May 16th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Dasher Duo for Benchrest and Varmint Matches

6mm Dasher Shehane duo

Chuck’s Pair of Pennsylvania Dashers

The 6mm Dasher wildcat cartridge is very popular among competitive benchrest shooters, varminters, and even PRS competitors. So this Sunday we thought we’d showcase a matched Duo of Dasher rifles belonging to a Forum member Chuck L. (aka “Ridgeway”). The 6mm Dasher began as a wildcat improved version of the 6mmBR Norma cartridge. The Dasher has been very successful in competition, and now factory Peterson 6mm Dasher brass is sold by Grafs.com. (But out of stock currently.)

Chuck has a prize pair of 6mm Dashers for competitive benchrest and varmint matches in Pennsylvania. Both guns feature Kelbly Panda RBLP actions, Bartlein 8-twist barrels, and Shehane Laminated Tracker Stocks. However, the two rifles are not exact twins, as you can see. One, which we’ll call the Big Dasher, is built on a Shehane ST1000 Tracker stock. The other gun, the Small Dasher, sports Shehane’s “Baby Tracker” stock — a design used with great success by Richard Schatz. The Big Dasher, optimized for 1000-yard competition, has a slightly longer freebore — 0.136″ vs. 0.104″ for the Small Dasher.

6mm Dasher Shehane duo

Specifications for the Dasher Duo:

Small Dasher (13.5-pounder): Chambered for 6mm Dasher with approximately .104 freebore and a .264 NK. (No way of knowing exactly since its freebore was set in a separate operation by Kelbly.) Components are: Shehane Baby Tracker laminated stock, Kelbly Panda RPLB action, Bartlein 1:8″ LV barrel at 26 ¾”, Kelbly Rings, Weaver T36, Jewell trigger. The barrel was chambered by Kelblys and the stock was bedded, glued and balanced by a shooting buddy (Forum Member johara1). Chuck clear-coated the stock with auto urethane. Total weight is 13 lbs., 4 ounces.

Big Dasher (1K Light Gun, 17-pounder): Chambered for 6mm Dasher with a .136 freebore and .264 neck (PTG Reamer). Components are: Shehane ST-1000 laminated stock, Kelbly Panda RPLB action, Bartlein 1:8″ HV 5R barrel at 28″, Shehane +20-MOA rings, Nightforce NXS 12-42x56mm, Jewell trigger. The barrel work, pillar installation, and bedding was done by Dave Bruno. The stock was clear-coated by Chuck with auto urethane. Chuck also made the rear butt plate and balanced the rifle. Total weight: 16 lbs., 13 ounces.

Chuck tells us: “I don’t get out shooting competition as much as I want due to time and family, but when I do compete, I shoot a Groundhog match at Southfork Rifle Club in Beaverdale, PA. Info on Southfork Club events can be found at Southforkrifleclub.com. The Southfork match is basically a 100-, 300- and 500-yard match with one sighter the entire match and 5 shots at each yardage for score. The Small Dasher, with the shorter ‘Baby Tracker’ stock, was set up for the Southfork Rifle Club’s ‘Light Unlimited’ class which has a 13.5-lb max weight.” (Editor: ‘unlimited’ is a misnomer for a weight-limited category.)

Chuck adds: “The Big Dasher with the heavy ST-1000 stock is set up for 1000-yard benchrest matches in Light Gun class. I shoot 1K matches with it at Reade Range in southwest Pennsylvania. One ironic thing is, it shoots the same load I’m shooting out of the lighter gun rather well. The only difference between the two chambers is the freebore is roughly thirty thousandths longer on the 1K gun (Large Dasher). I will also shoot this at Southfork in the ‘Heavy Unlimited’ class.”

6mm Dasher Shehane duo

Both Dashers Group in the Ones at 100 Yards
Chuck favors 107gr Sierra MK bullets in both Dashers. Other components are: Reloder 15 powder, Lapua cases, and CCI 450 primers. His main load for the Small Dasher is 33.0 grains of Reloder 15. This load shoots in the ones at 100 yards. For the Big Dasher Chuck reported: “I’m still working on a load, although the same 33.0 grain load shoots in the ones in the heavier gun as well. I’m still looking for more velocity and my ‘max’ node.”

Dasher Brass — Three Options

1. Buy Peterson 6mm Dasher Brass
In years past, you had to create your own Dasher brass, by fire-forming (with or without projectiles), or by hydro-forming. However, Peterson Cartridge recently introduced factory-made 6mm Dasher brass.

6mm Dasher Shehane duo

If you do not want to waste time with fire-forming or hydro-forming, you can look for Peterson 6mm Dasher brass. This is excellent quality brass that has earned stellar reviews from purchasers. The price — $56.99 for 50 cases at Graf’s (i.e. $1.14 per case) — is nearly the same as what you’d pay for Lapua 6mmBR brass, which is $116.99 for 100 cases or $1.17 per case. The advantage is that you save time, barrel life, and you won’t lose any cases to split necks. Peterson brass can be ordered from Grafs.com. Graf’s is currently out of stock, but they should have more in a few weeks.

2. Fire-Form Dasher Brass with Bullets Hard in Lands
Chuck fireforms his Dasher brass for both rifles. Because he has a tighter-neck chamber, he neck-turns the brass first: “To fireform, I turn my cases down to fit the chamber and stop where the false shoulder makes snug contact with the chamber. Fire-forming rounds are loaded up with a 29-grain charge of H4895 or Varget and a 108gr Berger bullet seated hard into the lands about 0.020″ past initial contact with the rifling. It takes about three firings to make a nice clean Dasher case with a sharp shoulder.”

6mm Dasher case fire-forming fireform

Chuck anneals his Dasher brass regularly to help maintain consistency: “I anneal about every 3-4 firings. I have many cases that have about 10+ firings on them and they are still shooting well. The primer pockets are a little looser, but still hold a primer.”

3. Have Darrell Jones Hydro-Form Your 6BR Brass to 6mm Dasher

Darrell Jones DJ's Brass hydraulic hydro-forming cartridge brass 6 Dasher 6mmBR 6BR BRX BRDX
DJ’s Brass can hydro-form a wide variety of cases for a modest fee

6mm Dasher Shehane duoFire-forming all your own 6mm Dasher brass takes time, costs money (in bullets and powder), and consumes precious barrel life. Well there IS a better solution — you can have your new brass hydro-formed by DJ’s Brass to your exact specifications for a $60.00 per hundred, which includes annealing.

DJ’s Brass Service now offers custom case hydro-forming to your exact specs. Darrell Jones offers this service for a variety of popular cartridges: 6 PPC, 30 PPC, 30 BR, 6 BRA (BR Ackley), 6mm Grinch, 6 BRDX, 6 BRX, .260 Ackley, .284 Shehane and of course the very popular 6mm Dasher. After hydro-forming your brass, Darrell can also neck-up or neck-down the cases to meet your needs. He can also turn the necks to your specs for an additional $0.60 per case.

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May 16th, 2021

Don’t Kill Yourself — Bore Obstructions Cause Nasty Accidents

Obstructed Barrel Explosion Accident kaboom
Above is a sectioned barrel showing an 80gr Sierra that was fired in a .223 bolt action with a cleaning rod in the bore. Both the bullet and the rod are still in the bore.

A Negligent Shooter Gets Lucky
“Here we have a story so filled with negligent acts that I can only marvel that the shooter survived the experience. The photo and narrative were provided by the gunsmith who took in the repair job, my comments are in italics. It’s worth reading, we can’t get enough safety warnings in our hobby.” — GS Arizona, Rifleman’s Journal

Description of Incident (with Commentary)
The shooter had a stuck case in his .223 chamber. The stuck case was actually a loaded round that didn’t fire. It wouldn’t extract because it was a .222 case that got mixed in with his .223 brass. [He had loaded the wrong brass.] I saw the loaded round with an 80gr bullet in it and a light primer strike. Negligent Act #1: Wrong brass was mixed in with the brass being reloaded.

The shooter removed the stuck case with a 3-piece aluminum rod. Negligent Act #2: Hammering out a loaded round with a cleaning rod. People have been killed doing this as the round can fire and drive the cleaning rod right into you. I remember one such incident about 5 years ago, the shooter was pounding out a stuck round, the cleaning rod went right through him, he didn’t survive.

The shooter didn’t notice only two segments of the cleaning rod came out when he removed it. Negligent Act #3: If you put anything at all down the barrel of a rifle you’d better make darn sure you got it all out before doing anything else!

He then chambered another round and fired it. Negligent act #4: If you’ve had a barrel obstruction of any kind, and if you’ve put something in the barrel, look through the barrel before proceeding! Within the past two years I know of an incident in which a benchrest shooter was killed in exactly this manner. The pressure built up and the rifle bolt came out of the receiver and into his chest.

The shooter is ‘OK’, but did not escape unscathed. He said there was a huge explosion and after regaining his senses found he was bleeding heavily from his forehead. The blood was thick enough that it ran in his eyes and he couldn’t see. In his words “I thought I was going to die”.

He has what looks like a pretty deep cut about an inch long on the side of his head, right in line with his right eye starting where the eye socket turns out to the side of the skull. And no telling what he’s got in the way of brass particles embedded in his forehead.

He was shooting on private property, and was alone when this happened. Negligent Act #5: Don’t shoot alone! Accidents happen, this is just one more example. If we could predict accidents, we wouldn’t have them. Always shoot with at least one other person.

He managed to get the bleeding stopped, or at least under control, packed his car and drove himself home without seeking immediate medical attention. Negligent Act #6: This one could have cost him his life after being lucky enough to survive the incident. There’s no way to know what’s happened just after an incident like this. He should have been at a hospital getting checked for shrapnel in the head.

The rod and slug could not be driven out. Since the barrel had a high round count there was no point in trying to salvage it. Note that the aluminum rod is expanded to a tight fit in the bore for the first couple inches. The base of the bullet is a little over 2″ from the mouth of the chamber.

What we’ve seen here is negligence and an absolute indifference to the established rules of safe reloading and gun handling, from start to finish, capped off with the shooter’s foolish avoidance of medical treatment. This shooter is lucky to be alive, but he’s surely used up all his luck. Don’t assume you’ll be so fortunate.

This article originally appeared in the Rifleman’s Journal website, which is no longer available.

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May 16th, 2021

Long Gun Cleaning Mats — Protect Your Valuable Firearms

rifle shotgun cleaning mat pad rush creek DryMate Boyt Harness
This deluxe, roll-out Rush Creek Creations 42-0000 69″ x 16″ gun cleaning mat (with pockets), is available from Tractor Supply for $79.99.

We normally use a gun cradle when cleaning or adjusting our rifles. But there are situations, such as when working on a barreled action, when it’s nice to use a pad that lies flat. Many work pads are too small — they’re nothing more than oversize mouse pads. Here are three gun pads that are big enough to work well with rifles and/or barreled actions.

DryMate Gun Cleaning Pad

rifle Gun cleaning pad drymateThe Drymate Gun Cleaning Pad is a full 59″ x 16″. That’s nearly five FEET from end to end — longer than most rifles, so you have plenty of surface area for working. Conveniently, this product can be washed with soap and water. It is offered in three versions: Green, Blaze Orange, and Charcoal Gray. We like the Blaze orange version because the bright color makes it easier to see small parts such as screws and springs.

rifle Gun cleaning pad drymate

rifle Gun cleaning pad drymate

Boyt Harness Counter Pad

The 48″ x 12″ Boyt Harness Counter Pad was originally designed more for display purposes than for serious work sessions, but we like this product. It is useful if you want to lay your gun on a bench to make small adjustments. The Boyt Counter Pad, $21.99 at MidwayUSA, is nice and big, a full four feet from end to end. The back side is canvas while the top-size is a quilted cotton fabric. This product has received high praise from buyers. Here are actual owner reviews:

rifle Gun cleaning pad drymate

Worth every penny. I bought three of them because I want to have at least one always around. I use one for a shooting bench or tailgate mat and another for my primary gun cleaning workbench mat. Awesome for both purposes. This one was perfect for my array of needs. — Joe D.

This mat is great for cleaning guns and keeping your surfaces clear of oil or solvent. The mat has plenty of space for a rifle or handgun and the padding is thick enough[.] I would definitely buy again and have recommended this to my friends and family. — Safety Guy

I bring this to the rifle range with me every time, to rest my rifle on the table without worrying about scratches. It fits nicely in my soft rifle case. One side is a tough canvas material that doesn’t show scratches, and the other side is a soft fleece material that protects the finish of your gun. — MACPSU


Hoppes Gun Cleaning Pad

rifle Gun cleaning pad drymateThe Hoppes Gun Cleaning Pad is 36″ wide x 12″. That’s big enough for many barreled actions (unless you have a really long barrel). This pad has a non-slip nylon backing, and Hoppes claims that the “Soft acrylic material absorbs 8 times its weight in fluids.” This Hoppes Cleaning Pad is very affordable. It costs just $9.99 at Amazon.

rifle shotgun cleaning mat pad rush creek DryMate Boyt Harness
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