March 1st, 2010

SamWOW — Hall Gets Great Accuracy with 6.5×47

IBS 600-yard National Champion and recent 600-yard Shooter of the Year Sam Hall has been hard to beat when he’s got his 6BR or his Dasher dialed in. Sam recently told us that he’s been experimenting with the 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge, thinking that a larger, higher-BC bullet might perform better in the wind.

Sam Hall HG

Sam Hall HG

Sam’s competitors are probably hoping we’ll report that Sam is struggling with the new cartridge, and can’t get his new 6.5×47 to shoot. Well, guys… no such luck. Sam recently took his 6.5×47 Heavy Gun out in some fairly windy conditions, but still returned a spectacular four-shot group at 600 yards. Sam measured the group at 0.357 inches. We measured it at 0.371″ with OnTarget software, but that was going off a photograph, which can be less precise. Either way, 4 shots in well under 0.4 inches at 600 yards is spectacular.

As Sam told us, however, “I just wish I’d shot that in competition… with a fifth shot of course.” Even though Sam’s group was shot in practice, it’s still an amazingly small group — one that suggests that the 6.5×47 Lapua may have great potential as a Benchrest cartridge. The group size, in MOA, is 0.059!

Sam Hall HG

Sam’s load was 37.0 grains of Reloder 15 with 130gr Berger VLDs and CCI BR4 primers. The gun is a Bat-actioned, 47-lb “true heavy” built by Leonard Baity using a McMillan 50BMG stock. The barrel is a 29.5″ Brux, 1.25″ straight contour, with a 1:8.5″ twist. Sam reports:

The gun has a BAT MB 1.55″ round action. The reamer was a Kiff (PTG) .290 neck with .160 freebore. The loaded round is .288 at the neck. I made a mistake labeling the target. The primers were CCI BR4s, not 450s. The 130gr Bergers VLDs are lot 0225 (the early ones). They are in the rifling as far as I can get them (jam). I use a .287 Redding bushing in my Redding “type S” FL dies. I seat with a Wilson seater. The stock is a McMillian Light 50 BMG stock full of lead from McMillian. With the 40x Leupold it weighs 47 pounds. The fore-end is 3.5 inches wide. Leonard Baity did the complete rifle. I had him to put a rail (3 inches wide) on the back so I could use my adjustable rest Leonard made me a few years ago for my Shehane Maxi-Tracker stock. Even though this rifle is only 14 pounds lighter than the 61-pound aluminum stock Maxi-Tracker 6mm Dasher I shot last year, it feels like it is 25 pounds lighter. It is much, and I mean MUCH more manageable carrying this rifle around than the Maxi-Tracker. I can actually use my Farley, joy-stick rest with the rifle. I just replace the 3 inch bag with a 3.5 inch wide bag. I can make adjustments much faster with the Farley than I can twisting knobs.

The reason I built the 6.5×47 Lapua is to try to beat the wind we have here in NC in the spring. Plus, the fact I love to shoot and experiment. The 6.5 bullets are not affected as much by the wind as the 6mms. I started shooting 600-yard competiton with a 6.5-284. I could predict where the bullet was going to hit much better with it than the 6mms I shoot now. In windy conditions, the 6mms seem to “dance around” when sighting in. The heavy 6.5 seems to say on track and Point of Impact is more predictable. In 600-yard competition, score is half the game. I figured if I could get a 6.5 shooting somewhere close to a 6BR or 6BR Improved, I would be ahead of the game in the wind. So far this rifle is agging at 600 yards pretty close to my Dasher and BRX, but not better. After I found this load that shot the 0.357 inch 4-shot group, I went out and shot four more, 4-shot groups in some wind of 10-20 mph and the rifle agged 2.08 inches.

I am still haunted by a “flier” in each group. I am still trying to work that out. The 0.357 group I will say was a fluke because it is the only group I have shot that did not have a flier. The rifle sure won’t group like that every time, but that one time sure was pretty! You may ask why I shoot 4-shot groups during load development and practice. Three is not enough, but four will tell you what the rifle will do, plus I can shoot more groups before the barrel gets too warm.

Our first match is next month at Piedmont. I am going to give this rifle a try. Time will tell if I will stick with this round for serious 600-yard competition or back to the 6mms. — Samuel Hall

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