June 21st, 2011

Radical New External Magazine Loader for Benchrest Rifles

The faster a benchrester can send his rounds down-range, the better his chances to complete his 5- or 10-shot group in the same conditions before a major change. Shooting fast is NOT always the best strategy, but many world records have been set using this technique. Even if you’re a “picker”, there are times when you’ll benefit from shooting fast. With current benchrest hardware you still have to manually load each cartridge, even if you have a drop-port action or if you have an ejector that kicks out the fired case. To speed up the loading process, benchrest shooters employ elevated loading blocks that place the cartridges inches away from the loading port. That speeds things up, but you still have to manually pluck your cartridge and stuff it in the action… until now. Get ready for a major new technology that could change the benchrest game.

External Horizontal Benchrest Magazine
Carlos Gonzales, a benchrest shooter (and Professor of Engineering) from Argentina, has perfected a horizontal, external “floating” magazine that can reliably feed PPC cartridges as fast as you can work the bolt. This is interesting because, in 2009, this Editor discussed an attached horizontal feeding tray with three different action makers. All of them dismissed the idea as impractical or too radical. Well guys, it looks like Carlos pulled it off.

The Gonzales “magazine” is actually an open-ended, covered metal tray situated on the left side of the action (but it does not touch the gun — it is supported by the rest). This feeds into the left-side loading port. The cases are gravity-fed, but the shooter has positive control over feeding. A cable with a push-button control runs from the magazine down to the rear foot of the pedestal rest. You just push the button to drop one cartridge from the magazine. We don’t know exactly how the cartridge is released in the magazine itself, but in the video below you can see how the push-button works.

You push the button as soon as a spent cartridge ejects (watch Carlos’s left hand in the video above). It is a clever set-up, and as you can see, the magazine system works very, very fast. The video shows Carlos running five cartridges through his action in just 9 seconds (time marker 00:31 – 00:40). That’s fast! On a repeat viewing focus on Carlos’s left hand to see how he works the push-button cartridge dispensing control.

Kudos to Carlos for his great new invention. According to Pascale Fishbach: “Everything Carlos makes is of extreme quality. The magazine loader will be available just after the world championships in France, where hopefully a couple of them should be put to work.”

Now the question remains… will the official benchrest “powers that be” allow this device, or will they, fearing change, say it is forbidden under current rules. We would like to see the Gonzales magazine ruled legal for both domestic (American) and International competition. But, we acknowledge that Carlos’s invention could raise the cost of competition. The Gonzales mag would be one more “go-fast” item that serious benchresters would have to purchase.

Credit to Pascale Fischbach for sourcing this story and video link.

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