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November 21st, 2021

Sunday Gunday: British Blue Beauty — F-Open 7mm-270 WSM

Ian Boxell UK F-Class rifle 7mm 270 WSM color

For today’s Sunday Gunday feature, we present a splash of color — the beautiful blue 7mm-270 WSM of Forum member Ian B. (aka “Elwood”) from Great Britain. A very knowledgeable guy, Ian has been one of the UK’s top F-Class shooters. And he’s the proud owner of a very “Flash” F-Class rig.

About the Shooter — Ian’s Background
Ian tells us: “I started shooting F-Class Open [many] years ago when a good friend invited me to Bisley to shoot with the Dorset Riflemen. I found it very enjoyable and a real challenge. The next year I attended the GB F-Class league’s Introduction to F-Class course, and soon afterwards started to compete in the GB F-Class league, while still shooting once a month with the Dorset Riflemen. In this short time frame, I’ve managed to finish 8th in the league last year, 12th in the Europeans, and I was a part of the GB squad that won the team event at the European Championship. I was then selected for the GB F-Open World Championship Team. Unfortunately, due to work commitments, I have had to withdraw.”

Ian Boxell UK F-Class rifle 7mm 270 WSM color

Ian’s Beautiful Blue 7mm-270 WSM F-Class Rifle

Report by Ian B. (aka “Elwood”)
Having spent my first year competing with a magazine-fed 7mm WSM tactical/sporting rifle (Surgeon action and AICS mag) and doing reasonably well with it, I then moved on to a .284 Shehane (.284 Winchester Improved). I love the Shehane and still use it but … I wanted something for those windy long-range days and so there was only one logical choice, the 7 WSM. This time I chose a 7mm-270 WSM as I quite enjoy case prep (just kidding). Actually, there’s not much to do really. The quality of Norma brass is well known and the Norma 270 WSM brass is quite easy to obtain in the UK.

Ian Boxell UK F-Class rifle 7mm 270 WSM color

The action is a Right Bolt, Left Port (RBLP) Stolle Panda F-Class action, with Jewell trigger. There wasn’t any particular reason behind the RBLP configuration — it was more of a case of that’s what I could get at the time. I had a 1.250″-diameter, straight-profile Bartlein barrel finished at 32 inches and chambered for the Berger 180gr VLD with a .313″ neck diameter. All my metal work and quite a bit of the wood work is done by the excellent Neil McKillop of McKillop Engineering. As with all top gunsmiths, Neil is meticulous to a point of obsessiveness and he’s the name behind quite a few winning rifles including several used by the GB Open and F-TR teams. Neil also inletted the stock from a blank and did the bedding for the action and the front bag runners.

Ian Boxell UK F-Class rifle 7mm 270 WSM color

Loading for the 7mm-270 WSM
I have one “tried and tested” load: 7mm Berger 180gr VLDs, seated .020″ into the lands, Vihtavuori N165 powder and CCI BR2 primers. This load is supremely accurate, but at 2990 FPS it’s a bit slow. To get more speed, I’m currently testing H1000 with good results, but it looks like I may have a slow barrel. I have another Bartlein barrel chambered and ready to screw on when the weather gets warmer. If that new barrel shoots well, the current barrel will probably be used as a practice barrel.

Loading Procedure
I do full case prep, neck-turning, uniforming primer pockets after the first firing, chamfering necks inside and out, and removing burrs around flash holes. Even the best brass sometimes suffers from imperfect quality control. I try to use Redding dies if possible, and will use bump dies, neck bushing dies, and competition seating dies.

I use an RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 to throw a charge just slightly under my desired weight and then trickle-up to final weight using the superb Dandy trickler and a Gem Pro 250 scale.

I anneal every other firing using a Bench-Source machine. Before this I used a Ken Light and also did them by spinning them in a drill. Never again will I do that after using the Bench-Source. After I have annealed, I always run a nylon brush wrapped in 0000 wire wool into the neck to remove any debris.

I keep to the same lot numbers of primers, powders, and bullets. Even the Bergers can vary from lot to lot — I have two different lots of 7mm 180gr VLDs that vary .020″ from bullet base to the ogive. I trim and point my bullets. Pointing may be a mental thing — I had a fantastic shoot while using trimmed and pointed bullets so I do it all the time now. ( A fellow GB team shot refers to them as “Pointless Dies” — I have witnessed him shoot a 99-14V at 1000 yards with bullets that weren’t trimmed or pointed). My next move will be to start measuring bearing surface…where does it all end?

Custom Wood Stock Was Modified by Ian and Treated to a Fancy Paint Job
The stock is a custom-made design crafted by Joe and Simon West of Joe West Rifle Stocks. I had several modifications done to one of their existing stock designs. Having done a lot of my shooting with the AICS, I was quite used to a thumbhole stock, so thought I would try one in F-Class. I told Simon what I wanted and he sent me down a prototype made from very inexpensive Tulip wood. We had a few discussions and then made some more mods..

I made two main changes to the stock. First, I removed the lip at the bottom of the pistol grip because I felt I might rest my hand on this and possibly disturb the rifle. Second, I had the protruding pistol grip base removed so that the bottom of the stock was completely flat like the Precision Rifle & Tool F-Class stock. Simon also made the finger grips to fit my hand and flattened them off to allow for a bit more movement. The stock was then sent to Hydro Graphics in the UK to have a custom exterior finish. The paint color is a Marbleized Candy Oriental Blue. As always, Hydro Graphics did a great job.

Ian Boxell UK F-Class rifle 7mm 270 WSM hydro-dip color

Ian Boxell UK F-Class rifle 7mm 270 WSM hydro-dip colorOptics and Rings
The scope is the excellent 5-50x56mm March with the MTR-2 reticle — far and away the best reticle I have used for F-Class. March makes great optics. During the 2012 European individual F-Class event, using another March (my 8-80x56mm), I could see my shooting partner’s impacts in the white V-Bull at 800 yards! And just recently at a club match I called two V-Bulls at 900 yards using the 8-80X (not at full power). Granted the light has to be perfect to be able to do this, but my highest praise for the Deon Optics glass is that it rivals that of Schmidt & Bender. Having owned both March and S&B scopes and compared them side-by-side, I feel that I can make this statement fairly.

UK-based Third Eye Tactical made the nice, 34mm rings. The UK is now producing some excellent products. We now have UK-made custom actions, rings, rails, stocks and more. It would be nice to think we could have a 100% British-made rifle, and not rely completely on USA-made products. I think all we need is the trigger? But I can’t see there ever being a UK-made scope!

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing No Comments »
November 21st, 2021

Say What? How to Prevent Serious Hearing Loss

Hearing Protection DB sound level ear plug muff

“Science tells us that exposure to continuous noise of 85 dB for eight hours is enough to cause permanent hearing loss, and worse, spikes of 130 dB and more can result in permanent hearing damage instantly.”
Source: NRA Blog.

The Risk of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be progressive and irreversible. If you are a shooter, this is serious business. As the NRA Blog cautions: “You may not even realize you’re harming your hearing. Hearing loss occurs gradually, and can go effectively unnoticed until symptoms become severe. By then, the damage is done.”

Nobody wants to go deaf. But we often see shooters without effective hearing protection when they are walking around a few yards behind the firing line. That’s bad — even if you are away from the firing line, gunshot noises can damage your hearing. You MUST use effective hearing protection every time you go to the range. Good foam earplugs costs mere pennies but they can prevent deafness in your later years. Many folks also wear muffs over plugs.

Sound Levels for Common Noises:

9mm Luger pistol: 160 dB

Jet aircraft engine (near): 140 dB

.22 LR pistol: 134 dB

Normal human pain threshold: 120 dB

Noisy Nightclub: 110 db

Riding Motorcycle at 65 mph: 103 db

Power Lawnmower: 95 dB

Hearing damage possible: 85 dB (sustained for 8+ hours)

Ringing Telephone: 80 dB

Normal conversation: 60 dB

The Myth of the “Quiet” .22 LR
The NRA Blog notes that “many rimfire shooters, particularly those using the beloved .22 Long Rifle cartridge, argue that the small .22 LR caliber doesn’t produce enough sound to damage your hearing”. So, is that really true … or is it a myth?

In fact, a .22 LR can be much louder than you think — a .22 LR pistol can produce sound levels of 134 dB. That’s well above the normal human pain threshhold.

hearing protection ear muffs NRR earplugs osha deafness

Compact, Low-Profile NRR 26 dB-Rated Ear Muffs

walker shooting hearing protection muffs 27 db NRR

Many hunters and competitive shooters prefer low-profile ear muffs. As these typically have a lower Noise Reduction Rating, perhaps NRR 22-27, we recommend running earplugs under muffs. If you use low-profile electronic muffs, such as Howard Leight Impact Sport Muffs, you should still be able to hear range commands even with plugs underneath.

Another good option for hunters and range visitors are hearing bands, basically earplugs connected with a semi-rigid plastic band. These banded products provide “quick access” hearing protection for hunters. You can keep them handy around the neck while spotting game, and then insert the plugs before shooting.

Howard Leight MAX NRR33 Earplugs, Just $11.50 for 50 Pairs.

accurateshooter.com review Max-1 Howard Leight ear plugs

20 Pairs
50 Pairs

These Howard Leight NRR33 Max-1 Plugs are your Editor’s favorite foam earplugs. Between shooting, motorcycling and mowing lawns, I probably have Howard Leight foam plugs in my ears 3-4 days a week. They are comfortable and the flared outer edge helps the NRR. There is also a Max-30 corded version, with the same excellent 33 dB Noise Reduction Rating. Get five pairs of Max-30 Corded Plugs for $6.65 on Amazon, or 100 pairs of Max-30s for $27.86.

Permalink - Articles, Gear Review, Tech Tip No Comments »
November 21st, 2021

Splatter Targets Shopping Guide — See Your Hits from Far Away

splatterburst target neo halo yellow
Splatterburst 1″ circles, 62 per sheet, 10-pk $8.99. These can be pasted on other paper backers.

We’ve all seen conventional splatter targets with a single large black bullseye. When a shot hits the target, a halo (usually neon yellow) appears around the bullet hole. This makes it easier to see your shot placements indoors, or at long range outdoors. Today we feature a variety of other targets that also offer the cool halo/splatter effect. We’ve found grids, multiple bull targets, sheets with 62 one-inch circle pasters, handgun training targets, and even white background splatter targets (that produce black halos). Try out some of these targets for fun (kids love plinking with splatter targets).

Shoot-N-C 17″ Sight-In Grid, 5-pk $15.99

Shoot-N-C Handgun Training Target, 5-pk $8.99

Here is a good video review of a variety of Splatterburst Targets:

splatterburst target neo halo yellow

Splatterburst 12″x12″ sight-in target, 10-pk $10.99

splatterburst target neo halo yellow

Splatterburst 3″ circles, 9 per sheet, 10-pk $8.99

These WHITE Shoot-N-C Targets produce Black Shot Halos on White Backgrounds:


Shoot-n-c splatter burst grid target

Shoot-N-C 12″ Grid Sight-in, 10-pk, $8.99
(black shot halos)

Shoot-n-c splatter burst grid target

Shoot-N-C 8″ White bullseye, 10-pk, $9.17
(black shot halos)

Permalink Gear Review, Shooting Skills No Comments »