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 30th, 2018

TECH TIP: Use a Block to Maintain Front Bag Shape

John Loh Front Rest JJ Industries

front rest bag blockHere’s a simple solution for lumpy front sandbags. Cut a small block the width of your fore-end and place that in the front bag between matches. You can tap it down firmly with a rubber mallet. This will keep the front bag nice and square, without bunching up in the center. That will help your rifle track straight and true. Rick Beginski uses wood (see photo), while our friend John Southwick uses a small block of metal. The metal block might work a little better, but the wood version is easier to make with simple tools. John Loh of JJ Industries offers a slick Delrin block with a built-in bubble level. Loh’s block helps ensure that the actual top surface of your front bag is level, as distinct from the front rest assembly.

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
September 2nd, 2017

Fore and Aft Rifle, Rest, and Bag Positioning for Accuracy

Benchrest stock

To get the best accuracy out of any benchrest rifle, you need to find the optimal position of front rest and rear bag. The important point to remember is that each rig is different. One gun may perform best with the front rest right at the tip of the forearm (Position ‘D’ in photo), while another gun will work best with the rest positioned much further back. This Editor’s own 6BR sits in a laminated stock that is pretty flexy in the front. It shoots best with the front rest’s sandbag located a good 6″ back from the forearm tip (position ‘A’).

Here’s some benchrest advice that can help you reduce vertical and shoot tighter groups… without spending another penny. Many benchrest shooters spend a fortune on equipment and devote countless hours to meticulous handloading, but they never experiment with their rifle’s position/balance on the bags. This article explains why you should test your rifle in various positions. What you learn may surprise you (and improve your scores).

Next time you go to the range, experiment with the position of your rifle on the front rest, and try a couple different positions for the rear bag. You may find that the rifle handles much better after you’ve made a small change in the placement of your gun on the bags. Recoil can be tamed a bit, and tracking can improve significantly, if you optimize the front rest and rear bag positioning.

front rest Sally benchrest IBS
This competitor has the front rest positioned fairly far forward but not all the way out. Note the stop on the front rest — this limits forward stock travel.

Balance Your Gun BEFORE You Spend Hours Tuning Loads
In the pursuit of ultimate accuracy, shooters may spend countless hours on brass prep, bullet selection, and load tuning. Yet the same shooters may pay little attention to how their gun is set-up on the bags. When you have acquired a new rifle, you should do some basic experimentation to find the optimal position for the forearm on the front rest, and the best position for the rear bag. Small changes can make a big difference.

Joel Kendrick

Joel Kendrick, past IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year, has observed that by adjusting forearm position on the front rest, he can tune out vertical. He has one carbon-fiber-reinforced stock that is extremely rigid. When it was placed with the front rest right under the very tip of the forearm, the gun tended to hop, creating vertical. By sliding the whole gun forward (with more forearm overhang ahead of the front sandbag), he was able to get the whole rig to settle down. That resulted in less vertical dispersion, and the gun tracked much better.

stock position benchrest forearm sandbag front rest
Fore/aft stock position is important even with very wide fore-ends.

Likewise, the placement of the rear bag is very important. Many shooters, by default, will simply place the rear bag the same distance from the front rest with all their guns. In fact, different stocks and different calibers will NOT behave the same. By moving the rear bag forward and aft, you can adjust the rifle’s overall balance and this can improve the tracking significantly. One of our shooters had a Savage 6BR F-Class rifle. By default he had his rear bag set almost all the way at the end of the buttstock. When he slid the rear bag a couple inches forward the gun tracked much better. He immediately noticed that the gun returned to point of aim better (crosshairs would stay on target from shot to shot), AND the gun torqued (twisted) less. The difference was quite noticeable.

A small change in the position of the forearm on the front rest, or in the placement of the rear bag, can make a big difference in how your gun performs. You should experiment with the forearm placement, trying different positions on the front rest. Likewise, you can move the rear bag back and forth a few inches. Once you establish the optimal positions of front rest and rear bag, you should find that your gun tracks better and returns to battery more reliably. You may then discover that the gun shoots smaller groups, with less vertical dispersion. And all these benefits are possible without purchasing any expensive new gear.

Rifle photo courtesy Johnson’s Precision Gunsmithing (Bakersfield, CA).

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
December 25th, 2016

Benchrest Bling — The Pappas Front Rest for Rimfire BR

Pappas Air gun front rest

Our friend and product tester Joe Friedrich is the proud owner of a spectacular Pappas front rest. Built by James Pappas, this rest is used for both air rifle and rimfire benchrest matches. The fancy Pappas front rest is a shortened, front-support-only version of the Pappas one-piece rest, which is popular with rimfire benchresters. Pappas engineered this rest to comply with air rifle benchrest rules which do not allow use of integrated (one-piece) front and rear rests. The end result was a 30.8-lb masterpiece of machining. Sadly, James Pappas passed away in 2014. This beautifully-crafted rest, built in 2011, is one of the finest examples of his work — a fitting legacy.

Pappas Air gun front rest

The workmanship on this Pappas front rest is astounding. Accurately described as a “work of art” by Joe Friedrich, this rest, crafted of aircraft-grade aluminum, sets new standards for “Benchrest BLING”. It looks like it should be on display in an art museum. Nearly all components of this rest, including the adjustment controls, have been polished to a mirror finish.

Pappas Air gun front rest

Convenient Rear Windage and Elevation Controls
The Pappas front rest features separate fine-tuning controls for windage and elevation, plus a central gross-elevation control. Normally, once the rest is centered-up on the target, you can make all needed elevation and windage adjustments with the rear (fine-adjustment) controls. In the video below, Joe explains how the controls work as he practices with his modified Theoben Rapid MFR air rifle. (Note: In the last minute of the video, the back-lighting was so intensely bright that we lost detail in the foreground. We apologize for that flaw, but you can still hear the audio.)

Price for this Masterpiece? Don’t Ask…
If you are interested in getting a similar rest, visit PappasRimfireProducts.com, or call (325) 754-5771. Be forewarned — “If you need to ask about the price, you probably can’t afford it.” This is truly the “Rolls-Royce” of front rests, and it will be priced accordingly.

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Gear Review No Comments »
November 9th, 2015

Bargain Finder 8: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we have launched a “Deals of the Week” feature. If this proves popular, we’ll try to run this every Monday. Here are some of the best deals on hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Midsouth and Powder Valley — Hodgdon Varget and H4350

AccurateShooter Deal Week Sale Bargain Graf Grafs.com Nikon Rangefinder IRT

Two of the most sought-after (and hard-to-find) powders are now available, at least in one-pound versions. Midsouth Shooters Supply has Hodgdon Varget in one-pound containers for $23.30/pound, while Powder Valley has Hodgdon H4350 in one-pound containers for $23.25/pound. Act quickly — supplies are limited. NOTE: If these sources run out, Precision Reloading has both Varget AND H4350, priced at $29.49 for a one-pound container.

11/10/2015 Update: Midsouth has Sold Out of Varget. Precision Reloading still has it.

2. Grafs.com — Nikon Laser Rangefinder Scope

AccurateShooter Deal Week Sale Bargain Graf Grafs.com Nikon Rangefinder IRT

Now can get a quality Nikon riflescope with a built-in Laser Rangefinder for no more than you’d pay for a Rangefinder by itself. That’s right, Nikon’s advanced 2.5-10x40mm M-223 LASER IRT combines a Laser Rangefinder with a full-featured scope. This is good set-up for hunting — you don’t have to carry a separate LRF. This unit offers “one-touch” activation with range values that display for 12 seconds. That makes it easy to hold your rifle with both hands while scanning.

3. Natchez Shooters Supply — 325 Rounds .22 LR Ammo, $20.99

AccurateShooter Deal Week Sale Bargain .22 LR Federal Bulk Ammo

Now we’re talking — this is the kind of pricing on bulk rimfire ammo we used to see in the “good old days”. Act quickly, this Federal .22 LR Ammo deal won’t last long. Also, seller Natchez has a purchase limit: “Due to limited supplies and high demand this item has a 2-piece maximum order quantity per customer, per every 1 day.” So you may order two boxes per day, which will total 650 rounds. The bullets are 40 grains, solid lead.

4. CDNN Sports — Walther PK380, $339.99

AccurateShooter Deal Week Sale Bargain .22 LR Federal Bulk Ammo

Bond… James Bond. If 007 were to pack a modern-day equivalent of his Walther PPK, it would be this slim new PK380 in .380 ACP. Weighing just 19.4 ounces, the slim PK380 is easy to carry. The grip is very comfortable even for small hands, and the slide is easy to operate, making this a good choice for the ladies. The PK380 has an ambidextrous manual safety and is hammer-fired.

5. Bullets.com — New Heavy, Cast-Iron 50 BMG Front Rest

AccurateShooter Deal Week Sale Bargain Big Fifty 50 Caliber front Rest Bullets.com

If you’re shooting a Fifty, you need lots of stability. Now there’s a big, heavy front rest designed expressly for the big .50 Caliber rifles. This new, 20″-wide cast iron rest weighs a whopping 24 pounds. Pin-to-Pin footprint is 18.9″ providing outstanding stability and resistance to rocking. The large top accepts front bags up to 8-3/4″ x 3″ (bag not included). Designed to be used either on the bench or on the ground, the new Bald Eagle Big Fifty Cast Iron Rest (Model BE1161) is available for $375.00 as an introductory special.

6. Creedmoor Sports — $50 Off Hardback Shooting Coats

AccurateShooter Deal Week Sale Bargain Creedmoor Sports Harback shooting coat leather cordura $50 off

As an end-of-year special, Creedmoor Sports has knocked $50.00 off its famous Hardback shooting coats. Choose from all-leather, leather + Cordura nylon, or all-Cordura. We personally like the Combo coat that uses leather in the arms/shoulders with nylon in the front. This saves weight and is a bit more comfortable in summer heat.

7. Brownells.com — Hornady Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine, $49.99

AccurateShooter Deal Week Sale Bargain Hornady Sonic Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine Lock Load

Yes, you can get a name-brand Ultrasonic cleaning machine for under fifty bucks. This Hornady Lock-N-Load Sonic Cleaner, which sells elsewhere for $75-$85, is available at Brownells.com this week for just $49.99. This cleaning machine holds up to 200 .223 Remington cases, or 100 .308 Winchester cases.

8. Amazon.com — Manfrotto 410 3-Axis Geared Head

AccurateShooter Deal Week Sale Bargain Manfrotto Geared Head Amazon Spotting scope

Once you’ve used a geared head for your spotting scope, you’ll never want to go back to standard tripod controls. The Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head delivers precise 3-Axis control: 360° of pan (traverse), +90° to -30° of front tilt (elevation), and +90° to -30° of lateral tilt. When spotting, this makes it much easier to traverse from one target to another — you can move horizontally with no vertical movement. AccurateShooter’s editors use this model 410, which features a quick-release plate. This is a very good deal. This same Manfrotto 410 Geared head sells elsewhere for $270.00 or more.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals 4 Comments »
November 1st, 2015

How It Works — SEB NEO Rest Design Features & Operation Tips

SEB Neo front coaxial rest
Photo by R.J. Hamilton.

At the 2015 F-Class National Championships, nearly three-quarters of the F-Open shooters were using SEB coaxial front rests. And the man who makes them, Sebastian Lambang, was on the firing line too. Seb shot very well, finishing in second position in the F-TR division for the Saturday (Oct. 31) session. For those shooting F-Open or benchrest matches, Seb’s joystick rests really do represent the current state-of-the-art in front rest design. Courtesy of Seb, here are some photos that illustrate the “inner workings” of the SEB NEO Front Rest.

SEB Neo front coaxial rest

If you’ve ever wondered how a joystick front rest works, and how the parts go together, study the photos below. In addition, for those who use a NEO rest in competition, Benchrest Champion Mike Ratigan offers some PRO USER Tips that will help you get the best results from your NEO.

SEB Neo front coaxial rest

SEB Neo front coaxial rest

Unique Features of the SEB NEO Front Rest:

  • Lots of Travel — 43 MOA Vertical and 48 MOA Horizontal via joystick alone. The NEO offers more joystick travel than any other coaxial rest.
  • Variable Joystick Movement — The NEO is the only rest that can be configured for reverse action mode. That means you can optionally set it to lower the rifle with an up movement of the joystick if you prefer. (Standard setting raises rifle with up joystick movement.)
  • Rack & Pinion Risers — The NEO has dual support columns with Rack & Pinion system, offering a very broad vertical adjustment range.
  • Optional Counter-Weights — The NEO comes standard with a spring-loaded top mechanism to help hold up the rifle. Optional counter-weights allow you to reduce spring “pre-load”. Many people feel the counter-weights also allow a smoother, less jerky movement.
  • Reversible Base — The NEO’s base can be set-up with either the long leg in the rear or the long leg in the front. Putting the long leg in front gives more room under the rifle.
  • NEO Packs Flat — The SEB NEO is easily dismantled for transport, and can pack nearly flat. This is a big advantage when traveling.

CLICK HERE for Complete SEB NEO Coaxial Rest Instructions (PDF File)

SEB NEO PRO TIPS from Mike Ratigan:

Counter-weight Function and Calibration: “With the Seb NEO, equipped with the optional static counter-weight, the shooter can calibrate the counter weight to the rifle weight. The counter-weight is used to hold up the rifle. Clamping pressure of the sliding plates is NOT used to hold up the rifle like other coaxial rests on the market today. Other coaxial rests apply enough clamping force to the rest top mechanism sliding plates to resist the downward movement of the top when the rifle weight sets on the rest. This one feature of the Seb NEO almost completely eliminates bullets falling out of the bottom of your groups because the rest moved (or falls) down when you fired the rifle. This function is very important.”

SEB Neo front coaxial rest

On Hand Position: “I try to keep the palm of my hand grounded to the bench at all times. To do this at the closer distances, the handle will be laying flat (bend to the side) while shooting on the bottom of the target. To move to the top up (for right-handed shooters) I rotate the handle counter clockwise, which [raises the top] while maintaining my palm grounded to the bench.”

On Front Bag Fill: “Give some coarse sand blasting sand a try with the small stuff screened out. This will help reduce compaction from daily use.”

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
May 27th, 2015

Forum Member Builds His Own High-Quality Front Rest

AKShooter front rest F-Class Dasher 6mm Alaska
AKShooter front rest F-Class Dasher 6mm Alaska

AKShooter front rest F-Class Dasher 6mm AlaskaYou have to admire someone with serious do-it-yourself skills. Not just hammer and nail skills, but formidable design and fabrication skills. Well Forum Member Dave D. (aka “AKShooter”) has a DIY skill set that might put some trained machinists to shame. You see, “DIY Dave” crafted his own pedestal front rest from scratch, using his own design and about $100.00 in materials (not counting the Edgewood front bag). Dave estimates he put 20 hours of labor into the project, but the end result was worth it: “This Do-It-Yourself rest drives like a dream. I’ve played with the Caldwell and a Sinclair, they have nothing on this one.”

Dave tells us: “Here is my Do-It-Yourself front rest. I wanted to show other folks who are handy that a solid front rest is doable with a bit of time — and you don’t need to spend $1000.00. (You could say this is a design for shooters with more time than money.) This is for F-Class. I was originally overwhelmed by the equipment needed, so I decided to make my own rest. I didn’t have the money for a SEB or Farley Coaxial. This is what I’ll run this season (my second as an F-Class competitor).”

(more…)

Permalink New Product, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
December 14th, 2014

Benchrest Tip: Optimize Your Rifle Position on the Rests

Here’s some benchrest advice that can help you reduce vertical and shoot tighter groups… without spending another penny. Next time you go to the range, experiment with the position of your rifle on the front rest, and try a couple different positions for the rear bag. You may find that the rifle handles much better after you’ve made a small change in the placement of your gun on the bags. Recoil can be tamed a bit, and tracking can improve significantly, if you optimize the front rest and rear bag positioning.

Balance Your Gun BEFORE You Spend Hours Tuning Loads
In the pursuit of ultimate accuracy, shooters may spend countless hours on brass prep, bullet selection, and load tuning. Yet the same shooters may pay little attention to how their gun is set-up on the bags. When you have acquired a new rifle, you should do some basic experimentation to find the optimal position for the forearm on the front rest, and the best position for the rear bag. Small changes can make a big difference.

Joel Kendrick

Joel Kendrick, past IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year, has observed that by adjusting forearm position on the front rest, he can tune out vertical. He has one carbon-fiber-reinforced stock that is extremely rigid. When it was placed with the front rest right under the very tip of the forearm, the gun tended to hop, creating vertical. By sliding the whole gun forward (with more forearm overhang ahead of the front sandbag), he was able to get the whole rig to settle down. That resulted in less vertical dispersion, and the gun tracked much better.

Likewise, the placement of the rear bag is very important. Many shooters, by default, will simply place the rear bag the same distance from the front rest with all their guns. In fact, different stocks and different calibers will NOT behave the same. By moving the rear bag forward and aft, you can adjust the rifle’s overall balance and this can improve the tracking significantly. One of our shooters had a Savage 6BR F-Class rifle. By default he had his rear bag set almost all the way at the end of the buttstock. When he slid the rear bag a couple inches forward the gun tracked much better. He immediately noticed that the gun returned to point of aim better (crosshairs would stay on target from shot to shot), AND the gun torqued (twisted) less. The difference was quite noticeable.

Benchrest stock

The important point to remember here is that each rig is different. One gun may perform best with the front rest right at the tip of the forearm (Position ‘D’ in photo), while another gun will work best with the rest positioned much further back. This Editor’s own 6BR sits in a laminated stock that is pretty flexy in the front. It shoots best with the front rest’s sandbag located a good 6″ back from the forearm tip (position ‘A’).

A small change in the position of the forearm on the front rest, or in the placement of the rear bag, can make a big difference in how your gun performs. You should experiment with the forearm placement, trying different positions on the front rest. Likewise, you can move the rear bag back and forth a few inches. Once you establish the optimal positions of front rest and rear bag, you should find that your gun tracks better and returns to battery more reliably. You may then discover that the gun shoots smaller groups, with less vertical dispersion. And all these benefits are possible without purchasing any expensive new gear.

Rifle photo courtesy Johnson’s Precision Gunsmithing (Bakersfield, CA).

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 6 Comments »
November 9th, 2014

IBS Gear Spotlight: Home-Built Co-Axial (Joystick) Front Rest

Do-It-Yourself Joystick Rest — Jeff’s Labor of Love
Quite a few competitors chamber their own barrels, and a few construct their own stocks. But Jeff Godfrey takes the prize for do-it-yourself audacity — he built his own co-axial front rest from scratch. Sam Hall provides this report:

“Jeff, one of Piedmont Gun Club’s regulars, is a talented fabricator. He made one of the smoothest joystick rests that I have ever laid my hands on. Jeff’s home-built coaxial rest rivals the Farley and Seb Max. It will also handle a wide fore-end Heavy Gun. Constructing virtually every part of this rest from scratch, Jeff made his own co-axial to save money. You have to admire his ingenuity and his dedication. Jeff says it took him over 100 hours to make. He said there would be no way he could make another one for profit!”

IBS Benchrest Piedmont Rutherfordton 600 yards Sam Hall

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 3 Comments »
September 12th, 2014

Premium Bald Eagle Windage Rests on Sale for $165.00

Here’s the deal of the year if you need a quality, windage-adjustable front rest. Pay just $165.00 for a competition-grade rest that normally sells for well over four hundred bucks! You heard that right. Bullets.com is offering aluminum-base front rests, with flex-shaft remote windage adjustment, for just $165.00! Choose either the popular slingshot-style rest (model BE1005) or a triangle base version (model BE1004). These front rests previously retailed for $425.00 each (with windage drive). But Bullets.com is having an “overstock” sale so you can get blow-out pricing on both these rests. At these prices ($165.00) you can afford two rests — one for yourself and one for a shooting buddy.

Slingshot-Style Front Rest Now $165.00 (BE1005)
Here is the slingshot model BE1005. Note, the optional bag is NOT included in the $165.00 sale price.

Grizzly.com Bullets.com Front Rest Windage Sale

Grizzly.com Bullets.com Front Rest Windage Sale

Remote Windage Adjustment System
What looks like a cable connected to a knob is actually a flexible drive shaft. This connects to the front bag carrier assembly (windage top) and moves it left and right as you rotate the knurled knob. This allows you to conveniently (and precisely) adjust windage from any shooting position.

Grizzly.com Bullets.com Front Rest Windage Sale

Triangle-Base Front Rest $165.00 (BE1004)
Here is the triangle-base model BE1004. Note: Optional front sand bag is sold separately.

Grizzly.com Bullets.com Front Rest Windage Sale

Premium Rests at a Blow-Out Prices
These Bald Eagle front rests can be used on the bench or on the ground for prone shooting. Designed by a benchrest shooter and refined by a member of the U.S. F-Class Open Rifle Team, this rest system has been thoroughly tested and proven to be capable of quick, precise adjustments during string shooting. There are two different models available for $165.00 — Slingshot base or Triangle base. The Slingshot model has an elongated front leg to keep the rest stable as well as keep the Windage adjustment knob within easy reach. These Bald Eagle rests feature a flex-shaft-drive Windage System that allows you to quickly and easily adjust for changing wind conditions. Front bags are sold separately. Minor modifications are required for left-hand shooters.

Permalink Hot Deals, New Product 3 Comments »
May 10th, 2014

Huge Discounts on Bald Eagle Front Rests from Bullets.com

Need a high-quality front rest at an affordable price? Here are some of the best deals we’ve seen in years. Bullets.com just announced a massive price cut on its Bald Eagle brand front rests. Both the regular rests and the deluxe rests with flex-shaft windage adjustments are on sale. (These windage-adjustable rests are great for F-Class shooting.) Windage-adjustable rests start at just $215.00, while the conventional rests are marked down to $179.95 (less than half the original price!) Choose from Cast Iron or Aluminum bases, triangle or slingshot (wishbone) footprints. These are high-quality rests, with CNC-machined parts. They have been used successfully by many top F-Class and benchrest shooters.

Bullets.com shooting front rest Bald Eagle Sale

Bullets.com tells us: “These rests were originally designed by a Benchrest shooter and refined by a member of the U.S F-Class Open Rifle Team. The rests have been thoroughly tested and proven to be reliable and capable of quick and accurate adjustments during string shooting.”


Bald Eagle Shooting Rests with Windage System ON SALE

BE1004 – Triangle, Aluminum, Reg. $425.00 — SALE $215.00
BE1005 – Slingshot, Aluminum, Reg. $425.00 — SALE $215.00
BE1006 – Slingshot, Cast Iron, Reg. $475.00 — SALE $235.00

Bullets.com shooting front rest Bald Eagle Sale


Bald Eagle Shooting Rests without Windage System ON SALE

BE1128 – Triangle, Aluminum, Reg. $375.00 — SALE $179.95
BE1130 – Slingshot, Cast Iron, Reg. $399.95 — SALE $179.95
BE1129 – Slingshot, Aluminum, Reg. $375.00 — SALE $179.95

Bullets.com shooting front rest Bald Eagle Sale

Along with offering super deals on front rests, Bullets.com has also slashed prices on its front and rear sand bags. Front Bags are marked dow to $27.50, while Rear Bags are on sale from $52.50 – $64.50. Large-diameter F-Class rest feet are also on sale currently. Get more details at Bullets.com.

Permalink Competition, Hot Deals 3 Comments »
November 14th, 2013

Caldwell Rock BR Front Rest on Sale for $129.99 at Grafs.com

Caldwell Rock BR rest on sale 129.99 grafs.comDo you need a solid, yet affordable front pedestal rest for load testing or varmint shooting from a bench? Here’s very good deal from Grafs.com. Right now the Caldwell Rock BR front rest is on sale for $129.99. That’s $20-$50 cheaper than you’ll find it elsewhere. And Graf’s $129.99 price includes ground shipping (after a single $6.95 handling fee for any order). The Caldwell BR rest isn’t super high-tech, but at 15.5 pounds, it provides a solid platform, with a wishbone-style, cast-iron base. A knob on the left allows easy windage adjustments. The three-lobe bag works fine for prairie dog safaris and general use. For competition, you may want to upgrade to a higher-quality front bag from Edgewood or Protecktor (this may require some minor modification to bag cradle).

We think this $129.99 price is a stellar deal. Check out the prices for the Caldwell Rock BR rest at other vendors (prices effective November 14, 2013):

Caldwell Rock BR rest on sale 129.99 grafs.com

Caldwell Rock BR rest on sale 129.99 grafs.com

Will this Caldwell Rock rest perform as well as a Farley, John Loh, or SEB front rest? Obviously not, but not everyone needs a state-of-the-art rest costing more than a factory hunting rifle. And consider this, you can buy the complete front rest for less than the cost of some of the super-deluxe, large-footprint rear bags. If you’re looking for a general-purpose rest that may see hard use around a ranch or farm property (or on varmint hunts), keeping your investment down isn’t such a bad idea.

Caldwell Rock BR rest on sale 129.99 grafs.com

Permalink Gear Review, Hot Deals 1 Comment »
June 29th, 2013

New Phoenix Rest Feet for F-Class from 21st Century Shooting

When you’re shooting an F-Class match, the last thing you want is for your fancy front rest to sink into soft ground, hop on hard ground, or otherwise move around from shot to shot. And with more F-Open shooters shooting heavy (180gr+) bullets these days, F-Class front rests have to cope with more torque and recoil than ever before. Well, our buddy John Perkins from 21st Century Shooting has a solution. The new 21st Century Phoenix Foot features unique, bell-style geometry. This allows your rest to sit securely in turf and the feet are very stable even on loose soil or gravel. The Phoenix Foot, shown here with 21st Century’s Front Rest, is compatible with a variety of front pedestal rests with 1/2″-diameter adjustment legs. The bell-shaped foot design (narrow at the bottom and flaring at the top) makes it easy to level the rest front-to-back and side-to-side. Price for a set of three (3) Phoenix feet is $99.00.

21st Century Shooting F-Class Feet Front Rest Phoenix accurateshooter.com review

21st Century’s Impressive Crank-Windage Front Rest
Also shown in the photo is 21st Century’s impressive new Front Rest, proudly CNC-machined in the USA from aircraft aluminum and stainless steel billet barstock. This big boy, which retails for $1095.00, features a super-large-diameter mariner’s wheel for elevation adjustment, and an ultra-smooth crank adjustment for windage (horizontal). Finish and function are impressive. Elevation and windage can be easily adjusted with fingertips (this is made possible by the ball screw design). This “Rolls Royce of rests” is made to last — all aluminum parts are anodized and the base is machined from 1″-thick 6061 T6 aircraft billet aluminum. If you’re interested, call 21st Century at (260) 273-9909. When production permits, rests usually ship out 3-6 weeks after an order is placed.

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, New Product 2 Comments »
April 28th, 2013

New Sinclair ‘Heavy Varmint Rest’ — Also Competition Rest on Sale

Sinclair Heavy Varmint Rest HuntingSinclair Int’l announced that it will reveal a new heavy-duty Varmint Shooting Rest at the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits next week. The new rest (photo right) features a beefy center post with large-diameter control knobs. There is a rest-top control for windage, and you can quickly adjust the 3-lobe bag to handle different rifles. Using the quick-release handles, slide the bag side-plates in and out for various forearm widths. Price has not yet been set. Geoff Esterline of Sinclair says: “A bunch of Sinclair folks will be there in Booth #3433 to talk shop with our customers. We’ll be unveiling our new Sinclair Heavy Varmint Rest at the show. Attendees can enter a drawing to win one of three shooting rests. So drop by and sign up for your chance to win.”

Beefy Sinclair Competition Shooting Rest on SALE
In related news, Sinclair has put its popular Competition Shooting Rest on sale. The price has been marked down from $669.99 to $599.99. That’s a pretty good value compared to other high-end rests with this kind of quality and precision control systems.

Sinclair Heavy Varmint Rest Hunting

Here are some user comments from our Forum members:

Great rest. Easy to convert to left hand as well. — Geronimo Jim

I have one and really like it a lot. I’ve not encountered any issues with mine. — DReever

A friend has one, I have used it. All machining is top-notch like all Sinclair stuff. I prefer a joystick, but if I wanted a knob-type rest I would buy the Sinclair. Very nice having the elevation and windage knobs close to each other. — Zfastmalibu

The only thing I do not like about them is the horizontal adjustment pivots instead of going straight side to side… which can put the rear stock and rest in a little bit of a bind if you have to go far. I do like that the Sinclair is quite a bit heavier than the J.J. Loh rest. I think you would be plenty happy with [the Sinclair rest]. — Bozo 699

Permalink Hot Deals, New Product 1 Comment »
April 24th, 2013

Forum Member Builds DIY F-Class Rifle and Belt-Drive Rest

This story first appeared last year. We’re featuring it again by popular request.
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. He built his own rifle and an impressive twin-belt-drive pedestal rest. (Click photo below to see 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 this weekend 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).

Tikka 590 Essex Custom

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 .0001″ (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 Gunsmithing, New Product 7 Comments »
March 19th, 2013

Fulghum Belt-Drive Front Rest — Smooth Operator

In the benchrest game, a rock-solid front rest with precise, easy-use controls, is essential. The Farley and Sebastian rests provide a joystick that allows the shooter to adjust both horizontal and vertical position with a single move. However, many top shooters prefer more traditional rests. When you’re centered up horizontally and just want to make a very tiny vertical adjustment, a rest with a separate vertical control is hard to beat. Likewise, separate windage controls ensure that you can move left to right without altering your vertical point of aim one tad.

Among the premium non-joystick rests we’ve tried, the John Loh (JJ Industries) rest and the Randolph Machine (Fulghum) rest stand out for quality of workmanship and the smooth, precise functioning of the windage and elevation controls.

In this article we review the Fulgham Front Rest, produced by Ken Fulghum of Randolph Machine in North Carolina. It offers a unique, belt-driven elevation control. This rest has been very successful in IR 50-50, ARA Outdoor, and RBA Indoor rimfire disciplines. (Ken Fulgham himself is a highly successful rimfire benchrest shooter.) But, when fitted with a conventional front sandbag top, the rest also works great with centerfire rifles.

NOTE: The test unit shown in the photos is fitted with a Fudd Rest Top. Randolph Machine no longer sells Fudd tops. Instead Randolph produces a similiar adjustable front top with thin sand bag sections. This cost $150.00.

Fulghum Rest is Beefy and Stable
The Fulghum Front Rest is rock-solid and very stable on the bench. A large knob on the left controls the windage. The entire center section of the rest slides left and right on precision-machined cross-shafts riding in bronze, oil-impregnated bushings. The movement is super-smooth, with no grabbing or jumping. As we’ve seen with the John Loh rest, horizontal tracking is superb, and you can easily make very fine sideways adjustments with ZERO vertical shift.


Belt-Drive for Vertical Adjustment
What’s really special about the Fulghum Rest is the vertical adjustment system. This uses a synthetic toothed belt that connects a large knob in the center of the rest to the ram which supports the rest top. The belt drive runs over sprockets that provide plenty of mechanical advantage. This allows you to effortlessly raise/lower even very heavy rifles. The up/down movement is very smooth. However, there is a little slack in the belt and you can feel the belt’s teeth engage the sprockets one by one. Once you get used to the feel of the belt and how it engages the sprockets, however, you can make very precise adjustments.

Importantly, after you’ve adjusted the vertical, there is enough drag in the system that it holds vertical perfectly. There’s no “post-adjustment” vertical slippage at all. You can take your hand off the vertical knob and shoot with confidence that your aiming point won’t shift.


Overall, this is an excellent unit. Since you have to adjust windage and elevation separately, it’s not as fast as a joystick rest, but it has its advantages. There’s none of the vertical notchiness we’ve seen in some joystick units. Unless you are 100% certain you want a joystick-type rest, you should definitely “test-drive” a Fulghum Rest and see how it suits you.

Rest Retails for $750.00 without Top
The Fulghum Front Rest currently retails for $750.00 with no top. Randolph Machine offers two different tops for the unit: the $120.00 Randolph MK1 Top (User supplies owl-ear bag), or the $150.00 Adjustable MKII Top (see photo at right; similar to Fudd Top). Fulghum also offers a one-piece rest (front and rear support) for $750.00.

All Randolph Machine Rests are made one at a time, by hand, so you should call for availability. Normal delivery time is “about a month” once you place your order. Here’s the contact info:

Ken Fulghum
Randolph Machine, Inc.

www.randolphmachine.com
P.O. Box 147, 1206 Uwharrie St.
Asheboro, NC 27204
Phone: (336) 625-0411
Fax: (336) 625-0410

Permalink Gear Review, News 6 Comments »
November 13th, 2012

Upgrade for Caldwell Fire Control Joystick Front Rest

Available for under $180.00 including front bag, the Caldwell Fire Control front rest is a remarkable value. It makes the co-axial, joystick design more affordable than ever. We used the Fire Control front rest when testing our Ultimate Varminter 20 Practical AR. Once we removed some sand from the tri-lobe front bag, the rest worked quite well.

Get a Fire Control Rest for Just $179.40
Amazon.com
currently sells the Fire Control rest (item 956104) for $179.40. That’s a really spectacular deal for guys on a tight budget, looking to try out a joystick-style front rest. With the conversion described in this article, you can put together a system that works pretty darn well, and is more than adequate for many applications, including prairie-dog hunting (from a bench).

While most Fire Control owners are happy with the product, many have wanted to replace the tri-lobe front bag with a more conventional front bag from Protektor or Edgewood. This isn’t as easy as it looks because the width of the Fire Control top is too narrow for most standard 3″-wide front bags. On a “special order” basis, Protektor has crafted some narrower leather front bags that fit pretty well, but some shooters have decided to “upgrade” the entire front assembly.

Forum member Doug M. (aka DrJeckyl), has come up with an elegant solution that allows a Sinclair Int’l Benchrest Rest Top to be fitted to the Fire Control Rest. Doug notes: “The Caldwell Fire Control is a nice rest for the money, but it comes up short in the rest top department. The Sinclair RT-3 [or its replacement, the Gen II B/R top] fits perfect with minor modifications.” Shown below are the main components:

fire control rest conversion

To adapt the Sinclair RT-3 or Gen II B/R top, Doug merely had to drill a couple holes in the RT-3 baseplate, and adapt a spacer to get the height correct: “The Caldwell factory top has a raised mounting portion so a 1/8″ piece of stock will be needed as a spacer to the flat-bottom RT-3. The spacer needs to be cut to the same length as the movable portion on the rest. And you should plan the mounting accordingly so the left thumbscrew clears the vertical height column at full left position (there is a cutaway in the rest under the thumbscrew that allows for easy access to the screw).” We have labeled the photo with dimensions, but Doug cautions you should measure your own original plate to insure the drill locations are correct for your unit.

fire control rest conversion

Below you’ll see the completed installation, with the RT-3 installed on the Fire Control rest. Doug says it works very well. For more information on this Fire Control rest top conversion, with Doug’s measurments for the hole-spacing and his specs on the fasteners, go to the original thread in our Shooter’s Forum. NOTE: Sinclair no longer sells the RT-3 top, but Sinclair’s $69.95 Gen II B/R top can be converted just as easily. LINK to Fire Control Rest Top Conversion Forum Thread.

fire control rest conversion

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
September 25th, 2011

Bald Eagle Rest Gets “Extreme Make-Over” by Bob Pastor

Forum Member Rod V (aka Nodak7mm) commissioned a full-bling “Extreme Make-Over” of his Bald Eagle Slingshot Front Rest. The visual change was dramatic — a benchrest version of “Pimp My Ride”. But Rod’s old Bald Eagle was also fitted out with new controls and new, large-diameter F-Class foot pads. Those hardware additions add more than flash — they improve function too.

Bald Eagle Front RestPlain Jane Rest Becomes
Black and Gold Beauty

The whole rest body was powder-coated black and the controls were finished in gold-tone. This has got to be the best-looking Bald Eagle in the galaxy. Rod says: “I had Bob Pastor of Viper Rests make me some F-Class feet for my Bald Eagle Slingshot rest. Since Bob does powder coating and such, I gave him the go ahead to make it look sweet. And he sure did!”

Rod adds: “Man do I have a ‘kick-butt’, hot looking rest for F-class now! Pastor did a great job and I really owe him a thanks for exceeding my expectations and for his craftsmanship. Bob is a great guy to work with. He is a top-shelf shooter too, so he knows what he wants in a rest and why.”

Bald Eagle Front Rest

What’s involved in an “Extreme Make-Over” by Bob Pastor?
Here’s the description on Bob’s Website, www.ViperBench-rest.com:

  • Each rest is customized for the individual shooter. All the brass knobs and handles are melted down rifle cases from my foundry.
    (Aluminum knobs and handles can be substituted of weight is a concern.)
  • Each knob and handle is individually knurled and turned on my lathe.
  • All threaded stainless steel rods, knob screws and knob extensions are used. These are all highly polished before installation.
  • The Viper Double-Edge F-Class Feet are 4″ wide, with a large tapered spike turned concentric to the center hole.
  • All corner stainless steel rods are ½ x 13 threads per inch for added stability.
  • All corner stainless steel rods have concentric points turned on the ends for use on a shooting bench.
  • All corner holes in base are drilled and tapped for ½ x 13 tpi., from 3/8 x 16 tpi. For better stability.
  • The base is stripped of any paint and all sharp edges and burrs are removed prior to powder coating.
  • The entire rest is either powder-coated or painted according to the material.
  • All threaded rods are burnished to remove any small burrs, before applying synthetic grease and assembly.
  • All brass is highly polished, unless a matte finish is desired.
  • Each rest is then packed in liquid hardening foam for safety during shipping.

To order an “Extreme-Makeover” visit www.ViperBench-rest.com, call Bob Pastor at (269) 521-3671, or email robpas [at] btc-bci.com . Bob says the Make-Over price “depends on the customer’s desires and is quoted before the rest is shipped to me.”

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, New Product 1 Comment »
July 29th, 2011

Heavy Caldwell Pedestal Rest on Sale at Cabela’s for $129.99

Caldwell Rock RestIf you have a limited budget, but you need a solid, heavy front pedestal rest, the Caldwell Rock BR 1000 will probably fit the bill. It’s not as sophisticated as a SEB or a Farley, but then it sells for a fraction of the price of those high-end joystick rests. And right now, the BR 1000 is on sale at a big discount.

Cabelas.com has the Caldwell Rock BR 1000 front rest on sale for just $129.99. That’s a great price. MidwayUSA sells a similar (but lighter) Rock front rest for $169.99 (item #348661).

This BR 1000 rest has a heavy, slingshot-style base. It is very stable (even with magnum calibers). The two-stage elevation adjustment reaches up to 11-1/2″. The rest comes complete with two three-lobe front bags, and the rest will accept other Caldwell Deluxe bags. Some guys toss the Caldwell bags and run a Protektor leather front bag. If you need a sturdy rest that will work with heavy recoiling rifles, it is hard to beat the Rock BR 1000 for the price.

Caldwell Rock Rest

Permalink Hot Deals No Comments »
December 26th, 2010

Loh-Ho-Ho, Merry Christmas — Guess What Santa Brought?

John LohThis Christmas Santa (in the guise of John Loh) brought us a most wonderful gift — a special edition JJ Industries front Ultra-Rest, customized for AccurateShooter.com + 6mmBR.com. If you have never used (or fondled) a John Loh rest, we can assure you it is a masterpiece of machining. Loh Rests are rock-solid and utterly smooth in use. The horizontal windage tracking is perfect — absolutely smooth and linear. You can move the windage all the way from max left to max right and back again and your horizontal cross-hair stays rock steady. And for fine elevation adjustments, the gold-tone “speed screw” is as good as it gets. John employs a super-fine thread pitch so you can easily make very precise up/down corrections.

The “feel” of the controls is what really sets a John Loh rest apart from the competition. Everything is ultra-smooth — as though the controls were running on tiny ball bearings. This is achieved by maintaining super-fine tolerances on all threaded components.


Click Photo to see LARGE Size

Separate Base Unit Provides Secure Footing
John Loh also provided a custom triangle base, which mates perfectly to the three adjustable feet on the pedestal rest. This base, which has circular rubber pads at each of the corners, provides extra grip and stability for the rest. In addition, it allows you to position the front rest securely without creating screw holes in your benchtop. (In case you’re wondering, yes if you already own a Loh rest, John can craft a triangle base like this for your unit.) Also, FYI, the small scratches in the base unit were our fault — we didn’t retract the pointed tips of the height-adjustment screws when transporting the unit. FYI, in the triangle base, John does machine three countersunk recesses for the screw-tips, so you can precisely locate the rest each time without scratches. To avoid scratches, simply carry the black Ultra-Rest separate from the triangle base.


Click Photo to see LARGE Size

Another nice feature John provided in our special rest was an extra black rectangular “riser” block that fits between the normal base and the upper section (riser not shown in photos). This raises the whole bag assembly up an extra inch. That extra “lift” comes in handy when your target is placed “uphill” at a much higher elevation than the benchtop. The riser block is so nicely made and finished that it looks like part of the original unit when installed.


Click Photo to see LARGE Size

AccurateShooter Field Tested GearEdgewood Bag and Bag-Block Included
As with all his pedestal rests, John Loh supplies a high-quality Edgewood leather and cordura bag in your choice of fore-arm width. In addition, the rest comes with a precision-crafted bag-block, with integral bubble level. The bag-block helps maintain the proper front bag geometry, and the level helps you ensure that the bag itself provides a level surface for your rifle. This is important! Many people level their rest, only to have a bag that is higher on one side than the other. In addition to the level in the bag-block, the Loh rest features an easy-to-see bubble level mounted on the rear-facing leg.

John Loh Front Rest

If you’re interested in purchasing a JJ Industries front Ultra-Rest, contact John Loh at (562) 602-5553 or email info [at] jj-industries.com. Sinclair Int’l also sells the JJ Industries Ultra-Rest for $879.95, but the product is currently back-ordered at Sinclair. We suggest you order directly through John.

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