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March 21st, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Suhl-Action .22 LR Rimfire with Indexed Barrel

Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire 22LR

This article was originally written by noted rimfire gunsmith Bill Myers. Sadly, Bill passed away in May 2010, but his legacy lives on. He pioneered many advancements in rimfire gunsmithing and Myers-built guns still win matches in benchrest competition.

Crafting competitive rimfire benchrest rifles is considered an art as much as a science. The smith must understand subtle, yet critical aspects of vibration control, barrel tuning, and rifle balance. In the United States, only a handful of gunsmiths consistently turn out rimfire BR rifles that consistently run at the front of the pack at major matches. Bill Myers was one of those master craftsmen. In this article Bill discussed the process of building a winning rimfire BR rig. He reveals some interesting secrets, including his procedures for testing bedding performance and his barrel indexing system. Bill’s methods obviously work, as the Suhl-actioned rifle featured here won a truckload of trophies in its very first match.

Building a Match-Winning Rimfire Benchrest Rig

by Bill Myers
In my opinion, a winning rimfire benchrest rifle is probably twice as difficult to build as a competitive centerfire rifle. The relatively slow .22 LR bullets stay in the barrel much longer than centerfire bullets. This means that vibration control is critical. Likewise bedding is critical. Bore finish and lapping are very important. The amount of bore taper or “choke” can have a huge effect on accuracy. Ignition is also very important and above all, rimfire BR rifles need a very stable stock that tracks perfectly. A rimfire that shoots great is a complete marriage of all components and of the shooter’s need to be aware of everything possible.

Click Photo to Zoom
Myers 22LR

The rifle featured in this article was built from scratch with attention to all the details that go into accuracy. The goal was to build a gun that could win from the get-go. This would be a “Spec Gun”, meaning a rifle that was personally tested and tuned by me for optimum performance before it went out to the customer.

Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire 22LR
The Suhl trigger is as good as it gets so no change was needed. It easily adjusts down to about 2 ounces.

Baer Stock in Bubinga Wood
There are many choices when you start to build a complete rifle. It has to shoot well and it has to catch ones eye, or it’s just another rifle on the line. I prefer wood stocks on rimfires for two reasons: they are very stable if the right wood is used and they have a certain traditional appeal to many shooters. I chose Bubinga wood for this particular gun because it is very stable and heavy, it has a very dense grain and a very pronounced figure with a natural red color. The Bubinga is a very forgiving wood to work with.

Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire 22LR

Gerry and Bruce Baer in Pennsylvania do all my stock blanks. I do all my own inletting and bedding. The blank weighed 4.5 pounds when it came off of Bruce Baer’s duplicator. This Bubinga wood is so hard that it did not need pillars, but I put them in anyway. I bed all my stocks with Loctite Steel Bed liquid and add filler to desired thickness. The final bedding is done with an aircraft tooling epoxy that does not deteriorate over time. The stock has an ebony butt plate and six (6) coats of automotive clear, polished to a “high buff” finish.

Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire 22LR

Suhl 150-1 Action
Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire .22 LR 22LRAccurized and BN-Nickel Plated
I used a new, unfired Suhl 150-1 action. As explained in the sidebar below, the Suhl 150 actions were originally crafted in East Germany for position rifles. They have a very fast lock-time and come with an outstanding trigger. However, they need some work when adapted to a modern BR gun. The action needed to be accurized and threaded. I have a special tool that I use to accurize actions. It uses two sets of spiders for dialing-in the bolt raceway. After the bolt raceway is running true, one can thread and true up all bearing surfaces so that everything is in perfect alignment with the action raceway bore.

Suhl Action Myers benchrest .22 LR rimfireBN-Nitride Plating on Action
I decided to plate the action and all bolt parts with Boron Nitride nickel plating. I bough the BN Electroless Nickel Kit from Caswell Plating and did the job myself. I started by bead-blasting the action so that it would end up with a “satin” finish. The plating material is then applied in a tank. The Boron Nitride goes directly into the plating solution, but you need to use a pump to keep the solution agitated so the BN distributes evenly.

Once the action is completely ready (the metal must be perfectly prepped, with no contaminants), the process goes easily and can be completed in about half an hour. The end result is a very slick, low-friction finish, that is .0002″ (two ten-thousandths) thick and hard as glass. The Boron Nitride makes everything very smooth. After the plating job, the action was noticeably slicker than before.

The cone breech (photo below) permits the barrel to be INDEXED (rotated around bore axis) to any position on the clockface. You then test various rotation settings to find the best accuracy. The system does work. Some barrels shoot best in a particular rotational setting. E.g. with index mark at 3 O’clock vs. 12 O’clock.

Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire 22LRFitting and Chambering the Barrel
As for a barrel, I had two good choices: one Shilen 1:16″-twist, 4-groove ratchet and one Benchmark 1:16″-twist, 3-groove. Both barrels were very accurate and at the end, I decided to leave the Shilen on the rifle because I wanted to put the Benchmark on another Suhl I’ve set aside for myself. I chambered the barrel for Eley flat nose EPS. We’ve found the gun also shoots the new Lapua X-ACT ammo very well.

The barrel finished at 25″ long and features a tuner by the Harrell brothers of Salem, Virginia. I use a flat 90° crown–it’s the most accurate and its gives a good seal against the tuner. I also use a 45°, 12-flute cutter that leaves no burr when cutting the crown. This chamfer protects the crown when cleaning the barrel. There is no sharp edge for the brush or jag to hit on the return stroke. The barrel was headspaced at .043″ and I use a tapered reamer ground by Dave Kiff of Pacific Tool & Gauge in Oregon. The chamber leade area is lightly polished to remove reamer burrs. The breech end of the barrel is machined with a 1/2″ ball end mill to produce what I call a “Myers cone breech.” Technically, it has a sloping radius as you can see, rather than a straight-sided cone. Finishing the breech in this fashion facilitates indexing the barrel, as the barrel can be rotated to any position (on the clockface), without requiring new extractor cuts.

Barrel Indexing — Finding the “Sweet Spot”

When indexing a barrel, one rotates it to different clockface positions relative to the action. Imagine marking a barrel at TDC or 12 o’clock, and then rotating it so the mark is at 3 O’clock, 6 )’clock, 9 O’clock and so on. At each position one shoots groups to determine at which index setting best accuracy is achieved.*

I know that barrel indexing is controversial. I don’t want to get into a lengthy debate other than to say that I believe that careful and thorough testing can reveal a “preferred” index position for a good barrel. With the barrel set in that particular position relative to the action I believe the barrel can yield optimal performance.

I perform the indexing tests indoors at 50 yards. I use a rail-gun with floating action. The barrel is held in place with a clamping fixture similar to an Anschutz 2000-series action. Basically, two vertically-stacked metal blocks clamp around the barrel. I can index the barrel this way simply by unclamping the barrel blocks, rotating the barrel and then re-clamping the system. I have a special system so the action can stay in the same position, even as the barrel is rotated.

It takes time and effort to get solid indexing results. Normally I shoot at least 400 rounds of ammo in 3-4 indexing sessions. Shooting a handful of groups is not enough. You may think you’ve identified the best index position, but you need to shoot many more rounds to verify that. Also, in a very good barrel, the effects of indexing may be subtle, so it will take many groups to confirm the optimal position. In my experience, really good “hummer” barrels do not benefit as much from indexing as an “average” barrel.

IR 50/50 rimfire targetAccuracy Testing with Both Barrels
I tested the rifle indoors at 50 yards at the Piney Hill Benchrest Club range. There was no finish on the stock, but it shot well in my one-piece rest with the Benchmark 16-twist, 3-groove barrel and no added weight on the tuner. I shot 30 rounds of Eley Match EPS Black Box (1064 fps) and had 25 Xs and five 10s on the IR 50/50 style target. Not too shabby for a new barrel with no special break-in.

When the Shilen barrel arrived, I installed it on the rifle. By this time the stock had been clear-coated and finished, and the action had been polished and plated. I shot the Shilen barrel outside since it was too hot in the building. The first target was a 250-19X with a new lot of Eley Match EPS Black Box (1054 fps). The gun shot well. My friend Tony Blosser asked to shoot the gun, and he drilled a 250-20X in a steady wind using the same Eley ammo. See target at right.

Myers 22LR
Bill Myers Suhl .22 LR Benchrest rifle

Advanced Procedures — Vibration Control and Tuner Position

Barrel Tuning Using 2-Way Electronic Indicators
Before competing with this rifle, I put it in a firing fixture I use to tune the barrel. I employ a pair of very expensive Swiss 2-way electronic min/max hold indicators. These measure both up movement and down movement of the barrel as the gun is fired. I can measure the actual vertical travel of the barrel at any position from the front of the receiver to the tuner. I can also tell how long the barrel vibrates, time-wise. Using this fixture I found that the Shilen barrel was very consistent in readings and seemed to work well with no additional weight on the tuner. No barrel ever stops vibrating completely — but this was close, showing less than .002″ of total movement.

Bedding and Vibration Control
I have found that measuring the actual movement of the barrel during firing tells me a lot about the quality of the bedding. I have learned that if I see very big movements (e.g. .010″ up and .005″ down), then there may be a problem with the bedding. I saw this kind of big swing on a rifle with bedding that had not cured properly.

Another pattern I watch for is uneven vertical movement. For example, if the barrel vibrates .008″ up but only .002″ down, that tells me the bedding has issues. As noted above, I look for minimal vibration travel (after the tuner is fitted and optimized), and I also want that travel to be relatively equal both up and down. Good rimfire gunsmiths agree that proper bedding has an important influence on vibration control and tuning. By measuring actual barrel movement during firing, we can, to an extent, quantify how well the bedding is working. At a minimum, we can see if there’s a serious bedding problem.

Trial by Fire — Shooting the Gun in Competition
After semi-gluing in the action, the rifle was shooting great. So, I decided to take it to the Maryland State Unlimited Championship to see if it was truly competitive — whether it could “run with the big dogs”. As it turns out, the Bubinga Suhl was more than just competitive. The rifle won three of the six cards and won the meters championship. In the photo below you can see all the trophies the gun won in its very first match. One of the other competitors in Maryland, dazzled (and perhaps a bit daunted) by the Bubinga Suhl’s stellar performance, told me: “Sell that gun Bill. Whatever you do, just get that darn rifle out of here.” Confident that this was a rifle capable of winning major matches, I packed up the rifle and shipped it to Dan Killough in Texas. Killough has shot some impressive scores with the gun.

Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire 22LR

Suhl Target Rifles — East Germany’s Legacy

Suhl 150 rifles were manufactured in former East Germany (GDR) by the Haenel firearms factory in the town of Suhl. This region has a long history in arms production. In 1751, Sauer & Sohn founded the first German arms factory in Suhl. Following WWII, Suhl 150s were produced for Communist Bloc marksmen, including East German Olympic shooters. Prior to German unification, the East German national shooting arena was located at Suhl and hosted many top-level competitions including the 1986 ISSF World Championships.

Suhl 150 Target Rifle

Superb Rifles with Amazing Triggers
As a product of East Germany, the “mission” of the Suhl 150 was to rival the accuracy of the Anschütz, Walther and other premium match rifles built in the West. East German shooting teams wanted to finish on top of the podium, so they needed a rifle with superb inherent accuracy. The Suhl 150s have an outstanding trigger that can be adjusted down to about two ounces. The Suhl 150 action, like the Anschütz 54, boasts an extremely fast lock-time — an important factor in a position rifle. And Suhl barrels were legendary for accuracy.

Suhl 150 Target Rifle

Suhl 150 Benchrest Conversions
Many of the first used Suhl 150s that made it to America were converted to Benchrest rifles because the action/trigger/barrel combination was unbeatable for the price. Some of the barrels on these “surplus” Suhls were phenomenal — as good as any custom barrels available today. It was not unknown for a Suhl 150 barreled action, transplanted into a benchrest-style stock, to win BR matches with the original barrel. Today, however, most of the Suhl benchrest conversions end up with modern, American-made barrels. While some older Suhl barrels can “shoot with the best of ‘em”, new barrel designs optimized for use with tuners have an edge, at least in benchrest circles. That’s why builders such as Bill Myers swapped out the Suhl barrel with something like a Benchmark reverse-taper two-groove.

Suhl 150 Target RifleToday Suhl 150 rifles are very hard to find in North America. In 2006, a used Suhl 150, even without sights, might fetch $1200.00 or more. Then, in 2007 through early 2008, hundreds of Suhl match rifles were imported. This drove prices down, and those “in the know” snapped up complete Suhl 150s at prices ranging from $450 to $850 (see 2007 advert at right), depending on condition.

Many of these rifles were left “as built” and used successfully in prone competition. Others were converted into benchrest and silhouette rifles, “parted out” for the actions and triggers. If you were able to grab one of those imports at a good price–consider yourself lucky.

Suhl 150 Target Rifle

* Bill Myers actually created his own clamping rimfire action to facilitate barrel indexing. CLICK HERE for Myers Rimfire Action. To index the barrel, Myers simply loosened three clamping-bolts and rotated the barrel in the action. Because there is no thread to pull the barrel in or out, the headspace stays the same no matter how much the barrel is rotated. With a threaded action, you might have to use shims to test different rotational positions, or otherwise re-set the shoulder with each change.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
February 3rd, 2019

Tuner Basics: Guide to Selection and Use of Barrel Tuners

Barrel Tuner Gene Bukys Shadetree Engineering

We’re starting to see barrel tuners employed in more competitive disciplines than ever — from 100 yards to 1000 yards. And even some varmint hunters are employing tuners or tuner/brakes now. This allows them to dial in accuracy with different loads (when shooting hundreds of rounds in a weekend). Here’s a quick over-view of the potential benefits of tuners.

Commentary by Mark Walker, Sierra Bullets Product Development Manager
This story originally appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog. Visit SierraBullets.com.

Some people love tuners and others hate them. I use them on my rifles and I’ve had more than one person ask me why on earth I would put one of those things on my barrel. I’ve even had a national long range champion tell me to unscrew it and throw it into Lake Erie on my next trip to the pits at Camp Perry. However, there are other shooters that swear by them and have many match wins to back it up.

It’s an indisputable fact that tuners do have an effect on a rifle’s accuracy, however how much is somewhat open for debate. The large heavy target barrels that we use for benchrest or F-class may not be affected as much by a tuner as a lighter weight sporter type barrel. Each barrel that I’ve installed a tuner on not only showed improvement in accuracy but also displayed a wider load window. The increased accuracy is because of the ability to adjust the tuner to the load, however I believe the wider load window is due to the added weight of the tuner slowing down the barrel vibrations. These are both very important aspects of having a very accurate rifle.

Barrel Tuner Gene Bukys Shadetree Engineering

While better accuracy and a wider load window are two areas of improvement, I believe the most important feature of a tuner is the ability to adjust the tune during the middle of a match. This is especially important during matches where you must load all your ammo earlier and cannot make adjustments to the load during the match. If you happen to miss the load, instead of having to deal with a gun that isn’t shooting you can make an adjustment to the tuner and hopefully improve the accuracy of the rifle.

While I’ve laid out several ways that a tuner can help, there are also a few ways that tuners can cause problems. They add weight so if you are shooting a discipline that has weight limits on the rifle, you may not be able to install a tuner and still make weight. Sometimes, a barrel just doesn’t show improvement with a tuner installed. These are few and far between, but it is something to consider. If you make an adjustment to the tuner in a match, you need to make sure you move it in the right direction. Adjusting a tuner in the wrong direction can cause very large groups. And finally, if they aren’t tightened properly, tuners can come loose during firing which will cause a lot of problems as well.

As you can see, tuners have both positive and negative aspects. In my personal experience, the positives far outweigh the negatives so I will continue to use them on all of my competitive rifles. If you’ve been thinking about installing a tuner, hopefully some of the information that I’ve presented will help you make an informed decision.

Barrel Tuner

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
December 12th, 2018

Tuning Barrels for Enhanced Precision and Accuracy

Anschutz Tuner

When a shot is fired through it, a barrel will exhibit harmonics. Tuning these harmonics (the “waves” that propagate through the barrel) can alter point of impact and, if you’re lucky, reduce group size. Barrel tuners have been used successfully in rimfire benchrest for many years (see photo above). While there are competing theories as to how and why barrel tuners work on rimfire rifles, there is no question that the accuracy of some rimfire barrels can be improved with the addition of a tuner. By changing the position of weights at the end of the barrel, we’ve seen shooters shrink their average group size as well as adjust the “sweet spot” for different lots of rimfire ammo. On the other hand, tuners can be the source of great frustration; some installations may yield little or no benefit. A shooter may have to experiment with a variety of different tuner designs (and weights) to find the optimal configuration.

Gene Bukys Barrel Tuner 333smittyCenterfire Tuners–Still a Work in Progress
In centerfire benchrest competition, the vast majority of competitors do not use tuners, though a few short-range shooters such as Gene Bukys and Jackie Schmidt have enjoyed considerable success. Gene has won major championships with tuned rifles. In 2011 Gene won both the Super Shoot and World Benchrest Championship (WBC), and Gene recently set a new NBRSA Sporter Class Grand Agg Record.

Centerfire benchrest guns typically employ shorter barrels with a much fatter contour (larger diameter) than rimfire rifles. Because centerfire rounds produce much higher pressures and velocities that a 22LR, a centerfire barrel also exhibits much different vibration characteristics than a typical rimfire barrel. Nonetheless, there are pioneers working with centerfire tuners who believe that tuning may be the “next leap forward” in centerfire accuracy.

Shown below is a switch-barrel benchrest rifle built by Forum member Eddie W. of Texas. It features a dual-port Hall “M” action with a ShadeTree Engineering Tuner crafted by Butch Lambert. The gun is designed to take both a 6PPC barrel for group shooting and a 30BR barrel for score shooting. The gun was barreled by Wayne Shaw, and Eddie did the stock work himself. Eddie reports: “It is a very accurate rifle.”

Lambert Tuner

Will we see more tuners on centerfire rifles? Only time will tell. Some folks believe that, since one can easily adjust the loads shot by centerfire guns (by tinkering with the powder charge and seating depth), tuners have limited utility. On the other hand, tuner advocates such as Gene Beggs believe tuners can help keep your group sizes small even as conditions (temperature, humidity) change. Gene believes that, with an appropriate tuner, you can spend less time fiddling with the load specs (changing your powder charge) and instead “dial in” your sweet spot using the tuner.

Lambert Tuner

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
September 16th, 2018

Wave Pattern POI — How Barrel Tuners Alter Point of Impact

Tuner Pascal Bukys Point of Impact shift test 6 PPC benchrest

6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine waveHave a good look at the photos below — this may be one of the most noteworthy target strings we’ve ever published. What you can see is the effect of barrel tuner position on point of impact (POI). You can clearly see that the tuner position alters the up/down POI location in a predictable fashion.

This remarkable 15-shot sequence was shot by French benchrester Pascal Fischbach using his 6 PPC fitted with a CG (Carlito Gonzales) action and a Bukys barrel tuner.

Pascal reports: “After [bullet] seating and load validation, I put the Bukys tuner on, screwing it out 10 turns. According to Carlito, the CG’s super stiff action-to-barrel fit gives a faster vibration modulus that is detrimental below 10 turns [position of the tuner].” Pascal’s procedure was to screw out the tuner 1/4 turn progressively from one shot to the next. He shot one bullet at each tuner position, with a total of 15 shots.

15-Shot Sequence with Tuner Changes
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave
CLICK HERE to SEE Large Version of Complete Test Strip (All 15 shots in a row).

Left Half of Target Strip (shots with 1/4 rotation change of tuner in sequence)
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

Right Half of Target Strip (shots with 1/4 rotation change of tuner in sequence)
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

Pascal observed: “Note the point of impact displacement [from shot to shot] tracks clearly along a sinusoide (sine wave curve).” This is indeed notable and significant! This shows how the tuner’s ability to change barrel harmonics can alter the position of the muzzle as each bullet exits, resulting in a higher or lower POI. Pascal sent his results to Carlito Gonzales in Argentina for analysis.

Pascal poses this question to readers: “Guess which three positions Carlito recommends to try?”

Editor’s Note: While this target sequence clearly shows how tuner position can alter bullet point of impact, this, by itself, does not tell us which tuner position(s) are best for accuracy. That will require further multi-shot group testing, involving careful experimentation with tuner position (and powder charge weights). But for those folks who doubt that a tuner can make a difference on a short, fat barrel, just take another look at the photos. The up/down changes are undeniable, and noteworthy in the wave pattern they follow.

Shooting Set-up and Test Conditions:
Pascal did this test at an outdoor range under very good conditions: “This was shot at my home range, outdoors, with four Smiley flag. The range is a narrow cut in high woods. Wind was consistent with readable flags. I started testing the tuner from 10 turns out and on to 15. I recently… found a sweet spot very close to the rearmost position of the tuner, so the rigidity provided by this super long tenon (just short of 70mm) was not a reason to overlook the recommended Bukys tuning procedure.”

6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

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October 7th, 2015

Tuner/Brakes — Dial in Smaller Groups and Less Recoil

RAS Rifle Accuracy System Tuner

RAS Rifle Accuracy System TunerTuners work. So do muzzle brakes. But until recently, you had the choice of one or the other. Now with combo tuner/brakes you can tune the harmonics of your rifle barrel while enjoying significantly reduced recoil (and torque). This is a “Win-Win” for shooters of heavy-recoiling rifles.

Rifle accuracy and precision have come a long way in the past 15 years, particularly for long-range applications. The most recent tool to significantly improve precision is the barrel tuning system. The Rifle Accuracy System (RAS) developed by Precision Rifle Systems, incorporates a precision muzzle brake with the tuner. CLICK HERE for Product INFO.

This system potentially offers meaningful group size reduction through control of barrel harmonics. The RAS tuner/brake system was the subject of a June 2012 Precision Shooting (PS) magazine article, titled “Improved Rifle Accuracy” and was also featured in an article in the November 2012 issue of PS titled “Tuning with Confidence”.

READ MORE about RAS Tuner Tests on .260 AI, .223 Rem, and 22LR rimfire rifles.

Copies of both articles and detailed instructions on RAS installation and tuning can be downloaded from www.bostromgunsmithing.com. Eric Bostrom is the distributor for the RAS.

RAS Rifle Accuracy System Tuner

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 2 Comments »
May 13th, 2015

Using Barrel With 100,000+ Rounds, Joe Sets New ARA Record

.22 LR Eley Rimfire benchrest joe friedrich ARA target
Click to zoom image.

Some folks think you need a new (or nearly-new) barrel to win a benchrest match. That may be true in the centerfire game, but in the world of rimfire benchrest, things are different. Good barrels can remain accurate for a long, long time. That was demonstrated by our friend Joe Friedrich who recently set a new ARA 4-target Aggregate record. Joe was shooting his trusty old “Sweet Pea” rifle with a very well-worn barrel. In fact, Joe’s record-setting Benchmark barrel has logged well over 100,000 rounds. That’s right, a barrel with over 100K rounds shot the best 4-target ARA Agg ever. Will wonders never cease…

.22 LR Eley Rimfire benchrest joe friedrich ARA target

In this video, Joe talks about his rifle, the amazing longevity of his Benchmark barrel, and the ELEY ammo he used to shoot two 2500s on the same day (with a 2475 average for four targets):

(more…)

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October 4th, 2014

Fascinating Test Shows Tuner Settings Can Alter Point of Impact

6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine waveHave a good look at the photos below — this may be one of the most noteworthy target strings we’ve ever published. What you can see is the effect of barrel tuner position on point of impact (POI). You can clearly see that the tuner position alters the up/down POI location in a predictable fashion.

This remarkable 15-shot sequence was shot by French benchrester Pascal Fischbach using his 6 PPC fitted with a CG (Carlito Gonzales) action and a Bukys barrel tuner.

Pascal reports: “After [bullet] seating and load validation, I put the Bukys tuner on, screwing it out 10 turns. According to Carlito, the CG’s super stiff action-to-barrel fit gives a faster vibration modulus that is detrimental below 10 turns [position of the tuner].” Pascal’s procedure was to screw out the tuner 1/4 turn progressively from one shot to the next. He shot one bullet at each tuner position, with a total of 15 shots.

15-Shot Sequence with Tuner Changes
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave
CLICK HERE to SEE Large Version of Complete Test Strip (All 15 shots in a row).

Left Half of Target Strip (shots with 1/4 rotation change of tuner in sequence)
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

Right Half of Target Strip (shots with 1/4 rotation change of tuner in sequence)
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

Pascal observed: “Note the point of impact displacement [from shot to shot] tracks clearly along a sinusoide (sine wave curve).” This is indeed notable and significant! This shows how the tuner’s ability to change barrel harmonics can alter the position of the muzzle as each bullet exits, resulting in a higher or lower POI. Pascal sent his results to Carlito Gonzales in Argentina for analysis.

Pascal poses this question to readers: “Guess which three positions Carlito recommends to try?”

Editor’s Note: While this target sequence clearly shows how tuner position can alter bullet point of impact, this, by itself, does not tell us which tuner position(s) are best for accuracy. That will require further multi-shot group testing, involving careful experimentation with tuner position (and powder charge weights). But for those folks who doubt that a tuner can make a difference on a short, fat barrel, just take another look at the photos. The up/down changes are undeniable, and noteworthy in the wave pattern they follow.

6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
September 14th, 2014

Combo RAS Tuner & Muzzle Brake from Bostrom Gunsmithing

RAS Rifle Accuracy System TunerProduct Preview by Jim Bennington
Rifle accuracy and precision have come a long way in the past 15 years. The most recent tool to significantly improve precision is the barrel tuning system. The Rifle Accuracy System (RAS) developed by Precision Rifle Systems, LLC of Myakka City, Florida, brings a fresh approach to tuning. The RAS incorporates a precision muzzle brake with the tuner.

This system provides significant precision improvements and was the subject of a June 2012 Precision Shooting (PS) magazine article, titled “Improved Rifle Accuracy” and will also be featured in an article in the November 2012 issue of PS titled “Tuning with Confidence”.

READ MORE about RAS Tuner Tests on .260 AI, .223 Rem, and 22LR rimfire rifles.

Copies of both articles and detailed instructions on RAS installation and tuning can be downloaded from www.bostromgunsmithing.com. Eric Bostrom is the distributor for the RAS.

RAS Rifle Accuracy System Tuner

Accuracy is the ability of a firearm to hit what it is aimed at within the limits of the precision of that firearm. Precision is the ability of a firearm to place successive shots in or near the first shot. A firearm that delivers one minute of angle (1 MOA) precision should, at 100 yards, place the bullet within roughly one inch of where it is aimed (actually 1.047″), or a sight adjustment should correct the problem. All the improvements in optics, manufacturing and components have allowed precision expectations to go from 1 MOA to 1/2 MOA or even sub-quarter-MOA.

RAS Rifle Accuracy System Tuner

What is the next frontier for the precision rifle? While all the other advancements were being made, advancements in the understanding and methods of managing the barrel vibrations were also being made. Once the rifle has been built and the loads developed, it is the management of the barrel vibrations that has the final influence on the bullet as it is leaving the barrel and the final influence on precision. The RAS has demonstrated with many different rifles and calibers that significant improvements can be made with a properly tuned barrel tuner system. What does this mean? Typically, there is a noteworthy improvement. In fact group size improvements between 30% and 60% have been observed with a properly-tuned barrel tuner system. This has been demonstrated on both custom rifles and loads and factory rifles.

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June 24th, 2014

Not Bad for a Grand-Dad — Bryant’s Still Got His “A-Game”

gene bukys benchrestTexan Mike Bryant is a superb gunsmith and a very successful benchrest competitor. And though he is getting up in years, he hasn’t lost any of his talent as a trigger-puller. In fact, if recent results are any indication, Mike Bryant isn’t getting older, he’s getting better.

Check out this set of targets Mike recently shot, which represent the best 100-Yard Aggregate of Mike’s shooting career. Maybe being a grandfather has improved his skill set.

Mike reports: “Here’s the set of targets I shot at the East-West HV100. Needless to say, I was tickled to death. This is the best 100-yard Agg I’ve ever shot [in benchrest competition]: 0.1744″ average.”

Click Photo for Full-Size Version
Mike Bryant Agg

Mike is a great gunsmith, but he’s retired for the most part now: “I’ve closed up my shop and won’t be gunsmithing for the general public. I want to help my son on the ranch and shoot more benchrest.”

As far as the “shoot more benchrest” part, it looks like Grandfather Bryant is doing well indeed. Mike credits his recent success to other shooters:

gene bukys benchrest“I owe a lot of what I was able to accomplish with this Agg to Gene Bukys. Gene is currently one of the hottest-shooting benchrest competitors in the United States, and a member of the Benchrest Hall of Fame. After the Cactus Classic this year, Gene shared with us the make, twist rate, and contour of the barrels that he had been using to win everything in sight. He also told me which of his reamers that Dave Kiff had made him that he had been using and which one to order from Kiff to shoot the same chamber.”

“Gene had already matched a die to my previous chamber that [eliminated] the click at the top of the bolt stroke to insure smooth bolt operation. After the Cactus I ordered some of the same barrels that Gene was using and ordered a reamer from Kiff. I chambered two of the barrels with the reamer that Gene was using on Monday and fire-formed brass for them on Tuesday and spent a little time at home trying to get the rifles tuned up for the East-West.”

“On Saturday morning I started with one of the rifles and shot it through the LV 100. Not doing particularly well. So, switched rifles to the other one for the HV 100. It seemed to be working better and seemed to get better as the day went along. After the match, I was out pulling up my flags and Wade Hull walks up to me and holds out his hand and says ‘Congratulations, you won the Heavy 100′.”

Hall of Famers Helping Other Benchresters
Mike concludes: “If there is a story in my experience, it is really about benchresters helping other benchresters. People like Gene Bukys, Jack Neary, and Bart Sauter, all Hall of Fame members, are giving back to other benchrest shooters to help them become better. Jack Neary has been giving Vihtavuori tuning classes for many years, passing on the info that helped him get into the Hall of Fame. Bart Sauter posts on Benchrest.com, passing on key secrets of his success. And let’s not forget Tony Boyer who has helped others in many ways, including one-on-one private benchrest lessons. So, if there is a story here, it’s about these guys, not about me.”

Between benchrest matches, Mike Bryant likes to spend “quality time” with his children and grandchildren. Here is Mike on a playground slide with his grandson. Mike’s philosophy is to enjoy life and stay young at heart. We think that’s a good approach to life.

Mike Bryant Agg

Permalink Gunsmithing 5 Comments »
January 8th, 2013

Centerfire Benchrest Shooters Explore Benefits of Tuners

Barrel tuners have been used successfully in rimfire benchrest for many years (see photo below). While there are competing theories as to how and why barrel tuners work on rimfire rifles, there is no question that the accuracy of some rimfire barrels can be improved with the addition of a tuner. By changing the position of weights at the end of the barrel, we’ve seen shooters shrink their average group size as well as adjust the “sweet spot” for different lots of rimfire ammo. On the other hand, tuners can be the source of great frustration; some installations may yield little or no benefit. A shooter may have to experiment with a variety of different tuner designs (and weights) to find the optimal configuration.

Anschutz Tuner

Gene Bukys Barrel Tuner 333smittyCenterfire Tuners–Still a Work in Progress
In centerfire benchrest competition, the vast majority of competitors do not use tuners, though a few short-range shooters such as Gene Bukys and Jackie Schmidt have enjoyed considerable success. Gene has won major championships with tuned rifles. In 2011 Gene won both the Super Shoot and World Benchrest Championship (WBC), and Gene recently set a new NBRSA Sporter Class Grand Agg Record.

Centerfire benchrest guns typically employ shorter barrels with a much fatter contour (larger diameter) than rimfire rifles. Because centerfire rounds produce much higher pressures and velocities that a 22LR, a centerfire barrel also exhibits much different vibration characteristics than a typical rimfire barrel. Nonetheless, there are pioneers working with centerfire tuners who believe that tuning may be the “next leap forward” in centerfire accuracy.

Shown below is a switch-barrel benchrest rifle built by Forum member Eddie W. of Texas. It features a dual-port Hall “M” action with a ShadeTree Engineering Tuner crafted by Butch Lambert. The gun is designed to take both a 6PPC barrel for group shooting and a 30BR barrel for score shooting. The gun was barreled by Wayne Shaw, and Eddie did the stock work himself. Eddie reports: “It is a very accurate rifle.”

Lambert Tuner

Will we see more tuners on centerfire rifles? Only time will tell. Some folks believe that, since one can easily adjust the loads shot by centerfire guns (by tinkering with the powder charge and seating depth), tuners have limited utility. On the other hand, tuner advocates such as Gene Beggs believe tuners can help keep your group sizes small even as conditions (temperature, humidity) change. Gene believes that, with an appropriate tuner, you can spend less time fiddling with the load specs (changing your powder charge) and instead “dial in” your sweet spot using the tuner.

Lambert Tuner

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December 28th, 2012

Gene Bukys Sets New Sporter 100/200 NBRSA Grand Agg Record

Gene Bukys NBRSA Record ArizonaBenchrest shooter Gene Bukys has smashed the existing Sporter Class 100+200 yard Grand Aggregate record, lowering the NBRSA record from 0.1886 to 0.1777. That’s a big deal in the short-range benchrest game. This record was shot in October, 2012 at the Arizona Nationals.

On Benchrest Central, NBRSA SW Regional Director Tom Libby reported:

“Yes it’s said that ‘Every Thing is Bigger in Texas’. Well in this case ‘Smaller is Better’ and Gene has done it with his new World Record for five 5-shot groups at both 100 and 200 yards in the Sporter Class Grand Aggregate.

The Old Record: .1886
The New Record: .1777

[That includes five targets at EACH distance, ten targets total.]

Great Job Eugene G. Bukys!

It is my understanding that Gene has bought a new special cowboy hat to start putting his awards on it but don’t get to close to him as the brim will hit you in the head.

Bukys and Barrel Tuners
Commenting on Buky’s record-setting performance, Boyd Allen writes: “Gene has a fine record as a shooter, and his rifles have tuners (at least the bag guns do, I’m not sure about the rail.) In contrast to other users of tuners, I’m told that Gene tunes his to the middle of a node, locks it down, and does not move it again, preferring to tune with normal means. I think that the effectiveness of this approach is pretty evident — the proof is now in the record books! Gene would tell you that he has never seen a barrel’s accuracy increased by the addition of a tuner, but that, with a tuner, accuracy nodes are wider. I would add that, while Gene’s tuner is an important component, we must acknowledge Gene’s outstanding shooting skills — this man can win with or without a tuner.”

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
October 9th, 2012

Rifle Accuracy System (RAS) Combo Tuner and Muzzle Brake

RAS Rifle Accuracy System TunerProduct Preview by Jim Bennington
Rifle accuracy and precision have come a long way in the past 15 years. The most recent tool to significantly improve precision is the barrel tuning system. The Rifle Accuracy System (RAS) developed by Precision Rifle Systems, LLC of Myakka City, Florida, brings a fresh approach to tuning. The RAS incorporates a precision muzzle brake with the tuner.

This system provides significant precision improvements and was the subject of a June 2012 Precision Shooting (PS) magazine article, titled “Improved Rifle Accuracy” and will also be featured in an article in the November 2012 issue of PS titled “Tuning with Confidence”.

READ MORE about RAS Tuner Tests on .260 AI, .223 Rem, and 22LR rimfire rifles.

Copies of both articles and detailed instructions on RAS installation and tuning can be downloaded from www.bostromgunsmithing.com. Eric Bostrom is the distributor for the RAS.

RAS Rifle Accuracy System Tuner

Accuracy is the ability of a firearm to hit what it is aimed at within the limits of the precision of that firearm. Precision is the ability of a firearm to place successive shots in or near the first shot. A firearm that delivers one minute of angle (1 MOA) precision should, at 100 yards, place the bullet within roughly one inch of where it is aimed (actually 1.047″), or a sight adjustment should correct the problem. All the improvements in optics, manufacturing and components have allowed precision expectations to go from 1 MOA to 1/2 MOA or even sub-quarter-MOA.

RAS Rifle Accuracy System Tuner

What is the next frontier for the precision rifle? While all the other advancements were being made, advancements in the understanding and methods of managing the barrel vibrations were also being made. Once the rifle has been built and the loads developed, it is the management of the barrel vibrations that has the final influence on the bullet as it is leaving the barrel and the final influence on precision. The RAS has demonstrated with many different rifles and calibers that significant improvements can be made with a properly tuned barrel tuner system. What does this mean? Typically, there is a noteworthy improvement. In fact group size improvements between 30% and 60% have been observed with a properly-tuned barrel tuner system. This has been demonstrated on both custom rifles and loads and factory rifles.

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July 7th, 2010

Details of Jackie Schmidt’s .1118 100-Yard “Agg for the Ages”

As word spreads of Jackie Schmidt’s historic 0.1118″ 5-target 100-yard Heavy Varmint Aggregate, many readers have inquired about Jackie’s gear and loading procedures. Interestingly, Jackie tells us that he selected the 30 BR “on a whim” for the Heavy Varmint stage of the Midland tournament, after he couldn’t get his 6 PPC Light Varmint gun to shoot up to his standards. With the PPC, he was getting some erratic vertical, with one shot popping up to spoil the group. Jackie turned to his trusty 30 BR, and, as they say, “the rest was history”. Jackie says his 30 BR “held perfect tune all day long”, with “absolutely no vertical”. Here are some other interesting facts about Jackie’s amazing 0.1118″ 5x5x100 Agg and the 30 BR he steered to the pending NBRSA record.

Jackie Free Recoils his 30 BR
Unlike many 30 BR shooters who shoulder their guns, Jackie shoots his 30 BR totally free recoil: “The only thing I touch is the trigger. I try to keep my body out of the equation. Free recoiling a 30 BR isn’t that difficult with a true 13.5-lb rifle.”

30 BR cartridge
30 BR file photo. Jackie Schmidt does not shoot Moly bullets normally.

Jackie Didn’t Clean During Record Agg
Jackie shot his entire 100-yard HV Aggregate (25 rounds plus sighters) without cleaning his 30 BR rifle. Jackie told us: “I never cleaned the rifle until the end of the day. In fact I never took the gun out of the bags.” Jackie tells us that shooting a full Agg without cleaning has become standard practice with 30 BRs: “We’ve all learned that you don’t have to clean them. It’s a phenomenon of the 30 calibers. They shoot just as good on the last shot as the first shot.” When he does clean, Jackie uses patches soaked with Butch’s Bore Shine, followed by 10 strokes with a wet brush, then dry patches. Jackie adds: “For the past few years, I’ve never put any solvent but Butch’s in my bores.”

Hodgdon H4198 powderJackie Used 100% Case Capacity Charge
Jackie loaded a “100% usable case capacity charge” of Hodgdon H4198 (Extreme) in his rounds. His 112gr BIB bullets are “just kissing” the top of the powder column. To achieve that fill level, Jackie uses an 8″ drop tube. “That’s an old PPC-loader’s trick,” Jackie tells us. He added that his lot of H4198 is slower than most. He’s found that “some guys can reach the 3000 fps mark using nearly a full grain less powder than me.” But we wonder if loading at 100% of case capacity helps with accuracy? Folks with a faster lot of H4198 might not be able to reach 100% case capacity.

Jackie Schmidt’s ‘Snubber’ Tuner — The Inside Engineering
Everyone wants to know about Jackie’s “snubber” tuner, shown in the photo below. The Tuner is made from aluminum and brass and weighs 5.5 ounces. The tuner is 2 5/8″ long and extends past the true crown 5/8″. The inner cylinder is aluminum while the outer section is a marine bearing consisting of a brass shell with hard rubber vulcanized to the inside diameter. (These brass/rubber marine bearings are used for propeller shaft seals). The sandwiched brass/rubber bearing is then pressed on to the central aluminum shaft. The hard rubber helps dampen vibration. The tuner screws on and then is “locked” in place with a split clamp (the last 2″ of the barrel is threaded).

30 BR cartridge

Unlike most tuners which have a fixed base and forward, rotating ring, Jackie’s tuner is one integrated unit. To adjust tune, Jackie’s “snubber” tuner is unclamped at the base and the whole assembly is screwed in or out on the threaded barrel. Jackie machined a very tight-pitched barrel thread so a full rotation of the tuner produces only .028″ of fore and aft movement. Jackie tells us that, once the basic position is set for a barrel, it doesn’t take much rotation to set the tune. He can usually optimize the barrel tune with less than 1/2 turn of the tuner. After the tune position is set, the split clamp at the inboard end is tightened. This way the tuner is basically locked in place while shooting.

Despite numerous requests, Jackie does not sell his tuners commercially. But someone with good machine skills could build a clone tuner. Team USA benchrest shooter Gene Bukys crafted a similar snubber-type tuner which he used successfully at the 2009 World Championships in South Africa.

The “25 Shots Heard Round the World”
Even people outside the Benchrest community are excited about Jackie’s 0.1118 Aggregate. Jackie’s achievement was noted by Michael Bane and broadcast on the Downrange TV Weekly Video Podcast.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
July 4th, 2010

Triumph in Texas: Jackie Schmidt Shoots 0.1118 5-Target Agg at 100 yards with 30 BR — Best in History

Jackie SchmidtTexan Jackie Schmidt, using a 13.5-lb 30BR Heavy Varmint rifle, has shot a pending NBRSA world record 5-target, 5-shot-per-target Aggregate at 100 yards. Jackie’s 5x5x100 Agg measured 0.1118! How small is that? To help our readers visualize this, the illustration at right shows what a SINGLE 0.111″ 5-shot group (with .30-cal holes) would look like. Jackie’s actual measured group sizes for his five-target Aggregate were: .153, .093, .120, .100, and .093.

If this record is certified, it will be the best 5×5 100-yard Agg ever shot in history by a bag gun in competition. Jackie’s Agg may also beat the “Unlimited” (Rail Gun) 5x5x100 records, but we’re still researching that. Remarkably, Jackie shot his 0.1118″ Agg with a stout-recoiling 30 BR (not a PPC), he did it in howling winds, and he did it with brass that had been fired 30 times! He also shot the entire Agg without cleaning his barrel.

We know it may be difficult for some readers to understand how hard it is to average 0.1118 for 25 shots on FIVE targets. To help demonstrate this, we’ve created an illustration that shows a SINGLE 0.111″ five-shot group. Jackie shot five groups that averaged this size. And he wasn’t “machine-gunning”. He took 6-7 minutes to shoot each target, firing on a “angle transition” in the conditions. Jackie explained: “The wind was switching, but I wasn’t shooting the dominant condition. I would wait for the transition and then shoot when the flags came around to about 15 degrees.”

Jackie gave credit to his rifle: “Though I usually use this rifle for score shoots, this 30BR is the most accurate rifle I have in terms of shooting small groups. I was lucky and hit the perfect tune. There was absolutely no vertical. You can’t shoot [an Agg] like this unless you have a rifle tuned to the hilt.” Jackie recognizes that this performance was a “once in a lifetime type experience.” He told us: “Today everything was right. The rifle was shooting impeccably, I had a good handle on the conditions, and just didn’t make a mistake.” Jackie added: “These days are few and far between — you just have to cherish the moment.”

Jackie’s 5-target Agg was so good that many experts predict it will stand as a record for a long time. On Benchrest Central, respected BR gunsmith Mike Bryant wrote: “The current record … was still Rex Reneau’s .1399 Agg from 1982. With Jackie’s Agg, I’m sure that it will easily beat Rex’s record when measured by the records committee. It’s just too far under the current record for it not to hold up… [and] to do it with a .30 BR is even more amazing. That should put to rest the notion that the .30 BR is a score cartridge only.”

Many people are surprised this pending Agg record was shot with a 30BR rather than a 6 PPC. When asked if he thinks the 30 BR can rival the 6PPC in group competition, Jackie told us: “In the 13.5-lb Heavy Varmint class, a good 30 BR is every bit as accurate as a good PPC, and possesses an equal Agging capability.” It’s different in the 10.5 classes, Jackie acknowledged: “in the LV/Sporter 10.5-lb classes, the 30 BR can get a little aggravating over the course of a match due to its greater recoil.”

Jackie’s Aggregate May Be Best in Benchrest History
Shooting in a Midland, Texas BR for group match, Jackie battled shifty, 15-20 mph winds in what may well be the greatest single-day display of “pure accuracy” in the history of the shooting sports. To put this accomplishment in perspective, Jackie’s 5-target Agg was better than any other 5×5 100-yard Aggregate ever shot in a registered benchrest match by a bag-gun. And according to the published records we could find on file with the NBRSA and IBS, Jackie’s 0.1118″ also beats even the existing rail-gun 5x5x100 Aggs. So, this could potentially be the smallest 5-target Agg ever shot in history, by any gun, in any registered match, at any time. Below are the current IBS and NBRSA World records listed on the Internet:

Current Benchrest 100-yard World Records (5 Targets, 5 shots per target)
5-5-100 Aggregate (NBRSA)

Unlimited: .1283″ Steve Kostanich 8/10/2003

Heavy Varmint: .1399″ Rex Reneau 9/6/1982

Light Varmint: .1500″ Jeff Fowler 6/11/1994

Sporter: .1573 (na) Dick Katchmar 4/14/1985

5-5-100 Aggregate Records (IBS)

Unlimited HB: .1386 (na) R. Howell 12/3/04

Heavy Varmint: .1407″ Tony Boyer 8/3/07

Light Varmint: .1599″ B. Goad 8/13/08

Sporter: .1592″ R. Boop 8/13/08

Jackie SchmidtGun Specs: Jackie was shooting a 13.5-lb 30 BR that he chambered and assembled himself. The barrel is a 4-groove, 1:18″ twist, HV-taper Krieger, fitted with a 5.5-oz. “snubber” barrel tuner made by Jackie. The action is a cast Farley, “glued and screwed” into the stock and fitted with a Jewell trigger. The stock is a Robertson Composites BRX, built with extra weight to make the gun a dedicated 13.5-pounder. The scope is a 50-power March.

Record Load: Jackie was running a stout load of Hodgdon H4198 powder, Federal 205M primers, and BIB (Robinette) 112gr flat-base bullets seated about .003″ into the lands. Load is “tuned for 3020 fps”. Cases are formed from Lapua 6mmBR brass using a dedicated forming barrel that blows the necks out to 0.330″ in one step. Trim length is 1.540″, longer than most 30 BRs. Jackie turns the necks for a total of .002″ clearance.

Permalink Gunsmithing, News 12 Comments »
July 2nd, 2010

Anschütz and BSA Martini Benchrest Rigs from MT Guns

We recently tested some interesting “club benchrest” rifles created by MT Guns. Recognizing the demand for highly accurate “club-level” smallbore BR guns, Mac Tilton and his crew at MT Guns have started producing two new types of affordable rimfire benchrest rifles. One line of rifles employs Anschütz actions refitted with modern SS barrels and benchrest stocks. As its second line of rimfire BR guns, MT Guns is offering highly-modified BSA Martinis, tricked out with bag-riders and premium barrels fitted with tuners. With the hot-rod Anschütz running about $2000.00 and the modified BSA costing about $1500.00, these guns should provide an affordable alternative for club-level rimfire benchrest shooters. Plus you won’t have to wait months or years to get a “big-name” smith to build you a rifle.

Anschütz 54 Benchrest MT Guns

Anschütz Modified for Serious Accuracy
For Anschütz fans, MT Guns has fitted high grade Benchmark barrels to the legendary Model 54-type action. These re-barreled Anschütz actions are placed in Don Stith laminated benchrest stocks. With a modern low-profile, wide-forearm stock, MT Gun’s Anschütz BR guns track beautifully. So far, MT Guns has created two of these Anschütz-based bench guns, both built from model 19XX donor rifles — which also provided superb 5018 triggers. Barrels on both guns are Benchmark — one a 2-groove, the other a 3-groove. In the Stith stocks, complete with aluminum butt plates and weighted tuners, both rifles tip the scales at about 10 pounds. Price for the Anschütz bench guns is $1995.00 with unfinished Stith stock. A fitted Hoehn barrel tuner adds $200 to the price, while a Picatinny rail is a $125.00 option.

Anschütz 54 Benchrest MT Guns

BSA MartiniBSA Martini — Classic Design with 21st Century Upgrades
If you want to get noticed at your club’s next smallbore rimfire match, then a modified BSA Martini may be the gun for you. These rifles, originally built for prone target shooting, earned a well-deserved reputation for accuracy. MT Guns has done some basic modifications allowing the unique BSA Martinis to be surprisingly competitive in the benchrest game. The factory barrels were “retired” in favor of a 2-groove or 3-groove reverse taper Benchmark barrel — the type of tube that has won big matches and set records. To improve the rifle’s “bench manners” MT Guns fits a custom-made low-friction polymer sled in the front. Fitted with this 3″-wide bag-rider, the gun is extremely stable. An optional Hoehn tuner allows you to tune barrel harmonics for maximum accuracy.

Speaking of which, readers may be asking “How accurate can this BSA Frankengun really be?” Amazingly accurate. Watch the slide show below. In the last frame you’ll see two very impressive 5-shot groups shot by the BSA Martini Int’l Mark III at 50 yards. The ammo was Lapua X-Act.

In the video below, Bruce Duncan of MT Guns explains the distinctive mechanical design of the lever-activated, tilting-block BSA Martini. Bruce also discusses the history of the BSA Martini marque, reviewing the many BSA Martini models produced in the last century. The BSA Martini International MK III is perhaps the most desirable in the long evolution of target Martinis built by BSA from the Great War era to the early 80s. These MK IIIs, dating from the 1960s, feature Benchmark 28 3/4″ reverse-taper barrels, Hoehn barrel tuners, and special bolt-on Picatinny rails fabricated by MT Guns. Bruce noted: “The MT Guns bag rider attaches to the rifle’s fore-end rail. During testing, we noted that the fore-and-aft position of the bag rider on the rail affected the rifle’s tune.” For more info, visit MTGuns.com or call the shop at (805) 720-7720.

Permalink - Articles, Gear Review 11 Comments »
March 5th, 2008

New Centerfire Tuner from ShadeTree Engineering

Butch Lambert of ShadeTree Engineering sent us these photos of his new barrel tuner for centerfire Benchrest guns. Developed with the aid of Shelley Davidson, the new tuner weighs 6.4 ounces and should work for both Heavy Varmint and Light Varmint Rifle. A special barrel contour has been developed so that even a 10.5-pound-class rifle can make weight with the tuner installed.

Butch tells us: “We were given a two-week delivery date by the CNC shop and an additional week for the laser engraving. Shilen and Bartlein barrels have agreed to to do a barrel contour of our design to be able to make weight with a 6.4 ounce tuner. Esten Spears, a Florida-based vibration engineer, did the basic design work and Varmint Al did the FEA analysis to prove the design. Ten prototypes are out there and the initial tests are looking real good. Esten’s studies have shown that the beyond the muzzle tuner will move the node out to the muzzle. Conversely, weights behind the muzzle will change the harmonics, but not move the node out to where it needs to be. The weights behind the muzzle need constant attention, much the same as changing your powder tune. We have found that the weight beyond the muzzle tuner has a much wider range of tune and takes very little tweeking during the day.”

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