April 21st, 2019

Sunday GunDay — Forum Fan Favorites

6 PPC flame paint nude forearm surprise killerpaint.com
This 6 PPC features a Nesika Extended ‘C’ action, Krieger 1:13.5″-twist LV barrel, Kelbly stock, and stunning paint by Mike Lavalle of killerpaint.com. For an eye-catching R-Rated paint surprise, Click HERE.

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 firearms. 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? Register for the Forum and you can add your favorite gun to the list.

30 BR Roy Hunter Curly Maple stock wood Bat action James Lederer barrel
Click image to view large, full-screen photo!

For this week’s Sunday GunDay we’ve selected fiver fan favorites from the Pride and Joy archives. First up is this custom 30 BR brought to you by ANSHUTER2013 and built by Dave Bruno. We were captivated by the clean lines and handsome looks of the Roy Hunter Curly Maple stock. Nestled in that stock is a BAT B action fronted by a 1:17″-twist James Lederer 24″ HV barrel. A Jewell trigger with fixed 42x44mm Nightforce scope round out this beauty.

6 PPC benchrest Seb NEO Lenzi bad Bat action Bix'N Andy Bartlein barrel
6 PPC benchrest Seb NEO Lenzi bad Bat action Bix'N Andy Bartlein barrel

This state-of-the-art 6 PPC boasts all top-tier components. And owner Wes R. shoots it with a superb rest/bag/pad set-up that inspires envy. This “Bughole 6 PPC” features a Bat DS action, Bix’N Andy trigger, with Bartlein 1:13.75″-twist barrel. The stock is a super-low-profile Scoville with carbon strengthening. The front rest is a SEB NEO, while in the rear is the new Lenzi sandbag. Folks tell us the Lenzi is super stable, which improves tracking from shot to shot. Note the timer attached to the front rest as well as the nice Edgewood leather bench “blanket” and arm-rest pad.

Eliseo R1 tube gun tubegun chassis F-Class F-Open .284 Winchester

Eliseo R1 tube gun tubegun chassis F-Class F-Open .284 Winchester

Forum Member Killick attached PickleForks to his handsome blue Eliseo R1 TubeGun now chambered in .284 Winchester, a top choice for the F-Open discipline. Killick explains: “Behold! An Eliseo R1 F-Classer. This started out as an R1 Long Range sling rifle (6XC) with a Borden TubeGun action. It is now rebarreled in .284 Win with Gary’s PickleFork fore-end adaptor. Props to Gary Eliseo at Competition Machine LLC.

.308 Win Rifle Manners Stock
.308 Win Rifle Manners Stock

Sometimes clean and simple is the way to go — particularly with a hunting rifle. WEATHERBYFAN’s 6.5 Creedmoor is built around a Stiller Predator single-shot action in a texturd, green Wildcat Var-Tac stock. The 1:8″-twist Bartlein barrel is finished at 28″. That’s pretty long for a hunting rig, but it delivers added velocity. Finishing off this nice rigle is a Zeiss 6-24x50mm optic. Sometimes less is more and this is a perfect example of that.

.308 Win Rifle Manners Stock
.308 Win Rifle Manners Stock

Our final offering is from Forum member 300_WHISPER. Completed just months ago by gunsmith CALEB85, this .308 Win rifle features a Bighorn TL3 action with a Bartlein M40 26″ 1:10″-twist barrel, and Manners TA Elite stock. Other components include Trigger Tech Special, Area 419 self-timing muzzle brake, and a Weaver Tactical 3-15x50mm FFP mil/mil optic. When test-fired by Caleb with ammo using Berger 175gr OTM Tactical bullets, this nice .308 Win delivered a 1.6″ 5-shot group at 400 yards. The owner says “It’s my dream rifle. I couldn’t be happier”.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
September 8th, 2018

F-TR Tech — the Low-Profile Solution Pioneered by Pierce

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

One recent trend in F-TR competition is the use of low-profile, benchrest-type stocks shot with a light hand-hold and little or no face contact. For this method of F-TR shooting to work, you need the right equipment, and practice a “minimalist” shooting technique. One of the pioneers in this style of F-TR shooting is action-maker John Pierce of Pierce Engineering. Above you can see John shooting one of his F-TR rifles at the 2015 Canadian F-Class Championships. Note the straight-line stock and see how the adjustable bipod is set quite low to the ground (in fact the bipod’s arms are almost straight out).

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

Members of the Michigan F-TR Team, including Bryan Litz, have used similar rigs with success. Bryan said it took a while to adapt his shooting technique to this kind of rig, but there is a pay-off. Armed with a Pierce-built F-TR rifle, Bryan won his first-ever F-TR Match. Bryan explains the technique he uses when shooting this kind of rifle:

“Coming over from sling shooting, I knew there would be unique challenges to F-TR which I wanted to learn prior to (not during) a major tournament. I learned a new shooting position which doesn’t involve drawing the right knee up. For F-TR I get more straight behind the gun rather than at an angle. I found that the rifle shoots best with very light cheek, shoulder and grip pressure, approaching free recoil. This is how Eric Stecker shot his similar rifle into second place in the SW Nationals [with high X-Count by a large margin]. I learned the rifle’s sensitivity to different bipod and rear bag supports, and found the best buttplate position to allow the rifle to track and stay on target after recoil. This set-up shot best with a mostly free-recoil approach, that means ‘hovering’ over the comb, rather than resting your head on the stock. This took some ‘getting used to’ in terms of neck and back muscle tone. These are the kind of details I think it’s important to focus on when entering a new discipline.”

Bryan’s Pierce-built F-TR rig is a tack-driver: “I can certainly vouch for this set-up! In [a 2015] mid-range State Championship in Midland, MI, I shot my Pierce rifle into first place with a 598-44X (20 shots at 300, 500 and 600). Once you get used to the positioning and way of shooting these rifles, they just pour shots through the center of the target.”

Pierce F-TR Rifles with Scoville Stocks
Shown below are three complete Pierce F-TR rifles, along with a barreled action for comparison. The carbon-fiber/composite stocks are built by Bob Scoville. These Scoville stocks are very light, yet very strong and very stiff.

F-TR Scoville Stock F-Class Rifle

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
October 18th, 2016

Benchrest Brilliance — Texan Demonstrates World-Beating Skills

Here’s an example of world-class benchrest shooting. Charles Huckeba of Texas was the top individual shooter at the 2013 World Benchrest Championships (WBC) held near Sydney Australia in October 2013. In this video, 2013 WBC Two-Gun Overall winner Charles shoots a 1/8th MOA group at 200 yards — “a little bitty dot” as a fellow Team USA shooter observes. That’s impressive. If you can describe Huckeba’s style in a nutshell it would be “smooth, consistent, and rapid but not hurried”.

Charles also employed some unusual hardware. In the video, take a close look at the joystick on the Farley Coaxial front rest. There’s no knob at the end. In its place is a small, wood ammo caddy. Charles removed the standard knob from the handle of his Farley rest and replaced it with a home-made wood block that holds cartridges for the record target. The 10.5-lb Light Varmint rifle is chambered in 6PPC with a BAT Machine Action and a composite wood and carbon-fiber stock.

Watch Charles Huckeba Shoot 1/8 MOA, 200-yard group at World Benchrest Championships

Here is the actual 200-yard, 5-shot group Charles shot in the video. Photo (by Stuart Elliot) taken through the lens of Huckeba’s 50X March scope (reticle has 1/16th MOA Dot).
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia

Analyzing the Fine Points — What Makes Huckeba So Good

Short-range benchrest shooter Boyd Allen saw some interesting things in Huckeba’s WBC performance, as captured on video. Boyd noticed Huckeba’s smooth gun-handling and efficient loading. But Boyd also spied some interesting equipment, including an innovative joystick “handle-caddy”.

1. Low Friction Bags — When Huckeba slid his rifle, there was very little apparent friction. The front bag features the new 3M material (ScotchLite) on the sliding surfaces. The rear Protektor bag has ears of the same low-friction material.

2. Pause Before Chambering — While he was watching the flags and deciding when to start firing, Charles kept his first round in the action, but out of the barrel’s chamber, probably so as not to heat the cartridge and change the round’s point of impact.

Charles Huckeba PPC World Benchrest joystick handle3. Ammo Caddy on Joystick Arm – Charles shoots a Right Bolt/Left Port action, so he pulls his rounds with his left hand. Note that Huckeba’s record rounds rest in a small, wood ammo caddy attached to the end of the joystick shaft. Look carefully, you’ll see the wood ammo block in place of the normal black ball at the end of the joystick. That allows Charles to pull shots with the absolute minimum of hand movement. Ingenious! Huckeba is very fast, with a great economy of motion. I believe that because his ammo was literally at hand, Charles was better able to keep his focus on aiming and the flags.

4. Smooth-Cycling BAT Action — Note how smoothly Huckeba’s action operates. When Charles lifts the bolt handle (to extract a round and cock the firing pin), this does not disturb the rifle. Likewise, as he closes the bolt, the gun doesn’t wobble. The smooth action allows Charles to hold point of aim even when shooting relatively quickly. Huckeba’s BAT action is chrome-moly steel. Some shooters believe this metal makes for a smoother action than stainless steel or aluminum.

5. Long-Wheelbase Stock — The wood and carbon fiber stock is light, long, and stiff. Yet, importantly, the stock is also well-damped. The longer-than-average stock length (with extended forearm) seems to help the gun track well without jumping or rocking. The longer forearm allows a longer “wheelbase”, effectively shifting the weight distribution rearward (less weight on the front, more weight on the rear). This places a greater share of the gun’s weight on the rear bag, as compared to a more conventional benchrest stock. Huckeba’s stock, built by Bob Scoville, is at the cutting edge of short-range benchrest design. Its light-weight balsa wood and carbon fiber construction provides a combination of stiffness and vibration damping that allows its relatively long fore-end to be fully utilized to increase the weight on the rear bag (always an issue with 10.5-pound rifles).

To learn more about this benchrest stock design, read the comments by stock-builder Bob Scoville in our PPC with Pedigree story in our Gun of the Week Archives. Bob observed:

“There is a lot more to the structure of the stocks than meets the eye. The carbon fiber skin with which I cover the stocks creates a light, tough exterior surface. However, this contributes very little to the overall performance of the stocks. The real strength and stiffness is the result of an internal beam utilizing balsa core/carbon fiber technology.

This type construction can be found in aircraft, race cars, powerboats, and sailboats. It is interesting to note, balsa has the highest strength to weight ratio of all woods and carbon fiber is one of the lowest stretch (modulus of elasticity) relative to weight of all materials. The marriage of these two materials is common in the high-performance world. Additionally, balsa is used commercially for vibration dampening and sound reduction.”

Video find by Boyd Allen. Video by Stuart Elliot of BRT Shooters Supply, Brisbane, Australia.
Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
June 24th, 2014

Litz Dominates His First-Ever F-TR Match with Pierce-Built Rifle

Bryan Litz shot his first F-TR match recently, and he came up a winner — a big winner. Competing at the Midwest Palma event, Bryan topped the F-TR field, winning by 15 points. In fact Bryan ended up finishing within 10 points of F-Open winner Alex Lipworth. In the 20-shot, 1000-yard matches, Bryan averaged an impressive 195-7X, with a stunning 196-11X score in one match. (Consider that the 1000-yard X-Ring is just five inches in diameter!) Not bad for Bryan’s first attempt at the F-TR game.

We all know Bryan has serious long-range shooting skills. But he also had a secret weapon — a wickedly accurate, wood/carbon-stocked, low-profile F-TR rifle built by John Pierce. With this Pierce rifle, Bryan had to abandon the hard-holding style he uses in sling-shooting competition. Instead he adopted a “less is more”, almost-free-recoil method — and it worked. Is this the future of F-TR? Read on and learn what Bryan has to say about F-TR shooting, “belly benchrest” style.

Bryan Litz F-TR John Pierce Midwest Palma

Sling Shooter Tries F-TR

by Bryan Litz
I’ve been coaching the Michigan F-TR team for a while and finally decided to participate in the competition. F-TR is more rifle-centric than Palma, meaning the precision demands are greater due to the smaller scoring rings. After seeing Eric Stecker’s results with his Pierce rifle at the 2014 Berger Southwest Nationals, I asked my good friend and Michigan team-mate John Pierce to “build me one like Eric’s”. This is the same basic set up as John’s own F-TR rifle as well. It’s a Pierce F-TR action with a 30″ long, 1:9″ twist Bartlein Barrel chambered for the Berger 215gr Hybrids. The barreled action is bedded into a light-weight, BR-style stock built by Bob Scoville. A Phoenix bipod underneath and a Nightforce 15-55X Competition scope complete the package.

Click Image to Zoom
Bryan Litz F-TR John Pierce Midwest Palma

Loading the .308 Winchester with Berger 215gr Hybrids
I received the rifle just one week before the Midwest Palma match. During that week prior to the match, I put over 700 rounds on the rifle. I did some load development but was mostly learning to shoot a new rifle in a new discipline. I settled on 215gr Berger Hybrids seated 0.015″ off the riflings over a stout charge of Varget in Lapua Palma (small primer) brass with CCI BR4 primers. The only brass prep was mandreling the necks of the new brass for consistent neck tension. Bullets were slightly pointed, but nothing was segregated by weight, base-to-ogive, or anything. All the ammo I shot in Lodi was loaded in brand-new Lapua brass.

Check Out Bryan’s Set-up with the Rifle (Click Photo to Zoom)
Bryan Litz F-TR John Pierce Midwest Palma

Learning the F-TR Game — Adapting to a New Shooting Style
Coming over from sling shooting, I knew there would be unique challenges to F-TR which I wanted to learn prior to (not during) a major tournament. I learned a new shooting position which doesn’t involve drawing the right knee up. For F-TR I get more straight behind the gun rather than at an angle. I found that the rifle shoots best with very light cheek, shoulder and grip pressure, approaching free recoil. This is how Eric Stecker shot his similar rifle into second place in the SW Nationals. I learned the rifle’s sensitivity to different bipod and rear bag supports, and found the best buttplate position to allow the rifle to track and stay on target after recoil. This set-up shot best with a mostly free-recoil approach, that means “hovering” over the comb, rather than resting your head on the stock. This took some “getting used to” in terms of neck and back muscle tone. These are the kind of details I think it’s important to focus on when entering a new dicipline.

“I love the way this Pierce F-TR rifle flings brass, and wins tournaments. None of my sling guns ever had an ejector. With this rig, it’s become one of my favorite things to eject the brass and just let it fly!”
Bryan Litz F-TR John Pierce Midwest Palma

I think many shooters consider themselves ‘ready for a match’ the first time the rifle shows them a couple 1/3 or 1/4 MOA 5-shot groups from a bench at 100 yards. While making the rifle shoot precisely is certainly a prerequisite for successful match shooting, it’s certainly not the whole story. So as soon as I got the load and rifle shooting 1/2 MOA from the bench, I proceeded to shoot many 10- and 20-shot strings from the ground at 300 and 1000 yards. I shot more than 500 rounds this way, studying the rifles character, and learning to shoot it. It’s amazing how much the precision (grouping) is affected by subtle variables in the set-up, especially when shooting heavy bullets. I truly believe that many F-TR rifles are hindered in their precision potential by something in the way they are set up and shot.

Advice on Shooting the Heavy Bullets in a .308 Win
I believe F-TR set-ups are way more forgiving with light- to medium-weight bullets (155 to 185 grains). By this I mean that it’s easier to shoot good groups with a variety of bipods, rear bags, etc. But as you get into the 200 – 215 grain bullet weights, the precision of the rifle (i.e. group size) becomes very sensitive to set-up and shot execution. I was able to find a good set-up which let the rifle shoot very well on a variety of surfaces (hard gravel, soft grass, sand, etc.). In Lodi, the rifle shot well all week.

Having done so much preparation and training with the rifle the week prior to the match, I felt very prepared and confident. The results were actually better than expected. There were no problems at all with equipment, and I just shot the rifle the way it liked to be shot. In the end, I won the F-TR Division. I can say there were many shooters interested in the Pierce rifle!

Impressive Performance
Bryan observes that this rifle held 1/2 MOA of vertical at 1000 yards for 17 out of 20 shots. That’s impressive accuracy. Bryan was in first place each day of the match, including the 3×1000 on Friday where he averaged over 195-7X. Remarkably, Bryan finished just 10 points behind the F-Open winner, with the next closest F-TR competitor 15 points behind Bryan. In fact, with his .308 Win, Bryan out-scored 75% of the F-Open shooters. CLICK for match results.

Bryan Litz F-TR John Pierce Midwest Palma

Bryan gave credit to his smiths and his team-mates: “I’d like to thank John Pierce for building a great F-TR rifle and thank my dad, Bill Litz, for loading the best ammo on the planet. Finally, I’d like to thank the Michigan F-TR team for helping me learn how to shoot F-TR.”

Bryan writes: “Here I am with ‘The Man’, John Pierce, and the epic F-TR rifle he built for me. This thing shoots ‘No S***’ 1/2 MOA Vertical at 1000 yards.”
Bryan Litz F-TR John Pierce Midwest Palma

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing 15 Comments »