June 21st, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Father & Son Compete at 1000 Yards Together

Trystan Shawn Williams Deep Creek Montana 1000 yards
Young Trystan Williams with father Shawn Williams competing at recent 1000-yard Match at Deep Creek Range near Missoula, Montana.

For Father’s Day 2020, we feature a father and son duo who showed their skills at 1000 yards at the Deep Creek Range outside Missoula, Montana. Representing the younger generation, Trystan Williams drilled a 3.205″, 46 score 5-shot group on his first-ever target shot in his first-ever match. That represents 0.305 MOA at 1000 yards! Trystan’s 6mm Dasher IBS Light Gun was built by his father, Shawn Williams of North Ridge Rifles. Both father and son were competing at an IBS match held June 13-14, 2020.

Trystan Shawn Williams Deep Creek Montana 1000 yards

Deep Creek 1000-Yard IBS Match — June 13-14, 2020
Report by Alex Wheeler
We are back to shooting after the draconian measures taking by our state have been lifted for the most part. Our regular match 7 and 8 where held as scheduled as well as a make-up match for match #2 which was canceled in March. Conditions for the weekend where variable, ranging from very good, low winds and mirage, to extreme wind and thunderstorm warnings. Surprisingly, as conditions worsened on Sunday and scores went down, some still managed very respectable groups.

One of the main highlights of the weekend was the shooting by 11-year-old Trystan Williams. This was Trystan’s very first time shooting in a match. His first 1000-yard Light Gun target ever was a 3.205″ 46 score. Trystan backed that up with a couple more excellent targets, a 3.143″ 46, and a 3.819″ 47. Trystan shot his own tuning targets Friday before the match and helped his Father Shawn Williams load the ammunition for the match. Shooting talent runs in the family, with father Shawn shooting back to back 4″, 10-shot groups in Heavy Fun class and Uncle Jim shooting three, 50-point scores in a row in LG class. An interesting note, Trystan shot some of the new Alpha Dasher brass on some targets, using his 6mm Dasher. Internal volumes are different than Lapua, requiring different powder charges, but accuracy seems to be on par.

Trystan Shawn Williams Deep Creek Montana 1000 yards

Ultra-Accurate 6mm Dasher Built by Dad
Trystan’s rifle features a 1.550″ BAT B dual-port action and Krieger 1:8″-twist HV barrel chambered in 6mm Dasher. The action is pillar-bedded in a wood laminate Deep Creek Tracker stock. Trystan shot off of a SEB NEO coaxial rest. Father Shawn Williams, a talented gunsmith, built Trystan’s rifle. Shawn is the owner of North Ridge Rifles in Helena, Montana.

Looking back at the firing line from behind the 1000-Yard Targets at Deep Creek.
Deep Creek Montana

Top-Performing Bullet Options for the 1000-Yard Game
V-Tac 103gr bullets from Vapor Trail have been performing very well this year. Trystan was shooting them, as well as Jim Williams and James Bradley. James shot the smallest group of the weekend, a 2.551″ 50 score with sorted V-Tacs in his 3-lug BAT action. James says they sort like a good lot of Bergers and they can’t be beat for the price. Even with the excellent custom bullets we have, you can still compete with a good lot of Bergers. Chris Bosse shot a 3.986″ 100 score in HG with his 6.5×47 Lapua on a Borden action and custom stock. He was jumping 140gr Berger Hybrids. Eight of those ten shots on the target went into a mid-two-inch cluster. That’s impressive.

Trystan Shawn Williams Deep Creek Montana 1000 yards Tom Mousel

Tom Mousel (shown above) had a very good weekend, winning group in each class he entered. Sweeping all three Lignt Guns matches. Tom was part of the development process of Roy Hunter’s impressive 103A bullet and Tom used them in all three of his rifles this weekend. Tom reports that tuning is key. Tom does full load development with every barrel, even if they are chambered the same. This weekend all three of Tom’s barrels were running a different powder charge, seating depth, and primer. Lesson here — every barrel is unique, so each needs its own load development process.

Trystan Shawn Williams Deep Creek Montana 1000 yards

It was great to see some good groups and scores, as well as see some new shooters and out of state shooters travel to the match. We’re all Looking forward to the next match at Deep Creek. CLICK HERE for Match Results (ZIP file).

Deep Creek Montana 1000 yard range
Deep Creek 1000-yard line: 46°55’35.03” N 114°14’45.40” W, elevation 3355′.

New Long Range Benchrest Trend — Loading at the Range
Loading at the range has become common practice at Deep Creek. While that load method is the norm for short-range Benchrest, it’s still uncommon in long range disciplines. Montana has very drastic weather changes on a daily basis and it’s unrealistic to expect a rifle to stay in tune though those changes. It’s tough to come pre-loaded and beat the guys loading at the range. You are relying on luck that the tune will not change. It does take a little more effort to bring all your gear. But in my opinion, the pay-off is worth the effort. Like many things in life, you get out what you put in. Loading at the range does provide a step forward in accuracy and that’s what Benchrest competition is all about. — Alex Wheeler

Trystan Shawn Williams Deep Creek Montana 1000 yards

Here is a birds-eye view video of the Deep Creek Range, taken with an aerial drone.

Trystan Shawn Williams Deep Creek Montana 1000 yards

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May 3rd, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Berger SWN F-Open Champ Jay C’s 284 Wheeler

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Report by Jay Christopherson
2020 Berger SW Nationals F-Open Champion

Team Member, Team Lapua-Brux-Borden
I’ve been shooting F-Class for about 9 years now. In fact, I shot my very first match, a 600-yard mid-range match, using a 6mm Dasher, on March 19, 2011. My first relay was a 188-4X and my overall score was 582-19X. I remember shooting a really nice group in the 9-ring, because I dialed the scope the wrong way and I shot lots of “verification” shots before making adjustments. I also remember wondering if that was a good score for that range in those mostly calm conditions (it wasn’t). I’ve tracked every match I’ve ever shot and I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve always been a competitive person and F-Class gave me an outlet to indulge both my competitiveness and my fondness for details. In what other individual sport does a thousandth of an inch (or less!) become important? Or a tenth of a grain?

Some of my greatest pleasures in this sport come not necessarily from winning a match (though I won’t turn that down), but in identifying something small in what I am doing that has a material effect on paper. Maybe it’s a tiny change in seating depth. Maybe it’s a slightly modified strategy for making wind calls. Maybe it’s a tiny position or hold change. Whatever it is, when it works, there’s no better feeling.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

I have a full-time job to go with this hobby, so finding the time for productive training is difficult. You have to really plan ahead to maximize the time you spend reloading, developing loads, and training at the range. To that end, I invest a lot of time in reducing the things that I do at the loading bench. I load ammo on a progressive press, though modified to produce ammo to my standards. I don’t clean brass. I don’t do a lot of things that most shooters would call traditional in the loading room. Because frankly, I don’t have the time between family, work, and other interests.

If it doesn’t make a difference on paper, I mostly don’t do it. Still, there are one or two loading habits I’m trying to get rid of. I also pre-seat all my ammo for matches — whatever I show up at the match with, is what I have. I don’t clean my rifle between days at the match. I had well over 200 rounds without cleaning by the time the last shot was fired at the 2020 SWN. It took a lot of time for me to get comfortable with that. That works for what I do, but I wouldn’t dare try it with any other loads or rifles, at least, not without a lot of testing to be comfortable. My original 6MM Dasher shooting Reloder 15 couldn’t go that many rounds without cleaning and building up a carbon ring. Unfortunately, I learned a tough lesson on that one my first year.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profileI do all my own gunsmithing, including chambering, bedding, and stock work. I’m no Keith Weil, Alex Wheeler, or some of those other guys, but I feel pretty good about the work I do. I know that when there’s a mistake or imperfection, it’s MY mistake and I can live with that. I like to keep things as minimal as possible, so I shoot off a SEB Mini (no mods) and SEB rear bag.

I also shoot with a spotting scope at Long Range, using a Kowa TSN-663 with 25X LER eyepiece and a relatively new spotting scope stand by Rod Brakhage who is a fine F-Class shooter himself. I really like how smooth and adjustable it is on the ground compared to some other rigs I’ve used.

The 284 Wheeler — Slightly Modified .284 Win
This year at the SWN, I shot a 284 Wheeler, which is a straight .284 Win that has some small modifications designed by Alex Wheeler. I think that the work and experimentation that Alex does with reamer design really shows up on paper. In 2019 I was testing the reamer in a couple barrels, looking for the right load. I shot some great relays and team practices with it that year, but this was the first time I brought enough ammo to shoot the entire week with it. Coupled with Berger’s 7MM 180 grain Hybrid Target bullets which I point to increase BC consistency, and Lapua brass, it’s an effective combination. In particular, the brass has lasted me for 13 firings with no signs of fatigue, so I expect I’ll be able to use it at Worlds in 2021 and beyond.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

I also shot the entire 2020 SWN with a Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm scope, my preferred scope for individual matches. It’s a rock-solid reliable scope in my experience, with a great eye box, reliable and repeatable mechanical controls. The Vortex ECR-1 reticle has quickly become my favorite reticle. All four of my Open rifles are built on Borden BRMXD actions, Brux barrels, and sitting in X-Ring F-Open stocks, which are Robertson clones (more on that below). I’ve tried to make each of my rifles as much of an identical clone as possible.

I am not sponsored by anyone as an individual shooter, only through team sponsorship with Lapua-Brux-Borden. Which means that for individual matches, I am free to use what I think gives me the best opportunity to win for individual matches. In practice, the only difference tends to be the scope that I use, as mentioned above.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Jay Christopherson F-Open Rifle Specifications:
Cartridge: 284 Wheeler (variant of .284 Winchester)
Optics: Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm
Stock: X-Ring F-Open Stock with R.A.D.
Barrel: Brux 1:9″-twist, 32″-long barrel
Action: Borden BRMXD action
Trigger: Flavio Fare

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Q: What was your biggest challenge at the 2020 Berger SWN?

Jay: The biggest challenge for me at this year’s SWN was purely mental. At past SWN matches where I had done well, I was trying to focus on not thinking about the different things going on around me. Where I was ranked on the score sheet. How well other shooters were doing. How many points or Xs I was ahead (or behind). Being worried about conditions or whether my ammo would hold up. And so on. And sooner or later, I think those things break your focus.

Going into a relay calculating the points or Xs that you can’t afford to drop is a recipe for losing. It’s like trying NOT to picture a pink elephant with purple dots when somebody challenges you try to not think of a pink elephant with purple dots. In previous SWN events, I came up just short three times in a row, for one reason or another. So, in 2020 I went in with a mental game plan.

Mental Game Plan — Envisioning Success
I pictured what it would take to be successful and what winning would feel like. First relays, then days, and then the match. I started that process months before the match actually happened. I thought about who I was shooting against and how much pressure there was to make every shot count. I thought about how I had performed or reacted in similar situations in the past. And I planned out what I would do and how I would handle those things. I strived to be neither negative nor positive — I wanted to be neutral. I wanted to be ready to win, instead of being surprised by it.

Q: What gear/hardware items give you an edge over the competition?

Jay: There’s no single piece of gear that I can think of that gives someone an edge over somebody else. It all sort of works — it’s more about being consistent with whatever hardware you have. But one piece of new gear that I tried out at the SWN was a single-piece scope mount called the Alphamount (photo below), by Richard Near of NEAR Manufacturing.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

I think scope mounts are the most overlooked piece of equipment in F-Class right now — whether they be improperly aligned, improperly torqued, or just plain junk. I think people put a lot of blame on their scopes that can be traced back to mounts. The Alphamount (and single-piece mounts in general) are something that I believe in now, having done a lot of testing. It worked out OK for me at the SWN.

Action for Back-Up Rifle Is Glued and Screwed into Stock
One of the new things I am trying this year is a “glue and screw” action set-up. At the 2019 US F-Class Nationals in Raton, we got rained on a little and when I pulled my rifle apart, I found water between the bedding and action (the bedding is about 2 years old). At the SWN, I found that something had moved enough that I could torque the front action screw and bind the bolt. Not good, but luckily this was my backup rifle that I shot for Mid-Range (badly) and not my lead rifle. There could have been stock movement or other factors as well, but there was no question the bedding had shrunk when I stuck a dial indicator on it and found that my pillars were now standing proud.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

Some people had been goading me to try a “glue-and-screw” procedure. Since I had nothing better to do during the COVID-19 lockdown, I pulled out the Dremel, scuffed up the action and bedding, removed the recoil lug, and glued the action into the stock. I’ve had it out a couple times since and it seems to be shooting well, but we’ll see how it holds up and what sort of difference it might make as time goes on.

Q: What is your advice to newcomers in F-Class and Long Range competition?

Jay: Find a nemesis. Someone local who puts in the same effort that you do and is as competitive as you are. Be friends, share info, but work your behind off to make sure you win on match day. I guarantee you someone reading this knows what I’m talking about. The best thing you can do is have someone who pushes you to perform better each time out. You love to win against them, but not as much as you hate to lose to them.

Q: What do you like most about Long Range and F-Class competition?

Jay: I like the challenge of F-Class — it’s a nice blend of working to get the most out of your equipment and the most out of yourself as a shooter. You can have the greatest shooting rifle in the world and it won’t matter a bit if you can’t be consistent pulling the trigger or making good wind calls. By the same token, you can be the greatest wind caller and most consistent trigger puller in the world — but it won’t matter a bit if you can’t wring the best possible performance out of your rifle for that tiny little target at 1000 yards. I like Long Range because everything is magnified — there are rarely easy shots.

Q: What do you prefer, individual events or team matches?

Jay: Team matches. No contest. Most of the reason I travel to matches is for the team events. But just throwing together a team of great individual shooters is not enough to consistently win. You have to operate as a team, which at times means subsuming your own individual goals for the good of the team. I’ve gone into big matches knowing that my team rifle is my best rifle by a mile — but knowing that the best thing for the team’s current and future success is for me to not burn that barrel out (or burning up known good components) in the individual events. And that’s fine with me. Being part of a team of shooters with the same goal, with the same drive, the same focus on team rather than individual — and able to deliver the goods — that’s the reason why I do this.

Team Lapua Brux Borden

Q: What kind of stock do you use and how does it behave?

Jay: I use an X-Ring Open stock, which is basically a Robertson clone. I’ve been using X-Ring for about 4 years now. I’ve been through a lot of different stocks to find the one that fits me and the way I like to shoot, and X-Ring has done that for me. There’s a lot of focus recently on lowering the center of gravity and extending the stock length through various methods to solve problems like torque, jump, etc. — those are just problems that I don’t experience or, at least, that don’t bother me while I’m shooting. So, I don’t tend to worry about them. The X-Ring fits nicely and runs very well in the bags that I use. I do think that you have to spend some time finding the right bag setup for the stock you are using. I have at least 9 different rear bags that I have tested at one time or another until I settled on my current bag.

Q: Do you have any specific Gun Handling Tips for F-Open shooters?

Jay: As for gun handling, I prefer a light hold — my cheek indexes off the stock with a very light touch and my trigger hand indexes off the stock also with a light touch so that I have a consistent trigger finger position. What I do is in the style of “free recoil”, but is NOT fully “free recoil”, since I DO lightly touch the stock. For the butt, I run the R.A.D. recoil reducer at its lowest setting, which means that I can barely touch off for indexing purposes and still not interrupt the recoil pulse because the R.A.D. absorbs it. This was a suggestion that Will McCloskey made to me a couple years ago in place of leaving space.

This video, from a past Berger SWN, illustrates Jay Christopherson’s shooting style. He employs a very light touch on the gun. The front rest is a SEB Mini. If this Facebook video doesn’t load, CLICK HERE.

My hold for F-Class has evolved over time into what it is now. There are lots of successful shooters that are using varying degrees of holds, from light to hard. Again, It all sort of works — the most important part is that whatever you do is consistent and repeatable, hence my touch points that ensure my head, shoulder, and trigger finger are in the same position every time. There are shooters out there that will rant about “the fundamentals of shooting” and insist that your legs have to be a certain way, your cheek has to be a certain way, your breathing has to be done a certain way. I’m sure that’s valid for what they do and I’m fine with them looking down on me for it, but I do what produces results for me. For certain, my position and hold when shooting sling is completely different. All it means is that you have to be prepared to adapt.

PARTING SHOT — Have Guns, Will Travel

Here is one of Jay’s other F-Open Rifles. When traveling he separates the stock from the barreled action. He uses a custom-cut foam piece that holds the components very securely. Note the separate slots for barreled action, stock, scope (in rings), bolt assembly, and spotting scope.

Jay Christopherson Berger SWN Southwest Nationals Champion F-Open Rifle .284 Winchester Win profile

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April 21st, 2020

Action Timing — Process and Benefits Demonstrated

Alex Wheeler Accuracy gunsmith Panda Kelbly Stolle action timing receiver benchrest video

Kelbly makes outstanding actions, including the Stolle Pandas. In the past 20 years, Pandas have probably won more benchrest matches than any other action (though BATs and Bordens are increasingly in the winning circle). Recently gunsmith Alex Wheeler of Wheeler Accuracy worked his magic on an aluminum Panda, optimizing the “ignition timing” of the action. This involves many small mods to bolt, camming surfaces, trigger, and firing pin: “The whole cam helix and detent shelf is re-cut. The firing pin and cocking piece are modified as well.” When executed properly, Ignition Timing has a number of benefits, including a smoother bolt opening/closing, improved firing pin fall, and enhanced accuracy (though the accuracy improvements can be subtle).

BEFORE Action Timing — Stiff and Clunky

Alex reports: “Normally Panda actions have plenty of firing pin fall. For one reason or another this one was very low. Before timing, firing pin fall was .210 with a Bix’N Andy (BNA) trigger. After trigger timing firing pin fall is .244 with zero cock on close.” Here is how the action functioned before timing work:

CLICK Photo to start VIDEO

Alex notes: “As you can see, after the cocking piece rides out of the detent notch it then
falls to the trigger and is then re-cocked. This is normal on most un-timed actions.”

AFTER Action Timing — Smooth and Refined

Alex explains the modifications he made for this Panda action: “Moving the trigger back adds cock on close. The whole cam helix and detent shelf is re-cut. The firing pin and cocking piece are modified as well. I do love a timed Panda. In fact, I like aluminum actions, I think there is something to them. But yes, I also recommend Borden as my first choice.’

CLICK Photo to start VIDEO

Fix for Right-Bolt Actions Only
After seeing these videos on Facebook, one poster asked: “I do like my Panda but this is exactly why I bought a Borden action and I love it. It’s good to know you can make a Panda better. Alex, can you time a left bolt Panda?”

Alex replied: “No, the tooling I built is all for right hand actions sorry….”

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December 8th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: The Modern F-Open Rifle

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Emil Kovan is one of the top F-Class shooters in the world. He won the 2014 United States F-Open Championship, and finished second in F-Open Division at the 2016 Canadian National F-Class Championship in Ontario. He is a great shooter and a great gun-builder as well.

The Anatomy of a Modern F-Class Open Rifle

Report by Emil Kovan
Kovan Match Rifles LLC, www.matchrifles.com

“What are the best components for an F-Open class rifle, and why?” That’s a question that I get asked all the time and will try to answer in this article. Two months ago, I was contacted by Duane, a gentleman I met at the 2015 F-Class Nationals. He was interested in building a rifle with the new Master Class Low Profile F-Open Stock, created by Carl Bernosky and Alex Sitman of Master Class Stocks.

I have known Alex Sitman for many years, and use his stocks exclusively, but was not very familiar with his new Low Profile F-Open stock. After a brief conversation with Alex, I placed an order, and had the stock inletted and bedded at my shop in a month. My first impression was “Wow that’s a long stock” — the forearm is significantly longer than on the original Master Class F-Class prone stock. I bolted the barreled action in, and squeezed the end of the forearm and barrel together, the stock flexed a little bit, but not as much as other designs that I have tested. I think that’s due to having “more meat” in the receiver area. The full stock depth continues farther forward that on some other “low profile” designs. That makes the stock stiffer in the vertical plane, reducing the hinging effect forward of the action. The stock was finished in gloss black per the customer’s request. Interestingly, I found that the multiple layers of paint and clearcoat stiffened the stock up quite a bit.

CLICK IMAGE below for full-screen version
.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Low Center of Gravity Tames Torque
Compared to the original Master Class F-Open stock, the barrel sits about an inch lower. Lower center of gravity equals less torque, and that is very important when shooting heavy bullets in fast twist barrels. Another significant improvement is that the toe of the stock is flat and parallel to the forearm. I added a 3/4″ track rail in the rear, and milled the underside of the fore-end to create two parallel “rails” in the front to help the stock track better.

One of the biggest reasons why I like Master Class stocks, is the pistol grip. I don’t shoot “free recoil” and a comfortable pistol grip is super important to me when selecting a stock. The new Master Class Low Profile stock shares the same grip as the old model. This allows the stock to accommodate either a “hard hold” style or a more free-recoil style of shooting — whatever the rifle’s owner prefers. This design versatility is one reason I recommend Master Class stocks. Shooters may experiment with either shooting style to find what suits them best.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Cartridge Choice — A 40° .284 Win Improved
Duane decided to have the barrel chambered for my 284 KMR IMP (Improved) wildcat. What is .284 KMR IMP and why choose it over the straight .284 Winchester? Improved by definition means “made better”, I took a great cartridge, and modified it to increase capacity, reduce pressure, and increase brass life.

There are many “improved” variants of the original .284 Winchester: 7mm Walker, .284 Shehane, .284 Ackley and so on. My version, the 284 KMR IMP, shares the .010″ blown-out sidewalls of the .284 Shehane, but I have further increased the case capacity by changing the shoulder angle from 35 to 40 degrees. The 284 KMR IMP allows you to almost match magnum cartridge velocity in a standard-bolt-face action. If you want to run 180gr-class 7mm bullets over 2900 FPS, it is cheaper and more convenient to have a barrel chambered in 284 KMR IMP than to spend $650 for a magnum bolt.

Tuning Loads for the .284 Win Improved Cartridges
The 284 KMR IMP seems to have two nodes, one around 2820 fps and other at 2940 fps. My match load clocks at 2935 fps with single-digit ES. Note –I selected that load based on accuracy, NOT raw speed. A lot of novice (or hard-headed) shooters make the mistake to push their cartridges to the max, and disregard more accurate loads at lower velocity.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

The sport of F-Class is rapidly growing, and the equipment used is improving constantly. I remember that only few years ago, an F-Open rifle that could shoot sub-one-inch of vertical at 300 yards was considered competitive. Now, we are pursuing sub-one-inch vertical at 600 yards! It takes a great rifle to approach that goal, but it is also up to the shooter to learn and experiment as much as possible in order to achieve success.

Dies for an Improved .284 Win Cartridge
One of the biggest challenges in campaigning a wildcat cartridge has been obtaining great dies. When searching for custom dies, it almost seems like that the odds are stacked against us. The most common problem is wait-time — custom die orders can take months to be completed. Also, most custom die makers want you to send them two or three cases, each fire-formed three times. I find that funny because if could somehow properly size the cases for three fire-forming cycles, I would not need a sizing die.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Custom-made dies should size the case just right, but sometimes the die’s internal dimensions are slightly off, and this leads to problem number two: dies sizing too much (or even worse) too little. I had a one “custom” die that would not size the bottom of the case enough. This made the extraction of fired cases very difficult. I feel that the best option (if available) for shooters interested in wildcat chambers is to have their gunsmiths make the dies. I offer that die-making service in addition to barrel chambering.

BAT Machine “M” Action
Duane decided to use a BAT M action for this rifle, and I think that he could not have made a better choice. We are blessed with many good match-quality receivers: Barnard, BAT, Borden, Kelbly, Nesika, and Stiller just to mention a few. These are all very well-made and suitable for F-Class. Among BAT Machine Co.actions, I like BAT models M, MB, and 3LL best. I prefer these because because of their size (large bedding footprint) smoothness, timing, options available, and last but not least visual appearance.

Trigger: I recommend and use Jewell triggers. Other good options are: Kelbly, CG Jackson (good 2-Stage) Anschutz (best 2-Stage for Bat and Kelbly actions), Bix’N Andy, and David Tubb.

Barrel: Duane made another good choice here. He decided to go with a Brux 1:8.5″-twist, 4-groove cut-rifled barrel. If you look at the F-Class and Long Range benchrest equipment lists, you will see that cut-rifled barrels are currently dominating. Many records have been shot with both button-rifled, and cut-rifled barrels. I have shot both, and prefer cut-rifled barrels. I am not saying that button-rifled barrels are not capable of shooting as well as cut-rifled barrels, but on average, in my experience, four out of five cut-rifled barrels (from top makers) will shoot well, vs. three out of five buttoned barrels. YMMV, but this is what I’ve observed.

Brux Barrels is not the only company that produces very accurate cut-rifled barrels. We know that Krieger, Bartlein, Satern, and Hawk Hill Custom all make fine cut-rifled barrels as well.

Scope: Duane’s rifle was fitted with a Nightforce 15-55x52mm Competition scope with DDR-2 reticle. This optic is ultra clear, reasonably lightweight (28 oz.), super reliable, and has 1/8 MOA clicks — what you want for long range F-Class competition. In this 15-55X NF model, I like the DDR-2 reticle best, because fine cross hairs (FCH) are hard to see in heavy mirage. The DDR-2 has a heavier horizontal line, with a center dot. March scopes are also very popular and very well-made.

.284 Win F-Class F-Open Rifle Emil Kovan Brux BAT M Master Class Bernosky

Thanks for reading, and keep ‘em in the middle…

Emil Kovan F-Class competition bio photoEmil Kovan Competition History:

– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion

– 2016 F-Class Open Canadian Championship, Silver Medal (tied for first on score)

– 2015 F-Class Open National Championship, Silver Medal

– F-Class Open National Championship Teams, 2015, 2014, 2013, Shooting Team Member

– Over 15 wins in Regional and State Championships in Palma, F-TR, F-Open

– 2013 U.S. National Team Member

– 2017 U.S. National Development Team Member

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July 17th, 2019

Amazing 1K Shooting — 1000-Yard Multi-Match Records Broken

6BRA Dasher Montana Deep Creek

The bar is raised yet again — the standards for long-range accuracy keep improving. Two talented Montana shooters have both gone sub-four inches for a 1K 10-Match Aggregate. What that means is that over TEN matches, these guys have averaged under 0.4 MOA at 1000 yards. Think about that. Most shooters will be happy with half-MOA at ONE HUNDRED yards. These guys are beating that by a significant margin at ONE THOUSAND yards, and they have done it for a whole season.

1000 Yard Multi-Match IBS Records Fall at Deep Creek
David Torgerson and Tom Mousel both broke the 10-match Light Gun Group Aggregate (Agg) record. Tom also broke the 6-Match Light Gun Group Agg record. Prior to these brilliant performances, the existing IBS 10-Match Agg record was 4.3155″. David crushed that with a 3.7946″, as did Tom with a 3.8734″. The existing IBS 6-Match Agg Record was 3.072″ and Tom shot a 2.954″, which will be a new record.

This is the first time in history that anyone has Agg’d in the threes for the 10-Match and in the twos for the 6-Match! For those not familiar with 1000-yard IBS matches, the Season Aggregate is based on ten matches. All ten are averaged for the 10-match Agg and the best six are averaged for the 6-Match Agg.

Shooters Established New Records with Multiple Guns and Multiple Barrels
David shot the majority of his targets with a Bat B action and Broughton 5C barrel. But he also shot his BAT SV and Borden BRM with Krieger and Lilja barrels. David’s 1K rifles feature Deep Creek Tracker stocks and March scopes. He shot Vapor Trail 103gr bullets in the all the rigs, and all his barrels are chambered in 6BRA — a 40° wildcat based on the 6mmBR Norma. The 6BRA retains the long neck of the parent case, but has more case capacity. Some people say the 6BRA is a bit easier to tune than the 6mm Dasher, but it still achieves that ultra-accurate 2920-2960 FPS velocity node.

6BRA Dasher Montana Deep Creek

Tom Mousel shot his 6- and 10-match Aggs with two rifles, splitting time between his BAT Neuvo LR and Borden BRM. Both are chambered in 6BRA and he shot multiple Krieger barrels. Tom told us: “Thanks everyone. David was pretty steady all year, while I took more of an up-and-down route. At one point early on I thought there’s no way this would be salvaged.”

6BRA Dasher Montana Deep Creek

The Neuvo-actioned gun (shown below) features a McMillan/Wheeler LRB stock, with a March scope on top. In that rifle, Tom shot 103gr Vapor Trails. Mousel’s Borden BRM gun features a Deep Creek Tracker stock and Sightron scope. In that 6BRA rifle he shot 103gr Roy Hunter bullets.

6BRA Dasher Montana Deep Creek
Tom Mousel Rifle with BAT Neuvo LR action. This action is a Left-loading Drop Port — cartridges eject out the bottom of the action.

COMMENT by Alex Wheeler
If this doesn’t make you give up the idea you need that one hummer barrel to win I don’t know what will. Yes, you need the best equipment, but you also need the best tune and knowledge to stay on top of it. These two guys are some of the most dedicated tuners and testers I know. Well done! And well deserved!

It IS noteworthy that multiple rigs were used. Posting on Facebook, Alex H. said: “Holy ****! Tom did it not only with multiple barrels, but with two rifles AND multiple barrels? That is some outstanding performance! And Glenn K observed: “It was an awesome season to watch unfold. Congrats guys!”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, News No Comments »
May 10th, 2019

Fast Firing Using Benchrest Stock With Adjustable Rudder

Wheeler Rudder stock tracker Alex Tom Mosul

In the benchrest game, both 100/200 yard disciplines and Long Range, it’s important that your rifle track smoothly and repeatably every time. You want the rifle to come straight back without twisting, rocking, or hopping on the bags. When you’re trying to drill your entire 5-Shot or 10-Shot string quickly, it’s also important that the gun returns to the same position after each shot. When the scope crosshairs return to virtually the exact point of aim, you can make successive shots with minimal aim adjustments.

For top “runners” who try to get five shots down-range in under 20 seconds, not having to make significant aiming corrections with your front rest controls can really speed up the process. Shooting quickly permits the competitor to “stay in the condition”, sending all his shots to the target before the wind direction or wind velocity changes.

TEN Shots in 20 Seconds at 1000-Yard Match

To see how rapid shooting works, watch this video of Tom Mosul, one of the USA’s best 1000-yard shooters. In a 10-shot Heavy Gun relay, Tom shoots his 17-lb Light Gun chambered for a 6mmBR Improved cartridge. He pulls the trigger for the first time at 00:20 and he fires his tenth (and last) shot at 00:40. Tom makes TEN SHOTS in 20 seconds, an average of just 2.0 seconds per shot!

TEN Shots in 31 Seconds at 1000-Yard Match

This second video, filmed from the side, shows Tom Mosel shooting a different 17-pounder. Again, note how smoothly the stock slides back and forth. Here Tom completes Ten Shots in 31 seconds, with the first shot at 00:13, and the tenth (last) at 00.44.

Adjustable Stock Rudder Through-the-Lens Video

Gunsmith Alex Wheeler sells stocks with an adjustable metal “rudder” or “keel” on the underside of the rear section of the stock. This rudder is the only part of the stock that contacts the rear bag. This aluminum rudder can adjust slightly left to right as well as adjust up/down for angle. Some guys want the keel nearly flat while others prefer the keel to be slightly lower in the rear.


This video shows how the cross-hairs stay on target once the stock rudder is adjusted properly. Alex adjusted this particular rudder by shimming the height* and moving the back of the rudder to the right.

The rudder’s horizontal adjustability allows benchrest shooters to correct for stock flaws that might adversely affect tracking. Essentially, by adjusting the rudder, you can achieve perfect alignment. Alex Wheeler explains: “If you pull your rifle back in the bags and the cross hair moves, your stock is not straight. The easiest fix is to use an adjustable rudder. They come standard on all my stocks.”

Wheeler explains: “The white box in the center of the 1000-yard target is four inches square. With a properly-adjusted rudder it’s easy to obtain less than one inch of cross-hair movement at 1000 yards.” You can see that, once Alex made the rudder adjustment, there’s hardly any detectable movement. Alex adds, “the more you play with it, the better you get it.”

tracking rudder Wheeler mcmillan stock

*Initially Alex says he is going to shim the front. Later in the video Alex says he shimmed the rear. It can be a trial/error process. Credit Boyd Allen for finding these videos.

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March 22nd, 2019

Montana Magic — 6BR Ackley Shoots Sub-Quarter-MOA at 1000

BAT Machine neuvo benchrest rifle action krieger barrel montana deep creek tom mousel Alex Wheeler
Looking 1000 yards downrange at the Deep Creek Range outside Missoula, Montana.

On Facebook recently, we saw an eye-catching rifle. Owned by top 1000-yard competitor (and past IBS Champ) Tom Mousel, this rifle was smithed by Alex Wheeler of Wheeler Accuracy. This rig features the McMillan-crafted Wheeler LRB stock with adjustable keel. It also has BAT Machine’s very impressive new Neuvo LR (aka “Neuvo M”) action, serial number LR0001. The Neuvo LR has some important design features — horizontal lug orientation, full-diameter bolt body, and advanced fire control system. More about those features below.

BAT Machine neuvo benchrest rifle action krieger barrel montana deep creek tom mousel Alex Wheeler

This gun is a shooter. Tom has already shot a 1.5″ four-shot group at 1000 yards. How does he do that? First you need a great barrel, great bullets, and superior hand-loading skills. But then it comes down to great gun-handling. You can see that in the video below. NOTE to ALL Long-Range Benchrest shooters — Watch this video! You’ll definitely learn from watching Tom shoot — he’s one of the best in the business.

Tom Mousel shoots 1000-yard ladder test with first-released Neuvo LR action, SN LR0001.
Rifle chambering is 6BR Ackley (6BRA) in 28″ Krieger barrel.

Rifle Components and Build INFO:
This rifle has a BAT Neuvo LR (aka Neuvo “M”) action glued and screwed into the LRB stock using a special bedding block, a Boyd Allen concept that Tom has requested to use on every future build. The 28″ Krieger 1:8″-twist HV barrel was indexed using a little different method than most use. It is “panning out well” says Alex, who adds: “So far it has shot [multiple low ones] with two barrels and three different bullet types. This rifle is definitely one of the better shooters I have seen.” We’d agree — owner Tom Mousel has had a 1.5″ 4-shot group at 1000 yards in testing, plus some “zero” 3-shot groups at 100 yards.

Chambering is the 6mmBR Ackley (6BRA). The stock is a Wheeler/McMillan LRB stock with vivid orange and black paint job. It features an adjustable keel in the rear. Trigger is a Bix N Andy unit from Bullets.com.

BAT Machine neuvo benchrest rifle action krieger barrel montana deep creek tom mousel Alex Wheeler
This BAT Neuvo LR action is a Left-loading Drop Port. Cartridges eject out the bottom of the action.

BAT Machine Neuvo Long Range “M” Action
This is the “Long Range” version of the BAT Neuvo. Dwight Scott and Chris Harris were the original inspiration. I worked with Chris to come up with a version for long range. The main differences for the LR Neuvo (compared to the shorter Neuvo) are this has integral lug and rail, with flat bottom and sides for better bedding. The BAT Neuvo LR is available in drop port, dual port, and single port as well as magnum.

BAT Machine neuvo benchrest rifle action krieger barrel montana deep creek tom mousel Alex Wheeler

Take a look at the bolt. Notice the lug orientation and full diameter bolt body. There are no bolt raceways in the action and the two lugs sit HORIZONTALLY when the bolt is closed — that’s different than the vast majority of other two-lug actions.

Alex Wheeler says the Neuvo is a winner. He thinks some of the action’s design features really do contribute to enhanced accuracy: “The … fire control (firing pin assembly) carries a lot of energy and has a very “clean” release. This is an excellent design with many small details that combine to deliver superior function. In addition, the full-diameter bolt can be fitted tighter than one with lugways. Also the horizontal lugs may be why we see less vertical stringing in the groups. They are timed perfectly as well.”

BAT Machine neuvo benchrest rifle action krieger barrel montana deep creek tom mousel Alex Wheeler

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gunsmithing, New Product 1 Comment »
August 25th, 2018

Guns of Summer — Pride and Joy Collection for August

AccurateShooter.com Pride Joy F-Open KW Precision wood stock
Gorgeous wood stock crafted by Joel Russo: “A customer from Texas commissioned me to make him a one-of-a-kind stock, so I pulled a slab out of inventory, and put it all together.”

One of the most popular items in our Shooters’ Forum is the ongoing “Pride and Joy” thread. Since 2009, Forum members have posted photos and descriptions of their most prized firearms. Here are some of the most recent “Pride and Joy” rifles (and one wheelgun) showcased in our Forum. Do you have a gun you’d like to see featured there? Register for the Forum and you can add your favorite gun to the list.

Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles 6BRX Lapua Berger

Above is a nice field rifle built up by a father for his daughter. Forum member FrankZ explains: “This is my favorite rifle and it will become my daughter’s first centerfire. The action is from the first rifle I purchased with my own money 21 years ago (700VSS).” The rifle now sports a 24″ Brux barrel chambered in 6mm Creedmoor, with aftermarket PT&G Bolt and DBM metal.

Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles wheelgun Ruger Revolver hunter

Here is a 6BR Ackley Improved built by Alex Wheeler. This blue marble-painted beauty features a BAT “B” action timed by Alex, fitted with Jewell trigger, and Borden trigger guard. The barrel is a Hawk Hill HV contour finished at 28 inches. The stock is a Deep Creek Tracker with 4″ forearm and rudder system (the toe of the stock adjusts for angle, allowing better tracking). This scope is a Vortex 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle riding in Burris Signature Zee rings.

Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles 6BRX Lapua Berger

Forum member Grimstod posted this nice 6BRX in a scenic setting: “Bill Goad at Premier Accuracy crated this fantastic 6BRX. It shoots better then I do.” The rifle features a single-feed Alpin action, with Hart 26″ 1:8″-twist barrel, chambered for the 6BRX (6mmBR wildcat) with .269 neck. Grimstod currently runs 95gr Berger VLDs in Lapua brass. On top is a Leupold 40x45mm scope on a Picatinny rail that Grimstod machined himself. The stock is an HS Precision painted by Premier Accuracy.

Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles 6BRX Lapua Berger

Here’s a gorgeous green 6mm Dasher. Forum Member Gunnermhr states: “This is my new 12-lb Dasher for the 1000 Yard Benchrest silhouette matches. My good friend at CRS Custom Rifle Stocks in Aaronsburg, PA made and painted the stock. It’s similar to a Tooley MBR with a few modifications. It still supported on a 3″ forearm and is full length. Hard to imagine it still makes weight with a wood stock and a 36 power Leopold. Crossed the scale at 11.7lbs. The rifle features a BAT “B” Action. The paint is Candy Apple Green, the forearm has a white base-coat, center section is gray base coat and the buttstock is black base coat, all covered with five coats of clear. It’s the new pride of the fleet as it shoots as good as it looks. This gun hammers with 105gr Berger Hybrids.”

Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles 6BRX Lapua Berger
Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles 6BRX Lapua Berger

Here’s a state-of-the-art Benchrest rifle, finished proudly in bright red. Forum Member JimmyMac posted: “Picked up my new 6 PPC today. This red rig features a Borden B action (Jewell trigger) fitted with a Lederer 1:14″-twist barrel with a Loker tuner. The barrel action rides in a Roy Hunter stock. On top is a Nightforce 42x44mm Competition scope in BAT rights. The rifle was smithed by Dave Bruno.

Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles wheelgun Ruger Revolver hunter

This impressive rifle features an “antique” 1917 Enfield action chambered for the .338 Win Magnum cartridge. The lovely Maple stock was hand-carved by Forum member Spitfire_ER. He tells us: “I found this piece of wood as a return at a lumber yard about 7-8 years ago. I asked the guy in the yard about it and he said it had been returned because it had too much figure for the job the customer was working on. First thing I thought was, ‘That would make a nice stock’.”

Not a Rifle But Still a Stunner…
Pride Juy AccurateShooter hunting benchrest rifles wheelgun Ruger Revolver hunter

Last but not least is one of the nicest stainless Ruger revolvers we’ve ever seen. Forum member Longcarbine says: “This is not a rifle, but it’s my favorite weapon”. The Ruger is fitted with a custom Picatinny scope rail with matching silver-tone Bushnell Trophy handgun scope, plus handsome faux Ivory grips. This wheelgun is almost too pretty to hunt with…

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
February 4th, 2018

Forum Faves — Pride and Joy Rifles for February

AccurateShooter.com Pride Joy F-Open KW Precision wood stock
Here is beautiful F-Open rig crafted by Forum member CigarCop of KW Precision LLC. It features a laminated wood stock with stunning figured walnut on the outside.

One of the most popular items in our Shooters’ Forum is the ongoing “Pride and Joy” thread. Since 2009, Forum members have posted photos and descriptions of their most prized rifles. Here are some of the most recent “Pride and Joy” rifles showcased in our Forum. Do you have a gun you’d like to see featured there? Just Register for the Forum and you can add your favorite gun to the list.

New 600/1000 Benchrest Light Gun for Richard Schatz in 6 BRA

Alex Wheeler Pride Joy Richard Schatz Benchrest IBS

This blue benchrest rig was crafted by Alex Wheeler for ace benchrest competitor Richard Schatz, a past 600-yard IBS Shooter of the Year. Richard’s new 600/1000-yard Light Gun features a Krieger barrel chambered in 6 BRA (40° Ackley version of 6mmBR Norma). That Krieger is mated to a 1.550″ BAT B action, ignition-timed for smooth bolt close and increased accuracy. The trigger is the sophisticated Bix’n Andy. Schatz’s BAT is glued and screwed into a Wheeler LRB stock, with aluminum rails and adjustable metal “tracking rudder” on the toe of the stock. The rudder can be adjusted side to side to ensure optimal tracking, while the rudder’s vertical angle can be adjusted slightly with shims.

Hand-Crafted Thumbhole-Stocked Rifle Chambered in 6 PPC

Grimstod 6mm 6 PPC thumbhole wood stock Kelbly Panda

Forum Member Grimstod offered this handsome 6 PCC custom with a beautiful, hand-made thumbhole stock: “This was fully accurized with Premier Accuracy recoil lug installed. Really makes these shoot a lot better. It features a Kelbly Panda action with Hart barrel and glass bedding. Trigger fall was perfect to start and we have to give Ian Kelbly big thumbs up for making every action perfectly timed.” On top is a March competition scope. See more photos at www.premieraccuracy.com.

A Wicked Accurate Big Dawg in 28 Nosler

28 Nosler Benchrest Big Dawg

This 28 Nosler Benchrest rifle looks good and shoots even better — check out that 20-shot target shot at 200 yards! You can’t argue with that…

Alex Wheeler Pride Joy Richard Schatz Benchrest IBS

Belonging to Forum member LA50Shooter, this rig is chambered in 28 Nosler, with metal work by Gre-Tan Rifles. The action is a BAT Model “L” 1.650 Octagon with a 30 MOA scope rail, running a Jewell BR Trigger. The stock, from D&B Supply, is a Shehane Big Dawg Tracker with 5″ fore-end. Color scheme is “Field & Stream” Rutland laminate. This big rig boasts FOUR 34″ Benchmark barrels (1.5″ for seven inches tapering to 1.225″ at muzzle).

A Pair of Score Benchrest Beauties

benchrest for score 30 BR Kriger Nightforce March

Forum member JimPag showcased two new Benchrest-for-Score rifles. The rig on the left, smithed by Dwight Scott, features a Farley Black Widow RBLPRE (with Bix’n Andy trigger). It features Pistachio and Carbon Terry Leonard stock glued and screwed by Sid Goodling. The barrel is a Krieger 23.5″ chambered in 30BR with a Mike Ezell tuner. It’s topped with a Goodling-built 1-piece Davidson base and a Nightforce 42X Comp scope. The rifle on the right, smithed by Sid Goodling, features a Marsh Saguaro RBLPRE Action with Bix’n Andy trigger, and March 36-55X scope. This rifle boasts a rare Screwbean Mesquite and carbon stock by Terry Leonard. The 23″ Lilja bbl is chambered in 30 Thrasher with a Goodling tuner. (30 Thrasher is longer 30 BR case developed by Joe Entrekin). Jim also has two other barrels for this action in 30 BR and 6 BRAI. On top is a Sid Goodling-built one-piece Davidson base with a March 36-55X scope.

Rem 700 in Manners Stock — .284 Winchester for Hunting

Remington 700 Tom Manners STOCK U.S. Optics hunting rifle .284 Win Winchester

Here’s a Rem 700 enhanced with a Manners Elite TA stock and other upgrades. Forum Member NickB1075 says: “Here is a rifle I finished for hunting this year. It’s a bit heavy for New York woods carry but it just shoots great. Maybe I will have to get one of those fancy Proof Research barrels to lighten it up a bit.” Nick is running a Benchmark 1:8.5″-twist barrel chambered in .284 Win with 0.315 neck for shooting 150gr Barnes bullets. Nick added a Jewell trigger and on top is a U.S. Optics B10 Scope.

When Only the Biggest and Boldest Will Do — .50 BMG

.50 Fifty BMG Barnard Action Ordnance barrel muzzle brake

No “Pride and Joy” feature would be complete without a Big Boomer. This impressive .50 BMG, “61 inches of big bore goodness”, weighs a whopping 49 pounds (95 lbs. complete with case and accessories). This rifle’s proud owner, forum member 6MT, says everything on this black beast is jumbo-sized: “Yes, I can stick my finger clear through the ports in the muzzle brake!” The rifle boasts a U.S. Ordnance 31″ heavy-contour barrel fitted to Barnard GP action. The stock is a “Big Mac” from McMillan. No optics yet — 6MT says he is “looking at an ATACR 7-35x56mm with a Spuhr mount… As soon as my wallet recovers!”

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing No Comments »
February 4th, 2018

Full-Length Sizing Die Fit — Diagnosing Stiff Bolt Lift Problems

Resizing Die Alex Wheeler Shoulder Bump Die fitting Full-Length

In this video, gunsmith Alex Wheeler explains how to ensure that your full-length sizing dies fit your brass properly. With many cartridge types, it’s not unusual for factory dies to be slightly large in the bottom section. When the diameter of a FL-sizing die is too large near the base, this can leave the bottom section of fired cases “unsized”, with the result that you can have extraction issues and stiff bolt lift, or what Alex calls “clickers”. At the same time, it’s not unusual for dies to over-size fired cases at the shoulder (i.e. reduce the shoulder diameter by .004″ or more).

We strongly recommend that all hand-loaders watch this video, particularly if you load cases 6+ times with relatively high-pressure loads.

Alex explains that a key dimension is the diameter of a fired case 0.200″ above the case head. If your die does not size your fired cases at this point, you should get a FL die that does. This could be a custom die ground to fit your chamber, or it could be a “small-base” die specifically designed to “hit” the bottom section of the case. Alex also notes that some FL dies have an inside chamfer at the mouth of the die, right at the very bottom. (See video at 3:55). This can leave the section of the case right above the extractor groove unsized, which can also lead to “clickers” and stiff bolt lift.

Paint Your Brass to Find Problem Areas
If you are having stiff bolt lift or extraction issues, Alex explains that you can “paint” your brass with magic marker (or dye-chem), and then place the case in your chamber. On the “hot spots” where the case contacts the chamber wall, the marking will rub off, allowing the brass metal to shine through in the problem area(s). This will illustrate where you need better sizing from your die.

“You can ink up the case with some magic marker or dye-chem. If you are getting clickers, go ahead and mark up the case and chamber it and see where it’s wearing. This will help you diagnose [whether the problem] is coming from the base, is it coming maybe from a score in the chamber… it can even happen at the shoulder although that’s pretty rare. Usually the dies size enough at that point.”

Did you find this video helpful? View more informative Tech Tip Videos on WheelerAccuracy.com.

Video Tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 2 Comments »
June 18th, 2017

Panda Perfected — Ignition Timing for Kelbly Panda Action

Alex Wheeler Accuracy gunsmith Panda Kelbly Stolle action timing receiver benchrest video

Kelbly makes outstanding actions, including the Stolle Pandas. In the past 20 years, Pandas have probably won more benchrest matches than any other action (though BATs and Bordens are increasingly in the winning circle). Recently gunsmith Alex Wheeler of Wheeler Accuracy worked his magic on an aluminum Panda, optimizing the “ignition timing” of the action. This involves many small mods to bolt, camming surfaces, trigger, and firing pin: “The whole cam helix and detent shelf is re-cut. The firing pin and cocking piece are modified as well.” When executed properly, Ignition Timing has a number of benefits, including a smoother bolt opening/closing, improved firing pin fall, and enhanced accuracy (though the accuracy improvements can be subtle).

BEFORE Action Timing — Stiff and Clunky

Alex reports: “Normally Panda actions have plenty of firing pin fall. For one reason or another this one was very low. Before timing, firing pin fall was .210 with a Bix’N Andy (BNA) trigger. After trigger timing firing pin fall is .244 with zero cock on close.” Here is how the action functioned before timing work:

CLICK Photo to start VIDEO

Alex notes: “As you can see, after the cocking piece rides out of the detent notch it then
falls to the trigger and is then re-cocked. This is normal on most un-timed actions.”

AFTER Action Timing — Smooth and Refined

Alex explains the modifications he made for this Panda action: “Moving the trigger back adds cock on close. The whole cam helix and detent shelf is re-cut. The firing pin and cocking piece are modified as well. I do love a timed Panda. In fact, I like aluminum actions, I think there is something to them. But yes, I also recommend Borden as my first choice.’

CLICK Photo to start VIDEO

Fix for Right-Bolt Actions Only
After seeing these videos on Facebook, one poster asked: “I do like my Panda but this is exactly why I bought a Borden action and I love it. It’s good to know you can make a Panda better. Alex, can you time a left bolt Panda?”

Alex replied: “No, the tooling I built is all for right hand actions sorry….”

Permalink - Videos, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
June 6th, 2017

Adjustable Stock Rudders for Long-Range Benchrest Stocks

adjustable benchrest stock foot rudder bag-rider McMillan Alex Wheeler Accuracy

Gunsmith/stockmaker Alex Wheeler is a very smart guy. Among his many clever innovations is an adjustable bag-rider that fits on the underside of the buttstock at the rear. Alex calls this a “Rudder” because it allows the shooter to align the tracking perfectly. The rudder assembly can swing left and right using an adjustment bolt. You can also adjust the Rudder’s vertical “angle of attack” with simple shims. Some guys like the Rudder’s 3/4″-wide bottom perfectly parallel with the bore axis. Others prefer a slight angle so the stock slides down a bit during recoil.

adjustable benchrest stock foot rudder bag-rider McMillan Alex Wheeler Accuracy

Adjustable Rudders Now For Sale
Alex has fitted these innovative, adjustable Rudders in the stocks and complete rifles he sells.And now owners of other stocks can benefit from Wheeler’s invention. Alex is offering the Rudders for sale: “I have made my adjustable Rudders for sale. Price including mounting hardware is $125 shipped. These are the same rudders I install in most ever stock I build. They’re the only way to achieve perfect tracking every time.”

Watch how the Wheeler Rudder works in this video. Alex explains: “If you pull your rifle back in the bags and the cross-hair moves, your stock is not straight. The easiest fix is to use an adjustable Rudder. They come standard on all my stocks. The white box on the 1000-yard target is 4″. With a properly-adjusted rudder it’s easy to obtain less than 1″ of cross-hair movement at 1000 yards.”

Rudder-Equipped Stock In Action (with 1000-Yard Champ Tom Mousel)
This second video shows how well a Rudder-equipped stock performs. This shows IBS 1000-yard Champ Tom Mousel running five (5) shots with his 17-lb Light Gun chambered in 6BR Ackley Improved. Note how perfectly the stock tracks. It runs smoothly straight back then comes right back on target when pushed forward by Mousel. Check it out — this is impressive.

It’s relatively easy to install these rudders on most wood and wood laminate stocks. Alex says: “Just notch the stock, and install the anchors for the adjustment bolts.” In addition, McMillan will soon be offering fiberglass stocks with a notch designed to fit the Wheeler rudder. Based on Alex’s Deep Creek Tracker stock design, these new McMillan stocks with have metals rails in the front also.

New Rudder-Equipped McMillan LRB Stock
Alex explains: “The new McMillan Rudder-equipped stock will be a version of the Deep Creek Tracker, most likely called a Wheeler LRB (Long Range Benchrest). It will feature factory installed 1/2″ wide aluminum rails in the 4″ fore-arm. It will come with the rear notch molded in for the Rudders which I will install on each stock. I will be exclusive dealer on these and hope to see the first one in June. I also have got with Edgewood to make 4″ wide front bags that will fit a standard rest top and will cost the same as their standard 3″ bag. I will have some in stock but anyone can order them direct and not have to pay the $125 price for a custom bag.”

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing, New Product No Comments »
May 13th, 2017

IBS Match Report: 1000-Yard Magic at Deep Creek in Montana

Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Report by Kristina Holden
Even with a bit of snow left on the ground, some great long range shooting took place up in Montana recently. March 25th, 2017 was opening day for the first 1000-yard IBS match of the year at Montana’s Deep Creek Shooting Range, just outside of Missoula, Montana. With temperatures during both matches at a consistent low to mid 40s and winds blowing at a slight 2-4 mph from the south, the weekend was sure to produce some excellent results.

Framed by forested hills, the Deep Creek Range is a beautiful place to shoot.
Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

CLICK HERE for Deep Creek IBS Match Results | CLICK HERE for LG and HG Equipment List

Jeff Read takes aim…
Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Fifteen (15) shooters braved the cool Montana spring weather for what would turn out to be a very competitive match. On Saturday, both Richard Schatz and David Torgerson made the first Light Gun (LG) shoot-off, posting two-inch groups, with Richard taking the win (check out his targets above). David and Richard made it into the Heavy Gun (HG) shoot-off as well, this time with David taking the win. Leo Anderson took the LG score crown with a 47, while Shawn Williams took the HG title with a perfect 100.

Here Scott Stanko sets up his Light Gun. Scott won Sunday’s LG shoot-off.
Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Sunday’s conditions were even better and the shooters took advantage of them. Once again, some truly excellent groups were shot by Tom Mousel and Scott Stanko, both making the LG shoot-off with 2 inch groups. Scott, shown above, prevailed in the shoot-off. Richard Schatz, once again, made his way into the shoot-offs and took the HG win from Tom Mousel with a 4.889″. Jeff Reed took the HG score win over Leo Anderson with a 96. In the LG Score shoot-off, Jim Williams nailed a real stunner of a group, taking the Score win with a 2.018” – 49. Check out the group below. That sure would have helped his Aggs if it happened in the relay!

Jim Williams with his 2.018″- 49 group. That works out to 0.19 MOA — amazing accuracy at 1000 yards.

Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

New Cartridge Debuts — the 6mmBR Ackley Improved (6mm BRA)
The 2017 season has brought some new gear/cartridge developments and many shooters were able to put them to good use in the first match of the year at Deep Creek. Leo Anderson and Tom Mousel were both shooting the new 6mm BRA (6mmBR AI), a 6mmBR Norma with a reduced body taper and a 40 degree (40°) shoulder. Fire-forming is as simple as turning the necks and shooting, as the factory 6mmBR case will headspace in the AI chamber. Sizing with a 6mm Dasher die with .080″ turned off the bottom is the ticket. Tom Mousel, reigning IBS 1K Champ, “believes this case to have a little wider tune window and far less throat wear”. That means this case might be easier on barrels. For Tom’s 6mm BRA with 28” Krieger barrel, the accuracy node is about 2980-2990 fps, so this gives up only 30-50 fps compared to typical Dasher velocities. Both of Tom’s HG groups held in the 3s for vertical, proving the 6mmBR Ackley’s accuracy potential.

Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Vapor Trail Bullets and Deep Creek Tracker Stock
Tom Jacobs at Vapor Trail Bullets has been working with a new die for his excellent 6mm 103gr Vapor Trail bullet. Four of the weekend’s competitors were shooting bullets off the new Vapor Trail die. The new die seems to be producing a bullet every bit as good as the old die, maybe even better. Several groups in the 2s (two inch) were shot this weekend. As well as Richard Shatz’s impressive 3.671″ 10-shot group in Heavy Gun (see top of this article).

Finally, the new Deep Creek Tracker 4″-wide stock is becoming a favored option, with half of the competitors at the match shooting these stocks from Wheeler Accuracy. That extra inch in the stock’s fore-end seems to be provide more stability and less rocking on the front rest when opening and closing the bolt. Also, the adjustable tracking rudder makes for perfectly parallel tracking surfaces, an absolute “must have”.

Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

The weekend ended with the sun finally breaking through the clouds. Competitors enjoyed some great grilled Polish dogs with all the fixings prepared by Mark and Angie Candau; who also shot in the match. There were plenty of smiling shooters with awards/prizes for their efforts. It was a great opening match of the season!

Here are the Top Guns at the match: Dave Torgeson, Jim Williams, Jeff Read, Shawn Williams, Richard Schatz, Leo Anderson, Lonnie Anderson, and Tom Mousel.
Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Deep Creek is one of America’s best 1000-yard shooting centers — many records have been set here.
Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, New Product 2 Comments »