July 9th, 2017

Triple Threat — Laurie Holland Reviews Three Reloading Presses

RCBS Rockchucker Rock Chucker Forster Co-Ax Coax Summit single-stage Press Hornady Laurie Holland Target Shooter

“The press is the heart of the handloading operation, also traditionally the most expensive single tool employed…” — Laurie Holland

British competitive shooter Laurie Holland has reviewed three popular, single-stage reloading presses for Target Shooter Magazine (targetshooter.co.uk). Laurie bolted up a Forster Co-Ax, RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme, and RCBS Summit to his reloading bench and put the three presses through their paces. These three machines are very different in design and operation. The venerable Rock Chucker is a classic heavy, cast-iron “O”- type press that offers lots of leverage for tough jobs. The smaller RCBS Summit press is an innovative “upside-down” design with a large center column and open front. It offers a small footprint and easy case access from the front. The Co-Ax is unique in many respects — dies slide in and out of the upper section which allows them to “float”. The cartridge case is held in the lower section by spring-loaded jaws rather than a conventional shell-holder.

READ Laurie Holland Reloading Press 3-Way Comparison Review

If you are considering purchasing any one of these three presses, you should read Laurie’s article start to finish. He reviews the pros and cons of each press, after processing three different brands of brass on each machine. He discusses ergonomics, easy of use, press leverage, smoothness, priming function, and (most importantly), the ability to produce straight ammo with low run-out. The review includes interesting data on case-neck run-out (TIR) for RWS, Federal, and Norma 7x57mm brass.

RCBS Rockchucker Rock Chucker Forster Co-Ax Coax Summit single-stage Press Hornady Laurie Holland Target ShooterReview Quick Highlights:

RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme
“My expectations of the antediluvian RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme’s performance weren’t over high to be honest as I mounted it in the place of the Summit. As soon as I sized the first of the stretched RWS cases though, I saw why this press has been such a long-running favorite. The workload was considerably reduced compared to the other two presses and doing 40-odd cases took no time at all with little sweat — it just eats hard-to-size brass.”

RCBS Summit Press
“Despite its massive build and long-stroke operating handle, [the Summit] took more sweat than I’d expected, even if it was somewhat less work than with the Co-Ax. Although the Summit is apparently massive, I noticed that the die platform would tilt fractionally under the heaviest strains[.] It is nevertheless a very pleasant press in use and bullet seating was a doddle — the few examples tried proving very concentric on checking them afterwards. The optional short handle would be valuable for this task.”

Forster Co-Ax
“[On the Co-Ax], the operating handle is above the machine, located centrally here [with] twin steel links at the top end of the press dropping down to the moving parts. The Co-Ax incorporates a number of novel features, principally its automatic and multi-case compatible shell-holder assembly with spring-loaded sliding jaws, very neat spent primer arrangements that allow hardly any gritty residues to escape and foul the moving parts and, the snap-in/out die fitment that allows rapid changes and also sees the die ‘float’ in relation to the case giving very concentric results. I own this press and it meets my handloading needs very well.”

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading No Comments »
June 30th, 2017

Powder Spotlight — Reloder 15 and Norma 203B

norma 203B Reloder 15 berger load manual

In response to a Bulletin story about Norma powders at Midsouth Shooters Supply, one of our Forum members asked: “I’m having trouble finding Reloder 15 for my 6.5×47 Lapua — should I consider running Norma 203B instead?” As we’ve explained before, these two powders, both made by Bofors in Europe, are very, very similar. Here are some hard numbers that should demonstrate how virtually identical these powders really are.

Target Shooter Magazine writer Laurie Holland compared Norma 203B and Reloder 15 using data from QuickLOAD. Laurie also checked load manuals to see how listed charge weights varied for the two propellants. Laurie concluded there was very little difference between Norma 203B and Reloder 15.

Laurie Holland RatonNorma 203B vs. Alliant Reloder 15
Commentary by Laurie Holland

Running [203B and RL15] through QuickLOAD doing a ‘charge table’ run for a 130gn Berger VLD at 2.700 COAL in 6.5X47 Lapua, gives very similar positions in the table [for both powders]. The charge required to achieve 62,000 psi estimated pressure varies by a mere 0.2 grains between the pair, Norma 203B being the heavier of the two. The estimated Muzzle Velocity (MV) also varies by a mere 2 fps, RL15 estimated to produce 2,946 fps MV compared to 2,944 fps for N203B at 62,000 psi (with the parameters I used).

If they aren’t the same thing, they’re so close as to make no difference and as Forum Boss points out, they’re made by the same people (Bofors) in the same plant.

[The Berger Reloading Manual includes data for both powders] for the .308 Winchester and heavier bullets (185 to 230 grains). Maximum charges and claimed MVs are not always identical, but are so close as to be marginally different production lots of the same thing, or maybe the result of minor testing variations.

.308 Win Max Charge Weights in Grains (RL15 / N203B) (Berger Manual)

norma 203B Reloder 15 berger load manual

MVs [for the four bullet types] are close but not identical, the largest difference being for the 210s which shows RL15 producing 2,428 fps MV v 2,383 for Norma 203B.

Norma 203B Chemistry
According to the Norma Reloading Handbook #1, Norma 203B has the following composition:

85% Nitrocellulose
7.5% Nitroglycerin
2.0% surface coating
4.6% Various chemicals
0.9% Water

3,957 J/g specific energy
890 g/l specific density

For comparison, the 7.5% NG component compares to 15% in Viht N500 series powders and 10% in Ramshot TAC / Big Game / Hunter.

Permalink News No Comments »
March 7th, 2017

Six-Five Smackdown: The .260 Remington vs. 6.5×55 Swedish

6.5x55 SE, 6.5 Swedish 6.6x55mm .260 Rem Remington Laurie Holland comparison

The .260 Remington and the 6.5×55 Swedish (aka 6,5x55mm SE) are both very popular cartridges with hunters and target shooters. The 6.5×55 has a long military heritage and a great record as a hunting round. The .260 Rem, essentially a .308 Win necked down to .264 caliber, is a more recent cartridge, but it grows in popularity every year, being one of the top cartridges for tactical/practical competitions. It offers better ballistics and less recoil than the parent .308 Win cartridge. In our Shooter’s Forum, respected UK gun writer Laurie Holland provided a good summary of the differences between the two chamberings. Laurie writes:

Remington 260 CartridgeThe 6.5×55 case has 6 or 7% more capacity than the .260s, even more in practice when both are loaded to standard COALs with heavy bullets, which sees them having to seated very deep in the .260 Rem using up quite a lot of powder capacity. So loaded up for reasonable pressures in modern actions, the 6.5×55 will give a bit more performance.

The issue for many is what action length is available or wanted, the 6.5×55 requiring a long action. So sniper rifle / tactical rifle competitors will go for the .260 Rem with the option of the many good short-bolt-throw designs around with detachable box magazines (DBMs). If a bit more performance is needed, the .260 AI (photo right) can yield another 100-150 fps velocity, depending on bullet weight.

(more…)

Permalink - Articles, Reloading, Tech Tip 8 Comments »
November 23rd, 2016

Lapua Now Offers 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge Brass

Lapua Creedmoor 6.5 Brass cartridge 1.5mm tactical case

Here’s great news for mid-size cartridge fans, and especially PRS and tactical shooters. Lapua just announced it will produce 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge brass, which should be available in the first quarter of 2017. This premium-quality brass features a small primer, and 1.5mm flash hole (as found on Lapua’s 6mmBR, 6.5×47 Lapua, and 220 Russian brass). We expect Lapua’s 6.5 Creedmoor brass will set new standards for accuracy and case life for this popular mid-sized cartridge. Of course Lapua’s new 6.5 Creedmoor brass can also be necked down and loaded in 6mm Creedmoor configuration. With the small primer pocket and proven strength of Lapua brass, we think 6.5 Creedmoor shooters will see enhanced cartridge velocities with the ability to maintain tight primer pockets even with very stout loads. And we expect accuracy to be on a par with Lapua’s excellent 6.5×47 Lapua brass. Taken together, this is an exciting product release. Here is Lapua’s official announcement:

Lapua Creedmoor 6.5 Brass cartridge 1.5mm tactical case

We are happy to announce the addition of the 6.5 Creedmoor case to the Lapua line! Despite a relatively short time on the marketplace, the 6.5 Creedmoor has made a tremendous splash in the field, rapidly becoming one of the most requested cases we hear about from shooters. Lapua’s 6.5 Creedmoor is designed to function in a short action, which is also a plus for hunters, vitally concerned with the rifle’s weight and compactness. In fact, many of the same features which make for a successful competition cartridge, translate nicely to the hunting fields as well.

For most species of mid-size game such as deer or boar, the Creedmoor will prove to be a deadly performer. And while the selection of high grade Match bullets in the 6.5 bore size is tremendous, there’s no shortage of exceptionally good hunting bullets either. The 6.5s as a group have always been known as excellent performers on game.

Lapua Creedmoor 6.5 Brass cartridge 1.5mm tactical caseMade with Lapua’s typical dedication to precision, our new 6.5 Creedmoor case has been refined just a bit, to make it an even better performer. We’ve opted for the small rifle primer, which normally produces an optimized ignition and better accuracy than large primers in mid-sized cartridges like the Creedmoor.

We’ve also incorporated our smaller-diameter flash hole (1.5mm, rather than the industry-standard 2.0mm), which has proven to provide enhanced accuracy, and is used in a number of our other accuracy-oriented cases. In this respect, the new 6.5 Creedmoor joins the ranks of our other dedicated accuracy cartridges such as the .220 Russian (6mm PPC), the 6mmBR Norma, the 6.5×47 Lapua, and the .308 Win Palma cases.

And naturally, the new 6.5 Creedmoor will be made with our well-known Passion for Precision. Strictest control over the metallurgy, the forming and drawing processes, precise annealing all performed under the watchful eyes of our production experts. For you, the handloader, that means the durability for which our cases are famous, combined with consistency and long life. Already proven in competition, we predict that the 6.5 Creedmoor will be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.

Comment on Lapua’s new 6.5mm Creedmoor
Our British friend Laurie Holland was excited about the new 6.5 Creedmoor brass from Lapua: “With this and Peterson Cartridge on the bandwagon, plus another U.S. brass maker… the Creedmoor’s momentum is becoming impressive.” Laurie observes: “A small primer Lapua-cased 6.5mm Creedmoor is in effect a 6.5X47 Lapua ‘Improved’!” That’s a pretty interesting concept indeed. Which makes us wonder if the .260 Remington has finally been fully eclipsed. With Lapua 6.5 Creedmoor brass you can probably get very, very close to .260 Rem performance in a much more efficient case.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, News 13 Comments »
March 30th, 2016

6.5mm Cartridge Overview — Laurie Holland’s Opus

Laurie Holland 6.5mm Cartridge Target Shooter UK Magazine

Are you a fan of 6.5mm rifle cartridges? Then you should visit TargetShooter Magazine and read Laurie Holland’s latest “magnum opus”. Laurie recounts the development of 6.5mm rifle cartridges and examines a host of “six-fives” including the well-known 6.5×55 Swede and more esoteric cartridges such as the 6.5×58 Vergueiro. Laurie looks at a variety of military 6.5mm cartridges, including Japan’s 6.5×50 Arisaka, as well as some big 6.5mm Magnums. This Editor shot a .260 Remington (essentially a necked down .308 Win) for quite a while. I was pleased to see that Laurie discusses the .260 Rem, along with its bigger brother, the 6.5-06.

READ Laurie Holland 6.5mm Cartridge Overview

Part One of a four-part series, this is a LONG article, which runs over 4000 words. There are more than a dozen photographs, showing both cartridge types and bullet types. In addition, cartridge specs are presented in two detailed tables. Here is a list of the notable 6.5mm cartridges Laurie references (and we may have missed a few):

6.5×47 Lapua
.260 Remington (6.5-08)
6.5×50 (Arisaka)
6.5×52 Carcano
6.5x53R Mannlicher
6.5×54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer
6.5×55 Swedish
6.5×57 Mauser
6.5×58 Vergueiro
6.5×68 RWS
6.5-284 Norma
6.5-06 (6.5/.30-06)
6.5mm Remington Magnum
.264 Winchester Magnum

Laurie Holland 6.5mm Cartridge Target Shooter UK Magazine
In early 20th century the 6.5x54mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer was a highly-regarded hunting cartridge.

Here is a sample from Laurie’s 6.5mm Cartridge History:

The 6.5×55 Swedish Mauser and Other Early Designs
Thanks to the 6.5X55mm and its common name of ‘Swedish Mauser’ (it was a joint Swedish / Norwegian military development truth to tell), not forgetting first rate Lapua, Norma, and Sako ammunition and components, many associate the 6.5s with Scandinavian countries. However, the two Nordic nations weren’t alone in adopting 6.5mm designs during the back end of the 19th century, moreover Germany and Austria did as much to popularize the caliber. The Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Romania, Portugal and Greece took the small caliber military route too, although some later decided to convert at least partially to larger bores.

However, once armies started to adopt lighter, pointed bullets at improved velocities in the .30-class designs starting with the German 7.92mm 153gr bulleted S-Patrone of 1905 which produced the then astonishing MV of 2900 fps in the G98 rifle, the 6.5s lost out as contemporary propellants couldn’t handle smaller calibers as efficiently. It’s significant that while some early users moved to larger caliber service rifles, no country [other than Japan] has adopted 6.5mm in the last 110 years although there have been some unsuccessful initiatives recently.

Prior to WW2, there had only been a single American attempt to produce a 6.5, the brilliant cartridge designer and riflemaker Charles Newton with his eponymous 256 design of 1913 which used a shortened and necked-down 30-06 case. The Western Cartridge Company loaded ammunition for Newton, a 129gr expanding bullet at a claimed 2760 fps MV and obtained in a longer barrel than those fitted to production rifles.

Laurie Holland 6.5mm Cartridge Target Shooter UK Magazine
RWS introduced the powerful 6.5X68mm in 1939 and it is still in use in Europe.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo 5 Comments »
November 8th, 2015

Reloading Press Comparison: Rock Chucker vs. Co-Ax vs. Summit

RCBS Rockchucker Rock Chucker Forster Co-Ax Coax Summit single-stage Press Hornady Laurie Holland Target Shooter

“The press is the heart of the handloading operation, also traditionally the most expensive single tool employed…” — Laurie Holland

British competitive shooter Laurie Holland has reviewed three popular, single-stage reloading presses for Target Shooter Magazine (targetshooter.co.uk). Laurie bolted up a Forster Co-Ax, RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme, and RCBS Summit to his reloading bench and put the three presses through their paces. These three machines are very different in design and operation. The venerable Rock Chucker is a classic heavy, cast-iron “O”- type press that offers lots of leverage for tough jobs. The smaller RCBS Summit press is an innovative “upside-down” design with a large center column and open front. It offers a small footprint and easy case access from the front. The Co-Ax is unique in many respects — dies slide in and out of the upper section which allows them to “float”. The cartridge case is held in the lower section by spring-loaded jaws rather than a conventional shell-holder.

READ Laurie Holland Reloading Press 3-Way Comparison Review

If you are considering purchasing any one of these three presses, you should read Laurie’s article start to finish. He reviews the pros and cons of each press, after processing three different brands of brass on each machine. He discusses ergonomics, easy of use, press leverage, smoothness, priming function, and (most importantly), the ability to produce straight ammo with low run-out. The review includes interesting data on case-neck run-out (TIR) for RWS, Federal, and Norma 7x57mm brass.

RCBS Rockchucker Rock Chucker Forster Co-Ax Coax Summit single-stage Press Hornady Laurie Holland Target ShooterReview Quick Highlights:

RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme
“My expectations of the antediluvian RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme’s performance weren’t over high to be honest as I mounted it in the place of the Summit. As soon as I sized the first of the stretched RWS cases though, I saw why this press has been such a long-running favorite. The workload was considerably reduced compared to the other two presses and doing 40-odd cases took no time at all with little sweat — it just eats hard-to-size brass.”

RCBS Summit Press
“Despite its massive build and long-stroke operating handle, [the Summit] took more sweat than I’d expected, even if it was somewhat less work than with the Co-Ax. Although the Summit is apparently massive, I noticed that the die platform would tilt fractionally under the heaviest strains[.] It is nevertheless a very pleasant press in use and bullet seating was a doddle — the few examples tried proving very concentric on checking them afterwards. The optional short handle would be valuable for this task.”

Forster Co-Ax
“[On the Co-Ax], the operating handle is above the machine, located centrally here [with] twin steel links at the top end of the press dropping down to the moving parts. The Co-Ax incorporates a number of novel features, principally its automatic and multi-case compatible shell-holder assembly with spring-loaded sliding jaws, very neat spent primer arrangements that allow hardly any gritty residues to escape and foul the moving parts and, the snap-in/out die fitment that allows rapid changes and also sees the die ‘float’ in relation to the case giving very concentric results. I own this press and it meets my handloading needs very well.”

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 3 Comments »
September 13th, 2015

Alliant Reloder 15 Vs. Norma 203B — The Numbers Tell All

norma 203B Reloder 15 berger load manual

In response to our Bulletin story about the availability of Norma powders at Midsouth Shooters Supply, one of our Forum members asked: “I’m having trouble finding Reloder 15 for my 6.5×47 Lapua — should I consider running Norma 203B instead?” As we’ve explained before, these two powders, both made by Bofors in Europe, are very, very similar. Here are some hard numbers that should demonstrate how virtually identical these powders really are.

Target Shooter Magazine writer Laurie Holland compared Norma 203B and Reloder 15 using data from QuickLOAD. Laurie also checked load manuals to see how listed charge weights varied for the two propellants. Laurie concluded there was very little difference between Norma 203B and Reloder 15.

Laurie Holland RatonNorma 203B vs. Alliant Reloder 15
Commentary by Laurie Holland

Running [203B and RL15] through QuickLOAD doing a ‘charge table’ run for a 130gn Berger VLD at 2.700 COAL in 6.5X47 Lapua, gives very similar positions in the table [for both powders]. The charge required to achieve 62,000 psi estimated pressure varies by a mere 0.2 grains between the pair, Norma 203B being the heavier of the two. The estimated Muzzle Velocity (MV) also varies by a mere 2 fps, RL15 estimated to produce 2,946 fps MV compared to 2,944 fps for N203B at 62,000 psi (with the parameters I used).

If they aren’t the same thing, they’re so close as to make no difference and as Forum Boss points out, they’re made by the same people (Bofors) in the same plant.

[The Berger Reloading Manual includes data for both powders] for the .308 Winchester and heavier bullets (185 to 230 grains). Maximum charges and claimed MVs are not always identical, but are so close as to be marginally different production lots of the same thing, or maybe the result of minor testing variations.

.308 Win Max Charge Weights in Grains (RL15 / N203B) (Berger Manual)

norma 203B Reloder 15 berger load manual

MVs [for the four bullet types] are close but not identical, the largest difference being for the 210s which shows RL15 producing 2,428 fps MV v 2,383 for Norma 203B.

Norma 203B Chemistry
According to the Norma Reloading Handbook #1, Norma 203B has the following composition:

85% Nitrocellulose
7.5% Nitroglycerin
2.0% surface coating
4.6% Various chemicals
0.9% Water

3,957 J/g specific energy
890 g/l specific density

For comparison, the 7.5% NG component compares to 15% in Viht N500 series powders and 10% in Ramshot TAC / Big Game / Hunter.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 4 Comments »
June 14th, 2015

Which is Better: .260 Remington or 6.5×55 Swedish?

6.5x55 SE, 6.5 Swedish 6.6x55mm .260 Rem Remington Laurie Holland comparison

The .260 Remington and the 6.5×55 Swedish (aka 6,5x55mm SE) are both very popular cartridges with hunters and target shooters. The 6.5×55 has a long military heritage and a great record as a hunting round. The .260 Rem, essentially a .308 Win necked down to .264 caliber, is a more recent cartridge, but it grows in popularity every year, being one of the top cartridges for tactical/practical competitions. It offers better ballistics and less recoil than the parent .308 Win cartridge. In our Shooter’s Forum, respected UK gun writer Laurie Holland provided a good summary of the differences between the two chamberings. Laurie writes:

Remington 260 CartridgeThe 6.5×55 case has 6 or 7% more capacity than the .260s, even more in practice when both are loaded to standard COALs with heavy bullets, which sees them having to seated very deep in the .260 Rem using up quite a lot of powder capacity. So loaded up for reasonable pressures in modern actions, the 6.5×55 will give a bit more performance.

The issue for many is what action length is available or wanted, the 6.5×55 requiring a long action. So sniper rifle / tactical rifle competitors will go for the .260 Rem with the option of the many good short-bolt-throw designs around with detachable box magazines (DBMs). If a bit more performance is needed, the .260 AI (photo right) can yield another 100-150 fps velocity, depending on bullet weight.

(more…)

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Tech Tip 8 Comments »
June 3rd, 2015

LR Primer Types Tested for Velocity, ES/SD, Group Size and More!

Target Shooter Magazine Laurie Holland Primer Comparison Test Magnetospeed
Click Photo to read full test results in Target Shooter Magazine.

If you shoot a .308 Win, or any cartridge that uses a Large Rifle (LR) primer, you should read an important new article by Laurie Holland in Target Shooter Magazine. Holland, a talented shooter from the UK, tested no less than sixteen (16) different large primer types using a custom F-TR target rifle shot from the bench. Laurie loaded .308 Win ammo* with 16 LR primer varieties and then tested for average velocity, ES/SD, and group size. This may be the most comprehensive and thorough LR primer test ever done. Here are the primer types tested:

CBC Magtech 9½
CCI 200 LR
CCI BR2 Match
CCI 250 Magnum
Federal 210
Federal 210M Match
Federal 215M Magnum Match
Fiocchi Large Rifle
Kynoch Large Rifle
Murom KVB-7 (PMC LR)
Norma Superflash LR
PMC LR Magnum
Remington 9½ LR
Remington 9½ M Magnum
Sellier & Bellot LR
Winchester WLR

LINK: READ Large Rifle Primer Test Complete (16 Primer Types)

Target Shooter Magazine Laurie Holland Primer Comparison Test Magnetospeed
Test Rig: Osprey Rifles-built F-TR rifle with Savage PTA action, 32″ Bartlein 1:12″-twist ‘Heavy Palma’ barrel, and Dolphin Gun Company modular stock with an F-Open/Benchrest fore-end.

Some of Laurie’s results may surprise you. For example, would you guess that Sellier & Bellot primers had the lowest ES, by a significant margin? And get this, among ALL the primers tested, Rem 9½M Magnum primers produced the lowest velocity, while Rem 9½ LR (non-magnum) primers yielded the highest velocity. (The total velocity spread for all primers was 35 fps). That’s counter-intuitive and it’s odd that Rems were at opposite ends of the speed spectrum among ALL primers tested.

“The rationale for doing side-by-side tests is to see what effect primer choice has on ballistics, i.e. average velocities and MV consistency. There are a great many views on the subject, a few based on tests (including primer flame photography) but most apparently hearsay.” — Laurie Holland

Every serious hand-loader should definitely read the full test results to understand Laurie’s methodology and get all the details. This is an important test, with significant findings. But if you can’t spare the time right now, here are some highlights below:

Primer with Lowest Velocity: Remington 9½ M Magnum (2780 fps)
Primer with Highest Velocity: Remington 9½ LR (2815 fps)
Primer with Lowest ES/SD: Sellier & Bellot LR (12/3.1 fps)
Primer with Highest ES/SD: Remington 9½ M Magnum (47/14.0 fps)
Primer with Smallest Group Size: Remington 9½ LR (0.43″ average, three 5-shot groups)
Primer with Biggest Group Size: CBC Magtech 9½ (0.7″ average, three 5-shot groups)

Editor’s Comment: Laurie shot three, 5-shot groups at 100 yards with each primer type. The average group size for the top six primers varied by only 0.10″ (0.43″ to 0.53″), so one can’t conclude that one type is much better than another. Total group size variance (from best to worst) was 0.27″.

Target Shooter Magazine Laurie Holland Primer Comparison Test Magnetospeed

“The biggest surprise to me … came from an elderly (at least 10 years) lot of Czech Sellier & Bellot standard caps with an ES of 12 and SD of 3.1 fps, way below those of the nearest competitor. By contrast to the Fiocchis, they were an almost slack fit in the cases and this may have contributed to their consistent performance.” — Laurie Holland

NOTE: Values in chart are based on 15-Shot strings. The ES/SD numbers will therefore be higher than is typical with five-shot strings.

Target Shooter Magazine Laurie Holland Primer Comparison Test Magnetospeed

Testing 16 primer types was a huge task — we commend Laurie for his hard work and thoroughness. This extensive test is an important contribution to the “knowledge base” of precision shooting. Laurie’s findings will doubtless influence many hand-loaders who hope to produce more consistent ammunition, or achieve better accuracy. Credit should also be given to Target Shooter Magazine for publishing the results. Well done gentlemen…


*Reloading method for Test Ammo: “Test batches consisted of 16 or 17 rounds for each primer, charges thrown by an RCBS ChargeMaster and checked on lab-quality electronic scales, adjusted if necessary to within ± 0.04gn, so any charge weight variation would be under 0.1 grain which equates here to 5 fps.”
Permalink - Articles, Reloading 20 Comments »
September 22nd, 2014

Practical Thoughts About Transonic Bullet Stability and Accuracy

One of our Forum Members has a .308 Win load that dips into the transonic speed range at 1000 yards. He is concerned that his bullets may lose accuracy as they slow to transonic speeds: “My target is at 1000 yards. How important to accuracy is it to keep the bullet supersonic (Mach 1.2) all the way to the target? How does slowing to transonic speeds in the last 100 yards or so affect accuracy?”

TargetShooter Magazine and AccurateShooter.com contributor Laurie Holland offers some practical answers to this important question, based on his his experience with .223 and .308-caliber bullets.

Thoughts on Accuracy and Transonic Bullet Speeds by Laurie Davidson.
There is no simple answer to the question “How do transonic speeds affect accuracy”. Some bullets manage OK, some not so well, some fail entirely, and I’ve never seen a guide as to which models do and which don’t. But we do have the ‘boat-tail angle rule’, anyway. Bryan Litz says the ideal boat-tail angle is 7-9°. Go much above 10° and it’s too steep for the air to follow the bullet sides around to the base. This seems to manifest itself as much increased drag and turbulence leading to instability in transonic flight.

It is this effect that has led to the common advice of “Don’t use 168gr 30-caliber bullets at 1000 yards”. That is misleading advice as it resulted from use of the 168gr Sierra ‘International’ (aka MatchKing) bullet with its 13-deg BT angle. (This was, originally, a specialized 300m design — there are various near copies on the market from Speer, Hornady and Nosler.) By contrast, Berger 168-grainers are designed as long-range bullets with 8.9, 8.5 and a really nice 7° angle on the BT, VLD and Hybrid respectively. Hornady A-Max 30-cal projectiles (other than the 208-grainer) fall into this enforced shorter-range bracket too thanks to their 12.6° (and greater) boat-tail angles. (155gr = 13.5°, 168gr = 12.87°, and 178gr = 12.6°.)

Supersonic bullet shadowgraph

Even this boat-tail angle ‘rule’ doesn’t always seem to apply. Many older long-range Service Rifle shooters talk about good results at 1000 yards with some batches of 7.62mm match ammo in their 20″-barreled M14s using the 168gn SMK. I’ve successfully used Hornady and Sierra 168s at 1000 yards in 30-cal magnums which drive the bullets fast enough to keep out of trouble at this distance. This is still not recommended of course thanks to their low BCs compared to better long-range speciality bullets.

Supersonic bullet shadowgraph 7.5mm Swiss
These four photos show the substantial changes in the shock ware and turbulence patterns for the same bullet at different velocities. The “M” stands for Mach and the numerical value represents the velocity of the bullet relative to the speed of sound at the time of the shot. Photos by Beat Kneubuehl.

Transonic Issues with .223 Rem in F-TR
I was much exercised by [concerns about transonic instability] in the early days of F-Class, when I was shooting a .223 Rem with 80-grainers at 2,800 fps MV or even a bit less. Even the optimistic G1 ballistic charts of the time said they’d be subsonic at 1000 yards. (Bryan Litz’s Point Mass Ballistic Solver 2.0’s program says 1,078 fps at 1000 yards at 2,800 fps MV in standard conditions for the SMK; below 1.2 MACH beyond a point somewhere around 780 yards.) In fact they shot fine in a large range of conditions apart from needing around 60% more windage allowance than 6.5mm projectiles [shot with a larger cartridge]. The biggest problem apart from my wind-reading skills was constantly getting out of the rhythm to call to have the target pulled as the pits crew didn’t hear the subsonic bullets and had trouble seeing their little holes.

In the early days of F-TR I used a 24″ barrel factory tactical rifle that was billed as F-TR ready — it wasn’t! The much touted 175gr Sierra MatchKing, as used in the US military M118LR sniper round, was allegedly good at 1000 yards at .308 velocities — but it wasn’t! It would group OK in [some calm] conditions, but any significant change would cause a much greater deflection on the target than the ballistic charts predicted, so transonic flight was obviously making it barely stable. I also suspect conditions on the day had a big effect as Litz’s program says [the 175gr SMK] is just subsonic at 2,650 fps MV at 1,000 in standard conditions. Throw in MV spread and there was a risk of some round remaining supersonic, while others went transonic. Plus warmer or colder air moving onto the range under some conditions might change things.

I used the combination on Scotland’s notorious Blair Atholl range at 1000 yards in one competition in a day of cold headwinds from the north and frequent rain squalls. The temperatures plummeted during the squalls (and the wind went mad too!) and what was an ‘interesting group pattern’ outside of squall conditions changed to seeing me do well to just stay on the target frame at all. On ranges other than Blair (which is electronic, so no pits crew), target markers reported they heard faint supersonic ‘crack’ and saw round holes on the paper, so the bullets appeared to remain stable and just supersonic in summer shooting conditions.

Transonic Problems with M118LR 7.62×51 Ammo
Confirmation of this transonic performance phenomenon has since come from USMC snipers who say the M118LR’s performance ‘falls off a cliff’ beyond 800m (875 yards), which is just what I found when shooting the bullet at slightly higher than M118LR muzzle velocities. A move to the 190gr SMK with Vihtavuori N550 keeping the MVs reasonable gave a vast improvement in 1000-yard performance.

Practical Advice — Use a Bullet That Stays Supersonic
The ‘easy’ / better answer to all this is to use a design such as the 30-caliber, 185gr Berger LRBT with a reputation for good long range performance and to load it to achieve or exceed 1,350 fps at 1000 yards. If I can get the combination I’m using to be predicted to hold 1,400 fps at this range in a G7-based program calculation, I’m happier still.

Incidentally, the old long-range, 30-cal Sierra bullets (the venerable 190gr, 200gr, and 220gr MatchKings), with their extra length boat-tail sections, have a superb reputation for stable transonic / subsonic flight. They were used by GB and British Commonwealth ‘Match Rifle’ shooters at 1000, 1100, and 1200 yards for many years before the current bunch of 210gr and up VLDs and Hybrids appeared.

Supersonic space shuttle waveTransonic vs. Supersonic

The term “Transonic” refers to velocities in the range of Mach 0.8 to 1.0, i.e. 600–768 mph. It is formally defined as the range of speeds between the critical Mach number, when some parts of the airflow are supersonic, and a higher speed, typically near Mach 1.2, when the vast majority of the airflow is supersonic. Instability can occur at transonic speeds. Shock waves move through the air at the speed of sound. When an aircraft goes transonic and approaches the speed of sound, these shock waves build up in front of it to form a single, very large shock wave. This is dramatically illustrated in this Space Shuttle photo.

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June 12th, 2014

The Great Debate: .260 Rem vs. 6.5×55 — Which Is Better?

One of our Shooters’ Forum readers, Trent from Louisiana, asked for help deciding between a .260 Remington and a 6.5×55 for his latest gun project. In the Forum thread, respected UK gun writer Laurie Holland provided a good summary of the differences between the two chamberings. Laurie writes:

Remington 260 Cartridge“The 6.5×55 case has 6 or 7% more capacity than the .260s, even more in practice when both are loaded to standard COALs with heavy bullets, which sees them having to seated very deep in the .260 Rem using up quite a lot of powder capacity. So loaded up for reasonable pressures in modern actions, the 6.5×55 will give a bit more performance.

The issue for many is what action length is available or wanted, the 6.5 requiring a long action. So sniper rifle / tactical rifle competitors will go for the .260 Rem with the option of the many good short-bolt-throw designs around with detachable box magazines. If a bit more performance is needed, the .260AI gives another 100-150 fps depending on bullet weight.

Brass-wise, you’ve got really good Lapua 6.5×55 off the shelf that needs minimum preparation, and it’s strong and long-lived. There is an Ackley version too that was popular in F-Class in Europe for a while that isn’t too far short of 6.5-284 performance. If you go for .260 Rem, the American brass isn’t as good but you can neck-up Lapua or Norma .243 Win and trim them (or neck-down .308 Win or 7mm-08). This has the downside that doing so usually creates a noticeable ‘doughnut’ at the case-shoulder junction, that may cause problems depending on how deep bullets are seated. [Editor’s Note: After Laurie wrote this, Lapua began producing high-quality .260 Remington brass.]

Laurie HollandFor purely target shooting, I think I’d go with 6.5×55 if I was making the choice again today for performance and brass-preparation reasons. In fact, I’ve considered going back to the gunsmith to have the barrel rechambered.

You want a multi-purpose rifle though and that makes things trickier depending on the bullet weight(s) you want to use. The [typical] 6.5×55 and 6.5-08 throats are really designed for 140s, so 90-120s make a long jump into the rifling. If you’re always going to use 130s and up, it’s less of an issue. If you want to use the lighter stuff, I’d say go for .260 Rem and discuss the reamer with the gunsmith to come up with as good a compromise as you can depending on the mix of shooting. 1:8.5″ twist is the norm and handles all the usual sporting and match bullets; you can go for a little slower twist if you won’t use the heavies.

Over here in the UK, in Scotland to be precise, we have a top sporting rifle builder (Callum Ferguson of Precision Rifle Services) who almost specializes in .260 Rem usually built on Borden actions. He throats the barrel ‘short’ so it’s suited to varmint bullets, but will still handle the 100gr Nosler Partition which he says is more than adequate for any British deer species including Scottish red stags.

Accuracy-wise, I don’t think there’s anything between them if everything else is equal. The 6.5 has a reputation for superlative accuracy, but that was high-quality Swedish military rifles and ammunition matched against often not-so-high-quality military stuff from elsewhere. Put the pair in custom rifles and use equally good brass and bullets and you’ll be hard pressed to tell them apart.” – Laurie Holland

Remington 260 CartridgeAfter Laurie’s helpful comments, some other Forum members added their insights on the .260 Rem vs. 6.5×55 question:

“To me, the .260 Remington has no advantage over the 6.5×55 if one is going to use a long action. Likewise, the only advantage the .260 has in a modern rifle is it can be used in a short-action. There is more powder capacity in the 6.5×55 so you have the potential to get more velocity plus there is a lot of reloading data available to you for loading at lower velocity/pressure if you choose. The Lapua brass is great and Winchester brass is pretty good at low pressures. Having loaded a good bit for both, the 6.5×55 would always get the nod from me. To me, if someone wants to use a short-action, the 6.5×47 Lapua is even a better option than the .260 for a target rifle.” — Olympian

“There is just one small item that has been missing from this conversation — the 6.5×55 has a non-standard rim diameter of .479″ vs. the standard .473″ of a .308 and all of its variants. Depending on your bolt this may be an issue, or it may not.” — Neil L.

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May 29th, 2014

Santiago Does the ‘Mad Minute’ with Authentic Lee-Enfield

Our friend Dennis Santiago recently recreated the “Mad Minute”, a marksmanship drill practiced by the British Army in the decades preceding World War I. Dennis, an active high power rifle competitor and instructor, enjoyed his “Mad Minute” exercise, though he assures us that this takes practice to perfect. Dennis tells us: “Here is a ‘Mad Minute’ drill, done using a period correct Lee-Enfield (SMLE) No.1 Mk III rifle and Mk VII ammo. I got to the Queen’s Regulations (15 hits in one minute) on the second run and put a good group on the target at 200 yards. This is ‘jolly good fun’ to do every once in a while. This is ‘living history’ — experiencing a skill from a time when the sun never set on the British Empire.”

Dennis Does the Mad Minute

Lee Enfield Mad Minute Mark IV
British Lee-Enfield Model SHT’22/IV Rifle, courtesy www.iCollector.com.

Lee Enfield Mad Minute Mark IVLee-Enfield No. 4 Rifle (1943), courtesy Arundel Militaria.

“Mad Minute” was a pre-World War I term used by British Army riflemen during training at the Hythe School of Musketry to describe scoring a minimum of 15 hits onto a 12″ round target at 300 yards within one minute using a bolt-action rifle (usually a Lee-Enfield or Lee-Metford rifle). It was not uncommon during the First World War for riflemen to greatly exceed this score. The record, set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, was 38 hits. (From WikiPedia.)

Want to See More “Mad Minute” Action with a Modern Tubegun?
In 2012, Gary Eliseo ran a “Mad Minute” exercise using a modern, .308 Win Eliseo RTM Tubegun of his own making. Gary ended up with 24 hits on a bull target set at 300 yards. (Gary actually had 25 hits in 25 rounds fired, but the last round hit just after the 60-second time period expired.) Note how Gary pulls the trigger with the middle finger of his right hand. This allows him to work the bolt faster, using his thumb and index finger. CLICK HERE for Eliseo Tubegun Mad Minute story.

Watch Gary Elesio Shoot the ‘Mad Minute’ (Starts at 4:47 on Video)

NOTE: In an interesting coincidence, Dennis Santiago was actually in the pits pulling targets for Gary during Eliseo’s 2012 “Mad Minute” exercise.

History of the Mad Minute
Commentary by Laurie Holland
The original military requirement of the “Mad Minute” saw the soldier ready to fire with a round in the chamber, nine in the magazine, safety on. This course of fire is still followed by the GB Historic Breechloading Arms Association and other bodies in their recreated “Mad Minute” competitions.

The first 10 would go quickly, but reloads were critical, this not done by a magazine change as Gary did with the RTM or in a modern tactical or semi-auto rifle, but through slick use of ‘chargers’. It is this aspect which fouls so many of my colleagues up as it is very easy to cause a jam and a large part of 60 seconds can go in sorting it out!

Charger clips were selected for those that just held the rounds firmly enough to stop then falling out, were sand-papered and polished with a stove / fireplace polish called ‘Zebrite’ so that the rimmed rounds would slip through the clips like corn through a goose.

lee enfield 1916 rifle

If you’re unfamiliar with the cock-on-closing Enfield action, it seems clumsy. With intensive practice it is very smooth and can be operated incredibly quickly. The trick is to whip the bolt back onto its stop and initiate a rebound movement that takes it and the cartridge well into the chamber thereby reducing the effort required to close the bolt and chamber the round.

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December 12th, 2013

Greatest Hits: Rockin’ the ‘Mad Minute’ with Gary Eliseo

We were talking with TubeGun builder Gary Eliseo recently, and the subject of his “Mad Minute” fun match came up. A while back, at our suggestion, Gary re-created the one-minute rapid fire marksmanship training drill done by British riflemen. Using a Competition Machine TubeGun, Gary managed 24 hits in 60 seconds on a 300-yard target. Gary told us that people often ask about his “Mad Minute” experience, so today we’re reprising the story (with video) for those guys who missed it the first time around. Forum member Laurie Holland, who hails from Great Britain, also contributes a brief history of the “Mad Minute” and the Lee-Enfield (SMLE) rifle.

Mad Minute Gary EliseoLast year, the Top Shot TV show featured the “Mad Minute”, a high-speed drill requiring shooters to place as many hits as possible on a steel plate set at 200 yards. The time limit was one minute, and shooters were using historic Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles. Top Shot’s “Mad Minute” was based on a British Army training drill. Soldiers were expected to get at least 15 hits on an bullseye target at 300 yards. Top Shot cheated a bit, placing the target at 200 yards (instead of 300 in the real British Army “Mad Minute” drill). Still the two Top Shot shooters managed only six (6) shots each in one minute. Consider that a “passing score” for a Brit soldier was 15 hits, you have to give credit to those WWI-era Tommies.

Watch Gary Eliseo Shoot the ‘Mad Minute’ (Starts at 4:47 on Video)

Eliseo Gets 24 Hits on 300-yard Target in One Minute
Using an Eliseo RTM Tubegun chambered in .308 Winchester, Gary Eliseo attempted the “Mad Minute” last weekend. Gary ended up with 24 hits on a bull target set at 300 yards. That’s four times as many hits as the Top Shot competitors. Gary actually had 25 hits in 25 rounds fired, but the last round hit just after the 60-second time period expired. Note how Gary pulls the trigger with the middle finger of his right hand. This allows him to work the bolt faster, using his thumb and index finger. The straight-through (inline stock) design of the Tubegun allowed Gary to maintain his cheekweld and head position throughout the minute-long drill.

Gary Eliseo Mad Minute

Gary told us: “This isn’t easy. I came away very impressed with the training of the Tommy soldiers if they could make 15 hits in one minute. We had some skilled shooters who brought their own Lee-Enfields and they only did as well as the guys on Top Shot — making six or seven hits in a minute. The problem is that, with the cock-on-close operation of the Lee-Enfield, the gun would push away when the shooter closed the bolt, so the shooter would lose his sight picture, and have to re-center the rifle. I am truly astounded that the record for the ‘Mad Minute’ is 38 shots. That is hard to do with an AR, much less any bolt gun.”

Gary Hopes to Beat the ‘Mad Minute’ Record in the Future
The record for the “Mad Minute” — 38 shots on target at 300 yards — was set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall*. In the subsequent 98 years, that record has never been broken by any shooter with a conventional bolt-action rifle. Gary told us: “As long as that record still stands, I’m going to keep working at it. I know I lost a few seconds with mag changes. I think with some additional training, I can increase my score. Still, 38 hits is phenomenal. I am very, very impressed at what that guy did — it’s really mind-boggling to do that with an Enfield. Contrary to what has been written, those old Enfields are not that easy to shoot fast. Our club shooters found that out.”

* There is some uncertainty concerning the size of the target used by Snoxall. Some internet reports say the target was 12″ x 12″. Other posts, from England, suggest the target was 36″ by 36″. If the target was a 12″-diameter bull, Snoxall’s achievement is even more amazing.

‘Mad Minute’ and British Marksmanship with the SMLE (Lee-Enfield)
Commentary by Laurie Holland

The original military requirement of the ‘Mad Minute’ saw the soldier ready to fire with a round in the chamber, 9 in the magazine, safety on. This course of fire is still followed by the GB Historic Breechloading Arms Association and other bodies in their recreated ‘Mad Minute’ competitions.

The first 10 would go quickly, but reloads were critical, this not done by a magazine change as Gary did with the RTM or in a modern tactical or semi-auto rifle, but through slick use of ‘chargers’. It is this aspect which fouls so many of my colleagues up as it’s very easy to cause a jam and a large part of 60 seconds can go in sorting it out!

As well as the training Gary mentions and commends, there were pay incentives / penalties for certification or failure, and there were valuable monetary and kudos benefits in achieving very high hit counts in the 20 + range. Tommies could draw their rifles from the armory any time when off duty and spent hours in barracks practicing using inert rounds and dry firing. For instance, a common practice was to balance a halfpenny coin on the foresight blade between the sight protecting ears and take shot after shot prone on the barracks floor until the trigger was pressed and the ‘shot taken’ without the coin falling off its perch.

Charger clips were selected for those that just held the rounds firmly enough to stop then falling out, were sand-papered and polished with a stove / fireplace polish called ‘Zebrite’ so that the rimmed rounds would slip through the clips like corn through a goose.

If you’re unfamiliar with the cock-on-closing Enfield action, it seems clumsy. With intensive practice it is very smooth and can be operated incredibly quickly. The trick is to whip the bolt back onto its stop and initiate a rebound movement that takes it and the cartridge well into the chamber thereby reducing the effort required to close the bolt and chamber the round.

lee enfield 1916 rifle

None of this is to detract from the skill many of these guys had and the fantastic results they got both in rate of fire and accuracy out to 500/600 yards. That came from long days of live firing at full distances — far more practice than I’ll warrant US doughboys got at that time. The result was when the small British Expeditionary Force acted a blocking force against two advancing German infantry corps in Belgium in the autumn of 1914. Kaiser Wilhelm predicted confidently that his highly trained ‘Landsers’ would sweep this ‘contemptible little army’ aside. Instead, the Germans advancing in the open at ranges they felt was safe from rifle fire ran into a wall of lead of such a rate and accuracy that regimental commanders explained their failure to advance and massive casualties through the British having far more automatic weapons than their intelligence had briefed. The British survivors of that period adopted the self-styled title of ‘Old Contemptibles’ as an ironic rebuke to Wilhelm, one still used today. By Christmas 1914 that small and highly professional British army had been destroyed through attrition and army rifle competitions aside never achieved those riflecraft standards again — but of course that’s what a machinegun is for and it was criminal that BEF battalions (600-1,000 men) went to war with an establishment of only two Vickers-Armstrong machine-guns — a fraction of that in the opposing German units.

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June 18th, 2013

June Issue of Target Shooter Magazine

June 2013 target shooter magazine UKThe June, 2013 Edition of Target Shooter Magazine is now available online, in PDF format. This month’s issue contains gear reviews, match reports, and a feature on handloading for the .204 Ruger cartridge. As ever, Target Shooter boasts plenty of great, large-format photos. Optics get considerable play this month with a comparison test of spotting scopes by Richard Utting, and an in-depth review of the Vortex Razor HD 5-20x50mm riflescope by Chris Parkin. There’s plenty of great reading material this month — and it’s all free to read online. (Be patient while downloading the PDF file).

CLICK HERE for June Issue of Target Shooter Magazine (PDF file).

Laurie Holland has authored two major articles in the June issue of Target Shooter Magazine. First, Laurie reviews the latest “Mk. 2″ version of Seb Lambang’s joy-stick bipod. Laurie found that Seb’s new “Joy-Pod” was beautifully built and performs “as advertised”. Laurie writes: “The coarse leg adjustment using the ratchet lock is excellent, allowing quick and easy set-up. The overall stability was better than on the Mk.1 — provided I loaded the butt slightly to push the bi-pod forwards and take up the small amount of slack that shows in the mechanism/joystick-head. I thought the Mk.1 prototype was a winner/game-changer. The Mk.2 is a further and noticeable improvement on that.”

June 2013 target shooter magazine UK

Laurie has also compiled a very authoritative feature story on reloading for the .204 Ruger cartridge. Laurie discusses the available brass, powder, and projectile options for this popular cartridge. Laurie also includes Ballistics tables so you can compare performance with various loads. If you own a .204 Ruger rifle, or plan to get one, Laurie’s .204 Ruger story is definitely a “Must-Read”. This is Part One of a two-part series by Holland.

June 2013 target shooter magazine UK

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August 1st, 2012

Read FREE August Issue of Target Shooter Magazine

Target Shooter Magazine AugustTarget Shooter Magazine has just released its August edition, which you can read for FREE online. The 110-page August 2012 issue includes target shooting news from around the world, along with articles of interest to all shooters. The online “eZine” version of Target Shooter Magazine offers a handy index, plus full two-page spreads, and flip-page viewing — just like a print magazine.

August issue highlights include: a report on GB F-Class competition at the Bisley Ranges, along with coverage of the 2012 CZ Extreme European Open Practical Pistol Competition. Chris Parkin reviews the Zeiss Victory Diavari FL 6-25 x 72mm scope, and our friend Vince Bottomley tests a UK-compliant Armscor 38 Special Revolver. Regular readers will appreciate the final installment of Laurie Holland’s series on building an affordable FT-R rifle. The latest issue of Target Shooter Magzine of course includes UKPSA News.

CLICK HERE to Read August Target Shooter eZine

Target Shooter Magazine August

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May 14th, 2012

FREE May Issue of Target Shooter Magazine — Online Now

The May 2012 edition of Target Shooter Magazine is now available for online viewing. This issue is full of informative articles, with excellent photography. If you prefer the convenience of print magazines, you’ll like Target Shooter’s “eZine” format. Target Shooter displays like a print magazine — so you can enjoy large, wide-format photos, and you can flip pages just like a regular magazine. There is also a handy index (just like a print mag) so you can quickly access all the articles of interest. This month there is an excellent, detailed review of the March-FX 4-40x56mm First Focal Plane (FFP) riflescope. The reviewers were very impressed with this new optic: “It looks like it will set a new benchmark for FFP scopes[.]”

TargetShooter eZine Magazine UK

In his article “An Affordable F-TR Rifle?”, talented writer Laurie Holland examines a variety of entry-level F-TR solutions including Savages, Remingtons, and AR-platforms. Laurie explains how the F-TR shooter can get the most “bang for his buck”.

UK F-Class affordable FTR

As with every issue of Target Shooter, you’ll find plenty of information on both Benchrest and ‘belly-benchrest’ competition. This month Les Holgate supplies a special report on F-Class shooting in the UK. This article has great photos from the scenic Diggle Ranges.

F-Class UK Diggle Ranges

Tactical Shooters will be pleased to find a field test of the impressive, yet affordable Savage model 10 BA, chambered in .308 Winchester. Author Chris Parkin writes: “The Model 10 BA is a straightforward… bolt-action, magazine-fed rifle in the ‘Jack of All Trades’ .308 Win chambering. Its robust build shows great ergonomic adjustability.”

Savage 10 BA tactical .308

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March 9th, 2012

FREE March Issue of Target Shooter Magazine — Online Now

The March 2012 edition of Target Shooter Magazine is now available for online viewing. This issue is full of informative articles, with excellent photography. If you prefer the convenience of print magazines, you’ll like Target Shooter’s “eZine” format. Target Shooter displays like a print magazine — so you can enjoy large, wide-format photos, and you can flip pages just like a regular magazine. There is also a handy index (just like a print mag) so you can quickly access all the articles of interest.

Target Shooter Magazine UK

This month, you’ll find many stories worth reading. Starting off, Laurie Holland hot-rods a Rem 700 SPS tactical rifle. After fitting the rifle with a new 26″ 1:7.9″-twist barrel and Manners Composite stock, Laurie shows that impressive accuracy can be achieved from the upgraded Remington SPS (chambered in .223 Rem). Laurie also continues his on-going series about reloading for the .308 Win. This month he tests Lapua small-flashhole brass with a variety of powders. Other highlights include a comparison test of air-splitters and tuners for airgun benchrest, and a guide to competition optics. Readers can download previous monthly editions plus a Shot Show supplement from the Target Shooter Magazine homepage, found at TargetShooter.co.uk.

Target Shooter Magazine UK

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January 3rd, 2012

View January Issue of Target Shooter Magazine Online

Target Shooter Magazine has released its web-based January 2012 Issue. The FREE January Issue features handy reloading guides (written by Laurie Holland) for two very popular cartridges: 6mmBR Norma, and .308 Winchester. If you shoot either of these chamberings, you should read these latest installments of Laurie Holland’s Handloading Bench series. For the January issue, Laurie also authored Sorting a Savage Part 1 which covers the Savage-actioned .223 Rem that Laurie shot in the European F-Class Championship. Savage shooters will find useful tuning tips.

Gear and Optics Reviews
Other good articles in January’s Target Shooter Magazine include a comprehensive review of the Lyman DPS 1200 III powder dispenser, and an excellent article about riflescopes by Gwyn Roberts. Gwyn explains the many choices in reticle design, and he discusses the pros and cons of adjustable front objectives vs. side-focus scopes.

If you haven’t sampled Target Shooter Magazine yet, you should. The hardware photography is high quality and there is something for everyone — from Benchresters to Tactical shooters. You can view the 92-page December issue for FREE at www.targetshooter.co.uk. Target shooter also has an iPad/iPhone friendly version that can be downloaded.

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May 23rd, 2011

.223 Remington Shooter Equals GB 1000-Yard F-TR Record

At a recent Great Britain F-Class Association Match at the Blair Atholl Glen Tilt range, AccurateShooter Forum member Laurie Holland shot a 96-9V for twenty shots, tying the British F-TR single match record. Laurie accomplished that feat with a Savage-actioned .223 Remington. Laurie proved that the little .223 Rem can be competitive, even at 1000 yards. The Blair Atholl range, 1,000′ ASL in the southern Scottish Highlands, has been described by a top international rifle coach as ‘the world’s second most difficult range for wind’ (behind Trentham in New Zealand). Many British F-Class shooters were therefore surprised when Laurie Holland took his Savage-based .223 Rem F/TR rifle to the range earlier this month to compete in the season’s second GB F-Class Association league round. The event consisted of five, 1000-yard matches over a weekend (three 15-round stages on the Saturday, and two 20-round matches on Sunday). Forty-eight registered GB FCA shooters turned up, split 50/50 between F-Open and F-TR categories.

Though heavy rains were expected, Saturday was dry. However, the predominately 5 o’clock wind grew progressively stronger throughout the day, swinging through 20 or 30° with irregular gusts and lulls. With the range situated on a steep and uneven valley-side, wind changes affect elevation markedly in addition to the usual lateral movements. A gust can send the bullet high and left, while a lull moves POI low and right.

After Matches 1 and 2 Laurie was at the bottom end of the top 10 shooters in the class, but he surged to the lead in the day’s final match that saw the most difficult wind conditions. Laurie’s 66-2V score topped second place Adam Bagnall (reigning GB F-TR league champion) by seven points, and was also better than many F-Open scores. Laurie and his .223 were now tied (on points) with F-TR world champion Russell Simmonds for the overnight lead. Both had 183 points but Laurie was leading by five V-Bulls to one. As chance would have it, Russell and Laurie had been squadded to shoot together on the second detail of Sunday morning’s 20-round Match 4. NOTE: Brits employ a different system for F-Class targets. Target Rings have a 1 through 5 value, with a “V” (rather than “X”) for a dead-center hit. The maximum score possible on a twenty-round match would be 100-20V.


Laurie used the Savage successfully in the 2010 F Class European Championship meeting seen here shooting for GB in the second placed GB F/TR ‘Blue’ Team.

What followed was a classic two-man duel. Laurie explains: “While the F-Open boys on the first detail were still shooting, we had a short but violent rainstorm that really spoiled their day, this finishing just as they took their last shots. As the rain cleared, the wind apparently died too, the flags hanging limp, so we didn’t delay getting set up to take maximum advantage of the conditions. Russell and I both found the Bull / V-Bull on shot 1. Russell drilled five consecutive Vs, while I had two Bulls and three Vs. I began to think I might just hold Russell on points, but he’d hammer me on V-count. We started to find something was moving the bullets about, but there was no way of reading this on the sodden flags or even by the sway of the tops of some tall silver birch trees near the firing point, these usually proving very sensitive. It was a case of watching the plot develop, use intuition, and watch where Russell’s shot went before I took mine. (Remember, we have two competitors to each target taking shots alternately — no string shooting in the UK.)


Kongsberg electronic scoring monitor. This system gives near instant shot marking and lets spectators watch competitors’ performance in real time.

Crowd Watches Two-Man Duel — Laurie Ties Record in Match 4
With the Kongsberg electronic scoring machines, a flashing circle on the target shows the most recent shot, with its numerical Ring Value on the right side of the screen. All of our Fours came up as 4.9s, just leaking out! I was very reluctant to touch the scope knobs knowing just how easily a quarter-MOA ‘click’ can overdo the correction in these conditions and increasingly aimed low and left as the match progressed. As we reached the end we guessed our scores must be close, and amazingly I was getting more Vs now than Russell and his .308. However, neither of us knew we were tied on shot 19, both having dropped four points, and scored eight Vs, so the last shot would be crucial. Russell told me afterwards he sensed the wind had maybe picked up marginally, briefly considered aiming off a little further left, but decided to stick with his previous aim that had given him a ‘V’ – crack, 4.9 at 3 o’clock! My shot 19 had been a Four in exactly the same spot and I eased the Sightron’s reticle dot over to the bottom left corner of the Bull ring – crack, V.0 at six o’ clock for 96.9v total. Just to our right, Adam Bagnall had also shot 96, but with eight Vs, so I won the match and equaled John Cross’s GB F/TR record 20-round 1,000-yard score shot last summer. This increased my overall lead to 1 point. As the shooting concluded, we heard a rising murmur behind and turned to discover we had a substantial audience, mostly of ‘Open’ competitors, who’d been following our progress — electronic scoring not only gives an instant result, but makes shooting a spectator sport!

I’d like to say the fairy tale had a happy ending, but I blew my lead in the final four shots of the final match and ended up fourth in F-TR class, Russell taking the top spot. So, the .223 Rem will have to wait a little longer to get its first GB F-TR league round win.”

Despite faltering in the last match, Laurie still earned two stage medals and posted the highest F-TR V-count (15) in what had been a low scoring weekend. Laurie’s impressive performance with a .223 Rem now has many people reconsidering the Mouse Gun cartridge’s utility in British long-range F-TR competition.

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