September 13th, 2019

European F-Class Championships at Bisley in the United Kingdom

F-Class Championship European Bisley Range Great Britain United Kingdom UK

The U.S. F-Class National Championships commence September 15 at the NRA Whittington Center in New Mexico. But, across the pond, the European F-Class Championships took place this past week (September 2-8) at the Bisley Range in the UK. Congrats to the big winners, Great Britain’s Dan Lomas, new European F-TR Champion, and Germany’s Ulrich Kwade, new European F-Open Champion. Team Great Britain RED, shown below, took the European F-TR Team Championship, while Team Italy won F-Open.

F-Class Championship European Bisley Range Great Britain United Kingdom UK
Team Great Britain RED won the F-TR Team Championship, with Ukraine Second, Great Britain BLUE Third.

Dan Lomas Wins F-TR Title on Home Turf at Bisley
Dan Lomas was excited about his F-TR Championship: “First place in Europe! Just finished five solid days shooting in the European Championships at Bisley. I ended up keeping my head, winning the Europeans 5 points clear! I also was given my first cap shooting for the country and, with my amazing team mates, won gold for GB by a clear 15 points. It was an amazing performance by the two coaches Jon and Ewen and captain David! Thanks, as always, to BorderBarrels/SassenEngineering for the barrel; Vicarage Ballistics for the smithing, Borden Accuracy for the amazing actions and PSE-Composites for one of the most forgiving carbon stocks!”

Germany’s Ulrich Kwade Wins F-Open Division
March Scopes Europe provided this report: “Congratulations to our good friend Ulrich Kwade of Hannover, Germany. Uli won the European F-Class Championship in F-Open class. Ulrich uses a March 10-60x56mm Highmaster scope. Uli mounted a BAT action with a Benchmark barrel chambered in 7mm/270 WSM, fitted by Stuart Anselm of GS Precision. The really amazing thing is this barrel was only delivered on the Tuesday of the competition. Uli had already made his ammo pre-prepared … that is confidence for you!”

F-Class Championship European Bisley Range Great Britain United Kingdom UK

Ulrich’s rifle has a cleverly-designed stock which he built from scratch himself. It boasts a recoil reduction system which Ulrich says removes 80% of felt recoil. Ulrich is a very talented engineer and stock-builder. We congratulate him on his win.

F-Class Championship European Bisley Range Great Britain United Kingdom UK

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September 13th, 2019

Optimize Your Aiming — Tips for F-Class Shooters

F-Class Aiming Long Range Score Shooting
The movie “The Patriot” gave us the phrase “Aim small, miss small”. While that’s a good mantra, aiming strategies for long-range competition are a bit more complicated, as this article explains…

U.S. F-Class Nationals Start Sunday, September 15th!
The U.S. Mid-Range and Long Range Nationals kick off September 15th at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico. Here are some tips that can help F-TR and F-Open shooters aim more precisely, and achieve higher scores. F-Class ace Monte Milanuk reviews reticle choices and strategies for holding off.

In our Shooters Forum, one newcomer wanted some advice on selecting a reticle for F-Class optics. He wondered about the advantage of Front (first) Focal Plane (FFP) vs. Second Focal Plane scopes and also wondered if one type of reticle was better for “holding off” than others.

In responding to this question, Forum regular Monte Milanuk provided an excellent summary of aiming methods used in F-Class. For anyone shooting score targets, Monte’s post is worth reading:

Aiming Methods for F-Class (and Long-Range) Shootingby Monte Milanuk

600-yard F-Class TargetF-Class is a known-distance event, with targets of known dimensions that have markings (rings) of known sizes. Any ‘holding off’ can be done using the target face itself. Most ‘benefits’ of Front (first) focal plain (FFP) optics are null and void here — they work great on two-way ranges where ‘minute of man’ is the defining criteria — but how many FFP scopes do you know of in the 30-40X magnification range? Very, very few, because what people who buy high-magnification scopes want is something that allows them to hold finer on the target, and see more detail of the target, not something where the reticle covers the same amount of real estate and appears ‘coarser’ in view against the target, while getting almost too fine to see at lower powers.

Whether a person clicks or holds off is largely personal preference. Some people might decline to adjust their scope as long as they can hold off somewhere on the target. Some of that may stem from the unfortunate effect of scopes being mechanical objects which sometimes don’t work entirely as advertised (i.e. one or two clicks being more or less than anticipated). Me personally, if I get outside 1-1.5 MOA from center, I usually correct accordingly. I also shoot on a range where wind corrections are often in revolutions, not clicks or minutes, between shots.

Some shooters do a modified form of ‘chase the spotter’ — i.e. Take a swag at the wind, dial it on, aim center and shoot. Spotter comes up mid-ring 10 at 4 o’clock… so for the next shot aim mid-ring 10 at 10 o’clock and shoot. This should come up a center X (in theory). Adjust process as necessary to take into account for varying wind speeds and direction.

John Sigler F-Class

600-yard F-Class TargetOthers use a plot sheet that is a scaled representation of the target face, complete with a grid overlaid on it that matches the increments of their optics — usually in MOA. Take your Swag at the wind, dial it on, hold center and shoot. Shot comes up a 10 o’clock ‘8’… plot the shot on the sheet, look at the grid and take your corrections from that and dial the scope accordingly. This process should put you in the center (or pretty close), assuming that you didn’t completely ignore the wind in the mean time. Once in the center, hold off and shoot and plot, and if you see a ‘group’ forming (say low right in the 10 ring) either continue to hold high and left or apply the needed corrections to bring your group into the x-ring.

Just holding is generally faster, and allows the shooter to shoot fast and (hopefully) stay ahead of the wind. Plotting is more methodical and may save your bacon if the wind completely changes on you… plotting provides a good reference for dialing back the other way while staying in the middle of the target. — YMMV, Monte

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August 14th, 2019

Want to Shoot F-Class? Here’s a List of Active F-Class Ranges

Accurateshooter.com F-Class Excel range list

F-Class shooting (both F-Open and F-TR) is one of the fastest-growing forms of rifle competition. Each season many new shooters hit the line and attendance at the big matches increases every year. But if you’re new to the game, you may ask “Where can I shoot an F-Class match?”. Well, Forum member Rod V. (aka Nodak7mm) has compiled a useful list of 112 ranges throughout the USA where F-Class matches are held. With venues from Alabama to Wyoming — you should find an F-Class program not too far from home. The list, in Excel spreadsheet format, provides range locations and weblinks (where available). Click the link below to download the F-Class Range List (.xls file):

Download F-Class Range List, Revision 20 (.XLS file, right click to “save as”)

Note — this list, now in its 20th Revision, is a treasure trove for F-Class shooters. No claim is made that the list is comprehensive. But it still covers the the lion’s share of the important F-Class venues nationwide. If you know of a range that should be added to the list, please post the location on our F-Class Range List Forum thread. Rod will update the list as new range info is received. Rod writes: “Range information is wanted and welcomed. I would like your help on collecting specific info on Clubs/Ranges where known F-Class matches are held.” Here’s a partial sample from Rod’s list:

Accurateshooter.com F-Class Excel range list

Accurateshooter.com F-Class Excel range list

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August 11th, 2019

Sunday GunDay — Eye-Catching Rifles from America and the UK

sunday gunday Rem 700 .270 winchester win tye sims
Here is Tye Sim’s .270 Win Mountain Rifle: “This is off a trued and blue-printed Rem 700 action. I love it.”

For today’s Sunday GunDay feature, we thought we’d present a selection of rifles featuring both cool gear and scenic venues. We’ve got quite a mix — hunting rifles and competition rigs, full customs as well as factory rifles. And there are some interesting calibers including 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win, .308 Win, plus a couple WSM variants. Enjoy our Sunday lineup!

Gary Costello Blair Atholl Scotland F-Open F-Class .300 WSM

To begin, here is the beautiful Blair Atholl range in Scotland. Owner Gary Costello posted: “Great day today, weather was interesting but not as bad as we thought!” Gary, a top F-Class shooter in the UK who often runs a .300 WSM, has been featured in a previous Sunday GunDay spotlight story HERE

F-class F-Open Andrew Stone .284 Win Labradar

Andrew Stone is an F-Class shooter from the Southern USA. Here his F-Open rig is set up for load testing from the bench at his beautiful, tree-lined home range. Targets are at 600 yards. Andrew is using a SEB front coaxial rest and LabRadar chronograph mounted on an aftermarket tripod.

F-TR Brian Harder rifle F-TR

In the photo above is Brian Harder’s handsome .308 Win F-TR rifle. This features a Kelbly action, McMillan stock, and Vortex scope with level. Up front is a SEB Joystick Bipod (Joy-Pod) with accessory ski-type feet. Note that Brian runs a front scope extension tube (sunshade), and a mirage shield on the barrel. These items do make a difference, particularly on hot summer days!

F-Class 7mm 270 WSM hydro-dip Bartlein

Here’s another British Beauty. This is the 7mm-270 WSM F-Classer belonging to Forum member Ian B. (aka “Elwood”). It features a Stolle Panda F-Class action, 32″ straight-contour Bartlein barrel, and a custom Joe West stock, modified by Ian and then hydro-dipped in brilliant blue by Hydro Graphics in the UK.

Bergara B14 6.5 Creedmoor HMR

Factory rifles can be interesting too. That’s pretty impressive accuracy shown by Steven Castleman’s Bergara B14 HMR chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. On this day Steve was shooting Hornady factory ammo loaded with 147-grain ELD Match bullets.

Savage Stealth 10 BA Rifle hog hunting

Here’s a stunning silhouette of a Savage 6.5 Creedmoor. Ed Whipple posted: “Borrowing a Savage 10 BA Stealth from my buddy Ron. He wanted a 100-yard head shot on a hog. I’m not listening to Ron any more. Federal Fusion bullet ain’t messing around.”

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June 1st, 2019

Change Out Your Barrels Quickly and Easily with Muzzle Mod

Warren Dean Hex Barrel John Whidden Larry Racine

Competitor Warren Dean has employed a hex-end barrel to permit rapid barrel changes on his F-Class rig. Warren wrote: “I have been running what is commonly known as a switch barrel on my F-T/R rifle. Basically it allows for removal and reinstallation of the barrel with basic hand tools and with no, or very minimal, shift in zero. The two gunsmiths that I trust, Larry Racine and John Whidden, both told me that the switch barrel system would return to a very close zero with no problems. [This system] can be a great benefit to the traveling shooter and a money-saver for the shooter wanting to shoot different calibers on the same chassis.” READ Dean Switch-Barrel Report.

Larry Racine Barrel Sytem
Larry Racine is a respected gunsmith based in New Hampshire. He is also a two-time member of the U.S. Palma Team, and a five-time New Hampshire State Highpower rifle champion. Larry, who runs LPR Gunsmithing, has developed a brilliantly simple means of switching rifle barrels with an ordinary spanner or open-end wrench. With this set-up you can switch barrels in the field in seconds without the need for a barrel vise.

For most barrels, Larry mills a hex with six flats on the end of the barrel. This allows a shooter to change barrels quickly at home or on the line with a simple box-head wrench or a socket wrench. Larry says: “You don’t even have to take the barreled action out of the gun. Just set the buttstock on the ground, between your feet, put a wrench on it, hit it with the palm of your hand — and off comes the barrel.” For barrels fitted with a muzzle brake, Larry has a slightly different system. He mills two flats behind the brake so you can use an open-end wrench to do the job.

With either a hex on the end, or two flats for a brake-equipped rifle, the system works with any medium- to heavy-contour barrel with a muzzle-diameter of at least 0.700″. This will even work for high-power rigs using clamp-on sights or bloop tubes. Larry explains: “A lot of us here in New England use clamp-on front sights. The barrel will be turned to 0.750 for the sight, with the hex on the end. A bloop tube can go right over the end, no problem.”

Larry has used this system over the past few years to win a number of matches. In one 600-yard 3 by 20 prone match, Larry used three different barrels, with three different chamberings, on the same Savage rifle. Larry changed the barrels on the line.

Larry was able to do this because the system has little to no loss of zero from one installation of a given barrel to the next installation of that barrel. This lets the shooter start the match with confidence that the first sighter will be on paper. Larry reports that the simple system works great: “To date we have used this system on Savage, Remington, Winchester, RPA, and Nesika actions.”

Varminters Take Note — This Is Great in the Field
If you are a varminter shooting hundreds of rounds in a day, consider this system. We know some guys who bring 3 or 4 rifles into the field because their barrels get hot during long days of prarie dog hunting. With this smart system, you can easily swap barrels in a couple minutes. And no special equipment or barrel vises are required.

Modifying Barrels is Affordable
Racine’s system for rapid barrel removal/changing is very affordable. If Larry does the chamber work on your barrel he charges $45.00 extra to mill a hex or two flats on your barrel. The customer chooses the configuration.

If you only want the hex or flats done, Larry may charge a higher fee — call for current rates. Note this can also work for barrels with muzzle brakes or threads for suppressors. For more info, visit LPRGunsmith.com or call Larry at (603) 357-0055.

E-mail: Larry[at]LPRGunSmith.com
LPR Gunsmithing
11 Suburban Acres
N. Swanzey, NH 03431

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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

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April 1st, 2019

The NEW 7.6 Creedmoor — Best .30-Cal Cartridge Ever?

7.6 Creedmoor .308 Win 7.62x51 ballistics 6.5 tactical PRS tacticool

Leveraging the incredible success of the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge, ammo-makers and rifle manufacturers have teamed up to produce a bigger Creedmoor cartridge — the 7.6 Creedmoor. The latest addition to the Creedmoor line gets its name from its 7.62mm bullet dimension. Yep, that makes it a .30-cal cartridge, but the creators stuck with the metric title for consistency. Makes sense. We like the way “7.6 Creedmoor” sounds and we bet consumers will too. The 6.5 Creedmoor has been a singular success — it is by far the most popular new cartridge introduced in the last decade. We think the 7.6 Creedmoor could become equally successful in short order.

7.6 Creedmoor .308 Win 7.62x51 ballistics 6.5 tactical PRS tacticool

In creating the new 7.6 Creedmoor, the product engineers were primarily concerned with accuracy, reliability, and compatibility. In a brilliant marketing stroke, the 7.6 Creedmoor’s designers crafted this cartridge to be 100% compatible with existing .308 Winchester and 7.62×51 rifles. So you can shoot the 7.6 Creedmoor safely in your existing .308 Win deer rifle or F-TR rig. As one ammo-maker’s marketing manager told us: “The 7.6 Creedmoor gives you everything you liked about the .308 Win, with a trendy name and the undeniable Creedmoor cachet. The 6.5 Creedmoor has become hugely popular. We expect the new 7.6 Creedmoor to do as well, or better!” We agree. Consider this — the 7.6 Creedmoor offers much better barrel life than the 6.5 Creedmoor, along with better bullet selection, particularly for hunters. With these advantages, how could the 7.6 Creedmoor not become a huge hit? The Creedmoor name alone should ensure success.

We discussed the new 7.6 Creedmoor with Dennis DeRille, one of the “founding fathers” of the 6.5 Creedmoor. Dennis said — “The Creedmoor name is synonymous with innovation and tactical success. This new 7.6 should live up to its name as it delivers .308 Win performance in a package for the 21st Century.”

7.6 Creedmoor .308 Win 7.62x51 ballistics 6.5 tactical PRS tacticool

Reassuring .308 Win Ballistics and Die Compatibility
Another great feature of the new 7.6 Creedmoor is that you can use existing .308 Win dies and reloading components. That excited one PRS shooter: “I had all this old .308 brass and .30-Cal bullets sitting around. When I heard about the 7.6 Creedmoor I said ‘Wow this is great, I can use this stuff in a Creedmoor now’. I know it will be accurate based on the name alone. That’s cool — tacticool!”

7.6 Creedmoor .308 Win 7.62x51 ballistics 6.5 tactical PRS tacticool

Because the new 7.6 Creedmoor shares case capacity and design details with the venerable .308 Win, it also shares the .308 Win’s impressive ballistics performance. “Whatever you can do with a .308 Win, you can do with the 7.6 Creedmoor… and then some!” says Hornady. Here is a chart showing projected velocities for the 7.6 Creedmoor with various barrel lengths and bullet weights.

7.6 Creedmoor .308 Win 7.62x51 ballistics 6.5 tactical PRS tacticool

NRA Approves 7.6 Creedmoor for F-TR Competition
Currently, NRA competition rules restrict F-TR rifles to the .308 Win (7.62×51) and .223 Rem (5.56×45) chamberings. But that’s going to change. Starting in June 2019, the NRA will allow 7.6 Creedmoor rifles in all F-TR matches. In addition, the 7.6 Creedmoor can be used in service rifles such as the popular M1A. It’s great to see this old battle rifle updated with Creedmoor accuracy and performance.

USA and Foreign Ammo Makers will Produce 7.6 Creedmoor Ammo
7.6 Creedmoor factory-loaded ammunition will be available from all major USA ammo-makers including Federal, Hornady, CCI, and Remington. As well, foreign ammo-makers Hirtenberger, Sellier & Bellot, and Prvi Partizan have pledged to produce 7.6 Creedmoor ammunition. That’s good news for shooters who want affordable Creedmoor ammo. One ammo-maker told us: “The whole industry is excited about the 7.6 Creedmoor. To be honest, .308 Win ammo sales have been declining for a number of years. Now we can repackage those same great components and market them to a new set of consumers reared on the 6.5 Creedmoor. This is a great deal for ammo-makers, who know how excitable Creedmoor fan-boys can be!”

7.6 Creedmoor .308 Win 7.62x51 ballistics 6.5 tactical PRS tacticool

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gear Review, New Product, News 100 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 17th, 2019

Like Father Like Son — Emil Praslick IV Shoots First Rifle Match

father son emil praslick iii iv 3 4 f-tr .223 rem factory ammo x-count USAMU

Here’s a great “feel-good” story. You’ve probably heard of Emil Praslick III. He’s considered one of the best rifle coaches and wind readers on the planet. Now retired from the military, SFC Praslick served with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) as coach and instructor for many years. He also coached many USA rifle teams in international competition.

father son emil praslick iii iv 3 4 f-tr .223 rem factory ammo x-count USAMU

Well Emil has a son, who carries on the family lineage as Emil Praslick IV (EPIV). Young Emil just shot his first rifle competition, an F-TR event. Remarkably, the young man, just 12 years old, Beat “pops” in the final match of the day by four Xs. Well done!

Father Emil reports: “Took my son, Emil IV, who just turned 12, to his first rifle match today. He shot F-TR at 600 yards with a .223 Rem bolt rifle, factory 77 grain ammunition, and bipod. He had a blast, and in the last match, beat his old man by 4 Xs shooting the same setup. Great day, today.” Referring to EPIV, father Emil added: “He’s got the bug! If I start hand-loading for that rifle, he might be dangerous!”

Here are some comments from Facebook friends:

“Literal chip off the old block! Well done EPIV and his coach, EPIII” — Kelly H.

“That’s awesome!” — SFC Brandon Green (USAMU), 3-time Nat’l High Power Champion

“You are learning a new phase to your coaching playbook. One that has the potential for the very best memories. Good on you and best wishes!” — Kent Reeve

“I think you will find Emil, that shooting with your kids, and watching them ‘get it’ and their performance improve match to match, will be more satisfying than anything else you’ve ever done on a range. For you especially that will be significant, but I think that it will still hold true.” — Lance E.

“Good shooting young man. [Father] Emil… better get used to being beat by those young eyes. Been in your shoes.” — Tracy Hogg

“Emil… Tell your son you hate reloading. Teach him how and then tell him if he doesn’t have enough ammo he can’t shoot because you don’t have enough time to load your own and ammo is too expensive to buy! Congratulations and thank you for helping Amanda so much!” — Paul Elsenboss (father of USAMU shooter Amanda Elsenboss)

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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.

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March 14th, 2019

XIT Strategy — Candy Apple Red McMillan-Stocked F-TR Rig

F-TR McMillan Fiberglass stocks Michigan Phoenix Bipod SEB Joy-Pod

On Facebook recently we saw an F-TR rig belonging to Team Michigan F-TR Shooter Dale Lucy. This features a Pierce action and a McMillan XIT stock, customized with an eye-catching Candy Apple Red paint finish. Kelly McMillan observed: “I like seeing what a shooter does to make his stock fit his personality. Dale sanded off the texture and then gave his stock a high-gloss Candy Apple Red paint job — beautiful.”

F-TR McMillan Fiberglass stocks Michigan Phoenix Bipod SEB Joy-Pod

Dale wrote: “I recently purchased a second XIT stock so that I would have an exact copy as my backup rifle, I painted this one candy red over a black and gold marble base coat.” Dale praised McMillan for helping his team: “Thank you for your sponsorship of the Michigan F-TR team, we really appreciate it. I can attest that since I started to use your stock (XIT), my scores have improved significantly. I placed 10th at the Nationals last fall, and was the 8th place Master at the 2019 Berger SWN. In contrast I finished 10th from the bottom at the 2017 BSWN.” — Dale Lucy, SW Michigan

F-TR McMillan Fiberglass stocks Michigan Phoenix Bipod SEB Joy-Pod

Gear Upgrade for F-TR Bipods

F-TR McMillan Fiberglass stocks Michigan Phoenix Bipod SEB Joy-Pod

Here’s a smart upgrade that can improve the tracking and stability of your F-TR competition rifle. And better tracking can translate to higher scores. Kreativ Solutions offers a $55.00 Pivoting Feet Kit for the Phoenix Bipod. Kreativ’s pivoting feet are also offered for the SEB Joystick Bipod for $125.00.

F-TR McMillan Fiberglass stocks Michigan Phoenix Bipod SEB Joy-Pod

F-TR McMillan Fiberglass stocks Michigan Phoenix Bipod SEB Joy-Pod

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March 12th, 2019

Transformer — Stunning F-TR Rig Built from Factory Varmint Rifle

Brandon .223 Rem F-TR Pac-Nor PacNor Varmint Remington VSSF John Pierce Hydro-dip Hydrographics
This rifle started life as a factory Remington VSSF in .204 Ruger. With new stock, new barrel, and other upgrades it is now an ultra-accurate .223 Rem competition rifle.

Flames in the Snow…

Forum Member Brandon Schlund (aka “Bois Blanc Boy”), photographed this handsome flame-themed F-TR rifle against the snowy background of Michigan’s Bois Blanc Island. Brandon posted this to our long-running Pride and Joy Rifle Forum thread. He notes: “This is my first F-TR build, which started out as a stock Remington .204 Ruger. I had the action blue-printed, firing pin was bushed by Speedy, and I had a new bolt handle and knob installed by John Pierce.” This rifle is now fitted with a 3-groove Pac-Nor 1:6.5″-twist barrel chambered in .223 Remington to shoot the 90gr Bergers. Other components are: Kelbly KTS stock, Phoenix bipod, and Sightron 8-32x56mm SIII scope. Brandon says: “It took a long time to get this gun where it is now but I’m truly happy with it!” Here’s the “before” photo:

Brandon .223 Rem F-TR Pac-Nor PacNor Varmint Remington VSSF John Pierce Hydro-dip Hydrographics

The Transformation — F-TR Comp Rig Made from Rem .204 Ruger Varminter
This rifle started out as a “plain Jane”, factory Remington VSSF II. I shot it on varmint hunts in factory configuration. Then I decided to transform the rifle into a .223 Rem F-TR gun. As the .204 has the same bolt face as a .223 made sense to go in that direction since I would be able to use the gun for varmint hunting as well as F-TR.

While I had shot some F-Class matches with my dad (Joe Schlund aka Bench on AccurateShooter) it wasnt much. When we did a PD hunt in Wyoming I primarily shot my .204 but I decided I wanted a cartridge that could reach out a little further and also do double duty — competition and varminting.

Brandon .223 Rem F-TR Pac-Nor PacNor Varmint Remington VSSF John Pierce Hydro-dip Hydrographics
CLICK HERE for full-screen photo.

The first step in transforming this rifle was selecting a barrel. We ordered a Pac-Nor, 1:6.5″-twist, 3 groove, 30.5″ heavy Palma contour. This was then chambered with a PTG .223 ISSF reamer with 0.169″ freebore to run the .224 caliber heavies. I went with Pac-Nor because both my father and my brother Mark (aka Labrador2 on AccurateShooter) owned Kelbly-built F-TR rifles with the same barrels. Mark and my father couldn’t be happier with the results. Pac-Nor has great customer service along with a short wait time.

I sent the barrel and the factory Remington 700 action down to Kelbly’s where they did the chambering and cut the threads. While Kelbly’s had my action I had them blueprint it. A Kelbly KTS stock with the three-way buttplate and adjustable cheek piece came next. After getting behind Dad’s rifle and Mark’s gun there was no reason to look any further. With all its adjustments, the KTS stock fits very comfortably.

Loading for the .223 Rem with H4895 and 90gr Bergers
As a .223 Rem, this rifle has proven very accurate — it’s a bullet-hole cutter at 100 yards (low twos easy). Our best load is with Hodgdon H4895, 90gr Berger VLDs, CCI BR4 primers. This load is running at about 2835 FPS but YMMV (remember this is a LONG 30.5″ barrel). The Bergers are loaded .008″ into the lands with base-to-ogive of 2.035″.

Our loading technique may be tedious — with lots of sorting and measuring. But brother Mark, father Joe, and I all enjoy the steps. Our three .223 Rem match guns all love the same load which makes loading much easier. Believe it or not we use a Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive ammo plant, which is great when loading for three guns. Our consistency is fantastic with run-out a mere .001-.0015.

We also turn necks and weigh our primers. Does neck-turning and primer weighing really make a difference? Who knows but we try to eliminate more variables since we have to the time to do it, and we actually enjoy the procedures.

Pierce Engineering Installed Action and Modified Bolt
Being from Michigan, Pierce Engineering has done a lot of work for my family’s guns. For this project the Pierce team bedded the action and glued in a single-shot follower. The stock bolt handle/knob was too short for comfort in the KTS stock. Pierce added a longer handle and tactical knob to the bolt. I then installed a .223 Rem Lapua case base into the knob.

Brandon .223 Rem F-TR Pac-Nor PacNor Varmint Remington VSSF John Pierce Hydro-dip Hydrographics
The complete .223 Rem rifle ready to shoot F-TR, as fitted with 8-32X56mm Sightron and Phoenix Bipod, weighs 17 pounds, 15 ounces.

Brandon .223 Rem F-TR Pac-Nor PacNor Varmint Remington VSSF John Pierce Hydro-dip HydrographicsFlame Graphics by Camo Creek Hydrographics
After the action was bedded by Pierce, the stock was sent to Camo Creek Hydrographics in Fenton, Michigan. I selected a flame-style design which Camo Creek applied through hydro-dipping. The stock went back to Pierce’s shop, which applied three coats of clear over the entire stock. The clear-coating really enhanced the flame graphics.

Firing Pin Bushed by Speedy
I sent the bolt to Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez to have the firing pin hole bushed as otherwise the load could crater the primers pretty bad. Knowing I’d be shooting heavy-weight .22-Cal bullets with a stout load this was a good idea. Speedy also cut his trademark grooves into the bolt shroud which looks amazing. His work is top notch! There is zero cratering now, even with the hottest of loads.

Competition Components — 8-32x56mm Sightron and Phoenix Bipod
For an F-TR rig you need a quality high-magnification optic and a premium, wide-base bipod. I installed a 8-32x56mm SIII Sightron. This was another easy choice because of the attractive price and because my family has four other Sightrons that work great.

I installed a fore-end Picatinny rail to attach a Phoenix Bipod. I extended the Mariners wheel handles by adding short sections from an aluminum arrow shaft. This lets me adjust elevation without stretching forward. I also installed a Calvin Elite Timney Trigger set at 6 ounces.

How much did this all cost? Brandon tells us “I have roughly $2500 into the rebuild of the gun from a .204 Ruger to the .223 Rem.”

Bois Blanc Island in Michigan
Here on Bois Blanc Island we don’t have many amenities, but we do have the ability to shoot 550 yards at our local gravel pit on state land. It’s snow-bound right now as you can see. But later in the year this will be our close-to-home training center.

Brandon .223 Rem F-TR Pac-Nor PacNor Varmint Remington VSSF John Pierce Hydro-dip Hydrographics

Winter at Bois Blanc Island, Michigan — Here’s the gravel pit where we can load test during
warmer weather. When I took this photo, it was a “balmy” 10-degree day.

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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

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January 17th, 2019

.223 Rem for F-TR — Logical Choice for a Junior Shooter

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

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

Journey to Find a .223 Rem F-Class Load

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

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

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

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

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

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

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

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

F-TR load development .223 Rem Remington Sierra TMK

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

This article originally appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog.

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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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December 13th, 2018

Just in Time for Christmas — Stunning Ruby Red F-TR Rig

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock
Proud owner Dirk L. says: “This is my first build — never thought it would be a .308!”

Here’s a handsome F-TR rifle with a beautiful red stock that suits the holiday season. This ruby red beauty was a recent addition to the long-running Pride and Joy Rifle thread in our Shooters’ Forum. The rifle belongs to Forum member Dirk L. (aka “Pinkes”) who hails from South Africa. This is a .308 Win, with 30″ Bartlein barrel, and X-Max action. The stock is a custom composite with carbon fiber for strength and lightness. And yes this rifle shoots as good as it looks. Check out the impressive 5-shot groups below…

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

X-Max for Xmas — Impressive Metal-work
Along with that beautiful red stock, this F-TR rig has some very cool features, including a South African-crafted X-Max Action. The action designer Piet Welgemoed explains: “The X-Max action body is 17-4PH stainless steel pre-hardened to 44° Rockwell. Bolt and handle are one-piece stainless steel, nitrated to 55° Rockwell 0.2mm deep. Bolt is also fluted. Inside is the firing pin with washers (see below). The washer cuts the lock-time almost by half and also weighs less. The bolt-knob and bolt shroud are CNC aluminum. The action has very tight tolerances.” The complete action with +20 MOA rail and trigger weighs 1.475 kg (3.25 lbs).” Owner Dirk notes that the competition trigger, set at 3.0 ounces, is also Welgemoed’s design.

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

Wicked Accuracy with Bartlein Barrel, Varget, and 220gr SMKs
This gun has already proven to be a great shooter. Below are two FIVE-shot groups at 100 meters. The group on the left is in the low threes, with three of five shots essentially in one hole. Dirk loads Lapua .308 Palma brass and #2231 200gr Sierra Matchkings, seated 20 thousandths off the lands. The Varget powder and CCI primers drives the 200gr SMKs at 2620 fps.

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

Brass: Lapua .308 Win Palma (small primer) | Primers: CCI 450 | Powder: Varget
Bullet: New 200gr SMK #2231 | Seating: 0.020″ Off | Velocity: 2620fps

Composite Stock — One of Three by Renier Mostert
And what about that beautiful red stock? The rifle’s owner told us: “This was one of three similar stocks built as a test run by Renier Mostert, a professional composite stock builder and former benchrest shooter from Pretoria, South Africa. Renier was approached by three friends, who were all looking for decent, custom-built FTR composite stocks. There were a number of stocks available to them (mostly imported), but [those] were either made of wood or aluminum. The requirements for the composite stock build was very specific. Aluminum V-Blocks for the actions were required. The stocks had to be light enough to carry some beefy barrels and optics without compromising rigidity and still be within the F-TR weight limit. The three friends supplied Renier with an imported wooden stock as their shape of choice. Although the shape was quite straight-forward, Renier made a few dimensional changes to features which were not symmetrically correct on the sample, and then built a mold from it.”

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

Renier uses several methods to craft composite stocks for various disciplines: F-Class, benchrest, competition rimfire, hunting, and tactical. For this build he chose to build a shell constructed of a well-planned mix of woven fiberglass cloth and bi-directionally woven carbon fiber with aerospace quality epoxy resin to reduce weight in some areas and increase stiffness in other areas. He used a wet lay-up process where the two halves gets laid up and joined together while still wet to form a complete, continuous shell. The closed mold gets cured under pressure in an oven for several hours at very specific temperatures. After curing, the shell is filled with a high-tech mix of lightweight filler and epoxy resin. The composition of the mix varies in different areas of the stock to facilitate more strength or reduced weight where applicable.

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

After the initial build, the aluminum hardware was installed. An adjustable cheek piece, Anschutz rail, and adjustable recoil pad mechanism were installed. The stocks were inletted by Renier, while the final fitting and bedding procedures were left for each customer’s gunsmith to complete. The stocks were light enough for the rifles to comfortably be within the F-TR weight limit. A barrel tuner was mounted on one of the rifles, and the rifle still made the F-TR Class weight limit, 8.25 kg (including bipod). The bipod shown in photos in the SEB Joy-Pod.

X-Max Barnard Action V-block Welgemoed action Mostert carbon stock

Paint — Candy Apple Red over Metallic Silver Base
After final gunsmithing, the stocks were returned to Renier Mostert for custom painting. The rifle featured in this article was done in Candy-Apple Red paint from DNA Paints (an Australian company). To get the desired effect, a metallic silver base coat was used, enhanced with a modest amount of medium coarse glitter, followed with multiple layers of candy until the correct shade was achieved. A high-quality automotive clear coat was used to finish off the paintwork.

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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 22nd, 2018

Best Ever — 1000-Yard Records Set at 2018 F-Class Nationals

F-class record raton new mexico f-class nationals Ray Gross Erik Cortina

200-22X New F-Open 1000-Yard National Record

200-22X — That’s a stunning score, at any distance, but to do that at 1000 yards, at the most important match of the year, in a notoriously tricky venue, is a remarkable achievement. This 200-22X, a pending new F-Class Open Division National Record, was shot by Norm Harrold of Team McMillan at the 2018 F-Class Nationals, running this week at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM. Norm’s brilliant 200-22X beat the existing F-Open record by five Xs.

Gun and Load: Norm’s F-Open rig features a McMillan stock and Bartlein barrel chambered for the .284 Shehane. Norm loaded Berger 184gr 7mm bullets in Lapua brass. Erik Cortina joked — “the minute this video goes live, the 184s will be hard to find”. Norm says “Stock up guys — they shoot good!”

Keep Shooting — Don’t Stop!
How can you have more than twenty Xs in a 20-shot string? Here’s how it works — when you shoot all Xs for the entire string of fire, you are allowed to keep shooting. 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.

A 200-17X was shot (twice) by David Gosnell in 2015 to set the previous F-0pen 1000-yard record, which was later tied in 2017, first by Keith Glasscock, and then by Pat Scully. But right now Norm Harrold’s 200-22X is the best ever. To beat the previous record by five Xs, and to do that at Raton, during the Nationals, is a great achievement. And to top it off, this new record was shot in the rain!

200-16X New F-TR 1000-Yard National Record

Ray Gross and Mike Plunkett Both Shoot 200-16X to Share New Record
In the F-TR class, two men, Ray Gross (Team McMillan) and Mike Plunkett, both set a new pending 1000-yard record with a 200-16X score. That’s a perfect 10 points for all twenty (20) shots, with 16 of them in the smaller X-Ring. This F-TR division is limited to two cartridge types, .223 Remington (5.56×45) and .308 Win (7.62×51), and F-TR rifles must be shot with a bipod (no front rest). F-TR Weight limit, including bipod, is 8.25 kgs (approximately 18.18 pounds).

Ray, along with the vast majority of other F-TR competitors, was shooting a .308 Win. His load included Berger 220X bullets, in Lapua brass, with Vihtavuori N140 powder and CCI 450 bullet. Ray’s rifle features a 28″ Bartlein Heavy Palma barrel, mated to a Kelbly Panda action in McMillan stock. Up front was a Phoenix bipod with lowering bracket. The scope was a Nightforce NXS 8-32x56mm.

Ray Gross Scorecard — 200-16X is mighty impressive, given Raton’s notorious conditions.
Ray Gross F-TR National Record F-Class Nationals Raton NM Team McMillan

The previous F-TR 1000-yard record was 200-14X shot by Derek Rodgers of Team McMillan. That record by Derek was also recorded at Raton, back in September, 2016.

CLICK HERE for current NRA F-Class and Long Range Records »

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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 8th, 2018

F-TR Tech — the Low-Profile Solution Pioneered by Pierce

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

One recent trend in F-TR competition is the use of low-profile, benchrest-type stocks shot with a light hand-hold and little or no face contact. For this method of F-TR shooting to work, you need the right equipment, and practice a “minimalist” shooting technique. One of the pioneers in this style of F-TR shooting is action-maker John Pierce of Pierce Engineering. Above you can see John shooting one of his F-TR rifles at the 2015 Canadian F-Class Championships. Note the straight-line stock and see how the adjustable bipod is set quite low to the ground (in fact the bipod’s arms are almost straight out).

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

Members of the Michigan F-TR Team, including Bryan Litz, have used similar rigs with success. Bryan said it took a while to adapt his shooting technique to this kind of rig, but there is a pay-off. Armed with a Pierce-built F-TR rifle, Bryan won his first-ever F-TR Match. Bryan explains the technique he uses when shooting this kind of rifle:

“Coming over from sling shooting, I knew there would be unique challenges to F-TR which I wanted to learn prior to (not during) a major tournament. I learned a new shooting position which doesn’t involve drawing the right knee up. For F-TR I get more straight behind the gun rather than at an angle. I found that the rifle shoots best with very light cheek, shoulder and grip pressure, approaching free recoil. This is how Eric Stecker shot his similar rifle into second place in the SW Nationals [with high X-Count by a large margin]. I learned the rifle’s sensitivity to different bipod and rear bag supports, and found the best buttplate position to allow the rifle to track and stay on target after recoil. This set-up shot best with a mostly free-recoil approach, that means ‘hovering’ over the comb, rather than resting your head on the stock. This took some ‘getting used to’ in terms of neck and back muscle tone. These are the kind of details I think it’s important to focus on when entering a new discipline.”

Bryan’s Pierce-built F-TR rig is a tack-driver: “I can certainly vouch for this set-up! In [a 2015] mid-range State Championship in Midland, MI, I shot my Pierce rifle into first place with a 598-44X (20 shots at 300, 500 and 600). Once you get used to the positioning and way of shooting these rifles, they just pour shots through the center of the target.”

Pierce F-TR Rifles with Scoville Stocks
Shown below are three complete Pierce F-TR rifles, along with a barreled action for comparison. The carbon-fiber/composite stocks are built by Bob Scoville. These Scoville stocks are very light, yet very strong and very stiff.

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

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