April 4th, 2017

Hammerhead Stocks for Long-Range Benchrest

hammerhead stock Precision rifle tool Ray Bowman

hammerhead stock Precision rifle tool Ray BowmanWe know that many of our readers have never seen a “Hammerhead” benchrest stock before. This is a design with an extra wide section in the very front, tapering to a narrow width starting about 6″ back. When paired with a super-wide front sandbag, the hammerhead design provides added stability — just like having a wider track on a racing car. Some folks think mid-range and long-range benchrest stocks can only be 3″ wide. Not so — IBS and NBRSA rules now allow much wider fore-ends. While F-Class Open rules limit fore-end width to 3″ max, there is not such restriction on IBS or NBRSA Light Guns or Heavy Guns for 600- and 1000-yard competition. Here’s a 5″-wide Hammerhead design from Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T).

Ray Bowman of PR&T sent us some photos of another hammerhead benchrest rig. Ray reports: “Here’s another benchrest rifle that Precision Rifle & Tool crafted. The customer shot this rifle at the 2014 IBS 1000-yard Nationals in West Virginia.” This IBS Light Gun sports PR&T’s “Low Boy Hammer Head” stock in red/black laminate. Other components are a 6mm BRUX 30″, 1:8″-twist barrel, Borden BR Action, and a PR&T 20 MOA scope rail.

hammerhead stock Precision rifle tool Ray Bowman

hammerhead stock Precision rifle tool Ray Bowman

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 4 Comments »
January 30th, 2016

Behold January’s Pride and Joy Rifles

pride joy blue UK 7mm WSM
Here’s a bit of Britain in blue — a 270-7mm WSM F-Classer belonging to Elwood in the UK.

One of the most popular items in our Shooters’ Forum is the ongoing “Pride and Joy” thread. Since 2009, Forum members have posted photos and descriptions of their most prized rifles. Here are some of the most recent “Pride and Joy” rifles showcased in our Forum. Do you have a gun you’d like to see featured there? Just Register for the Forum and you can add your gun to the list.

1. Dasher LowBoy. CigarCop just completed a lovely 6mm Dasher in a yellow/gray laminated PR&T LowBoy stock. CigarCop did the stock inletting and finish work himself. Very nice work indeed.

pride joy low boy gray yellow Dasher
pride joy low boy gray yellow Dasher

2. Varmint Special. Here’s a handsome varminter with a beautifully-figured walnut stock. This is one of three rifles Forum Member Dan Hall posted this month.

pride joy low boy gray yellow Dasher

3. 6mm Trifecta. DixiePPC served up not one but THREE pretty rifles, all with pearlescent paint jobs. Details of the three rigs are provided below. Click the image to see a full-screen version.

pride joy blue UK 7mm WSM

Top: 6 PPC for 10.5-lb NBRSA LV Class, 1:14″, .262″-necked SS Hart Barrel chambered and fitted by Doug Pascal, Pearl Black Kelbly Stock, RB/RP Blueprint & Trued 40X Short Action (Glued) with a Doug Pascal Bolt Release. This gun is a 1994 build by Doug Pascal of Craftsmith.

Middle: 6 PPC 13.5lb NBRSA HV Class, 1:14″, .262″-necked SS straight-countour Hart Barrel, Pearl White Kelbly Stock/Aluminum Butt Plate, RB/RP Stolle Panda Action (Glued). Kelbly Double Screw Rings. 1994 Vintage Leupold/Premier BR 36X. This gun is a 1992-vintage Kelbly build for NBRSA Unlimited Class.

Bottom: 6mmBR 17-lb IBS Light Gun Class, 28″, 1:8″, .268″-necked SS Bartlein 5R Barrel tipped with a SS Harrell Spiral Muzzle Brake, Pearl Rust Orange 90s-vintage Lee Six Stock with home made Aluminum Butt Plate, RB/RP Blueprinted and Trued 1995-Vintage 700 Short Action.

4. Simple Elegance. This is Chopper Duke’s handsome 6mm PPC. It features a Remington action in a classic older-style benchrest stock. We like the flawless pale-green finish. Subtle but nice.

pride joy Remington 6PPC custom green rifle

5. (Nearly) Identical Duo. Here are a matching pair of customs from Forum member NHM16. He tells us: “I sold my two Savages I was using for F-Open, and had these two built in their place. One reason I upgraded was so I could have two (nearly) identical rifles. The nice thing about these rifles is that most everything interchanges, including the barrels.”

pride joy Savage .284 Walker Shehand Bartlein

Here Are Specs for Both Guns:
— Panda F-Class action (LRBP, no ejector, 20 MOA dovetail scope base, one action is polished, the other unpolished so I could easily tell them apart).
— PR&T LowBoy stocks with adjustable buttplates, with vents on the side and the bottom.
— Both have Bartlein 32″ 7mm, 1:8″-twist, 5R barrels, chambered in 7mm Walker (basically a .284 Shehane with the addition of a 40 degree shoulder).
— Rifles were built by Richard King (“Kings X” in Forum) in Arlington, Texas, though I did the clear coating myself.

6. First Custom. Here is Forum member Barrys’s very first custom rifle, and it’s a nice one. It features a BAT Machine VR action, Krieger #17 heavy varmint contour, chambered for the 6mmBR Norma with 0.272″ neck. The stock is a Shehane Varmint Tracker with a Walnut-color laminated Obeche stock. On top is a Sightron SIII 8-32x56mm scope in BAT Machine rings.

Shehane Tracker pride joy rifle 6mmBR 6BR Krieger barrel

7. Basic Black. David P. offered this F-TR rig: “A buddy of mine just finished up new rifle for NRA F-TR competition. This rifle is built on a Kelbly action, chambered in .308 Win with a custom, tight-neck match chamber. It’s sitting in a PR&T stock, with a Broughton 32″, 1:11″-twist 5C barrel. The rifle was chambered and built by Brian at Plainfield Precision in Shelby, NC.

pride joy F-TR Black Kelbly

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
October 31st, 2015

X-Men and Team Grizzly Win F-Class National Championships

2015 F-Class national championship X-Men Team Grizzly ben avery

We have two new National Champion F-Class Teams. At the 2015 Long-Range Team Championships in Phoenix yesterday, Team Grizzly won the F-Open Division while the X-Men team secured the F-TR Title. The teams had to deal with tough conditions, requiring wind coaches to bring their “A Game”. James Crofts of the X-Men said: “The highest level of winds in recent nationals memory greeted all on the line today.” And Shiraz Balolia, who finished with the highest score (395-17X) among all shooters, observed: “High winds in the second match really made a huge difference in scores.”

Team Grizzly Wins 2015 F-Open Long-Range National Championship
Team Grizzly finished first in the F-Open Division with a 1560-49X score. In second, nine points back with 1551-49X, was the Tex-Mex Squad, while local favorites the Wide Nines team finished third with 1548-45X. Team Grizzly’s 9-point winning margin was impressive — Leo Ahern joked that: “9 points is more like a spanking than a win!”

Team Grizzly Captain Shiraz Balolia had the top score (395-17X) of all shooters participating in the team event. (This is a file photo from previous match).
2015 F-Class national championship X-Men Team Grizzly ben avery

Team Grizzly’s Captain Shiraz Balolia said: “My hat is off to our coach, Trudie Fay, who has coached and won us the last three consecutive Team matches at the National Championships. I have been fortunate to have been a shooter and Captain of all three gold medal wins, three years in a row, one with Team USA and two with Team Grizzly. Trudie did a great job and my Team gun just hammered!” Along with Faye and Balolia, Team members included Kenny Adams, Emil Kovan, and John Myers.

2015 F-Class national championship X-Men Team Grizzly ben avery

X-Men Team Tops F-TR Field
Hail the Orange and Green invaders. The X-Men are the 2015 US Long Range National F-TR Champions. The Team included shooters Tracy Hogg, Phil Kelley, Ian Klemm, and Dan Lentz, along with Wind Coach James Crofts and Captain Ken Klemm. Crofts said: “Big thanks to our remaining X-men teammates Joseph Conley, Mike Hardy, and Radoslaw Czupryna. Special thanks to Ray Bowman as we were all shooting PR&T hammers. We have great respect for Team Sinclair (that has motivated us for a long time) and Team Michigan, our friends from up North. Today was a good day!”

All four X-Men rifles featured Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T) Low Boy stocks. PR&T’s Ray Bowman observed: “Ian Klem built his rifle on our stock, PR&T stocked Dan Lentz’s rifle and we built Phil Kelley’s and Tracy Hogg’s “HAMMER” rifles.” Gunsmith Ryan Pierce chambered two of the X-Men barrels.

It was sunny but quite windy on Friday for the Team Match (Sherri Judd Photo).
2015 F-Class national championship X-Men Team Grizzly ben avery

Finishing second in the F-TR division was the Michigan Rifle Team, winners of the Mid-Range F-TR National Championship. The Team was coached by newly-crowned, Mid-Range F-TR Nat’l Champ Bryan Litz. Shooters include Doug Boyer, Jim Grissom, Bill Litz (Bryan’s father), and gunsmith John Pierce. Grissom shot a great match, finishing with 385-12X, but it was not enough to carry the Michiganders to victory. The squad finished with 1524-29X, six points behind the winning X-Men (1530-33X). Team Sinclair placed third with 1512-35X.

Permalink Competition, News 5 Comments »
July 29th, 2014

F-TR Champ’s Secret Weapon — 40X Rimfire F-TR Trainer

2014 and 2012 U.S. National F-TR Champion James Crofts is one of America’s top F-Class shooters. A member of the 2013 World Championship-winning F-TR Team USA squad, James knows a thing or two about long-range shooting, that’s for sure. But you may be surprised to learn how James sharpens his shooting skills at relatively short distances. You see, James often practices with a .22 LR rimfire rifle at distances from 50 to 200 yards. James tells us: “Shooting my F-Class rimfire trainer saves me money and improves my shot process and wind-reading abilities.”

Remington rimfire 40X barreled action in PR&T LowBoy stock with PT&G bolt.
James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR

Rimfire Training Teaches Wind-Reading Skills by James Crofts
Training with the rimfire is extremely useful and can be done from 25 yards out to 200 yards. I am lucky and can shoot 50 yards right off my back deck. That is far enough that any miscue on rifle handling will show up on the target. I use a two dry-fire to one actual shot routine for my practices. This gives me much more positive reinforcement without any negative reinforcement.

Wind reading is extremely important with a .22 LR rifle. I use a set of smallbore flags to aid my wind calls. The smallbore flags are a must and force you to look at the flags and mirage on each and every shot. If you think the flags at Camp Butner move a lot, try smallbore flags around tall pine trees.

Rimfire Training Is Cost-Effective
Rimfire ammunition is much less costly than centerfire ammo. Though .22 LR prices have risen in recent years (and rimfire ammo is harder to find), even now I can get a 500-round brick of .22 LR ammo for less than $75.00. That works out to fifteen cents a round. That’s a fraction of the cost of handloading .308 Win match ammo. Heck, you can pay 40 cents a piece for match-grade .308-cal centerfire bullets. Then you have to figure in brass, primers, and powder.

James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR

My CMP 40X Rimfire F-TR LowBoy Clone
My quest into the .22 LLR rimfire field started with an email from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) announcing Rem 40X stripped barreled actions for sale. I thought, “Hmmm… Could one of those little 40X barreled actions be turned into a F-Class training rifle?” My gunsmith Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool was brought in at this point.

After conferring with Ray, it was decided that he could indeed turn this into a F-Class training rifle. Ray contacted Dave Kiff of PT&G and ordered a new bolt for the Remington 40X rimfire action. Next was the stock decision. I decided to go with a PR&T Low Boy F-Class stock — this is an exact clone of the stock for my .308 Win F-TR competition rifle. Then a Jewell trigger was acquired to complete the components. Ray built this just like he would any custom rifle, other than using the stock barrel. The project turned out awesome. The rifle was a hammer from the beginning even with the stock barrel.

James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR


About James Crofts
This spring, James Crofts was chosen as the new Vice Captain for the USA F-TR National Team. James comes from a military background, having served 20 years in the U.S. Navy aboard fast attack submarines. James has also been a shooting member of the 8-man F-TR Team USA, and he is always one of the top shooters in any F-TR competition. James told us: “Now the work begins, but with Ray Gross as Captain I think we can handle it. It will be a tough act to follow. Darrell Buell and Mike Miller set the bar extremely high with back-to-back world championship gold medals.”

James Crofts F-TR Rimfire .22 LR
James Crofts — Photo by Kent Reeve.

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
November 13th, 2013

Bumblebee .300 WSM F-Open Rig with Defiance ‘Deviant’ Action

Steven Blair’s recent report on the .300 WSM for F-Class stirred quite a bit of interest. If you’re a serious F-Open competitor, you’ll definitely want to read that article, which covers the pros and cons of the .30-Cal WSM loaded with the ultra-high-BC 230gr Berger Hybrid bullets.

If you’re thinking about building a .300 WSM for F-Class, here’s a rig that can give you some design and hardware ideas. This eye-catching custom .300 WSM F-Open rig belongs to Forum member Keith T. (aka “KT”). With its striking “bumblebee” color scheme, it will certainly get noticed on the firing line.

Click Photos to see full-screen versions.
F-Open Defiance Action .300 WSM F Class PR&T Brux Batlein rifle

Bold Bumblebee .300 WSM for F-Class
Forum member Keith T. (aka “KT”) just got his hands on his new .300 WSM for F-Class and long-range competition. It’s a handsome brute, decked out in a “bumblebee” (yellow and black) laminated stock. Keith’s rifle features a Defiance Machine Deviant Long Magnum action (with Jewell trigger) in a Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T) F-Class Lowboy stock. Keith has two 30″-long, 1:9″-twist barrels for the gun, one made by Brux Barrels, and the other by Bartlein. Both barrels have identical .300 WSM chambers cut with the same reamer. Keith will test both and then use the best-performing of the two in competition. Riding on top is a Nightforce 12-42x56mm Benchrest Model scope. All the work was done by Accurate Ordnance (AO), based in Winder, Georgia.

F-Open Defiance Action .300 WSM F Class PR&T Brux Batlein rifle

F-Open Defiance Action .300 WSM F Class PR&T Brux Batlein rifle

Keith reports: “This one took a while to get built due to parts availability issues, but I’m glad it’s done! Thanks to Accurate Ordnance and Nightforce and all their help.” NOTE: Accurate Ordnance tells us that a rifle like this can normally be completed in 6-8 weeks, once all key parts are in hand.

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product No Comments »
May 30th, 2012

Jim Crofts’ New Savage F-Class Rig with PR&T Walnut Stock

Forum member Jim Crofts (aka “VA Jim”) is one of the nation’s top F-TR shooters. He finished first at the Berger Southwest Nationals, and just this past weekend Jim won the F-TR class at the “Remember the Brave” match at Quantico. Jim has also won numerous regional and club F-TR matches.


Recently Jim commissioned a new .308 Win rifle with a premium barrel and fancy wood stock. Perhaps surprisingly, Jim started with the model 12 target action that came with a Savage factory F/TR rifle. The action is supported in the new gun with a Whidden Gunworks aluminum V-block. Jim observed “I liked the action, and have no problems with the Accutrigger so it made sense to stick with the action I had and save $1000.00 or more vs. a custom action.” Jim did dress up the action a bit. He told us: “The action and barrel nut were polished — just me and a buffer wheel.” Jim also added an extended “tactical” bolt handle from Sharp Shooter Supply. This provides extra leverage according to Jim.

Jim’s new rifle was built by Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool, LLC (PR&T) using a PR&T stock with custom wood. The rifle with which Jim won the Berger SW Nationals shares this same PR&T F-TR stock design, and Jim decided to stick with a winner. Jim explained that the PR&T F-TR stock “is one of the most forgiving out there. It’s got the long fore-end on it that lets you get the bipod out there and that really allows the rifle to recoil in a straight line.” The stock for Jim’s new rig is made of hand laminated, highly-figured west coast Black Walnut with two layers of strong, straight-grain East Coast American Walnut. Augmenting the beauty of the natural figure, twelve layers of clear-coat were applied to the stock, with careful sanding between coats. The buttplate, adjustable cheekpiece hardware, and +30 MOA scope base were all supplied by PR&T.

Jim Crofts Lined Up Behind his New F-TR Rig

Doubtless you’ve noticed the fancy fluting on the 30.5″ Brux Barrel. This “Chain Link” fluting was done by the barrel-maker (Brux) as an extra-cost option. It does look distinctive and it may provide some enhanced cooling benefits (but Jim admits “it’s mainly for looks”). This 1:11″-twist barrel is chambered in .308 Winchester, with the throat set up for Berger 185gr and 200gr Hybrid bullets. Note that Jim decided to retain the Savage barrel nut, even though this is a custom barrel. Jim says: “The Brux barrels shoot great… they clean up well, I get very little copper out of the Brux barrel.”

Jim Crofts Talks About His Savage
F-TR Rifle and PR&T Stock

Click Button to Hear Audio

Jim uses a height-adjustable Phoenix Precision bipod with sled-type feet. This suits Jim’s shooting style very well. Jim is a “handshake holder”, who employs “firm contact with the shoulder”. In the audio clip above, Jim explains: “I shoot with a tight grip. I like to keep this thing up in my shoulder… that helps me control the tracking of the rifle. If I do my part this rifle will definitely keep ‘em in the ten ring (most of the time) out to 1000 yards.”

Savage FTR Crofts targetMeticulous Reloading Yields Great Accuracy
Jim loads Varget powder in Lapua Brass with Berger 180gr and 200gr bullets. He hasn’t shot the new gun in competition yet, but in testing at 100 yards it delivered “multiple five-shot groups that could each be covered by a dime.” Jim’s meticulous brass prep contributes to that excellent accuracy. Using a Benchsource annealing machine, Jim anneals his brass after every firing. He has noticed that the regular annealing makes bullet seating more consistent. “I use a K&M arbor with the seating-force gauge. Both by feel, and by monitoring the gauge, you can definitely tell that the bullets seat more consistently if you anneal the cases regularly.” Jim also cleans his brass with stainless media after every firing.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 11 Comments »
May 9th, 2012

Ryan Pierce Sets 450-24X F-Open Record with Home-Built Gun

Forum member Ryan Pierce set a pending new F-Class Open National Long-Range record this past Sunday at a Long Range Regional Palma Match in Lodi, Wisconsin. Ryan shot a “clean” 450 with 24 Xs in a 800/900/1000 match at Winnequah Gun Club. Once certified, Ryan’s 450-24X score tops the 449-33X record set by Robert Bock in 2008. To make the story even better, Ryan smithed the gun himself, doing his own metal and stock work! Ryan’s record-setting rig is a .284 Win with BAT action, Brux barrel, and Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T) stock. Ryan shot Berger 180gr Hybrids pushed by H4831SC and CCI BR2s. Interestingly, Ryan set the record with a ‘dirty barrel’. By the time he finished the 1000-yard stage on Sunday, he had put over 150 rounds through his barrel since its last cleaning. Ryan wasn’t just being lazy — he had noted that the vertical tightened up the more rounds he shot.

Ryan Reveals How Record Was Set
Ryan tells us: “I had actually debated using my 6BR last weekend but didn’t and used up my last box of 180 Hybrids. They are seated .025″ off the lands with 56.0 grains of Hodgdon H4831SC and a BR2 primer. This load is running 2900 fps. I had 1 1/2 min of wind on and was favoring another half minute. I had excellent pit service, 6 seconds, by Jeff Dick. I knew he was fast so I figured ‘let’s rock and roll’. I was done in 3 to 3.5 minutes. I was pretty stoked. Halfway through the relay I started shaking pretty bad. After my last shot came up a 10 I was all smiles and couldnt believe I’d shot the 450.”

Ryan Pierce F-Class Record Open Lodi

Above is Ryan with his rifle and 1000-yard target. He had two (2) sighters in the 9-ring, but the rest were 10s and Xs. Jim tells us: “As the string went on Ryan started flirting with the bottom of the 10 ring. Those pasters were removed to validate that they were indeed solid 10s.” Jim adds: “I witnessed Ryan’s 900- and 1000-yard strings and had the pleasure of signing the score card on the 1000-yard string, it was amazing to watch and see Ryan so excited about accomplishing this.”

Ryan Pierce F-Class Open Record

Ryan Pierce SPEAKS OUT

CLICK “PLAY” to hear Ryan TALK about setting Nat’l Record with .284 Win at Lodi.

[haiku url=”http://accurateshooter.net/Video/pierceaudio215.mp3″ title=”Ryan Pierce Talk About F-Class Record”]

Ryan Pierce F-Class Record Open Lodi

Above you can see Ryan’s 800- and 900-yard strings on the same target. Jim See reports that: “Due to the rain delay, and some relay jockeying, Ryan ended up being the last shooter at 800 and the first shooter at 900, all on a clean target. So when [Ryan] hit the pits he took the picture, not knowing what was in his near future.” NOTE: The 800-yard stage allowed unlimited sighters, so there are a few shots out of 10 Ring. At the 900- and 1000-yard distances, two sighters were allowed at each yardage.

We congratulate Ryan for his great shooting. This was a tough record to beat. Forum member Nodak7mm says: “This was great shooting by an awesome up-and-coming shooter in the F-Class arena. Ryan is definitely a force to be reckoned with….”. Click the link below to hear Ryan talk about setting the record, and some surprising changes he made the day of the match.

Ryan Pierce .284 Win F-Open Rig Specifications
Ryan provided this info on his record-setting rifle: “The gun has a BAT ‘M’ action (Jewell trigger), Brux 32″ 1:9″ twist barrel, and a Ray Bowman (PR&T) F-Open ‘low boy’ stock with adjustable cheekpiece and adjustable buttplate. The scope is a Nightforce NXS 12-42x56mm. The barrel has 1300 rounds through it. All the metal and stock work was done by me.” Ryan’s record-setting load consisted of Berger 180gr Hybrids pushed by H4831SC and CCI BR2s at 2900 fps. This was a straight .284 Winchester.

Permalink Competition, News 12 Comments »