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September 18th, 2022

Sunday GunDay: Clay Rhoden Wins King of 1 Mile Match in Texas

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder

A novice long-range competitor is now the first-ever USA King of 1 Mile. Clay Rhoden, the talented head honcho of Longshot (target cameras), won the match with a superb performance. Clay hit every single shot, without a miss, for the first five targets, all the way out to 1699 yards. There were two additional targets beyond one mile — Target 6 at 1909 yards and Target 7 at 2391 yards. Clay went 4 for 10 at these longer distances, but his perfect shooting out to 1699 yards still gave him a comfortable margin of victory.

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder
Amazing FACT: Clay Won the 2022 USA Ko1M in only his sixth shooting match ever!

In winning the 2022 Ko1M match, Clay beat some living legends, including David Tubb, a 6-time NRA Nat’l Long Range Champion and 2019 NRA ELR HG Champ. Clay’s remarkable victory is doubly impressive if you consider that Clay had previously shot only five other rifle matches (at any distance) in his whole life. This was truly a stellar win for a new shooter. Huge congrats to Clay and his Global Precision Group (GPG) team. Clay’s GPG teammate Ray Gross took second overall.

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder

Clay earned his one-mile Ko1M title shooting a very accurate 33XC rifle with BAT action, Bartlein barrel, Manners ELR Light stock, Bix’N Andy trigger, and a Nightforce ATACR 7-35x56mm scope. The ammo, which was developed and loaded by Paul Phillips, featured Berger 300gr Hybrid OTM bullets in Peterson brass pushed by Vihtavuori N565 powder and Federal 215 primers.

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder

2022 King of 1 Mile USA Championship — The Winning Formula

Report by Clay Rhoden, Longshot Target Cameras
The 2022 (first ever) USA King of 1 Mile event is a match I will not soon forget! Before going any further, I want to thank Jay Monych and Alex Cordesman for putting this match together and for opening each day with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.

This was only my sixth match ever to shoot and boy was it a blast! I had no expectations going into the match and my focus was on trying to stay calm and collected. I didn’t shoot until the second day, but my teammate, Ray Gross, shot on the first day. I thought we did OK during his qualification run, but I felt that I let him down as a spotter by under-doping the wind calls on the first two targets. Regardless, it was enough to get him into the finals and gave him another shot at the win.

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder

When it was my turn to shoot, I did my best to keep my heart rate down and keep from getting excited. I also prayed throughout the day and prior to shooting, asking the Lord to help me win if it was His will, and to help me gracefully accept the loss if it wasn’t. Additionally, I asked that If I won, He use the win to His glory, and He has and is! My wife and I are going through the beginning stages of the domestic adoption process and the first bit of real money will be due soon and what do you know, it just so happens to be $4,000, the exact amount of money that I won in the match!

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder
The top 19 shooters advanced to the Ko1M FINAL (Targets 5,6,7). In 20th, Paul Phillips just missed out.

My prayers were answered, and I was the only shooter to pull off a flawless run during the qualifier, going 3 for 3 on Targets 1-4. That secured us the top spot going into the finals and after randomizing the list, I remained at the top as 1st shooter in the finals and Ray as the 3rd. Conditions during the finals were worse as it was later in the day and the mirage had really come out to play. I was able to continue my flawless run onto T5 going 5 for 5, then I got 1st, 3rd, and 5th round impacts on T6, and a 4th round on T7. Thankfully, that was enough to secure the win.

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder

Rifle, Scope, and Ammo
I was shooting a brand new 33XC rifle that had about 30 rounds through the barrel from practicing before the match. The gun has a BAT Machine left-hand feed, right-hand eject action, Bartlein barrel, sitting in a Manners F-Class stock with a modified custom TCS weight-tuning butt system. On top was a Nightforce ATACR 7-35x56mm FFP MOAR scope with NF high rings. The BAT action was bedded by Alex Sitman with machine work by GA Precision. The stock allowed me to add a good bit of weight to the back of the gun. That combined with a Tubb 5-star muzzle brake created a smooth and predictable recoil that allowed me to stay on target and help spot my impacts.

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder
Team GPG Captain Paul Phillips loaded all the Ammo for Clay Rhoden and other Team GPG members.

Equally important if not more important than the rifle is the ammunition, and I have to give credit where credit is due. Paul Phillips loaded all the ammunition for the whole team and it shot lights out. We used Peterson Brass, Federal 215M primers, Vihtavuori N565 powder, and Berger 300gr Hybrid OTM bullets. During the match we observed that the guns and ammo performed so consistently shot after shot, that if we got an impact, we just need to run the same hold because the gun is going to put the next round in the exact same spot as the last one.

I was asked “What did your wife and kids say when you put on your crown?” The first thing my wife said when I put it on was, “You look like a whitewalker from Game of Thrones.” I’m not sure what to think of that but she did have a point. My kids thought it was cool and I tried tell them that I was a King now and that they were going to have to listen better, but they saw straight through that.

Preparation for the King of 1 Mile Match
I received my rifle a few weeks before the match and shot it for the first time only a couple of days before the match during a team practice at the Kaian Vista Ranch, a central Texas ranch owned by GPG teammate James Devoglaer. Upon arriving at his ranch, we zeroed the guns, confirmed velocities, and checked to make sure that everything was level. After that, we practiced team communication and spotting on the KVR’s long-range hunter course with 6.5 Creedmoors and then did a couple simulated matches with our competition rifles on the KVR’s ELR course. This allowed us to practice communication between shooter and spotter, as well as verify the predictions from our Kestrels. This practice significantly boosted my confidence going into the match!

Wind Calls and Spotting
In ELR, this is where the team really comes into play, and thankfully, Team GPG just happens to have some of the best wind callers in the world. I shot on the second day of the match and while I was doing my best to stay calm before shooting, my teammates were discussing the wind and the anomalies they had experienced when they shot and factoring all of that into our starting wind calls. Once our time began, it was up to Ray and I to get it right and Ray was on top of it! We were able to make first-round impacts on Targets 1 (1263 yards) through Target 6 (1909 yards). On T7 (2391 yards) our assumption about what the wind was wrong and cost us a couple impacts but thankfully, we were able to parlay those learnings and capitalize on them when it was Ray’s turn to shoot. Ray and I were shooters 3rd and 1st respectively in the finals, which was good from the perspective of applying what we had just learned from when I shot, but bad for me because I was the wind guinea pig for everyone in the finals.

Becoming Part of Team GPG
I lucked into being part of Team GPG last year when I went to help Paul run our Longshot cameras during a team practice. After the practice Paul asked if I wanted to shoot his .416 Barrett and of course I couldn’t say no to that, so I got behind the gun and shot a 4″ group at 2000 yards. A few weeks later, Paul asked if I wanted to join the team and the rest is history. I was just fortunate enough, as a completely inexperienced shooter, to get on a team with some of the best shooters in the world!

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powderBeing part of a team and trusting your teammates is such a critical part of ELR and I couldn’t ask for a better team. Each one of us comes from a different background and has different specialties, and we do an excellent job of leveraging all of that to perform at the highest level. Paul and Ray have years of experience shooting competitively. James has years of experience with competitive shooting, hunting, and training, while I have experience with cameras and technology that helps to verify our impacts. Additionally, we are all shooting clone rifles and can instantly leverage what we learn during the match from one shooter to the rest of the team. Paul Phillips even also helped design the new Manners ELR Light stock we used.

Big Prize Table and Major Cash Awards
The sponsors really stepped up for this match and donated $65,000 – $70,000 worth of prizes plus $5,500 in cash! It was an awesome experience being called up first, getting a trophy, belt buckle, and giant check for first place. I also got to walk the prize table first and got an amazing custom lightweight hunting rifle in .30 Nosler from Alamo Precision Rifles (see photo). At this point, I think it’s definitely fair to say that I’m hooked!

Now it’s time to prepare for our next match, the King of 2 Miles. Hopefully, Lord willing, Team GPG will be able to pull off more podium finishes at the end of September.

Conclusion: Philippians 4:13 states “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.” There is no way I could have done this without my faith in God and without my team! I am so blessed and grateful to be able to say that I won the King of 1 Mile!

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder

Longshot Products — How They Are Employed for ELR

There is no way that I would have been in this sport or even aware of the sport if it weren’t for the products we make at Longshot. Originally, rather than buying a spotting scope or binoculars, I developed our long-range camera system to solve the problem of seeing my shots at 100 yards to help zero my first rifle. Shortly thereafter, I was introduced to the idea of 1000-yard shooting. Then, not too long after, I was introduced to Extreme Long Range (ELR) shooting.

For all these disciplines, our Longshot target cameras solve the problem of being able to see and confirm impacts, no matter the condition. And the “reach” of the system is great. The current Longshot LR-3 UHD camera has a guaranteed 2-mile range with open terrain.

As a relatively new shooter and novice long-range and extreme long-range shooter, Longshot cameras have played a critical role in my development as a shooter. With our cameras, I’m able to instantly and precisely associate environmental conditions or a breakdown in fundamentals to a specific result on the target. I truly believe that this along with the people that I have met while running this business have helped me to achieve so much so quickly.

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder

Longshot Hawk Spotting Scope Cameras Used During Ko1M Match
While our long range UHD targets cameras can only be used for scoring during a match, Team GPG uses Longshot’s Hawk Spotting Scope Camera to take pictures of the targets prior to the match and create plot books for each shooter. We then use these to take notes and call corrections during the match. This process helped me get a fourth round impact on T7 during the match. We were able to see a super small poof of dust, plot it on our sheet and call a precise correction to bring us on target.

Click Arrow to Watch Hawk Spotting Scope Camera Video
Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder


Background Report from Paul Phillips, Team GPG Captain

Team GPG approached the 2022 inaugural USA King of 1 Mile event the same as we approached the 2019 King of 2 Miles where we finished 1st, 3rd, and 4th out of 80 shooters. This year, at the Ko1M in Texas, we had the same amazing results with first-place and second-place finishes out of 94 Ko1M competitors.

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder

Our team GPG approach begins with making sure our rifles and ammunition are producing half-MOA or better accuracy along with single-digit SDs. We then make sure we have very accurate 100-yard zeros and our optics are plumb and level.

We then utilize a custom PDM (Personalized Drag Model) from Applied Ballistics and verify all of our ballistics with multiple Kestrels and Applied Ballistics analytics.

Once this all matches up, then we simply input all of the distances and environmentals and we are ready for competition. For wind calling we use the Kestrel for wind speed and direction and use analytics to get the values. Just before we shoot we register any last second pick-ups or let-offs to start shooting.

For team communications and team work we spent the day at the KVR ranch located in Lometa, TX owned by Team GPG member James Deboglaer. James put us through his hunter course and we used this as a way to communicate and make sure we were on the same page.

With good elevations and wind along with great team work and communications we were able to produce our first- and second-place results.

Paul Phillips Crafted All the Ammunition and Did Load Development
Paul told us: “I’m doing all of the load development, loading ammo, ballistics and initial wind estimations for my shooters. I also did all the ballistics solutions using AB Analytics.”

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder

Rifle Specifications and Components
All the team’s guns and ammo were GPG spec 33XC builds, with ammunition loaded by Paul Phillips. Clay’s 33XC round has the 300gr Bergers running 3250 FPS MV. GPG team rifles feature these components:

BAT actions
Bartlein barrels
Bix’N Andy triggers
Manners ELR Light stock
Nightforce ATACR scopes
Accutac bipod

GA Precision Gunsmithing
Paul Phillips Load Dev
Alex Sitman bedding
Manson Reamers
Hollands level
Tubb brakes

Berger 300gr Hybrid OTM .338 Cal bullet
Peterson cartridge brass
Vihtavouri N565 powder
Fed 215 primer

Clay Rhoden Longshot cameras King of 1 one mile ELR texas long range match 33XC Berger bullets Peterson Brass Vihtavuori powder

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September 18th, 2022

Stick, Flake, and Ball — Do You Know Your Powder Properties?

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener’s Reloading & Shooting Supply recently published a helpful introduction to reloading powders. Widener’s online Guide to Smokeless Powders shows the various types of powders, and explains how the differences in powder kernel/flake size and shape, and burn rate affect performance. We recommend you visit Widener’s website and read the Powder Guide in full.

Take a close look at these illustrations which show the key differences between the four main powder types: extruded (stick) powder, ball (spherical) powder, flattened ball powder, and flake powder.

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Widener's Reloading Smokeless Powder propellant Guide

Burn Rate Basics

Widener’s Guide to Smokeless Powders also has a useful discussion of Burn Rate (a confusing topic for many hand-loaders). Wideners explains: “While a gun powder explosion in the cartridge seems instantaneous, if you slow it down you will actually find that each powder has a different ‘burn rate’, or speed at which it ignites.” This video shows powders with two very different burn rates. Watch closely.

Different burn rates suit different cartridge types notes Widener’s: “In general a fast-burning powder is used for light bullets and low-speed pistols and shotguns. Medium-rate powders are used for magnum pistols, while high-velocity, large bore rifle cartridges will need slow powders[.]

It should be noted that burn rate does not have a standardized unit of measurement. In fact, burn rate is really only discussed in comparison to other powders; there is no universal yardstick. Specifics will change by cartridge and bullet types[.]”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
September 18th, 2022

.45 ACP Reloading — Vihtavuori N320 and Other Good Powders

VV N320 for .45 ACP

There’s an interesting thread in our Shooters Forum right now — all about good choices for a .45 ACP handgun. If you’re considering getting your first .45 ACP pistol, you should read that thread. If you already own one or more .45 ACP handguns, this article offers some good tips on handloading options.

Forum Thread: Which .45 ACP Handgun to Purchase — Members Offer Suggestions

VV N320 for .45 ACPGood Powder Choices for the .45 ACP
We know that many of our readers own .45 ACP handguns and load for this extremely accurate “classic” cartridge. When selecting a powder for the .45 ACP, there are many good options. All the major powder manufacturers make propellants with appropriate density and burn rate characteristics for the .45 ACP. Popular choices include: AA #5 (Accurate Powder); Bullseye (Alliant); Clays, HP-38, and Titegroup (Hodgdon); VV N310 and N320 (Vihtavuori); and WW 231 and WST (Winchester). We’ve tried all those powders in a variety of .45 ACP handguns. When we consider all the factors that make for a good pistol powder, we think Vihtavuori N320 is one of the best available propellants for the .45 ACP.

Vihtavuori N320 is very accurate, it meters well, and it burns clean, with minimal smoke and flash. If you haven’t tried VV N320 yet, you should.

Pros and Cons of Different Powders for the .45 ACP
This Editor has personally tried out eight or more different powders for the .45 ACP. Bullseye works but it is very dirty (both smoke out the barrel and sooty powder fouling on case). Though it otherwise burns clean, Titegroup leaves a singular (and nasty) high-temp flame streak on your brass that is hard to remove. AA #5 is a good choice for progressive press newbies as you use more powder so a double charge will (usually) be obvious. I like AA #5 but N320 was more accurate. Clays burns clean but some powder measures struggle with flake powders like this. WW 231 offered excellent accuracy and metered well, but it kicked out sparks with little pieces of debris that would hit me in the face. Who wants that?

I personally tried all the powders listed above with lead, plated, and jacketed bullets. After testing for accuracy, consistency, and ease of metering, I selected VV N320 as the best overall performer.

Vihtavuori N320

  • No powder tested was more accurate (WW 231 was equally accurate).
  • Meters very well in all kinds of powder measures.
  • Produces very little smoke from muzzle.
  • Does not put nasty burn streak on brass like Tite-Group does.
  • Low Flash — you don’t get particles and sparks flying out like WW 231.
  • Cases come out from gun very clean — so you can tumble less often.

Forum member and gunsmith Michael Ezell agrees that N320 is a good choice for the .45 ACP. Mike has also found that WW 231, while accurate, produces sparks and a large flash. Mike writes: “I first started using N320 after my first night shoot, while shooting IDPA/IPSC matches. It was astonishing how much of a fireball the WW 231 created. I was literally blinded by the flash while trying to shoot a match. As you can imagine, that didn’t work out very well. I went from WW 231 to N320 and never looked back…and the flash from it was a fraction of what a kid’s sparkler would give off. I have nothing but good things to say about [N320] after using both. Night shoots are a real eye-opener! When it comes to a personal protection… there is, statistically, a very high chance that if you ever have to use a gun to protect yourself or your family, it’ll be in the darkness[.] Being blinded by muzzle flash (and deafened by the noise) are things that should be considered, IMO.”

This Editor owns a full-size, all-stainless S&W 1911. After trying numerous powders, I found VV N320 delivered the best combination of accuracy, easy metering, consistency, clean burning qualities, and low muzzle flash. My gun has proven exceptionally accurate using N320 with bullets from 180 grains to 230 grains — it will shoot as accurately as some expensive customs I’ve tried. At right is 5-round group I shot offhand at 10 yards with my 5″ S&W 1911.

NOTE: The bullet hole edges are sharp because I was using semi-wad-cutters, and the target paper is thick. Rounds were loaded with Vihtavuori N320 and 200-grain SWCs from Precision Bullets in Texas. We shoot Precision’s coated bullets in many of our pistols. These projectiles are accurate and they seem to reduce fouling in our pistol barrels. You can learn about them in this video:

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