June 9th, 2008

Ballard Sets F-Class Record (200-13X) with .284 Winchester

Competing at the NRA Long-Range Regionals this weekend, Charles Ballard of North Carolina shot a new, pending F-Class Open record of 200-13X at 1000 yards. Charles also won the Regionals. Charles was shooting a straight .284 Winchester with 180gr Bergers and H4831sc powder. His rifle was smithed by Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool.

Charles told us: “It was about 103 degrees when I shot the 200-13x. The wind was running left to right, with 3-4 mph let-offs. But the velocity changes were pretty easy to read from the mirage. I dialed down the scope to 25-power and really locked into the mirage. Then, I got in a zone. I had a lot of confidence in what the mirage was telling me and I never took my head up and looked around at the flags. As soon as the spotter came up and it looked right, I broke the next shot — no hesitation. I probably shot the whole string in under 9 minutes. At about round 15, I started thinking that this might be a record and my heart really started pounding.”

The .284 Win for F-Class
Charles reports: “This rifle project began several years ago. I wanted a cartridge that would launch the high-BC, 180gr 7mm bullets with barrel life superior to that of a short mag. I read the article on this site about Jerry Tierney’s .284 and the cogs began to turn. After speaking with Mr. Tierney at the 2006 F-Class Nationals I decided this was the caliber I was going with, despite several shooters telling me I would not be able to obtain the desired velocities.

The action of choice was the 1.55″ round BAT MB. The MB model’s extended front end (allowing more barrel support and more bedding surface) was also a determining factor. The barrel is a 32″, 1.250″ straight contour Broughton 5C. As my gunsmith Ray Bowman says, “the Broughtons just shoot”. The chamber was cut with a reamer made for Lapua 6.5-284 necked up, throated for the 180s. The laminated stock is Precision Rifle & Tool’s F-Class. This low-profile stock has full adjustment and an extended, super-stiff fore-end. It rides the bags better than any stock I have ever shot.

Berger 180s at 2900 FPS, with Single-Digit ES
Ballard’s match load, 54.5 grains of H4831sc with Berger 180s, runs 2900 fps with an ES of 7 and SD of 2. Charles noted: “It took a lot of development work to get to that ideal load, but the velocity consistency really helps at 1000 yards.”

Charles noted that his gun likes to shoot well-fouled. “This Broughton barrel seems to shoot best at 50-150 rounds after it’s been cleaned. The vertical tightens up. Since the last cleaning, I had about 60 rounds through the barrel when I shot the record string. I credit Jerry Tierney for giving me the idea to go shoot an entire match without cleaning.”

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