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December 22nd, 2019

Sunday GunDay: Speedy’s Stunning 6 PPC Benchrest Rifle

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engraved
“Ultimate PPC” by Speedy with engraved Stiller Viper action. Titanium Rest by John Loh (R.I.P.).

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engravedJust in time for Christmas, today we feature a beautiful red rifle built by West Texas gunsmith Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez many seasons back. With an eye-catching, one-of-a-kind engraved Stiller Viper action, and gorgeous red/black gelcoat finish, we think this rifle is one of the prettiest benchrest rigs ever made — and the color scheme fits the holiday season.

When Speedy set out to build the “ultimate PPC” for his own use, he wanted it to be as handsome as it was accurate. This stunning 6 PPC combines some very trick components with old-world detailing. When was the last time you saw an engraved receiver on a “race gun”? This rig combines modern high-tech components with classic good looks — the best of both worlds.

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engraved

This competition benchrest rig features an engraved Stiller Viper action, with integral scope rail, SAKO Extractor and non-fluted bolt. The action sits in a new Millenium BR-X carbon-fiber stock built by Robertson Composites (now closed). The bold red-on-black marbled finish is how the gelcoat came from Ian Robertson’s factory — the stock has not been painted. The slick front rest is a titanium Ultra-Rest machined by the late, great John Loh with design input by Speedy. John built only two of these in titanium, one for himself and one for Speedy. We’re sad to say John recently passed. R.I.P. John. The Leupold Competition scope sits in quad-screw bedded rings from S.G.& Y. Precision Rifles.

Speedy picked a very special barrel for this project–a 1:14 twist, 20.5″, 6-groove barrel, the last original Pat McMillan-crafted barrel in Speedy’s inventory. Speedy runs a .263″ neck. Bushing size depends on the load and the condition of his brass. Speedy’s match load is about 29.2 grains of the IMR 8208 “ThunderBird” powder (he stockpiled this great propellant years ago). Speedy feels that T-Bird may be the most user-friendly BR powder ever made: “Once you have a good load worked up with T-Bird, you can shoot it at most any location in the country, and in almost any conditions. It’s not fussy about temperatures or humidity.”

A Very Unique Viper Action, Two Years in the Making
This is no ordinary Viper action. The full engraving attracts your attention, but there are some slick “performance mods” Jerry Stiller added at Speedy’s request.

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engravedFirst, the action features a plain-Jane unfluted bolt, with a slight taper in the middle, a bit of a wasp-waist. Speedy prefers an unfluted design because it has superior wear characteristics. He’s found, when working with an aluminum action such as the Viper, the sharp flutes on the bolt will wear the inside of the action faster. In the interest of reduced wear, Speedy also requested a smaller-sized loading/ejection port. This provides for a larger front and rear receiver ring, which enhances bolt bearing surface. More bearing surface reduces point loading for less internal wear.

We were surprised that Speedy did not order a drop port for his Viper. He explained: “I’m a bag squeezer, so I keep my forearm right where the cases would exit the drop port. I’ve used the drop ports, but given my shooting style, I prefer a conventional port.” Speedy did decide to fit the bolt with a SAKO-style extractor. He believes this is easier to tune and can contribute to accuracy. Speedy told us: “With a conventional sliding plate extractor, like you find on the Stolle actions, there can be a bit of a side push as you chamber the round. I think this can affect the way the bullet enters the chamber. With the SAKO extractor there is no side-push so I can reduce the possibility of bullet misalignment.”

BR-X Stock — American Design, Canadian Craftsmanship
The BR-X carbon fiber stock represents a third-generation design. The original Millenium, built by Lee Six, was a hollow shell. This modern BR-X is carbon fiber over a foam core. In Light Varmint trim, it weighs just 1.5 pounds. Speedy tells us: “this BR-X has a low center of gravity, slight pistol grip, and the angles are really straight and true. It tracks well in the bags, and won’t lift out of the rear bag during recoil. That’s one of the purposes of the wedge-shaped rear section.”

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engraved

Speedy looked at the various benchrest stocks, and, with input from Tony Boyer, he worked out a design that mirrored many of the better features of existing designs with some significant enhancements. The first thing you’ll notice is that the geometry is very uniform. The flats on the side of the fore-arm are perfectly parallel. The underside of the fore-arm is seamless and completely flat. Speedy explained “one problem we’ve seen with stocks that have a mold seam in the middle is that sometimes the two halves of the mold don’t mate perfectly. Sometimes the mold is mismatched so one side is on a different plane. That creates all kinds of handling issues. If the bottom of the stock is convex, even a little bit, you lose a lot of stability.”

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engravedMuch thought went into the rear section of the stock. Speedy and Tony found that many stocks would start off tracking well, but by the end of the string they were pulling themselves out of alignment. Speedy noted that with some more conventional designs, they tended to ride up out of the rear bag after two or three shots. The BR-X works differently. It uses a wedge design, rather than a radius, so it tends to drive itself down into the bag on recoil. The BR-X is not the only stock to use a wedge in the rear, but it is different than other wedge designs. According to Speedy: “On most other wedge stocks, the wedge tapers towards the pistol grip, making the ‘V’ wider towards the end of the buttstock. This will change point of aim as the stock moves. The BR-X has a wedge that is a constant ‘V’, with no taper from the end to the pistol grip. This does make the gun track better and stay on target better.”

Competition Benchrest Terminology

Bughole: Very small group.
Mothball: The 10-ring on the standard Benchrest Target.
Tomato Stake: A worn out or otherwise inaccurate rifle barrel.
Screamer: A group measuring less than 0.100″ at 100 yards or less than 0.250” at 200 yards.
Weather Report: A Group “scattered” as a result of poor wind doping.
Wailing Wall: Place where targets that have been scored can be viewed by competitors.
Dope the Wind: Ccompensate for the effects of wind by shifting aiming points on the target.

Barrels–The Hunt for a ‘Hummer’
Top 6 PPC competitors often run through a number of barrels in the quest for a “hummer” that performs optimally. In addition to the Pat McMillen tube on this gun, Speedy uses barrels from Hart, Krieger, and Shilen. He’s tried a few from some other boutique barrel makers and they shot well, but he wasn’t satisfied with the barrel life. Some of them lost their competitive edge after just 500-600 rounds. He won’t name names in print, but you can call and ask. When choosing a barrel, Speedy recommends that you invest the time and call a few well-known smiths who regularly compete in high-level BR matches. Find out what’s working real well currently.

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engravedSpeedy says, “you can read the equipment lists from the big shoots, but the printed results can be deceiving. That winning barrel might have been produced a couple of years ago. Barrel-makers do have good runs and not-so-good runs. Do your homework and find out what’s working best right now.” Speedy prefers 6-groove barrels: “I’ve shot em all one time or another. It seems that the 6-groove barrels are easier to get to shoot. It seems at 200 yards bullets from a 4-groove barrel move more than from a 6-groove barrel. Both windage and elevation. I think Tony Boyer feels the same way.” [Editor’s Note: Speedy’s groove observations were made many seasons ago. Today, many top shooters are using 4-groove and 5-groove barrels, and 3-grooves have been successful in score competition.]

We asked about Speedy’s signature “SpiderWeb finish”. While the web design has esthetic appeal, there is a functional side as well: “Tests have shown that a bead-blasted barrel will shed heat faster than a highly polished barrel. With the SpiderWeb, we leave most of the bead-blast finish on the barrel, but the web effect gives the tube some visual appeal.”

Speedy Speaks — How to Succeed in Benchrest Competition

Let me begin by saying that benchrest competition is the most difficult sport I’ve ever tried. For the newcomer, it can be daunting. From the very word “go” you are thrown to the wolves. Most new competitors have about a two and a half or three-year window. After that, if they are not meeting their expectations, they get fed up and leave the sport. Considering the time, effort, and money they may have expended in that time, that’s an unfortunate outcome.

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engravedSo, how does one improve as a shooter and get to the point where you are meeting your goals? First you need to break down the shooting process into its parts–gun handling, loading technique, wind awareness, time management, bag set-up, and what I call ‘bench management’. Then you need a mentor. Benchrest is like golf–you can have the best equipment (best action, best stock, best rest) but you won’t get far without a knowledgeable veteran to monitor your progress and observe your technique. Without a mentor, benchrest is a rough game to play and you can reach a frustration point after a couple of years.

If you don’t have somebody who can sit and evaluate your loading style, bolt-working, follow-through, and wind-reading etc., you can develop bad habits that are hard to break. If there’s no one to monitor your shooting and see what you’re doing wrong, you’ll keep making the same mistakes. So how does one find a mentor? Well it’s not a bad idea to attend one of the shooting schools. But one-on-one training is best. Look for someone with a strong record in competition, but a person who is also patient. And when you find that person, show some loyalty. With most people who have been involved in the sport a while, if you show them allegiance, they will return that allegiance.

6mm PPC Basics — About the Cartridge

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engravedDeveloped by Louis Palmisano and Ferris Pindell (left and right in photo), the 6 PPC is the “King of the Hill” in short-range benchrest competition, the most accurate cartridge ever invented. It still completely dominates 100- and 200-yard Group BR Shooting. If you want to win in that game, you pretty much have to shoot a 6 PPC, or some close variant of the 6 PPC cartridge design.

Easily made from Lapua 220 Russian brass, the 6mm PPC has a small primer and small flash hole. The small flash hole/primer accounts for much of the 6 PPC’s superior accuracy, though nobody really knows precisely how or why. The “short, fat” shape and nearly straight body contribute to efficient, consistent combustion and good “chamber behavior”.

While SAKO has created an official SAAMI 6mm PPC round, called the 6PPC USA, most American 6 PPC shooters run tight match chambers cut with custom reamers. There will be variations from one reamer to another, enough so that custom dies are generally recommended for match guns. Here is a PT&G reamer spec’d by Speedy a while back. He prefers a .263″ neck because that works better than .262″ when he needs to use his tightest bushings to get more neck tension.

Speedy thomas gonzalez 6mm PPC 6PPC 6 PPC christmas red rifle stiller viper engraved

The 6 PPC’s case capacity, case size to bore ratio, and combustion properties seem to be just about ideal for the short 6mm match bullets. A 6BR can come close, but when the goal is shooting “zero” groups at 100 and 200 yards, the 6 PPC is the clear winner. Currently most 6 PPC shooters form their cases from Lapua 220 Russian brass. Norma also makes factory-formed 6 PPC cases, but Norma brass is not commonly used as most shooters believe it is less “tough” than Lapua brass and accordingly won’t last as long with very stout match loads.

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July 29th, 2019

Jack Neary Shoots WBC Record 0.110″ at 200 Yards in Canada

Jack Neary Team Lapua Vihtavuori WBC World Championship benchrest 6mm PPC Calgary Alberta Canada

No, that’s not two shots — it is FIVE shots, with basically four in one hole and a fifth very slightly over. If that’s not impressive enough, consider this stunning 0.110″ group was shot at TWO HUNDRED yards — the length of two football fields. This amazing group was shot by Jack Neary at the 2019 World Benchrest Championship (WBC) held in Calgary, Alberta earlier this month.

Neary’s 0.110″ 200-yard group establishes a new WBC world record in the Light Varmint (LV) rifle class (10.5-lb max rifle weight). Jack was competing with Team USA “C Squad”, which also captured the WBC 2-Gun Gold Medal in the 4-man Team Championship.

Jack Neary Team Lapua Vihtavuori WBC World Championships benchrest 6mm PPC Calgary Alberta CanadaWorld Benchrest Championships
The World Benchrest Championships are held every two years and attract competitors from over 20 countries. Jack Neary’s .110″ group is now a confirmed WBC 200-yard World Record for smallest 5-shot group. Neary was shooting a 6mm PPC hand-loaded with Vihtavuori N133 powder.

NOTE: This is a record for WBC competition. However, it is slightly larger than current NBRSA and IBS 200-yard Light Varmint (LV) records. The NBRSA LV 200-yard record is 0.075″ set by Johnnie Stewart in 2009. The IBS LV 200-yard record is 0.091″ by David Farrar in 2006. Still, Neary’s 0.110″ 5-shot group is a great accomplishment, set at the highest level of competition, at a match which had very challenging conditions.

Jack Neary Team Lapua Vihtavuori WBC World Championships benchrest 6mm PPC Calgary Alberta Canada

Jack stated, “Vihtavuori’s temperature stability and cleaning burning attributes have been instrumental for competitors to achieve world record accuracy in the furthest corners of the world.”

Vihtavuori powders (predominently N133) were used by nearly every competitor (over 90%) during the World Benchrest Championship. VV N133 continues to dominate the short-range benchrest game. Notably, Vihtavuori powders have also been successful in the Extreme Long Range game, with VV powders used by recent KO2M winners. The next World Benchrest Championship will be held in Fall of 2021 in South Africa.

Jack Neary Team Lapua Vihtavuori WBC World Championships benchrest 6mm PPC Calgary Alberta Canada

Neary Helps Team USA Win Gold at World Championship

Team Lapua’s Jack Neary, along with his Team USA “C Squad” teammates Harley Baker, Gary Bristow, and Jeff Graves, won the 4-Man Team Gold Medal at the 2019 World Benchrest Championship held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada this past week. Neary’s squad had the best overall Grand Aggregate, 0.2598, for the WBC combined 2-Gun Championship. Team USA “A Squad” took second place with a 0.2646 2-Gun Aggregate. CLICK HERE for WBC Team Championship Results.

All Team USA Gold Medalists used Lapua cartridge cases exclusively at the WBC. Lapua cartridge cases are known for superb quality of construction, using only the finest raw materials and superior annealing processes. Each case is machined to exacting dimensions. Lapua brass is renown for its superior consistency and longevity. The best brass also lasts the longest.

Neary stated, “Lapua cases are the foundation [for] our competition hand-loads[.] When competing at the highest levels against the most talented shooters in the world, we need the absolute best components available. There’s no doubt Lapua helped secure the Gold for Team USA.”

Lapua vihtavuori CapstoneAbout Lapua and Vihtavuori
Lapua produces the highest-quality small caliber cartridges and components for civilian and professional use. Vihtavuori is renowned for smokeless powders with superb lot-to-lot consistency that deliver superior accuracy Lapua and Vihtavuori are part of the Capstone Precision Group, exclusive U.S. distributor for Berger, Lapua, Vihtavuori and SK-Rimfire products. For more information, visit Lapua.com and Vihtavuori.com.

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March 21st, 2017

The Amazing 30 Major — 6.5 Grendel Necked Up to .30 Caliber

30 Major 6.5 Grendel 30 caliber PPC

Sometimes everything comes together — a great barrel, the right load, good bullets, and, of course, a gifted trigger-puller. Check out this target from Forum member Mike Ezell. That’s five (5) shots at 100 yards from Mike’s 30 Major benchrest rifle. When this group was shot a while back, Mike reported: “I fired a few groups in the great weather. No surprises — it did VERY well! My little wildcat, the 30 Major, has always been a shooter. That target was not a fluke — I shot a few groups today and Agg’d a high One.” Mike is a Kentucky gunsmith who builds his own rifles.

30 Major is Based on 6.5 Grendel
What’s a “30 Major” you ask? This is Mike’s own wildcat, a 6.5 Grendel necked up to .30 caliber. Mike writes: “The 30 Major is essentially a .070″-long 30 PPC. With the great 6.5 Grendel brass available from Lapua, all you need to do is neck-up and turn the necks to prep the brass.” Mike says it is very much like a 30 BR, but you just start with 6.5 Grendel brass instead of 6mmBR brass.

The cartridge has one major benefit — it utilizes a PPC-diameter bolt face. That makes it easy to convert your group-shooting 6 PPC to shoot score with .30-cal bullets. Mike explains: “If you have a PPC, to shoot score, all you have to do is chamber up a [.30 caliber] barrel and screw it on your PPC.”

From 7.62×39 Russian to 30 Major — Full Circle

Arms expert Neil Gibson has an interesting perspective on the lineage of the 30 Major. He reminds us that this wildcat has returned to its roots: “Start off with the 7.62×39 Russian [cartridge]. The Russians then modify it, necking it down to .223 for deer hunting. The U.S. benchrest guys then modify that, necking it up to 6mm and blowing the case out making the 6mm PPC. Someone takes that case, necks it out to 6.5 mm, making the 6.5 PPC. Alexander Arms takes that and makes the 6.5 Grendel. Then finally Mike Ezell takes the Grendel and necks it up to 30 caliber, making the 30 Major. From 30 caliber, back to 30 caliber. OK, the original uses .31 caliber bullets, but the bore is still .300. Talk about almost coming round full circle!”

7.62×39 Russian
v
.220 Russian
v
6mm PPC
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6.5 PPC
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6.5 Grendel
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30 Major

The 7.62×39 Russian was the Grand-Daddy of the 30 Major…
7.62x39 Russian Kalashnikov 30 Major 6.5 Grendel

Great Accuracy Restored after Solving Mystery Problem
To get his 30 Major rig shooting this well, Mike had to solve a mysterious problem that cropped up last year. Mike explains: “Two years running, I have finished in the top 15 in IBS points shooting [the 30 Major], but last year’s benchrest season was tough.” Mike was having some accuracy issues that defied explanation. But he figured it out: “The front action screw was bottoming out against the barrel extension – just barely. A simple fix brought the gun back to life. It’s a Stiller Viper Drop Port. The action is screwed and glued into the stock, so I was a bit surprised … especially after having checked for [that issue] while looking for the problem. I’m just glad to have found the trouble so I can begin to re-instill some confidence in the gun and myself, after last year.”

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May 11th, 2013

‘The List’ Has Great Deals on Previously-Owned Precision Rifles

Bob White Shooter's CornerWant a great deal on a pre-owned precision rifle? Then visit Bob White’s Shooter’s Corner website and check out “The List”. Bob maintains a wide selection of used benchrest, varmint, and precision rifles. In fact, Bob offers the largest inventory of used benchrest rifles and equipment in the USA. Along with complete rifles, you’ll find accessories, rests, scopes, and reloading tools.

NOTE: “The List” was last updated in January 2013, but there are still plenty of great deals on hand.

Contact Bob White directly for the latest offerings or ask for his personal “hand picks” from his vast inventory: (973) 663-5159; email: shootcnr [@] optonline.net.

You can find exceptional deals on “The List”, with complete, custom-action Benchrest rifles for as little as $1300.00, and Varmint rifles starting at $500.00. Here are eight examples (listings subject to change without notice):

Benchrest Rifle: 6PPC Light Varmint
BAT “S” multi-flat action R/L R eject. Bartlein 23½” bbl, 1-14T, .262 neck. Bruno/McMillan f-glass glue-in stock with unique Burl figured wood-grain finish. Jewell 2 oz. trigger. Includes: Kelbly type scope bases. Gunsmith: L. Bruno. This rig is Brand New, UNFIRED. Get a new rig without the 6 month to 1 year wait. $3150.(cost to build new $3800.) 4036 ser #S306.

Benchrest Rifle: 6PPC and 25 BR LV or HV (five barrels)
6PPC + 25BR LV/HV. Stolle Teddy polished R/L action with Jewell 2 oz. trigger. 3 Hart and 2 Shilen barrels with .262 PPC neck. One barrel 808 rounds, two barrels less than 100 rounds each. McMillan f-glass glue-in stock. Gunsmiths: D. Scott and S. Goodling. Excellent condition. Hard to find R/L Teddy with FIVE low mileage barrels, .308 bolt-face. Detailed records on all barrels. $2599. Definite $4200+ value (may sell lower w/fewer bbls). 3509 ser #94313

Benchrest Rifle: 6PPC Light Varmint (Left bolt)
6PPC Light Varmint, Stolle Panda LB/RP action with Jewell 2 oz. trigger. Krieger 22” bbl, 1:14″ twist, .262 neck, less than 750 rounds. McMillan f-glass glue-in stock, yellow color. Very good condition. Bargain in an accurate Left Hand bench gun. An extra .223-size bolt available at additional charge. $1449. 4019 ser #0423.

Benchrest Rifle: Unlimited 6PPC + .308
6PPC/308 Unlimited/Heavy Bag Gun, Hart #4 R/R action with two bolts. Two Hart straight-contour 1:14″ twist barrels: (1) .308 1.350×27¼” (unfired) with .340 no-turn neck, plus (1) PPC 1.350×25½” with .264 neck (less than 300 rounds). Lee Six Benchrest Unlimited f-glass stock, glue-in and bolt-in with pillar glass-bedding. Hart 2 oz. trigger. Includes Unertl-posa scope bases and $200 all-aluminum fitted gun case. Gunsmith: B. White and R.W. Hart. Near excellent condition — a super buy in a multipurpose/caliber rig with super accuracy. $1899. Cost to build new $4000+. 3614 ser #W-917.

Long-Range Benchrest Rifle: 300 WSM Light Gun
30-Caliber WSM Light Gun Class. Polished Stolle Kodiak action R/R, with Jewell 2 oz. trigger. Shilen 28.5″, 1:10″-twist barrel, .343 neck. McMillan Tooley MBR f-glass stock, blue color. Includes: decelerator pad. Gunsmith: B. White. Like new. Less than 100 rounds on entire rig/competition ready. $2250. Cost to build new $3900. 4047 ser #98311.

Varmint Rifle: 6mm AR (6.5 Grendel necked to 6mm)
Custom Rem 700 BDL R/R action w/Sako extractor, Timney 2-lb trigger, machined steel trigger guard/floorplate. Douglas 24” sporter barrel, 1:12” twist less than 50 rounds. No-turn neck. H&S Precision f-glass stock (black) with aluminum bedding block. Includes Burris 1″ scope mounts, oversize recoil lug, lapped locking lugs, speed lock fire control, 50 cases and Redding dies. Excellent condition. One accurate shooter. $899. 3996 ser #G6337962.

Rimfire Rifle: .22 LR Cooper Showpiece
Mod 57M Cooper, factory SS 24” fluted LV barrel, 1:16″-twist, less than 500 rounds. Factory Montana varminter AAA+ walnut stock with full fiddleback. Factory 14 oz. trigger. Includes: Talley scope bases. Has Cooper extra charge options: Grade II engraving, Skeleton grip cap, Inlayed sling swivels, extra high-grade wood, fluted barrel. A one-of-a-kind piece in as new (99%) condition at great savings. $2850. Cooper’s new price is $4600. 4051 ser #7113.

Rimfire Rifle: Anschutz .22 Magnum
Anschutz Model 1720 D Meister Grade. Factory 23¼” bbl — bore-scoped excellent. Factory figured/checkered, walnut stock, factory trigger. Includes Leupold 1″ scope mounts, custom bore cleaning action tube, original shipping container w/instr manual and factory test group. One very handsome near-new (98% condition) piece. $899. 4033 ser #1450433.

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