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January 31st, 2021

Sunday GunDay: 7.5-lb AR for CMP’s Modern Military Matches

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

Retro is back — at least in the CMP’s Standard Modern Military Rifle AR class. Though Service Rifle competition has evolved to allow optics and heavy barrel profiles, the Standard Modern Military Rifle (AR category) is truly a “blast from the past”. Overall weight is limited to 7.5 pounds, and the rifle must be equipped with iron sights (Rule 5.2.3). In addition, the rifle “be based on the M-16 rifle or be based on an AR design” with “exterior configuration similar [to] the original military or military-type rifle”. See Rules.

With this in mind our friend Dennis Santiago recently put together his own AR-platform Standard Modern Military Rifle for matches run under CMP Competition Rules. This is not quite a classic AR, as it has a metal free-float handguard (vs. plastic handguards), but it IS light (7.3 pounds), and it does have iron sights — a key requirement for Standard Modern Military class rifles.

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

Here is Santiago’s CMP Modern Military Rifle (Standard Class) with an ultralight free float tube that has a titanium barrel nut, and mechanical, center-able front sight. The barrel is an AR-Stoner brand 20″-long 1:7″ Government contour chambered in 5.56×45 NATO. Dennis says: “This makes the 7.5-lb weight limit with a few ounces to spare. We’ll see how well it drives soon enough.”

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

Dennis explains: “The Standard Modern Military (AR) is a category of military-style rifle that shoots the 200-yard, 30- or 50-shot courses alongside the M1 Garands, Springfields, Vintage, and M1 Carbines. This one boasts a Midwest Industries (MI) ultralight Free-float Handguard and a Yankee Hill folding front sight. Any Government contour or thinner profile rifle-length gas tube barrel with a 0.750″ gas block will work.” Colt makes a suitable Government Contour 20″-long, 1:7″-twist barrel, sold by MidwayUSA.

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

To test the accuracy of his rifle, Dennis fitted a Mantis-X unit on the top of the float tube. The Mantis-X records the movement of the rifle to interpolate shot placements. Dennis reports: “I spent some extra time at the range grabbing a decent zero for my Modern Military rifle. I stuck a Mantis-X on it to record a few shots shooting offhand at the plates at 200 yards. It drives very easily even with no shooting coat or glove.” The Mantis-X is attached just forward of the carry handle, on top of the MI free-float handguard. The Mantis-X works with live fire as well as dry fire. It communicates via BlueTooth to a smartphone App.

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago
AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

Rifle Shoots Well with 77gr Sierra MatchKings
The gun is presently zeroed with 77gr Sierra MatchKing ammunition. Dennis reports his rifle “can easily hold the X-Ring on an SR target for both 100-yard and 200-yard CMP Modern Military Games matches. And it’s fun to shoot!”

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

CMP Standard Modern Military Rifle (AR Class)
This rifle is built from carefully selected and fitted parts to conform to the CMP’s 7.5-pound weight limit iron-sighted rifle rule. Officially, this is a CMP Standard Modern Military Rifle, Class “A” (AR type).

1. S&W M&P lower receiver
2. White Oak Armament match upper receiver with 1/4×1/4-MOA pinned rear sights
3. AR-Stoner 20″ 1:7″-twist 5.56x45mm NATO Government contour barrel from MidwayUSA*
4. MidWest Industries ultralight free-float handguard with a Titanium barrel nut
5. Yankee Hill Machine folding front sight with a 0.072″ square front pin
6. RRA 2-stage trigger
7. A2 length buttstock

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

Easy Rifle Build Using Mostly Existing AR Parts, Plus New Barrel and Free-Float Handguard
Dennis was able to put his Modern Military AR together using components he had collected over the years: “Most of these parts were already in my bin of old AR parts available to be recycled. The barrel and free-float handguard were the only new acquisitions.” And with the AR’s modular format, this was an easy build: “Assembly time was about 30 minutes. I’ve done these parts swaps so many times now.”

Key Rules for Standard Modern Military Rifle (AR Type)

Dennis Santiago’s new AR rifle was built as a “Standard U.S. Modern Military Rifle”, Class A (AR Type), as specified in the CMP Competition Rules.

5.2.3 Standard U.S. Modern Military Rifles, Class A
Category A Standard Modern Military Rifles must comply with these requirements:

a) Rifles must be based on the M-16 rifle or be based on an AR design;
b) Rifles must be manufactured by a USA manufacturer;
c) Rifles must be equipped with issue-type metallic front and rear sights; rear sights with adjustments finer than one minute of angle are permitted;
d) Total rifle weight, with sights and without sling, may not exceed 7.5 pounds;
e) Rifles may be fitted with a float tube or free-floating handguard. A nonadjustable sling swivel may be attached to the forward end of the handguard; and…
f) The rifle must be chambered for the 5.56x45mm or .223 Remington cartridge.

Also, from Rule 5.2.2:
a) The exterior configuration of the rifle must be the similar to that of the
original military or military-type rifle;
b) The trigger pull may not be less than 4.5 lbs.;

Comments from other Modern Military Rifle Shooters:

“I built a Modern Military [Standard]. It was tough getting below the 7.5-lb [limit]. I had to carve off a bunch of the 20″ barrel diameter but wanted to stay with it for sight radius (over a 16″). I would just as soon shoot that little iron-sighted rifle at 200 yards as my 15-lb Nightforce-scoped Service Rifle. I love that little rifle.” — Kenneth S.

“I’m building one of these that will make 7.5-lb [Standard Modern Military] weight limit, with the long barrel and long sight radius. This has been on my list this winter.” — Tom K.

“We found that turning down a National Match barrel and taking a few inches off of it made a very accurate rifle.” — Jack A.

“My old (complete) A2 upper has been sitting forlorn on a shelf for a couple of years now. Perhaps I need to do a [Standard Modern Military] build of my own.” — Derek D.

Dennis Santiago replied: “Derek — that’s the reason I was attracted to this. I had bought a brand new WOA A2 pin upper receiver to make a new upper then the scope rule was adopted and it was all flat tops. This gives new purpose to the old parts.”

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

Standard vs. Unlimited, Class A vs. Class B

AR-15 AR15 A-2 Modern Military Rifle CMP Games iron sights Dennis Santiago

There are actually two different classes of Standard Modern Military Rifles, Class A for AR-type rifles and Class B for other military-style rifles, such as the M1A and FN-FAL. Ok, got that? Now, in addition, there is also a second division for UNLIMITED Modern Military Rifles, again with two classes (Class A — AR-type and Class B — other military rifles). These unlimited rifles can have optics, heavier weights, modern-design adjustable-length stocks, and other upgrades. Here is Rule 5.2.2 from the current CMP Games Rifle and Pistol Competition Rules:

(more…)

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Tactical 4 Comments »
January 31st, 2021

Gun Digest Double Deal — 2021 Annual + Magazine Subscription

Gun Digest 2020 74th Annual 560-page Gun book

The Gun Digest 2021 Annual, 75th Edition, is available now for $24.28 on Amazon. This 592-page resource covers rifles, shotguns, handguns, muzzleloaders, airguns, optics and more. We like the print edition, but there is also an eBook PDF version ($17.49 on Amazon) you can read on your tablet or computer. Both provide hundreds of photos with new product roundups, in-depth product tests, and scores of articles and stories.

NOTE: Gun Digest is offering a great two-for-one deal right now. If you order the Gun Digest 2021 Annual you can also get a full year’s subscription to Gun Digest Magazine. Get Book AND Magazine Subscription for just $39.99. That gives you the 2021 Annual PLUS the 12-issue magazine for just $15.71 more than the book by itself (with $24.28 Amazon price).

Gun Digest 2020 74th Annual 560-page Gun book

Gun Digest 2020 74th Annual 560-page Gun bookGun Digest 2021 debuts Phil Massaro as its editor-in-chief. Massaro, the seventh editor in the book’s history, has assembled a wide and varied roster of leading industry authors for the new book, including Craig Boddington, Joe Coogan, Ron Spomer, Terry Wieland, Rick Hacker, Jim Wilson, Larry Weishuhn, Wayne van Zwoll, Bryce Towsley and many more.

Gun Digest 2021 covers hunting, personal defense, target shooting, gunsmithing, and collecting. Historical articles look at the role played by firearms in our country. There are Updated Ballistics Tables, and the catalog section shows off the industry’s newest offerings in rifles, handguns, shotguns, muzzleloaders and air rifles. Reports from the Field cover the newest firearms and accessories. A Testfire section brings readers up to date on product performance. FYI, you can also pre-order the upcoming 76th Edition Annual (2022), slated for release in August, 2021.

75th edition Gun digest book 592 pages amazon

Other Good Books from Gun Digest Media
Gun Digest Media produces numerous other quality books for rifle, pistol, and shotgun owners. Here are four volumes we recommend. These are offered in both paperback and eBook versions:

Cartridges of World Digest Gun book gunsmith gunsmithing rifles Digest Gun book patrick sweeney
gunsmithing rifles Digest Gun book tactical rifles PRS catalog firearms pistol rifle shotgun prices descriptions gunsmithing rifles Digest Gun book
Permalink - Articles, New Product, Shooting Skills No Comments »
January 30th, 2021

6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge Load Data from Sierra Bullets

Sierra Load Data 6.5 Creedmoor

Sierra Bullets has released very complete load data for the popular 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. This medium-sized cartridge has become one of the most popular chamberings for tactical and PRS shooters. The 6.5 Creedmoor combines excellent accuracy, good mag-feeding, good barrel life, moderate recoil, and reasonable component cost. That’s why this cartridge has caught on quickly.

Sierra Load Data 6.5 CreedmoorDeveloped in 2007 by Dennis DeMille and Dave Emary, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a shortened and improved 30 TC cartridge case that was inspired by the .308 Winchester design. This short action design was created to maximize case capacity and a wide range of loading lengths, while still fitting in standard short action magazines. With the correct twist barrel, the versatile 6.5 Creedmoor can take advantage of the wide range of bullet weights available in 6.5 mm (i.e. .264 caliber). Reloaders should keep in mind that the 6.5 Creedmoor works best with medium to medium-slow powders such as H4350, Varget, Win 760, and RE-17. The light recoil and adaptability of the efficient 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge has already proven itself in high power, precision rifle series and benchrest competitions. Couple that with respectable barrel life and its intrinsic accuracy potential and you have a recipe for success which should insure its legacy for decades to come.

Sierra 6.5 Creedmoor Load Data Manual reloading .264

Here are three tables from the Sierra Bullets Reloading Manual (5th Edition). IMPORTANT — This is just a sample!! Sierra has load data for many other 6.5mm bullet types, including FB, Spitzer, SBT, HPBT, and Tipped MK from 85 grains to 142 grains. To view ALL 6.5 Creedmoor DATA, CLICK HERE.

Sierra Bullets 6.5 Creedmoor Load Data MatchKing Tactical
INDICATES MAXIMUM LOAD – USE CAUTION
LOADS LESS THAN MINIMUM CHARGES SHOWN ARE NOT RECOMMENDED.

Sierra Bullets 6.5 Creedmoor Load Data MatchKing Tactical
INDICATES MAXIMUM LOAD – USE CAUTION
LOADS LESS THAN MINIMUM CHARGES SHOWN ARE NOT RECOMMENDED.

Sierra Bullets 6.5 Creedmoor Load Data MatchKing Tactical
INDICATES MAXIMUM LOAD – USE CAUTION
LOADS LESS THAN MINIMUM CHARGES SHOWN ARE NOT RECOMMENDED.

Two More Great 6.5 Creedmoor Reloading Resouces

Want More 6.5 Creedmoor Load Info? View Starline’s 6.5 Creedmoor Guide by Gavin Gear:

Download full 6.5 Creedmoor Guide at StarlineBrass.com.

PRB 6mm Creedmoor and 6.5 Creedmoor Load Survey
The Precision Rifle Blog compiled Load Data from PRS Competitors, for both 6mm Creedmoor and 6.5 Creedmoor. This is a good place to start. PRB surveyed the match loads for “173 of the top-ranked precision rifle shooters in the country”. CLICK HERE.

PRB precision rifle blog pet loads what pros use 6.5 Creedmoor 6mm CM

Permalink - Videos, Competition, Reloading, Tactical, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
January 30th, 2021

Remove Military Primer Pocket Crimps with Wilson Reamer Tool

Military crimp primer pocket reamer

Many shooters, particular those who shoot vintage military rifle matches, reload once-fired military cartridge brass. This brass may be high-quality and stout, but you may encounter a primer crimp that interferes with the seating of a new primer. There are a variety of dedicated, military-crimp tools on the market, such as Dillon’s excellent Super Swage 600 tool that “rolls the crimp away”. But the Dillon tool costs $119.99 and takes quite a bit of room on your reloading bench. If you don’t want to drop a C-note and give up valuable bench space — here’s another (much cheaper) solution.

If you already have a Wilson case trimmer set-up, you can ream away those military crimps using an affordable Wilson accessory — the Primer Pocket Reamer (large #PPR210, small #PPR175). This $32.65 accessory is used in conjunction with a Wilson case trimmer and case-holder as shown above.

Military crimp primer pocket reamerWilson

In the respected Riflemans Journal website, the Editor, “GS Arizona”, showed how to use the Wilson primer pocket reamer to remove military crimps on Lake City .30-06 cartridge brass. He explains: “The case goes into the Wilson case-holder, the same one used for case trimming, and the reamer replaces the trimmer head in the tool base. The threaded rod on the left side, which is normally used to regulate trim length has no use for this operation and it is simply backed out. Hold the case-holder as you turn the reamer into the primer pocket, it cuts easily and quickly. The reamer will stop cutting when the proper depth is reached.”

Do you really need to do this operation with military-crimped brass? Yes, and here’s why: “Any attempt to prime the case without removing the crimp will simply result in a mangled primer that cannot be expected to fire and certainly won’t fire reliably.”

Vintage Military Rifle shooters often utilize surplus military brass with primer pocket crimps.
Vintage Military Rifle brass

Why does military brass has a primer crimp? GS Arizona answers: “The crimp is nothing more than an intentional deformation of the case around the primer pocket, the purpose of which is to retain the primer in the case despite high pressure situations in machine guns and other automatic weapons where a loose primer may cause a malfunction. As reloaders, our task is to get rid of the remnants of the crimp in order to allow re-priming the case.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
January 30th, 2021

Top 20 Best-Selling Handguns of 2020 — GunGenius Data

GunGenius Gunbroker top 20 handguns pistol revolver semi-auto 2020

Every month, GunGenius.com publishes a Top Selling Report. This reveals the Best Selling Guns for each category of firearms sold on GunBroker.com. This culminates in a GunGenius year-end report on the Top Selling Firearms of the Year in a dozen categories, both new and used. As a special Feature, GunGenius now offers the “Top 20 of 2020″ for each category.

Here are the top-selling handguns for the year 2020, with the Top 20 Semi-auto pistols and Top 20 Revolvers listed separately (all first-time sale, not used). Visit the GunGenius Top 20 Page for more details.

Top 20 Handguns for 2020 (Semi-Auto Pistols and Revolvers)

GunGenius Gunbroker top 20 handguns pistol revolver semi-auto 2020

Buying a Handgun? See What Others Choose

Looking to acquire a handgun for personal protection of home and family? There are countless options on the market. Your buying decision may be simplified by seeing what other consumers have chosen, as revealed by nationwide sales trends. You can check firearms sales figures using “Gun Genius”, a new data-crunching service of Gunbroker.com. On GunGenius.com you can select any type of firearm (handgun, rifle, shotgun) and see the top sellers for that category.

handgun category defense ccw buying list gungenius

Along with pistols and revolvers as shown above, there are separate categories for: semi-auto rifles, bolt-action rifles, lever-action rifles, single-shot rifles, pump rifles, semi-auto shotguns, pump shotguns, over-and-under shotguns and more. You can also filter for sales trends (upwards and downwards). Drill down to see detailed product specifications and current prices.

Permalink - Articles, Gear Review, Handguns No Comments »
January 29th, 2021

Getting Started in F-Class — F-TR vs. F-Open and Gear Options

Vince Bottomley Target Shooter F-Class F-Open F-TR

A while back, our friend Vince Bottomley in the UK wrote an excellent article for Target Shooter Magazine. Vince offers “solid-gold” advice for new F-TR and F-Open shooters. Vince reviews the cartridge options, and offers suggestions for a shooter’s first (and hopefully affordable) F-Class rifle. Vince also reviews various bipod choices for F-TR and discusses optics options (from $300 to $3000).

Here’s a short sample from the Target Shooter Magazine article:

Getting Started in F-Class by Vince Bottomley
As membership secretary of a large club, one of the questions I’m frequently asked – “What’s the best way to get started in F-Class?” My club has an F-Class shoot every couple of weeks at ranges from 300 to 1000 yards and, not surprisingly, it’s very popular.

F-TR or Open Class?
From a shaky start way back in 2004, the F-TR Class is now proving as popular as Open Class and, at GBFCA League shoots and club shoots, many shooters choose to start with a 308, shooting off a bi-pod – in other words F-TR. In Open Class, the 7mm WSM soon established itself as the “must have” cartridge – if you wanted to win but, the WSM’s appetite for barrels eventually brought another 7mm cartridge into play – the 284 Winchester. This 50-year-old stalwart was revived a decade or so ago as the 6.5-284 and indeed this cartridge found some favor with F-Class pioneers – before the potency of the WSM was discovered. If you don’t mind shelling out for a couple of barrels per year (barrel life is about 750 rounds with the WSM) go for the 7mm WSM but, if you require a decent round-count, then opt for the .284 Win and learn to read the wind a bit better!

F-TR f-class rifle match ben avery AZ
F-TR Rifle at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

Scopes for F-Class
If you will be shooting 1000 yards then I would recommend at least 32 power and preferably a variable – like the 8-32. The cheapest “usable” scope in this range is the Sightron. It’s a great scope for the money and at under $900 (in the USA) it’s half the price of its nearest competitor. It’s also light – at 1.5 lbs – and there are some great reticles for the F-Class shooter – like the LRMOA.

Vince Bottomley Target Shooter F-Class F-Open F-TR

Read Full Article on Target Shooter Magazine Website.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Optics, Shooting Skills No Comments »
January 29th, 2021

Get Money for Your Shooting Range and Coaching Program

Youth Shooting Programs Coaching range improvement

Does your range or shooting club need money to improve facilities? Would you like to train club members as shooting coaches? Well the MidwayUSA Foundation is offering money to help. Here’s how it works…

The MidwayUSA Foundation is introducing two new grant programs. Starting in February, 2021, the Foundation will begin accepting applications for Range Development and Coach Training grants. These two programs will offer significant payouts — up to $75,000 for range enhancements.

MidwayUSA Foundations range development grants

Range Development Grants are available to allow existing shooting ranges to make improvements/expansions to allow for more youth-oriented shooting activities. This grant cycle runs February 1 to April 1 and cash grants will be awarded in June. Range Development grants will not exceed $75,000 or 50% of the proposed project budget and funds must be used within 9 months of receipt. Requesting facilities must be a range utilized by a MidwayUSA Foundation endowment holder.

MidwayUSA Foundations range development grants

The MidwayUSA Foundation’s Coach Training Grant Program will be open February 1 through March 1 and grants will be awarded in May. The maximum grant payout is $5,000 and the funds must be used to train entry-level shooting coaches or for train-the-trainer courses within 9 months of receipt. Teams or individuals interested in the Coach Training grant program should reach out to their state organization, as only state agency endowment holders are eligible to apply. CLICK HERE for other requirements.

How these Grant Programs Help the Shooting Sports
Without proper ranges, there could be no shooting sports at all. And qualified coaches are essential for youth marksmanship training. Executive Director, G. Scott Reynolds explains: “We at the MidwayUSA Foundation take great pride in our programs to fund youth shooting teams across our Nation. Without a certified coach to mentor [young shooters] and without a safe range to practice on, teams become dormant and athletes become stagnant.”

The MidwayUSA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity working to sustain and grow the shooting sports industry by providing long-term funding to youth shooting teams. Every donation made is tax-deductible. The Foundation supports all shooting disciplines. For more INFO, visit Midwayusafoundation.org.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Shooting Skills No Comments »
January 28th, 2021

New FX-10 and F-1 Reloading Presses from Frankford Arsenal

Frankford arsenal reloading press FX-10 FX-1 progressive single stage loading

Hot News! We just learned that Frankford Arsenal will offer two new reloading presses this year. It may be a while before these two presses arrive on dealers’ shelves but we wanted to give you a preview. Both presses are impressive. The new FX-10 is a TEN-station, auto-indexing progessive press. It will sell for $699.99, what you might pay for a different brand progressive with fewer stations and more limited capabilities. This FX-10 press offers a smooth, gear-driven shellplate, plus dual decapping stations and primer pocket swaging capability. There are optional (extra cost) bullet and case feeders. The press even offers a built-in LED light.

The F-1 is a robust single-stage press offering power, easy (open front) case access, and smooth cycling. The F-1 boasts a linear ball bearing system for smooth operation, an integrated LED light, a fully-contained primer catch system, and precision-machined solid steel construction.

Frankford Arsenal FX-10 Progressive Press

10-Station, Auto-Indexing

Frankford arsenal reloading press FX-10 FX-1 progressive single stage loading

Manufacturer’s Product Description:
The Frankford Arsenal FX-10 is a 10-station automatic indexing reloading press purpose-built from the ground up to be the ultimate progressive reloading press. At its core, the FX-10 features rigid steel construction, multiple ball bearings, and a proprietary 10-station, gear-driven, rotating shell plate which all combine to virtually eliminate powder spillage and bullet tipping.

The FX-10 offers innovative improvements like dual de-capping stations to prevent primer drawback, in-line primer pocket swaging capability (for both small and large primers), and the ability to run powder check and case trimming dies. The FX-10 includes a case-actuated powder measure with a positive reset that guarantees you’ll never have to worry about squib loads resulting from a sticking powder measure. When it’s time to swap calibers, the FX-10’s innovative design allows the user the ability to quickly and easily swap-out tool heads and shell plates to reload anything from 9mm to 30-06 Springfield length cartridges. The FX-10 goes further and offers refined details like a roller handle, integrated LED light, and spring-loaded case locator buttons, which allow easy one-handed case feeding and lever operation, making the FX-10 exceptionally smooth and easy to operate. Compatible with our Frankford Arsenal Case Feeder and Bullet Feeder (sold separately), the FX-10 is the ultimate solution for progressive reloading. MSRP for the FX-10 is $699.99.

FRANKFORD ARSENAL FX-10 PROGRESSIVE PRESS FEATURES
OPTIONAL CASE AND BULLET FEEDER
CASE-ACTIVATED POWDER MEASURE
INTEGRATED BEARINGS FOR SMOOTH OPERATION
IN-LINE PRIMER POCKET SWAGING
SPRING-LOADED CASE LOCATOR BUTTONS
LOADS CARTRIDGES UP TO .30-06 SPRG LENGTH
SHELL PLATES FOR POPULAR CALIBERS

Frankford Arsenal F-1 Single-Stage Press

Frankford arsenal reloading press FX-10 FX-1 progressive single stage loading

Manufacturer’s Product Description:
The Frankford Arsenal F-1 Single Stage Press is packed with innovative features to help you reload precisely and quickly so you spend less time reloading and more time on the range. At its core, the F-1 features a linear ball bearing system for smooth operation, an integrated LED light, a fully contained primer catch system, and precision-machined solid steel construction. Compatible with standard 7/8″x14 dies, this press will load up to .338 Lapua Magnum size cartridges. MSRP for the F-1 is $149.99.

FRANKFORD ARSENAL F-1 PRESS FEATURES
RAM RIDES IN BALL BEARINGS FOR SMOOTH OPERATION
LOADS UP TO .338 LAPUA Magnum LENGTH CARTRIDGES
INTEGRATED LED LIGHT
COMPATIBLE WITH STANDARD 7/8″ x 14 DIES
USES STANDARD SHELL HOLDERS
NO-MESS PRIMER CATCH USES BOTTLE OR HOSE
SELECTABLE CAM-OVER OR STOP OPERATION
SOLID STEEL ROD FRAME PILLARS

Credit EdLongRange for Frankford Arsenal New Product Tips.
Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Reloading 2 Comments »
January 28th, 2021

Four Vital Ammo Checks You Should Always Do Before Shooting

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

Here’a useful article by Sierra Bullets Media Relations Manager Carroll Pilant. This story, which originally appeared in the Sierra Bullets Blog, covers some of the more common ammo problems that afflict hand-loaders. Some of those issues are: excessive OAL, high primers, and improperly-sized cases. Here Mr. Pilant explains how to avoid these common problems that lead to “headaches at the range.

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

I had some gentlemen at my house last fall getting rifle zeros for an upcoming elk hunt. One was using one of the .300 short mags and every 3rd or 4th round would not chamber. Examination of the case showed a bulge right at the body/shoulder junction. These were new cases he had loaded for this trip. The seating die had been screwed down until it just touched the shoulder and then backed up just slightly. Some of the cases were apparently slightly longer from the base to the datum line and the shoulder was hitting inside the seating die and putting the bulge on the shoulder. I got to thinking about all the gun malfunctions that I see each week at matches and the biggest percentage stem from improper handloading techniques.

One: Check Your Cases with a Chamber Gage

Since I shoot a lot of 3-gun matches, I see a lot of AR problems which result in the shooter banging the butt stock on the ground or nearest solid object while pulling on the charging handle at the same time. I like my rifles too well to treat them that way (I cringe every time I see someone doing that). When I ask them if they ran the ammo through a chamber gage, I usually get the answer, “No, but I need to get one” or “I didn’t have time to do it” or other excuses. The few minutes it takes to check your ammo can mean the difference between a nightmare and a smooth running firearm.

A Chamber Gauge Quickly Reveals Long or Short Cases
Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

Size Your Cases Properly
Another problem is caused sizing the case itself. If you will lube the inside of the neck, the expander ball will come out a lot easier. If you hear a squeak as the expander ball comes out of a case neck, that expander ball is trying to pull the case neck/shoulder up (sometimes several thousandths). That is enough that if you don’t put a bulge on the shoulder when seating the bullet … it can still jam into the chamber like a big cork. If the rifle is set up correctly, the gun will not go into battery and won’t fire but the round is jammed into the chamber where it won’t extract and they are back to banging it on the ground again (with a loaded round stuck in the chamber). A chamber gage would have caught this also.

Bad_Primer_WallsOversizing cases also causes problems because the firing pin doesn’t have the length to reach the primer solid enough to ignite it 100% of the time. When you have one that is oversized, you usually have a bunch, since you usually do several cases at a time on that die setting. If the die isn’t readjusted, the problem will continue on the next batch of cases also. They will either not fire at all or you will have a lot of misfires. In a bolt action, a lot of time the extractor will hold the case against the face of the breech enough that it will fire. The case gets driven forward and the thinner part of the brass expands, holding to the chamber wall and the thicker part of the case doesn’t expand as much and stretches back to the bolt face. If it doesn’t separate that time, it will the next time. When it does separate, it leaves the front portion of the case in the chamber and pulls the case head off. Then when it tries to chamber the next round, you have a nasty jam. Quite often range brass is the culprit of this because you never know how many times it has been fired/sized and in what firearm.’Back to beating it on the ground again till you figure out that you have to get the forward part of the case out.

Just a quick tip — To extract the partial case, an oversized brush on a cleaning rod [inserted] and then pulled backward will often remove the case. The bristles when pushed forward and then pulled back act like barbs inside the case. If you have a bunch of oversized case that have been fired, I would dispose of them to keep from having future problems. There are a few tricks you can use to salvage them if they haven’t been fired though. Once again, a case gage would have helped.

Two: Double Check Your Primers

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

Another thing I see fairly often is a high primer, backwards primer, or no primer at all. The high primers are bad because you can have either a slam fire or a misfire from the firing pin seating the primer but using up its energy doing so. So, as a precaution to make sure my rifle ammo will work 100% of the time, I check it in a case gage, then put it in an ammo box with the primer up and when the box is full, I run my finger across all the primers to make sure they are all seated to the correct depth and you can visually check to make sure none are in backwards or missing.

Three: Check Your Overall Cartridge Length

Trying to load the ammo as long as possible can cause problems also. Be sure to leave yourself enough clearance between the tip of the bullet and the front of the magazine where the rounds will feed up 100%. Several times over the years, I have heard of hunters getting their rifle ready for a hunt. When they would go to the range to sight in, they loaded each round single shot without putting any ammo in the magazine. On getting to elk or deer camp, they find out the ammo is to long to fit in the magazine. At least they have a single shot, it could be worse. I have had hunters that their buddies loaded the ammo for them and then met them in hunting camp only to find out the ammo wouldn’t chamber from either the bullet seated to long or the case sized improperly, then they just have a club.

Four: Confirm All Cases Contain Powder

No powder in the case doesn’t seem to happen as much in rifle cartridges as in handgun cartridges. This is probably due to more handgun ammo being loaded on progressive presses and usually in larger quantities. There are probably more rifle cartridges that don’t have powder in them than you realize though. Since the pistol case is so much smaller internal capacity, when you try to fire it without powder, it usually dislodges the bullet just enough to stick in the barrel. On a rifle, you have more internal capacity and usually a better grip on the bullet, since it is smaller diameter and longer bearing surface. Like on a .223, often a case without powder won’t dislodge the bullet out of the case and just gets ejected from the rifle, thinking it was a bad primer or some little quirk.

Sierra Bullets Reloading Blog Matchking Carroll Pilant

For rifle cases loaded on a single stage press, I put them in a reloading block and always dump my powder in a certain order. Then I do a visual inspection and any case that the powder doesn’t look the same level as the rest, I pull it and the one I charged before and the one I charged after it. I inspect the one case to see if there is anything visual inside. Then I recharge all 3 cases. That way if a case had powder hang up and dump in the next case, you have corrected the problem.

On progressive presses, I try to use a powder that fills the case up to about the base of the bullet. That way you can usually see the powder as the shell rotates and if you might have dumped a partial or double charge, you will notice as you start to seat the bullet if not before. On a progressive, if I don’t load a cartridge in one smooth stroke (say a bullet tipped over sideways and I raised the ram slightly to reset it) Some presses actually back the charge back adding more powder if it has already dumped some so you have a full charge plus a partial charge. When I don’t complete the procedure with one stroke, I pull the case that just had powder dumped into it and check the powder charge or just dump the powder back into the measure and run the case through later.

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January 28th, 2021

NRA Competitive Shooting 2021 Calendar Updates

2021 NRA Calendar competitive shooting match dates

Due to the continued effects from the Covid-19 pandemic the NRA has made multiple adjustments to the 2021 Competitive Shooting Calendar. Notably, the 2021 Collegiate Rifle Championships in March 2021 have been completely cancelled. The NRA states: “We are trying to make the best of the current situation during these difficult times. We share your disappointment that we had to cancel some of our competitions and we look forward to the remainder of the 2021 competitive shooting season.”

2021 NRA Calendar competitive shooting match dates

• The 2021 NRA Collegiate Rifle Championships, which were scheduled for March 20-22, 2021, have been completely cancelled.

• The 2021 NRA Silhouette Championships will be held and hosted by the Ridgway Rifle Club in Ridgway, Pennsylvania, this summer beginning July 27, 2021 and ending on August 14, 2021. Specific match dates and times will be posted on the NRA Silhouette Championships Website.

• The NRA is now sanctioning the 2021 NRA sectional and regional events. Programs will be posted soon on the NRA’s Competitive Shooting Division website: Competitions.NRA.org

• At this time the NRA will continue to sanction localized NRA competitive shooting tournaments and we will continue to monitor the situation and make additional statements as the Covid-19 pandemic unfolds.

2021 NRA Calendar competitive shooting match dates

2021 NRA Calendar competitive shooting match dates

For regular updates on NRA Match schedules, visit the NRA Competitive Shooting Facebook Page. You can also subscribe to the free Shooting Sports USA Insider newsletter for the latest competitive shooting news and information. For specific questions, contact the NRA Competitive Shooting Division at comphelp@nrahq.org.

2021 NRA Calendar competitive shooting match dates

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January 27th, 2021

New-for-2021 Products Showcased by Shooting Illustrated

Shooting Illustrated new 2021 products Winchester Wildcat rimfire suppressor ready .22 LR

Although the 2021 SHOT Show was cancelled, you can find many new-for-2021 products online. The NRA’s Shooting Illustrated website has put together a collection of 28 new products including rifles, pistols, shotguns, optics, safety gear and more — all from top manufacturers. Some of the features include test videos, such as a report on a S&W M&P fitted with the new Leupold DeltaPoint Micro red dot optic.

The Shooting Illustrated article reviews 28 products total. Here are two rifles, two pistols, and one shotgun featured in Shooting Illustrated’s New Products Showcase:

Winchester Wildcat .22 LR SR, Suppressor-Ready Model

Winchester Wildcat rimfire suppressor ready .22 LR

Winchester has introduced a Wildcat SR, a suppressor-ready version of its popuplar Wildcat 22 semi-auto .22 LR rifle. This new Wildcat SR comes with a 16.5″ barrel threaded 1/2-28 TPI at the muzzle (with muzzle cap). This will allow the Wildcat SR to fit most rimfire suppressors as well as many muzzle brakes. Shooting Illustrated liked the general features of the Wildcat SR: “The rifle… has a rugged polymer upper assembly, lower receiver assembly and ambidextrous skeletonized buttstock for light weight and strength. The rear sight is adjustable for both elevation and windage and there is also a ramped post front sight.” We are pleased to see that the Winchester Wildcat SR boasts an integral Picatinny Rail for mounting optics.

Browning X-Bolt Mountain Pro Carbon

Browning X-Bolt Mountain Pro
Browning X-Bolt Mountain Pro

We like the Browning X-Bolt rifles. Browning offers good protective coatings on the barreled actions, and the camo treatments are nicely done. For 2021, Browning has a new line of X-Bolt Mountain Pro rifles. These include a new-generation carbon fiber stock that is even lighter, with noise-dampening foam for added comfort. The X-Bolt Mountain Pros also come with a Recoil Hawg muzzle brake that Browning says can reduce felt recoil by as much as 73%. The stainless steel action and barrel come with a protective Cerakote Burnt Bronze or Tungsten finish. And internally the barrel boasts a “proprietary lapping process” for easier cleaning and quicker break-in times. For that custom touch, the bolt and bolt knob are spiral fluted. These new X-Bolt Mountain Pros are not inexpensive. Browning lists an MSRP of $2,399.99 – $2,459.99. Expect “street price” around $2000.00.

Savage Renegauge Competition 12ga Shotgun

Savage Renegauge 12 ga shotgun competition

Here’s an impressive new 12 gauge shotgun from Savage. This boast an extended magazine tube that holds 9+1 rounds. The looks are notable, with Red Cerakote on the Receiver and mag tube, with a black melonited fluted barrel with ventilated ridb and HI-VIZ front site. The stock adjusts for LOP, comb height, drop and cast and there is a rod recoil buffer in the buttstock. Shooting Illustrated notes that the Savage has an advanced gas system: “The Savage Renegauge Competition shotgun features the DRIV gas system (Dual Regulating Inline Valve) gas system which ensures excess gas vents before it drives the bolt, resulting in consistent ejection, less felt recoil, and a … fast cyclic rate[.]”

Volquartsen Black Mamba-X .22 LR Pistol

Volquartsen Black Mamba .22 LR Pistol

Volquartsen has released its new Black Mamba-X pistol for .22 LR competitors in speed matches. This features a Volquartsen’s LLV-4X 4.5-inch Competition Upper with integral universal red-dot mount. The Black Mamba-X features a push-button takedown configuration. Other standard features include: A ½x28 threaded stainless steel, 4.5″ barrel, Volquartsen Accurizing Kit allowing 2.25-pound trigger pull.

FN America FN 509 LS Edge

FN America FN 509 LS Edge pistol optics mount red dot

This new FN 509 LS Edge pistol has a longer slide with cut-outs, aggressive checkering, and good controls. Shooting Illustrated notes the benefits of FN’s smart signt attachment design: “The real key to the FN 509 LS Edge is the sighting system. It has a high front sight with a green fiber-optic insert and serrated front blade to reduce glare. The rear sight is a deep trough.” This patented rear sight design allows a very low red dot position, which gets “the sight real low in the slide and helps it co-witness perfectly with the iron sights.” Various inserts are available for many types of pistol optics.

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January 27th, 2021

Gunsmarts Video Series from S&W — Safety and Gun Handling

Smith Wesson gunsmarts safety pistol shooting sights grip stance training videos

Do you know someone getting started in the shooting sports? Or perhaps you know shotgun or rifle shooters who want to improve their handgun skills because they have obtained CCW pistol permits? Then here is a good resource for those shooters-in-training. Smith & Wesson GUNSMARTS is a new video series that covers the key points of firearm ownership, from purchasing a pistol, to shooting techniques, gun safety, and storage. While this 38-part series does include some rifle-centric videos, it is mostly focused on handgun training, as you might expect from Smith & Wesson.

CLICK HERE to Watch All 38 S&W Gunsmarts Videos »

The GUNSMARTS series has 38 different videos covering gun safety, gun operation, marksmanship, maintenance, and secure storage. There are both general videos about gun handling and very specific videos about topics such as sight alignment, magazine loading, optics and more. Here are six of the best videos in the series. You will find 32 more on the Smith & Wesson Gunsmarts Playlist Page.

10 Tips for Your First Visit to the Range

Shooting Fundamentals — Sight Picture and Sight Alignment

Handgun Skills — Grip Pressure

Concealed Carry Positions and Holster/Belt Options

Considerations When Purchasing Your First Firearm

Smith Wesson gunsmarts safety pistol shooting sights grip stance training videos

Smith Wesson gunsmarts safety pistol shooting sights grip stance training videos

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January 27th, 2021

Fun Competition on a Budget — CMP Rimfire Sporter Matches

BRRC Rimfire Sporter CMP match

Readers often ask us: “Is there an inexpensive way I can get started in position shooting?” The answer is “yes” — across the country CMP-affiliated clubs host Rimfire Sporter matches. You can use a wide variety of .22 LR rimfire rifles — manual actions (such as a Winchester model 52) or semi-automatics (such as a Ruger 10/22). There are prone, sitting/kneeling, and standing stages. CMP rules provide separate classifications for scoped rifles, open-sighted rifles, and aperature-sighted rifles. The matches are fun, the ammo is inexpensive, and everyone has a good time while improving their marksmanship.

The rapid-fire sitting or kneeling stage of a CMP-sanctioned .22 Sporter Match consists of two, 5-shot strings. A manually-operated or semi-automatic rifle may be used for this match.

This video shows the sitting/kneeling rapid-fire stage of a Rimfire Sporter match.

Our friend Dennis Santiago helps run CMP Rimfire Sporter Matches in Southern California. Dennis observes: “You want something challenging? Well that X-Ring 50 yards away is the diameter of a 50 cent piece, and there are people out there that can womp that thing with iron sights.”

BRRC Rimfire Sporter CMP match

Dennis notes: “There are six (6) stages of fire on a tough little target. Notice the rifles that can be used run the gamut from pump and bolt actions to variations on the semi-auto theme. All still require a good eye and a steady hold to earn one’s bragging rights for the day. A match takes about an hour and a half per relay. The slowest part of the match is initial sighting in. It’ll take longer than the allocated 5 minutes for the typical first timer coming to a club match.”

At Dennis’s Burbank Rifle & Revolver Club (BRRC), procedures are modified a little bit: “What we typically do at BRRC is run two relays. Experienced competitors shoot per the full rulebook. New shooters are afforded a bit more relaxed environment to make the experience more fun and inviting. We do the same thing in our M-1 Garand Clinic/Match series.”

BRRC Rimfire Sporter CMP match

Rimfire Sporter Match Basics
The CMP Rimfire Sporter Rifle Match is an inexpensive, fun-oriented competition using .22 caliber sporter rifles (plinking and small game rifles) commonly owned by most gun enthusiasts. To compete, all you need is a basic rifle, safety gear, and ammunition. No fancy, high-dollar rifles are required.

The event is shot with standard sporter-type, rimfire rifles weighing no more than 7 ½ lbs, with sights and sling. Rifles may be manually-operated or semi-automatic. Shooters with manually-operated actions are given extra time in the rapid-fire stage to compensate for the difference. (See Video).

There are three classes of competition — the standard “O Class” for open-sighted rifles, “T-Class” for telescope-sighted and rear aperture-sighted rifles and “Tactical Rimfire” class, which is a .22 caliber A4 or AR15 style rifle. Firing for all classes is done at 50 and 25 yards on a target with a 1.78″ ten-ring and an 18″ outer one-ring. Even new shooters can get hits on this target, but it’s still tough enough that no one yet has fired a perfect 600×600 score.

The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) has a CMP Guide to Rimfire Sporter Shooting. This FREE, 50-page digital publication covers equipment, positions, course of fire, rules, scoring and much more. You’ll find helpful “how-to” sections on aiming, sight picture, hold control, and trigger control. Reading these instructional sections can benefit any prone or three-position competitive shooter.

Rimfire Sporter Guide Shooting

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January 26th, 2021

CZ 457 VPT for Rimfire Tactical Matches — New MTR Chamber

CZ VPT varmint precision trainer MTR match chamber NRL22
CZ 457 Varmint Precision Trainer shown with after-market Lilja Barrel and suppressor.

NRL22 — a rimfire tactical discipline — is one of the fastest-growing shooting sports in the country. Right now there are more NRL22 matches in one month than there are official rankings-counted PRS matches in a year. It’s easy to understand why. Ammo is cheap, and you can have plenty of challenge even on a 200-yard range. Plus good .22 LR barrels can last 30,000 rounds or more.

For anyone looking to get serious about rimfire competition shooting without the costs of a full-on custom rifle, a new day has dawned. CZ-USA now offers a CZ 457 for rimfire precision matches that has important accuracy upgrades. The CZ Varmint Precision Trainer MTR is now available with the match-grade MTR chamber with tighter tolerances. The MTR chamber has proven itself via the CZ 457 Varmint MTR rifle, which has garnered an excellent reputation for accuracy.

CZ VPT varmint precision trainer MTR match chamber NRL22
The VPT MTR variant will feature orange accents in the camo finish on the Manners Composite Stock

CZ states: “The MTR variant of the VPT allows shooters to buy an affordable, match-chambered rifle that’s ready to compete right out of the box. This eliminates the perceived need to upgrade any major components[.]” It also lets you compete in rimfire classes restricted to “box stock” 100% factory configuration.

CZ VPT varmint precision trainer MTR match chamber NRL22
CZ VPT varmint precision trainer MTR match chamber NRL22

The 457 VPT MTR comes with a cold hammer-forged and lapped 16.2″ barrel with 1/2×28 threads at the muzzle for a suppressor or muzzle device. The barreled action is mounted in a Manners carbon fiber stock. For the new VPT model with MTR chamber, MSRP is $1449.00. Expect “street price” around $1250.00″

CZ-USA 457 VPT MTR Specs:

Chambering: . 22 LR
Action: Bolt
Barrel: Cold hammer forged
Barrel Length: 16.2″, Threaded
Twist Rate: 1:16
Magazine Type: 5 Rounds, detachable
Stock: Manners Carbon Fiber
Overall Length: 42″
Weight: 7.49 lbs.
Trigger: Adjustable
Sights: Integrated 11MM Dovetail for Optic
Safety: Two-Position, Push to Fire
Misc.: Barrel Threaded 1/2×28 for suppressor

New CZ 457 VPT Replaces 455 VPT — Major Action Changes

The previous CZ 455 VPT was replaced with the new-generation CZ 457 Varmint Precision Trainer, which still boasts a Manners Composite stock, based on the PRS1 design with a more tapered forearm. The new 457 VPT has some very notable upgrades. First, the stamped bottom metal of the 455 is gone, swapped for a two-piece interlocking system. To make scope fitment easier, CZ ditched the 90° bolt rotation in favor of a 60° bolt, allowing for larger ocular bell diameters with lower ring heights. And the 457 VPT now features a trigger adjustable for weight, creep, and over-travel. MSRP for the basics CZ 457 VPT (not the MTR Chamber model) is $1189.00, with street price around $990.00.

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January 26th, 2021

Hornady Iron Press with Innovative Shuttle Priming System

Hornady Iron Press Lock-N-Lock LNL 2016 single stage press rockchucker

Right now reloading presses are in high demand. If you are shopping for a single-stage press, here’s a good press you may still find available at many vendors. The Hornady Iron Press™ features a super-strong, pyramid-style cast-iron frame with an open front. A clever optional “automatic” priming system shuttles primers from a vertical tube in the back to the shell-holder in the front. This is very clever engineering. You really should watch the video — it shows the patented auto-priming system in action. The Auto-Prime system is sold separately or as part of the Iron Press Reloading Kit.

Watch this Video to See Gravity-Fed Shuttle Priming System (00:45, 01:00):

Hornady Iron Press Lock-N-Lock LNL 2016 single stage press rockchucker

Optional Automatic Priming System
The optional auto-priming system is a real selling point for this new press we think. When you move the press handle rearwards, a horizontal bar toggles back to pick up a primer from the column in the rear of the press. Then this same bar move forwards to place the fresh primer in the center of the shell-holder. Hornady explains: “The available gravity-fed Automatic Priming System (sold separately or with the Lock-N-Load® Iron Press™ Reloading Kit), combined with the Accessory Mounting Deck, increases reloading efficiency by allowing more processes to occur simultaneously. The Iron Press™ is the first of its kind to allow the ability to deprime, pause, and remove the case to chamfer & deburr … then replace and prime.” Do watch the video to see the priming system in action.

Hornady Iron Press Lock-N-Lock LNL 2016 single stage press rockchucker

The broad top of the beefy (26-lb.) Iron Press can hold case prep tools (such as chamfer tool and case-neck brush) and/or a box for bullets or brass. NOTE: This is NOT a turret press — you can only use one die at a time. However, Hornady offers an accessory “Die Caddy” (sold separately) that can hold up to three (3) more dies. That way you can quickly switch from a sizing die to a seater die (or vice-versa). What Hornady calls the “Accessory Mounting Deck” gives quick access to items such as trays for bullets or cases, chamfer and deburr tools, case neck brushes, primer pocket cleaners and other accessories. The Iron Press comes with the Lock-N-Load® bushing system which allows for rapid die changes.

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