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January 29th, 2021

Getting Started in F-Class — F-TR vs. F-Open and Gear Options

Vince Bottomley Target Shooter F-Class F-Open F-TR

A while back, our friend Vince Bottomley in the UK wrote an excellent article for Target Shooter Magazine. Vince offers “solid-gold” advice for new F-TR and F-Open shooters. Vince reviews the cartridge options, and offers suggestions for a shooter’s first (and hopefully affordable) F-Class rifle. Vince also reviews various bipod choices for F-TR and discusses optics options (from $300 to $3000).

Here’s a short sample from the Target Shooter Magazine article:

Getting Started in F-Class by Vince Bottomley
As membership secretary of a large club, one of the questions I’m frequently asked – “What’s the best way to get started in F-Class?” My club has an F-Class shoot every couple of weeks at ranges from 300 to 1000 yards and, not surprisingly, it’s very popular.

F-TR or Open Class?
From a shaky start way back in 2004, the F-TR Class is now proving as popular as Open Class and, at GBFCA League shoots and club shoots, many shooters choose to start with a 308, shooting off a bi-pod – in other words F-TR. In Open Class, the 7mm WSM soon established itself as the “must have” cartridge – if you wanted to win but, the WSM’s appetite for barrels eventually brought another 7mm cartridge into play – the 284 Winchester. This 50-year-old stalwart was revived a decade or so ago as the 6.5-284 and indeed this cartridge found some favor with F-Class pioneers – before the potency of the WSM was discovered. If you don’t mind shelling out for a couple of barrels per year (barrel life is about 750 rounds with the WSM) go for the 7mm WSM but, if you require a decent round-count, then opt for the .284 Win and learn to read the wind a bit better!

F-TR f-class rifle match ben avery AZ
F-TR Rifle at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

Scopes for F-Class
If you will be shooting 1000 yards then I would recommend at least 32 power and preferably a variable – like the 8-32. The cheapest “usable” scope in this range is the Sightron. It’s a great scope for the money and at under $900 (in the USA) it’s half the price of its nearest competitor. It’s also light – at 1.5 lbs – and there are some great reticles for the F-Class shooter – like the LRMOA.

Vince Bottomley Target Shooter F-Class F-Open F-TR

Read Full Article on Target Shooter Magazine Website.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Optics, Shooting Skills No Comments »
May 21st, 2019

Brit Teen Excels with New Rifle She Helped Build

Bexi britain british UK Savage benchrest Diggle gunsmithing 1000-yard 6mmBr 6BR

How often does this happen — a teen-aged girl helps build her own long-range benchrest competition rifle. And then she wins her first 1000-yard match with that new pink rifle! And yes, she hand-loaded her own 6mmBR ammo (naturally). Here is the remarkable story of 15-year-old Bexi from Britain, courtesy TargetShooter Magazine.

Brit Teen Competes with Rifle She Helped Build

Bexi is a talented young British lady who was introduced to shooting by her father Nick. As part of a UK skills honors program, 15-year-old Bexi decided to help build a new Savage-action benchrest rifle.

Our friend Vince Bottomley reports: “The first time Bexi actually shot her rifle I also happened to be present and I couldn’t believe how well she adapted to the bench to shoot the 6BR cartridges she had loaded. It was time for her first competition with the rifle — the UKBRA’s opening 600-yard benchrest shoot. At the end of the day she actually finished in third place in Light Gun Class, beating a host of experienced guys — including me. It was an astonishing performance and one that she would repeat throughout the season. In fact, Bexi finished second place in the UKBRA Championship.”

Bexi britain british UK Savage benchrest Diggle gunsmithing 1000-yard 6mmBr 6BR
Bexi shoots her new rifle at 600 yards at the Diggle Ranges.

Bexi proved a “natural” at long range benchrest competition. At Bexi’s first 1000-yard match she beat all competitors, taking first place in Light Gun Class. Vince Bottomley reported from the range: “It’s a beautiful spring day, but the mirage is seriously blurring the target. Again I’m wondering — will she cope. Cope? I can’t believe it — Bexi lays down four sub-MOA groups and beats all of the Light Gun shooters with a superb 7-inch Agg at 1000! Wow!”

Bexi Helps Build 6mmBR Benchrest Rifle

Young Bexi helped build her great-shooting pink Light Gun as part of an honors program effort. In the UK, young persons age 14-24 can pursue special honors — the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Awards in three levels (Bronze, Silver, and Gold). See www.DOFE.org.*

A few years ago, Bexi started working towards her Bronze DofE award and opted to use shooting as a skill. She joined the Young Rascals Shooting Academy at the Diggle Ranges, progressing through rimfire to .223 centerfire, taking in a couple of adult F-Class shoots along the way.

Bexi britain british UK Savage benchrest Diggle gunsmithing 1000-yard 6mmBr 6BR
Gunsmith Pete Walker spins up Bexi’s barrel in the lathe, showing her how to chamber a barrel.

To help Bexi earn her Silver DofE Award, gunsmith friend Pete Walker WalkerRifles.co.uk offered to sponsor Bexi and help her build her own rifle. Bexi wanted to further her involvement with shooting and help construct her own rifle to shoot in benchrest competition with her father. Ambitious? Yes, but that is exactly what the DofE Award is all about — achieving something you wouldn’t think possible. Benchrest appealed to Bexi — because of the precision involved. And yes she earned her Silver DofE Medal!

In total, Bexi spent 58 hours in Pete’s workshop over several Saturdays. Clearly, the machining work required in building a rifle was beyond Bexi’s skill level but she was present at every stage and Pete made sure that she actually did get to cut metal on the lathe. Bexi also polished the barrel and helped with assembly as the barreled action was bedded into the benchrest stock.

Bexi britain british UK Savage benchrest Diggle gunsmithing 1000-yard 6mmBr 6BR

Rifle Specs: Savage Model 12 twin-port action, Benchmark 30″ barrel, Rifle Basics trigger, pink-painted laminated stock, Vortex Golden Eagle scope, and a custom butt-plate (hand-polished by Bexi).

Read Full Story with More Photos HERE »

Whilst the rifle was in its final stages of the build, it was time for Bexi to learn the art of reloading — under the close supervision of Dad Nick. Yes Bexi reloads all her ammunition. She preps her own brass, seats her own bullets, carries out a final weight check, make the entries in the reloading log, and enters the results and velocities from testing.

Vince comments: “When Bexi starts college and begins her Gold DofE Award efforts, she will continue shooting but now has ambitious plans to build a full custom rifle. Yes, Bexi wants a BAT but honestly, she’s doing pretty well with that Savage!”


*The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (commonly abbreviated DofE), is a youth awards program with three progressive levels: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. With assistance from adult Leaders, participants select and set objectives in the following areas: Skills, Volunteering, Sport/Fitness, and Expedition. The DofE Award program was started in 1956, and now operates in over 140 countries along with the UK. As of 2017, over 6 million young people in the UK have taken part in the DofE programs, and 8 million worldwide. To achieve an award, the participant must work on each section for a minimum period of time, and must be monitored and assessed by qualified supervisors. Each progressive level demands more time and commitment from participants: Bronze 3–6 months; Silver: 6–9 months; Gold: 12–18 months.

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gunsmithing 1 Comment »
March 6th, 2018

New High-Quality Portable Press from EVO Engineering

Vince Bottomley EVO reloading compact press review UK England

If you don’t own a good portable press yet, you should get one. A quality portable press lets you load precision ammo at the range, streamlining the load development process. In addition, a small portable press can serve as a second, light-duty press in your main loading room. For example, you might dedicate the compact press to de-capping duties or bullet seating.

There is a new portable press on the market, the EVO, crafted in the UK. Our English friend Vince Bottomley got one of the first EVO presses and he found it impressive. Comparing it to the respected Harrell’s Precision Compact Press, Vince found that the EVO has some advantages. The EVO is definitely beefier and has some upgraded elements, such as a bronze ram bushing and steel linkage arms.

EVO Press Notable Features

1. The EVO press ram column moves in a bronze bushing. By contrast the Harrell’s ram runs through the CNC-machined body of the press.

2. The EVO’s mounting system (where it clamps onto the bench) is an integral part of the press-body, rather than a separate screw-on unit with the Harrells press.

3. The EVO press features sturdy, steel connecting arms. The Harrell’s compact press has aluminum linkage arms. That said, the aluminum is more than adequate — Vince notes his Harrell’s press has served him well for over 20 years.

We recommend you read the full review on TargetShooter.co.uk. Vince provides many more photos which show the EVO press components in detail. See Bushing Photo.

READ Full EVO Compact Press Review on TargetShooter.co.uk »

EVO Press Handles Wide Range of Cartridge Types
When viewed from the side, you can see that the new EVO is beefier than the Harrell’s press throughout the press “body” and lever arm base. The EVO is bigger and stronger. On the other hand, the Harrell’s press is lighter and easier to pack, and the clamping system can be detached.

Vince Bottomley EVO reloading compact press review UK England

Vince tells us: “The EVO is a ‘one size fits all’ press that will do a .308 Win or larger case (that’s a .284 in the photo)”. Vince concludes the EVO may be more versatile than the Harrell’s press. The Harrell’s Compact Reloading Press comes in three different sizes: “a really small one (left above) specifically for the benchresters’ 6PPC cartridge, a medium one for .308-sized cases, and a larger version which will take a 2.9 inch Magnum case”.

Though it has the capacity to run larger cases, Vince cautions: “please, don’t think of using your little benchrest press for all your re-sizing — stick to a Rock Chucker or what have you for your general reloading and keep the EVO for on-range reloading or as a secondary bench press.” The EVO press is available from Fox Firearms for just under £200 (about $280 USD). You can contact Fox Firearms via email: irvingfox1234 [at] aol.com.

Vince Bottomley EVO reloading compact press review UK England
The Harrell’s Compact Press is smaller and less expensive than the $280.00 EVO. It can also be purchased in three different sizes.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Reloading No Comments »
May 6th, 2015

Extensive Review of Optics in Target Shooter Magazine

Robert Abrams Bipod Review Rifletalk.org

If you are considering purchasing a new optic for your favorite rifle, you should read a recent article by Robert Abrams that appears on the Target Shooter Magazine Website. Abrams, a Canadian shooter who runs the Rifletalk.org Blog, considers a wide spectrum of optics, from bargain-priced models to top-of-the-line scopes from Nightforce and Schmidt & Bender. In comparing optics, Abrams considers a variety of factors including: Optical Clarity, Controls Function, Cost, Reliability/Durability, and Warranty.

READ FULL SCOPE COMPARISON REVIEW HERE

Robert Abrams Bipod Review Rifletalk.org

Abrams leads off with this invaluable bit of advice: “I have owned a lot of scopes and the reason I’ve owned so many is because, like most people, I made the mistake of ‘false economy’ — initially buying cheap scopes. Today, I firmly believe the old adage ‘only a rich man can afford cheap glass’ and thought it was about time that I shared some of my observations about a few of the optics choices out there.” To prove his point (that buying cheap glass is ‘false economy’) Abrams reviews the full spectrum of optics, from low-end to high-end:

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Permalink - Articles, Optics 2 Comments »