August 5th, 2018

Semi-Auto 17 HMR Rifle — Savage’s A17

Savage 17 HMR .17  A17 A-17 varmint hunting semi-auto rifle accurateshooter.com

One of our favorite cartridges for small varmints is the 17 HMR. Yes, the newer 17 WSM rimfire has better ballistics, but 17 HMR ammunition is considerably less expensive, and you have a much larger selection of rifles and pre-chambered aftermarket barrels. And out to 150 yards or so the 17 HMR is great on ground squirrels and prairie dogs.

If you are looking for a 17 HMR varmint rifle, one rig you should definitely consider is the Savage A17. Now that this model is offered in a nice laminated thumbhole stock, you can get a fine little 17 HMR rifle for about $450.00. We much prefer the laminated stock A17 over the basic Tupperware version.

Savage A17 thumbhole stock

How does an A17 shoot? That question was answered a couple seasons back by Varminter.com in a First Hunt Report. Accurate and affordable, the Savage A17 is also the first .17 HMR to feature a delayed blow-back action. Eric Mayer, Editor of Varminter.com, put the semi-auto Savage A17 through its paces.

CLICK HERE for Savage A17 First Hunt Report on Varminter.com

Mayer wanted to see how the new Savage would perform, accuracy-wise, and he also wanted to see how the A17 fared in the field. Mayer achieved one-MOA accuracy with the Savage A17 using the latest CCI-brand ammo, and he demonstrated the A17 is wickedly effective on ground squirrels. Below we’ve provided highlights from Varminter.com’s Savage A17 First Hunt Report.

“I [collected] as many versions of the currently available .17 HMR ammunition as I could get my hands on. I had already picked-up and tested the new CCI A17 ammunition, so I filled up my ammo safe with other CCI ammunition, as well as Hornady and Winchester, including the lead free 15.5 grain NTX versions, also from Hornady and Winchester. After spending some time at the bench, I saw that this rifle shot the CCI A17 ammunition best, with most groups hovering right around 1″ to 1.20″ at one hundred yards, and some of the other ammo choices in the 1.25″ to 1.50″ range. This was with a warm barrel and in-between cleanings during the break-in process.”

Savage 17 HMR .17  A17 A-17 varmint hunting semi-auto rifle accurateshooter.com

Mayer found the A17 was easy to maintain: “I was very impressed by the ease of pulling the rifle apart for cleaning out in the field. Even with the scope mounted, I was able to quickly and easily remove the parts needed to give me complete access to the barrel through the breach, so cleaning was a breeze.”

A17 Reliability Lessons — Seat Those Rotary Magazines Correctly Folks
Some early A17 purchasers have noted occasional failures to feed. We believe this is because the magazine was not fully seated (and locked in place) in the firearm. The experience of Varminter.com’s Editor seems to confirm this. Mayer reports “As I began to shoot the rifle, I experienced what a few others have reported, with the magazine falling out while shooting. I quickly realized that I was not snapping the magazine into place every time. I found that popping in the magazine while the bolt was pulled, or locked back, resolved the issue. I did have a few failures to feed, but only on some of the older ammunition I was shooting, namely the first year Hornady ammo and the lead free ammo (which is about 3-4 years old). The newer ammo did not have any issues and functioned well, even while shooting some 10-round ‘mag-dumps’. The trigger is on the heavy side.”

A17 Reliability Shown in Video
The Savage A17 went through a very thorough manufacturer’s testing process before it was released to the market. In fact Savage put over 500,000 test rounds through A17 prototypes. When AccurateShooter.com tested the A17 at Media Day — it worked flawlessly, so long as you make sure the magazine is fully seated. We had zero issues, making us think that reported issues may be related to “driver error”; specifically not seating the magazine properly. Watch AccurateShooter.com video with rapid fire sequence.

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June 9th, 2018

Varmint Ammo — How Good is “Good Enough”?

Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure
Photo by Forum member R. Hardy. View Related Thread.

Summer’s here, so many folks will head to the hinterlands on prairie dog safaris. On a good P-Dog adventure, you may shoot hundreds of rounds over a long weekend. So you’ll need plenty of ammo. With these ammo volume requirements, you probably won’t have time to load to benchrest standards, and you may not have the budget for match-grade bullets. To save time you may throw (rather than weigh) your charges, or even load on a progressive press. This all raises the question of ammo accuracy — how good is “good enough”? A Sierra Bullets expert answers that question here — explaining how to efficiently load ammo for varmint work.

Ammunition Accuracy Requirements 101 — Varmint Ammo

Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure

This story based on article by Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd
I load and shoot ammunition for a living. In my duties here at Sierra I constantly test bullet accuracy for our production needs. Because of this, I shoot a variety of different calibers and cartridges on a daily basis and a large demand of this shooting is keeping the guns and loads tuned for optimum accuracy. I have a very narrow window of tolerances to maintain in order to provide our customers (you) with the most accurate bullets on the market.

I have learned many tricks and techniques over the years to tuning a load, prepping brass, and cleaning barrels to keep a gun shooting. I often utilize the things I have learned and take them to extreme levels when competing in a shooting event. I also often ignore most of these things (other than safety) and simplify the process if the shooting I will be doing does not warrant.

Recently I went on a prairie dog shoot in Wyoming with some good friends. The targets cooperated as did the weather with the exception of some challenging winds we experienced. We had a great time and make a lot of hits on those small rodents. When loading for the 223 Remington rifles and the TC Contender, I cut a few corners in the ammunition-loading process due to both time constraints and accuracy needed. When shooting at a prairie dog a miss is simply that, but when shooting at say the X-ring at 1000-yard competition, a poorly-placed shot [harms your] placing in the match. Because of this, I can afford to miss an occasional shot at a varmint due to ammunition capability without worry but will not allow the same tolerances in my match ammo. For the Wyoming trip I utilized a powder measure and simply dumped the charges into primed cases that had been full-length sized and primed.

Wyoming varmint hunt prarie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure

I had measured enough for length to know that while there was some variance all were under maximum length. I know there is some variation of the measure I utilized but not significant enough to warrant weighing every charge. When seating the bullets a competition seating die was used and I verified OAL on the occasional cartridge to make sure nothing changed.

The ammo produced shot under one inch at 200 yards in one of the guns I planned on taking on to Wyoming with me. [Editor: That was for TEN Shots — see below.] I knew I had loaded ammunition that was quite suitable for the task at hand which was evidenced by the number of hits I was able to make at fairly long range.

Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure

NOTE: The author, Tommy Todd, explains that, when loading ammo for F-Class matches, he uses more exacting methods. He weighs every charge and seats his bullets carefully with an arbor press. Todd adapts his methodology for his particular application. The lesson here is to load to the level of precision demanded by your discipline. READ Full Story HERE.

Varmint Prairie Dog hunting safari reloading powder measure Tommy Todd

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting, Reloading 1 Comment »
June 9th, 2018

Colt AR-15 Comp Rifle Kit — Good Option for DIY Gas Gun Build

Colt AR AR15 match rifle upper lower kit discount CDNN
The Colt Kit does NOT include barrel, bolt carrier group, charging handle, or magazine.

Thinking of building an AR-platform rifle for varmint hunts or PRS Gas Gun Matches? Here is an interesting option from Colt — a value-priced kit with upper, complete lower, handguard, and Magpul stock. To this, add your choice of barrel and optic. We like this option because the barrel is so important to accuracy and overall performance. This Colt package costs $599.99. Add a match-grade, finish-chambered barrel from Criterion or Krieger, plus bolt carrier group, and you’re in business.

There are some very nice features on this Colt Comp Kit. The Magpul PRS stock features a quick-adjustable cheek-piece and butt-plate — allowing you to easily adapt head position and LOP for your discipline of the day. (You may want a different LOP for prone shooting vs. bench shooting). The Magpul stock works well in a rear bag. In addition the handguard comes complete with Picatinny rails on top and on both sides, affording lots of options. We might move one of the rails to the bottom, however, so it could be used for a bipod mount. The upper receiver has an integral Picatinny rail for optics.

Colt AR AR15 match rifle upper lower kit discount CDNN

We like the Blackhawk grip which is more comfortable than the typical grips supplied by most black rifle makers. The lower includes a trigger group, but you can later upgrade to a Timney, Geissele, or other aftermarket trigger system.

Add Your Favorite Premium Barrel:
Colt AR AR15 match rifle upper lower kit discount CDNN

NOTE: This Colt Kit features a Sadlak Low Profile .750 Gas Block and carbine-length gas tube. With longer barrels you may need to adapt a longer tube, but that is an easy change.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Hot Deals, Tactical No Comments »
May 11th, 2018

Hunting Prairie Dogs in South Dakota with Dan Eigen

South Dakota Varmint Hunting Safari

South Dakota Varmint Hunting SafariNever had a chance to hunt prairie dogs in the American west? Then check out this video. Dan Eigen (aka “Walleye Dan”), host of the We Love It Outdoors Television series, head to South Dakota for some varmint hunting. Dan teams up with Varmint Hunter Association President Jeff Rheborg to patrol some South Dakota Dogtowns where things get serious. In the video, you’ll see p-dog hits at distances from 70 yards to roughly 450 yards. The hunters were shooting from portable, wood-topped swivel rests, using AR-platform rifles on X-type sandbag rest. (Rifle zeroing session is shown at the 5:30+ mark.)

Multiple cameras were employed so you can see both the shooter’s POV and close-ups of the prairie dogs downrange. Watch the shooters having fun with a prairie dog cut-out and some Tannerite at the 9:00-minute mark. This guys are having a grand old time sending critters to Prairie Dog Heaven — we think you’ll enjoy the video.

Prairie Dog Hunting Starts at 2:20 Time-Mark in Video:

(more…)

Permalink - Videos, Hunting/Varminting 3 Comments »
May 4th, 2018

Access 10+ Years of Shooting Industry Magazine for FREE

Shooting Industry magazine back issue digital archive gun mag

Looking for some interesting reading material? How about ten-and-a-half years of Shooting Industry Magazine? One hundred twenty-five issues of this popular magazine are available online in Shooting Industry’s digital archives. The latest May 2018 issue was just released. CLICK HERE to read the latest issue, which is available for FREE online (along with all back issues for the past ten years). NOTE: If you have any trouble with the Chrome browser, access the archives with this link using a different browser, such as Firefox: https://shootingindustry.com/digital-version/

Shooting Industry magazine back issue digital archive gun mag

Get Free Digital Magazines, 2008-2018

You can access, for free, ten years of Shooting Industry back issues, plus all the recent 2018 issues. CLICK HERE for the full index of all Shooting Industry back issues for the past decade (2008-2018). The newest issues are at the top, and you can scroll down all the way to 2008. Here are some highlights:

In the September 2017 issue there is an informative article on varmint and predator hunting. This talks about popular equipment for both coyote hunting and prairie-dog safaris.

Shooting Industry magazine back issue digital archive gun mag

And in the January, February, and March 2018 issues you’ll find Shooting Industry New Product Showcases. These monthly, multi-page articles highlight dozens of new rifles and shooting products introduced in recent months.

Shooting Industry magazine back issue digital archive gun mag

The March 2018 issue also has an interesting article on long gun sales trends. As you might expect, there is an over-supply of AR-platform rifles, which has led to deep discounting by some manufacturers. One vendor lamented: “That [MSR] market is flat-lining… the bottom has really dropped out of the market”. Shotguns remain the top home defense choice. In the bolt-action rifle market, 6.5 Creedmoor rigs are hot sellers, with sales of both competition and hunting rifles in this chambering. For the general hunting market, .30 Cals remain popular: .308 Win, .30-06, and big .300-class magnums.

Shooting Industry magazine back issue digital archive gun mag

Permalink - Articles, Hunting/Varminting, New Product No Comments »
December 5th, 2017

Custom 6-6.5×47 Varmint rifle with BAT Action and Krieger Barrel

6mm Creedmoor 6-6.5x47 Lapua Varmint Rifle BAT action Krieger Barrel

With all the noise lately about the 6.5 Creedmoor, it’s easy to forget that before we had the Creedmoor, we had another accurate, efficient mid-sized cartridge, the 6.5×47 Lapua. Just as the 6.5 Creedmoor inspired the 6mm Creedmoor, the 6.5×47 Lapua has been successfully necked-down to 6mm (.243) for a 6-6.5×47 variant. This has worked great in a number of roles — benchrest, varminting, and tactical/PRS. This article, from a few seasons back, shows how the 6-6.5×47 Lapua can be successfully packaged as an accurate, potent 6mm varminter.

The 6-6.5×47 Lapua for Precision Long-Range Varminting

6mm Creedmoor 6-6.5x47 Lapua Varmint Rifle BAT action Krieger Barrel
Report by Stan Stewart

6mm Creedmoor 6-6.5x47 Lapua Varmint Rifle BAT action Krieger Barrel6mm AI ‘Sellers Remorse’ Spurs New 6mm Project
After selling my 6mm Remington Ackley Improved a couple of years ago and wishing I had not, I thought about a new customer rifle for work on Prairie Dog towns and New York wood chucks at 600+ yards. I have a .223 AR and 22-250 for medium ranges but I missed my 6mm AI for long-range work. The 22-250 is a fine chambering, but it is hard on barrels, and I think the 6mms may have an accuracy edge out past 400 yards. Also, shooters today enjoy a vast collection of really great 6mm bullets. Barrel life and bullet ooptions were two main reasons I decided to build a 6mm rather that another .224-caliber gun. But the question remained — what 6mm chambering to choose? Although I missed my 6mm AI, I did not miss fire-forming the brass, so when I learned about the 6-6.5×47 Lapua, a wildcat case easily formed by necking down the parent 6.5×47 case, I thought this might be the answer.

I started doing serious research on the 6-6.5×47 Lapua. I received a lot of good advice from AccurateShooter.com and other websites on the pros and cons of the new cartridge. Most reports were positive. I also talked to gunsmiths — quite a few recommended the new cartridge as well. Some of the cartridge attributes I liked were the small rifle primer, enough case capacity to efficiently reach 3700 fps with a 70gr bullet and 3400 fps with an 85-grain, without being terribly over-bore.

Most important was the 6-6.5×47’s reputation for inherent accuracy without being finicky like my 6mm AI (my experience). So, having chosen my cartridge, I started asking for gunsmith recommendations. Again the folks on the AccurateShooter Forum were very helpful. After many conversations I settled on Dave Bruno in Dayton, Pennsylvania. He was a good choice. After working with Dave on this project, I could not be happier. He was very helpful considering this was my first complete custom gun.

6mm Creedmoor 6-6.5x47 Lapua Varmint Rifle BAT action Krieger Barrel Dave Bruno

Putting Together the New Rig with Premium Components
From the get-go, I knew I wanted a BAT action and Krieger barrel. BAT Machine and Krieger Barrels enjoy a great reputation in the shooting industry. BATs are beautifully machined, smooth, and strong. Krieger cut-rifled barrels are known for dependable accuracy and long barrel life. While many 6-6.5×47 shooters choose a 8-twist barrel to shoot the 100-108gr bullets, I would be using smaller, varmint-weight bullets, so I selected a 1:10″-twist Krieger. This would allow me to shoot bullets from 60 grains up to 90 grains. Dave chambered the barrel with an 0.269″ neck and fluted the barrel to save weight. I also had Dave install a Vais muzzle brake. The Vais brake is more expensive than some others, but it is a proven product. Dave fitted the BAT with a 2 oz. Jewell trigger, mounted with a +20 MOA scope rail, then pillar-bedded the BAT into a McMillan Hunter-Class-style fiberglass stock. The scope is a 12-42x56mm Nightforce NSX, mounted in a set of Nightforce rings I hand-lapped for better contact.

6mm Creedmoor 6-6.5x47 Lapua Varmint Rifle BAT action Krieger Barrel

Berger Bullets 88gr varmint bullet 6-6.5x47 Lapua varmint rifleLoad Development for Varminting
I had selected a few powders and bullets recommended by other 6-6.5×47 shooters and started by seating all the bullets .005″ off the lands. The powders I selected were Varget, Vihtavuori N550, and Reloder 15.

I was very pleased with the 88gr Bergers. In initial testing, they grouped well and I was able to drive them to 3400 fps easily. As I wanted a gun for long-range varmint work, I was hoping the 10-twist barrel would provide enough stability for the heavier weight bullets. It did — the 10-twist worked great! I was able to shoot the lighter weight bullets very well and the 88s were superb. With a BC of 0.391, leaving the barrel at 3400 fps, these bullets were still traveling at 2600 fps at 600 yards!

6mm Creedmoor 6-6.5x47 Lapua Varmint Rifle BAT action Krieger Barrel

I did wonder how well the 88s would work on varmints given their small meplats (and limited expansion). A call to Berger reassured me the 88s should work fine on small varmints. The test came last summer when I made a trip to NY and got to visit my old Chuck hunting farms with my new rifle and old hunting buddy. The longest shot we had was only 300 yards, but the Berger 88s did great. None of the eight critters we nailed so much as wiggled after they were hit.

I did a lot of testing, recording group sizes for a variety of different bullets and powders. With all the data collected in a spreadsheet, I was able to “crunch the numbers”, and that helped me choose my preferred loads. By looking at the average group size for the individual bullets and powders, the data drew a clear picture of what the rifle shot best. Below is a chart showing comparative group sizes, arranged by both bullet type and powder brand.

6mm Creedmoor 6-6.5x47 Lapua Varmint Rifle BAT action Krieger Barrel

READ Full Article with Bullet Chron Data and Accuracy Chart »

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 6 Comments »
October 3rd, 2017

New Savage 10/110 Tactical Rifle with Modular Chassis

Savage 10/110 model 10 PRS Stealth Evolution tactical rifle 6mm 6.5 Creedmoor .338 Lapua Magnum

Savage Introduces 10/110 Stealth Evolution in Six Popular Chamberings
Savage has just introduced the new 10/110 Stealth Evolution Chassis Rifle in six chamberings, including the PRS-pleasing 6mm Creedmoor and 6.5 Creedmoor. This rifle will be offered in right-hand and left-hand models. Big Boomer fans can order a .300 Winchester Magnum or the .338 Lapua Magnum.

.223 Rem, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win, .300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua Magnum

Savage 10/110 model 10 PRS Stealth Evolution tactical rifle 6mm 6.5 Creedmoor .338 Lapua Magnum

The 10/110 Stealth Evolution pairs a heavy fluted 5R barrel with a monolithic aluminum chassis finished in bronze Cerakote. The hard polymer-ceramic coating resists abrasion, corrosion, and impact damage. The rifle features a factory-blueprinted 10/110 action, matched with user-adjustable AccuTrigger. The Stealth Evolution comes standard with an extra-long top rail and factory muzzle brake. MSRP for standard calibers is $1799.00 (.300 Win Mag $1999.00 MSRP; .338 Lapua Magnum $2149.00 MSRP).

Savage 10/110 model 10 PRS Stealth Evolution tactical rifle 6mm 6.5 Creedmoor .338 Lapua Magnum

AccurateShooter Comment: We like the availability of the 6mm Creedmoor chambering, which is finding favor among many PRS shooters. The 6mm CM has less recoil and a flatter trajectory — plus 6mm bullets are cheaper. Savage did the 6mm version right. At 26″, the barrel is long enough, and the 1:7.5″ twist can stabilize the new 110gr SMKs. That Magpul PRS GEN3 stock looks good — controls are tucked away and the toe can be used with a sand-bag. Some other tactical stocks have rails and/or other “pointy bits” that snag on a rear bag. In .223 Rem or 6mm Creedmoor, this rifle would be a good choice for Prairie Dog safaris. We do wish Savage offered a front sled for bag use though.

Savage 10/110 model 10 PRS Stealth Evolution tactical rifle 6mm 6.5 Creedmoor .338 Lapua Magnum

Permalink New Product, Tactical 3 Comments »
September 27th, 2017

Hunting Gear: Padded, Slip-On Fore-End Rifle Sleeve

RRR gun rest padded neoprene

Here is a simple but effective product that can benefit varminters and game-hunters. The slip-on, padded RRR (“triple R”) gun rest cushions your rifle on any surface and helps eliminate noise when shifting the gun from one shooting position to another. The RRR slip-on rest is made of neoprene (wet suit material) with a built-in, thick Armaflex foam cushion on the bottom. This $19.95 sleeve protects the finish of your rifle, while providing a cushioned layer between your rifle and the supporting surface.

Hunters will appreciate how the RRR sleeve quiets the gun when the forearm is placed on supporting surface. The padded, neoprene covering acts like a sound deadener. With the RRR, the rifle forearm doesn’t clang or rattle, even when you set the gun on a metal frame or hard surface.

Video Shows RRR in Use in the Field

RRR gun rest padded neopreneThis padded sleeve works great when shooting from a truck, providing a padded surface when aiming from a truck mirror or door frame. Likewise, the RRR rest works well in the field when shooting from a tree-limb, or a boulder.

The patented RRR slip-on rest fits rifle stocks from 1¼ inches to 2¼ inches wide, and will not interfere with your scope. Installation is easy — after unloading the rifle, simply slide the RRR over the barrel and fore-end, with the RRR logo on top, so that the cushion section is under the rifle stock.

RRR gun rest padded neoprene

Key Benefits of the RRR Slip-On Padded Fore-Arm Rest
1. The RRR slip-on rest cushions your rifle. This helps to keep the shot from going high even when the rifle is placed on a hard surface.
2. The RRR protects the finish on the stock of your rifle from scratches when resting on hard surfaces.
3. The neoprene, water-resistant RRR works well even in wet or snowy weather. (But you should remove from gun after a wet hunting session.)

RRR gun rest padded neoprene

Permalink Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
August 16th, 2017

PickleFork Rail Accessory for Eliseo Tubeguns

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork foreend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have one match rifle that could do double-duty — shoot position matches (with sling), and then function as an F-Open gun with front rest? Now that’s possible with Gary Eliseo’s clever “PickleFork” accessory for his line of tubeguns. This accessory also works great for load testing and varmint hunting.

Competition Machine’s Gary Eliseo is a very smart designer as well as a talented shooter. The inventor/builder of the popular Competition Machine Tubegun chassis systems, Gary has come up with something new, which he calls the PickleForks. These are rails that fit to the sides of the tubular fore-end/handguard on his chassis systems. This allows you to use a pedestal-style front rest for F-Class competition. It also provides a much more stable platform for load testing, varmint hunting, or any kind of rest-assisted precision shooting.

These PickleForks transform a Tubegun into an ultra-stable, straight-tracking rig when used with a competition-style front rest.

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Gary explains: “Now you can have the same super low-boreline, long ‘wheelbase’ and vertical sides of our innovative F1 F-Class chassis system for your tube chassis. The new PickleForks attach directly to the sides of the F-Class/Tactical fore-ends, no modifications are required. They are very rigid with no flex or twist and make the rifle track like it’s on rails.” The new Eliseo Competition Machine PickleForks are offered for a very reasonable $70.00 per pair, with Cerakote finish. (You get two metal units, one for each side of the fore-arm). For more information, visit www.GotXRing.com or call (928) 649-0742.

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

New Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing No Comments »
August 13th, 2017

P-Dogs Beware — Dustin’s Wicked Accurate 17 HMR

Volquartsen 17 HMR Dustin Ellermann 17 HMR

Top Shot former Champion Dustin Ellerman likes his Volquartsens, and we can see why. With his latest 17 HMR rimfire varminter, he’s seen some outstanding accuracy with CCI ammo. On his Facebook page, Dustin reports: “Prepping for prairie dogs and I’m floored by this cold, sub-half-inch group shot with the Volquartsen Custom 17 HMR at 100 yards.” This thumbhole-stock rifle features a Bowers Group USS suppressor, and 3-12x56mm Meopta Scope. Dustin tried different types of CCI 17 HMR ammo. This small group was shot with CCI A17 ammo.

Volquartsen 17 HMR Dustin Ellermann 17 HMR

A couple years back Dustin took another Volquartsen 17 HMR on a Prairie Dog hunt in Wyoming. He was impressed with the rifle (shown below) and the little rimfire cartridge. Dustin says the effective range of the 17 HMR is farther than one might expect: “I made hits out to 300 yards. 200 yards was easy as long as the wind wasn’t too bad.”

Here’s the Volquartsen 17 HMR Dustin used in Wyoming in 2015:
Volquartsen 17 HMR Dustin Ellermann 17 HMR

After that 2015 P-Dog expedition, Dustin became a fan of the 17 HMR cartridge: “Never paid it much attention before now because the ammo is five times more expensive than .22 LR and I mostly target shoot. However, for prairie dogs, the 17 HMR is amazing!” Consider this — Hornady’s 17 HMR ammo pushes a 17gr V-Max bullet at 2550 fps, twice as fast as typical .22 LR rounds.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
July 18th, 2017

New Mexico War Wagon for Varmint Safaris

Shooting Varmint Bench Trailer

AccurateShooter Forum member John H. of New Mexico (aka “Skratch”) has created an impressive mobile shooting bench that he can haul with his ATV. This trailer-mounted, movable bench is built on a central tubular spine that also serves as the tongue for the trailer, which attaches to a standard hitch. The bench offers two (2) shooting positions so it works for both left-handed and right-handed shooters.

Up front, for storage, a surplus .50-Cal ammo can is secured to the trailer frame. The V-shaped middle section of the wood benchtop looks to be reinforced with a metal stiffener frame on the underside. The front section of the bench is supported by twin tubular uprights attached to the box-section axle housing. The two wooden bench-style seats (on left and right) ride on a cross-tube. At the ends of that cross-tube are adjustable legs for additional support.

Shooting Varmint Bench Trailer

Great Rig for New Mexico Varmint Hunting
There are plenty of great varmint hunting areas in Skratch’s home state of New Mexico — you’ll find some huge prairie dog fields there. But to get the best results on a varmint-hunting field session, you need a solid shooting station that can be easily hauled to new locations as needed. It looks like John (aka “Scratch”) has come up with an outstanding “War Wagon” for his New Mexico varmint safaris.

Click on image frames to see full-size photos

Some readers wanted to know how John’s War Wagon is positioned in the field and if it is ever detached from John’s ATV. John answers: “We do unhook the 4-wheeler for target-checking unless we have an extra along which is usually the case. That way we can level the table front to rear. We have an umbrella from a patio table to provide shade on extra warm days.”

War Wagon Construction Details
John told us: “My brother-in-law and I built this mobile bench a few years ago. The axle, wheels and tire are a tag axle from a small Chevy car, obtained from a salvage yard for about $35-$40 a decade ago. The tubular frame is drill stem, while the bench-top and seats are 3/4′” plywood. Under the plywood we fitted rails so we can slide our target stand under the benchtop for secure travel. The total cost for everything (including storage box) was about $250-$300.”

We set the bench and seat heights so that, with adults, the rifle sets straight level to the shoulder. For the smaller ‘younguns’ we just use a sofa pillow to raise them up. (Yes, adjustable seat heights would be great.) The ammo box holds our rifle rest, sand bags, spotting scope, and miscellaneous gear. Options are a couple of lawn chairs, and a cooler of brew (for after the shooting is done).

Permalink - Articles, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
March 24th, 2017

Spring Has Sprung & Varmints Await — 5 Items for Varminters

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog
This custom war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado.

It’s officially Spring — the Vernal Equinox took place this Monday March 20, 2017. For many shooters, the coming of Spring means that it’s time to head out to the varmint fields. Here are five items that can help ensure successful spring varmint adventures.

Five Great Products for Varmint Shooters

1. BarrelCool In-Action Fan

Busy Varmint shooters may expend hundreds of rounds in a day. That’s tough on barrels. One way to extend your round count is to use the ingenious BarrelCool device. This little yellow gadget fits in your action with a blower tube that goes into the chamber. A small electric fan blows cooling air through the barrel. It really works — folks who’ve purchased the Barrel Cool and run temp strips on their barrel say the BarrelCool can significantly reduce the time it takes to cool down a hot barrel.

barrelcool cool fan empty Chamber indicator

In the past, folks have tried various methods to cool barrels: water flushed through the bore, CO2 tanks, even battery-operated fish pumps. BarrelCool is a simpler, less costly, and much handier solution. Priced at $34.99, this small device can potentially can save you money by extending barrel life. To see how Barrelcool works, visit BarrelCool.com. There you’ll find video demos of BarrelCool units in both bolt-action and AR-type rifles.

2. Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag Sandbag

On most varmint hunts we spend most of the time shooting from a portable bench with a pedestal-type rest (we like the SEB Mini). But it’s nice having a big, heavy X-Type sandbag rig also. These four-chamber designs, such as the Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag, allow shooting from a truck hood or any flat surface. Some rifles with narrow fore-ends really benefit from the firm “hug” provided by these “butterfly” style sandbags. We like the 15″ Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag, currently $53.10 at Amazon. Durable and well-made, it will provide years of service. Forum member Stoner24mkiv likes a Bulls Bag for shooting from a vehicle. He also suggests: “[take] an adjustable bipod if you are going to do any walking. Have a fanny pack or backpack for extra ammo, water, bore-snake, etc. when you go on your walkabouts. Bring a Boonie hat for blocking the sun, sun glasses, sunscreen. High leather boots.”

Bulls Bag sandbag varmint rest front

3. Scope with Built-In Laser Rangefinder

The Burris Eliminator III is an impressive piece of electro-optical technology. With a push of a button, a built-in laser rangefinder senses the distance to your target and the Eliminator’s microprocessor instantly calculates the required hold-over based on your load’s ballistics. The calculated aiming point is then displayed in the reticle with an illuminated red dot on the vertical cross-hair. Just put the red dot on the target and make the shot. Easy as that. If you are working a large prairie dog field and constantly moving near to far and back again, this scope is really handy. Laze, adjust aim with the dot, and squeeze the trigger. Its that simple. We’ve used this scope out to 500 yards on small steel targets and it worked flawlessly.

Burris Eliminator III laser optic Scope

4. Bulk .22 Cal Varmint Bullets — Under $50.00 for 500

Right now Midsouth Shooters’ Supply is running a special on Varmint Nightmare XTreme Bullets. Available in both hollow point (HP) and lead-tip soft point (SP) styles, you can get these bullets for under $50.00 for 500. The .224 55gr Flat Base Soft Point variety is on sale this week for just $42.92 for 500 bullets (that works out to just $8.58 per hundred). We’ve loaded these in .223 Rem, 22 Dasher, and 22-250 cartridges and they worked well (considering the really low price).

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog

5. Low-Fouling Power for High-Volume Varmint Loads

For high-shot-count varmint safaris, you want a clean-burning powder that minimizes barrel fouling. While there are many great powders for the .223 Rem, we like Hodgdon CFE 223 for our high-volume varmint loads. This powder really seems to keep barrels cleaner. Originally developed for U.S. rapid-fire military systems, CFE 223 incorporates a proprietary chemistry named “Copper Fouling Eraser”. Based on tests with extended shot strings, Hodgdon claims that, by using CFE™223, match shooters, varmint hunters, and AR shooters can maintain accuracy for longer periods, with less barrel-cleaning time. You may want to check it out.

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
February 15th, 2017

P-Dog Gone Good Deal on Varmint Bullets

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog
This custom war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado.

If you’re planning a spring Prairie Dog adventure, it’s time to load up a big supply of ammo. On a 4-day varmint safari you can easily shoot 800 rounds or more in a prime P-Dog location. To save on ammo costs for high-volume shooting, it makes sense to buy components in bulk. Here’s a super deal on bullets for your .224-caliber varmint rig.

Right now Midsouth Shooters’ Supply is running a special on Varmint Nightmare XTreme Bullets. Available in both hollow point (HP) and lead-tip soft point (SP) styles, you can get these bullets for under $50.00 for 500. The .224 55gr Flat Base Soft Point variety is on sale this week for just $42.92 for 500 bullets (that works out to just $8.58 per hundred). We’ve loaded these in .223 Rem, 22 Dasher, and 22-250 cartridges and they worked well (considering the really low price).

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog

For shorter-range ground squirrel loads, we also like the .224 34gr Flat Base Hollow Point at $44.25/500. These work great in a .221 Fireball (using Lapua .221 Fireball brass of course).

Powder Suggestion for High-Volume Varmint Loads
For high-shot-count varmint safaris, you want a clean-burning powder that minimizes barrel fouling. While there are many great powders for the .223 Rem, we like Hodgdon CFE 223 for our high-volume varmint loads. This powder really seems to keep barrels cleaner. Originally developed for U.S. rapid-fire military systems, CFE 223 incorporates a proprietary chemistry named “Copper Fouling Eraser”. Based on tests with extended shot strings, Hodgdon claims that, by using CFE™223, match shooters, varmint hunters, and AR shooters can maintain accuracy for longer periods, with less barrel-cleaning time. You may want to check it out.

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog

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May 5th, 2016

Prairie Dog Safari in South Dakota with Dan Eigen

South Dakota Varmint Hunting Safari

South Dakota Varmint Hunting SafariNever had a chance to hunt prairie dogs in the American west? Then check out this video. Dan Eigen (aka “Walleye Dan”), host of the We Love It Outdoors Television series, head to South Dakota for some varmint hunting. Dan teams up with Varmint Hunter Association President Jeff Rheborg to patrol some South Dakota Dogtowns where things get serious. In the video, you’ll see p-dog hits at distances from 70 yards to roughly 450 yards. The hunters were shooting from portable, wood-topped swivel rests, using AR-platform rifles on X-type sandbag rest. (Rifle zeroing session is shown at the 5:30+ mark.)

Multiple cameras were employed so you can see both the shooter’s POV and close-ups of the prairie dogs downrange. Watch the shooters having fun with a prairie dog cut-out and some Tannerite at the 9:00-minute mark. This guys are having a grand old time sending critters to Prairie Dog Heaven — we think you’ll enjoy the video.

Prairie Dog Hunting Starts at 2:00 Time-Mark in Video:

South Dakota Varmint Hunting Safari

South Dakota Varmint Hunting Safari

NOTE: This video actually covers three sequences: 1) Three-gun training; 2) Prairie Dog Hunting; and 3) Coyote Hunting. We’ve embedded the video so it plays back the Prairie Dog segment from 2:00 to 15:15. If you wish, you can slide the controls forward or back to watch the other segments.

Video found by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
March 18th, 2016

Benefits of Wind Flags for Varmint Hunting

Improve Your Hit Ratio by Using Wing Flags
It’s not unusual for varmint hunters to invest $3,000.00 in a custom rifle, pay thousands more for spotting scope and laser rangefinder, and spend countless hours loading ultra-precise ammo. Yet, when they head off to the prairie dog fields, they’ll omit an essential piece of gear that can make the difference between a hit and a miss.

We’re talking about windflags. Many casual shooters, varmint hunters, and even some “tactical” shooters disdain windflags as gadgets suited only for the accuracy-obsessed benchrest crowd. In fact, windflags are just as important for the varminter as for the benchrest competitor. You may think that you can easily notice a major wind shift. But consider this, a change from a light 2.5 mph left breeze to a 2.5 mph right is a 5 mile per hour switch. That is enough to make you miss a prairie dog even at just 200 yards.

Here’s a chart that shows the effect of a 5 mph full-value (i.e. 90-degree) wind change at various distances. The values assume a typical .250 G1 BC varmint bullet launched at 3500 fps at a 3″-wide critter (center hold).

Varmint Hunter Wind Flag

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on windflags. Even a bit of surveyors’ tape on a post is better than nothing. A simple windflag, placed at your shooting station, helps minimize the effect of cross-winds. If you align your shooting position so the breeze is at your back you can shoot with greater confidence even in high winds. Watch the way the windflag blows, and shoot at the dog mounds that are directly downwind.

Our friend Boyd Allen offers another tip: “When you go varminting, be sure to bring some kind of portable target stand. Accuracy or zero problems are much easier to diagnose and remedy if you can set up a target at 100 yards. A simple wood, A-Frame design, hinged at the top, works well, stores flat, and is easy to build.”

Windflag photo courtesy Flying Fish Fundamentals, makers of single-and dual-vane wind flags.
Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
August 2nd, 2015

5000+ FPS with 22BR Improved and 30gr Berger Bullets

Forum member XmarksSpot has been shooting a wicked fast varmint cartridge that has broken the 5000-fps barrier using Berger 30gr varmint bullets. That’s some serious velocity! The parent case is a 6mmBR, which is then improved and necked down to .224 caliber. XmarksSpot reports:

Some people think 5000+ fps is mythical. Well just thought I’d let you guys know that I got 5239 fps a couple weeks ago shooting 30-grainers with my 224 McDonald, a wildcat cartridge based on an improved 6BR case necked down to 224. (This case is very similar to a 22 Dasher.) The bullet used is the 30gr Berger. (The 40s run fast too — about 4800 fps.) The rig is a Rem 700 with a 30″ Hart barrel. Below is the case before and after forming. As you can see it has a 40° shoulder and far more case capacity than a 22 BR (a 22 Dasher case holds about 41.0 grains H20). My most accurate loads are with 50-52gr bullets, with bugholes the norm at 4200 fps. The 40gr bullets will do 4800+ fps.

224 McDonald 22 Dasher

224 McDonald 22 Dasher

This 224 McDonald wildcat was originally developed by Charles McDonald. He has been developing and chambering custom cartridges for years. Editor’s Note: Many folks may not be aware of the little .224-caliber 30gr Berger varmint bullet, Berger item # 22301. This bullet is not on Berger’s current production list but some vendors may still have “old stock” inventory. The little 30-grainer has an 0.119 G1 BC and will work in 1:15″ or faster twist barrels. For more info, visit BergerBullets.com.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 11 Comments »
June 6th, 2015

Tikka T3 — Video Reviews from New Zealand and Scotland

Tikka T3 Review new zealand hunting scotland varmint rifle

The Tikka T3 rifle is very popular with hunters around the globe — for good reason. These rifles offer smooth-running actions, easy sub-MOA accuracy with good ammo, crisp triggers, and ultra-reliable detachable box magazines. The Tupperware stocks aren’t super-rigid, but they are comfortable and easy to handle. If you are looking for a hunting rifle, the Tikka T3 is a smart choice, offering good performance for the price (which starts at less than $580.00 for the T3 Lite version). The T3 series is offered in a wide selection of chamberings, from .204 Ruger up to the large magnums.

Here are two good Tikka T3 video reviews, the first from New Zealand, the second from Scotland. Both reviewers are experienced hunters who explain why the T3 is well-suited for hunting applications. In the first video, Mitch of BushBrothersNZ reviews a T3 with polymer stock and stainless barrel chambered for the .270 Win. Mitch focuses on the T3’s controls and functions, with particular attention to the operation of trigger, safety, and bolt.

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May 30th, 2015

New High-Tech Chassis for 22 BR Varmint Rig

Eberlestock M2 Cobra rifle chassis stock

Machinist/gunsmith Paul Fakenbridge (aka “Boltfluter” on our Shooters’ Forum) recently completed an interesting upgrade to his favorite 22BR varmint rig. This rifle, Paul’s “Rock Chuck Killing Machine”, was originally fitted with an HS Precision fiberglass stock. Now Paul’s 22 BR sports new hardware — a sleek new Eberlestock M2 Cobra Chassis in “Dry Earth” color. The $995.00 M2 Cobra is a one-piece metal stock system that mounts a Rem-700 type action in a V-block. The cheekpad height and LOP are adjustable via spacers. The M2 Cobra uses AICS-type mags and can fit Picatinny rails on the side.

Eberlestock M2 Cobra rifle chassis stock

Check out the “Before” and “After” photos below…

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Permalink Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
April 30th, 2015

New-for-2015 Varmint Rigs Showcased in Shooters’ Forum

In our Shooters’ Forum, there is an interesting thread showcasing a number of new varmint rifles built for the 2015 season. Here are six of the noteworthy builds highlighted in the thread. See more rifles in this Forum thread: Let’s See Your New For 2015 Rigs.

From member Greg T
6mm AI on RBLP Bat Three-Lug Action
Krieger 1:14″-Twist, 28″ Tube
.274 Neck throated for 75 gr V-Max
Blue / Black Shurley Brothers Lowrider Stock
Comment: I think I have found my favorite caliber as now I basically have twins – one for 87 grainers and one for 75 grainers. Yes this is overkill (and financially not the best decision) but it’s fun, so what the heck. With such a slow twist rate, I think I can push the 75s to 3850 fps or so.

Varmint Hunting rifles accurateshooter forum

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Permalink Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
April 26th, 2015

MagPul Offers NEW Hunter X-22 Stock for Ruger 10/22

Magpul caused a stir with its surprise introduction of an advanced stock for Rem 700 actions. Now Magpul has followed that with a product that could be even more successful — a tactical-style reinforced polymer stock for the popular Ruger 10/22 rimfire rifle.

Hunter Stock X-22 Ruger 10/22 rimfire smallbore stock

Priced at just $139.95, Magpul’s new Hunter X-22 stock features tactical styling and adjustable ergonomics. Like Magpul’s Hunter 700 stock for the Rem 700, the new X-22 stock offers adjustable length-of-pull (LOP) via spacers, plus adjustable comb height via optional Cheek Riser Kits. To ensure compatibility with all Ruger 10/22s, the Magpul X-22 stock features an innovative reversible barrel tray that fits heavy bull barrels as with as thinner, factory-contour barrels. Fitted with M-LOK accessory slots and a rubber buttpad, Magpul’s new Hunter X-22 will be offered in four colors: Black, Gray, Dark Earth (Tan), Olive Drab (Green). See all four colors below:

Hunter Stock X-22 Ruger 10/22 rimfire smallbore stock

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