The Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) kicked off Tuesday, February 10th, with an instructional clinic at the Ben Avery 1000-yard Range. This combined a lecture/Q&A session with live-fire training. Ballistics “Professor” Bryan Litz reports: “The clinic was a big hit as usual, with lots of competitor participation. There was a big crowd this year, as you can see.”
The clinic started with a class on Exterior Ballistics hosted by Bryan. This focused on why ballistics is important to competitive shooters, and how to balance ballistic performance objectives against real world constraints. Topics included bullet weight options for F-TR (155 to 215 grains), barrel/chamber considerations, plus the real-world trade-offs involved with heavy bullets (yes the BC may be better but recoil becomes an issue). Many of the questions related to content from Bryan’s recent books, and discussions in AccurateShooter.com’s Ballistics sub-Forum and Daily Bulletin.
Following the ballistics class, shooters made their way to the firing line for one-on-one instruction with experienced shooters in each discipline (sling, F-TR and F-Open). During this segment of the clinic, champion shooters worked directly with novice and intermediate shooters. Bryan said: “It was great to see the ‘top guns’ sharing their knowledge.”
Last but not least, Mid Tompkins directed a wind clinic with live fire demonstrations. Bryan reports: “Mid has a way of getting your attention. Personally, I thought his 2 MOA wind call that put the very first shot in the 5 inch X-ring at 1000 yards got everyone’s attention!” After the demonstrations, clinic “students” went to the firing line to put wind-clinic lessons into practice, and to verify their zeroes.
Mid Tompkins at the SWN Shooters’ Clinic
Here are some more images from the instructional clinic held last year at the 2014 SW Nationals.
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It’s almost time for the Berger SW Nationals. Phil Kelley says he’s ready for this view…
February in Phoenix… For many of us February is all about the Berger Southwest Nationals, which kicks off Tuesday, February 10th with a Shooting Clinic and runs through Sunday, February 15th. This prestigious match, hosted at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, draws top F-Class and sling shooters from around the country. One of those F-Class shooters, Phil Kelley, posted the above photo, saying he’s ready to make the trek from his North Carolina home to Arizona. Good luck to Phil and all the competitors. A record number of shooters should be on the firing line this year.
What lives in the Alabama backwoods and has 54 sets of ears? The answer is the new, $20 million-dollar CMP Marksmanship Park in Talladega. This new facility, set to open in May, boasts electronic Kongsberg Target Systems (KTS) at 200, 300, and 600 yards. All totaled, there are 54 Kongsberg target units, each with its own acoustic sensors — the “ears” as it were. Each KTS target has a set of acoustic sensors (very precise microphones) that plot the shot location using sound triangulation. Shot locations are accurate within a fraction of a millimeter. What’s more, because electronic targets do not expand or shrink with humidity levels, as paper does, scoring should be more consistent match to match.
Monitors Display Score and Shot Location Instantly
Each target connects to a monitor that displays the hit locations to the shooter. Easy push-button controls allow the shooter to cycle through hits and options without having to change positions. The monitors employ non-glare glass protected by an aluminum frame that acts as a shade. This ensures good visibility for the shooter.
Engineered in Norway, Kongsberg target systems do more than just display shot locations to competitors. The system automatically calculate scores, and every target is networked to a central, “command” computer. This can provide updated competitor rankings, and can even display the results to event spectators on large view screens. See how it works in this animated demo video from Kongsberg:
Video Demonstrates Kongsberg Target System
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Editor’s Note: We originally ran this story in 2010. Since then we have had many reader inquiries about using .22-250 Lapua brass for a 6mm cartridge. Well our friend Robert Whitley worked hard on that concept a few years back, when Lapua .22-250 brass first became available. He came up with a nice 30°-shoulder wildcat that matches the accuracy of the best mid-sized 6mm cartridges. Read all about Whitley’s 6mm-250 Imp 30 below.
Our friend Robert Whitley of 6mmAR.com has come up with a new, accurate 6mm wildcat based on the new Lapua .22-250 brass that has just started arriving. Robert provides this report:
“I just received a box of the new Lapua .22-250 cases — beautiful brass! My real desire with it was to make it into a 6mm version, preferably something that was ‘no neck-turn’ with a .308 Win-type body taper that would work well in bolt gun and semi-auto magazines and would have a capacity to allow superior velocities. I considered the 6XC, but since you have to bring a whole lot of the shoulder of the brass up into the neck (when you re-form the brass from .22-250 to 6XC) that would necessitate neck-turning it because with Lapua brass the shoulder metal is thicker than neck metal of the brass.
I wanted a simple ‘neck it up and shoot it’ approach so I made up a 6mm-250 Improved 30 cartridge (i.e. 6mm-250 Improved with a 30 degree shoulder) and this thing works great — just neck up the brass, load it and shoot it! The case is like a 6XC with a .030″ longer body and a .030″ shorter neck, which works out fine if you are going to be shooting mainly the 105-108 gr bullets (which it will do very well shooting 2950 – 3000 fps). If you want to hot-rod things, which I do not, I am certain the case can push the 105-108 gr bullets a fair amount faster.
I set it up and throated the reamer for the Sierra 107s and the Berger or JLK 105 VLDs (i.e. a .090″ free bore on the reamer) and it works great with them. If I was going to use it with the Lapua 105s or the Berger 108s I would add about .025″ – .030″ to the freebore of the reamer (i.e. make the freebore around .115″ to .120″).
The great thing is you can use a 6XC die set for it without modification, and all you need to do is keep the dies about .030″ up off the shell holder from their normal position and use them as is. You can make a spacer washer about .030″ thick that you can put on and take off the 6XC dies and use the dies for both cartridges (i.e. 6XC and 6mm-250 Imp 30).
6mm-250 Imp 30 Shows Great Accuracy
Fire-forming loads are real accurate. Here is a 10-shot group I shot prone at 100 yards shooting fire-forming loads with it — the group is the size of a dime. For fire-forming I use a milder, but still very accurate load: 32.0 grains of N140 with a Sierra 107 and a BR2 primer. For fire-formed cases you can jump up to N160 (around 38-40 grains — depending on lot) and it will push the 105-108 gr bullets real accurately in the 2950-3000 fps range, with low ES and SD. This cartridge has a neck length of .268″ which is plenty long for a 6mm shooting bullets with varying bearing surface lengths. The reamer diagram (link below) leaves about a .003″ neck clearance over a loaded round, which seems to work out very well for a ‘no-turn neck’ set-up.
So there you have it … the 6mm-250 Imp 30 is simple, easy to make, accurate as all get out, there are available factory die sets you can use, and it uses great new Lapua brass — what’s not to like!”
We recently featured the “Hornady Number One”, a showcase rifle featureing a CAD-designed, machine-cut stock. While many viewers liked that one-of-a-kind Hornady rifle, others lamented the absence of hand-shaped curves on the Hornady’s angular stock. So, for fans of curvy, hand-crafted rifles, we’re presenting this homage to a truly great stock-maker, Doan Trevor, an artist in the old style.
Doan Trevor is a master gunsmith and stock-maker who works in the old style. He still hand-crafts stocks from start to finish, and does all the metal-work on the custom rifles he builds. Starting with highly-figured woods, Doan carves and shapes his stocks largely by hand, with meticulous attention to detail. Each rifle he builds is optimized for its intended discipline, and custom-fitted for the customer.
With the help of his talented wife Sue (who does the photography and builds the web pages), Doan has created a wonderful website, DoanTrevor.com, that is a feast for the eyes. You can see beautiful wood-stocked rifles being hand-crafted. Doan also illustrates how he creates custom metal parts, and how he beds barreled actions into the finished stocks.
Can a human being, hand-holding a rifle, out-shoot a mechanical test rest? Who would win in this battle between man and machine? You might just be surprised. At 600 yards, with an AR-platform rifle, the results can be remarkably close, based on targets provided by the USAMU. When clamped in a test rig, a USAMU M16A2 produced a 200-18X group with handloads. The USAMU says this was “one of our better 20-shot groups at 600 yards, testing ammo from a machine rest”. Can a human do better?
Remarkably, a human soldier came very close to matching the group shot from the machine rest. The photo below shows a 20-shot group shot by a USAMU marksman with sling and iron sights, using USAMU-loaded ammunition. The score, 200-16X, was nearly the same. As you can see, the USAMU rifleman didn’t give up much to the machine rest, even at 600 yards!
In fairness, this was no ordinary human performance. The 200-16X score was a new National Record set in December, 1994. This was fired by PFC Coleman in an Interservice Match at Okeechobee, Florida. Nice shootin’ soldier!
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AccurateShooter.com offers dozens of FREE, printable targets for target practice, load development, and fun shooting. We also offer a few of the most popular NRA Bullseye targets. One or more of these printable targets should work for most training purposes. However, some readers have asked: “Where can we get the real targets… exactly like the ones used in NRA, IBS, and NBRSA shooting matches?”
All these vendors carry nearly all the NRA High Power and Smallbore targets, including the new, smaller F-Class targets. Germany’s Kruger Targets sells all the important NRA targets, and international (ISSF) air rifle and smallbore targets too.
Orrville Printing currently sell IBS targets for rimfire (50 yard) benchrest, short-range centerfire Benchrest (100, 200, 300 yards), Hunter BR Rifle (100, 200, 300 yards), plus the official 600-yard and 1000-yard IBS targets. National Target Company also has most of the IBS targets. NBRSA short-range, 600-yard, and 1000-yard benchrest targets are available directly from the NBRSA Business Office. Call (307) 655-7415 to order for the season.
The .308 Winchester, a shortened version of the .30-06, has almost completely replaced the .30-06 in NRA competition. The .308 is required for Palma shooting, so it is also used by many Palma competitors in other long-range and mid-range prone matches. However, with the exception of M1 Garand matches, you won’t see many .30-06 rifles on the firing lines. Does that mean the .30-06 is obsolete? Is the .308 Win really much more accurate? Or does it just offer the advantages of reduced recoil and reduced powder consumption?
Cartridge photos courtesy Deuce45s.com, a leading source of specialized military cartridges.
In his Sibling Rivalry: .308 vs. .30-06 article on the Rifleman’s Journal website, German Salazar argues that the .30-06 remains a viable competition cartridge, particularly for the long-range game. This isn’t just a subjective opinion. German has data to back up the argument that the .30-06 can still do the job.
German compares the actual scores produced by his .308 Win rifles with the scores from his .30-06 rifles. German analyzes scores, over a two-year period, shot by “matched pair” rifles (one in each caliber) with similar actions, stocks, sights, and barrels. For comparison purposes, German also includes score data from his 6XC, a modern low-recoil chambering.
RESULTS: .308 Has Small Edge at Middle Distance, But .30-06 Is Better at Long Range
Surprisingly, the .30-06 performed nearly as well as the .308 at middle distances. The .30-06 delivered 99.2% of max possible scores vs. 99.5% for the .308 Win. Notably, at 1000 yards, the .30-06 racked up 97.7% of max scores vs. 97.3% for the .308 Win. So, at 1000 yards, the .30-06 actually proved superior to the .308 Win. German explains: “This isn’t too surprising when one considers [the .308’s] limited case capacity for the bullet weights typically used in Long-Range shooting. They just run out of steam and dip perilously close to the transonic range as they approach 1000 yards of flight. The extra 150 fps or so that can be safely obtained from the .30-06 case really pays off at 1000 yards.”
In NRA Mid-Range matches (500 and 600 yards), the average score and percentage of possible score for each cartridge was as follows:
If we look at the score averages, the .308 comes out on top at the Mid-Range distances… by 0.3% of the possible score. By the way, notice that the 6XC, as good as it is, simply straddles the .30 caliber cartridges; it is not the winner.
German rarely shoots the .308 in matches that are only 1000 yards; most of his 1000-yard .308 shooting is done in Palma matches which include 800, 900 and 1000 yards. To make the comparison useful, the Long-Range results are presented only as a percentage of the possible score and the 800- and 900-yard stages of Palma matches were NOT included.
In NRA Long-Range and Palma matches, the average percentage of possible score for each cartridge at 1000 yards was as follows:
Editor’s Note: Among the three cartridges German studied, the 6XC actually proved best at 1000 yards, delivering 98.9% of the maximum possible scores. The .30-06 was second-best with 97.7%, slightly better than the .308 Win at 97.3%.
You’ll want to read German’s full Sibling Rivalry article, which includes an interesting history of the .30-06 and .308 in High Power shooting, along with tables showing German’s actual scores with his .30-06, .308 Win, and 6XC rifles. German’s story first ran in 2011.
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Looking to shoot an AR-platform rifle out past 500 yards? Then you should read two recent articles by AR guru Glen Zediker. Author of The New Competitive AR-15 and The Competitive AR15 Builders Guide, Zediker is an expert when it comes to AR-platform rifles — he knows as much as any guy around. Glen believes ARs have excellent long-range capability, provided they are built to high standards, with good barrels. Glen says: “a properly configured AR-15 is easily capable of good performance at 500+ yards. Good performance means it can hit a 1-foot-square target all the time. Competitive shooters can cut that standard in nearly half (the X-Ring on an MR1 600-yard NRA High Power Rifle target is 6 inches, and high X-counts are commonplace among more skilled shooters).”
Published in the Cheaper than Dirt Shooter’s Log, Zediker’s pair of articles cover the history and upgrading of the AR-15. Part One reviews the AR’s development as an accurate firearm, tracing its evolution from a Vietnam-era combat weapon to what is now a favored target rifle of High Power competitors. READ PART ONE.
Part Two discusses the specifics that make an AR accurate at 500 yards and beyond. Zediker talks about barrel configuration (profile and twist rate), bullet selection, floating handguards, and proper mounting of optics or iron sights. READ PART TWO.
Barrel Twist Rate
To stabilize anything longer than a 68- or 69-grain bullet, the barrel twist rate must be — at minimum– 1-in-8. Twist rates reflect how far the bullet travels along the lands or rifling to make one complete revolution. So, 1-in-8 (or 1-8, 1:8) means “one turn in eight inches.” I think it’s better to go a little faster in twist. There is nothing wrong with a 1:7 twist. The 90-grain bullets require a 1:6.5, and that is getting on the quick side. If you want to shoot Sierra 77s or equivalent, and certainly anything longer, 1:8 is necessary. By the way, it is bullet length, not weight, which constitutes the necessary twist rate to launch a stable bullet.
Correct optical sight positioning can be a challenge. With a flattop upper, I need a good inch additional forward extension at the muzzle side of the upper for the sight mount bases to avoid holding my head “back” to get the optimal view through the scope. A longer rail piece is necessary for my builds as a result.
Buttstock Length and Adjustment
An adjustable buttstock is valuable, and even more valuable if it’s well-designed. Mostly, a standard stock is too short, and the cheek area sits too low. Adding length helps a lot by itself. There are assemblies that replace the standard buttplate to allow for length and, usually, height and rotation adjustments for the buttpad. An elevation-adjustable cheekpiece is a big help to attain a solid position.
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“Gain-twist” refers to a form of barrel rifling where the twist rate gets tighter over the length of the barrel. For example, a gain twist barrel might start with 1:12″ twist and finish with 1:8″ twist. There is some evidence that gain-twist rifling can deliver more velocity (compared to a conventional barrel) with certain cartridge types. There have also been claims of increased accuracy with some types of bullets, but such claims are more difficult to quantify.
Gain-twist rifling is not new. This form of rifling has been around for a long, long time. The first gain-twist barrels appeared in the late 1800s. However, in the last few years, there has been increased interest in gain-twist barrels for both short-range and long-range competition.
Video Explains Gain Twist Rifling
Radical Extreme Gain Twist Barrel Design
In this video from our friend John M. Buol Jr., gunsmith John Carlos talks about a fairly radical gain-twist barrel design for high power and service rifle shooters. Produced by Bartlein Barrels, this gain-twist barrel starts with a 1:14″ twist and finishes with a 1:6.8″ twist at the muzzle (See 1:50 time-mark). Carlos believes that this type of barrel delivers higher velocities while providing excellent accuracy for a wide range of bullet weights. In .223 caliber, the gain twist works with the 75-77 grain bullets used on the “short course” while also delivering excellent accuracy with the longer 80-90gr bullets used at 600 yards and beyond. Velocity is the important bonus for long-range use. Carlos says the gain twist barrels deliver greater muzzle velocity, allowing a 90 grain bullet to stay well above the transonic zone, even at 1000 yards. (See 4:50 time-mark.)
This 1:14″ to 1:6.8″ gain-twist barrel is the product of much experimentation by Carlos and Bartlein. Carlos states: “We’ve varied all sorts of internal dimensions, such as the land height, and the groove depth. We’ve tried 5R rifling and 4-groove rifling, and we’ve worked with various rates of twist, and I believe we have it down really well right now.”
In this video, John Carlos explains the history of gain-twist rifling, and he explains how modern Bartlein gain twist barrels have been developed in recent years for both benchrest and High Power applications. If you are interested in barrel technology and design, take the time to watch.
Most of you know Carl Bernosky 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.
One of Carl’s latest creations is a 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.
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.
We are already half-way through the NRA High Power National Championship and SSG Shane Barnhart of the USAMU remains atop the leaderboard, with a score of 1193-64X out of a possible 1200 points. Barnhart shot a 595-28X during Sunday’s Navy Cup, Coast Guard Trophy, and Army Cup matches. Barnhart currently holds a three-point lead over second place SSG Brandon Green (1190-58X), the defending High Power National Champion. Like Barnhart, Green shoots for the USAMU. Kenneth Lankford leads the “any sight” (scopes allowed) division with 1191-54X.
High Power Hardware: The Guns of Perry
We thought our readers would like to see some of the ultra-accurate rifles campaigned by High Power competitors at Camp Perry. Both bolt-action and self-loading rifles are popular. Among bolt guns, Tubb 2000s and Eliseo tubeguns are popular. Semi-auto AR platform “Space Guns” offer some advantages (particularly during rapid-fire and for standing position), and are favored by many of the top marksmen. Many Camp Perry High Power competitors are also shooting less exotic AR service rifles.
Here is your current leader, SSG Shane Barnhart, with an AR Space Gun. Note the side charging handle and tall iron sight set-up.
Tubb 2000 with a shortened handguard, and custom hand support bracket forward of mag well.
The modern AR Space Gun, scoped version. Note the side charging handle, and absence of forward assist. A block fitted under the handguard helps with the standing position. The scope is mounted on a “piggy-back” rail that extends forward of upper receiver’s built-in rail.
Tubb 2000 rifle, left-hand version. Note how the butt-plate is adjusted for cant, angle, and drop.
Look carefully — it appears that a separate fore-arm section is duct-taped to the red free-floated handguard. Perhaps this AR owner experienced some wiggle, and that’s why he seems puzzled?
A countdown timer is attached directly to this shooter’s Tubb 2000 rifle.
This Service Rifle competitor shows how to get some “R & R” between relays.