September 7th, 2020

New Hybrid-X Front Rest from 21st Century Shooting

21st Century Shooting Hybrid-X front rest f-class benchrest swingarm coaxial

Introducing the Hybrid-X Shooting Rest
The new, patent-pending Hybrid-X front rest from 21st Century Shooting is a true hybrid between a joystick and a traditional “wheel” rest. Windage (left/right point of aim) changes are made via a control stick that extends back to the shooter. This control stick travels on a horizontal plane. Elevation is controlled through a knob on the end of the control stick, OR a large, traditional wheel on the post. So you have TWO elevation control options — the Big Wheel or the smaller knob on the end of the control rod.

The entire central assembly of the rest is mounted on a circular plate that is mounted in the base plate. This central assembly and plate is called the Target Acquisition System or “T.A.S”. This allows the user to easily self-align the rifle and rear bag by simply loosening a few levers. Self-alignment will help minimize set-up time and improve repeatability by eliminating binding of the rifle in the shooting bags. In addition, this will allow for rapid windage adjustment if needed to acquire a target. This really is an important advancement — you can simply place the rest on bench or ground, and then use the T.A.S. function to get perfect target alignment. No more trial and error placing the rest multiple times to get the correct orientation to the target.

21st Century Shooting Hybrid-X front rest f-class benchrest swingarm coaxial
 
The Hybrid-X design team tells us: “Smooth operation and ease of control are what this rest represents. The utilization of a ball screw plus bearing block provides glass-smooth elevation adjustment. And the elevation is stable.” Guys, this is important. Unlike some joystick rests which move when you release the joystick, on the Hybrid-X, the cradle holding your rifle does not “droop” when you release the Hybrid-X control stick. Repeatability from shot to shot is provided by the rock-solid platform and the fact that elevation does NOT change when you let go of the control stick.

21st Century Shooting Hybrid-X front rest f-class benchrest swingarm coaxial
The entire center section of the rest rotates as one unit for fast, perfect alignment to target.
 
Key Features of New Hybrid-X Shooting Rest
 
1. Weight of rifle is not a factor in ease of controls due to the use of ball screws/bearing blocks in the post.
2. Windage range is more than you would ever need — more than other rests on the market.
3. Elevation is not lost from shot to shot even if you release control stick.
4. Total weight of Hybrid-X prototype is 28 pounds.
5. Designed, machined and built in the USA!

21st Century Shooting Hybrid-X front rest f-class benchrest swingarm coaxial
 
How does it work? Very well indeed! The folks at 21st Century report: “Everyone that has shot off this rest so far is blown away with the repeatability, smoothness, and the ease of the controls.” The innovative Hybrid-X rest is Patent Pending, and is 100% made in the USA. Priced at $1950.00, the Hybrid-X is in production now. You won’t see it (yet) on the 21st Century website, but you can email or call (260) 273-9909 to order. Currently, expect a 60-day wait from time of order to delivery. The rest includes a front bag.

21st Century Shooting Hybrid-X front rest f-class benchrest swingarm coaxial

Field Test of New 21st Century Rest in Competition

Report from F-Class Competitor Bret Solomon
I would like to first start out by saying “Thank You” to all the persons involved at 21st Century Shooting for getting me this new rest. I used the new rest for the first time on Friday, August 7, 2020 for a team match in The Michigan State Long Range Team Match Championship. My team took first in the F-Open Division and I had a very quick learning curve with the rest. Saturday, I again used the rest for the Michigan Long Range/F-Class Regional individual matches. We shot one match and called the rest of the day due to weather concerns. Sunday we came back for three matches.

21st Century Shooting Hybrid-X front rest f-class benchrest swingarm coaxial

As the day progressed, the winds came up and starting switching considerably more and I put the new rest to work. I was able to concentrate on wind switches, feeling very confident that the gun was staying where I put it in the rest and on target. Adjustments were very smooth and I was able to shoot multiple shots with no elevation changes. The controls are in a position where you can get behind the gun and not have to reach out for changes. Yes the rest performed great — I was able to come from behind to take a one-point win in the F-Open Division. I believe the new rest from 21st Century Shooting made a significant difference for me. In the future, I hope the Hybrid-X rest will help advance my shooting game.

Once again, thank you to 21st Century Shooting for a great addition of technology, innovation, craftsmanship, and customer service to the shooting community. — Bret Solomon

21st Century Shooting Hybrid-X front rest f-class benchrest swingarm coaxial

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August 31st, 2020

ELEY Launches New Worldwide Rimfire Competition Series

rimfire masters eley series online global competition

British rimfire ammo-maker ELEY has created a new global match series. Shooters compete at there local ranges, and then scores are compared to other shooters around the world. There will be five Precision Club Masters competitions: Benchrest, Prone, 3-Position, Practical, and Pistol. At the end of the season, the top competitors will receive glory, and, yes, valuable prizes from ELEY.

rimfire masters eley series online global competitionELEY is excited to launch its brand new ELEY Precision Club, allowing competitors from all over the world to compete against each other from their local shooting clubs. Scores will be tallied online through an exciting Masters series of events. Winners can be recognized as a World Champion. In addition, top shooters compete for valuable cash, ammunition, and clothing prizes.

ELEY states: “We love… to connect with shooters across the globe. With an uncertain future, and the current global situation restricting travel, the ELEY Precision Club hopes to provide shooters with a fun, safe alternative for competing. The fun must go on!” The ELEY Precision Club will provide shooters of all ages and abilities from a range of disciplines to compete on a global stage against other shooters internationally.

ELEY Rimfire precision masters series
Here is our friend Joe Friedrich. Joe has set many benchrest records with ELEY .22 LR ammunition.

First Precision Club Event Will Be ELEY Benchrest Masters
The first competition to be hosted on the myELEY.com platform is the ELEY benchrest masters. Competitors will shoot six (6) 25-bull targets at a distance of 50 meters. Scores must be uploaded to the myELEY.com dashboard by 11:59 pm on November 1, 2020 (GMT). That’s just before midnight in the United Kingdom.

eley rimfire precision Club series
Image from National Rimfire Benchrest Association of Ireland (NRBAI).

How to Enter ELEY Precision Club Events
To participate, you first need to register on the ELEY Precision Club homepage. Once you register, ELEY will create a personalised myELEY.com competition dashboard for you and send you login details by email.

To get started: Complete the registration form. Once your competition dashboard is created you will have instant access to any future ELEY online competitions. The myELEY.com personalised dashboard compiles statistics and results and tracks your world ranking. Once your personal dashboard is created, you’ll get instant access to all future ELEY Precision Club online competitions.

To learn more about the 5-discipline ELEY Masters series, or to enter the first benchrest match, go to Eley.co.uk/precisionclub.

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August 25th, 2020

Rule Out “Driver Error” — Test Accuracy with Multiple Shooters

When a rifle isn’t shooting up to it’s potential, we need to ask: “Is it the gun or the shooter?” Having multiple shooters test the same rifle in the same conditions with the same load can be very revealing…

When developing a load for a new rifle, one can easily get consumed by all the potential variables — charge weight, seating depth, neck tension, primer options, neck lube, and so on. When you’re fully focused on loading variables, and the results on the target are disappointing, you may quickly assume you need to change your load. But we learned that sometimes the load is just fine — the problem is the trigger puller, or the set-up on the bench.

Here’s an example. A while back we tested two new Savage F-Class rifles, both chambered in 6mmBR. Initial results were promising, but not great — one gun’s owner was getting round groups with shots distributed at 10 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 8 o’clock, and none were touching. We could have concluded that the load was no good. But then another shooter sat down behind the rifle and put the next two shots, identical load, through the same hole. Shooter #2 eventually produced a 6-shot group that was a vertical line, with 2 shots in each hole but at three different points of impact. OK, now we can conclude the load needs to be tuned to get rid of the vertical. Right? Wrong. Shooter #3 sat down behind the gun and produced a group that strung horizontally but had almost no vertical.

Hmmm… what gives?

Shooting Styles Created Vertical or Horizontal Dispersion
What was the problem? Well, each of the three shooters had a different way of holding the gun and adjusting the rear bag. Shooter #1, the gun’s owner, used a wrap-around hold with hand and cheek pressure, and he was squeezing the bag. All that contact was moving the shot up, down, left and right. The wrap-around hold produced erratic results.

Shooter #2 was using no cheek pressure, and very slight thumb pressure behind the tang, but he was experimenting with different amounts of bag “squeeze”. His hold eliminated the side push, but variances in squeeze technique and down pressure caused the vertical string. When he kept things constant, the gun put successive shots through the same hole.

Shooter #3 was using heavy cheek pressure. This settled the gun down vertically, but it also side-loaded the rifle. The result was almost no vertical, but this shooting style produced too much horizontal.

A “Second Opinion” Is Always Useful
Conclusion? Before you spend all day fiddling with a load, you might want to adjust your shooting style and see if that affects the group size and shape on the target. Additionally, it is nearly always useful to have another experienced shooter try your rifle. In our test session, each time we changed “drivers”, the way the shots grouped on the target changed significantly. We went from a big round group, to vertical string, to horizontal string.

Interestingly, all three shooters were able to diagnose problems in their shooting styles, and then refine their gun-handling. As a result, in a second session, we all shot that gun better, and the average group size dropped from 0.5-0.6 inches into the threes — with NO changes to the load.

That’s right, we cut group size in half, and we didn’t alter the load one bit. Switching shooters demonstrated that the load was good and the gun was good. The skill of the trigger-puller(s) proved to be the limiting factor in terms of group size.

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August 19th, 2020

Lenzi Rear Bag — Great Product from Italy, Offered by PMA Tool

PMA Tool Lenzi Rear Bag SEB front rest top Pat Reagin Weaver 46x48 XR T-Series
PMA Tool Lenzi Rear Bag SEB front rest top Pat Reagin Weaver 46x48 XR T-Series

Look carefully at the photo above. That stylish black rear bag doesn’t look anything like an Edgewood or Protektor — it’s a Lenzi bag from Italy. The front Bag-holder on the SEB Neo Rest is also a Lenzi product.

Lenzi Rear Sand Bag
Pat Reagin of PMA Tool offers a really superb rear bag that comes from Italy. Pat tells us: “We are now carrying rear bags made by Italian benchrester Alberto Lenzi. Made in Italy, these Lenzi bags are AWESOME! They are available for short range and one that is slighty taller for long range.” The Lenzi rear bags feature a big, 8″ x 6″ footprint with a thick, slightly concave base that sits very flat on the bench top. Lenzi bags are very stable with a reassuring “dead” feel on the bench. Guys who have tried this bag really like it. Pat says: “I can’t explain it, but the bag seems to absorb energy/recoil better than other bags — the gun tracks a little better and I get back on target really well.” CLICK HERE for more information: Lenzi Long Range Rear Bag | Lenzi Standard Rear Bag.

– Black leather with Cordura at stock contact points with blue stitching.
– 1/2″ flat between medium ears.
– Heavy 8″x6″ base with built-in “donut”.
– Weight about 15.5 lbs filled with heavy sand in bottom & white sand in ears.

Lenzi Replacement Top for SEB NEO Front Rest
A common complaint about the SEB NEO rest is the rest top, specifically the three-piece bag. This rest top made by Alberto Lenzi addresses the issue by replacing the entire rest top. The rest top features a more conventional design and includes a traditional style front bag that conforms to IBS and NBRSA rules.

PMA Tool Lenzi Rear Bag SEB front rest top Pat Reagin Weaver 46x48 XR T-Series

The Lenzi Replacement SEB Top with Super-Slick Bag is $275.95, while the bag alone is $75.95. Choose either a Super-Slick (3M Silver) Front Bag or Lenzi Cordura-style Front Bag. NOTE: Lenzi also makes a replacement Front Bag-holder for Farley Rests

Lenzi bags are sold in the USA by PMA Tool and Bruno Shooters Supply.

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August 18th, 2020

Dividers at Florida Range Work Great — With Unexpected Benefits

Manatee Gun club covid-19 pandemic virus social distancing benchrest shield divider plexiglass PVC

Here’s a way some smart shooters are dealing with Pandemic Social Distancing requirements. At the Manatee Gun Club in Florida, match organizers devised tall, portable plexiglass barriers between the benches. These barriers shield each shooter from his neighboring competitor. And shooters say there is an added benefit — there is less perceived noise and muzzle blast from nearby fellow competitors.

AccurateShooter Forum member CaptainMal reports: “We just finished a steel shoot at Manatee using ALL the benches with dividers attached to each. Prior to today we were not allowed to use all the benches as they are five feet, not six feet apart [as required by social distancing regulations]. Now we can take more shooters per relay and we found some positive unintended consequences.” READ Forum Thread.

Manatee Gun club covid-19 pandemic virus social distancing benchrest shield divider plexiglass PVC

Each divider attaches to a bench. The divider can be easily removed for storage by folding up the legs so it is flat to carry/store. These dividers are relatively light-weight making them easy to put in place. In addition, because the dividers are transparent, Range Safety Officers (and spectators) can view the shooters. Notably, the Manatee competitors also reported that the dividers offered a “dramatic reduction in muzzle blast and some noise reduction also”.

CaptainMal explains: “Most all of us have experienced magnum explosions next to us on the bench and/or muzzle brakes directing a concussion at us as we shoot. GONE. We built all these because of the virus restrictions we had to deal with. Well now we can use all the benches, put on a normal program and reap the benefits of full visibility and no muzzle blast distractions.”

Al Benarroch (Forum member “Alibaba”) designed and built these dividers. Al is happy to share his design with anyone else wanting or needing to have something like this for their range. Here is Al last season BEFORE the COVID-19 range restrictions. To see him now you just look through the divider.

Manatee Gun club covid-19 pandemic virus social distancing benchrest shield divider plexiglass PVC

The Southpaw Challenge — How to Position Left-handed Shooters
These dividers were designed for right-handed shooters, but the Manatee group has some thoughts about adapting the system for lefties: “We will work on that at the IBS-style shoot next Saturday. The deal is we have 16 benches. Let us say we have 25 shooters next Saturday. There may be four left-handers. We can put 12 -14 shooters on each relay and just leave open a single bench next to them.” Also with Manatee’s five-foot spacing between benches, there is actually six-foot-plus spacing if the left-hand shooter is always situated on a bench to the RIGHT side of a right-handed shooter’s bench. That provides maximum spacing based on their actual sitting positions.

Credit Boyd Allen for finding this story in our Shooter’s Forum.
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August 9th, 2020

Mac McMillan’s Legendary .009″ Group — Lookee Here

Mac McMillan .009 benchrest record group nbrsa

Mac McMillan .009 benchrest record group nbrsa.009” Group Record Stood for 40 Years
In 1973 Mac McMillan shot an amazing 100-yard, .009″ five-shot group in a benchrest match. The .009″ group was measured with a 60x microscope for verification. Mac McMillan shot the group using a handbuilt prototype McMillan rifle with an early McMillan stock.

Mac’s .009″ group was the “Holy Grail” of rifle accuracy. This .009″ record was considered by many to be unbreakable, a record that would “stand for all time”. Well, it took 40 years, but someone finally broke Mac’s record with an even smaller group. In 2013, Mike Stinnett shot a .0077″ five-shot group using a 30 Stewart, a .30 caliber wildcat based on the 6.5 Grendel. Stinnett’s NBRSA record .0077″ group now stands as the smallest 100-yard group ever shot in registered benchrest competition.*

Read About .0077″ group HERE.

Stinnett’s success doesn’t diminish the significance of Mac McMillan’s .009″ group in the history of benchrest competition. For four decades Mac’s group stood as the ultimate standard of rifle accuracy*. For those of you who have never seen Mac McMillan’s .009″ group, here it is, along with the NBRSA World Record certificate. The target now hangs in the McMillan Family Museum.

Mac McMillan .009 benchrest record group nbrsa

*Somebody else might claim a smaller group, but unless moving backers or electronic targets were used, it cannot be verified. Moving target backers are used at registered benchrest matches to ensure that five (5) shots are actually fired in each group. That eliminates any doubt.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Shooting Skills 6 Comments »
July 25th, 2020

Experiment with Fore and Aft Rifle Position on Rest and Bag

Benchrest stock

To get the best accuracy out of any benchrest rifle, you need to find the optimal position of front rest and rear bag. The important point to remember is that each rig is different. One gun may perform best with the front rest right at the tip of the forearm (Position ‘D’ in photo), while another gun will work best with the rest positioned much further back. This Editor’s own 6mmBR rifle has a laminated stock that is pretty flexy in the front. It shoots best with the front rest’s sandbag located a good 6″ back from the forearm tip (position ‘A’).

Here’s some benchrest advice that can help you reduce vertical and shoot tighter groups… without spending another penny. Many benchrest shooters spend a fortune on equipment and devote countless hours to meticulous handloading, but they never experiment with their rifle’s position/balance on the bags. This article explains why you should test your rifle in various positions. What you learn may surprise you (and improve your scores).

Next time you go to the range, experiment with the position of your rifle on the front rest, and try a couple different positions for the rear bag. You may find that the rifle handles much better after you’ve made a small change in the placement of your gun on the bags. Recoil can be tamed a bit, and tracking can improve significantly, if you optimize the front rest and rear bag positioning.

front rest Sally benchrest IBS
This competitor has the front rest positioned fairly far forward but not all the way out. Note the stop on the front rest — this limits forward stock travel.

A small change in the position of the forearm on the front rest, or in the placement of the rear bag, can make a big difference in how your gun performs.

Balance Your Gun BEFORE You Spend Hours Tuning Loads
In the pursuit of ultimate accuracy, shooters may spend countless hours on brass prep, bullet selection, and load tuning. Yet the same shooters may pay little attention to how their gun is set-up on the bags. When you have acquired a new rifle, you should do some basic experimentation to find the optimal position for the forearm on the front rest, and the best position for the rear bag. Small changes can make a big difference.

Joel Kendrick

Joel Kendrick, past IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year, has observed that by adjusting forearm position on the front rest, he can tune out vertical. He has one carbon-fiber-reinforced stock that is extremely rigid. When it was placed with the front rest right under the very tip of the forearm, the gun tended to hop, creating vertical. By sliding the whole gun forward (with more forearm overhang ahead of the front sandbag), he was able to get the whole rig to settle down. That resulted in less vertical dispersion, and the gun tracked much better.

stock position benchrest forearm sandbag front rest
Fore/aft stock position is important even with very wide fore-ends.

Likewise, the placement of the rear bag is very important. Many shooters, by default, will simply place the rear bag the same distance from the front rest with all their guns. In fact, different stocks and different calibers will NOT behave the same. By moving the rear bag forward and aft, you can adjust the rifle’s overall balance and this can improve the tracking significantly. One of our shooters had a Savage 6BR F-Class rifle. By default he had his rear bag set almost all the way at the end of the buttstock. When he slid the rear bag a couple inches forward the gun tracked much better. He immediately noticed that the gun returned to point of aim better (crosshairs would stay on target from shot to shot), AND the gun torqued (twisted) less. The difference was quite noticeable.

A small change in the position of the forearm on the front rest, or in the placement of the rear bag, can make a big difference in how your gun performs. You should experiment with the forearm placement, trying different positions on the front rest. Likewise, you can move the rear bag back and forth a few inches. Once you establish the optimal positions of front rest and rear bag, you should find that your gun tracks better and returns to battery more reliably. You may then discover that the gun shoots smaller groups, with less vertical dispersion. And all these benefits are possible without purchasing any expensive new gear.

Rifle photo courtesy Johnson’s Precision Gunsmithing (Bakersfield, CA).

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July 18th, 2020

Tuner TECH — POI Shift with Barrel Tuner Position Changes

Tuner Pascal Bukys Point of Impact shift test 6 PPC benchrest

6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine waveHave a good look at the photos below — this may be one of the most noteworthy target strings we’ve ever published. What you can see is the effect of barrel tuner position on point of impact (POI). You can clearly see that the tuner position alters the up/down POI location in a predictable fashion.

This remarkable 15-shot sequence was shot by French benchrester Pascal Fischbach using his 6 PPC fitted with a CG (Carlito Gonzales) action and a Bukys barrel tuner.

Pascal reports: “After [bullet] seating and load validation, I put the Bukys tuner on, screwing it out 10 turns. According to Carlito, the CG’s super stiff action-to-barrel fit gives a faster vibration modulus that is detrimental below 10 turns [position of the tuner].” Pascal’s procedure was to screw out the tuner 1/4 turn progressively from one shot to the next. He shot one bullet at each tuner position, with a total of 15 shots.

15-Shot Sequence with Tuner Changes
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave
CLICK HERE to SEE Large Version of Complete Test Strip (All 15 shots in a row).

Left Half of Target Strip (shots with 1/4 rotation change of tuner in sequence)
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

Right Half of Target Strip (shots with 1/4 rotation change of tuner in sequence)
6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

Pascal observed: “Note the point of impact displacement [from shot to shot] tracks clearly along a sinusoide (sine wave curve).” This is indeed notable and significant! This shows how the tuner’s ability to change barrel harmonics can alter the position of the muzzle as each bullet exits, resulting in a higher or lower POI. Pascal sent his results to Carlito Gonzales in Argentina for analysis.

Pascal poses this question to readers: “Guess which three positions Carlito recommends to try?”

Editor’s Note: While this target sequence clearly shows how tuner position can alter bullet point of impact, this, by itself, does not tell us which tuner position(s) are best for accuracy. That will require further multi-shot group testing, involving careful experimentation with tuner position (and powder charge weights). But for those folks who doubt that a tuner can make a difference on a short, fat barrel, just take another look at the photos. The up/down changes are undeniable, and noteworthy in the wave pattern they follow.

Shooting Set-up and Test Conditions:
Pascal did this test at an outdoor range under very good conditions: “This was shot at my home range, outdoors, with four Smiley flags. The range is a narrow cut in high woods. Wind was consistent with readable flags. I started testing the tuner from 10 turns out and on to 15. I recently… found a sweet spot very close to the rearmost position of the tuner, so the rigidity provided by this super long tenon (just short of 70mm) was not a reason to overlook the recommended Bukys tuning procedure.”

6PPC Pascal Fischbach Bukys Barrel Tuner sine wave

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July 8th, 2020

How to Shoot DOTS — Insanely Small Groups at 200 Yards

200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia tiny group 6 PPC

This site is for and about accurate shooters. So today we feature the short-range group Benchrest game, where it’s all about shooting tiny groups in the ones and even “zeros”. Seeing the tiny groups 6 PPC aces produce, it’s easy to think the precision is all about the equipment. But there is a lot more involved. A talented human still has to watch the flags, run the gun properly, and tune his loads for the conditions. Here are some tips from one of the world’s best benchresters, Charles Huckeba.

Texan Charles Huckeba was the top individual shooter at the 2013 World Benchrest Championships (WBC) held near Sydney Australia in October 2013. In this video, 2013 WBC Two-Gun Overall winner Charles shoots a 1/8th MOA group at 200 yards — “a little bitty dot” as a fellow Team USA shooter observes. That’s impressive. If you can describe Huckeba’s style in a nutshell it would be “smooth, consistent, and rapid but not hurried”.

Charles also employed some unusual hardware. In the video, take a close look at the joystick on the Farley Coaxial front rest. There’s no knob at the end. In its place is a small, wood ammo caddy. Charles removed the standard knob from the handle of his Farley rest and replaced it with a home-made wood block that holds cartridges for the record target. The 10.5-lb Light Varmint rifle is chambered in 6PPC with a BAT Machine Action and a composite wood and carbon-fiber stock.

Watch Charles Huckeba Shoot 1/8 MOA, 200-yard group at World Benchrest Championships

Here is the actual 200-yard, 5-shot group Charles shot in the video. Photo (by Stuart Elliot) taken through the lens of Huckeba’s 50X March scope (reticle has 1/16th MOA Dot).
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia
200 yard benchrest group charles huckeba australia

Analyzing the Fine Points — What Makes Huckeba So Good

Short-range benchrest shooter Boyd Allen saw some interesting things in Huckeba’s WBC performance, as captured on video. Boyd noticed Huckeba’s smooth gun-handling and efficient loading. But Boyd also spied some interesting equipment, including an innovative joystick “handle-caddy”.

1. Low Friction Bags — When Huckeba slid his rifle, there was very little apparent friction. The front bag features the new 3M material (ScotchLite) on the sliding surfaces. The rear Protektor bag has ears of the same low-friction material.

2. Pause Before Chambering — While he was watching the flags and deciding when to start firing, Charles kept his first round in the action, but out of the barrel’s chamber, probably so as not to heat the cartridge and change the round’s point of impact.

Charles Huckeba PPC World Benchrest joystick handle3. Ammo Caddy on Joystick Arm – Charles shoots a Right Bolt/Left Port action, so he pulls his rounds with his left hand. Note that Huckeba’s record rounds rest in a small, wood ammo caddy attached to the end of the joystick shaft. Look carefully, you’ll see the wood ammo block in place of the normal black ball at the end of the joystick. That allows Charles to pull shots with the absolute minimum of hand movement. Ingenious! Huckeba is very fast, with a great economy of motion. I believe that because his ammo was literally at hand, Charles was better able to keep his focus on aiming and the flags.

4. Smooth-Cycling BAT Action — Note how smoothly Huckeba’s action operates. When Charles lifts the bolt handle (to extract a round and cock the firing pin), this does not disturb the rifle. Likewise, as he closes the bolt, the gun doesn’t wobble. The smooth action allows Charles to hold point of aim even when shooting relatively quickly. Huckeba’s BAT action is chrome-moly steel. Some shooters believe this metal makes for a smoother action than stainless steel or aluminum.

5. Long-Wheelbase Stock — The wood and carbon fiber stock is light, long, and stiff. Yet, importantly, the stock is also well-damped. The longer-than-average stock length (with extended forearm) seems to help the gun track well without jumping or rocking. The longer forearm allows a longer “wheelbase”, effectively shifting the weight distribution rearward (less weight on the front, more weight on the rear). This places a greater share of the gun’s weight on the rear bag, as compared to a more conventional benchrest stock. Huckeba’s stock, built by Bob Scoville, is at the cutting edge of short-range benchrest design. Its light-weight balsa wood and carbon fiber construction provides a combination of stiffness and vibration damping that allows its relatively long fore-end to be fully utilized to increase the weight on the rear bag (always an issue with 10.5-pound rifles).

To learn more about this benchrest stock design, read the comments by stock-builder Bob Scoville in our PPC with Pedigree story in our Gun of the Week Archives. Bob observed:

“There is a lot more to the structure of the stocks than meets the eye. The carbon fiber skin with which I cover the stocks creates a light, tough exterior surface. However, this contributes very little to the overall performance of the stocks. The real strength and stiffness is the result of an internal beam utilizing balsa core/carbon fiber technology.

This type construction can be found in aircraft, race cars, powerboats, and sailboats. It is interesting to note, balsa has the highest strength to weight ratio of all woods and carbon fiber is one of the lowest stretch (modulus of elasticity) relative to weight of all materials. The marriage of these two materials is common in the high-performance world. Additionally, balsa is used commercially for vibration dampening and sound reduction.”

Video find by Boyd Allen. Video by Stuart Elliot of BRT Shooters Supply, Brisbane, Australia.
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May 15th, 2020

Complete 6.5×47 Benchrest Rifle Build — Start to Finish on Video


Watch this Video — It’s one of the best Custom Rifle Build Videos ever produced!

S&S Precision 6.5x47This video, produced for the folks at S&S Precision in Argyle, Texas, shows a full custom 6.5×47 Lapua bench rifle being crafted from start to finish. It is a fantastic video, one of the best benchrest gunsmithing videos you’ll find on YouTube. It shows every aspect of the job — action bedding, chambering, barrel-fitting, muzzle crowning, and stock finishing.

You’ll be amazed at the paint job on this rig — complete with flames and four playing cards: the 6, 5, 4, and 7 of spades. Everyone should take the time to watch this 13-minute video from start to finish, particularly if you are interested in stock painting or precision gunsmithing. And the video has a “happy ending”. This custom 6.5×47 proves to be a real tack-driver, shooting a 0.274″ three-shot group at 400 yards to win “small group” in its first fun match. NOTE: If you have a fast internet connection, we recommend you watch this video in 720p HD.

S&S Precision 6.5x47 Lapua benchrest precision rifle stock build gunsmithing

S&S Precision 6.5x47 Lapua benchrest precision rifle stock build gunsmithing

S&S Precision 6.5x47 Lapua benchrest precision rifle stock build gunsmithing

S&S Precision 6.5x47 Lapua benchrest precision rifle stock build gunsmithing

S&S Precision 6.5x47 Lapua benchrest precision rifle stock build gunsmithing

S&S Precision 6.5x47 Lapua benchrest precision rifle stock build gunsmithing

S&S Precision 6.5x47 Lapua benchrest precision rifle stock build gunsmithing

S&S Precision 6.5x47 Lapua benchrest precision rifle stock build gunsmithing

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May 15th, 2020

If You’re Not Using Wind Flags You’re Throwing Away Accuracy


Forest of Windflags at World Benchrest Championships in France in 2011

There’s a simple, inexpensive “miracle device” that can cut your groups in half. If you’re not using this device, you’re giving away accuracy. The “miracle device” to which we refer is a simple wind indicator aka “windflag”. Using windflags may actually improve your accuracy on target much more than weighing charges to the kernel, or spending your life savings on the “latest and greatest” hardware.

Remarkably, many shooters who spend $3000.00 or more on a precision rifle never bother to set up windflags, or even simple wood stakes with some ribbon to show the wind. Whether you’re a competitive shooter, a varminter, or someone who just likes to punch small groups, you should always take a set of windflags (or some kind of wind indicators) when you head to the range or the prairie dog fields. And yes, if you pay attention to your windflags, you can easily cut your group sizes in half. Here’s proof…

Miss a 5 mph Shift and You Could DOUBLE Your Group Size

The table below records the effect of a 5 mph crosswind at 100, 200, and 300 yards. You may be thinking, “well, I’d never miss a 5 mph let-off.” Consider this — if a gentle 2.5 mph breeze switches from 3 o’clock (R to L) to 9 o’clock (L to R), you’ve just missed a 5 mph net change. What will that do to your group? Look at the table to find out.

shooting wind flags
Values from Point Blank Ballistics software for 500′ elevation and 70° temperature.

Imagine you have a 6mm rifle that shoots half-MOA consistently in no-wind conditions. What happens if you miss a 5 mph shift (the equivalent of a full reversal of a 2.5 mph crosswind)? Well, if you’re shooting a 68gr flatbase bullet, your shot is going to move about 0.49″ at 100 yards, nearly doubling your group size. With a 105gr VLD, the bullet moves 0.28″ … not as much to be sure, but still enough to ruin a nice small group. What about an AR15, shooting 55-grainers at 3300 fps? Well, if you miss that same 5 mph shift, your low-BC bullet moves 0.68″. That pushes a half-inch group well past an inch. If you had a half-MOA capable AR, now it’s shooting worse than 1 MOA. And, as you might expect, the wind effects at 200 and 300 yards are even more dramatic. If you miss a 5 mph, full-value wind change, your 300-yard group could easily expand by 2.5″ or more.

If you’ve already invested in an accurate rifle with a good barrel, you are “throwing away” accuracy if you shoot without wind flags. You can spend a ton of money on fancy shooting accessories (such as expensive front rests and spotting scopes) but, dollar for dollar, nothing will potentially improve your shooting as much as a good set of windflags, used religiously.

Which Windflag to buy? Click Here for a list of Vendors selling windflags of various types.

Aussie Windflag photo courtesy BenchRestTraining.com (Stuart and Annie Elliot).

Permalink Shooting Skills, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
February 12th, 2020

Six Tips for Better Results at Local Fun Shooting Matches

tip advice training prep club varmint groundhog match

Every summer weekend, there are probably 400 or more club “fun matches” conducted around the country. One of the good things about these club shoots is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to have fun. But we’ve seen that many club shooters handicap themselves with a few common equipment oversights or lack of attention to detail while reloading. Here are SIX TIPS that can help you avoid these common mistakes, and build more accurate ammo for your club matches.

Benchrest rear bag1. Align Front Rest and Rear Bags. We see many shooters whose rear bag is angled left or right relative to the bore axis. This can happen when you rush your set-up. But even if you set the gun up carefully, the rear bag can twist due to recoil or the way your arm contacts the bag. After every shot, make sure your rear bag is aligned properly (this is especially important for bag squeezers who may actually pull the bag out of alignment as they squeeze).

Forum member ArtB adds: “To align my front rest and rear bag with the target, I use an old golf club shaft. I run it from my front rest stop through a line that crosses over my speed screw and into the slot between the two ears. I stand behind that set-up and make sure I see a straight line pointing at the target. I also tape a spot on the  golf shaft that indicates how far the back end of the rear bag should be placed from the front rest stop. If you don’t have a golf shaft, use a wood dowel.

2. Avoid Contact Interference. We see three common kinds of contact or mechanical interference that can really hurt accuracy. First, if your stock has front and/or rear sling swivels make sure these do NOT contact the front or rear bags at any point of the gun’s travel. When a sling swivel digs into the front bag that can cause a shot to pop high or low. To avoid this, reposition the rifle so the swivels don’t contact the bags or simply remove the swivels before your match. Second, watch out for the rear of the stock grip area. Make sure this is not resting on the bag as you fire and that it can’t come back to contact the bag during recoil. That lip or edge at the bottom of the grip can cause problems when it contacts the rear bag. Third, watch out for the stud or arm on the front rest that limits forward stock travel. With some rests this is high enough that it can actually contact the barrel. We encountered one shooter recently who was complaining about “vertical flyers” during his match. It turns out his barrel was actually hitting the front stop! With most front rests you can either lower the stop or twist the arm to the left or right so it won’t contact the barrel.

3. Weigh Your Charges — Every One. This may sound obvious, but many folks still rely on a powder measure. Yes we know that most short-range BR shooters throw their charges without weighing, but if you’re going to pre-load for a club match there is no reason NOT to weigh your charges. You may be surprised at how inconsistent your powder measure actually is. One of our testers was recently throwing H4198 charges from a Harrell’s measure for his 30BR. Each charge was then weighed twice with a Denver Instrument lab scale. Our tester found that thrown charges varied by up to 0.7 grains! And that’s with a premium measure.

4. Measure Your Loaded Ammo — After Bullet Seating. Even if you’ve checked your brass and bullets prior to assembling your ammo, we recommend that you weigh your loaded rounds and measure them from base of case to bullet ogive using a comparator. If you find a round that is “way off” in weight or more than .005″ off your intended base to ogive length, set it aside and use that round for a fouler. (Note: if the weight is off by more than 6 or 7 grains you may want to disassemble the round and check your powder charge.) With premium, pre-sorted bullets, we’ve found that we can keep 95% of loaded rounds within a range of .002″, measuring from base (of case) to ogive. Now, with some lots of bullets, you just can’t keep things within .002″, but you should still measure each loaded match round to ensure you don’t have some cases that are way too short or way too long.

Scope Ring5. Check Your Fasteners. Before a match you need to double-check your scope rings or iron sight mounts to ensure everything is tight. Likewise, you should check the tension on the screws/bolts that hold the action in place. Even on a low-recoiling rimfire rifle, action screws or scope rings can come loose during normal firing.

6. Make a Checklist and Pack the Night Before. Ever drive 50 miles to a match then discover you have the wrong ammo or that you forgot your bolt? Well, mistakes like that happen to the best of us. You can avoid these oversights (and reduce stress at matches) by making a checklist of all the stuff you need. Organize your firearms, range kit, ammo box, and shooting accessories the night before the match. And, like a good Boy Scout, “be prepared”. Bring a jacket and hat if it might be cold. If you have windflags, bring them (even if you’re not sure the rules allow them). Bring spare batteries, and it’s wise to bring a spare rifle and ammo for it. If you have just one gun, a simple mechanical breakdown (such as a broken firing pin) can ruin your whole weekend.

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February 3rd, 2020

Rear Sand Bag Tuning — Fill Levels, Sand Types, Bag Designs

With the Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) taking place this week in Phoenix, we are reprising this discussing of rear bag designs and fill levels. By “tuning” your rear bag you can reduce hop on shot-firing and help your rifle track better. All that can translate to better scores, particularly with large-caliber rifles.

Tuning Your Rear Sand Bags

Over the years, noted gunsmith and a Benchrest Hall-of-Fame inductee Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez has learned a few things about “tuning” rear sandbags for best performance. On his Facebook page, Speedy recently discussed how sand bag fill levels (hard vs. soft) can affect accuracy. Speedy says you don’t want to have both your front and rear sandbags filled up ultra-hard. One or the other bag needs to have some “give” to provide a shock-absorbing function (and prevent stock jump). And you want to tune your fill arrangements to match your shooting style. Free recoil shooters may need a different fill levels than bag squeezers (who a softer bag but harder ears).

SAND BAGS & HOW TO FILL THEM by Speedy Gonzalez

I was asked several times by competitors at the S.O.A. Matches and F-Class Nationals as to how I fill my sand bags for benchrest competition. Here is a copy of a reply I gave several years ago:

Back in the old days, Pat McMillan told me: “You can not have two bags filled so hard that you gun bounces on them in the process of firing round at your target, especially if you have a rig with a very flexible stock. The bags must be set up in a manner for them to absorb the initial shock of the firing pin moving forward and igniting the primer.

Then [they must] maintain their shape and absorb the second shock wave as well the rearward thrust and torque of the rifle. What happens to the rifle when this is not done? Well let me tell you. The rifles have a very bad tendency to jump and roll in the bags. This causes many of those wild, lost shots that one can’t explain.”

Here’s some Good General Advice for Bag Set-up:

1. You should not have TWO hard bags [i.e. both front AND rear] in your set-up.

2. Heavy sand magnifies these phenomena.

3. If you are a bag squeezer, pack ears hard and leave bag pliable enough to squeeze for the movement required. You may pack front bag as hard as rules permit.

4. Free recoil shooters pack both bags firm, but not so hard as to allow stock jump. Especially if you have a stock with a very flexible forearm.

5. We use play-ground sand, also know as silica sand. I sift mine to get any large impurities out then mix it with 25% to 50% with Harts parakeet gravel to the desired hardness that I am looking for. The bird gravel keeps the sand from packing itself into that solid as a brick state.

Speaking of bricks — another thing that happens when shooters employ that heavy zircon sand is the ears form a low spot under them from recoil and then tend to rock back and forth with the rifle causing many low shots to crop up. Edgewood makes an Edgewood/Speedy rear bag specially reinforced under the ears to eliminate this scenario.

General Thoughts about Bag Construction and Ear Materials
I do not like the solid double-stitched leather bottoms. While this seems like a good idea, I see more shooters have problems because of them. They tend to slide around the bench and or slide with the rifle on recoil. The standard Protektor with Cordura rabbit ears and an Otto ring bag with a Cordura front would be what I would suggest to the new shooter or one of the Edgewood / Speedy rear bags, these mimic the “Donut” and feature a ring of leather around the bottom circumference that keep the bottom from rocking on the bench or ground[.]

One last note –If you use the Cordura bags, keep them sprayed with a good silicon spray or “Rain-Ex”. This keeps them from getting sticky. — Speedy

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January 30th, 2020

Can You Predict Useful Barrel Life? Insights from Dan Lilja

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Barrel-maker Dan Lilja’s website has an excellent FAQ page that contains a wealth of useful information. On the Lilja FAQ Page as you’ll find informed answers to many commonly-asked questions. For example, Dan’s FAQ addresses the question of barrel life. Dan looks at factors that affect barrel longevity, and provides some predictions for barrel life, based on caliber, chambering, and intended use.

NOTE: This article was very well-received when it was first published last year. We are reprising it for the benefit of readers who missed it the first time.

Dan cautions that “Predicting barrel life is a complicated, highly variable subject — there is not a simple answer. Signs of accurate barrel life on the wane are increased copper fouling, lengthened throat depth, and decreased accuracy.” Dan also notes that barrels can wear prematurely from heat: “Any fast varmint-type cartridge can burn out a barrel in just a few hundred rounds if those rounds are shot one after another without letting the barrel cool between groups.”

Q. What Barrel Life, in number of rounds fired, can I expect from my new barrel?

A: That is a good question, asked often by our customers. But again there is not a simple answer. In my opinion there are two distinct types of barrel life. Accurate barrel life is probably the type most of us are referencing when we ask the question. But there is also absolute barrel life too. That is the point where a barrel will no longer stabilize a bullet and accuracy is wild. The benchrest shooter and to a lesser extent other target shooters are looking at accurate barrel life only when asking this question. To a benchrest shooter firing in matches where group size is the only measure of precision, accuracy is everything. But to a score shooter firing at a target, or bull, that is larger than the potential group size of the rifle, it is less important. And to the varmint hunter shooting prairie dog-size animals, the difference between a .25 MOA rifle or one that has dropped in accuracy to .5 MOA may not be noticeable in the field.

The big enemy to barrel life is heat. A barrel looses most of its accuracy due to erosion of the throat area of the barrel. Although wear on the crown from cleaning can cause problems too. The throat erosion is accelerated by heat. Any fast varmint-type cartridge can burn out a barrel in just a few hundred rounds if those rounds are shot one after another without letting the barrel cool between groups. A cartridge burning less powder will last longer or increasing the bore size for a given powder volume helps too. For example a .243 Winchester and a .308 Winchester both are based on the same case but the .308 will last longer because it has a larger bore.

And stainless steel barrels will last longer than chrome-moly barrels. This is due to the ability of stainless steel to resist heat erosion better than the chrome-moly steel.

Barrel Life Guidelines by Caliber and Cartridge Type
As a very rough rule of thumb I would say that with cartridges of .222 Remington size you could expect an accurate barrel life of 3000-4000 rounds. And varmint-type accuracy should be quite a bit longer than this.

For medium-size cartridges, such as the .308 Winchester, 7×57 and even the 25-06, 2000-3000 rounds of accurate life is reasonable.

Hot .224 caliber-type cartridges will not do as well, and 1000-2500 rounds is to be expected.

Bigger magnum hunting-type rounds will shoot from 1500-3000 accurate rounds. But the bigger 30-378 Weatherby types won’t do as well, being closer to the 1500-round figure.

These numbers are based on the use of stainless steel barrels. For chrome-moly barrels I would reduce these by roughly 20%.

The .17 and .50 calibers are rules unto themselves and I’m pressed to predict a figure.

The best life can be expected from the 22 long rifle (.22 LR) barrels with 5000-10,000 accurate rounds to be expected. We have in our shop one our drop-in Anschutz barrels that has 200,000 rounds through it and the shooter, a competitive small-bore shooter reported that it had just quit shooting.

Remember that predicting barrel life is a complicated, highly variable subject. You are the best judge of this with your particular barrel. Signs of accurate barrel life on the wane are increased copper fouling, lengthened throat depth, and decreased accuracy.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Benchrest Barrel Life — You May Be Surprised
I thought it might be interesting to point out a few exceptional Aggregates that I’ve fired with 6PPC benchrest rifles with barrels that had thousands of rounds through them. I know benchrest shooters that would never fire barrels with over 1500 shots fired in them in registered benchrest matches.

I fired my smallest 100-yard 5-shot Aggregate ever in 1992 at a registered benchrest match in Lewiston, Idaho. It was a .1558″ aggregate fired in the Heavy Varmint class. And that barrel had about 2100 rounds through it at the time.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Another good aggregate was fired at the 1997 NBRSA Nationals in Phoenix, Arizona during the 200-yard Light Varmint event. I placed second at this yardage with a 6PPC barrel that had over 2700 rounds through it at the time. I retired this barrel after that match because it had started to copper-foul quite a bit. But accuracy was still good.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

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December 20th, 2019

Pioneers of Precision Shooting — Legendary L.E. “Sam” Wilson

lewilson15001
Sam (L.E.) Wilson actively competed in benchrest matches until he passed. He’s shown here with an Unlimited benchrest rifle of his own design.

If you’ve used hand dies with an arbor press, chances are you’ve seen the L.E. Wilson company name. You may not know that the founder of L.E. Wilson Inc. was an avid benchrest competitor who pioneered many of the precision reloading methods we used today. Known as “Sam” to his friends, L.E. Wilson was one of the great accuracy pioneers who collected many trophies for match victories during his long shooting career.

lewilson1503

The photo above shows Sam (foreground) with all of his children at a shoot. Behind Sam are Jim, Jack and Mary, shooting in the Unlimited Class. What do they say — “the family that plays together stays together”? Note the long, externally-adjusted scopes being used. Learn more about Sam (L.E.) Wilson and his company on the L.E. Wilson Inc. Facebook Page.

lewilson1504

Unlimited Class was Sam’s favorite discipline, because in the “good old days” top competitors normally would craft both the rifle and the front/rear rests. This rewarded Sam’s ingenuity and machining/fabrication skills. In the “build-it-yourself” era, one couldn’t just order up an unlimited rail gun on the internet. How times have changed…

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 3 Comments »
October 10th, 2019

How to Succeed at Club Matches — Six Tips

During shooting season, there are probably 400 or more club “fun matches” conducted around the country. One of the good things about these club shoots is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to have fun. But we’ve seen that many club shooters handicap themselves with a few common equipment oversights or lack of attention to detail while reloading. Here are SIX TIPS that can help you avoid these common mistakes, and build more accurate ammo for your club matches.

Benchrest rear bag1. Align Front Rest and Rear Bags. We see many shooters whose rear bag is angled left or right relative to the bore axis. This can happen when you rush your set-up. But even if you set the gun up carefully, the rear bag can twist due to recoil or the way your arm contacts the bag. After every shot, make sure your rear bag is aligned properly (this is especially important for bag squeezers who may actually pull the bag out of alignment as they squeeze).

Forum member ArtB adds: “To align my front rest and rear bag with the target, I use an old golf club shaft. I run it from my front rest stop through a line that crosses over my speed screw and into the slot between the two ears. I stand behind that set-up and make sure I see a straight line pointing at the target. I also tape a spot on the  golf shaft that indicates how far the back end of the rear bag should be placed from the front rest stop. If you don’t have a golf shaft, use a wood dowel.

2. Avoid Contact Interference. We see three common kinds of contact or mechanical interference that can really hurt accuracy. First, if your stock has front and/or rear sling swivels make sure these do NOT contact the front or rear bags at any point of the gun’s travel. When a sling swivel digs into the front bag that can cause a shot to pop high or low. To avoid this, reposition the rifle so the swivels don’t contact the bags or simply remove the swivels before your match. Second, watch out for the rear of the stock grip area. Make sure this is not resting on the bag as you fire and that it can’t come back to contact the bag during recoil. That lip or edge at the bottom of the grip can cause problems when it contacts the rear bag. Third, watch out for the stud or arm on the front rest that limits forward stock travel. With some rests this is high enough that it can actually contact the barrel. We encountered one shooter recently who was complaining about “vertical flyers” during his match. It turns out his barrel was actually hitting the front stop! With most front rests you can either lower the stop or twist the arm to the left or right so it won’t contact the barrel.

3. Weigh Your Charges — Every One. This may sound obvious, but many folks still rely on a powder measure. Yes we know that most short-range BR shooters throw their charges without weighing, but if you’re going to pre-load for a club match there is no reason NOT to weigh your charges. You may be surprised at how inconsistent your powder measure actually is. One of our testers was recently throwing H4198 charges from a Harrell’s measure for his 30BR. Each charge was then weighed twice with a Denver Instrument lab scale. Our tester found that thrown charges varied by up to 0.7 grains! And that’s with a premium measure.

4. Measure Your Loaded Ammo — After Bullet Seating. Even if you’ve checked your brass and bullets prior to assembling your ammo, we recommend that you weigh your loaded rounds and measure them from base of case to bullet ogive using a comparator. If you find a round that is “way off” in weight or more than .005″ off your intended base to ogive length, set it aside and use that round for a fouler. (Note: if the weight is off by more than 6 or 7 grains you may want to disassemble the round and check your powder charge.) With premium, pre-sorted bullets, we’ve found that we can keep 95% of loaded rounds within a range of .002″, measuring from base (of case) to ogive. Now, with some lots of bullets, you just can’t keep things within .002″, but you should still measure each loaded match round to ensure you don’t have some cases that are way too short or way too long.

Scope Ring5. Check Your Fasteners. Before a match you need to double-check your scope rings or iron sight mounts to ensure everything is tight. Likewise, you should check the tension on the screws/bolts that hold the action in place. Even on a low-recoiling rimfire rifle, action screws or scope rings can come loose during normal firing.

6. Make a Checklist and Pack the Night Before. Ever drive 50 miles to a match then discover you have the wrong ammo or that you forgot your bolt? Well, mistakes like that happen to the best of us. You can avoid these oversights (and reduce stress at matches) by making a checklist of all the stuff you need. Organize your firearms, range kit, ammo box, and shooting accessories the night before the match. And, like a good Boy Scout, “be prepared”. Bring a jacket and hat if it might be cold. If you have windflags, bring them (even if you’re not sure the rules allow them). Bring spare batteries, and it’s wise to bring a spare rifle and ammo for it. If you have just one gun, a simple mechanical breakdown (such as a broken firing pin) can ruin your whole weekend.

Permalink Competition, Reloading, Shooting Skills 6 Comments »
September 2nd, 2019

Grandpa Lou and the Girls Shoot F-Class Together

Grandchildren Camp Pendleton F-Class shooting range Lou Murdica

We love it when family members shoot together. It’s a great way to pass knowledge from generation to generation. Last week we featured a 10-year old boy, his father, and his grandfather who all shot a match together. Three generations! That was the young man’s first benchrest shooting match. Story HERE.

This week we are showcasing the Murdica clan. Our friend Lou Murdica was in Coastal Southern California this week. Grandpa Lou had taken two of his granddaughters to SoCal to enjoy the beach, and to shoot an F-Class match at Camp Pendleton.

Lou reports: “I took my two granddaughters (ages 12 and 14) to shoot their first-ever F-Class match! we went to Camp Pendleton yesterday and shot the 1000-yard match. This was the first time the girls had ever shot on the ground. They made me proud!”

Grandchildren Camp Pendleton F-Class shooting range Lou Murdica

Both girls shot very well as you can see from these targets. Angelina used a .284 Win rifle, while Bella used Lou’s 6.5×55 Improved. Both are top-level F-Open rigs. Lou said conditions were fairly challenging — with about 4 MINUTES of wind.

Grandchildren Camp Pendleton F-Class shooting range Lou Murdica

There were some interesting comments from Lou’s Facebook Friends:

“Lou you best quit shooting now while you can still beat them!” — Larry Bartholome (Editor: Larry B. is a past F-Class National Champion)

“Wow — just 1 point separation for the girls. Keep em in the ‘X’ girls! Good job!” — Anthony Smith

“Yea for Bella and Angelina. Such a proud grandpa!” — Kate White

All in the Family — Shooting is a Fun Hobby

Grandchildren Camp Pendleton F-Class shooting range Lou Murdica
Lou Murdica has also shot Benchrest Matches with his grand-children. This photo captures Grandpa Lou at Ben Avery Range in Arizona with more family members.

Camp Pendleton (California) Map

The Camp Pendleton USMC base is located on the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego. Camp Pendleton’s range is a great place to shoot if you have the opportunity some day.

Grandchildren Camp Pendleton F-Class shooting range Lou Murdica

Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
August 8th, 2019

FREE Shooting Bench Plans — 14 Build Your Own Bench Designs

Free shooting bench plansFREE shooting Bench Plans
Do you like the Chris Byrne bench at left? For more details, CLICK HERE.

FREE Bench Plans on the Web

Building your own portable shooting bench is a great do-it-yourself project. You can build a sturdy bench for well under $100 in materials. Compare that to some deluxe factory-built benches which may cost $600.00 or more. You’ll find a wide assortment of home-built shooting bench designs (both portable and fixed) on the internet. Renovation Headquarters has links to FREE Plans and building instructions for fourteen (14) different shooting benches. There are all-wood shooting bench designs as well as benches that combine a wood top with a metal sub-frame or legs.

CLICK HERE for Shooting Bench FREE Plans Webpage »

Among Renovation HQ’s fourteen featured shooting benches, here are five designs we liked:

Larry Willis Shooting Bench

Sandwiched Plywood top, 1.5″ Galvanized Pipe Legs

Manuel Ferran’s
Steel Shooting Bench

Steel (welded) legs and frame, painted plywood top. Folds flat.

eHow Permanent All-Wood
Shooting Bench

Heavy-duty, very solid and sturdy, but easy to build. Good for right- or left-handed shooters.

Bill Clarke’s
Basic Shooting Bench

Restaurant table Cast Metal Pedestal Base, plywood top.

Missouri Hillbilly’s
All-Wood Bench

3/4″ ACX Plywood with 4×6 Beams and Legs

Heavy Wood Bench That Converts to Three Sections for Transport
In addition to the fourteen benches mentioned above, here is an interesting break-down bench design. Call it a “semi-portable” bench. The legs and frame are made from stout 4×4 post segments so the bench is fairly heavy. However, this bench can break down into three (3) sections for easier transport to and from the range. Dado-cut channels assure proper top alignment. This might be a good choice if you plan a multi-day excursion to a location without fixed benches. This three-leg bench design can be made from easy-to-locate materials. Note: The dimensions of this bench are are larger than typical fixed benches to accommodate 50 BMGs and other big rifles. CLICK HERE for more details.

FREE shooting Bench Plans

(more…)

Permalink Gear Review, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
June 22nd, 2019

The Most Incredible Accuracy in History — But It’s Not a Record

Gary Ocock Rail Gun Unlimited Target Visalia CA 6 PPC IBS NBRSA
Want to see the details? CLICK HERE to view full-screen photo.

Five targets, each with FIVE shots in essentially one hole. The events of this story happened two years ago. We are reprising our report because this five-target Aggregate arguably represents the most impressive feat of 100-yard accuracy in the history of marksmanship on this planet.

Check out those five targets. The Aggregate (average) of all five targets is a tiny 0.0840 inches! These were shot by Gary Ocock at 100 yards in a California benchrest match on August 6, 2017. Though Gary’s 0.0840 Agg beats existing records, this was not a “sanctioned” match, so Gary’s killer Agg will NOT be submitted for IBS or NBRSA records. So, sadly, the Agg won’t appear in the record books, but this remains a spectacular, verified feat of rifle accuracy, accomplished in competition.

The argument can be made that this is the Most Accurate Gun Ever Built. As far as we can determine, no one has ever shot a smaller 5-target Agg anywhere, at any time.

The Unlimited Benchrest Record That Will Never Be (Official)

Report by Boyd Allen
Gary Ocock’s stunning unlimited Aggregate is beyond amazing. That’s an average of five, 5-shot groups of .0840. Shot under sanctioned match rules, but at an unsanctioned 100-yard fun match, this Aggregate is well under the current 100-yard official records of the IBS (.1386), and the NBRSA (.1242). The fourth of the five groups measured a minuscule .018, less than half the size of the existing NBRSA Unlimited record of .049 (also shot by Gary). Check it out:

Gary Ocock Rail Gun Unlimited Target Visalia CA 6 PPC IBS NBRSA

Gary Ocock Rail Gun Unlimited Target Visalia CA 6 PPC IBS NBRSA
When the top 15 shooters all post teen Aggs, conditions must be pretty favorable. However there were some light switchy winds — Gary said that he shot better in the left to right condition.

GUN SPECIFICATIONS
Ocock’s red Jay Young Unlimited Railgun features one major difference from Young’s typical Railgun designs. The bottom of the barrel block is integral with the top (moving part), of the gun. The barrel is Ocock’s usual 1:13.5″-twist Krieger chambered for the 6 PPC. The BAT Neuvo action* is unusual in that its lugs are horizontal at lock-up instead of the usual vertical. With horizontal lugs, both lugs maintain contact with their abutments when the action is cocked. In the more normal configuration when cocked the top lug is forced off of its seat by a combination of the angle of the trigger cocking piece interface, the pressure of the striker spring, and bolt clearance at the rear of the action.

LOAD SPECIFICATIONS
Gary shot this remarkable Agg with well-used brass, Vihtavuori N133 powder, and self-made 66gr BT bullets** seated at “jam”. This amazing Agg was shot on the second day of a 2-day Unlimited Benchrest match. On Day 1 Gary had experimented with various loads using both surplus IMR 8208 and Vihtavuori N133, but was not satisfied with the results. For his first group on Day 2, Gary tried a light load of N133. After seeing the result, however, he decided to go to the other extreme — a super stout N133 load — with the same powder. As you can see, Gary’s willingness to experiment paid off.

Gary Ocock Rail Gun Unlimited Target Visalia CA 6 PPC IBS NBRSA

Notably, Gary used light neck tension. Ocock found that for these bullets and this barrel, light neck tension worked best (contrary to “normal” N133 benchrest practice). Ocock used a bushing that only produces .001″ difference between the diameters of sized and loaded case necks.

Comment on Ocock’s Achievement
Congratulations to Gary Ocock for superb shooting (and smart loading). Even though the match was not sanctioned (so the Agg will never be a record), Ocock has raised the bar very high, and given us a new standard of ultimate accuracy.

Though this 0.0840 Aggregate and 0.018 group will never go into the record group, they are still noteworthy. There’s virtually no doubt that they would have survived inspection by any record committee. Except for the lack of fixed backers, an IBS requirement (for detecting cross-fires), all other conditions were met for an officially-sanctioned match.

*The new BAT Neuvo actions are the result of a collaboration between Dwight Scott, and Bruce Thom, featuring Dwight’s ideas and BAT’s proven manufacturing expertise.

** Ocock shot his own, boat-tail match bullets, made with George Ulrich-crafted dies using Hood cores. Although he said that it had been a while since he had weighed any, his best guess was that they weigh something around 66.5 grains.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Shooting Skills 7 Comments »
June 20th, 2019

One Dollar DIY: Make a Mirage Shield from a Venetian Blind

make your own mirage shield for rifle

make your own mirage shield for rifleWant to shoot better scores at your next match? Here’s a smart, inexpensive do-it-yourself project from the good folks at Criterion Barrels. For less than one dollar in materials, in just a few minutes you can create a handy, effective mirage shield, custom-fitted to your favorite rifle.

All precision shooters should be familiar with mirage, a form of optical distortion caused primarily by variations in air temperature. Savvy shooters will use mirage as a valuable tool when gauging wind speed and direction. Natural mirage is unavoidable, but there are many techniques designed to limit its influence in long-range marksmanship.

A form of mirage can be produced by the barrel itself. Heat rising from the barrel may distort sight picture through your optics, leading to erratic results. Mirage caused by barrel heat can be reduced dramatically by a simple, light-weight mirage shield.

How to Make a Mirage Shield

A mirage shield is an extremely cost-effective way to eliminate a commonly-encountered problem. Making your own mirage shield is easy. Using old venetian blind strips and common household materials and tools, you can construct your own mirage shield for under one dollar.

Materials Required:
1. Vertical PVC Venetian blind panel
2. Three 1”x1” pieces adhesive-backed Velcro
3. Ruler or tape measure
4. Scissors or box cutter
5. Pencil or marker

1. Measure the distance from the end of the receiver or rail to the crown of the barrel.

make your own mirage shield for rifle

2. Using a pencil and ruler, measure the same distance and mark an even line across the blind.

make your own mirage shield for rifle

3. Cut across the line using scissors or a box cutter, shortening the blind to the required length. (Remember, measure twice, cut once!)

4. Expose the adhesive backing on the loop side of the Velcro. Center and apply the Velcro strips on the barrel at regular intervals.

make your own mirage shield for rifle

5. Expose the adhesive backing of the fuzzy side of the Velcro.

6. Place the blind on the upper side of the barrel. Apply downward pressure. Once the Velcro has secured itself to the barrel, separate the two sides. Proceed to mold both sides of the Velcro to fit the contour of their respective surfaces.

7. Reaffix the blind. Barrel related mirage is now a thing of the past!

make your own mirage shield for rifle
NOTE: You can attach the Velcro on the opposite side of the blind if you want the blind to curve upwards. Some folks thinks that aids barrel cooling — it’s worth a try.

How to Remove and Re-Attach the Mirage Shield
Removal of your mirage shield is accomplished by simply removing the blind. You can un-install the Velcro by pulling off the strips and then gently removing any adhesive residue left behind using an appropriate solvent. (Simple cooking oil may do the job.) Caution: With fine, high-polish blued barrels, test any solvent on a non-visible section of the barrel. Before storing the gun, re-oil the barrel to remove active solvents and residual fingerprints.

Permalink Competition, Tech Tip 3 Comments »