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October 3rd, 2021

Sunday GunDay: 6-284 for 600-yard Steel Silhouette Game

Editor’s Note: This story was first published many seasons ago. In the interceding years, equipment has evolved — actions, optics, front rests and so on. But this rifle remains very competitive in the 600-yard silhouette game, and it remains a wicked weapon for long-range varminting.

The 6-284 may well be the “ultimate” 6mm cartridge, if speed AND accuracy are considered. While it burns a lot more powder than a 6mmBR or 6 Dasher, it also delivers a lot more velocity. Our friend John Southwick, owner of this week’s featured 6-284, can push 107gr SMKs past 3400 fps — velocities no 6BR, 6BRA, or 6 Dasher can touch. He normally dials that back to 3200 fps or so, but that’s still well beyond the limit of a 6 Dasher even a 6mm Creedmoor. John’s gun is more than a speed demon of course — it’s a hyper-accurate match rifle that has claimed many Varmint Silhouette wins. At his club, when John and the Black Borden come out to play, everyone else is usually competing for second place.

Building the Borden Black Beauty
John tells us: “I chose the 6-284 mainly because it appeared in the winning equipment lists of 1K BR matches, and it was becoming very popular with long-range varminters. Skip Talbot had also used a 6-284 to set an IBS 1000-yard record (subsequently lowered in the last decade). Norma and Lapua offered quality 6.5-284 brass, so case-forming would be easy. I wanted a fairly light-recoiling rifle, and after much research I came to the conclusion that a high-BC 6mm bullet driven at 3200+ fps would meet my needs.

I was looking for a very high performance long-range target/bench rifle, primarily to use in 600-yard matches at my local club (Ojai Valley Gun Club), and possibly 1000-yard bench matches, plus occasional varmint hunting. I wanted to have a rifle that was built by a prominent gunsmith. I chose to work with Jim Borden of Borden Rifles for several reasons: his rifles had set world records, his reputation was excellent, and his rifles often showed up in the winning equipment lists of IBS and NBRSA sanctioned shoots. Also I had decided that I wanted a Nesika-actioned gun. I was impressed that Jim had designed one of the Nesika’s key features – Borden Bumps. Likewise, I liked the Bald Eagle front rest, and found out that Jim contributed to its design as well. This gave me confidence that Jim understood every element that goes into precision rifle performance.

Loading for Accuracy
My match load consists of Norma 6.5-284 brass, 51.0 grains of Alliant Reloder 22, Fed 210m primers, and Sierra moly-coated 107gr MKs, seated about .010″ into the lands. This runs about 3250 fps from the 28″ barrel. Case necks are turned to .0133″ wall thickness for a .270″ loaded neck diameter. I use a .268 or .269 bushing, and bump the shoulders back each time. I set the “bump” so that, with firing pin removed, I can just feel the case in the chamber when closing the bolt. My loaded rounds typically show no more than .0015″ runout on a NECO concentricity gauge. I credit the low run-out in large part to the custom inline seating die and shoulder-bump neck-bushing die Jim made for me.

How the 6-284 Shoots
The rifle has fulfilled all my expectations. It is a superbly precise and accurate rifle, as long as I do my part in steering the gun and feeding it consistent, quality ammo. I haven’t done a lot of 100-yard group shooting, just enough to test loads. Typically the rifle easily puts five shots into half-MOA or less at 600 yards. I’ve logged several 3-shot groups between 1.06″ and 2.2″ at 600 yards. I’ve been told that kind of accuracy would be competitive in a 600-yard BR match. But most importantly, I have confidence the gun will hit where I aim. Our Ojai club uses half-size silhouette targets. This gun’s ability to pick off the relatively small steel targets, even in some of the worst conditions imaginable, is nothing short of amazing. At times it seems I’m launching 107gr silhouette-seeking guided missiles.”

Borden 6mm-284 SPEC SHEET

Borden Long-Range Rifle, 16.5 lbs

Nesika ‘K’ Action, 1.70″ diam., Right Bolt, Left Port.
Hart 28″, 1:9″ twist, .920″ at muzzle, cryo’d with .272″ neck diam. and 1.5° throat.
McMillan MBR stock, Borden texture finished, pillar-bedded, with action also glued in.

Nightforce 12-42x NXS,
NP-R2 reticle, 20 MOA ramped scope base, Leupold Mark IV rings.

A Special Brand of Silhouette Shooting

John’s rifle is a purpose-built gun, optimized for one task — hitting little half-size silhouettes at very long distances, at a shooting venue that demands serious wind wizardry. At Ojai, even though matches commence early in the morning, it’s not unusual to have a 10 mph wind blowing left to right at the firing line, no wind at the mid-course flag, and a swirling variable wind at the targets. To make matters worse, the little critters sit on top a ramped berm. When the wind switches to 6 o’clock, it can rise right in front of the target, sending shots high. Despite the often-wicked conditions, John and his Black Borden have excelled at the varmint matches — he’s the “smart-money” bet to win on any given weekend.

John reports: “The rifle has really proven itself at the 600-yard silhouette match at my local club. We shoot ten targets per match, usually three “matches” or relays per day. Targets are half-size NRA Hunter Pistol metallic silhouettes: 1 Ram, 2 Turkeys, 3 Pigs, and 4 Chickens (note, these are larger than the mini-silhouettes in the above photo). The Ram counts one point, Turkey two points, Pig three points and the Chicken counts four points. The Chickens have a “hit zone” roughly .6 MOA at 600 yards–about 3.6″. Trust me, that can be challenging, particularly in shifting winds. Unlike conventional silhouette matches, we shoot F-class fashion from the ground, using bipods or pedestal rests. That’s easier than shooting off your hind legs of course, but our targets are much smaller than standard high-power silhouettes.”

The Black Borden was the rifle to beat at Ojai for many years. John held the record for the most “cleans” (no misses) for the event, and he was the annual Champion for many years, including five years in a row. One year he won the championship in the very last match. John noted: “Thankfully, the gun was humming and I made the right wind calls. I picked up enough points in the final shoot to win the series for the year.” Yes, John’s flat-shooting Borden 6-284 had done its job once again.

Long-Range Silhouette Match Strategy and Techniques
In competition, John says watching the conditions, and minimizing mental mistakes is key: “I keep things pretty basic. Our varmint silhouette matches allow 20 minutes for sighters and 10 shots on target (one per animal). We usually get in three “matches” or relays per event. I try to wait for a favorable condition, then take a few sighters and adjust the scope as needed. If the condition holds steady, I’ll try to run my targets before the wind changes.

At the Ojai range, it is vital to watch the wind flags and heed your spotters’ calls. I’ve seen the wind go from 7mph right to 10mph left from one target to the next. That’s nearly a foot and a half of horizontal change for my gun. If there is a major change, I will try to wait it out. If the shift is small, I may hold off a bit. Scope corrections are a last resort; while you’re dialing, the wind may switch again.”

Technical Report from Jim Borden, Gunsmith

Borden 6-284 rifleWe set up John’s 6-284 as we would for 1000-yard Light Gun competition. We’ve also built some of these rifles in 6MM BR for use in 600-yard competition. For John, we used a Borden/Nesika Model K 1.70″ diameter action as the beginning basis of the rifle. The timing and cocking-piece system for this rifle has the Borden improvements to improve firing pin energy and lock time. The action was pillar-bedded and glued into a McMillan Tooley MBR pattern stock. The stock blank was gel-coated and then epoxy-finished with a texture.

About the Muzzle Brake — We normally blend the brakes into the barrel to make the transition smooth and unseen. John preferred to have the brake larger than the barrel so that it could also be used on future barrels.

9-Twist Barrel — The barrel is a 1:9″-twist Hart HV pattern 28 7/8 inches long. Our 6×284 reamer has a .272″ neck diameter. It is throated with a tight cylindrical section followed by the 1 ½ degree throat. Chambering of the barrel was done utilizing our proven Benchrest chambering techniques. The method of chambering ensures that the body, neck and throat of the chamber align concentrically with the bore and grooves of the barrel. [Editor: With a 6BR or 6 Dasher, we’d definitely recommend an 8-twist barrel to shoot 105-107 grain match bullets. However, with the extra velocity of the 6-284, the 9-twist Hart worked great for John.]

NOTE: Borden Rifles now produces its own excellent Borden Custom Actions, which have won National Championships and set World Records. Nesika actions are now sold by Nesika Firearms.

Ojai Valley Gun Club

Situated in the Coastal Mountains behind Ventura, California, the Ojai Valley Gun Club is a
beautiful place to shoot. And the Hwy 33 route up to the range offers stunning views.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
October 3rd, 2021

Sources for Official Shooting Targets for Many Disciplines

official shooting IBS NBRSA NRA rifle shooting targets paper bullseye benchrest

Need targets — not just any old targets, but the correctly-sized targets for specific shooting disciplines (such as NRA Smallbore, F-Class, and 1K Benchrest)? Well you won’t find them at your neighborhood gun store. Precise, dimensionally-correct competition targets are produced by a half-dozen specialty printers. In this article we provide links to the leading target sellers, with a chart showing “who’s got what”. Look for your particular discipline and the vendors will be specified.

Sources for Official Shooting Competition Targets:

ALCO Target Company

American Target Company

Creedmoor Sports

National Target Company

U.S. Target Company offers dozens of FREE, printable targets for target practice, load development, and fun shooting. We also offer a few of the most popular NRA Bullseye targets. One or more of these printable targets should work for most training purposes. However, some readers have asked: “Where can we get the real targets… exactly like the ones used in NRA, IBS, and NBRSA shooting matches?”

Official targets NRA IBS NBRSA

All these vendors carry nearly all the NRA High Power and Smallbore targets, including the smaller F-Class targets. National Target has the F-Class and High Power targets, including 100-yard reductions of the 200, 300, and 600-yard military targets.

NRA Target IBS Hunter Rifle Target

Here are some of the air rifle, smallbore, and High Power targets at Creedmoor Sports:
Creedmoor sports paper official targets

Orrville Printing currently sells IBS targets for rimfire (50 yard) benchrest, short-range centerfire Benchrest (100, 200, 300 yards), Hunter BR Rifle (100, 200, 300 yards), plus the official 600-yard and 1000-yard IBS targets. National Target Company also has most of the IBS targets. NBRSA short-range, 600-yard, and 1000-yard benchrest targets are available directly from the NBRSA Business Office. Send an email to or call (434) 993-9201.

Available Official Competition Targets
Vendor NRA High Power F-Class NRA Smallbore Air Rifle/Pistol IBS NBRSA Other
ALCO Target
Yes, All No Yes Yes No No Archery, IDPA, IPSC, Police, Realistic, Shoot-N-C, Silhouette, Fun Targets, Pasters.
American Target
Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No USBR, Sight-in, Muzzle-Loading, Police Silhouette
Domagron Targets Yes, Some No Yes, Some Yes No No NRA, Air Gun, Reactive, Fun Targets
Creedmoor Sports Yes, Some Yes, Some Yes, Some Yes No No NRA, Repair Centers, Smallbore, Sight-in, Fun Targets
National Target
Yes, Nearly All Yes Yes, All Yes Yes* No IDPA, IPSC, FBI, Police Silhouette, Sight-in, Target Backers, Pasters Yes Yes Yes, most and color training Yes Yes No Bianchi, FBI, IBS, IDPA, IPSC, Silhouette, Archery, Pasters
U.S. Target, Inc. Yes Yes Yes, All Yes No No Bianchi, FBI, Police Silhouette, IPSC, Realistic Silhouette, Varmint

Good Source for Specialty Targets and Target Stands

Alco Target silhouette paper cardboard

Need Steel, Cardboard Silhouettes or specialty targets? ALCO Target Company in Duarte, California is the USA’s leading producer of the full spectrum of shooting targets including paper targets, cardboard targets, steel targets, and target stands.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review No Comments »
October 3rd, 2021

Optics INFO: Mounting a Scope on Your Hunting Rifle

scope alignment tactical rifle scope level

Hunting season is underway now in many states. That means it’s time to inspect all your hunting gear, including your scope set-up. If you have a new optic, you’ll want to get it mounted correctly on your current rig. And if you have a new hunting rifle, you’ll need to mount the properly rings and install the riflescope so that you have the correct eye relief.

A proper scope installation involves more than just tensioning a set of rings — you need to consider the proper eye relief and head position, and it should be leveled correctly. This video shows a simple, quick method to mount a scope. The method assumes that the reticle (cross-hairs) are square without the turret. You’ll want to confirm that with a plumb line hanging straight down, a procedure you can do indoors.

scope alignment tactical rifle scope levelIn this NSSF video, Ryan Cleckner shows how to set up a scope on a hunting or tactical rifle. Ryan, a former U.S. Army Sniper Instructor, notes that many hunters spend a small fortune on equipment, but fail to set up their rifle to use the optics optimally. Cleckner likens this to someone who owns an expensive sports car, but never adjusts the seat or the mirrors.

Ryan notes that you want your head and neck to be able to rest naturally on the stock, without straining. You head should rest comfortably on the stock. If you have to consciously lift your head off the stock to see through the scope, then your set-up isn’t correct. Likewise, You shouldn’t have to push your head forward or pull it back to see a clear image through the scope. If you need to strain forward or pull back to get correct eye relief, then the scope’s fore/aft position in the rings needs to be altered. Watch the full video for more tips.

Tips on Mounting Your Scope and Adjusting Your Comb Height:
1. Normally, you want your scope mounted as low as possible, while allowing sufficient clearance for the front objective. (NOTE: Benchrest shooters may prefer a high mount for a variety of reasons.)

2. Once the scope height is set, you need to get your head to the correct level. This may require adding an accessory cheekpad, or raising the comb height if your rifle has an adjustable cheekpiece.

3. Start with the rifle in the position you use most often (standing, kneeling, or prone). If you shoot mostly prone, you need to get down on the ground. Close your eyes, and let you head rest naturally on the stock. Then open your eyes, and see if you are too low or too high. You may need to use a cheekpad to get your head higher on the stock.

4. If your scope has a flat on the bottom of the turret housing, this will help you level your scope. Just find a flat piece of metal that slides easily between the bottom of the scope and the rail. Slide that metal piece under the scope and then tilt it up so the flat on the bottom of the scope aligns parallel with the flats on the rail. Watch the video at 8:40 to see how this is done.

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