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May 30th, 2009

Field Test: Anschütz Model 64-R Biathlon

Anschutz 64R BiathlonWe’ve had an Anschütz model 64-R Biathlon to play with since the first of the year, thanks to Anschütz. This is a very impressive rifle. Accuracy has exceeded our expectations. Even with relatively inexpensive Wolf Match Extra and Eley Club Xtra, the gun has shot many 1/4″ groups at 50 yards from bipod. Our ace rimfire triggerman, Joe Friedrich, has shot some 50-yard groups with 4 out of 5 shots virtually through one hole, and the fifth maybe half a bullet width further out.

Originally, the gun came with a 2.2-lb (one kilo) two-stage trigger, suited for biathlon and silhouette. That trigger was nice, and certainly shootable, as we could get the second stage down to about 9 ounces. But Anschütz recently provided its 500 gram match trigger assembly, and that has made the gun even sweeter to shoot. The 500 gram trigger installed easily, and by adjusting two screws we got the total pull weight down to 1.13 pounds, with the second stage about 5 ounces. (Note: in the video, I said the trigger pull was about “one and a half pounds”; we later adjusted it down to 1.13 pounds, or 512 grams.)

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The cheekpiece adjusts for height and cant angle. Length of pull can be adjusted by means of plastic spacers. With the spacers provided by Anschütz, the LOP is about 13.3 inches. That’s still a bit short for this Editor, but the gun was still very comfortable to shoot in all positions: prone, sitting, and standing. The near-vertical grip is very comfortable in prone and, with the scope positioned well forward, you can easily get your head in the right position for scoped shooting. With its built-in accessory rail, and a $6.00 track adapter, a Harris bipod attaches easily, and you can move the bipod position fore and aft.

Anschutz 64R Biathlon

With its excellent ergonomics and stellar accuracy, we think the Anschütz 64R Biathlon is a superb choice for tactical rimfire matches. Plus, it’s dead-nuts reliable. By contrast, at the rimfire tactical matches we’ve covered, we’ve seen a variety of misfeeds and/or mag failures with other brands of rifles. With the Anschütz 64R, mag feeding and function has been flawless. We’ve shot over 700 rounds without a single problem.

Anschutz 64R Biathlon

Does the rifle have flaws? Yes, a few. First, as noted, the LOP is short for someone with long arms, even with 3 spacers installed. Second, the barreled action and bolt are prone to develop rust if you don’t keep them well-oiled. We wish Anschütz offered a more durable, corrosion-resistent finish so we didn’t have to baby the blueing after each shooting session. While the magazines fed flawlessly, the mag well is recessed and the mag release is small. This caused some fumbling when we tried to do “speed reloads.” That’s it — the complaint list is pretty small, and you could easily apply a baked-on resin finish if you wanted.

Anschutz 64R Biathlon

Subjectively, this gun is a hoot to shoot, and I can honestly say I’ve had more fun with this rifle than any other rimfire I’ve tested. No, it won’t rival a tuned ARA rimfire Benchrest rig, but it is still exceedingly accurate, and the gun is truly versatile. It’s ideal for tactical matches, club fun shoots, and if you lock the cheekpiece in place and use the 2.2-lb trigger, most clubs should let you use it for silhouette. The gun currently retails for about $1200.00 IF you can find one. Anschütz isn’t building many 64Rs these days, and only a handful made their way to the USA. Hopefully, our report will spur interest in the rifle and Anschütz will decide to ship more across the Atlantic.

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May 30th, 2009

"Negative Image" Targets for Better Long-Range Viewing

At long range, small bullet holes are much easier to see in the white than in the black. When you’re practicing at long range on high power targets, one way to enhance your ability to see your bullet holes is to print a “negative” version of the regulation bullseye target. Forum member Watercam has a new Pentax PF-80ED. With the Pentax he can see 6mm bullet holes in the white at 600 yards, but holes in the black are only visible out to 400 yards or so. Accordingly, Watercam uses a modified “reversed” black-to-white target for 600-yard practice. Watercam writes:

“I just received my Pentax PF-80ED-A angled spotting scope the other day and it is awesome. Great quality. I traded a straight Kowa 77mm fluorite for it through Eye relief with the Pentax 10-60 power zoom is 18-22mm (much more than the Kowa zoom), so I can use glasses with no problem. The view through the Pentax is very sharp and contrasty with great color.

With my 6mm and limited mirage I’m seeing defined, 6mm holes in the white out to 600. In the black, I can see bullets holes at about 400 with my eyes. I am printing reverse-color targets for training without a pit partner at the 600-yard line.”

Pentax PF-80 ED scope

If you’re not concerned with official scoring rings, you can use an all-white target with a bright, fluorescent target dot in the middle. A 2″- or 3″-diameter stick-on target dot is highly visible at 600 yards. Birchwood Casey Target Spots® assortment #33928-TSA offers neon orange target dots in 1″, 2″, and 3″ diameters.

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