May 23rd, 2019

Suppressor Myth Busting — Do Silencers Degrade Accuracy?

Shooting Sports Suppressor Sound

Shooting Sports Suppressor SoundAre sound suppressors useful in competition shooting? In some disciplines, and in venues where sound “moderators” are permitted, the answer is “yes”. Some years ago Shooting Sports USA (SSUSA), published an interesting article about the use of sound suppressors (aka “cans”). The article explores the use of suppressors in Europe and in tactical matches in North America. You’ll also find an explanation of the rules and regulations governing suppressor ownership and use in the United States.

Former SSUSA Editor Chip Lohman tested three rifles from the bench and found that suppressors did not harm accuracy (at least with these rigs). In fact, all three test rifles (.223 Rem, .308 Win, and .338 Lapua Magnum), shot slightly better 5-shot groups at 200 yards with a suppressor than without. However, the suppressors did alter point of impact. Interestingly, velocity standard deviation (SD) values were lower with suppressors in place for all three test rifles. This observation calls for further study.*

CLICK HERE to Read Suppressor Article in Shooting Sports USA.

Shooting Sports Suppressor Sound

So the use of suppressors in competition could be a good thing. However, in the United States, current NRA High Power rules prohibit the use of sound suppressors. NRA Rule 3.16.1 subsection (a) states: “Sound Suppressors are not authorized for use in High Power competition.” In addition, there are some practical problems with suppressors — the heat rising off of a naked suppressor can create mirage problems (that’s why some shooters wrap their cans with a cover).

Despite such issues, it is now common to see moderators on rifles used in non-NRA-sanctioned tactical matches such as the Precision Rifle Series. For example, many competitors in the popular Steel Safari field challenge match use suppressors. The photo below shows our friend Zak Smith competing in the Steel Safari with his suppressed Accuracy International rifle.

Zak Smith Thunder Beast Steel Safari Suppressor

Commentary — What Can We Conclude?
Obviously, this three-rifle SSUSA test was not definitive. One well might observe different results with different types of suppressors, fitted to different kinds of rifles. Mounting a suppressor to any barrel will certainly affect harmonics and “tune”. But this SSUSA study does suggest that tactical shooters, who are allowed to use suppressors in competition, may find that the benefits of suppressors (significantly reduced recoil and less noise) outweigh any meaningful accuracy loss, at least in PRS-type matches.

*The article cautions that one should not extrapolate too much from the SD numbers, given the low number of test shots. Chronograph-maker Ken Oehler, when asked to comment on the SD values stated: “[You should] report the observed SDs, but draw no conclusions until… you can do more testing with larger sample sizes.”
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October 4th, 2017

Amazing See-Through Suppressor Video from Smarter Every Day

Suppressor silencer acrylic see-through Soteria Thunder Beast Arms Zak Smith Smarter Every Day

Popular YouTube Channel Smarter Every Day recently released a fascinating video featuring rifle suppressors with see-through acrylic sleeves. The team filmed shots through the suppressors using ultra-high-speed (110,000 frame per second) cameras. When played back in super-slow-motion, you can see the flame propagate through the suppressor and the bullet move through each baffle before it exists the muzzle. Notably, you can see different internal flame effects depending on the baffle design. Watch the results in the video below — it’s mesmerizing:

See Through Suppressor in Super Slow Motion (110,000 fps) — Click Arrow to Watch:

Soteria Suppressors designed the unique see-through suppressors.
Suppressor silencer acrylic see-through Soteria Thunder Beast Arms Zak Smith Smarter Every Day

Suppressor silencer acrylic see-through Soteria Thunder Beast Arms Zak Smith Smarter Every Day

The Science of Suppressor Design

Commentary by Zak Smith of Thunder Beast Arms Corp.

Suppressor silencer acrylic see-through Soteria Thunder Beast Arms Zak Smith Smarter Every DayThe high speed transparent silencer video is pretty neat. It certainly demonstrates, to some extent, the violence that happens inside centerfire rifle suppressor when firing.

At Thunder Beast Arms Corp. we have carefully studied the forces/pressures operating inside suppressors. The “uncorking” pressure when the bullet exits the muzzle is typically in the 8,000 to 15,000 psi range, but some combinations of cartridge and barrel length can extend this up to the 25,000 psi range. Job #1 of a suppressor designer is to build a suppressor that won’t explode. Job #2 is to build one that quiets down the muzzle report significantly. Doing that well, with the minimum amount of material, is the tricky part.

Suppressor design is both art and science, and we approach our R&D from three sides: experience, experimental testing, and computation.

There are a lot of opinions about how to design a quiet suppressor. Many of these are based on preconceived notions of how suppression “should work”. These theories may or may not work when built and tested in the real world. Where the rubber hits the road is experimental testing. I would say that a majority of knowledge about “How to design a quiet suppressor” comes from building hundreds or thousands of prototypes and testing them with good equipment in a cogent experimental process. Some of those theories pan out, but many of them do not.

Thunder Beast Arms Tests its Suppressors in the Lab and in the Field.
Suppressor silencer acrylic see-through Soteria Thunder Beast Arms Zak Smith Smarter Every Day

Scientific Software Aids Design
We have also made a large investment in computation fluid dynamics (CFD) and finite-element analysis (FEA) software and use it in addition to other computer-model analysis to look at the physics that occurs inside the suppressor. This type of analysis gives information about material effects that is pretty much impossible to get any other way. Even so, the computer cannot tell you how to design a
suppressor, and the results must always be checked and compared to reality.

Suppressor silencer acrylic see-through Soteria Thunder Beast Arms Zak Smith Smarter Every Day

Thunder Beast Arms Corporation was started ten years ago with the goal of producing the best precision rifle suppressors. Our current ULTRA series in .223, 6.5 mm, .308, and .338 calibers provides industry-leading suppression performance with very light weight.

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July 14th, 2016

Dope for Your Scope — Handy Laminated Ballistics Card

JBM laminated ballistics card zak smith

Tactical ace Zak Smith of Thunder Beast Arms employs a simple, handy means to store his elevation and wind dift data — a laminated data card. To make one, first generate a come-up table, using one of the free online ballistics programs such as JBM Ballistics. You can also put the information in an Excel spreadsheet or MS Word table and print it out. You want to keep it pretty small.

Above is a sample of a data card. For each distance, the card includes drop in inches, drop in MOA, drop in mils. It also shows drift for a 10-mph cross wind, expressed three ways–inches, MOA, and mils. Zak explained that “to save space… I printed data every 50 yards. For an actual data-card, I recommend printing data every 20 or 25 yards.” But Zak also advised that you’ll want to customize the card format to keep things simple: “The sample card has multiple sets of data to be more universal. But if you make your own data card, you can reduce the chance of a mistake by keeping it simple. Because I use scopes with MILS, my own card (photo below left) just has three items: range, wind, drop in MILS only.”

Once you have the card you can fold it in half and then have it laminated at a local office store or Kinko’s. You can keep this in your pocket, tape it to your stock, or tie the laminated card to your rifle. If you regularly shoot at both low and high elevations, you may want to create multiple cards (since your ballistics change with altitude). To learn more about ballistic tables and data cards, check out the excellent Practical Long-Range Rifle Shooting–Part 1 article on Zak’s website. This article offers many other insights as well–including valuable tips on caliber and rifle selection.

ballistics data scope coverScope-Cover Mounted Ballistics Table
Another option is to place your ballistics card on the back of the front flip-up scope cover. This set-up is used by Forum member Greg C. (aka “Rem40X”). With your ‘come-up’ table on the flip-up cover you can check your windage and elevation drops easily without having to move out of shooting position.

Greg tells us: “Placing my trajectory table on the front scope cover has worked well for me for a couple of years and thought I’d share. It’s in plain view and not under my armpit. And the table is far enough away that my aging eyes can read it easily. To apply, just use clear tape on the front objective cover.”

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July 13th, 2015

Muzzle Brake Comparison Test by Precision Rifle Blog

Cal Zant Precison Rifle Blog AccurateShooter Muzzle Brake Test Noise Recoil Reduction Video

Another massive, data-driven field test has been completed by our friend, Cal Zant, over at PrecisionRifleBlog.com. The past few months, Cal has tested 20+ muzzle brakes designed for 6mm, 6.5mm, and .30-caliber precision rifles. Hundreds of hours have gone into this research, and it provides a lot of new insight and empirical data for several aspects of muzzle devices. Cal put a huge amount of labor/engineering into these tests and his findings deserve to be widely read.

CLICK HERE for PRB Muzzle Brake Test Overview | CLICK HERE for 6mm + 6.5mm Brake Test Results

PRB Muzzle Brake Test Methodology

Recoil Reduction
Cal created a system to directly measure the entire recoil force signature of each muzzle brake using high-speed sensors. Although the recoil cycle happens very quickly (around 1/100th of a second), his test equipment could record up to 1,000 force data points during a single recoil cycle! He fired over 1,000 rounds of match-grade ammo through four different rifles: 6XC, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win, and the monster .300 Norma Magnum. He literally spent thousands of dollars on this part of the test, to ensure he got it right.

Cartridge Types Tested: 6XC, 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Win, and .300 Norma Magnum

Cal Zant Precison Rifle Blog AccurateShooter Muzzle Brake Test Noise Recoil Reduction Video

Ability To Stay On Target
David Tubb helped Cal develop this part of the test, because David believes this is the most important aspect of a muzzle brake. Using a laser and high-speed camera, Cal was able to objectively quantify how well each design helped you stay on target.

Noise Level
Muzzle brakes are loud, but some are louder than others … three to four times as loud. Cal enlisted the help of an expert from the suppressor industry to precisely measure how much louder each muzzle brake made a rifle. Each brake was tested in accordance with MIL-STD-1474D using calibrated military-approved equipment, and the noise level was also tested at the shooter’s position. This produced some interesting results.

Cal Zant Precison Rifle Blog AccurateShooter Muzzle Brake Test Noise Recoil Reduction Video

Zant also includes high-res photos of each brake, and plans to publish other info about each model (including price, whether it requires gunsmithing, what calibers it is available in, etc.) to make it easy to compare them side-by-side.

Cal recently started publishing the results of these tests, and there is already a lot of interesting info. The data might surprise a few people and even dispel a few myths. Particularly interesting is Zant’s comparison of recoil reduction with a suppressor compared to muzzle brakes. How do you think the suppressor performed compared to the brakes? You may be surprised.

Here are brake test findings for 6mm and 6.5mm. Click image for Test Results.

Cal Zant Precison Rifle Blog AccurateShooter Muzzle Brake Test Noise Recoil Reduction Video

Here are brake test findings for .308 Caliber. Click image for Test Results.

Cal Zant Precison Rifle Blog AccurateShooter Muzzle Brake Test Noise Recoil Reduction Video

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June 22nd, 2015

New 6.5×47 Lapua Cartridge Guide from AccurateShooter.com

6.5x47 Lapua Cartridge Guide AccurateShooter.com 6.5 Guys

AccurateShooter.com has released the most complete discussion of the 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge ever published. Our new 6.5×47 Cartridge Guide is packed with information. If you own a 6.5×47 rifle, or are thinking of building a rifle with this chambering, definitely read this Cartridge Guide from start to finish. Our comprehensive, 5000-word article was researched and written by the 6.5 Guys, Ed Mobley and Steve Lawrence. Both Ed and Steve shoot the 6.5×47 Lapua in competition and they are experts on this accurate and efficient mid-sized cartridge.

CLICK HERE to READ NEW 6.5×47 Lapua Cartridge Guide

You’ll find everything you need to know about the 6.5×47 Lapua in our new Cartridge Guide. We cover ballistics, reloading, die selection, and we provide an extensive list of recommended loads, for bullets from 120 to 140 grains. You can read interviews with respected experts who’ve built and tested many 6.5×47 rifles. The Guide includes helpful tech tips such as how to maximize the powder fill in your cases. This Cartridge Guide can put you on the “fast track” — helping you develop accurate, reliable loads with minimal development time.

6.5x47 Lapua Cartridge guide6.5×47 Lapua Cartridge Guide Highlights:

  • Cartridge Specifications
  • Comprehensive Load Data
  • Best Bullets and Primers for 6.5×47
  • Ballistics Comparison Charts
  • Sizing and Seating Die Options
  • 6mm-6.5×47 (Necked-Down) Options
  • Ask the Experts Section
  • Tips for Accurate Reloading
  • Brass Life and Annealing
  • Chambering and Gunsmithing Tips
  • 6.5×47 Lapua for Hunting
  • 6.5×47 Lapua for Tactical Competition
  • 6.5×47 Factory-Loaded Ammo

6.5x47 Lapua Cartridge Guide AccurateShooter.com 6.5 Guys
Here is a sample from the 6.5×47 Cartridge Guide’s Ask the Experts Section. This is an interview with Rich Emmons, one of the founders of the Precision Rifle Series:

6.5x47 Lapua Cartridge Guide AccurateShooter.com 6.5 Guys

6.5x47 Lapua Cartridge guide

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March 29th, 2012

Handy Laminated Ballistics Card Helps Hunters & Tactical Shooters

Three-gun match competitor Zak Smith employs a simple, handy means to store his elevation and wind dift data — a laminated data card. To make one, first generate a come-up table, using one of the free online ballistics programs such as JBM Ballistics. You can also put the information in an Excel spreadsheet or MS Word table and print it out. You want to keep it pretty small.

Below is a sample of a data card. For each distance, the card includes drop in inches, drop in MOA, drop in mils. It also shows drift for a 10-mph cross wind, expressed three ways–inches, MOA, and mils. Zak explained that “to save space… I printed data every 50 yards. For an actual data-card, I recommend printing data every 20 or 25 yards.” But Zak also advised that you’ll want to customize the card format to keep things simple: “The sample card has multiple sets of data to be more universal. But if you make your own data card, you can reduce the chance of a mistake by keeping it simple. Because I use scopes with MILS, my own card (photo below left) just has three items: range, wind, drop in MILS only.”

Once you have the card you can fold it in half and then have it laminated at a local office store or Kinko’s. You can keep this in your pocket, tape it to your stock, or tie the laminated card to your rifle. If you regularly shoot at both low and high elevations, you may want to create multiple cards (since your ballistics change with altitude). To learn more about ballistic tables and data cards, check out the excellent “Practical Long-Range Rifle Shooting–Part 1″ article on Zak’s website. This article offers many other insights as well–including valuable tips on caliber and rifle selection.

Scope-Cover Mounted Ballistics Table
ballistics data scope coverAnother option is to place your ballistics card on the back of the front flip-up scope cover. This set-up is used by Forum member Greg C. (aka “Rem40X”). With your ‘come-up’ table on the flip-up cover you can check your windage and elevation drops easily without having to move out of shooting position. Greg tells us: “Placing my trajectory table on the front scope cover has worked well for me for a couple of years and thought I’d share. It’s in plain view and not under my armpit. And the table is far enough away that my aging eyes can read it easily. To apply, just use clear tape on the front objective cover.”

Updated Links for JBM Ballistics Program
With the release of version 5.1 of the JBM program, some URLs for the calculations pages have changed. You may want to update your bookmarks with the following web addresses:

JBM Calculations Entry Page: www.jbmballistics.com/ballistics/calculators/calculators.shtml.

JBM Advanced Trajectory Calculator: www.jbmballistics.com/cgi-bin/jbmtraj-5.1.cgi.

JBM Simple Trajectory Calculator: www.jbmballistics.com/cgi-bin/jbmtraj_simp-5.1.cgi.

JBM Trajectory Cards (Come-up Table): http://www.jbmballistics.com/cgi-bin/jbmcard-5.1.cgi.

Permalink Competition, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
May 26th, 2011

Challenging Steel Safari Match in New Mexico, June 3-5

The kickoff of the 2011 Steel Safari is just a week away, and things are heating up! Temperatures at this long-range field match are always right around 100-degrees, but this year there will be more competitors than ever (38) and a better prize table than ever before. Match organizers expect strong competition this year, as there will be many seasoned Steel Safari “alumni” competing, including recent Steel Safari Top-5 finishers. The Steel Safari takes place this year on June 3rd, 4th, and 5th at the Blue Steel Ranch located near Logan, NM. Zak Smith is the match director. You can learn more about match details and courses of fire at www.SteelSafari.com.


A true field match with no “square-range” in sight, competitors may need to use improvised and non-standard shoot positions to make shots.

The match showcases practical rifle shooting in the field. Competitors locate small and medium-sized steel targets (often hidden), range them, and engage with one shot only, under a challenging time limit. Some movement on the clock is required, and shoot positions are always improvised, the best you can do while on a reverse incline, over a rock face, shooting down a gully, or leaning out the side of a truck. To add to the challenge, these shooting stations are distributed over two different 3-mile courses in rugged desert terrain. Despite this simple general description, there are a host of individual skills that a competitor must master to place well at this match.

Besides being a test of rifle shooting skill, it also stresses rifle and gear setup and reliability, and individual concentration and mettle. After hiking around in the desert for six hours, it takes talent, determination, and good field skills to find six targets out in the terrain, range them accurately, and then quickly make the shot from sometimes very difficult shooting positions.


Rugged precision bolt rifles such as this Accuracy International are typical at the Steel Safari. The .260 Remington is one of the most common cartridges in the Winner’s Circle.

A variety of rifles, calibers, and scopes will be used at the match, but most competitors employ more or less similar gear. First, an accurate rifle is critical. Bench-rest accuracy is not required; one MOA is sufficient, but one-half-MOA is preferred. Almost everyone shoots their own hand-loads with premium bullets from Sierra, Berger, or Lapua. Ballistic data, or “dope,” completes the triad with the rifle and ammunition. Most shooters laminate a small card and tie it to their rifle or scope, or use a retractable “pathfinder” available from Allison Machine Tool or Leupold. Long-range ballistic data isn’t useful unless the target distances can be determined, and the best tool for that is a laser range-finder. Since many laser range-finders are monocular units with limited field of view, a good set of binoculars can be a life-saver when trying to find that hidden target.

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May 20th, 2011

Modern Rifle Suppressors — What You Need to Know

In our recent story on the 2010 Steel Safari in New Mexico we included photos of tactical rifles fitted with suppressors (sound moderators). Whenever we show photos of suppressor-equipped rifles, some readers ask: “Why did you show silencers in that article — aren’t they illegal?”


J. Holdsworth ranges a target at the 2010 Steel Safari. Holdsworth finished 3rd overall in the main match.

In fact, sound moderators, also known as “suppressors”, “silencers”, or “cans”, are legal to own in most of the fifty U.S. States. You have to pay a special tax, fill out some official paperwork, and submit fingerprints. And the suppressor must be transferred through a Class III SOT Federal Firearms License-holder (FFL). In this article, tactical shooter Zak Smith explains the basic regulations concerning suppressors. Zak, whose company Thunder Beast Arms Corp., makes a line of advanced sound moderators, also explains the many benefits of modern suppressors.

What You Need to Know about Suppressors
by Zak Smith
Despite common perceptions, silencers are not illegal in the United States. That is, unless you live in CA, DE, HI, MA, MI, MN, MO*, NJ, NY, RI, or VT. If you live in one of those states you’re out of luck. Sorry! Try to elect better politicians.

For the rest of us in the Free United States, sound suppressors — also called silencers — can be owned legally by private citizens provided a little extra paperwork is filled out and approved by the ATF. Silencers (and other NFA items) are transferred to individuals on an ATF Form 4, which requires a $200 stamp tax, a chief law enforcement sign-off, and a set of fingerprints to be submitted to the ATF. In some cases a “corporate” transfer can be done that bypasses the requirements for fingerprints and the local chief law-enforcement sign-off. It usually takes between 3 and 6 months for a Form 4 to be approved by the ATF. At that point you can take possession of your shiny new suppressor. The suppressor itself is the NFA item; you can place it on any firearm (that is otherwise legal to own in your jurisdiction).

Silencers, along with other National Firearms Act (NFA) items, must be transferred only by Class 3 SOT (Special Occupation Tax) license holders, which is an additional license on top of a regular FFL. To buy a suppressor, you can choose one your local Class 3 dealer has in stock, or you can have him order it for you from the manufacturer. A manufacturer-to-dealer transfer is done on an ATF Form 3, and typically takes 10 days to 3 weeks.

“But I don’t plan to be a sniper so why would I want a silencer anyway?” If you hear a shooter say that, you can bet your beer money that they haven’t shot a modern suppressor. Modern suppressors allow the use of full-power ammunition, do not reduce the muzzle velocity, do not contact the bullet during flight, and often aid accuracy. On high-power rifles, a suppressor acts like a muzzle brake and reduces recoil, and of course, the “ka-BOOM” report of the shot is reduced 25-30 dB, yielding a sound not unlike high-pressure gas escaping from an air hose being disconnected.

I have been shooting high-power, bolt-action rifles at long range in competition since 2004. The same year, I had the opportunity to try a modern suppressor on a long-range rifle and there was no going back. Since 2005, my long-range shooting is done almost exclusively suppressed — the only exceptions being F-class (which prohibits their use) and for comparative testing with brakes or bare muzzles.

If you take an accurate bolt-action rifle in .260 Remington or .308 Winchester and fit a suppressor, the recoil will be noticeably reduced and the report will be more similar to a .22 WMR. Most premium .30 caliber suppressors will reduce the report by 25-30 dB — a very substantial sound attenuation. While I do recommend wearing ear protection when using suppressors because hearing damage is subtle but cumulative, the entire experience is more pleasant with a suppressed rifle.

Modern Suppressors Are Superior to Older Designs — And May IMPROVE Your Accuracy
Historically, suppressors had rubber baffles that slowed down the bullets and ruined accuracy. Modern suppressors don’t have any of these drawbacks. While you’ll find competing viewpoints as to whether a suppressor-equipped rifle is more inherently accurate than a rifle with a bare muzzle (or muzzle brake), in practice many shooters shoot better with a suppressed rifle due to psychological and physiological factors — call it “shootability”. With less noise, less barrel hop, and less felt recoil — thanks to the suppressor — many shooters can achieve greater accuracy, shot after shot.

In the last few years, the use of suppressors by competitors has gone from an oddity to being commonplace. At recent matches such as the 2010 Steel Safari, as many as half of the top ten competitors used suppressors.

Suppressors from Thunder Beast Arms Corp.
Several years ago two fellow long-range shooters and I had the opportunity to start a suppressor manufacturing company. We all shared a passion for long-range shooting, had a history of competition, and were convinced that shooting suppressed was the way to go. Thunder Beast Arms Corp., based in Cheyenne, Wyoming, was formed to produce the best suppressors for practical long-range rifle shooting. Our “cans”, as they are sometimes called informally, are designed for accuracy, durability, and light weight, while maintaining best-in-class sound suppression levels. Many of our suppressors are made from Titanium for ultra-light weight and superior corrosion resistance.

Although I am proud of our products, there are many good brands of suppressors on the market right now. A suppressor buyer can dial in the performance, application, and amount he wants to pay very precisely — there will almost certainly be a suppressor on the market that meets his requirements. If you have a chance, see if you can get a suppressor demo lined up — I guarantee you’ll be impressed.

*In Missouri, suppressors may be legally acquired, but only by the military, by law enforcement personnel (acting officially), and by certain Federal Firearms License Holders (including C&R). See: http://www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/C500-599/5710000020.HTM .

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May 13th, 2011

6.5 Creedmoor Finds Favor with Tactical Competitors

6.5 Creedmoor AmmunitionWhile the venerable .308 Winchester is still the chambering of choice for most tactical shooters, a growing number of tac competitors are switching to the 6.5 Creedmoor (as well as other 6.5mm chamberings such as the 6.5×47 Lapua and .260 Remington). Among the 6.5mm options, the 6.5 Creedmoor offers the advantage of high quality, relatively affordable factory ammo.

Can the 6.5 Creedmoor win tactical matches with factory ammo? Absolutely. Team Hornady’s Tony Gimmellie used Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 120gr Match ammo to win the Oregon Sniper Challenge, held May 22-23, at the Douglas Ridge Rifle Club in Eagle Creek, Oregon. Tony said, “Hornady’s 6.5 Creedmoor ammo delivered ½ MOA accuracy from [my] POF gas piston rifle, allowing me to stay well ahead of the competition.”

To learn more about the 6.5 Creedmoor, along with the other popular 6.5mm cartridges used for tac comps, we recommend three articles by Accurateshooter.com contributor Zak Smith:

6.5 Creedmoor vs. the .308 Winchester
In the first article above, Zak explains: “Why 6.5 mm instead of .30 caliber? Put simply, they sling the long, slim, high-BC 6.5 mm bullets at respectable velocity. It duplicates or beats the .300 Win Mag’s trajectory with less recoil than a .308 Win. Compared to the 175 Sierra MK fired from a .308 Win, the 6.5 mm will have 27% less wind drift and about 10 MOA less drop at 1000 yards. Despite a 35-grain deficit in bullet mass, the 6.5 Creedmoor will retain 18% more energy and hit the target 260 fps faster.”

6.5 Creedmoor Ammunition

6.5mm Cartridges — Comparative Ballistics Performance by Zak Smith
Put in order of ballistic performance, the 6.5 Creedmoor and the .260 Remington are almost neck-and-neck, pushing the same weight bullets at about the same velocities from almost identical case capacities. The 6.5×47 Lapua in factory form lags by 100 to 200 fps due to less powder capacity; however, it has already gained a reputation for having a strong case that puts up with the high pressures some reloaders push in their custom rifles. The .260 Remington’s main problem for the reloader is lack of high-quality and affordable brass and to date there has only been one factory load produced which was appropriate for serious long-range competition for the non-reloader. The 6.5×47 was designed for intermediate-range competition and very accurate ammunition is available from Lapua; however, these factory loads are at a ballistic disadvantage at long range compared to the .260 Remington and the 6.5 Creedmoor.

There will always be those who bash new cartridges, claiming that they don’t do anything better than their favorite cartridge. By this logic, we’d all be shooting .30-06. Put simply, the 6.5 Creedmoor is what the .260 Remington should have been. It looks like Hornady has the right mind-set to make its new cartridge a success in the competitive and practical market, unlike Remington who basically let the .260 languish in a few hunting rifles. The 6.5 Creedmoor enjoys additional case capacity over the 6.5×47 Lapua, which allows better ballistics at a lower peak chamber pressure.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo 7 Comments »
June 23rd, 2010

Hot Temps and Hot Shooting at 2010 Steel Safari in New Mexico

2010 Steel SafariOne of the best hike-and-shoot, field-style long-range rifle challenges is the Steel Safari match — a 3-day event conducted in New Mexico’s high desert. The Steel Safari is a contest that examines “practical hunting skills, including target recognition, range estimation, wind doping, trail skills, and marksmanship”, according to the match entry form. Competitors locate small and medium-sized steel targets, range them, and engage with one shot only, under a challenging time limit. Some movement on the clock is required, and shoot positions are always improvised. Shooters may have to go prone on a rock slab, shoot a steep angle down a gully, or lean out the side of a truck. Both the North course and the South course are approximately 3.3 miles in length starting and ending at the “front range”, and looping around the rim of different parts of elevated terrain features.

2010 Steel SafariThe 2010 Steel Safari, held June 4-6, can be characterized by one word: HOT. Temperatures started ramping up on Friday for the Long-Range Side Match, reaching about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and peaked on Saturday with a high of 109. The shooting was hot too, with winning scores higher than ever before. Among the 36 competitors, Steve Mann finished first with an impressive 95 score. Close behind, with a 93, was B.J. Bailey. Jimmy Holdsworth and Tom Freeman, both scored 88s, but Holdsworth prevailed on the tie-breaker for third place. In the Long-Range Side Match, Jon Beanland took first with a 111 score, followed by Jim Jensen (109) and Brian Whalen (99).

2010 Steel Safari

Equipment List — Two-Thirds of Competitors Use 6.5s or 6mms
The most popular rifle/action make was Surgeon (28%), followed by Remington (22%), then Accuracy International and Stiller (11% each), then Savage (8%), Big Horn Arms (6%), and one each of Barrett, Borden, DTA, GAP Templar, and Howa. The 6.5mm caliber totally dominated with 39% of all rifles; 6mm was next with 28%, then .30 (22%), and then 7mm (11%). Chamberings of choice were: .260 Remington (25%), .308 Winchester (17%), 6.5×47 Lapua (11%), 6% for each of 6XC, 7mm WSM, 7mm RSAUM, .260AI, and then 3% each for .300 WM, 6mm-250, .30-06, 6.5-284, 6 Dasher, .243 Winchester, and 6CM/243.

2010 Steel Safari

Scopes: Nightforce (28%), U.S. Optics (25%), Schmidt & Bender (17%), followed by Leupold (14%), Vortex (6%), and 3% each for Hensoldt, Burris, Pentax, and Premier. Laser range-finders were dominated by Leica (50%), followed by Swarovski (19%), Zeiss (17%), Vector (8%), and 3% each Leupold and Newcon. Bipods were mostly Harris (78%), followed by Atlas, AI, Caldwell, and Sinclair.

Propellants: Hodgdon powders totally dominated (80%) with Alliant second (20%). Of the Hodgdon powders, H4350, H4831SC, and Varget were the most popular, while RL17 was the most popular Alliant powder by far. The most notable trend in powder choice is that RL17 has replaced H4350 and H4831SC for many shooters.

Bullets, Brass, Ammo: Sierra (31%), Berger (25%), Lapua (25%), and DTAC 6mm (11%). Winchester and Lapua cases dominated with 33% each, followed by Remington (16%), and then Black Hills, Norma, and Lake City (3%). Only 2 shooters used factory ammo: one was Federal GMM (.308) and the other was M118LR (7.62×51 NATO).

CLICK HERE for full, 6-page report on 2010 Steel Safari

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October 12th, 2009

Fort Benning 3-Gun Match on Shooting USA TV

This week’s episode of ShootingUSA television features a recent Three-Gun Challenge Match at Fort Benning, Georgia. In this event, hosted by the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU), both Army and civilian shooters compete with pistol, rifle, and shotguns in a multi-stage, timed course of fire. ShootingUSA airs Wednesdays on the Outdoor Channel at 4:30 pm, 8:30 pm, and 12:30 am, Eastern Time. Check local listings for show times in your area.

Stages Re-Create Medal of Honor Scenarios
Each of the 8 stages in the Three-Gun Match recalls the actions of a Medal of Honor recipient. Portions of each medal citation are read to competitors while explaining the course of fire.

three-gun competitionThis annual three-gun match helps advance the Army Marksmanship Unit’s mission of improving skills throughout the Army, according to AMU Commander, LTC Frank Muggio, “This type of competition is exactly what we want our soldiers to be able to do in the field. They identify a target, they choose the right weapon system to engage the target, and they take out the target, and not anything around the target.”

The helmet-cam video clip below (not from ShootingUSA), shows Zak Smith shooting Stage 7 at the 2008 Fort Benning Three-Gun Match. This is a shotgun, rifle, and pistol stage with rifle targets at about 140 yards. Wearing a helmet-mounted camera, Zak starts in the back of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and proceeds into a trench system to engage pistol targets. Zak has written feature articles and Bulletin reports for AccurateShooter.com. CLICK HERE to read about Zak’s 6.5×47 Lapua tactical rifle.

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