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 »
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 »
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, 2011

New Low Boy Benchrest Stock from Precision Rifle & Tool

Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool LLC (PR&T) has a new stock design, the Low Boy Benchrest, that combines the successful features of PR&T’s F-Class stock with a rear end better suited to shooting from the bench. As you may know, PR&T’s F-Class stock, in the hands of Charles Ballard and others, has been hugely successful in F-Class competition. The new Low Boy Benchrest stock borrows the same low-profile front end, but it is different from the tang rearward.

While the Low Boy F-Class stock is designed so you wrap your thumb around (like holding a pistol), the Low Boy BR stock is designed so you can slip your hand along the side, with thumb rested lightly behind the tang, in a central position. Unlike the F-Class stock, which is designed for full grip “hard-holding”, this stock is designed for shooting with a “light hold” style (or even free recoil). These stocks are very straight dimensionally, so they track well.

We think this stock will work very well for 600-yard and 1000-yard Light Gun Benchrest competition. This Editor likes the stock enough that I am considering using a Low Boy Benchrest stock for a future Light Gun project with a Stiller Viper Drop-Port. The Low Boy BR stocks are affordable — starting at $330.00 for an un-inletted version with a 3″-wide fore-end. Inletting adds just $25.00 to the total. PR&T can also pillar-bed your action in the stock for an additional $225.00.


Handsome Bat-Action BRX in Low Boy BR Stock
The blue-stocked rifle in the photos belongs to FORUM member Bo W. (aka “Sighter”). It is a 6BRX with a BAT MB, multi-flat action. The finish and painting work on the PR&T Low Boy BR stock was done by Tuck. Sighter rates the stock highly, but he thinks the standard configuration sits a bit high in the back: “I like the stock and it tracks fine, but I feel the F-Class style height causes it to ride a bit higher in the bags than needed. I talked about this with Ray Bowman [PR&T owner] and have since ordered two more Low Boy BR stocks. With the last two, Ray cut about 3/4″ off the bottom of the stock butt and kept about a .67″ flat so a double-stitch bag will work. It is now more similar to a Tracker.” Shown below is a Low Boy BR stock with the reduced height option.

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 2 Comments »