March 1st, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Radical Skeleton-Stock Rifles from Texas


A few seasons back, our Editor and his friend Joe Friedrich flew to Texas to visit Gene Beggs and test rifles in Gene’s 100-yard indoor tunnel. That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shoot centerfire rifles in such a test facility. Here’s our report…

The South Texas Tunnel

Gene Beggs operates his own 100-yard indoor tunnel and rifle testing facility just outside of Odessa, Texas. Surrounded by tall fencing, this place really looks like a “Area 51″ secret military facility.

In his South Texas tunnel, Gene provides instruction and “tunnel time” for serious benchresters looking to improve their skills and optimize the accuracy of their rifles. Along with teaching the fine points of short-range benchrest, Gene employed his tunnel to develop a pair of radical rifles, one chambered in 220 Beggs, a slightly modified 220 Russian, and a second chambered in 6mm Beggs, a necked-up version of the 220 Russian that retains the original body taper and shoulder angle.


Radical Skeleton Stocks with Aluminum Sled mounted to Barrel
Both rifles shared a skeleton design which uses the Stiller Cobra or Viper action as a central load-bearing member. Remarkably, there is no conventional fore-arm at all. Gene has bolted, directly to the barrel, a 3″-wide bag-riding aluminum sled. The sled was not designed as a mid-barrel tuner, but it might have some beneficial effects in that regard. However, the tuning functions are handled by two concentric rings threaded to the muzzle. Gene believes that with minor rotations of his front tuning rings, he can dial the gun into tune and the tune can be easily adjusted as conditions warrant.

Do Mr. Beggs’ guns shoot? Absolutely. We had the chance to visit Gene in Odessa. We shot both the 220 Beggs-chambered rifle, and its 6mm Beggs-chambered cousin. Both rifles are nearly identical, though the Heavy Varmint-weight 220 has a longer, 27″ barrel compared to 22″ for the Light Varmint 6mm.

In the tunnel, the 220 HV, with a no-turn-neck 220 Beggs chamber, produced three-shot groups in the low ones and zeros right out of the gate, even before the tuner was optimized. With a barrel with over 1000 rounds through it, after firing 40 rounds without cleaning, Gene produced a tiny 5-shot group in the low ones. The first shot was slightly high (a common occurrence in the tunnel according to Beggs). The last 4 shots, rounds 42-45 since the barrel had been cleaned, went into 0.084″. This rig, though radical in the extreme, certainly appears fully competitive with more conventional BR rigs, and it tracked superbly, with no hopping or rocking on the bags.

220 Beggs — Simple, Accurate, Efficient

We were also very impressed with the 220 Beggs cartridge. It’s basically a plain 220 Russian with a sharper radius at the neck-shoulder junction. Gene has commissioned a 220 Beggs reamer with matching seating and full-length sizing dies. The little cartridge achieves 3600+ fps with a 52gr bullet, pushed by Benchmark powder.

Less Recoil Than 6PPC — From what we could tell during our short visit, the 220 Beggs is easy to load for, and performs exceptionally well with either turned (.250″) or no-turn necks. The recoil was noticeably less than a 6mm PPC, making the gun a joy to shoot. This round, we felt, could also be an outstanding varmint cartridge. The velocity is there, and we don’t think any other 22-caliber varmint cartridge is going to beat it for inherent accuracy.

As for the 6mm version, Gene told us: “The 6mm version of the cartridge performs best with Hodgdon’s H4198 Extreme, but the 220 has proven it will shoot well with just about anything you put in it including N133, H322, Benchmark, 8208, Norma 200 etc. It is the most trouble-free, user friendly cartridge I have ever worked with and will compete heads-up with anything. It’s also very easy on the shoulder.”

Gene Beggs sells components (reamers, dies etc.) for the 220 and 6mm Beggs, and also, under special circumstances, offers training/testing sessions in his West Texas Tunnel on an appointment basis.

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November 5th, 2019

IBS 600-Yard Nationals in Minnesota — Winter Arrives Early

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

The 2019 IBS 600-Yard Nationals took place October 12-13th at the Gopher Rifle and Revolver Club (GRRC.org) in Harris, Minnesota. It was a challenging event, given the cold and stormy conditions. Nonetheless many of the nation’s top shooters shot very well, and some young newcomers had strong showings. The real star of the match was new 600-Yard National Champion Jason Wolf. He delivered a masterful performance, winning the 2-Gun Overall, Light Gun Overall, and Heavy Gun Overall.

Click HERE for Full Match Results and Equipment List (PDF) »

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019
Dave Holland, past GRRC Bench Director and Host of 2010 IBS 1000-Yard Nationals.

Match Report by Kent Bratten

MD, IBS 2nd Vice President and Awards Chairman
There was some scrambling before and during the Nationals due to the weather. Gopher Rifle and Revolver Club is a large, multi-discipline range set among marshes and woods just off I-35, about 40 miles north of a large metropolitan area in Minnesota. Because of the topography, winds and mirage can often be tricky.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019
IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

Due to the forecasted poor weather, a large circus-tent style cover was rented in place of the usual canvas/pole type temporary structure (see AcccurateShooter’s article on the 2010 1000-yard Nationals at Harris). It is likely the clean-up crew would still be picking up the pieces if that structure had been used.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

Course of Fire for IBS 600-Yard Nationals
The event was run with the same format as the 2018 IBS 600-Yard Nationals in St. Louis. The course of fire was Light Gun (total weight 17 lbs. max) on Saturday and Heavy Gun (no weight limits) on Sunday. Each of the 63 competitors shot eight (8) targets daily in four relays. Saturday evening Vapor Trail Bullets hosted a banquet, at which time the Light Gun titles were awarded, along with a large prize table drawing afterwards. Sunday was Heavy Gun and had 61 shooters (two dropping out due to a family emergency). Despite no further snow and no ferocious winds, conditions were hardly ideal as it was still cold in the morning with swirling winds throughout the day. Hence on neither day did the group averages drop below two inches and there were only a handful of perfect scores.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

Formidable Performances Even in Tough Conditions
Despite the conditions and several DQs on Day One, the top guns still put on a very good performance. Scotty Powell of North Carolina won the Light Gun Group and Chris Nichols, also from North Carolina, won the Heavy Gun Group award. Jason Wolf of South Dakota was the big winner, taking home the Light Gun Score, Light Gun Overall, Heavy Gun Overall, and the 2-Gun Overall titles. Jason’s performance was superb. Along with his LG, HG, and 2-Gun titles, Jason shot the smallest group of the match, a stunning 0.673″ in Heavy Gun. He also placed second in Heavy Gun Group Agg, just 0.166″ off the best, while finishing third in Light Gun Group Agg, .340″ from the top. All in all, it was a dominant showing by the South Dakotan.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019
Robby Vick smiling despite the cold. But did you really need the fan Robby?

Snow Flurries and Other Shooting Challenges
After the match, we interviewed most of the Top Ten shooters. We covered topics such as as strategies for bad conditions and their previous shooting experience. Several mentioned having trouble seeing the marks on the white-painted steel sighting plates. And, because of snow flurries, some could only see the last round hit (last sighter), about 5-10 seconds before their record target came up. Accordingly, many competitors depended on the tracking ability of their rifles and maintaining their point of aim throughout the record period. As for shooting backgrounds, many of the Top 10 enjoyed long range hunting and varminting — especially prairie dog adventures. Some had started out with rimfire bench competition, some began with short range IBS matches, while others already shoot long distance (1000-Yard) IBS matches and F-Class. For all those interviewed, the result was pretty much the same. After starting in competitive shooting, they had gotten hooked on precision, and sought to push their skills to the limit.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

Possible New Trends in Equipment — Wider Stocks
The Top 10 Equipment Lists show the favorite actions (BAT), bullets (Vapor Trail and Bart’s) and scopes (Nightforce) with a sprinkling of different barrels and stocks. We note there does seem to be a trend towards wider stocks. When we reviewed the Top 20 List (about 30% of the pool) we noted a growing number of stocks with wider fore-ends (4 inches or more), especially the Wheeler/McMillan Tracker. As for chamberings, the 6 BRA (6mmBR Ackley Improved) seems to be very popular, but is not dominant over the 6 Dasher yet.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019
Junior Champ Andrew Powers, setting up. Beside him is his grandfather, Johnny.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

COMMENTARY from Match Director Doc Bratten
It was a somewhat hair-raising experience leading up to the Nationals, with the bad forecast followed by a two-day period before the match when high winds made practice difficult. A major concern was that the weather would worsen and cause a major delay or cancellation. But, like the D-Day invasion of 1944, prayers for a break in the weather were answered. We also had an unexpected shortening of staff. But the Nationals team still did a wonderful job of running the line and everyone chipped in with putting up the “mess tent”, line cover, and helping in the target review area. Also hats off to the target crew and scorers in the Red Shed. With the snow and wind, it could not have been easy working with those targets and drying them after.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019
Into the quagmire to look at targets…

We are very grateful to all our IBS sponsors, whose generosity ensured rich prize tables for both the Hawk’s Ridge 1000-Yard Nationals and here in Minnesota. I would especially like to thank Sally and Jim Bauer of Vapor Trail Bullets for sponsoring the Awards Banquet. We very much appreciated the Grand Prizes supplied by Alex and Matt Findley of AMP Annealing, David Dorris (and Ms. Krag) of BenchSource, Alex Wheeler of Wheeler Accuracy and Bart Sauter of Bart’s Bullets. The full list of IBS 600-yard and 1000-yard Nationals sponsors can be found on the IBS Website.

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019

Finally, we extend a very special thanks to our friends at Gunstop Reloading and Gunstop of Minnetonka gun sales for their trophy donations. We also thank Dave Newell, Past President at GRRC, current Club newsletter editor, and exceptional wedding photographer, for his great photos of the match.

CLICK HERE to View 90+ photos from 600-Yard Nationals »

IBS 600-yard 600 Nationals Championship benchrest shooters international Minnesota MN 2019
Great BBQ lunches were provided by Rick of Dickies. Vapor Trail Bullets sponsored the Awards banquet.

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October 8th, 2019

IBS Match Report — 2019 1000-Yard Nationals at Hawk’s Ridge

IBS 1000-Yard National Championship Hawks Hawk's Ridge North Carolina NC 1K Heavy Gun Light HG LG Score Benchrest
Over 100 Top Shooters Competed at the 2019 IBS 1000-Yard Nationals.

Match Report by Blake Wilson, IBS Match Editor
The International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) 1000-Yard Nationals were, once again, a success. The Hawk’s Ridge Gun Club in Ferguson, North Carolina, hosted a flawless event over Labor Day Weekend. Over 100 of the nation’s top shooters, from 19 states, gathered to compete for the crown of “National Champion”. Events such as this take an army to make work and the 2019 IBS Nationals were no different. But the event was a big success, despite some challenging conditions on Day One. We congratulate Glenn Hiett, who shot superbly to win BOTH the Two-Gun Overall AND Light Gun Overall 2019 Championships. Well done Glenn! We also recognize IBS Heavy Gun Overall Champion Sam Edwards.

IBS 1000-Yard National Championship Hawks Hawk's Ridge North Carolina NC 1K Heavy Gun Light HG LG Score Benchrest

Ideal Conditions Change Quickly on Saturday
Hawk’s Ridge is a very beautiful range. But “The Ridge” can sometimes have very tricky, unfriendly winds. Labor Day weekend 2019 was no different. Conditions started near perfect early Saturday morning — the day began with mild temps and wind flags hanging low. Things then changed for the worse. The great conditions only lasted a handful of relays as winds became unpredictable, showing the competitors how tough Hawk’s Ridge can be. Tiny groups and high scores quickly become scarce and shooters began to feel the effects of switching, hard-to-read winds.

IBS 1000-Yard National Championship Hawks Hawk's Ridge North Carolina NC 1K Heavy Gun Light HG LG Score Benchrest

2019 IBS 1000-Yard National Championships Top Competitors

Two-Gun Overall Champion: Glenn Hiett
Light Gun Overall Champion: Glenn Hiett
Heavy Gun Overall Champion: Sam Edwards
Highest-Placing Female: Donna Matthews
Junior Champion: Hunter Hall

Light Gun Group Winner: Scotty Powell
Light Gun Score Winner: Robert Banner
Heavy Gun Group Winner: Sam Edwards
Heavy Gun Score Winner: Tod Soeby

IBS 1000-Yard National Championship Hawks Hawk's Ridge North Carolina NC 1K Heavy Gun Light HG LG Score Benchrest1000-Yard Nationals Course of Fire
IBS 1000-Yard Nationals is a 6-target Aggregate event over a two-day period for Light Gun and Heavy Gun. Light Guns must not exceed 17 lbs. weight and shoot 5 rounds per target. Heavy Guns have no weight limit and shoot 10 rounds per target. At the Nationals each shooter gets three Light Gun targets and three Heavy Gun targets. The results are aggregated together to determine Two-Gun Overall, Light Gun Overall, Heavy Gun Overall. There are also separate awards for Light Gun Group and Score and Heavy Gun Group and Score.

Day 1 included a Light Gun target, Heavy Gun target and ended with a second Light Gun target. After two Light Gun targets, several shooters were feeling great about their chances — Robert Banner, Brian Buttrick, and Dan Pantinski all had 99 scores, just one from perfect. Jerry Powers had the best Day 1 Light Gun Agg, a 3.472″ average (0.33 MOA). Justin Morrow shot the smallest Light Gun Group — 2.604″. That works out to a very impressive 0.249 MOA at 1000 Yards!

IBS 1000-Yard National Championship Hawks Hawk's Ridge North Carolina NC 1K Heavy Gun Light HG LG Score Benchrest
Donna Matthews shot this excellent 50-2X, 3.257″ LG target on Saturday.

Participants Rewarded with Famous Hawk’s Ridge BBQ
As Saturday came to an end, the smell of chicken had taken over the range. Range owner Mike McNeil is known for his famous secret sauce BBQ chicken. From the comments of the crowd as they sunk their teeth into chicken, potato salad, fresh baked desserts — they had no complaints whatsoever. Bellies full, guns cleaned, everyone headed to their rooms for some much anticipated rest.

IBS 1000-Yard National Championship Hawks Hawk's Ridge North Carolina NC 1K Heavy Gun Light HG LG Score Benchrest

More Readable and Consistent Conditions on Day 2
Feeling refreshed and excited for the challenge and anticipation for the final day, shooters showed up raving about the BBQ chicken and ready to shoot. For the most part, Day 2 was much more forgiving and calm than Day 1. The format was the opposite of Saturday — Heavy Gun relays were conducted first and last with Light Gun in the middle.

Perfect scores, small groups and everything in between was shot. Shooters made adjustments and for the most part they worked. But some made the wrong choices and the price was paid.

IBS 1000-Yard Nationals Equipment List (CLICK to Zoom):
IBS 1000-Yard National Championship Hawks Hawk's Ridge North Carolina NC 1K Heavy Gun Light HG LG Score Benchrest
CLICK PHOTO to view LARGE Equipment List.

Editor’s Comment: Looking at the Two-Gun Top 20 Equipment List above, we see the Light Gun Ranks were dominated by 6mm Dashers, and 6 BRAs (BR Ackleys), most using Hodgdon H4895 powder. There were quite a few 300 WSMs among the top Heavy Guns. Krieger, with 10 selections, was the most popular barrel choice, followed by Bartlein (4), and Brux (3).

More than Marksmanship — Competitors Appreciate the Camaraderie
These events are always a pleasure to attend. You get to put faces with the names you’ve heard, compete against the best across the country, and see how you stack up to them. It’s fun to shake hands with the likes of Tom Jacobs (Vapor Trail Bullets past National Champion), Bart Sauter (Bart’s Bullets and current holder of 600-yard records), Mike Wilson (Current Light Gun Group and score record holder), the Hornady Team and many more.

IBS 1000-Yard National Championship Hawks Hawk's Ridge North Carolina NC 1K Heavy Gun Light HG LG Score Benchrest

This wonderful sport has no shortage of great men and women from many different states and cultures. Match director David Matthews, as well as Robert Smithey and the entire Hawk’s Ridge Gun Club staff, definitely showed how to put on a nearly flawless event. We cannot forget Kent Bratten for his tireless efforts in finding prize donations for the match. The IBS gives a special thanks to all our great sponsors who make the prize tables so abundant. Thanks for your generosity!

IBS 1000-Yard National Championship Hawks Hawk's Ridge North Carolina NC 1K Heavy Gun Light HG LG Score Benchrest

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July 3rd, 2019

IBS Seeks Match Report Editor — Help Popularize Our Sport

IBS Match shoot report editor hire job writing 2019 Jeff Stover president international benchrest shooters website accurateshooter.com

Would you like to become a respected gun journalist/editor — and work with the nation’s most talented benchrest shooters (from 100 to 1000 yards). Do you enjoy photography, and like to see images of beautiful ranges and the world’s most accurate rifles? Then here is a great opportunity…

IBS Match shoot report editor hire job writing 2019 Jeff Stover president international benchrest shooters website accurateshooter.com

The International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) is looking for a new Match Reports Editor. This individual will work with AccurateShooter.com to deliver photo-illustrated reports on important IBS matches around the country. These match reports can appear here in the Daily Bulletin, on the main Accurateshooter.com site, and on the IBS website (in modified format).

IBS Match Report Editor Job Opportunity
IBS seeks a part-time Editor to manage reports on the IBS Nationals and Featured Matches on Accurateshooter.com. The duties include communicating with match organizers, receiving match reports and equipment lists, and managing digital images. In addition, the Editor will help with some special IBS features and equipment articles. Salary is negotiable, based on experience and work output.

Contact IBS President, Jeff Stover at: ibsprez @ yahoo.com

No Expert Skills Required — Just Enthusiasm for the Sport
You don’t need to be a computer whiz — no programming is involved. If you can use a basic writing program and can email photos then you’ve got the skill set needed. Basically the IBS is looking for someone who enjoys benchrest shooting and would like to help the sport by showcasing the fun and camaraderie of IBS matches. Here are some images from past IBS match reports:

IBS Match shoot report editor hire job writing 2019 Jeff Stover president international benchrest shooters website accurateshooter.com

IBS Match shoot report editor hire job writing 2019 Jeff Stover president international benchrest shooters website accurateshooter.com

IBS Match shoot report editor hire job writing 2019 Jeff Stover president international benchrest shooters website accurateshooter.com

IBS Match shoot report editor hire job writing 2019 Jeff Stover president international benchrest shooters website accurateshooter.com

IBS Match shoot report editor hire job writing 2019 Jeff Stover president international benchrest shooters website accurateshooter.com

IBS Match shoot report editor hire job writing 2019 Jeff Stover president international benchrest shooters website accurateshooter.com

IBS Match shoot report editor hire job writing 2019 Jeff Stover president international benchrest shooters website accurateshooter.com

IBS Match shoot report editor hire job writing 2019 Jeff Stover president international benchrest shooters website accurateshooter.com

IBS Match shoot report editor hire job writing 2019 Jeff Stover president international benchrest shooters website accurateshooter.com

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