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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”.

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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

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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


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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).

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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

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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

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April 25th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: The Rifle that Shot Smallest 1K Group in History

Mike Wilson IBS 1000-yard light gun record 50-5X world's smallest 1000-yard Group

Look and be amazed. What you are seeing is the smallest 5-Shot group ever shot in 1000-yard competition. And it is also perfectly centered for a 50-5X max score, yes ALL Xs. Brilliant! This amazing group was shot by Mike Wilson in July of 2018 with his 17-lb Light Gun, chambered for a 6mmBR wildcat he calls the 6 BRAW (BR Ackley Improved Wilson). This spectacular feat of accuracy demonstrates the potential of the 6BR family of cartridges even at 1000 yards. For his record group, Mike shot Vapor Trail 103-grain bullets in Lapua 6mmBR fire-formed brass. He loaded Hodgdon H4895 powder with CCI 450 primers. The action was a BAT, the barrel a Brux.

The Best 5-Shot 1000-Yard Group in History

Story based on report by Sam Hall
Look at that target by Mike Wilson. This is one of the most remarkable displays of accuracy (and precision) in the history of long range shooting. This past weekend, Mike (aka “GA. Dawg” in our Forum) drilled a truly spectacular 1.087-inch, 5-shot group at 1000 yards, all centered up in the X-Ring. Yes, you read that right, a group barely over an inch at 1000, shot in competition at an official IBS benchrest match on July 21, 2018. Note, the group was measured at the range at an even smaller 1.068″ (see target). However, as certified by the IBS as a IBS Light Gun World Record, the group is listed as 1.087″.

How small is that in angular measurement? Well 1 MOA at 1000 yards is 10.47 inches, so Mike’s 50-5X masterpiece is 0.1038 MOA! Yes that is an IBS group size AND score World Record. And it is also smaller than the current NBRSA 1000-yard 5-shot LG world record, 1.473″ by Bill Schrader in 2002. This best-ever 1K group* was shot at an IBS registered 1000-yard match at Hawks Ridge Gun Club in North Carolina. Other records have been shot at Hawks Ridge in the past, but this is the most jaw-dropping.

Mike Wilson IBS Hawks Ridge 1000-yard benchrest 1000 record 1.086 inches
Sam Hall (left, green shirt) holds record target by Mike Wilson (right, white shirt).

Sam Hall, past IBS National Champion and IBS 600-Yard Shooter of the Year, was stunned by Wilson’s accomplishment: “This is a truely awesome marksmanship feat — one of the best in history. I think I would trade all 14 of my 600-yard records for that one!”. Mike’s amazing target will be submitted for approval as new Group Size and Score IBS World Records. Official approval is pretty much a certainty. The previous 5-shot, 1000-yard IBS record is 1.397″ (50 score) by Tom Sarver in 2007. (The NBRSA 1000-Yard 5-shot LG record is 1.473″ by Bill Schrader in 2002.)

Mike Wilson IBS Hawks Ridge 1000-yard benchrest 1000 record 1.086 inches

Posting on our Shooters’ Forum, Mike wrote: “Thanks everyone for the kind words. As humbling as this game is, when it comes together makes it all worthwhile! A very special THANK YOU to my traveling buddy, my son, Blake, and my wife Debra for allowing me to enjoy this crazy game.” Mike also wanted to thank his smiths and component suppliers.

Mike Wilson IBS 1000-Yard Light Gun Specifications

Action: BAT ‘B’ 1.550 Melonited Action with Jewell Trigger
Barrel: Brux HV 28″ Finished Length, 1:8″ Twist Rate
Chambering: 6 BRAW (6mmBR Ackley Improved Wilson), Chambered by Darrell Jones
Chamber Specs: 0.272″ No-turn Neck with 0.135″ Freebore
Stock: Shehane ST 1000 Fiberglass Stock (with stock work by Larry “Bullet” Archer)
Optics: Nightforce 12-42x56mm Benchrest NP-2 DD

LOAD Specs: Lapua 6mmBR brass (formed to 40° Ackley Improved), Vapor Trail 103gr bullets, Hodgdon H4895 powder, CCI 450 primers.

Mike Wilson IBS Hawks Ridge 1000-yard benchrest 1000 record 1.086 inches
Leonard Baity front rest with Protektor Bag. Italian Lenzi bag in rear.

World Record-Setting Cartridge and Load
Mike was shooting a 40-degree Improved version of the 6mmBR Norma cartridge. Long popular with Benchrest and 300M shooters, the 6mmBR was the original inspiration for this website. Yep, we started as www.6mmBR.com. The Improved version has extra capacity, allowing about 100 FPS more velocity when chambered with a long throat. For his record group, Mike shot Vapor Trail 103-grain bullets in Lapua brass. He loaded Hodgdon H4895 powder with CCI 450 (small rifle magnum) primers.

Praise from Fellow Competitors
Here are some reactions to Mike’s amazing group by our Forum members:

“Amazing target Mike Wilson! Your group might last forever as ‘the goal’ of 1000-yard Benchrest! Heck that’s a great target even at 600 yards.” — Mike J.

“Think about this for a second. That group was barely larger than the size of your index finger’s first digit and he printed it at 1000 Yards.” — Carlos

“Unbelievable!! Doing that under chosen prime conditions is an amazing feat but to do that in competition and to have everything to come together is just unbelievable. Amazing how far skill, precision, knowledge, and the products of this sport have come. Never thought we would see a group this small and well placed especially in the hills of North Carolina where the wind always blows. Congratulations. A true lifetime achievement.” — Yote Hunter

“I think that one will stand for a while. Hard work does pay off, but it don’t hurt to be one of the givers in the sport. Mike, you are ‘The Man’!” — Bill Shehane

“Awesome, awesome. Now the goal is to shoot UNDER an inch!” — Alex Wheeler

For more comments, read this AccurateShooter Forum Thread.

The 6mmBR Ackley Improved
Mike Wilson shot his spectacular group with a 40° Improved version of the 6mmBR cartridge with less body taper than a standard 6BR — the design is 0.463 at the body/shoulder junction (vs. 0.460 for standard 6BR). Mike calls his version of the 6BR Ackley a 6BRAW (“W” for Wilson). Sam Hall explained: “The 6BRAW is pretty much the same as a 6BRA or 6BR-AI (Ackley Improved). I sold the reamer to Mike last year. This has a 0.272 ‘No-Turn’ chamber with a 0.135 Freebore”.

6mmBR Ackley Improved 6BRA 6BRAI 6BRAW Mike wilson Tom Mousel

This photo shows a 40° 6mmBR Ackley Improved (6BRA), as used by Tom Mousel in Deep Creek, Montana. Mike Wilson’s 6BRAW may be very slightly different. For Mousel’s 6BRA with 28″ Krieger barrel, the accuracy node is about 2980-2990 fps, so this gives up only 30-50 fps compared to typical Dasher velocities. Mike Wilson’s load runs about 2980 fps also.

In the past couple of years, the 6BR Ackley-type cartridges have been hugely successful in 600-yard and 1000-yard Benchrest. Sam Hall notes: “This year the little 6BR-AI has shot the smallest groups ever fired in 600-yard and 1000-yard competition. Back in April 2018, bullet-maker Bart Sauter, using a 6BRA, shot a 0.311″ 50-score 5-Shot group at 600 yards.” (Read Sauter Story). Bart’s stunning 0.05 MOA group is now the 600-yard IBS HG World Record.(Note: Bart’s target was originally measured at 0.282″ but was later IBS-certified at 0.311″.)

Mike Wilson IBS Hawks Ridge 1000-yard benchrest 1000 record 1.086 inches
Mike used an Italian Lenzi rear bag. Mike says the super-slick nylon on the ears of this high quality rear bag make for better tracking. The ears provide support but don’t “grab” the stock, reports Mike.

More Comments by Fellow Shooters:

“Truly an amazing feat. The 5X was the icing on the cake! Many shooters would be very happy with that group size at 200 yards.” — Mr. Zero

“Words cannot adequately express how many of us feel about your magnificent accomplishment at 1000 yards. Congratulations — that is terrific!” — Gene Beggs

“Truly amazing … well done on a great achievement… RESPECT!” — Elardus

“Bravo Mike pour ce tir incroyable. Ton exploit est sur le forum de tir longue distance en France bonne continuation.” — Frederic Riso


* There are two North American sanctioning bodies for 1000-Yard Benchrest, the IBS and the NBRSA. The previous 5-shot, 1000-yard IBS record is 1.397″ (50 score) by Tom Sarver in 2007. The existing NBRSA 1000-Yard 5-shot Light Gun record is 1.473″, shot by Bill Schrader in 2002.

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April 11th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Home-Built Heavy Gun with Coaxial Rear Rest

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

If you’re a fan of “Heavy Artillery” here’s an impressive rifle that Forum member “Straightpipes” crafted himself nearly a decade ago. Even today, it remains a state-of-the-art engineering Tour De Force, complete with a custom-built, joy-stick REAR rest. We’re mightily impressed by the innovative design and superb metal-work displayed by this “home-built special”. ‘Straightpipes’ certainly proved that American “know-how” and creativity is still alive….

Coaxial (joy-stick) rests allow both vertical and horizontal movement with a single control. If you want to make a diagonal shift in point of aim, you can do this with one, smooth, continuous movement. Until now, this advantage has been limited to front rests. Well there’s some new technology in the benchrest world. Forum member ‘Straightpipes’ has created a coaxial rear joystick rest. He built this simple, compact rear rest in his home workshop for use with his 40-lb Heavy Gun. In combination with a vertically adjustable front rest, this innovative rear joystick rest allows aiming to be controlled from the rear, with your left hand in a comfortable position. Yes this kind of adjustable rear rest is legal in NBRSA HG and LG classes, and in IBS Heavy Gun class.

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

Straightpipes Rear Coaxial Rest — Design and Features
The rear rest is crafted from aluminum with a stainless steel forward-pointing joystick. Total weight, including the long, stabilizing base foot, is about 10 pounds. Though the rear rest doesn’t seem to have a large movement range, the system offers plenty of “on-target” travel. At 100 yards, the rest offers 10 MOA left, 10 MOA right, 5 MOA up, and 5 MOA down adjustment. That’s plenty of range for most targets, once you center the Point of Aim vertically using the captain’s wheel on the front rest, which Straightpipes also crafted himself. Click Square Photos Below to see Large Images.

Inside the rear cradle sits a Protektor rear sandbag, with Cordura fabric filled with ordinary sand. This fits the 3″-wide bottom of Straightpipes’ 40-lb heavy gun. There are some sophisticated components you can’t see in the photos. The rear rest can pivot (right or left slightly) to stay aligned with the front rest (as adjusted to level the cant of the rifle). Straightpipes says: “With the pivot, whatever I do to the front, the rear follows.” The basket (cradle) also employs a 20-lb bias spring system to handle the weight of the Heavy Gun. This prevents the co-axial system from binding, so it is fluid and easy to operate. Even with 20 pounds of gun weight on the rear, the joystick can be easily manipulated with a light touch of thumb and fore-finger.

Video Shows Rear Coaxial Rest in Action

Watch the video below to see how the joystick controls the rear rest. Total joystick movement is about a 2.5″ sweep. This gives 20 MOA total windage adjustment at 100 yards, and about 10 MOA vertical.

About the Straightpipes Front Rest
The coaxial rear rest is designed to work with the massive front rest as a system, though they are NOT connected, so as to comply with IBS Heavy Gun rules. The 30-lb front rest supports exactly half the weight of the rifle and is used to set gross elevation. Windage and fine elevation is controlled in the rear. Straightpipes also designed and built his beefy front rest himself. As with his rear coaxial unit, the front rest pieces were all shaped by hand on a belt sander after being milled out. Straitpipes even “finish-sculpted some pieces with hand files the old craftsmen way.” The main center support column was milled with extremely fine threads. This allows the captain’s wheel to turn with little effort and no locking mechanism is required. Straightpipes does not need to fuss with locking knobs when he sets gross elevation. To help keep the unit from binding, there are stainless guide shafts on the left and right. These shafts slide in oil-impregnated bronze bushings.

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

40-lb Barrel Block Heavy Gun with Savage Action
Straightpipes built this beautiful set of rests to work with his 40-lb Heavy Gun. Chambered in 7mm WSM, the gun features a Savage Target Action, and a Brux 32″, 1.300″ straight-diameter barrel fitted with a custom barrel nut. The barrel is clamped forward of the action in a 9″-long barrel block. This allows the Savage action to free-float. The block, also built by Straightpipes, looks fairly standard, but it has some clever design features. Between the barrel and the block there is sleeve that is slightly compressed when the block’s bolts are tensioned. This sleeve, made of a proprietary material, eliminates metal to metal contact between barrel and block. Straightpipes believes this enhances accuracy and provides some damping. Other shooters with barrel-block guns have used epoxy between block and barrel, but that makes disassembly difficult. The sleeve system on Straightpipes’ gun allows the barreled action to be easily removed from the stock. In addition, the compressed sleeve system is very stable — Straightpipes doesn’t have to fiddle with the bolt torques on his block.

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

‘Black Beauty’ Stock Made from Resin-Soaked Laminated Wood, with Rust-Oleum Finish
Straightpipes built the beefy stock himself. It is made from “red oak” wood soaked in resin and then laminated together with JB Weld. The rear section features a polished aluminum buttplate and twin metal “runners” on the underside, where the stock rides the Protektor Cordura bag. Straightpipes says the stock is very stable: “it absolutely does not flex or warp with changes in temp or humidity”. We asked Straightpipes about the stock finish. To our surprise, “Pipes” revealed he used inexpensive Rust-Oleum fine texture outdoor furniture paint. “Pipes” told us: “I’ve been using this stuff for years. It’s abrasion proof and tough as nails — the bags won’t wear it off. It’s solvent-proof, won’t get soft or bubble up. It cleans up with a damp cloth, just rub it down and it looks like new.”

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

As designed and crafted by Straightpipes, this Heavy Gun rest system is impressive. The rear rest is brilliantly simple, and beautifully finished. But the important question is: “how does it shoot?”. Straightpipes reports that the whole system exceeds his expectations: “The rear rest actuation is smooth and positive. It works smoothly in conjunction with the front rest. Everything is working together — there’s nothing that’s fighting another element of the system. The gun tracks straight. When it returns to battery, the thing is pretty much waiting for you shot after shot.” The rear rest’s small footprint allows the “driver” to sit comfortably behind the rig. Straightpipes reports: “Shooters can ‘address the rifle’ just like a Light Gun — you’re not straining to wrap your arm around something overly massive. Anybody can shoot this, it’s a very easy gun to shoot.”

Is it accurate? In a word, “Yes”. Straightpipes doesn’t want to make claims before the rig has been tested in competition, but he says it has “shot groups at 600 and 1000 yards that would be very competitive.” We promised not to publish group sizes yet, but we can tell you that at 600 yards in good conditions it drilled some “scary small” 5-shot groups, well, well under 1/4 MOA.

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February 28th, 2021

Experiment with Fore and Aft Rifle Position on Rest and Bag

Benchrest stock

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joel Kendrick

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

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

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

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

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

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September 27th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Shelley Davidson’s Amazing “Tinker Toy” 30 BR

Shelly Davidson Tinker Toy 30 BR

Editor’s NOTE: Shelley Davidson passed away in 2008 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was one of the great innovators in benchrest rifle design. This article, written before Shelley died, showcases Shelley’s creative talents at their best. His “Tinker Toy” design will always be a tribute to Shelley’s fabricating skills and imagination.


Shelley Davidson — a brilliant innovator. R.I.P. Shelley — you will not be forgotten.

Shelley Davidson’s peers called his radical rifle the “Tinker Toy” gun. We call it revolutionary. Even now, 14 years after its creation, there’s nothing quite like it. This innovative, skeleton design threw conventional wisdom to the winds. Shelley readily concedes he “broke the rules” of benchrest rifle building. But this was inspired rule-breaking, because Davidson’s rifle shot like a house on fire. The Tinker Toy gun won its first matches, both for Score AND for Group. And this rifle also delivered many “zero groups” in Gene Begg’s Texas Tunnel. Hats off to Shelley for conceiving and building a truly radical rifle that was also wicked accurate and successful in competition.

tinker toy davidson 20 BR benchrest rifle

Tinker Toy 30 BR — Radical As It Gets

Report by Shelley Davidson
Although I’m not big on naming rifles, my shooting buddies have christened the gun “Tinker Toy.” I can live with that as it does kind of look as if it was made with a Tinker Toy set.

Origins of the Project
This project began with some wild ideas I had in the fall of 2006 about using magnets to tune a barrel. My idea was to use one magnet on the barrel and another on the stock so they pushed against each other to counter gravity-induced barrel sag (and possibly) tame barrel vibration in a beneficial manner. The only way to test these ideas was to build the device and mount it on a gun. That meant I had to build a new rifle because there was no place to mount a magnet on the stock of a conventional benchrest rig. I had a Kelbly-stocked heavy varmint stock with a Michael Kavanaugh paint job on it. I didn’t think Kav would ever forgive me if I started drilling holes in one of his works of art. My light varmint was in a carbon fiber Scoville stock that costs about a grand. Drilling into the Scoville for an experiment just smacked of bad judgment. So, the magnet thing was my first motivation for designing a new stock. As long as I was building from scratch I decided to offset the barrel and action 0.75″ to the right to counteract the spin/torque from the bullet.

Although there’s nothing new here, my second motivation was to build a 30BR that could shoot in the 10.5 lb light varmint class in NBRSA. The magnetic tuner will automatically make this gun illegal in the IBS. The IBS has declared all barrel attachments un-safe and have outlawed them. I personally feel that the IBS really outlawed all barrel attachments to prevent experimentation and innovation. But at least we have NBRSA matches.

Designing the New Gun — Thinking “Outside the Box”
Once I’d decided to build a lightweight stock that could support experimental devices out near the muzzle, I started drawing up some rough plans. I also took a trip to Jerry Stiller’s shop in Wylie, Texas for a brainstorming session with Jerry, the maker of Viper and other Benchrest actions. Jerry is a school-trained mechanical engineer and thinks differently than I do. I came away from Stiller’s shop with my design roughed out and sketched on paper. The design violated several covenants of conventional wisdom for building competition BR rifles. For instance, two-piece stocks stress the action. Stress reduction is why most BR rifles are glued into the stock. Another myth is that metal stocks vibrate too much so wood or foam-filled fiberglass or carbon fiber are used.

Tinker Toy Rifle DESIGN FEATURES

Shelly Davidson’s Rifle was so innovative, that almost every feature, except the bare action, is very different than you’ll find on most Benchrest rigs. Accordingly we felt it would be useful to isolate and describe the key design features, from stem to stern. Click thumbnails to view FULL-SIZE PHOTOS.

Front Bracket with Magnetic Tuner
The tuner consists of one rare earth magnet attached to the stock and another attached to a barrel sleeve with the magnets oriented so as to make the magnetic force repel each other. The purpose is to counter “barrel droop” and, hopefully, dampen barrel vibration. The lower magnet is carried on a threaded shaft (with lock ring), allowing the magnet to be raised up and down to adjust the “up push” on the barrel.

Tubular Fore-Arm Supported by Brackets
Three brackets support two tubes, one on either side of the barrel. The rear-most bracket is sandwiched between the barrel and the action. Four inches forward (max distance allowed for barrel blocks) a second bracket grips the barrel. Near the muzzle a third bracket secures the ends of the tubes and holds the magnetic tuner. To allow barrel offset, the left tube is 1″ diameter tube while the right tube is 5/8″ diameter.

Offset Barrel
The rifle rests on a 3″ wide plate attached to the underside of the two fore-end tubes. With the plate centered in the front sandbag, the barreled action is actually offset 0.75″ to the right (looking forward from the breech). The purpose of this offset is to keep more weight on the right side to counter the tendency of the rifle to torque counter-clockwise. Two different diameter tubes allow for the built-in offset.

Floating Action without Sub-Support or Bedding
On the Tinker Toy gun, the action serves as a load-bearing assembly, holding the barrel in the front, and the skeleton buttstock (or “keel”) in the rear. Shelley was told that accuracy would suffer if you stressed a benchrest action in this manner but that proved untrue. It is a very simple solution to building a rifle, and it eliminates the need to bed the action. The forearm attaches to the action via a bracket installed like a recoil lug.

Skeleton Rear “Keel” Affixed Directly to Action
Davidson’s Tinker Toy does not have a conventional rear buttstock. Instead there is low-profile, v-shaped metal “keel”, as Davidson calls it, that rides the rear bag. The keel is supported by a tubular backbone that attaches at the rear of the Diamondback action. At the butt end is an aluminum plate covered with bubble wrap that serves as a butt pad. The skeletonized rear section helps the rifle maintain a very low center of gravity.

Locked Scope with External Windage and Elevation Adjustment
Shelley ran an older Leupold 36X Benchrest Scope with front-adjusting objective. To eliminate slop or loose tolerances in the erector mechanism that could cause changes in point of impact, the internals have been locked up by Jackie Schmidt. To move the cross-hairs relative to the bore axis, Shelley has a special Jewell/Foster rear ring that allows a limited amount of lateral and vertical movement of the entire scope body.

TINKER TOY SPECIFICATIONS

Action: Stiller SS Diamondback Drop-Port (1/2″ short), with .308 Bolt Face.
Barrel: Shilen .308 caliber, 17-twist, HV.
Chambering: 30BR, .330″ neck, Pacific Tool & Gauge Robinett Reamer.
Stock: Davidson Custom Tubular Stock with 0.75″ Offset Barreled Action.
Tube Construction: 6061 Aluminum, 1″ diameter (left), 5/8″ diameter (right).
Load: H4198 powder and 118gr Ronnie Cheek bullets. Loaded to 2980 fps.
Trigger: Jewell, 2 ounce BR.
Tuner: Custom, Adjustable with Opposing Magnets.
Optics: Leupold 36X (locked by J. Schmidt).
Rings: Jewell Foster External Adjusting Rings.

Stiller Diamondback Action and Shilen 17-Twist Barrel
I had wanted to use an aluminum Stiller Cobra drop port with a 6mmBR bolt face but Jerry had none in stock and he estimated it would be a year before one was available. Although I’ve waited for up to a year for an action in the past, I wanted to build this rifle during the fall of 2006 while the weather was pleasant enough to work in my unheated and un-air-conditioned garage shop. Jerry did have a 1/2″ short stainless steel Diamondback in stock so I purchased it even though it would add 3 ounces to the gun compared to the aluminum Cobra. Three ounces is a lot of weight when you’re working with a 10.5-lb limit. I had a heavy varmint contour Shilen 17-twist barrel that would work nicely and I had a Jewell trigger on a rifle that I wasn’t using at the time. I also decided to use my Leupold 36X (locked-up by Jackie Schmidt) with the Jewell/Foster adjustable rings.

Building the Tube Fore-Arm and Brackets
I took a wild guess as to tubing thickness and settled on .035″ for the 1″ left fore-arm tube and .058″ for the 5/8″ right fore-arm tube. All of the flat stock and tubes are 6061 Aluminum. I did the lathe work and the mill work and every evening I’d put the parts together and think about the proper way to proceed.

tube benchrest rifle

When the parts were mostly made, I started thinking that this was a truly ugly rifle. I thought about painting it but that wasn’t a good option as many of the parts are designed to slide over others and glue together. Anodizing was the best answer so while looking on the Internet for local anodizing shops I Googled “Home Anodizing”. Sure enough there were a few sites that told about how to anodize at home. I picked up some battery acid from NAPA Auto Supply, some Rit Clothes Dye from Wal-Mart, and a bunch of distilled water from the grocery store. Using an old battery charger as my dc power supply I started anodizing and dying the eighteen parts that went into the stock. Although I had to strip and re-anodize some of the parts, the work turned out acceptable.

Putting it All Together–Lug-Mounting the Fore-Arm and Lots of Epoxy
The barrel contour had to be modified to work with the stock which attaches by way of a rear plate which mounts like a recoil lug and a plate that ties the barrel and the stock tubes together 4″ forward of the bolt face. The four-inch maximum distance is a NBRSA rule concerning barrel blocks.

Davidson Benchrest 30BR

Davidson 30BR group targetThe recoil lug-style stock mount is probably the only truly innovative thing I did other than the opposing-magnet tuner. Basically, the rear bracket is sandwiched between the receiver face and the barrel shoulder–positioned where a conventional recoil lug would go. I also added a brass ring (visible in photo) between the anodized bracket and the barrel. This was done to distribute loads over a wider surface area. (I was concerned that the bracket material was fairly soft and I didn’t want to crush it as I torqued the barrel in place.) After fitting the barrel and plates I glued the entire gun together using epoxy and various LocTite adhesives. The rest of the parts were assembled but I did not Loctite the scope bases since I thought I’d be disassembling the rifle for re-work after the first trials. That came back to bite me during later testing when the gun started shooting erratically and I went down a couple of blind alleys before finding the loose bases.

Range Testing–Results Are Very Positive
The first range session was a real shocker. Even though the wind was up to 10mph and twitchy, the rifle showed promise from the very first shot. I really didn’t expect that kind of performance without, at least, some rework. After sighting in, I shot five, 5-shot groups that, when averaged together, measured .223″. That’s good enough to win some benchrest group matches. But I wasn’t finished with the gun yet–I still wanted to try out my magnetic tuner concept.

Magnetic Benchrest Tuner Davidson

The Magnetic Tuner
Next, I built the magnetic tuner. The tuner consists of one rare earth magnet attached to the stock and another attached to a barrel sleeve with the magnets oriented so the magnetic forces repel each other. In order to test the magnets and to determine if the rifle really shot as well as it seemed to, I took it to Gene Beggs’s shooting tunnel in Odessa, Texas. I spent two days at the tunnel testing loads and then installed the magnetic tuner. The gun shoots well with the magnets and shoots well without them. I suppose I can’t make any claims as to how much, if any, improvement the magnets make. Gene said that my gun was the most accurate rifle to be tested at his one-year-old shooting facility: “Shelley Davidson brought one of the most unusual rifles I had ever seen; he called it his ‘Tube Gun.’ And boy, did it ever shoot! It still holds the record in the tunnel as the rifle that shot more zeros than any other to date.” I definitely recommend Gene’s facility for testing and refining shooting techniques and loads.

Competition — Tinker Toy Won Both Score and Group Matches

Finally the big day arrived when I’d shoot the first match with my new gun. The North Texas Shooters Association was holding its first club match of the 2007 season. At the Denton, Texas matches we shoot a Score Match in the morning and a Group Match in the afternoon. The March event was at 100 yards and the April match will be at 200 yards and so on alternating throughout the benchrest season.

Davidson tube BR rifle Score MatchMatch One–Tinker Toy Wins Score with a 250 – 17X
Since the gun is chambered in 30BR and that chambering is almost immune to tuning woes, I preloaded 130 rounds with H4198 powder and 118gr Cheek bullets. I used my SEB front rest and rear bag which are made by Sebastian Lambang in Indonesia. Everything came together, and Tinker Toy demonstrated that the accuracy it showed in the tunnel was no fluke. The gun shot great and I won the morning match with a 250, 17X. The day was quite windy and the next best shooter scored a 250, 15X. So I’d chalked up my first win.

Match Two–Tinker Toy Wins Group with a .2282″ Agg
Tinker Toy won the afternoon group match I entered with a five-group Aggregate of .2282″. (The second place score was .2568″.) My groups were .149″, .197″, .243″, .302″ (oops), and .250″. You know how some folks say a 30BR can’t be competitive with a PPC? Well that .2282″ Agg won’t break any records, but it is good enough to win some regional registered BR matches. So this rifle has demonstrated an ability to win in both Score and Group matches. Obviously I have a very good Shilen barrel, great Cheek bullets and the rest of the components are doing their jobs as well. But, the stock is also working well.

Score Shooting vs. Group Shooting–The Rules
In a score match, the shooter shoots one bullet at each of five record targets, which are clustered on one target sheet. The Aggregate score of five of these targets determines the winner. If the shooter touches the 10 ring on all of his 25 targets he can score a “clean” 250 score. Usually there will be more than one shooter who scores a 250 so the winner is determined by the X-count. The 1/2″ 10-point ring has a 1/16″ dot in its center. Touching the X dot adds to the shooters X count. In short-range group matches, the shooter must try to put five bullets through the same hole. At each distance (100 or 200), five, 5-shot matches are scored, the group sizes are added together (MOA equivalent at 200) and the total is divided by five to arrive at an Aggregate score.

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August 26th, 2020

IBS Match Report: 2020 100/200 Meter Score Nationals

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina

2020 has been a challenging year for the shooting sports. The CMP National Matches at Camp Perry and NRA National Championships at Camp Atterbury were cancelled due to Pandemic health concerns. Other major matches have been dropped from the calendar due to COVID-19. That’s why we are pleased to report that the IBS was able to conduct the 2020 Benchrest for Score 100/200 Meter National Championships. Attendance was solid, and competitors had a good time. Here is the match report from IBS member Todd Payseur.

IBS 100/200 Score Nationals at Mid-Carolina Gun Club

Report from Todd Payseur
The morning light breaks and shooters begin to set the final touches on their wind flags. Yes, it’s time for the Nationals! For what has been a crazy COVID-impacted year with a lot of cancelled matches, dates being changed, and some states still not able to hold matches, many shooters had cabin fever for the Nationals.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina

Several people had concerns beforehand with even having a match in August at the Mid-Carolina Gun Club because of how brutal our summers can be, but Mother Nature really blessed us with a calm weekend. Saturday started with overcast skies and projected highs around 87 degrees, which for August is almost unheard of. A few showers during the day, but nothing that really amounted to much or effected any of the relays. The winds stayed calm and 20 VFS shooters stayed clean and 2 Hunter guns went for 250-10X with Peter Hills creedmooring Ronnie Milford for the top 6-power at 100 meters. In VFS a familiar face, Wayne France shot a great 250-21X edging out rookie shooter Will Till at 250-20X.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Lisa Moore, grandmother of Gage and Remy Logsdon, prepares for the next relay with bolt removed.

This is Will’s second season in VFS and he has steadily improved. His second place finish at 100 meters is the start of many great finishes ahead for this young man. Speaking of young people, I’m pleased to say we had a great showing of Junior shooters this year and they all deserve to be mentioned. Defending rookie of the year Tori Allen (below right) was the top junior, followed by first-year rookie Remy Logsdon. Gage Logsdon rounded out the top three junior shooters. With such young talents coming into the benchrest game, we are very optimistic about the future of our sport.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Wayne France (Left) with 100-yard 1st Place Agg patch. Tori Allen (Right) was the top Junior shooter.

Sunday at 200 meters was the Lin Smith show! Lin shot both a Heavy and a Light Varmint rifle and turned in a very impressive 500-17X for the day. This fine work led him to two of the top three places at 200 meters and a first and fourth in the Grand Agg. I can’t say enough about how happy everyone is for Lin. He is one good man that those of us in the southeast region are honored to compete with and call a friend.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Grand Agg winner Lin Smith really put on a display of fine shooting this weekend.

In the 6-power Hunter Rifle class, Jim Cline turned in an impressive 249-5X at 200 meters for the win and that led him to his first place finish in the Grand Agg followed by a solid 245-4X by Ronnie Milford who took second-place in the Grand Agg.

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Here are all the winners with their wood. Left to Right: Will Till, Gage Logsdon, Lee Martin, Tori Allen, John Bosley, Lin Smith, Peter Hills, John Ridgeway, Remy Logsdon, Wayne France, Jim Cline and Ronnie Milford.

CLICK Chart for Full Spreadsheet with Results for ALL Shooters
IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeberg south carolina

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
View back to the benches from the 100-meter targets at Mid-Carolina Gun Club. the Orangeburg swirl is lurking in those trees… just waiting to push bullets where they just shouldn’t go!

Great Competition, Great Food, Great Location
Overall we had a good turnout with 35 VFS guns and 8 V/VH guns on Saturday and 34 and 7 on Sunday. Competitors came from as far away as Maine and Michigan and everywhere in between. The food was outstanding with meals available both Friday and Saturday evenings at the range along with lunches Saturday and Sunday. One thing is for certain, if you enjoy great food and great company, then the IBS VFS circuit is something you should come check out, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

About the Mid-Carolina Gun Glub in South Carolina
CLICK HERE for more information on the Mid-Carolina Gun Club in Orangeburg, South Carolina. This club boasts a great facility with plenty of room for cleaning/loading, plus a large, covered eating area with serving line. There is also parking for campers on the club property. I would like to personally thank Jim Cline and the whole Mid-Carolina Crew for another great weekend and cherished memory!

IBS Score Nationals 100 200 yard benchrest championship mid-carolina orangeburg south carolina
Jerry Powers from the Ashe County gang setting up a SEB MAX. SEB rests, both MAX and NEO, are very popular with score BR shooters.

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July 12th, 2020

Sunday Gunday: Ocock Railgun May Be Most Accurate Gun Ever

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

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

Gary’s red railgun is arguably the Most Accurate Gun Ever Built. As far as we can determine, no one has ever shot a smaller 5-target Agg anywhere, at any time. FYI, the NBRSA Unlimited Class 5×5 Aggregate World Record is 0.1242″ shot by Jerry Lahr in 2012. Gary’s 0.0840″ Agg is much smaller.

The Unlimited Benchrest Record That Will Never Be (Official)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This video shows a line-up of Rail-Guns. One of Gary Ocock’s Rails appears at the 0:35 time-mark.

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

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

Ocock Did Set Single-Group IBS World Record with Red Railgun

Gary Ocock red railgun HB IBS visalia record
Photo credit: Ben Zentner

Here is Gary with his Red Railgun at a Visalia event in October 2017. Ocock let the event’s youngest competitor, 12-year-old Gavin Lichtenwalter, shoot Gary’s new Railgun for the last three matches on Sunday afternoon. The day before, 10/21/17, Gary shot an IBS Heavy Benchrest World Record putting five shots in just 0.045 inches, as certified by the IBS record committee. Here is that group, as first measured at the range at 0.039 inches.

Gary Ocock red railgun HB IBS visalia record

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

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

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July 8th, 2020

IBS 2020 1000-Yard National Championships Moved to Missouri

Vapor Trail Valley Range Missouri IBS 2020 1000 yard 1K National Championships

Important news for 1000-yard benchrest competitors! The 2020 IBS 1000-yard National Championships will be held September 5 and 6, 2020 at the Vapor Trail Valley Range in Missouri. Take note — the IBS 1K Nationals were originally going to be held at the Hawks Ridge Range in North Carolina. So the event has moved from NC to Missouri, and will be held later in the year. This change was done because of uncertainties over COVID-19 public health policies/retrictions in North Carolina. Also, moving the Nationals to early fall gives more time to organizers to plan the event.

Vapor Trail Valley Range Missouri IBS 2020 1000 yard 1K National Championships

Forum member David 0306 from North Carolina observed: “As many of you have probably already heard, the 2020 1000-yard IBS Nationals has been cancelled for Hawks Ridge Gun Club in North Carolina. [Due to] uncertainty of what phase the NC Governor will have the state in, and the possibilities of going back into a stay-at-home order, the board at Hawks Ridge decided it was in the best interest of the shooters to cancel and allow another club to host the Nationals if possible. This will also help with travel plans, and getting time off from work. What I do know is Vapor Trail Valley has stepped up to the plate and has agreed to host the Nationals. Thank You Vapor Trail Valley and IBS shooters for your help and support through these difficult times.”

Vapor Trail Valley Range Missouri IBS 2020 1000 yard 1K National Championships

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November 15th, 2019

Crazy But It Works — Log-Splitter Heavy Gun for IBS Competition

Can you really make a silk purse from a sow’s ear? Would you believe a winning benchrest rifle could be constructed with a stock fashioned from a cast-off log-splitter? Well it can.

Anyone who has attended an IBS benchrest match knows that this brotherhood of shooters includes some “backyard engineers” who can build amazing things with low-cost components. Consider Steve Jordan. He has built a winning Heavy Gun with a gunstock made out of a wood splitter. Check out the photo. The butt section is in the shape of a “V” like an ax. The “V” sits on an adjustable, flat rear sandbag. The flat shaft of the wood-splitter, running horizontally, serves as the main chassis and fore-end. The barrel block sits on top (with the action floated), while the flat, forward section of the shaft rides the front bag. Not only does this “log-splitter” stock work, but Jordan has won IBS matches with it! Sometimes simple and cheap beats expensive and fancy.

Sam Hall Says the Log-Splitter Has Been “Kicking Our Tails”
Sam Hall (multi-time IBS 600-yard champion) reports: “I was not at the first match (years ago) where Steve Jordan debuted his barrel-blocked, Heavy Gun stock made out of a wood splitter. From what I heard he cleaned house with it that day. When I first heard about this log-splitter rig, I thought guys were pulling my leg. But the log-splitter Heavy Gun really exists. In fact, over the past two years at Piedmont, Steve’s home-built log-splitter HG has won numerous Heavy Gun matches, out-performing nearly all the other Heavy Guns on the line, even those that cost thousands more to build.

Steve made the rifle as economical as possible. Steve’s entire stock is made from a metal wood splitter. From what I understand, Ray Lowman gave him the barrel block. This rides on the shaft of the wood splitter. With this inexpensive, simple rig Steve has kicked our tails at times! By the way, Steve’s Heavy Gun is chambered as a 6mm Dasher.”

Accurateshooter.com International Benchrest Shooters

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