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August 19th, 2022

Pickleforks — Bolt-On Bagrider Rails for Eliseo Tubeguns

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Do you have an Eliseo Tubegun that you use for sling-shooting competitions, but would like to try your hand at F-Class Open matches? Well here is a low-cost, yet very effective add-on that can transform your TubeGun into a serious F-Open rifle. The bolt-on rails also work great for load development if you want to use a front rest with 3″-wide front bag for greater stability and repeatability.

Competition Machine’s Gary Eliseo is a very smart designer as well as a talented shooter. The inventor/builder of the popular Competition Machine Tubegun chassis systems, Gary offers a bolt-on bag-rider accessory. Gary call this his PickleFork fore-end extension. The Pickleforks are rails that fit to the sides of the tubular fore-end/handguard on his chassis systems. This allows you to use a pedestal-style front rest for F-Class competition.

Pickleforks also provide a much more stable platform for load testing, varmint hunting, or any kind of rest-assisted precision shooting. These PickleForks transform a Tubegun into an ultra-stable, straight-tracking rig when used with a competition-style front rest.

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Gary 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 new 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 new 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 information, visit www.GotXRing.com or call (928) 649-0742.

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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June 5th, 2022

Sunday Gunday: Multi-Tasking .308 Tubegun in Eliseo Chassis

eliseo competition machine tubegun .308 Win Lafevers palma bag rider steel tactical

This article features an impressive .308 Winchester tubegun, crafted with an Eliseo (Competition Machine) RTS chassis, Borden action, and 30″ Krieger medium Palma Contour barrel. Owner Mark LaFevers chambered and fitted the barrel and assembled the rifle himself. What’s more, Mark even crafted his own muzzle brake, front/rear bag-riders, and his own, innovative “big-foot” bipod! Mark’s Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tubegun has proven as accurate as it is multi-faceted. Optimized to shoot the 155-grain-class match projectiles, this gun is a tack-driver. This Editor has witnessed the gun repeatedly put 3-round groups into one ragged hole at 100 yards. At 600 yards, the gun has held under 1″ of vertical in competition.

When it comes to versatility, it’s hard to beat a tubegun chambered in .308 Winchester. This rifle system can be used in High Power (Palma) competition, F-TR matches, Long Range Steel Matches, and Tactical Competitions. With the addition of a front sled, a modern tubegun can even be competitive in 600-yard benchrest matches, as demonstrated by Jerry Tierney, who, some years back, won the NBRSA 600-yard Nationals with an Eliseo (Competition Machine) tubegun.

Do-It-All Multi-Discipline .308 Win Tubegun for F-TR, Benchrest, Varmint Matches, Palma, and Tactical Competitions

by Mark LaFevers

The Concept — a ‘Do-It-All .308 Win’
This project began with a wish list developed after shooting in a precision tactical match in 2009. From that experience I knew I wanted a magazine-fed precision bolt gun sporting a high-quality, variable-power scope. I wanted a rifle that could be competitive in a broad range of gun games including tac comps and long-range prone events. If the gun could also double as a medium-range benchrest rig, that would satisfy the needs of the monthly club matches I shoot — a varmint steel silhouette match (shot from the bench), and an F-Class style prone event. I also wanted a gun that could shoot Palma matches someday (when I get around to learning to shoot with iron sights).

Because I like to build things, I’m always looking for projects that offer opportunities to customize and innovate to suit my needs. And because I’m interested in trying different shooting disciplines, I hoped to craft a rifle that could be reconfigured fairly easily to fit various needs. To maximize the gun’s potential, I chose to use only the highest-quality components for every aspect of this project. I planned on building as much of this rifle as I possibly could myself — and that would include chambering and fitting a barrel for the first time. Having much to learn, I would be relying heavily on the expert advice and goodwill of others for the gun’s success.

The Do-It-Yourself Approach — The Appeal of Building Your Own Rifle
Not everyone understands the DIY (do-it-yourself) approach to life. Why would anyone try to smith his own rifle, when he could have it done by competent professionals? There is the imagined prospect of cost savings. However, a home gunsmith may find that, at least initially, it costs more money to do it yourself when all the costs of tooling etc. are calculated. But doing it yourself is not just about saving money. There is a special satisfaction derived from building something with your own hands. For me the relationship between practiced hands, tools, materials, and knowledge of craft is important. The DIY approach surely means different things to different people. For me it’s about the quest for improvement, and an appreciation of the importance of craftmanship in history, and trying to do my part.

Whatever our craft, the fit and function of the things we care about ultimately define us. In this project I felt a responsibility to uphold certain standards. I also was motivated by the desire to give ‘homage’ to my distant relative Daniel M. LeFever, a gun-maker who left his mark on the firearms industry in the 1870s. “Uncle Dan” LeFever crafted high-grade double guns that rivaled the finest European doubles.*

Choosing Components for the .308 Win Tubegun
Looking over the range of suitable equipment, it did not take long to come across Gary Eliseo’s Competition Machine tubegun chassis kit. Initially intrigued by the beauty of the machine work in this aluminum stock, the more I looked the better this platform seemed. Gary’s RTS kit for Remington 700 and Rem clones accepts the proven AICS magazines and offers great stock adjustment flexibility. For more on that subject read German Salazar’s excellent article on Configuring the Eliseo Tubegun Stock.

.308 Eliseo Tubegun

When I learned that Jim Borden, BordenRifles.com, was building an action designed specifically for the Eliseo tubegun stock, the decision to go this route was made even easier. I had previously had the opportunity to admire close up the Borden action used by our top Club benchrest record holder, and I knew I couldn’t go wrong there. In selecting a trigger group, I knew I wanted a fully adjustable two-stage trigger that could be set for different pull weights for various shooting disciplines. At first glance Jewell seemed to be the obvious choices, but I asked if there were any products that might be better than the Jewell for my purposes. It was suggested that an American-made trigger by CG Jackson might do the trick, so I talked with Tom Myers of X-Treme Shooting Products. Tom’s company offered a fully-adjustable, 2-stage Mod 22 Tactical trigger that fits Remington 700 actions and their clones. It is offered with a fixed or moveable shoe, with or without a safety. I chose the fixed trigger shoe with no safety.

Eliseo Tubegun

Choosing a Scope
Given my prior positive experiences with Nightforce products, a Nightforce scope was my first choice in optics. But I needed to select between the NXS (side-focus) and BR (front focus) models, and chose a magnification range. Because I wanted to play a variety of gun games from Tactical to Benchrest, it seemed to me that the NXS, with its faster side focus parallax adjustment, would be the more versatile choice. I went with the 12-42x56mm version so that I had plenty of magnification on tap for long-range precision work. I can still dial it back to 12 power for a wider field of view, as needed.

LaFevers .308
Mark bench-testing the gun during Load Development. The front rest is the superb SEB Neo Co-Axial.

Caliber Choice and Load Development

Choice of Caliber — .308 Win Offers Accuracy, Versatility, Long Barrel Life
Rather than agonize over the many caliber choices, I chose to step back and consider what I thought, in my experience, made winning shooters. Was it the caliber they were shooting or their training, skill and intelligence, that made them winners? While it is true that various calibers do have their specific merits, it is also true that an individual with five times as much training as you is likely to beat you with whatever caliber he or she is using. Case in point being the tactical match that got me started on this project, won by a young Marine shooting a .308 Win. While many other competitors had rifles with “faster, flatter, superior ballistics”, the Marine topped the field through his superior training, natural ability, and the keen edge of youth. With the right trigger puller, .308 Win was clearly still good enough to win this kind of match.

Among the arguments in favor of the .308 Win caliber for this project were:

  • I had positive previous experience with the .308 and was already set up to reload for it.
  • Very wide selection of performance-proven bullets.
  • Some popular disciplines, such as F-TR and International Fullbore, specify .308 Win (7.62×51) as one of the “permitted” chamberings.
  • Top shooters could provide guidance on .308 load development, and effective shooting techniques.
  • .308 Win offers long barrel life.

Weighing against the .308 Win were higher component costs and heavier recoil compared to many popular, smaller, mid-distance calibers, such as the 6mmBR, 6 Dasher, 6XC, and 6.5×47 Lapua.

Selecting the Optimal Barrel Configuration for my Bullet Selection
One way of narrowing the field of .308 bullet options is to choose a specific bullet that has performed well for winning shooters, and design the gun around the bullet. The weight of the bullet and its preference for a specific seating depth dictate the twist rate of the barrel and the depth of the chamber, which is also dependent upon whether you choose to single feed or magazine feed. Because I have had very positive experiences with Berger bullets, and becasue Berger Ballistician Bryan Litz was very positive about Berger’s 155.5gr Palma bullet, that was my starting bullet choice for this gun. Because Bryan had great 1000-yard success with a 1:13 twist barrel with the 155.5 bullet, but thought he might go with a 1:12 twist next time, I felt it would be interesting to try a 1:12.5″ twist. Krieger Barrels was able to privde this specific twist rate, and we hoped Krieger’s 5R rifling with a 30″ length would yield a fast barrel. Some extra velocity would help offset the velocity loss I might suffer by being limited to a mag-length COAL. (If I could load longer than mag length I could stuff in more powder and get more velocity.) The Krieger 5R proved a very good choice. From the start the barrel has cleaned up easily, it has delivered awesome accuracy, and it holds very tight elevation at long range. I’ve also been able to achieve very low ES/SD with this Krieger.

Gun Set-Up and Initial Testing
The first break-in of the rifle was done at 100 yards on home turf at the Ojai Valley Gun Club in California. Your Editor and I put 40 rounds through it using Krieger’s recommended break-in procedure. Our impression was that in less than 10 rounds the barrel was ready for competition. I shot the second 10 rounds looking at the performance of the variable muzzle brake I had built. Firing initially with only the one built-in baffle in place, a tremendous amount of gas was still blowing forward, made visually more pronounced by the frosty 29° air. Maximum recoil reduction was achieved adding the front baffle spool, so this is how the brake will be used. On disassembly after firing the forward faces of the baffle spool show descending amounts of powder residue from the gas entry to exit end, with almost no residue at the final baffle wall, showing most of the gas has exited to the side by that point. Attention to precision alignment shows the brake having no adverse effect on accuracy, as the last 20 rounds seated to various depths yielded a couple three-shot, one-hole groups at 100. At the end of the session I was pleased to find that the Krieger barrel cleaned extremely easily. Two wet patches cleared the powder residue and just a little copper showed up at the muzzle end by visual inspection.

Muzzle Brake with Baffle

The Jim Borden action has a really nice feel when single round loading, and good consistency feeding from the magazine with an authoritative hand. The ejector is very aggressive and will pitch the brass off the bench if it isn’t blocked from escaping. This action cycles very smoothly, and the beautiful workmanship shows even with the tubegun chassis mostly surrounding it.

Eliseo Tubegun
Mark crafted two front sleds for the gun, one from metal, another from wood (which worked a bit better). Mark notes: “With the wood bag-rider in place the gun became quite stable, and you didn’t notice the high center of gravity so much.” Mark also made his own rear Bag-Rider.

Tubegun Wins First Fun Match
Shortly after breaking in the barrel, I took the gun down to a nearby range to compete in an informal 300- and 400-yard paper competition. I thought it would be fun to test loads while shooting in a club-level fun match. I was getting the best grouping at 44.5 grains of Varget, hotter loads were not doing so well, leading me to believe I needed to work up loads from 44.0 to 44.5 by tenths to find the sweet spot. In the 10-competitor match I squeaked out a win by 1 point. Still, a win is a win!

Load Development

I took the rifle up to the Ojai range at daybreak to run some load variations at 600 yards in still 26° air. I printed targets (sourced from AccurateShooter.com’s FREE Target Page) that had a 1″ red dot within a 5″ grid box. The dot made an excellent aim point at 600 yards. Here the capabilities of the Nightforce 12-42 NXS optic really became apparent. In the exceptionally clear, early morning conditions, I could see the dot AND the bullet holes — all at 600 yards downrange! I had set up my 72-power Meade spotting scope but didn’t use it as the Nightforce scope had more clarity and sharpness. There was no need to go downrange to check the targets, as bullet holes were clearly visible on the targets. This is great because I can make better use of the narrow window of perfect air in the morning, before the sun stirs thermals and mirage.

In this rifle, the Berger 155.5gr Fullbore bullet likes to be seated .010″ off what I’m calling “Max Jam”, using a Hornady OAL length gauge pressing the bullet softly into the lands, so the bullet just barely sticks there when the tool is removed. [Editor’s Note: At his optimal seating depth, Mark’s bullets are still in the lands, just .010″ shy of the max length he can load them without set-back.] The rounds are loaded to 2.850″ OAL to magazine feed. Even though I cut a “no-turn” chamber, I do lightly turn the outside of the case necks to uniform them. I like to look at bullet bearing surface length variations, using a Sinclair comparator body and two .30-cal inserts, one on the nose and the other on the tail of the bullet. With very uniform bullets like the Bergers this method is really only attempting to spot that random outlier bullet that varies in length enough to separate from the group. This is no knock on Berger, just a nod to the challenges of maintaining incredibly tight manufacturing tolerances.

Eliseo Tubegun

Today’s five shot groups of Varget, jumping by tenths of a grain from 44.0 to 44.5 grains, showed the best grouping to be at 44.1 grains. The hotter loads were breaking the 2900 fps level, but the groups were not as tight as they were at the lower end. At 44.1 grains of Varget the five-shot group had a vertical dispersion of 1.9″ and a horizontal dispersion of 1.25″ at 600 yards, making that a keeper load.

Competition Load Selection and Performance
With a NBRSA 600-yard match fast approaching, I realized that with all the focus on testing I didn’t have enough Lapua brass to shoot the entire match. My solution was to fall back on once-fired Hornady Match brass, with which I have also had excellent luck. So, the day before the NBRSA match, I loaded up the best combinations of the Berger 155.5s with Hornady/Varget, Lapua/Varget, and Hornady/8208 for a final trial, and headed out to a 1000-yard range that’s a two-hour drive from home. Expecting to see the faster IMR 8208 edge out the Varget at this range, I was surprised to see the performance basically identical. With this last minute perspective I decided to shoot the six target NBRSA match using Berger/Hornady/Varget for the first three matches, then Berger/Hornady/8208 for the last three matches when the extra speed might help in a rising afternoon wind.

Match Results
Best results were in Match 1 using 44.0 grains of Varget to push the Berger 155.5 from the Hornady Match brass. Fortunately four bullets flew to a 1.44” group in the blue, unfortunately it was a five-shot match and one bullet flew high left. Excellent promise also showed in Match 6 with the IMR 8208 XBR powder yielding less than an inch of vertical at 600 yards. The lesson I learned from the event was that operator consistency was a much bigger factor than the technical limitations of the hardware or the ammunition. The gun can definitely shoot better than I can hold. I had the opportunity to shoot off a beautiful SEB NEO front rest in this competition. Although I am not a fan yet of joystick controls, this rest performed flawlessly and definitely had a positive effect on performance.

Eliseo Tubegun Target

My Overall Impressions of the Project
For use as a benchrest rig, the tubegun provides an interesting challenge, because the pistol grip seems to make the gun much more sensitive to steering errors than a typical low-profile benchrest stock. You have to focus on consistency of grip. A light grip and firm cheek weld combination seems to work well at the bench, but the gun also responds well to a very firm grip and heavy shoulder pressure when fired in the prone position. Building an Eliseo tubegun is a great project and the finished product is a very versatile, fun-to-shoot gun! To encourage others with similar interests, let me just say that the products and components used in this project all get my five-star endorsement, without exception or hesitation.

The biggest challenge with this rifle lies in my own skill development — particularly for tactical matches. If you only have experience with known-distance shooting matches, you’ll need a whole new set of skills to be successful in unknown-distance (UKD) tactical competitions. These UKD matches require high levels of shooting intelligence and training. However, now that I have a rifle that instills confidence, I can work to improve my skills. Overall, I am very happy with the results of this project — the gun has certainly lived up to my expectations. It is rugged, accurate and very adept at “multi-tasking.”

DIY Machining — Chambering My First Barrel

One of my main objectives with this project was to do my own barrel chamber reaming and fit-up work. I had been studying and working from John Hinnants’s excellent book on Precision Rifle Barrel Making, building tools and working with the concepts, and felt myself to be ready to tackle the machining aspects of the project. Having local ace gunsmith Mac Tilton to talk to really helped me understand what would be needed. Greg Tannel’s excellent GreTan DVDs on how to set up a high pressure thru-the-barrel reamer flushing system and align the lathe tailstock properly for precision chamber reaming were invaluable. Greg’s off-the-shelf, hardware-store flow control layout makes the flushing system easy to regulate for other purposes as well. I built the reamer holder Greg describes in his DVD, and it too works well.

I began at everyone’s recommended starting point, which was to recheck the level of my lathe, a Jet 1340 gearhead belt-driven model. To accomplish this I used a precision 12” machinist level from Grizzly Tools. I can’t say the tool was easy to use because the leveling process is tedious as hell, but the level worked very well.

Manson .308 Reamer

Dave Manson Shares His Reamer Knowledge
In researching which reamer maker to use to create the custom reamer for the Berger 155.5 fullbore bullet, which seems to like about .015″ jump to the lands, I was drawn by name recognition to Dave Manson’s products. In my years of thumbing through Brownells catalogs I was impressed with the thought Dave had put into the development of so many of his tools. During several phone conversations, I greatly benefited from Dave’s experience with chamber tolerances, cutting fluids and reamer modifications specific to thru-the-barrel flushing. To help spec the reamer, I sent Dave a couple dummy rounds built to magazine length so he could make a custom reamer to yield .015” jump and a no-turn neck. In no time I was using the Dave Manson reamer to practice with the flushing system on pieces cut from a take-off barrel, then checking dimensions using Cerrosafe castings. The dimensions were exactly as we had discussed, and I do mean EXACTLY! From the way Dave’s reamer worked in practice chambers, I knew this tool would produce a superior chamber.

Grizzly Tailstock DRO

Chambering Process with Tailstock DRO
For this project I set up a lathe tailstock digital readout from Grizzly, part # T10118, to help keep track of boring depth. Unlike relying on counting revolutions of the tailstock handwheel, with the DRO you are looking at the total travel measurement on a digital display, which is equally precise to the alternate dial indicator method. The chamber was cut in the stainless Krieger barrel at 60 RPM, using Mobilmet 744 heavy cutting oil diluted with mineral spirits, flushing chips from the reamer flutes at 100 PSI. For the last few thousandths of cut, lathe power was shut off and the cut completed by turning the reamer holder by hand while in-feeding with the lathe tailstock handwheel for precise depth and chamber dimension control.

To shorten this article up a bit and keep it on point for those interested in the rifle and not the process, let me just mention that details of some of the additional parts I made can be seen at my website: LaFeversFabricating.wordpress.com. Those parts include a muzzle brake of my design, my fast attach bipod design, a drop-leg level, wood grip, and wooden as well as metal front and rear bag riders for benchrest work.

Acknowledgements
For their participation and patience in supporting this project, and their tolerance of my myriad questions about parts and processes, I would like to thank, in alphabetical order:

Berger Bullets — Bergerbullets.com — Berger 155.5gr Fullbore Match bullets.
Jim Borden — BordenRifles.com — Stainless Rem. Clone action for Eliseo tubegun.
Gary Eliseo — CompetitionShootingStuff.com — RTS tubegun stock kit.
Grizzly Industrial — Grizzly.com
Krieger Barrels — KriegerBarrels.com — 30″ Medium Palma, 1:12.5″ twist 5R rifling, tight bore.
Dave Manson — MansonReamers.com — Custom .308 Win finish reamer for Berger 155.5 fullbore bullet.
Tom Myers — X-tremeShooting XTSP — CG Jackson Mod 22 Tactical 2-Stage Trigger.
Nightforce Optics — NightforceOptics.com — 12-42×56 NXS Scope with NP-R1 ranging reticle.
Greg Tannel — GreTanRifles.com — Lathe set-up and chambering DVDs.


*According to Chuck Hawks: “‘Uncle’ Dan Lefever was one of the greatest gun designers of his, or any, time. He founded several companies….The largest and best known of these, Lefever Arms Co., was eventually acquired by the Ithaca Gun Company around the time of the First World War. In the hey day of the classic American double there were guns galore and many different grades and price points, from plain field grade guns to masterpieces rivaling the best European guns. The Lefever Arms guns, for example, won medals at an International Arms Exhibition for ‘Best American’ and ‘World’s Best’ shotgun.”

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February 18th, 2022

Running the “Mad Minute” with Lee-Enfield — Historic Gun Drill

Lee Enfield Mad Minute one-minute rifle drill British Army Gary Eliseo Dennis Santiago
British Lee-Enfield Model SHT’22/IV Rifle, courtesy www.iCollector.com.

Our friend Dennis Santiago was a technical advisor for History Channel’s Top SHOT TV show. One of the notable Top Shot episodes involved the “Mad Minute”, a marksmanship drill practiced by the British Army in the decades preceding World War I. Dennis observed that the Top Shot competitors didn’t fare too well in their “Mad Minute” attempts, not scoring many hits in the alloted one-minute time period. That prompted Dennis to give it a try himself — seeing how many hits he could score in one minute with an authentic Lee-Enfield rifle. So, a while back, Dennis ran the drill at a range in California.

Dennis, an active high power rifle competitor and instructor, enjoyed his “Mad Minute” exercise, though he assures us that this takes practice to perfect. Dennis tells us: “Here is a ‘Mad Minute’ drill, done using a period correct Lee-Enfield (SMLE) No.1 Mk III rifle and Mk VII ammo. I got to the Queen’s Regulations (15 hits in one minute) on the second run and put a good group on the target at 200 yards. This is ‘jolly good fun’ to do every once in a while. This is ‘living history’ — experiencing a skill from a time when the sun never set on the British Empire.”

Dennis Does the Mad Minute

Lee Enfield Mad Minute Mark IV
British Lee-Enfield Model SHT’22/IV Rifle, courtesy www.iCollector.com.

Lee Enfield Mad Minute Mark IVLee-Enfield No. 4 Rifle (1943), courtesy Arundel Militaria.

“Mad Minute” was a pre-World War I term used by British Army riflemen during training at the Hythe School of Musketry to describe scoring a minimum of 15 hits onto a 12″ round target at 300 yards within one minute using a bolt-action rifle (usually a Lee-Enfield or Lee-Metford rifle). It was not uncommon during the First World War for riflemen to greatly exceed this score. The record, set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, was 38 hits. (From WikiPedia.)

Want to See More “Mad Minute” Action with a Modern Tubegun?
In 2012, Gary Eliseo ran a “Mad Minute” exercise using a modern, .308 Win Eliseo RTM Tubegun of his own making. Gary ended up with 24 hits on a bull target set at 300 yards. (Gary actually had 25 hits in 25 rounds fired, but the last round hit just after the 60-second time period expired.) Note how Gary pulls the trigger with the middle finger of his right hand. This allows him to work the bolt faster, using his thumb and index finger. CLICK HERE for Eliseo Tubegun Mad Minute story.

Watch Gary Elesio Shoot the ‘Mad Minute’ (Starts at 4:47 on Video)

NOTE: In an interesting coincidence, Dennis Santiago was actually in the pits pulling targets for Gary during Eliseo’s 2012 “Mad Minute” exercise.

History of the MAD MINUTE
Commentary by Laurie Holland, UK Shooter
The original military requirement of the “Mad Minute” saw the soldier ready to fire with a round in the chamber, nine in the magazine, safety on. This course of fire is still followed by the GB Historic Breechloading Arms Association and other bodies in their recreated “Mad Minute” competitions.

The first 10 would go quickly, but reloads were critical, this not done by a magazine change as Gary did with the RTM or in a modern tactical or semi-auto rifle, but through slick use of ‘chargers’. It is this aspect which fouls so many of my colleagues up as it is very easy to cause a jam and a large part of 60 seconds can go in sorting it out!

Charger clips were selected for those that just held the rounds firmly enough to stop then falling out, were sand-papered and polished with a stove / fireplace polish called ‘Zebrite’ so that the rimmed rounds would slip through the clips like corn through a goose.

lee enfield 1916 rifle

If you’re unfamiliar with the cock-on-closing Enfield action, it seems clumsy. With intensive practice it is very smooth and can be operated incredibly quickly. The trick is to whip the bolt back onto its stop and initiate a rebound movement that takes it and the cartridge well into the chamber thereby reducing the effort required to close the bolt and chamber the round.

The MAD MINUTE Training Standards and Target
“Mad Minute” was a pre-World War I term used by British Army riflemen during training at the Hythe School of Musketry to describe scoring a minimum of 15 hits on a target at 300 yards within one minute using a bolt-action rifle (usually a Lee-Enfield or Lee-Metford rifle). It was not uncommon during the First World War for riflemen to greatly exceed this score. The record, set in 1914 by Sergeant Instructor Alfred Snoxall, was 38 hits.

Mad Minute Lee Enfield
Royal Scots Fusiliers soldiers train with SMLE Mk III Lee–Enfield rifle.

Listed as “Practice number 22, Rapid Fire” of The Musketry Regulations, Part I, 1909, this drill required at least 15 shots on the Second Class target at 300 yards. The exercise was just one of several annual tests to classify a soldier as a sharpshooter, first or second class shooter depending on the points achieved.

Made Minute Second Class targetResearch indicates the Second Class target was a 48″ x 48″ square with 24″ inner circle and 36″ outer circle. The sight mark was a central 12″ x 12″ shape representing a soldier. ALL hits scored points (3 for center circle, 2 for outer circle, 1 for outer square). NOTE: Though some sources say the Mad Minute drill used a 12″-diameter round target, this appears to be a mistake from Ian Hogg’s book “The Encyclopedia of Weaponry”. No other source mentions a 12″ circle, which would be a mere 3.82 MOA. In reality the true drill target was a 48″ x 48″ square, roughly 15 times larger. (From No.WikiPedia.)

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September 24th, 2021

PickleForks — Bolt-On F-Class Bag-Rider Rails for Eliseo Tubeguns

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Do you have an Eliseo Tubegun that you use for sling-shooting competitions, but would like to try your hand at F-Class Open matches? Well here is a low-cost, yet very effective add-on that can transform your TubeGun into a serious F-Open rifle. The bolt-on rails also work great for load development if you want to use a front rest with 3″-wide front bag for greater stability and repeatability.

Competition Machine’s Gary Eliseo is a very smart designer as well as a talented shooter. The inventor/builder of the popular Competition Machine Tubegun chassis systems, Gary offers a bolt-on bag-rider accessory. Gary call this his PickleFork fore-end extension. The Pickleforks are rails that fit to the sides of the tubular fore-end/handguard on his chassis systems. This allows you to use a pedestal-style front rest for F-Class competition.

Pickleforks also provide a much more stable platform for load testing, varmint hunting, or any kind of rest-assisted precision shooting. These PickleForks transform a Tubegun into an ultra-stable, straight-tracking rig when used with a competition-style front rest.

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Gary 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 new 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 new 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 information, visit www.GotXRing.com or call (928) 649-0742.

Eliseo Tubegun Chassis Pickle-Fork Picklefork forend fore-end F-TR F-Class Bag Rider

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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September 5th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Fall Multi-Discipline Rimfire Rifle Showcase

rimfire .22 LR showcase sunday gunday anschutz CA 457 benchrest prone
Top is a CZ 457 MTR; middle Anschutz with BR stock; bottom is Bergara B14R in DPT Chassis.

With the variety of rimfire disciplines, from cowboy action to Olympic three-position smallbore, there are countless different rimfire designs on the market — bolt guns, lever guns, single-shots, toggle-links and more. These may shoot the same ammo, but they certainly vary in looks and ergonomics. This is testimony to human creativity.

In our Shooters’ Forum, you’ll find a long-running thread showcasing rimfire rifles for plinking, hunting, 3P Target Shooting, Silhouette, Rimfire F-Class, NRL22 and more. Here are some of the notable recently-posted rifles in that Forum thread, with brief build/component details.

ARA Benchrest Rifle with Stiller Action, Shilen Ratchet Barrel

penrod precisions stiller 2500X shilen barrel snow Lapua testing center midas+

penrod precisions stiller 2500X shilen barrel snow Lapua testing center midas+Forum member Peebles24 showcased his cool flame-paint-job .22 LR benchrest rifle against a scenic, snowy background (never too cold to shoot right?). “I had a new rifle built this past fall by Mark Penrod at Penrod Precision. Stiller 2500X action, Shilen ratchet barrel, Jewell trigger, McMillan stock, Harrell’s tuner, Sightron SIII 10-50×60mm glass. I’m shooting it off my Arnold Machine one-piece rest made locally by Cliff Arnold. I visited the Lapua Testing Center East and got a case of Midas+.” For ammo testing results, click photo at right.

In late April the gun competed in its first ARA benchrest match in Wabash, Indiana.

Beautiful MasterClass-Stocked Rifle for Rimfire F-Class

Masterclass rimfire F-class stiller 2500X action wood stock
Masterclass rimfire F-class stiller 2500X action wood stock

Here is a handsome rifle belonging to Forum member Redd. Set up for prone Rimfire F-Class-style competition, this rig features a Shilen Ratchet barrel with Erik Cortina Tuner fitted to a Stiller 2500X action. It boasts a beautiful MasterClass figured Walnut stock and rides on a SEB Joy-Pod bipod up front. The optic is a Nightforce 40x45mm Competition.

CZ 457 .22 Magnum Transformed with KRG Bravo Stock

CZ 527 Rimfire .22 Magnum KRG Bravo stock

CZ 527 Rimfire .22 Magnum KRG Bravo stockForum member JAS-AS purchased a .22 Magnum CZ which he revived as a training rig with a new stock. He posted: “I use a CZ457 in .22 Magnum mainly as a trainer — bipod and rear bag kind of stuff. It has evolved over the last year or so. Next change will be a Lilja barrel. This because it can shoot brilliantly (at times) but not consistently. And accuracy degrades as it gets minimally dirty. Also, it doesn’t like 40gr rounds — the groups open up to 1.5 MOA. It’s at its best with 30 and 35 grain rounds running at up to 2250 fps. I believe that to be a twist-rate issue.”

The “Before” photo shows the rifle “as purchased” with a Nikon Monarch 4-16x42mm mildot scope. The “After” image shows the CZ 457 as modified. JAS-AS notes: “I added a bunch of stuff: KRG Bravo stock, Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25x56mm FFP scope, new bipod and Precision Underground bag, trigger spring. With this setup I shoot at 100 yards+ exclusively.” Show at right is a 9-shot group with the rifle at 100 yards. Three-shot groups at 100 have been below half-MOA.

Savage Mark II Squirrel/Field Rifle

Savage hunting squirrel rimfire

This Savage Mark II rifle isn’t fancy, but it has brought much satisfaction to its owner, Forum member “Ohio Varmint Shooter”. He posted: “Just a nice field gun. Less than $200 (without scope). Cheap wooden stock, thin pencil barrel. My squirrel/field gun. There is absolutely nothing special about this… except it’s lefthanded. It shoots fine, preferring CCI standard velocity rounds. I did splurge and put a more-than-needed scope on it. Most scopes with fixed parallax (in this category), have it fixed at 50 yards. I wanted variable parallax so I could set it at 35 yards. I don’t know if it really makes any difference, but I do try to go for accurate head shots. The scope is also a little overkill in magnification, but it does help with the head shots and my aging eyes.”

“As a youth in the 70s, I always dreamed of a left-handed bolt. So getting back into shooting/hunting about 8 years ago, I was delighted to discover this gun. Growing up I had a semi-auto 22, but being a lefty … it would spit powder on my face.” — Ohio Varmint Shooter

Tikka T1x Action in Eliseo Competition Machine Chassis

Gary Eliseo tikka T1x chassis competition machine .22 LR
Gary Eliseo tikka T1x chassis competition machine .22 LR

Here is Gary Eliseo’s personal Rimfire Match Target Rifle with Tikka T1x action. The T1x action is carried in Competition Machine Rimfire Chassis. Gary also posted some recent 100-yard groups, using SK rifle match ammo in this rifle. Gary runs Competition Machine LLC and produces the chassis system for this cool rig, along with outstanding Across-the-Course, High Power, and F-Class chassis systems for rimfire and centerfire rifles.

Vudoo Action Benchrest Rifle with Benchmark 3-Groove Barrel

vudoo benchmark doan trevor mcmillan stock benchrest .22 LR

Here is a classy benchrest rig belonging to Forum member FCJIM. It features a Vudoo LBRP action, Benchmark 3-groove barrel, Harrell’s Precision tuner, NightForce Benchrest scope, and McMillan Edge stock. The stock work was done by Doan Trevor, while FCJIM did the metal work himself, using a Nevius reamer. This rig likes to shoot ELEY Black and Lapua Midas+ ammo.

Classic CPA Rifles Lever-Action Single-Shot Rimfire Rifle

CPA Stevens rimfire lever action set trigger .22 LR
CPA Stevens rimfire lever action set trigger .22 LR
CPA Stevens rimfire lever action set trigger .22 LR

Last but not least, here is a “blast from the past”. This classic lever-action single shot is crafted by CPS Rifles (Paul Shuttleworth), a boutique gun-maker specializing in single-shot rifles, particularly reproductions of the Stevens 44 1/2. Note the richly-figured wood and the lovely color case-hardening on the receiver. There is a dual Set Trigger system. You pull one trigger through a relatively long stroke until it clicks. The the second trigger breaks the shot (and drops the hammer) with just a few ounces of pull weight. This rig, fitted with MPA Vernier-type tang sights, belongs to Forum member “Mills” from Texas.

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June 25th, 2021

New .416 Colossus Cartridge from John Pierce and Mark Fox

ELR john pierce colossus .416 barrett RCC Robertson brass Badlands precision Eliseo competition machine

When Bigger IS Better — The New .416 Colossus ELR Cartridge
John Pierce, founder of Pierce Engineering revealed an impressive new cartridge developed for the ELR (Extreme Long Range) game — the .416 Colossus. This has achieved 3300 fps shooting the Badlands Precision 525gr solid copper projectile (BC: 1.20 G1, .614 G7). Above is a “big rig” designed to shoot this cartridge. This rifle boasts a custom Eliseo chassis with 20X Pierce Engineering action and Krieger barrel. John Pierce noted: “Big thanks to Gary Eliseo for building this special chassis. Pete Contacos owns and tested the rifle and cartridge. He is ecstatic to say the least.”

John Pierce reported on Facebook: “After a long two years of development and waiting to see what results could be achieved, we are very pleased. The Colossus cartridge, designed by Mark Fox and myself, is showing great [results].”

ELR john pierce colossus .416 barrett RCC Robertson brass Badlands precision Eliseo competition machine

The cartridge boasts impressive velocities. John reports: “Over 3300 fps shooting the Badlands Precision 525gr .416-caliber projectiles. Zero bolt-lift issues from RCC (Robertson Cartridge Co.) brass. [We have] 25 firings on one test piece and still good to go. Big thanks to Dan Warner [at Warner Tool] for making the special, awesome dies.”

More Capacity and Higher Efficiency than .416 Barrett and .416 Warner
One Facebook commenter wanted to know how the .416 Colossus compared to other big .416-caliber cartridges created for the ELR game: “Can you or Mark share the increase in powder capacity over a standard .416 Barrett and over a .416 Warner?” John replied: “I would rather not elaborate on details of cartridge just yet…however it has a bit more capacity and higher efficiency using a large magnum primer.”

ELR john pierce colossus .416 barrett RCC Robertson brass Badlands precision Eliseo competition machine

Pete Contacos, the rifle’s owner, posted: “I would like to thank everyone who made this possible: John Pierce, Mark Fox, Gary Eliseo, Jeff at RRC Brass, Jason At Badlands Bullets, Dan Warner for dies. This is an AMAZING rifle made possible by all of the above People. THANK YOU ALL… looking forward to seeing you all at the matches this year.”

Gary Eliseo (Competition Machine) is making a similar big chassis for John Pierce. Gary posted: “Yours is almost finished”, to which John replied: “Thank you for the beautiful chassis, exciting to get my Big Red.” Gary has told us that this big new chassis is a scaled-up version of the Competition Machine UMR system. The large Pierce 20X action is epoxied in the chassis, which accepts a Rem-compatible trigger.

ELR john pierce colossus .416 barrett RCC Robertson brass Badlands precision Eliseo competition machine

ELR john pierce colossus .416 barrett RCC Robertson brassAbout RCC Brass — CNC Machined Quality
RCC manufactures brass cartridges on CNC lathes and mills starting with C272 solid bar stock. RCC reloading brass cartridges are manufactured to SAAMI, CIP, or customer specifications (yes custom cartridge and wildcats can be made). The brass does not use a conventional draw process. This allows the brass to be stronger, according to RCC:

“We machine all our cases on CNC lathes and mills and our case weight, case volume, and our case concentricity are the best available in the industry. We do not anneal the case head as it is hammer-forged to a high tensile strength which gives us the same hardness for each case. Since we use CNC equipment to manufacture our, case weight is nearly identical, the case volume is too, and our case concentricity is held to a 0.001”.

Since we are not held back by the limitations of a [traditional] draw system, we are able to use higher strength alloys to manufacture cartridges. Our C272 brass alloy has a much higher tensile strength and tighter molecular grain structure than C260 brass, without losing the needed elasticity. Test results have been very positive as we’ve had reports of increased in velocity and energy and lower shot deviations versus C260 drawn brass.

We manufacture high-quality reloading brass cartridges for vintage, obsolete, hard to find, and wildcat calibers. All cartridges are made to SAAMI, CIP, or tolerances provided to us. Our unique process allows us to manufacture over 1,500 different cartridges at tolerances up to 0.0005”. We manufacture reloading brass cartridges for any firearm.

We custom fit brass to the chamber of your firearm. Our custom fit program will give you the headspace and chamber dimensions best suited for your firearm. Customers can send us fire-formed brass, a chamber cast, or the firearm for the custom cartridge. We do Wildcats too. Send us a reamer drawing, or a dimensioned drawing and we will manufacture your wildcat cartridge. There is a one time set-up fee for all wildcats and a 100 piece minimum order. We do Custom Headstamps too. We use our CNC mills to engrave headstamps. We are able to do text and some graphics too.”

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February 28th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: “Red Rocket” .284 Win F-Open Match Rifle

Martin Tardif  Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

Forum member Martin Tardif (aka “Killick” in our Forum) competes with a very accurate .284 Win F-Open rig fitted with a Barnard action, Brux barrel, and Eliseo F1 chassis. Unlike some F-Class shooters, Martin has tried many disciplines over the years, including service rifle and Mid-Range and Long Range sling competition. But he told us, “After experiencing arthritis in my hands and wrists, I decided I would dabble with F-Class. And that has turned into a happy obsession.” Today’s story features the object of that happy obsession — Martin’s tack-driving .284 Win he calls the “Red Rocket”.

F-Open Match Rifle — .284 Winchester “Red Rocket”

by Martin Tardif
This is the story of the new “Red Rocket”, my new F-Open rifle. It’s chambered in .284 Winchester (.317″ neck, .220″ freebore). This rifle features Barnard P action, Barnard single-stage trigger (4 oz.), and Brux 30″ one-inch straight-taper, 1:8.5″-twist barrel fitted with Blake Tuner. The barreled action rides in a Gary Eliseo Competition Machine (CMI) F1 F-Open metal chassis with Marine Corps Red powder coat. On top is March 48x52mm fixed-power High Master scope. In a previous incarnation, this same Barnard action served in a wood-stocked F-Class rig, a Red Retromod built from a modified Anschutz stock. I still have the Barnard action (and trigger), but mostly everything else is new.

Martin Tardif  Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo
Here’s the .284 Win “Red Rocket” with CMI F1 Stock, Barnard action, Brux barrel, and Blake Tuner on my SEB Mini at Burbank Rifle and Revolver Club in SoCal.

My previous F-Class rifle started out as a Palma rifle back around 2008. With a modified Anschutz prone stock, that .308 Win Palma sling gun served me well, helping me earn the 2009 California State Palma Championship. Much later I grafted more wood on and whittled that same stock into an F-Open specimen (shown below). That did get me to Long Range High Master but it definitely had limitations. For one it had annoying flex in the fore-end and the buttstock was not aligned with the barrel channel.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

I wanted to upgrade my stock to get a more consistent, better-shooting F-Open performer. So in April of 2020 I contacted Gary Eliseo of Competition Machine and ordered one of his streamlined, F1 “boom-stick” chassis units. These feature a very low Center of Gravity. I sent Gary my Barnard action and had Brux send him a barrel that I had won at the 2020 SWN raffle.

This video shows Martin shooting the “Red Rocket” in California

This rifle has been a success from the very start. At its first big match, the 2020 California State Championships, the Red Rocket tied for First Place on points but finished second overall on X-count.

Martin tells us: “The new red Eliseo stock is phenomenal and far surpasses the old red stock on my RetroMod project previously featured on the Daily Bulletin. The three things I like best about this Eliseo F1 chassis system are:

1. The lean, clean, efficient engineering and styling.
2. Easy manipulation of buttstock and cheek piece adjustments, ease of bolt removal.
3. Inherent confidence in its straightness and the durability of all the parts and finish.”

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

“I’m extremely impressed with the potential of this rig and I have still yet to fiddle with the tuner and test some of my Wolf/KVB primers. It’s all gravy now.” — Martin Tardif

I received the finished rifle in September and was impressed with its stark and consummate functionality and there is no doubt as to that function. The collinear aspect from any angle suggests a Red Rocket Car on the Bonneville Salt Flats, so that’s what I call this rig.

Martin Tardif  Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

Reloading Methods and Load Development
My virgin brass prep starts with a .284 neck mandrel with the occasional squirt of WD-40, then to the drill press to turn the necks to 0.014″ wall thickness with my PMA Model B turner. After a quick dip in the media tumbler I run the whole batch through my DIY cake pan annealer and they’re ready for sizing. I like the Whidden Gunworks full length bushing dies. I use a .310″ bushing and a loaded round measures .312″. After sizing, I run the cases through the tumbler for 10-15 minutes to clean them up and then they are primed. I’m using my stash of S&B primers with an RCBS benchtop primer seater with a Holland Perfect Primer Seater add-on. I do point my 180-grain Berger Hybrid bullets with a Hoover die (see below).

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

Here is Martin’s reloading bench. From left to right: A&D FX-120i Force Restoration Scale with Auto-Trickler V3, Hoover Bullet-Tipping Die, Whidden .284 Win FL Sizing Die with PMA click-adjust lock ring, Hodgdon H4350 powder. Martin reports: “I’m also using some of F-Class John’s Auto Trickler Methods — using two powder cups to speed up the process, hash marks on Auto Trickler gear drive, and minimal openings on FX-120i wind guards. These all improve the powder measuring.

Load Development and Accuracy Testing in Competition
I started load testing in November 2020. I tried both H4831sc and H4350 at 100 yards. I usually have excellent results with H4831sc but the Brux tube stubbornly preferred H4350. So I took a preliminary recipe (52.2 grains) to the California Long Range Championship and tied for First Place on points but got beat on Xs. Having seen a little too much vertical at the state match, I went with a lighter load that looked good for vertical at 100 yards (51.8 grains — see photo below). That load got me an overall win at our 1000-yard club match.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

I wanted to fine tune that load so I started a seating depth test. I did a final head to head test, comparing .015″ jump (away from first lands contact) and .018″ jump at 1000 yards. The .015″ jump load was the clear winner. This 15-round group was shot at 1000 yards with no flags on an overcast day with no mirage.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

The ShotMarker screenshot above shows 15 shots at 1000 yards with bullets seated .015″ out, switching winds and no flags, just watching the mirage. I added .25 MOA up after the first round ‘9’ (me fighting a clean barrel on first shot) and went to town.

Advice for New F-Class Shooters — by Martin Tardif

1. Watch a Top Competitor — Find a good shooter that you respect and watch and take note of their equipment, how they set up to shoot, how they shoot, what conditions they shoot in or don’t. Ideally you should ask to be squadded with them (if possible) so you can score for them. That way you’re not dividing your attention from the shooter you’re supposed to be scoring for. Be mindful not to pester them while they are setting up. Best to wait until they have finished shooting and try to ask questions off the firing line, others still shooting need to concentrate.

2. Cartridge Selection for F-Open– Go to Accurate Shooter’s 7mm Cartridge Guide and scroll to the .284 Winchester section by Charles Ballard. You can read further about the 7mm WSM and 7mm SAUM but for a caliber that’s not fussy you should stick with the .284 Win.

3. Reloading Equipment — To win, you really need ammo as perfect as you can make it. You should be able to find out everything you need to know about reloading equipment via the Accurateshooter Forum’s Reloading and Competition areas. It’s a one-stop shopping brain trust for everything F-Class, Sling, and Benchrest. And the Forum Marketplace is literally a never ending ‘Gun Show’ of For Sale items. It’s a great place to buy quality used stuff for newbies.

As a final bit of advice — BELIEVE the wind — it’s smarter than you are!

Commentary on Metal Chassis vs Wood Stock
I previously had a wood F-Class stock so flexible you could easily pinch the barrel to the fore-end with one hand and hold it there. My Eliseo metal chassis is MUCH more rigid. I don’t think there is any argument that a metal stock is more rigid than wood. I also think a metal stock with its monolithic properties has a more consistent cross-sectional density along its length than a wood stock would have due to the vagaries of grain structure. However I have no experimental data to support that theory, or how that might positively affect shot to shot consistency. I CAN say that the gun shoots better, with smaller groups and higher scores, than the previous wood stock version.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

The CMI F1 chassis has three main sections: rear assembly, main assembly, and fore-end. The main assembly is a 27″-long solid billet section with milled cavities for the rear assembly and trigger group. This also supports the action V-Block which cradles the full length of the action. The V-Block is mated to the top of the billet in a milled channel but doesn’t touch the sides to avoid uneven harmonics. The rear assembly hold the LOP-adjustable butt pad/bag rider and “easy off” cheek piece. The 3-piece fore-end is fitted to the main section with screws. The complete F1 chassis with grip and cheek piece weighs 6 pounds.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo
Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

F1 Chassis Maker Gary Eliseo Talks about His Design
The F1 was designed to incorporate the most important features needed in an F-Open rifle system. Top priority was placed on how the rifle tracked. The chassis had to be perfectly straight, and immune to weather so it will stay straight. On the F1, the fore-end is designed to keep the centerline of the barreled action as low as possible. This super-low center of gravity, along with the tall vertical sides, keep torque to a minimum, so the gun doesn’t twist or hop, but instead comes straight back.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

The F1 chassis can be fitted with bedding blocks to accommodate any action. These action bedding blocks are carefully epoxy-bedded to the chassis so the customer’s barreled action is perfectly in line with the central axis of the chassis. In addition to optimizing tracking, I also took a look at how the shooter interfaced with the rifle. I wanted the cheek piece to be narrow so that the shooter would not be forced into applying side pressure on the stock to get their eye behind the scope. The cheek piece is also easy to remove for those who shoot without one. This also facilitates bolt removal.

If you’re interested in an F1 F-Open Chassis, contact Gary via the Competition Machine eMail page. The current price for an F1 Chassis with Cerakote finish (any color) is $1150.00. Lead time is about 12 weeks.

Martin Tardif Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Chassis Gary Eliseo

Martin Tardif Eliseo Competition Machine F1 Stock F-Class F-Open Hollands Gunsmithing Perfect Primer Seater

Green Tools for Red Rocket — Martin uses an RCBS Rock Chucker single-stage press on an Inline Fabrication UltraMount. Primers are seated with an RCBS Bench Primer fitted with Holland’s Gunsmithing Perfect Primer Seater Adapter. This provides ultra-consistent primer seating.

F-Class Match Strategies for California Ranges
My strategy for a match clearly depends on the specific location. For instance, at my home range, the Burbank Rifle and Revolver Club, which has several cuts and gullies crossing the canyon, the wind comes primarily from NNE and since the range faces slightly NNE the predominant condition will be a head or right wind so I’m looking for R to L mirage and left angled flags.

By contrast, Coalinga CA is a much more open/exposed range which can make it much more challenging. When you see all the flags going against the mirage for the majority of the string (after you’ve gone for record of course) that can be tough. So I like to watch the wind while I’m scoring and for a few minutes during sighters and shoot them in a few ‘looks’ if I can get them. But sometimes you have to go with your gut if your sighters whisper “go-for-record-you-knucklehead” and so it’s off to the races. It often seems like I should have just chased the spotter when I’m waiting out a fishtail or let-up there.

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December 27th, 2020

SunDay GunDay: Doctor Paula Goes Distinguished at Age 67

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman
Paula Crenshaw earned Distinguished Badge #2521 in 2020 at age 67.

Feature based on story in CMP’s The First Shot
Paula Crenshaw, a 67-year-old grandmother, never stops reaching toward new ambitions. This November, Paula earned the prestigious Distinguished Rifleman Badge at the 29 Palms Marine Base. “I’ve always been late to the party,” Paula said. “I didn’t start medical school until I was 37.”

A physician from Reno, Nevada, Paula took up rifle shooting in her early fifties to support her husband’s interests and undertake a new challenge. Turns out she loved competitive shooting. And now, in 2020, many years later she earned her own Distinguished Badge, #2521 at the age of 67. Earning the coveted Badge was “The fulfillment of my dream” Paula notes.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman
Paula earned her “hard leg” 10 EIC points during the National Matches at Camp Perry in 2019.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

Distinguished Badges are awarded to marksmanship competitors who collect at least 30 Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) “leg” points — earned by placing in the top 10% of an EIC match. This Distinguished Rifleman program was started way bay in 1884. Now, two decades into the 21st century, the badge continues to be a prized achievement for competitive shooters.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

Paula is a member of the Coalinga Rifle Club in California and the Palomino Valley Gun Club in Nevada. She had been on the hunt for a Distinguished Badge since she earned her first points in 2018, then went on to claim her own “hard leg” (10 EIC points) at the annual National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, in 2019.

After that, “legging out” (that is, earning enough points to receive a Distinguished Badge) became a near obsession. “I dry-fired almost every day,” she recalled. “I worked out. I thought about winning first thing in the morning and as I fell asleep at night. I read many shooting books, sometimes multiple times. I drove my non-shooting friends away talking about shooting!”

By the end of 2019, she had been so dedicated to competing that she had wrangled up 22 EIC points, just eight points away from a badge.

Overcoming a Pandemic and Anxiousness about Earning the Badge
The start of 2020 met Paula with not only the difficulty of finding matches due to the enduring pandemic but also with some EIC nervousness that kept her scores below a point-earning level. With the close of the 2020 shooting season rapidly approaching, Paula decided to go to the 29 Palms Marine Base in California in November for one of her last EIC match chances — carrying within her a newfound resolve to capture those final points she had sought after for so long.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman
Click HERE to order mask like this.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

Achieving the Goal — After So Many Years
Though her emotions were up, Paula competitive game was down as she fired a sub-par offhand score to start out the first stage of her match. “I was done for, and therefore totally relaxed and enjoyed shooting the rest of the match,” she said. Her new leisurely approach to her final three firing stages, without the pressure, shockingly boosted her scores — enough to earn herself the final points she needed for her Distinguished Rifleman Badge.

“No one was more surprised than me to learn I had won the eight-point leg,” she said, proudly. “I had finally done it”.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

Husband and Wife that Shoot Together
Paula and husband Greg have shot together for many years. This demonstrates that competitive shooting can be a great activity for a couple to share. Paula told us that she often meets shooters’ wives at shooting matches who are interested in trying the sport, but some feel intimidated at first. Paula encourages them to get started. Interestingly, many shooting instructors find that women learn faster than men initially, primarily because they are better listeners, and they don’t let their egos get in the way.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

Paula notes: “For us, as a couple, to share in the joys and despairs of shooting competition has been really special. The wives and girlfriends of the men I shoot with have a really wonderful opportunity to grow in their relationships. So many men I shoot with have expressed remorse they don’t share this with the women they love. Greg doesn’t babysit me and we are independent at the range. But he really helped me get started, and continues to be supportive to this day. But I’m at a point I can help him too.”

Paula said husband Greg has been a great shooting partner — helpful and supportive from the very start. And Greg was very proud of Paula’s accomplishment in earning her Distinguished Badge. To celebrate and mark the moment she earned her final Distinguished Points, Greg pinned his own Distinguished Badge on her hat. “Greg most certainly helped make this possible for me….”

Details of Service Rifle — Components and Match Loads

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman
Click photo to see FULL SCREEN image.

Paula’s rifle features a 1:7″-twist Krieger barrel with Wylde Chamber, barrel sourced from White Oak. The Sun Devil lower is fitted with a Geissele Nat’l Match trigger. The stock is a Magpul UBR. The upper is fitted with a Hera Handguard. On top is a March 1-4.5x24mm Service Rifle scope with MTR-5 reticle. Paula uses a Hollis sling, Monard shooting coat, and both Monard and Creedmoor gloves.

Match Ammunition — For 200/300 yard stages, Paula runs 73gr Berger bullets, with Varget powder and Wolf primers. For 600 yards, she uses 75gr or 80gr Hornady bullets, also with Varget powder but with CCI BR4 primers. Bullets are loaded 0.060″ off the lands.

Paul Crenshaw AR16 service rifle distinguished
Here is Paula’s rifle from 4 years ago. She has upgraded her rig with many new components.

Shooting Sports — Multi-Generational Fun for All Ages
One thing Paula really likes about the shooting sports is that you can keep getting better even in your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. Walt Berger has won Benchrest matches in his 80s! Few other sports offer true multi-generational competition like this.

“The really wonderful thing about shooting is that you can do it at any age, and even with disabilities. There is a discipline for everyone. We all seem to put lots of energy into the junior shooters. I’d like to see more energy put into helping older shooters get started. For an aging person who can no longer do some of the sports of their youth, shooting is a wonderful new venture. For me, my age, just was never a factor. I do work out to stay as strong since old age is somewhat of a slide into decrepitude. Whether you are young, middle-aged, or a senior shooter, you can all compete together.” — Paula Crenshaw

Paula is justifiably proud of her accomplishment, and she notes that there is, perhaps, an important message to be found in her earning the Distinguished Badge at age 67. Paula demonstrated that men and women can achieve important things even late in life, even after retirement. “Keep striving for your dreams” Paula told us, and “stay active with the outdoor activities you love”. A physician, Paula observes some people who remain vital and active even in their 80s, while some people in their 40s let things slide.

Even during this tough Pandemic year, Paula stays fit through weight-lifting, and she also enjoys motorcycle riding (on her own machine). She wants to encourage readers to continue all their outdoor hobbies as long as they can. As they say, you only go around once in life. The important thing, Paula tells us, is to continue to do what you enjoy, focus on your goals, and remain positive. Even at 67 Paula still enjoys mountaineering and motorcycling as well as shooting. Here is Paula in her younger days, rock-climbing.

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Paula Crenshaw Coalinga service Rifle Doctor .223 Rem Rifle optic 67 years woman

NEXT Challenge for Paula Will Be Palma Shooting
What’s the next challenge for Dr. Paula Crenshaw? Well right now our friend Gary Eliseo of Competition Machine is building Paula a new Palma rifle, using his vaunted TubeGun chassis. Paula looks forward to competing in long-range Palma matches with the new rifle, which will be chambered in the .223 Remington. Yes, you read that right. With the latest generation of bullets and high-energy powder, a .223 Rem can be competitive with a .308 Win in many conditions.

Paula encourages women of all ages to try shooting. In her experience women often excel far beyond their expectations: “Women seem to have an advantage in shooting, in that they take to it quicker. They get better quicker. Everyone has theories. I watch beginning juniors. The guys fidget more and seem to feel embarrassed if they don’t do well. The girls don’t seem to worry if they do badly. They listen better. But I see many fantastic female juniors excel only to give it up later. So it seems men stick with it longer.”

CMP Distinguished Rifleman Badge 2500 william Tom Collins Michigan Ohio
Photo courtesy photographer Jonathan Ocab, who himself earned the Distinguished Rifleman Badge.

Read more about Paula’s journey to earn her Distinguished Badge on the CMP website (search for Paula Crenshaw and then click on the Biography link).

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May 17th, 2020

Sunday Gunday: New Eliseo Universal Match Rimfire Rifle

Gary Eliseo Rifles Competition Machine UMRR Universal Match Rimfire Rifle

For this Sunday GunDay feature, we’re presenting a new, made-in-USA rifle system for rimfire competitors. If you’re a Palma shooter and want to shoot rimfire with a rifle with identical ergonomics and “feel” as your centerfire tubegun, Gary Eliseo’s new Universal Match Rimfire Rifle (UMRR) is your logical choice. Or if you are looking for a high-quality bolt-action chassis rifle for NRL22 (rimfire tactical) competition, this is a great option. Running a smooth Tikka T1x action, the UMRR offers match-grade performance at an attractive price — $1699.00 for Sport-Target model (without sights or scope).

Gary Eliseo, head honcho of Competition Machine in Arizona, explained the features of his new UMRR: “Our newest addition to our rifle series, the Universal Match Rimfire Rifle system has all the features of its big brother the Universal Match Rifle System (UMRS) and will accept all the same accessories and attachments. The rimfire UMRR is identical in size to the centerfire version so it’s possible to have your centerfire and rimfire rifles set up exactly alike.” That’s ideal for guys who compete in both centerfire and smallbore matches, and likewise it is ideal for cross-training using lower-cost rimfire ammo.

The UMRR is built around the excellent Tikka T1x platform. Gary notes: “We have accurized and tuned the T1x to give the best possible performance from factory barrel and trigger. The UMRR can also be customized with a high-end match barrel and trigger. By just changing the attachments, the UMRR can be used in multiple shooting disciplines like NRL22 and NRA rimfire competitions.”

Gary Eliseo Rifles Competition Machine UMRR Universal Match Rimfire Rifle

Centerfire Accesories Work on UMRR
All the centerfire Universal Match Rifle attachments will fit the UMRR — handstop, rear balance weights, Picatinny rail, ARCA accessory rail, rear bag-rider, bipod mount, and front bag riding attachments. This easy adaptability makes the UMRR a true multi-discipline system for smallbore matches, NRL22 competition, and cross-training.

Gary Eliseo Rifles Competition Machine UMRR Universal Match Rimfire Rifle

Sport-Target UMRR Shows Excellent Accuracy with Factory Barrel
Eliseo confirms that the Sport-Target UMRR with factory Tikka barrel and trigger is easily capable of sub-MOA precision. Check out those five-shot groups shot at 50 yards. The smallest group (.210″) works out to 0.40 MOA, while the largest group (0.39″) is 0.74 MOA. Remember this is with Tikka factory barrel!

Gary Eliseo Rifles Competition Machine UMRR Universal Match Rimfire Rifle

The UMRR can be easily configured to NRL or NRA rimfire competitions by just changing the attachments. The UMRR is built on the excellent Tikka T1x barreled action that’s been accurized and bonded into the UMRR chassis system. Gary says the UMRR feeds .22 LR rounds flawlessly from the Tikka 10-round magazine. The UMRR is currently available in two basic configurations, both of which can be customized to your specifications.

Two Versions — Sport-Target and Match-Target
The Sport-Target version of the UMRR uses the factory 20″ Tikka barrel with threaded muzzle. Gary can tune the excellent Tikka T1x trigger down to a pull weight of around one pound, though for tactical work he says you may want to leave it stock. Gary tells us the Sport-Target is a great choice as an XTC/LR prone trainer or NRL22 competition rifle. And the price is very reasonable — $1699.00 (before optics).

Match Target UMRR with Benchmark Custom Barrel
The Match-Target version comes with a top-of-the-line Benchmark match barrel and Eley match chamber with the muzzle configured for your application to accept a front sight, tuner, or suppressor. There are several aftermarket single- or two-stage match triggers available.

Tikka T1x — Quality Rimfire Technology from Finland
Gary Eliseo’s impressive UMRR is based on the smooth, reliable Tikka T1x rimfire action shown below. Note the nice craftsmanship of action, bolt, mag system, and trigger group. There is an extensive review of the T1x (.17 HMR version) on Britain’s GunMart.net website.

Gary Eliseo Rifles Competition Machine UMRR Universal Match Rimfire Rifle

Gary Eliseo Rifles Competition Machine UMRR Universal Match Rimfire Rifle
Photo courtesy SAKO Sverige. Watch T1X Video HERE.

Gary Eliseo of Competition Machine. Here is UMRR designer Gary Eliseo at the 2017 Berger SW Nationals. Gary is a talented rifle marksman who competes in both smallbore and high power disciplines.
Gary Eliseo Competition Berger Nationals

Story tip from ELR Researcher. We welcome reader submissions.
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April 26th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Joe’s Tack-Driving 6mmBR Eliseo Tubegun

Eliseo 6mmbr 6BR R5 Tubegun factory ammo

This story first ran ten years ago. But to mark our long-standing friendships with shooter Joe Friedrich and chassis builder Gary Eliseo, we wanted to reprise the article for a new decade. Joe’s Eliseo-chassis 6BR rifle delivered some of the most stunning factory ammo accuracy we’ve ever seen, in any rifle, in any caliber.

Eliseo 6mmbr R5 TubegunAmazing Accuracy from 6mmBR Tubegun
What kind of accuracy do you think a tubegun can deliver with factory ammo — during barrel break-in? Perhaps 0.6″ at 100 yards, half-MOA if the conditions are perfect? Well you may want to change your preconceptions about tubeguns — and factory ammo. This Eliseo R5 repeater, smithed by John Pierce with a Pierce CM action and Broughton 5C barrel, shot the Lapua 90gr factory ammo into flat ONEs during the break-in session. A day later, in tricky 8-14 mph winds, the gun nailed a witnessed and software-measured 0.174″ 5-shot group using the 105gr factory ammo. That would be impressive for a “full-race” benchgun with precision handloads. For an across-the-course rifle shooting factory ammo, it’s pretty amazing.

Eliseo Tubegun Shoots in the Ones
This accurate rifle belongs to our friend (and designated expert trigger-puller) Joe Friedrich. During the initial break-in session, since his reloading dies had not yet arrived, Joe decided to start with some Lapua factory-loaded 6BR ammo he had on hand. After doing a few two-shot-and-clean cycles (with patches and nylon brush), Joe decided to try a 3-round group just to see if the Broughton barrel had some potential. To his astonishment, the Eliseo R5 put three rounds in 0.100″ (photo below left). Joe then cleaned the barrel again, shot a couple foulers and tried a 4-shot group. The results were just as stunning — 4 shots in a mere 0.104″ but three in virtually one hole (photo below right).

Eliseo 6mmbr R5 Tubegun

Eliseo 6mmbr R5 TubegunEliseo 6mmbr R5 Tubegun

Eliseo 6mmbr R5 Tubegun

Joe’s Halloween 6BR Tubegun SPECS
Chassis: Eliseo R5 Repeater, fitted with Eliseo Front Sled and Rear Bag-Rider.
Gunsmithing: Pierce Engineering Ltd..
Chambering: 6mmBR Norma, .272″ No-turn Neck, approx. 0.090″ freebore.
Action: Pierce Engineering, Rem 700 footprint, Chrome-Moly, fluted bolt.
Barrel: Broughton 5C (Canted Land), 27.5″, 1:8″ twist, Medium Palma contour.
Trigger: CG X-Treme Two-Stage.
Optics: March (Kelbly’s) 10-60x52mm.
Ammunition: Lapua 6mmbr 90gr Scenar BT (#4316045, non-moly), 105gr Scenar BT (#4316046, non-moly ).

Eliseo 6mmbr R5 TubegunYou Can’t Believe How This Gun Shoots
Joe called your Editor and said “You can’t believe how this gun shoots with factory ammo!”. So we arranged a photo session for the next afternoon, where I could verify the rifle’s accuracy. Well it turned out the conditions were way more challenging than when Joe broke in the barrel the day before. Winds were running 8-14 mph and were swinging through 180 degrees half-way down the range. Joe fired a few 90s through the Oehler chronograph at my request, then opened a box of Lapua 105gr factory ammo. It took about four rounds for the barrel to settle in after being cleaned the night before. Then Joe got serious, and with your Editor looking over his shoulder, he drilled a 0.174″ five-shot group in switching winds, doping every shot. Joe felt the gun could have shot tighter but he missed one wind call.

Serious Accuracy with a Multi-Purpose Rifle
So there you have it — a tubegun that shoots in the ones with factory ammo. Joe says that, at least with the 90s, the Elesio R5 shoots as well as his 6 PPC. Joe stressed that “steering the tubegun is hard work. You really have to concentrate compared to a purpose-built bench gun like my PPC. With the tubegun, everything has to be perfect on every shot — hand position, cheek position, stock position in the bag. If you’re off just a little bit, it’s easy to steer the gun the wrong way and send a shot out of the group.”

Accuracy Great But Fouling Heavy and ES Could Be Better
Have there been any negatives to Joe’s 6BR tubegun experiment so far? Well, the Broughton 5C barrel, while phenomenally accurate, shows signs of being a bad fouler. Copper built up pretty quickly over the first 25 rounds or so. We saw best accuracy with a recently-cleaned barrel. Hopefully the fouling will lessen as the barrel polishes in with use. And the canted land barrel is slower than average with the factory ammo. Lapua rates its 90gr naked-bullet ammo at 2950 fps with a 26″ tube. In Joe’s 27.5″ barrel we only averaged 2901 fps. With the 105gr factory ammo, which is rated at 2790 fps, we averaged just 2694 fps. That’s quite disappointing. Also the ES on the factory ammo, slightly over 50 fps for both bullet types, wasn’t particularly good. Still, the overall results were stunning. This gun shoots better than many long-range benchrest rifles running carefully-developed handloads — and it does that with factory ammo, right out of the box.

Eliseo 6mmbr R5 Tubegun
Joe Friedrich is a superb benchrest shooter, who has won many matches and set National Records in ARA rimfire benchrest competition. Here is Joe with “Sweet Pea”, his favorite .22 LR rimfire rig. With over 100,000 rounds through the Benchmark barrel, this well-worn rifle set an ARA 4-target Aggregate record! READ about Sweat Pea Record HERE.

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December 1st, 2019

Sunday GunDay: Dennis Builds an Eliseo Tubegun Palma Rig

Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals

Our friend Dennis Santiago is a talented Service Rifle shooter, who normally competes with an AR shooting the .223 Rem cartridge. Recently he decided to go over to the “dark side”, putting together a Palma (fullbore) rifle chambered for the .308 Winchester. Dennis selected a Competition Machine (Gary Eliseo) R1 Chassis for the project. Here’s Santiago’s account of his “true blue” Palma build…

Palma Rifle Report by Dennis Santiago
“Here’s my new project — a .308 Win Palma rifle with an Eliseo R1 chassis, Rem 700 action (blue-printed with PT&G upgrades), Jewell trigger, Boots Obermeyer 1:11″-twist barrel, and Phoenix sights holding Gehmann apertures. Next comes chassis and sling set-up, initial mechanical zeroing, and load development. Yup, I have a bunch of Peterson small primer .308 brass, Sierra #2156 155gr MKs, and Varget to get started with. I’m told I can drive 155gr pills to stay supersonic to 1K. Should make for an interesting 2020. My goal is to be cozy with this blue beast by the time the Berger Southwest Nationals kick off in February 2020. Hey, you gotta have goals!”

Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals

Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals
CLICK Image for full-screen photo with more detail.

Pinning the Picatinny — For a Super-Solid Mount
Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals

One of the key parts of the build, Dennis explains, is mounting the top rail with pins: “Once the rail is aligned using a spin-centered optic, it locks down with three 3/16″ roll pins. That way there is no reliance on screws that can come loose. Above is a photo of the top of the Eliseo tube chassis showing the three, 3/16″ roll pins that unitize the Picatinny rail. You can also see the four brass screws that just kiss the action to fully stabilize it in the tube. The recoil ring buttresses completely around the action with metal to metal contact. There are a million details hidden inside a Gary gun.”

Phoenix Sights Front and Rear
Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals

Rise of the Phoenix — Here are the sights for the Eliseo R1. There are very few manufacturers left making these kinds of ultra-precise and repeatable iron sights.

Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals

These Ray-Vin tools help set mechanical zero on the sights. Dennis notes: “Finally a reason to pull out the Ray-Vin calibration paraphernalia to set up a mechanical zero. This photo is for all of you who still remember that those barrel flats and screws in our sight towers actually had a purpose once upon a time.”

Sling ‘N Irons — Classic Palma Configuration
Dennis Santiago Eliseo Competition Machine Tubegun Chassis .308 Win Rifle Berger Southwest Nationals
Dennis plans to use an Eric Hollis sling with his new blue Palma rifle.

Peterson Small Primer .308 Win Brass for Santiago’s Rig
Berger southwest SW Nationals

Dennis plans to use Peterson Cartridge Small Rifle primer .308 Win brass. Peterson offers a “Select” version weight-sorted and length-sorted at the factory. All Select casings (in a 50ct box) are guaranteed to be within 1 grain in weight and .001″ in OAL. Peterson Select brass is available for 20 different cartridge types, including .308 Win both small primer/small flash hole and large primer/large flash hole.

Getting the Blue Rifle Ready for the 2020 Berger SW Nationals

Berger southwest SW Nationals

Dennis plans to campaign his rifle at the 2020 Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN). He may shoot iron sights, or fit a scope and shoot in the “Any Sights” category. That’s not yet decided. The week-long Berger SWN is the biggest rifle match in the Western United States. Hundreds of shooters compete in both individual and team events. The SWN begins with the Mid-Range Nationals at 600 yards. Then the Long-Range matches are held, with targets out to 1000 yards. Watch the video to see the Ben Avery facility, home of the Berger SWN:

Chassis-maker Gary Elesio at the 2017 Berger SW Nationals. Gary shoots what he sells:

Gary Eliseo Chassis Dennis Santiago Palma .308 Win

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July 28th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: Tack-Driving .22 PPC Eliseo Tubegun

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifle

We know that Competition Machine (Gary Eliseo) makes great chassis systems and Pierce Engineering (John Pierce) makes great actions. But sometimes a project comes together even better than one can imagine. The folks at Pierce Engineering recently completed an Eliseo Tubegun that displayed some mind-blowing accuracy during initial testing. This was a special rifle built to a client’s spec in .22 PPC.

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifle

After his team completed the rifle, John Pierce took the Tubegun to the range to make sure everything was working right. The rifle was chambered for the .22 PPC, a known accuracy cartridge. Would this cartridge shoot in this gun? Heck yeah was the answer! The first two shots out of the gun were touching. That was promising enough. But then John drilled a five-shot group that was basically one hole! Here is that target. First two shots upper left, then the five-shot group below and to the right. Chassis-maker Gary Eliseo commented: “that’ll do just fine…”

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifle

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifleDisclaimer: John shot some more groups with this Tubegun that were definitely NOT one-holers. That first five-shot masterpiece could not be duplicated. However, we’re told that the rifle shot other groups in the 2s, 3s, and 4s — impressive performance for a rifle designed for prone and position shooting. This shows how well the Pierce action mates to the Competition Machine chassis.

And if the owner ever wants to show off a “wallet group” for his new rifle — well he’s got that, thanks to John’s great trigger-pulling and rifle-building. Using On-Target software we measured that five-shot group at 0.189″ (see photo at right). That’s crazy small for a new gun with zero load development. That’s also a testimony to the quality of the Norma .22 PPC brass.

Why the .22 PPC Chambering?
The customer owns other Eliseo Tubeguns, but wanted something that combined extreme accuracy with very low recoil. He also wanted to be able to shoot factory brass without fire-forming. Norma makes very high-quality .22 PPC cartridge brass that is an easy load and shoot solution. In fact the folks at Pierce Engineering custom-loaded a quantity of .22 PPC ammo for this Tubegun and shipped it off to the customer along with the new rifle. NOTE: Loading ammo is not something that Pierce normally does, but this was a special client request.

Norma .22 PPC Cartridge Brass is available from Grafs.com for $88.88 per 100 cases.

Gary Eliseo Competition machine John Pierce engineering tubegun tube-gun chassis rifle

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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 11th, 2019

2019 Berger Southwest Nationals — This Week in Arizona

The 2019 Berger Southwest Nationals, one of the biggest (and best) rifle competitions of the year, kicks off Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at the Ben Avery Range outside Phoenix, Arizona. The big match continues through Sunday, February 17th. This match attracts the top F-Class and sling shooters in the country, along with many talented foreign competitors.

Talk to the competitors and many will tell your that the SWN is their favorite match of the year. For those in Northern states, the chance to enjoy some Arizona sunshine is a big draw, along with the quality of the competition, and the camaraderie.

berger southwest nationals Berger SWN

The Berger SW Nationals are made possible through the principal support of Berger Bullets and Lapua, both part of the Capstone Precision Group, which also distributes Vihtavuori powder and SK Ammunition in the USA. Berger and Lapua both generously donated product prizes for 2019 SWN competitors.

Berger SW Nationals

Here’s a cool video from the 2016 Berger SW Nationals. This includes drone footage of the range:

Berger SW Nationals 2019

Berger SW Nationals 2019

Berger SW Nationals Southwest Arizona

Event Schedule for 2019 Berger SWN

Wednesday, 13 February 2019, 9:00 AM
Mid-Range Match – Three 20-shot matches at 600 yards. (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Any Sight, F-Open, F-TR)

Thursday, 14 February 2019, 9:00 AM
4-Man Palma Team Match – 15 shots for record at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. (Divisions – Palma, F-Open, F-TR)

Friday, 15 February 2019, 8:30 AM – Start of Grand Agg
Individual Palma Match – 15 shots for record at 800, 900, and 1000 yards. (Divisions – Palma, F-Open, F-TR)
Swap Meet at 1000 Yard Line after conclusion of Day’s Match

Saturday, 16 February 2019, 8:30 AM
Individual 1000 Yard Matches – Two 20-shot matches at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Iron Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Iron Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
4 Man Team Match – 20 shots at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Iron Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Iron Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
Banquet Dinner – Approximately 5:00 pm at Indoor Range.

Sunday, 17 February 2019, 8:30 AM
Individual 1000 Yard Matches – Two 20-shot matches at 1000 yards. Any Rifle-Any Sight (Any sight for F-Class shooters). (Divisions – Palma, Any Rifle-Any Sight, F-Open, F-TR)
Awards Ceremony at the Indoor Range.

Sling Shooters in Palma Division
There will be many Eliseo tubeguns in the hands of the sling shooters. For the Palma division, the cartridge of choice is the .308 Winchester (7.62.x51). This versatile cartridge is still capable of extreme accuracy. Never underestimate a skilled sling shooter with a good Palma rifle.

Berger 2019 SW Nationals SWN

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CLICK HERE for Phoenix Travel and Lodging Information.


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Packing for the Match — Protecting Precious Cargo

Forum member David Christian will be attending the Berger SW Nationals this week. He has an impressive new F-Open rig and a top-flight SEB rest to bring. David’s Open-class rifle features a beautiful laminated stock, with Borden action and Kahles optic. With rest, and spotting scope, you’re looking at $6K easy, so David has packed his gear very carefully:

Berger 2019 SW Nationals SWN
Berger 2019 SW Nationals SWN
Berger 2019 SW Nationals SWN

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November 9th, 2018

Snakeskin Shooter for Santiago — Reptilian Eliseo R1 Rig

Santiago Tubegun Eliseo R1 Snakeskin Hydro-dip

Santiago Tubegun Eliseo R1 Snakeskin Hydro-dip

Santiago Tubegun Eliseo R1 Snakeskin Hydro-dipA 7mm Snake for Santiago
Our friend Dennis Santiago has a reptilian rig in his arsenal. It’s actually an Eliseo R1 single-shot tubegun chambered in .284 Winchester. The eye-catching aspect of Santiago’s .284 bolt-gun is the snakeskin dip job on the exterior. This really creates a distinctive look. Dennis tells us: “It was Gary Eliseo’s idea to try a water-transfer printing finish for this rifle. There are many patterns to choose from — this is the WTP-260 Snakeskin Illusion-Fall Copper from WaterTransferPrinting.com. For a single shot LR gun, I figured something on the bright side would be interesting and pick up less heat from the sun in the summer.”

Dennis uses this eye-catching rifle in prone matches, where a single shot works fine. He says: “Underneath the hood, it’s a Rem 700 Long Action, chambered in .284 Win. Yes it’s a single shot! I don’t need anything else for a prone gun. Nothing to get in the way of building the perfect position.”

Dennis says: “Length of pull, offset and cast initially set the same as my similar RTS .308. My gun, my body dimensions.”
Santiago Tubegun Eliseo R1 Snakeskin Hydro-dip

R1 Testing with Advanced Electronic Shot-Plotting System
Now that winter is here, Dennis plans to do some serious load development with this rifle: “I acquired a new ShotMarker electronic target system. I’ll be using that to test a variety of powders and bullets.” Dennis has previously loaded his .284 Win R1 with Hodgdon H4831 powder, but he hopes to test alternatives from Alliant and IMR as well. There are many interesting 7mm bullet options, such as Sierra’s impressive, factory-pointed 183gr MatchKing with 0.707 G1 BC, and Berger’s new 184gr F-Open Target Hybrid with 0.695 G1 BC.

Shot-Marker shotmarker electronic target system acoustic target

The ShotMarker is a unique 8-sensor acoustic electronic target that instantly plots shot locations and transmits the data via WiFi to a mobile device. Dennis is eager to try his new Shot-Marker. The system can measure group size, velocity, and SD. The Shot-Marker App can then store your strings for later review, add notes to the target, and export data to spreadsheets.

Shot-Marker shotmarker electronic target system acoustic target

A FFP 6-24x50mm Sightron Rides on Top
The optic is a Sightron 6-24x50mm, FFP MOA-2. Dennis reports: “I looked at many scopes (within my determined price range), and this is the one that had the best combination of features for for this gun’s particular application. The sight line sits about 3 inches above bore line on these guns. It’s been leveled, bore-sighted and pre-dialed for a 200-yard estimated zero for the ammo I plan to use. Those are Gen II A.R.M.S. rings. Super easy to tailor to different rail widths. Same rock-steady steel performance.”

Santiago Tubegun Eliseo R1 Snakeskin Hydro-dip

Santiago Tubegun Eliseo R1 Snakeskin Hydro-dip

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