, wind, mirage, barrel harmonics and the special scopes F-Class competitors need for their rifles. Ian even goes so far as to tell us how much his rifle has moved prior to the bullet leaving his 30-inch barrel. Just a simple equation involving acceleration, terminal velocity, moment of inertia of the rifle and coefficient of friction of the bipod and rifle on the ground.

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Optics, Shooting Skills No Comments »
February 20th, 2019

Berger 2019 Southwest Nationals Report

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona Lapua Capstone F-Class

The 2019 Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) are history. It was a great event, with challenging conditions. Forum member Matt Peetz reports: “This year was one of the best — the toughest competitors battling for position in some tough conditions. You never knew how the day was going to end up.” For detailed results and more photos, visit the Desert Sharpshooters Facebook Page.

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona Lapua Capstone F-Class

This Berger SWN brings together sling shooters and F-Class competitors in one of the most popular rifle matches of the year, and definitely the biggest match West of the Mississippi. We congratulate the three divisional champions: Curtis Gordon (Sling), John Myers (F-Open), and Keith Trapp (F-TR)

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona Lapua Capstone F-Class

Keith Trapp won the F-TR division at the Berger SWN with the best overall Aggregate for the week. Keith’s name will be placed on the SWN Nightforce Perpetual Trophy overall. Fellow F-TR Shooter Luke Ramsey won the Berger Trophy for the 600-yard Individual Agg. Phil Kelley said: “It was pretty cool to see good friend Keith Trapp win it all. Our little Butner Club matches just make me smile. That’s 3 SWN champions riding in the same car many days.”

F-TR Top Three
Keith Trapp, 1227-44X; Peter Johns, 1224-40X; Ian Klemm, 1222-51X
(Special Mention: Fritz Braun, 1220-58X, High Senior)

F-Open Top Three
John Myers, 1244-71X; Stephen Potter, 1241-69X; Cody Richardson, 1241-62X
(Special Mention: Sixth Overall and F-Open Palma Match Winner, AccurateShooter System Admin Jay Christopherson, 1239-61X)

Sling (Palma) Top Three
Curtis Gordon, 1241-67X; Kent Reeve, 1241-52X; Oliver Milanovic, 1240-68X
(Special Mention: Tom Whitaker, 1232-55X, High Grand Senior)

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona Lapua Capstone F-Class

F-Open Team Results
Winner: Team Lapua-Brux-Borden, 2375-137X
Alphabetical Order: Jay Christopherson, Erik Cortina (Shooter/Captain), Tod Hendricks, Pat Scully, Bob Sebold (Coach); David Christian (Alt), Steve Harp (Alt)

Second Place: Team Grizzly, 2374-109X
Shiraz Balolia (Shooter/Captain), David Mann, John Meyers, Emil Kovan, Emil Praslick III (Coach)

Berger SW Nationals

F-TR Team Results
Winner: Team Texas, 2359-111X
Otis Riffey, Jason Peel, David Parck, Greg Barkley, Randy Littleton, Skip Barkley (Captain), Peter Johns (Coach)

Second Place: Team USA Freedom, 2345-108X
Ian Klemm, Wade Fillingame, Alan Barnhart, Fritz Braun, Kent Reeve (Captain); James Crofts (Coach)

Sling Team Results
Winner: Blazing Saddles, 2347-108X
Thomas Thompson, Andrew Wilde, Mike Kelley (Shooter/Captain), Oliver Milanovic (Shooter/Coach)

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona Lapua Capstone F-Class Sling Team Texas Blazing Saddles

Gary Eliseo said: “Congratulations to team Blazing Saddles — Mike Kelley, Tom Thompson, Andrew Wilde, and Oliver Milanovic winners of the gold medal in the team event of the 2019 BSWN matches. Well done!”

Berger SW Nationals Ben Avery

Second Place: Team U.S. National Black, 2346-107X
Steffen Bunde, Tony Miller, Yvonne Roberts, Jerry Iliff (Shooter/Captain), Yvonne Roberts (Shooter/Coach)

Friends in Life and on the Podium

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona Lapua Capstone F-Class

Congratulations to Allen Thomas and Gary Eliseo who both shot great in the “Any Rifle” class, a subdivision of the sling division. Both men were shooting Eliseo Chassis Rifles with Pierce Engineering’s new Gen 2 short-cycle Ultra slick actions. Gary noted: “I’m honored to share the podium with my friend and teammate Allen Thomas (first place ‘Any Rifle’) and me (second place ‘Any Rifle’) winners at the 2019 BSWN matches.

Berger SWN southwest nationals

Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills No Comments »
February 14th, 2019

Two Guns in One — TubeGun Transformed for F-Open Competition

Eliseo R1 tube gun tubegun chassis F-Class F-Open .284 Winchester

The Berger Southwest Nationals is taking place right now at the Ben Avery Range outside Phoenix, Arizona. At the SWN you’ll see prone rifles and tubeguns for sling shooters, F-TR rifles with fancy bipods, and high-tech F-Open rigs. You might also see a few TubeGuns converted to shoot F-Open off front rests. Yes this is an easy conversion thanks to Gary Eliseo’s clever PickleFork forearm attachment.

Eliseo R1 tube gun tubegun chassis F-Class F-Open .284 Winchester

Forum Member Killick attached PickleForks to his handsome blue Eliseo R1 TubeGun now chambered in .284 Winchester, a top choice for the F-Open discipline. Killick explains: “Behold! An Eliseo R1 F-Classer. This started out as an R1 Long Range sling rifle (6XC) with a Borden TubeGun action. It is now rebarreled in .284 Win with Gary’s PickleFork fore-end adaptor. Props to Gary Eliseo at Competition Machine LLC.

Killick adds: “I like how the original fore-end indexes off the back side of the front bag. No need for the front bumper attachment.” Check it out below:

Eliseo R1 tube gun tubegun chassis F-Class F-Open .284 Winchester

Eliseo R1 tube gun tubegun chassis F-Class F-Open .284 Winchester

PickleForks are rails that fit to the sides of the tubular fore-end/handguard on Eliseo 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 Competition Machine pickle fork picklefork foreend bag rider rails

Designer Gary Eliseo 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 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 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 info, visit GotXRing.com or call (928) 649-0742.

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing, New Product, Tactical No Comments »
January 24th, 2019

RetroMOD Project — Old eBay Rimfire Stock Reborn for F-Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almost done here… just needs priming and final painting:

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

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

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

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

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing No Comments »
January 1st, 2019

The Modern F-Open Rifle — Action, Stock, Optics, and Cartridge

.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, and finished second in F-Open Division at the 2016 Canadian National F-Class Championship in Ontario. He is a great shooter and a great gun-builder as well.

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

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September 29th, 2018

Norm Harrold and His Championship-Winning F-Open Rig

F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

After Norm Harrold won the 2018 F-Open National Championship in Raton, New Mexico, setting a new 1000-yard National Record in the process, many of our Forum members wanted to see Norm’s championship-winning rifle, and learn more about Norm’s experience at the Nationals. Read on for coverage of Norm’s equipment and .284 Shehane ammo. Scroll down and you’ll find a detailed video showing how McMillan builds the advanced Kestros ZR stocks, like the one Norm used at Raton.

Norm posted: “I made it home from Raton 2018 F-Class Nationals and what an unbelievably amazing week I had. I was blessed enough to bring home a new F-Open 1000-yard record and the National Championship! Our Team McMillan took second in Mid-range and fourth overall in Long Range. I am so thankful and blessed to have this opportunity and to be able to do it with such a stand-up group of competitors and lifelong friends. Thanks to all our sponsors: McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, Nightforce Optics, Kelbly’s [Actions], Bartlein Barrels, and Berger Bullets.”

F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

Gun and Load: Norm’s F-Open rig features a McMillan Kestros ZR stock and Bartlein barrel chambered for the .284 Shehane, which has a bit more case capacity than a standard .284 Winchester. Norm loaded Berger 184gr 7mm bullets in Lapua brass. Norma revealed his load in an Erik Cortina YouTube Video. Fellow shooter Erik Cortina joked — “the minute this video goes live, the 184s will be hard to find”. Norm says “Stock up guys — they shoot good!”

F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

Here Norm Harrold shows his shooting form. Note how low the McMillan Kestros ZR forearm sits on Norm’s SEB NEO front rest. Norma also uses a large footprint rear bag for enhanced stability.

Harrold Shoots 200-22X to Smash 1000-Yard F-Open Record
On a rainy day at Raton, Norm shot brilliantly to set a new F-Open National Record: 200-22X at 1000 yards. (The previous record was 200-17X.) How could he get 22 Xs for a 20-shot string? Under NRA rules, if you shoot all Xs for the full string, you are allowed to keep shooting for as long as you can put shots in the X-Ring. Norm almost missed the chance to extend his X-Count. After his 20th shot, Norm recalled, “I said ‘I’m done, give me my target’, but … my shooting partner said ‘No! Keep shooting!’” So Norm did, drilling two more Xs to set the new National Record.

F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

Kelly McMillan Shows Design and Construction of the Kestros ZR:

In this video, Kelly McMillan explains the design features and construction methods for the Kestros ZR, a fiberglass Kestros with aluminum extension rails in the front. Kelly explains “how and why we made the stock the way we did” and he shows how to retro-fit standard Kestros stocks with the new front rails. On the ZR the rails are anchored to a reinforced area for extra rigidity. In addition, the cantilevered rails are milled to be perfectly parallel. If you shoot F-Class we strongly recommend you watch this video.

Kelly McMillan Kestros ZR front rail prototype
Kelly McMillan showed us the prototype Kestros ZR at the 2018 Berger Southwest Nationals.

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September 26th, 2018

Hail the Champions: 2018 F-Class Nationals at Raton, NM

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua
The winning Klemm clan. Ian Klemm won his Second Straight F-TR National Championship last week. Here he is with parents Karen and Ken Klemm. Father Ken also competed at the Nationals, shooting great in both individual and team events.

The 2018 F-Class Nationals recently concluded at Raton, NM. The event was well-attended, with excellent turn out for both the Mid-Range and Long-Range cycles. The weather was variable, with wet but very calm conditions to start the 1000-yard match, resulting in new F-TR and F-Open National Records being set for 20-shot strings.

Long-Range F-Nationals Results | Mid-Range F-Nationals Results

Congratulations to the new F-Class Champions. Ian Klemm shot great to win the F-TR National Championship. This was the second straight F-TR title for Ian, who also won at Lodi, Wisconsin in 2017.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team LapuaIt was a family affair this year for the Klemm clan. Ian’s father, Ken Klemm, finished third among High Masters, and also nailed the highest score among ALL shooters in the 1000-Yard F-TR team match. Well done father and son! Mike Plunkett finished second, while also setting a new F-TR record, 200-16X, also matched by Ray Gross.

Winning F-TR Rifle and Load:
Ian Klemm’s winning .308 Win featured a Kelbly Panda action, 30″ Bartline 1:10″-twist barrel, and McMillan X-IT left-hand stock. Ian used a Vortex 15-60X52mm Golden Eagle scope (as did runner-up Ted Plunkett). Ian loaded Berger 200.20X Hybrid bullets in Lapua brass with Vihtavuori N140 powder and CCI BR4s. MV is 2680 FPS.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua

Ian, who won his first title last year in Lodi, Wisconsin, said this year was tougher. To travel down to New Mexico and win at Raton was very satisfying — as I had to come from behind.” Ian told us: “This Championship was especially difficult as a particularly strong challenger [and new 1000-yard record-holder] Mike Plunkett had earned an early lead and I would have to make up 6 points in the final day to win. Fortunately, the Range at Raton saved some of its most challenging conditions for the final match of the championship. This gave me the right amount of wind to work with. The Vortex Golden Eagle HD scope showed the mirage I needed in order to make timely wind-hold decisions.”

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua

In the F-Open division, Norm Harrold of Team McMillan shot great from the start, topping the field to win the F-Open division. Tom was shooting a .284 Shehane cartrdige in the new McMillan Kestros stock. Our buddy Erik Cortina interviewed Norm in this video, starting at 00:15:

Interview with F-Open Champ Norm Harrold at 00:15:

Team Competition Champions

In Team competition, Team X-Men won the 1000-Yard F-TR Team Title, with a 1568-61X score. Members shown are: Alan Barhardt, Tracy Hogg, Ian Klemm, Ken Klemm, Matt Schwartzkopf, Phil Kelley (Captain), James E Crofts (Coach). In second place was Team McMillan with 1553-53X: Paul Phillips, Derek Rodgers, Jeff Rorer, Brad Sauve, John Droelle (Captain), Ray Gross (Coach).

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua

In F-Open Division, Team Grizzly won the 1000-Yard Team Championship with a 1580-81X score, edging runner up Team Lapua-Brux-Borden by two points (1578-81X). Here are the team members, with Grizzly President Shiraz Balolia top left and coach Trudie Fay in the middle.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua
Team Grizzly: Shiraz Balolia, Emil Kovan, David Mann, John Myers, Trudie Fay (Coach).

Team Pierce Engineering won the F-TR Mid-Range Team event. Team members included: Doug Boyer, Josh Moore, Richard Nixon, John Roethlisberger, Coach Tom Majewski.

Team Lapua-Brux-Borden captured the F-Open Mid-Range Championship with a strong performance. Team “LBB” shot well, to earn a second straight Mid-Range National Title, and grab second (Silver) at Long Range. Team member Jay Christopherson praised his team-mates and also gave credit to his rivals: “Team Grizzly was outstanding for the LR Open Gold”.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua
Team LBB: Jay Christopherson, Erik Cortina, Tom Hendricks, Pat Scully, Coach Bob Sebold.

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September 12th, 2018

Smallbore F-Class National Championship — New Discipline

Camp Wa-Ke-De indiana 2018 smallbore F-Class Jim Murphy
Anschutz .22 LR rifle set up for F-Class competition. Photo courtesy Sportschieben Blog.

Here’s a new discipline we think should become very popular — Smallbore F-Class with .22 LR rimfire rifles. Rest-supported prone rimfire matches have been held around the world for quite some time, but only a few years ago was the discipline officially codified in the NRA Smallbore Rulebook. And the first-ever Smallbore F-Class National Championship was held this past July in conjunction with the Smallbore Nationals at Camp Wa-Ke’-De in Bristol, Indiana. The Nationals involved multiple days of prone shooting at 50 meters and 100 yards.*

Jim Murphy, a respected centerfire shooter and coach, became America’s very first Smallbore F-Class National Champion, shooting an impressive 2374-146X score. Fourteen points behind, but with the same X-Count, was runner-up David Pessall (2360-146X). Jess Huehn finished third with 2358-137X.

Camp Wa-Ke-De indiana 2018 smallbore F-Class Jim Murphy
National Championship photo from Shooting Sports USA.

Competitors could either shoot off a bipod F-TR style, or use a front rest. In this photo from the inaugural NRA National Championship you can see a shooter with SEB Coaxial Rest at top, with a competitor using a low-profile bipod at bottom. Note the extended handle used to adjust bipod elevation. This is not a coaxial joystick, but rather a long handle attached to the mariner wheel.

For more match results read Hap Rocketto’s Shooting Sports USA Match Report.

Smallbore F-Class — The Future Looks Bright
With the high cost of centerfire ammunition, and the limited number of 1000-yard (or even 600-yard) ranges, we can envision that Rimfire F-Class will become a popular event at ranges across the country. Clubs don’t even need benches — just a 100-yard target bay and flat ground for the shooters. You can start with an inexpensive rimfire rig and Harris bipod. Then work up from there. Here is a custom rimfire F-TR style rig that belongs to F-Class ace and past centerfire F-TR National Champion James Crofts.

Camp Wa-Ke-De indiana 2018 smallbore F-Class Jim Murphy

Smallbore F-Class Course of Fire
The Smallbore F-Class Nationals was completed on paper targets at 50 yards and 100 yards. According to Shooting Sports USA: “The tournament ran during the any sight and metric phases of the 2018 NRA National Smallbore Rifle Championships, featuring a daily course of fire which mirrored the sling shooters, 40 shots at 50 meters on the A-50 target, a Metric Dewar, followed by 40 shots at 100 yards on the A-33 target. Although the international targets were shot throughout, the first two days were titled ‘conventional’ and the last two ‘metric’.”

The specifics of the match such as rifle requirements, rests, and sights may be found in the Provisional Smallbore Rifle F-Class Rules (Section 23), found on page 65 of the current NRA Smallbore Rifle rulebook. Any rules not covered in Section 23 will [reference] the normal rules of Sections 1 through 22.

* All ‘short range’ F-Class was shot at 50 meters on the A-50, the 50 meter International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) target. All ‘long range’ stages were shot at 100 yards using the NRA A-33 target, the ISSF 300-meter target reduced to 100 yards.

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September 9th, 2018

Sydnie the F-Class Prodigy — Small in Stature but Tall in Talent

Sidney Sydnie Lipski

This profile of a talented young female rifle competitor was so popular when we first ran it, we decided to re-publish Sydnie’s story for those who may have missed it the first time. Believe it or not, young Sydnie won the first rifle match she shot, competing as an 8-year-old against adults. She now holds an NRA F-Class “Master” Classification. Here is her remarkable story…

Sydnie Lipski has grown up surrounded by the shooting sports in Michigan. Her father, Alan Lipski, is a gunsmith who began teaching her about rifles and shooting when she was just 3 years old. By the time she was 6, she had already started varmint hunting. At just 8 years of age, Sydnie won her first rifle match, competing against adults in an F-Open event. A year later, at 9 years old, Sydnie fired her first perfect score of 200-11X.

Sidney LipskiShe also earned her Expert Classification. She ended the season in second place for the IOSCO Sportsmen Club’s 3×600 Grand Aggregate. Now 12 years old, Sydnie now holds a “Master” Certification. She may be one of the youngest F-Class “Masters” in the nation. The specs for the rifle in the photos are listed below. However, Sydnie now has a new rifle, custom built to fit her.

Rifle Specifications:
Rifle: Custom 6XC built by Alan Lipski with blue-printed Model 700 Remington action.
Barrel: 1:8″-twist, 6mm Bartlein.
Stock: Custom wood stock by Alan Lipski.
Load: Norma brass, H4831SC powder, Tula primers, and Berger 6mm 105gr Match Hybrid Target bullets.
Alan reports: “Bergers are very forgiving and extremely accurate!”

Sidney Sydnie Lipski

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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 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 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 »
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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