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January 31st, 2010

SHOT Show Report: Baney Does Barrett — .338 Lapua Mag and .416 Barrett Tactical Rifles

On Media Day, just prior to SHOT Show 2010, our Assistant Editor Jason Baney headed straight to the biggest, baddest rifles he could find — a pair of serious-looking tactical rigs from Barrett Rifles. First off was the mighty semi-auto Barrett 82A1, chambered in .416 Barrett. a “beast of a cartridge” according to Jason. The .416 is a very powerful chambering, and you can see the recoil pushed Jason pretty hard. That’s serious energy — Jason’s a big boy, and the Barrett 82A1 weighs nearly 31 pounds. Want one? You may have to liquidate some investments. MSRP on the Barrett 82A1 is a whopping $9345.00.

Barrett 82A1

Barrett 416

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Ninety-Eight Bravo in .338 Lapua Magnum
Next up was Barrett’s bolt-action model 98B (“Ninety-Eight Bravo”), chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum. At less than half the weight of the Barrett 82A1, the 98B was much easier to steer on the bench and the ergonomics were generally better according to Jason.

Barrett 98b

While recoil from the .338 Lapua Mag was stout, you can see in the video that the .338 LM kicked much less than the .416 Barrett, even in a gun with less than half the mass. The 98B gives you a good solid thump to the shoulder when firing. By contrast, the .416 Barrett in the 82A1 shakes your whole body. The 98B weighs 12.4-13.5 pounds (depending on configuration) and starts at $5039.99 without optics. Speaking of optics, the hooded display on top of the 98B is a Barrett Optical Ranging System (BORS). This $1500.00 gadget provides a digital read-out of your actual ballistics settings. It doesn’t control windage and elevation — that is still done manually with the scope knobs. BORS is an integrated electronic ballistic computer that mounts directly on the riflescope and couples to the elevation knob. Just turn the elevation knob until the LCD displays the target’s actual range (which must be pre-determined). The BORS’ three internal sensors automatically calculate a ballistic solution, compensating for up/down angle, temperature, and barometric pressure changes. It even tells you if the rifle is canted. It’s a handy device that eliminates the possibility that you loose track of your turret settings.

Barrett 82A1

Permalink - Videos, New Product, Optics 4 Comments »
January 31st, 2010

Front and Rear Bag-Riders For the New AR Benchrest Game

The IBS recently announced that it would allow AR-platform rifles to compete in local IBS benchrest matches in their own class. If you plan to campaign your AR in this new class, you should definitely add a 3″-wide front sled and some kind of rear bag-rider to your gun. Without a flat fore-arm “sled” and rear bag-rider, ARs tend to be very wobbly, and the standard rear stock (with sling loop in place) is terrible in a rear sandbag.

Robert Whitley’s AR-X Enterprises has just what you need to improve your AR’s bench behavior. AR-X sells precisely-fitted Delrin bag-riders, crafted expressly for ARs by Evolution Gun Works (EGW). The 3″-wide front bag rider (aka “sled”) features a “twin rail” design and attaches to a tubular fore-arm via a swivel stud. The rear bag-rider mates to the bottom of a standard AR stock and attaches via the rear sling swivel anchor. This provides a smooth, straight surface to ride the bags.

These Delrin EGW bag-rider units were originally designed and prototyped for’s 20 Practical AR project rifle. We tried many different designs, and the final production versions really work — as you can see in the video above. The AR bag-riders cost $40 front and $40 rear, or $75.00 for the set of two. To order, visit, or email Robert Whitley: rcw3 [at] .

Permalink - Videos, Competition, New Product 2 Comments »
January 30th, 2010

SHOT Show Report: Kelbly's Offers New Products for 2010, including 80-power Zoom Scope

We had a chance to visit with Jim Kelbly of Kelbly’s Inc., at SHOT Show 2010. Jim had all the new March scopes on display, including the amazing 8-80x56mm long-range scope, part of March’s ground-breaking 10 times zoom range series. Jim reviewed the March line-up, explaining the many high-magnification models available for precision shooters.

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Jim also showed us the stainless Grizzly II action and the new Atlas series of stainless actions. The Atlas actions are designed for varminters, tactical shooters, and long-range shooters who want an affordable stainless action with a Remington 700 action footprint. The Atlas actions should be a simple drop-in installation for stocks inletted for Rem 700s. At the close of the interview, we asked Jim about the future of benchrest competition. Jim believes that we will see more cross-over of short-range shooters into the long-range disciplines (and vice-versa), along with growth in the F-Class and tactical disciplines.

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing, New Product, Optics No Comments »
January 30th, 2010

SHOT Show Report: New RCBS Bullet Feeder & Chronograph

Kent Sakamoto of RCBS showed us the new RCBS products for 2010. The big news for reloaders is an automated, .22-caliber bullet feeder for the RCBS Pro 2000 progressive press. This caliber-specific bullet feeder cycles 22-cal bullets directly into a modified seating die. Now you can load all kinds of 22-cal cartridges without even handling the bullets. The bullet feeder is a simple, bolt-on upgrade to the Pro 2000 press, and it can also be adapted to Hornady’s Lock-N-Load progressive, according to Sakamoto. The new bullet feeder utilizes the RCBS electric collator/hopper, which feeds the bullets from an elevated bin. The 22-cal bullet feeder will be available in March 2010, with a 30-cal version to be released later in the year.

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At Media Day, RCBS also showcased its long-awaited new AmmoMaster chronograph. Designed as an affordable, entry-level chrono, the new RCBS AmmoMaster is completely self-contained. All components, including cables and sky-screen, pack up into the central chrono “body” which is shaped like a giant cartridge case. The detachable control/display assembly (shaped like a bullet) can be positioned on your shooting bench for ease of access. The AmmoMaster chrono retails for about $125.00, making it one of the most affordable chronos on the market. It is available right now at leading vendors, including MidwayUSA (product #911572).

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading No Comments »
January 29th, 2010

IBS Approves Trial AR-Platform Benchrest Class

Defying its reputation as a stodgy, conservative organization, the IBS will allow AR-style rifles to compete in their own class at IBS benchrest matches next year. Both AR15-platform and AR10-platform rifles can compete in this new, provisional class.

This will NOT displace any of the current classes (e.g. Sporter, LV, HV, Unlimited), nor change any rules for current classes. The “AR Experiment” will last for one year and then the IBS will determine whether to make the class permanent. IBS President Jeff Stover stressed three points:

1. This is an experiment for a one-year trial.
2. Clubs MAY have an AR class, but they are not required to do so.
3. The IBS Nationals are NOT affected — there will be no ARs at any Nationals

The IBS has distributed proposed draft rules, and the IBS plans to adopt final rules on March 1, 2010. Here are some of the key proposed rules:

Permalink Competition, News 5 Comments »
January 28th, 2010

SHOT Show Report: Chris Hodgdon Sets the Record Straight Regarding IMR 8208 XBR

IMR 8208 XBR powderWe know many of our readers are interested in the new IMR 8208 XBR powder distributed by Hodgdon Powder Company. Early test lots of this new propellant have already won important benchrest matches, and field testing has shown that it is extremely stable across a wide temperature range. At SHOT Show 2010, we interviewed Chris Hodgdon, who gave us the “inside story” on this new powder. Before we started taping, Chris shared with us lab test results showing how pressure of a fixed load varied with ambient temperature. The data was stunning. Basically 8208 XBR showed almost constant pressures from below freezing to well over 100° F. This editor has personally never seen a powder test that revealed “flat-line” results like 8208 XBR, with recorded pressures remaining virtually unchanged over a huge temperature range. If the test results are to be believed, this is indeed a very exceptional powder.

On some internet Forums, skeptics have suggested that IMR 8208 XBR is just an “odd lot of H322″, and that, accordingly, 8208 XBR may not be available for long. Chris told us that the skeptics are misinformed — those who have suggested that 8208 XBR is re-labeled H322 are completely wrong. IMR 8208 XBR IS something new and it IS here to stay. IMR 8208 XBR is NOT merely a “tweaked” blend of H322. Though 8208 XBR has small kernels like H322, allowing it to meter well, 8208 XBR is a completely new formulation. Moreover, IMR 8208 XBR is not going to be a “one-production-run” wonder. Chris explained that Hodgdon is fully committed to long-term production of this new powder. So if you acquire some now, and develop a great load, rest assured that you will be able to obtain more IMR 8208 XBR in the future. As Chris explains in the interview, Hodgdon is strongly committed to IMR 8208 XBR and Hodgdon plans to keep it in production for a long time.

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Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading 6 Comments »
January 28th, 2010

SHOT Show Report: NEW Savage 110 BA Tactical Rifle in .338 Lapua Magnum

Savage Arms caused quite a stir at Media Day when it unveiled its new 110 BA big-bore tactical rifle. The 110 BA is initially available in two chamberings: 300 Win Mag, and .338 Lapua Magnum. The .338 version of this rifle is Savage’s first-ever .338 Lapua Magnum, and it is VERY affordable compared to .338 LM tactical rifles from other manufacturers. We predict this gun will be a big hit with shooters who want the long-range capability of the .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge but who don’t want to sell the farm to acquire a capable rifle. Once the initial demand settles down, you should be able to find a 110 BA for around $2000 (not including optics).

NOTE: Jason removed his eye protection for this photo. We recommend that shooters ALWAYS wear ANSI-certified eye protection.

The 110 BA gun comes complete with a detachable box magazine (DBM), target grip with base, a +20 MOA scope rail, and Picatinny accessory rails ahead of the action and on the side of the chassis. The stock has a comfortable cheekpiece that adjusts for height using a handy rotary knob. A similar knob controls the buttpad position, allowing you to “dial in” length of pull. As you’d expect, the 110 BA features a Savage Accutrigger.

CLICK HERE for large photo of Savage 110 BA (shows buttstock details)

On the gun we tested, the AccuTrigger broke clean and crisp under 2.5 pounds, with little overtravel. Fitted with an oversize bolt handle from the factory, the action was smooth in operation and effortlessly fed and extracted the big .338 LM cartridges. The gun demonstrated good accuracy with Hornady .338 Lapua Mag factory ammo, allowing Jason to make a first-round hit at about 800 yards. Jason liked the gun, telling us it “feels solid and well-balanced”. Jason did note that the large muzzle brake creates quite a side-blast. When this Editor was taking video, Jason warned me to get out of the way of the blast. I moved back behind the shooter, but even there, the brake’s blast could be felt.

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Quality Big-Bore Tactical for under Two Grand
The 110 BA establishes a new, affordable price point for a true big-bore tactical rifle. Both the 300 Win Mag and the 338 Lapua Mag versions have an MSRP of just $2267.00. We expect to see the “street price” on these rifles peg below $2000.00. That makes the .338 LM version of the 110 BA one of the most affordable .338 Lapua magnum tactical rifles yet offered to the public.

Permalink - Videos, New Product, News 12 Comments »
January 28th, 2010

SHOT Show Report: Anschütz Displays Olympic-Grade Smallbore and Air Rifles

The 2010 Winter Olympics are coming up soon, so we asked Uwe Anschütz to show us the Fortner-Action rimfire biathlon rifle that will be used by the vast majority of top competitors. This high-tech 22LR rifle features a straight-pull action that can be cycled nearly as quickly as a semiautomatic. The rifle is designed to be carried on the back while skiing, then quickly deployed at the shooting stages, where competitors engage banks of targets either prone or standing. Note the slots on the forearm for storing up to four extra 5-round magazines.

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Anschutz Fortner Biathlon rifle

Olympic Medal-Winning Air Rifles on Display
In addition to the Biathlon Rifle, Uwe Anschütz showed us the model 9003 S2 Premium Air Rifle, which features a 9003 S2 action in the Precise aluminum stock. This state-of-the-art airgun earned medals at the 2008 Olympics in China, and it is a favorite of top compeitors worldwide. The model 9002 S2 features a very sophisticated buttstock assembly which with great adjustability. With this metal stock, you can adjust every point at which the rifle contacts the shooter’s body, from shoulder to cheek to hand. Even the angle and fore/aft position of the trigger shoe can be adjusted.

Anschutz Fortner Biathlon rifle

Permalink - Videos, Competition 2 Comments »
January 27th, 2010

Good Barrel Care Article in Shooting Sports Digital Edition

Shooting Sports Lohman coverChip Lohman, Managing Editor of Shooting Sports USA Magazine, has authored an excellent article on barrel maintenance and cleaning. Chip’s article, Let the BARREL Tell You — Match Barrel Care, Part I, appears in the January 2010 edition of Shooting Sports USA, which is FREE online, in a digital e-zine format.

Chip Lohman is a talented writer, an NRA-Certified Instructor, and an active shooter. Like most writers, he maintains a healthy sense of curiosity. The debate about the proper care of a match barrel is a hot one, spiked with folklore and old wives’ tales, Lohman said. He and his staff set out to set the record straight: “We tried to interject some science into the discussion of cleaning a match barrel,” he explained. In his article, Lohman writes:

Why worry about a little barrel fouling when the throat is subjected to a brutal 5,600° F volcano at 55,000 PSI? To investigate these and other questions about taking care of a match barrel, we spoke with a dozen experts and share their knowledge in this first of a series of articles.

After listening to folks who shoot, build barrels or manufacture cleaning solvents for a living, we concluded that even the experts each have their own unique recommendations on how to care for a match barrel. But they all agree on one thing— the gun will tell you what it likes best. Because the life expectancy of a match barrel is about 1,500 to 2,500 rounds, the objectives of cleaning one should include: preserve accuracy, slow the erosion and remove fouling—all without damaging the gun. This article doesn’t claim that one cleaning method is better than the next. Rather, we set out to interject a little science into the discussion and to share some lessons learned from experts in the field.

Shooting Sports Lohman Barrel

CLICK HERE to read complete Barrel Care Article in Shooting Sports USA
CLICK HERE to read latest February 2010 Edition of Shooting Sports USA

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Tech Tip No Comments »
January 27th, 2010

SHOT Show Report: New Howa 1500 Varminter with Bench-Friendly Stock

Howa previewed some impressive new varmint models at SHOT Show 2010. We liked the new Howa 1500 Thumbhole. This features a skeletonized, laminate varmint stock with a nice wide, flat fore-arm. The fore-arm is about 2.25″ wide and is completely flat on the bottom. Slab sides run almost all the way back to the action. This provides a very stable platform that should track well in the bags. Varminters put lots of rounds down-range, so barrel heat can be an issue. To help keep your barrel cool, the fore-arm has four “Buick” vents on each side (left and right), plus SIX large vents cut in the bottom.

Behind the action there is a comfortable pistol grip carved at a good angle for shooting from the bench. It has a nice palm swell at the bottom but is narrow enough at the top that you can get your thumb around for secure, properly aligned grip. I tried out this stock and it was very comfortable. The slightly raised comb was shaped nicely and the grip really felt good in the hand. The middle section of the stock is completely carved away (presumably to save weight). However on the last 5″ or so, the stock has a conventional section on the bottom. This provides a solid platform to ride the bags.

The new Howa 1500 Thumbhole Varminter will cost between $695 and $830 depending on chambering. It will be offered in both short action and long action versions. Available chamberings are: 204 Ruger, 223 Rem, 22-250, 243 Win, 6.5×55, 25-06, 270 Win, 308 Win, 30-06, 300 Win Mag, 7mm Rem Mag, and 338 Win Mag. For more information, contact Legacy Sports Int’l, USA Distributor for Howa rifles.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, New Product 3 Comments »
January 27th, 2010

SHOT Show Report: Freedom Arms Single-Shot Model 2008

At SHOT Show 2010, Freedom mod 2008Wyoming’s Freedom Arms showcased its Model 2008 break-open precision pistol. This handsome pistol should prove popular with handgun hunters and handgun silhouette shooters. The gun is offered in 10″, 15″ and 16″ barrel lengths and with long or short wood forearms.

The Freedom Model 2008 is beautifully machined, and contains many carefully engineered features to ensure positive lock-up and safe operation. In the video below, Bob Baker of Freedom Arms explains how the locking mechanism, extractor, and rebounding hammer work. Baker also demonstrates how to switch barrels. As with the Thompson/Center Encore and Contender pistols, the Freedom Model 2008 can shoot many different chamberings from one platform, giving it great versatility. Baker tells us that, when chambered in 7mm BR, Freedom’s Model 2008 can approach half-MOA accuracy with tailored handloads.

Freedom Arms 2008 Pistol

The Freedom Model 2008 starts at $1495.00, which includes one barrel and forearm. Nine (9) chamberings are currently offered: .223 Rem, 6.5×55, 7mm BR, 7mm-08, .308 Win, 338 Federal, 357 Magnum, 357 Max, 375 Win. CLICK HERE for a Model 2008 Spec Sheet (PDF file).

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You can see more photos on the Quinn Brothers’ GunBlast Website:

Full Report from 2008 (30+ photos)
Breech Closeup Photo
Hammer Closeup Photo
2010 Update Photo

Permalink - Videos, Hunting/Varminting, New Product 6 Comments »
January 26th, 2010

SHOT Show Report: Australia's Wild Dog Carbon Riflestocks

Though the use of high-tech materials, such as carbon fiber and kevlar, modern riflestocks have become stiffer, stronger, and lighter. Wild Dog, a small company in Queensland, Australia, is producing some of the nicest carbon-reinforced hunting and tactical stocks you can buy. Wild Dog stocks sport innovative features, such as a trap door for ammo storage in the side of the buttstock. Wild Dog’s hunting stocks are sized right and comfortable to hold — the comb height and drop angles are “just right” for a classic sporter.

wild dog stocks

And when Wild Dog says they can build a stock that’s “ultra-light”, they aren’t kidding. Wild Dog’s Bruce Simms showed us a lightweight sporter stock that weighed just 20 ounces! We were sufficiently impressed that we may choose a Wild Dog stock for an ultra-light, walk-around varminter project has in the works.

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This Editor was also very impressed by Wild Dog’s tactical stocks. The Wild Dog thumbhole will work for shooters with any hand size. The grip section of some other thumbhole stocks (notably the Accuracy Int’l) is very thick and fat (way too fat for this Editor’s hands). By contrast, you’ll find the Wild Dog thumbhole is comfortable and controllable even for shooters with medium to small hands. Wild Dog’s adjustable cheekpiece system on the tactical stocks is better than most — the hardware is simple but sturdy and the cheekpiece fits flush when retracted.

wild dog stocks

wild dog rifle stocks

wild dog rifle stocks

Overall, the Wild Dog stock designs — both hunting and tactical, are carefully crafted and very well thought out. The tactical stocks feel right in both offhand and prone positions. The hunting stocks are easy to handle and the hand-painted camo finishes really do work in the field, as you can see in the photo below.

wild dog rifle stocks

Permalink - Videos, Hunting/Varminting, New Product 13 Comments »