June 19th, 2016
When a rifle isn’t shooting up to it’s potential, we need to ask: “Is it the gun or the shooter?” Having multiple shooters test the same rifle in the same conditions with the same load can be very revealing…
When developing a load for a new rifle, one can easily get consumed by all the potential variables — charge weight, seating depth, neck tension, primer options, neck lube, and so on. When you’re fully focused on loading variables, and the results on the target are disappointing, you may quickly assume you need to change your load. But we learned that sometimes the load is just fine — the problem is the trigger puller, or the set-up on the bench.
Here’s an example. A while back we tested two new Savage F-Class rifles, both chambered in 6mmBR. Initial results were promising, but not great — one gun’s owner was getting round groups with shots distributed at 10 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 8 o’clock, and none were touching. We could have concluded that the load was no good. But then another shooter sat down behind the rifle and put the next two shots, identical load, through the same hole. Shooter #2 eventually produced a 6-shot group that was a vertical line, with 2 shots in each hole but at three different points of impact. OK, now we can conclude the load needs to be tuned to get rid of the vertical. Right? Wrong. Shooter #3 sat down behind the gun and produced a group that strung horizontally but had almost no vertical.
Hmmm… what gives?
Shooting Styles Created Vertical or Horizontal Dispersion
What was the problem? Well, each of the three shooters had a different way of holding the gun and adjusting the rear bag. Shooter #1, the gun’s owner, used a wrap-around hold with hand and cheek pressure, and he was squeezing the bag. All that contact was moving the shot up, down, left and right. The wrap-around hold produced erratic results.
Shooter #2 was using no cheek pressure, and very slight thumb pressure behind the tang, but he was experimenting with different amounts of bag “squeeze”. His hold eliminated the side push, but variances in squeeze technique and down pressure caused the vertical string. When he kept things constant, the gun put successive shots through the same hole.
Shooter #3 was using heavy cheek pressure. This settled the gun down vertically, but it also side-loaded the rifle. The result was almost no vertical, but this shooting style produced too much horizontal.
A “Second Opinion” Is Always Useful
Conclusion? Before you spend all day fiddling with a load, you might want to adjust your shooting style and see if that affects the group size and shape on the target. Additionally, it is nearly always useful to have another experienced shooter try your rifle. In our test session, each time we changed “drivers”, the way the shots grouped on the target changed significantly. We went from a big round group, to vertical string, to horizontal string.
Interestingly, all three shooters were able to diagnose problems in their shooting styles, and then refine their gun-handling. As a result, in a second session, we all shot that gun better, and the average group size dropped from 0.5-0.6 inches into the threes — with NO changes to the load.
That’s right, we cut group size in half, and we didn’t alter the load one bit. Switching shooters demonstrated that the load was good and the gun was good. The skill of the trigger-puller(s) proved to be the limiting factor in terms of group size.
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January 25th, 2016
At the request of our readers, we have launched a “Deals of the Week” feature. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.
1. Amazon — Howard Leight Electronic Muffs (Best Seller)
Every shooter should own a pair of Electronic muffs — they are great when you are doing spotting duties or are working near the firing line. They allow you to hear ordinary conversations while still providing vital hearing protection. Right now Amazon.com has the Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Muffs on sale for just $36.30. These NRR 22 muffs are currently Amazon’s #1 seller in the category. NOTE: For regular, sustained shooting we recommend muffs and/or earplugs with a higher NRR rating.
2. Grafs.com — Magnetospeed Sporter $179.99
If you have been waiting to get a Magnetospeed… wait no longer. Priced at just $179.99 at Grafs.com, the Magnetospeed Sporter model costs less than half as much as Magnetospeed’s V3 models. This chronograph attaches directly to your barrel so you don’t have to go downrange to position tripods and set up skyscreens. For most people the Sporter Model contains all the features they need. Using Magnetspeed’s XFR adapter (sold separately), data can be transferred easily from the display module to your mobile device. READ Magnetospeed Sporter Review.
3. Cabelas.com — Rock Chucker Supreme Reloading Kit
Everything you see above can be yours for just $225.00, after manufacturer’s rebate. Right now, Cabela’s is selling the Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit for $300.00. That’s a good deal as this Reloading Kit sells elsewhere for up to $360.00. But he’s the real incentive — if you spend $300.00 on RCBS products in 2016, RCBS will send you a $75.00 rebate. That reduces your net cost to just $225.00 for the entire Kit.
4. Brownells — Hornady 17 HMR Ammo, $12.79 per box
If you have ever shopped for 17 HMR ammunition, you know it rarely goes on sale (it’s the law of supply and demand). Right now, as part of its “Red, White and Boom” ammo promo, Brownells.com is offering first-quality Hornady brand 17 HMR ammo for $12.79 per 50-count box. We’ve seen ammo this sell in gunshops for $16.50 per box. Stock up now for the spring varmint season.
5. CDNN Sports — Savage 93R17 for $219.99
No more excuses — you can add a 17 HMR to your collection for under $220.00. We think everyone should own a 17 HMR rifle. The 17 HMR is the perfect cartridge for dispatching ground squirrels and other small varmints. The round shoots faster and flatter than a .22 LR, and delivers more energy. This week CDNN Sports is offering the Savage 93R17 for just $219.99. This little rifle can provide years of service in the varmint fields, and the 93R17 is also a good youth training rifle.
6. Natchez — CCI Blazer 9mm ammo, $9.99 for 50 Rounds
This is the best price we’ve found this week on newly-manufactured 9mm pistol ammunition. And this is quality, CCI made-in-USA ammo with reloadable, brass casings. We have used this CCI-made Blazer 9mm ammo in Sig, HK, and Glock pistols and it performed very well. This stuff won’t last long at this price (less than $0.20 per round). If you need 9mm practice ammo, order soon.
7. Walmart — 48-gun Stack-on Gun Safe
If you need a big safe to hold lots of guns, here’s a large-capacity Stack-On Safe that’s rated for 48 long-guns. Measuring 59″ high and a full 43″ wide, this safe is much bigger than the typical safes you find at CostCo and Sam’s Club. This safe is discounted $202 right now with “Rollback” pricing. One verified safe purchaser states: “The safe interior is nice for the price. Outside finish is great. All in all this is a GREAT value after looking at safes twice this price.”
8. Brownells.com — Hornady Ultrasonic Cleaning Machine, $49.99
Yes, you can get a name-brand Ultrasonic cleaning machine for under fifty bucks. This Hornady Lock-N-Load Sonic Cleaner, which sells elsewhere for $75-$85, is available at Brownells.com this week for just $49.99. This cleaning machine holds up to 200 .223 Remington cases, or 100 .308 Winchester cases.
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January 19th, 2016
Scores of manufacturers showcase their products at the SHOT Media Day event, held each year in Boulder City, Nevada. This year we saw some legendary names (such as Colt and Winchester), as well as new, 21st-century gun-makers (such as Tracking Point). Savage and Kimber had some surprising new offerings, and we saw impressive new optics from Zeiss and Minox. There were some interesting trends. Many firearms were equipped with “factory” suppressors. Ruger, much to our surprise, showcased a Ruger 10/22 takedown rifle fitted with a Ruger-branded suppressor. It was extremely quiet. Many of the handgun manufacturers, including Ruger and Walther, supplied ammunition with composite polymer matrix bullets. These bullets are significantly lighter than conventional pistol bullets of the same caliber (the reduced bullet mass did lessen felt recoil with 9mm and 45 acp pistols). The polymer bullets are lead-free, and they don’t ricochet, so they are both more “eco-friendly” and safer when used on steel targets.
New Savage 110 BA Stealth Rifle
Savage unveiled a modern, “monolithic” metal-chassis tactical rifle. Designed to compete with the Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR), the new Savage 110 BA Stealth has an AR-type hand grip, skeletal buttstock, and a low-profile vented forearm. This rifle will be offered in .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor while a slightly bigger model will be offered in .300 Win Mag and .338 Lapua Magnum. Savage says that all the 110 BA Stealth models will feature “factory blue-printed actions” for improved accuracy. MSRP varies from $1200 to $1600 depending on caliber and configuration. It should be available starting next month.
The model on display, chambered in .308 Winchester, proved accurate in the hands of Ed M. of 65guys.com. Ed liked the trigger and the fact that the rifle uses PMags. The stock, based on a design by Drake Associates, is very light but also very rigid. Ed thought this stock would work well on barricades in tactical matches. Steve L. of 65guys.com said there is “pent-up demand” for a rifle like this, and he predicts the 110 BA Stealth will be a big seller for Savage.
New K6 Revolver from Kimber
Kimber, known for its 1911-type semi-auto pistols, has introduced an all-new K6 .357 magnum carry revolver. Kimber’s hammerless wheelgun was very nicely crafted and had one of the smoothest double-action pulls we’ve tried. The trigger pull was long, but very consistent and smooth. With the Kimber, you don’t feel a series of “stages” or transitions as you do with most other double-action revolvers. The other impressive thing about the new revolver is the finish — the stainless is very smooth and shiny, the result of “much hand polishing” according to Kimber engineers.
Ruger 10/22 Takedown with Factory Suppressor
The most fun we had all day was at the Ruger booth. There we got to test a Ruger 10/22 Takedown fitted with a Ruger-branded factory-made suppressor. This little rifle was a hoot to shoot, and with the suppressor in place it was amazingly quiet. We really liked this set-up and the take-down system worked brilliantly — just pull one lever, then twist and the barrel section comes off. For those states where you can own a suppressor, we strongly recommend this configuration. The “can” is sold separately and buyer must still comply with all applicable state and Federal laws.
Zeiss Victory V8 4.8-35x60mm Rifle Scope
Zeiss showed off its impressive Victory V8 line of riflescopes. These offer an 8X zoom ratio, with handy BDC turrets — just dial the yardage indicated on the turret (you can custom-order BDC rings calibrated for your favorite load). The new V8 scopes offer many impressive features. We shot a rifle fitted with the new 4.8-35x60mm V8, which features a very beefy 36mm main tube. The glass was bright and ultra-sharp. Zeiss claims 92% light transmission. Fiber optic technology provides a very precise red dot in the center of the reticle. This was visible even in bright sunlight. Zeiss will offer three other V8 models: 1-8x30mm, 1.8-14x50mm, and 2.8-20x56mm.
APO .338 Lapua Magnum
Bigger is apparently better when it comes to serious tactical rifles. There were quite a few rifles chambered for the powerful .338 Lapua Magnum Cartridge. We tried out a .338 LM from Ashbury Precision Ordnance. With some help from a laser rangefinders, we were able to put rounds on a large steel plate at 960 yards. The trigger was nice and the suppressor reduced felt recoil. This was a nice rifle, with a comfortable cheek-piece and ergonomic grip.
Minox MD 88 Spotting Scope
We noticed a BIG front objective on a brand-new Minox spotting scope — one of only two in the country. This new spotter features low-dispersion glass and dual focusing rings — a large “fast focus” ring and a second smaller, fine focus ring. The price, including 20-60X eyepiece, will be around $1750.00. Jason Baney, who works for EuroOptics, says this new Minox spotting scope compares well with other spotters that cost considerably more.
Blaser R8 Professional Thumbhole Fancy Wood
If there was one rifle I wanted to take home with me, it was this nice Blaser R8 “Professional Success” model with a fancy wood new thumbhole stock. This rifle was very comfortable in all shooting positions. The gun balanced well and the straight-pull Blaser action is fun to use. It can be cycled rapidly without disturbing your position on the rifle.
This is always something new and unusual on display at Media Day at the range. This tracked one-man rig provides all-terrain mobility so disabled persons can enjoy hunting and wilderness recreation.
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December 6th, 2015
Did you know that Shilen Rifles Inc. offers barreled actions and complete rifles? And that Shilen offers a Savage-style, barrel-nut system for its Rem-clone actions? Starting in 2010, after a hiatus of nearly twenty years, Shilen returned to the rifle manufacturing market. After several years of development, Shilen now offers custom actions ($950.00), barreled custom actions with triggers ($1500.00), and complete rifles ($3200.00 and up). Call (972) 875-5318 or email comments [@] shilen.com for more information. NOTE: An 11% Federal Excise Tax is due on complete rifles.
The new Shilen custom actions are CNC-milled from high-grade stainless steel. Two types are offered — the multi-shot DGR (Repeater) or the single-shot DGV (Varminter) action. Both actions are offered in most common bolt faces and both right-hand and left-hand actions are immediately available. The DGR and DGV actions have a 1.350″ diameter with 8-40 scope base mounting screw holes, and an 0.300″ pinned recoil lug. The spiral-fluted bolts feature a floating bolt head with an interchangeable bolt handle knob. These actions feature a footprint similar to the Remington Model 700. Both DGR and DGV actions will accept many aftermarket components crafted for Rem-700 style actions, including triggers and bottom metal.
Barreled Actions with Barrel-Nut System for Easy Barrel Exchanges
Along with the stand-alone DGR and DGV actions, Shilen is offering barreled action assemblies, chambered and ready to drop into Rem 700-inletted stocks. The actions are fitted with Shilen match-grade barrels and Shilen triggers. The barrels feature a 1-1/16″x20 barrel thread and are attached to the action by a barrel nut. This Savage-style barrel nut system simplifies headspacing, allowing easy swapping from one barrel to another. With the simple barrel-exchange procedure, you can shoot multiple chamberings with a single action/rifle. For example, shooters can change from a .223 Remington to a .204 Ruger or a .22-250 to a 6mm BR in a matter of minutes.
Complete Rifles with McMillan Stocks
With Shilen’s complete rifles, buyers can choose their chambering, and select barrel and stock configuration. Shooters can choose between a sporter weight wood stock or a variety of McMillan fiberglass stocks. With all complete rifles, the entire package is delivered in a quality gun case and Shilen even includes table mat, cleaning rod, bore guide, jag, bore brush, and cleaning patches.
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December 3rd, 2015
Want a preview of SHOT Show 2016? Then check out the just-released December 2015 Digital Edition of Shooting Industry Magazine. This free, digital eZine contains a 22-page spread with dozens of new products — rifles, pistols, optics, reloading tools, hunting gear and more. The product showcase article reveals many new-for-2016 firearms. Savage is bringing out a laminated wood-stocked version of its A17 17HMR Rifle, and there are new rifles from FNH, Howa, Merkel, Weatherby and more.
CLICK HERE for PDF Version of December 2015 Shooting Industry Magazine.
Shooting Industry Buyer’s Guide Lists Thousands of Companies
The December Edition of Shooting Industry Magazine also contains a very comprehensive Shooting Industry Buyer’s Guide, starting on page 76. This 80-page resource lists 2500+ companies, complete with address, phone number(s), email, and website link. All the major precision shooting suppliers, such as Berger Bullets, Lapua, Hodgdon, McMillan, Nightforce, Redding, Sierra etc. are listed. In addition, you’ll find an easy-to-search, stream-lined version of the Buyers Guide at SIBuyersGuide.com.
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November 22nd, 2015
This unique Savage 99 rifle was created for Joseph V. Falcon, President of Savage Arms in the 1950s.
Presentation Engraved Savage 99 Rifle
When you run the company, you get some pretty nice stuff — in this case you get what may be the most elegant Savage ever made.
This rifle was created for Joseph V. Falcon, who served as President of Savage Arms in 1956. This highly embellished Savage 99 lever-action rifle is chambered for the .300 Savage cartridge. It features deluxe checkering and gold inlays. This presentation-grade rifle boast deep relief engraving with a golden elk on one side of the receiver and a stalking cougar on the other. This rifle was given to Joseph V. Falcon from his friends at Savage in December of 1967. Falcon later donated the rifle to the NRA. This impressive model 99 is currently showcased at the NRA National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia.
Savage 99 Quick History
Arthur Savage invented the first “hammerless” lever action rifle with the entire mechanism enclosed in a steel receiver. This rifle featured a rotary magazine with a unique counter that displayed the number of rounds remaining. The Model 99, as it became known, was the gun that launched a company. There is an interesting history of the company’s logo which features an Indian chief in feather head-dress. In 1919, Chief Lame Deer approached Arthur Savage to purchase lever-action rifles for his tribe’s reservation and the two men struck a deal. In return for discounted rifles and support, Savage received the tribe’s endorsement. By virtue of that association, Arthur Savage added the Indian head symbol to the company’s commercial trademark and letterhead.
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November 16th, 2015
At the request of our readers, we have launched a “Deals of the Week” feature. If this proves popular, we’ll try to run this every Monday. Here are some of the best deals on hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.
1. Leupold — $100 Mail-In Rebate with Any VX-3 Scope
Purchase any Leupold VX-3 riflescope from November 15th, 2015 to December 31st, 2015 and you will receive a rebate in the form of a $100.00 check.
Here’s one of the best rebates we’ve seen all year. Right now you can get $100.00 back on any Leupold VX-3 Riflescope. The rebate applies to the entire VX-3 line. After purchase you can apply for the rebate online or by mailing in the Leupold VX-3 Rebate Form. For more info, visit www.Leupold.com/rewards.
2. Amazon — Stackable, Lockable 85-lb Capacity Ammo Crates
This is a great product from MTM. These stackable, lockable “Ammo Crates” hold up to 85 pounds of shooting supplies. Choose from two different versions, the Large (7.25″-deep) Ammo Crate will hold rifle ammo in individual boxes, while the Medium (4.5″-deep) Ammo Crate is ideal for shotgun shells. Buyer love these crates. Read the user reviews on Amazon. Here’s just one recent example: “5 Stars — I have purchased four of these over the last several months. Construction, dimensions, lock ability are all outstanding. The ability to store 500 rounds of 12ga in a single crate is fantastic. When I saw them on sale today…I grabbed another four.” — Go Navy (verified purchaser)
3. Cabela’s — Pre-Black Friday Gun Deals
Cabela’s is offering deep discounts on select guns as part of a pre-Black Friday promotion. Among the best deals is a Savage 12 FV rifle with varmint barrel for just $379.99, $40 off. This is available in four chamberings: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, 22-250, and .308 Win. There are also good deals on handguns, scopes, and shooting accessories.
4. Optics Planet — Leupold Mark AR MOD 1 1.5-4x20mm
Scopes for Service Rifles. Starting next year, under proposed new NRA Competition Rules, Service Rifle shooters will be able to use optical sights with a max magnification of 4.5X (fixed power or variable). At one-third the cost of a 4X ACOG, the Leupold 1.5-4X Mark AR is a good scope choice for the new optics-legal Service Rifle Class. Optics Planet currently has this on Sale for $299.99. With a Duplex reticle, this is also a fine hunting scope.
5. Stocky’s Stocks — Composite Rifle Stock
Here’s a killer deal on a versatile Stocky’s Long Range Stock with aluminum V-block bedding system. For just $199.99, order this for Rem/Rem Clone long actions or short actions, with either narrow or wide (varmint/tactical) barrel channel.
6. Precision Reloading — Forster Die Set (.284 Win or 7mm WSM)
Getting started in F-Open competition? Here’s a good set-up for those who need to load quality 7mm match ammo with low run-out. Right now Precision Reloading is offering a Forster 2-die set with sizing die and Micrometer-top seater for just $78.69. Precision Reloading also has a 7mm WSM die site with Micrometer seater for the same low price. That’s another popular F-Open and hunting cartridge.
7. Grafs.com — SK Standard Plus at $5.99 per Box
This is very good European-made rimfire ammo at an affordable price. SK Standard Plus is much better than most low-priced rimfire ammo. This is a good choice for cross-training, fun plinking, or rimfire tactical matches. When we don’t need ultra-high-quality Eley or Lapua match .22 LR ammo, we’re happy to shoot SK Standard Plus. The Grafs.com price includes shipping (after one flat $7.95 fee).
8. Harbor Freight — Bargain 59″ Safe and Metal Workbench
Harbor Freight has a number of good deals offered through the end of November. Two that caught our eye were “Super Coupon” deals. Get a 59″ Tall Executive Safe for just $298.98 with Super Coupon. Or, if you need a general purpose bench with power outlet, choose this handy Multi-Purpose 2-Drawer Bench for just $84.99 with Coupon. Note, we do NOT recommend this bench for use with reloading presses. However, it is useful for general light duties and storage.
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October 4th, 2015
Click for full-screen photo.
Savage has started to ship its new .308 Win Model 11 Scout rifle. Based on the concept popularized by Col. Jeff Cooper, the Savage Scout is designed to be short and handy, with an 18″ barrel and forward-mounted optic. This new Savage was unveiled at SHOT Show in January, 2015, but production models are just now starting to appear at dealers.
The Model 11 Scout comes complete with iron sights (blade front, Williams peep rear). A cantilevered Picatinny rail accepts forward-mounted, long eye-relief scopes. Available in dark Tan or OD Green*, the Model 11 Scout comes with a 10-round detachable magazine (see below). The only chambering currently offered is .308 Winchester. The gun ships with a screw-on muzzle brake. Rifle weight (without optic) is a modest 7.8 pounds.
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October 3rd, 2015
A while back, RifleShooter online magazine published a list of the purported Ten Best Bolt-Action Rifles of All Time. Ten classic rifle designs (including the Remington 700 and Winchester Model 70) were featured with a paragraph or two explaining their notable features.
These Top 10 lists are always controversial. While most readers might approve of half the entries, there are always some items on the Top 10 list that some readers would challenge. Here is RifleShooter’s Top 10 list. What do you think? Are there some other bolt-actions that are more deserving?
1. Springfield M1903
2. Mauser 98
3. Winchester Model 70
4. Remington Model 700
5. Weatherby V
6. Sako L61/AV
7. Savage Model 110
8. Ruger M77
9. Tikka T3
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September 19th, 2015
Larry Racine is a respected gunsmith based in New Hampshire. He is also a two-time member of the U.S. Palma Team, and a five-time New Hampshire State High Power rifle champion. Larry, who runs LPR Gunsmithing, has developed a brilliantly simple means of switching rifle barrels with an ordinary spanner or open-end wrench. With this set-up you can switch barrels in the field in seconds without the need for a barrel vise.
For most barrels, Larry mills a hex with six flats on the end of the barrel. This allows a shooter to change barrels quickly at home or on the line with a simple box-head wrench or a socket wrench. Larry says: “You don’t even have to take the barreled action out of the gun. Just set the buttstock on the ground, between your feet, put a wrench on it, hit it with the palm of your hand — and off comes the barrel.” For barrels fitted with a muzzle brake, Larry has a slightly different system. He mills two flats behind the brake so you can use an open-end wrench to do the job.
With either a hex on the end, or two flats for a brake-equipped rifle, the system works with any medium- to heavy-contour barrel with a muzzle-diameter of at least 0.700″. This will even work for high-power rigs using clamp-on sights or bloop tubes. Larry explains: “A lot of us here in New England use clamp-on front sights. The barrel will be turned to 0.750 for the sight, with the hex on the end. A bloop tube can go right over the end, no problem.”
Larry has used this system over the past few years to win a number of matches. In one 600-yard 3 by 20 prone match, Larry used three different barrels, with three different chamberings, on the same Savage rifle. Larry changed the barrels on the line.
Larry was able to do this because the system has little to no loss of zero from one installation of a given barrel to the next installation of that barrel. This lets the shooter start the match with confidence that the first sighter will be on paper. Larry reports that the simple system works great: “To date we have used this system on Savage, Remington, Winchester, RPA, and Nesika actions.”
Racine’s system is very affordable. If Larry does the chamber work on your barrel he charges $45.00 extra to mill a hex or two flats on your barrel. If you only want the hex or flats done, Larry charges $55.00. For more info, visit LPRGunsmith.com or call Larry at (603) 357-0055.
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July 9th, 2015
Barrel nut system allows “Pre-Fit” barrel installation on a Remington action. CLICK photo to zoom.
REMAGE Project Report by Bill, Rifleshooter.com Editor
Installing a new barrel on your Remington 700 (especially without a lathe) may seem like a daunting task, but thanks to companies like McGowen Precision Barrels, there are easier alternatives. By adopting a Savage-style barrel nut on a 1 1/16″ thread for a Remington 700 receiver, pre-chambered (aka “pre-fit”) barrels can be easily swapped with just a few hand tools. This system is sometimes called a REMAGE conversion (for “REMington savAGE”).
Using a few tools from Brownells: Remington 700 Action Wrench, Barrel Vise, Go and No-Go Gauges, Recoil Lug Alignment Tool, and a Savage Barrel Nut Wrench, I was able to swap the .308 Winchester barrel off of my Remington 700 short action and install the new McGowen pre-fit, pre-chambered barrel, converting it to a tack-driving 6BR (aka 6mmBR Norma).
The existing barrel is simply removed from the action (normally the hardest part) and the new barrel is screwed on with the Go Gauge in place. The barrel nut is tightened against the action, headspace verified with the Go Gauge, and you are off to the range. It takes all of the machine work out of the barreling process. Note: the barrel nut has a slightly larger diameter and some stocks may require minor inletting. Also if you are shooting fired brass from another rifle with the same chambering, you should FL-size the brass before loading it for your new pre-fit barrel.
My McGowen Remage barrel looks and shoots great. I’ve written two longer articles that provide greater detail about this project. To learn more about how the barrel was installed, read: Rebarrel a Remington 700 without a lathe: McGowen’s Remage barrel conversion. To see how the rifle performed at the range, read: McGowen Remage Barrel Review: Spoiler Alert- It Shoots!.
Bill has been a serious shooter for over 20 years. A former Marine Corps Sergeant, he’s competed and placed in High Power Rifle, ISPC, USPSA, IDPA, 3-Gun, F-Class, and precision rifle disciplines. In addition to being an NRA-certified firearms instructor and range officer, Bill has hunted big game in North America, South America, and Africa. Bill writes extensively about gunsmithing, precision rifles, and the shooting sports on his blog, Rifleshooter.com.
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June 27th, 2015
Varminter.com recently released a First Hunt Report on the new Savage A17 rifle. Savage’s new semi-auto .17 HMR has caused quite a stir. Accurate and affordable, the Savage A17 is also the first .17 HMR to feature a delayed blow-back action. We think the A17 may be the most important new rimfire rifle of 2015, so we were pleased to see that Eric Mayer, Editor of Varminter.com, put the new semi-auto Savage through its paces.
Mayer wanted to see how the new Savage would perform, accuracy-wise, and he also wanted to see how the A17 fared in the field. Mayer achieved one-MOA accuracy with the Savage A17 using the latest CCI-brand ammo, and he demonstrated the A17 is wickedly effective on ground squirrels. Here are some highlights from Varminter.com’s Savage A17 First Hunt Report:
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June 18th, 2015
We’ve seen a huge surge of interest in extreme long-range shooting in the past year. Guys are testing their shooting skills at one mile (1760 yards) and beyond. However, it’s kind of pointless to toss expensive bullets downrange if you can’t see your hits (and plot the misses). For that reason, a good target cam system is an essential piece of kit for any extreme-range shootist. Here is a report on a system developed by Forum member Mark Dalzell (aka “MDSlammer”) a couple years ago. With elevated directional antennas, this system worked reliably at 2300 yards (1.3 miles).
Mark Dalzell likes to shoot at extreme long range in the Nevada Desert. (See 2300-yard Hits in VIDEO). In order to see both hits and misses at ranges out to 2300 yards, Mark assembled a target-cam system that broadcasts multiple video cam feeds wirelessly to a receiver on the firing line. Down-range, Mark positioned a high-gain antenna. This was key — without the antenna the system’s useful range was less than 1000 yards. But with the hi-gain antenna Mark gets very clear signals from 2300 yards.
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May 21st, 2015
Click Photo to see large version.
Here is a very interesting rifle, a true metal/wood hybrid that combines an aluminum front section with figured walnut in the rear half. As you can see, this unique rifle also features a barrel block that allows the Savage action to float. You may be wondering “how is the metal section connected to the wood?” The gun’s owner/builder epoxied a stainless steel tube in the wood and that tube is secured in the aluminum fore-end with set screws.
Forum member Justin V. reports: “Sometime last fall my buddy wanted to build barrel-blocked Bavage. He is a machinist by trade so he was able to build all of the custom components himself. I know he put a ton of time into this thing over the winter, taking his time to get it done right. If you shoot in Cadillac or Midland, Michigan you will probably see him around. He tried to shoot a match this past weekend but was rained out. Hopefully it will stop raining in Michigan so he can see what it can do at 600 yards. Here are the results….” Learn more about this gun in this FORUM Thread.
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May 3rd, 2015
Here’s a report posted by long-range shooter Grizzman on the LiveLeak video hosting site. Grizzman engaged an 18″x24″ steel target at the distance of 2530 yards — 1.43 miles. Grizzman produced a great video that really gives you a sense of the distance (see the zoom footage at the 0:30 time mark). At this distance, the ballistics are remarkable. Grizzman’s .338-cal, 300gr Berger Hybrid bullets went transonic at 2400 yards and dropped 228 feet (69.5 meters) over their 2530-yard trajectory.
WATCH Video — Second camera at target records bullet impacts (see and hear the hits):
You can see more Long-Range Shooting Videos on Grizzman’s Live Leak Channel. Among the interesting videos is a 1K Cinder Block Shoot: .338 LM Shoot Cinder Blocks at 1000 Yards.
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March 11th, 2015
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case a video is way more illuminating than anything we can write. The video below, produced by Savage, demonstrates how the new 17 HMR Savage A17 rifle works. The video includes nicely-done 3D Graphics that illustrate the function of the A17’s delayed-blowback action with “interrupter lug”. Using “X-Ray View” animation, the video shows what happens INSIDE the chamber as rounds are fired. The video also explains how the 17 HMR presents a tougher engineering challenge than the lower-pressure .22 LR cartridge.
Watch this Video — You’ll Learn Something about Semi-Auto Rimfires
NOTE to Readers: Watch the video! If you have any interest in how guns work, check this out (full-screen if possible). For some reason (maybe slow connections), most readers skip over the videos we embed in our stories. In this case, take 3 minutes to watch. Click arrows button to view Full-Screen.
Savage officially launched the A17 this month, after previewing the new 17 HMR rifle at SHOT Show in January. We tested the gun on Media Day and came away very impressed. The A17 fed and functioned flawlessly. It is fun to shoot, and it will be affordable. MSRP is $469.00 so street price should be about $425.00. READ AccurateShooter A17 Report.
We plan to test one of these very soon. If the field test goes as well as I expect, your Editor will probably buy one of these rifles. The A17 has a barrel nut system just like centerfire Savage rifles. This means it will be easy to fit an aftermarket custom barrel to the A17. We already have some ideas for a suppressed A17 project gun with upgraded stock and barrel(s). Stay tuned….
The Magic Chicklet
Look below at the A17 bolt. The little black hardened metal piece (called a “chicklet” by the Savage engineers) is the secret ingredient. This “Interrupter Lug” retracts, allowing the A17 to operate in delayed blow-back mode. That permits the A17 to function flawlessly with the 17 HMR cartridge.
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January 22nd, 2015
We’ll give you a break from SHOT Show coverage by taking you across the Atlantic to Great Britain. There Chris Parkin has been putting a Savage F-TR Rifle through its paces. Chris has reviewed this popular rifle in a field test just published by Target Shooter Magazine. Chris wrote a very detailed and thorough review. If you are considering any factory-based rifle for F-TR competition you should read this article. It is lengthy, but the text and photos are good and it is worth the investment of time.
CLICK HERE to Read Savage F-TR Rifle Review
CLICK HERE to Download Savage F-TR Review as PDF File
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January 20th, 2015
Semi-auto 17 HMR — could this be the perfect light-recoiling fun gun and squirrel slayer? With its new A17, Savage has created a gun that should be hugely popular. If you like the Ruger 10/22, you’ll love the A17. It shoots a more powerful cartridge, and has a stronger action and a better trigger. With a beefy steel action that looks like it belongs on a centerfire, this gun is strong. With quality barrels (fitted, as you’d expect, with a barrel nut), the A17 is accurate. And with the capability to launch 17 HMR rounds as fast as you can pull the trigger this gun is a hoot to shoot. The ability to get a quick second shot (without disturbing the rifle by working the bolt) will be a game-changer in the varmint fields.
Watch Us Shoot the New A17 (Rapid-Fire at 1:50):
Star of the Show
Jason and I both felt that the star of this 2015 Industry Range Day was this modestly-priced little Savage A17 in 17 HMR. MSRP is $469.00 we were told. No one knows the “street price” yet but we expect that to be about $370.00. Both of us wanted to own one of these compact new rifles (Jason tried to buy one on the spot) — what does that tell you? With a strong steel action, the A17 is accurate, fun, and ultra-reliable.
Jason put the gun through three rapid fire drills — firing as fast as he could pull the trigger. We could not get the A17 to malfunction in any way. It just ripped through magazines like a sewing machine. Flawless operation. Bill Dermody of ATK says “this is one of the most thoroughly tested Savage rifles ever. We put over half a million test rounds through the rifle during development. That’s why it’s so reliable.”
The Magic Chicklet
Look below at the A17 bolt. The little black hardened metal piece (called a “chicklet” by the Savage engineers) is the secret ingredient. It works like a retracting lug, allowing the A17 to operate in delayed blow-back mode. That permits the A17 to function flawlessly with the energetic 17 HMR cartridge.
Optimized 17 HMR Ammo That’s 100 FPS Faster
CCI has developed new, higher-velocity 17 HMR ammo for the A17. Because Savage is now part of the ATK conglomerate, CCI is now Savage’s sister company. So, CCI and Savage cooperated during the development of the A17. CCI found a way to get more speed from the 17 HMR and Savage engineered an action and bolt that are strong enough to handle the new 17 HMR ammo, which runs 100 fps faster than other 17 HMR ammo on the market.
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November 29th, 2014
Can a budget-priced Savage shoot like a Sako TRG 22? Well, adding a custom “pre-fit” barrel and a state-of-the-art chassis system can transform a “Plain Jane” Savage into a serious tactical rifle. And now Kinetic Research Group (KRG) offers a new fully-adjustable chassis that’s just the ticket for a Savage tactical conversion. Just get a used Savage action, spin on a Criterion, Pac-Nor, or Shilen pre-fit barrel, and add the new 180-Alpha Chassis from KRG.
In 2015 KRG will introduce the NEW 180-Alpha Chassis for Savage rifles. This fully-adjustable, light-weight (3.4 lbs) chassis fits Savage short action rifles with 4.4″ action bolt spacing. If you like user-configurable stocks, you’ll love the 180-Alpha. It features tool-less cheek-piece height adjustment, spacer Length-of-Pull (LOP) adjustment, buttpad height adjustment, and plenty of accessory mounting positions. Suggested retail price for the 180-Alpha is $770.00 in either bottom bolt-release or side bolt-release action configuration.
CLICK HERE for Specifications of KRG 180-Alpha Stock for Savages.
Compare KRG’s 180-Alpha Chassis to the hardware on the real deal — a Sako TRG 22 with adjustable, folding stock (model JRSM416, shown below). This SAKO TRG22 rifle in .308 Winchester retails for $5,198.00. With KRG’s 180-Alpha chassis you can put together an ergonomically-similar tactical rifle for thousands less.
Using the KRG Chassis, a take-off Savage action, and a premium pre-fit barrel, you can build a similar system for under $1600.00. Here’s how we get that figure: $370.00 for Criterion pre-fit barrel, $400.00 for action (YMMV), and $770.00 for stock (Total $1540.00).
KRG produces other adjustable, modular chassis systems for bolt-action rifles. KRG’s popular Whiskey 3 Chassis system fits the Tikka T3, Remington® 700™, Sako M995, Badger M2008, and 700 Long Action. The value-priced KRG X-RAY Chassis fits the Rem 700 Short Action, and Tikka T3.
New Product Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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September 20th, 2014
Put the same load in a variety of barrels (with the same length and chamberings) and you’ll see a wide variance in muzzle velocity. In fact, it’s not unusual to see up to 100 fps difference from one barrel to the next. We demonstrated this with a comparison test of Lapua factory ammo.
Chron Testing Lapua Factory Ammo
At our Southern California test range, we chronographed Lapua 105gr 6mmBR factory ammo in three different 8-twist barrels of similar length. The results were fascinating. Lapua specs this ammo at 2790 fps, based on Lapua’s testing with its own 26″ test barrel. We observed a speed variance of 67 fps based on tests with three aftermarket barrels.
Brand ‘S’ and Brand ‘PN’ were pre-fit barrels shot on Savage actions. Brand ‘K’ was fitted to a custom action. All test barrels were throated for the 100-108 grain bullets, though there may have been some slight variances in barrel freebore. With a COAL of 2.330″, the rounds were “jumping” to the rifling in all barrels. Among the four barrels, Brand ‘PN’ was the fastest at 2824 fps average — 67 fps faster than the slowest barrel. Roughly 10 fps can be attributed to the slightly longer length (27″ vs. 26″), but otherwise this particular barrel was simply faster than the rest. (Click Here for results of 6mmBR Barrel Length Velocity Test).
Results Are Barrel-Specific, Not Brand-Specific
These tests demonstrate that the exact same load can perform very differently in different barrels. We aren’t publishing the barrel-makers’ names, because it would be wrong to assume that ‘Brand X’ is always going to be faster than ‘Brand Y’ based on test results from a single barrel. In fact, velocities can vary up to 100 fps with two identical-spec barrels from the SAME manufacturer. That’s right, you can have two 8-twist, 26″ barrels, with the same land-groove configuration and contour, from the same manufacturer, and one can be much faster than another.
Don’t Demand More Than Your Barrel Can Deliver
We often hear guys lament, “I don’t get it… how can you guys get 2900 fps with your 6BRs and I can only get 2840?” The answer may simply be that the barrel is slower than average. If you have a slow barrel, you can try using more powder, but there is a good chance it may never run as fast as an inherently fast barrel. You shouldn’t knock yourself out (and over-stress your brass) trying to duplicate the velocities someone else may be getting. You need to work within the limits of your barrel.
Factory Ammo Provides a Benchmark
If you have a .223 Rem, 6BR, .243 Win, 6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5×55, .308 Win, 30-06, or 300 WM Rifle, we recommend you buy a box of Lapua factory-loaded ammo. This stuff will shoot great (typically around half-MOA), and it can give you a baseline to determine how your barrel stacks up speedwise. When you complete a new 6BR rifle, it’s wise to get a box of the factory ammo and chronograph it. That will immediately give you a good idea whether you have a slow, average, or fast barrel. Then you can set your velocity goals accordingly. For example, if the factory 6BR ammo runs about 2780-2790 fps in your gun, it has an average barrel. If it runs 2820+ in a 26″ barrel (or 2835 fps in a 28″), you’ve got a fast tube.
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