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February 20th, 2024

High-Quality Cartridge Diagrams — Download for FREE

Winchester centerfire rimfire pistol shotshell ammo ammunition cartridge diagram illustration

Winchester’s new “Introduction to Ammunition — Ammo 101” is a four-part series including custom illustrations and information for four major ammunition categories: rifle, pistol, rimfire, and shotshell. The Ammo 101 series provides a detailed overview of centerfire rifle, centerfire pistol, rimfire, and shotshell ammunition, showcasing ammunition construction, components, calibers, and common usage. The Ammo 101 resource is free to download from Winchesters.mediaassets.com. Or, simply click one or more diagrams below. Each image will launch a large PDF which you can print or download.

TIP: Click Each Image for Full-Screen Printable PDF

Shown below are the first four ammunition information sheets prepared by Winchester. These show all the key components of cartridges and shotshells, and explain the functions. These diagrams are useful for training, and for persons getting started in reloading.

Ammo 101 Centerfire Rifle Cartridge Diagram (click for PDF)

Winchester centerfire ammo ammunition cartridge diagram illustration

Ammo 101 Rimfire Cartridge Diagram (click for printable PDF)

Winchester centerfire ammo ammunition cartridge diagram illustration

Ammo 101 Pistol Cartridge Diagram (click for printable PDF)

Winchester centerfire ammo ammunition cartridge diagram illustration

Ammo101 Shotshell Diagram (click for printable PDF)

Winchester centerfire ammo ammunition cartridge diagram illustration


CLICK HERE for ALL FOUR Diagrams in SINGLE LARGE PDF »

About the Ammo 101 Series
The FREE Ammo 101 resources can help instructors nationwide who introduce new entrants to the shooting sports and hunting. Instructors can incorporate these resources into their training presentations, use them as handouts, or have them printed locally.

“The basics of ammunition… is what we want to deliver with the Ammo 101 series,” said Matt Campbell, Winchester V.P. of Sales & Marketing. “With millions of people across the United States starting their journey in the shooting sports as new firearm owners, providing easy-to-understand information on ammunition types is one way we can help educate our customers.”

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February 18th, 2024

Crosswind Weighting Factor Explained by Bryan Litz

Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics CWF Crosswind Weighting Factor

Bryan Litz, founder of Applied Ballistics LLC, has a very informativeFacebook page where he regularly posts useful ballistics info and shooting tips. We recommend that Facebook users check out the Bryan Litz Ballistics Facebook page. Here is one interesting example from that page. Bryan analyzes the Crosswind Weighting Factor (CWF). The Crosswind Weighting Factor (CWF) shows where a bullet’s trajectory is most susceptible to wind. By understanding CWF, shooters can better predict how wind affects bullet flight, especially at extreme ranges, when the projectile has gone transonic.

Crosswind Weighting Factor (CWF) graphs show where bullet trajectories are most susceptible to wind.
Bryan Litz Applied Ballistics CWF Crosswind Weighting Factor

Where does the wind have the most effect?
At the shooter?
At the target?
Halfway?

Bryan Litz explains: “Out through the supersonic range, the CWF is maximum at the shooter. However as the trajectory extends into transonic, the max CWF gets pushed down range. That’s because the greatest segments of lag time in the bullets trajectory are at transonic where the drag coefficient is maximized around Mach 1.” [Editor: So if your bullet stays fully supersonic during its flight to your target, you can normally expect the CWF to be highest at your shooting station. But once the projectile drops into transonic speeds then the situation changes.]

Get More Tips on Bryan Litz Ballistics Facebook Page
This post is from the new Bryan Litz Ballistics Facebook page. You can bookmark that page at www.Facebook.com/BryanLitzBallitics. Facebook users will want to check that page regularly for other advice from Bryan, American’s leading Ballistics expert and founder of Applied Ballistics LLC.

Applied Ballistics also offers a noteworthy online training operation — The Science of Accuracy Academy. This will include podcasts, exclusive seminars, and access to the latest Applied Ballistics research.

Applied Ballistics Science of Accuracy Academey Bryan Litz

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February 17th, 2024

Case Prep — Uniforming Primer Pockets, Deburring Flash Holes

USAMU Handloading hump day flash hole primer pocket uniforming case prep RCBS Lyman
Case Prep Xpress photo courtesy Lyman Products.

In the past the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit published a series of reloading “how-to” articles on its USAMU Facebook page. One “Handloading Hump Day” article covered two basic case prep chores — uniforming primer pockets and deburring flash-holes. Visit the USAMU Facebook page for other tips.

USAMU Handloading hump day reloading tips

Primer Pocket & Flash-Hole Conditioning

This week, we’ll address a question that frequently arises: “Do you uniform primer pockets and deburr flash-holes?” As we tailor our handloading methods to the specific needs of each instance, the answer, not surprisingly, is “Sometimes!” However, don’t flip that dial just yet, as what determines our approach may be helpful in deciding how to address one’s own techniques. Moreover, we have a buried “Easter Egg” morsel that may bring a chuckle, as well as useful safety information!

Generally, the USAMU Handloading Shop does not uniform primer pockets (PP) or deburr flash holes (FH) of our rifle brass. We’re certainly not against it… Rather, this reflects the very high volume of ammunition we load, the fact that very few cases are ever re-loaded for a second firing, and the types of brass we use. However, as a need is perceived, we DO deburr flash holes. Of interest, we have fired many very small, 1000-yard test groups and aggregates using weight-selected, domestic brass that had not had PPs uniformed or FHs deburred.

USAMU Handloading hump day flash hole primer pocket uniforming case prep RCBS Lyman

Before and After — On the left is a fired, deprimed 7.62×51 case with primer residue intact. On the right the primer pocket has been uniformed to SAAMI specs. Note the shiny finish at the bottom of the pocket — evidence of the the removal of metal when uniforming the primer pocket.

As to the type cases we use, many thousands of our long-range 5.56mm cases come to us from the arsenal with the primer of our choice pre-installed and staked-in, per usual practice. Obviously, we cannot uniform either FHs or PPs on this live, primed brass. However, after careful sorting, inspection and preparation, we do obtain match-winning results with it.

Shooters who reload their brass several times may decide to uniform PPs and deburr FHs, especially on their “300-yard and beyond” brass. Here, they will use the cases many times, while the uniforming is performed only once. Also, most handloaders only process moderate amounts of brass, compared to our multi-thousand round lots.

Having high quality Long Range (LR) brass helps. Many of the better brass manufacturers [make] their flash holes so that no burrs are created. Still, it does pay to inspect even THESE manufacturer’s products, as occasional slips are inevitable. Very rarely, some of the best makers will have a significant burr in, say, 1 per 1000 or 2000 cases, and it’s worth catching those.

Exceptions can always be found. Recently, we began processing a large lot of match brass from a premier manufacturer. We were startled to find that every case had a significant burr in the FH — something we’d never before seen from this maker. We then broke out the FH deburring tools and went to work.

Some observers have noted that it can be difficult to truly verify the contribution to accuracy of these procedures — particularly when firing from the shoulder, in conditions. Members of this staff, as individual rifle competitors, do often perform these operations on their privately-owned LR rifle brass. One could ascribe this to the old High Power Rifle maxim that “if you think it helps, then it helps.”

However, a World Champion and Olympic Gold/Silver medalist here commented on his own handloading (for International competition, which demands VERY fine accuracy). He noted that he did seem to see a decline in accuracy whenever he did not uniform FHs, deburr FHs and clean primer pockets before each reloading. (One might be tempted to counter that only a truly World Class shooter could reliably detect the difference.) However, with the wisdom of decades experience, our Champion also remarked that “It could have been that I just wasn’t shooting as well that day.”

For those who do opt for these procedures, note that various tool models may have adjustable depth-stops; pay attention to the instructions. Some FH-deburring tools (which enter the case mouth, not the primer pocket) are dependent upon uniform case length for best results.

USAMU Handloading hump day flash hole primer pocket uniforming case prep RCBS Lyman

Above is a flash-hole deburring tool on an RCBS powered case-prep unit. These case prep machines can save a lot of pain and misery, helping one perform various functions quickly and efficiently.

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February 11th, 2024

Sunday GunDay: 20 Practical 4200+ FPS Varmint Rifle

.20 20 practical varmint cartridge .204 Tikka lilja Warren

Do you have .20-Cal fever? Do you yearn to see what a 4200+ fps projectile can do to an unsuspecting prairie dog? Well you could go out and purchase a 204 Ruger rifle, fork over the money for a new, complete die set, and hope that the brass is in stock. Warren B (aka “Fireball”) has a more cost-effective solution. If you have .223 Rem dies and brass, all you need to shoot the 20 Practical is a new barrel and a .230″ bushing to neck down your .223 Rem cases. Warren’s wildcat is simple, easy, and economical. And the 20 Practical matches the performance of the highly-publicized 20 Tactical with less money invested and no need to buy forming dies or fire-form cases. Warren’s cartridge was aptly named. Practical it is.

20 Practical Tikka Bolt Action for Varminting

by Warren B (aka “Fireball”) and Kevin Weaver

After building my 20 PPC, I wanted to do another .20 caliber, this time a repeater for predator hunting that could also serve as a gopher/prairie dog rifle. I wanted to use a Tikka M595 stainless sporter I had. This rifle is the ultimate repeater with an extremely smooth-feeding cycle from its single-column magazine. Since the Tikka was a .223 Remington from the factory, I first looked at possible case designs that would fit the magazine. The 204 Ruger was a very new round at the time and brass was scarce. I also didn’t care for the overly long case design or the standard throat dimensions of the cartridge. I then looked at the 20 Tactical. It was a nice cartridge but I didn’t like the fact that (at the time) an ordinary two-die Tac 20 set with just a plain full-length die and standard seater were $150. Not only did the costs bother me, but I was accustomed to using a Redding die set featuring a body die, a Type-S bushing neck die, and a Competition seater. To be honest, I also didn’t care for the 20 Tactical’s name–there is absolutely nothing tactical about the cartridge. I didn’t want to adopt a new cartridge based on what I perceived to be a marketing gimmick (that “tactical” title).


Warren B, aka “Fireball”, with his Tikka 595. With its smooth action and phenolic single-column mag, it cycles perfectly in rapid fire.

.20 20 practical varmint cartridge .204 Tikka lilja WarrenSimply Neck Down .223 Rem to Make a 20-223 Wildcat
I decided the best thing to do for my purposes was to simply neck down the .223 Rem case and make a 20-223. I already had the dies, the brass, and a rifle that would feed it perfectly. I decided to call the cartridge the 20 Practical because as you will see in this article, it truly is a very practical cartridge. In addition to the generous and inexpensive availability of brass and dies, the 20 Practical is an easy case to create, requiring no fire forming as a final step. Simply neck your .223 Rem cases down, load and shoot.

[Editor’s Note: Over the years, other shooters have experimented with .223 Remington cases necked down to .20 caliber, some with longer necks, some with different shoulder angles. Warren doesn’t claim to be the first fellow to fit a .20-caliber bullet in the .223 case. He gives credit to others who did pioneering work years ago. But he has come up with a modern 20-223 wildcat that involves no special case-forming, and minimal investment in dies and tooling. He commissioned the original PTG 20 Practical reamer design, and he and Kevin did the field testing to demonstrate the performance of this particular version.]

I chose Kevin Weaver at Weaver Rifles to fit and chamber the barrel to my rifle. Kevin does excellent work and is great to work with. Kevin liked the idea of the 20 Practical so much he agreed to purchase the project reamer. (BTW Kevin didn’t even need to purchase a Go/No-Go gauge, he just used an existing .223 Rem gauge.)

Before Kevin ordered the reamer, I talked over the reamer specs with him. My priorities were tolerances on the tight end of the .223 Rem SAAMI specification, a semi-fitted neck with no need for neck-turning, and a short throat so that we could have plenty of the 32gr V-Max in the case and still touch the lands. I also wanted this short throat in case [anyone] wanted to chamber an AR-15 for the 20 Practical. A loaded 20 Practical round will easily touch the lands on an AR-15 while fitting into the magazine with no problem. With its standard 23-degree shoulder, the 20 Practical case also feeds flawlessly through an AR-15.

As for the barrel, I only use Liljas on my rifles. I have had great luck with them. They have always shot well and they clean up the easiest of any barrels that I have tried. I had previously sent my Tikka barreled action to Dan Lilja so that he could program a custom contour into his equipment and turn out a barrel that would perfectly fit the factory M595 sporter stock. There isn’t much material on an M595 sporter stock so the contour had to match perfectly and it did. Dan Lilja now has this custom contour available to anyone who would like to rebarrel their M595 sporter with one of his barrels.

There Are Plenty of Good .204-Caliber Varmint Bullet Options
20 Practical .204 Ruger .20 caliber bullets

How to Form 20 Practical Cases — Simple and Easy
Forming 20 Practical cases is very easy. No fire-forming is required. Start with any quality .223 Rem brass. Then simply run the case into your bushing die with the appropriate bushing and call it done.

Project Componentry
My 20 Practical rifle started out as a Tikka Model 595 Stainless Sporter in .223 Remington. Though the M595 is no longer imported, if you shop around you can find M595 Sporters for bargain prices. Mine cost under $500. I think the action alone is worth that! The receiver has a milled dovetail for scope rings plus a side bolt release like expensive BR actions. The bolt cycles very smoothly. Ammo is handled with super-reliable 3- or 5-round detachable single-column magazines (FYI, Tikka’s M595 22-250 mags will feed a 6BR case flawlessly.) We kept the standard Tikka trigger but fitted it with a light-weight spring. Now the trigger pull is a crisp 1.8 pounds–about as good as it gets in a factory rifle. We replaced the factory tube with a custom, 24″, 3-groove Lilja 12-twist barrel. Dan Lilja created a special M595 sporter contour to allow a perfect “drop-in” fit with the factory stock. For optics, I’ve fitted a Leupold 4.5-14x40mm zoom in low Talley light-weight aluminum mounts. All up, including optics and sling, my 20 Practical weighs just under 8.5 pounds.

Test Report–How’s It Shoot?
I sent the barrel and barreled action to Kevin and in a very short time it was returned. Kevin did a perfect job on the rifle. I had asked him to try to match the bead blasted finish of the Tikka when he finished the new barrel. It came out perfect and the only way one can tell it is a custom is the extra two inches of length and the “20 Practical” cartridge designation.

So, no doubt you’re asking “how does she shoot?” Is my “prototype”, first-ever 20 Practical an accurate rig? In a word, yes. Even with the standard factory stock, and light contour barrel, it can shoot 3/8″ groups. Take a look at the typical target from this rifle. This is from an 8.5-pound sporter with a very skinny fore-end and a factory trigger.

Gunsmith’s Report from Kevin Weaver
The 20 Practical: Origins and Development

Editor’s NOTE: We can’t say for sure who first necked down the .223 Rem to .20 caliber and chambered a rifle for that wildcat (as opposed to the .20 Tactical). But here is an account from way back in 2006 when the Warren B first came up with the idea of a .20 Practical cartridge, complete with reamer specs.

A year ago I received a call from Warren with a great idea. Warren asked “Why couldn’t we simply neck down the .223 Remington case to 20 caliber and get basically the same performance as the 20 Tactical? This way you can forgo the expensive forming dies that are needed for the 20 Tactical.” The idea made perfect sense to me, and I saw no major technical issues, so we got started on the project. I ordered a reamer from Dave Kiff at Pacific Tool & Gauge (PTG) with a .233″ neck. The .233″ neck should allow for a simple necking-down of the 223 Remington case to produce the 20 Practical in just one step. No fire-forming necessary! Furthermore, the PTG 20 Practical reamer Dave created should work with any available .223 Rem brass, commercial or military.

The first 20 Practical round was launched down range (through Warren’s Tikka) just a few months later. The brass formed as easily as expected. All one needs is a Redding type “S” bushing die with a .230 bushing and with just one step I had a .20 caliber case ready to shoot. Warren is brilliant. [Editor’s Note: We concur. For more details on Warren’s case-forming methods and his tips for adapting .223 Rem dies, read the technical sections further down the page.]

It would be almost six months later until I got around to building a dedicated test rifle chambered for the 20 Practical. I used a Remington 722 action, Remington synthetic semi-varmint stock, and a 24″ Douglas stainless steel XX 12-twist barrel. I formed and loaded about 30 cases using Remington brass in about 20 minutes. I used a .223 Rem seating die to seat the 20 Practical bullets. The .223 seating stem seated the small 20-Cal bullets just fine. The first loads sent the 40gr Hornady V-Max bullets down range at a modest 3500 FPS. I did not shoot for groups. I just wanted to use this load to sight in the rifle and break in the barrel. Load development was painless–I used reduced .223 Rem loads for 40gr bullets and worked up from there. In the table below are some of my preferred loads as well as Warren’s favorite recipes for his 20 Practical.

Bullet Wt. Powder Charge Wt. Velocity FPS Comments
32GR H4198 24.1 4025 Warren’s lighter gopher load
32GR AA2460 27.8 4154 Warren’s coyote/prairie dog load
32GR N133 26.0 4183 Coyote/PD load, clean burn
33GR H4198 26.0 4322 Hot Load. Use with Caution!
33GR N133 27.0 4255 Kevin: 0.388” 5 shot group
40GR H335 25.0 3583 Kevin’s barrel break-in load
40GR H4198 24.0 3907 Hodgdon “Extreme” Powder
40GR IMR4895 26.0 3883 Kevin: 0.288″ 5-shot group
40GR N133 25.0 3959 Kevin: 0.227″ 5-shot group
Warren’s Load Notes: My pet loads are all with IMI cases, 32gr Hornady V-Maxs, and Fed 205 primers (not match). These are the most accurate loads in my rifle so far. I haven’t even bothered with the 40s as I have the 20 PPC and 20 BR for those heavier bullets. I prefer the lighter bullets in the 20 Practical because I wanted to keep speed up and recoil down in this sporter-weight predator rifle. Also, the 32gr V-Max is exceptionally accurate and explosive. I like N133 the best as it burns so clean. IMI cases are tough and well-made.
Kevin’s Load Notes: I used Remington 223 cases, Hornady V-Max bullets, and Remington 6 1/2 primers to develop the above loads. CAUTION: all loads, both Warren’s and mine, should be reduced 20% when starting load development in your rifle. All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Weaver Rifles has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Weaver Rifles nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data.

Comparing the 20 Practical and 20 Tactical
Kevin tells us: “The 20 Practical and the 20 Tactical are almost identical cartridges. There are only slight differences in case Outside Diameter, shoulder angle, and case body length. The neck length on the 20 Tactical is a bit longer, but there is still plenty of neck on the 20 Practical to grip the popular bullets, such as the 32gr V-Max. Here are some specs:

Cartridge Bolt face to shoulder Shoulder O.D. Shoulder Angle Total length
20 Tactical 1.5232″ .360 30° 1.755″
20 Practical 1.5778″ .3553 23° 1.760″

Both the 20 Tactical and the 20 Practical are fine .20 caliber cartridges. Early on, the 20 Tactical was the more popular of the two because it had more publicity. However, my favorite would be the 20 Practical. Warren’s 20 Practical gives the SAME performance as the 20 Tactical without fire-forming, or having to buy expensive forming dies. So with the 20 Practical you do less work, you shell out a lot less money, yet you give up nothing in performance. What’s not to like? To create 20 Practical cases, just buy a .223 Rem Redding Type “S” Bushing Die set with a .230 or .228 bushing and have fun with this great little cartridge.”

(more…)

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February 11th, 2024

Muzzle Brake Sound Levels — Great Test by Precision Rifle Blog

PrecisionRifleBlog.com Cal Zant Muzzle Brake Test Noise Level Decibels Suppressor

A while back, Cal Zant at PrecisionRifleBlog.com did a big muzzle brake comparison test. Along with measuring recoil reduction, Cal’s team recorded sound levels in PRB’s exhaustive muzzle brake field test. In the PRB archives you’ll find comprehensive muzzle brake sound test results, with hard data on 20 different muzzle brakes.

Sound can be a tricky subject, but Cal Zant, the editor of PrecisionRifleBlog.com, presents everything an informed shooter should know about muzzle brake noise in a straightforward and practical way. Most sound tests are measured from the side of the muzzle, in accordance with mil-spec standards, and Cal did that. But he also measured the sound level of each brake from behind the rifle, closer to the shooter’s position. This provides a more accurate indicator of the actual sound levels that firearms operators will encounter while shooting their rifles.

Muzzle brakes ARE really loud — that’s something most active shooters have observed. But this study finally gives us some hard data and makes objective comparisons. The difference between brakes was quite significant. Some brakes were ear-splitting — more than twice as loud as other brakes tested.

As a bonus, Cal also provides data on how the new Ultra series suppressors from Thunder Beast Arms Corp (TBAC) compare in terms of sound level behind the rifle.

Check out the Test Results: http://precisionrifleblog.com/2015/08/07/muzzle-brakes-sound-test.

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February 10th, 2024

Transporting Firearms in Vehicles — What You Need to Know

Firearms gun safety safe storage transport vehicle car truck NSSF

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has prepared tips for gun owners transporting firearms in their vehicles. Whenever you are driving with guns (of any time), the firearms should be transported securely. In some states, the firearms must be in locked cases inside the vehicle. And, with the rise of break-ins on parked vehicles, it’s important to keep gun cases out of sight if possible. This article has tips on safe and secure gun transport.

firearms gun rifle pistol transport case

HERE Are Key Guidelines for Safe, Secure Handling of Firearms in Vehicles:

• Take note of and safely control the muzzle direction of firearms in vehicles. This is one of the main rules of gun safety and applies to the inside of vehicles as well as any other location.

• When finished using your firearm outside your vehicle, unload it before you re-enter your vehicle.

• Even after a long hunt or a day in the sun at the range, always check, and then double check, that guns are unloaded before placing them in a car or truck.

• Be very careful if you must unload a firearm in the confined space of a vehicle so as not to have an accidental discharge. If your location allows, it is safer and easier to unload the firearm outside the vehicle.

• Never leave firearms in parts of the vehicle accessible to children or pets.

• Keep firearms and ammunition out of sight to avoid tempting thieves.

• Use secure temporary storage for firearms in vehicles.

• A lockable gun case or a lock box may be the most practical choice to securely store a gun in a vehicle. These come in a range of prices and models.

• If you’re concerned about quick access to your firearm, many types of lockable safes allow for extremely fast access of your gun while at the same time helping to prevent unauthorized access.

• Secure the lock box to the vehicle, if possible. Some companies make custom concealed compartments for specific model vehicles.

Traveling firearms truck car vehicle storage

Firearms gun safety safe storage transport vehicle car truck NSSF

Storing Firearms in Vehicles to Prevent Theft and Misuse
We travel with our firearms all the time, taking them to the range, on hunting trips or carrying them on our person, as permitted by law. When you are transporting guns, the last thing you want is to have your gun stolen and potentially misused by a criminal. In some states, you could even be subject under the law to serious penalties and fines for failure to properly secure a firearm. Unfortunately, thefts of firearms from vehicles are on the rise. Thieves commonly steal cars and trucks even when they don’t obviously contain firearms — a reminder that vehicle door locks are not totally secure.

When you are not in your vehicle, all firearms should be placed in locked storage and out of sight. Locking the doors on your vehicle does not constitute secure firearm storage. As one writer put it: As one writer put it: “Cars and trucks aren’t safes. And they’re not holsters. They’re not storage containers.”

Firearms gun safety safe storage transport vehicle car truck NSSF

The glove compartment or console of your vehicle, even if lockable, should not be considered a secure storage device either, as it can be pried open quickly and is the first place a thief might look. If you need to leave a handgun in a vehicle, we recommend putting the guns in secure case, preferably out of sight. Many vehicles have a compartment, above the spare tire storage recess, which can be secured.

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February 9th, 2024

Varminters Debate — Prefer Cranking Elevation or Holding Over?

IOR Scope elevation knob one revolution

Leuopold Varmint Hunters' ReticleA varmint shooter’s target is not conveniently placed at a fixed, known distance as it is for a benchrester. The varminter must repeatedly make corrections for bullet drop as he moves from closer targets to more distant targets and back again. Click HERE to read an interesting Varmint Forum discussion regarding the best method to adjust for elevation. Some shooters advocate using the scope’s elevation adjustments. Other varminters prefer to hold-over, perhaps with the assistance of vertical markers on their reticles. Still others combine both methods–holding off to a given yardage, then cranking elevation after that.

Majority View — Click Your Scope
“I zero at 100 yards — I mean really zero as in check the ballistics at 200 and 300 and adjust zero accordingly — and then set the scope zero. For each of my groundhog guns I have a click chart taped into the inside of the lid of the ammo box. Then use the knobs. That’s why they’re there. With a good scope they’re a whole lot more accurate than hold-over, with or without hash marks. This all assumes you have a good range finder and use it properly. If not, and you’re holding over you’re really just spraying and praying. Try twisting them knobs and you’ll most likely find that a 500- or 600- or 700-yard groundhog is a whole lot easier than some people think.” — Gunamonth

Varmint hunter 22 BR elevation scope hold-over

“I have my elevation knob calibrated in 100-yard increments out to 550. Range-find the critter, move elevation knob up…dead critter. The problem with hold-over is that it is so imprecise. It’s not repeatable because you are holding over for elevation and for wind also. Every time you change targets 50 yards, it seems as if you are starting over. As soon as I got completely away from the hold over method (I used to zero for 200), my hit ratios went way up.” — K. Candler

“When I first started p-dog shooting, I attempted to use the hold-over method with a 200-yard zero with my 6mm Rem. Any dog much past 325-350 yards was fairly safe. I started using a comeups table for all three of my p-dog rifles (.223 Rems and 6mm Rem). 450-yard hits with the .223s are fairly routine and a 650-yard dog better beware of the 6mm nowadays. An added benefit (one I didn’t think of beforehand) with the comeups table (elevation only), is that when the wind is blowing, it takes half of the variables out of the equation. I can concentrate on wind, and not have to worry about elevation. It makes things much more simple.” — Mike (Linefinder).

“I dial for elevation and hold for wind. Also use a mil-dot reticle to make the windage holds easier. For windage corrections, I watch for the bullet strike measure the distance it was “off” with the mil-dot reticle, then hold that much more the other way. Very fast once you get used to it.” — PepeLP

Varmint Hunting ScopeMinority View — Hold-Over is Better
“I try to not touch my knobs once I’m zeroed at 200 meters. Most of my varmint scopes have duplex reticles and I use the bottom post to put me on at 300 meters versus turning knobs. The reason I try to leave my knobs alone is that I have gone one complete revolution up or down [too far] many times and have missed the varmint. This has happened more than once and that is why I try not to change my knobs if at all possible.” — Chino69

“I have been using the hold over method and it works for me most of the time but the 450 yards and over shots get kinda hard. I moved to a 300 yard zero this year and it’s working well. I do want to get into the click-up method though; it seems to be more fool-proof.” — 500YardHog

Compromise View — Use Both Methods
“I use both [methods] as well — hold over out to 250, and click up past that.” — Jack (Wolf)

“I use the target knobs and crank-in elevation. I also use a rangefinder and know how far away they are before I crank in the clicks. I have a scope with drop dots from Premier Recticle and like it. No cranking [knobs] out to 600.” –Vmthtr

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February 8th, 2024

Build Your Shooting Skills with Multi-Discipline Training

Michelle Gallagher Cross Training

Guest Article By Michelle Gallagher, Berger Bullets
Let’s face it. In the world of firearms, there is something for everyone. Do you like to compete? Are you a hunter? Are you more of a shotgun shooter or rifle shooter? Do you enjoy running around between stages of a timed course, or does the thought of shooting one-hole groups appeal to you more? Even though many of us shoot several different firearms and disciplines, chances are very good that we all have a favorite. Are we spreading ourselves too thin by shooting different disciplines, or is it actually beneficial? I have found that participating in multiple disciplines can actually improve your performance. Every style of shooting is different; therefore, they each develop different skills that benefit each other.

How can cross-training in other disciplines help you? For example, I am most familiar with long-range prone shooting, so let’s start there. To be a successful long-range shooter, you must have a stable position, accurate ammunition, and good wind-reading skills. You can improve all of these areas through time and effort, but there are other ways to improve more efficiently. Spend some time practicing smallbore. Smallbore rifles and targets are much less forgiving when it comes to position and shot execution. Long-range targets are very large, so you can get away with accepting less than perfect shots. Shooting smallbore will make you focus more on shooting perfectly center shots every time. Another way to do this with your High Power rifle is to shoot on reduced targets at long ranges. This will also force you to accept nothing less than perfect. Shoot at an F-Class target with your iron sights. At 1000 yards, the X-Ring on a long range target is 10 inches; it is 5 inches on an F-Class target. Because of this, you will have to focus harder on sight alignment to hit a center shot. When you go back to the conventional target, you will be amazed at how large the ten ring looks.

Michelle Gallagher Cross Training

Also, most prone rifles can be fitted with a bipod. Put a bipod and scope on your rifle, and shoot F-TR. Shooting with a scope and bipod eliminates position and eyesight factors, and will allow you to concentrate on learning how to more accurately read the wind. The smaller target will force you to be more aggressive on your wind calls. It will also help encourage you to use better loading techniques. Nothing is more frustrating than making a correct wind call on that tiny target, only to lose the point out the top or bottom due to inferior ammunition. If you put in the effort to shoot good scores on the F-Class target, you will be amazed how much easier the long-range target looks when you return to your sling and iron sights. By the same token, F-Class shooters sometimes prefer to shoot fast and chase the spotter. Shooting prone can help teach patience in choosing a wind condition to shoot in, and waiting for that condition to return if it changes.

Benchrest shooters are arguably among the most knowledgeable about reloading. If you want to learn better techniques about loading ammunition, you might want to spend some time at benchrest matches. You might not be in contention to win, but you will certainly learn a lot about reloading and gun handling. Shooting F-Open can also teach you these skills, as it is closely related to benchrest. Benchrest shooters may learn new wind-reading techniques by shooting mid- or long-range F-Class matches.

Michelle Gallagher Cross TrainingPosition shooters can also improve their skills by shooting different disciplines. High Power Across-the-Course shooters benefit from shooting smallbore and air rifle. Again, these targets are very small, which will encourage competitors to be more critical of their shot placement. Hunters may benefit from shooting silhouette matches, which will give them practice when shooting standing with a scoped rifle. Tactical matches may also be good, as tactical matches involve improvising shots from various positions and distances. [Editor: Many tactical matches also involve hiking or moving from position to position — this can motivate a shooter to maintain a good level of general fitness.]

These are just a few ways that you can benefit from branching out into other shooting disciplines. Talk to the other shooters. There is a wealth of knowledge in every discipline, and the other shooters will be more than happy to share what they have learned. Try something new. You may be surprised what you get out of it. You will certainly learn new skills and improve the ones you already have. You might develop a deeper appreciation for the discipline you started off with, or you may just discover a new passion.

This article originally appeared in the Berger Blog. The Berger Blog contains the latest info on Berger products, along with informative articles on target shooting and hunting.

Article Find by EdLongrange.

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February 7th, 2024

Impressive T-Rex Front Rest from Rodzilla — Full Review

Rodzilla T-Rex front rest shooting F-Class benchrest review

Here is the impressive T-Rex front rest from Rodzilla. In the world of front rests there have been many innovations over the past decade, but this front rest from Rodzilla really represents significant innovation. The T-Rex offers impressive capabilities that can truly take your shooting experience to the next level. Along with the T-Rex, Rodzilla also offers a lighter unit, the Raptor Front Rest, which is smaller and lighter for easier travel. The Raptor shares many of the advanced features of the T-Rex.

Rodzilla T-Rex front rest shooting F-Class benchrest review

Review by F-Class John
At first glance the T-Rex may resemble some other coaxial front rests. The T-Rex has a joystick, three points of ground contact, and a platform for the rifle. But look closer and you’ll see this isn’t your typical rest. Designer/builder Rod Brakhage (the Rod in Rodzilla) has started from the ground up to create the most user-friendly, match-ready, modular front rest on the market. T-Rex MSRP ranges from $1995.00 to $2305.00 depending on options.

The T-Rex weighs just over 21 pounds — about the same as many mid-sized rests. However the T-Rex has a large footprint, rivaling the largest rests on the market. Rod tells us: “The T-Rex has a similar footprint to the SEB MAX… 12.5″ wide X 11.25″ front to back. However, at just over 21 lbs. my rest weighs less than a SEB NEO.” This combination (wide base with moderate weight) allows for an incredibly stable platform that is still quite portable.

Rodzilla T-Rex front rest shooting F-Class benchrest review

Rugged Carry Case Makes Transport Easy
Rodzilla delivers the T-Rex in a custom-designed hard carry case that fits it perfectly and still has room for additional feet and accessories. This sturdy case makes taking the T-Rex to matches easy. The case is strong enough that I can stack things on top of it in my truck. One side note, if you plan on storing your rest in the case between matches, it’s wise to put a desiccant pack in the case to absorb moisture.

The T-Rex boasts an adjustable joystick that extends from 15.5″ to 21″ in length. With this adjustability, no matter what your stock length or design, you can find a comfortable position without having to stretch uncomfortably. And you won’t have to shop for a joystick extension.

Using the T-Rex is a pure pleasure when shooting prone F-Class or from the bench. That’s because of its revolutionary ability to make large vertical adjustments without getting out of position. This is accomplished with a detachable arm/handle you can actuate while behind the gun. (This is the long T-handle on the right side of the rest).

The simplest way to show why this is a game changer is to consider when you’ve just left the 800-yard line during a match. You head up to the 900-yard line, get all set up, the range officer calls a hot line and suddenly realize you didn’t adjust your elevation for the new yardage. Normally you’d have to turn your scope dials then get up from your position to adjust your front rest, or at best stretch uncomfortably in hopes of reaching your rest adjustments. With the T-Rex, you simply turn the right-side gross elevation handle while still in position, move to your new hold point, and begin firing.

Rodzilla T-Rex front rest shooting F-Class benchrest review

This same principal applies to other situations that require adjusting vertical without breaking your shooting position. All of this is accomplished in conjunction with an incredibly sensitive, yet easy-to-adjust counterbalance system. Once set, the counterbalance ensures that smooth and fluid motion occurs in any direction without any resistance or fear of backlash that might affect your shots.

Very Wide Horizontal Range is Useful in Matches
When it comes to looking downrange, the T-Rex can deliver nearly twice the range of horizontal motion as that of some other rests. (In high ratio mode, there is about 70 MOA of horizontal travel.) This means you can quickly scan a wide expanse of targets/flags without having to change magnification or go to your spotting scope. The huge field of view is a great help when shooting in a condition that is switching and you want to view targets on either side.

Rodzilla T-Rex Configuration Options: Tops, Colors, Feet

Rodzilla offers a number of options for the T-Rex. The first choice is the top. Select the Rodzilla 5-Axis roller top or the new 5-Axis IBS-legal sandbag top. Or, if your budget permits, you can order both — they are easily interchangeable in minutes. The video below shows the easy top-swap procedure:

This video explains how to exchange tops on the Rodzilla T-Rex

5-Axis Top Advantages
Rod Brakhage tells us: “This innovative new 5-Axis top rotates independently of the base plate so no matter how the rest is set on the line you only need to move your rear bag to pan across the row of targets with no binding of the rifle. Also, the sides of the rifle run against vertical Delrin rollers.”

Color Choices for Rodzilla T-Rex Base
In addition to the choice of tops, there are four (4) standard colors on the website, but for an additional fee you can have it made in just about any color you want, which is pretty cool.

Rodzilla T-Rex front rest shooting F-Class benchrest review

Choose Standard Feet, Sand Feet, or Both
When you order a T-Rex, you can choose standard bench feet or large, gorgeous sand/dirt feet. Or order them both, as I did. I use the bench feet at my regular club where I shoot from wood and concrete platforms, but the sand feet are great for matches held on dirt, gravel, sand, or grass. These sand feet provide an incredibly stable platform on the ground.

Rodzilla T-Rex front rest shooting F-Class benchrest review

Linear Bearings Allow Ultra-Smooth and Precise Adjustments
Rodzilla’s Rod Brakhage is a smart, innovative designer committed to improving the shooter’s experience. One of Rod’s key innovations in the T-Rex is the use of linear ball bearings for both X and Y axis: “The horizontal/vertical assembly, or X-Y block, moves on 6 double-sealed ball bearings that travel on hardened shafts for effortless movement”.* This system delivers a smooth, fluidity of movement that lets you aim quickly and efficiently. Gone are the days of having to move PAST your aim point and then come back (to get the aim right), or resetting your joystick position after every shot. With the T-Rex, you make one smooth, precise move and your aim is set. And it stays set after the shot.

The T-Rex allows you to position your crosshairs with pinpoint precision every time and if you need to move them just a hair, you can do it with ease. In F-Class, we often hold between the target’s scoring lines to correct for wind variations (without touching the scope’s windage knob). With the T-Rex, I could make those holds quickly and precisely without wasting time bouncing back and forth.

Overall, I’ve come to really enjoy the repeatable confidence the T-Rex has given me whether I’m doing load development, practicing at the range, or shooting a match. So, if you’re in the market for a superb front rest that just might give you an edge or, at minimum, make your life easier, head over to TheRodzilla.com and learn all about the impressive, T-Rex Front Rest.


* Rod Brakhage explains: “The bridge travels up and down on double-sealed ball bearings on 1” hardened shafts. My design utilizes a rack and pinion with an 18″-long drive shaft for adjusting the height of the bridge. This system allows you to stay in shooting position and looking through the scope while adjusting the vertical placement of your crosshairs. Precisely dial your vertical to the center of your target with the joy stick at the exact height you prefer. A 1/4 MOA movement is very easy to accomplish with this design. Also, there is no need to lock the bridge as there is an adjustable clutch to hold the vertical position. The long drive shaft utilizes a scalloped hand wheel on the shooters side and a quick coupling adapter on the rest side. Once adjusted you merely pull back on the drive shaft and remove it or just set it on your shooting mat out of the way. The geared rack and pinion can be placed on the right for right-handed shooters or on the left.”

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February 6th, 2024

Guide to Neck Turning — The Key Steps You Need to Follow

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

On our main AccurateShooter.com site, you’ll find a good article by GS Arizona on the Basics of Neck Turning. If you’re new to the neck-turning game, or are just looking for good tips on improving your neck-turning procedures, you should read that article. Below we offer some highlights and photos from the article, but you’ll need to read the whole story to view all the illustrations and follow all the procedures step by step.

Why Should You Consider Neck Turning?
Let’s assume that your rifle doesn’t have a tight neck chamber that requires neck turning; if you have a tight neck chamber, of course, the answer to the question is “because you have to”. For the rest of us, and that includes the vast majority of Highpower shooters, neck turning isn’t a requirement, but it can be a useful way to bring your ammunition a small but meaningful step closer to that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: perfection. I’m not talking about a theoretical improvement, but a real one, an improvement that lies in equalizing and optimizing the neck tension of your loaded rounds. Inconsistent neck tension is a real contributor to increased muzzle velocity variance which itself is a significant factor in increased elevation dispersion at long range. So there’s our basic reason for neck turning: to equalize and optimize neck tension in order to reduce elevation dispersion.

The Tools of the Trade
Here you see everything I use and a bit more. The press, a cordless screwdriver (always plugged in, turning is tough on the old battery), a couple of K&M neck turners (one set up for 6mm, the other for .30 caliber) an expander for each size, some Imperial lube, an old toothbrush or two to keep the cutter clean, a handle with a caseholder (for those emergencies when the screwdriver dies and there’s just one more case to go!), steel wool and a tubing micrometer finish the list of tools. Hey, I left the dial calipers out of the picture! They’re always handy, keep them around, but they are useless for measuring neck thickness, so don’t try. I usually use an Optivisor magnifier while I turn necks, very handy for a clear view of what’s happening on the neck.

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

Expanding the Neck
Put some lube on the inside of the case neck and run it into the expander. Really, this isn’t hard. I prefer to expand each case immediately before turning it as opposed to expanding all the cases and then turning them. Brass is somewhat springy and will tend to go back toward its original size; therefore, by expanding and turning immediately, you are more likely to have all cases fit the mandrel with the same degree of tightness and to get a more consistent depth of cut.

Cutter Adjustment for Cut Depth and Length
All the tools I’ve seen have pretty good adjustment instructions. The only thing they don’t tell you is that you should have five to ten spare cases to get it right initially. Anything of the right diameter will do while you learn, for instance, just use that cheap surplus .308 brass to do initial setup and save the precious .30-06 for when you know what you’re doing. Be patient and make your adjustments slowly; you’ll need to set the cutter for thickness as well as length of cut (just into the shoulder). The depth of cut (brass thickness) takes a bit of fiddling, the length of the cut is generally easy to set.

The Finished Product — A Perfectly Uniform Neck
If you read the whole article, and follow the procedures using quality tools, you should get very good results — with a little practice. To demonstrate, here’s an example of my finished, neck-turned brass. You’ll see there is a perfect, 0.0125″ thick neck. It’s very uniform around the circumference, usually I only see 1 or 2 ten-thousandths variance. Now, with the necks uniformed like this, we can select the bushing size that will give us our preferred neck tension and experiment with various levels of tension, secure in the knowledge that all of the cases will actually have the desired neck tension.

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

About the author — “GS Arizona” was the writing handle for German Salazar, a top-tier rifleman and gun writer. Sadly, German passed from a medical condition in 2022. German was instrumental in helping this website and our Forum get started, and we remember him as a very dear, valued friend.

German was a great individual, and a great asset to the sport. An attorney by trade, with an engineering background, German was one of the very best gun writers, who had high master shooting skills to match his writing abilities.

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February 5th, 2024

FREE Shooting Industry Magazine February 2024 Edition

shooting industry magazine december 2023 free issue

Need some interesting reading material? Check out the FREE digital editions of Shooting Industry Magazine. Along with reports on new products, Shooting Industry features reports on important trends in the shooting sports world. Below we’ve included quick links to the first two Shooting Industry editions for 2024. These monthly magazines can be read online for free. Also, as they are in PDF format you can easily print all or part of these monthly magazines.

If you want to review other monthly editions, CLICK HERE to access the Shooting Industry Digital Archives page with links for all 2022, 2023, and 2024 monthly issues.

January 2024 Digital Edition

shooting industry magazine january 2024 free issue

February 2024 Digital Edition

shooting industry magazine february 2024 free issue

New Product Showcase in February 2024 Edition

The latest digital edition of Shooting Industry magazine features the third segment of SI’s comprehensive 2024 New Product Showcase. This 9-page article, starting on Page 36, showcases dozens of recently-introduced rifles, handguns, optics, and shooting accessories. There are quite a few very cool new hunting rifles including the Savage 110 UltraLite Elite, and the innovative 5.8-pound Bergara MgMicro Lite with carbon-wrapped barrel.

shooting industry magazine february 2024 free issue


CLICK for Showcase Part One | CLICK for Showcase Part Two

You can also see the 2024 NEW Product Showcase PARTS One and Two on the main Shooting Industry website with a mobile-friendly format. Click the links above.

shooting industry magazine december 2023 free issue

Special Feature: New Trends in Self-Defense Handguns

The February 2024 issue of Shooting Industry has a good article on recent trends in self-defense handguns. Optics-Ready pistols are very popular, and SIG Sauer has had top-selling guns in 2023.

shooting industry magazine february 2024 free issue

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February 4th, 2024

Sunday GunDay: F-Open Rifle with McMillan Kestros ZR Stock

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class

The Southwest Nationals (SWN) is right around the corner. Hosted by the Desert Sharpshooters Rifle Club at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility outside Phoenix, the 2024 SWN takes place February 14-18, 2024. One of the major F-Class matches of the year, the SWN will feature top F-Open and F-TR rifles. And many of those F-Open rigs will be running McMillan stocks. Today’s Sunday GunDay story is about the most sophisticated F-Open stock in McMillan’s line-up, the Kestros ZR.

Kestros ZR Stock — Impressive Design for Competition

Review by F-Class John
Walk the line at just about any rifle competition and you’ll see your share of McMillan stocks. Known for crafting high-quality fiberglass/composite stocks, McMillan has long been at top choice for competitive shooters, hunters, and tactical marksmen. McMillan’s latest top-of-the-line F-Open stock is the impressive Kestros ZR which features an extended front bag-riding Z-Rail. McMillan notes that the ZR’s “extended rail system, which extends the fore-end of the stock, provides all the benefits of the rails on the Kestros R stock while also lowering the center of gravity.” In addition, “the bottom of the buttstock is perfectly parallel to the rail with a 5/8″ flat for improved performance in a rear sandbag.”

The Kestros line features several models, but the ZR represents the pinnacle of craftmanship. Each one is finished off by a single craftsman and takes roughly four times longer to create than any other Kestros. So when McMillan offered me a chance to test one out, I jumped at the opportunity.

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class

The aluminum Z-Rail extends nicely from the front of the stock and has a nice contrast of metal against the matte finish of the stock. I inspected the rails and noticed that they are very cleanly machined — all the corners and rails were precise and sharp. As a result, I grabbed some 1000-grit sandpaper and just lightly knocked the edges and corners down just to keep from accidentally scratching myself or my gear.

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class

When I was ordering the ZR, lead time was about 6-9 months. I was like a kid on Christmas when mine arrived after seven months. Holding a Kestros ZR is definitely a unique experience compared to a traditional wood stock and you can’t help but feel like you’re holding something special. I chose three shades of blue that transitioned dark from the butt stock to lighter on the fore-end in a spectacular flame pattern. With McMillan, there are thousands of possible color and pattern combinations. These color/pattern options are outlined on McMillan’s Gallery Page.

The Kestros ZR comes fully inletted with pillars. I was able to bolt my Defiance action right into the stock “as is” without a bedding job. (McMillan states bedding is not required, though this is certainly something most Kestros owners will do). I threw in my action, fit a couple action screws and tightened it all down. I was amazed at how nicely it all fit together with even the little details like the port cutout being perfectly smooth with my action port. I loaded up some .284 Win rounds and headed to the range to test the new stock at 100 yards.

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class
Here are examples of targets shot with the Kestros ZR at 100 yards.

During initial range testing (see above) I shot nine groups for vertical and all of them were under 0.40″ with the smallest being .08″ of vertical. I topped off the testing by shooting a 200-11X the next week at my club match. The thing that really stood out was how smoothly the stock tracked with its lower center of gravity while shooting free recoil and ultimately this translated to success on target.

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class
Low-Rider — You may find that because of how low the Kestros rides as well as its additional length due to the Z rail, you may require an extension for your front rest.

CONCLUSION — Great Modern Low-Profile F-Class Stock
Overall the Kestros ZR exceeded my expectations. After a small learning curve, it was a joy to shoot and it performed great. As someone who believes in the power of muscle memory, I found each time I transitioned between the Kestros and my traditional wood stocks there was a slight adjustment period but not enough to impair accuracy in any way. Something to consider is that because every Kestros is made to the same dimensions, it makes owning multiples an easy process of switching between guns without any need for readjustment.

For those willing to put in the practice, your patience will be rewarded, and I think most shooters will find the Kestros ZR could become their new favorite stock. If you’re in the market for a new F-Open stock, the Kestros ZR is definitely one to consider.

McMillan Kestros — Proven National Championship-Winning Stock

F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

Norm Harrold (above) won the 2018 USA F-Open National Championship shooting a .284 Shehane. Norm’s F-Open rig features a McMillan Kestros ZR stock and Bartlein barrel chambered for the .284 Shehane, which has a bit more case capacity than a standard .284 Winchester. Norm loaded Berger 184gr 7mm bullets in Lapua brass. Norm revealed his load in an Erik Cortina YouTube Video.

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Tips for Ordering a Kestros ZR
You can order a Kestros ZR and other Kestros stock models via McMillan’s Competition Stocks Page. While there are a number of options available, McMillan has a helpful guide that walks you through each one to ensure you get exactly what you need. F-Class John notes: “While filling out my form I realized that because I have a custom-designed action, I needed some help, so I gave McMillan a call. The staffers were incredibly helpful and their knowledge of all the major actions out there made answering my questions a snap. I liked the fact that there is no set, fixed price on any of the stocks. The pricing system allows customers to get just what they want (within limits) and not have to pay for anything they do not want or need.”

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