As an Amazon Associate, this site earns a commission from Amazon sales.











November 8th, 2022

Get Official Targets: Air Rifle, Rimfire, Benchrest, F-Class, High Power, and Pistol

official shooting IBS NBRSA NRA rifle shooting targets paper bullseye benchrest

Do you need targets — not just any old targets, but the correctly-sized targets for specific shooting disciplines (such as NRA Smallbore, F-Class, and 1K Benchrest)? Well you won’t find them at your neighborhood gun store. Precise, dimensionally-correct competition targets are produced by a half-dozen specialty printers. In this article we provide links to the leading target sellers, with a chart showing “who’s got what”. Look for your particular discipline and the vendors will be specified.

Sources for Official Shooting Competition Targets:

ALCO Target Company

American Target Company

Creedmoor Sports

National Target Company

Pistoleer.com

U.S. Target Company

AccurateShooter.com offers dozens of FREE, printable targets for target practice, load development, and fun shooting. We also offer a few of the most popular NRA Bullseye targets. One or more of these printable targets should work for most training purposes. However, some readers have asked: “Where can we get the real targets… exactly like the ones used in NRA, IBS, and NBRSA shooting matches?”

Official targets NRA IBS NBRSA

All these vendors carry nearly all the NRA High Power and Smallbore targets, including the smaller F-Class targets. National Target has the F-Class and High Power targets, including 100-yard reductions of the 200, 300, and 600-yard military targets.

NRA Target IBS Hunter Rifle Target

Orrville Printing currently sells IBS targets for rimfire (50 yard) benchrest, short-range centerfire Benchrest (100, 200, 300 yards), Hunter BR Rifle (100, 200, 300 yards), plus the official 600-yard and 1000-yard IBS targets. National Target Company also has most of the IBS targets. NBRSA short-range, 600-yard, and 1000-yard benchrest targets are available directly from the NBRSA Business Office. Send an email to nbrsa@icloud.com or call (434) 993-9201.

Available Official Competition Targets
Vendor NRA High Power F-Class NRA Smallbore Air Rifle/Pistol IBS NBRSA Other
ALCO Target
Company
Yes, All No Yes Yes No No Archery, IDPA, IPSC, Police, Realistic, Shoot-N-C, Silhouette, Fun Targets, Pasters.
American Target
Company
Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No USBR, Sight-in, Muzzle-Loading, Police Silhouette
Creedmoor Sports Yes, Some Yes, Some Yes, All Yes No No NMAR, Repair Centers, Police Silhouette, Sighting Targets, Shoot-N-C Grid
Domagron Targets Yes, Some No Yes, Some Yes No No NRA, Air Gun, Reactive, Fun Targets
National Target
Company
Yes, Nearly All Yes Yes, All Yes Yes* No IDPA, IPSC, FBI, Police Silhouette, Sight-in, Target Backers, Pasters
Pistoleer.com Yes Yes Yes, most and color training Yes Yes No Bianchi, FBI, IBS, IDPA, IPSC, Silhouette, Archery, Pasters
U.S. Target, Inc. Yes Yes Yes, All Yes No No Bianchi, FBI, Police Silhouette, IPSC, Realistic Silhouette, Varmint

Alco Target silhouette paper cardboard

Need Steel, Cardboard Silhouettes or specialty targets? ALCO Target Company in Duarte, California is the USA’s leading producer of the full spectrum of shooting targets including paper targets, cardboard targets, steel targets, and target stands.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Shooting Skills No Comments »
October 2nd, 2022

Sunday GunDay: Matt’s Screamin’ Yellow .243 Ackley Improved

.243 Win Ackley Improved ST1000 stock varmint rifle 1000-yard benchrest

.243 Ackley Improved for Long-Range Varminting and Benchrest Competition
Whenever Matt Bianchini brings his bright yellow .243 Ackley to the firing line, heads turn. This is one truly handsome rig–as good-looking as it is accurate. Built to smoke varmints at long-range as well as compete in 1000-yard benchrest matches, this rifle is proof that competition improves the breed. Fitted with a Farley action, Jewell trigger, Leupold LRT scope, and Lilja or Krieger barrel, the Yellow Ackley is a “no compromise” match rifle that can run with the big dogs in 1K Benchrest competition. And with the Ackley’s ability to toss 106gr Clinch Rivers at 3350 fps, this is one flat-shooting, hard-hitting varmint rifle.

.243 Win Ackley Improved ST1000 stock varmint rifle 1000-yard benchrest

Ultra-Fast, Ultra-Smooth Farley Action…and One Wicked Paint Job
The heart of Matt’s rifle is a Farley action. Farleys have found favor with Benchrest competitors, because the bolt can be worked so fast. And the Farley is as smooth as it is speedy. The difference is quite noticeable if you compare it to a blue-printed Rem 700, or even a recent Stolle Panda. Farleys were true customs, built one at a time by the Farley family in Oklahoma. Unlike a BAT action which is machined from billet steel, a Farley starts with a stainless investment casting, much like Ruger pistol frames. It uses a cone bolt for smooth, yet solid lock-up.

One of the unique features of the Farley is the ejector–it can be switched on or off, depending on the shooter’s preference. So, if you’re load testing some hot rounds, you can turn the ejector off. In a match you can turn the ejector “on” to function normally. Matt is now a confirmed Farley fanatic. He tells us: “I’ve got quite a few other very nice actions, including Nesikas. But none of them are as slick as that Farley. When you work the bolt it feels like it’s on ball-bearings.”

Matt’s Screamin’ Yellow Ackley–The Need for Speed

.243 Win Ackley Improved ST1000 stock varmint rifle 1000-yard benchrest

.243 Ackley Improved Speed Demon
In a long-range varmint rifle, speed kills. Ultra-high velocities will deliver flatter trajectories and more explosive hits on critters. That’s where the .243 Ackley Improved really shines.

.243 Win Ackley Improved ST1000 stock varmint rifle 1000-yard benchrest

Matt has explored the upper limits of .243 Ackley Improved (AI) performance with his yellow long-range rig, fitted with a 29″ Lilja 3-groove, 1:8″-twist barrel. Using a stout load of Alliant Reloder 25, Matt’s “Screamin’ Yellow Ackley” has topped 3340 fps with Clinch River 106s. That’s serious speed for heavy 6mm bullets. This shows a well-built .243 AI leaves Dashers and 6XCs in the dust when it comes to pure velocity.

.243 Win Ackley Improved ST1000 stock varmint rifle 1000-yard benchrestUltimate Evolution of the .243 Winchester
Matt’s show-stopping rifle is a .243 Ackley Improved (40-degree shoulder, .271″ neck), chambered with a Manson reamer. On top of the stainless Farley “S” action, in Farley 30mm rings, sits a Leupold LRT (1/16 MOA dot) boosted to 18X-40X by Premier Reticles. Matt has SIX barrels for the gun, three Lilja 3-grooves, a couple Kriegers, and a Shilen.

Matt’s gun currently sports an 8-twist 29″ Lilja 3-groove HV taper that Matt says cleans up like a dream. The stock is a Shehane ST-1000 Tracker made in fiberglass by McMillan, with a BAT trigger guard and Shehane polished billet aluminum buttplate. Prior to final finishing, Matt worked over the flats and some of the angles. That’s why the facets are so well-defined on this rifle compared to some ‘glass Trackers you may have seen. The gun was chambered by Dave Bruno of Cheswick, PA.

Matt bedded the stock and applied the stunning Sikken “Viper” yellow paint job himself. That flawless, smooth-as-glass Screamin’ Yellow finish is no ordinary paint-job, but then Matt Bianchini is no ordinary do-it-yourself painter. His family runs an automotive body-shop, so he had access to premium paints and a quarter-million-dollar spray booth with all the latest technology. Still, Matt spent many hours on this stock to get everything right, trying a couple colors before he settled on a Sikken automotive “Viper Race Yellow” formulated for the Dodge Viper sports car. After careful prep work, Matt sprayed two coats of Viper Yellow, and then added three coats of high-grade automotive clear, which was then baked-on in a heat chamber. Matt also painted the Sinclair front rest to match the stock, and even polished the surfaces of the Hoehn windage top. A lot of effort, Matt told us, was required to achieve the results you see here.

3300 fps for 1000 Yards
Though Matt’s Ackley has harvested its share of varmints, the gun was built with 1000-yard benchrest competition in mind. At left is the firing line at Thunder Valley, Ohio. Yep those targets (upper right) are 1000 yards away. Now you know why Matt has a 40-power scope.

.243 Win Ackley Improved AI varmint rifle

.243 Win Ackley Improved AI varmint rifle

The Yellow Ackley weighs just under 17 pounds to meet IBS and NBRSA “Light Gun” weight limits. While Matt says his bullets don’t “go to sleep” for a couple hundred yards, this gun can still shoot 1/4″ groups at 100 yards and hold that accuracy much, much farther. Matt reports, “my best-ever group was five shots in .397″ at 400 yards. Yep, I got lucky with the conditions, but this is a very accurate rifle.”

.243 Ackley Improved–More Velocity, Less Case Stretch

by Bob Blaine, Sinclair International

Parker Ackley reluctantly developed the .243 Ackley Improved (“AI”). Ackley finally gave in to his customers’ requests to develop the .243 AI. He had always felt that the .243 Winchester was already an improved configuration, but he did say that the best thing to be gained by improving the .243 Winchester was to substantially reduce the case-stretching problems. The .243 Winchester parent case has always stretched brass, almost as bad as the Swift. Even though you get more velocity with the improved .243, I’ve also found that the improved version gives a bit more throat life than the parent case does.

The .243 AI delivers more velocity by virtue of enhanced case capacity–roughly five grains more H20 capacity than a standard .243 Winchester. The .243 AI has a water capacity of approximately 57 to 58 grains, compared to 52-53 grains for the standard .243 Winchester.

Loading for Long-Range
For long-range shooting, Matt loads 106gr Clinch Rivers with 47.5gr of Alliant Reloder 25 for his Krieger barrels, a little more powder with the Lilja 3-grooves. The Lilja load runs 3342 fps, with a 3.228″ OAL. Cases are neck-turned Lapua .243 Winchester. He uses Wilson inline seater and Wilson eck-sizer dies (.267″ bushing), and a custom, reamer-cut FL sizing die.

Not Just for BR, This Gun Can Hunt
While Matt has a big stable of varmint rifles, the Yellow Ackley has seen plenty of duty in the ‘Hog fields. Matt is from a farming family and he can shoot practically right out his back door (see top photo at the farm). He has nailed some big ground-hogs at 800 yards and beyond. The .243 AI does kick a bit compared to other varmint cartridges, but even with 105-106gr bullets, it’s not bad. He has considered adding a muzzle brake at some point to one of the barrels, just so he can see impacts better.

Screamin’ Yellow Dasher?

Matt originally thought of building the gun up as a 6BR or a 6BR Improved. He has a Manson reamer similar to a 6mm Dasher, with a 40-degree shoulder and .008″ body taper. He actually chambered a couple barrels with that 6BR Improved reamer, but he hasn’t shot them yet. He was so pleased with how the gun performed in .243 AI, that he saw no reason to change. And it may be a while before he slaps a Dasher-chambered barrel on the rig: “I really like the way it shoots as a .243 AI. I’m so impressed with it that I don’t want to mess with anything. And I don’t think I’ll be running out of Ackley barrels anytime soon.”

Millender’s .243 Ackley Improved Page

matt .243 Ackley Improved yellow rifle

.243 Win Dies and Reloading Gear

Since the .243 Win is such a popular cartridge, all the major die-makers offer reloading dies. It’s hard to go wrong with a Redding Type ‘S’ Full-length bushing die–item 77114 for the standard .243 Win and item 77420 for .243 AI. Whidden Gunworks also makes great .243 Win sizing dies (and custom .243 Win AI dies on request). These will both resize the case (and bump the shoulder) as necessary, and allow you to adjust neck tension with bushings. Alternatively, you can go with a body die, and a separate neck bushing die.

If you load primarily one brand of bullets, another slick set-up is to buy a Forster or Whidden full-length, non-bushing .243 Win sizing die, and then have Forster or Whidden hone the neck for your desired amount of tension. This elegant one-pass sizing solution produces very straight rounds with low run-out.

For bullet seating, both the Redding Competition Seater (item 55114) and the Forster Ultra-Seater (item U00034) work great for the standard .243 Win case. If you shoot a .243 Ackley, Redding’s .243 AI Comp Seater (item 55420) costs quite a bit more than the standard version Forster doesn’t list a .243 AI seater in their catalog. However, you can just run your chambering reamer into the inner sleeve of either seating die to fit the .243 Ackley Improved case.

If you want the “Cadillac” of production seater dies for the .243 Win, order the Wilson Stainless Micrometer seater (item 50-1114S) from Sinclair International. Costing only a few dollars more than a Redding Comp seater, this die is a joy to use, providing very positive control over bullet seating depth. When used with a quality arbor press, the Wilson offers unrivaled “feel” for bullet-seating force. This can help you monitor neck tension, one of the most critical factors in maintaining low ES and SD for long-range accuracy.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
July 10th, 2022

Sunday Gunday: Bauer Power — Jim & Sally Bauer IBS Legends

Sally Bauer IBS 1000 yard heavy gun
Sally Bauer Heavy Gun

Bauer Power. Today’s Sunday Gunday story features Jim Bauer and Sally Bauer, a “power couple” in the International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) mid-range and long-range benchrest game. Jim and Sally both compete at 600 yards and 1000 yards, and both have been VERY successful. A decade ago, in 2012, Sally was the IBS 1000-yard Shooter of the Year. She had a great season, piloting her impressive Stars & Strips Heavy Gun (shown above). Sally now serves as the IBS Treasurer.

Jim Bauer has also been a top IBS performer shooting a similar, wide-forearm Maxi-Tracker Heavy Gun, with beautiful Eagle-on-black paint scheme. Jim Bauer won the IBS 2015 1000-Yard Nationals shooting a 6mm Dasher in both Light Gun and Heavy Gun classes. And Jim holds the IBS 1000-yard 20-Target Light Gun Aggregate Score Record. He set the record in 2021 with 47.15 Agg Score and 5.4171″ group average — that’s very close to half-MOA for 10-shot groups at 1000 yards!

Sally Jim Bauer IBS 1000 yard heavy gun
Photos courtesy Virginia1000.com.

Jim Bauer Wins 2015 1000-Yard Title with Duel Dashers

Jim Bauer won the IBS 2015 IBS 1000-Yard Nationals shooting a 6mm Dasher in both Light Gun and Heavy Gun Classes. Here’s his match-winning Heavy Gun. Smithed by Gordy Gritters, Bauer’s Heavy Gun featured a BAT action, Krieger barrel (in barrel block), Shehane HG stock, and Nightforce scope.

Jim Bauer IBS 2015 National Champion 1000 Yards

Hawks Ridge IBS Benchrest Shooters International 1000 Yard 1K Championship North Carolina 6mm Dasher

At the 2015 1000-Yard Nationals, Jim Bauer was both Two-Gun Champion and Overall winner. Bauer shot great in both Light Gun (LG) and Heavy Gun (HG) matches, posting Top 10 finishes in both classes. Bauer ran 6mm Dashers in both Divisions (LG and HG) with Vapor Trail bullets.

Sally Bauer Honored as 2012 IBS 1000-Yard Shooter of the Year

Sally Bauer IBS 1000 yard heavy gun

In 2012, Sally Bauer became the first (and only) lady to win the title of IBS 1000-yard Shooter of the Year. Sally earned that honor through hard work, dedication, and a burning desire to “be all she can be”. While helping her husband Jim rise to the top of the 1000-yard benchrest game, Sally was taking notes and working toward her turn at the top. Well friends, Sally took no prisoners in 2012 and earned Shooter of the Year honors. Sally’s handsome 67-lb Heavy Gun, “Stars & Stripes”, is painted with an American flag theme.

IBS 1000 yard shooter of year Sally Bauer

Sally Bauer and the IBS 1000-Yard Heavy Gun Record
A decade ago, in 2012 Sally Bauer set a then-pending International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) Score Heavy Gun (HG) record for 1000-yard competition. Her score was 100-5X with a 3.495″ tie-breaker group. Though that record has been surpassed (with a smaller tie-breaking group), Sally was the first lady ever to post a pending IBS 1000-yard benchrest record.

Sally Bauer IBS 1000 yard heavy gunSally’s Amazing 1K Group
At the end of the Heavy Gun match #10 Sally was directed by Range Officer Gordy Mitchell to leave all of her equipment and rifle setting on her bench. Sally was perplexed by Gordy Mitchell’s direction but he assured her “It is a good thing”. Rumors swirled and Dave Holland was summoned to the pits.

Dave and Gordy brought the target back to the scoring shed and had club officials and some respected competitors measure and sign the target. All agreed Sally had just shot an IBS record score. Sally’s rifle and equipment were measured and photographed and the target sent off to the IBS for final measurement and verification.

Sally Jim Bauer IBS 1000 yard heavy gun

Sally’s Heavy Gun Specifications
Sally’s 67-lb Heavy Gun was originally purchased from Bill Shehane, and it uses Bill’s Maxi-Tracker stock. The gun was originally chambered for the 6-6.5×47 Lapua Improved. But the gun didn’t shoot like the Bauers wanted, so it was rechambered to 6mm Dasher by Gordy Gritters. The action is a 2″-diameter, round, chrome moly, 3-lug, 7 ½” BAT. The barrel is a 28″, 1:8″-twist Krieger, with 1.45″-diameter straight tube. The barreled action is secured in the stock with a 9″-long barrel block. The gun uses a 12-42x56mm Nightforce BR scope and a Jewel BR trigger. Gordy Gritters smithed the rifle. Jim Sauer states: “We have known Gordy for years now and trust every phase of our gun projects — all of them are mechanical works of art. When we get our guns from Gordy we know we can put our focus on brass prep and load development and don’t have to worry about the guns being right. That really helps save time.”

Editor’s NOTE: The following information was for the original 2012 load Sally ran in her IBS Heavy Gun. Load details and procedures may have changed now, a decade later.

Reloading Procedure for Sally’s “Stars & Stripes” Maxi by Jim Sauer
With every new rifle we start with new brass. The first step is to run them through a full length sizing die, then over an appropriate expander mandrel. Since we use a .270 neck on our 6 Dasher chambers, neck turning amounts to a 80% cleanup of the new Lapua brass necks. We do the normal primer pocket and flash-hole uniforming.

We fire-form two times to make sure we get nice sharp shoulder corners before competition. We then separate them according to weight using 1/10th of a grain differences for each box. Much of our loading process is geared around time savings. We look for easy-to-use, consistently good products and don’t vary from them unless we have a problem or results aren’t to our standards. We have chosen to shoot Clay Spencer’s 103gr 6mm bullets. We weight-sort and bearing-surface sort them and that’s it. I gave up trimming and tipping simply because it didn’t improve how Clay built them. We also use only one primer, the CCI 450.

We use one of four different powders. Our “go-to” powder is RL15, next we try Varget, then IMR 8208, and if that doesn’t work we try H4895. We have found that these bullets usually shoot best at 2970 fps. This is not an absolute, just what normally works best. We always try higher and lower velocities looking for that special load. Once we find the powder and quantity that works the best we play with the seating depth. Usually this is a fine-tune method and most of the time 15 thousandths into the rifling works the best. But don’t be afraid to jump the bullets as much as 0.100″. When we use this procedure we usually find a combination that will shoot nice, round ¾” groups at 400 yards.

Our reloading regimen starts with ultra-sonic cleaning our brass, then tumbling until shiny. We anneal the brass every time. We proceed to full-length resizing, repriming, and lubing the inside of the necks with graphite. We then charge with our selected powder and seat the bullets. We measure for concentricity, [shooting] the best ones for the record and the others for sighters. The load that Sally shot the record with is 33.0 grains of IMR 8208 XBR, CCI 450 primers, Spencer 103gr bullets, Lapua brass, bullet seated 15 thousandths into rifling, Velocity 2980 fps.

Sally Jim Bauer IBS 1000 yard heavy gun

About Sally Bauer – In her “formative years” of competitive shooting, Sally listened to proper and basic instruction and learned at her pace. She developed her own style and discipline. Not wanting to be dependent on others Sally learned to set up her rests and carries Stars & Stripes to the bench by herself.

Jim Bauer reports: “Sally and I would like to thank the kind people we have met in this crazy frustrating game of shooting. For the most part fellow competitors have been helpful and giving of the time, experience and knowledge. Every range owner and operator we have come across has treated us like family and friend. I can think of no other sport where the participants give so freely.”

Bauer Power in Action at the 2017 IBS 600-Yard Nationals

Bauer heavy gun 600 Yard nationals van truck transport slide-out wood caddy

Would you like to see this IBS “power couple” in action? Here are videos of Jim Bauer and Sally Bauer shooting at the 2017 IBS 600-yard Nationals in Memphis, Tennessee.

Jim Bauer sends 5 record rounds down range with his “Eagle” HG in Maxi-Tracker stock

Sally Bauer shoots sighter rounds with her Stars & Stripes HG in Maxi-Tracker stock

Transporting Big Heavy Guns in Style with Slide-out Carriers

The Bauers have created a very smart and clever system for transporting their rifles to matches. The Bauers have a great transport set-up, with custom, slide-out rifle carriers fitted to their van. You can see Jim’s and Sally’s Heavy Guns in the lower drawer.

Bauer heavy gun 600 Yard nationals van truck transport slide-out wood caddy

And here is a close-up of the Light Gun in the Bauer’s second slide-out carrier (top in photo). The patriotic “We the People” message is welcome.

Sally Jim Bauer IBS 1000 yard heavy gun

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Competition, Gear Review No Comments »
May 22nd, 2022

Sunday GunDay: .284 Shehanes for F-Open Competition

7mm .285 shehane improved f-class f-open caliber cartridge chambering

High-BC 7mm Bullets7mm (.284) remains the caliber to beat in F-Class Open Division (though some shooters have had success with .30-Cal short magnums.) With a standard .284 Winchester, or better yet, a .284 Improved, you can drive the high-BC Berger 180gr and 184gr bullets to competitive velocities.

The straight .284 Win is an excellent cartridge, quite capable of winning F-class matches. However, in most barrels, it can’t push the 180s at 2900-2950 fps velocity levels*. A lot of barrels will top out at about 2850 fps. That’s where the .284 Shehane comes into play.

The .284 Shehane is a slightly modified wildcat that retains the same 35° shoulder as the parent case. However, by blowing the sidewalls out 0.010″, the .284 Shehane picks up about 3.3 grains of extra case capacity. That enhancement makes a BIG difference. The extra boiler room is enough to drive the 180s at 2900-2950 fps with 30-32″ barrels using H4831sc, Vihtavuori N560, or Alliant Reloder 16. (That’s with a reasonably fast barrel. Some barrels are faster than others.)

Norm Harrold Won 2018 F-Class Open Division Nationals with .284 Shehane Rifle
F-Class Open F-Open Norm Norman Harrold Champion Championship 2018 Raton NM New Mexico 284 Shehane Berger Bullets

Norm Harrold (above) won the 2018 USA F-Class Nationals shooting a .284 Shehane. Norm’s F-Open rig features a McMillan Kestros ZR stock and Bartlein barrel chambered for the .284 Shehane, which has a bit more case capacity than a standard .284 Winchester. Norm loaded Berger 184gr 7mm bullets in Lapua brass. Norm revealed his load in an Erik Cortina YouTube Video.

F-Class shooter Erik Cortina notes that the .284 Shehane has a velocity edge over the straight .284 Win because it holds more powder: “The Shehane has more capacity than the .284 Winchester. Ryan is using 54.0 grains simply as a fire-forming load. Typical load for a Shehane is around 57.0 grains of Hodgdon H4831 SC.” By blowing the sidewalls out 0.010″, the .284 Shehane picks up about 3.3 grains of extra case capacity. That enhancement makes a BIG difference. The extra boiler room is enough to drive the 180s at 2900-2950 fps with H4831sc, with long barrels.

Forum member Jim Hardy has shot the .284 with great success. He tells us: “In my humble opinion, the .284 Shehane is the best balanced long-range round there is — bar none. Here is why:

You have to shoot a 30 Cal Magnum with a 240gr bullet to equal the performance of most 7mm chamberings with the 180 Berger VLD. With the .284 Shehane, you have a .308 bolt face, medium action, and Lapua brass. You use less powder than the 7 mags, and have great accuracy and ballistics even while fire-forming. The .284 Shehane shoots inside the 6.5 AND the straight .284, the .300 WSM, and the .300 Win Mag with less recoil. What is not to love about the 284 Shehane? It is a no-brainer for long range — F-Class or Prone or 1000-yard Benchrest.”

Amazing Accuracy When Fire-Forming .284 Shehane

7mm .285 shehane improved f-class f-open caliber cartridge chambering

If you look at that 5-round group you might think it was shot with a 6 PPC or maybe a 6mmBR. But no, this was done with heavy 180gr Berger Hybrid bullets and the .284 Shehane. In fact, this impressive sub-quarter MOA group was shot while fire-forming with a very well-worn barrel! Gun builder Ryan Pierce of Piercision Rifles explains: “Here’s a 5-shot 0.191″ group at 100 yards with my .284 Shehane fireforming loads. This barrel has 2200 rounds through it. It had 2000 as a straight .284 Win and then I set it back to .284 Shehane to form brass with. [The load was] 180 Hybrids with 54.0 grains of H4831 SC.”

Scotland’s Grant Taylor. who used the .284 Shehane to finish third at the 2009 F-Class Worlds in England says the .284 Shehane is “very accurate with superb vertical spreads at 1000 yards. [This] caliber… has awesome accuracy. I’m getting 2930-2950 fps with spreads in the 3-5 fps range. I use Hodgdon H4831sc powder, CCI BR2 primers, and pointed 180gr Bergers.”

.284 Shehane Showcase — Two Special F-Open Rifles

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

Here’s another handsome .284 Shehane F-Open rifle. Owner Jason Cohen explained why he chose the .284 Shehane chambering: “The .284 Shehane has a proven record of accomplishments and that is why I have chosen it. I use Lapua brass (6.5-284 necked-up), CCI BR-2 primers, Hodgdon H4350 powder, and Berger 184gr bullets. All these components have been a successful combination that has worked flawlessly[.]”

The barrel is a Blake Machine 1:8″-twist finished at 32 inches. It was fitted to my action by Dale Woolum of Woolum Accuracy. Dale also threaded the barrel for a Woolum Accuracy tuner. This has proven to be a valuable tool in my load development.

The rifle began its life as a Will McClosky Cerus stock. This was sent that to Bryan Blake at Blake Machine. Jason noticed that Bryan had been adding aluminum rails to the front of Cerus stocks to lower the center of gravity and improve tracking. Jason asked Bryan to fit the stock with forearm rails, shown in the photo below. Bryan did all the stock work and fitted the action, rails, and RAD recoil pad.

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

The .284 Shehane — Accurate and Forgiving Wildcat
Jason explains why he selected the .284 Shehane chambering: “The .284 Shehane is amazing, very forgiving and not temperamental. Straight .284 or Shehane — you cannot go wrong. I run a 184gr Berger at about 2850 FPS and get great brass life in my other rifles. I usually start to consider tossing the brass around 15 firings. Primer pockets start to get a little looser and the brass seems to need more sizing than the newer brass with less firings.”

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

.284 Shehane Raffle Prize Rifle for Team USA

Blake machine Team USA Under-25 Katie Blakenship F-Class F-Open prize raffle rifle tickets Borden action

This stunning .284 Shehane rifle was constructed as a raffle prize to benefit Team USA members preparing for the F-Class World Championship. This eye-catching F-Open rifle was crafted by Blake Barrel and Rifle in Arizona. This prize rifle features all top-of-the-line components: Borden BRMXD Action, Cerus multi-laminate stock with forearm extension, R.A.D. recoil reduction system (hydraulic-damped buttpad), Bix ‘N Andy trigger, and Nightforce Competition scope. The stainless Blake barrel is chambered for the .284 Shehane wildcat, and sports an F-Class Products tuner on the end.

Blake machine Team USA Under-25 Katie Blakenship F-Class F-Open prize raffle rifle tickets Borden action

.284 Shehane Also Shines in 1K Benchrest Competition

The .284 Shehane has won in Benchrest as well as F-Class competition. In 2013, Henry Pasquet won the IBS 1000-Yard Nationals shooting a .284 Shehane. Henry’s Championship-winning rig is shown below. Note the 5″-wide fore-end which is not legal for F-Class. Henry also runs a combo tuner/muzzle-brake.

.284 Shehane Henry Pasquet ibs 1000 yard championship

.284 Shehane Henry Pasquet ibs 1000 yard championship

.284 Shehane Henry Pasquet ibs 1000 yard championship


*Some exceptional barrels chambered in straight .284 Win can reach 2900 fps with the 180s. Ryan Pierce has a 32″ Brux barrel that is delivering 2900 fps with the straight .284. However, Ryan acknowledges that his velocities are not typical: “A lot of .284 Win barrels top out at around 2850 fps with the 180s”.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gear Review No Comments »
April 17th, 2022

Loading at the Range — How it Works for Benchrest Matches

Benchrest IBS Shooting Reloading Chargemaster tuning load
Shown are funnel with ultra-long drop tube (which helps get more kernels in the cases), RCBS Chargemaster (in wood box), and Hood Press (similar to Harrell’s Combo press).

Loading at the range remains important in the Benchrest for Group discipline. In a Special Report below, past IBS President Jeff Stover explains how loading methods (and hardware) have evolved over the years. The advent of accurate, affordable electronic powder dispensers, such as the RCBS ChargeMaster and Frankford’s new Intellidropper, have changed the game and made it easier to load efficiently at the range. And quality manual powder measures are fast and can be very consistent, with a little practice. Loading at the range permits competitors to tune their load to the conditions, change seating depths, or even choose different bullets to suit the barrel’s preferences on any given day.

IBS Benchrest

Although pre-loading is not uncommon, most 100/200-yard group shooters usually load at the match, often between relays. The goal is to shoot smaller groups by staying “in tune”. In a game where 5-shot groups “in the 1s and Zeros” is the goal, tuning loads for the conditions helps deliver match-winning accuracy. Nearly all competitors in this short-range discipline shoot the 6mm PPC cartridge, or a PPC variant.

IBS Benchrest loading at range Jeff Stover

Loading at the Range — Then and Now

IBS Benchrest Shooters International Memorial Match Weikert PA Jeff Stover

In benchrest shooting for group, loading at the range has been de rigueur for decades. In the Score discipline, preloading is usually the custom. The main reason is that, in Score competition, only one Aggregate (warm-up match and five record targets) per day is usually shot. That would be less than 50 shots, assuming a few sighter shots. Also, the 30BR, the dominant Benchrest-for-Score cartridge, is very amenable to pre-loading.

By contrast, the Group discipline includes 21 targets (two warm-ups and twenty record targets) over a weekend, usually shot with 6PPC-chambered rifles. Many times, the 6PPC shooters may tweak their loads through the day given changing atmospheric conditions or simply trying to find the correct tune to “dot up”. This term, “Dot up”, means the shots are essentially going through the same hole, or closely so.

IBS Benchrest Shooters International Memorial Match Weikert PA Jeff Stover

Loading at the range was a bit different when benchrest competition was in its infancy. The 1951 book, Modern Accuracy by Bob Wallack, is the best of the early benchrest books. Copies can be found, from time to time, on eBay or Alibris. It is a fascinating survey of benchrest as it existed more than six decades ago. There’s even coverage of a controversial target that was argued over at the time. In it, there is a photo of Wallack using the rear bumper of a car at the bench to clamp his reloading tools. Things have come a long way compared to the range loading set-ups of modern shooters. Here you can see Bob Wallack way back in 1950:

IBS Benchrest Shooters International Memorial Match Weikert PA Jeff Stover

Modern loading bench set-ups shown in this Special Report belong to top shooters Howie Levy, Bob Hamister, and Kent Harshman.
Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Reloading No Comments »
February 27th, 2022

Sunday Gunday: The Smallest 100-yard 5-Shot Group in History

world record Michael stinnett group .0077
Look and be amazed! In competition, a rifle drilled FIVE perfectly-overlapped bullet holes — the last virtually indistinguishable from the first — at a target a football field (100 yards) away.

Today we feature a benchrest rifle that earned its place in history by setting a small-group record in 2013 that may never be broken. This .30-caliber benchrest rig shot a 0.0077″ five-shot group at 100 yards. That’s the smallest 100-yard group ever shot in competition by ANY gun at 100 yards in history. And we may never see anything smaller in our lifetimes.

Record .008 .0077 group rifle

In setting that .0077″ (seventy-seven ten-thousandths of an inch) record, the shooter, Mike Stinnett, broke a record that stood for four decades — the 0.009″ five-shot group credited to Mac McMillan. The previous NBRSA Light Varmint Record of .009″ for five shots (at 100 yards) was set on 9/23/1973, 49 years ago. Experts considered that record “untouchable”, “unassailable” — in other words “unbreakable.” But Mike broke Mac’s record 40 years after it was set.

The Record-Setting Rifle and Cartridge
The gun that produced the historic .0077″ group was a Light Varmint-class Benchrest rifle chambered as a .30-caliber wildcat, the 30 Stewart. That cartridge is based on the 6.5 Grendel case necked up. The load had Hodgdon H4198 powder behind BIB 114gr, 10-ogive bullets. Notably, the record-setting ammo was pre-loaded before the match.

The Smallest 100-yard Group in History

All target shooters strive for perfect shot placement. Well one man has come closer to perfection than any other shooter who ever lived. You are looking at Michael Stinnett’s .0077″ NBRSA world-record group, the smallest 100-yard 5-shot group ever shot in the history of rifle competition. The group was certified at .0077″ (though labeled .008″ on the range-signed target below). A moving backer verified that this was FIVE shots — no question about that. You may be surprised but this was NOT shot by a 6 PPC, but rather a .30-caliber wildcat, based on the 6.5 Grendel.

world record Michael stinnett group .0077

Group Is Smaller than ANY 100-yard Group Shot in ANY Class

Mike’s amazing group stands as a NBRSA Light Varmint Class record. But it is also smaller than the current NBRSA 5-shot, 100-yard records for ALL other classes, even Unlimited (Rail Gun). Likewise Stinnett’s .0077″ group is smaller than the IBS records for ALL classes:

Official Benchrest 5-Shot 100-Yard World Records
Sanction Light Varmint Heavy Varmint Sporter Unlimited
NBRSA 0.0077″ Mike Stinnett 0.027″ Ralph Landon 0.041″ Jerry Thornbrugh 0.049″ Gary Ocock
IBS 0.051″ Mark Shepler 0.052″ J. Ventriglia 0.060″ J. Neary 0.045″ Gary Ocock


All NBRSA Group Size Records | ALL IBS Group Size Records

Better than any Rail Gun too — Mike Stinnett’s .0077″ group was smaller that ANY group shot in ANY class — event Unlimited Rail Guns, as shown below:

Below is a larger-than-life-size view. Using this photo we measured the group with target-calculating software, and it came out .006″ (the software only goes to three digits). We recognize that it would be much better to work from the real target rather than a photo, so we are not challenging the official measurement in the least. But this does confirm that this is a phenomenally small five-shot group.

world record Michael stinnett group .0077

kelbly speedy shorty panda action

Stinnett Sets .0077″ Record with a .30-Caliber Modified Grendel Cartridge, Pre-Loaded
Many folks have asked about the gun and ammo that produced the .0077″ group. The rifle was chambered as a .30-caliber wildcat, the 30 Stewart, which is based on the 6.5 Grendel case necked up. Mike was using Hodgdon H4198 powder behind BIB 114gr, 10-ogive bullets. Notably, the record-setting ammo was pre-loaded before the match. Unfortunately, we don’t have a photo of the target yet — it is still in the hands of the official NBRSA certification committee. However, Mike has been kind enough to tell us about his rifle and his load.

Mike Stinnett .0077″ Record Group Equipment Report

Mike reports: “Several guys have asked so here is my equipment listing. The hardware build actually started in 2008 with the goal of building two identical Benchrest rifles which could be used for both group and score. The idea was to shoot 6PPC and a .30 Cal without a base rifle change.”

Record-Setting Rifle Equipment and Components

Action: Kelbly Panda “Speedy Shorty” with solid bolt and PPC-diameter bolt face. Kelbly was asked to build several actions which were identical with the intent to eliminate any variance in head space between the two new rifles. This helped me use a single set-up on sizing dies for both rifles and ammo is interchangeable. Both actions were sent to Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez to be blue-printed and have Jewell triggers installed.

Reamer: 30 STEWART (I just call it a 30 PPC as that is what everyone expects, but it is in fact a custom design and Ralph deserves about 99% of the credit).

Barrels: Krieger was selected for the barrels. After discussions with Randy Robinett of BIB Bullets, a 1:17″ twist was identified as the correct, safe solution. Ralph Stewart has cut all my chambers using a custom-designed reamer. [Our goal] was consistent headspace and Ralph has been able to keep my barrels within .0002 variance. The barrel tuner also comes from Ralph Stewart.

  • Stock: Larson (including action bedding)
  • Scope: Leupold 45X Competition in Kelby Single Screw Tall Rings
  • Brass: Lapua (Base case is 6.5 Grendel)
  • Bullets: Randy Robinett (BIB) 30 Cal. 114gr, 10 Ogive (secondary bullet; primary is 112gr BIB)
  • Powder: H4198 – Stout Load with 2980 FPS Velocity
  • Front Rest: Farley Coaxial
  • Bags: Micro Fiber
  • Flags: Graham Wind Flags (large)

About the Cartridge — 30 Stewart (Based on Lapua 6.5 Grendel Parent Brass)
Mike explains: “Our goal was to shoot H4198 as the optimal powder for stability. There were several versions of the reamer before we settled on the current configuration. I am optimized for the 10 Ogive BIB bullet, powder to the base of the bullet. I found in testing the small 30-cal case did not like compression at all. The bullet is seated only 0.12″ into the case with zero freebore.

Cases were initially created with the .220 Russian (like a PPC) but I later decided it was better to build from the 6.5 Grendel. I size the brass and bump the shoulder back until it will fit into the chamber, fill to shoulder with International Clays, cotton wad packed on top. I have a fire-forming barrel. (I would not recommend this Clays and cotton wad method in a good barrel.) After initial fire-forming, I then mandrel the neck up the rest of the way to .30 caliber, turn the necks and trim.

It takes at least 8 firings to fully form a case! If you fire only three loads I find the brass does not have a sharp shoulder or any pressure on the bolt so any die selection is incorrect. Brass continues to harden well past 25 firings. I have match brass with well over 500 rounds fired, and I have never blown a case or neck yet (using my forming method).

For loading I use a Hornady Custom Shop Sizing Die and a Ralph Stewart Custom Seating Die. For those who are curious, yes the small group was fired with pre-loaded rounds. I do this now and then with local matches or may load 50 in a batch for one match.”

Mike wanted to thank his smiths, Randy Robinett, and all the folks involved in running the matches: “A big THANKS — as these are the guys that make our matches possible and without question maintain the integrity of the targets and record system. I was very fortunate to have all the right people in the right places for this match and my record. As for measurement – I only saw the target for about 10 seconds up close and can say I’m very happy I did not have to measure that group! Thanks again to everyone!” — Mike Stinnett

kelbly speedy shorty panda action

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gear Review, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
February 2nd, 2022

Home-Built Wood Cleaning Cradles — Great DIY Project

IBS Piedmont 600-yard match

We saw some interesting gear at a 600-yard IBS match at the Piedmont Gun Club (Rutherfordton, NC) a few seasons back. On display were a variety of hand-made wood cleaning cradles designed to fit on table tops. These typically employ a box-style design, with layer of cloth or other padding to cushion the underside of the stock. On display were both single-rifle cleaning cradle/boxes and dual-rifle rigs. This is a good do-it-yourself project that can be built with simple tools.

Click Photos to View Large Versions
IBS Piedmont 600-yard match

Notice that these cradle-boxes feature an extended lower section in the rear. This lower “lip” butts up against the edge of the table so the whole assembly stays in place. In the photo above it appears that the lower section may actually be cut from a rubber block, but we’re not sure.

IBS Piedmont 600-yard match


Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
January 23rd, 2022

Sunday Gunday: The Pink PPC — Michelle Sutton Memorial Rifle

Michelle Sutton 6 PPC memorial pink rifle

Our featured rifle this Sunday is a one-of-a-kind memorial project, crafted in 2008 to honor Michelle Sutton and her service to the sport of Benchrest. Michelle passed away in 2007 after a long, courageous fight with cancer. This special custom 6 PPC benchrest rifle was built in order to raise money to fight cancer. On August 15, 2008, at the 2008 IBS Nationals, the rifle was awarded at a special drawing. Individuals who made a $20.00 contribution to the American Cancer Society were offered a chance to win the rifle, Leupold 45X Comp scope, and an array of shooting accessories (shown below). We’re proud to showcase this unique rifle once again, and help honor Michelle’s memory.

Michelle Sutton–Her Contribution to Benchrest Shooting
by Jim Borden
Michelle Sutton contributed significantly to the growth of Benchrest shooting in general and the International Benchrest Shooters in particular. She was involved in Benchrest shooting from an early age, attending shoots with her family (P.J. and Kaye Hart, Clyde and Mickey Hart). She was an active competitor in her early years and then later provided her leadership, labor and planning skills to make sure that shoots were conducted in an efficient and effective manner. As time passed, she gave up her personal shooting to schedule and plan shoots and to provide the target scoring at matches for 3 to 4 different clubs. It was during her measuring of targets that her famed and sought-after “Smiley Faces” were developed.

Michelle made a practice of hand-penciling a Smiley Face on very good targets. (Sometimes she handed out a “frowney face” when someone did themselves grievous harm with one shot.) It came to the point that you could hear on the firing line: “I just shot a small one — I hope it’s small enough to get one of Michelle’s Smiley Faces.”

Michelle Sutton 6 PPC memorial pink rifle

Michelle spent over 15 years as the Chairperson of the IBS Records Committee and she was an instrumental part of the Group Committee, including chairing that Committee for almost 10 years. She and her husband Jack developed the ideas and plans for the four Benchrest Shooting Schools and she led the planning and running of those training programs. She was instrumental in helping a number of the clubs organize and run the IBS Shooters Championship matches.

Michelle battled cancer for over 10 years while at the same time attending to family, friends, business, and the game of Benchrest shooting. She was always an upbeat person and was a joy to be around. Her strength and character set an example for the rest of us to follow.

The Michelle K. Sutton Memorial Rifle Project
Shortly after Michelle’s death in August 2007, Gerry Malerba started organizing the creation of a special rifle to honor Michelle’s memory. The rifle would be the Grand Prize in a Sweepstakes drawing and all net proceeds would support efforts to fight cancer. Gerry enlisted the help of Jim Borden, Mike Mastrogiavanni, and Ward Tarasek to make the project a reality. Thanks to many generous individuals and companies in the shooting industry and Benchrest community, a spectacular custom 6 PPC rifle was built, with a complete inventory of matched shooting accessories.

Michelle Sutton 6 PPC memorial pink rifle

Nick Coppogreco provided gold-plated cases with silver-plated bullets, all housed in a custom, fancy wood cartridge box provided by John Petteruti and Fred Weing. The box has a special engraved message, “Magic Bullets to Cure Cancer” with Michelle’s signature “Smiley Faces”.

Remembering Michelle — P.J. Hart’s Little Girl

I guess my best recollection of Michelle was back in 1971 or 1972. (How time flies….) I saw this little slender girl at the matches at South Creek. I was there with Frank James and some other noted shooters. Michelle was going to shoot the junior match. Here dad P.J. Hart was coaching her. In those days the 222 Rem was king and Michelle proved her shooting skills right away–she took first place, winning a silver tray.

I remember the photo session. The little girl with Popsicle legs and big pink glasses and a pretty pink dress. She was a sweet child. I remember how proud her dad, P.J. Hart, was of her.

After that I saw little of Michelle. Once in a while I would see her at Hart’s shop or at a match with her grandmother Mickey Hart. Michelle was at the age to excel in her studies and I saw very little of her until she started working at Hart Rifle Barrels some years later.

She met Jack Sutton and they married. They had quite a lot in common. Both of them loved to hunt and fish–the perfect match. As time passed, Michelle had some medical problems. The “Big C”, cancer. This was very bad news. She fought the disease fiercely. I would ask her from time to time how she was, on my visits to the shop. Her reply would be “I’m OK”. She never complained, even though she felt terrible. Jack would say very little but you could tell he was deeply concerned. He fought the illness with her, always loyal and faithful by her side. They were a team, and hoped to beat the cancer together.

She tried her hardest to beat this. I remember the last match she scored, at Camillus. I was so proud of her. Even though she was quite sick, she wanted to score for our club.

She was very special… we miss her so much. – Gerry Malerba
The Michelle Sutton Memorial Pink Rifle

How the Rifle Came Together

Gerry Malerba explained how the project got started: “I was shooting at Canastota Conservation Club last year. We had lost Michelle recently, and that was the ‘last straw’ for me in a series of losses to cancer. I vowed to do something about it, so I decided to build a special rifle to raise money to fight cancer. I figured if we could double the build cost of the rifle I’d be happy.

I approached Joan Borden about getting a gunsmith’s price on an action and a Robertson stock. Joan indicated her support for the idea. I was prepared to buy the action and stock, but before long, folks were donating key components. I mentioned the project to Paul Ryan, who donated a Jewell trigger, saying: ‘count me in, I have lost a lot of family to [cancer].’ Then David Apple generously donated a certificate for a new Borden action and Harley Baker kicked in a new Hart Barrel. We were in business!”

Smithing the Pink Rifle
Jim Borden started on the action and was getting it ready when he called Ian Robertson about the stock. Ian not only donated the stock, he put the special pink color (Michelle’s favorite), in his line-up. I guess Michelle was everyone’s friend.

Jim Borden also installed the trigger and bedded the rifle. His son Jim Borden, Jr. donated a butt plate and Jay Lynn Gore did a beautiful 100% coverage engraving on the buttplate. The barrel was sent to Hart and special fluting was done by Michelle’s brother in law Billy Sutton. Michelle’s brother Jim Hart did the chambering job. Many other special items were donated for the rifle, as listed below.

Michelle Sutton 6 PPC memorial pink rifle

All the Pink Rifle Components Were Donated:

The Rimrock Right Bolt, Left Port, Right Eject Action was donated by David Apple (via certificate). The action carries serial number MKS007. The action was polished by Jim Borden, and Michelle’s Smiley Faces have been engraved on the receiver. Paul Ryan donated the Jewell Trigger fitted to the action. Jim and Joan Borden also donated a polished trigger guard.

Robertson Composites donated the special Pink/Black Robertson Rimrock pattern stock. Ian Robertson created this new color expressly for this benefit project and has added it to his inventory.

The one-of-a-kind pink and black anodized Leupold 45X Competition Scope was donated by Leupold & Stevens through Allen Tucker. Kelbly Inc. donated the coated Rings.

The Hart Barrel Blank was donated by Harley Baker. Michelle’s brother in law Billy Sutton did the special fluting and her brother Jimmy Hart did the barrel fitting and chambering.

Jim and Joan Borden donated the polished trigger guard and polished bases. Jim also donated his labor for the inletting, bedding, and action glue-in.

Jimmy Borden donated the polished buttplate. The plate was elaborately engraved by Jay Lynn Gore, with Michelle’s well-known Smiley face in the center of the engraving design.


Treasure Trove of Shooting Gear

Donated Shooting Accessories, Components, and Gear
As an effort to raise money for cancer research, the pink rifle and an array of other items were offered in 2008. Individuals who made a $20.00 contribution to the American Cancer Society were offered a chance to win the rifle. As shown here, the full prize package included: Sinclair Hand Priming Tool (donated by Mike Bryant), Sinclair Reloading Press and Neck-Turning Kit (donated by Sinclair Int’l through Fred Sinclair), Big Foot Rear Bag and Front Bag (donated by SEB and Paul Schmid), 1000 BIB 6mm bullets (donated by Randy Robinette), Farley Coax II Front Rest (donated by Farley Mfg.), Pink Bore Guide (donated by Russ and Martha Haydon), Certificate for 3000 Berger Bullets (donated by Berger Bullets through Eric Stecker), Custom Cartridge Box (donated by John Petteruti and Fred Weing), 100 Lapua 220 Russian prepped cases (donated by Glen Jackson), Gold-Plated Cases with Platinum-Plated Bullets (donated by Nick Coppogreco), Redding Competition Die Set (donated by Redding Hunter), Edgewood Front and Rear Bags (Donated by Jack Snyder).

Michelle Sutton Memorial Pink Rifle

Jack Snyder of Edgewood Bags crafted custom, ‘hot pink’ Front and Rear Bags. Farley donated its Coax II Front Rest, and the Bordens donated a Jackson/Borden Farley Bag container. Other donated accessories not shown in photo include: Jackson/Borden Farley Bag Containter (donated by Jim and Joan Borden), Aluminum Rifle Case (donated by Gerry Malerba), Action Cleaning Kit (donated by Dave Short), Wind Flag set and Carry Case (donated by David Halblom), Wind Flag Poles and Carrier (donated by Randy Perkowski), Gun Tent/Bolt Folder/Stock Boot, Pink with Smiley Face (donated by Bill Gammon).

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gunsmithing, News 2 Comments »
December 28th, 2021

Save Time and Bullets — Fire-Form with your Fouler Shots

Fire-forming fouler barrel life fouling shots

Fire-Form with Foulers

PPC Fire-formingHere’s a tip for guys who shoot the 6 PPC, 6 Dasher, 6 BRA, .284 Shehane, or other wildcat cartridges that require fire-forming. Use your fouler shots to fire-form new cases. That way your fouler shots do “double-duty” and you get your brass fire-formed without putting extra rounds through your expensive barrel.

This procedure is recommended by Joel Kendrick, the 2004 IBS 600-yard Shooter of the Year. After he cleans his barrel, Joel knows it takes two or three shots to foul in the bore before accuracy returns. When shooting his PPC, Joel uses those fouler shots to fire-form his new brass. Joel explains: “I like to have relatively new brass always ready. By fire-forming a couple cases after each barrel-cleaning during a match, by the end of the weekend I’ve got a dozen or more freshly fire-formed cases to put into the rotation. If you do this with your fouler shots you get your fire-forming accomplished without using up any extra barrel life.”

This not only saves barrel wear, but it saves you trips to the range for the purpose of fire-forming. We thank Joel for this smart suggestion. For those who do not have a dedicated barrel for fire-forming, this should help keep your round-count down. Note: With this fouler fire-forming routine, you should ALWAYS do the fire-forming with the SAME POWDER you load for your match ammo. Joel currently works as the Supplier Quality Process Engineer for MMI-TruTec, a company that offers barrel surface coatings that can further extend your barrel life.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
October 30th, 2021

Tackdriver II Multi-Discipline Match November 6-7 in So. Carolina

Tack Driver 300m match open class multi discipline

The Tack Driver Showdown is a one-of-a-kind “all comers” rifle match. This unique multi-discipline match will reveal what rifle types are truly the MOST accurate, at least out to 300 meters. The Tack Driver Showdown II match will be held Saturday, November 6-7, 2021 at the Mid-Carolina Gun Club in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The organizers have invited virtually any type of rifle (except railguns) to compete at 300 meters for group and score honors. There should be nearly 100 competitors at the event this coming weekend. No organization membership is required. NOTE: Registration closes Wednesday November 3, 2021 at 6:00 PM. Contact Match Director Jim Cline at: 843-957-6546. Forum members can also send a PM to Jim Cline aka jcline.

Unlike any other rifle match in the world, on the firing line you will see 6 PPC LV/HV rifles, 30 BR score rigs, 17-lb 600-yard and 1000-yard benchrest guns, F-TR rifles, F-Open rifles, Palma rifles, PRS rifles, and maybe even an AR15 or two.

Tack Driver 300m match open class multi discipline

The concept behind the event is to settle the unending arguments about which guns are TRULY the most accurate. The 6PPC is king in 100/200 group competition, the 30BR rules 100/200 score, 6mmBRs and 6BR Improveds dominate in 600-yard Benchrest, the .284 Win is the leading F-Open cartridge, and various 6mms and 6.5mms win PRS matches. It will be interesting to see which chamberings and bullet weights will “rule the roost” at 300 meters. Match Director Jim Cline plans to post match results on our AccurateShooter.com Forum. For more information, read this Forum Thread.

Tack Driver II targets will be placed at 300 meters (328 yards). That’s not even “mid-range” by benchrest standards, but it should be far enough that the higher BCs of the bullets shot by F-Class and 600/1000-yard benchrest rigs could come into play.

Basic Information on the Tack Driver Shoot:
There are two divisions — bolt-action rifles and semi-auto gas guns. There are no specific design limits other than a 22-lb maximum weight, and a .338 maximum caliber. Past IBS President Jeff Stover tells us: “We envision the full array of the world’s most accurate rifles on the line: short and long range benchrest rifles, F-Class, AR, other tactical, egg-shoot rifles, whatever…[.]” Key rules are listed below. Semi-autos will need chamber flags, otherwise bolts must be out at all times. You do not have to be a member of the IBS to shoot. The range will be open Friday, November 13th starting at 12:00 noon for practice and flag setting.

Tack Driver 300m match open class multi discipline

Cash Payouts for the Winners in both Group and Score
Match Director Jim Cline noted that First place through Fifth place will be paid in both score, group and Grand Aggregate finishing positions. Match fee is $120, which includes a catered lunch both days. Jim states: “We will have an additional $30 cash option, $50 cash option and a $100 cash option. You have to be in the $30 cash option to get in the $50 cash option and in the $50 to be in the $100.”

Tack Driver 300m match open class multi discipline

2021 Tack Driver II Showdown Rules Overview
1. NO membership of any organization required.
2. NO one piece rest, all shooting will be done off benches. You may use a bi-pod, bags or rest combination.
3. You have to shoot the same gun at all targets. If you have a catastrophic failure, you have to continue with a gun of the SAME caliber and cartridge. (Has to be approved by the match director ONLY.) Scope failure will require a scope change.
4. No electronic equipment of any type will be allowed on the bench or downrange.
5. No spotting scopes allowed on the bench or people spotting for you.
6. No coaching under any circumstances (except youth).
7. Any gun is legal 30 caliber and under with a 22 pound weight maximum.
8. Any protest will be handled by the committee and their decision is FINAL!

2021 Tack Driver II Showdown Match Course of Fire
1. Competition will consist of 5 group targets and 5 IBS 200 yard score targets at 300 METERS.
2. All targets will be 7-minute matches. There will NO warm-up match on either day. ALL
shots count in the scoring area of the target.
3. Range will be made available for practice on Friday before the match starting at 8:00 AM only closing to set flags. Flag setting times are 7-8 am, 9-10 am, 11am-12pm and the
range will be called cold at 3:00 pm to end all practice.
4. We will alternate targets each time:
Day 1: Score/Group/Score/Group/Score
Day 2: Group/Score/Group/Score/Group
5. We will rotate 10 benches for the second day’s course of fire.
6. Winner will be determined by place of finish at each discipline. If there is a tie we will break it by highest place of finish. If that can’t break it we will go to group place of finish.

tack driver showdown mid-carolina gun club south carolina
Covered Firing Line at Mid-Carolina Gun Club. Photo from 2019 100/200m Score Nationals.

Jim Cline tells us: “Preregistration is REQUIRED. A $100 nonrefundable deposit is required with your form to hold a spot. Limited to the first 100 guns! There will be a $60 nonrefundable deposit to hold a camping spot 1st come first serve. I have 13 with full hook-ups and 7 with power and water. There is space for self-contained camping as well.” For more information, including camping/RV details at the Mid-Carolina Gun Club venue, contact Jim Cline at 843-957-6546, or post questions on this Accurateshooter Forum Thread.

Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills No Comments »
October 17th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: Stan Ware’s Radical No-Neck Wolfpup Wildcat

Stan Ware Wolfpup SGR Custom Rifles

Think you need a relatively long case-neck for good accuracy? Think again. Stan Ware broke all the rules with his radical Wolfpup cartridge, proving that a near-no-neck design can deliver match-winning accuracy. Read on to learn how the Wolfpup works…

Stan Ware SGR Custom RiflesRetired gunsmith Stan Ware is a talented shooter who’s not afraid to think “outside the box”. Stan competes in both Hunter Benchrest (HBR) and Varmint for Score (VFS) disciplines. In his quest to build the ultimate Hunter Benchrest cartridge, Stan created the radical “Wolfpup” wildcat, based on a 6mmBR parent case. Noting the dominance of 30 BRs in VFS matches, Stan wondered if a stretched 30 BR could work in HBR competition. The challenge was case capacity. Under HBR rules the cartridge must hold at least 45.0 grains of water, equal to the capacity of the classic 30/30 case.

To get the requisite HBR case capacity, Stan figured he needed to boost the volume of a 30 BR case significantly, so he would have to move the shoulder forward — a lot. He did this by running a 30 BR reamer deeper and deeper, test-firing brass along the way. After three reamer passes, he ended up with the capacity he needed (the Wolfpup holds 45.3 grains of water). But then he looked at the finished product — a case with almost no neck, and he wondered “how could this possibly work?”.

Stan Ware SGR Custom RiflesFrom Trashbin to Winner’s Circle
Ware’s prototype Wolfpup ended up so short-necked, so unlike any “normal” cartridge, that Stan figured it was “dead on arrival”. Stan told us: “I said ‘this ain’t going to work’ and I threw the brass in the trash can. Honest. But later I thought I better shoot it and see what it does.” There was one problem — Stan didn’t have a seating die. He noticed the short neck provided a bit of tension after fire-forming, so he literally seated some bullets, BIB 118s and 125s, with his fingers. For powder he used H4198 and started with 35 grains, one grain more than a 30 BR load. Stan then did a pressure work-up: “I actually went up to 41.0 grains and didn’t have a sticky bolt. I ended up at 37.9 grains of Hodgdon 4198 — that gave 3150 fps, where the sweet spot is.” (Later testing revealed a second accuracy node at about 3020 fps, using 36.4 grains of H4198).

Stan’s radical short-necked Wolfpup shot great from the get-go. Once he found the right velocity node, the gun shot in the ones and zeros with both 7-ogive and 10-ogive bullets, both 118s and 125s. The Wolfpup proved easy to tune — it’s not finicky at all. And it’s a winner. Stan began shooting the Wolfpup in 2006 in both VFS and HBR matches and the ‘Pup’ started winning matches right away. In 2007, Stan won the Wisconsin State VFS Championship shooting the Wolfpup. In June 2010 at a Webster City, Iowa VFS match, Stan won the Grand Agg and posted high X-Count for the match, while placing first at 100 yards and second at 200 yards. How’s that for a cartridge that almost ended up in the trash bin?

Does Stan deserve an award for “most innovative benchrest cartridge design”? Stan chuckles at that notion: “I’m not a hero, not a genius. I really didn’t do anything. The fun part is thinking outside the box — for me anyway. Shooting is an age-old process of experimentation. You never learn it all.”

Stan Ware Wolfpup HBR SGR Custom Rifles

Stan Ware Wolfpup HBR SGR Custom RiflesWhy Does It Work?
How can such a radical case design perform so well? “That’s a good question,” Stan admitted. He then explained: “The 30 BR is inherently accurate, so I figured something based on the 30 BR should be accurate too. My personal belief is that the short neck doesn’t hurt you. Plus if the throat in the barrel is straight, the bullet can self-align. If the chamber is good, the bullet will self-center in the throat. In a regular case there’s not much room to do that, so a bullet can start off-center, and you don’t get the same results every time. A bullet in a conventional case is stopped from self-centering by the stiffer neck, particularly in a tight-clearance BR gun.”

Reloading the .30 Wolfpup
Stan’s Wolfpup chamber has a neck dimension of 0.330″. He turns his necks for a 0.327″ loaded round. Bullets are jammed .020″ forward of first contact with the lands. When he closes the bolt it pushes the bullet back in the case — almost a soft seat. Stan notes: “To start with I normally bump the shoulder .0005-.001″ so they go in easy. Just by doing that I get a little neck tension. I also use a bushing. Right now I’m running a .322, but it’s not particularly sensitive. I’ve tried one-thousandths increments up to a .325 bushing and couldn’t tell a lot of difference.” For bullet seating, Stan uses a Wilson 30 BR seater die into which he ran the chamber reamer. This gives perfect case fit during seating operations.

Stan Ware Wolfpup SGR Custom Rifles

About the Illustrated Gunstock
You’ll notice Stan’s stock contains scenes from Vietnam and a quotation. Here’s the story. A Vietnam combat veteran, Stan served “in-country” with the Army’s 509th Non-Divisional Combat Unit (out of Fort Riley) from 1965-1966. Shortly before he left Vietnam, Stan went to a shop to have a souvenir lighter engraved. He asked the vendor for an appropriate inscription. The shop’s metal-worker engraved: “War is a tragedy. It takes mans’ best to do mans’ worst.” That message, along with the combat scenes, were hand-painted on Stan’s rifle by his wife Susan, a talented artist. She spent more than 20 hours painting the rifle stock.

Photos courtesy Ryan Ware and Stan Ware.
Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »
August 17th, 2021

IBS 2021 1000-Yd Benchrest National Championship in Montana

IBS 1000 yard championship long range deep creek missoula montana mt light gun heavy dasher 6bra
Photo by Forum member Dave Way.

IBS 1000-Yard National Championship
The IBS 1000-Yard Benchrest National Championship took place this past weekend, August 14-15, at the scenic Deep Creek Shooting Range outside Missoula, Montana. The Match was well attended, with 66 shooters in the Light Gun (LG) division, and 62 in Heavy Gun (HG). The venue was beautiful (as always), but conditions were challenging at times. One shooter noted: “The wind was brutal the last relay. Many shooters DQ’d”.*

Despite the tough conditions, there were some very impressive performances. Jason Walker took the Overall title, based on combined LG and HG standings. Shooting well in both classes, Jason (aka “LRPV” in our Shooters’ Forum) finished 3rd in LG and 6th in HG. Jason’s LG group size Agg was an impressive 4.357″. Nick Howlett was second Overall. Steve Simons won the LG division while James Bradley topped the HG field.

IBS 2021 1000-Yard Nat’l Championship Two-Gun Overall Results (LG + HG)
IBS 2021 1000-Yard Nat’l Championship Light Gun Overall Results
IBS 2021 1000-Yard Nat’l Championship Heavy Gun Overall Results**

Top Five Two-Gun Overall

Jason Walker
Nick Howlett
James Bradley
Richard Jette
Dave Way

Top Five LG Overall

Steve Simons
David Torgerson
Jason Walker
Todd Zaun
Richard Jette

Top Five HG Overall

James Bradley
Jason Walker
Nick Howlett
Jason Peterson
Tom Mousel

IBS 1000 yard championship long range deep creek missoula montana mt light gun heavy dasher 6bra
Winners photo courtesy Jason Walker, 2021 IBS 1000-Yard Two-Gun Champion.

IBS 1000 yard championship long range deep creek missoula montana mt light gun heavy dasher 6bra

Gunsmith Alex Wheeler, who built many of the top-finishing rifles, noted: “Congratulations to the winners, you pulled your way to the top in some pretty tricky conditions. It was good to see every one again as well as meeting some in person for the first time.”

Equipment Used by Light Gun and Heavy Gun Competitors

The equipment lists, for both Light Gun and Heavy Gun, were heavily dominated by Krieger barrels. The Overall Winner and both LG and HG class winners used Kriegers. There were also many Bartlein barrels and Lilja barrels. But surprisingly, the equipment lists only showed 5 Brux barrels in Light Gun and 3 Brux barrels in Heavy Gun. BAT actions were the most common in both divisions, followed by Borden actions.

IBS 1000-Yd Light Gun Equipment List | IBS 1000-Yd Heavy Gun Equipment List

The vast majority of the shooters ran a 6mm cartridge in both Light Gun and Heavy Gun divisions. These were overwhelmingly 6mm Dashers and 6 BRAs. The 6 BRA (aka 6mmBR Ackley Improved) has a 40-degree shoulder like the Dasher, but with a longer neck. There were a half-dozen .300 WSMs in Heavy Gun division, and a couple 7mm RSAUMs, but the 6 Dashers and 6 BRAs dominated the field, even in HG.

6mm Dasher 6BRA BRA cartridge

Overall Winner Jason Walker was shooting two 6mm Dasher rifles. Both guns had BAT actions, Krieger barrels, and Nightforce scopes. Jason’s Heavy Gun had a Maxi-Tracker stock while his Light Gun had a PR&T LowBoy stock. In both rifles, he ran a 6mm Dasher loaded with Vapor Trail bullets pushed by Hodgdon Varget powder and CCI BR4 primers. Jay Cutright did the barrel work while Gordy Gritters worked on the PR&T stock. (NOTE: Jason changed to the LowBoy stock after the LG equipment list was submitted.)

Light Gun Overall winner Steve Simons was running a 6 BRA in Light Gun. Steve’s LG, smithed by Alex Wheeler, had a BAT action, Krieger barrel, Wheeler LRB stock, and Vortex scope. He loaded his 6 BRA cases with Vapor Trail bullets, Hodgdon H4895 powder, and CCI 450 Primers.

Heavy Gun Overall winner James Bradley was also running a 6 BRA in Heavy Gun. Again this had a BAT Action, Krieger barrel, Wheeler LRB stock, and Vortex scope. The rig was smithed by North Ridge Rifles. James shot Vapor Trail bullets, H4895 powder, and Federal 205M primers.

Krieger barrels

deep creek range missoula MT
Looking back at the firing line from the target berm.

Deep Creek Range
The Deep Creek Range in Missoula, MT is one of the nicest places to shoot in the Intermountain West region. The range is located in the mountains within a few minutes drive of Missoula, and there is camping on-site. When conditions are good at Deep Creek, records get broken. To learn more about shooting at Deep Creek, contact Jamey Williams at jameydan[at]gmail.com.

Here is an aerial view of the Deep Creek Range (Drone video by David Gosnell):

* One shooter at the match reported that: “Our last HV gun relay of the Match produced 11 DQs out of 13 competitors.” We have not confirmed this, but even if there were just a handful of DQs is is unfortunate for those HG competitors.
** This is the Heavy Gun Overall, as designated on the right top. However, the columns are erroneously titled “Light Gun”. If you compare the two linked results pages, you will see that they are NOT the same.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gear Review, News No Comments »
July 18th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Sako TRG-22 & TRG-42 Hunting Rifles in Norway

Many years ago, when we decided to do a story about SAKO’s TRG series of rifles, we remembered our friend Terje Fjørtoft in Norway. Terje has owned, and hunted with, both the TRG-22 (in .308 Win), and its big brother, the TRG-42 (chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum). Unlike many TRG owners in the USA, Terje has carried his “tactical hunters” into the field, and tested their effectiveness on large game in both coastal and mountain environments, in warm weather and cold. Terje tells us the TRGs have proven to be rugged and reliable. And they are accurate. The .308 Win TRG-22 delivers about 0.45 MOA groups at 420 yards shot from bipod. The .338 LM TRG-42 shoots about 0.55 – 0.7 MOA at that distance.

A Tale of Two TRGs by Terje Fjørtoft

I live in Brattvåg, along the coast of Norway, but I hunt and shoot at the nearby island “Fjørtoft” (same as my last name) and a small island outside Fjørtoft. I grew up on Fjørtoft as a child, and we hunt seals there in the spring and fall. The large, top photo shows me with my black TRG-42 338 Lapua Mag (“LM”) during a seal hunt a couple years ago. Click on the thumbnail at right to watch a video that shows me shooting the .338 LM. Most of the photos in this story are from that hunt. Because the .338 LM was really “overkill” on the seals (and expensive to reload), I replaced that rifle with a TRG-22 in .308 Winchester.

We hunt seals primarily for wildlife control. This is because the seals carry an internal parasite, called “Kveis”, a small worm that breeds inside the seals (after eating contaminated fish). When the seals expel the Kveis into the water, the Kveis larvae are consumed by the fish and then the fish become unfit to eat. The parasite literally eats the fish from the inside out. It’s not very pretty and it has hurt our Norwegian fishing industry. So there is an important purpose for our seal hunting. We hunt mostly from islands, targeting the seals in the water, and retrieving them with a small boat.

Because the seals spend most of their time in the water, a seal-hunter needs a very accurate rifle [to take head shots at distance]. I like the TRG-22 because it is very accurate out of the box, with a very nice bipod that works well in the field. The stock is comfortable with good adjustment range. The TRG features a 10-rd magazine and the barrel is pre-threaded for a muzzle brake or suppressor.

I have also used my TRGs for hunting big game, deer and what Americans call “Elk”. You can see, further down on this page, a picture from a hunting stand taken late in the evening, in the fading light. Yes I successfully bagged a nice buck during that trip with my TRG-42. When hunting, I use a Leica 900 rangefinder, Swarovski 7×42 Habicht binoculars, and a Silva windwatch. For Optics on the TRG-22, I have a Zeiss 6-24×56 scope, in Tikka Optilock rings. To get more scope adjustment I milled 0.9 mm off the front scope base mount. The Zeiss is great for viewing small targets past 400 meters. It was very difficult to find a longer shooting place than 575 meters on this Island (Uksnøy) but I found a place where I can shoot out to 930 meters, and I’ve made an 80-cm steel gong for a target. At this range, the bullet must fly nearly all the distance over the water.


Terje Shooting the TRG-42 without suppressor. Big recoil, big flash.

Both the TRG-22 and TRG-42 are very accurate right out of the box. The only thing I did before I first shot the TRGs was to clean the barrels very thoroughly. This is because the SAKO factory test shoots the gun without cleaning the barrel. I also adjust the cheek piece upward when shooting the rifles with a big scope. However, if you raise the cheek piece too high you can’t get the bolt out without removing the whole cheek piece. The only real modification I’ve made to my TRGs was to put rubber foot pads on the feet of the SAKO factory bipod. This gives the bipod better grip on slick surfaces such as concrete, or the rocks on the offshore islands.

.338 LM vs. .308 Win — Smaller Can Be Better
A few years ago I had a black TRG-42 (338 LM), but after a year, I sold it, and ordered a TRG-22 from the SAKO factory. After a one-year wait, I got the new green TRG-22 in February this year. One main reason I changed to .308 Win was the cost of ammo. I can reload .308 Win ammo for about one-third the price that it costs to reload .338 LM. One other reason is that my usual shooting distance is about 390 meters–at that distance the .308 is more than effective enough. Also, with the .338 LM, the barrel and the suppressor heated up after only a few shots, but with my new .308, I can shoot at my own pace without this problem. After my most recent shooting trip I once again confirmed how accurate, and fun-to-shoot, the TRG-22 is. I think now the TRG-22 has become my favorite plinking gun.

Though it is fun to experience the big boom and flash of the .338 LM, I’ll admit that it is just too much rifle for most applications. The .338 LM is REAL overkill for seal hunting. Here in Norway we have a rule that the smallest caliber we can use is 6.5×55 with a 140gr (or heavier) bullet, but everyone who hunts seals knows that the seals stay mostly in the water, and therefore you must take a headshot at distance up to about 200 meters. Making the headshot with a smaller caliber is advised for two reasons. First, when a big .338 bullet hits the water, there is a danger it will skip and ricochet quite some distance. Second, if you use too powerful a load/gun/caliber and take a headshot on a swimming seal, the seal sinks like a rock.

Reloading for the TRG-22 (.308 Win)
With the TRG-22, I found it was easy to get an accurate load. My groups with 155gr Scenars are consistently good with a variety of different powders. I’ve tried both light and heavy bullets, but I favor the 155gr Scenars over the 185gr Scenars because the 155s fly a lot faster and drop less.

Three loads (all with Fed 210m primers) that have worked well are: 155gr Scenar with VV N150, 885m/sec; 155gr Scenar with Norma N-11, 890m/sec, and 185gr Scenar, VV N150, 770m/sec. Norma N-11 is a low-cost powder for target shooting. N-11 is similar to Norma 203B or Norma 202 but it varies quite a bit from lot to lot.

I use a RCBS Rock Chucker press, and currently use a standard RCBS full-length die kit to reload my .308 rounds. However, I recently ordered a Redding Competition 3-die set with a .335 bushing. I look forward to trying the Reddings. I have just started to test different seating depths. The 155s just “kiss” the lands at 74.10 mm. I’ve tried 74.00 mm, 74.10 mm and 73.55 mm, but so far saw no significant differences.

Reloading for the TRG-42 (.338 LM)
For the .338 LM, I started with a 250gr Scenar and 95 grains of Vihtavuori N-170. That load was very accurate at about 850 m/sec, but it produced excessive muzzle flash. And, in the winter, the muzzle velocity was inconsistent, and there was too much unburned powder. Next I tried Norma N-15, which proved very accurate at about 880 m/sec. With that load I shot my best TRG-42 group at 380 meters. I set the 250gr Scenar to touch the rifling with 93.2 mm COAL, and I used Federal 215m primers in Lapua-brand brass. Norma MPR2 and VV N-560 (860 m/sec) also were very accurate with the 250 Scenar.

My seal hunting bullet was the 200gr Nosler BT. This bullet grouped very well with 90-94 grains Norma N-15. Velocity was about 970m/sec if I remember correctly. I also tried the 300gr Sierra MK, and got 1/2″ 3-shot groups at 100 meters with 93.5 grains of VV N-170, but this combination produced terrible groups at longer range.

Loading for the .338 LM was not difficult — about the same as loading for .308 Win, except that you use nearly twice the amount of powder. I didn’t crimp the bullets in the neck, didn’t use any special tricks or neck lube. I used RCBS .338 LM full-length die. That functioned, but it would not be my first choice today. Overall, my better loads in the .338 shot in the 0.5-0.7 MOA range. My best group was four shots in 25mm (1″) at 380 meters (416 yards).

Hunting in Norway


I’m not a competitive sport-shooter. Normally, the only time I go to a “commercial” rifle range is to take the test for my hunting license. Every year, I must re-qualify for a shooting license to hunt big game and seals.

Hunters Tested Annually
In Norway, you must pass an actual shooting test before you can hunt big game. This test requires five shots at a deer silhouette target at 100 meters. No rests are allowed–you must shoot off-hand or with a sling only. You have to place five shots inside a 30 cm circle over the front leg.

Every big game hunter that passes this test is authorized to hunt at “dusk and dawn” and in moonlight. So, we do a lot of our hunting in the twilight hours. However, no night-vision or artificial illumination (spotlights) are allowed. We usually hunt deer at dusk and dawn. In the evening, we go on post two to three hours before it is dark, and sit there waiting for the deer to show up–hopefully before it is too dark. In the morning we go to the post one hour before you see any light of the sun, and wait for the deer to show up until the daylight. But when it is full moon we sometime have enough light to hunt in the middle of the night. In the photo, you can see a deer through the scope of my TRG-42. This was very late in the evening. CLICK HERE for BIG Photo.

Sound Suppressors for Hunting Rifles

Suppressors are legal to use for hunting in Norway. I have suppressors on all my rifles, even my little CZ 452 in 17 HMR. To me, shooting a rifle without a suppressor is like driving a car without an exhaust system. The suppressor reduces both noise AND recoil significantly. With a good suppressor, there is no loss of accuracy. The only “negative” in using a suppressor is extra weight on the end of the barrel.

I crafted my own home-made suppressor. It’s similar to my commercially-made TRG-22 suppressor, but the core is made from titanium to be lighter in weight and more corrosion-resistant. I used a lathe at work to craft the inside of the new suppressor. The core of the unit is built from a 27.5 cm X 40mm round bar of titanium while the outer cylinder is made from a 42mm stainless steel tube. I wanted to use titanium for the exterior cylinder as well, but I couldn’t source the right size titanium tube.


Commercial Suppressor on TRG-42

Comparing .308 Win vs. 6mmBR
I also have a 6BR hunting rifle (compensated of course). I have a lot of field time with the 6BR rifle, and feel very confident with that gun. When I got the Krieger 6mmBR barrel on the SAKO Varminter, I fell in love with that rifle from day one, and that rifle is my first choice for small game hunting.

I also like the TRG-22 gun very much and enjoy it more and more with each new field trip. That .308 is my big game rifle and my long-range target rifle.

I recently tested my TRG-22 rifle at 387 meters. This was just “fun shooting” at steel plates, and I didn’t measure groups. But I was happy with the results. Once I corrected for the 5 m/sec crosswind, I was able to put five successive shots on a 10 cm (4″) diameter steel target at 387 meters (423 yards).

My SAKO Varminter in 6mm BR and my TRG-22 are two very different rifles. The TRG-22 is much heavier. I guess the TRG-22 is about 6.5-7 kg while my SAKO 6BR is about 4.5-5 kg, both with suppressor, scope, and bipod. The 6BR with suppressor is much quieter than the TRG-22 with suppressor. The recoil of the 6BR is a lot softer than the TRG-22. So far my 6BR is more accurate. A typical three-shot group with the 6BR is 25-40 mm at 387 meter (423 yards), and that is with just 10X magnification from a Zeiss scope. With my TRG-22, my 3-shot groups run about 50-60 mm, shooting with bipod and beanbag. But I think with a better .308 Win reloading die and more practice, I can improve my groupings with the TRG-22.

SPEC SHEET

The SAKO TRG-22 and TRG-42 are built in Finland by SAKO, a subsidiary of Beretta. In America, the guns are distributed by Beretta USA. Both TRGs (22/42) are available in forest green or a matte black textured finish. A two-stage match trigger is standard.

The stock is somewhat unconventional. It is an external shell, bolted to an internal metal chassis. The action bolts directly to the chassis, without bedding. The injection-molded stock is adjustable for comb height, length of pull (with spacers), vertical butt-pad height and cast-off.

Weight TRG-22
4.7 kg (black)
4.9 kg (green)

Barrel TRG-22
660 mm (26″), hammer-forged, optional stainless or phosphate finish

Capacity
10-round Mag (TRG-22)
7-round Mag (TRG-42)

Calibers
.308 Win (TRG-22)
300WM, .338 LM (TRG-42)

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
July 9th, 2021

100/200 Group Benchrest Rifles & Loads — The Winning Formula

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Jeff Stover IBS

The Rifle for Short-Range Benchrest Competition

Hardware Choices: Actions, Stocks, Barrels, Optics and More
Tech Talk by Jeff Stover

This article was prepared by past IBS President Jeff Stover based on results from the 2019 IBS 100/200 Group Nationals held August 12-17, 2019 at the Holton Gun & Bow Club in western Michigan.

Let’s examine the Top Ten rifles from the 2019 IBS Group Nationals in the 10.5-lb Light Varmint Class. We’ll focus on the most popular rifle components — the choices for Actions, Stocks, Barrels, and Scopes.

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Jeff Stover IBS

IBS short range 100/200 group benchrest
Hall of Famer Jeff Gaidos taking aim at the 2018 IBS Group Nationals. He has a low-profile carbon-fiber stock with a Leupold fixed-power scope.

For some years now, BAT has been the predominant action. This year BAT actions held nearly 100% of the Top Ten places in all the Bag Gun equipment lists. Bruce Thom’s Idaho-crafted actions, except for a couple stray actions in Heavy Bench, swept the top rankings.

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Jeff Stover IBS

Next, look at barrels. Bartlein or Krieger seem to rule with upstate New York’s venerable Hart barrels as competitive. Shooters tend to go with winners, so Wayne Campbell and Jeff Peinhardt dominate as gunsmiths for the top benchrest shooters.

In stocks there seems to be variety, but there is some commonality. The Scoville and Scarbrough stocks, both Michigan-made, are laminated wood (balsa and other wood) with carbon fiber and wrapped in carbon fiber. The Scoville stock on my 10.5-lb rifle weighs 18 ounces but is full size with a nice long fore-end. Bob Scarbrough makes a very similar product. Both are winners — it’s a choice of Ferrari or Lamborghini. The Roy Hunter and Terry Leonard stocks among these top rifles take a different route to winner’s circle. Both are wood (cedar or other), but super high-tech as they are laminated with carbon fiber. They are beautiful to boot. High-magnification Leupold, March, and Nightforce scopes rule the roost among benchrest optics.

IBS Benchrest rifle stock tuner

IBS benchrest loading table powder

Bullets and Powder

Bullets are important. Really important. A hot bullet gives you “Teen Aggs” and lots of trophies. An average bullet does not. Most of these are 68 grain 6mm boattails. The Peinhardt (StaMoly Precision) bullet is well represented on this list, but some top shooters make their own as you can see. Bullet jackets are likely StaMoly or J4. For powder, nearly everyone shoots Vihtavouri N133 except a few guys running LT30/32 or surplus 8208.

Vihtavuori N 133 N133 powder reloading

IBS Benchrest wailing wall targets

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gear Review No Comments »
July 5th, 2021

NRA Re-Opens Public Range Fund — Get Money for Your Range

NRA public range fund improvement grants

The National Rifle Association (NRA) recently announced the reopening of the NRA Public Range Fund. Established in 2009, the NRA Public Range Fund is a grant-matching program that encourages city and county governments, along with state or federal agencies, to work with NRA to build and improve public ranges across the United States.

NRA public range fund improvement grants

This matching grant program encourages federal, state, and local governments to work with NRA to construct, maintain, and augment public shooting facilities. At the NRA’s sole discretion, grants are awarded to assist with the acquisition, development, and improvement of public shooting facilities.

NRA public range fund improvement grants

Make Range Improvements and Resolve Environmental Issues
In addition to physical improvements, NRA’s Public Range Fund allows qualifying agencies or local governments to improve community relations and address environmental issues related to range operations. With grants awarded on a 50/50 matching basis, 50% of project cost are provided by the applicant and the remaining 50% are provided by the Fund. In-kind services such as labor, materials, and equipment may be considered to provide the applicant’s 50% contribution.

APPLY HERE for Public Range Fund Grants »

“Our grants provide … recreational facilities for entire communities. Public ranges allow hundreds of thousands of hunters, competitive shooters, and target shooters to work on their marksmanship under safe and responsible conditions. More than 90 public ranges have been awarded funds to date and we look forward to assisting the next 90.” — Liz Bush, managing director of NRA Community Engagement

More than $2 million in NRA Public Range Fund grants have been awarded since the program began. To learn about this program and other available grants, visit the NRA Grant Program Webpage.

NRA public range fund improvement grants
Photo from IBS Score Nationals at Thumont Conservation & Sportsman’s Club in Maryland.

Range Improvement Grants
Helping clubs improve shooting range facilities is one of the main missions of the NRA Grant Program. Such programs might include: Berm improvements (example below), Clubhouse improvements, Target pits, Covered firing lines, Road improvements, Trap Machines, Storage buildings and other permanent improvements to club properties and/or facilities.

range improvement grants NRA

Permalink - Articles, News No Comments »