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October 20th, 2008

CZ-USA Polls Shooters on New Chambering for Model 527

Czech arms-maker CZ produces a popular range of accurate, yet affordable rimfire and centerfire rifles. The CZ 452, in various versions, is one of the best rimfire bolt-actions under $400.00 retail. The 22LR version is favored by many club-level silhouette shooters, and is an excellent youth rifle. Model 452s chambered in 17 Mach 2 or 17 HMR also make excellent varminters. Typical model 452 “Street Price” is about $375.00.

Model 527 — Mini-Mauser Action Ideal for .223-sized Cartridges
For centerfire shooters, CZ’s Model 527 has won more awards in the “light rifle” category in Europe than any other rifle…ever. Designed to fit small-base calibers perfectly, the CZ 527 is a true micro-length Mauser style action, with detachable magazine, hammer forged barrel and single set trigger. CZ offers various versions of the 527 chambered in .17 Remington, .221 Fireball, .22 Hornet, .222 Remington, .223 Remington, and .204 Ruger.

CZ 527 kevlar Varmint

CZ 527 CaliberNew Chambering for Model 527?
Vote for Your Choice!

CZ-USA is now conducting a poll, asking website visitors to help choose a new chambering for the Model 527. It looks like CZ has done its homework. We were surprised to see that the “candidates” include popular wildcat cartridges like the 20 VarTarg and 20 Tactical, plus the excellent 6.5 Grendel. Most large manufacturers don’t even know these chamberings exist, much less consider offering them. We wish CZ-USA would also consider the .223 Rem necked down to 20 caliber (aka the “20 Practical”). It does everything the 20 Tactical does, with no special dies needed.

Click Here to go to CZ-USA Model 527 NEW Chambering Shooter Survey

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October 19th, 2008

Important Advice for Shipping Firearms

Is an FFL required to ship a long gun out of state? Can you use the U.S. Mail to ship firearms? Can you ship guns directly to a manufacturer for repairs?

Answers to these and many other questions are provided in the Firearms Shipping Guide created by, the leading online firearms auction site. The article does a decent job summarizing applicable Federal law and includes handy links to the statutes themselves so you can read them word for word.

Firearms Shipping FAQ

We find that folks are often confused between the rules for handguns and long guns. Handguns may NEVER be shipped through the U.S. Mails unless you are an FFL holder. By contrast, a “civilian” (i.e. non license-holder) CAN ship a rifle or shotgun via the U.S. Postal Service. In fact the USPS may be the most economical and reliable shipping choice for long guns these days.

Another common misconception is that you need the services of an FFL for outbound shipping of a firearm. While placing your outbound shipment in the hands of an FFL-holder can have some benefits, if the recipient is a valid Federal FFL, and you have received a copy of his license for verification, you CAN ship a long gun yourself to the address on the license. You can also ship a handgun directly to an FFL holder (or the manufacture for repair), but you must use a common carrier such as FEDEX or UPS. (Only a licensed manufacturer, dealer, or importer can legally ship a handgun via the US Post Office.)

Quick Ship Gun Box

48″ MidwayUSA ‘Quick Ship’ Box, #897166, $15.99. A foam-lined double-cardboard box offers some protection for your firearm. But we recommend you put valuable pistols and long guns in a sturdy plastic or metal hard case, INSIDE a cardboard shipping container. Make sure the contents can’t move around inside the box. Always insure for full replacement value (including tax and transfer fees). Photograph the gun BEFORE it’s shipped so you can document its original condition should it arrived damaged.
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October 19th, 2008

Gain-Twist, Cut-Rifled Barrels Shine in Short-Range Benchrest

Tony Boyer BenchrestTony Boyer dominated the recent NBRSA Nationals, winning the 4-Gun, 3-Gun, and 2-Gun (LV/Sporter) Overalls, and finishing first in other events. While Boyer’s win was proof of his superior wind-reading and trigger-pulling skills, his equipment didn’t hurt. Boyer was shooting Bartlein gain twist, cut-rifled barrels. These barrels featured a twist rate that increased from 1:15″ to 1:14.25″. Notably, Wayne Campbell and Mike Ratigan, the second-place and third-place finishers in the 4-Gun, were also using Bartlein cut-rifled barrels (twist rate unknown). This was an impressive showing for Bartlein. It also shows that cut-rifled barrels are becoming the “go-to” choice in short-range benchrest, with both Bartlein and Krieger barrels displaying match-winning performance.

Bartlein BarrelsFrank Green of Bartlein Barrels told us: “Wayne Campbell did all the barrel fittings for Tony Boyer before Phoenix (NBRSA Nationals) and Kelbly’s (IBS 100/200 Nationals). I know Dwight Scott does work for Tony but not all of it. At Phoenix, Tony Boyer shot all gain-twist-type barrels (in every class). His barrels went from a 15 to a 14.25 twist. At Kelbly’s (the IBS 100/200 Nationals) right before Labor Day, Tony only had gain-twist barrels for his Heavy Varmint, and he proceeded to cream the HV class. At Kelbly’s, Boyer won HV 100 yards, HV 200 and HV Grand Aggregate with a .169 combined Agg.

At Phoenix, Boyer won the Unlimited 100, Unlimited Grand, LV grand, LV/sporter 2 gun, LV/sporter/HV 3 gun, and the Unlimited, LV, Sporter, HV 4 gun. This added up to 11 Hall of Fame points for Tony. In 4-Gun, Wayne Campbell came in second, and Ratigan came in third. In the 3-gun results it was Boyer and Campbell, first and second (both using Bartleins). In 2-Gun it was Boyer, Ratigan, Rodney Brown, and Campbell in that order. All of these we know for sure shot our barrels.”

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October 18th, 2008

Sinclair Features Edgewood's New Grab-Handle Rear Bags

Here’s an cool new product from Jack Snyder, maker of Edgewood Shooting Bags. The new Grab-Handle Rear Bag (available in both “original” and Mini-Gator sizes from Sinclair Int’l), is unique — the super-thick leather base of the sandbag is extended, forming a grab handle. This has two big benefits. First, of course, the bag is easier to carry. Second the extended leather bottom also helps the bag stay in place. Edgewood first made a few of these grab-handle bags at the request of F-Class shooters. The smart design works well — the handle makes the bag easier to carry to the firing line, and the larger footprint makes the bag more stable when shooting off the ground. These would be excellent bags for varmint hunters who move to new firing points frequently. Sinclair Int’l prices Grab-Handle Bags at $119.95 for standard, and $145.00 for the larger, Mini-Gator size.

Edgewood Leather Benchrest Bag

Elbow Pad and Brick Bag
In addition to the Grab Handle rear bags, Sinclair has added two useful, leather bench accessories from Edgewood: an Elbow Pad and a 7.5″x5″ Hand rest. The $49.70 Edgewood Elbow Pad (item 04-7550) features a sand-filled, U-shaped outer leather collar, non-skid bottom, and stitched nylon center insert. These pads not only cushion your elbow on rough concrete benches, but they help you maintain the same exact body position for each shot. That, in turn, helps you shoot more accurately.

Edgewood Leather Benchrest BagEdgewood Leather Benchrest Bag

Edgewood’s hand rest (also called a brick bag) is excellent for resting your hand or wrist. It can also work as an elbow bag. The hand rest ($46.95, item 04-7590) is made from high-quality grained leather with a stiff, double-layer bottom so it sits flat. It has the new bottom-pocket tabbed fill tube. This bag is 7.5″ long, 5” wide, and 2.75” tall — but you can adjust height by the amount of sand fill. If you use it as an elbow pad, you may want to try it about 70% full so it “form-fits” to your elbow.

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October 18th, 2008

USPSA Multi-Gun National Championships

USPSA MultiGun Nationals

Taran Butler, Bruce Piatt and Jerry Miculek claimed national titles at the U.S. Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) Multi-Gun Championships held October 3-5 at the Shootout Range in Princeton, Louisiana. The match drew nearly 120 competitors from 28 states. In Multi-Gun matches, shooters tackle multiple, timed stages, using pistol, rifle and shotgun to engage a variety of paper, steel and moving targets. Matches often require competitors to use all three types of firearms on a single stage. Showcasing remarkable shooter skills (and fast reflexes), Multi-Gun (i.e. “3-Gun”) matches are exciting to watch. Below is a video of USAMU team members at the 2007 USPSA Multi-Gun Nationals:

YouTube Preview Image

USPSA MultiGun NationalsNat’l Championship Results
In the Tactical Division, Taran Butler of Simi Valley, California dominated the match, winning five of the 12 stages and leading in overall points on eight. In the end his overall score of 1279.9417 outpaced second place shooter and fellow Golden State resident Keith Garcia of San Ramon by almost 77 points. Butler previously won the Tactical Division in 2006.

Team Smith & Wesson member Jerry Miculek, shooting on his home range, defended his 2007 win by again taking the Open Division title, this time by more than 24 points with a final score of 1278.0090. Miculek won five of the 12 stages and led the field over nine of them. Great Shooting Jerry! Chris Tilley finished second in the Open Division with a score of 1253.6155 edging out the 2006 champion Michael Voigt of Chino, California by just over two points. The Limited Division title went to Bruce Piatt of Montvale, New Jersey, who won by more than 41 points with a final score of 1302.0291. Piatt held the lead on eight stages winning three of them.

About USPSA: The United States Practical Shooting Association is a non-profit membership association and the governing body for the sport of Practical Shooting in America. USPSA has over 17,000 members and more than 350 affiliated clubs. Visit

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October 17th, 2008

Sierra Offers New 155gr .308 MatchKing with Pointed Meplats

Sierra Bullets 155 PalmaSierra has a new 155gr Palma bullet, and it’s a winner. The new 155gr MatchKing bullet, featuring a longer ogive and factory-pointed meplats, was used by Team USA at the recent Spirit of America match. According to many team shooters and coach Emil Praslick III, the new bullet helped the American team achieve an impressive victory over arch-rival England and other national squads.

Matt Reams of Sierra Bullets confirmed that the new bullet, Sierra part # 2156, will shortly enter full-scale production. Sierra is planning a late-December 2008 release date, but Matt says “first week of 2009 should be a safe bet.” The bullets will be priced “roughly 5% higher than current Sierra 155gr MatchKings”, according to Matt.

Sierra worked closely with Team USA on the design of the new bullet. Dennis Flaharty, USA Palma Captain, tells us: “We worked very closely with the people at Sierra and they really came up with a winner. We tested several prototypes before we settled on this one. Each one better than the next. This bullet has a lot going for it. I honestly believe that we managed many 10s that would have been 9s. This bullet gave the consistent and high degree of accuracy you have come to expect from Sierra. As compared to other bullets Sierra has a reputation for being ‘forgiving’. By this I mean you can shoot them in the lands or off. We tested this bullet from +0.010 into the lands to -0.100 off.”

Sierra meplat pointing bulletBullet Design Features and Factory Meplat Pointing
The new bullet is a conventional tangent ogive design, not a secant ogive VLD-style. However, the new bullet has a longer ogive (curved section) than Sierra’s current 155gr MatchKing. It also has a somewhat shorter bearing surface. Most importantly, the meplats on the new 155s will be pointed up on a special extra die used for the final stage of bullet manufacturing. Currently, many reloaders are using the Whidden Pointing Die System to point up their bullets. (Photo at left shows a 107gr MatchKing pointed with the Whidden Die.) Many tests, including our own research done by Jason Baney, prove that bullet-pointing has real benefits. First, pointing the meplats reduces bullet-to-bullet BC variation. This can help tighten vertical spread at long range. Second, bullet-pointing can also reduce drag, effectively increasing average bullet BC. The result is a bullet with less drop at long range, and less wind drift (all other factors being constant). In Jason’s tests, pointed Clinch River 106gr bullets impacted 18″ higher at 1000 yards than non-pointed bullets from the same lot. That’s dramatic evidence that meplat-pointing enhances BC.

Higher BC Predicted by Actual Match Results
Sierra has not yet completed field-testing to determine the ballistics of the new 155gr MatchKing, so no official BC has been released. Matt Reams noted: “We will not release a BC until comprehensive field tests are complete. At Sierra we don’t ‘guesstimate’. Our BC numbers are based on real-world testing.” Nonetheless, Sierra’s bullet testers and USA Palma team members are telling us that the new bullet definitely impacts higher than the old Sierra Palma bullet when driven at the same velocity. This was observed during the Spirit of America match, and is a sure sign that the new bullet has less drag and a higher effective BC. Team members also believe that the new bullet exhibits less wind drift than the previous 155gr MatchKing:

“As one of the line coaches on the American teams at SOA, I witnessed first-hand the difference between the old and new green box 155s. On practice/warm-up day before the team matches we tested the new bullet against the old bullet at 1K to get elevation zeroes on the new bullet. What we saw was the new 155 printed two (2) MOA higher at 1000 yards than the old bullet with the only difference being the bullet…. In my opinion, the new bullet was at least a minute inside of the old bullet at 1K.” — Steve Hardin

Palma Shooters Praise New ‘Top-Secret’ 155gr MatchKing
In the wake of Team USA’s big win at Spirit of America, many members of the USA Palma Team have commented on the impressive performance of the new bullet. You can read their testimonials in THIS THREAD on the Forum (registration required to access Forum). Team Coach Emil Praslick III had this to say:

“Sierra was very responsive to the US Team’s request that [Sierra] come up with a new design for a 155 grain projectile. After testing a few prototypes designed by the smart guys at Sierra (mainly Pat Daly) we settled on one that seemed to be a good compromise between an efficient design, and a bullet that would shoot well out of a variety of barrels and chambers. Through testing and practice, we have found that the bullet shoots well into the lands, as well as off. One rifle tested jumped them .050″ with good results!

The bullet QC is excellent, and it definitely does shoot. During the team matches at SOA, I felt that the bullet was well inside the other bullets being shot on the line, but as a coach, I am much more concerned with accuracy over chasing a BC ‘magic number’…. The inherent accuracy of the new bullet is what has sold me on it.

The ogive is well back on this bullet, and will probably jump quite a bit at max length in longer than a ‘standard’ Palma 95/WTC 95 chamber. Some, notably Warner Tool and Wayne Forshee, are working on reamer designs. For now, an existing, ‘short throat’, Palma 95 chamber that seats the old Sierra at approx. 2.780″ to touch the lands should work fine.”

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October 17th, 2008

Free NRA Membership with Magazine Subscriptions

guns magazineHere’s generous promotion designed to boost membership in the National Rifle Association. Readers who subscribe to either American Handgunner ($17.76/year) or GUNS Magazine ($19.55/year) through special online offers will receive a free one-year NRA membership. The offers are available at and Click the graphic at left to go directly to the Guns Magazine NRA Offer Page.

Gun enthusiasts who order American Handgunner will get a one-year subscription plus a one-year NRA membership for $17.76. A GUNS Magazine order includes 12 monthly issues plus the NRA membership for only $19.55. Current NRA members are given a new NRA membership gift certificate for a family member or friend when they complete the subscription order.

“This will help to build the NRA membership during this critical time period,” said Roy Huntington, publisher of American Handgunner and GUNS magazines. “Now’s the time to sign up a spouse, son, daughter, scout or even a good friend and help us build NRA membership — to help all of us keep our right to own firearms alive.”

FMG Publications, headquartered in San Diego, publishes American Handgunner and GUNS magazines, plus American COP and the trade publication, Shooting Industry.

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October 16th, 2008

Browning Produces New Target Rifles in .223, .308, 300 WSM

Late this year or early in 2009, Browning will release a new A-Bolt Target rifle. The new A-Bolt Target rifle represents a whole new direction for Browning — no doubt spurred by the success of Savage’s F-TR and F-Class Target rifles. The A-Bolt Target will be offered in both matte blued and stainless versions, in three calibers: .223 Rem, .308 Win, and 300 WSM.

Browning Target Rifle

Featuring a laminated wood stock (with adjustable comb), heavy-contour 28″ button-rifled barrel, and single set-trigger, the new Browning should be effective in F-TR (target rifle) class. (Sorry, Browning hasn’t released the set-trigger’s end pull-weight.) With detachable box magazines, and a quick 60° bolt lift, these rifles may also proove popular with tactical shooters (though tac guys may want to shorten the barrels). The .223 version also would make a nice varminter. The .223 has a 1:9″ twist while the .30-caliber guns come with a 1:10″ twist rate.

Browning Target Rifle

The Browning A-Bolt Target rifles have some nice features normally found on custom rifles. The action comes glass-bedded in the stock. According to press releases, the buttoned barrels will all be hand-chambered for improved accuracy. The stocks features a satin finish with nice checkering on the grip. The varmint-style forearm looks rigid enough to work well with a bipod, but we think the forearm should be longer for better weight distribution (longer “wheelbase”). The stock is not 3″ wide, so you’d probably want to mount a 3″-wide sled if you shoot this gun from the bench or in F-Open class. What’s all this cost? MSRP for the stainless .223 and .308 rifles is $1489, while the matted blued guns in the same calibers are $1269. 300 WSM versions cost $30.00 on top of those prices for stainless and blued respectively.

Specs for Browning A-Bolt Target Stainless Model
Browning Target Rifle

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October 16th, 2008

Online Resources Provide Helpful Tech Definitions

Confused about the meaning of a term such as “meplat”, “magnaflux” or “obturate”? Need to know the OAL of an unusual Wildcat such as the .218 Donaldson Wasp? Well CCI and MidwayUSA offer handy answers on the web. CCI’s Shooters’ Glossary is a very complete collection of gun-related and reloading terms. MidwayUSA’s GunTEC Dictionary contains short descriptions of hundreds of cartridges, plus definitions of thousands of shooting-related words and phrases. How many of you knew that “Maggie’s Drawers” is “a colloquial term used for the red flag once used by pit workers to signal a missed shot at high-power rifle competitions”?

MidwayUSA GunTec Dictionary

Consulting the dictionary, we learned that “Magnus Force” was not a Tom Selleck TV show. Rather, “Magnus Force is the movement of a bullet in the direction it is rotating (and downward) due to the lower air pressure surrounding it. The low pressure pocket is caused by the effect of the bullet’s fast rotation on the surrounding air.” MidwayUSA’s GunTEC dictionary even includes short “bios” of notable firearms inventors and marksmen, including J.M. Browning, Fredrich von Martini, and Peter Paul Mauser. A serious shooting buff could spend hours browsing the GunTEC dictionary, learning new facts (and a ton of obscure trivia.)

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October 15th, 2008

Remington Introduces new 30 Remington AR Cartridge

30 Remington ARRemington Arms just introduced a new cartridge, the 30 Remington AR (aka “30 RAR”), to be used in AR-platform rifles to be built by its DPMS subsidiary. (Remington, DPMS, and Bushmaster are all owned by Cerberus Capital Management, a private holding company.) The cartridge carries the “short, fat” design to the extreme. It is based on a shortened version of the .450 Bushmaster, which itself was a cut-down version of the .284 Winchester. Like the .284 Win, the 30 Remington AR has a rebated rim, so it will fit a .308 Win-sized boltface (0.473″). While it resembles a 30BR, the new case is much fatter, offering an impressive 44 grains of powder capacity. The portly diameter of the 30 RAR case dictates that the magazine will be a single-stack, and will hold only four (4) rounds.

Cram a Big Cartridge in an AR15 Mag and Make Sure It’s a Thirty
What was Remington thinking? Well, the stated project goal was to transform the standard AR15 into a “legitimate big game hunting platform.” Presumably, a 30-caliber cartridge was chosen for marketing purposes as that is the most common deer hunting caliber. The “science” of the design was basically to stuff the biggest cartridge possible in a standard AR15-sized magazine. According to Outdoor Life columnist John Snow: “DPMS President Randy Luth and Remington’s John Fink (brand manager for the rifle division) … both said that the goal was to look at the AR lower and see how much cartridge they could fit in there.”

30 Remington AR (30 RAR) Specifications

Case Capacity Rim
Parent Cases Shoulder Factory Load Mag Type
44.0gr H20 0.473″
.308 bolt face
.450 Bushmaster
.284 Winchester
25° 125gr SP or
125 B-Tip
2800 fps
0.267 BC
Single Stack

30 Remington AR

Factory 30 Remington AR Rifles and Uppers
Initially, the 30 Remington AR round will be chambered in complete, DPMS-built Remington R15 rifles, which start at $1,199.00 MSRP. For production rifles, the expected rate of twist is 1:10″, but that has not been finalized. What about separate uppers? Given the hefty price of the complete rifle, existing AR owners may prefer to purchase a 30-caliber upper by itself. While no release date was given, Remington stated that 30 RAR uppers will definitely be offered for sale in the future.

Impressive Velocities but Much Less Energy than a .308 Win Shooting 160s
With 44 grains of capacity, the 30 RAR can generate some impressive velocities with bullets in the 120-125gr weight range. Remington claims its 125gr factory ammo will deliver 2800 fps muzzle velocities running at about 55,000 psi pressure levels. Three factory loads will be offered: Rem-branded 125gr Core-Lokt PSP and 125gr AccuTip BT, and a UMC-branded 123gr FMJ. At $18.99 per 20-round box, the UMC ammo is intended for inexpensive practice purposes. The $35.99/box AccuTip and $26.49/box Core-Lokt PSP are much costlier. The relatively light-weight bullets used in the Remington ammo have poor Ballistic Coefficients compared to the longer, heavier bullets typically used in a .308 Win or 7mm-08. The 125gr Core-Lokt has a 0.267 BC, while the 125gr AccuTip is somewhat better at 0.335. Nonetheless, Remington’s ballistics tables show that the AccuTip should match the trajectory of a 165gr AccuTip (fired from a .308 Win), fairly well out to 400 yards. However, there is a BIG difference in energy as you can see from the table below. At 300 yards, the 125gr AccuTip delivers 1153 ft/lbs of energy compared to 1661 ft/lbs for a 165gr AccuTip launched at 2700 fps from a .308 Win. (Note: these numbers were calculated with 24″ barrels. Remington’s 30 RAR-chambered R15 rifle has a 22″ barrel, so its performance should be somewhat less impressive.)

30 Remington AR

Our first reaction to the news of Remington’s new cartridge was: “Why?” The obvious (and cynical) answer is that Remington wanted to sell AR-style rifles to deer hunters who need an excuse to purchase a military-style semi-automatic. There may be a market for that… who knows. But there is already a proven, compact 30-caliber cartridge that fits a standard-sized AR15 lower — the 7.62×39. The 7.62×39 won’t push a 125-grainer as fast as the bigger 30 RAR, but the 7.62×39 will still kill a whitetail plenty dead. Perhaps Remington’s engineers should simply have applied themselves to producing a proper (i.e. 100% functional) 7.62×39 magazine. This Editor has tried most of the AR15 7.62×39 magazines on the market (from 3-rd to 30-rd capacity). None of those I tested worked particularly well. Some simple redesign work (call the MagPul folks) would solve that.

Better AR Ballistics with 6.5 and 6mm Cartridges
If the goal was to produce an AR15 with better ballistics and downrange energy than the .223 Rem cartridge delivers, we’re not sure a 30-caliber was the way to go. The 6.5 Grendel performs exceptionally well in AR rifles, delivering great accuracy with 123gr Lapua Scenar or Sierra bullets. Likewise, the AR15 can be a superb High Power and Cross-the-Course platform shooting the 6mmAR cartridge developed by Robert Whitley. The 6mmAR is the 6.5 Grendel necked down to 6mm. Shooting 105 Berger VLDs it comes very, very close to the ballistics of the larger 6mmBR cartridge, and it gives up nothing in accuracy. By contrast, with its low-BC bullets, the 30 Remington AR is not going to be competitive at longer ranges with either the 6.5 Grendel or the 6mmAR. And with factory mags limited to four (4) rounds, you couldn’t use this gun effectively in High Power matches, even if it proves highly accurate on the short course.

Important Innovation or Another Orphan Cartridge?
Only time will tell whether the 30 Remington AR cartridge will catch on with sport shooters and hunters. We’re not sure the round has an important purpose that cannot be filled by existing, proven cartridges. The complete 30 RAR rifles are expensive ($1200+) compared to a typical bolt-action deer rifle, so we wonder how many deer hunters will actually jump on Remington’s bandwagon. Speaking frankly, so long as the cartridge is available only with Remington-made brass, we predict little interest among competitive shooters. Now if Lapua were to produce a 65,000-psi rated version of this cartridge, THAT might interest hunter benchrest shooters and BR for score shooters. A Lapua 30 RAR would be like a 30BR on steroids. But alas, don’t expect Lapua, or Norma, or even Winchester, to produce 30 RAR brass any time soon.

So, does the 30 Remington AR (aka “30 RAR”) have a future? It will certainly stimulate sales of AR-platform rifles to some extent. That’s important because AR sales have been lagging recently. Perhaps that is enough justification for a new round. All things considered however, we think Remington would have been better off building its “AR for big game” around the 6.5 Grendel case, perhaps in a 7mm version. Still, we have to credit Remington’s designers. Using a modern “short, fat” design, with a rebated rim, they’ve achieved impressive velocities in a very compact cartridge. The chopped-down .284 may prove to be a very accurate design.

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October 15th, 2008

Pacific Tool & Gauge Provides Bolt Components for Phoenix Actions

Phoenix rifle actionsGlen Harrison, designer/creator of the original Nesika actions, now has a new Montana-based company, Phoenix Machine Technologies. In time, Harrison plans to produce a full series of high-grade custom actions, using state-of-the-art CNC machining. Currently, Phoenix has been producing CNC-crafted Remington-clone actions. These seem to be working very well and are being used by GA Precision and other top gunsmiths.

Current Phoenix Machine production receivers are Remington 700 derivatives that utilize Remington-style bolts and are being manufactured in long, short and M7 lengths. Teaming up with Dave Kiff of Pacific Tool & Gauge (PT&G), Harrison will offer a selection of custom bolt components made by PT&G. This allows the owner of a Phoenix action to fit out the finished action in many ways. Want a colored bolt shroud? No problem. You can also a choose variety of fluting styles, and pick from a selection of PT&G-crafted bolt handles. There are many action-makers offering Rem-clone style receivers in chrome-moly or stainless steel. With the wide variety of bolt components offered by PT&G, the Phoenix action offers the action-buyer an impressive array of optional features.

For more information about Phoenix Machine Technologies, LLC, call (406) 756-2727 or write 36 Jellison Lane, Suite B, Columbia Falls, MT 59912. Email inquiries may be sent to Lisa [at]

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October 14th, 2008

Soft Gun Cases for Long-Barreled Rifles

Typical soft cases for scoped rifles are 45-46″ overall. These may lack clearance for large, high-magnification scopes, and the front section may be too tight for rifles with a 3″-wide forearm. Our Assistant Editor Jason Baney recently posed the question, “Who makes a high-quality soft case for large varmint and BR-style rifles with wide forearms and barrels 27″ or longer?”

We’ve done some research and identified some affordable options. While there are dozens of possible choices, the products shown below all offer some nice features and cost less than $45.00. NOTE: The Plano case offers a plastic-reinforced rubberized muzzle protector box. These are found on many Kolpin soft cases as well. We think a rubber/plastic nose guard is very important. This ensures your gun can’t slip out of the case muzzle first. A nose-guard also shields the delicate crown against hard objects and metal zippers. (Sooner or later you WILL drop a rifle, and they usually fall nose-first.) Remember that even the finest soft case is no substitute for a sturdy hard case. Also, hard cases are mandatory for airline transport.


48″ Length
Plano’s model 64860 (Brown) or 64800 (Gray) are nice cases that feature hard nose protectors and high-density foam padding. At 48″ overall, the Plano is 2″ longer than most cases. It boasts interior tie-down straps, two external zippered pockets, and an adjustable, padded shoulder strap. Users report the padding is excellent and the 600 dernier material and zippers are very durable. Price is $25.95 at


49″ Length
The Gamo case (item 6212374) is very inexpensive (just $12.99 at AirGunWarehouse), but owners report it is a “great value for the money”. The 48″ interior length should handle most rifles with a 28″ barrel, and there is ample space for a large scope. The case has one large pocket and a fabric shoulder strap on the reverse side. The interior has a soft, fleece-like lining and there is a rubberized, protective layer on the front, rear, and bottom. However, we warn that, because there is no hard nose box, if you leave a gap in the zippers near the front, the muzzle could exit the case. There are two zipper pull-tabs, front and back. Zip them up so they meet near the middle. Also we suggest putting a small rubber cap on the muzzle so it doesn’t catch on the zipper. The same advice applies to any soft case without a plastic nose guard.


50″ Length
The Allen “Euro” is a quality 50″-long case with enough interior space to handle 29-30″ barrels. This deluxe case features a fatter/taller front section to fit guns with wide forearms or attached bipods. This would be a good choice for a long-barreled varmint rifle. It features very thick foam padding (1.5″ per side) and multiple, velcro-closed external pockets. Midsouth Shooters Supply offers this case in hunter green (item 168-91550) for $35.66. A similar Allen-made case in blue or tan sold as the Remington Yukon. The Yukon is $33.66 at Cheaper than Dirt.


52″ Length
Among the ultra-long soft cases, the Kolpin Deluxe Soft Armor Gun Boot is one of the best you can buy. It has the nose-guard we recommend and is very thickly padded. A molded EVA foam bottom with a rubberized “track” allows the case to stand on its own. What are the negatives? Because Kolpin’s Soft Armor Gun Boot is designed for both scoped rifles and shotguns, the width of the front third of the case is pretty narrow. Also there is less clearance at the top than with some other soft cases. However, unless you have an extremely high scope mount or very long stock, this case should work for those long rifles with 30-32″ barrels. The Soft Armor Gun Boot is typically priced from $40-$55.00. Natchez Shooters Supply lists it for $45.50 but they are currently out of stock.


Bulldog Cases offers a bargain-priced 52″ soft case. If your rifle has a 31-32″ barrel, this Bulldog case should handle the length. The 52″ Bulldog features 2-1/4″ total padding thickness, a zippered slash pocket, and a shoulder strap. The 52″ Bulldog is offered in tan (BD242-52), green (BD241-52), or Mossy Oak camo (BD244-52). This case is available directly from Bulldog for $29.99. It is also sold by other vendors on the web for similar prices. NOTE: This case has no nose guard and has less padding than the cases listed above. It’s a “bare-bones” case, but if you have a super-long barrel, there aren’t many other inexpensive choices.

Battle Lake Predator Case — Plenty Long, but Pricey
Battle Lake Outdoors makes a 52″-long “Predator” rifle case that “has the best protection possible in a semi-soft case” according to one of our Forum members, Ron G. (aka “Radar”). The “Predator” case has an impact resistent .070″ plastic shell topped by high-grade 1000 Dernier Cordura nylon. The linining is soft “Chambrelle” fiber, which wicks away moisture. Overall, it is an impressive product, but it lacks a plastic nose guard and it costs $89.95. That puts it out of our list of “under $45.00″ products, but this case is worth considering if price is not a major factor.

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October 13th, 2008

Hunters: Measure Bullet Performance with Bullet Test Tube

Planning an important fall hunt? Here’s a product that will help you pick the most effective bullet for use on big game. The Bullet Test Tube (BTT), an innovative product from Ballistic Technology, allows hunters to test the terminal performance of hunting bullets. This $69.95 unit contains a re-usable wax-like compound that simulates how a bullet penetrates and expands when shot into a game animal. With the BTT, you can measure the wound channel volume (with water), then split the medium in half to measure the wound channel’s length and width. To re-use the BTT, simply melt the wax-like core material in a standard 1.5 gallon crock-pot or large pan and pour it into a replacement cardboard target mold.

Bullet Test Tube

Click the screen below to watch a YouTube Video that demonstrates the whole process. (If you are at work, turn down the audio volume first.)

YouTube Preview Image

To learn more about the Bullet Test Tube, read this Product FAQ. The Bullet Test Tube has earned the NRA Publications 2007 Golden Bullseye Award and Field & Stream’s 2006 “Best of the Best” Accessories Award. The product is available through major vendors including,, and Sinclair International.

If you wish to capture the bullet after it passes through the test medium, add the Xtender accessory which slips on the end. This allows hunters to examine bullet integrity as well as wound cavity. Sinclair Int’l prices the Bullet Test Tube at $61.25, while the Xtender is an additional $57.60.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Tech Tip No Comments »
October 13th, 2008

Custom Cartridge Caddy Design from Australia

Forum Member Jeff R. (“aJR”) from Australia has crafted a slick, handsome cartridge holder to use with his heavy Benchrest Gun. This is a simple, elegant design that would be relatively easy to build in a home workshop. Composed of two blocks of wood with parallel metal arms, the unit adjusts for height and block angle. Jeff tells us: “This is my new cartridge dispenser I knocked up in the shed. I wanted to get the record rounds up next to the action and this is adjustable for just about any gun/port configuration, right or left.” The cartridge caddy has ten round holes (for record shots) in the top wood block, stacked in two rows. The base piece has five holes for sighters, with the holes cut at an angle for easy access.

Benchrest Cartridge Holder

For the blocks, Jeff used “Jarrah” wood, a deep, red hardwood native to West Australia. Jeff says he did not stain the wood–what you see is the natural color, just sprayed with acrylic lacquer. A similar wood available in the USA is Satiné, also known as “Bloodwood”.

Benchrest Cartridge Holder

By the way, Jeff’s 1000-yard rifle is worth mentioning in its own right. The gun shoots a large 30-cal magnum wildcat cartridge and has set many Australian BR records. The rifle features a tensioned barrel system, custom Magnum drop-port action, and a metal/composite stock. Click HERE for more info. There’s even a YouTube Video showing Jeff shooting his big boomer.

Permalink Gear Review 2 Comments »
October 12th, 2008

Boyer Tops Talented Field at NBRSA Nationals

Tony Boyer NBRSA ChampionConditions were hot and windy at the 2008 NBRSA 100/200 Nationals, held this week at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, AZ. When the dust settled Tony Boyer came out on top, again proving his mastery of the sport in very challenging conditions. (During many matches, winds gusted from 15-25 mph.) Boyer, widely regarded as THE best short-range benchrest shooter in history, won the Four-Gun Overall, the Three-Gun Overall, and the Sporter/LV Two-Gun Overall Championships. Consider Boyer’s class by class Grand Agg rankings:

UnLtd. LV HV Sporter
#1, .2710 #1, .2407 #3, .2321 #4, .2298

Tony won all the marbles by showing great consistency with a TOP 10 or better finish in nearly every class and every distance. But it wasn’t easy — Boyer had some very tough competition. Tony’s protegé, Wayne Campbell, finished second in both the Four-Gun and Three-Gun Overall Championship. Mike Ratigan and Harley Baker also shot superbly throughout the match. Mike finished third in the Four-Gun, and second in the Sporter/LV Two-Gun. Larry Costa, Joe Krupa, and Bob Scarbrough were some of the other top performers.

Wayne Campbell NBRSA Nationals

Overall, this was a very successful match with 130+ shooters, including most of the big names in the sport. There were Hall of Famers up and down the line. Match Director (and railgun world-record holder) Gary Ocock ran a smooth match.

100-yard NBRSA Nationals

For complete NBRSA Nationals results, with the scores of all 130+ competitors, visit the NBRSA Nationals Thread on Woody from Colorado has posted .pdf and text files with all the Grand Agg details, multi-gun results, plus most of the individual events (e.g. LV 100, HV100, Sporter 200 etc.). Below are highlights, with the top 15 shooters in the 4-Gun, and 3-Gun Grand Agg.

Four-Gun Overall Champion Ranking
Rank Name U10-100 U10-200 HV5-100 HV5-200 LV5-100 LV5-200 SP5-100 SP5-200 GrandAgg
1. BOYER, TONY 0.2198 0.3217 0.2076 0.2566 0.2038 0.2775 0.2022 0.2574 0.2433
2. CAMPBELL, WAYNE 0.2386 0.3401 0.2766 0.2457 0.2802 0.2474 0.2646 0.2183 0.2639
3. RATIGAN, MIKE 0.2764 0.3057 0.2660 0.3919 0.2792 0.2499 0.1720 0.2685 0.2762
4. COSTA, LARRY 0.2755 0.4436 0.2136 0.3157 0.3238 0.3114 0.2078 0.2359 0.2909
5. SCARBROUGH, BOB JR 0.3480 0.4123 0.2428 0.2863 0.2360 0.3036 0.2132 0.2914 0.2917
6. HUCKEBA, CHARLES 0.2928 0.2598 0.2498 0.3419 0.2622 0.3654 0.2444 0.3288 0.2931
7. HARRIS, CHRIS 0.2750 0.4120 0.2274 0.3232 0.2336 0.3538 0.2910 0.2418 0.2947
8. BAKER, HARLEY 0.3446 0.4868 0.1472 0.3131 0.2720 0.3203 0.2448 0.2556 0.2981
9. SAUTER, BART 0.2899 0.3715 0.3022 0.3594 0.2912 0.3023 0.2398 0.2889 0.3056
10. CONRY, MIKE 0.2329 0.3634 0.2824 0.3727 0.2306 0.3769 0.2786 0.3198 0.3072
11. KRUPA, JOE JR 0.3158 0.5200 0.1652 0.3856 0.2986 0.3003 0.1908 0.2866 0.3079
12. BRUNO, LESTER 0.2490 0.3716 0.2306 0.5405 0.2520 0.3229 0.2530 0.3025 0.3153
13. ADAMS, ED 0.2761 0.4694 0.2820 0.2907 0.2716 0.2959 0.2916 0.3596 0.3171
14. CREACH, DON 0.3106 0.3371 0.3916 0.3704 0.3444 0.2843 0.1968 0.3365 0.3215
15. BUKYS, GENE 0.2881 0.5199 0.2518 0.2942 0.2260 0.3874 0.2868 0.3187 0.3216

Three-Gun Overall Champion Ranking
Rank Name HV5-100 HV5-200 LV5-100 LV5-200 SP5-100 SP5-200 GrandAgg
1. BOYER, TONY 0.2076 0.2566 0.2038 0.2775 0.2022 0.2574 0.2342
2. CAMPBELL, WAYNE 0.2766 0.2457 0.2802 0.2474 0.2646 0.2183 0.2555
3. BAKER, HARLEY 0.1472 0.3131 0.2720 0.3203 0.2448 0.2556 0.2588
4. SCARBROUGH, BOB 0.2428 0.2863 0.2360 0.3036 0.2132 0.2914 0.2622
5. COSTA, LARRY 0.2136 0.3157 0.3238 0.3114 0.2078 0.2359 0.2680
6. BROWN, Rodney0.2740 0.3778 0.2564 0.2662 0.2070 0.2429 0.2707
7. KRUPA, JOE JR 0.1652 0.3856 0.2986 0.3003 0.1908 0.2866 0.2712
8. RATIGAN, MIKE 0.2660 0.3919 0.2792 0.2499 0.1720 0.2685 0.2713
9. HARRIS, CHRIS 0.2274 0.3232 0.2336 0.3538 0.2910 0.2418 0.2785
10. MEYER, TERRY 0.2226 0.2317 0.2858 0.2897 0.3294 0.3725 0.2886
11. KELBLY, GEORGE SR 0.2832 0.3326 0.2826 0.3353 0.2234 0.2837 0.2901
12. BURBY, BERNIE 0.2296 0.2935 0.2710 0.3726 0.2806 0.3022 0.2916
13. BUKYS, GENE 0.2518 0.2942 0.2260 0.3874 0.2868 0.3187 0.2942
14. SAUTER, BART 0.3022 0.3594 0.2912 0.3023 0.2398 0.2889 0.2973
15. ADAMS, ED 0.2820 0.2907 0.2716 0.2959 0.2916 0.3596 0.2986

gary ocock NBRSA Nationals

Special Thanks to Match Director Gary Ocock (above) and to Jeff Welker for his match photos.

Permalink Competition, News No Comments »
October 11th, 2008

Speedy's Guide to Short-Range Benchrest

Right now the NBRSA 100-Yard/200-Yard Nationals is wrapping up. Tony Boyer and other legends will be hauling away trophies, but some newcomers also did very well in very challenging (and windy) conditions. If you’re interested in learning more about the most accurate form of shooting, Benchrest Hall of Famer Speedy Gonzalez has prepared a comprehensive Guide to Benchrest Competition. It covers all aspects of the game: gear selection (hardware), reloading methods and tools, plus shooting skills and strategies. All of this is available on the web for free, thanks to Speedy and the Swedish Benchrest Shooters Assn. (SWBSA). CLICK HERE to read Speedy’s very complete BR Guide.

Speedy’s article is a gold-mine of info on shooting components and specialized reloading tools. It is also richly illustrated with high-quality photos showing gun components and reloading gear. Many of the photos show tools that have been sectioned so you can view the internals.

Speedy also discusses bullet design, and load tuning. There is a very informative section on Time Management and Target Management that will benefit all competitive shooters, no matter what their discipline.

Permalink - Articles, News 3 Comments »
October 11th, 2008

Popular MidwayUSA Range Bag on Sale, $39.99

Now through October 31st, the MidwayUSA Competition Range Bag is on sale for $39.99, marked down from $59.99. This is a BIG bag, almost the size of an airline carry-on. Padded full-length pouches line each side and offer plenty of room for handguns. A drawstring bag for spent brass is also included. The main bag has multiple accessory pockets, two padded pistol rugs, and a water bottle pouch with drain grommet. The MidwayUSA Competition Range Bag is actually two bags in one. Inside the main compartment is a removable open-top bag with wrap-around web handles. It contains 6 magazine pouches and 2 hook and loop internal dividers.

Competition Range Bag MidwayUSA

Here are reports from actual owners, as posted on, which has no affiliation with MidwayUSA:

“Yes, the bag is huge. I’ve been using the bag for the last two years and really like it. I carry lots of stuff to the range, including several handguns.”

“Own it, Love it! It is a great deal if you ask me. I have plenty of room for weapons, targets, ammo, eye and ear protection and it even has a drink holder. It also comes with a brass bag!”

“The MidwayUSA range bag is money well spent! I bought one when they were 50% off, and it’s an awesome bag. Plenty of room for pistols and ammo, front and side pockets, drink holder, brass bag, shotgun shell bag, and two pistol sleeves. It’s great!”

“I got it and I love it. It’s well made and you can’t beat the price. Best 40 dollars I ever spent. And if they would sell it for 60 or 70 dollars, it would still be a bargain.”

Over 160 other user reviews are available on MidwayUSA’s website — just click the “Review” tab on the Product Page. The most recent review was posted yesterday by Brian in Kent, WA: “I cannot say enough good things about this bag. I looked at a few range bags that were double or even triple the price of the Midway USA Competition Range Bag, and none of them stacked up. Everything about this bag is high quality — the stitching, zippers, shoulder strap, fabric — and every time I open this bag I find another pocket or pouch. You will not find another bag of this quality with these features for under $60. Trust me I have looked.”

Permalink Gear Review, Hot Deals No Comments »
October 10th, 2008

Lapua Will Resume Production of .222 Rem Brass

.222 RemingtonHere’s good news for fans of the “Triple Deuce”, the .222 Remington. Lapua plans to start making premium .222 Rem brass again. The .222 Rem once ruled the roost in benchrest competition. Prior to the introduction of the PPC family of cases, the .222 Rem was considered the most accurate cartridge on the planet. Some benchresters, such as George Kelbly Sr., still shoot the cartridge in BR competition, and it remains very popular with varmint shooters.

The Triple Deuce has a much longer neck than the .223 Remington. This long neck is considered a plus by many .222 shooters — they believe it reduces throat erosion (compared to a .223 Rem), while improving accuracy. Certainly, since the .222 Rem burns less powder than a .223 Rem, the .222 could yield longer barrel life than a .223, with charges of equal pressure.

Adam Braverman, U.S. representative for Nammo-Lapua, just returned from a visit to Lapua’s production facility in Finland. Adam was pleased to report that Lapua plans to resume production of .222 Remington brass. This will be produced “in-house”, and will carry a Lapua headstamp. Lapua plans to start production late in 2008, and the new .222 Rem brass should be available in early spring of 2009 in North America. No price has been announced, but we can expect the .222 brass to be priced comparably to Lapua .223 Rem brass, which runs $44.79/100 at

.222 Remington Lapua Brass

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 6 Comments »
October 10th, 2008

Eley 17 Mach 2 Ammo Discounted at has Eley 17 Mach 2 ammo on sale for just $4.49 per box (item EL17HM2). This ammo, based on a 22 Stinger case necked down to 17 caliber, shoots a 17gr jacketed V-Max bullet at about 2050 fps. We’ve shot all the brands of 17 Mach 2 ammo, and the Eley is as good as anything out there. What you’ll typically get with a 5-shot group in a good rifle is 3 or 4 shots in a tight cluster and then one out. This is caused by a lot of factors (run-out, crimp problems, OAL variations etc.), and is true of all the 17 Mach 2 brands. Still, the round is fun to shoot and the 17 Mach 2 can deliver sub-MOA groups at 100 yards even with the “flyers”.

We recently tested the Eley, CCI, and Hornady 17 Mach 2 in a Hall-actioned BR rifle with a tight chamber. Shooting the Eley at 50 yards, we managed a couple 5-shot groups in the low ones — basically one-holers. That was exciting… but not repeatable. After a great group, the next group would typically be a 3/8″ or larger, with an unexplained flyer high or low. Still the average group size of the Eley was substantially smaller than either the CCI and Hornady ammo. Both CCI and Hornady 17 Mach 2 ammo are produced in the same plant. However, the particular sample of CCI we had did shoot better than the Hornady. The Hornady ammo also showed the biggest variance in cartridge length (from 0.961″ to 0.996″ COAL), while the Eley was the most consistent in length, with 3/4 of the 50 rounds in the box measuring between 0.990″-1.000″. All the brands performed best in a freshly-cleaned barrel. Groups opened up noticeably after 35-40 rounds had been shot without cleaning.

Bang for the Buck
When you consider that most brands of 17 HMR ammo now cost about $12.00 a box, the Eley 17 Mach 2 is an excellent value. The Mach 2 delivers the same 17gr V-Max bullet as the 17 HMR, but the Mach 2 just runs a little slower — 2050 fps vs. 2500 for the 17 HMR. For many shooters, it makes sense to use the 17 Mach 2 rather than a 17 HMR. With Eley just $4.50 a box, you can buy 133 rounds of 17 Mach 2 for the price of 50 rounds of 17 HMR.

Permalink News No Comments »
October 9th, 2008

DVDs Provide Advanced Reloading Tips

We often receive emails from shooters who are just getting started in hand-loading for precision rifles. These readers may have experience reloading for pistols or shotguns, but the fine points of producing precision rifle ammo are unfamiliar to them. Many readers seek advice on controlling neck tension, determining optimum bullet seating depth, and tuning loads. These are all key factors in rifle accuracy. Likewise we get many questions about using Wilson hand dies and arbor presses.

Advanced Handloading DVD

Sinclair International is now offering a new DVD entitled, “Advanced Handloading — Beyond The Basics”. This 45-minute DVD is hosted by John Barsness, contributing editor of Handloader Magazine and editor of Successful Hunter Magazine. Topics covered include correct case sizing, neck sizing, bushing selection, cartridge O.A.L. and many more. The tools and procedures needed to accomplish these tasks and measure the results are discussed in detail. This DVD was produced as a cooperative effort by Redding Reloading, Sierra Bullets, and Wolfe Publishing. Price is $19.95, Sinclair item 15-05978.

Gunsmith Richard Franklin, whose article on the 30-338 Wildcat is featured this week on our site, has also prepared a very useful instructional DVD. Richard’s two-hour-long Precision Reloading for Accuracy DVD explains many of the fine points of loading popular match and varmint cartridges. Richard demonstrates how to prep cases for best accuracy, how to neck-up or neck-down cartridges, how to turn case necks, and how to bump case shoulders properly. Richard’s DVD is a great resource if you need help with Wilson-type inline seating and sizing dies. Richard shows how to set up and use Wilson benchrest dies and to choose the right neck bushing for Wilson neck dies. Richard’s Precision Reloading DVD costs $24.00. Call 540-890-8649 to order, or email customrifles [at] For varminters, Richard also offers excellent DVDs on GroundHog hunting. A sequel to Richard’s popular “Death in the Green Grass” varminting DVD is scheduled for release very soon.

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