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July 21st, 2021

Take Better Range and Gun Photos with Daylight Fill Flash

camera daylight fill flash shootingWe know you guys like taking photos of your rifles at the range. And, if you’re selling a rifle, scope, front rest, or rear bag, you need good photos to post in our Forum classifieds. Here’s a basic photography tip that can help you produce dramatically better photos. Use your camera’s ability to add “fill flash” even in daylight.

There’s plenty of light on a bright day. But bright light also means strong shadows. The shadows can leave parts of your subject literally in the dark. Daylight flash will help fill in those dark spots. In addition, if you are on a covered firing area, and want to include the range in your photo, you can benefit from using flash. This will prevent the foreground subject from being too dark while the downrange background is much too bright.

Photo without Flash

The photo above was taken without flash. As you can see, the rifle is too dark so details are lost. At the same time, the background (downrange) is over-exposed and washed out. The second photo below is taken with daylight flash. The difference is dramatic. Now you can see details of the rifle, while the background is exposed properly. Note how much easier it is to see the the targets downrange and the colors of the front rest. NOTE: these two photos were taken at the same time — just seconds apart.

Photo with Daylight “Fill-Flash”

Be sure to click on the larger versions of each photo.

How to Activate Daylight Flash
Most digital cameras have daylight flash capability. Some cameras have a separate setting for “auto fill flash”. On other cameras, you’ll have to set the camera to aperture priority and stop down the aperture to force the flash to fire. Read your camera’s manual. On many Canons, a menu that lets you set the “flash output”. For “fill flash” we like to set the flash at 30% to 50% output. This fills in the shadows sufficiently without “killing contrast” or creating too much reflection on shiny metal. Below is a photo taken with 30% flash output. Note the rich colors and how the exposure is balanced between foreground and background. Without flash the sky and target area would be “washed out”.


Here’s another tip for Canon owners. If you like deep, rich colors, use the “Vivid” setting in the effects menu. This punches up saturation and contrast.

Permalink Optics, Tech Tip No Comments »
July 21st, 2021

A Worthwhile Wildcat — the 6mm-223 for XTC Competition

6mm 223 sinclair

Intro: Ron Dague wanted a new gun that was similar to his trusty .223 Rem rifle, but which fired 6mm bullets. There is a superb choice of bullets in this caliber, and Ron found that the 95gr Berger VLD could be driven to a healthy 2604 FPS by the small .223 Rem case. This 6mm wildcat based on the common .223 Remington offers excellent accuracy and very low recoil — something very important in the cross-the-course discipline. In addition, Ron’s 95gr load with Alliant Reloder 15 delivered an ES of just 4 fps over ten shots. That exceptionally low ES helps achieve minimal vertical dispersion at 600 yards.

6mm 223 Across the course McMilland stock Ron Dague Sinclair InternationalBy Ron Dague, Sinclair Reloading Tech
From Sinclair’s GunTech Articles Archive

I have watched a change in thinking for NRA High Power across the course in match rifles and calibers. There are several [popular chamberings]: 6mm AR, 6.5 Grendel, 6XC, and 6.5 Creedmoor. I have seen these rifles perform and all have done very well.

When I started this project I was looking for a cartridge that shoots and feeds well from a magazine[.] I had shot the .223 Rem in my 722 Remington and knew it had fed well so I chose the .223 Remington necked up to 6mm.

The 6mm-223 gives me what I have in the standard .223 only with a better selection of bullets. I wanted a better 600-yard bullet with a higher BC than provided by the 80 and 82 grain bullets. I also wanted a 600-yard line bullet with a .500 or better B.C. for those shots that should be 10 ring or better but seem to find the 9 ring no matter how well I held and broke the shot.

6mm 223 sinclairPutting the 6mm-233 Project Together
My project started with ordering a 6mm barrel from Bartlein with a 1-8″ twist. I called Pacific Tool and ordered the 6mm-223 reamer. I found a used Remington 700 action at a local gun shop and already had a Remington 40X stock. I then started putting the gun together.

I already had a .223 Remington match rifle, and I wanted the 6mm-223 to be as close to the same as I could make it. I installed the barreled action in a wood 40X stock to work up load data and work out any magazine feeding issues. While I was working on that, I looked for a McMillan Baker Special stock and finally found one to finish this project. I bedded the action and stock, then took the rifle to the range to check zeros on the sights and scope. I was surprised that I didn’t have to change anything on the sights. I thought changing the stock would cause sight changes. The thought went through my head, “Maybe the 40X stock isn’t all that bad”.

Here’s line-up of 6mm bullets. The Berger 95gr VLD is in the middle.
berger 6mm bullet hornady sierra line up 6mm 233

I took the new rifle to the first match of the year, a National Match Course match, and my off-hand score was 83, rapid sitting 95, rapid prone 95, and slow fire prone 197 — for total aggregate 470. This may not be my best work, but on match day the wind was blowing about 15 mph and the temp was around 40° F, with rain threatening. This was a reduced course of fire — we shot at 200 and 300 yards on reduced targets.

I used 70gr Berger bullets for this match, loaded in Remington brass with 25 grains of VihtaVuori N540 and Federal 205M primers. When I worked up loads for this rifle, N540 gave the best accuracy with the best extreme spread — 2,950 fps with an extreme spread of 20 fps on a 10-shot string. The load for 600 yards was with a 95gr Berger VLD bullet, with 23.0 grains of Reloder 15, Lapua cases, and the same Federal 205M primers. This load is 2,604 fps, with an extreme spread of 4 fps over a 10-shot string. I’ve shot this load at several 3×600 yard matches, and the accuracy has proven to be very good. At the last 3×600 match, my scores were as follows: 199-10x and 198-11X with scope, and 193-10X with iron sights. Best 600-yard score so far with iron sights was 198-12X.

6mm-223 Rem Rifle Specifications: 700 BDL action and floor plate, Bartlein 6mm 1:8″ twist, McMillan Baker Special stock in Desert Camo, Centra front and rear sights, Ken Farrell bases with stripper clip guide, Sinclair hand stop, and Jewell trigger. Gunsmith Neil Keller helped me with the metal work and instructed me on the action work and rebarreling.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Reloading 3 Comments »
July 21st, 2021

Changing Primer Type CAN Alter Pressure and Velocity

Primer Wolf CCI Federal Muzzle velocity FPS reloading

We are often asked “Can I get more velocity by switching primer types?” The answer is “maybe”. The important thing to know is that changing primer types can alter your load’s performance in many ways — velocity average, velocity variance (ES/SD), accuracy, and pressure. Because there are so many variables involved you can’t really predict whether one primer type is going to be better or worse than another. This will depend on your cartridge, your powder, your barrel, and even the mechanics of your firing pin system.

BE SAFE: Be cautious when changing primer types. Glen Zediker recommended decreasing your load ONE FULL GRAIN when changing to a different primer type, one that you haven’t used before.

Interestingly, however, a shooter on another forum did a test with his .308 Win semi-auto. Using Hodgdon Varget powder and Sierra 155gr Palma MatchKing (item 2156) bullets, he found that Wolf Large Rifle primers gave slightly higher velocities than did CCI-BR2s. Interestingly, the amount of extra speed (provided by the Wolfs) increased as charge weight went up, though the middle value had the largest speed variance. The shooter observed: “The Wolf primers seemed to be obviously hotter and they had about the same or possibly better ES average.” See table:

Varget .308 load 45.5 grains 46.0 grains 46.5 grains
CCI BR2 Primers 2751 fps 2761 fps 2783 fps
Wolf LR Primers 2757 fps 2780 fps 2798 fps
Speed Delta 6 fps 19 fps 15 fps

You can’t extrapolate too much from the table above. This describes just one gun, one powder, and one bullet. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) as they say. However, this illustration does show that by substituting one component you may see significant changes. Provided it can be repeated in multiple chrono runs, an increase of 19 fps (with the 46.0 grain powder load) is meaningful. An extra 20 fps or so may yield a more optimal accuracy node or “sweet spot” that produces better groups. (Though faster is certainly NOT always better for accuracy — you have to test to find out.)

WARNING: When switching primers, you should exercise caution. More speed may be attractive, but you have to consider that the “speedier” primer choice may also produce more pressure. Therefore, you must carefully monitor pressure signs whenever changing ANY component in a load. Glen Zediker recommends decreasing your load ONE FULL GRAIN when changing to a different primer type, one that you haven’t used before.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »