December 28th, 2017

Magnified Service Optics — Scope Options for All Budgets

Service Rifle Presidents 100 match camp perry
In the 2016 President’s 100 Match, Match Winner Keith Stephens, runner-up SFC Evan Hess, and third-place Hugh Reich all used scopes, making for an All-Optics Podium. Both Stephens and Reich used the 1-4.5x24mm March.

Are you a Service Rifle shooter or would you like to give Service Rifle competition a try? The big news in this discipline is that magnified optics up to 4.5 max power can now be used. You can still use classic iron sights, but most serious Service Rifle competitors have moved to optics — and nearly all the “top guns” at major matches are running optics. Our friend Dennis Santiago, who is doing a long-term test of the Nightforce SR 4.5x24mm scope, says magnified optics are the future of the Service Rifle Game. If you want to win these days, you need glass.

nightforce 1-4.5x scope Service Rifle
The Nightforce SR Competition 4.5x24mm fixed-power scope retails for $1892.00.

Optics Options from $120 to $2400
You have many optics choices running all the way up to a 1-4.5x24mm March at $2338.00. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good optic. Our Systems Admin, Jay Christopherson, will be trying the Konus XTC-30 1-4X24mm sold by Creedmoor Sports and the CMP. Priced at $495.00, the Konus has good glass and parallax set at 200 yards. And if you want the best deal going for a Service Rifle scope, right now Cabela’s offers the Vortex Crossfire II 1-4x24mm scope for just $119.88 with Free Shipping (Promo Code 2017FREE). That’s an incredible deal on a scope that can do double-duty on your hunting rifle. This same Vortex 1-4X optic sells for $188.88 on Amazon.

Super Deal — Vortex 1-4x24mm Scope for $119.88

Service Rifle Optics Vortex Cabela's bargain cabelas Crossfire II

Service Rifle Optics — How They Will Change the Game

Under NRA and CMP Rules first promulgated in 2016, Service Rifle competitors can use a scope with up to 4.5X magnification, and 34mm max objective. This rule revision to allow magnified optics will be a game-changer says Service Rifle shooter Dennis Santiago.

Dennis explains: “Per the 2016 Rulebooks of the CMP and NRA, today’s Service Rifle is now defined to include an M-16/AR-15 variant with an optical sighting system not to exceed 4.5X magnification. So, this optic-equipped rifle goes head-to-head with the match-tuned M-16A2/AR-15A2 iron sight guns in the same class. The rules were updated to take into account that some military branches no longer train service members to shoot iron sights as their primary marksmanship method and have switched to reliance on combat optics. The rules were debated and tried in 2015 and codified at the beginning of 2016. The 2016 Nationals were the first where the old and new generation guns compete side-by-side.

Here is my personal prediction: There will be improved scores by Expert Class shooters who figure out how to work with optics jumping into Master class. At the High Master level, there may be a slight rise in numerical scores but there will be a massive jump in X-Count. EICs will remain the all-out race they’ve always been; whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins the day.”

What to Look For in a Service Rifle Optic

by Johnny Fisher
2016 brought with it a long-anticipated rule change that allows for the use of optics in Service Rifle competition. Thus far, it seems the biggest concerns that Service Rifle shooters have when considering an optic are: quality, repeatability, parallax, reticle choices, and durability.

Parallax Considerations
The vast majority of Service Rifle Rule-compliant scopes currently on the market have a fixed parallax. That means there is no separate focus knob to adjust parallax to target distance. Accordingly, there has been much concern about the potential for parallax error over the three different distances in Across-The-Course competition. It is possible that the repeatably-indexed head position maintained while shooting a Service Rifle, along with a little extra emphasis on sight alignment to ensure that the shooter’s eye is directly behind the scope, can greatly mitigate the potential effects of parallax error. [Editor: However, we have talked with a number of Service Rifle shooters. Most would like adjustable parallax. If the parallax must be fixed, they would like it set at 200-300 yards. 100 yards is too close.]

reticle service rifle reticle

Reticle Choices — Something to Consider
My Nightforce 1-4X scope has the IHR Reticle, which provides a very clear, unobstructed and simple sight picture. The IHR reticle for the NXS 1-4x24mm boasts an illuminated center cross-hair. Unfortunately, the red-color illumination is really only intended for low-light situations and is not bright enough to offer any aid to National Match shooters competing in broad daylight at stationary targets.

Editor: Unlike PRS competitors who (mostly) shoot bright-painted steel plates, Service Rifle competitors aim at traditional black bullseyes. The bullseye target design makes sense for iron sight shooters. With magnified optics you have some kind of black reticle that may not stand out at well against the black bull at 4.5 max power. You probably want to look through a number of different scopes to chose a reticle that works best for your eyes and aiming procedure.

Permalink Competition, Optics 2 Comments »
June 30th, 2016

California Grizzlies Get Ready for Camp Perry

California Grizzlies Junior High Power Service Rifle Team Jim O'Connell
This 3rd-year junior shooter uses a “hand me down” shooting coat that has earned many honors.

Report by Johnny Fisher
The California Grizzlies Junior Rifle Team recently completed its annual summer training session. Some 22 talented California junior shooters prepared for next month’s National Matches in Camp Perry, Ohio. Affectionately called “Camp O’Connell”, this training program offers up to nine straight days of instruction, practice and full-course shooting with veteran coach Jim O’Connell. To learn more about the California Grizzlies Rifle Team visit:

Coach Jim O’Connell moves to New firing yardage with his young shooters.
California Grizzlies Junior High Power Service Rifle Team Jim O'Connell

California Grizzlies Junior High Power Service Rifle Team Jim O'Connell

California Grizzlies Junior High Power Service Rifle Team Jim O'Connell

This year’s team captain is Forrest Greenwood, shooting in his sixth and final year as a junior with the Grizzlies. A superb shooter, Forrest will be joining the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit this fall. When asked about the 2016 California Grizzlies Junior Rifle Team’s prospects at the National Championships, Forrest commented:

“I feel like we have a really strong team going back this year for all of the junior matches. Our first-year juniors have been very open to trying new and different things and learning correctly. They’re very good at listening to our coaches and our more experienced junior shooters. Our experienced shooters are performing very well too. We have some good depth this year — good pairings of comparable experience for the 6-man teams through the 2-man team matches. The California Grizzlies are all about teamwork. We go back to Nationals to keep our heads in the game and shoot our averages. Personal bests are great — but so is a good team, shooting their averages.”

California Grizzlies Junior High Power Service Rifle Team Jim O'Connell

Help Support the California Grizzlies Junior Rifle Team
Right now the Grizzlies Grizzlies are seeking donations to support their effort to attend the 2016 National Matches at Camp Perry. You can make a secure PayPal donation through the Grizzlies’ website,

California Grizzlies junior Team

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 6 Comments »
March 1st, 2016

Bob Gill Wins CA Fullbore Championship with .223 Palma Rifle

Bob Gill California Fullbore elesio R1 .223 Rem championship

Report by Johnny Fisher
Here’s something you don’t see very often — a fullbore shooter with a .223 Remington topped a field of talented .308 Win shooters. Not only that, he scored more points than any F-Class competitor (however, F-Classers shot a smaller target). Bob Gill’s performance proves that, even in an era of high-BC .308 bullets, the little .223 Rem cartridge can still hold its own in the hands of a great shooter.

At last weekend’s California State Fullbore Championships, Bob Gill bested over 30 competitors for the championship with a .223 Palma rifle, only dropping 7 points over the weekend for a 993-56X. The event was sponsored by the California Rifle & Pistol Association and hosted by the Coalinga Rifle Club.

Bob Gill California Fullbore elesio R1 .223 Rem championship

Bob Gill Talks about the ‘Mental Game’
Conventional wisdom when shooting any match is to just stay focused on each and every shot and let the scores work themselves out after all firing is complete. “Two To The Mound” shooting changes all of that, as each competitor is not only aware of their own standings throughout the course of the match – but also of their closest competitor during these pair-fire strings. With this championship never further out than a 2-point lead throughout the weekend, stress was high and every once of mental focus needed to be tapped.

Bob recalls, “The entire match was neck and neck. After a few mental mistakes and a few wind mistakes, with three shots remaining the thought is three shots and a 1X lead. I need to shoot three 10s. Everything else goes away. Shoot three 10s and he can’t catch me.”

Three 10s later, Bob won the CA State Fullbore Championship by one point and one X. Well done!

Gun Specifications
Bob was shooting a 1970s-era .223 Remington B-40X action inside a Competition Machine R1 chassis. The barrel is a 30.5″ Heavy Palma taper, 1:7″-twist Brux with a Wylde chamber and .220 freebore done up by Randy Gregory at Accuracy Unlimited. The Tubb 7T7 two-stage trigger was set at 1 + 1 pounds.

.223 Remington Accuracy Load — Berger 90gr VLDS, Varget and BR4s
Gill loaded 90gr Berger VLDs in front of 25.0 grains of Hodgdon Varget powder, jumping 15 to 20 thousandths for a 2.708 COL with a BR4 primer inside Lapua brass. Bob uses a Redding Full-Length S-Die to push the shoulders back .004 to match that of new Lapua brass and a bushing chosen to achieve .004 neck tension. He sorts his brass by weight into 0.5 grain lots and each piece is trimmed on a Giraud trimmer after sizing because he says “it grows like crazy”.

Bob Gill California Fullbore elesio R1 .223 Rem championship

Fullbore Course of Fire — Pair Firing on Day 2 at Coalinga
The Fullbore Course-Of-Fire for this match was squadded on the first day by classification for 15-shots string-fire at each yard-line: 300 / 600 / 900 / 1000 yards. These scores were then used to determine “two to the mound” squadding for the second day, when each competitor pair-fired with his closest competitor, and also kept score in between his own shots. In this “pair fire” arrangement, only 45 seconds are allowed between shots after a shooter accepts his shot score. This forces competitors to shoot through condition changes as opposed to waiting for a more favorable pattern.

CLICK HERE for CA Championship Individual Results | CLICK HERE for Team Results

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