July 11th, 2021

How Long Will Barrels Last? Dan Lilja Lists Factors to Consider

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Barrel-maker Dan Lilja’s website, RifleBarrels.com has an excellent FAQ page that contains a wealth of useful information. On the Lilja FAQ Page you’ll find answers to many commonly-asked questions. For example, Dan’s FAQ addresses the question of barrel life. Dan looks at factors that affect barrel longevity, and provides some predictions for barrel life, based on caliber, chambering, and intended use.

NOTE: This article was very well-received when it was first published. We are reprising it for the benefit of readers who missed it the first time.

Dan cautions that “Predicting barrel life is a complicated, highly variable subject — there is not a simple answer. Signs of accurate barrel life on the wane are increased copper fouling, lengthened throat depth, and decreased accuracy.” Dan also notes that barrels can wear prematurely from heat: “Any fast varmint-type cartridge can burn out a barrel in just a few hundred rounds if those rounds are shot one after another without letting the barrel cool between groups.”

Q. What Barrel Life, in number of rounds fired, can I expect from my new barrel?

A: That is a good question, asked often by our customers. But again there is not a simple answer. In my opinion there are two distinct types of barrel life. Accurate barrel life is probably the type most of us are referencing when we ask the question. But there is also absolute barrel life too. That is the point where a barrel will no longer stabilize a bullet and accuracy is wild. The benchrest shooter and to a lesser extent other target shooters are looking at accurate barrel life only when asking this question. To a benchrest shooter firing in matches where group size is the only measure of precision, accuracy is everything. But to a score shooter firing at a target, or bull, that is larger than the potential group size of the rifle, it is less important. And to the varmint hunter shooting prairie dog-size animals, the difference between a .25 MOA rifle or one that has dropped in accuracy to .5 MOA may not be noticeable in the field.

The big enemy to barrel life is heat. A barrel looses most of its accuracy due to erosion of the throat area of the barrel. Although wear on the crown from cleaning can cause problems too. The throat erosion is accelerated by heat. Any fast varmint-type cartridge can burn out a barrel in just a few hundred rounds if those rounds are shot one after another without letting the barrel cool between groups. A cartridge burning less powder will last longer or increasing the bore size for a given powder volume helps too. For example a .243 Winchester and a .308 Winchester both are based on the same case but the .308 will last longer because it has a larger bore.

And stainless steel barrels will last longer than chrome-moly barrels. This is due to the ability of stainless steel to resist heat erosion better than the chrome-moly steel.

Barrel Life Guidelines by Caliber and Cartridge Type
As a very rough rule of thumb I would say that with cartridges of .222 Remington size you could expect an accurate barrel life of 3000-4000 rounds. And varmint-type accuracy should be quite a bit longer than this.

For medium-size cartridges, such as the .308 Winchester, 7×57 and even the 25-06, 2000-3000 rounds of accurate life is reasonable.

Hot .224 caliber-type cartridges will not do as well, and 1000-2500 rounds is to be expected.

Bigger magnum hunting-type rounds will shoot from 1500-3000 accurate rounds. But the bigger 30-378 Weatherby types won’t do as well, being closer to the 1500-round figure.

These numbers are based on the use of stainless steel barrels. For chrome-moly barrels I would reduce these by roughly 20%.

The .17 and .50 calibers are rules unto themselves and I’m pressed to predict a figure.

The best life can be expected from the 22 long rifle (.22 LR) barrels with 5000-10,000 accurate rounds to be expected. We have in our shop one our drop-in Anschutz barrels that has 200,000 rounds through it and the shooter, a competitive small-bore shooter reported that it had just quit shooting.

Remember that predicting barrel life is a complicated, highly variable subject. You are the best judge of this with your particular barrel. Signs of accurate barrel life on the wane are increased copper fouling, lengthened throat depth, and decreased accuracy.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Benchrest Barrel Life — You May Be Surprised
I thought it might be interesting to point out a few exceptional Aggregates that I’ve fired with 6PPC benchrest rifles with barrels that had thousands of rounds through them. I know benchrest shooters that would never fire barrels with over 1500 shots fired in them in registered benchrest matches.

I fired my smallest 100-yard 5-shot Aggregate ever in 1992 at a registered benchrest match in Lewiston, Idaho. It was a .1558″ aggregate fired in the Heavy Varmint class. And that barrel had about 2100 rounds through it at the time.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Another good aggregate was fired at the 1997 NBRSA Nationals in Phoenix, Arizona during the 200-yard Light Varmint event. I placed second at this yardage with a 6PPC barrel that had over 2700 rounds through it at the time. I retired this barrel after that match because it had started to copper-foul quite a bit. But accuracy was still good.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

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July 10th, 2021

Smallest 5-Shot, 100-Yard Group in History — Be Amazed

world record Michael stinnett group .0077

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

Call it stunning, call it humbling, call it amazing. It is, quite simply the apotheosis (“perfect example”) of accuracy. This is what we all hope to achieve. It’s staggering to see that a rifle can drill FIVE perfectly-overlapped holes — the last virtually indistinguishable from the first — at a target a football field (100 yards) away. It’s great to see a benchmark like this, if only to remind us what is possible in our sport of precision shooting. (Sighters appear below record target.)

world record Michael stinnett group .0077

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

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

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

world record Michael stinnett group .0077

The Record-Setting Rifle and Cartridge
Many folks have asked about the gun and ammo that produced the .0077″ group. The Light Varmint-class Benchrest rifle was chambered as a .30-caliber wildcat, the 30 Stewart, which is based on the 6.5 Grendel case necked up. Mike was using Hodgdon H4198 powder behind BIB 114gr, 10-ogive bullets. Notably, the record-setting ammo was pre-loaded before the match. Here is Mike’s tuner-equipped rifle. CLICK HERE for more information on the rifle and cartridge.

Record .008 .0077 group rifle

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

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

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

  • Stock: Larson (including action bedding)
  • Scope: Leupold 45X Competition in Kelby Single Screw Tall Rings
  • Brass: Lapua (Base case is 6.5 Grendel)
  • Bullets: Randy Robinett (BIB) 30 Cal. 114gr, 10 Ogive (secondary bullet; primary is 112gr BIB)
  • Powder: H4198 – Stout Load with 2980 FPS Velocity
  • Front Rest: Farley Coaxial
  • Bags: Micro Fiber
  • Flags: Graham Wind Flags (large)
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, News, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
July 9th, 2021

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

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Jeff Stover IBS

The Rifle for Short-Range Benchrest Competition

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

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

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

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Jeff Stover IBS

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

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

IBS Group Benchrest Nationals Jeff Stover IBS

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

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

IBS Benchrest rifle stock tuner

IBS benchrest loading table powder

Bullets and Powder

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

Vihtavuori N 133 N133 powder reloading

IBS Benchrest wailing wall targets

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April 25th, 2021

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

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

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

The Best 5-Shot 1000-Yard Group in History

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike Wilson IBS 1000-Yard Light Gun Specifications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more comments, read this AccurateShooter Forum Thread.

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

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

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

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

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

More Comments by Fellow Shooters:

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

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

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

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


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

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April 11th, 2021

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

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

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

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

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

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

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

Video Shows Rear Coaxial Rest in Action

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

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

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

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

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

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

Rear coaxial Rest Heavy gun

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

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

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March 28th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: .300 WSM Pending 1K World Record Heavy Gun

Charles Greer 1000 yard Heavy Gun HG NBRSA 10X world record group .300 WSM

This Sunday we feature an impressive .300 WSM Heavy Gun shot by a superb long-range shooter. With this rig, at age 83, Arizona benchrest ace Charles Greer drilled a remarkable 2.862″ 100-10X group, beating all known 1000-Yard HG 10-shot records on the books. If this record is approved (which is likely), Greer’s .300 WSM can rightfully be hailed as the most accurate 1000-yard gun in history.

Charles Greer 1000 yard Heavy Gun HG NBRSA 10X world record group .300 WSM
CLICK HERE for full-screen rifle photo.

Story compiled with help from Jason Peterson
This would be an excellent 10-shot NBRSA Heavy Gun group at 600 yards, but this target was shot at 1000 yards by Charles Greer (aka “chuckgreen” on AccurateShooter forum) on February 13, 2021 at an NBRSA Match in Arizona. Chuck was shooting his .300 WSM Heavy Gun with Borden action, Krieger barrel, and Berger 220gr Hybrids. The event was hosted by the Sahuaro 1000 Yard Benchrest Club, at Three Points Range, outside Tucson, Arizona. Though it is pending final approval, it appears this is the smallest 10-shot Heavy Gun group ever shot, anywhere, at 1000 yards, and it was centered for a 10X. That’s doubly impressive when you consider that Charles Greer achieved this at age 83! Yes “Old guys rule”!

Charles Greer 1000 yard Heavy Gun HG NBRSA 10X world record group .300 WSM
Amazing 100-10X 2.642″ (unofficial) 10-Shot Group at 1000 Yards.

This group is perfectly centered for an amazing 100-10X score. The group was range measured at 2.642 inches. For reference, the 1000-yard X-Ring is 3.00″ in diameter. The “X” itself is about 1.2″ tall. Pending final verification, this amazing target should shatter two NBRSA records. This handily beats the current single target HG score record of 100-6X held by Bill Schrader since 2005, and the single target HG group record of 3.650″ held by Tim Height (2019). For comparison, the current IBS 10-Shot 1000-yard HG group record is 2.871″ by Michael Gaizauskas from 2016. So it appears that this may be the smallest 10-shot group ever shot in competition in history. And from what we can determine, this is the first potential HG size record that also has a 100 score with TEN Xs.

Because shots are not marked in this discipline, this stunning group was a surprise to Greer: “I had no idea that I was shooting a world record target until I went back to the pits after my relay. Just as well. If I’d seen nine rounds in the X on the target, staying steady [for the last shot] would have been challenging….”

Charles Greer 1000 yard Heavy Gun HG NBRSA 10X world record group .300 WSM

Forum member “Tom” (2016 IBS 1000-yard Nat’l Champion and holder of several IBS 1000-yard records) unofficially measured Greer’s 1K group at 2.680 inches (0.256 MOA), using Ballistic-X software. Awaiting final group measurement by the NBRSA Long Range Committee, as currently measured, this target is just under existing IBS and Williamsport 10-shot HG 1000-yard records: The current IBS HG 1000-yard group record is 2.871″ held by Michael Gaizauskas. The current Williamsport HG 1000-yard group record is 2.815″ held by Matthew Kline.

Benchrest Shooting — Sport for All Ages
Charles Greer 1000 yard Heavy Gun HG NBRSA 10X world record group .300 WSMCharles Greer reminded us that even senior citizens can succeed in benchrest competition: “One of the benefits of benchrest shooting is that it is a sport accessible to us even as we age. I cannot run and gun anymore like I used to do in IPSC and IDPA but as long as I can get my body and my equipment up to a bench, I can still be very competitive. That is not possible for us old guys in most sports and shooting disciplines. As I am ‘only 83′ I am hoping to squeeze a few more years of competition out of the old body before I have to pack it in for good.”

Charles is thankful for what he has achieved in this sport over many decades: “The Shooting Gods have certainly smiled on me from time to time during my brief shooting career and for that I am incredibly grateful.”

This target may also be the smallest 1K 10-shot group ever shot in competition, in ANY Class. In 2014, Jim Richards fired a 10-shot, 2.6872″ Light Gun group under Williamsport Rules at Deep Creek Range in Montana. However, Jim’s record small group was NOT centered in the 10-ring and it appear that Greer’s group could measure smaller. [Editor: Charles is no stranger when it comes to 1000-yard records. Charles is the current listed holder of two NBRSA 1000-yard score records: 3-Target HG Score: 294-8X (2010); 6-Target 2-Gun Score: 441-13X (2010).]

Charles Greer 1000 yard Heavy Gun HG NBRSA 10X world record group .300 WSM

100-10X at 1000 — This May Be a First
After looking at all the 1000-yard records from different organizations, it appears that Greer’s 100-10X score could well be a first! And it may be many years before another 100-10X score is ever shot in competition.

Charles Greer 1000 yard Heavy Gun HG NBRSA 10X world record group .300 WSM

Arizona’s Three Points Range is known for its windy conditions. So much so that small groups are not common in match reports. 6mm cartridges that are commonly shot at other 1000-yard benchrest competitions are rarely shot at Sahuaro 1K BR Club matches. The bigger calibers dominate here.

Charles Greer 1000 yard Heavy Gun HG NBRSA 10X world record group .300 WSM

Charles Greer NBRSA 1000-Yard Heavy Gun Specifications:
Action: Borden BRMXD drop port
Barrel: Krieger 30″ 4-groove, 1:10″ twist, custom contour 1.35″ tapered to 1.00″
Chambering: .300 Winchester Short Magnum (WSM)
Chamber Specs: .337 neck with .280 freebore
Stock/Weight: McMillan/Wheeler LRB (solid fill) stock at 27 pounds
Gunsmith: Gerald Reisdorff
Optics: Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm
Front Rest: Sinclair Competition with 4″ Edgewood bag
Rear Rest/Bag: Wahlstrom mechanical rear rest with custom Edgewood bag

Load Details: Norma .300 WSM brass, Alliant Reloder 23 powder, Federal 210M primers, Berger 220gr LR Hybrid bullets at 2800 FPS

Charles Greer 1000 yard Heavy Gun HG NBRSA 10X world record group .300 WSM

Upside-Down (Wider Base) Stock Rudder Improves Rifle Tracking

Charles Greer 1000 yard Heavy Gun HG NBRSA 10X world record group .300 WSMGreer has done something clever with his McMillan/Wheeler benchrest stocks. He has flipped over (inverted) the adjustable metal rudder (or keel) that runs on the underside of the buttstock. This provides a wider, flat tracking surface. The inverted rudder runs in a special sandbag on a Walhstrom mechanical rest. NOTE: Mechanical rear rests ARE legal for BOTH Heavy Guns and Light Guns under current NBRSA rules (see page 24). Shown at right is Greer’s Light Gun, but his Heavy Gun has the same system.

Charles explains: “Both my LG and my HG are of the same configuration except for additional weight in the stock of the HG. I decided to do this so that I would not need a separate rest system for each gun which saves on expense and makes it much easier to switch the LG out for the HG during competition. No need to change rest systems and re-align everything. Both of my stocks are McMillan/Wheeler LRB models with the adjustable rudder that can be repositioned horizontally to improve tracking. The rudder has a 3/4 inch-wide base that is usually fit into an Edgewood gator bag with a flat top. I did not like the way the rifle tracked with this set up and wanted something more solid and stable.

So I found that if I turned the rudder upside down and re-installed it that way on the stock, using the same screws and holes, the top of the rudder when turned down provided me with a base 1.5″ wide with a 1/4″ rail on each side. I got a Wahlstrom mechanical rear rest and had a custom Edgewood front bag made for it with a 1.5″ separation between the ears. The rail tracks perfectly in the bag and I can tighten the ears to make it quite solid and steady. I have noticed a huge improvement in tracking with this set up. I am still refining this arrangement but plan to continue using it on both rifles. I have never seen this done and was thinking maybe your readers would be interested.”

Questions & Answers with Charles Greer

Hall of Fame short-range shooter Gary Ocock interviewed Charles Greer. This interesting Q&A dialog covers shooting styles, equipment selection, recoil management and other notable topics.

Q: Tell us about your rifle, accuracy standards, and choice of calibers and bullets for the 1K game.
Greer: I set up two rifles, Light Gun and Heavy Gun. Both will shoot 100-yard 5-shot groups in the high ones and low twos. In Arizona I want a heavy, high-BC bullet in both guns to buck the wind and want to keep the ES under 10 FPS. I’m finding .300 WSM with Berger 220 LRHT bullets and a 4 groove Krieger barrel will provide the performance I need, and I shoot this round in both rifles.

Q: Explain your rest set-up, tracking, and recoil management. And how fast do you typically shoot your strings of fire?
Greer: I am using a Sinclair Competition Front Rest along with a mechanical rear rest, both with Edgewood front bags, to give me the stability necessary to provide consistent tracking even with these relatively high recoil rounds. Almost perfect tracking and consistent return to battery in the same spot is necessary to get a record string off quickly and smoothly. I try to get my strings off in a time of between 6 and 10 seconds per round depending on conditions. Any faster and I get sloppy.

Q: What were conditions like when you shot that amazing 10-shot group?
Greer: On the day I shot the record-pending target I had the first relay. There was wind but it was light, maybe 4-5 mph and seemed steady. The flags were about halfway up to horizontal and seemed to be holding that way. My procedure is to shoot 5 sighter rounds, two to adjust my initial round on paper to the X-Ring and then three more during the last minute to check for changes in the wind. If these last three rounds stay in the Ten Ring it is usually a sign that the wind may be steady enough for me to shoot a good group. On the “record” day the last three sighters were right in or near the X-Ring and when the record target came up I quickly but carefully dumped my 10 rounds holding the scope dot right on the X. The wind apparently held absolutely steady, and I got the result you see on the target.

That is my normal shooting technique. I pretty well know during the last minute of the sighter period whether a good group will be possible. If each of my last three sighters ends up inches away from the X in different directions, I know the wind is shifty and a good group on that target is unlikely. I adjust the last sighter to the X and then dump the string the same way just hoping the wind may hold for a minute or so. Sometimes it does, but often not so much.

During the record strings there is no way to know where the rounds are going. They are not marked, and the holes cannot be seen through the scope at that distance. The 1K flags are big and heavy and not very indicative of minor wind changes so I do not try to hold off or change my point of aim unless a flag completely reverses direction during a string. I’ve found that over the years adjusting my point of aim to the X after the last sighter and then dumping my strings gets the best results overall.

Q: What is your highest shooting accomplishment so far?
Greer: Well, the highest accomplishment (if one can call it that) would have to be this 100-10X target. This may end up being the best 10-shot target ever shot in a sanctioned match. 0f course, there is a tremendous amount of luck involved in this coming together but I certainly am pleased.

I had set four NBRSA world records when I was shooting previously: Light Gun Agg in 2008, and all three possible Highest Three Target Score records in 2010, two of which still stand. The first was probably the most satisfying as was my performance in the 2010 Nationals where I placed high in several categories and was Heavy Gun Champion for Score.

Charles Greer 1000 yard Heavy Gun HG NBRSA 10X world record group .300 WSMQ: Who do you attend matches with?
Greer: During the last year my son, Brian, has become my match shooting companion. We go out together every month. Brian was able recently to purchase the great 300 Ackley HG that I competed with and set world records with in 2010. I sold the rifle to a friend who never shot it and it found its way back into our family. Brian is now becoming a serious competitor.

Photo Right: Charles Greer with son Brian.

Q: What are your future shooting goals?
Greer: To keep on shooting our local match each month and to try to get to the Nationals once or twice more before I get too damn feeble. And to be able to see my son take my place as a regular winner when I can no longer compete.

Q: Is there any advice you would like to share with new shooters?
Greer: Make a commitment to excel at whichever discipline you choose. Get the best equipment and components that you can afford and consider each match a learning experience. At some point anything that can go wrong will go wrong and one must learn from these mistakes. Most importantly, be patient and keep coming back. In Arizona good shooting conditions are rare. You gotta be “in it to win it”. If you show up at every match you can attend eventually a great condition will appear on your relay and you will have a chance to shoot a spectacular score.

Charles Greer 1000 yard Heavy Gun HG NBRSA 10X world record group .300 WSM

Q: What is your shooting background?
Greer: I started shooting rabbits as a kid in the Mojave Desert, trained on various firearms in the military in the fifties and sixties and over the years hunted birds and large game and played with various handguns. In 2005 I moved to Tucson from Mexico the first time and, looking for an activity, started shooting IDPA and IPSC pistol matches at Pima Pistol Club. Shortly thereafter I bought a .308 Savage tactical rifle and got interested in shooting for accuracy. One thing led to another and before long I bought a better Savage varmint rifle in .300 WSM and started shooting the 1K match at Tucson Rifle Club at Three Points around 2007. I kept upgrading my equipment, started winning matches, set some world records.

After the 2011 NBRSA Long Range Nationals I felt rather burnt out on shooting. I sold all my guns and equipment and headed South looking for perhaps one more adventure. I found some but they did not include shooting as South of the border folks tend to shoot back when they hear anything go bang. I returned to Tucson in May of 2019, built a couple of new rifles, and got involved again in the monthly Sahuaro match where the most recent world record target was shot. I would like to resume shooting the NBRSA Long Range Nationals. Will not be ready this year but probably will in 2022.

Q: Have you tried other disciplines at different ranges?
Greer: I have only competed in Long Range, mostly 1000 yards but 600 yards a few times at the Nationals. I would like to try shooting “Score” and there is a monthly match at our range. May try it if I can get an appropriate rifle.

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March 15th, 2021

Benchrest is Back! Lester Bruno Wins Big at 2021 Cactus Classic

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Congrats to Lester Bruno, overall winner of the 2021 Cactus Classic Benchrest Match. This popular NBRSA match is held every year at the Ben Avery Range outside Phoenix, Arizona. Lester shot brilliantly, particularly at 200 yards, to win the Two-Gun convincingly with an 0.2099 Overall Aggregate. Ed Adams was second with a 0.2303 Two-Gun Agg, with Durward Wofford in third place with 0.2655. Along the way Lester nailed a remarkable 0.1742 200-yard Heavy Varmint Agg. That’s mighty impressive.

Click Image Below for full-screen Panorama Image:
Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Paul Parosky reported: “So the Cactus Classic COVID Edition of 2021 has come to an end. Lester Bruno won with some amazing shooting at the LV and HV 200 yards. Myself? I need some more time behind the rifle and at 200 yards. We came across some nasty mirage that basically it was really hard to see the bullet hole. I still was able to finish in the middle of the pack 29th in the 2-Gun Aggregate, which is OK with me. But most of all had super great time, meeting new people and also putting faces to the FB friends from the group. The referees, Matthew Schwartzkopf and his crew [plus] the Wickenburg School volunteers did a wonderful job keeping the match going flawlessly.”

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

2021 Cactus Classic Top 25 Two-Gun Overall Results:

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

In 100/200 yard Group Benchrest, most top competitors load at the range, tuning their loads for the conditions. Here you can see the portable powder measure (left) and a compact ARKCO Hood Press (right). That blue combo press can both size cases with a screw-in die and seat bullets using a Wilson Seater die (placed on left side). The vast majority of short-range benchrest-for-group competitors run the 6PPC cartridge with fast-burning powders such as Vihtavuori N133.

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Capstone Precision Group (Berger Bullets, Lapua, SK, Vihtavuori) provided many valuable prizes to competitors at the 2021 Cactus Classic.

Cactus Classic 2021 COVID Benchrest NBRSA match Lester Bruno

Permalink Competition, News 3 Comments »
September 27th, 2020

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

Shelly Davidson Tinker Toy 30 BR

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


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

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

tinker toy davidson 20 BR benchrest rifle

Tinker Toy 30 BR — Radical As It Gets

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

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

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

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

Tinker Toy Rifle DESIGN FEATURES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TINKER TOY SPECIFICATIONS

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

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

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

tube benchrest rifle

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

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

Davidson Benchrest 30BR

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

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

Magnetic Benchrest Tuner Davidson

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

Competition — Tinker Toy Won Both Score and Group Matches

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

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

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

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

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January 30th, 2020

Can You Predict Useful Barrel Life? Insights from Dan Lilja

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Barrel-maker Dan Lilja’s website has an excellent FAQ page that contains a wealth of useful information. On the Lilja FAQ Page as you’ll find informed answers to many commonly-asked questions. For example, Dan’s FAQ addresses the question of barrel life. Dan looks at factors that affect barrel longevity, and provides some predictions for barrel life, based on caliber, chambering, and intended use.

NOTE: This article was very well-received when it was first published last year. We are reprising it for the benefit of readers who missed it the first time.

Dan cautions that “Predicting barrel life is a complicated, highly variable subject — there is not a simple answer. Signs of accurate barrel life on the wane are increased copper fouling, lengthened throat depth, and decreased accuracy.” Dan also notes that barrels can wear prematurely from heat: “Any fast varmint-type cartridge can burn out a barrel in just a few hundred rounds if those rounds are shot one after another without letting the barrel cool between groups.”

Q. What Barrel Life, in number of rounds fired, can I expect from my new barrel?

A: That is a good question, asked often by our customers. But again there is not a simple answer. In my opinion there are two distinct types of barrel life. Accurate barrel life is probably the type most of us are referencing when we ask the question. But there is also absolute barrel life too. That is the point where a barrel will no longer stabilize a bullet and accuracy is wild. The benchrest shooter and to a lesser extent other target shooters are looking at accurate barrel life only when asking this question. To a benchrest shooter firing in matches where group size is the only measure of precision, accuracy is everything. But to a score shooter firing at a target, or bull, that is larger than the potential group size of the rifle, it is less important. And to the varmint hunter shooting prairie dog-size animals, the difference between a .25 MOA rifle or one that has dropped in accuracy to .5 MOA may not be noticeable in the field.

The big enemy to barrel life is heat. A barrel looses most of its accuracy due to erosion of the throat area of the barrel. Although wear on the crown from cleaning can cause problems too. The throat erosion is accelerated by heat. Any fast varmint-type cartridge can burn out a barrel in just a few hundred rounds if those rounds are shot one after another without letting the barrel cool between groups. A cartridge burning less powder will last longer or increasing the bore size for a given powder volume helps too. For example a .243 Winchester and a .308 Winchester both are based on the same case but the .308 will last longer because it has a larger bore.

And stainless steel barrels will last longer than chrome-moly barrels. This is due to the ability of stainless steel to resist heat erosion better than the chrome-moly steel.

Barrel Life Guidelines by Caliber and Cartridge Type
As a very rough rule of thumb I would say that with cartridges of .222 Remington size you could expect an accurate barrel life of 3000-4000 rounds. And varmint-type accuracy should be quite a bit longer than this.

For medium-size cartridges, such as the .308 Winchester, 7×57 and even the 25-06, 2000-3000 rounds of accurate life is reasonable.

Hot .224 caliber-type cartridges will not do as well, and 1000-2500 rounds is to be expected.

Bigger magnum hunting-type rounds will shoot from 1500-3000 accurate rounds. But the bigger 30-378 Weatherby types won’t do as well, being closer to the 1500-round figure.

These numbers are based on the use of stainless steel barrels. For chrome-moly barrels I would reduce these by roughly 20%.

The .17 and .50 calibers are rules unto themselves and I’m pressed to predict a figure.

The best life can be expected from the 22 long rifle (.22 LR) barrels with 5000-10,000 accurate rounds to be expected. We have in our shop one our drop-in Anschutz barrels that has 200,000 rounds through it and the shooter, a competitive small-bore shooter reported that it had just quit shooting.

Remember that predicting barrel life is a complicated, highly variable subject. You are the best judge of this with your particular barrel. Signs of accurate barrel life on the wane are increased copper fouling, lengthened throat depth, and decreased accuracy.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Benchrest Barrel Life — You May Be Surprised
I thought it might be interesting to point out a few exceptional Aggregates that I’ve fired with 6PPC benchrest rifles with barrels that had thousands of rounds through them. I know benchrest shooters that would never fire barrels with over 1500 shots fired in them in registered benchrest matches.

I fired my smallest 100-yard 5-shot Aggregate ever in 1992 at a registered benchrest match in Lewiston, Idaho. It was a .1558″ aggregate fired in the Heavy Varmint class. And that barrel had about 2100 rounds through it at the time.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

Another good aggregate was fired at the 1997 NBRSA Nationals in Phoenix, Arizona during the 200-yard Light Varmint event. I placed second at this yardage with a 6PPC barrel that had over 2700 rounds through it at the time. I retired this barrel after that match because it had started to copper-foul quite a bit. But accuracy was still good.

Lilja Rifle Barrels barrel life 3-groove AR15 Barrel heat

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October 15th, 2019

Wind Wisdom from Experts Bryan Litz and Emil Praslick III

Wind reading coaching bryan litz Ben Avery Phoenix wind video

Wind effects are complex. In trying to access wind speeds and angles, you’ll want to watch multiple indicators — mirage, dust, wind-flags, grass movement, and more. You’ll also need to be concerned about wind cycles. In the video below, Bryan Litz talks about variable wind speed along a bullet’s flight path. A respected ballistics guru, Bryan is the founder of Applied Ballistics and a designer of Berger’s Hybrid Match projectiles. He is also a past F-TR National Champion and a High Master Palma ace.

In this video, Bryan discusses how wind effects can vary in intensity at different points along the bullet’s flight path to the target. Sometimes the firing line is sheltered, and the strongest winds come into effect in the middle of the trajectory. Bryan concludes: “Wind matters everywhere … but the best thing you can do is try to get a handle on the wind [velocity and angle] where you are. That may or may not represent the wind down-range — that’s when you have to look downrange and make a judgment[.]”

Litz Competition Tip: Select your wind shooting strategy carefully. For beginners and veterans, most points are typically lost to wind. Successful shooters put a lot of thought into their approach to wind shooting. Sometimes it’s best to shoot fast and minimize the changes you’ll have to navigate. Other times it’s best to wait out a condition which may take several minutes. Develop a comfortable rest position so you have an easier time waiting when you should be waiting.

More Wind Tips from Wind Wizard Emil Praslick
In these two short videos, Emil Praslick III, former coach of the USAMU and USA National long range teams, explains how to find the wind direction and how to confirm your no-wind zero. Praslick is widely considered to be one of the best wind coaches in the USA.

When Winds Are EXTREME — Near Gale Force at Ben Avery

This video shows INSANE winds at NBRSA 100/200 Benchrest Nationals. This was filmed at the Ben Avery Range in Phoenix, AZ during the recent NBRSA 100/200 yard National Championships. Extreme to say the least. Based on what we’re seeing here, there are 20-25 mph crosswinds, with gusts to 35 mph — near Gale Force. Video by Hall-of-Fame Benchrest competitor Gene Bukys.

Texas gunsmith Mike Bryant reports: “This video shows the Unlimited Class 200 at the Nationals in Phoenix. I had three 10-shot groups in the low 2″ range with a 2.228″ being my big group and was glad they weren’t bigger. Thursday and Friday were the worst of the windy days. Unfortunately those were the days for the UL 200 and it was about as windy through most all of the Sporter 200.”

Excellent Wind Reading Resource

The Wind Book for Rifle Shooters covers techniques and tactics used by expert wind-readers. The authors provide a wind-reading “toolbox” for calculating wind speed, direction, deflection and drift. They explain how to read flags and mirage, record and interpret your observations, and time your shots to compensate for wind. Here are two reviews:

This is a must-have book if you are a long-range sport shooter. I compete in F-Class Open and when read it from cover to cover, it helped me understand wind reading and making accurate scope corrections. Buy this book, read it, put into practice what it tells you, you will not be disappointed. — P. Janzso

If you have one book for wind reading, this should be it. It covers how to get wind speed/direction from flags, mirage, and natural phenomenon. This is the best book for learning to read wind speed and direction. — Muddler

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, News, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
June 30th, 2019

Sunday Gunday: Bart’s 6PPC Drills Five Shots in .088″ at 200!

Bart Sauter Bart's Bullets 200-yard East Meet West
This would be an amazing group at 100 yards. But this 5-shot bughole was shot at TWO HUNDRED yards in competition by Bart Sauter of Bart’s Custom Bullets. And he did it with a borrowed barrel!

Be amazed. This five-shot group was shot at 200 yards in competition by bullet-maker Bart Sauter. Bart shot this astounding group with his 10.5-lb Light Varmint benchrest rifle at the recent East-West Match in St. Louis, Missouri. Had Bart been shooting an IBS match, this would have been a new IBS World Record, beating the .091″ by David Farrar in 2006. This .088″ group missed the NBRSA 200-yard 5-shot group record by a whisker — .013″ (thirteen thousandths). The listed NBRSA LV 200-yard Group record is 0.075″ shot by Johnnie Stewart a decade ago.

New record or not, this is one remarkably impressive group, shot by one very talented shooter and bullet-maker. Bart tells us he initially “held center” for the first three shots in the group. Then, watching his wind flags he noticed slight increase in the left-to-right condition, so he held 0.200″ to the left on shot 4 and it worked. Before shot 5, Bart detected another slight change, so he held 0.300″ left for the fifth and final shot. He explained: “If I had not held off for those last two shots, this group would have been about a flat four (0.400″).” Well done Bart!

“First three … bang bang bang … all went in one hole. Then I held left on shot 4 and it worked. On the last shot I held a little more, got lucky and it went in.” — Bart Sauter

In our Shooter’s Forum, Bart posted “This is my personal best-ever 5-shot group at 200 yards. I knew it was small, but was shocked to see it was a Zero! This will be a range record and record for the East/West match. Last group of the day! A nice way to end the match!”

Bart Sauter Bart's Bullets .088 6PPC one-hole group 200 yards amazing

Here is the 6PPC LV rifle that shot the .088″ group. Yes that’s a concrete shooting bench inside a pretty nice cabin with hunting trophies on the walls. Bart explained: “We reload and shoot out of the Monkey Hut, especially during the winter. Most of the time we shoot outside at 100/200 from a a three-bench range.

Amazing Group Shot with Borrowed Krieger Barrel!
There’s a very interesting side-note to this story. You see Bart doesn’t even own the Krieger barrel that delivered this amazing .088″ 200-yard group. That’s right this superb barrel was a “loaner” — borrowed from Bart’s buddy Gary Sullivan. [Editor: Oh that we could all be so lucky with borrowed components.] With Sullivan’s blessing, Bart has since loaned the barrel yet again to ace Billy Stevens, who will be using it at the World Benchrest Championship in Canada, July 14-21, 2019.

Bart Sauter Bart's Bullets 200-yard East Meet West
This photo shots Bart on the right and his good friend Billy Stevens on the left. Bart notes: “Billy is a 2-time Super Shoot Winner and 3-time USA World Benchrest Team member!”

Bart Sauter’s LV 6PPC Rifle Specifications

Chambering/Caliber: 6PPC
Gunsmith: Stevens Accuracy
Action: BAT DS RBLP Right Eject
Trigger: Jewell
Stock: Scarborough Carbon Fiber over Wood Skeleton
Barrel: Krieger — and it was borrowed!
Tuner: Bukys TSI Tuner

Bullet: Bart’s Avenger 68 grain BT
Powder: Accurate LT30
Charge: Stout load running 3407 FPS

Optic: 40x45mm IOR-Valdada 30mm tube
Rings: Benchsource Double Rings
Front Rest: Farley Joystick
Rear Bag: Edgewood Bunny Ear, very soft, gray leather — special order from Bruno’s.
Front Bag: Edgewood — same soft gray leather.

Bart Sauter Bart's Bullets 200-yard East Meet West

Here is Bart’s target with a bullet removed. Bart was shooting his own 6mm 68gr Avenger bullets, a double-radius ogive design. The Avengers were seated about .004″ away from the lands: “I tried going into the lands and that didn’t seem to work, then I backed it off four thousandths [from contact] and the rifle liked that.” Bart drove those 68gr Avengers with a stout load of Accurate LT30 powder running 3407 FPS.

Bart Sauter Bart's Bullets 200-yard East Meet West

Bart’s Comments on His Components and Accessories

OPTICS — Bart likes his new 40x45mm IOR-Valdada Benchrest Scope. He says that, so far, it has proved very reliable and holds zero exceptionally well. This new design features a worm drive side-focus, oversized ocular with true +/- diopter adjustment, long eye relief, and fast-focusing reticle. The 40X Valdada also boasts superb HD “double-compressed” Schott glass from Germany.

TUNER — Bart says the Bukys TSI Tuner definitely helps. He notes that once he finds the “sweet spot” for his barrel he can normally leave it alone: “With that type of tuner, I have to be in a very dire straight to move it. Normally I will set it for the lifetime of the barrel.”

REAR BAG — Bart’s rear bag is an unusual Edgewood with softer gray leather. He says this was a special order by Bruno Shooters Supply. Bart likes how the rear bag works with his carbon-stocked 10.5-lb rifle: “With PPCs we ‘ride on the ears’ — this older bag just seems to work really well for that style.”

SUPER FEET — Bart told us he uses Benchsource Super Feet for his front rest: “The bench tops at St Louis are very slick. Before I set up I’ll use a spray bottle with water and wet the bench where the Super feet and rear bag will go. This really helps to keep things from sliding around!”

Bart Sauter Bart's Bullets 200-yard East Meet West

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gunsmithing, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
May 29th, 2019

Super Shoot Top 20 GEAR — BATs, Kriegers, and Lots of Tuners

Kelbly Kelbly's super shoot benchrest 100 yard 6mm 6PPC
Firing line at 2019 Super Shoot. Photo courtesy Armeria Regina.

What components do world-class, short-range group benchrest shooters use? BAT actions, Krieger barrels, and Bix’n Andy triggers (and Jewells) are the components of choice. And barrel tuners are now widely used by the top shooters. As for powder, Vitavuori N133 is still the choice of virtually all top competitors. And yes the 6PPC definitely rules the roost. Every Top 20 shooter at the 2019 Super Shoot shot a 6PPC. Every one. Read on to learn more about the Top 20 Equipment used at this year’s Super Shoot.

Kelbly Kelbly's super shoot benchrest 100 yard 6mm 6PPC
Click Image to view FULL-SIZE Equipment List.

We recently reviewed the Top 20 Equipment List for the 2019 Super Shoot at the Kelbly’s Range in Ohio. This Top 20 List reveals the gear choices for the 13.5-lb Heavy Varmint Class and the 10.5-lb Light Varmint/Sporter Class (20 entries for each division). Here are notable gear choices for Top 20 Competitors (both divisions) at the 2019 Super Shoot:

Actions: 14 of 20 HV and 16 of 20 LV/SP shooters used BAT actions. So there were 75% BATs for both classes combined.
Barrels: 10 of 13 listed HV barrels and 9 of 12 listed LV/SP barrels were Kriegers. Overall, of the barrels identified in the Top 20 Equipment lists, 76% were Krieger. That’s dominance! [Note: We have been informed that entries with no barrel-maker listed may have been Bartlein barrels.]
Triggers: Notably 10 of 20 HV triggers were Bix’n Andy — 50%. For the other class, 7 of 19 listed triggers were Bix ‘N Andy. All others were Jewells.
Tuners: In HV Class, 12 of 20 shooters used tuners, mostly Bukys. 11 of 20 LV/SP shooters had tuners. Overall that is 57.5% tuner usage for both classes combined.

Barrel Tuner Gene Bukys Shadetree Engineering

Cartridge: For both classes, every single Top 20 competitor shot the 6PPC. ‘Nuf said.
Powders: 19 of 20 HV Shooters used Vihtavuori N133. Likewise 19 of 20 LV/SP shooters used VV N133, with one not reporting. That is total dominance for N133.

Kelbly Kelbly's super shoot benchrest 100 yard 6mm 6PPC

Bullets: There was a wide selection of bullets used in both classes. Custom bullets by “boutique” bullet makers were certainly favored by Top 20 shooters. Sta Moy 65s were popular, as were Hottenstein 68s and Bart’s bullets among others.

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Gear Review 6 Comments »
March 13th, 2019

Forum Member Sets Four NBRSA 600-Yard Score Records

NBRSA Score Championship Record Set October Oregon Rogue Valley

One of our Forum members, Jason Peterson, pulled off a remarkable accomplishment at an NBRSA 600-yard match last fall. Last October, at the Rogue Valley SSA range in Oregon, Jason set no less than FOUR new NBSRA Score Records: Light Gun 6-Target Score (30 shots), Heavy Gun 6-Target Score (60 shots), Two-Gun 6-Target Score (45 shots), and Two-Gun 12-Target Score (90 shots).

Jason was shooting a 6 BRA (6mmBR Ackley) Light Gun with Borden BRM action, LBR stock, and 1:8″-twist Krieger barrel. Bedding was done by Alex Wheeler. Notably, Jason’s father chambered the Krieger barrel — Thanks Dad! The load consisted of 108gr Bergers pushed by Hodgdon H4895. Writing in the NBRSA Magazine, Bill Johnston observed: “If my memory serve me right, this is the first time in Long Range History that 4 records were set at one match by the same shooter.”

NBRSA Score Championship Record Set October Oregon Rogue Valley

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December 18th, 2018

The Real Deal — Sources for Official Shooting Targets

Official Target Printer Vendor Source

NRA Target IBS Hunter Rifle Target

Sources for Official Shooting Competition Targets:

ALCO Target Company

American Target Company

Kruger Premium Targets

National Target Company

Pistoleer.com

U.S. Target Company

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

All these vendors carry nearly all the NRA High Power and Smallbore targets, including the new, smaller F-Class targets. Germany’s Kruger Targets sells all the important NRA targets, and international (ISSF) air rifle and smallbore targets too.

Available Official Competition Targets
Vendor NRA High Power F-Class NRA Smallbore Air Rifle/Pistol IBS NBRSA Other
ALCO Target
Company
Yes, All No Yes Yes No No Archery, IDPA, IPSC, Police, Realistic, Shoot-N-C, Silhouette, Fun Targets, Pasters.
American Target
Company
Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No USBR, Sight-in, Muzzle-Loading, Police Silhouette
Kruger Premium
Targets
Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No IDPA, IPSC, Animal Shapes, ISSF, Sight-in, Fun Targets
National Target
Company
Yes, Nearly All Yes Yes, All Yes Yes* No IDPA, IPSC, FBI, Police Silhouette, Sight-in, Target Backers, Pasters
Pistoleer.com Yes Yes Yes, most and color training Yes Yes No Bianchi, FBI, IBS, IDPA, IPSC, Silhouette, Archery, Pasters
U.S. Target, Inc. Yes Yes Yes, All Yes No No Bianchi, FBI, Police Silhouette, IPSC, Realistic Silhouette, Varmint

Official Target Printer Vendor Source

Orrville Printing currently sells IBS targets for rimfire (50 yard) benchrest, short-range centerfire Benchrest (100, 200, 300 yards), Hunter BR Rifle (100, 200, 300 yards), plus the official 600-yard and 1000-yard IBS targets. National Target Company also has most of the IBS targets. NBRSA short-range, 600-yard, and 1000-yard benchrest targets are available directly from the NBRSA Business Office. Call (307) 655-7415 to order for the season.

CMP Western games target source
At Western CMP Games, veteran rifle competitors Leon Rutherford, left, and Don Rutherford, demonstrate how to score targets at the GSM new shooter clinic. Note the use of a separate Target Center, which is available from many of the vendors listed above.

Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
March 30th, 2018

Check Out the Legendary .009″ Group By Mac McMillan

Mac McMillan .009 benchrest record group nbrsa

Mac McMillan .009 benchrest record group nbrsa.009″ — The Record That Stood for 40 Years.
In 1973 Mac McMillan shot an amazing 100-yard, .009″ five-shot group in a benchrest match. The .009″ group was measured with a 60x microscope for verification. Mac McMillan shot the group using a handbuilt prototype McMillan rifle with an early McMillan stock.

Mac’s .009″ group was the “Holy Grail” of rifle accuracy. This .009″ record was considered by many to be unbreakable, a record that would “stand for all time”. Well, it took 40 years, but someone finally broke Mac’s record with an even smaller group. In 2013, Mike Stinnett shot a .0077″ five-shot group using a 30 Stewart, a .30 caliber wildcat based on the 6.5 Grendel. Stinnett’s .0077″ group now stands as the smallest 100-yard group ever shot in registered benchrest competition.*
Read About .0077″ group HERE.

Stinnett’s success doesn’t diminish the significance of Mac McMillan’s .009″ group in the history of benchrest competition. For four decades Mac’s group stood as the ultimate standard of rifle accuracy*. For those of you who have never seen Mac McMillan’s .009″ group, here it is, along with the NBRSA World Record certificate. The target now hangs in the McMillan Family Museum.

Mac McMillan .009 benchrest record group nbrsa

*Somebody else might claim a smaller group, but unless moving backers or electronic targets were used, it cannot be verified. Moving target backers are used at registered benchrest matches to ensure that five (5) shots are actually fired in each group. That eliminates any doubt.

Permalink Competition, News, Shooting Skills 10 Comments »
January 10th, 2018

Blast from the Past — Angelina Beats Benchrest Hall of Famers

Angelina Benchrest girl phoenix

We first ran this story in 2014, when Angelina was just ten years old. A Forum member recently asked if she was still shooting benchrest, and we can say the answer is yes — under the guidance of her grandfather Lou Murdica. So we are repeating the story today, to inspire all the other granddads who might encourage a little lady to take up the sport…

Angelina Benchrest girl phoenixYou have to love this story, supplied by our friend Lou Murdica. It seems that a petite little 10-year-old school girl finished fourth in a 100-Yard Benchrest match in Phoenix, beating some of the best in the business, including many Benchrest Hall of Famers. That’s right, shooting a remarkable 0.1612 Aggregate, little Angelina G. put a whupping on some very big names in the Benchrest game, including Lou Murdica himself. Angelina finished just .008 behind Hall of Famer Gary Ocock, beating other Benchrest superstars such as Bob Brackney, Lester Bruno, and Tom Libby. Angelina also beat legendary bullet-maker Walt Berger, but we’ll cut Walt some slack. Now in his 80s, Walt deserves praise for doing so well at the opposite end of the age spectrum.

Congratulations to Angelina on some great shooting in the Unlimited Class. Her five groups measured: 0.186, 0.172, 0.173, 0.121, 0.155. That’s impressive consistency. You go girl!

Point to ponder: If Angelina was shooting a Rail Gun, her rifle probably weighed more than she did.

Check out the big names who finished behind little Angelina.

Angelina Benchrest girl phoenix

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November 19th, 2017

Drilled by Dasher — Spectacular 600-Yard Target Shot in Oregon

Tri-Valley Gun Club TVGC Portland Oregon

Take a look at that group. That would be pretty nice for 200 yards. But this group was shot at 600 yards in competition by Fred Dobson at a recent NBRSA match in Oregon. The X-Ring is 1.2″ in diameter. Perfectly centered for a 50-5X, this Light Gun target should be a new NBRSA Score record, pending approval. The previous Score record was Ken Schroeder’s 50-4X.

Tri-Valley Gun Club TVGC Portland OregonFred’s 600-yard group is also amazingly small. Using On-Target Software, we measured Fred’s five-shot group at 0.738″, which is a tiny 0.118 MOA at 600 yards.

NOTE: This is NOT an official measurement. The actual 5-shot group size might be larger or smaller, though it won’t be an NBRSA GROUP record. The current NBRSA 600-yard Light Gun group size record is 0.5823″ set by Robert Hoppe way back in 2008. But Fred’s 50-5X target should, indeed, be a new SCORE record.

Forum member “Jet” reports: “The Tri-County Gun Club just south of Portland, Oregon hosted its second NBRSA 600-guard match 11/18/2017. Twenty-one shooters brought rifles to the line. Fred Dobson shot the 50-5X target shown here.”

Congrats to Fred. Forum member KVD posted: “That’s truly fine shooting — something to be proud of. Seems like the bar gets boosted higher and higher every time there is a sanctioned match.”

Load Specifications
Cartridge: 6mm Dasher
Bullet: Precision Ballistics 105 gr
Powder: Hodgdon Varget
Primer: CCI 450

Equipment Specifications
Action: Kelbly
Barrel: Bartlein 1:7.5″ twist
Stock: McMillan MBR

Tri-County Gun Club TVGC Portland Oregon
TCGC 600-yard Range. This range uses the same target holders as the 300-yard line of the 200–300 yard range, which is closed when the 600-yard range is in use. Raised platform is for prone shooting.

About the Tri-County Gun Club in Oregon
Tri-county Gun Club TVGC Portland Oregon

Tri-County Gun Club is one of the premiere shooting clubs in the Pacific Northwest. The 230-acre private facility is located in Sherwood, Oregon just 15 minutes from downtown Portland. TCGC offers a wealth of ranges, competitions, and social activities for shooters of all ages, interests, and skill levels.

Article Tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Competition, News 1 Comment »
September 21st, 2017

Where to Buy Official Competition Targets

Official Target Printer Vendor Source

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

Sources for Official Shooting Competition Targets:

ALCO Target Company

American Target Company

CHL Targets

Kruger Premium Targets

National Target Company

Pistoleer.com

U.S. Target Company

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

Official targets NRA IBS NBRSA

All these vendors carry nearly all the NRA High Power and Smallbore targets, including the new, smaller F-Class targets. National Target has the F-Class and High Power targets, including 100-yard reductions of the 200, 300, and 600-yard military targets. Germany’s Kruger Targets sells all the important NRA targets, and international (ISSF) air rifle and smallbore targets too.

NRA Target IBS Hunter Rifle Target

Orrville Printing currently sells IBS targets for rimfire (50 yard) benchrest, short-range centerfire Benchrest (100, 200, 300 yards), Hunter BR Rifle (100, 200, 300 yards), plus the official 600-yard and 1000-yard IBS targets. National Target Company also has most of the IBS targets. NBRSA short-range, 600-yard, and 1000-yard benchrest targets are available directly from the NBRSA Business Office. Call (307) 655-7415 to order for the season.

Available Official Competition Targets
Vendor NRA High Power F-Class NRA Smallbore Air Rifle/Pistol IBS NBRSA Other
ALCO Target
Company
Yes, All No Yes Yes No No Archery, IDPA, IPSC, Police, Realistic, Shoot-N-C, Silhouette, Fun Targets, Pasters.
American Target
Company
Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No USBR, Sight-in, Muzzle-Loading, Police Silhouette
CHL Targets Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No IBS, NBRSA, IDPA, IPSC, NRA, Police Silhouette, Sight-in, Reactive, Fun Targets
Kruger Premium
Targets
Yes, All Yes Yes, All Yes No No IDPA, IPSC, Animal Shapes, ISSF, Sight-in, Fun Targets
National Target
Company
Yes, Nearly All Yes Yes, All Yes Yes* No IDPA, IPSC, FBI, Police Silhouette, Sight-in, Target Backers, Pasters
Pistoleer.com Yes Yes Yes, most and color training Yes Yes No Bianchi, FBI, IBS, IDPA, IPSC, Silhouette, Archery, Pasters
U.S. Target, Inc. Yes Yes Yes, All Yes No No Bianchi, FBI, Police Silhouette, IPSC, Realistic Silhouette, Varmint

Kruger Targets

Permalink Competition, Gear Review No Comments »
September 16th, 2017

IBS Match Report: Visalia 3-Gun California Championship

IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen
The Visalia Sportsman’s Association Dale Wimp Shooting Range — a great place to shoot.

Report by Boyd Allen | Photos and video by Pete Kitrinos
The IBS is in the West! The first International Benchrest Shooters (IBS) match at the Visalia, CA range was held over the recent Labor Day Weekend. Despite scorching 106° heat, many of the West’s top short-range benchrest shooters assembled for the first IBS-sanctioned match (after a 30-year history with the NBRSA) at the Visalia range. The mix of shooters included at least one Benchrest Hall of Fame member, as well as NBRSA record holders. Competitors were happy to return to Visalia, which had been closed for seven months while range improvements were made (some parts of the East berm were still under construction). With only two ranges in the entire state holding short range group matches, the temporary loss of Visalia had a significant impact. It was time to get back to business — the business of shooting tiny groups.

This video includes Aerial Drone footage of the range — worth watching!

Surrounded by fields, the Visalia Range is located in California’s Central Valley, a rich agricultural area.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

For about thirty years the California 3-Gun Benchrest Championship match has been held at the Visalia Sportsman’s Association Dale Wimp Range over Labor Day weekend. For all those years, the matches have been put on by local shooter and current club president Dennis Thornbury. During a good part of that time, he has also managed to keep his name in the NBRSA record book, and pick up four Benchrest Hall of Fame points, as well as having recently done a tour as NBRSA president. This year’s match is sanctioned by the IBS, a first at Visalia.

Don “The Pumpkin” Nielson used an action he fabricated, a “fat bolt” aluminum 3-lug with steel insert.
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Dennis Thornbury has been putting on registered matches at the Visalia range for 30 years. He holds an NBRSA record, and has 4 Hall of Fame points.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

The format: On Saturday competitors shot 100 yards all day, Sporter in the morning, Light Varmint in the afternoon. The following day the morning competition was Heavy Varmint at 100 and at lunch the targets were moved to 200 yards with Heavy Varmint being shot that afternoon. On Monday, Labor Day, at 200 yards, Light Varmint was shot in the morning and Sporter in the afternoon. All three days consisted of five, 5-shot matches in the morning and five more in the afternoon.

Morning, Day 1 — Very few “daisy wheels”. This has been the trend for many years at this range.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Getting down to business. Shown, from right to left: Henry Pinkney, Joe Stanovich, Steve Epstein, Keith Cottrell (face obscured), Jim Nicolas (standing).
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Sunday Top Shots: Jack Childers, Keith Cottrell, John Pierce, Lester Bruno, Dennis Thornbury, and Don Nielson. (Yes that’s a corn field in the background):
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

With the big temp changes between morning and afternoon, competitors were chasing powder loads all weekend. Small groups were hard to find, so only three “screamers” were recorded all weekend, and no teen Aggs. With the oppressive heat, attrition was also a factor: “We started with 30 shooters, and ended with just 21 competitors”.

Temperatures were in the triple digits for Saturday and Sunday, backing off to the high 90s on Monday. High humidity made it feel even hotter — heat stress was a definite issue. Even the rifles seemed to be at less than their best, causing very light wind conditions to produce Aggregates that were larger than the observed wind conditions would lead one to expect. Wind was generally light and switchy. Lighter mornings with wind increasing slightly through the days. Sunday saw more wind than the other two days after ten o’clock or so.

Loading benches with the usual clutter. Note the LabRadar chronograph on a bench at the firing line. Lawrence Weisdorn tracked his velocities during the match to know when a powder charge adjustment was needed.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Top Shooters: The Top Five in the 3-Gun (HV, LV, and Sporter) Championship were: Keith Cottrell (.2534), John Pierce (.2695), Dennis Thornbury (.2714), Art Kawai (.2885), and Rich Shaw (.3016). Winners of the Class Grand Aggs were Dennis Thornbury (HV .2424), Lester Bruno (LV .2400), and Keith Cottrell (Sporter .2395). CLICK HERE for full Match Results.

Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Equipment List for Top Five Shooters
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

You can use a LabRadar during competition. This was Lawrence Weisdorn’s set-up at Visalia.
IBS International Benchrest Shooters Visalia CA california match Boyd Allen

Benchrest Technique — How to Shoot at Visalia
This range is built a bit like a large bathtub, dug into a flat field with the excavated earth thrown up in steep berms on three sides. This configuration and the usual lack of strong winds creates a lot of thermal-generated switchiness with flags changing direction often and very little agreement within any shooter’s set. This places a high premium on visual memory and the ability to judge equivalent conditions, because duplicates are almost never seen. Although the opportunity to run groups can happen, this is mostly a “pickers” range, which places a high premium on visual memory.

Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Facilities at Visalia Sportsman’s Association Range
There are 28 monolithic, steel-reinforced, concrete benches (poured in place, base and top all one pour). The reloading area is behind the benches with most of it on the same level as the benches. There are permanent (fixed position) tables that have laminate tops, except for where the range house sits, mid-range, with a “wailing wall” along its east and north sides. The direction of fire is north. The benches are under a slightly pitched metal roof that has recently been extended so that it has a good amount of overhang in front of the benches. Electricity is available in the reloading area and there are a few electrical outlets in the parking lot for RVs. There are both steps and a wheelchair ramp connecting parking lot to the reloading level and the shooting level.

Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Field of (Benchrest) Dreams — Precision Shooting Among the California Corn Fields.
Visalia IBS Benchrest Rest

Permalink Competition, Gunsmithing, Shooting Skills 4 Comments »
May 3rd, 2017

NBRSA 1000-Yard and 600-Yard National Championships

NBRSA National Benchrest Shooters 600 yard 1000 1K championship national Sacramento, CA

The National Benchrest Shooters Association (NBRSA) held its 600-Yard and 1000-Yard Benchrest Championships in April. Both events were held at the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center facility in Northern California. With significant rainfall in Spring 2017, the range was unusually green and pretty as you can see.

NBRSA National Benchrest Shooters 600 yard 1000 1K championship national Sacramento, CA

1000-Yard NBRSA Nationals, April 22-23, 2017

The 2017 NBRSA 1000-Yard National Championship was held at the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center last weekend. Congratulations to Richard Schatz, the 2017 NBRSA 1000 Yard National Champion. Richard, a past NBRSA Champ, also won Light Gun Score and Heavy Gun Group. Bill Johnston finished Second Overall, while Louie Tamagni secured Third Overall. Recently-crowned 600-Yard Champ Robert Hoppe won Heavy Gun Score at 1000, showing his ability at the longer distance. Congrats also to Dan Roberson who set a new Light Gun 3-Target Group National Record: 3.395. That’s 1/3 MOA at 1000 yards for three targets. That would be impressive at 300 yards. At 1000 yards, it is stunning.

CLICK HERE for a MS Word file with full 1000-Yard Match Results.

NBRSA National Benchrest Shooters 600 yard 1000 1K championship national Sacramento, CA

600-Yard NBRSA Nationals, April 19-20, 2017

The 2017 NBRSA 600-Yard National Championship was held at the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center April 19-20. Robert Hoppe shot superbly to win the 2017 Mid-Range Championship. Along with his overall title, Hoppe won Two-Gun Group, Two-Gun Score, Light Gun Group, and Heavy Gun Score. Mighty impressive shooting — Congrats Robert. Finishing Second Overall was Jamie Cardena, while Bert Croy took Third Overall. Jason Peterson had the Top Light Gun Score, while Richard Duncan won Heavy Gun Group. Terry Nunemaker shot the smallest group, a 1.087″ 5-shot, 50-1X. That was a stunning target, all shots centered. Congrats to 2017 Champ Robert Hoppe and all the “Top Guns”.

CLICK HERE for a MS Word file with full 600-Yard Match Results.

NBRSA National Benchrest Shooters 600 yard 1000 1K championship national Sacramento, CA

Photos courtesy Tanner Furniss and Canada Cummins.CLICK HERE for Match Gallery.

NBRSA National Benchrest Shooters 600 yard 1000 1K championship national Sacramento, CA

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 1 Comment »