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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December 3rd, 2019

F-Class — Best Cartridge Options for Mid-Range and Long Range

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Covan

Cartridge Choices for F-Class Competition

By Emil Kovan
Kovan Match Rifles LLC, www.matchrifles.com

There are hundreds of cartridge types capable of winning in F-Open. For F-TR you can shoot either the .223 Rem or .308 Win, but you have many load options. This article will focus on proven choices, currently used by the top F-Class shooters in the world. Our discussion will analyze cartridge selection based on the four different F-Class sub-disciplines: Open Mid-Range, Open Long-Range, F-TR Mid-Range, and F-TR Long Range.

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Kovan
Click image to view full-screen photo.

Mid-Range F-Open Cartridges

For starters, a .300 WSM is certainly capable of winning mid-range matches but it is not ideal. So what is ideal, and why? F-Class Mid-Range matches usually are usually shot at 300, 500, or 600 yards — or all three. At those distances the 6mm and 6.5mm cartridges rule. In moderate conditions, the 6mm Dasher is unbeatable. Its low recoil along with its super grouping ability and good ballistics make it my number one choice for Mid-Range.

Best bullets for the 6mm Dasher are: Vapor Trail 103gr, Berger 105 Hybrid, 108 BT, and 105 VLD (hunting). Best powders are: Varget, H4895, and Reloder 15.

Choices for Mid-Range in Tougher Conditions:
We all know that conditions are not always “moderate” that’s why something a little bit bigger will save you a “Nine” or two. The 6.5X47 Lapua was designed for 300-meter competition, but as soon as it was released, it was adopted by F-Class, benchrest, and tactical shooters. It offers great ballistics with very low recoil and big “accuracy window”. Lapua makes great brass for it (no surprise there) and Berger makes great bullets: 130gr VLD, 140gr VLD, 140gr Hybrids. Best powders in most barrels are Varget and H4350, I don’t use double-based powders such as Reloder 17 and the Vihtavuori N500 series because of their unpredictable performance day to day (greater temp sensitivity).

The 6.5X47 Lapua necked down to 6mm is also a great option for mid range matches. I was able to easily get 3200 fps with 105 hybrids and H4350.

Choice for Long-Range F-Open Competition

In Long-Range F-Open Class (out to 1000 yards), the big, high-BC bullets rule. If I had to pick one cartridge for F-Class (both mid- and long-range) I would pick the .284 Winchester or one of its variants. The .284 Win is currently dominating in F-Open competition. It offers great barrel life, it is super-easy to tune and its recoil is very manageable. The best bullets for it by far (in my opinion), are the Berger 180 Hybrids. But Sierra’s new 183gr MK bullet (with factory-uniformed meplats) seems to perform very well as does the Berger 180 VLD. Best powders for the .284 Win are H4350 and H4831SC.

F-Open F-TR F-class competition cartridge guide comparison Emil Covan

Long-Range Only F-Open Cartridge
As much as I like the .284 Win, for long-range competitions I like the .300 WSM even more. If you look at a .300 WSM and a 6mm Dasher side by side, they appear almost identical in geometry — the .300 WSM looks like an “super-sized” Dasher. Both cartridges are currently the “darlings” of long-range benchrest due to their extraordinary grouping ability and huge “node’’ windows. Big accuracy windows allow loads to perform well in different conditions and geographical locations. That’s obviously very important if you travel to compete. The .300 WSM loaded with Berger 215gr or 230gr Hybrids is very tough to beat at long range, and it is currently my number one choice.

The 7mm RSAUM is another outstanding long-range round. It resembles a 6BR on steroids and it is almost as easy to tune. Best bullets for it are Berger 180gr Hybrids, 195gr EOLs, and Sierra’s 183gr MatchKing. Best powders for the 7mm RSAUM are: H4350, H4831SC, and VV N160.

Top Caliber/Bullet Combos for F-TR

In F-TR competition, the choice is clear — a .308 Win throated for Berger 185gr BTLRs and 200gr Hybrids will win in mid-range AND long-range comps. Many championships have been won, and many records set with those two bullets in the .308 Win. To quote Danny Biggs (a two times FTR National Champion) “The 185 BTLR is the best bullet for .308 Win ever made”.

The Berger 215gr Hybrids have been used to win many competitions including recently the 2015 F-Class Nationals. Bryan Litz won both the Mid-Range and Long-Range 2015 Championships using 215s. Bryan’s rifle is shown below:

Bryan Litz F-TR 2015 National Championship rifle

I recommend chambers throated for the 185/200 grain projectiles over the 215/230 grain bullets. The reason is that if you have your barrel throated out for the 215s or the 230s, you could have a “slow” barrel and max out on pressure before the desired velocity is reached. Optimum freebore for the 230s is too long for the 185/200s, so you would be limited to using only 215/230gr bullets in that barrel.Furthermore, the recoil increase with heavier bullets is substantial, causing the rifle to be more difficult to shoot.

.223 Remington Cartridge Diagram.223 Rem — Not A Competitive Option
I would stay away from the .223 Remington. On paper the 90gr VLD will shoot inside most .308 Win loads even at a 1000 yards. But in reality, on average, the .223 Rem, regardless of what powder/bullet combo is used, cannot compete with the .308 Win. [Editor: The equipment lists at major F-TR matches will confirm Kovan’s conclusion here.]

Conclusion (and Other Options)
This article covers only the (currently) most popular cartridge/bullet combos for F-Class (F-Open and F-TR). As I said in the beginning, many cartridge types are capable of winning but are not listed due to their low popularity, case design, or lack of quality components. All of the above information is based on my personal experience and it is meant to help new shooters choose the right cartridges for F-Class matches. Thanks for reading and good luck — Emil Kovan

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

– 2014 F-Class Open National Champion

– 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

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 2 Comments »
September 30th, 2019

Raton Remembrances — Photos from the F-Class Nationals

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher is one of the nation’s top rifle shooters and team coaches. A past Long Range National Champion, Michelle is part of America’s “First Family” of Shooting, being raised by Mid Tompkins and Nancy Tompkins, both rifle champions in their own right.

Michelle, who works for Sierra Bullets, was at the 2019 F-Class National Championships in Raton, New Mexico. At the event, Michelle captured some great photos of the competitors and the New Mexico countryside at the NRA Whittington Center. This year’s Nationals were very challenging competition, with truly brutal winds on some days. Here is Michelle’s Photo Essay on the 2019 F-Class Nationals.

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR
Father Ken Klemm and Son Ian Klemm shot together in F-TR Team Matches. Individually, Ian was second overall in the 1K F-TR Nationals, while Ken finished as High Grand Senior.

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR

Michelle Gallagher 2019 Raton NM F-Class National Championships Nationals f-Open F-TR
Three talented lady shooters: Michelle Gallagher (L), Nancy Tompkins, and Madison Bramley.

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September 15th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: Back-to-Back Championship Winning .284 Win

Charles Ballard F-Open National Champion 2008 2009 .284 Win Winchester

With the U.S. F-Class National Championship running this week in Raton, NM, we thought we’d highlight a very important .284 Win rifle. This is the .284 Winchester rig that Charles Ballard used to win back-to-back F-Open titles in 2008 and 2009. Ballard’s huge success with the .284 Winchester cartridge helped make the .284 Win (and .284 Win Improveds) the dominant cartridge in F-Open competition worldwide. Enjoy this trip back in time to when the .284 Win was the “new kid on the block”.

Ballard Wins Back-to-Back F-Open Championships
In a very short span, Ballard and this rifle racked up an impressive string of performances. Ballard won the NRA Long-Range Regional, setting a new National Record in the process — 200-23X at 1000 yards. He also won the North Carolina F-Class Championship with the gun, and then captured the 2008 F-Open National Championship, followed by a second F-Open title in 2009. At the 2008 Nationals in Lodi, Wisconsin, Charles shot a 1337-65X with Berger 180gr bullets. At the 2009 F-Class Nationals, held at Camp Butner, NC, Ballard shot a 1328-62X to win his second straight National title.

Ballard’s “Purple Haze” rifle features superb components, including a BAT MB action, Nightforce 12-42 BR Scope, and a wickedly accurate 32″ Broughton barrel.

Charles Ballard F-Open National Champion 2008 2009 .284 Win Winchester
Charles Ballard always used eye and ear protection. For these photos, he removed safety glasses.

Building a Championship-Winning F-Classer

by Charles Ballard
.284 Win F-Class

This rifle project began several years ago. My purpose was to find a cartridge that would launch the high-BC, 180gr 7mm bullets at competitive velocities for F-Class competition. I also sought barrel life that would be far superior to that of a 7mm WSM or 6.5-284. I read the article on 6mmBR.com about Jerry Tierney’s .284 Winchester and the cogs began to turn. After speaking with Mr. Tierney at the 2006 US F-Class Nationals, I decided the .284 Win would be the chambering for the new gun, despite several shooters telling me I would not be able to obtain the desired velocities. Jerry said “go for it” and, as it turned out, the rifle delivered the velocity I wanted, plus extraordinary accuracy to boot. This gun has more than exceeded my expectations, winning matches and setting a new 1000-yard, single-target F-Class National Record (200-13X).

Rifle Specifications–All the Hardware
My action of choice was a beefy 1.55″-diameter, round BAT MB, Left Bolt, Right Port. I chose this action based on BAT Machine’s impeccable reputation. I also liked the fact that the MB (medium long front) action offered an extended front end. This would provide better support for a very long barrel and give more bedding surface. The action is topped with a stainless BAT tapered (+20 MOA) Picatinny scope rail. Housed in a polished, stainless BAT trigger guard is a Jewel trigger set at 5 ounces.

.284 Win F-Class

The barrel is a 32″ Broughton 5C. The chamber was cut with a reamer made for Lapua 6.5-284 brass necked up to 7mm. It’s throated for the 180gr Bergers. I selected a Broughton 5C because, as my gunsmith says, “They just shoot”. This is a 1:9″ twist, 1.250″ straight contour for 32″. Yes, that’s a long, heavy barrel, but I think the length gives me a velocity advantage. On other guns, a 32″ tube could cause the rifle to be front-heavy and out-of-balance. The stock by Precision Rifle & Tool has a 3″-longer fore-end which solves the problem. The purple .284 balances very well and tracks great.

.284 Win F-Class

Speaking of the stock, there was only one choice, a “Purple Haze” laminated F-class model from Precision Rifle & Tool. This stock features a fully-adjustable buttplate plus a removable cheek-piece with thumb-wheel adjustment. Most importantly, the stock features an extra-long, super-stiff, low profile fore-end. This design rides the bags better than any stock I have ever shot. The action area of this stock has been beefed up to house the large BAT MB action. The final component on this rifle is a 12-42×56 Nightforce BR with DD-1 reticle set in Leupold Quick Release rings.

.284 Win F-Class

.284 Win F-ClassThe Ultimate F-Open Rig
To start this project, I contacted Ray Bowman of Precision Rifle & Tool, PrecisionRifleSales.com. The first order of business was to get the action ordered, knowing how long it would take to get a BAT left bolt, right port action, plus scope rail, and trigger guard. We knew we wanted a Broughton 5C, but what twist rate? Based on the success I had shooting 210s in my 300 WSM with a “slower” 1:11″ twist we opted to go with a 1:9″ twist 7mm to shoot the 180gr Bergers. A dummy round was sent to Pacific Tool and Gauge to have a reamer ground to our specs.

Not shooting free recoil, I needed a stock that would fit me like a prone stock but track like a benchrest stock. Precision Rifle & Tool’s F-Class stock fit this bill to perfection. Ray keeps Jewell triggers in stock so the only piece left to acquire was the scope. On the old F-Class targets I would have been content with a Leupold 8-25 LRT, but on the new target a scope with 1/8-MOA adjustments and high magnification is a must. I considered the Leupold competition scopes but ultimately decided on the Nightforce BR. The variable power and unobstructed DD-1 reticle of the NF were deciding factors.

.284 Win F-ClassNOTE: Charles Ballard always employs eye and ear protection when shooting. For these posed photos, he removed his safety glasses.

Ballard’s Tips for F-Class Competition

In this section, Charles Ballard explains the basics of shooting an F-Class match, from the initial prep period to end of match. He covers sighter strategies and techniques for record fire, and he also explains, in detail, how he dopes the wind and judges hold-offs based on mirage.

.284 Win F-ClassThree-Minute Prep Period
I spend the first part of my 3-minute prep period making sure my front rest and rear bag are in-line. This insures the gun returns to the same spot after recoil. After I am happy with my set-up, I take a position similar to that of a conventional prone shooter. My face rests on the stock and my shoulder is placed firmly into the buttplate. With the Right Bolt, Left Port action, I can shoot the entire match with minimal movement. The last segment of prep time is spent trying to dope the wind.

Sighter Strategies
In a match with only two sighters, I’ll make a wind call and try to hit the center with my first shot. In matches with unlimited sighters, I generally hold dead center with a no-wind zero and use the point of impact as feedback. If I feel there is a constant condition, I will click for the wind. This allows me to use the center as my primary hold. After I get the feedback I need from my sighters it’s time to go for record.

Record Fire
After record fire begins I shoot very fast, holding off for the wind. I’ll make my wind call while the target is in the pits; if my previous shot went where I thought it would I will take my next shot as soon as the target stops. I predominantly shoot and adjust my aim based on mirage. If I have switching conditions, I will remove all wind from the scope, slow down, use the flags and mirage, still holding off. I do this because I have never had success waiting on a condition to come back.

Cleaning Procedures
I do not clean until the match is over. This means I typically shoot 120 to 150 rounds on average between barrel cleanings. I quit cleaning every relay after reading Mr. Tierney’s article, but I would still clean on Saturday night after I got home. After getting in late one Saturday night, I forgot to clean my rifle. I remembered this as I was preparing to shoot the first relay Sunday morning. At the time I was shooting a 300 WSM. Well, guess what… that relay I shot a 200-19x, and the next relay I shot a 200-17x (these scores were on the old, larger F-Class target). I found that the 300 WSM’s vertical really tightened up after about 50 rounds. The same has proven true of my .284 Winchester–vertical improves once 50 rounds are through the bore.

When I do clean, it’s simple. I use Bore Tech Eliminator on three patches, then follow with a wet nylon brush. These steps are repeated until the bore is spotless. I then push one wet patch of Eliminator through the bore and leave it.

Load Development and Accuracy Testing

My philosophy on load development differs from many shooters. I don’t primarily shoot for groups. The only goal I have is to obtain the lowest ES and SD I possibly can. Holding elevation in F-Class is crucial. Uniform velocity gives me more consistent vertical point of impact.

As we commenced load development, Jerry Tierney’s .284 Win load data posted on this 6mmBR.com gave us a good starting point. We loaded 53.0 grains of Hodgdon H4831sc and shot one round, cleaned, shot three rounds, cleaned, then shot 10 rounds and cleaned. From this point we worked up in half-grain increments until pressure signs developed at 2950 fps. Then we backed the powder charge down until the bolt lift was smooth and the primers were nice and round. [Editor’s Note: Jerry Tierney is no longer with us. We mourn his passing.]

Success: 2910 FPS with Ten-Shot ES of 7 and SD of 3
At this point I began working with different primers, neck tension and seating depth. After trying Federal 210m primers, CCI BR-2 primers, light tension, heavy tension, jamming, jumping, we settled on 56.0+ grains of H4831sc with CCI BR-2 primers. We ran about .002 neck tension with the 180s seated just touching the lands. This load gave us 2910 fps velocity with an Extreme Spread (ES) of 7 fps and a Standard Deviation (SD) of 3 fps over ten (10) shots.

NOTE: If you’re skeptical of those single-digit chron readings, click on the Video Playback screen below to view Ballard test-firing a load that delivers an ES of 5 and SD of 2 for five shots. At the end he holds the Oehler Chrono up to the camera so you can view the readout yourself. Seeing is believing!

Houston–We Have a Problem
I thought we had a load dialed-in, so I was fairly confident going to the North Carolina Long-Range State Championships. Let’s just say it didn’t go as planned. I encountered vertical, vertical, and more vertical. Turns out this was my fault. I had committed a big reloading “No-No”. I had used the ball expander in the die to neck the cases up from 6.5 to 7mm. Big Mistake! The cases we had previously used for load development were first necked-up with Ray’s expander mandrel and then run through the Redding bushing dies. Lesson learned: use an expander when necking-up the brass! This step was performed on the cases for the next match and it corrected the problem, as I lost no points to elevation.

.284 Win F-ClassSurprise–Velocities Rise, So Load Must Be Tweaked
After the NC State Champs, the gun went into hibernation for the winter. In February of 2008, NSSC held its annual winter Palma match. On Saturday my .284 was absolutely hammering, but Sunday I started noticing a hard bolt lift. Eventually, at the end of my last string, the gun blew a few primers. Luckily, however, it was still shooting very well. On the following Monday, we went back to the test bench and chrono. To my surprise 57.0 grains of H4831 was now shooting 2975 fps! That’s way too hot. At this point the barrel had 439 rounds through it. I started calling anyone I could thing of to see if they had any idea what could be causing this problem. Nobody I spoke with had ever experienced this problem until I spoke with a very knowledgeable F-Class shooter named Andy Amber.

.284 Win F-ClassAndy informed me that this had happened to him with several rifles. For whatever reason, between 100 to 300 rounds, as the barrel gets broken-in, the velocity climbs significantly.. Andy told me if I loaded back to the previous velocity, in his experience, it would stay there. Andy was spot on. My load came back together with 54.5 grains of H4831sc. The Oehler consistently gave me readings of 2892 fps to 2902 fps with an SD of 4 fps using once-fired brass. New brass gave slightly slower velocity but better numbers: ES of 7 to 9 fps, and SD of 2 to 3 fps. All this data was duplicated on several occasions. This rifle now has 554 rounds through it, but only .003″ throat erosion. The bullet was moved out .003″ to maintain position relative to the lands.

Getting Single-Digit ES: Ballard’s Loading Methods

I’m very exacting in my loading procedures. I think that’s why I’ve been able to build loads that consistently deliver single-digit Extreme Spreads with ultra-low SDs. Here’s my loading method.

Case Prep: I start with Lapua 6.5×284 brass necked up to .284 with an expander mandrel. Next I sort the cases into one-grain lots, for example 194.0 to 194.9 grains, then 195.0 to 195.9 grains, and so on. After the brass is sorted, I chamfer the case mouths with an RCBS VLD tool. Any residual lube from case expansion is then cleaned out of the case mouth with alcohol on a bronze brush. Finally all the cases are run through a Redding Type ‘S’ FL sizing die with .312″ neck bushing.

Loading Procedure: My CCI BR-2 primers are seated with a RCBS hand priming tool. Powder charges are dispensed and weighed with an RCBS ChargeMaster Electronic Dispenser, which is regularly calibrated with check-weights to assure accuracy. Then the 180gr bullets are seated using a Redding Competition Seating Die.

Processing Fired Cases: My fired cases are tumbled in walnut shell media, then cleaned off. Cases are full-length resized, but I bump the shoulders only .0005″ (one-half thousandth). After sizing, the case mouths are cleaned with a spinning bronze brush.

IMPORTANT TIP: After 3 firings I will uniform the primer pockets and anneal the case necks. I found this very important in holding good elevation (minimal vertical dispersion).

RCBS Redding Reloading

CALIBER CHOICE: The Case for the .284 Win

Comparison: 6.5-284, .284 Win, and 300 WSM
For shooters who are not sold on the .284 Winchester, I give you a real-world ballistics shoot-off. We comparison-tested a 6.5-284 rifle launching 142 SMKs at 2975 fps, a 300 WSM rifle firing 210 Bergers at 2850 fps, and my .284 Winchester shooting 180 Bergers at 2900 fps. We had three shooters and each rifle was fired simultaneously with no-wind zeros on three separate targets set at 1000 yards. The shooters then exchanged rifles and we repeated the test a couple times. The 6.5 and 300 stayed consistently within an inch of each other. But my .284, with its high-BC Berger 180s, shot inside both the 6.5 and 300 by at least 3″ every time. BC rules in the wind. I was sold!

.284 Win F-Class

Cost Comparison: .284 Win vs. 6.5-284
The cost of reloading the .284 Win is roughly $.07 more per round than that of the 6.5-284. The .284 uses a grain or two more powder than the 6.5-284, and 7mm bullets cost about $6.00 more per 100-count box. However, to truly compare the cost of shooting the two calibers you must figure in barrel life. My 6.5-284 barrel went south at 900 rounds. My .284 barrel now has 1,036 rounds, and by all indications it will shoot well to 3,000+ rounds. For cost comparisons sake, let’s use 1,200 rounds for the 6.5-284 and 3,000 rounds for the .284 Win. The average cost of a barrel, chambered and fitted, is $500.00. Using these figures, the barrel cost of a .284 Win is $.17 per round vs. $.42 per round for the 6.5-284. That’s a $.25 per round difference, equivalent to a 60% savings for the .284.

OK, if we now net the barrel cost savings (-$.25) for the .284 with the higher cost of 7mm reloading components (+$.07), I figure the .284 Win costs $.18 per round LESS to shoot than the 6.5-284. Over the span of 3,000 rounds, that’s a $540.00 savings.

Editor’s NOTE: These numbers are 10 years old. But the key fact is the extended barrel life of the .284 Win overcomes the increased bullet cost.

Gun Handling and Recoil
If there is a down-side to the .284 it would be recoil. Now don’t get me wrong, at 22 pounds with a decelerator recoil pad, the .284 is comfortable to shoot. The recoil difference between the 6.5-284 and the .284 is about the same as the difference between a 6x250AI and a 6.5-284. In the versatility section I will elaborate more on this subject.

Ease of Load Tuning
Despite the issues I explained in the load development section with low initial velocities on new barrels, I would say the .284 is fairly easy to tune. The barrel with which I shot my record was removed after that match so I don’t put too many rounds on it before the Nationals. The new barrel on this rifle was tested using the same load. As with the first barrel, the second barrel yielded 2775 fps with a “starter load” of 53.0 grains of H4831sc. With only 11 rounds through the new tube, I shot a 600-yard match on June 22, 2008. I loaded 44 rounds using 55.0 grains of H4831sc. This load ran at 2825 fps. After my first string this load started hammering. I shot a 200-7X with no elevation change on my last string.

Multi-Discipline Versatility
The .284 is my hands-down choice for shooting F-Class. I recently shot my first 600-yard benchrest match. I shot the .284 Win in heavy gun. In this match I found the first weakness in my beloved .284. On a bench you do notice the recoil. The 6mmBR pilots could run off five shots before I could shoot two. My groups were respectable: a four-group, 3.055″ Agg. But, the added recoil of the .284, even with front and rear rests aligned, took me off target. All this being said, if a man wanted just one caliber for F-Class, long-range benchrest, and hunting, I would still suggest the .284 Win.

WARNING: The loads stated in this article may be TOO HOT for many .284 Win rifles. Always START LOW and work up gradually in small increments, looking for pressure signs. With 7mm Sierra 175s, Hodgdon’s starting load is 52.0 grains of H4831sc.
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September 13th, 2019

European F-Class Championships at Bisley in the United Kingdom

F-Class Championship European Bisley Range Great Britain United Kingdom UK

The U.S. F-Class National Championships commence September 15 at the NRA Whittington Center in New Mexico. But, across the pond, the European F-Class Championships took place this past week (September 2-8) at the Bisley Range in the UK. Congrats to the big winners, Great Britain’s Dan Lomas, new European F-TR Champion, and Germany’s Ulrich Kwade, new European F-Open Champion. Team Great Britain RED, shown below, took the European F-TR Team Championship, while Team Italy won F-Open.

F-Class Championship European Bisley Range Great Britain United Kingdom UK
Team Great Britain RED won the F-TR Team Championship, with Ukraine Second, Great Britain BLUE Third.

Dan Lomas Wins F-TR Title on Home Turf at Bisley
Dan Lomas was excited about his F-TR Championship: “First place in Europe! Just finished five solid days shooting in the European Championships at Bisley. I ended up keeping my head, winning the Europeans 5 points clear! I also was given my first cap shooting for the country and, with my amazing team mates, won gold for GB by a clear 15 points. It was an amazing performance by the two coaches Jon and Ewen and captain David! Thanks, as always, to BorderBarrels/SassenEngineering for the barrel; Vicarage Ballistics for the smithing, Borden Accuracy for the amazing actions and PSE-Composites for one of the most forgiving carbon stocks!”

Germany’s Ulrich Kwade Wins F-Open Division
March Scopes Europe provided this report: “Congratulations to our good friend Ulrich Kwade of Hannover, Germany. Uli won the European F-Class Championship in F-Open class. Ulrich uses a March 10-60x56mm Highmaster scope. Uli mounted a BAT action with a Benchmark barrel chambered in 7mm/270 WSM, fitted by Stuart Anselm of GS Precision. The really amazing thing is this barrel was only delivered on the Tuesday of the competition. Uli had already made his ammo pre-prepared … that is confidence for you!”

F-Class Championship European Bisley Range Great Britain United Kingdom UK

Ulrich’s rifle has a cleverly-designed stock which he built from scratch himself. It boasts a recoil reduction system which Ulrich says removes 80% of felt recoil. Ulrich is a very talented engineer and stock-builder. We congratulate him on his win.

F-Class Championship European Bisley Range Great Britain United Kingdom UK

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September 13th, 2019

Optimize Your Aiming — Tips for F-Class Shooters

F-Class Aiming Long Range Score Shooting
The movie “The Patriot” gave us the phrase “Aim small, miss small”. While that’s a good mantra, aiming strategies for long-range competition are a bit more complicated, as this article explains…

U.S. F-Class Nationals Start Sunday, September 15th!
The U.S. Mid-Range and Long Range Nationals kick off September 15th at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico. Here are some tips that can help F-TR and F-Open shooters aim more precisely, and achieve higher scores. F-Class ace Monte Milanuk reviews reticle choices and strategies for holding off.

In our Shooters Forum, one newcomer wanted some advice on selecting a reticle for F-Class optics. He wondered about the advantage of Front (first) Focal Plane (FFP) vs. Second Focal Plane scopes and also wondered if one type of reticle was better for “holding off” than others.

In responding to this question, Forum regular Monte Milanuk provided an excellent summary of aiming methods used in F-Class. For anyone shooting score targets, Monte’s post is worth reading:

Aiming Methods for F-Class (and Long-Range) Shootingby Monte Milanuk

600-yard F-Class TargetF-Class is a known-distance event, with targets of known dimensions that have markings (rings) of known sizes. Any ‘holding off’ can be done using the target face itself. Most ‘benefits’ of Front (first) focal plain (FFP) optics are null and void here — they work great on two-way ranges where ‘minute of man’ is the defining criteria — but how many FFP scopes do you know of in the 30-40X magnification range? Very, very few, because what people who buy high-magnification scopes want is something that allows them to hold finer on the target, and see more detail of the target, not something where the reticle covers the same amount of real estate and appears ‘coarser’ in view against the target, while getting almost too fine to see at lower powers.

Whether a person clicks or holds off is largely personal preference. Some people might decline to adjust their scope as long as they can hold off somewhere on the target. Some of that may stem from the unfortunate effect of scopes being mechanical objects which sometimes don’t work entirely as advertised (i.e. one or two clicks being more or less than anticipated). Me personally, if I get outside 1-1.5 MOA from center, I usually correct accordingly. I also shoot on a range where wind corrections are often in revolutions, not clicks or minutes, between shots.

Some shooters do a modified form of ‘chase the spotter’ — i.e. Take a swag at the wind, dial it on, aim center and shoot. Spotter comes up mid-ring 10 at 4 o’clock… so for the next shot aim mid-ring 10 at 10 o’clock and shoot. This should come up a center X (in theory). Adjust process as necessary to take into account for varying wind speeds and direction.

John Sigler F-Class

600-yard F-Class TargetOthers use a plot sheet that is a scaled representation of the target face, complete with a grid overlaid on it that matches the increments of their optics — usually in MOA. Take your Swag at the wind, dial it on, hold center and shoot. Shot comes up a 10 o’clock ‘8’… plot the shot on the sheet, look at the grid and take your corrections from that and dial the scope accordingly. This process should put you in the center (or pretty close), assuming that you didn’t completely ignore the wind in the mean time. Once in the center, hold off and shoot and plot, and if you see a ‘group’ forming (say low right in the 10 ring) either continue to hold high and left or apply the needed corrections to bring your group into the x-ring.

Just holding is generally faster, and allows the shooter to shoot fast and (hopefully) stay ahead of the wind. Plotting is more methodical and may save your bacon if the wind completely changes on you… plotting provides a good reference for dialing back the other way while staying in the middle of the target. — YMMV, Monte

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August 25th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: The Color Purple — Dad’s Gift to Daughter

Erik Cortina 6.5x47 Lapua F-Class Rifle Daughter

“My daughter’s favorite color is purple, so I built her a purple rifle….”

Here’s a feel-good story about a family that shoots together, and a father who did something very special for his daughter. All fathers create things for their children, but it’s unusual to find a Dad who has the skills (and motivation) to build a top-level competition rifle for his child. Our friend, Erik Cortina, did just that. Here is the story of the lovely purple maple F-Class rig Erik built for his girl Amberleeana. We first ran this story in 2016. Now Amberleeana is a bit older and she has competed successfully with her purple rifle.

Erik Cortina 6.5x47 Lapua F-Class Rifle Daughter

AUDIO FILE: Erik Cortina and Daughter Amberleeana Talk about the Purple Rifle. (Sound file loads when you click button).

My daughter would always tell me when I would go to a match, “Remember Dad, only Xs matter, the other stuff on the target is just there for decoration!” — Erik Cortina

A Father’s Gift: An F-Classer for Amberleeana

by Erik Cortina
My daughter Amberleeana had been wanting to shoot F-Class for a long time because I have been dragging her to matches since she was a little girl. She would come into my reloading room and watch me reload while she asked a million questions, all which I tried to answer to the best of my abilities. At age 9, she started hunting with a semi-custom rifle her grandfather gave her, a 6×47 Lapua built on a Remington 700 action with a Bartlein barrel. She has been very successful as a hunter so she decided to move to the next step and start shooting F-Class.

She shot my backup rifle before and she really enjoyed it. Here’s a YouTube video from a while back. This shows Amberleeana, at age 11, shooting at 500 yards for the very first time. You can see she does very well. (Editor’s NOTE: She is now three years older, and has completed more matches.)

After hearing about the U.S. F-Class Under 25 (U25) Rifle Team selection trials in Raton in 2016, Amberleeana wanted to try out for the U25 Team. I told her that was OK, but we had to modify the rifle she was currently using so that it could fit her better. After some consideration, I decided instead to sell that rifle and build her a brand new one.

Erik Cortina 6.5x47 Lapua F-Class Rifle Daughter

Her favorite color is purple, so I built her a purple rifle with adjustable cheek piece and butt pad. Shurley Brothers (Austin, TX) crafted the stock from maple, and then applied a purple gloss finish. We think it turned out great.

I hope that my daughter enjoys F-Class as much as I have, which will allow us to spend more time together on the range and in the reloading room.

6.5×47 Lapua Load Development
The purple rifle is chambered for the 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge. Our preliminary load work up shows great promise using Vihtavuori N140 powder, 136gr Lapua Scenar bullets, and CCI 450 primers. We tried a variety of charge weights, starting at 35.7 grains of N140 and ending up at 38.2 grains. The photo below shows an initial series of 3-shot test groups at 120 yards. What do you think is the best node? What charge weight would YOU select among these? [Editor: That final load of 38.2 grains looks very good, but we would want to check for pressure signs and repeat with 10-round strings checking for ES and SD. Also, if you go by the vertical only, the 36.0 and 36.3 loads are worth further testing.]

Erik Cortina 6.5x47 Lapua F-Class Rifle Daughter

Erik Cortina 6.5x47 Lapua F-Class Rifle DaughterPurple Rifle Specifications:
Stock: Shurley Brothers Lowrider XL stock (Maple)
(Finished by Shurley Brothers, bedded by Speedy Gonzalez)
Action: Kelbly F-Class Panda
Trigger: Flavio Fare
Barrel: Brux 32″-long, 1:8″-twist, 4-groove stainless, chambered in 6.5×47 Lapua
(Barrel work and assembly done by Erik Cortina)
Barrel Tuner: ECTuner (matches barrel contour)
Scope: Nightforce 15-55x52mm Competition
Front Rest: SEB NEO front rest
Rear Sandbag: Edgewood
Load: VV N140, 136gr Scenars, CCI 450 primers

Eric told us that he really likes that Flavio Fare trigger: “The FF trigger is outstanding. It is much smoother than a 1.5 oz Jewell trigger and more consistent as well.”

Erik Cortina 6.5x47 Lapua F-Class Rifle Daughter

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August 14th, 2019

Want to Shoot F-Class? Here’s a List of Active F-Class Ranges

Accurateshooter.com F-Class Excel range list

F-Class shooting (both F-Open and F-TR) is one of the fastest-growing forms of rifle competition. Each season many new shooters hit the line and attendance at the big matches increases every year. But if you’re new to the game, you may ask “Where can I shoot an F-Class match?”. Well, Forum member Rod V. (aka Nodak7mm) has compiled a useful list of 112 ranges throughout the USA where F-Class matches are held. With venues from Alabama to Wyoming — you should find an F-Class program not too far from home. The list, in Excel spreadsheet format, provides range locations and weblinks (where available). Click the link below to download the F-Class Range List (.xls file):

Download F-Class Range List, Revision 20 (.XLS file, right click to “save as”)

Note — this list, now in its 20th Revision, is a treasure trove for F-Class shooters. No claim is made that the list is comprehensive. But it still covers the the lion’s share of the important F-Class venues nationwide. If you know of a range that should be added to the list, please post the location on our F-Class Range List Forum thread. Rod will update the list as new range info is received. Rod writes: “Range information is wanted and welcomed. I would like your help on collecting specific info on Clubs/Ranges where known F-Class matches are held.” Here’s a partial sample from Rod’s list:

Accurateshooter.com F-Class Excel range list

Accurateshooter.com F-Class Excel range list

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July 14th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: “We the People” .284 Shehane F-Open Rifle

.284 Winchester Shehane F-Open F-Class 7mm Berger Panda F-Class Blake Machine
Jason Cohen’s “We the People” patriotic .284 Shehane F-Class rifle. It has already demonstrated great promise, scoring second place in its very first match, a 3×20 at 1000 yards in Wyoming.

Rifle Report by Jason Cohen
The rifle began its life as a Will McClosky Cerus stock. I approached Will at the Berger SW Nationals about a rifle I wanted to build. I wanted to do something different — PAINT it. He said he had just the stock that I could use, and sent that to Bryan Blake at Blake Machine. I chose Bryan for two reasons — first, I have shot with him a few times at National matches and he is approachable and very helpful. Second I visited his shop during the SWN in February and liked what I observed and how he approached things. Bryan never seems to be happy with the status quo. He is always trying new ideas.

I noticed that Bryan had been adding aluminum rails to the front of Cerus stocks to lower the center of gravity and improve tracking. I asked him to modify my stock and fit it with the new forearm rails, shown in the photo below. I sent him a Panda F-Class action with a +20 MOA Picatinny rail. Bryan did all the stock work and fitted the action, rails, and RAD recoil pad. Everything turned out flawless.

.284 Winchester Shehane F-Open F-Class 7mm Berger Panda F-Class Blake Machine

The barrel is a Blake Machine 1:8″-twist finished at 32 inches. It was fitted to my action by Dale Woolum of Woolum Accuracy. Dale chambers all my barrels on all my rifles. Dale also threaded the barrel for a Woolum Accuracy tuner. This has proven to be a valuable tool in my load development. On this build, I am trying a Bix’N Andy trigger for the first time.

.284 Winchester Shehane F-Open F-Class 7mm Berger Panda F-Class Blake Machine

The 284 Shehane has a proven record of accomplishments and that is why I have chosen it. I use Lapua brass (6.5-284 necked-up), CCI BR-2 primers, Hodgdon H4350 powder, and Berger 184gr bullets. All these components have been a successful combination that has worked flawlessly in my other rifle.

.284 Shehane Load Development
Load development for me starts with each new barrel. I screw on the new barrel, fire 25 rounds of whatever I have left over and then clean it. I push out to 600 yds and do a ladder test in round-robin format. I start 0.6 grains lower than my last charge that worked. I work up from that reduced charge weight in increments of 0.3 grains. The paper tells the rest of the story. Once I get something that works well at 600 yards I go back in work around that by 0.1 grains. After that I play a little with seating depth and look for a change. I will occasionally mess with the tuner and tighten things up if possible.

.284 Winchester Shehane F-Open F-Class 7mm Berger Panda F-Class Blake Machine

About the Patriotic Paint Job
So I had the idea of painting the stock because there are so many wood stocks with clear coat these days. Unless you really get some exotic woods they all seem to blend together. I have nothing against clear-coated wood, but I wanted something different, as this was my first all-wood rifle. (For short-range benchrest, I was shooting a Bob Scoville carbon stock and Terry Leonard laminate).

We started with all white on the stock and came up with the idea of an American Flag on the buttstock. I was thinking of ribbons on the front in red and blue but we could not get the layout right. Then the idea of “We the People” popped into the head. My painter said “awesome!” and he was able to airbrush the stock with a little yellow and brown to give it that vintage paper look.

.284 Winchester Shehane F-Open F-Class 7mm Berger Panda F-Class Blake Machine

The front rest is a SEB Max (see above). I chose the Max because I was shooting Group Benchrest first then made the transition to F-Class. This rest proves to be versatile in all my shooting — Short- and Long-Range Benchrest AND F-Class. The rear bag is a Edgewood EDGEbag Gator. The gun gets transported in a Pelican Hard case when I travel. Locally, I use a Champions Choice soft bag.

Jason Jumped to Open Class after Starting with F-TR
This “We the People” rifle will be one of my primary rifles for F-Open competition. I will run it through its paces shortly and see how well it does. I have high hopes of it being an great gun. I shoot primarily local and regional matches — Colorado, Wyoming, and possibly Nebraska this summer. I will travel to the F-Class Nationals in Raton as well. I used to shoot F-TR before this and made the transition to Open last season. This is my second season shooting F-Open. 2018 was my first National event and was a learning experience for me. But I was hooked after that match.

Tips for F-Class Competitors
Get some good equipment and eliminate having issues that can be caused by budget builds. It’s OK to be frugal, but sometimes cutting corners will cause you more problems and have you chasing your tail. If you’re looking for the “recipe for success”, get a good action plus a top-tier barrel and great glass.

.284 Winchester Shehane F-Open F-Class 7mm Berger Panda F-Class Blake Machine

The .284 Shehane — Accurate and Forgiving Wildcat
The 284 Shehane is amazing, very forgiving and not temperamental. I choose this because I really did not know otherwise and was steered to the Shehane by a friend. Its proven track record helped as well. Straight .284 or Shehane — you cannot go wrong. I run a 184gr Berger at about 2850 FPS and get great brass life in my other rifles. I usually start to consider tossing the brass around 15 firings. Primer pockets start to get a little looser and the brass seems to need more sizing than the newer brass with less firings.

.284 Shehane Win Winchester F-class F-Open wildcat load development

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May 20th, 2019

Stock Reborn: Second-Hand Anschutz Becomes F-Open Beauty

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Here is an interesting project by one of our Forum members. Martin C. (aka “Killick”) modified an Anschutz 1411 Match 54 rimfire prone stock to become a comfortable, great-tracking F-Class Open Division Stock. No Killick didn’t sacrifice a perfectly good rimfire rifle for this project — he bought the Anschutz stock by itself on eBay, then transformed it…

Killick explains: “This project started about seven years ago. I bought the Anschutz prone stock on eBay and whittled it a bit into a Palma rifle with a Barnard action and block and a Doan Trevor cheek piece and scope rail. Then about two years ago I decided to re-task the stock/action assembly into an F-Open rig. With more whittling, gluing, sanding, body fillering, sanding, filling, sanding, more sanding…and sanding, forming, priming, sanding, painting, waiting, painting, painting…painting and before you know it, Bob’s your uncle.”

Here is the eBay-sourced Anschutz 1411 stock, with new high-gloss blue finish, as initially modified for use in Killick’s centerfire Palma rifle. Looks nice!

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Next step was the addition of a 3″-wide wood fore-end for F-Open duties with front rest:

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Almost done here… just needs priming and final painting:

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Here is Killick’s completed F-Open rifle with its much-modified Anschutz stock now finished in fire-engine red lacquer. This image shows the detail of the grip and customized cheekpiece.

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

To learn more, visit Killick’s Anschutz Stock F-Class Project Thread on our Shooters’ Forum.

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May 5th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: Costello Battles Storm Hannah with .300 WSM

Gary Costello England UK F-Class .300 WSM Win Short Magnum Speedy BAT Action SG Rifles

Gary Costello recently won the Great Britain National League 600-yard Championship in F-Open class. Gary managed that impressive win despite Storm Hannah which caused torrential rain and 40 mph winds during the match, held at the Diggle ranges. Gary, a Forum member, reports that conditions were hellacious: “The weather was terrible, with horizontal rain and winds in excess of 40 mph. In fact, some shooters got blown clean off the target and many complete misses occurred.”

There’s a special story here, as Gary had been battling a life-threatening illness for many months. Gary told us: “This was my first National Competition since September 2018. I contracted a serious heart virus in October 2018. I was critically ill until January 2019. After undergoing treatment and 100% rest I recovered slowly, my focus was the 600-Yard Shoot in April. I am now 70% there and hopefully in another 4-6 months I hope to make a full recovery.” [Editor: Gary, we are glad you are on the road to recovery.]

In today’s Sunday GunDay story, we feature Gary’s American-crafted .300 WSM F-Open rifle. Note that Gary’s rifle has a Ezell barrel tuner and a recoil-reduction system in the buttstock. The .300 WSM does generate quite a kick with those big .30-caliber bullets.

Gary Costello’s .300 WSM F-Open Rifle

BAT M Action and Cerus Stock
This rifle was purchased from Jim Fowler (FalconPilot on the AccurateShooter Forum). This SG Rifles gun, crafted by smith Thomas “Speedy” Gonzalez, is a .300 WSM with BAT ‘M’ action (with nitrided bolt) and Cerus riflestock. Gary owns two other Speedy-built rifles.

Gary Costello England UK F-Class .300 WSM Win Short Magnum Speedy BAT Action SG Rifles

Gary tells us: “My BAT ‘M’ action is a multi-port so I feed with my left and it ejects on the right. Speedy has worked on the firing control and timing, and I fitted the roller-cocking piece to aid smoothness and speed.” The fluted shroud is Speedy’s signature for fire control work.

Stunning Lenzi Co-Axial Front Rest
Gary tells us this impressive joy-stick rest “is a superb piece of engineering .. made by my good friend Alberto Lenzi.” Note the large stable base, and the deluxe counter-balance weight on the front end. Gary also uses a very nice leather rear sandbag crafted by Lenzi.

Gary Costello England UK F-Class .300 WSM Win Short Magnum Speedy BAT Action SG Rifles

Riflescope — Prototype March 10-60×56 High Master
Gary Costello’s company is the European distributor for March Scopes. Gary was testing this scope as it has a new temperature-tolerant lens system to be released later this year

Gary Costello England UK F-Class .300 WSM Win Short Magnum Speedy BAT Action SG Rifles

.300 WSM Load Details — H4350 with Berger 215gr Hybrids
Gary was shooting pointed Berger 215gr Hybrid bullets in Norma .300 WSM cartridge brass. The powder was Hodgdon H4350 with Muron KVB7 primers. Gary say his load runs around 2850 fps, and is very accurate. To demonstrate, here is a three-round, 100-yard test target, with a group measuring in the ones. Pretty impressive for a big bullet and a short magnum cartridge.

Gary Costello F-Class Great Britain UK .300 WSM Speedy

Gary Costello F-Class Great Britain UK .300 WSM Speedy

The UK has some wonderful places to shoot. This photo was taken at Blair Atholl in the Highlands of Scotland. Gary says “This is one of my favorite ranges and probably the hardest range to shoot in the UK. Due to the topography of the range you have to alter elevation as well as wind for pick-up and let-off. They say ‘Diggle Ranges Bark’ but Blair Atholl Bites!”

Blast from the Past — At Blair Atholl Ranges in Scotland

Gary Costello Blair Atholl Scotland Ranges

One of Europe’s very best F-Class competitors, Gary is no stranger to the winner’s circle. Here he is at the Blair Atholl Ranges in Scotland after a major victory a few seasons back. Gary says: “Blair Atholl, in the Estate of Blair Castle, is very scenic. The range is very tricky and is known as the hardest range in the UK to shoot due to the location of the targets cut into the hillside and valley. When the wind is at full value you often have to add one-half MOA elevation to every 1 MOA of wind. So thinking wind and elevation every shot is very difficult. I won this match some time ago and I do not recall the score. However it was a decisive win, and all matches in the competition were held at 1000 yards.” Gary was using a different rifle, but it also was a .300 WSM with a BAT action. His load was Hodgdon H4831 with Berger 215gr Hybrids, Murom primers, and Norma brass.

GB 600-Yard Championship — Gary’s Shot-by-Shot Report

The event was the first GB National League event of the year, our only short range (600-yard) match. This is actually one month later than usual in hope the weather would be better, sadly that wasn’t the case!

I won the Championship, five points clear of runner-up Ian Boxall. My final score was 241-18V out of a maximum of 250. The course of fire was reduced due to Storm Hannah on Saturday. It was decided by our committee that for safety we should shoot under cover (Diggle has a 600-yard covered firing point). The goal was to get at least one match to allow the competition to continue on the Sunday.

When I saw the condition and the flags I decided I needed to shoot as quick as possible as wind speed and direction were changing in seconds….

So I shot like stink only watching one flag and the other targets and my shot indication on the target screen. My first sighter was a score One left (a FIVE on the U.S F-Class target). But after adjusting, my second sighter was a One right — so there were pick-ups and let offs of about FIVE MOA!

I split the difference and went for score, my first shot was a Four (Nine on USA target) which I then adjusted on and held accordingly for the rest of the string using the other targets as indication and the one flag I had identified, it went pretty well.

Day Two (Sunday) weather was completely different, much better with no rain. We were first up at 0900 and the winds were light with subtle changes. This was a two sighters and 20-shot match, I started well with two V sighters which were converted, my partner Richard Sharman also had a good start and we proceeded through the string shooting Vs and Fives until Richard’s shots started to not register, this happened three times so it was decided I would continue and Richard would shoot again on another target. This caused a lot of delay and disruption. I had lost my path and wind, due to the delay I was allowed a non-convertible sighter which was a Three. It took two further shots to get back into the swing and I then recovered and ended the shoot with a 97-10V.

For the Final Match, the wind had picked up and was causing quite a few lost points and curses. I knew I was three points clear going into this Final Match so I had to play it real safe not to drop shots and lose critical points. I favored a left 4-5 Ring hold so not to get caught on the pick-ups. I use the March MTR-2 reticle, on 40X this reticle is subtended at exactly one-half MOA and brackets the F-class target perfectly. I was not concerned about the V bull at this time, the plan paid off and I dropped two points only.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gear Review, Shooting Skills 5 Comments »
April 28th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: The Modern .308 Win F-TR Rifle

F-TR Rifle laminated stock X-Ring Borden Action SEB Joy-Pod
A carpet is used up front for smoother tracking with the Joy-Pod’s flat, ski-style feet. The arms of the Joy-Pod were painted to match the stock. The rear bag features low-drag material on the ears.

On Sundays, we feature notable rifles that exhibit fine craftsmanship, quality components, and noteworthy shooting accessories. Today we are featuring an F-TR (F-Class Target Rifle) rig that showcases the types of components, and accessories used by top F-TR competitors — including a coaxial bipod and Labradar Chronograph. If you’re considering getting started in the F-TR game, take a close look at this modern F-TR build from Forum member DM.Oakes.

F-TR Rifle laminated stock X-Ring Borden Action SEB Joy-Pod

Modern F-TR Rig with Borden Action, Krieger Barrel, and SEB Joy-Pod
This handsome .308 Win F-TR rig features a smooth-running Borden BRM action, 30-inch 1:10″-twist Krieger barrel, and an X-Ring Laminated Wood stock. Up front is a coaxial “Joy-Pod” joystick bipod. This is a state-of-the art, wide footprint bipod used by many competitors at the Worlds in Canada. The long joystick allows the “driver” to quickly adjust both elevation and windage in a smooth, continuous motion. The Joy-Pod can be adjusted so it will hold setting during the shot — you don’t have to “hard-hold” the joystick. Many shooters let the joystick slide through their fingers as the rifle moves back on recoil. With a little practice (and careful placement of the rear sand-bag), the tracking is excellent and you can slide the gun right back to point of aim after each shot.

Action: Borden BRM
Trigger: Blue-printed Jewell BR
Barrel: Krieger 30″ / 4-Groove / 1:10″ twist (.30 Cal)
Chamber: .308 Winchester with 0.170 Freebore
Stock: X-Ring Laminated F-Class
Scope: Nightforce 12-42x56mm Competition
Potential Name: Blue Thunder

F-TR Rifle laminated stock X-Ring Borden Action SEB Joy-Pod
This F-TR rifle is shown during load testing with a LabRadar chronograph.

» Full LabRadar Field Test/Review by Ray Gross

If you are considering purchasing a LabRadar Chronograph system, we strongly suggest you read the very thorough and informative LabRadar Review by Ray Gross, past Captain of the USA F-TR team. Ray notes: “It takes me about 3 minutes to set up [my LabRadar] at the range. Because there are no downrange screens, I do not have to hold up other shooters on the range like I would when setting up a traditional chronograph. The convenience alone will mean that I will use it more often than my old chronograph. Every time I take it out, I enjoy it a little bit more.”

Bart Sauter Ray Gross LabRadar Benchrest Review Chronograph Bench tripod

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April 7th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: State-of-the-Art .284 Win F-Open Rifle

David Christian F-Class F-Open .284 Win winchester competition match rifle John Masek Borden action Brux Barrel

We know our readers like accurate rifles — the more accurate the better. You guys also love really great craftsmanship and state-of-the art componentry. To satisfy that lust for amazing, accurate rifles, we’re starting a new feature — Sunday GunDay. We’ll try to do this a couple Sundays a month, provided we have some great candidates. For our first Sunday GunDay feature, we are presenting a stunning .284 Win F-Open match rifle owned by David Christian of Team Borden/Brux/Lapua. This impressive rig is as good as it gets in the F-Open game. The write-up is by David’s friend, Forum member F-Class John.

David Christian F-Class F-Open .284 Win winchester competition match rifle John Masek Borden action Brux Barrel

Tips For Competitors from David Christian

1. Tracking is Really Important. I learned this lesson from Bill Brown. Make sure your rifle is tracking exactly on your bags. If you slide the gun back and forth and it does not line up on your original aim point, something is out of alignment with you rear bag or mat and needs to be adjusted.

2. Wind Calls — Be Brave. Don’t be timid with your wind calls. It is better to err with a slight over-correction, rather than miss a change entirely.

3. More Data is Good. Keep track of as much data as you can so that you can learn from it. For example I shoot as much as I can with my chrono and track my load speeds so that I can tell if I am drifting out of my node.

David Christian’s .284 Win F-Open Rig

Report by F-Class John
Here’s match rifle that’s as handsome as it is effective (and accurate!). In its first-ever tournament, this impressive rig took 8th place overall in F-Open at the 2019 Berger Southwest Nationals. This .284 Win hammer was wielded by David Christian, the newest member of Team Borden/Brux/Lapua. David built this .284 Winchester around a Borden BRMXD action with black PVD coating and a Jewell BR trigger. What I found fascinating is that David had built all of this before ever being approached for the team. When I asked him how that worked out, he simply said he picked the components he liked the best and knew would do the job. It was just the universe in action that he’s now on the team that matches his gear and he’s certainly not complaining that he gets to represent them now.

David Christian F-Class F-Open .284 Win winchester competition match rifle John Masek Borden action Brux Barrel

David uses a custom-contour 32″-long Brux 1:8.5″-twist barrel that tapers from 1.35” to 1.25” because he likes the extra stability and weight it brings. It’s all mounted in an amazingly-crafted Cerus Stock (Speedy Gonzales “Spear of Destiny” design). While Will McCloskey built the stock, it was finished to perfection by Devin Wiggett and mounted by Terry Wright of Right Rifle in Oregon. You might also notice that the buttstock features a R.A.D. recoil system which adds the final touch to the system.

Stunning Laminated Maple/Cherry/Walnut/Wenge Cerus Stock
When asked what people comment on when they see his gun, David says it’s the stock, hands down. Having handled this gun myself, I have to agree and believe me when I say the pictures don’t do it justice. The exterior forearms are torrified Maple while the core is made up of Brazilian Cherry, Walnut, and African Wenge wood. It makes for an ultra-strong stock with stunning beauty to match.

David Christian F-Class F-Open .284 Win winchester competition match rifle John Masek Borden action Brux Barrel

David currently tops this beauty with a Kahles K1050 10-50x56mm scope featuring the MOAK reticle. David really likes the 20 MOA per revolution dial as well as the top-mounted parallax adjustment. This is especially helpful for him as David shoots left-handed. Most scopes have a left-side parallax knob which is difficult for him to use during a match.

David Christian F-Class F-Open .284 Win winchester competition match rifle John Masek Borden action Brux Barrel

You can’t have a rifle this good-looking and functional without riding on the right gear. David uses a Protektor DR Bag and a SEB Special Edition NEO coaxial front rest. All told it took nearly six months to get all the parts delivered and assembled but he looks at that as a short term loss and a long term gain. Using Erik Cortina’s load development methods with Berger 180gr Hybrid Target or 184gr Hybrid Target bullets and quality Lapua brass, David has achieved some amazing results. Here’s a representative target from a recent match. That’s mighty fine shooting!

David Christian F-Class F-Open .284 Win winchester competition match rifle John Masek Borden action Brux Barrel

If you want to “hit the ground running” in the F-Open game, this wouldn’t be bad setup to emulate and if you see David at a match, he’s always more than happy to talk to you about it.

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March 30th, 2019

F-Open Thumbhole Stock Crafted by Carl Bernosky

F-Class F-Open Rifle stock

Many F-Open shooters favor low-profile benchrest-type stocks. They shoot these with minimal hand and cheek contact. Not “free recoil” mind you, but pretty close. With practice and a high-quality front rest and rear bag, that “minimal hold” style can work very well.

F-Class F-Open Rifle stock
Modern F-Open Rifle designed for “minimalist” grip/hold. Note the complete abscence of cheekpiece.

However, other successful F-Open and F-TR shooters prefer to hold their rifles, with a firm grip and solid cheek weld. If you come from a “hard-holding” Palma rifle background this may seem more natural. In addition, this shooting style may work best for folks who also shoot PRS or tactical matches using a vertical pistol grip and solid hold.

Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpieceFor guys who want to shoot their F-Open rig as they do their prone, tactical or hunting rifles, here is a modern F-Open stock designed for this kind of shooting. And this stock was crafted by a fellow with a pretty good shooting resume — Carl Bernosky.

Most of you know as a great marksman and 10-time National High Power Champion. But you may not realize that Carl is also a superb stock-maker. A true craftsman, Carl produces outstanding laminated and fancy wood stocks for hunters and competitive shooters. Visit CarlBernosky.com to see a selection of Carl’s competition and hunting stocks.

Her is Carl’s thumbhole F-Class stock. Designed for F-Open shooters, this stock features a flat, 3″-wide fore-end, ergonomic grip, and adjustable cheekpiece. The laminated Bernosky stock featured here was crafted for Chesebro Rifles, which offers a turn-key stock package for the Barnard ‘P’ action, one of our favorite custom actions. This particular build features a MT Guns Vee Block Bedding System, MT Guns 3-Way Adjustable Butt Plate, and B&D Precision removable cheek piece.

Click Photo to view full-size image of stock.
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece

As you see it, complete with all hardware (including short fore-end rail for bipod) this stock runs $1275.00 ready to ship. Just attach your Barnard barreled action and you’re ready to compete. The stock (by itself) weighs 6.5 pounds. Contact Chesebro Rifles, (661) 557-2442, for more information.

Cheek-piece close-up shows high-quality adjustment hardware.
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece

Cheek-piece is relieved to allow full bolt travel.
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece

Short accessory rail on the underside of the fore-end can be used to mount bipod.
Carl Bernosky Thumbhole Laminate F-Class Barnard Rifle Stock long range adjustable cheekpiece

Stock tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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March 14th, 2019

F-TR Champion Shares Winning Secrets in Vortex Video Podcast

Ian Klemm Vortex podcast F-Class F-TR shooting skills

Ian Klemm, 2017 F-TR USA National Champion, is one of America’s top F-Class shooters, both shooting individually and in team competition. Ian is known for his consistency, smooth gun handling, and an uncanny ability to shoot well even in the toughest wind conditions. In this Vortex Video, Ian and fellow long-range shooter Niles Richardson, reveal some of their competitive secrets, and wind-reading techniques. This video focuses primarily on F-Class competition but Ian and Niles also talk more broadly about the myriad factors that contribute to rifle accuracy. Topics include: match strategies, wind and mirage reading, barrel harmonics, bipods, and optics.

Vortex Nation Podcast Episode 57 Summary
From Vortex: Our original intent was to have just a podcast about the sport of F-Class shooting, but when you get these brainiacs (Ian Klemm and Niles Richardson) talking about their obsession… er… “Hobby” you better believe it’s going to turn into a full on long range shooting information assault to the brain. Fact of the matter is, in F-Class, the only thing that matters is long range accuracy – and when we say “Accuracy”, we’re talking about sub-MOA groups on paper at 1000 yards with .308 Wins. Every single aspect of an F-Class competitor’s game is completely dialed in for long range accuracy.

We talk about the guns, their bipods, wind, mirage, barrel harmonics and the special scopes F-Class competitors need for their rifles. Ian even goes so far as to tell us how much his rifle has moved prior to the bullet leaving his 30-inch barrel. Just a simple equation involving acceleration, terminal velocity, moment of inertia of the rifle and coefficient of friction of the bipod and rifle on the ground.

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February 20th, 2019

Berger 2019 Southwest Nationals Report

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona Lapua Capstone F-Class

The 2019 Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN) are history. It was a great event, with challenging conditions. Forum member Matt Peetz reports: “This year was one of the best — the toughest competitors battling for position in some tough conditions. You never knew how the day was going to end up.” For detailed results and more photos, visit the Desert Sharpshooters Facebook Page.

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona Lapua Capstone F-Class

This Berger SWN brings together sling shooters and F-Class competitors in one of the most popular rifle matches of the year, and definitely the biggest match West of the Mississippi. We congratulate the three divisional champions: Curtis Gordon (Sling), John Myers (F-Open), and Keith Trapp (F-TR)

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona Lapua Capstone F-Class

Keith Trapp won the F-TR division at the Berger SWN with the best overall Aggregate for the week. Keith’s name will be placed on the SWN Nightforce Perpetual Trophy overall. Fellow F-TR Shooter Luke Ramsey won the Berger Trophy for the 600-yard Individual Agg. Phil Kelley said: “It was pretty cool to see good friend Keith Trapp win it all. Our little Butner Club matches just make me smile. That’s 3 SWN champions riding in the same car many days.”

F-TR Top Three
Keith Trapp, 1227-44X; Peter Johns, 1224-40X; Ian Klemm, 1222-51X
(Special Mention: Fritz Braun, 1220-58X, High Senior)

F-Open Top Three
John Myers, 1244-71X; Stephen Potter, 1241-69X; Cody Richardson, 1241-62X
(Special Mention: Sixth Overall and F-Open Palma Match Winner, AccurateShooter System Admin Jay Christopherson, 1239-61X)

Sling (Palma) Top Three
Curtis Gordon, 1241-67X; Kent Reeve, 1241-52X; Oliver Milanovic, 1240-68X
(Special Mention: Tom Whitaker, 1232-55X, High Grand Senior)

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona Lapua Capstone F-Class

F-Open Team Results
Winner: Team Lapua-Brux-Borden, 2375-137X
Alphabetical Order: Jay Christopherson, Erik Cortina (Shooter/Captain), Tod Hendricks, Pat Scully, Bob Sebold (Coach); David Christian (Alt), Steve Harp (Alt)

Second Place: Team Grizzly, 2374-109X
Shiraz Balolia (Shooter/Captain), David Mann, John Meyers, Emil Kovan, Emil Praslick III (Coach)

Berger SW Nationals

F-TR Team Results
Winner: Team Texas, 2359-111X
Otis Riffey, Jason Peel, David Parck, Greg Barkley, Randy Littleton, Skip Barkley (Captain), Peter Johns (Coach)

Second Place: Team USA Freedom, 2345-108X
Ian Klemm, Wade Fillingame, Alan Barnhart, Fritz Braun, Kent Reeve (Captain); James Crofts (Coach)

Sling Team Results
Winner: Blazing Saddles, 2347-108X
Thomas Thompson, Andrew Wilde, Mike Kelley (Shooter/Captain), Oliver Milanovic (Shooter/Coach)

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona Lapua Capstone F-Class Sling Team Texas Blazing Saddles

Gary Eliseo said: “Congratulations to team Blazing Saddles — Mike Kelley, Tom Thompson, Andrew Wilde, and Oliver Milanovic winners of the gold medal in the team event of the 2019 BSWN matches. Well done!”

Berger SW Nationals Ben Avery

Second Place: Team U.S. National Black, 2346-107X
Steffen Bunde, Tony Miller, Yvonne Roberts, Jerry Iliff (Shooter/Captain), Yvonne Roberts (Shooter/Coach)

Friends in Life and on the Podium

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Ben Avery Phoenix Arizona Lapua Capstone F-Class

Congratulations to Allen Thomas and Gary Eliseo who both shot great in the “Any Rifle” class, a subdivision of the sling division. Both men were shooting Eliseo Chassis Rifles with Pierce Engineering’s new Gen 2 short-cycle Ultra slick actions. Gary noted: “I’m honored to share the podium with my friend and teammate Allen Thomas (first place ‘Any Rifle’) and me (second place ‘Any Rifle’) winners at the 2019 BSWN matches.

Berger SWN southwest nationals

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February 14th, 2019

Two Guns in One — TubeGun Transformed for F-Open Competition

Eliseo R1 tube gun tubegun chassis F-Class F-Open .284 Winchester

The Berger Southwest Nationals is taking place right now at the Ben Avery Range outside Phoenix, Arizona. At the SWN you’ll see prone rifles and tubeguns for sling shooters, F-TR rifles with fancy bipods, and high-tech F-Open rigs. You might also see a few TubeGuns converted to shoot F-Open off front rests. Yes this is an easy conversion thanks to Gary Eliseo’s clever PickleFork forearm attachment.

Eliseo R1 tube gun tubegun chassis F-Class F-Open .284 Winchester

Forum Member Killick attached PickleForks to his handsome blue Eliseo R1 TubeGun now chambered in .284 Winchester, a top choice for the F-Open discipline. Killick explains: “Behold! An Eliseo R1 F-Classer. This started out as an R1 Long Range sling rifle (6XC) with a Borden TubeGun action. It is now rebarreled in .284 Win with Gary’s PickleFork fore-end adaptor. Props to Gary Eliseo at Competition Machine LLC.

Killick adds: “I like how the original fore-end indexes off the back side of the front bag. No need for the front bumper attachment.” Check it out below:

Eliseo R1 tube gun tubegun chassis F-Class F-Open .284 Winchester

Eliseo R1 tube gun tubegun chassis F-Class F-Open .284 Winchester

PickleForks are rails that fit to the sides of the tubular fore-end/handguard on Eliseo Chassis systems. This allows you to use a pedestal-style front rest for F-Class competition. It also provides a much more stable platform for load testing, varmint hunting, or any kind of rest-assisted precision shooting. These new PickleForks transform a Tubegun into an ultra-stable, straight-tracking rig when used with a competition-style front rest.

Eliseo Competition Machine pickle fork picklefork foreend bag rider rails

Designer Gary Eliseo explains: “Now you can have the same super low-boreline, long wheelbase and vertical sides of our innovative F1 F-Class chassis system for your tube chassis. The PickleForks attach directly to the sides of the F-Class/Tactical fore-ends, no modifications are required. They are very rigid with no flex or twist and make the rifle track like it’s on rails.” The Eliseo Competition Machine PickleForks are offered for a very reasonable $70.00 per pair, with Cerakote finish. You get two metal units, one for each side of the fore-arm. For more info, visit GotXRing.com or call (928) 649-0742.

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January 24th, 2019

RetroMOD Project — Old eBay Rimfire Stock Reborn for F-Open

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Here is an interesting project by one of our Forum members. Martin C. (aka “Killick”) modified an Anschutz 1411 Match 54 rimfire prone stock to become a comfortable, great-tracking F-Class Open Division Stock. No Killick didn’t sacrifice a perfectly good rimfire rifle for this project — he bought the Anschutz stock by itself on eBay, then transformed it…

Killick explains: “This project started about seven years ago. I bought the Anschutz prone stock on eBay and whittled it a bit into a Palma rifle with a Barnard action and block and a Doan Trevor cheek piece and scope rail. Then about two years ago I decided to re-task the stock/action assembly into an F-Open rig. With more whittling, gluing, sanding, body fillering, sanding, filling, sanding, more sanding…and sanding, forming, priming, sanding, painting, waiting, painting, painting…painting and before you know it, Bob’s your uncle.”

Here is the eBay-sourced Anschutz 1411 stock, with new high-gloss blue finish, as initially modified for use in Killick’s centerfire Palma rifle. Looks nice!

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Next step was the addition of a 3″-wide wood fore-end for F-Open duties with front rest:

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Almost done here… just needs priming and final painting:

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

Here is Killick’s completed F-Open rifle with its much-modified Anschutz stock now finished in fire-engine red lacquer. This image shows the detail of the grip and customized cheekpiece.

Anschutz 1411 stock gunsmithing project wood work palma rifle f-class F-Open stocking

To learn more, visit Killick’s Anschutz Stock F-Class Project Thread on our Shooters’ Forum.

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September 29th, 2018

Norm Harrold and His Championship-Winning F-Open Rig

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

After Norm Harrold won the 2018 F-Open National Championship in Raton, New Mexico, setting a new 1000-yard National Record in the process, many of our Forum members wanted to see Norm’s championship-winning rifle, and learn more about Norm’s experience at the Nationals. Read on for coverage of Norm’s equipment and .284 Shehane ammo. Scroll down and you’ll find a detailed video showing how McMillan builds the advanced Kestros ZR stocks, like the one Norm used at Raton.

Norm posted: “I made it home from Raton 2018 F-Class Nationals and what an unbelievably amazing week I had. I was blessed enough to bring home a new F-Open 1000-yard record and the National Championship! Our Team McMillan took second in Mid-range and fourth overall in Long Range. I am so thankful and blessed to have this opportunity and to be able to do it with such a stand-up group of competitors and lifelong friends. Thanks to all our sponsors: McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, Nightforce Optics, Kelbly’s [Actions], Bartlein Barrels, and Berger Bullets.”

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

Gun and Load: Norm’s F-Open rig features a McMillan Kestros ZR stock and Bartlein barrel chambered for the .284 Shehane, which has a bit more case capacity than a standard .284 Winchester. Norm loaded Berger 184gr 7mm bullets in Lapua brass. Norm revealed his load in an Erik Cortina YouTube Video. Fellow shooter Erik Cortina joked — “the minute this video goes live, the 184s will be hard to find”. Norm says “Stock up guys — they shoot good!”

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

Here Norm Harrold shows his shooting form. Note how low the McMillan Kestros ZR forearm sits on Norm’s SEB NEO front rest. Norm also uses a large footprint rear bag for enhanced stability.

Harrold Shoots 200-22X to Smash 1000-Yard F-Open Record
On a rainy day at Raton, Norm shot brilliantly to set a new F-Open National Record: 200-22X at 1000 yards. (The previous record was 200-17X.) How could he get 22 Xs for a 20-shot string? Under NRA rules, if you shoot all Xs for the full string, you are allowed to keep shooting for as long as you can put shots in the X-Ring. Norm almost missed the chance to extend his X-Count. After his 20th shot, Norm recalled, “I said ‘I’m done, give me my target’, but … my shooting partner said ‘No! Keep shooting!’” So Norm did, drilling two more Xs to set the new National Record.

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

Kelly McMillan Shows Design and Construction of the Kestros ZR:

In this video, Kelly McMillan explains the design features and construction methods for the Kestros ZR, a fiberglass Kestros with aluminum extension rails in the front. Kelly explains “how and why we made the stock the way we did” and he shows how to retro-fit standard Kestros stocks with the new front rails. On the ZR the rails are anchored to a reinforced area for extra rigidity. In addition, the cantilevered rails are milled to be perfectly parallel. If you shoot F-Class we strongly recommend you watch this video.

Kelly McMillan Kestros ZR front rail prototype
Kelly McMillan showed us the prototype Kestros ZR at the 2018 Berger Southwest Nationals.

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September 26th, 2018

Hail the Champions: 2018 F-Class Nationals at Raton, NM

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua
The winning Klemm clan. Ian Klemm won his Second Straight F-TR National Championship last week. Here he is with parents Karen and Ken Klemm. Father Ken also competed at the Nationals, shooting great in both individual and team events.

The 2018 F-Class Nationals recently concluded at Raton, NM. The event was well-attended, with excellent turn out for both the Mid-Range and Long-Range cycles. The weather was variable, with wet but very calm conditions to start the 1000-yard match, resulting in new F-TR and F-Open National Records being set for 20-shot strings.

Long-Range F-Nationals Results | Mid-Range F-Nationals Results

Congratulations to the new F-Class Champions. Ian Klemm shot great to win the F-TR National Championship. This was the second straight F-TR title for Ian, who also won at Lodi, Wisconsin in 2017.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team LapuaIt was a family affair this year for the Klemm clan. Ian’s father, Ken Klemm, finished third among High Masters, and also nailed the highest score among ALL shooters in the 1000-Yard F-TR team match. Well done father and son! Mike Plunkett finished second, while also setting a new F-TR record, 200-16X, also matched by Ray Gross.

Winning F-TR Rifle and Load:
Ian Klemm’s winning .308 Win featured a Kelbly Panda action, 30″ Bartline 1:10″-twist barrel, and McMillan X-IT left-hand stock. Ian used a Vortex 15-60X52mm Golden Eagle scope (as did runner-up Ted Plunkett). Ian loaded Berger 200.20X Hybrid bullets in Lapua brass with Vihtavuori N140 powder and CCI BR4s. MV is 2680 FPS.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua

Ian, who won his first title last year in Lodi, Wisconsin, said this year was tougher. To travel down to New Mexico and win at Raton was very satisfying — as I had to come from behind.” Ian told us: “This Championship was especially difficult as a particularly strong challenger [and new 1000-yard record-holder] Mike Plunkett had earned an early lead and I would have to make up 6 points in the final day to win. Fortunately, the Range at Raton saved some of its most challenging conditions for the final match of the championship. This gave me the right amount of wind to work with. The Vortex Golden Eagle HD scope showed the mirage I needed in order to make timely wind-hold decisions.”

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua

In the F-Open division, Norm Harrold of Team McMillan shot great from the start, topping the field to win the F-Open division. Tom was shooting a .284 Shehane cartrdige in the new McMillan Kestros stock. Our buddy Erik Cortina interviewed Norm in this video, starting at 00:15:

Interview with F-Open Champ Norm Harrold at 00:15:

Team Competition Champions

In Team competition, Team X-Men won the 1000-Yard F-TR Team Title, with a 1568-61X score. Members shown are: Alan Barhardt, Tracy Hogg, Ian Klemm, Ken Klemm, Matt Schwartzkopf, Phil Kelley (Captain), James E Crofts (Coach). In second place was Team McMillan with 1553-53X: Paul Phillips, Derek Rodgers, Jeff Rorer, Brad Sauve, John Droelle (Captain), Ray Gross (Coach).

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua

In F-Open Division, Team Grizzly won the 1000-Yard Team Championship with a 1580-81X score, edging runner up Team Lapua-Brux-Borden by two points (1578-81X). Here are the team members, with Grizzly President Shiraz Balolia top left and coach Trudie Fay in the middle.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua
Team Grizzly: Shiraz Balolia, Emil Kovan, David Mann, John Myers, Trudie Fay (Coach).

Team Pierce Engineering won the F-TR Mid-Range Team event. Team members included: Doug Boyer, Josh Moore, Richard Nixon, John Roethlisberger, Coach Tom Majewski.

Team Lapua-Brux-Borden captured the F-Open Mid-Range Championship with a strong performance. Team “LBB” shot well, to earn a second straight Mid-Range National Title, and grab second (Silver) at Long Range. Team member Jay Christopherson praised his team-mates and also gave credit to his rivals: “Team Grizzly was outstanding for the LR Open Gold”.

F-Class NRA Nationals National championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico Ian Klemm Norm Harrold Team Grizzly Team Lapua
Team LBB: Jay Christopherson, Erik Cortina, Tom Hendricks, Pat Scully, Coach Bob Sebold.

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