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January 27th, 2022

Secrets of Winning Barrels — Brux Barrels Ken Clemens Interview

brux barrels cut-rifle rifling Erik Cortina Krieger Ken Clemens

In this 54-minute video interview, Ken Clemens, co-owner of Brux Barrels, is interviewed by F-Class ace Erik Cortina for the Cortina Precision YouTube Channel. A lot of ground is covered, with many fascinating insights into barrel-making revealed. Watch and learn:

Interview with Ken Clemens, Co-owner of Brux Barrels

brux barrels cut-rifle rifling Erik Cortina Krieger Ken Clemens

If you are involved in competitive shooting, and especially if you compete in F-Class or long-range benchrest, we recommend you take the time to watch this interview, perhaps in a couple of sessions because it runs for a lengthy 54 minutes. Ken Clemens explains the important procedures that go into making match-grade, cut-rifled barrels. Ken also explains some factors to consider when choosing a barrel-maker and specifying length, contour, land/groove configuration, and twist rates.

For more information visit BruxBarrels.com, use the online PRICE ESTIMATOR, or call (608) 592-3324.

brux barrels cut-rifle rifling Erik Cortina Krieger Ken ClemensAbout BRUX Barrel-Making Methods
Brux starts with 4150 chrome-moly or 416R stainless steel double-stress-relieved bar stock — the best available. Barrels are bored with the Barnes gun drill, and reamed with an industry-standard Pratt & Whitney reamer. Brux uses solid carbide cutter hooks and employs special methods to achieve best results.

After the bore-cutting process is complete, each barrel is hand-lapped to high-precision standards. Multi-point inspections and meticulous hand processes (not possible in mass production) ensure extremely high quality. The Brux website says: “If there is the slightest deviation in surface finish or tolerance, the barrel is discarded.”

BRUX Specializes in Cut-Rifled Gun Barrels
Brux produces custom cut-rifled barrels, precision-crafted by professionals with extensive experience in both machine tools and competitive shooting. While Brux earned its reputation building great barrels for F-Class, benchrest, and long range competition, Brux also crafts hunting barrels. Brux states: “Hunters, big game and varmint, can benefit from the accuracy and dependability of a custom barrel made to your specifications.”

brux barrels cut-rifle rifling Erik Cortina Krieger Ken Clemens

BRUX Barrels’ Owners Are Competitive Shooters
Brux owners and machinists are shooters themselves. So they understand how important a truly top-quality barrel can be. Everything else about a rifle can be great, but you need a superb barrel to win at the highest level. Owners Ken Clemens (pictured above) and Norm Brux are both seasoned shooters with years of experience using their own products.

Made in the USA — About the Home of Brux Barrels
The Wisconsin River Valley near Lodi has a storied history of hunting and shooting. The glacier spared many granite escarpments, leaving secluded glens and a topography rich in soil and wildlife habitat, which attracted families with old-world values and skills. Many of their descendants turned raw steel and iron into the tools necessary for farming – and some evolved to precision tooling and making gun barrels.

brux barrels cut-rifle rifling Erik Cortina Krieger Ken Clemens
Wisconsin River Valley near Ferry Bluff State Natural Area.

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January 23rd, 2022

Sunday Gunday: The Pink PPC — Michelle Sutton Memorial Rifle

Michelle Sutton 6 PPC memorial pink rifle

Our featured rifle this Sunday is a one-of-a-kind memorial project, crafted in 2008 to honor Michelle Sutton and her service to the sport of Benchrest. Michelle passed away in 2007 after a long, courageous fight with cancer. This special custom 6 PPC benchrest rifle was built in order to raise money to fight cancer. On August 15, 2008, at the 2008 IBS Nationals, the rifle was awarded at a special drawing. Individuals who made a $20.00 contribution to the American Cancer Society were offered a chance to win the rifle, Leupold 45X Comp scope, and an array of shooting accessories (shown below). We’re proud to showcase this unique rifle once again, and help honor Michelle’s memory.

Michelle Sutton–Her Contribution to Benchrest Shooting
by Jim Borden
Michelle Sutton contributed significantly to the growth of Benchrest shooting in general and the International Benchrest Shooters in particular. She was involved in Benchrest shooting from an early age, attending shoots with her family (P.J. and Kaye Hart, Clyde and Mickey Hart). She was an active competitor in her early years and then later provided her leadership, labor and planning skills to make sure that shoots were conducted in an efficient and effective manner. As time passed, she gave up her personal shooting to schedule and plan shoots and to provide the target scoring at matches for 3 to 4 different clubs. It was during her measuring of targets that her famed and sought-after “Smiley Faces” were developed.

Michelle made a practice of hand-penciling a Smiley Face on very good targets. (Sometimes she handed out a “frowney face” when someone did themselves grievous harm with one shot.) It came to the point that you could hear on the firing line: “I just shot a small one — I hope it’s small enough to get one of Michelle’s Smiley Faces.”

Michelle Sutton 6 PPC memorial pink rifle

Michelle spent over 15 years as the Chairperson of the IBS Records Committee and she was an instrumental part of the Group Committee, including chairing that Committee for almost 10 years. She and her husband Jack developed the ideas and plans for the four Benchrest Shooting Schools and she led the planning and running of those training programs. She was instrumental in helping a number of the clubs organize and run the IBS Shooters Championship matches.

Michelle battled cancer for over 10 years while at the same time attending to family, friends, business, and the game of Benchrest shooting. She was always an upbeat person and was a joy to be around. Her strength and character set an example for the rest of us to follow.

The Michelle K. Sutton Memorial Rifle Project
Shortly after Michelle’s death in August 2007, Gerry Malerba started organizing the creation of a special rifle to honor Michelle’s memory. The rifle would be the Grand Prize in a Sweepstakes drawing and all net proceeds would support efforts to fight cancer. Gerry enlisted the help of Jim Borden, Mike Mastrogiavanni, and Ward Tarasek to make the project a reality. Thanks to many generous individuals and companies in the shooting industry and Benchrest community, a spectacular custom 6 PPC rifle was built, with a complete inventory of matched shooting accessories.

Michelle Sutton 6 PPC memorial pink rifle

Nick Coppogreco provided gold-plated cases with silver-plated bullets, all housed in a custom, fancy wood cartridge box provided by John Petteruti and Fred Weing. The box has a special engraved message, “Magic Bullets to Cure Cancer” with Michelle’s signature “Smiley Faces”.

Remembering Michelle — P.J. Hart’s Little Girl

I guess my best recollection of Michelle was back in 1971 or 1972. (How time flies….) I saw this little slender girl at the matches at South Creek. I was there with Frank James and some other noted shooters. Michelle was going to shoot the junior match. Here dad P.J. Hart was coaching her. In those days the 222 Rem was king and Michelle proved her shooting skills right away–she took first place, winning a silver tray.

I remember the photo session. The little girl with Popsicle legs and big pink glasses and a pretty pink dress. She was a sweet child. I remember how proud her dad, P.J. Hart, was of her.

After that I saw little of Michelle. Once in a while I would see her at Hart’s shop or at a match with her grandmother Mickey Hart. Michelle was at the age to excel in her studies and I saw very little of her until she started working at Hart Rifle Barrels some years later.

She met Jack Sutton and they married. They had quite a lot in common. Both of them loved to hunt and fish–the perfect match. As time passed, Michelle had some medical problems. The “Big C”, cancer. This was very bad news. She fought the disease fiercely. I would ask her from time to time how she was, on my visits to the shop. Her reply would be “I’m OK”. She never complained, even though she felt terrible. Jack would say very little but you could tell he was deeply concerned. He fought the illness with her, always loyal and faithful by her side. They were a team, and hoped to beat the cancer together.

She tried her hardest to beat this. I remember the last match she scored, at Camillus. I was so proud of her. Even though she was quite sick, she wanted to score for our club.

She was very special… we miss her so much. – Gerry Malerba
The Michelle Sutton Memorial Pink Rifle

How the Rifle Came Together

Gerry Malerba explained how the project got started: “I was shooting at Canastota Conservation Club last year. We had lost Michelle recently, and that was the ‘last straw’ for me in a series of losses to cancer. I vowed to do something about it, so I decided to build a special rifle to raise money to fight cancer. I figured if we could double the build cost of the rifle I’d be happy.

I approached Joan Borden about getting a gunsmith’s price on an action and a Robertson stock. Joan indicated her support for the idea. I was prepared to buy the action and stock, but before long, folks were donating key components. I mentioned the project to Paul Ryan, who donated a Jewell trigger, saying: ‘count me in, I have lost a lot of family to [cancer].’ Then David Apple generously donated a certificate for a new Borden action and Harley Baker kicked in a new Hart Barrel. We were in business!”

Smithing the Pink Rifle
Jim Borden started on the action and was getting it ready when he called Ian Robertson about the stock. Ian not only donated the stock, he put the special pink color (Michelle’s favorite), in his line-up. I guess Michelle was everyone’s friend.

Jim Borden also installed the trigger and bedded the rifle. His son Jim Borden, Jr. donated a butt plate and Jay Lynn Gore did a beautiful 100% coverage engraving on the buttplate. The barrel was sent to Hart and special fluting was done by Michelle’s brother in law Billy Sutton. Michelle’s brother Jim Hart did the chambering job. Many other special items were donated for the rifle, as listed below.

Michelle Sutton 6 PPC memorial pink rifle

All the Pink Rifle Components Were Donated:

The Rimrock Right Bolt, Left Port, Right Eject Action was donated by David Apple (via certificate). The action carries serial number MKS007. The action was polished by Jim Borden, and Michelle’s Smiley Faces have been engraved on the receiver. Paul Ryan donated the Jewell Trigger fitted to the action. Jim and Joan Borden also donated a polished trigger guard.

Robertson Composites donated the special Pink/Black Robertson Rimrock pattern stock. Ian Robertson created this new color expressly for this benefit project and has added it to his inventory.

The one-of-a-kind pink and black anodized Leupold 45X Competition Scope was donated by Leupold & Stevens through Allen Tucker. Kelbly Inc. donated the coated Rings.

The Hart Barrel Blank was donated by Harley Baker. Michelle’s brother in law Billy Sutton did the special fluting and her brother Jimmy Hart did the barrel fitting and chambering.

Jim and Joan Borden donated the polished trigger guard and polished bases. Jim also donated his labor for the inletting, bedding, and action glue-in.

Jimmy Borden donated the polished buttplate. The plate was elaborately engraved by Jay Lynn Gore, with Michelle’s well-known Smiley face in the center of the engraving design.


Treasure Trove of Shooting Gear

Donated Shooting Accessories, Components, and Gear
As an effort to raise money for cancer research, the pink rifle and an array of other items were offered in 2008. Individuals who made a $20.00 contribution to the American Cancer Society were offered a chance to win the rifle. As shown here, the full prize package included: Sinclair Hand Priming Tool (donated by Mike Bryant), Sinclair Reloading Press and Neck-Turning Kit (donated by Sinclair Int’l through Fred Sinclair), Big Foot Rear Bag and Front Bag (donated by SEB and Paul Schmid), 1000 BIB 6mm bullets (donated by Randy Robinette), Farley Coax II Front Rest (donated by Farley Mfg.), Pink Bore Guide (donated by Russ and Martha Haydon), Certificate for 3000 Berger Bullets (donated by Berger Bullets through Eric Stecker), Custom Cartridge Box (donated by John Petteruti and Fred Weing), 100 Lapua 220 Russian prepped cases (donated by Glen Jackson), Gold-Plated Cases with Platinum-Plated Bullets (donated by Nick Coppogreco), Redding Competition Die Set (donated by Redding Hunter), Edgewood Front and Rear Bags (Donated by Jack Snyder).

Michelle Sutton Memorial Pink Rifle

Jack Snyder of Edgewood Bags crafted custom, ‘hot pink’ Front and Rear Bags. Farley donated its Coax II Front Rest, and the Bordens donated a Jackson/Borden Farley Bag container. Other donated accessories not shown in photo include: Jackson/Borden Farley Bag Containter (donated by Jim and Joan Borden), Aluminum Rifle Case (donated by Gerry Malerba), Action Cleaning Kit (donated by Dave Short), Wind Flag set and Carry Case (donated by David Halblom), Wind Flag Poles and Carrier (donated by Randy Perkowski), Gun Tent/Bolt Folder/Stock Boot, Pink with Smiley Face (donated by Bill Gammon).

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January 23rd, 2022

How to Craft a Dummy Round To Aid Barrel Fitting

Gre Tannel GreTan, Gre-Tan Rifles dummy round chambering gunsmith reamer chamber

How and Why to Create a Dummy Round
When you have a new custom rifle built, or a new barrel fitted to an existing rifle, it makes sense to create a dummy round. This should have your preferred brass and bullet types, with the bullet positioned at optimal seating depth. A proper dummy round helps the gunsmith set the freebore correctly for your cartridge, and also ensure the proper chamber dimensions.

Respected machinist, tool-maker, and gunsmith Greg Tannel of Gre-Tan Rifles explains: “I use the dummy round as a gauge to finish cut the neck diameter and throat length and diameter so you have [optimal] clearance on the loaded neck and the ogive of the bullet just touches the rifling.” He recommends setting bullet so the full diameter is just forward of the case’s neck-shoulder junction. “From there”, Greg says, “I can build you the chamber you want… with all the proper clearances”.

Greg Tannel has created a very helpful video showing how to create a dummy round. Greg explains how to measure and assemble the dummy and how it will be used during the barrel chambering process. Greg notes — the dummy round should have NO Primer and NO powder. We strongly recommend that every rifle shooter watch this video. Even if you won’t need a new barrel any time soon, you can learn important things about freebore, leade, and chamber geometry.

Must Watch Video — This has been viewed over 772,000 times on YouTube:

This has been a very popular video, with 772,000 views! Here are actual YouTube comments:

That is the best explanation I’ve ever seen. Thank you sir. — P. Pablo

Nice video. You do a very good job of making this easy for new reloaders to understand. I sure wish things like this were available when I started reloading and having custom rifles built. Once again, great job, and your work speaks for itself. — Brandon K.

Beautiful job explaining chambering clearances. — D. Giorgi

Another Cool Tool — The Stub Gauge

When you have your gunsmith chamber your barrel, you can also have him create a Stub Gauge, i.e. a cast-off barrel section chambered like your actual barrel. The stub gauge lets you measure the original length to lands and freebore when your barrel was new. This gives you a baseline to accurately assess how far your throat erodes with use. Of course, as the throat wears, to get true length-to-lands dimension, you need take your measurement using your actual barrel. The barrel stub gauge helps you set the initial bullet seating depth. Seating depth is then adjusted accordingly, based on observed throat erosion, or your preferred seating depth.

Stub Gauge Gunsmithing chamber gage model barrel

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January 18th, 2022

The Stub Gauge — Why You Should Have this Handy Tool

AccurateShooter stub gauge barrel chamber headspace reloading

Stub Gauge — Useful Device
Forum member Rich DeSimone uses a handy “Stub Gauge” for setting shoulder “bump” and seating depth. The gauge is made from a section of barrel lopped off when the muzzle is crowned. The chambering reamer is run in about 1/4 of the way, enough to capture the neck and shoulder area of the case. Rich then uses his full-length die to “bump” a master case with the ideal amount of headspace for easy feeding and extraction. He takes that case and sets it in this Stub Gauge, and measures from the front of the gauge to the rim. He can then quickly compare any fired case to a his “master” case with optimal headspace. Since the gauge measures off the shoulder datum, this tells him how much to bump his fired brass.

In addition, the Stub Gauge can be used to set bullet seating-depth. Rich has a channel cut transversely on one side of the gauge, exposing the throat area. Since the interior of the gauge is identical to the chamber in his gun, this lets him see where a seated bullet engages the rifling. He can tinker with bullet seating length until he gets just the right amount of land contact on the bullet, confirmed visually. Then he measures the case OAL and sets his seating dies accordingly. This is much handier than using a Hornady Tool to measure distance to the lands.

But what happens when the throat wears and moves out on your live barrel — making the actual length to lands different (slightly longer) than before. Well, the stub gauge is still valuable as a known starting point. As your barrel’s throat wears, you may seat your bullets out further to “chase the lands”, but the gauge provides a constant land engagement point, in the barrel’s “as new” condition. By measuring the difference between the land contact point on the gauge and the actual contact point on your barrel, you can determine throat “migration”.

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January 16th, 2022

Sunday Gunday: Remington 700 — History, X-Ray, Blueprinting

remington 700 bolt-action rifle gunday X-Ray Blueprinting

For today’s Sunday GunDay story, we look at the legendary Remington 700, perhaps the most popular American bolt-action rifle of all time. After covering the history of the Rem 700 rifle, we provide an inside look at the Rem 700 through a series of cutaway animations. Then we explain how gunsmiths can enhance a Remington 700 action through “blueprinting” procedures.

Remington 700 Origins and History

remington 700 manualAfter World War II, Remington Arms engineer Mike Walker began designing lower-cost alternatives to the Model 30, which resulted in the Model 721. These used a cylindrical receiver produced from cylindrical bar stock that could be turned on a lathe, rather than machined in a series of milling operations, which significantly reduced the cost of production. Further developments of the basic 721 action under the direction of Walker produced the Model 722 and Model 725, and ultimately in 1962, the Model 700.

Walker sought to increase the accuracy of the rifles, by utilizing tight tolerances in the chamber and bore, a short leade, and a very fast lock time. Like the earlier 721, the Remington 700 action was designed for mass production. Remington initially produced two variants of the Model 700, the ADL and BDL, in both long- and short-action versions. In 1969, Remington introduced upgrades for the rifle, including a longer rear bolt shroud, a jeweled bolt, and improved stock finishing. Four years later, production of left-handed Rem 700s began, to compete with the Savage Model 110, at that time the only major American-made left-bolt rifle.

Other Rem 700 versions include the titanium receiver 700ti, the 700 SPS (which replaced the ADL in 2005), and the CDL model. In addition to its development as a hunting rifle, the Model 700 also provided the basis for military and police sniper rifles, starting with the M40 rifle in 1966, which was initially ordered by the U.S. Marine Corps. The U.S. Army adopted the M24 Sniper Weapon System in 1986.

remington 700 bolt-action rifle gunday X-Ray Blueprinting
The Remington 700 is sold in both short action and long action variants. This photo is from the Big ED YouTube video comparing the two action lengths.

The Remington 700 is a manually-operated bolt action with two forward dual-opposed lugs. The bolt face is recessed, fully enclosing the base of the cartridge, The extractor is a C-clip sitting within the bolt face. The ejector is a plunger on the bolt face actuated by a coil spring. The bolt is of 3-piece construction, brazed together (head, body and bolt handle). The receiver is milled from round cross-section steel.

Chassis Systems for Remington 700s

With the popularity of the Remington 700 series rifles, and the availability of Rem 700 barreled actions by themselves, many companies have created after-market chassis systems. This GunMan YouTube Video reviews five modern chassis systems configured for Remington 700 barreled actions. Modular chassis systems have become particularly popular with PRS/NRL competitors.

Rem 700 Cutaway Video Shows Components + Operation

Ever wish you could look inside your rifle, to see how the trigger and fire-control system work? Well now that is possible with the magic of 3D computer graphics. Modern software allows detailed “cutaway” side-views (see below), as well as 3D views with 360° rotation. The software can also provide X-Ray-type views into the gun’s internals — as you can see above. And computer animation can show the complete firing process from trigger pull to chambering of the next round.

3d firearms modeling gun CGI software encylopedia gun disassembly

READERS — Do take the time to watch the video! This Rem 700 animation is really outstanding! EVERY bolt-action shooter should watch this video all the way through.

The Model 700 series of bolt-action rifles have been manufactured by Remington Arms since 1962. All are based on basically the same centerfire bolt action. They are typically sold with an internal magazine depending on caliber, some of which have a floor-plate for quick-unloading, and some of which are “blind” (no floor-plate). The Model 700 is a development of the Remington 721 and 722 series of rifles, which were introduced in 1948.

3d firearms modeling gun CGI software encylopedia gun disassembly

The Remington 700 is a manually-operated bolt action with forward, dual opposed lugs. It features “Cock On Opening”, meaning the upward rotation of the bolt when the rifle is opened cocks the firing pin. A cam mechanism pushes the firing pin’s cocking piece backward. The bolt face is recessed, fully enclosing the base of the cartridge. The extractor is a C-clip sitting within the bolt face. The ejector is a plunger on the bolt face actuated by a coil spring. The bolt is of 3-piece construction, brazed together (head, body. and bolt handle). The receiver is milled from round cross-section steel.

Blueprinting Rem 700 Action — Making a Good Action Better

Bill Marr Rifleshooter.com truing Remington Rem 700 action accurizing

Bill Marr Rifleshooter.com truing Remington Rem 700 action accurizingYou may have heard the phrase “blueprinting an action”, but do you know what that really means? Do you know what operations are done to an action during the blueprinting process? To help you understand, gunsmith Bill Marr of RifleShooter.com has created a helpful article showing a Rem 700 blueprinting job start to finish. This article spotlights how the procedures can be done with manual tools. Bill, who runs 782 Custom Gunworks Ltd., can also perform many of these operations with modern automated machinery. In fact, Bill has written a follow-up article on Truing a Rem 700 receiver with a Lathe.

Bill explains: “Blue-printing, or truing a rifle action, ensures the receiver face, threads, lugs, bolt lugs, and bolt face are square to the center line of the receiver.” In Bill’s informative article, Bill shows how he blueprints a Remington 700 short action receiver with .308 Win bolt face. He covers the following procedures step by step:

Action Disassembly
Ream Minor Diameter of Receiver Threads
Square the Receiver Lugs
Square the Face of the Receiver
Lap the Bolt Lugs
Square the Bolt Face

Bill employed a variety of tools from Brownells to complete the blueprinting job, including: Remington 700 Armorer’s Kit; Manson Receiver Accurizing Kit; Bolt Lapping Kit; Bolt Face Truing Tool; Manson Receiver Ring Facing Cutter; Multi-Vise with Jaw Pads; Silicone Carbide Abrasive; and Do-Drill Cutting Oil.

1. Truing the Receiver Face

Using the receiver facing tool, the front of the receiver is trued. The tool is placed over the tap and turned by hand. We used Do Drill to lubricate it.

Bill Marr Rifleshooter.com truing Remington Rem 700 action accurizing

2. Lapping the Lugs

The bolt lapping tool screws into the front of the action and applies rearward pressure on the bolt face. A little bit of lapping compound is placed on the front of the receiver lugs. The bolt handle is then raised and lowered repeatedly. Note — it is critical that we do not get any lapping compound on any other surfaces.

Bill Marr Rifleshooter.com truing Remington Rem 700 action accurizing

3. Truing the Bolt Face

On this bolt, the central part of the bolt face was low. After the truing operation, this Rem 700 bolt face is now completely square to the action.

Bill Marr Rifleshooter.com truing Remington Rem 700 action accurizing

READ Full Action Blueprinting Article HERE with 30+ Photos »

IMPORTANT: Rifleshooter.com states: “This article highlights our project and is presented for information purposes only. This provides an overview of the process and should not be attempted without the guidance and supervision of an experienced gunsmith“.

PT&G Pacific Tool Remington Rem 700 action accurizing

If you like the idea of a Blueprinted action, but do not have a good gunsmith nearby (or don’t want to wait many weeks), you can order high-grade blueprinted Remington 700 actions from Pacific Tool & Gauge starting at $637.99 (see above).

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January 11th, 2022

Barrel Break-In Methods — What Do the Experts Recommend?

Barrel Breakin Break-in conditioning cleaning Wade Hull Shilen Walther Varminter.com Eric Mayer Video interview barrels
Photo courtesy Sierra Bullets.

The question of barrel break-in is controversial. Some folks advocate an elaborate, lengthy cycle of shooting and brushing, repeated many times — one shot and clean, two shots and clean and so on. This, it is argued, helps barrels foul less and shoot more accurately. Others say minimal break-in, with patching and brushing after 10-15 rounds, is all you need. Still others contend that break-in procedures are a total waste of time and ammo — you should just load and shoot, and clean as you would normally.

We doubt if there will ever be real agreement among shooters concerning barrel break-in procedures. And one must remember that the appropriate break-in procedure might be quite different for a factory barrel vs. a custom hand-lapped barrel. This Editor has found that his very best custom barrels shot great right from the start, with no special break-in, other than wet patches at 5, 10, and 15 rounds. That said, I’ve seen some factory barrels that seemed to benefit from more elaborate break-in rituals.

What’s the best barrel break-in procedure? Well our friend Eric Mayer of Varminter.com decided to ask the experts. A while back Eric interviewed representatives of three leading barrel manufacturers: Krieger, Lothar-Walther, and Shilen. He recorded their responses on video. In order of appearance in the video, the three experts are:

Wade Hull, Shilen Barrels | Mike Hinrichs, Krieger Barrels | Woody Woodall, Lothar Walther

Barrel Breakin Break-in conditioning cleaning Wade Hull Shilen Walther Varminter.com Eric Mayer Video interview barrelsDo I Need to Break-In a New Rifle Barrel?
Eric Mayer of Varminter.com says: “That is a simple question, [but it] does not necessarily have a simple answer. Instead of me repeating my own beliefs, and practices, on breaking-in a new rifle barrel, I decided to answer this one a bit differently. While we were at the 2016 SHOT Show, we tracked down three of the biggest, and most popular, custom barrel makers in the world, and asked them what they recommend to anyone buying their barrels, and why they recommend those procedures. We asked the question, and let the camera run!” Launch the video above to hear the answers — some of which may surprise you.

Long-Term Barrel Care — More Experts Offer Opinions
Apart from the debate about barrel break-in, there is the bigger question of how should you clean and maintain a barrel during its useful life. Some folks like aggressive brushing, other shooters have had success with less invasive methods, using bore foam and wet patches for the most part. Different strokes for different folks, as they say. In reality, there may not be one solution for every barrel. Different fouling problems demand different solutions. For example, solvents that work well for copper may not be the best for hard carbon (and vice-versa).

CLICK HERE for Long Term Barrel Care Article »

Shooting Sports Lohman Barrel

Chip Lohman, former Editor of Shooting Sports USA Magazine, has authored an excellent article on barrel maintenance and cleaning: Let the BARREL Tell You — Match Barrel Care. In this article, Chip shares the knowledge of a dozen experts including respected barrel-makers Frank Green (Bartlein Barrels), John Krieger (Krieger Barrels), Dan Lilja (Lilja Barrels), and Tim North (Broughton Barrels).

“Why worry about a little barrel fouling when the throat is subjected to a brutal 5,600° F volcano at 55,000 PSI? To investigate these and other questions about taking care of a match barrel, we spoke with a dozen experts and share their knowledge in this first of a series of articles.

After listening to folks who shoot, build barrels or manufacture cleaning solvents for a living, we concluded that even the experts each have their own unique recommendations on how to care for a match barrel. But they all agree on one thing — the gun will tell you what it likes best. Because the life expectancy of a match barrel is about 1,500 to 2,500 rounds, the objectives of cleaning one should include: preserve accuracy, slow the erosion, and remove fouling — all without damaging the gun. This article doesn’t claim that one cleaning method is better than the next. Rather, we set out to interject a little science into the discussion and to share some lessons learned from experts in the field.” — Chip Lohman

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January 6th, 2022

Brilliant Video From Beretta about Gun-Making

Beretta shotgun technology robot video Human

Here’s a really great video about firearms crafting produced by Beretta, a legendary Italian gun-maker. This movie, entitled “Human Technology”, is one of most impressive videos we’ve ever featured on this site. It’s that good. You’ll see an amazing blend of modern technology along with old-world artisanship — “a mesmerizing meld of the high-tech and the traditional”. (Daniel Xu, Outdoor Hub.)

“Human Technology is a singular and symbolic movie, its cast entirely made up of Beretta workmen, thus illustrating the perfect synthesis between craftsmanship and technology,” Beretta writes. This artistic movie by Ancarani Studio illustrates all the aspects of the manufacturing of a high-end Beretta shotgun. This video is a study in contrast. The movements of robotic assembly machines are juxtaposed with the centuries-old craftsmanship of stock carvers. Beautifully filmed and edited, this video should amaze and entertain anyone who loves fine firearms. (Full-screen HD Recommended.)

Beretta shotgun technology robot video Human

Beretta shotgun technology robot video Human

Beretta shotgun technology video Human

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January 4th, 2022

Beautiful Shiloh Sharps Rifles — A Blast from the Past

Shiloh Sharps 45-70 vintage Quigley rifle

With all the blacktical rifles and plastic tacticool gear on the market these days, it is great to see some old style craftsmanship — hand-built rifles with colored case-hardened receivers, fine engraving, rich bluing, and beautiful wood. We found just that at the Shiloh Sharps booth at SHOT Show a few years back. There were handsome firearms, with beautiful metal and stunning wood. The heritage style of the Shiloh Sharps rifles harkens back to another era, when the West was still wild, and gifted smiths crafted rifles with pride, skill, and true artistry.

The cartridges shown in the photo (left to right above rifle) are: 45-110, 50-100, 45-90, and 40-70.
Shiloh Sharps 45-70 vintage Quigley rifle

This video shows how Shiloh Sharps crafts its rifles, from “Foundry to Finish”:

The Historic Sharps 1874 Lever Action Rifle, An American Classic
Shooting USA has featured the 1874 Sharps rifle, a side-hammer breech-loader favored by plains buffalo hunters. Christian Sharps patented his signature rifle design in 1848. The Sharps Model 1874 (shown below) was an updated version, chambered for metallic cartridges. According to firearms historian/author Garry James, the Sharps rifle “came in all sorts of different calibers from .40 all the way up to .50, and jillions of different case lengths and styles and configurations”.

Sharps rifle 45/110 Tom Selleck accurateshooter
Photo from James D. Julia/Morphy Auctions.

Sharps rifles have enjoyed a bit of modern-day notoriety, thanks to Hollywood. Tom Selleck starred as Matthew Quigley in the hit movie Quigley Down-Under. In a famous scene, Quigley used his 1874 Sharps to hit a wooden bucket at very long range. The Sharps rifles used in the movie were made by Shiloh Rifle company (Powder River Rifle Company). There were actually three Sharps rifles made for the movie. One went to the NRA’s National Firearms Museum while another was raffled off to support NRA shooting programs. The third rifle (Selleck’s Favorite) was sold at auction in 2008.

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January 2nd, 2022

Sunday GunDay: Rock’N Roll Rifle — Gavin’s Van Halen Tribute

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Today’s feature story showcases an impressive 6.5×47 Lapua benchrest rifle crafted by Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com. A gifted writer, video producer, and gear reviewer, Gavin has also acquired some serious gunsmithing skills over the past few years.

For this project, the multi-talented Mr. Gear did ALL the work himself — barrel chambering, muzzle crowning, stock inletting, action bedding, and yes even the stock painting. That brilliant red design with white and black stripes is an “homage” to the famous “Frankenstrat” guitar played by Rock N’ Roll legend Eddie Van Halen (EVH). That red/white/black guitar was the inspiration for this tribute rifle.

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Gavin explained: “I decided to build a benchrest rifle as a tribute to Eddie Van Halen as I’ve been inspired by his guitar playing, his energy, and himself as a person. This is my first benchrest rifle build. And when I set out to build this rifle I was looking around at what other people were doing in the benchrest community in terms of stock graphics, and I decided I needed to do something ‘loud and crazy’ and when I thought about that, the first thing that came to mind was Eddie Van Halen’s iconic Frankenstrat guitar.”

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Here it is! My first all-out benchrest build! This rifle will serve as a test bed for the evaluation of different cartridges and components. In this multi-part series, I’ll walk through the … process of building this rifle including the barrel work, stock inletting, stock bedding, and some paint work that will be “a little different”. — Gavin Gear

Rifle Components — BAT Action, Krieger Barrel, Wheeler Stock, Sightron Scope
Bat Model B Action, .308 Win Bolt Face (modular), octagonal profile, integral recoil lug
Bix’n Andy Remington 700 Competition Trigger (from Bullet Central)
Wheeler Engineering LRB Stock with 4″ fore-end and steerable buttstock rudder
Sightron SV 10-50x60mm ED SFP Scope (FCH Target Dot Reticle) in 34mm BAT Rings

Painting the Eddie Van Halen Tribute Rifle

Gavin told us: “I’ve long been inspired and impressed by Eddie Van Halen (EVH). He changed the game for guitar in the late 1970s, and the world took notice! I’ve been a Van Halen fan for a long time, and that’s where the inspiration for my latest rifle build came from. Benchrest rifles are known for their loud and vivid paint jobs, and that made me think: ‘I need to do an EVH Frankenstrat paint job!’. In this video I share my experiences putting together this automotive-style rifle paint job.”

Gavin painted the stock himself with red/black/white graphics inspired by the rock legend’s famous guitar. Gavin actually has some serious painting skills learned decades ago. When Gavin was 16 he was “hell-bent on learning auto body prep and paint work”. He managed to score a job with a local shop, and did his first complete professional paint job (on a Toyota Supra) when he was just 17 years old.

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

The EVH tribute stock was painted in multiple stages, with masking to create the stripes after the bright red was applied. For the finishing touch, the entire stock was sprayed with Omni clearcoat: “This [clear-coating] is when things really start to look good because you’re covering up all those masked transitions between the striping and the backgrounds.” Gavin says the key to clear-coating is “seeing the reflection of the light on the surface. This gives you visual feedback”. Watch the video above to see the entire painting process. CLICK HERE for Gavin’s full write-up on the stock painting job with many photos.

Barrel Break-In and Load Testing

The rifle showed great accuracy right from the get-go. In fact, the very first three shots through the barrel formed a 0.298″ group at 100 (see video at 05:35)! Then the gun produced a series of good three-shot groups (high 2s and low 3s), demonstrating the quality of the Krieger barrel and Gavin’s chambering work. CLICK HERE for testing target showing multiple groups.

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build
Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Gavin selected top components for his loads: Lapua 6.5×47 brass, Berger 140gr Hybrid 6.5mm bullets, and Hodgdon Varget powder (unobtanium these days). To find promising starting loads, Gavin went straight to the best 6.5×47 Lapua resource on the web — AccurateShooter.com’s 6.5×47 Cartridge Guide. Researched by the 6.5 Guys (Ed and Steve), our Cartridge Guide includes recommended accuracy loads for a wide variety of bullets and powders.

6.5x47 Cartridge Guides 6.5 Guys

Stock Work and Bedding

In this Part 2 video, Gavin reveals the extensive work he did to prepare the stock for the barreled action. This video shows multiple operations: barrel channel and receiver inletting; machining of custom pillars; stock bedding, and trigger guard installation. Yes, Gavin did all the final inletting using his own machines, and he even created his own precision pillars. Watch the above video to see the entire inletting job followed by the action bedding process. Gavin’s skills are impressive.

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

This Alex Wheeler LRB stock has some very innovative features, such as the adjustable “rudder” (or keel) on the bottomside of the buttstock. This helps ensure great tracking. Alex has noted: “This stock tracks exceptionally well due to the adjustable rudder system and 4″-wide fore-end. Aluminum rails in the front prevent rocking on the front bag as well as form small trenches to aid tracking. The adjustable rudder in the rear allows you to fine tune the bag riding surfaces until exactly parallel. The 4″-wide fore-end is legal in Benchrest and helps control torqueing in the bag.”

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Chambering the Barrel for 6.5×47 Lapua

Gavin did ALL the gunsmithing for the project, including chambering the Krieger barrel, and headspacing it for the BAT M Action. Gavin also crowned the muzzle. He did this all on his own advanced Precision Matthews PM-1440GT Lathe using Triebel Guntools 6.5x47mm body/neck finisher reamer, 6.5x47mm throater reamer, and Go and No-Go gages.

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloder Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Clearly, this is not your average DIY project — Gavin performed ALL the most critical and demanding gunsmithing tasks. He trained himself to do these tasks working with ace gunsmith Gordy Gritters. You can see all the chambering and barrel-fitting functions in this revealing video:

Muzzle Work — Cutting Threads and Target Crown

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

This photo shows the finishing of the barrel’s muzzle end. Gavin notes: “For the muzzle end, I again used the True Bore Alignment System. Above you can see the SSG Range Rod I used which features two tight-fitting bushings that ride on the barrel lands. This makes for quick barrel dial-in! I then cut an 11-degree target crown, as recommended by Gordy Gritters.”

The next step with this EVH Tribute rifle will be fitting the barrel for an Erik Cortina (EC) tuner, and proceeding with further load tuning. But that will have to wait for spring, when the snow has melted….

Want to learn more? Here are detailed reports on UltimateReloader.com:

1. EVH Tribute 6.5×47 Rifle Barrel Work and Chambering
2. EVH Tribute 6.5×47 Rifle Stock Inletting and Bedding
3. EVH Tribute 6.5×47 Rifle Testing with Sightron 10-50X Scope
4. Eddie Van Halen Tribute 6.5×47 Rifle Custom Paint Job

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December 31st, 2021

3D Cutaway Animations Reveal How AR15 Rifles Work

ar-15 AR15 3D animation video youtube cutaway 5.56 AR .233 Rem

Americans love AR-platform rifles. However, they can be maintenance-intensive, as hot gasses are directed right back into the action to operate the bolt. Because ARs have a somewhat unique (and dirty) semi-auto operating system, we think all AR owners should learn how their rifles operate — from the inside out. This feature provides an “inside look” at the AR, with X-Ray and Cutaway views created through advanced 3D computer modeling.

AR15 Functions Revealed with 3D Computer Animation

Ever wondered how the parts inside an AR15 work together? Just exactly how does the reciprocating bolt carrier feed rounds from the magazine? How do the elements in the trigger group work and reset after each shot? How does the gas system bleed gas from the barrel and operate the bolt carrier? These and other questions are answered in this eye-opening video from 45Snipers. Using “cutaway” 3D computer animation, this 5-minute video shows all features of an AR15 inside and out. This fascinating firearms animation allows the viewer to look inside the upper and lower receivers, into the bolt carrier, chamber, barrel, and magazine.

This video starts off slow and has annoying background music, but it is well worth watching if you own or shoot any AR-platform rifle. It illustrates all the key operations during the charging, loading, firing, and ejection processes. The cutaway animation shows how rounds are stripped from the magazine and then chambered. It then shows how every part of the trigger group works, and how the firing pin strikes the primer. You can even watch the bullet move down the barrel before the empty shell casing is removed from the chamber and tossed out the ejection port. Here are sample frames from the video:

ar-15 AR15 3D animation video youtube cutaway 5.56 AR .233 Rem

How AR-Platform Rifles Work — General Introduction
To help reader understand the general operation of AR-type rifles, this video shows the control functions of an AR and how the upper and lower sections work together.

Cutaway 3D Animation of AR15/M16 Action — Watch Video

Here is an excellent “cutaway” animation by Thomas Schwenke that shows how an AR-15 functions — how the entire loading cycle works from start to finish.

AR platform rifles are semi-automatics version of the M16. These feature distinctive upper and lower receivers which can be readily separated via front and rear pins. The upper includes the barrel, handguard, forward gas tube, and bolt assembly, while the lower contains grip, trigger group, fire selector, and mag well. In addition the lower is attached to the stock which encloses the buffer assembly.

3d firearms modeling gun CGI software encylopedia gun disassembly

The original ArmaLite AR-15 was a select-fire, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed rifle designed by American gun manufacturer ArmaLite in 1956. It was based on Armalite’s AR-10 rifle chambered for the 7.62×51 NATO (.308 Win). In 1959, ArmaLite sold its rights to the AR-10 and AR-15 to Colt. Some key modifications were made — most notably, the charging handle was re-located from under the carrying handle to the rear of the receiver. The redesigned rifle was adopted by the U.S. military as the M16 carbine, which went into production in March 1964.

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December 20th, 2021

Weaver Rail vs. Picatinny Rail — What Are the Differences?

Picatinny Rail specifications 1913 Mil-std

Readers often ask “What’s the difference between a Weaver scope rail and a Picatinny Rail?” The answer is not as simple as it seems. The dimensions of a Picatinny Rail should be consistent (from one rail-maker to another), since there IS a government spec. Conversely, there is some variance in “Weaver-style” rails. The width of the groove is the most important difference between Picatinny Rails and Weaver-type rails. “Mil-spec” Picatinny rails will have a grove width of 0.206″ while Weaver rails typically have a narrower, 0.180″ groove width.

Weaver Rail BAT action
Does your rifle have a Weaver Rail or Picatinny Rail? Check the dimensions to be sure.

Brownell’s has a helpful GunTech™ Article that discusses the Picatinny Rail vs. Weaver Rail. That article explains:

What are the differences between the ‘Picatinny’ and the ‘Weaver’ systems? The profile of the two systems is virtually identical. Depending on the quality of the machining done by the manufacturer, the two systems should be indistinguishable from the profile. The key difference lies in the placement of the recoil grooves and with width of the grooves. MIL-STD-1913 (Picatinny) grooves are .206″ wide and have a center-to-center width of .394”. The placement of these grooves has to be consistent in order for it to be a true Picatinny MIL-STD system. Weaver systems have a .180” width of recoil groove and are not necessarily consistent in a center-to-center measurement from one groove to the next.

In many instances, a Weaver system has a specific application that it is machined for, so interchangeability is not necessarily an issue. A MIL-STD-1913 system must adhere to the specifications listed above in order for it to be considered MIL-STD, since the military desires uniformity in the recoil grooves to allow for different systems to be mounted on the weapon with no concern for compatibility.

Now, what does this mean? Boiled down, it means that accessories designed for a Weaver system will, in most cases, fit on a Picatinny system. The reverse, however, is probably not the case. Due to the larger recoil groove, Picatinny accessories will not fit a Weaver system. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, but for a good rule-of-thumb, [full-width] Picatinny won’t fit Weaver, but Weaver accessories WILL fit Picatinny.

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December 19th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Flashy Chassis Showcase — Aluminum Wonders

1000-yard heavy gun chassis by Bruce Baer

For today’s Sunday GunDay story we showcase seven interesting metal-chassis rifles. While we love the look and feel of wood and fiberglass, metal does have its advantages. It can be crafted very straight and true, and the designs can achieve a very low center-of-gravity without sacrificing rigidity. In addition, a precisioned machined metal chassis tends to track extremely well.

Massive IBS Heavy Gun Milled from Solid Aluminum Billet

1000-yard heavy gun chassis by Bruce Baer

This remarkable 70-lb IBS Heavy Gun, was machined from solid aluminum billet, by Bruce Baer. It rests on a G&G Alvey rest split in the middle to comply with rules. This “heavy metal” CNC-machined wonder is a work of art designed for the 1000-yard game in the Heavy Gun class. Wood stocks, and to a lesser extent fiberglass stocks, are more forgiving, offering greater damping and recoil absorption. However, metal stocks offer superior rigidity, and the CNC machining allows tracking surfaces to be perfectly parallel.

Williamsport limits Heavy Guns to 100 pounds. Under IBS and NBRSA rules weight is unlimited. You will see a few massive 200-lb behemoths at IBS matches, but most competitors find that something in the 60-90 pound range works best. Bruce Baer explains, “You can’t stop a gun from recoiling. If it doesn’t recoil it will jump. If it jumps you might as well go home because you won’t shoot a good group. So it is pointless to try to build a gun so heavy as to eliminate all recoil. The more you restrict the rifle’s recoil the more temperamental that rifle will be. The 200-pounders just don’t out-perform something in the 60- to 80-pound range, and I think the optimal weight is 60-70 pounds.”

Bruce Baer likes the 70-lb overall weight for a heavy gun: “Extreme mass is not necessarily an advantage. Watch a locomotive starting up from zero–it will vibrate from one end to another. If the gun is too heavy I think it will vibrate at the start of recoil and that will kill accuracy. I want the gun to start from recoil with very little effort so it will be smooth from start to stop.”

Water-Cooled World Record-Setting Wondergun

joel pendergraft

We like “outside of the box” thinking. And in the world of competitive shooting, it can’t get more unconventional than this. But this radical liquid-cooled benchrest rig wasn’t just a crazy experiment — it actually delivered the goods. This IBS Heavy Gun, built by Joel Pendergraft, produced a superb 10-shot, 3.044″ group that stood as an International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) 1000-Yard Heavy Gun record for seven years, not being broken until 2016.

Joel Pendergraft

Using this water-cooled wondergun, Joel shot the record-breaking group in April 2009 at Hawks Ridge, NC. This monster features a .30-Caliber 12-twist, 4-groove Krieger barrel inside a water-filled sleeve (like on a liquid-cooled machine gun). Joel shot BIB 187gr flat-based bullets in Norma brass, pushed by a “generous amount” of Alliant Reloder 25 and Federal 210M primers. The cartridge was a big custom wildcat Joel listed as “.300 Ackley Improved”.

Pendergraft’s 3.044″ 10-shot group was a great feat, breaking one of the longest-standing, 1000-yard IBS World Records. And Joel’s 3.044″ record stood for 7 years!

Richard King’s Radical .223 Rem F-TR Skeleton Rifle

Richard King .223 Rem F-Class rig

Here’s something exotic from our Gun of the Week archives. We like this rig because it is so radical (we doubt that you have ever seen anything quite like it). Gun-builder Richard King calls this his “Texas-T”, noting that “this is my personal gun, built the way I wanted it. I know it’s radical and some may not care for it. But it works.” The rig was designed to shoot F-TR, but it can also be converted easily to shoot F-Open with a front rest.

Richard reports: “This is pretty much an all-aluminum rifle. The action is a Kelbly F-Class with a Shilen stainless steel competition trigger. The scope is a 1″-tube Leupold 36X with a Tucker Conversion set in Jewell spherical bearing rings. The .223 barrel is 30″ Pac-Nor 3-groove, 1:6.5″-twist mounted in a V-type barrel block. The bipod has vertical adjustment only via a dovetail slide activated by a stick handle. It works like a joy-stick, but for vertical only. I adjust for windage by moving the rear sandbag.”

Richard likes how the barrel block works: “With the barrel block forward, the vibrations should be at a low frequency. Instead of one long rod whipping, I now have two short rods (barrel halves) being dampened. This is my fourth barrel block gun. They work, but so does a good pillar-bedded action. [This rifle] is designed for my style of shooting. It is not meant to be a universal ‘fit all’ for the general public. However, I will say the design is adaptable. I can easily convert the system to run in F-Open Class. I would drop a big-bore barreled action into the V-block, slide on a heavier pre-zeroed scope and rings, add plates on the sides up front to bring the width to 3″, and maybe a recoil pad.”

F1 F-Open Chassis from Competition Machine

Eliseo competition machine F1 Aluminum F-Open Chassis

Along with his famed tube-guns, Gary Eliseo of Competition Machine has designed a modern, low-profile chassis system for F-Open competition. Assembled with Cerakoted aluminum beams, these F1 F-Open chassis systems offer great tracking with an ultra-low center of gravity.

Eliseo competition machine F1 Aluminum F-Open Chassis
Here is the F1 Chassis with “Marine Corps Red” powder coat finish. Read Full Report.

This F1 aluminum alloy chassis stock features a super-low center of gravity, plus adjustable length of pull, cheek rest, and drop. The stock is available in a wide choice of Cerakote finishes. The current Model F1 chassis features a action block mounting system to fit most actions. There was also an earlier version that had a free-floated action with the barrel in a barrel block, secured with epoxy. Both F1 versions (action block and barrel block) shot great, with excellent performances in competition.

Gen 1 F1 F-Open Chassis System with Barrel Block
Eliseo competition machine F1 Aluminum F-Open Chassis

State Championship Win with Home-Built Aluminum Stock

While most of the stocks featured above were crafted by professionals, the properties of aluminum allow it to be used by persons with some basic mechanical skills and metal-working tools. Here’s proof. Back in 2009, Forum Member John Dunbar (aka JD12) crafted his own aluminum F-Open stock. And he used that impressive metal stock to win the Wisconsin State F-Class championship. READ Full Story.

savage f-open aluminum stock

The stock for John’s “home-built” .284 Winchester was mated with a Savage target action. John designed and fabricated the aluminum stock himself. It features a central barrel block clamping a 32″ Brux barrel. Get this — John completed the rifle only 5 days before the match: “I finished machining/assembly on Monday night, did load workup Wednesday and Thursday nights, loaded rounds Friday night, and headed to Lodi at 4:30 on Saturday morning.” John even made his own co-axial front rest (see below)

John Dunbar

When Fiberglass Fails, Aluminum Stock Saves the Day

Australian Mark Fairbairn performed a “Quick Fix” during the 2018 Berger SW Nationals. Mark’s F-Open rifle, in a conventional fiberglass stock, was giving him random vertical during one yardage: “I had a bit of a problem with elevation — the stock was hitting somewhere [causing vertical]. I was X-X-X then a shot popped up in the 9 ring with no good reason. So I figured I better put a new stock on it. I got my old aluminium stock I brought from Australia and quickly adjusted it to fit on the Stolle.”

aluminum stock

Right on the firing line berm Mark swapped his barreled action into the metal stock of his own design. The clock was ticking… but the story had a happy ending. For the next yardage Mark shot a brilliant 150-7X, not dropping a point. So the “Quick Fix” did the trick. As they say Down Under — “Good on Ya, Mate!”

Home-Built Aluminum Chassis with Innovative A-Arm Bipod

Here is another home-built rig featuring an aluminum chassis mated to a Savage barreled action via a forward-mounted barrel block. This rig was crafted by Forum member Patrick Lundy, who followed the maxim: “If you can’t buy it, then build it.”

Lundy aluminum f-class rifle

Patrick Lundy was so impressed with a fellow shooter’s barrel-block rifle, that he build a similar match gun himself, complete with barrel block and aluminum chassis. Patrick was inspired by a metal stock belonging to Peter Gagne. But he added his own custom touches, including an innovative “A-Arm”-design bipod for shooting in F-TR class. The gun has been very successful in competition. READ FULL Report

Pat told us: “This new stock was a milestone in my shooting career — it was my very first attempt to build a stock. I wasn’t much of a wood worker but I did have a talent for building with metal. The stock was fabricated from 6061 T6 aluminum. With this gun I was able to shoot from a rest or a bipod.”

Lundy aluminum f-class rifle

Pat crafted the bipod from aluminum tubing: “The bipod was a very rigid A-frame design with welded aluminum tubing. I added slippery feet under the pod skis to facilitate smoother recoil. I realized that a wide-stance bipod had to recoil the same on both sides or the group would string horizontally.” Here is the innovative “A-Arm” bipod that Pat Lundy built for his rifle.

aluminum rifle bipod A-Arm homebuilt

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December 18th, 2021

Tech Tip: Don’t Forget to Clean Your Chamber and Lug Recesses

Bolt Action Cleaning lug recess chamber cleaning

Most competitive shooters are pretty good about bore cleaning (some may even clean their bores too aggressively). However, we’ve found that many shooters neglect the chamber area and the bolt lug recesses. It’s too easy to clean the bore, slip out the guide rod and say “I’m done.” Sinclair Int’l explains why it’s important to clean the action interior: “Shooters use a lot of grease and oil on their bolts to reduce friction and to prevent wear[.] Unfortunately, both of these compounds attract grit, powder and primer residues. Cleaning your receiver is especially critical [with] custom actions where the fit between the action and bolt is held to very tight tolerances. Routine cleaning of the action will prevent unnecessary wear on the bolt body, locking lugs, and the action raceways/guide rails. Frequent action cleaning is also essential to keeping the trigger area free of debris which can cause trigger hang-ups and failures.”

PMA Action Cleaning Tool

Your rifle deserves a clean action and lug recesses. For action cleaning, our friend Danny Reever favors the PMA Action Cleaning tool. This handy tool speeds up the cleaning process, letting you do a better job in less time. Danny reports: “I’ve been using the PMA Action Cleaning Tool Kit for quite some time. Previously, I used one of the old style (round knob) action-cleaning tools with cylindrical cotton rolls. I think the PMA Action Cleaning Tool Kit is easier to use, and possibly achieves better results. Read Full Tool Review.

Cleaning the Chamber

Combustion by-products, lubricants, and solvent residues can collect in your chamber. Severe build-up of grease and carbon can interfere with chambering. Also some solvents will promote corrosion. You need to keep your chambers clean.

Bolt Action Cleaning

1) Install a clean cotton mop of the correct size on the end of a chamber rod and insert the mop into the chamber. Rotate the mop several times to remove any brush bristles left behind and any excess solvent that was between the rod guide snout and the end of the chamber. Make sure the chamber is dry. Prior to storing a rifle you can oil the chamber but make sure the oil is removed prior to firing the rifle.
2) Alternatively, install an old bore brush on a chamber rod, overlap a couple of patches on the brush bristles, and wrap them around the brush completely. Then insert the patch-covered brush into the chamber while rotating it to remove the excess solvent and debris. Push it firmly into the neck area of the chamber. A similar method is to pierce a large patch on the end of the brush loop and insert it into the action, again rotating the brush as you push the patch up against the breech.

Cleaning the Lug Recess Area

The action lug recess area is one of the dirtiest places on a bolt-action rifle. To properly clean this area, always use a tool designed for the task, such as the $29.99 Sinclair Action Cleaning Tool (part # ACT1) which is part of the full Sinclair Action Cleaning Tool Kit ($49.99, part #ACT2).

Bolt Action Cleaning

1) Insert a cotton roll or cleaning felt into your lug recess cleaning tool and wet both ends and the face of the cotton roll/felt with solvent.
2) Insert the tool into the action and push it forward until it is positioned fully in the lug recess area and rotate the tool head several times. Then reverse the rotation for another few turns. While rotating the tool move it slightly in and out to cover the entire recess area and to also clean the breech face.
3) Remove the tool from the action and inspect the surface of the felt or cotton roll. If there is quite a bit of residue on both sides of the felt/roll, then repeat with another wet felt/roll.
4) When you feel the recess area is completely clean, insert a dry cotton roll into the tool and rotate the tool head to remove any remaining solvent and debris. If necessary, use a second dry cotton roll.
5) You can follow this step up with another pass of a mop or patches into the chamber to get any debris or solvent that pushed forward out of the lug recess area.

Cleaning Tips from The Sinclair Int’l Reloading Press, used courtesy Sinclair Int’l, All Rights Reserved.

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December 16th, 2021

Big Boomer .50 BMG Boasts Impressive Half-MOA Accuracy

.50 BMG Richard King Texas half-MOA

A few seasons ago, Texas gunsmith Richard King built an impressive .50 BMG target rifle for a customer. Equipped with a beefy McMillan stock, this rig has delivered some very impressive accuracy. Check out that target shot during break-in. Using On Target software, we measured this 3-shot group at 0.476″ or 0.454 MOA. Not bad for a beast with VERY serious recoil. Do you think you could beat that 0.476″ with your AR15 shooting puny .223-caliber bullets?

.50 BMG Richard King Texas half-MOA
Compare the dimensions of that massive 50-Cal action to a Rem 700 action in the middle. When you’re shooting a Fifty, size matters!

On Facebook, some folks were surprised a guy could wring that kind of accuracy out of a monster .50 BMG. One wag posted: “Yikes! He will need flinch therapy after shooting that beast.”

Another Facebooker joked: “When shooting a .50 BMG you say…In your best Crocodile Dundee voice…that’s not a gun, THIS is a gun!”

Richard King responded that this customer has quite a bit of experience with jumbo-caliber rifles: “Remember this is the guy that shot a .338 Lapua in a two-day F-Class match. Recoil might actually be easier on this 50, given the fact that it has more weight and a brake.”

.50 BMG Richard King Texas half-MOA

Richard King showed us the monster 13-lb BAT action for this rifle at the 2018 Berger SWN. Honestly, the big BAT .50 BMG action was HUGE — with the bolt fully extended it was the size of your forearm (to the finger tips). Richard joked “This weighs almost as much as an F-TR rifle (before optic) all by itself”.

Richard King Berger SWN BAT action

Specialty Tools for the Big .50 BMG
Yes, the .50 BMG is one huge cartridge. Thankfully, there are some special tools for loading the jumbo-size round. Giraud Tool produces a specialty comparator for the 50-Cal cartridge. The double-ended .50 BMG comparator is quite versatile. In one orientation you can measure base-to-ogive bullet length and also measure cartridge OAL from rim to bullet ogive. When reversed, you can use the comparator to measure cartridge headspace. Priced at $33.00, Giraud 50 BMG Comparator gauge is constructed of 303 stainless and fits most any vernier, dial, or digital caliper. CLICK HERE for more info.

Giraud Tools 50 BMG comparator gauge

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December 12th, 2021

Off-Set Scope Mount for Southpaw Shooter Who Uses Right Eye

offset scope base mount

offset scope base mountForum member Roy Bertalotto did a real nice off-set scope installation on a bolt gun to help a sight-challenged shooter. Roy explains: “A friend of mine shoots left-handed and has lost the sight in his left eye. I built him a scope mount so he can still shoot left-handed, but now use his right eye.” Roy’s fabrication work is impressive and we praise his efforts to help a fellow shooter stay in the game.

Roy bolted a plate to the existing scope rail on the top centerline of the Rem 700 action. This plate extends a few inches to the right. On the outboard end of the plate, Roy fitted a second scope rail, aligned with the bore. Weaver-based rings are then clamped to the outboard (right side) auxiliary rail.

offset scope base mount

offset scope base mount

Be Careful of Canting Issues with Offset Scope Installations
We’re pleased to see that Roy developed a solution for a shooter with an optical disability, but we want to stress that this is a specialized installation that can create some problems with point of impact shift if the gun is not maintained perfectly level. With the amount of horizontal offset (between the scope’s optical axis and the bore axis) built into this rig, if the rifle is canted, point of impact can shift rather dramatically. For a southpaw who is willing to adapt his/her shooting style, it may be better, in the long run, to learn to shoot right-handed if his/her right eye is the only good eye. Likewise, if a right-handed shooter can only see well through his left eye, he may benefit from learning how to hold the stock and work the trigger with his left hand. The shooter could still work the bolt with his non-trigger hand. Changing from right-hand to left-hand shooting (or vice-versa) may require a stock swap if the stock is not ambidextrous.

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December 11th, 2021

Lights, Camera, ACTIONS — See Kelbly’s Actions Being Made

Kelbly's Panda Action gunsmithing video barrel stock bedding

Want to see new-born Pandas? No, not the furry kind — rather Stolle Panda actions produced with state-of-the-art CNC machinery. If you’ve ever wondered how precision benchrest, long-range, and tactical rifles are built, check out video from Kelbly’s. You’ll see actions finished, barrels chambered and crowned, pillars installed in stocks, barreled actions bedded, plus a host of other services performed by Kelbly’s gunsmiths and machinists.

If you’re a fan of fine machine-work, this video should be both informative and entertaining. You can see how precision gun work is done with 21st-Century technology. Tip of the hat to Ian Kelbly and crew for producing this excellent video visit to the Kelbly’s production center.

Click Volume Control to Activate Sound for Kelbly’s Video:

Kelbly's Panda Action gunsmithing video barrel stock bedding

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December 8th, 2021

The Tack-Driving AR — Secrets to AR Platform Accuracy

AR-X AR15 Upper

One Shooters’ Forum member asked: “What makes an AR accurate? What parts on an AR can really affect accuracy — such as free-floating handguards, barrels, bolts, bolt carriers?” He wanted an honest, well-informed answer, not just sales pitches. Robert Whitley posted a very detailed answer to this question, based on his experience building/testing scores of AR-platform rifles. Robert runs AR-X Enterprises, which produces match-grade uppers for High Power competitors, tactical shooters, and varminters.

AR-X AR15 Upper

Building an Accurate AR — What is Most Important

by Robert Whitley
There are a lot of things that can be done to an AR to enhance consistent accuracy, and I use the words “consistent accuracy” because consistency is a part of it (i.e. plenty of guns will give a couple great 5-shot groups, but won’t do a very good 10- or 20-shot groups, and some guns will shoot great one day and not so good on others).

Here are 14 key things we think are important to accuracy.

1. Great Barrel: You’ll want a premium match-grade barrel, well-machined with a good crown and a match-type chambering, true to the bore and well cut. The extension threads must also be cut true to the bore, with everything true and in proper alignment.

2. Rigid Upper: A rigid, heavy-walled upper receiver aids accuracy. The typical AR upper receiver was made for a lightweight carry rifle and they stripped all the metal they could off it to make it light to carry (which is advantageous for the military). The net result are upper receivers that are so thin you can flex them with your bare hands. These flexible uppers are “strong enough” for general use, but they are not ideal for accuracy. Accuracy improves with a more rigid upper receiver.

3. True Receiver Face: We’ve found that truing the receiver face is valuable. Some may argue this point but it is always best to keep everything related to the barrel and the bore in complete alignment with the bore (i.e. barrel extension, bolt, upper receiver, carrier, etc.).

4. Barrel Extension: You should Loctite or glue the barrel extension into the upper receiver. This holds it in place all the way front to back in the upper receiver. Otherwise if there is any play (and there typically is) it just hangs on the face of the upper receiver completely dependent on the face of the upper receiver as the sole source of support for the barrel as opposed to being made more an integral part of the upper receiver by being glued-in.

AR-X AR15 Upper5. Gas Block: You want a gas block that does not impose pointed stress on the barrel. Clamp-on types that grab all the way around the barrel are excellent. The blocks that are pinned on with tapered pins that wedge against the barrel or the slip on type of block with set screws that push up from underneath (or directly on the barrel) can deform the bore inside of the barrel and can wreck the accuracy of an otherwise great barrel.

6. Free-Float Handguard: A rigid, free-float handguard (and I emphasize the word rigid) really makes a difference. There are many types of free-float handguards and a free-float handguard is, in and of itself, a huge improvement over a non-free-float set up, but best is a rigid set-up. Some of the ones on the market are small diameter, thin and/or flexible and if you are shooting off any type of rest, bipod, front bag, etc., a rigid fore-end is best since ARs want to jump, bounce and twist when you let a shot go, as the carrier starts to begin its cycle before the bullet exits the bore.

Robert Whitley AR Accurate accuracy aR15 barrel trigger MSR gunsmithing

7. Barrel Contour: You want some meat on the barrel. Between the upper receiver and the gas block don’t go real thin with a barrel (we like 1″ diameter if it’s workable weight-wise). When you touch off a round and the bullet passes the gas port, the gas system immediately starts pressuring up with a gas impulse that provides vibrations and stress on the barrel, especially between the gas block back to the receiver. A heavier barrel here dampens that. Staying a little heavier with barrel contour through the gas block area and out to the muzzle is good for the same reasons. ARs have a lot going on when you touch off a round and the gas system pressures up and the carrier starts moving (all before the bullet exits the bore) so the more things are made heavier and rigid to counteract that the better — within reason (I’m not advocating a 12-lb barrel).

8. Gas Tube Routing Clearance: You want a gas tube that runs freely through the barrel nut, through the front of the upper receiver, and through the gas key in the carrier. Ensure the gas tube is not impinged by any of them, so that it does not load the carrier in a stressed orientation. You don’t want the gas tube bound up so that when the gas tube pressures up it immediately wants to transmit more force and impulse to the barrel than would normally occur. We sometimes spend a lot of time moving the gas block with gas tube on and off new build uppers and tweaking gas tubes to get proper clearance and alignment. Most gas tubes do need a little “tweaking” to get them right — factory tubes may work OK but they typically do not function optimally without hand-fitting.

9. Gas Port Tuning: You want to avoid over-porting the gas port. Being over-gassed makes the gas system pressure up earlier and more aggressively. This causes more impulse, and increases forces and vibration affecting the top end and the barrel. Tune the gas port to give the amount of pressure needed to function properly and adequately but no more.

10. Front/Back Bolt Play: If accuracy is the game, don’t leave a lot of front/back bolt play (keep it .003″ but no more than .005″). We’ve seen factory rifles run .012″ to .015″ play, which is OK if you need to leave room for dirt and grime in a military application. However, that amount of play is not ideal for a high-accuracy AR build. A lot of front/back bolt play allows rounds to be hammered into the chamber and actually re-formed in a non-consistent way, as they are loaded into the chamber.

11. Component Quality: Use good parts from a reputable source and be wary of “gun show specials”. All parts are NOT the same. Some are good, some are not so good, and some aftermarket parts are simply bad. Don’t be afraid to use mil-spec-type carriers; by and large they are excellent for an accuracy build. Also, remember that just because a carrier says “National Match” or something else on it does not necessarily mean it’s any better. Be wary of chrome-plated parts as the chrome plating can change the parts dimensionally and can also make it hard to do hand-fitting for fit and function.

AR-X AR15 Upper

12. Upper to Lower Fit: A good upper/lower fit is helpful. For quick and dirty fit enhancement, an Accu-Wedge in the rear helps a lot. The ultimate solution is to bed the upper to a specific lower so that the upper and lower, when together, are more like one integral unit. For the upper receivers we produce, we try to get the specs as close as we can, but still fit the various lowers in the market place.

13. Muzzle Attachments: Don’t screw up the muzzle (literally). Leave as much metal on the barrel at the muzzle as you can. People like to thread the muzzle for a flash hider, suppressor, muzzle brake, or some other attachment, but if you really want accuracy, leave as much metal as you can there. And, if you have something that screws on, set it up so that it can be put on and have it stay there without putting a lot of torque and stress on it right where the bullet exits the bore. If you are going to thread the end of the barrel, make it concentric with the bore and make sure what you screw on there is as well. For all muzzle attachments, also ensure that the holes through which the bullet passes through are dead true to the bore. Many aftermarket screw-on things are not so good that way. Anything that vents gas should vent symmetrically (i.e. if it vents left, it should vent equally right, and likewise, if it vents up, it should vent down equally). Uneven venting of gas can wreck accuracy.

14. Quality Ammunition: Ammo is a whole story by itself, but loads that are too hot typically shoot poorly in an AR-15. If you want accuracy out of an AR-15, avoid overly hot loads. Shown below are test groups shot with four (4) different uppers, all with moderate loads. These four uppers all pretty much had the same features and things done to them as explained in this article, and they all shot great.

AR-X AR15 Upper

Robert Whitley
www.6mmAR.com

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December 5th, 2021

REMAGE Project — Building Rem 700 with Pre-Fit Barrel

Remage Savage Remington Rebarrel Rifleshooter.com 6BR 6mmbr
Barrel nut system allows “Pre-Fit” barrel installation on a Remington action. CLICK photo to zoom.

REMAGE Project Report by Bill, Rifleshooter.com Editor
Installing a new barrel on your Remington 700 (especially without a lathe) may seem like a daunting task, but thanks to companies like McGowen Precision Barrels and Criterion Barrels there are easier alternatives. By adopting a Savage-style barrel nut on a 1 1/16″ thread for a Remington 700 receiver, pre-chambered (aka “pre-fit”) barrels can be easily swapped with just a few hand tools. This system is sometimes called a REMAGE conversion (for “REMington savAGE”). With simple tools a “Pre-fit” 6mmBR-chambered barrel was installed on the author’s Remington action — no machining or lathe-work required.

Remage Savage Remington Rebarrel Rifleshooter.com 6BR 6mmbr

Using a few tools from Brownells: Remington 700 Action Wrench, Barrel Vise, Go and No-Go Gauges, Recoil Lug Alignment Tool, and a Savage Barrel Nut Wrench, I was able to swap the .308 Winchester barrel off of my Remington 700 short action and install the new McGowen pre-fit, pre-chambered barrel, converting it to a tack-driving 6BR (aka 6mmBR Norma).

The existing barrel is simply removed from the action (normally the hardest part) and the new barrel is screwed on with the Go Gauge in place. After headspace is verified with the Go Gauge, the barrel nut is tightened against the action and you are off to the range. It takes all of the machine work out of the barreling process.

Note: Because barrel nut has a slightly larger diameter, some stocks may require minor inletting. Also, if you are shooting fired brass from another rifle with the same chambering, you should FL-size the brass before loading it for your new pre-fit barrel. And always check the set-up with a dummy round loaded to normal cartridge length BEFORE you head to the range. With Pre-Fits, the freebore should be adequate for your cartridge, but always check and adjust your seating depth as needed.

remage 6mm BR 108 berger best group 360

My McGowen Remage barrel looks and shoots great. I’ve written two longer articles that provide greater detail about this project. To learn more about how the barrel was installed, read: Rebarrel a Remington 700 without a lathe: McGowen’s Remage barrel conversion. To see how the rifle performed at the range, read: McGowen Remage Barrel Review: Spoiler Alert — It Shoots!.

Bill has been a serious shooter for over 20 years. A former Marine Corps Sergeant, he’s competed and placed in High Power Rifle, ISPC, USPSA, IDPA, 3-Gun, F-Class, and precision rifle disciplines. In addition to being an NRA-certified firearms instructor and range officer, Bill has hunted big game in North America, South America, and Africa. Bill writes extensively about gunsmithing, precision rifles, and the shooting sports on his blog, Rifleshooter.com.

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November 30th, 2021

Technology Insight: How Carbon-Wrapped Barrels Are Made

Proof Reseach carbon fiber barrel wrap aerospace composites

Montana-based PROOF Research has released a revealing video showcasing carbon fiber firearms technology and the company’s barrel-making process. Viewers will find the 8-minute film an intriguing introduction to composite barrel-making, which employs aerospace carbon fiber wrapped around a steel barrel core. The video showcases the high-tech machines used at PROOF’s production facilities.


This video shows how PROOF Research employs aerospace-grade, high-temperature composite materials to build match-grade carbon fiber-wrapped barrels.

Proof Reseach carbon fiber barrel wrap aerospace composites

Proof Reseach carbon fiber barrel wrap aerospace composites

Dr. David Curliss, General Manager of PROOF Research’s Advanced Composite Division, and former head of the U.S. Air Force High Temperature Composites Laboratory, explains how aerospace expertise helps in the development of PROOF’s firearms-related products: “We are able to provide premier materials for PROOF Research for firearms barrels applications as well as the aerospace market. We’re probably the only firearms technology company that has composite materials in orbit around the earth.”

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November 27th, 2021

How to Inspect Your Barrel Crown with a Q-Tip

The last half-inch or so of your barrel is absolutely critical. Any damage (or abnormal wear) near the crown will cause a significant drop-off in accuracy. Here are ways you can check the end of your barrel, using a common Q-Tip.

Use Q-Tip for Barrel Inspection
To find out if you have a burr or damage to your crown, you can use an ordinary Q-tip cotton swab. Check the edges of the crown by pulling the Q-tip gently out past the edge of the crown. If you have a burr, it will “grab” the cotton and leave strands behind.

Larry Willis has another way to use a Q-Tip: “Here’s a neat trick that will surprise you with how well it works.” Just insert a Q-Tip into your barrel (like the picture below), and it will reflect enough light so that you can get a real good look at the last half inch of rifling and the crown of your barrel. In most cases you’ll find that this works much better than a flashlight. Larry tells us: “I’ve used this method about a jillion times. Q-Tips are handy to keep in your cleaning supplies anyway. This is a good way to judge approximately how well you are cleaning your barrel when you’re at the range. It’s also the best way to examine your barrel when you’re in the field.”

Larry Willis is the inventor of Innovative Technologies’ Belted Magnum Collet Resizing Die. Larry explains how this die works, and offers other reloading tips on LarryWillis.com.

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