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July 11th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: Multi-State Varmint Adventures with Bill White

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
This photograph and all images for this story are by Bill White, aka “CT10Ring” in our Forum.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 RugerAccurateShooter Forum member Bill White (aka “CT10Ring”) is not your typical member. For 37 years, Bill worked in NYC as a studio photographer specializing in still lifes and products. A neighbor visiting Bill’s home in Connecticut with a .270 Sako inspired Bill to revive his interest (obsession?) with shooting after a 25-year drought. And he owns a few Sakos now! With his gun hobby renewed, for many years Bill drove to the Western USA to shoot long range steel and a LOT of prairie dogs in season. He loved the life of the varminter, so it made sense for him to move West after retiring. He choose Idaho as his new home.

From his Idaho base, Bill enjoys long-range target shooting. But his favorite gun pastime has been varmint hunting in nearby states — the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. Bill found prairie dog shooting rewarding and mapped out a western circuit route of ranches and National Grasslands in SD, ND, MT, and WY. Every year he loads up his truck and hits the road, often doing a grand circle route, visiting prairie dog havens in multiple states. In this article we feature photos from Bill’s annual “grand circle” varmint safari.

For his many cartridge types, Bill learned about reloading methods, loads, and vendors (and more) primarily from AccurateShooter.com. We start today’s story with the biggest caliber rifle he shoots regularly, his 6.5-284 Winchester. Bill favors this rig for his long-range steel shooting. He also uses it for prairie dog shooting, but only “sparingly”, because he wants to preserve barrel life, and he has many other dedicated varmint rigs.

6.5-284 for Long Range Steel Targets (and Sometimes Varmints)

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

In his home state of Idaho, Bill likes to shoot steel at long range. For distance work, Bill favors his McMillan-stocked 6.5-284 Win. This rifle was crafted in 2012 by Bob Green of York, PA, using a 1:8″-twist 28″ Krieger HV barrel (.298″ neck). The trued Rem 700 action was purchased from Long Rifles in Sturgis, SD. Bill did the Cerakote and bedded the action. For his 6.5-284, Bill loads 139gr Lapua Scenars, H4831sc powder and BR2 primers. He shoots both steel and varmints with this rifle, but the varmint work is limited because the 6.5-284 cartridge tends to be a barrel burner. The photo below from an Idaho range was taken near a 500-yard target, looking back at the firing line.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

In the Varmint Fields — Traveling Light

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Once situated, Bill (shown above) prefers to walk to Prairie Dog towns with a shooting mat, two bipod-equipped rifles slung up, rear bag, water, and his trusty Leica 10X42 GeoVid binoculars. While he has used a portable bench, he prefers to shoot from bipod, firing down from a mound if possible. This allows him to set up a line-of-fire that minimizes cross-wind effects. Bill notes: “While I often start early, end-of-day shooting has worked worked well for me. A setting sun shows targets better, the wind is usually down, and it’s not so hot. Often you can spot the bullet trace and that’s fun.”

Eight Great Varmint Cartridge Types — .204, .224, .243 Calibers

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
Here is one of Bill Reid’s 6mmBR (6BR) rigs. Like his Sako 6 PPC, this is exceptionally accurate.

Bill has a large rifle collection, most of which see duty in the varmint fields of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Here are his key “take-aways” for his eight favorite varmint chamberings: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, .22-250, .22 BR, .22-243, 6 PPC, 6mmBR, and 6-6.5×47 Lapua (aka 6×47).

.204 Ruger — This delivers great velocity with the little .20-caliber bullets, with mild recoil. The .204 Ruger easily reaches out to 400 yards, but heavier winds do move the tiny bullet around. Tremendous splat factor under 250 yards. I use Sierra 39gr bullets with IMR 8208 XBR in a Sako 75. Even now, .204 Ruger ammo is relatively easy to find.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

.223 Remington — Probably the most popular centerfire rifle round in the USA, the .223 Rem offers inexpensive brass, and is a great choice for AR-15 owners. If you run short on ammo, you can find it nearly everywhere. I often bring one AR-15 and one .223 Rem bolt gun on varmint safaris. My Rem 700 5R 1:9″-twist barrel likes 53gr V-Max bullets.

.22 BR — My .22 BR is my first choice for most prairie dog missions. Accuracy is superb with necked-down 6mmBR Lapua brass — quarter-MOA and blazing fast. With the right twist rate, this chambering can shoot anything from 40gr FB bullets to 80gr VLDs. Load development is easy. Below is my .22 BR ammo for another varmint trip. I use 55gr Sierra BlitzKings with Varget in my 1:12″-twist Shilen-barreled rifle. 60gr Bergers are very accurate with a fairly flat trajectory for useful distances.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

.22-250 Rem — A classic varmint cartridge, the .22-250 with 50gr V-Maxs delivers spectacular hits. If three P-Dogs happen to be lined up, I’ve witnessed one .22-250 shot take ‘em all out with a triple hit. I currently have five .22-250-chambered rifles: 3 Sako 75s, one Rem 700, and a single shot Nesika that shoots tiny groups. I favor the very deadly Berger 52gr Varmint HP. Making a custom .22-250? With a 1:8″-twist barrel you can use the full weight range of .22-cal bullets, while spinning the lighter bullets fast for “red mist” effect. Remember this cartridge can be a barrel burner. Don’t shoot too many rounds too quickly.

.22-243 Win — This wildcat is even more potent than the .22-250, delivering devastating results on P-Dogs. Run a .243 Win case slowly through a full-length .22-243 die, with plenty of lube to form the brass. I start with Lapua .243 Win brass. There can be some issues necking-down the brass. Watch for donuts forming at the neck-shoulder junction. I bought my .22-243 rifle not sure how it would perform. But now I love shooting it. My .22-243 delivers half-MOA groups with 41.0 grains RL-22 and Hornady 75gr Amax bullets. With those 75-grainers, it’s great in the wind and good to 600 yards easily.

6 PPC — You may consider the 6 PPC a benchrest competition cartridge only, requiring fire-forming. However I have an original Sako 75 single-shot 6 PPC rifle that I load with Sako-headstamp 6 PPC brass (see below) so no fire-forming is required. This Sako 75 came with a test target that measured 0.113″! With my 6 PPC Sako, I found that 58gr V-Maxs, pushed by Vihtavuori N133, are potent out to 300 yards.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6PPC 6 PPC Sako 75 Ruger

6mmBR — The 6mmBR Norma (6BR) offers a nearly unbeatable combination of accuracy, efficiency, and tunability. With the 6BR and a fast twist barrel, you can shoot everything from 40gr flat-base bullets to the latest 105-110gr match bullets. I load Lapua brass, Vihtavuori N135, and Hornady 58, 65, and 75gr bullets for my Krieger 1:14″-twist HV barrel. While this cartridge is capable of long-range accuracy, I usually limit my 6BR shots to 350-400 yards.

6-6.5×47 Lapua — In this story’s lead photo is my 6-6.5×47 Lapua varmint rifle, with Surgeon action and Manners stock. I Cerakoted the barreled action and then bedded the action. Shown below is 6-6.5×47 ammo I loaded for recent testing. Note how I separated different bullets and powder loads into multiple, labeled bags. Hodgdon H4350 is a great choice for this cartridge — 39 grains H4350 with 105gr Amax was the winner here, but 88gr Bergers also shot well. This cartridge has tremendous “critter dismantling” abilities out to 600-700 yards.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Six Tips for Novice Long Range Varmint Hunters

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

1. Take twice as much ammo you think you may need. The fields could be particularly rich, or, because of wind or other variables, you may have far more misses than expected.

2. When possible, set up with the wind at your back (or, alternatively, directly ahead). This will minimize the effect of cross-winds. Set up a stake with a ribbon to show wind direction.

3. Bring at least two rifles. Ideally one would be a low-recoil rifle with cheaper components for the closer shots. Then bring a rifle with higher-BC bullets for longer shots where wind is a bigger factor.

4. Check the weather before you head out. Prairie dogs like sunshine and calm conditions. If a cloudy, very blustery day is predicted, considering staying in town and cleaning the rifles.

5. Bring plenty of water on a trip. An adult male should be drinking at least 64 ounces of water (or other liquid) every day — more if it’s very hot or you are sweating a lot.

6. Preferably always hunt with a companion. If you do go out solo, have a Garmin inReach SatComm/GPS for emergencies if there is no cell coverage in your location.

Veteran Varmint Hunter Shares his Secrets

Where to Find Abundant Prairie Dogs — Generally, black-tailed P-Dogs are found in the Western high desert, in the same states/areas where cattle are raised. You’ll find good hunting in Montana, North and South Dakota, Colorado, and Wyoming. There are good hunting grounds on private ranches, BLM tracts, and U.S. National Grasslands. To find specific locations, I’d suggest calling the USFS, BLM, and State Fish & Game. Some have lists of ranches that allow P-Dog shooting. Give the agencies a call before your trip and then check in with ranchers. IMPORTANT: You need a current hunting license in some states.

How to Connect with Ranch Owners– A good varmint adventure can begin with a local connection. Stop into the local Ag/feed store and the town breakfast spot. I bet you’ll find some retired ranchers having coffee together who may direct you to a place that needs rodents thinned out. Let’s say you’re in Roundup, Montana. Stop by a local store and ask what ranchers allow PD shooting. Keep in mind that ranchers may be wary of allowing a total stranger to sling lead on their place. Show respect and if you had a good experience, send a thank-you note. A guided shoot is worth considering — the outfitter will know where the P-Dogs are and he has arrangements with landowners. He may even supply benches. I’ve taken two guided trips, with excellent results, one near Sturgis, SD, and the other on Sioux tribal land near Rosebud, SD.

Getting Set Up — I start early in the a.m. to mitigate mirage. Plus there is usually less wind at that hour. I prefer to drive to within half mile or so of a PD town, then walk and shoot prone. Most shooters like to set up a rotating bench on a knoll. This is a tried-and-true way to shoot long distances accurately, especially if you are on top of a hill and can shoot 360 degrees. I once shot from a rotating bench, but I prefer walking now. Some country is quite stunning and that’s half the fun — being out in nature. But yes there are negatives to shooting prone — ground hazards and tall grass can impede your vision.

Equipment for a Serious P-Dog Safari — In the field, I normally carry two rifles with Harris 9-13″ bipods, backpack, a rolled-up shooting mat, at least two liters of water, food, ammo, two rear bags, and binoculars. A good laser rangefinder comes in handy. If you prefer shooting from a bench you may want to have a front rest and a spotting scope. Many guys will shoot prone from the bed of a truck. That gets you off the ground without the need to haul around a heavy bench. But some locations restrict vehicles. Before a P-Dog trip, I make a detailed pack list and check off as I load my truck and camper. I would suggest bringing waterproof rubber or muck boots. June in South Dakota can be cold and wet, and the mud there is not to be believed. Don’t attempt to drive off road in it!

It’s good insurance to bring an extra 5 gallons of fuel for your vehicle in a jerry can and 2 gallons of H20. There may be NO shade for miles and dehydration is a real possibility. Having a couple heavy duty tarps will provide a sun shade and cover your gear in a rainstorm. I bring a 16″ X 20″ plywood target backer, a stand, and paper targets. This allows me to check zero on each rifle before I head out to the Dog Town.

Western Varmint Country Vistas

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Taking Photos on Shooting Adventures

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 RugerBill knows a thing or two about taking pictures, having been a professional photographer in NYC for many decades. He uses modern digital cameras for both his outdoor and indoor work. Most photos in this story were taken with a Canon EOS 5DSR MKIV. We asked Bill for some tips on taking good photos. Here are his FIVE Top Tips for Photography:

1. Take photos in the early a.m. and later p.m. when the light has definition. Mid-day results will not be so nice.
2. Use the highest-resolution camera available that fits your budget. Yes lens quality, focus, and exposure controls make a big difference.
3. When feasible, shoot using a manual setting with the lens wide open (for shallow focus). Set the focus on the most important object/subject in the frame.
4. Photoshop is useful, especially when RAW images need to be corrected to show the scene more faithfully, or enhance it.
5. After you take a picture, before you post it on social media, learn to crop the image, straighten the horizon, and do other basic fixes. This can make a big difference.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
June 12th, 2021

TEN Shots (100-6X) in 4.554″ at 1000 — Watch This on Video!

Scott Nix Dasher Record

6mm DasherHow well can the little 6mm Dasher perform at 1000 yards when the conditions are good, and the shooter is riding a hot streak? Well here’s a shot-by-shot record of Scott Nix’s 4.554″ ten-shot group shot at the Deep Creek Range outside Missoula, Montana at the Northwest 1000-yard Championship a few years back. All 10 shots were centered for a 100-6X score. That’s about as good as it gets. If Scott had stopped after 5 shots, his group would have been under three inches.

Video Demonstrates Amazing 1000-Yard Accuracy
Watch the video. You can see the group form up, shot by shot. It’s pretty amazing. Scott’s first shot (at the 45-second mark of the video) was right in the X-Ring, and four of Scott’s first five shots were Xs. That’s drilling them! This video was recorded from the pits at the 1000-yard line, during record fire.

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):

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April 18th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: 20 Practical 4200+ FPS Varmint Slayer

.20 20 practical varmint cartridge .204 Tikka lilja Warren

Do you have .20-Cal fever? Do you yearn to see what a 4200+ fps projectile can do to an unsuspecting prairie dog? Well you could go out and purchase a 204 Ruger rifle, fork over the money for a new, complete die set, and hope that the brass is in stock. Warren B (aka “Fireball”) has a more cost-effective solution. If you have .223 Rem dies and brass, all you need to shoot the 20 Practical is a new barrel and a .230″ bushing to neck down your .223 cases. Warren’s wildcat is simple, easy, and economical. And the 20 Practical matches the performance of the highly-publicized 20 Tactical with less money invested and no need to buy forming dies or fire-form cases. Warren’s cartridge was aptly named. Practical it is.

20 Practical Tikka Bolt Action for Varminting

by Warren B (aka “Fireball”) and Kevin Weaver

After building my 20 PPC, I wanted to do another .20 caliber, this time a repeater for predator hunting that could also serve as a gopher/prairie dog rifle. I wanted to use a Tikka M595 stainless sporter I had. This rifle is the ultimate repeater with an extremely smooth-feeding cycle from its single-column magazine. Since the Tikka was a .223 Remington from the factory, I first looked at possible case designs that would fit the magazine. The 204 Ruger was a very new round at the time and brass was scarce. I also didn’t care for the overly long case design or the standard throat dimensions of the cartridge. I then looked at the 20 Tactical. It was a nice cartridge but I didn’t like the fact that (at the time) an ordinary two-die Tac 20 set with just a plain full-length die and standard seater were $150. Not only did the costs bother me, but I was accustomed to using a Redding die set featuring a body die, a Type-S bushing neck die, and a Competition seater. To be honest, I also didn’t care for the 20 Tactical’s name–there is absolutely nothing tactical about the cartridge. I didn’t want to adopt a new cartridge based on what I perceived to be a marketing gimmick (that “tactical” title).


Warren B, aka “Fireball”, with his Tikka 595. With its smooth action and phenolic single-column mag, it cycles perfectly in rapid fire.

.20 20 practical varmint cartridge .204 Tikka lilja WarrenSimply Neck Down .223 Rem to Make a 20-223 Wildcat
I decided the best thing to do for my purposes was to simply neck down the .223 Rem case and make a 20-223. I already had the dies, the brass, and a rifle that would feed it perfectly. I decided to call the cartridge the 20 Practical because as you will see in this article, it truly is a very practical cartridge. In addition to the generous and inexpensive availability of brass and dies, the 20 Practical is an easy case to create, requiring no fire forming as a final step. Simply neck your .223 Rem cases down, load and shoot.

[Editor’s Note: Over the years, other shooters have experimented with .223 Remington cases necked down to .20 caliber, some with longer necks, some with different shoulder angles. Warren doesn’t claim to be the first fellow to fit a .20-caliber bullet in the .223 case. He gives credit to others who did pioneering work years ago. But he has come up with a modern 20-223 wildcat that involves no special case-forming, and minimal investment in dies and tooling. He commissioned the original PTG 20 Practical reamer design, and he and Kevin did the field testing to demonstrate the performance of this particular version.]

I chose Kevin Weaver at Weaver Rifles to fit and chamber the barrel to my rifle. Kevin does excellent work and is great to work with. Kevin liked the idea of the 20 Practical so much he agreed to purchase the project reamer. (BTW Kevin didn’t even need to purchase a Go/No-Go gauge, he just used an existing .223 Rem gauge.)

Before Kevin ordered the reamer, I talked over the reamer specs with him. My priorities were tolerances on the tight end of the .223 Rem SAAMI specification, a semi-fitted neck with no need for neck-turning, and a short throat so that we could have plenty of the 32gr V-Max in the case and still touch the lands. I also wanted this short throat in case [anyone] wanted to chamber an AR-15 for the 20 Practical. A loaded 20 Practical round will easily touch the lands on an AR-15 while fitting into the magazine with no problem. With its standard 23-degree shoulder, the 20 Practical case also feeds flawlessly through an AR-15.

As for the barrel, I only use Liljas on my rifles. I have had great luck with them. They have always shot well and they clean up the easiest of any barrels that I have tried. I had previously sent my Tikka barreled action to Dan Lilja so that he could program a custom contour into his equipment and turn out a barrel that would perfectly fit the factory M595 sporter stock. There isn’t much material on an M595 sporter stock so the contour had to match perfectly and it did. Dan Lilja now has this custom contour available to anyone who would like to rebarrel their M595 sporter with one of his barrels.

There Are Plenty of Good .204-Caliber Varmint Bullet Options
20 Practical .204 Ruger .20 caliber bullets

How to Form 20 Practical Cases — Simple and Easy
Forming 20 Practical cases is very easy. No fire-forming is required. Start with any quality .223 Rem brass. Then simply run the case into your bushing die with the appropriate bushing and call it done.

Project Componentry
My 20 Practical rifle started out as a Tikka Model 595 Stainless Sporter in .223 Remington. Though the M595 is no longer imported, if you shop around you can find M595 Sporters for bargain prices. Mine cost under $500. I think the action alone is worth that! The receiver has a milled dovetail for scope rings plus a side bolt release like expensive BR actions. The bolt cycles very smoothly. Ammo is handled with super-reliable 3- or 5-round detachable single-column magazines (FYI, Tikka’s M595 22-250 mags will feed a 6BR case flawlessly.) We kept the standard Tikka trigger but fitted it with a light-weight spring. Now the trigger pull is a crisp 1.8 pounds–about as good as it gets in a factory rifle. We replaced the factory tube with a custom, 24″, 3-groove Lilja 12-twist barrel. Dan Lilja created a special M595 sporter contour to allow a perfect “drop-in” fit with the factory stock. For optics, I’ve fitted a Leupold 4.5-14x40mm zoom in low Talley light-weight aluminum mounts. All up, including optics and sling, my 20 Practical weighs just under 8.5 pounds.

Test Report–How’s It Shoot?
I sent the barrel and barreled action to Kevin and in a very short time it was returned. Kevin did a perfect job on the rifle. I had asked him to try to match the bead blasted finish of the Tikka when he finished the new barrel. It came out perfect and the only way one can tell it is a custom is the extra two inches of length and the “20 Practical” cartridge designation.

So, no doubt you’re asking “how does she shoot?” Is my “prototype”, first-ever 20 Practical an accurate rig? In a word, yes. Even with the standard factory stock, and light contour barrel, it can shoot 3/8″ groups. Take a look at the typical target from this rifle. This is from an 8.5-pound sporter with a very skinny fore-end and a factory trigger.

Gunsmith’s Report from Kevin Weaver
The 20 Practical: Origins and Development

Editor’s NOTE: We can’t say for sure who first necked down the .223 Rem to .20 caliber and chambered a rifle for that wildcat (as opposed to the .20 Tactical). But here is an account from way back in 2006 when the Warren B first came up with the idea of a .20 Practical cartridge, complete with reamer specs.

A year ago I received a call from Warren with a great idea. Warren asked “Why couldn’t we simply neck down the .223 Remington case to 20 caliber and get basically the same performance as the 20 Tactical? This way you can forgo the expensive forming dies that are needed for the 20 Tactical.” The idea made perfect sense to me, and I saw no major technical issues, so we got started on the project. I ordered a reamer from Dave Kiff at Pacific Tool & Gauge (PTG) with a .233″ neck. The .233″ neck should allow for a simple necking-down of the 223 Remington case to produce the 20 Practical in just one step. No fire-forming necessary! Furthermore, the PTG 20 Practical reamer Dave created should work with any available .223 Rem brass, commercial or military.

The first 20 Practical round was launched down range (through Warren’s Tikka) just a few months later. The brass formed as easily as expected. All one needs is a Redding type “S” bushing die with a .230 bushing and with just one step I had a .20 caliber case ready to shoot. Warren is brilliant. [Editor’s Note: We concur. For more details on Warren’s case-forming methods and his tips for adapting .223 Rem dies, read the technical sections further down the page.]

It would be almost six months later until I got around to building a dedicated test rifle chambered for the 20 Practical. I used a Remington 722 action, Remington synthetic semi-varmint stock, and a 24″ Douglas stainless steel XX 12-twist barrel. I formed and loaded about 30 cases using Remington brass in about 20 minutes. I used a .223 Rem seating die to seat the 20 Practical bullets. The .223 seating stem seated the small 20-Cal bullets just fine. The first loads sent the 40gr Hornady V-Max bullets down range at a modest 3500 FPS. I did not shoot for groups. I just wanted to use this load to sight in the rifle and break in the barrel. Load development was painless–I used reduced .223 Rem loads for 40gr bullets and worked up from there. In the table below are some of my preferred loads as well as Warren’s favorite recipes for his 20 Practical.

Bullet Wt. Powder Charge Wt. Velocity FPS Comments
32GR H4198 24.1 4025 Warren’s lighter gopher load
32GR AA2460 27.8 4154 Warren’s coyote/prairie dog load
32GR N133 26.0 4183 Coyote/PD load, clean burn
33GR H4198 26.0 4322 Hot Load. Use with Caution!
33GR N133 27.0 4255 Kevin: 0.388” 5 shot group
40GR H335 25.0 3583 Kevin’s barrel break-in load
40GR H4198 24.0 3907 Hodgdon “Extreme” Powder
40GR IMR4895 26.0 3883 Kevin: 0.288″ 5-shot group
40GR N133 25.0 3959 Kevin: 0.227″ 5-shot group
Warren’s Load Notes: My pet loads are all with IMI cases, 32gr Hornady V-Maxs, and Fed 205 primers (not match). These are the most accurate loads in my rifle so far. I haven’t even bothered with the 40s as I have the 20 PPC and 20 BR for those heavier bullets. I prefer the lighter bullets in the 20 Practical because I wanted to keep speed up and recoil down in this sporter-weight predator rifle. Also, the 32gr V-Max is exceptionally accurate and explosive. I like N133 the best as it burns so clean. IMI cases are tough and well-made.
Kevin’s Load Notes: I used Remington 223 cases, Hornady V-Max bullets, and Remington 6 1/2 primers to develop the above loads. CAUTION: all loads, both Warren’s and mine, should be reduced 20% when starting load development in your rifle. All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Weaver Rifles has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Weaver Rifles nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data.

Comparing the 20 Practical and 20 Tactical
Kevin tells us: “The 20 Practical and the 20 Tactical are almost identical cartridges. There are only slight differences in case Outside Diameter, shoulder angle, and case body length. The neck length on the 20 Tactical is a bit longer, but there is still plenty of neck on the 20 Practical to grip the popular bullets, such as the 32gr V-Max. Here are some specs:

Cartridge Bolt face to shoulder Shoulder O.D. Shoulder Angle Total length
20 Tactical 1.5232″ .360 30° 1.755″
20 Practical 1.5778″ .3553 23° 1.760″

Both the 20 Tactical and the 20 Practical are fine .20 caliber cartridges. At present, the 20 Tactical is the more popular of the two because it has had more publicity. However, my favorite would be the 20 Practical. Warren’s 20 Practical gives the SAME performance as the 20 Tactical without fire-forming, or having to buy expensive forming dies. So with the 20 Practical you do less work, you shell out a lot less money, yet you give up nothing in performance. What’s not to like? To create 20 Practical cases, just buy a .223 Rem Redding Type “S” Bushing Die set with a .230 or .228 bushing and have fun with this great little cartridge.”

(more…)

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May 10th, 2019

Fast Firing Using Benchrest Stock With Adjustable Rudder

Wheeler Rudder stock tracker Alex Tom Mosul

In the benchrest game, both 100/200 yard disciplines and Long Range, it’s important that your rifle track smoothly and repeatably every time. You want the rifle to come straight back without twisting, rocking, or hopping on the bags. When you’re trying to drill your entire 5-Shot or 10-Shot string quickly, it’s also important that the gun returns to the same position after each shot. When the scope crosshairs return to virtually the exact point of aim, you can make successive shots with minimal aim adjustments.

For top “runners” who try to get five shots down-range in under 20 seconds, not having to make significant aiming corrections with your front rest controls can really speed up the process. Shooting quickly permits the competitor to “stay in the condition”, sending all his shots to the target before the wind direction or wind velocity changes.

TEN Shots in 20 Seconds at 1000-Yard Match

To see how rapid shooting works, watch this video of Tom Mosul, one of the USA’s best 1000-yard shooters. In a 10-shot Heavy Gun relay, Tom shoots his 17-lb Light Gun chambered for a 6mmBR Improved cartridge. He pulls the trigger for the first time at 00:20 and he fires his tenth (and last) shot at 00:40. Tom makes TEN SHOTS in 20 seconds, an average of just 2.0 seconds per shot!

TEN Shots in 31 Seconds at 1000-Yard Match

This second video, filmed from the side, shows Tom Mosel shooting a different 17-pounder. Again, note how smoothly the stock slides back and forth. Here Tom completes Ten Shots in 31 seconds, with the first shot at 00:13, and the tenth (last) at 00.44.

Adjustable Stock Rudder Through-the-Lens Video

Gunsmith Alex Wheeler sells stocks with an adjustable metal “rudder” or “keel” on the underside of the rear section of the stock. This rudder is the only part of the stock that contacts the rear bag. This aluminum rudder can adjust slightly left to right as well as adjust up/down for angle. Some guys want the keel nearly flat while others prefer the keel to be slightly lower in the rear.


This video shows how the cross-hairs stay on target once the stock rudder is adjusted properly. Alex adjusted this particular rudder by shimming the height* and moving the back of the rudder to the right.

The rudder’s horizontal adjustability allows benchrest shooters to correct for stock flaws that might adversely affect tracking. Essentially, by adjusting the rudder, you can achieve perfect alignment. Alex Wheeler explains: “If you pull your rifle back in the bags and the cross hair moves, your stock is not straight. The easiest fix is to use an adjustable rudder. They come standard on all my stocks.”

Wheeler explains: “The white box in the center of the 1000-yard target is four inches square. With a properly-adjusted rudder it’s easy to obtain less than one inch of cross-hair movement at 1000 yards.” You can see that, once Alex made the rudder adjustment, there’s hardly any detectable movement. Alex adds, “the more you play with it, the better you get it.”

tracking rudder Wheeler mcmillan stock

*Initially Alex says he is going to shim the front. Later in the video Alex says he shimmed the rear. It can be a trial/error process. Credit Boyd Allen for finding these videos.

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January 20th, 2019

Amazing 1K Video: 10 Shots in 4.554″ at 1000 Yards (100-6X)

Scott Nix Dasher Record

6mm DasherHow well can the little 6mm Dasher perform at 1000 yards when the conditions are good, and the shooter is riding a hot streak? Well here’s a shot-by-shot record of Scott Nix’s 4.554″ ten-shot group shot at Missoula, Montana at the Northwest 1000-yard Championship a few years back. All 10 shots were centered for a 100-6X score. That’s about as good as it gets. If Scott had stopped after 5 shots, his group would have been under three inches.

Video Demonstrates Amazing 1000-Yard Accuracy
Watch the video. You can see the group form up, shot by shot. It’s pretty amazing. Scott’s first shot (at the 45-second mark of the video) was right in the X-Ring, and four of Scott’s first five shots were Xs. That’s drilling them! This video was recorded from the pits at the 1000-yard line, during record fire.

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May 13th, 2017

IBS Match Report: 1000-Yard Magic at Deep Creek in Montana

Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Report by Kristina Holden
Even with a bit of snow left on the ground, some great long range shooting took place up in Montana recently. March 25th, 2017 was opening day for the first 1000-yard IBS match of the year at Montana’s Deep Creek Shooting Range, just outside of Missoula, Montana. With temperatures during both matches at a consistent low to mid 40s and winds blowing at a slight 2-4 mph from the south, the weekend was sure to produce some excellent results.

Framed by forested hills, the Deep Creek Range is a beautiful place to shoot.
Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

CLICK HERE for Deep Creek IBS Match Results | CLICK HERE for LG and HG Equipment List

Jeff Read takes aim…
Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Fifteen (15) shooters braved the cool Montana spring weather for what would turn out to be a very competitive match. On Saturday, both Richard Schatz and David Torgerson made the first Light Gun (LG) shoot-off, posting two-inch groups, with Richard taking the win (check out his targets above). David and Richard made it into the Heavy Gun (HG) shoot-off as well, this time with David taking the win. Leo Anderson took the LG score crown with a 47, while Shawn Williams took the HG title with a perfect 100.

Here Scott Stanko sets up his Light Gun. Scott won Sunday’s LG shoot-off.
Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Sunday’s conditions were even better and the shooters took advantage of them. Once again, some truly excellent groups were shot by Tom Mousel and Scott Stanko, both making the LG shoot-off with 2 inch groups. Scott, shown above, prevailed in the shoot-off. Richard Schatz, once again, made his way into the shoot-offs and took the HG win from Tom Mousel with a 4.889″. Jeff Reed took the HG score win over Leo Anderson with a 96. In the LG Score shoot-off, Jim Williams nailed a real stunner of a group, taking the Score win with a 2.018” – 49. Check out the group below. That sure would have helped his Aggs if it happened in the relay!

Jim Williams with his 2.018″- 49 group. That works out to 0.19 MOA — amazing accuracy at 1000 yards.

Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

New Cartridge Debuts — the 6mmBR Ackley Improved (6mm BRA)
The 2017 season has brought some new gear/cartridge developments and many shooters were able to put them to good use in the first match of the year at Deep Creek. Leo Anderson and Tom Mousel were both shooting the new 6mm BRA (6mmBR AI), a 6mmBR Norma with a reduced body taper and a 40 degree (40°) shoulder. Fire-forming is as simple as turning the necks and shooting, as the factory 6mmBR case will headspace in the AI chamber. Sizing with a 6mm Dasher die with .080″ turned off the bottom is the ticket. Tom Mousel, reigning IBS 1K Champ, “believes this case to have a little wider tune window and far less throat wear”. That means this case might be easier on barrels. For Tom’s 6mm BRA 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. Both of Tom’s HG groups held in the 3s for vertical, proving the 6mmBR Ackley’s accuracy potential.

Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Vapor Trail Bullets and Deep Creek Tracker Stock
Tom Jacobs at Vapor Trail Bullets has been working with a new die for his excellent 6mm 103gr Vapor Trail bullet. Four of the weekend’s competitors were shooting bullets off the new Vapor Trail die. The new die seems to be producing a bullet every bit as good as the old die, maybe even better. Several groups in the 2s (two inch) were shot this weekend. As well as Richard Shatz’s impressive 3.671″ 10-shot group in Heavy Gun (see top of this article).

Finally, the new Deep Creek Tracker 4″-wide stock is becoming a favored option, with half of the competitors at the match shooting these stocks from Wheeler Accuracy. That extra inch in the stock’s fore-end seems to be provide more stability and less rocking on the front rest when opening and closing the bolt. Also, the adjustable tracking rudder makes for perfectly parallel tracking surfaces, an absolute “must have”.

Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

The weekend ended with the sun finally breaking through the clouds. Competitors enjoyed some great grilled Polish dogs with all the fixings prepared by Mark and Angie Candau; who also shot in the match. There were plenty of smiling shooters with awards/prizes for their efforts. It was a great opening match of the season!

Here are the Top Guns at the match: Dave Torgeson, Jim Williams, Jeff Read, Shawn Williams, Richard Schatz, Leo Anderson, Lonnie Anderson, and Tom Mousel.
Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Deep Creek is one of America’s best 1000-yard shooting centers — many records have been set here.
Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Missoula Montana MT IBS Deep Creek Hellgate Richard Schatz Tom Mousel 1000 Yard 1K 1000yd benchrest

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, New Product 2 Comments »
June 27th, 2016

The Amazing 6mm Dasher: 10 Shots in 4.554″ at 1000 Yards

Scott Nix Dasher Record

6mm DasherHow well can the 6mm Dasher perform at 1000 yards when conditions are good, and the shooter is riding a hot streak? Well here’s a shot-by-shot record of Scott Nix’s 4.554″ 10-shot group shot at Missoula, Montana at the Northwest 1000-yard Championship a few years back. All 10 shots were centered for a 100-6X score. That’s about as good as it gets. If Scott had stopped after 5 shots, his group would have been under 3 inches!

Video Demonstrates Amazing 1000-Yard Accuracy
Watch the video. You can see the group form up, shot by shot. It’s pretty amazing. Scott’s first shot (at the 45-second mark of the video) was right in the X-Ring, and four of Scott’s first five shots were Xs. That’s drilling them! This video was recorded from the pits at the 1000-yard line, during record fire.

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August 10th, 2015

IBS Range Spotlight: Deep Creek Rifle Range in Montana

Missoula Montana MT NW 1000 Yard Club IBS
Deep Creek 1000-yard line: 46°55’35.03” N 114°14’45.40” W, elevation 3355′.

The International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) welcomes the Montana NW 1000 Yard Benchrest Club as a newly-affiliated club hosting registered IBS matches. The Montana club’s origins go back to 1996 when the Whitefish (Montana) Rifle and Pistol Club affiliated with the Original Pennsylvania 1000-Yard Benchrest Club (Williamsport) to conduct 1000-yard matches. Early in 1998 the Northwest 1000-Yard Benchrest Association was formed to promote 1000-yard benchrest competition in affiliation with Williamsport. The Club now operates at the Deep Creek Range as the Montana NW 1000 Yard Benchrest Club (www.MT1000yd.com), an IBS-affilated organization.

Deep Creek Range Website Deep Creek Range YouTube Channel
Deep Creek Range Facebook Page Destination Missoula Travel Page

2015 Championships at Deep Creek
The 2015 Championships were held this past weekend, August 7-9. The video below features the winners from this year’s championships, Tom Mousel (Two-Gun Overall), Leo Anderson (Heavy Gun Overall), and Bill Johnson (Light Gun Overall). The three winners describe their equipment. Tom shot a pair of 17-lb 6mm Dashers, running Vapor Trail Bullets pushed by CCI 400 primers and Hodgdon H4895 powder. The brass is Lapua 6mmBR hydro-formed to Dasher with lightly-turned necks.

Here is one of Tom Mousel’s match-winning rifles, and an impressive 100-3X, 10-shot target:

Missoula Montana MT NW 1000 Yard Club IBS

The Club holds 12 shoots per year over six weekends that count towards the 6- and 10-shot Aggregates for the year. The Championship Shoot held in August is match number 11 and 12 and does not count for Aggs. More than $20,000 worth of prizes were donated by major sponsors this year. The prize table featured scopes from Nightforce and Vortex, actions from DeFrance, Borden, BAT, Kelbly, and Stiller, plus barrels from Bartlein, Benchmark, Brux, Caliber, Krieger, and McGowen.

Missoula Montana MT NW 1000 Yard Club IBS

The Deep Creek Rifle Range is located near Missoula, Montana. Club members are continually upgrading the 1000-Yard Range, which has become one of the best long-distance benchrest shooting facilities in the country. The Deep Creek Rifle Range invites shooters to visit this scenic shooting facility. Participation in club matches continues to grow, and club members hold several 1000-yard World Records for group, score, and Aggregates of both. For more information on club shoots and joining the club, contact Alex Wheeler: zfast_malibu [at] yahoo.com.

Here’s “Bunker Buster”, a metal-stocked Heavy Gun (HG):
Missoula Montana MT Iron Horse grill

At Deep Creek, competitors shoot three (3) classes: IBS Light Gun (LG), IBS Heavy Gun (HG), and a special 11-pound class. At registered matches, Light Gun shoots five shots per relay, Heavy Gun shoots 10 shots, while the 11-pound class shoots five shots. For more information on classes and courses of fire, visit MT1000yd.com or send email to: northwest1000ydbenchrest [at] gmail.com.

Missoula Montana MT NW 1000 Yard Club IBS

New World Records Set at July 2015 Match:
Important 1K records were set at the Club’s July 9-10 match earlier this summer. Tom Mousel broke the Light Gun 10-match score record and Heavy Gun 10-match group record. Jim Williams broke the HG 10-match score Agg record. In the video below, Tom Mousel talks about his record-breaking performances.

Missoula, Montana Travel Tips
The City of Missoula is nestled in the Northern Rockies of Montana, at the confluence of three rivers. Surrounded by seven wilderness areas, Missoula is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. You can kayak, raft or tube through downtown, or take a relaxing hike in 60,000 acres of wilderness minutes from your hotel. Missoula is known for blue-ribbon trout fishing (made famous by the movie A River Runs Through It) and spectacular natural beauty.

Missoula Montana MT Iron Horse grill
Missoula Sunset, photo courtesy Iron Horse Bar & Grill, IronHorseBrewPub.com.

Missoula is a popular destination for shopping and dining, featuring three shopping districts and an abundance of restaurants, cafes, and brew-pubs with something to fit all budgets and palates. Known for its eclectic culture, Missoula offers a wide variety of entertainment including theater, film festivals, college sports, ballet, and even roller derby.

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April 21st, 2015

Deep Creek Drone — High Definition Bird’s Eye View Movie

The Deep Creek Range near Missoula, Montana, is one of the best 1000-yard ranges in the country. Many long-range benchrest records have been set in this scenic, tree-lined facility. Now, thanks to Forum member David Gosnell (aka “Zilla”), you can see Deep Creek from the air. David attached a High-Def video camera to a quad-rotor drone. He then flew the drone over the Deep Creek Range, soaring from firing line to the target bay and back again. We think you’ll like this video. It gives you a “birds-eye view” of one of America’s elite ranges. Enjoy.

deep creek range Missoula Montana

(more…)

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April 7th, 2014

Best 10-Shot, 1000-Yard Group in History — Be Amazed

Ten shots… 1000 yards … 2.6872″. Think about that. Ten shots you could cover up with a coffee cup. That’s some amazing shooting. Is this a world record? Consider this — we believe this is the smallest 10-shot group ever shot at 1000 yards in any form of rifle competition, by anyone, anywhere, anytime. It is smaller than the existing Williamsport Light Gun and Heavy Gun 1K records. The IBS and NBRSA do not shoot 10 rounds for Light Gun, but this 2.6872″ group is smaller than the current IBS (3.044″) and NBRSA (4.322″) ten-shot HEAVY GUN records.

Jim Richards Montana Missoula Deep Creek Williamsport World Record

This amazing group was shot by Jim Richards at the Deep Creek Range outside Missoula, Montana during the 4th Light Gun Relay of a 1000-yard match. Jim was shooting the small 6mm Dasher cartridge with 105gr Berger bullets. Fellow Deep Creek Shooter Tom Mousel says this should be a new world record. The Deep Creek Range shoots under Williamsport rules, with ten shots for Light Gun. The current Williamsport Light Gun record (as listed) is 3.835″ by Cody Finch in 2006, but we’re told that Paul Martinez shot a 3.505″ at Williamsport last year. If approved at 2.6872″, Jim Richards’ new record is 23% smaller than the 3.505″ previous record. That’s remarkable — Jim Richards utterly demolished the previous mark. (As measured, Jim’s group is also smaller than the current Williamsport Heavy Gun record, 2.815″ by Matt Kline in 2010.)

Jim Richards Montana Missoula Deep Creek Williamsport World Record

The Record-setting rifle features a Borden action, Shehane ST 1000 fiberglass stock, and Nightforce Benchrest scope. The Krieger barrel was chambered by King Machine for the 6mm Dasher, with a 0.269″ neck and 0.103″ freebore. Jim Richards was running Berger 105gr Hybrid bullets.

The rifle was purchased used from Tim Claunch. We suspect Tim wishes he had not parted with it! Any gun that can put ten shots under three inches at 1000 yards is a “keeper”, that’s for sure.

Forum member Wayne B. says: “I am really happy for Jim. He has asked 1000 questions, slept in his pickup, upgraded his equipment, bought a rifle from another friend of mine and now he is a world record-holder. The men and women who shoot at Deep Creek in Missoula Montana are the best group of shooters in the world bar none! They will give you all the info you need to win and if you don’t have what you need they will loan it to ya, up to and including a rifle and ammo.”

Permalink Competition, News 19 Comments »
March 21st, 2014

Richard Franklin — He’s Alive and Well

DVDOur readers have asked, “What’s happened to Richard Franklin? Is he still making rifles?” Well, we’re pleased to tell you that Richard is doing fine. He is up in Montana, building a new house, doing most of the construction himself. The good news is that the new house will have a big workshop, and Richard hopes to start building a few rifles near the end of this year. He won’t be taking orders for quite a while. But in the meantime, Richard is still sharing his knowledge about stock-making, gunsmithing, and varmint hunting via DVDs that can be purchased online.


Groundhog Hunting with Richard Franklin

A few seasons back, gunsmith Richard Franklin and his shooting partner Roy both achieved a varmint hunter’s dream — nailing a groundhog at 1000+ yards. The guns that did it were two of Richard’s 300 Varminters. These are 300 WSMs that push a 125gr bullet through 32″, 15-twist barrels to achieve velocities approaching 4000 fps. Here is Richard’s report, condensed for the Daily Bulletin.

Richard's Custom Rifles

The 1005-Yard Groundhog Adventure, by Richard Franklin
September 20th found Roy and I on our last groundhog hunt of the year. Bow season for Deer begins Oct. 4th and we wanted time to ready ourselves. Roy had killed 99 hogs so far this year and I had killed 97. In the morning, we headed over to the Overstreet farm leased by our good friend Richard Ruff. We set up the shooting trailer on top of a hill where we had a good view of several brush piles around the pasture. In the first ten minutes Roy put a hog in the air about four feet at 497 yards with his 300 Varminter, giving Roy an even 100 hogs for the year. I shot hogs at 180 yards, 506 yards, and 456 yards. That gave me a total of 100 for the year.

Richard's Custom RiflesThen we decided to go up to Danny’s and Bill’s hard rock dairy farm. We set up on the top of a high hill and shoot over the farm buildings to another mountain where there is a huge pasture with large rock piles. We scanned this pasture for about an hour and a half. Roy has a pair of Ziess 8-power binocs and I use a pair of the Leica 10-power Geovids with built-in laser rangefinder. I also have a “Big Eyes” set-up — two 22-power Kowa spotting scopes mounted on a bracket and used on a sturdy tripod. After some time searching the field for hogs and seeing none, we decided to pack up and go to a farm owned by Donnie Campbell. Over the years we have shot many a hog here. Roy once shot one here at 905 yards and my longest shot on this farm was 714 yards. Most kills here are made at over 400 yards. There’s a perfect place to shoot hogs from a single firing position. At the back property line was a big hill about 400 feet higher than the surrounding pastures and we could see and shoot about 200 degrees around us all the way out to 1,200 yards.

Setting Up the 1005-yard Shot
I had the first shot and nailed an easy one at about 140 yards. He was thinking he was hidden from view. Wrong! BLAM…POOF. Roy nailed a hog at 469 yards under an old pear tree. Roy nailed another hog at 522 yards by a big log pile where we had killed about ten hogs this summer. Roy was looking through the Big Eyes and called out, “Hey Rich…I got you one way over there on the next farm by the edge of the woods.” I ranged the hog with the Geovids four times, registering 1003, 1007, 1006 and 1005 yards. I decided on the 1005 as the distance. Checking my chart, I clicked up to 18 and 1/4 minutes. We had a very stiff wind blowing left to right. I have a Nightforce 8-32 power scope with the MLR reticle. I held the fourth windage dot and touched one off. I see the bullet strike nearly in line with the hog but low. I click up another minute and a half making a total of 19 3/4 minutes. Roy is watching all this through the Big Eyes and can see better than I can. He confirms where the first bullet strike was. I hold the same windage and touch off another round in my Bat-actioned, 32″, 15-twist Bartlein-barreled 300 Varminter. The hog was standing up for this shot. Through the scope I see the bullet’s vapor trail going straight for the hog. I lost the vapor trail before the bullet got there but I saw the hog flip over.

Hot damn, what a shot! After Roy shakes my hand and slaps me on the back, I walk over to the Big Eyes for a better look. “Roy, there’s another hog trying to fight that dead one,” I say. This hog (evidently both are males) is biting and dragging the dead hog. He is really going at it. Both hogs were evidently eating fallen acorns from the huge White Oak tree at the edge of the woods.

Richard's Custom Rifles

Roy Gets His Chance
I tell Roy, “Get up there on your bench and try that hog, I’ll spot for you.” Roy clicks up to 19 1/2 minutes and holds three feet for windage. Roy lets it go and I see the vapor trail going in on the hog. It hits a foot to the right and low. “Hey Roy”, I say, “click up two more minutes and hold one more foot of wind.” The hog ran in under the tree at the bullet’s impact but was back within 30 seconds. Roy is now clicked up and lets the second round go. I see the vapor trail dropping in on the hog but the bullet impacts dead in line, but still a bit low. “Roy — give it another minute and a half and hold the same wind”. I can hear Roy furiously working the bolt and chambering another round, then POW, and I see the vapor trail again. It looks like it’s gonna be in the middle of the hog but it drops right in under his neck, nearly hitting him. The hog vacates back under the tree for an instant but decides he is winning the fight against the dead hog and comes right back. Roy lets the fourth round go with the same hold as the last shot. I see the vapor trail of the 125 grain Ballistic Tip dropping right in on the hog, catching him perfectly in the shoulder. The live hog flips up and falls on top of the dead hog, his tail coming up stiff as a poker as he flags us that he is instantly dead.

Two 1000+ Yard Hits. A Record for Roy, Near-Record for Richard.
This was Roy’s longest shot ever. His previous record was 905 yards. This was my second longest shot, as I had killed a hog at 1018 yards seven years ago about 40 miles from this spot. I tell Roy that I’m putting up my hog rifle for the year. I’ll let this long shot register in my memory as the last Groundhog kill of 2008. Roy says “That’s fine, I’m gonna do the same.” Hog hunting is officially over for 2008. Now it’s time for Deer.

CLICK HERE to Visit Richard Franklin’s website and learn more about this ‘Hog hunt.

[Editor’s Note: Richard’s rifle has a BAT action and is able to drive the 125 Nosler at about 3975 fps. Roy has a Remington action on his 300 Varminter. The Rem doesn’t take high pressures as well as the BAT, so Roy’s load is down-loaded to about 3825 fps. Roy also uses a “boosted” Leupold rather than a Nightforce. Because of the difference in scopes, and the lower velocity, Roy needed more elevation clicks to reach the 1005-yard distance.]

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, News 1 Comment »
February 15th, 2014

Montana Bullet Works Business for Sale

Want to buy a bullet business? Montana Bullet Works (MBW) is now for sale. MBW, run by Dave Jennings, has been a leading “boutique” cast bullet-making shop for years. Dave is widely regarded as one of the best cast-bullet craftsmen in the country. He offered rifle bullets up to .50 caliber, and pistol bullets from .25 to .50 caliber. Forum member Grant G. says: “[Dave] made the very best hard-cast bullets with gas check for hunting. They were very accurate from the rifles I have used them in. My next elk will get thumped with one of his creations.”

Montana Bullet Works Dave Jennings

Clint Smith, director of Thunder Ranch says: “Montana Bullet Works makes a great product. I was looking for a specific bullet and Dave & Marcie … got the mould and made excellent bullets[.] I highly recommend them.”

Montana Bullet Works Dave JenningsMBW Business for Sale
Unfortunately, health concerns now prevent Dave Jennings from continuing his trade: “I am sorry to report that due to a recent spinal fusion surgery and the resultant permanent limitations on lifting and other movements, I can no longer operate MBW. If you are interested in buying MBW … I can provide information on current assests, inventory, etc.”.

Dave Jenning’s Tips for Shooting Cast Bullets

Any gun that you plan to shoot cast bullets from has to be cleaned of all copper jacket fouling first. The copper fouling is much harder than any cast bullet and will act like sandpaper on the bullet as it travels down the barrel. Not only will this lead to poor accuracy but may also give you signs of leading that really isn’t occurring.

While testing cast bullets, it’s also important to keep your barrel free of leading. You may concoct a load that is a little too hot for the bullet/alloy you’re using and have a leading issue with that one load. If that leading isn’t removed before you fire your next test load, you won’t be able to tell which load gave you the problem. Moreover, leading is cumulative and will adversely affect the accuracy of subsequent shots.

But don’t despair. I’ve shot literally hundreds of thousands of cast bullets and have found a quick and inexpensive way to remove leading. I use Bronze Wool, available from Brownells, either in the fine or medium grade. Unlike Steel Wool, Bronze Wool is softer than steel and will not scratch your barrel. Also, Bronze Wool is not oiled, so it leaves your barrel absolutely clean. Simply pull some threads of the Bronze Wool off of the pad and wrap it tightly around a slightly undersized bronze barrel brush. The tighter the fit, the faster it will remove leading. Ten to twelve passes up and down the barrel will remove all but the most severe leading. If you do this regularly, you’ll never have severe leading to contend with. Bronze Wool has become an integral part of my shooting kit for years. I wouldn’t be without it!

~ Dave Jennings – Montana Bullet Works ~

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 2 Comments »
June 25th, 2013

ProGrade Ammunition Builds Loaded Ammo with Premium Bullets

ProGrade Ammunition Montana accurateshooter.com

A new ammunition manufacturer has started up in Stevensville, Montana. ProGrade Ammunition will be offering a wide spectrum of ammo products, with components selected for particular types of shooting. Prograde will eventually offer nine separate types of pistol and rifle ammunition: Defense Grade, Varmint Grade, Cowboy Grade, Hunter Grade, Bear Grade, Range Grade, Match Grade, Safari Grade and Tactical Grade. Our readers will probably be most interested in the “Match Grade” and “Varmint Grade” lines. The Match Grade ammo features mostly Berger bullets (with some Noslers and Sierras), while Varmint Grade ammo is loaded with Barnes, Hornady, and Nosler bullets.

Click Images to Load Full-Size Images (with larger type)

We have no idea whether ProGrade Ammunition will shoot well and prove reliable. We don’t know what brass, powders, or primers ProGrade will be using. In a recent press release, ProGrade touts its Match Grade products: “Match Grade rounds are all hand-loaded in the United States and use premium components that are held to higher standards of consistency, leaving little room for inaccuracy. Match Grade means every element is made to be as uniform as possible in weight, primer pocket and neck size. This means everything — from bullet weight and powder weight to brass thickness and case length — is as precise as possible.”

ProGrade Ammunition Montana accurateshooter.com

Time (and rounds on target) will determine if ProGrade ammo is good stuff. But in this period of shortages, with ammunition of all kinds being hard to find, it is good to see a new domestic ammo-maker getting into the business, and producing cartridges with high-quality projectiles. We wish the folks at ProGrade success in their endeavor. To learn about ProGrade’s full line of ammunition, call (435) 865-5995, or visit www.progradeammo.com.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 3 Comments »
June 23rd, 2013

Duane Capehart, Noted 1000-Yard Shooter, Has Left the Range

Dawn Patrol Duane Capehart Missoula Deep Creek MontanaWe are sad to announce the passing of Duane Capehart, a leading figure in the long-range shooting community. Duane passed away in early June, and is survived by his wife Pat. Duane was one of the game-changing Montana marksmen who smashed records at the Missoula Deep Creek range.

Duane was always ready to share his knowledge with fellow shooters, and he helped this website with many projects. His friend Tom Mousel tells us: “Duane was among a handful of guys that started 1000-yard benchrest here in Montana. The man was breaking records before most of us knew what ‘MOA’ was, and he remained competitive to the very end. He and his wife Pat were the backbone of our club for many years. I will miss you my friend.”

We are much diminished by Duane’s passing. Those who knew Duane are very saddened by this loss. Here are some remembrances from our Forum members:

Duane Capehart was a truly great Hall of Fame shooter and a noble man. I am grateful for the wisdom he shared with me. He was a great fellow shooter at the range, that he helped build, especially on those frosty mornings. He never hesitated to help a new shooter. He was a good friend and neighbor here in the Bitterroot. He will be long remembered. My condolences, Pat. — Greg R.

Duane and I shot together many times and always had lots of fun before, during, and after the shoots. He will be missed for sure by the 1000-yard community and especially by the Missoula bunch. God bless you Pat, our thoughts and prayers are with you. — Diane & Bill Shehane

I had the honor and privilege to shoot against and converse with Duane on three occasions, and also by phone[.] Duane was funny, witty, sincere, and a friend to everyone. He was one of the best 1000-yard shooters in the business. My heart and prayers go out to Pat, and all his family. — Donovan M.

I met Duane just four years ago. He welcomed me at Deep Creek and he and I spent many a morning before the shoots visiting about shooting, hunting, work and everything in between. People there always seemed to look up to Duane, and once you got to know him you understood why. I will never forget some of the shoots with him, he was an amazing shooter, several times while pulling his targets he would not even be on target with his sighters. But then the record target would go up and he would pull off a 98 or a 99, or even a 100. This did not just happen once either — Duane [was] simply an amazing guy! I helped him and Pat hook up their camper at the end of the August final shoot last year, shook his hand goodbye and he said “I will see ya in the spring young man”. Well that didn’t happen but I will always remember Duane and always be grateful that he was my friend. Happy shooting in Heaven Duane, and God Bless you Pat. — Wayne B.

Duane’s Dawn Patrol
Duane took this photo at the Deep Creek Range in March a few years back during one of his “Dawn Patrol” missions. Temperature? Duane said it was about 17 degrees! Now that’s dedication. Duane truly loved the shooting sports. He will be missed.

Dawn Patrol Duane Capehart Missoula Deep Creek Montana

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February 5th, 2012

SHOT Show Highlight: New Actions from Defiance Machine

There was a lot of buzz at the Defiance Machine booth at SHOT Show. The new Defiance actions are beautifully made, and they have already been used in some impressive custom rifle builds. Defiance, based in Columbia Falls, MT, has rolled out a line-up of four (4) custom actions: Rebel, Mutant (for tubeguns), Renegade (for .408 CheyTac), and Titan (for 50 BMG). These actions all feature beautiful machining, with Wire EDM-cut lug ways, advanced-design extractors, and a true one-piece bolt. All action materials are pre-hardened before machining to prevent changing tolerances during heat-treating. Southpaws will be happy that both right and left-hand versions of all four actions are offered.

The Rebel actions feature a Remington 700 footprint for ease of inletting and stock compatibility. Notably, the Rebel actions are available in four lengths. Buyers can choose Medium, X-Medium, Long, or X-Long lengths to accommodate all popular factory chamberings and extended-length handloads. Multiple magazine well cuts are available for all of today’s popular magazine types including hinged floorplates, DBMs, or single-shot. For a rock-solid optics installation, Defiance can supply Mil-spec Picatinny rails with various built-in MOA geometry. This stout rail is secured to the action with five pins and 1/4-28 X 1/2″ screws. Base price on a Rebel is $1270.00 (Medium) or $1300.00 (Long), with many available extra-cost options. Defiance says delivery will take at least 60 days from order date.

We were very intrigued by the Mutant action with its integrated recoil lug. Offered in Medium and Long action lengths, Defiance’s new Mutant receiver is made specifically for the Eliseo RTM and RTS Chassis Systems. The Mutant features an extended tenon length for increased barrel thread contact and bedding surface. (Extended tenon is optional on the Rebel). The Mutant’s integral recoil lug adds rigidity and simplifies tubegun assembly. Medium-action Mutants are typically built with a Guardian mag-well cut to accommodate AI and AW magazines, while Long-action Mutants fit AI single-stack magazines and can be of Badger length or the longer CIP length for extended-OAL cartridge loading. The starting price on a Mutant action is $1200.00 (before options), and delivery is at least 60 days out.

The beefy Titan (50 BMG) and Renegade (.408 CheyTac) actions look like they will become very popular with the big-caliber shooters. These jumbo actions share the advanced features of their smaller cousins, but they are sized up significantly to provide additional strength, stiffness, and bedding surface. On both big actions double-plunger ejectors are used in combination with M16 extractors for reliable case ejection. Both Titan and Renegade actions are offered either as a single-shot or repeater. The Titan is currently sold exclusively through Proof Research, while the Renegade is not yet in production. Defiance plans to build 600 Renegade actions later this year, after demand is filled for the Rebels and Mutants. The anticipated price for the Renegade is $1750.00.

OK, we suspect we’ve whet your appetite. For final pricing (with customer-ordered options) and availability call Defiance at (406) 756-2727. For specs, features, and lots more photos, visit DefianceMachine.com. Contact Proof Research, 406-756-9290, with order questions about the 50 BMG Titan action.

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Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 3 Comments »
January 15th, 2012

Thrust Bearing-Equipped Cleaning Rods from Montana X-Treme

Montana X-Treme has an impressive line of aluminum-handled, coated cleaning rods. Introduced in 2010, these rods feature twin thrust bearings in hardened stainless steel retainers to ensure the coated, steel shafts spin smoothly even under heavy load. That’s good news for us. This ham-fisted Editor has managed to “stuff up” the bearings on both Dewey and Bore-Stix Cleaning Rods. If the Montana X-Treme thrust bearings are more durable, that’s a huge plus. We also like the fact that the machined aluminum handles have a slim profile for better clearance on the rear of the stock. The handles are long enough to get a good grip while a radiused section in the front allows you to push with your thumb. All rods have female-threaded tips, allowing use of most commercial jags without adaptors. The shafts have a proprietary non-embedding coating. Montana X-Treme claims its shaft coatings should be very long-lasting. Time will tell. These new cleaning rods look very well made — but they are pretty pricey. MidwayUSA is currently selling the new rods for $49.99.

MT X-Treme cleaning rods

Color Coding and Big-Bore Sizes up to 56″ Long
Montana X-Treme cleaning rods come in 12 different, color-coded sizes, with lengths up to 56″. Currently, however, 42″ is the max length for a a 17-20 or 22-264 (6mm) rod. We would like to see at least a 46″ 22-264 rod for use with 30-32″ barrels.

  • 17-20 Caliber (Purple): 30″, 36″, 42″ (.156 rod diameter, 5×40 female thread)
  • 22-264 Caliber (Red): 30″, 36″, 42″ (.1875 rod diameter, 8×32 female thread)
  • 270-50 Caliber (Blue): 30″, 36″, 44″, 52″, 54″ (.250 rod diameter, 8×32 female thread)
  • 338-50 Caliber (Gold): 56″ (.312 rod diameter, 8×32 female thread)

MT X-Treme cleaning rods

Permalink New Product, News 2 Comments »
October 23rd, 2011

All National Guard Team Leads Marksmanship Clinics in Montana

This year at the Deep Creek Rifle Range, near Missoula, Montana, the All National Guard Team conducted two very popular (and effective) marksmanship clinics. First, in the spring, All Guard Team members ran an Across the Course (XTC) clinic with individual instruction and live fire at the 200, 300 and 600 yards. Instruction covered shooting positions and techniques /strategy for the various distances involved in XTC matches.

All national guard Team Marksmanship Clinics Montana

All national guard Team Marksmanship Clinics Montana

This fall, in conjunction with the sold-out Long Range and F-Class Regional, the All National Guard Team held a long range clinic — which was sold-out as well. In attendance were competitive shooters, Army National Guard sniper teams ,and long-range hunters. With over 50 civilian and military shooters present, the program included basic instruction followed by coached shooting at the 800-yard and 1000-yard lines. Before the shooting began, instructors explained the positions used in sling shooting and F-Class, and also explained the hardware competitors need for these disciplines. The clinic continued with discussions of ballistics and wind reading strategies. For the live-fire portion of the clinic, students were grouped into pairs, with one All Guard Team member assigned to each pair. This worked well — while one student was shooting the other could observe the coach’s instructions.

All national guard Team Marksmanship Clinics Montana

The All Guard Team provides this service as part of its mission to improve marksmanship among the civilian population. The Remington-Bushmaster Team headed by Ken Roxburgh, and the USMC Rifle Team, can also provide instruction for shooting clinics.

Permalink News, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
October 21st, 2011

Regional at Deep Creek — Montana’s Home of World Records

Match Report by Jamey Williams
In late September, the Deep Creek Range in Missoula, MT hosted its Second Annual Montana Long Range and F-Class Regional. Like last year, the match was a sell-out with 51 shooters. Competitors cames from all over the nation, from Pennsylvania to Oregon. The conditions at the range were some of the best ever and the scores of the shooters reflected this. Many folks shot personal bests at this match — some are likely to move up in their NRA classifications.

Missoula Deep Creek Range Montana

This year the match sponsors included US Tactical Supply and Bryan Litz’s AppliedBallistics.com. Both sponsors generously donated terrific prizes that were given out at the awards ceremony. The attendance at the two-day event was nearly an even split of sling shooters and F-Class shooters. Newcomers are always encouraged to sign up and try their hand at long-range shooting, and there were a handful of first-time competitors. The Army National Guard was well-represented with 19 soldiers, spread between the F-TR rifle Division and the Match Rifle/Palma Rifle Divisions. Most of the soldiers competing in the F-TR division were using their issued M24s and M110s.

Last year, SSG Allen Spiker, SFC Bob Evans and Nicole Hagedorn all established NRA National Records (in their respective categories) for their performances at the Montana LR and F-Class Regional (report from 2010: Record Broken at Deep Creek Range). This year, SSG Allen Spiker raised the bar, eclipsing his previous record with a pending new record. In the Palma Rifle division, Spiker fired a 1088 – 48X (1100 – 110X possible), beating his previous record mark by one X.

Missoula, MT High Power

The Deep Creek Range is located within 30 minutes of the heart of Missoula. The range complex is surrounded by mountains and pine trees, with great western scenery. Deep Creek also has some unique qualities. Most of the ranges in the Northern Rockies are noted for their challenging conditions, but traditionally, the Deep Creek range affords the shooter some of the best conditions they are likely to encounter anywhere. In addition to the NRA High Power records that continue to be established there, the Montana Northwest 1000-Yard Bench Rest Club is frequently in the shooting news — records seem to be broken every season. If you are interested in attending any of the F-Class or High Power matches there in 2012, contact Jamey Williams at jameydan [at] gmail.com, or visit HellgateCSA.org.

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
August 18th, 2011

Big Turn-Out at Montana Northwest 1000-Yard Championships

The Montana Northwest 1000-Yard Benchrest Association held its annual Championship match last weekend at the Deep Creek Range near Missoula, Montana. The match drew talent from across the nation. 57 shooters attended the two-day event, and many states were represented: California, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington — even Pennsylvania.

Dashers Dominate Two-Gun Results
Dashers ruled the roost for the most part, with four of the top five in the Two-Gun shooting 6mm Dashers. Leo Anderson (Dasher) finished first in Two-Gun, followed by Robert Hoppe (Dasher), Mike Thomas (Dasher), Richard Schatz (Dasher), and Don Nielson (6.5×47 Lapua). Leo Anderson also won the Heavy Gun Overall, followed by Dennis Peterson, and Robert Hoppe. Cody Finch topped the 17-pound class, ahead of runner-up Robert Hoppe, with Leo Anderson coming in third. Lonnie Anderson won the 11-Pound Sporter Class, ahead of Scott Nix and Kevin Watson.

Montana NW 1000-yard Association

Conditions Were Hot But Relatively Calm
Montana shooter Tom Mousel, who finished 6th in the two-gun overall, reports that: “It was a very calm, high pressure weekend, so much of the home field advantage wasn’t there. There was some mirage in the 90° heat, but mirage was really quite manageable. The stable conditions made for a very close match, with competitors from outside Montana giving the locals a run for their money.” As usual, the club had a rich prize table — there were over $27,000.00 worth of prizes and give-aways.

Highlights for the weekend included Barry Bluhm’s 3.624″/99 in Heavy Gun class on Saturday. Barry, who shots a 6-6.5×47 Lapua, proved you don’t have to run a Dasher to shoot small. Three perfect 100 scores were shot at the match. In Light Gun, Roger Hoppe fired a 100/5.947″ on Saturday, while Mike Thomas got his first perfect score with a 100/6.664″ on Sunday with his Light Gun. Deep Creek Ace Leo Anderson nailed a 100/5.432″ in the Heavy Gun class on Sunday.

Two-Gun Overall
1. Leo Anderson 15
2. Robert Hoppe 17
3. Mike Thomas 20
4. Richard Schatz 22
5. Don Nielson 23
6. Tom Mousel 26
7. Cody Finch 28
8. Bud Williams 28
9. Jack Peterson 30
10. Monte Foust 31
Heavy Gun Overall
1. Leo Anderson 6
2. Dennis Peterson 9 (5.876″)
3. Robert Hoppe 9 (8.3155″)
4. Mike Hern 9 (8.419″)
5. Tom Mousel 10 (7.083″)
6. Mike Thomas 10 (9.0685″)
7. Richard Schatz 10 (9.8235″)
8. Don Nielson 11
9. Vince Kruse 13
10. Lonnie Anderson 14
17-Pound Gun Overall
1. Cody Finch 7
2. Robert Hoppe 8
3. Leo Anderson 9
4. Mike Thomas 10 (7.1765″)
5. Bud Williams 10 (7.566″)
6. Jack Peterson 10 (7.609″)
7. Monte Foust 12 (8.690″)
8. Don Nielson 12 (8.787″)
9. Richard Schatz 12 (9.165″)
10. Ray Huffman 12 (9.294″)
11-Pound Sporter Class
1. Lonnie Anderson 6
2. Scott Nix 7
3. Kevin Watson 9
4. Cody Finch 10
5. Terry Hettich 13
6. Richard Schatz 13
7. Dirk Bluhm 15
8. Jack Peterson 17
9. Gary Christian 17
10. Bruce Bangeman 17

Leo Anderson Equipment:
Light Gun: 6mm Dasher, Stiller Viper drop port, Lawrence rifle barrel, Nightforce scope, Shehane stock, metal smithing by King Machine.
Heavy Gun: 6mm Dasher, Stiller Viper drop port, Lawrence rifle barrel, Nightforce scope, Bangeman stock, metal smithing by King Machine.

Dennis Peterson Equipment:
Light Gun + Heavy Gun (Dennis shoots one 17-pounder in both): 6mm Dasher, Defiance action, Lawrence rifle barrel, Nightforce scope, Shehane stock, smithing by Jeff Lawrence.

Match Sponsors Included: Bartlein Barrels, BAT Machine, Berger Bullets, Brownells, Burris, D&B Supply, Defiance, Dewey Mfg., Forster Products, Hodgdon Powder, Ron Hoehn, Lee Precision, Leica, Krieger Barrels, Lilja Barrels, Don Nielson, Nikon, Pacific Tool & Gauge, Pro-Shot, Sierra Bullets, Sure-Fire, Swarovski, Vortex Optics and Zeiss.

Permalink Competition 1 Comment »
July 18th, 2011

Leo Anderson Smashes 1000-Yard Score Aggregate Records

Leo Anderson 1000 yard recordMontana 1K benchrest shooter Leo Anderson has set a pair of astounding multi-match Light Gun Score Agg records. These are “records for the ages”. This season, Leo’s 6-match Score Aggregate was 99.5 (99,99,99,100,100,100), while his 10-match Score Aggregate was 96.8 (84,94,95,98,99,99,99,100,100,100). That’s amazing consistency. Given how hard it is to shoot a single 100 score at 1000 yards, Leo’s Aggs are jaw-dropping. It will be a long time before these Agg records are broken (if they ever are). Leo set his 99.5 (6-match) and 96.8 (10-match) records shooting a 17-lb rifle chambered for the 6mm Dasher. The Lawrence barrel was chambered by Montana gunsmith John King and Leo did the stock work himself (starting with a Shehane MBR Tracker).

Leo Anderson 1000 yard record

99.5 Six-Match Agg and 96.5 Ten-Match Agg at 1000 Yards
Leo set these multi-match Agg records at the Deep Creek Range near Missoula, Montana. Tom Mousel, another record-holding Montana shooter reports: “Our Agg season is now complete here in Montana. Leo ‘Legend’ Anderson has broken both the 6-match and 10-match score aggregate records. He hasn’t just broken them, he has smashed them, with a couple Aggs that are truly remarkable. As a fellow 1000-yard competitor, I fully understand what it takes to grind out a quality Aggregate. What Leo has done this year is the most impressive thing I think we might ever see in the 1000-yard benchrest game. Leo is one of the best of the ‘good guys’, and also, in my opinion, Leo is the best 1000-yard shooter to ever grace our sport. You’d have to check with Leo, but I believe these are his 14th and 15th world records in his career. Leo also holds our Club record for Light Gun group and score, when he drilled a 3.476″/100 back in August of 2008″. (See photo below)

Leo Anderson 1000 yard record

Record-Breaking 6mm Dasher Light Gun Specs
There’s nothing really exotic about the 17-lb Light Gun with which Leo set his score records. The stock is a laminated Shehane MBR Tracker with some modifications by Leo to make it track better. Leo altered the angle of the toe to match the forearm and modified the taper of the sides of the buttstock to ride better in the bags. Pillar-bedded into the stock is a Stiller Viper Drop Port. Leo loves this action. He says it is very fast to operate and the flat bottom makes it easy to install in the stock. In addition, the Viper action works well with his preferred CCI 400 primers: “I can run stout loads of H4895 with the Viper without cratering the primers. Some guys with other factory and custom actions have problems with the CCI 400s which are not as hard as the 450s.”

The 29.5″, 5-groove, 0.237″ land, HV-counter barrel was crafted by Lawrence Barrels. Based in Lewiston, Montana, Lawrence Barrels currently makes mostly AR barrels, but Leo says they make great cut-rifled tubes: “I currently have Lawrence barrels on both my Light Gun and my Heavy Gun. These Lawrence barrels both shoot great. I think they are the equal of the best examples from top barrel-makers such as Krieger and Bartlein.” Leo has tried straight-contour barrels, but he prefers some taper (similar to a Krieger #17 contour): “In my experience, tapered barrels seem to shoot better, at least in a 17-pounder. The gun is less nose-heavy and tracks better.” The barrel on Leo’s record-setting Light Gun currently has about 900 rounds through it.

For optics, Leo runs a 12-42x56mm Nightforce BR model with NP2DD reticle. Leo tells us: “the NP2DD reticle is my favorite and I have great confidence in the Nightforce. We tried it side-by-side with a big name European-made high magnification scope, and the Nightforce was visibly better. At 1000 yards it had better clarity, better sharpness, better resolution.”

Record Setting Dasher Recipe: Berger 105gr VLD, Hodgdon H4895, CCI 400, Lapua Brass
While many top 6mmBR and Dasher shooters use Varget or Reloder 15, Leo prefers Hodgdon H4895, which has a slightly faster burn rate. Leo tells us: “Right now, the H4895 and CCI combo is giving the best accuracy, and it’s a clean combination. I’ve shot a lot of Reloder 15, but the H4895 burns so much cleaner.” Leo’s load is running around 3050 fps, but “he’s not too concerned with what the chronograph says — when we tune our loads we go by what shows up on the target.” Leo is loading a bit more than 32 grains of H4895. (Editor’s NOTE: This load is for fully fire-formed Dasher cases ONLY. It is NOT safe to use in a 6mmbr with 105s.) Leo’s favorite projectiles are the “thin-jacket” Berger 105gr VLDs, pointed with a Whidden pointing tool. Leo turns his necks with a K&M neck turner.

To save on barrel life, Leo fire-forms his brass using a separate barrel. He prepares the brass with a false shoulder, then fires the cases loaded with pistol powder, cream of wheat and low-density plug in the end. He tried forming case with pistol powder alone, but that required much more powder and didn’t produce results as good as the cream of wheat method.

Shooting Fast — the Importance of Smooth Tracking
Leo tells us that you need a great-tracking rig to be competitive in the 1K game these days: “Some guys are getting 10 shots downrange in 20 seconds or less. It takes me about 30 seconds.” To shoot that fast, the gun needs to track perfectly so you can just slide it back and stay on target. “If you want to shoot fast, everything’s got to be working right — and your stock really needs to track well. If you’re chasing the knobs on your rest, you’re not getting [your bullets] down range.” Leo says the stock’s geometry must be “near perfect” in order for the gun to come back to the same spot shot after shot.

Leo Anderson’s Advice for New Long-Range Shooters.

We asked Leo if he had any advice for shooters new to the long-range benchrest game. Here are some of his thoughts:

1. Pick a Winning Cartridge – Leo thinks the Dasher is just about perfect for a 17-lb rifle: “Any more cartridge than that, you have too much gun movement. Something in the Dasher range is the perfect size. We shoot the Dashers around the 3050 fps node. Even with the 6-6.5×47 you’re just burning more powder, and at the higher node, the gun starts rocking and things start getting away from you.”

2. Get Good Equipment Right from the Start – “Go ahead and bite the bullet and buy good stuff right off. Too many guys try to get off cheap in the beginning. They end up buying two or three guns as they upgrade. You save money in the long run by buying good stuff in the beginning.”

3. Practice, Practice, Practice – “We get a lot of practice in the process of tuning and load development. We put in the time — on things like bullet sorting, case prep, load tuning.”

4. Keep Pushing for Perfection – “A lot of guys get a load that seems pretty good, and then they get lazy. Don’t be content when you get a 6-inch group at 1000, because the gun might shoot a LOT better. I’ve got Aggs in the five-inch range.”

Leo Anderson 1000 yard record
Leo reports: “Here’s our ‘secret’ 1000-yard range out in the sticks where we do some spring tuning”.

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