March 4th, 2020

McMillan Kestros ZR Rifle Stock Review

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class

Kestros ZR Stock — Impressive Design for Competition

Review by F-Class John
Walk the line at just about any rifle competition and you’ll see your share of McMillan stocks. Known for crafting high-quality fiberglass/composite stocks, McMillan has long been at top choice for competitive shooters, hunters, and tactical marksmen. Now McMillan is out to dominate F-Open with the Kestros ZR stock. The Kestros line features several models, but the ZR represents the pinnacle of craftmanship. Each one is finished off by a single craftsman and takes roughly four times longer to create than any other Kestros. So when McMillan offered me a chance to test one out, I jumped at the opportunity.

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class

The aluminum Z-Rail extends nicely from the front of the stock and has a nice contrast of metal against the matte finish of the stock. I inspected the rails and noticed that they are very cleanly machined — all the corners and rails were precise and sharp. As a result, I grabbed some 1000-grit sandpaper and just lightly knocked the edges and corners down just to keep from accidentally scratching myself or my gear.

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class

Lead time for a ZR is currently 6-9 months. I was like a kid on Christmas when mine arrived after seven months. Holding a Kestros ZR is definitely a unique experience compared to a traditional wood stock and you can’t help but feel like you’re holding something special. I chose three shades of blue that transitioned dark from the butt stock to lighter on the fore-end in a spectacular flame pattern. With McMillan, there are thousands of possible color and pattern combinations. These color/pattern options are outlined on McMillan’s Gallery Page.

The Kestros ZR comes fully inletted with pillars. I was able to bolt my Defiance action right into the stock “as is” without a bedding job. (McMillan states bedding is not required, though this is certainly something most Kestros owners will do). I threw in my action, fit a couple action screws and tightened it all down. I was amazed at how nicely it all fit together with even the little details like the port cutout being perfectly smooth with my action port. I loaded up some .284 Win rounds and headed to the range to test the new stock at 100 yards.

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class
Here are examples of targets shot with the Kestros ZR at 100 yards.

During initial range testing (see above) I shot nine groups for vertical and all of them were under 0.40″ with the smallest being .08″ of vertical. I topped off the testing by shooting a 200-11X the next week at my club match. The thing that really stood out was how smoothly the stock tracked with its lower center of gravity while shooting free recoil and ultimately this translated to success on target.

F-Class John AccurateShooter McMillan Kestros ZR gunstock stock review test F-Class
Low-Rider — You may find that because of how low the Kestros rides as well as its additional length due to the Z rail, you may require an extension for your front rest.

CONCLUSION — Great Modern Low-Profile F-Class Stock
Overall the Kestros ZR exceeded my expectations. After a small learning curve, it was a joy to shoot and it performed great. As someone who believes in the power of muscle memory, I found each time I transitioned between the Kestros and my traditional wood stocks there was a slight adjustment period but not enough to impair accuracy in any way. Something to consider is that because every Kestros is made to the same dimensions, it makes owning multiples an easy process of switching between guns without any need for readjustment.

For those willing to put in the practice, your patience will be rewarded, and I think most shooters will find the Kestros ZR could become their new favorite stock. If you’re in the market for a new F-Open stock, the Kestros ZR is definitely one to consider.

Tips for Ordering a Kestros ZR
Ordering the Kestros ZR is a simple process thanks to McMillan’s online order form. While there are a number of options available, McMillan has a helpful guide that walks you through each one to ensure you get exactly what you need. While filling out my form I realized that because I have a custom-designed action, I needed some help, so I gave McMillan a call. The staffers were incredibly helpful and their knowledge of all the major actions out there made answering my questions a snap. I liked the fact that there is no set, fixed price on any of the stocks. The pricing system allows customers to get just what they want (within limits) and not have to pay for anything they do not want or need.

Permalink - Articles, Gear Review, Gunsmithing, New Product, Tech Tip No Comments »
February 9th, 2018

Berger Southwest Nationals 2018 — Report from Ben Avery

Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Team Palma F-TR F-Class F-Open
Thursday was Team Day at the Berger SWN. The rules called for four shooters. But one Aussie Team had a special mascot shooter to add team spirit.

Today, Friday, marks the third day of competition at the Berger Southwest Nationals (SWN), with individual matches on the schedule. Today’s match will have a Palma format, with shooters competing individually at three yardages: 800, 900, and 1000. This is when it really gets tough — no wind coaches. Each shooter is on his or her own. Yesterday, Thursday, was a Team Day at Ben Avery, with four-person teams shooting at 800, 900, and 1000. We saw some familiar squads on the firing line, such as Team Berger Bullets, The X-Men, and Da Bulls, as well as new squads.

Individual Long-Range Competition starts today, Friday, at the Berger Southwest Nationals. The firing line is full — this match “sold out” early. Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.
Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Team Palma F-TR F-Class F-Open

Click Image to see full-screen Panorama of 1000-yard firing line at Ben Avery.
Berger SW Nationals panorama Mid Tompkins range match

Full interim results for Thursday’s Team match are posted on the McMillan Fiberglass Stocks Facebook Page.

Thursday’s conditions were much calmer than the Wednesday (when winds were howling in the afternoon). It was very calm in the early morning but then the wind increased gradually during the day, becoming switchy. Many shooters told us the mirage was difficult to read. The sling division was tightly fought, with Scottish HPS Team and U.S. National Mrnak Team tied on points at 1779 at day’s end. The Scots finished first by X-count, 92 to 85. Finishing third was U.S.A. National Hayes Team, 1776-114X.

Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Team Palma F-TR F-Class F-Open

In F-Open, the “Old Gentlemen” of Team Berger lead the way on Thursday, with a score of 1784-92X, followed by Team Lapua/Brux/Borden in second with 1782-101X. Tied on points in third place, but with fewer Xs, was Team Defiance at 1782-82X. This was a bit of a family affair as Scott Harris coached wife Christine and son Adrian, along with shooters John Moreali and Ben Steinsholdt. Larry Bartholome had top individual score, not dropping a point to finish “clean” at 450-21X. Next best was AccurateShooter’s own Jay Christopherson, with 449-31X.

Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Team Palma F-TR F-Class F-Open

In F-TR, Team “Da Bulls” topped the field with 1762-66X, barely edging second-place Team McMillan which scored 1762-64X. The McMillan team was a powerhouse including current F-TR World Champion Derek Rodgers, and, as coach, former USA F-TR Team Captain Ray Gross.

Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Team Palma F-TR F-Class F-Open
The powerhouse Team McMillan F-TR squads featured serious talent. Left to right here, in their red jerseys, are Captain Paul Phillips, Derek Rodgers, and Coach Ray Gross.

One team featured a Father-Daughter Duo, with father Scott coaching Morgan, his talented daughter. Morgan tells us that competitive shooting has unlocked a new world for her. She has traveled to South Africa with her father to shoot in international matches. Shooting at the SWN is a highlight of her year: “I love the warm weather here — It’s snowing back home in New York”.

SWN VIDEO: Father coaches daughter in Thursday’s Team Match:

Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Team Palma F-TR F-Class F-Open

View from the pits at the Mid Tompkins Range at Ben Avery. Photo by Sherri Jo Gallagher.
Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Team Palma F-TR F-Class F-Open

Kelly McMillan showed us a new F-Open competition stock, the Kestros with “Z-Rail”. This features a box-section aluminum extension on the fore-end. This allows a longer “wheelbase” on the stock, as well as a lower center of gravity. Kelly says his company is working may adapting this extension to include an bipod attachment rail. That way you could shoot the same stock in both F-TR and F-Open divisions.

Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Team Palma F-TR F-Class F-Open

SWN VIDEO: Kelly McMillan talks about new McMillan and MCubed (M3) stocks in this video. Kelly plans to host his Taking Stock Radio Show on Friday, February 9, live from the Berger SWN. CLICK HERE for Kelly McMillan’s SWN Radio Show.

Listen to Kelly McMillan’s Taking Stock Radio Show from Berger Southwest Nationals

Rekindle Old Friendships and Meet New Friends
Some shooters come to to the SW Nationals for the swag (the prize table is amazing). Others come for the sunshine (think warm 80-85° weather). And even more folks come to try out their shiny new toys and to test their skills against the nation’s best shooters.

But we’d say the number one reason most folks make the pilgrimage to Ben Avery every year is the camaraderie — the chance to connect with friends, rekindling connections that may go back decades. Fundamentally, then, the Berger SWN is about the people. For many of us, this is the only time of the year when we get a chance to meet fellow shooters from distant corners of the USA (and other nations).

Team Berger
Old Guys Rule — Team Berger topped the F-Open field in Thursday Team competition. NOTE: this photo shows 2017 team members.

Berger Southwest Nationals SWN Team Palma F-TR F-Class F-Open

Permalink - Videos, Competition, News 2 Comments »