November 29th, 2018

AR, Garand, M1A — Six Rules for Gas Gun Reloading

Reloading for Service Rifles
SFC Lance Dement as featured in CMP’s First Shot Online.

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has published a great series of reloading “how-to” articles on its Facebook Page. This post covers key factors to consider when loading ammunition for Match Rifles and Service Rifles, with a particular focus on self-loading “gas guns”. Visit the USAMU Facebook Page each Wednesday for other, helpful “Handloading Hump-Day” tips.

We offer some “cardinal rules” to help new gas-gun handloaders with safety and efficiency. These address both Match Rifle and Service Rifle versions of the AR15, M1 Garand, M1A, and M110. However, they can also improve safe reloading for many other auto-loaders such as M1 Carbines, FALs, SIGs, etc. The author distilled these principles many years ago to help focus on the essential aspects of these rifles.

RULE ONE: Service Rifles Are Not Benchrest Rifles
Gas-guns require a relatively loose fit between ammunition and chamber (vs. bolt actions) for safe, smooth operation. Many techniques, such as neck sizing and keeping cartridge headspace quite tight, are popular in the extreme bolt gun accuracy realm. However, they are of little value with Service Rifles, and some could even be hazardous. Before adopting a specialized technique, seriously consider whether it is appropriate and beneficial in a gas-gun.

RULE TWO: Never Compromise Safety to Obtain Accuracy
Example: If choosing a brand of great, but ultra-sensitive match primers offers possibly better accuracy at the risk of slam-fires in your design of rifle, don’t do it! You are issued exactly two eyes and ten fingers (best-case scenario). Risking them trying to squeeze 0.25 MOA better accuracy out of an M1A, etc. simply isn’t worth it.

Reloading for Service Rifles

RULE THREE: Tailor the Precision to Your Individual Skill and Your Rifle’s Potential
This has been addressed here before, but bears repeating for newcomers. If you are struggling to break out of the Marksman Class, or using a CMP M1 “As-Issued,” then laboriously turning the necks of your 600-yard brass is a waste of time. Your scores will improve much faster by practicing or dry-firing. On the other hand, if the reigning champions anxiously check your scores each time you fire an event, a little neck-turning might not be so far-fetched.

Verifying Load Improvements — Accuracy hand-loading involves a wide variety of techniques, ranging from basic to rather precise. Carefully select those which offer a good return on investment for your time and labor. In doubt? Do a classic pilot study. Prepare ammo for at least three or four ten-shot groups with your new technique, vs. the same with your standard ammo. Then, pick a calm day and test the ammo as carefully as possible at its full distance (e.g. 200, 300, or 600 yards) to verify a significant improvement. A little testing can save much labor!

RULE FOUR: Be Your Own Efficiency Expert
Serious Service Rifle shooters generally think of ammunition in terms of thousands of rounds, not “boxes”, or even “hundreds”. Analyze, and WRITE DOWN each step in your reloading process. Count the number of times each case is handled. Then, see if any operations can be dropped or changed without reducing safety or accuracy. Eliminating just two operations saves 2000 steps per 1000 rounds loaded. Conversely, carefully consider any measurable benefits before adding a step to your routine.

RULE FIVE: In Searching for Greater Accuracy with Efficiency, Look for System Changes
For example, instead of marking your 300-yard rounds individually to differentiate them from your 200-yard ammo, would a simple change in primers work? If accuracy is maintained, using brass-colored primers for 200 and silver for 300 provides an indelible indicator and eliminates a step! Similarly, rather than spending hours selecting GI surplus brass for weight and neck uniformity, consider splurging on some known, high-quality imported match brass for your 600-yard loads. Results should be excellent, time is saved, and given limited shooting at 600 yards, brass life should be long.

RULE SIX: Check All Your Primers Before Packaging Your Loaded Ammo
This seems simple and even intuitive. However, many slam-fires (which were much more common when M1s and M1As were the standard) are due, at least in part, to “high” primers. Primers should be seated below flush with the case head. The USAMU has addressed this at length in a previous column, but each round should be checked for properly-seated primers before they are packaged for use.

Reloading for Service Rifles

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
November 5th, 2018

Basics of the Prone Position — Building the Position

USAMU Prone First Shot CMP
USAMU Prone First Shot CMP

The First Shot, the CMP’s online magazine, features a well-written article on Prone Shooting Technique by SPC Matthew Sigrist of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU). The article covers all the major points of gun hold and body position: hand position, elbow position, stock weld, buttstock placement, and sling position/tension.

Keep it Steady — The Elements of a Good Prone Position

Part 1 — Building the Position
By SPC Matthew Sigrist

Imagine the following scenario: You are at the last stage of fire in the National Trophy Individual Match, firing at the 600 yard line in the prone position and every point matters. What should you reflect on as you prepare to shoot this final string? As your eyes cloud from sweat, you realize that all you have to rely on is your experience and knowledge of the fundamentals.

During the National Trophy Individual Match, you will fire 60 percent of your shots from the prone position. This article will address the fundamentals of a good prone position and help you learn the techniques required to be successful in both the slow and rapid-fire stages of National Match competition.

This article will be divided into two parts. In part one, we will discuss the elements of a good prone position. In part two, we will cover the techniques you will in the rapid-fire and slow-fire stages.

The Fundamentals

The fundamentals are the building blocks of a position. Much like the framework of a house, a correct application of the fundamentals ensures a solid and stable structure. Since each person’s position will depend on their particular body build and shape, there is no “perfect position” that applies to everyone. Experience, practice and knowledge of the correct fundamentals will dictate the best position for you.

There are six key elements of any position. The purpose for these six points is to achieve a solid platform that allows for consistent sight alignment using the least amount of muscle tension.

    1. Placement of the Firing Hand (the hand that pulls the trigger)
    The firing hand needs to be placed high on the pistol grip. This high hand position will give you better control of the rifle. Combined with a firm grip there will be a reduced amount of hand movement when pulling the trigger. Wrap your thumb over the three fingers on the pistol grip (excluding the trigger finger). This will help isolate the movement of the trigger finger.

    2. Placement of the Non-firing Hand (the hand supporting the rifle).
    The non-firing hand should grip the handguard or stock in the flat portion of the hand between the thumb and forefinger. The fingers should curl naturally around the stock, but they should not grip it tightly. The position of the hand on the stock will depend on the physical size of the shooter. Generally speaking, taller shooters with longer arms will grip the rifle further out, near the sling swivel, while shorter shooters will need to pull their hand rearward. This is sometimes referred to as “short-stocking” the rifle.

    3. Stock Weld
    Stock weld is the contact that the face makes with the stock. It is important because it directly effects your sight alignment. Consistent head placement will help you achieve consistent sight alignment. The human head weighs an average of 8 to 10 pounds. The full weight of the head must rest on the stock. In doing this you achieve two things, a relaxed neck and reduced recoil because of the pressure of the head.

    4. Placement of the Rifle (the contact that is made in the firing shoulder)
    The rifle butt placement needs to be consistent. If this changes between shots, it effects your sight alignment and the effect of recoil. In the prone position the rifle will sit lower in the shoulder compared to other shooting positions. This allows for a more forward head and a lower position as a whole.

    5. Position of the Sling
    The sling should be high on the arm, above the bicep. This way the sling will have less leverage on the arm so it doesn’t cut off the circulation.


Demonstration of the placement of the firing elbow (left) and non-firing elbows (right).

    6. Placement of both the firing, and non-firing elbows
    A guideline for non-firing elbow placement is that there should be 1 ½’’ to 2’’ gap between your non-firing arm and the rifle’s magazine. (NOTE: this references the AR-15 service rifle) Your arm should be almost straight up and down; this will transfer the weight directly down the arm and not to the side (see picture above). Think of the firing arm as only a kind of kickstand, it doesn’t support weight it only holds the firing hand in position.

Variations of the Prone Position

There are two main variations of the prone position; open/spread legged, and bent-legged. The two types will be discussed below.

Open/Spread Leg Position

Demonstration of the Open/Spread Leg Position.

The first position is the open/spread legged position. This is when the shooter spreads their legs shoulder width or more apart. This allows for a more forward pressure on the sling and elbows. This position requires a tighter sling and solid elbow placement. The rifle should sit tight in the shoulder. With this position, your body will be farther behind the rifle compared to the bent leg position, allowing for minimum disturbance from recoil.

Bent Leg Position

Demonstration of the Bent Leg Position.

The bent leg position is when the shooter bends the firing side leg up towards the firing hand making the knee at a rough 90 degree angle to the body. The non-firing leg will remain straight and inline with the body. This will take pressure off the lungs and heart minimizing the pulse from the chest as well as easing the pressure on the lungs which will allow for easy breathing and control.

Summary

You now know the fundamentals of a good prone position, as well as the two types most commonly used. Extensive dry-firing will reveal which is the best position for you. If possible, have a friend take pictures of you in position. This will enable you to better diagnose and correct your errors. Remember, a position must be both fundamentally sound and comfortable. Practice frequently to learn your new position and to develop the conditioning required to endure long days on the range.

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
October 16th, 2018

Western CMP Cup and CMP Games Start Today in Phoenix

CMP Western Games Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona

The 2018 Western CMP Cup and CMP Games Event kicked off today at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, Arizona. The event runs through Monday, October 22, 2018. For 2018 the CMP takes over what were the Creedmoor Cup Matches, and all matches will now follow CMP High Power Rifle Competition Rules. Notably, this year the Cup and Games matches on the High Power range will be fired on the CMP’s electronic targets. That means less time in the pits, and faster cyeling of relay. Also new this year, the CMP will be adding more smallbore events at Ben Avery. Click HERE for full schedule of events.

Western CMP Cup/Games Program | Cup/Games Entry Form | Online Registration

CMP Western Games

The CMP Cup Matches include two CMP 1000 Aggregate Matches followed by a 4-Man Team Match and an EIC Service Rifle Match. Following the CMP Cup Matches will be the CMP Games Matches, which will include Small Arms Firing School (SAFS), Garand/Springfield/Vintage/Modern Military Matches, Carbine Match, Rimfire Sporter match and Vintage Sniper Team Match.

In past years, Dennis DeMille, former Creedmoor Sports General Manager, served as an instructor for the Small Arms Firing School at the Western Games. Below, Dennis shows a young competitor at the CMP Western Games how to adjust his leather sling.

Dennis DeMille Creedmoor Sports Rifle Sling video training set-up

Sling Shooting Tip — The Benefits of Leather
“Many shooters shy away from using a leather sling because they have never been taught how to use one. That’s unfortunate. A leather sling offers more support than a web sling, which is important when competing with the heavier than normal rifles.” — Dennis DeMille

Dennis DeMille High PowerThe Benefits of Dry-Fire Training
Once you set up your sling properly, you’ll need practice. Dennis DeMille stresses the importance of dry-fire practice with sling and shooting coat. Dry-Fire training is essential to the sling disciplines. DeMille, a past National Service Rifle Champion, told us that, for every minute he spent in actual competition, he would spend hours practicing without ammunition. While in the USMC, Dennis would practice in the barracks, working on his hold and dry-firing:

“The most important thing is to spend time off the range practicing. Most of what I learned as a High Power shooter I learned without ammunition — just spending time dry firing and doing holding exercises. Holding exercises will really identify the weak parts of your position. The primary purpose of dry firing is to get you used to shooting an empty rifle. If you can shoot a loaded rifle the same way you shoot an empty rifle then eventually you will become a High Master.”

Permalink Competition, News No Comments »
September 20th, 2018

Sling Thing: Dennis DeMille Explains How to Set Up Your Sling

Dennis DeMille Creedmoor Sports Rifle Sling video training set-up
Dennis DeMille shows a young competitor at the CMP Western Games how to adjust his leather sling.

Setting-Up a Leather Service Rifle Sling for Competition
So you made the mistake of disassembling your leather service rifle sling, or are intimidated about how to use one? In this Creedmoor Sports InfoZone video, Creedmoor G.M. Dennis DeMille explains how to set up and use a sling. The covers the basics — Dennis starts with a totally disassembled leather service rifle sling and shows you how to set it up properly.

Tip: “Many shooters shy away from using a leather sling because they have never been taught how to use one. That’s unfortunate. In my opinion a leather sling offers more support than a web sling, which is important when competiting with the heavier than normal rifles.”

Configuring the Sling for the Standing (Offhand) Position
In this second in a series of Creedmoor InfoZone videos on the setup and use of the leather service rifle sling, Dennis DeMille details how to configure and best utilize the leather service rifle sling while shooting from the standing position.

Tip: “Putting the Frogs in different hole will change the amount of added elevation a sling provides.”

Looking at Sling Types — Comparing the Features
In this video Dennis showcases a large variety of shooting slings. He explains the strong points of each type so you can choose the sling best suited to your discipline and shooting style.

Dennis DeMille High PowerThe Benefits of Dry-Fire Training
Once you know how to set up your sling properly, you’ll want to practice. Dennis DeMille stresses the importance of dry-fire practice with sling and shooting coat. Dry-Fire training is essential to the sling disciplines. Dennis DeMille, a national Service Rifle Champion, told us that, for every minute he spent in actual competition, he would spend hours practicing without ammunition. While in the USMC, Dennis would practice in the barracks, working on his hold and dry-firing:

“The most important thing is to spend time off the range practicing. Most of what I learned as a High Power shooter I learned without ammunition — just spending time dry firing and doing holding exercises. Holding exercises will really identify the weak parts of your position. The primary purpose of dry firing is to get you used to shooting an empty rifle. If you can shoot a loaded rifle the same way you shoot an empty rifle then eventually you will become a High Master.”

Permalink Competition, Shooting Skills, Tech Tip No Comments »
September 2nd, 2018

Slick Tricks: Techniques and Tools for Big-Batch Case Lubrication

accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

Each Wednesday, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit publishes a reloading “how-to” article on the USAMU Facebook page. A while back, the USAMU’s reloading gurus looked at the subject of case lubrication. Tasked with producing thousands of rounds of ammo for team members, the USAMU’s reloading staff has developed very efficient procedures for lubricating large quantities of cases. This article reveals the USAMU’s clever “big-batch” lube methods. For other helpful hand-loading tips, visit the USAMU Facebook page on upcoming Wednesdays.

Rapid, High-Volume Case Lubrication

Today’s topic covers methods for quickly applying spray lube to cartridge cases prior to sizing. A typical order for this shop may be 25,000 rounds, so [speeding up] the lubrication process can be a real time-saver. While your ammunition lots probably aren’t this large, the efficient methods discussed here may help save a considerable amount of time over your handloading career. Our case lubrication rates range from 1500-1600 cases per hour, to 2400-2500 cases per hour, depending on caliber.

This shop uses virgin brass, whereas most home handloaders use fired brass, which necessitates some small changes at times. These will be discussed as they arise. Begin with fired brass that has been tumbled clean.

Ensure as much tumbling media as possible is removed from the brass, as when it gets into a size die, it can dent cases significantly. This is a good time to round out dents in the case mouths using a tapered tool to prevent damage from the decapping stem.

First, dump the clean cases into a large box or reloading bin. Shake the bin back and forth so that many cases are oriented with the mouths up. Next, pick up as many cases as is convenient with the mouths “up”, from natural clusters of correctly-oriented cases. With 7.62mm-size cases, this is usually 3-4, and with 5.56mm cases, this can be up to 8-10. Place the cases into the rack slots, mouth-up. Doing this in groups rather than singly saves considerable time. Once these clusters have been depleted, it will be time to re-shake the bin to orient more cases “up.”.

This photo shows a case lubrication rack made by a USAMU staffer.
accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

Naturally, adjust the spacing to best fit the calibers you reload. We have found this size … convenient for handling through the various phases of case lubrication/transfer to progressive case feeders for processing. Note that the 1/2-inch angle does not cover much of the critical case area at the base, just forward of the extractor groove, where most re-sizing force will be exerted. As the USAMU uses virgin brass, less lubrication is required for our brass than would be needed for Full Length (FL) sizing of previously-fired brass.

NOTE: The amount applied using our rack is easily enough for our purpose. If using fired brass, be sure to adequately lube this base area to avoid having cases stick in the full-length sizing die.

Using a spray lube, coat the cases adequately, but not excessively, from all sides. Be sure to get some lube into the case mouths/necks, in order to reduce expander ball drag and case stretching/headspace changes. The spray lube this shop uses does not harm primers or powder, and does not require tumbling to remove after lubing.*

accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

Take a close look at the photo above. The USAMU shop uses a common kitchen turntable, which allows the rack to be rotated easily. We place this in a custom-made box which prevents over-spray on to floors and walls.

Angled Box Method for Smaller Cases to be Neck-Sized
A refinement of the above method which especially speeds processing of 5.56x45mm cases is as follows. A small cardboard box which holds about 100 cases is fitted with an angled “floor” secured by tape. With the smaller 5.56mm cases, usually about 8-10 cases per handful can be picked up, already correctly-oriented, and placed into the box together. This prevents having to place them into the rack slots, saving time.

accurateshooter USAMU Handloading hump day case lube lubrication spray can cartridge brass reloading marksmanship

HOWEVER, note that this does not allow nearly as much lube access to the case bodies as does the rack. For our purposes — neck-sizing and setting neck tension on new brass, this works well. If using this procedure with fired brass, take steps to ensure adequate lube to prevent stuck cases.

As always, we hope this will help our fellow handloaders. Good luck, and good shooting!


*A two-part test performed here involved spraying primed cases heavily, while getting more lube into the case mouth/body than even a careless handloader would likely apply. The second part of the test involved literally spraying considerable quantities of the lube directly into the cases, drenching the primers. After a several-day wait to allow the lube to penetrate the primers, they were then fired in a test barrel. All fired normally; no unusual reports were noted. This bolstered confidence that normal amounts of the lube would not adversely affect our ammunition, and we have been pleased with the results over several years.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
July 31st, 2018

SCATT MX-02 Training System Works for Centerfire Shooters

SCATT MX-02 training digital camera sensor target

The SCATT MX-02 is an electronic shooter training system that is capable of operating outdoors with live, centerfire ammunition, at distances from 25 yards to 600 yards. Tony Chow tested this product for AccurateShooter.com. As fitted to his AR-15 Service Rifle, Tony concludes this is a very useful tool that can help High Power competitors refine their technique and shoot higher scores. CLICK HERE for Full 3000-word Review.

How the SCATT MX-02 Works
The SCATT sensor mounted on the end of the barrel has a digital camera that recognizes the black bullseye in the target, even in broad daylight outdoors. Using the bullseye as a reference, the SCATT software tracks the movement of the muzzle relative to the center of the target. The unit can plot these movements as a continuous trace, which appears on a monitor as a squiggly, colored line. By sensing the exact moment of shot release, the SCATT can also interpolate relative shot placement (for a single shot or series of shots) — but this is not the same as an electronic target which actually records the exact shot impact location on the target.

SCATT MX-02 training digital camera sensor target

Some time ago, we reviewed this product from the perspective of a smallbore competitive shooter. (Read Previous Review.) Here we test SCATT MX-02 again, this time on an AR-15 service rifle, in order to assess its suitability for the High Power competition community.

We put the MX-02 through its paces in all three High Power shooting positions and in various environmental conditions. We wanted to find out whether the system can reliably operate in the harsher outdoor settings and withstand the recoil of a centerfire rifle. We also wanted to assess whether it provides added values for High Power shooters over older generation of electronic trainers such as SCATT’s own venerable WS-01.

On both counts, we came away impressed. The SCATT MX-02 stood up to centerfire recoil after hundreds of shots and was able to consistently recognize the often less-than-pristine High Power target faces. Both indoors and outdoors, the MX-02 acts as SCATT should and dutifully captures useful aiming traces and other data. It does that even during outdoor live-fire sessions, where shooter performance often differs from indoor dry-firing due to the sensation of recoil and environmental factors.

SCATT Rapid Fire Results (paper target on left, screen on right).
Scatt MX-02 shooting trainer camera

In particular, SCATT MX-02 allows shooters to effectively troubleshoot and improve their rapid-fire performance, a service that no previous-generation trainers are capable of providing. The unit isn’t perfect — the SCATT MX-02 had some mounting issues with small-diameter barrels, but a cardboard shim provided a quick and effective solution.


CLICK HERE for Full SCATT MX-02 Review »

Overall, performance was impressive. In most realistic training conditions that High Power shooters experience, the system performed well. We can certainly recommend SCATT MX-02 as an extremely valuable tool for High Power competitors looking to take their performance to the next level.

For more information or to order SCATT products, including the MX-02, visit ScattUSA.com or call toll-free: 1-855-57-SCATT (72288).

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Shooting Skills No Comments »
July 25th, 2018

Rattle Battle at Camp Perry Next Week

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU
NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU
NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

Next week, on August 2, 2017, the nation’s top Service Rifle Teams will compete in National Trophy Infantry Team (NTIT) Match at Camp Perry, Ohio. In this match, known informally as the “Rattle Battle”, six-member teams shoot at 200, 300, 500 and 600 yards with time limits — 384 rounds total. To win this match, the six shooters must work like a finely-tuned machine. This is a popular match with spectators as there is plenty of action in a short time span. SEE Camp Perry 2018 NM Schedule.


This video shows the winning 2011 NTIT team at Camp Perry. Six USAMU shooters started with a combined load of 384 rounds to be fired at 8 targets from 600 and 500 yards prone, then 300 yards seated, and finally 200 yards standing.

Last year, the USAMU-Barnhart Team won the title with a score of 1439, with the USMC Team seconed as 1406. The record for this match is 1466, set by the USAMU-Remily Team in 1996. 2017 Team Barnhart members included: SFC Shane Barnhart (coach), SFC Evan Hess (captain), SFC Brandon Green, SFC William Pace, SSG Cody Shields, SGT Joseph Peterson, SPC Lane Ichord, and PVT Forrest Greenwood. (U.S. Army photos by Michelle Lunato/released).

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

The National Trophy Infantry Team Match (NTIT) was first fired in 1922 and is part of the the CMP’s annual National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry. The NTIT is called the “Rattle Battle” because it emphasizes extremely fast, accurate fire.

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

Our friend Grant U., who runs the Precision Shooting Journal on Facebook, says the NTIT is a special match, a real “crowd-pleaser: “The National Trophy Infantry Team Match (Rattle Battle)… was always one of my favorite team events. It takes a hell of a lot more planning, practice, and precision than one might expect. You get one shot at it and the entire team had better be running on all cylinders because there are no alibis. Each team of six shooters is allocated 384 rounds and when the teams fire at 600 and 500 yards, it sounds like a war.”

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU
SFC Brandon Green, one of the nation’s finest marksmen, won the 2018 NRA High Power Rifle Championship at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

PHOTOS courtesy U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. See more on USAMU Facebook Page.
Permalink Competition, News, Tactical 5 Comments »
July 1st, 2018

Trigger Options for AR-Platform Rifles

AR15 Timney drop-in trigger two-stage 2-stage single stage

AR-platform rifles are fun and versatile, but the standard, mil-spec triggers leave much to be desired. They tend to be gritty, with creep and heavy pull weight. One of the easiest, most effective AR upgrades is a trigger group swap. An improved fire control group makes a huge difference. There are many aftermarket trigger options for the AR platform rifles. Choose single-stage or two-stage, either standard trigger assembly or unitized “drop-in” trigger, such as those made by Timney or Triggertech.

Read Full AR Trigger Article in NRA Blog HERE »

AR15 Space Gun trigger
When upgraded with a precision trigger and match barrel, AR-platform rigs work great in NRA High Power competitions (Photo from NRA Blog, at Camp Perry).

AR15 Timney drop-in trigger two-stage 2-stage single stageTwo-Stage vs. Single-Stage Triggers
Two-stage triggers have two separate movements. The first stage offers a light, spring-loaded pressure that works against the shooter’s pull until stopping at the second stage – this is called “take-up”. If there is no spring pressure, it is known as “slack”. Should the shooter continue to pull the trigger once he’s arrived at the second stage, the mechanism will operate like a single-stage trigger from there until engaging the sear and firing the gun. Good trigger reset requires the shooter to keep pressure on the trigger, even during reset, to minimize movement of the muzzle.

Single-stage triggers feature no take-up or slack, as they begin engaging the sear as soon as the shooter begins pulling the trigger. Some competitive shooters prefer the two-stage trigger because of the feedback it provides during its first stage, while other shooters, including those using their rifle in tactical scenarios, may want the surety of a single-stage trigger, ready to engage and fire once their finger is inside the trigger guard. Regardless of preference, a good trigger will feature minimal creep and should be free of grittiness, providing a smooth, even break.

AR15 Timney drop-in trigger two-stage 2-stage single stage

Drop-In Trigger Assembly vs. Standard Trigger Group
Once you decide between a single-stage or two-stage trigger, you can choose between standard and drop-in trigger groups. Standard trigger groups feature all the fire control group parts separated, and need to be pieced together and installed much like a mil-spec trigger, while drop-in trigger are pre-assembled and contained within a casing that simply drops in to the receiver and accepts the pins, hence the name.

After-Market Trigger Comparison

Some shooters prefer drop-in triggers due to the ease of installation, while others opt for standard groups so they can access the components individually for cleaning adjustment or replacement. If one piece of a drop-in trigger fails, you’ll need to either replace the entire unit or send it to the manufacturer for repair, whereas you may be able to simply replace the broken component of a standard trigger without needing a whole new trigger set.

Trigger Terminology — “Creep”, “Stacking”, “Overtravel”
“Creep” or “travel” is the distance the trigger moves between the end of take-up and when the trigger breaks to fire the fun. Too much creep can affect accuracy, but no creep can be unsafe, as the shooter may not be prepared to fire. “Stacking” occurs when the trigger weight actually increases during travel — this shouldn’t happen. Lastly, “overtravel” is the distance the trigger continues moving back after the gun fires.

This article is based on a longer story in the NRA Blog.

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 4 Comments »
June 10th, 2018

Match Etiquette: Be Prepared, Know the Rules and Course of Fire

Match Etiquette USAMU Course of Fire Rules SFC Norman Anderson CMP Rulebook NRA

Match Etiquette USAMU Course of Fire Rules SFC Norman Anderson CMP Rulebook NRA

Don’t Be “That Guy” (The Bad Apple on the Firing Line)

By SFC Norman Anderson, USAMU Service Rifle Team Member
You know the guy, he’s still talking at the coffee jug when his preparation period begins, then his magazines aren’t loaded when the command “STAND” is given, and finally, he doesn’t know the rules when he argues with the block officer as his target comes up marked “9 and No”. Although this guy might be the highlight of the “after match” activities, he is the proverbial bad apple on the firing line. With this example fresh in your mind, let’s go over how not to be “that guy”.

While the sport of High Power shooting is a hobby for most, all are passionate about performance throughout the day. In order to achieve your maximum performance each and every day, it is essential that you conduct yourself as a professional competitor. As a competitor, you have a personal responsibility to know the course of fire as well as the rules and procedures that apply to it and to be prepared to follow them. Knowing this will not only make you a better competitor, but it will enable you to resolve situations with other targets besides your own. So what does all this mean? I’ll explain…

Know the Course of Fire
Know the course of fire. It sounds easy enough, as we all shoot plenty of matches, but it’s more than that. If you think about it, how many people in the pits, for example, do not really know what is happening on the firing line? This leads to targets being pulled early during a rapid fire string or missing a shot during a slow fire string. In cases like this, the result is the same, delays in the match and upset competitors. To avoid being “that guy,” it is imperative that you stay tuned to the events as the day progresses. When you are at the range shooting a match, be at the range shooting the match.

At any firearms competition — be sure you know (and understand) the course of fire.
CMP Match Etiquette

Match Etiquette USAMU Course of Fire Rules SFC Norman Anderson CMP Rulebook NRAKnow the Rules
Now, let’s discuss rules. As you have probably heard more than once, the rulebook is your best friend. Here is why. I can virtually guarantee that most competitors know some of the rules based only on the old “this is how we do it at home” adage. The funny part of that is, the same green NRA rulebook and orange CMP rulebooks are used to govern High Power matches all over the country.*

It is vital that all shooters be familiar with the rules as they are written, not with “how they are applied at home”. This creates consistency and continuity in how matches are conducted, from local club matches to state tournaments to National Championships. Knowledge is power when it comes to scoring targets under contention, what to do in the case of a malfunction, or even how to file a protest correctly. These rules are in place for a reason and it benefits everyone to both know and operate by these rules.

Maintain Composure and Humility — Exhibit Good Sportsmanship
One aspect of competing that cannot be forgotten is bearing. As I mentioned earlier, you must be prepared for both good and bad to happen. All too often we all see “that guy” (or that “that guy’s” gear) flying off of the firing line in disgust. Remember that we all must maintain our composure and humility in all conditions, not matter what happens. After all, it’s just a game. To put it into perspective, if it were easy, attendance would be a lot higher. Sportsmanship must be displayed in an effort to keep from ruining the day for all those around you. It doesn’t cost anything to smile, and smiling never killed anyone. So turn that frown upside down and keep on marching, better days will come.

Like a Boy Scout — Always Be Prepared
Lastly, I would like to cover preparedness. Being prepared goes beyond simply having your magazines loaded and a zero on your rifle. It means approaching the firing line, knowing what you are about to do, being ready for what is going to happen (good or bad), and being ready for the results. If you approach the firing line to merely shoot 10 shots standing in your next LEG match, you are not going to be pleased with the result. You must be prepared mentally and physically, not only for the next stage, but also the next shot. By being prepared physically (equipment ready), you give yourself peace of mind which is an essential part of being prepared mentally, and by being prepared mentally, you are less likely to become distracted and are more likely to maintain focus for each and every shot.

Conclusion — Informed Competitors Make for Better Matches
The culmination of these efforts results in a shooter that knows how to be ready for success on the range, but also and perhaps more importantly, a shooter who knows what it means to be a competitor. When you have a range full of competitors who know and follow the rules and proper match procedures, the match runs smoothly, everyone shoots well, and a good time is had by all. In the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?


* After this article was originally written, the CMP separated its rules into two different Rulebooks:

The 2016 4th Edition of the CMP Competition Rules for CMP Games Rifle and Pistol Matches governs all CMP-sanctioned matches for As-Issued Military Rifle and Pistol events including Special EIC Matches that are fired with As-Issued Military Rifles or Pistols.

The 2016 20th Edition of the CMP Competition Rules for Service Rifle and Service Pistol governs sponsored and sanctioned matches for Service Rifle, Service Pistol and .22 Rimfire Pistol events, including National Trophy Rifle and Pistol Matches, Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) matches and other CMP-sanctioned competitions.

This article by SFC Norman Anderson originally appeared in the CMP First Shot Online Magazine.

Permalink - Articles, Competition No Comments »
May 25th, 2018

Big D-Day Match at Talladega Marksmanship Park

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match

TALLADEGA, Alabama — The Annual D-Day Anniversary Matches will be held June 8-10, 2018, at the CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park in Alabama. The event commemorates the Anniversary of the Allied landing at Normandy in June, 1944. In 2015, the $20-million-dollar Talledega Park celebrated its Grand Opening with its first D-Day Match. That was a great success, and the 2018 D-Day Match promises to be even better. This has become a hugely popular event — last year there were over 250 competitors. For many, this match was their first opportunity to shoot on electronic targets. That speeds up the relays and nobody complained about not having to do pit duty.

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match

It’s not too late to join the fun — there are still slots available for the event. You can register online. For more information, email shall [at] thecmp.org or phone 256-474-4408 ext. 414.

CLICK HERE to REGISTER | CLICK HERE for Match Program with Rules | MAP to Facility

Watch Highlights from 2017 Talladega D-Day Match:

EDITOR: Worth Watching! Guys, this nicely-produced video shows multiple disciplines (including Service Rifle, Carbine, Pistol, and Vintage Sniper) and lets you see how the electronic targets work. We highly recommend you watch this video.

Electronic Targets + No Pit Duty = More Fun
Competitors will be firing all matches on electronic targets. The John C. Garand Range has a huge firing line with monitors at all shooting stations. These connect to three banks of electronic targets positioned at 200, 300, and 600 yards. Spectators can view the results in real time on large monitors.

Talladega CMP Marksmanship Park D-Day match

INVITATION: The CMP’s John C. Garand D-Day Anniversary Match is a big event with many different competitions for rifle and pistol shooters. Along with the signature M1 Garand event, a Vintage Sniper Match, EIC Service Rifle Match, .22 Rimfire Pistol Match, EIC Service Pistol Match, and .22 Rimfire Pistol matches will be conducted.

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match

State of the Art Shooting Facility in Alabama
The 500-acre CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park is one of the most advanced outdoor shooting facilities in the Western Hemisphere. The facility includes a 600-yard rifle range, a 100-yard multi-purpose range, and a 50-yard pistol range, equipped with Kongsberg electronic targets and scoring monitors that allow shooters on the firing line to review shots in a matter of seconds. Since the 54 targets at each line register hits and calculate the scores, no pit duty is required at Talladega.

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match

CMP Talledega D-Day Garand Match
State-of-the-art Kongsberg target systems are used at the CMP’s Talladega Marksmanship Park.

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
April 28th, 2018

.30-06 Revisited — The ‘Old Warhorse Ain’t Dead Yet’

.30-06 cartridge IMR 4350

This article first appeared in 2014. We are reprising it at the request of many readers who are fans of the .30-06 cartridge.

The “Old Warhorse” .30-06 Springfield cartridge is not dead. That’s the conclusion of Forum member Rick M., who has compared the 1000-yard performance of his .30-06 rifle with that of a rig chambered for the more modern, mid-sized 6.4×47 Lapua cartridge. In 12-16 mph full-value winds, the “inefficient and antiquated” .30-06 ruled. Rick reports:

“I was shooting my .30-06 this past Sunday afternoon from 1000 yards. The wind was hitting 12-16 mph with a steady 9 O’clock (full value) wind direction. My shooting buddy Jeff was shooting his 6.5×47 Lapua with 123gr Scenar bullets pushed by Varget. Jeff needed 13 MOA left windage to keep his 6.5x47L rounds inside the Palma 10 Ring. By contrast I only needed 11.5 MOA left windage with my .30-06. I was shooting my ’06 using the 185gr Berger VLD target bullet with H4350. I managed the same POI yet the .30-caliber bullet only needed 11.5 MOA windage. That’s significant. From this experience I’ve concluded that the Old Warhorse ain’t quite dead yet!”

.30-06 cartridge IMR 4350

Rick likes his “outdated” .30-06 rifle. He says it can deliver surprisingly good performance at long range:

“To many of the younger generation, the Old Warhorse .30-06 is ‘outdated’ but I can guarantee that the .30-06 Springfield is a VERY ACCURATE cartridge for 1000-yard shooting (and even out further if need be). With some of the advanced powders that we have today, the .30-06 will surprise many shooters with what it’s capable of doing in a good rifle with the right rate of twist. My rifle has a 1:10″ twist rate and I had it short-throated so that, as the throat erodes with time, I could just seat the bullets out further and keep right on shooting. My recent load is Berger 185gr Target VLDs pushed by IMR 4350. This is a very accurate load that moves this bullet along at 2825 fps.”

.30-06 cartridge IMR 4350

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 6 Comments »
January 19th, 2018

CMP 2018 Competition Rules Issued — Some Notable Changes

2017 CMP Rules Competition Pistol High Power new

The 2018 CMP competition rules are now approved and posted on the CMP website. The 2018 CMP Highpower Rifle and Pistol Competition Rules and the 2018 CMP Games Rifle and Pistol Competition Rules can be downloaded on the CMP Competition Rules Page.

CLICK HERE for 2018 Highpower Rifle and Pistol Competition Rules »

CLICK HERE for 2018 CMP Games Rifle and Pistol Competition Rules »

2018 CMP Rules Competition Pistol High Power new

Evolution of CMP Competition Rules
There are a number of important CMP Rule changes for 2018 that are spelled out below. CMP Competition Rules have undergone major changes in the last few years that were aimed at modernizing the CMP competition program and promoting greater participation in rifle and pistol target shooting. In 2015, rule changes expanded the types of pistols that can be used in EIC and National Match Service Pistol events and introduced the immediately popular CMP 22 Rimfire Pistol Distinguished program. The most significant 2016 change was the authorization for Service Rifle shooters to use optical sights with 4.5X max magnification. 2017 saw the introduction of a new classification system, rules for electronic targets and the addition of rules for “Alternative Rifles” and “Match Rifles”.

Important Rules Changes for 2018
The biggest change in the 2018 Rules is the introduction of a two-track system for conducting CMP-sanctioned Highpower Rifle Matches. Highpower Rifle events can now be conducted as either traditional “National Trophy Rifle Events” where there are no sighting shots and competitors start rapid-fire series from standing or as “CMP Cup Match Events” where sighting shots are allowed before each stage and competitors start rapid-fire series in position. All EIC Rifle Matches and Camp Perry National Trophy Matches will continue to be conducted according to National Trophy rules, with no sighters and rapid-fire starting from standing. The CMP Cup Matches, which are scheduled at the beginning of the 2018 CMP Highpower Rifle Matches at Camp Perry on 23-25 July, and the CMP Cup Matches, which are included in the 2018 CMP Travel Games programs, will be conducted under Cup Match rules with sighters and rapid-fire stages starting in position.

The rules for CMP As-Issued Military Rifle and Pistol events and Rimfire Sporter Matches remain unchanged in this regard. These events typically allow sighters at the beginning of each course of fire. Competitors start rapid-fire series from standing, but any competitors who are 70 or over or who have physical limitations that prevent them from readily standing and getting back into position are allowed to start rapid-fire series in position.

Otherwise the 2018 CMP Games Rifle and Pistol Rules, which include Rimfire Sporter Rifle Rules, have only minor changes from the 2017 edition.

National Records — Rules providing for the official recognition of National Records in open and junior categories in CMP-recognized events were added for 2018. The CMP is compiling its first list of official records and will post it on the CMP website as soon as it is ready. To be recognized as National Records, scores must be fired in the National Matches or in competitions conducted by the CMP staff such as CMP Travel Games or National Range Matches.

CMP Smallbore Matches Coming to Camp Perry
Traditional smallbore rifle championships are returning to Camp Perry in 2018 and rules for those events are being drafted now. The 2018 National Matches Calendar features six days of CMP Smallbore Rifle shooting on 17-22 July. There will be two days of smallbore position and four days of smallbore prone shooting, along with one full day of Rimfire Sporter Rifle competition on 22 July. Provisional CMP Smallbore Rifle Rules will be released in the next few weeks.

Electronic Targets — A new section has been added to the CMP Rulebooks to help explain and clarify the CMP’s Electronic Scoring Target Rules. See Rule 7.0 in the CMP Competition Highpower Rifle and Pistol Competition Rules or Rule 9.0 in the CMP Games Rifle and Pistol Competition Rules.

CMP RULE CHANGES for 2018 by Rulebook

(more…)

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December 28th, 2017

Magnified Service Optics — Scope Options for All Budgets

Service Rifle Presidents 100 match camp perry
In the 2016 President’s 100 Match, Match Winner Keith Stephens, runner-up SFC Evan Hess, and third-place Hugh Reich all used scopes, making for an All-Optics Podium. Both Stephens and Reich used the 1-4.5x24mm March.

Are you a Service Rifle shooter or would you like to give Service Rifle competition a try? The big news in this discipline is that magnified optics up to 4.5 max power can now be used. You can still use classic iron sights, but most serious Service Rifle competitors have moved to optics — and nearly all the “top guns” at major matches are running optics. Our friend Dennis Santiago, who is doing a long-term test of the Nightforce SR 4.5x24mm scope, says magnified optics are the future of the Service Rifle Game. If you want to win these days, you need glass.

nightforce 1-4.5x scope Service Rifle
The Nightforce SR Competition 4.5x24mm fixed-power scope retails for $1892.00.

Optics Options from $120 to $2400
You have many optics choices running all the way up to a 1-4.5x24mm March at $2338.00. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good optic. Our Systems Admin, Jay Christopherson, will be trying the Konus XTC-30 1-4X24mm sold by Creedmoor Sports and the CMP. Priced at $495.00, the Konus has good glass and parallax set at 200 yards. And if you want the best deal going for a Service Rifle scope, right now Cabela’s offers the Vortex Crossfire II 1-4x24mm scope for just $119.88 with Free Shipping (Promo Code 2017FREE). That’s an incredible deal on a scope that can do double-duty on your hunting rifle. This same Vortex 1-4X optic sells for $188.88 on Amazon.

Super Deal — Vortex 1-4x24mm Scope for $119.88

Service Rifle Optics Vortex Cabela's bargain cabelas Crossfire II

Service Rifle Optics — How They Will Change the Game

Under NRA and CMP Rules first promulgated in 2016, Service Rifle competitors can use a scope with up to 4.5X magnification, and 34mm max objective. This rule revision to allow magnified optics will be a game-changer says Service Rifle shooter Dennis Santiago.

Dennis explains: “Per the 2016 Rulebooks of the CMP and NRA, today’s Service Rifle is now defined to include an M-16/AR-15 variant with an optical sighting system not to exceed 4.5X magnification. So, this optic-equipped rifle goes head-to-head with the match-tuned M-16A2/AR-15A2 iron sight guns in the same class. The rules were updated to take into account that some military branches no longer train service members to shoot iron sights as their primary marksmanship method and have switched to reliance on combat optics. The rules were debated and tried in 2015 and codified at the beginning of 2016. The 2016 Nationals were the first where the old and new generation guns compete side-by-side.

Here is my personal prediction: There will be improved scores by Expert Class shooters who figure out how to work with optics jumping into Master class. At the High Master level, there may be a slight rise in numerical scores but there will be a massive jump in X-Count. EICs will remain the all-out race they’ve always been; whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins the day.”

What to Look For in a Service Rifle Optic

by Johnny Fisher
2016 brought with it a long-anticipated rule change that allows for the use of optics in Service Rifle competition. Thus far, it seems the biggest concerns that Service Rifle shooters have when considering an optic are: quality, repeatability, parallax, reticle choices, and durability.

Parallax Considerations
The vast majority of Service Rifle Rule-compliant scopes currently on the market have a fixed parallax. That means there is no separate focus knob to adjust parallax to target distance. Accordingly, there has been much concern about the potential for parallax error over the three different distances in Across-The-Course competition. It is possible that the repeatably-indexed head position maintained while shooting a Service Rifle, along with a little extra emphasis on sight alignment to ensure that the shooter’s eye is directly behind the scope, can greatly mitigate the potential effects of parallax error. [Editor: However, we have talked with a number of Service Rifle shooters. Most would like adjustable parallax. If the parallax must be fixed, they would like it set at 200-300 yards. 100 yards is too close.]

reticle service rifle reticle

Reticle Choices — Something to Consider
My Nightforce 1-4X scope has the IHR Reticle, which provides a very clear, unobstructed and simple sight picture. The IHR reticle for the NXS 1-4x24mm boasts an illuminated center cross-hair. Unfortunately, the red-color illumination is really only intended for low-light situations and is not bright enough to offer any aid to National Match shooters competing in broad daylight at stationary targets.

Editor: Unlike PRS competitors who (mostly) shoot bright-painted steel plates, Service Rifle competitors aim at traditional black bullseyes. The bullseye target design makes sense for iron sight shooters. With magnified optics you have some kind of black reticle that may not stand out at well against the black bull at 4.5 max power. You probably want to look through a number of different scopes to chose a reticle that works best for your eyes and aiming procedure.

Permalink Competition, Optics 2 Comments »
December 26th, 2017

Hand-Loading for Semi-Auto Service Rifles — Six Key Rules

Reloading for Service Rifles
SFC Lance Dement as featured in CMP’s First Shot Online.

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has published a great series of reloading “how-to” articles on its Facebook Page. This post covers key factors to consider when loading ammunition for Match Rifles and Service Rifles, with a particular focus on self-loading “gas guns”. Visit the USAMU Facebook Page each Wednesday for other, helpful “Handloading Hump-Day” tips.

We offer some “cardinal rules” to help new gas-gun handloaders with safety and efficiency. These address both Match Rifle and Service Rifle versions of the AR15, M1 Garand, M1A, and M110. However, they can also improve safe reloading for many other auto-loaders such as M1 Carbines, FALs, SIGs, etc. The author distilled these principles many years ago to help focus on the essential aspects of these rifles.

RULE ONE: Service Rifles Are Not Benchrest Rifles
Gas-guns require a relatively loose fit between ammunition and chamber (vs. bolt actions) for safe, smooth operation. Many techniques, such as neck sizing and keeping cartridge headspace quite tight, are popular in the extreme bolt gun accuracy realm. However, they are of little value with Service Rifles, and some could even be hazardous. Before adopting a specialized technique, seriously consider whether it is appropriate and beneficial in a gas-gun.

RULE TWO: Never Compromise Safety to Obtain Accuracy
Example: If choosing a brand of great, but ultra-sensitive match primers offers possibly better accuracy at the risk of slam-fires in your design of rifle, don’t do it! You are issued exactly two eyes and ten fingers (best-case scenario). Risking them trying to squeeze 0.25 MOA better accuracy out of an M1A, etc. simply isn’t worth it.

Reloading for Service Rifles

RULE THREE: Tailor the Precision to Your Individual Skill and Your Rifle’s Potential
This has been addressed here before, but bears repeating for newcomers. If you are struggling to break out of the Marksman Class, or using a CMP M1 “As-Issued,” then laboriously turning the necks of your 600-yard brass is a waste of time. Your scores will improve much faster by practicing or dry-firing. On the other hand, if the reigning champions anxiously check your scores each time you fire an event, a little neck-turning might not be so far-fetched.

Verifying Load Improvements — Accuracy hand-loading involves a wide variety of techniques, ranging from basic to rather precise. Carefully select those which offer a good return on investment for your time and labor. In doubt? Do a classic pilot study. Prepare ammo for at least three or four ten-shot groups with your new technique, vs. the same with your standard ammo. Then, pick a calm day and test the ammo as carefully as possible at its full distance (e.g. 200, 300, or 600 yards) to verify a significant improvement. A little testing can save much labor!

RULE FOUR: Be Your Own Efficiency Expert
Serious Service Rifle shooters generally think of ammunition in terms of thousands of rounds, not “boxes”, or even “hundreds”. Analyze, and WRITE DOWN each step in your reloading process. Count the number of times each case is handled. Then, see if any operations can be dropped or changed without reducing safety or accuracy. Eliminating just two operations saves 2000 steps per 1000 rounds loaded. Conversely, carefully consider any measurable benefits before adding a step to your routine.

RULE FIVE: In Searching for Greater Accuracy with Efficiency, Look for System Changes
For example, instead of marking your 300-yard rounds individually to differentiate them from your 200-yard ammo, would a simple change in primers work? If accuracy is maintained, using brass-colored primers for 200 and silver for 300 provides an indelible indicator and eliminates a step! Similarly, rather than spending hours selecting GI surplus brass for weight and neck uniformity, consider splurging on some known, high-quality imported match brass for your 600-yard loads. Results should be excellent, time is saved, and given limited shooting at 600 yards, brass life should be long.

RULE SIX: Check All Your Primers Before Packaging Your Loaded Ammo
This seems simple and even intuitive. However, many slam-fires (which were much more common when M1s and M1As were the standard) are due, at least in part, to “high” primers. Primers should be seated below flush with the case head. The USAMU has addressed this at length in a previous column, but each round should be checked for properly-seated primers before they are packaged for use.

Reloading for Service Rifles

Permalink Competition, Reloading 3 Comments »
December 9th, 2017

Springfield Armory Now Offers 6.5 Creedmoor M1A Rifles

springfield armory M1a service rifle m14 6.5 CM Creedmoor

The 6.5 Creedmoor craze goes one step further. Soon you can buy a Springfield M1A chambered for this mid-sized cartridge popularized by PRS shooters. Both bolt-action and AR-platform rifles chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor have been available for quite some time, but this is a new direction for the M1A, which has traditionally been chambered for the 7.62×51 NATO/.308 Winchester round. As chambered for the 6.5 Creedmoor, Springfield’s M1A should be easier on shooters’ shoulders. The 6.5 Creedmoor M1A has 28% less recoil than the .308 Winchester version.*

The new 6.5 Creedmoor M1A features a 22″ medium-contour, 1:8″-twist stainless barrel with factory muzzle brake. The rifle comes with iron sights: .062 post front sight and .0520 aperture rear sight adjustable for ½ MOA windage and 1 MOA elevation. Springfield ships the rifle with a 2-stage trigger tuned to 4.5 – 5 pounds. A Springfield Armory Optics mount is available to fit a magnified optic, but, to be honest, we haven’t been very impressed with that mount.

springfield armory M1a service rifle m14 6.5 CM Creedmoor

Two stock options are offered: a basic black polymer stock (not recommended — it’s weak and flexy) or a deluxe “precision” stock with adjustable cheekpiece and adjustable LOP. The deluxe precision stock, shown above, is much more rigid, and can be configured with front underside Picatinny rail (see video). Rifle Specs HERE.

With the basic polymer stock, the 6.5 Creedmoor weighs 11.4 pounds (unloaded) and has a $1985.00 MSRP. With the adjustable precision stock, the gun is a bit heavier and retails for $2045.00 in either matte black or Flat Dark Earth (FDE).

“Having a 6.5 Creedmoor caliber in the M1A lineup gives long-range shooters more choices with the precision and accuracy they require,” says Springfield Armory CEO Dennis Reese. “They can choose the round they prefer…”, i.e. .308 Win or the 6.5 Creedmoor. Excellent factory ammo is available for both chamberings.

M1A Camp Perry 2009 6.5 Creedmoor .308 Win Winchester
Photo of 2009 M1A Match at Camp Perry. Shooter is Nick Till, 2007 Service Rifle Champion.

If you are looking for a robust semi-auto rifle that has an interesting legacy (the M1A was derived from the U.S. Military’s M14), this new M1A may suit your tastes. Every year at Camp Perry, Springfield Armory sponsors a very popular M1A match which attracts marksmen from around the country. We can’t say for sure that the 6.5 Creedmoor M1As will be allowed in M1A matches, but we would expect they will, though perhaps competing in a separate division.

Springfield Armory M1A with Basic Polymer Stock
springfield armory M1a service rifle m14 6.5 CM Creedmoor


* Comparative Recoil Energy in ft-lbs based on 12-lb rifle with 142gr 6.5 Creedmoor at 2710 FPS vs. 175gr .308 Win at 2600 FPS. Powder charge weight 41.0 grains for 6.5 Creedmoor vs. 48.0 grains for .308 Win. Calculated with online Recoil Calculator.

Permalink New Product, News, Tactical 2 Comments »
August 25th, 2017

Creedmoor Sports Offers New “Scope Kennel” Scope Protector

Creedmoor sports scope kennel scope protector ar16 dennis demille

New Creedmoor “Scope Kennel” Padded Rifle Scope Protector
Creedmoor Sports has developed a deluxe scope protector that looks good. Made with thick padding and heavy webbing, this can definitely help shield expensive optics from impact damage or scrapes, protecting your investment.

The new Creedmoor Scope Kennel padded rifle scope protector fits any scope shorter than 13 inches, and protects your rifle scope while you’re on the range, stowing your rifle in a gun safe, or working on/cleaning your rifle. As you can see, the cover allows the use of an Empty Chamber Indicator.

The Scope Kennel is securely held in place by two heavy-duty adjustable straps, and is available with either Velcro closures or buckle closures. Made from tough 1000-dernier Cordura (with a soft, lined interior), this cover is offered in your choice of 24 different colors (e.g. tan, camo, red, blue, green) for $59.95. Made in the USA by Creedmoor’s own fabric wizards, the Scope Kennel can be customized with your name embroidered on the sides. The Scope Kennel was designed specifically for AR-platform rifles, but you can call 800-273-3366 to order for other types of rifles.

To demonstrate the strength of the Scope Kennel, Creedmoor GM Dennis DeMille did a pull-up with a red Scope Kennel hooked on a fork-lift blade.

Creedmoor sports scope kennel scope protector ar16 dennis demille

Permalink Gear Review, New Product 4 Comments »
July 22nd, 2017

National Trophy Infantry Team Match at Camp Perry

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU
NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU
NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

In an impressive performance, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s Service Rifle Team won the National Trophy Infantry Team (NTIT) Match on July 20th at Camp Perry, Ohio. In this match, also known as the “Rattle Battle”, six-member teams shoot at 200, 300, 500 and 600 yards with time limits — 384 rounds total. To win this match, the six shooters must work like a finely-tuned machine. This is a popular match with spectators as there is plenty of action in a short time span.

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

This year, the USAMU-Barnhart Team won the title with a score of 1439. The record for this match is 1466, set by the USAMU-Remily Team in 1996. 2017 Team Barnhart members included: SFC Shane Barnhart (coach), SFC Evan Hess (captain), SFC Brandon Green, SFC William Pace, SSG Cody Shields, SGT Joseph Peterson, SPC Lane Ichord, and PVT Forrest Greenwood. The second place USMC team scored a 1406. (U.S. Army photos by Michelle Lunato/released).

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

The National Trophy Infantry Team Match (NTIT) was first fired in 1922 and is part of the the CMP’s annual National Rifle Matches at Camp Perry. The NTIT is sometimes called the “Rattle Battle” because it emphasizes extremely fast, accurate fire.

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

Our friend Grant U., who runs the Precision Shooting Journal on Facebook, says the NTIT is a special match, a real “crowd-pleaser: “The National Trophy Infantry Team Match (Rattle Battle)… was always one of my favorite team events. It takes a hell of a lot more planning, practice, and precision than one might expect. You get one shot at it and the entire team had better be running on all cylinders because there are no alibis. Each team of six shooters is allocated 384 rounds and when the teams fire at 600 and 500 yards, it sounds like a war.”

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

NTIT National Trophy Infantry Team Match Rattle Battle USAMU

PHOTOS courtesy U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. See more on USAMU Facebook Page.
Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills No Comments »
July 16th, 2017

Improve Your Marksmanship with USAMU Pro Tips

USAMU Shooting USA Pro tips

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU), in cooperation with Shooting USA TV, has created a series of instructional Pro Tip pages covering a wide range of shooting disciplines. All totaled, there are more than 50 USAMU Pro Tips. Most relate to rifle marksmanship but there are also numerous tips for shotgunners and pistol shooters. Each Pro Tip entry includes multiple photos and 6-15 paragraphs, in an easy-to-follow format. Many Pro Tips also include an instructional video produced by Shooting USA. Here are three Pro Tip videos, and links to seven more Pro Tip web pages.

USAMU TOP TEN PRO TIPS

1. Reading the Wind with SGT Sherri Gallagher.
Apart from gravity, wind has the most pull on the bullet as it travels down range. Being able to accurately read the wind and mirage will greatly enhance your performance on the rifle range. National Champion, SGT Gallagher gives you some of her tips.

2. Angle Shooting with SFC (Ret.) Emil Praslick.
SFC Praslick shows you how to determine the angle to your target, and then how to include that to change your data necessary to hit your target on the first shot.

3. Rifle Grip, Stance and Body Position for 3-Gun with SFC Daniel Horner.
Professional 3-gun marksman SFC Daniel Horner, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU), give tips on how to properly handle a semi-automatic rifle, including grip, stance and body position.

4. Service Rifle Positions (with SFC Brandon Green)

5. Rifling and Twist Rate (with SFC Ret. Emil Praslick)

6. Setting the Right Zero (with SPC Ty Cooper)

7. Practice Drills (with SFC Lance Dement)

8. Using the Sling

9. Getting Your AR Zeroed

10. 3-Gun Rifles By Division (with SFC Daniel Horner)

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
March 17th, 2017

Free Data Book Scoring App from Creedmoor Sports

Creedmoor Sports High Power CMP Competition Scoring App Apple Android

Creedmoor Sports High Power CMP Competition Scoring App Apple AndroidTired of hauling around an old-fashioned Score Book and making entries with pencil and paper? Well now you can go digital — Creedmoor Sports has released a full-featured Scoring Book App that lets you plot your shot locations using an iPhone, iPod, or iPad (Apple tablet). The price is right — just visit the iTunes store to download the App for FREE.

Record Match and Practice Data
This new App, available for free in the Apple App Store, provides all the same functions and capabilities of the traditional Creedmoor print Data Book, but with the convenience and ease of recording your match and practice information with your iPhone or tablet. With this App you can break your 20 shot slow-fire segments into either 10- or 20-shot targets, and also opt for sighting shots. All the specific event data can also be recorded, such as location, wind, light etc., along with wind and elevation adjustments.

Creedmoor Sports High Power CMP Competition Scoring App Apple Android

COMMUNICATIONS Restrictions: In some matches you are not allowed to have electronic communication ability, so you may have to set your iPhone to “Airplane Mode”, or use this only with an iPod (which does not have two-way communication capability).
Permalink Competition, New Product 1 Comment »
March 8th, 2017

Killer Deal on 1-4x24mm Bushnell Scope for ARs

Bushnell BDC scope .223 AR

The CMP and NRA now allow magnified optics (up to 4.5X max power) in service rifle matches. You can spend thousands on a high-end scope for your AR, but you just might find that a much cheaper optic will do the job. Right now Amazon has a killer deal on Bushnell’s 1-4x24mm riflescope with 0.1 Mil clicks. The Drop-Zone BDC reticle features hold-over points calibrated for .223/5.56 55-62 grain ammo. That’s a bonus for 3-Gun and tactical matches. When shooting heavier, higher-BC bullets in service rifle matches, you’ll still want to click up and zero at your target yardages.

Amazing Deal Now at Amazon.com
Right now at Amazon.com, you can get this 1-4x24mm Bushnell for just $111.99 with free shipping. That’s a steal — this scope sells elsewhere for up to $155.00. And actual scope owners tell us that this very affordable 1-4x24mm Bushnell holds its own vs. competitive optics costing 3-4 times as much. Read the reviews for yourself below …

Reticle
Second Focal Plane, Drop Zone-223 BDC Ballistic Reticle calibrated for 55-62 grain, 223 REM/5.556 loads with aiming points out to 500 yards.

Specifications
Turrets: Target, 0.1 mil click value
Tube Diameter: 30mm
Weight: 16.9 oz.
Length: 9.5″
Eye Relief: 3.5″
Exit Pupil (mm): 13.1 at 1x / 5.2 at 4x
Adj. Range: +50 inches at 100 yards
Finish: Anodized Aluminium Matte

Bushnell BDC scope .223 AR

Here are reviews from actual, verified scope purchasers:

“The scope is solid and the fit and finish is excellent. The BDC reticle is very clear and the scope stays focused when changing the magnification. The glass is very clear and the light transmission is better than my Vortex Viper. The windage and elevation turrets are precise and not mushy. At a local gun store I compared this scope to a much higher-priced M223 Nikon and a Leupold. The clarity was similar and the light transmission was actually better in this [Bushnell] scope. The only noticeable advantage the higher-priced scopes had was they weighed less. The best eye relief for my setup was four inches without any noticeable parallax.” — Dave K.

“Doesn’t have the fanfare of putting a Trijicon on your rail (doesn’t have the associated price tag either) but pound-for-pound I bet this bad boy would last in a head to head against the more expensive names. I’ve used it in snowy and rainy conditions, as well as more favorable and it has proven reliable. Great view, fast acquisition, and a fair price. Highly recommended for any AR build.” — WarriorSeries

“I gave this a 5-Star rating because for the same price you will NOT find a better scope! The build quality is solid, the lens are clear, and after 200 + rounds it stayed true. I mounted mine on a Ruger AR-556 with a Burris AR PEPR 30mm mount. Zeroed in a matter of minutes at 100 yards, then was shooting 200 yards, then 300 yards, and 500 yards with no issues. And props to Bushnell for the reticle in this scope! It worked … and made shooting 500 yards a breeze! If you want a good scope for an excellent price this is the one to buy.” N. Bates

Permalink Gear Review, Optics No Comments »