As an Amazon Associate, this site earns a commission from Amazon sales.

February 20th, 2009

Videos Show How to Apply Spray-On, Heat-Cured Gun Finishes

In recent years, spray-on finishes have become a popular alternative to traditional blueing for chrome-moly barrels and receivers, plus other gun parts. Spray-on finishes provide excellent rust-proofing, some degree of abrasion resistance, and many of the finishes also provide increased lubricity for moving parts. (Be aware, however, that these finishes go on thin, and the finish can wear through on high-abrasion areas, such as slide rails on pistols.)

Matte spray-on products work well for hunters looking for a dull, non-glossy finish that blends into the background. A bake-on polymer-type finish is a very good choice for a shotgun or rifle used in the winter or in damp environments (such as duck blinds).

Brownells Gun-Kote

Brownells has created a Six-part series of videos that explain, step by step, how to apply a spray-on finish to gun parts. In Parts I & II, Brownells gunsmith Dave Bennetts explains the basics of spray-on finishes, then shows how to properly prep metal parts for finishing.

In the next four videos, Bennetts provides specific application instructions for four different spray-on gun finish products. Bennetts explains the strengths and weaknesses of each product for particular firearm types. Click the links below to watch the specific product videos:

Spray-on Finish – Chapter 3 – Baking Lacquer
Spray-on Finish – Chapter 4 – Gun-Kote
Spray-on Finish – Chapter 5 – Teflon-Moly
Spray-on Finish – Chapter 6 – Aluma-Hyde II

Of the four featured products, Gun-Kote, sold by Brownells under license from KG Industries, offers superior corrosion resistance, and is probably the most popular of the four products for use on rifles. Gun-Kote was originally developed for the military and was first used by Navy SEALS. Gun-Kote is an “oven-cure” finish applied to pre-heated metal. Though it goes on thin, Gun Kote cures to a hard coating that resists abrasion and won’t wear through as easily as bluing or chemically blackened surface treatments. Brownells Gun-Kote is offered in a wide variety of colors, shown below.

Brownells Gun-Kote

Permalink Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
February 20th, 2009

Hot Deals from Cabela's Bargain Cave

Among the many good deals in Cabela’s Bargain Cave, we found a couple outstanding bargains this week. How about a quality hydration pack for $14.88, or a fleece neck gaitor for just $2.88? Note, also currently offers free shipping on orders of $150.00 or more. Use Promo Code ’29SHIP’.

Bargain 70-oz. Hydration Pack
Cabela’s is offering a good, solid basic hydration pack for just $14.88, marked down from $24.99 (item OG-517656). While a benchrester may never need a water pack, this is a great accessory for a varmint hunter, F-Class shooter, High Power competitor, or any one who has to spend long hours in the hot sun. The pack (offered in blue or green) features a 70-oz. H20 reservoir, comfortable shoulder straps, and a handy mesh pocket for keys or cell phone. Similar hydration packs from other manufacturers can cost $40 or more. A recent purchaser praised the Cabela’s design: “Great item — I have been very impressed with the Cabela’s Diamond Peak Hydration Packs I ordered. The bite valve is very easy to use and never leaks a drip. The pack construction seems very solid. No need to pay more.”

Cabela's Hydration Pack

Polartec Fleece Neck Gator — $2.88
The last time this Editor went to the range at the crack of dawn, it was about 30 degrees. I sure could have used this warm, thick fleece neck gaiter. This Polartec “WAMUgaiter™” (item OG-942580) has an angled zipper so you can adjust ventilation. I’ve used these when skiing and riding a motorcycle as well. You can easily slide them up and down to adjust the warmth factor, and unlike a full-head-coverage Balaclava, they won’t make you look like a Ninja assassin. Note, the only color available is BLAZE ORANGE, though the photo below shows camo. That may disappoint some, but for under three bucks, how can you complain. This is a very versatile cold-weather item, on sale now for just $2.88.

Cabela's Neck Gaiter

Permalink Hot Deals 1 Comment »
February 19th, 2009

New Project Rifle — Our 6-6.5×47 + 6.5×47 Switch-Barrel

After much anticipation, we finally rolled out our latest project gun, a Bat-actioned 6-6.5×47/6.5×47 Lapua switch-barrel benchrest rifle. Equipped with two (2) Bartlein 30″ 5R barrels, the gun was designed to compete in a variety of disciplines: F-Class, Varmint Matches (Silhouette + Paper), and 600- and 1000-yard Benchrest.

6-6.5x47 Project Rifle

The gun was built to a 17-lb. weight limit, with the goal of achieving the maximum possible accuracy with this pair of cartridges. We chose two identical, 30″ Bartlein barrels so we could evaluate the relative performance of the 6.5×47 and its necked-down 6mm version, holding as many variables constant as possible. Both barrels were chambered by ace gunsmith Mark King with tight-tolerance, no-turn necks.

6-6.5x47 Project Rifle.
Sightron provided the SIII 8-32×56 30mm scope, shown mounted in Burris Signature Zee Rings.

The rifle, two years in the making, features top-of-the-line components. The action is a BAT multi-flat MB, with a +20MOA Weaver-style rail on top. As the action was originally intended to be used in an F-Class rifle, the loading port was enlarged at the BAT factory to load full-length .284 Winchester rounds.

Baer laminated stockThe stock design is unique. It started as a Bruce Baer MB Tooley style, but we added some custom design upgrades. The sides of the fore-end are square (like a McMillan edge), and the underside of the fore-end has been relieved in the middle, creating two “rails”. The rear flat, on the underside of the buttstock, is 1.25″ wide, with a channel cut in the middle (to reduce drag, and to ensure that the bag tracks in the ears rather than on the center stitching.)

The stock was expertly inletted, pillar-bedded, and finished by Alex Sitman of Master Class Stocks. Alex put much time and effort into ensuring that the geometry was square throughout, with straight, parallel tracking surfaces. The BAT MB action has an extended front section, to allow for additional bedding surface. The MB action employs a three-action screw design. Sitman installed pillars for all three action screws then carefully bedded the entire action. Alex, one of the best stock-workers in the world, did a great job on this rifle.

6-6.5x47 Project Rifle

Rifle Will Provide Load Data for New Cartridge Guide
This rifle was originally conceived as a match-grade test bed for the 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge and its wildcat cousin the 6-6.5×47. Jason Baney will test different powders and bullets in the rifle, to develop reliable load data for an upcoming 6.5×47/6-6.5×47 Cartridge Guide. And yes, we will be trying H4350, Reloder 17, and the relatively new Hodgdon Hybrid 100V. Jason will test a variety of flat-base and boat-tail bullets in both 6mm and 6.5mm.

Pet Loads Wanted for 6-6.5×47 and 6.5×47 Cartridge Guide
While Jason will generate load data for our planned 6-6.5×47/6.5×47 Cartridge Guide, we recognize that one rifle (even with two barrels) can’t provide all the key info. Each gun has its powder/bullet preferences, so we want to offer a broad sampling of load data for the new Cartridge Guide. That’s where you, our readers, can help.

If you shoot the 6-6.5×47 or 6.5×47 Lapua, and have developed some really great loads, share them with us. We can then include more data in our planned load charts. Send your “pet loads” to Be sure to include: Powder Brand, Charge Weight, Primer Type, Bullet Brand and weight, and the OAL or known seating depth. We also request that you list the type of action, barrel length, and contour. Chron data is also important. Include the tested Muzzle Velocity, Extreme Spread (ES), and Standard Deviation (SD) if possible. It’s helpful if you can provide a short summary of your load, such as “Great 600-yard accuracy, near max, works best with light neck tension, low ES/SD.”

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 5 Comments »
February 19th, 2009

Detailed Review of SEB Coaxial Rest

Mark Trope, Webmaster of the Gun Owner Network website, has written a very thorough review of the SEB Coaxial front rest. Mark’s SEB Rest Review covers all the bases, showing how the rest works with a variety of rifle types, including both wide-forearm match rifles and narrow-forearm sporter rifles. Mark provides dozens of clear photos of the rest, showing many of the fine points of SEB’s impressive design. The review shows how to set-up and level the rest, and how to tune the “feel” of the joystick to suit your preferences. Some rest users prefer the joystick to move quite freely, while others prefer to dial in some resistance so there is no chance of movement when you remove your hand from the joystick.

SEB Coaxial Rest Review

SEB Bigfoot bag eviewAfter covering the features and performance of the SEB Rest, Trope turns his attention to the SEB “BigFoot” rear bag. He explains why it’s a super-stable choice in rear bags, one of the best products available. You’ll note we acquired a SEB BigFoot rear bag for our latest Project Rifle (see story above). After providing tips on how to fill the bag with heavy sand, Trope shows how to adapt a RubberMaid “ActionPacker” plastic storage bin to carry both the SEB Front Rest and the BigFoot Bag.

If you are considering the purchase of a joystick-style front rest, or joystick-style rest top, you should definitely read Trope’s Rest Review. It will definitely help you identify the features you need, so you can make an informed decision, whatever brand you ultimately choose. To learn more about the SEB coaxial rest, or to place an order, contact Sebastian Lambang’s American dealer, Ernie Bishop:

Ernie Bishop
306 West Flying Circle Drive
Gillette, WY 82716
(307) 257-7431
ernieemily [at]

Permalink - Articles, Gear Review No Comments »
February 18th, 2009

Melonite Surface Treatment for Barrels, Bolts, and Actions

Melonite surface hardeningAce trigger-puller Joel Kendrick, a former IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year, has been working on a MELONITE® nitrocarburizing process for surface-hardening barrels and other gun parts. The main advantage of Melonite barrel treatment is that it reduces friction in the bore and lessens bore surface wear, potentially extending barrel life. Melonite-treatment of a bore creates a new compound layer in the top 10-20 microns of the surface, creating a very hard, slick surface. Joel has found that this surface is so slick that carbon does not easily adhere, so the barrel is easier to keep clean. Real-world tests have shown that Melonite barrel treatment definitely reduces internal barrel friction. Joel notes that, after processing, barrels deliver 50 to 100 fps LESS velocity with the same load, a reliable indicator of reduced friction. (Likewise, you’ll get less velocity when switching from naked to moly-coated bullets.) Butch Lambert has tried some Melonite-treated barrels, and he reports: “I have had Joel Kendrick do three barrels for me in Melonite. I polished them first and the finish is like a deep polished black-bluing. One Krieger has 5000 rounds on it and it is shooting just as well as when new. It has been an incredible barrel. It has no throat erosion. It has developed a bunch of pinprick looking spots in the throat, but doesn’t seem to hurt anything. The finish is so hard you can’t thread it. I have not put one of the LV barrels on yet and the heavy is a great shooter and doesn’t have many rounds on it. My experience has been great, but a more extensive test is needed.”

Salt-bath nitrocarburizing by Melonite process has been applied in a wide range of industries throughout the world for many decades. It is used to improve the wear resistance, the fatigue strength, and corrosion resistance of components made from steel, cast iron, and sintered iron materials. The Melonite process is used as an alternative to other surface engineering processes such as case hardening.

Kendrick Melonite barrel

Joel tells us: “I have been experimenting with this Melonite process for the last five years. I have been testing nitrocarburized barrels on my F-class and Long Range equipment since 2005 with good results. What will it cost? Joel expects Melonite treatment will cost under $100.00 per barrel, but the final pricing structure hasn’t been set yet. There will be volume discounts for gunsmiths and manufacturers.

There are many potential applications of Melonite processing for shooters, Joel believes. In addition to barrels, bolts, actions, internal components, and even reloading equipment can be surface-hardened with the Melonite process. After processing, the surface compound layers formed consist of iron, nitrogen, carbon and oxygen. Due to its microstructure, the compound layer does not possess metallic properties. Depending on material used, the compound layer will have a Vickers hardness of about 800 to 1500 HV, and a layer depth of 10 to 20 micorons. That’s so hard that conventional reamers won’t work well on a Melonited surface, so the barrel must be chambered BEFORE Melonite processing.

Kendrick Melonite barrel

Lower Friction, Less Throat Erosion, Longer Barrel Life
Joel believes there are many benefits to Melonite barrel processing. The barrels he has treated and tested have shown reduced fouling, less throat erosion, and extended useful barrel life. Melonite-treated Chrome-moly barrels will have improved corrosion resistance as well. But are there negatives? According to Joel, “with stainless barrels, Melonite processing may reduce corrosion resistance slightly. Also, the treatment process makes the surface so hard that re-chambering is not practical — so this is something you do to already-chambered barrels.”

What about accuracy? Joel says: “Melonite barrel treatment should have no effect, positive or negative, on accuracy… except to the extent that your barrel may retain its best accuracy longer since it won’t wear out as fast.”

To learn more about the Melonite nitrocarburizing process and its application to shooting products, contact Joel Kendrick, joelkndrck [at], or call (704) 616-6442.

Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 24 Comments »
February 18th, 2009

Hodgdon Brothers Win NRA Pioneer Award

The winners of the 2009 NRA Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award are Robert E. Hodgdon and J.B. Hodgdon, officers of Hodgdon Powder Company. For nearly six decades the Hodgdon brothers have worked in the Kansas-based company founded by their father, Bruce E. Hodgdon.

Robert Hodgdon, J.B. Hodgdon

The Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award, now in its seventh year, honors outstanding personal achievement. “The award spotlights the exemplary achievement and cumulative body of work of an individual, members of a team or partnership, or family who were responsible for the development and introduction of shooting equipment that has made a profound, positive and enduring impact on the way Americans shoot and hunt,” said Joe Graham, Executive Director of NRA Publications. “This year’s winners are legend in our industry.” NRA Publications will present its annual Golden Bullseye Awards and Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award at an invitation-only reception during the 2009 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, May 15-17, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Expanded Product Line Now Includes Goex, IMR, and Winchester Powders
In the last decade, Hodgdon Powder Company has grown rapidly. In 2008, Hodgdon acquired the Goex line of Black Powder and Black Powder substitute products. In 2006, Hodgdon Powder Company and Winchester® Ammunition announced that Winchester® branded reloading powders would be licensed to Hodgdon. In 2003, Hodgdon purchased IMR® Powder Company. IMR powders continue to be manufactured in the same plant as before the company’s acquisition by Hodgdon. Today Hodgdon meets the needs of shooters, reloaders and hunters around the world with an extensive array of smokeless and blackpowder substitute propellants, and the company continues to bring innovative new products to market.

Permalink News, Reloading No Comments »
February 17th, 2009

No Surprise — Older Shooters Dominate NRA Rifle Competition

A new study by Target Sports Marketing, based on surveys of Camp Perry competitors, provides some interesting facts. First, and this is no surprise, more than 80 percent of competitive shooters reload their own ammunition. The majority of these shooters (60 percent) compete year-round while a larger percentage (70 percent) practice year-round.

Rifle Shooting Demographics

Shooters in 50s and 60s Outnumber Younger Participants
Interestingly, there is a significant “generation gap” among shooters. According to the survey, shooters in their 50s compose the largest segment of competitive rifle shooters. And, the combined number of rifle shooters in their 50s and 60s exceeds all other age categories combined. Keep in mind, Camp Perry focuses on traditional NRA High Power, Palma, and long-range events. Were you to survey other disciplines (such as 3-Gun Matches), you’d likely find a different age distribution. Nonetheless, the numbers do demonstrate the need to increase the number of younger rifle competitors. Unless there is a major effort to attract new, younger shooters, it appears that competitive rifle shooting could decline in popularity dramatically in a decade or so, as the Age 50s cohort gets older.

Rifle Shooting Demographics

The findings are based on the feedback of nearly 400 rifle and pistol competitors at the 2008 U.S. National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, hosted by the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). The study focuses on individual competitor demographics, shooting sports engagement and brand preferences for firearms, ammunition, components and accessories. An animated, narrated summary of the report is available at Definitely click the link — many interesting facts are revealed. This particular presentation focused on 186 CMP competitors, two-thirds of whom were rifle shooters.

Graphs and data created by Target Sports Marketing for the CMP.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, News 3 Comments »
February 17th, 2009

Juniors — Registration for NRA Summer Camps Now Open

This news item comes to us via the NRA Blog. Attention all Junior Pistol and Smallbore Rifle Shooters: registration for the NRA Junior Pistol and Junior Smallbore Camps is now open! Space is limited to 50 shooters for the Junior Pistol Camp and 72 shooters for the Junior Smallbore Rifle Camp. CLICK HERE to download your paperwork, and send it in. You can also call (703) 267-1481 for more information.

CLICK HERE for Smallbore Rifle Camp Program Materials

These camps are designed for junior, intermediate-level pistol or smallbore rifle shooters. The smallbore rifle camp has been primarily designed for the intermediate shooters. However, beginners will be accepted on a space available basis. Shooters need to be at least 12 years old. Taught by NRA Certified Coaches, both camps provide expert coaching in the fundamentals of shooting while providing a safe, enjoyable learning experience. These camps are the perfect way for juniors to improve their shooting skills while meeting other shooters in their age group.

NRA Junior Camp

The NRA Junior Pistol Camp will be held July 14-17, 2009 at Camp Perry, Ohio. The NRA Junior Smallbore Rifle Camp will be held July 25-30, 2009 at Camp Perry, Ohio, and provides instruction in 3-position and 4-position smallbore rifle shooting. Both camps cost $175.00 for advanced registration (must be received before June 15, 2009) or $200.00 for standard registration (paperwork received after June 15, 2009).

Permalink Competition No Comments »
February 16th, 2009

Presidents' Day — And a History Lesson

Today we celebrate Presidents’ Day. It is worth remembering that many of America’s greatest Presidents were avid rifle shooters, including all four whose faces are enshrined in stone at Mt. Rushmore. Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt were all shooters, and in today’s world they would probably be called “gun nuts” by the mainstream press.

Mt. Rushmore

George WashingtonWashington, of course, was a great military leader. He was also a staunch supporter of gun rights. In a 1790 speech to Congress, Washington declared: “Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself! They are the American people’s Liberty Teeth and keystone under Independence. From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to insure peace, security, and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere, restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good!”

Thomas Jefferson often went hunting as a form of recreation and as an escape from the pressures of high office. In 1785 he wrote to his nephew: “[For exercise]… I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body, and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion of your walks.”

Abraham Lincoln learned to shoot as a boy and used a rifle to put food on the family table as he grew up on backcountry farms in Kentucky and Indiana (Lincoln was 21 when his family moved to Illinois.) Even as President, Abe Lincoln remained very interested in firearms and he was a good marksman. When, during the Civil War, he was approached by Christopher Spencer, inventor of the Spencer Rifle, Lincoln tested the gun himself on the grounds of the White House. According to Mr. Spencer’s journal: “On the 18 of August, 1863, I arrived at the White House with rifle in hand, and was immediately ushered into the executive room. I found the President alone. With brief introduction I took the rifle from its case and presented it to him. Looking it over carefully and handling it as one familiar with firearms, he requested me to take it apart to show the ‘inwardness of the thing’. After a careful examination and his emphatic approval, I was asked if I had any engagement for the following day. When I replied that I was at his command, he requested that I ‘Come over tomorrow at 2 o’clock, and we will go out and see the thing shoot’.” The next day Lincoln and Spencer tested the rifle on the White House lawn. Lincoln shot the rifle very well and recommended that it be adopted by the military.

Theodore RooseveltTheodore Roosevelt was an avid hunter and conservationist. As a young man, he had his own ranch in the Dakota Territories where he enjoyed hunting buffalo, elk and other big game. Roosevelt earned fame an a “Rough-Rider” in the Spanish-American War. When he left the White House in 1908, he embarked on a lengthy African safari with his son Kermit. Roosevelt recounted his safari experiences in his book, African Game Trails, considered one of the “classics” of outdoor adventure literature.

So there you have it… four of America’s finest Presidents were avid gun enthusiasts. They lived in times when shooting a rifle was considered both a manly pursuit and an essential survival skill. Today, in the 21st century, the mass media often depicts gun owners as extremists. Today’s journalists would be wise to re-learn their American history and acknowledge that many of our nation’s greatest leaders were riflemen.

Permalink News No Comments »
February 16th, 2009

Target Cam System for Long-Range Shooting

We recently tested two large spotting scopes and two high-magnification riflescopes to see if they could resolve 6mm bullet holes at 600 yards. In ideal, early-morning conditions, we could see 6mm bullet holes in the white with all four optics (Pentax PF100ED, Swarovski 80mm ATS, March 10-60, Nightforce 12-42 BR). However, as the day wore on, and mirage increased, it became increasingly difficult to see the bullet holes, even with the big spotters.

It became obvious to our crew of testers, that if you want to see 6mm bullet holes at 600 yards and beyond, in all conditions and against any background color, some kind of remote camera system may be easier on the eyes than even the finest high-power glass you can buy.

CLICK HERE to READ Complete Target Cam Article With Hardware Tips

target cameraAdvantages of Target Cam System
By placing a remote camera relatively close to the target, you bypass many issues that compromise optical resolution. You can see the target clearly even in misty conditions or when the mirage is extreme. You can view your target easily on a large screen… that means no more straining with tiny (1mm) exit pupils with ultra-critical eye relief (move your head slightly and you lose the “view” completely). Over an extended period, you’ll experience much less eye fatique using the target cam.

Components of a Target Cam System
You can put together a good long-range target cam system for under $1200.00. This will include camera, tripod, remote wireless transmitter, receiver and monitor/display screen. You can shop for your own components through catalogs. Or you can contact Forrest Foster, an Forum member and long-range shooter from South Dakota. Over the last couple of years, Forrest has experimented with a variety of Target Cam components. He’s field-tested different cameras and transmitter/receiver packages and come up with an affordable system that works reliably at 1000 yards and beyond.

target cam

Foster offers his target-cam set up in two configurations. For $825.00 he supplies a quality Sony video cam, wireless transmitter and receiver, cables and powerful, rechargeable 12 volt batteries. All you need to do is add a monitor or small TV set. If you already have a video camera, Forrest offers the same package, without the Sony camera, for $525.00. For more information, call Foster at (605) 342-8320, or email FFoster [at]

Target Cam System in Use
Forum member Donovan has used Foster’s target cam system extensively, and currently has it deployed using an older camcorder rather than the Sony device. Shown below is Donovan’s screen displaying a target placed 1000-yards away. Note you can see the bullet holes clearly.

target cam

Donovan is highly pleased with the set-up and says it works great all the way out to 1000 yards. Donovan writes: “For those interested, I am one of Forrest’s system testers. With a cheap Sanyo 21″ TV, I get a great picture of the target at 1000 yards. With a Samsung 151MP flat screen, I get a better target view yet. The video camera that Forrest sells with the system features a variable focal 5-50x lens. In testing, I have placed it as close as 5 feet and as far as 75 feet (25 yards) away from the target with no difference in quality of view on the screen. Just simply adjust the zoom to the amount of target you want displayed.

When set up at 300, 600, and 1000 yards, I did not see any difference in picture quality, as received back at the bench. 1000 yards is the farthest distance at which I’ve used the Target Cam system, but I’m sure it would transmit and receive further.”

Permalink - Articles 3 Comments »
February 15th, 2009

Canted Reticles — Serious Problem Needs to Be Addressed

Unfortunately, we still see too many scopes sold to the public with canted reticles. The problem of canted reticles is a serious issue that some manufacturers (both domestic and foreign) have failed to address. (Note: here we are talking about an INTERNAL scope assembly problem that results in reticles being off-axis relative to the turrets. Don’t confuse this with the canting which occurs if you don’t level your rifle. A canted reticle is a scope production defect requiring factory repair.)

One degree of scope reticle cant is noticeable. Three degrees is “slap in the face” obvious and, frankly, pretty unpleasant to work with. Unfortunately, three degrees happens to be one major domestic scope-maker’s production tolerance. And sure enough, you can find this company’s scopes in retail outlets with the reticles located a full three degrees off-axis.

We believe that badly canted reticles are unacceptable in a high-dollar scope, one costing more than $450.00. Optics-makers — it’s high time to improve your quality control.

Three degrees may not sound like much–after all it is less than 1% of a 360-degree circle. Nonetheless, as the diagrams show, three degrees of cant is VERY noticeable in a scope. In fact, most people will be bothered by a reticle that is just one degree off-axis. Canted reticles are not just annoying to look at, but off-axis reticles cause a number of problems with sighting and accuracy. For example, if you set up your rifle so the vertical cross-hair is straight up and down, your turrets will be slightly tilted. This means that when you click elevation you will change windage slightly, and vice-versa. If, on the other hand, you cant (or tilt) the whole rifle to make the turrets square, this throws off the bullet trajectory–causing bullet impact that is low and displaced horizontally*.

Now, all manufacturers can have a production flaw now and then. Yet we’ve never heard a complaint about canted reticles in Nightforce, U.S. Optics, or Schmidt & Bender scopes. So, it IS possible for the better manufacturers to get it right. Our point here is that it is time for the major scope-makers to address this problem and improve their quality control. That will happen sooner if consumers pay greater attention to reticle alignment during the purchasing process. If you have a scope with a canted reticle, send it back to the maker and ask for the problem to be fixed. If enough shooters do that, we expect the scope-makers will take notice and improve their products.

*CLICK HERE to read a very thorough technical article that explains the effect of rifle canting on bullet trajectory. CLICK HERE to see targets shot with canted rifles showing bullet displacement. The diagram below shows how this occurs.

Illustration courtesy Long Shot Products, Ltd.

Permalink Optics 11 Comments »
February 15th, 2009

JROTC Air Rifle Competition Underway at Camp Perry

From February 12th through the 28th, Camp Perry hosts more than 500 high school Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) cadets from across the US and Department of Defense Schools overseas. The cadets will be competing in the All Service Air Rifle Championships to determine Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force JROTC national individual and team champions. In addition, the top competitors in each championship will advance to the National JROTC Air Rifle Championship at Fort Benning, Georgia in March.

Camp Perry’s new Marksmanship Center facilities are comparable to the best airgun ranges in the world (such as those in Beijing and Munich) that host International Sport Shooting Federation (ISSF) competitions. Gary Anderson, CMP’s Director of Civilian Marksmanship, said, “our state-of-the-art air rifle range [is] the finest facility of this type in the entire Western Hemisphere.”

CMP Air Rifle match

The JROTC competition process started last November when nearly 7,000 cadets and 1,200 JROTC unit teams began firing on CMP-provided postal targets at their home ranges. The CMP then used its Orion Visual Imaging Scoring system to scan and score the 21,800 10-bullseye paper targets electronically.

CMP Air Rifle match

Competitors in the JROTC Championships will fire with either “precision” or “sporter” class air rifles. In general, precision rifles are high tech and feature adjustable stocks and triggers, internal rechargeable air tanks or CO2 cylinders, etc. Sporter rifles are low-cost, conventional appearing air rifles without specialized adjustments, but they also utilize air or CO2 cylinders to power their projectiles. The competition entails 60-shot three-position events to be fired on two successive days. Each day, competitors will fire 20 shots each in prone, standing and kneeling positions at bullseye targets placed at 10 meters.

For more information, visit the CMP website at Some of the JROTC Air Rifle matches will be “webcast” on the internet.

Permalink Competition No Comments »
February 14th, 2009

Berger Organizes Tech Consulting Team

Berger BulletsBerger Bullets has expanded its technical assistance and customer support team, adding Kevin Thomas as primary “E-Technical Consultant”. Eric Stecker, Berger’s Master Bulletsmith, issued the following statement yesterday:

“It is with great pleasure that I announce the addition of Kevin Thomas to the Berger Bullets team as our E-Technical Consultant. Kevin spent the last 15 years as Sierra’s Chief Ballistician. Prior to becoming Sierra’s Chief Ballistician, Kevin spent 6 years moving from Sierra’s production floor to their ballistics lab. Kevin will use his extensive shooting knowledge to help folks get the most out of their rifle shooting experience.”

Thomas will be part of a customer service/tech support group at Berger:

Technical Support by Phone – (714) 447-5458
Berger has partnered with Sinclair Int’l to provide extensive phone coverage by active and knowledgeable shooters.

Loading Data and Technical Assistance from Walt Berger – bergerltd [at]
Founder and member of the Benchrest Hall of Fame, Walt Berger’s extensive shooting experience is a tremendous resource for those who need help. Over the last several years, Walt has been working on Berger’s loading manual.

Loading Data and Technical Assistance from Kevin Thomas –
(email is not active yet)
Kevin spent two decades shooting in Sierra’s test facility every day and working with major ammo producers on several projects. Additionally, he is an experienced, active and successful competitive target shooter. He will soon be available for those who need assistance.

External Ballistic Assistance from Bryan Litz – bryan.litz [at]
Bryan’s reputation as a top external ballistics mind is well known. Equally recognized is his success as a competitive target shooter. Bryan is available for those who need to address advanced external ballistics concerns.

Stecker tells us: “Both Kevin Thomas and Bryan Litz will actively engage the forums as we strongly believe that forums are a valuable resource for all shooters. All of the people listed above are active rifle shooters and are committed to your success. These folks can provide an even greater level of shooting-related technical assistance than I. For this reason, you will see less of me as I focus my attention on the production floor. I will not be disconnected or unavailable, but I will rely heavily on this ‘dream team’ of technical experts to provide you with the information you need to get back to the range or into the field.”

In this video, Eric Stecker explains Berger’s product line and reveals what’s new for 2009.

YouTube Preview Image
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo No Comments »
February 14th, 2009

How Safe are YOUR Shooting Glasses?

The editors of the NRA’s American Hunter magazine recently tested 10 brands of shooting glasses, determining how well the eyewear could shield users from shotgun birdshot. Eyewear samples were tested at 25, 15, 10, 8, and 5 yards, using #8 shot. One ANSI Z87.1-certified polycarbonate sample was then repeat-tested with #6 shot, #4 shot, #2 steel and buckshot. Read Full Test Report.

shooting glasses safety tests birdshotThe tests provided some very important conclusions:

1. The glasses marked Z87.1+ (“plus” is a high-impact rating) performed the best. Overall, Z87.1-rated polycarbonate lenses provided excellent protection from birdshot at 10-15 yards and beyond. Some Z87.1+ eyewear even blocked birdshot at 8 yards.

2. You can’t necessarily rely on price as an indicator of quality. The $12 Bollé VX and the $5.95 Pyramex Rendezvous both worked better than some much more expensive brands. The $5.95 Pyramex, in fact, was one of only three products that stood up to the #8 birdshot at 8 yards. The Pyramex does carry a Z87.1+ rating.

3. Avoid no-name, un-rated plastic eyewear. American Hunter Editor Jeff Johnston writes: “It’s a mistake to assume that any plastic-lens sunglasses off the rack at the local 7-11 are made of polycarbonate and therefore are effective as shooting glasses—cheap plastics are not polycarbonates; in fact, wearing them could be worse than wearing nothing, as they can introduce sharp shards of plastic to your eyes in addition to the projectile(s) that caused them to break.”

To learn more about safety standards for shooting glasses, read our comprehensive Guide to Eye Protection for Shooters.

Permalink - Articles, Optics No Comments »
February 14th, 2009

Top Gun Execs on Gun Talk Radio

To celebrate Presidents’ Day, this Sunday’s lineup of guests on Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk® radio show will be all presidents and CEOs of big companies and organizations in the firearms industry. Currently scheduled to appear on the show are Pete Brownell, president of Brownells; Tommy Millner, president of Remington; Bob Morrison, president of Taurus USA; Lew Danielson, president of Crimson Trace; and, Steve Sanetti, president and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

“I thought it would be fun to get a one-day head start on Presidents’ Day by getting some of our own presidents on the show, ” said Tom Gresham, host of the national radio talk show.

Tom Gresham gun talk

Gun Talk Radio, in it’s 14th year of national syndication, is heard coast-to-coast on 66 FM and AM radio stations, on Sirius and XM satellite systems, and is available for download at and on Apple’s iTunes Store.

Permalink News No Comments »