As an Amazon Associate, this site earns a commission from Amazon sales.











August 13th, 2022

Saturday at the Movies: Varmint Rifle Video Showcase

tactical hyve training pistol rifle video sights trigger milrad reticle ar15 self defense

Varminting for Fun — With Rimfires and Centerfires

One of the most fun things you can do with a rifle is to shoot varmints such as ground squirrels, prairie dogs, rockchucks, and groundhogs. There’s great satisfaction making a perfect hit on a critter that sends the beastie spinning in the air. Varminting also affords a great excuse to acquire more rifles, because it really does make sense to own and use multiple varmint rifles in various calibers.

Having multiple rifles on a varmint safari lets you preserve barrel life, and shoot lesser-recoiling calibers at the shorter distances. For example, with California ground squirrels, we like a .17 HMR inside 125 yards, then switch to a 20 Practical (20-223 Rem). For prairie dogs, you may want that 20 Practical, plus a nice .22 BR for 250-400 yards, and a .243 Ackley (or 6XC or 6mm CM) for long shots.

Seven Varmint Rifles — Rimfire and Centerfire
With 525,000 subscribers, the Backfire YouTube Channel is highly popular. The capable hosts provide honest, candid reviews. This video covers seven different varmint rigs. First off is the Air Arms TX 200 (00:25). Then the excellent .22 LR CZ 457 is featured (01:33), followed by a .223 Rem AR15-platform rifle (02:30). Next up is the .22 LR Christensen Arms Ranger 22 (03:40), which proved to be “crazy accurate”. Then the video showcases a Bergara Premier in 22-250 (04:20), an “excellent coyote gun that you could use on varmints as well”. Last up is the Ruger American Predator (05:20) in .17 HMR.

Five Varmint and Predator Rifles Reviewed
This video covers three major manufacturer centerfire varmint rifles: Remington Model 700 PCR (01:39), Winchester Model 70 Varmint Rifle (03:36), and Henry Long Ranger in .223 (08:02). The video also covers the Ruger American Rimfire Target rifle (07:04), and the interesting Stoeger RX20TAC Varmint Air Rifle (05:31). Airguns can be effective at close ranges on small varmints such as squirrels. But for an effective kill, we recommend at least a .17 Mach 2 (HM2) beyond 50 yards.

Three Varmint Rifles Reviewed — Savage .17 HMR, Ruger .22 Magnum, Howa .243 Winchester
This video covers two rimfires and a nice .243 Win centerfire. First up is a Ruger 77/22 in .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire). This cartridge has a lot more punch than a standard .22 LR round. Next up is the very nice Savage A17 Thumbhole in .17 HMR. This semi-auto rifle offers nice ergonomics, good feed reliability, and very good accuracy at 100 yards (check out that 3-shot target at 100 yards). Last but not least, the video features the nice Howa 1500 Ranchland with Hogue stock, in this case chambered for the .243 Winchester. These Howas have a smooth-cycling action and nice HACT 2-stage trigger.


Ruger howa savage varmint rifles

.17 WSM — The Most Powerful .17 Cal Rimfire
We think that every varmint hunter should own a nice .17 Cal rimfire rig. Out to 200 yards or so the .17 WSM or .17 HMR is very effective on small varmints. It’s nice to be able to shoot affordable ammo out of the box and not have to scrounge for hart-to-find powder and primers. This video features a superb .17 Cal varmint rig, the Primal Rights TS Custom chambered for the impressive .17 WSM cartridge.


.17 17 WSM HMR Winchester short magnum rimfire rifle test

Long Range Rockchuck Adventure with Gunwerks Crew
This Gunwerks video showcases varmint hunting in the Western USA. In this video Aaron Davidson and the Gunwerks crew try out some new rifles on some rockchucks. Most of the the rifles were suppressed but the host said the rockchucks took cover after the first shot, so this required good coordination among shooters and spotters. A 6XC varminter is featured at 2:44 and there’s some nice drone footage starting at 2:00.

.22-250 Nails Ground Squirrels and Rock Hyraxes in South Africa
Here’s an interesting video from South Africa. The video maker starts with shots on ground squirrels. His .22-250 blasts them into little pieces. They he switches to more distant targets, a furry ground-hog size animal called the Rock Hyrax, Cape Hyrax, or Dassie. Mature Rock Hyraxes weigh 4-5 kilograms and have short ears and tail. These Rock Hyraxes are found at higher elevations in habitats with rock crevices, allowing them to escape from predators (but not skilled varmint hunters).


south africa rock hyrax dassie 22-250 kill hunt

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
July 28th, 2022

Varmint Hunting Smarts — Keep the Wind at Your Back

Varmint Hunting varmint safari wind war wagon trailer longmeadow game resort
This impressive war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado.

When you’re on a varmint expedition in the Western states you can bet, sooner or later, you’ll encounter serious winds. Here’s some advice on how to minimize the effects of cross-winds on your shooting, and easily improve your percentage of hits. In essence, you want to use your ability to change shooting positions and angles to put the wind behind you.

A benchrest or High Power shooter must operate from a designated shooting position. He must stay put and deal with the wind as it moves across the course, from whatever direction it blows.

Put the Wind at Your Back
By contrast, a varmint hunter can move around and choose the spot that provides the most favorable wind direction. In most cases you’ll get the best results by moving your shooting position so the wind is at your back. This will minimize horizontal wind drift. Once you’re in position, use wind flags to direct your fire in line with the prevailing winds. A varminter who calls himself “Catshooter” explains:

The String of Death
I remember the first time I was on a dog town in the Conata Basin, in the Badlands area of southwestern South Dakota. Along with two other guys, I drove out for 21 days of shooting, and I never saw wind like that before. If all four tires of our vehicle were on the ground, the weather man said these were “mild wind conditions”.

After the first four or five days, we got smart. We would park the truck on the up-wind side of the town so the wind was at our back. Then we took a piece of string on a 3-foot stick, and set it in front of the shooters, and let the string point at the mounds that we were going to shoot.

For the rest of the trip, we didn’t have to deal with wind drift at all. We just shot the dogs that the string pointed to. We started calling our simple wind pointer the “String of Death”.

We were hitting dogs at distances that I would not repeat here (with benchrest grade rifles). After the first time out, I always took a wind rig like that.

Benefits of Swivel Benches
In a large varmint field, you’ll want to orient your shooting position to put the wind at your back if possible. If you have a rotating bench such as this, you can further adjust your shooting orientation to work with the wind, not against it. You may also want to position simple flags (posts with colored tape) downrange to alert you to wind changes you may not notice from your shooting positions. If you can’t get a “wind at back” orientation, the next best set-up is with the wind coming straight at you — that also minimizes the wind drift on your shots.

Photos by Chris Long, taken during Chris’s Wyoming Varmint Hunt with Trophy Ridge Outfitters.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting, Shooting Skills No Comments »
May 31st, 2022

Summer Varmint Adventures — Gear, Cartridge Choices, Planning

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog
This custom war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado.

Will you be heading to the varmint fields this summer? Proper planning is key to a safe, satisfying, and productive varmint holiday. Of course you’ll be busy reloading, but you should make a check-list of all the gear and supplies you need. Bring a variety of rifles if possible — you’ll need to switch off as one barrel gets hot, and the chambering that works best for your close shots may not be ideal for those longer shots out past 400 yards. Here are some tips from our Forum members that can help you shoot more effectively, and avoid problems on your varmint hunt. Here’s one key tip: at your shooting station, put a strip of surveyor’s tape on a tall stake to show the wind direction. Then shoot in the direction the wind blows. This will minimize the effect of cross-winds.

Savage LR Precision Varminter

Varmint Safari Planning, Equipment, and Shooting Advice

From PatchHound: “The gear you bring will make or break a trip out to Prairie Dog land. A lot has to do with where you going and how far you are from [civilization]. For starters, bring lots of water. It will be hot in Wyoming in a few more weeks but it don’t hurt to bring warm clothes in case it snows. It’s best to wear leather boots unless you’re real good at dodging cactus while walking around. Good sunscreen [and a wide-brimmed hat] will save the day too. [What you need to bring] really depends on whether you’re shooting on some friendly ranch or 100 miles in the middle of [a wilderness area]. Good survival gear is a good thing to have for the latter!”

Savage LR Precision Varminter
This photo is from a Dan Eigen TV Show video featuring a P-Dog hunt.

From Stoner25mkiv: “I’d suggest an adjustable bipod if you are going to do any walking. A laser rangefinder is a huge asset. Have a fanny pack or backpack for extra ammo, water, bore-snake, etc. when you go on your walkabouts. We also take a couple pivoting benches, heavy movers’ pad/blanket, sandbags (Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag) for shooting from near the vehicle. Boonie hat for blocking the sun, sun glasses, sunscreen. High leather boots.

Uncle Bud's Bulls Bag

Anyway, on to the rifles…consider bringing a 17 HMR, .223 Ackley bolt gun, .223 Ackley AR, and a 243 WSSM. Some years the 17 HMR isn’t removed from its case. We had a couple windless days and the 17 was lots of fun. I’d walk into the dogtown and then lay down and wait. After five minutes or so I’d have dogs within easy rimfire range, and out to as far as I’d care to stretch the rimfire. 275 yards was about it.”

From CTShooter: “The .204 [Ruger] is a laser beam and good to 400 yards easy. Forget the rimfire! Do you have a portable bench that pivots? Bring bipod, binocs. Bring a LOT of water. I have a milspec sniper shooter’s mat/drag bag with shoulder straps. It is good to carry everything when you want to wander off and shoot prone with bipod. Here’s a view through my 6BR in ND.”

varmint hunting prairie dog dakota dogtown

From RJinTexas: “In most of the locations that we’ll be shooting we’ll usually set up a minimum of 200 yards from the edge of a major dog town. We’ll start by working over the close-in dogs and shooting our way out, some of these towns may run in excess of 500/600 yards deep. I believe that a rimfire will put you at a distinct disadvantage. The only rimfire that will somewhat work is the 17 HMR and you can reload for your 204s for close to the cost of HMR ammo and you’ll be less apt to be under-gunned. Your 204 will work well out to 300/400 yards unless the wind is blowing hard. We classify a 10-mph crosswind as a very calm day and what makes it a little more challenging is that it is usually also gusting.”

From Wes (P1ZombieKiller): “[For my first PD trip] there are so many things I was not ready for. The one thing that I did bring (that no one told me about) was a canopy. I’m glad I did. Even though the weather was [near perfect], I know that sun can humble you real fast. With my pop-up canopy, I could shoot all day without getting killed by the sun. You had to tie the canopy down real well or the wind would blow it across the pasture.

We sat on shooting benches that pivot 360°, and are fast and easy to set up. Most all shots were 175-250 yards. I just felt comfortable at that range. It was more fun for me to be able to film the hits, and the camcorder I was using just did not get good video past 350 yards. The digital zoom distorted the image too much. I knew I would only get this one chance to film my first P-dog outing, and I wanted to get it on film for [posterity].”

Bring Multiple Rifles on Your Varmint Adventures

On our P-Dog adventures, we like to have multiple rifles — a .17 HMR for close work, then maybe a .20 Practical AR for 150-250 yards, then a larger caliber such as 22 BR, 6BRA, 6 Dasher or 6XC for those long shots. The classic 22-250 is also a wickedly effective varmint cartridge.

Prairie dog adventure varmint hunting

.20 Practical (20-223 Rem) AR-Platform Varminter
Here is a .20 Practical built by Robert Whitley. Whitley’s Ultimate Prairie Dog Rifle (PDR) features a 24″ Bartlein 11-twist cut-rifled barrel, DPMS side-charging upper, and a Jewell trigger. It is chambered in 20 Practical, a cartridge popularized by Warren “Fireball” Brookman.

varmint hunting prairie dog dakota dogtown

This .20 Practical cartridge is simply the .223 Remington necked down to .204. You can use your existing .223 Rem brass — no special case-forming required! The 20 Practical is accurate, flat-shooting, and has almost no recoil. The advantage over the standard .223 Remington is that, grain for grain, the bullets have a higher BC and travel at a higher velocity for more dramatic effect on a small varmint. The ultra-low recoil allows you to easily see your hits, even without a muzzle brake. The 20 Practical, launching 40-grainers at about 3750 fps, shoots flatter than a .223 Rem with 55gr hollowpoints.

.17 HMR Savage A17 Varmint Rifle
We also like to have a Rimfire for the closer shots, inside 150 yards. The .17 HMR or .17 WSM are good choices. With a rimfire you save on ammo costs and you don’t waste precious centerfire barrel life.

This video shows a successful Prairie Dog hunt with a .17 HMR. Watch and you’ll see hits out to 160 yards (00:50), proving the effective range of the 17 HMR cartridge. The host is shooting a Savage A17 semi-auto 17 HMR rifle in a Boyds laminated stock.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
May 16th, 2022

Field Test Report on Savage A17 Rimfire in .17 HMR

Savage 17 HMR .17  A17 A-17 varmint hunting semi-auto rifle accurateshooter.com

One of our favorite cartridges for small varmints is the 17 HMR. Yes, the newer 17 WSM rimfire has better ballistics, but 17 HMR ammunition is considerably less expensive, and you have a much larger selection of rifles and pre-chambered aftermarket barrels. And out to 150 yards or so the 17 HMR is great on ground squirrels and prairie dogs.

If you are looking for a 17 HMR varmint rifle, one rig you should definitely consider is the Savage A17. Now that this model is offered with laminated stock options, you can get a fine little 17 HMR rifle for about $475.00. We do prefer the laminated stock A17s (both standard and thumbhole models) over the basic polymer-stocked version, priced at $440.00.

Savage A17 thumbhole stock

How does an A17 shoot? That question was answered a couple seasons back by Varminter.com in a First Hunt Report. Accurate and affordable, the Savage A17 is also the first .17 HMR to feature a delayed blow-back action. Eric Mayer, Editor of Varminter.com, put the semi-auto Savage A17 through its paces.

CLICK HERE for Savage A17 First Hunt Report on Varminter.com

Mayer wanted to see how the new Savage would perform, accuracy-wise, and he also wanted to see how the A17 fared in the field. Mayer achieved one-MOA accuracy with the Savage A17 using the latest CCI-brand ammo, and he demonstrated the A17 is wickedly effective on ground squirrels. Below we’ve provided highlights from Varminter.com’s Savage A17 First Hunt Report.

“I [collected] as many versions of the currently available .17 HMR ammunition as I could get my hands on. I had already picked-up and tested the new CCI A17 ammunition, so I filled up my ammo safe with other CCI ammunition, as well as Hornady and Winchester, including the lead free 15.5 grain NTX versions, also from Hornady and Winchester. After spending some time at the bench, I saw that this rifle shot the CCI A17 ammunition best, with most groups hovering right around 1″ to 1.20″ at one hundred yards, and some of the other ammo choices in the 1.25″ to 1.50″ range. This was with a warm barrel and in-between cleanings during the break-in process.”

Savage 17 HMR .17  A17 A-17 varmint hunting semi-auto rifle accurateshooter.com

Mayer found the A17 was easy to maintain: “I was very impressed by the ease of pulling the rifle apart for cleaning out in the field. Even with the scope mounted, I was able to quickly and easily remove the parts needed to give me complete access to the barrel through the breach, so cleaning was a breeze.”

A17 Reliability Lessons — Seat Those Rotary Magazines Correctly Folks
Some early A17 purchasers have noted occasional failures to feed. We believe this is because the magazine was not fully seated (and locked in place) in the firearm. The experience of Varminter.com’s Editor seems to confirm this. Mayer reports “As I began to shoot the rifle, I experienced what a few others have reported, with the magazine falling out while shooting. I quickly realized that I was not snapping the magazine into place every time. I found that popping in the magazine while the bolt was pulled, or locked back, resolved the issue. I did have a few failures to feed, but only on some of the older ammunition I was shooting, namely the first year Hornady ammo and the lead free ammo (which is about 3-4 years old). The newer ammo did not have any issues and functioned well, even while shooting some 10-round ‘mag-dumps’. The trigger is on the heavy side.”

A17 Reliability Shown in Video
The Savage A17 went through a very thorough manufacturer’s testing process before it was released to the market. In fact Savage put over 500,000 test rounds through A17 prototypes. When AccurateShooter.com tested the A17 at Media Day — it worked flawlessly, so long as you make sure the magazine is fully seated. We had zero issues, making us think that reported issues may be related to “driver error”; specifically not seating the magazine properly. Watch AccurateShooter.com video with rapid fire sequence.

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
May 10th, 2022

Varmint Cartridge Options and Tips for Novice Varmint Hunters

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

AccurateShooter Forum member Bill White (aka “CT10Ring”) is a New Yorker who relocated to Idaho in his senior years. From his Idaho home, Bill enjoys long-range target shooting. But his favorite gun pastime is varmint hunting in nearby states — the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. Every year he loads up his truck and hits the road, often doing a grand circle route, visiting prairie dog havens in multiple states.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 PPC — You may consider the 6 PPC a benchrest competition cartridge only, requiring fire-forming. However I have an original Sako 75 single-shot 6 PPC rifle that I load with Sako-headstamp 6 PPC brass (see below) so no fire-forming is required. This Sako 75 came with a test target that measured 0.113″! With my 6 PPC Sako, I found that 58gr V-Maxs, pushed by Vihtavuori N133, are potent out to 300 yards. [Editor’s NOTE: As the Sako brass is no longer available, new 6 PPC shooters will need to fire-form their brass, or try to find Norma 6 PPC brass.]

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

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

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

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

Six Tips for Novice Long Range Varmint Hunters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
April 24th, 2022

Sunday GunDay: 6PPC Falling Block Ultra-Lightweight 97D

eben arthur brown model 97D falling block single shot 6 PPC rifle

While a 16.5-pound benchrest gun is wonderfully stable on the bench, it’s not what you want in a field rifle. There is much to be said for a slim, light-weight, and easy-handling firearm when it comes to a walking varmint adventure. Eben Brown, who runs E. Arthur Brown Company, has created just such a rifle — the Model 97D Falling Block. When chambered for the 6PPC cartridge it delivered quarter-MOA accuracy in a splendidly portable package that tips the scales at just over six pounds without scope. The Model 97D is fairly unique in its lightweight and compact format — that makes it a great field-carry varmint rig. [Editor’s Note: This is an older article and we use some more recent photos of other model 97D Rifles to better illustrate the design and layout.]

eben arthur brown model 97D falling block single shot 6 PPC rifle
Catalog photo of EABCO Model 97D Falling Block rifle.

Excellent Accuracy Made Easy for Sport Shooters

by Eben Brown, E. Arthur Brown Company
You don’t have to be a benchrest competitor to enjoy shooting one of the most accurate centerfire cartridges in the world, the 6mm PPC. With no complicated brass forming or finicky reloading processes, you can be shooting near half-inch groups right from the start and hone your skills to near quarter-inch groups by your second outing–at least that’s how it worked for me, and I’m NOT a good bench rest shooter! Developed by Louis Palmisano and Ferris Pindell, the 6PPC has won more bench rest accuracy competitions than any other cartridge. Easily made from Lapua .220 Russian brass, the 6mm PPC has a small primer and uniquely small flash hole that is credited for much of its inherent accuracy. The “short, fat” shape and nearly straight body contribute to efficient, consistent powder burning and stable chamber performance (it grips the chamber well during ignition).

Eabco model 97D 6ppcThe Brown Model 97D — A Slim, Accurate 6-Pound Rifle
The 97D was developed from the EABCO “BF” falling block silhouette pistols that have won world championships and set 500-meter distance records. In operation, the 97D falling block slides perpendicularly and closes the breech with absolutely zero camming leverage. This makes it a perfect test-bed to measure the chamber performance needed for hand-loading most other single-shot rifles accurately. At the reloading bench, I worked up a load with the now fully shaped 6mm PPC brass. I full-length sized the brass, trimmed, and primed each case the same as I would with any other cartridge, and began loading. With the resultant load, I easily shot a 5-shot 1/4″ group, a personal best for me. See target photo at right.

Making 6mm PPC Cartridges
Full-length size, prime, charge with powder, and seat a bullet… sounds like what you do with any other cartridge, doesn’t it? In fact, the only difference with 6mm PPC is that it has to be fired once (fire-formed) to expand to its final shape and size. But even fire-forming shots produce exceptional accuracy. I shot several 3/4″ groups while fire-forming at 100 yards, with my best group at nearly half-inch–so the time spent fire-forming was wonderful! In the photo, the parent .220 Russian case is on the left, while the fire-formed 6PPC case is on the right.

The EABCO 6mm PPC Chamber
– 6PPC without Neck-turning!

We dimensioned our 6mm PPC chamber reamer to cut a chamber that fits Lapua 220 Russian brass closely without neck-turning. Naturally we recommend you use the Lapua brass for best results.

[Editor’s Note: We asked Eben if he had tried a 6BR chambering in a model 97D. He explained that, because of the extractor design, the falling block action works better with a smaller rim diameter: “The larger .308 rim width creates some issues. This design works best with cartridges no wider than the 30/30 case, or the 7.62×39 case, from which the 22 Russian case was derived. Cases with .308-sized rims develop more bolt thrust and work best with a different type of extractor than we use in the 97D. I love the 6BR, but I recommend the 6PPC for our 97D.”]

6mm PPC Reloading Data for Model 97D

The following loads were worked up in a Model 97D Rifle with 24″ barrel chambered for 6mm PPC with the chamber neck reamed to .275″ to fit Lapua brass without neck-turning. Lapua 220 Russian brass was full-length sized and fire-formed to 6mm PPC using 65gr V-Max bullets, CCI BR4 primers, and 24.5gr of VV N135 powder. Eben cautions: Load at Your Own Risk — Always start 10% low and work up

eben brown 97D Rifle 6ppcThe following optimum loads were worked up with Vihtavuori N135, 58gr and 65gr V-Max bullets, and CCI BR4 primers. Please Note: There really is no “standard” for 6mm PPC. It can be finicky. But once you find what works best for you, the cartridge performs superbly. The accuracy will astound you.

Model 97D Specifications

OAL (with 24″ Barrel): 38″

Approx. Weight without Scope: 6-6.5 lbs.

Barrel: 17-26″ Chromoly or Stainless

Stock: Walnut w/Hardwood Grip Cap

Trigger: Tuned 16-24 ounces

This video shows the Loading Technique for Model 97D Rifle

Powder Selection — Choosing the Right Propellant
I’ve found that my maximum single-shot loads reach the same level of performance as bolt gun loads when I use one level slower burning powder type and proper chamber preparation. For example, when the VihtaVuori loading guide shows a maximum with VV N133, my best single shot load ends up being with the slower burning VV N135. Here’s the simplest way to proceed: Use a starting load from the loading guide and increase the powder charge until you detect some resistance to block movement with your thumb. Next, charge a case with that same amount of powder, tap it to settle, and look to see if the case is full to the base of the neck. If it’s not full, step up to the next slower-rated powder and repeat the load development process. There’s a powder burn rate chart for all brands of powder in the front of the current VihtaVuori Loading Guide. When you have the maximum load that will fill the case and still allow the 97D single-shot to open and eject freely after firing, you’re ready to shoot some groups!

Loading for Best Chamber Performance
In the model 97D rifle you can check chamber performance easily. After firing a shot, see if you can press the block downward with only your thumb on the top of the block. If it moves freely, you’ve got good chamber performance.

I use three pressure indicators when developing loads on the Model 97D. First I check the block with my thumb. Then I check to see if the cartridge sticks at all when ejecting. And finally, I check the primer for the excessive flattening that would indicate too much pressure. Generally, the hottest load that still allows the gun to open and eject freely ends up being my most accurate shooting load.

Chamber Preparation
Best chamber performance happens when a cartridge grips the chamber and does not drive backward significantly. When you want something to grip (rather than slip), you want to make sure there is no lubricant on the gripping surfaces. Case forming lube and gun oil are the two lubricants you want to remove. Clean your 6mm PPC cases after sizing (I wipe mine with a paper towel and Windex). Clean your chamber with a chamber sized jag and patch wetted with acetone. (Note: protect your chamber with a thin coat of Clenzoil when you’re not out shooting.)

Conclusions of a Single-Shot Sport Shooter
I love the 6mm PPC! It was easy to hand-load for the cartridge and it was easy to get excellent results. The group shot on this page was with the 65gr bullet and a rifling twist of 1:10. I usually recommend a 1:12 twist and the 58gr bullet because customers have reported superb accuracy (better groups than I can shoot). But the 5-shot ¼” group I shot with this set-up is my personal best ever–so naturally I’m thrilled!

While it’s hard to beat the 6PPC’s accuracy in a Model 97D rifle, my company currently offers the rifle in a variety of chamberings including 17 Hornet, 219 Donaldson Wasp, and 6mm BRM. The 97D Standard features a blued 24″ chrome-moly barrel, French Gray receiver, anodized buttstock transition, 2-ring scope mount and swivel studs.– Eben Brown

About the production Model 97D Rifles: “The 97D is a small frame single shot rifle that’s suitable for big game as well as small game and varmint hunting. It originally evolved from our World Champion long range silhouette pistol action and incorporates the same accurate gun making processes. The 97D action itself is inherently accurate and simple. Onto this we fit an EABCO Accuracy Barrel, precision turned and threaded between centers. Each chamber is individually reamed on-center and individually head spaced. We feel the crown is so critical to accuracy that we leave it until after the gun is finished. Our 11 degree target crowns are cut last and left bright — our trademark finishing touch.”

Rifle report text and photos Copyright © Eben Brown All Rights Reserved. All other content Copyright © AccurateShooter.com, All Rights Reserved.

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 2 Comments »
February 5th, 2022

Saturday at the Movies: Varmint Hunting Video Collection

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog
This custom war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado. Bottom image by Forum member Randful, Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming.

Will you be heading to the varmint fields this spring? Proper planning is key to a safe, satisfying, and productive varmint holiday. Bring a variety of rifles if possible — you’ll need to switch off as one barrel gets hot, and the chambering that works best for your close shots may not be ideal for those longer shots out past 400 yards. Here’s one tip that can help you shoot more effectively on your varmint hunt — at your shooting station, put a strip of surveyor’s tape on a tall stake to show the wind direction. Then align to the wind direction, so that it is a direct headwind or tailwind. This will minimize the effect of cross-winds.

For fans of varmint hunting, we’ve assembled eight videos for this Saturday at the Movies Feature. You’ll see a variety of rifles being used in classic American varmint country — Montana, Oregon, and the Dakotas. We’ve also included an interesting video from South Africa.

Extreme Outer Limits — Oregon Adventure with .22 Creedmoor

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dogThis varmint safari video features the Extreme Outer Limits squad in Central Oregon. The host is shooting the .22 Creedmoor cartridge from a 22″ Benchmark barrel. The shooters benefit from a great operation, with elevated mobile shooting stations and benches. Watching this video made this Editor want to travel up to Oregon this summer, and try out a .22 Dasher that’s been sitting in the safe.

This video has plenty of action, with hits on small varmints (mostly ground squirrels) out to considerable distances. You can see the effectiveness of the .22 Creedmoor cartridge — it basically vaporizes some of the critters.


CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog
CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog

.22-250 Nails Ground Squirrels and Rock Hyraxes in South Africa

Here’s an interesting video from South Africa. The video maker starts with shots on ground squirrels. His .22-250 blasts them into little pieces. They he switches to more distant targets, a furry ground-hog size animal called the Rock Hyrax, Cape Hyrax, or Dassie. Mature Rock Hyraxes weigh 4-5 kilograms and have short ears and tail. These Rock Hyraxes are found at higher elevations in habitats with rock crevices, allowing them to escape from predators (but not skilled varmint hunters).


south africa rock hyrax dassie 22-250 kill hunt

1125-Yard Rockchuck Hit with Extreme Outer Limits

Here a team from Extreme Outer Limits tests their skills at Extreme Long Range Varminting. The group set up benches and aim their rifles at a distant hillside over 1100 yards away. You can see a successful first-shot rockchuck hit at the 5:15 time-mark. On this episode of Extreme Outer Limits, Bob Beck, Tim Titus, and some MOA Rifles clients to put the .22 Creedmoor and other MOA-brand rifles to the test. At these long distances, Rockchucks are relatively small targets providing plenty of challenge.

Long Range Rockchuck Adventure with Gunwerks Crew

This Gunwerks video showcases varmint hunting in the Western USA. In this video Aaron Davidson and the Gunwerks crew try out some new rifles on some rockchucks. Most of the the rifles were suppressed but the host said the rockchucks took cover after the first shot, so this required good coordination among shooters and spotters. A 6XC varminter is featured at 2:44 and there’s some nice drone footage starting at 2:00.

long range rockchuck varmint hunting

Varminter.com — Great Resource for Varmint Hunters

Varminter.com is a great resource for serious varmint hunters. This site regularly reviews rifles, optics, and varmint ammunition. In addition, the site’s founder, Eric Mayer, often ventures out in the backcountry to film his varmint adventures.

Varminting with .17 HMR Savage A17 and Custom .17 WSM AR

On varmint excursions, we like to have a .17 rimfire for the closer shots, inside 150 yards. This video shows a successful Prairie Dog hunt with a .17 HMR. Watch and you’ll see hits out to 160 yards (00:50), proving the effective range of the .17 HMR cartridge. The host is shooting a Savage A17 semi-auto 17 HMR rifle in a Boyds laminated stock.

Varminters now enjoy three .17-caliber rimfire options. The .17 Mach 2, .17 HMR, and .17 WSM are all good choices, with the 17 Mach 2 being the cheapest and the .17 WSM the most powerful. With a rimfire you save on ammo costs and you don’t waste precious centerfire barrel life. Also the noise is reduced so you don’t spook the critters so much. We have shot ground squirrels with both the 17 HM2 and .17 HMR. And with a 3000 fps MV, the .17 WSM has some really impressive ballistics. As you can see, the .17 WSM has a much flatter trajectory than both the .17 HMR and .22 WMR:

.17 WSM winchester short magnum rimfire

Last but certainly not least, this video from Eric Mayer, founder of Varminter.com and AR15Hunter.com. This video features an innovative AR-platform rifle chambered for the potent .17 Winchester Super Magnum (aka .17 WSM) cartridge. Eric was able to have instant kills out to 200 yards. This rifle features a Franklin Armory F-17 V4 upper with a Franklin Armory 10-rd magazine. Eric was very impressed with the .17 WSM and he believes the 20gr bullet with 3000 fps MV will be very effective for most of his small varmint hunting out to considerable distances.


.17 WSM 17 HMR varmint hunter Eric Mayer

KILL Shots — BONUS Age-Restricted Videos

Linked below are a couple very good varminting videos that show explosive hits. However, YouTube has decided these can’t be posted on third-party websites so you’ll have to click the links below to see the Prairie Dogs going airborne. In the first video, the lady shooter nails THREE P-Dogs with one shot!

1. Eastman’s Hunting Journals. Great Video from Eastern Montana. This has nice Aerial Footage and an amazing shot with three P-dogs (in line) dropped with a single shot (at time-mark 9:28). One shot — THREE prairie dogs down! This prairie dog hunt features slow-motion kill shots, digiscope close-ups, and a rare prairie dog triple kill. A group of hunters works to remove prairie dog pests from private grazing lands in this episode of Beyond the Grid by Eastmans’ creators of Eastmans’ Hunting TV. You’ll have to CLICK HERE to watch this video. See Also Eastman’s Prairie Dog Armageddon video.

2. Flying Prairie Dogs in North Dakota. You’ll see some impressive kill shots made with AR-platform rifles in this short (2-minute) High Road Hunting video from Keith Warren Hunting YouTube channel. See also Keith’s Prairie Dog Hunting Shooting Spree video.

Permalink - Videos, Hunting/Varminting, Optics No Comments »
December 20th, 2021

The Guns of Winter — Visions from Snowy Fields

Winter hunting snow photography outdoors
Forum member 1LessDog calling in coyotes in a cold North Dakota winter landscape.

Winter hunting snow photography outdoors
Forum member DNorton posted: “I live way up north where our white sandy beaches look like this!”

There is a nice thread in our Forum appropriately entitled “Winter Time”. You’ll find some great backcountry images taken by our Forum members. Winter is a special time in the outdoors. Forum member JDP explains: “Winter is the best time to shoot! One of the few of life’s ironies that works in my favor. The range is empty and barrels keep cool, no bugs, no waiting on people, no mirage. Yup, this world needs more thin blooded snow birds. This cool weather is terrible and dangerous, tell your friends! Do people get lonely while shooting or something? It’s the true holiday season in multiple ways.”

Winter hunting snow photography outdoors
Winter hunting snow photography outdoors

These two images come from Forum member Bill K on a winter varmint safari. He posted: “This was Varmint Shooter’s truck [showing the outside temperature] when we set up.” Brrrr… that’s cold.

Winter hunting snow photography outdoors

The above photo is from Forum member 1LessDog, who posted: “The mound behind the Coyote is a Indian burial mound. There are six of them within a half mile of this one. I would really like to know how many coyotes I have shot off the mound. I would guess 4-5 a year over 35 years. It is one of my favorite spots to call from… any time I have a South to Southeast wind[.]”

Winter hunting snow photography outdoors

Forum member Bojo posted images of his hunting trip in Northwestern Pennsylvania last week. Bojo wrote: “It was an early winter for us — temps from low 20s to mid 40s through a week’s swing. Our cold hits hard in January/February.”

Winter hunting snow photography outdoors

Parting Shot — Some Folks Are Happier without Snow
While he acknowledged that these “white winter” photos are lovely to look at, Forum member D-4297 prefers warmer climes: “Just lookin at all those pictures of that white stuff makes me get chills. You hearty souls can keep it. I grew up in the ‘Snow-belt’ on the east side of Cleveland. Moved to Phoenix forty years ago, and don’t miss the snow at all. And nobody has tried to sell me a shovel or broom for keeping the sunshine off my driveway, either.”

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, News 1 Comment »
July 11th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: Multi-State Varmint Adventures with Bill White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Varmint Fields — Traveling Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six Tips for Novice Long Range Varmint Hunters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veteran Varmint Hunter Shares his Secrets

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

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

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

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

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

Western Varmint Country Vistas

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

Taking Photos on Shooting Adventures

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

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

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

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

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
June 29th, 2021

Varmint Safari Notebook — Tips for a Summer P-Dog Adventure

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog
This custom war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado.

Will you be heading to the varmint fields this summer? Proper planning is key to a safe, satisfying, and productive varmint holiday. Of course you’ll be busy reloading, but you should make a check-list of all the gear and supplies you need. Bring a variety of rifles if possible — you’ll need to switch off as one barrel gets hot, and the chambering that works best for your close shots may not be ideal for those longer shots out past 400 yards. Here are some tips from our Forum members that can help you shoot more effectively, and avoid problems on your varmint hunt. Here’s one key tip: at your shooting station, put a strip of surveyor’s tape on a tall stake to show the wind direction. Then shoot in the direction the wind blows. This will minimize the effect of cross-winds.

Savage LR Precision Varminter

Varmint Safari Planning, Equipment, and Shooting Advice

From PatchHound: “The gear you bring will make or break a trip out to Prairie Dog land. A lot has to do with where you going and how far you are from [civilization]. For starters, bring lots of water. It will be hot in Wyoming in a few more weeks but it don’t hurt to bring warm clothes in case it snows. It’s best to wear leather boots unless you’re real good at dodging cactus while walking around. Good sunscreen [and a wide-brimmed hat] will save the day too. [What you need to bring] really depends on whether you’re shooting on some friendly ranch or 100 miles in the middle of [a wilderness area]. Good survival gear is a good thing to have for the latter!”

Savage LR Precision Varminter
This photo is from a Dan Eigen TV Show video featuring a P-Dog hunt.

From Stoner25mkiv: “I’d suggest an adjustable bipod if you are going to do any walking. A laser rangefinder is a huge asset. Have a fanny pack or backpack for extra ammo, water, bore-snake, etc. when you go on your walkabouts. We also take a couple pivoting benches, heavy movers’ pad/blanket, sandbags (Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag) for shooting from near the vehicle. Boonie hat for blocking the sun, sun glasses, sunscreen. High leather boots.

Uncle Bud's Bulls Bag

Anyway, on to the rifles…consider bringing a 17 HMR, .223 Ackley bolt gun, .223 Ackley AR, and a 243 WSSM. Some years the 17 HMR isn’t removed from its case. We had a couple windless days and the 17 was lots of fun. I’d walk into the dogtown and then lay down and wait. After five minutes or so I’d have dogs within easy rimfire range, and out to as far as I’d care to stretch the rimfire. 275 yards was about it.”

From CTShooter: “The .204 [Ruger] is a laser beam and good to 400 yards easy. Forget the rimfire! Do you have a portable bench that pivots? Bring bipod, binocs. Bring a LOT of water. I have a milspec sniper shooter’s mat/drag bag with shoulder straps. It is good to carry everything when you want to wander off and shoot prone with bipod. Here’s a view through my 6BR in ND.”

varmint hunting prairie dog dakota dogtown

From RJinTexas: “In most of the locations that we’ll be shooting we’ll usually set up a minimum of 200 yards from the edge of a major dog town. We’ll start by working over the close-in dogs and shooting our way out, some of these towns may run in excess of 500/600 yards deep. I believe that a rimfire will put you at a distinct disadvantage. The only rimfire that will somewhat work is the 17 HMR and you can reload for your 204s for close to the cost of HMR ammo and you’ll be less apt to be under-gunned. Your 204 will work well out to 300/400 yards unless the wind is blowing hard. We classify a 10-mph crosswind as a very calm day and what makes it a little more challenging is that it is usually also gusting.”

From Wes (P1ZombieKiller): “[For my first PD trip] there are so many things I was not ready for. The one thing that I did bring (that no one told me about) was a canopy. I’m glad I did. Even though the weather was [near perfect], I know that sun can humble you real fast. With my pop-up canopy, I could shoot all day without getting killed by the sun. You had to tie the canopy down real well or the wind would blow it across the pasture.

We sat on shooting benches that pivot 360°, and are fast and easy to set up. Most all shots were 175-250 yards. I just felt comfortable at that range. It was more fun for me to be able to film the hits, and the camcorder I was using just did not get good video past 350 yards. The digital zoom distorted the image too much. I knew I would only get this one chance to film my first P-dog outing, and I wanted to get it on film for [posterity].”

Bring Multiple Rifles on Your Varmint Adventures

On our P-Dog adventures, we like to have multiple rifles — a .17 HMR for close work, then maybe a .20 Practical AR for 150-250 yards, then a larger caliber such as 6BRA, 6 Dasher or 6XC for those long shots. The classic 22-250 is also a wickedly effective varmint cartridge.

Prairie dog adventure varmint hunting

.20 Practical (20-223 Rem) AR-Platform Varminter
Here is a .20 Practical built by Robert Whitley. Whitley’s Ultimate Prairie Dog Rifle (PDR) features a 24″ Bartlein 11-twist cut-rifled barrel, DPMS side-charging upper, and a Jewell trigger. It is chambered in 20 Practical, a cartridge popularized by Warren “Fireball” Brookman.

varmint hunting prairie dog dakota dogtown

This .20 Practical cartridge is simply the .223 Remington necked down to .204. You can use your existing .223 Rem brass — no special case-forming required! The 20 Practical is accurate, flat-shooting, and has almost no recoil. The advantage over the standard .223 Remington is that, grain for grain, the bullets have a higher BC and travel at a higher velocity for more dramatic effect on a small varmint. The ultra-low recoil allows you to easily see your hits, even without a muzzle brake. The 20 Practical, launching 40-grainers at about 3750 fps, shoots flatter than a .223 Rem with 55gr hollowpoints.

.17 HMR Savage A17 Varmint Rifle
We also like to have a Rimfire for the closer shots, inside 150 yards. The .17 HMR or .17 WSM are good choices. With a rimfire you save on ammo costs and you don’t waste precious centerfire barrel life.

This video shows a successful Prairie Dog hunt with a .17 HMR. Watch and you’ll see hits out to 160 yards (00:50), proving the effective range of the 17 HMR cartridge. The host is shooting a Savage A17 semi-auto 17 HMR rifle in a Boyds laminated stock.

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
March 21st, 2021

“War Wagon” — Shooting Bench Trailer Rig for Varmint Hunts

Shooting Varmint Bench Trailer

AccurateShooter Forum member John H. of New Mexico (aka “Skratch”) has created an impressive mobile shooting bench that he can haul with his ATV. This trailer-mounted, movable bench is built on a central tubular spine that also serves as the tongue for the trailer, which attaches to a standard hitch. The bench offers two (2) shooting positions so it works for both left-handed and right-handed shooters.

Up front, for storage, a surplus .50-Cal ammo can is secured to the trailer frame. The V-shaped middle section of the wood benchtop looks to be reinforced with a metal stiffener frame on the underside. The front section of the bench is supported by twin tubular uprights attached to the box-section axle housing. The two wooden bench-style seats (on left and right) ride on a cross-tube. At the ends of that cross-tube are adjustable legs for additional support.

Shooting Varmint Bench Trailer

Great Rig for New Mexico Varmint Hunting
There are plenty of great varmint hunting areas in Skratch’s home state of New Mexico — you’ll find some huge prairie dog fields there. But to get the best results on a varmint-hunting field session, you need a solid shooting station that can be easily hauled to new locations as needed. It looks like John (aka “Scratch”) has come up with an outstanding “War Wagon” for his New Mexico varmint safaris.

Click on image frames to see full-size photos

Some readers wanted to know how John’s War Wagon is positioned in the field and if it is ever detached from John’s ATV. John answers: “We do unhook the 4-wheeler for target-checking unless we have an extra along which is usually the case. That way we can level the table front to rear. We have an umbrella from a patio table to provide shade on extra warm days.”

War Wagon Construction Details
John told us: “My brother-in-law and I built this mobile bench a few years ago. The axle, wheels and tire are a tag axle from a small Chevy car, obtained from a salvage yard for about $35-$40 a decade ago. The tubular frame is drill stem, while the bench-top and seats are 3/4′” plywood. Under the plywood we fitted rails so we can slide our target stand under the benchtop for secure travel. The total cost for everything (including storage box) was about $250-$300.”

We set the bench and seat heights so that, with adults, the rifle sets straight level to the shoulder. For the smaller ‘younguns’ we just use a sofa pillow to raise them up. (Yes, adjustable seat heights would be great.) The ammo box holds our rifle rest, sand bags, spotting scope, and miscellaneous gear. Options are a couple of lawn chairs, and a cooler of brew (for after the shooting is done).

Permalink - Articles, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting, Tech Tip No Comments »
July 22nd, 2020

Accuracy Requirements for Prairie Dog Hunting Ammunition

Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure
Photo by Forum member R. Hardy. View Related Thread.

Summer’s here, so many folks will head to the hinterlands on prairie dog safaris. On a good P-Dog adventure, you may shoot hundreds of rounds over a long weekend. So you’ll need plenty of ammo. With these ammo volume requirements, you probably won’t have time to load to benchrest standards, and you may not have the budget for match-grade bullets. To save time you may throw (rather than weigh) your charges, or even load on a progressive press. This all raises the question of ammo accuracy — how good is “good enough”? A Sierra Bullets expert answers that question here — explaining how to efficiently load ammo for varmint work.

Ammunition Accuracy Requirements 101 — Varmint Ammo

Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure

This story based on article by Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd
I load and shoot ammunition for a living. In my duties here at Sierra I constantly test bullet accuracy for our production needs. Because of this, I shoot a variety of different calibers and cartridges on a daily basis and a large demand of this shooting is keeping the guns and loads tuned for optimum accuracy. I have a very narrow window of tolerances to maintain in order to provide our customers (you) with the most accurate bullets on the market.

I have learned many tricks and techniques over the years to tuning a load, prepping brass, and cleaning barrels to keep a gun shooting. I often utilize the things I have learned and take them to extreme levels when competing in a shooting event. I also often ignore most of these things (other than safety) and simplify the process if the shooting I will be doing does not warrant.

Recently I went on a prairie dog shoot in Wyoming with some good friends. The targets cooperated as did the weather with the exception of some challenging winds we experienced. We had a great time and make a lot of hits on those small rodents. When loading for the .223 Remington rifles and the TC Contender, I cut a few corners in the ammunition-loading process due to both time constraints and accuracy needed. When shooting at a prairie dog a miss is simply that, but when shooting at say the X-Ring at 1000-yard competition, a poorly-placed shot [harms your] placing in the match. Because of this, I can afford to miss an occasional shot at a varmint due to ammunition capability without worry but will not allow the same tolerances in my match ammo. For the Wyoming trip I utilized a powder measure and simply dumped the charges into primed cases that had been full-length sized and primed.

Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure

I had measured enough for length to know that while there was some variance all were under maximum length. I know there is some variation of the measure I utilized but not significant enough to warrant weighing every charge. When seating the bullets a competition seating die was used and I verified OAL on the occasional cartridge to make sure nothing changed.

This varmint ammo, with thrown charges, put TEN shots inside ONE inch at 200 yards. That’s half MOA. Good Enough? Absolutely!
Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure

The ammo produced shot under one inch at 200 yards in one of the guns I planned on taking on to Wyoming with me. [Editor: That was for TEN Shots — see above.] I knew I had loaded ammunition that was quite suitable for the task at hand which was evidenced by the number of hits I was able to make at fairly long range.

NOTE: The author, Tommy Todd, explains that, when loading ammo for F-Class matches, he uses more exacting methods. He weighs every charge and seats his bullets carefully with an arbor press. Todd adapts his methodology for his particular application. The lesson here is to load to the level of precision demanded by your discipline. READ Full Story HERE.

Varmint Prairie Dog hunting safari reloading powder measure Tommy Todd

Permalink - Articles, Hunting/Varminting, Reloading No Comments »
July 3rd, 2020

North Dakota Summer Grasslands Prairie Dog Adventure

North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safari

Adam Scepaniak, of The Guns and Gear Store, has written an interesting story about Prairie Dog Hunting in North Dakota. If a P-Dog safari is on your “bucket list”, you’ll want to read the full story in the Sierra Bullets Blog. Adam provides many tips that can help you plan a successful prairie dog adventure.

Prairie Dog Hunting in North Dakota with Sierra Bullets
It’s that time of year where lots of men and women point their vehicles westward and try to push the limits of their rifles on prairie dogs. [A few seasons back] I was a part of this group of people… while in northwestern North Dakota. CLICK HERE to Read Full Story.

North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safariLittle Missouri National Grassland
Once my hunting party arrived at the Little Missouri National Grassland in North Dakota we immediately began scouting for prime prairie dog towns. There is a certain amount of strategy involved in choosing a prairie dog town … for several reasons. For one, you should try to always stay “above” the prairie dogs.

Small objects like rocks, cactuses, and prairie vegetation can easily obstruct your view if you’re shooting prone on a level plane. We encountered this in the first small prairie dog town we stopped and shot at. The prairie dog town was very visible while walking and standing, but once we laid down with our rifles on bipods the two-foot prairie grass became a severe obstruction. We shortly moved on because the small town became quick-studies to our shooting.

North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safari

The second prairie dog town we hunted was at the base of a small ridge with a dried, cattle creek at the bottom. This area offered better shooting opportunities because we were above most of the prairie dog holes, and if we were not above them, a deep ravine separated us from the prairie dogs removing any obstructions from our rifle scopes which was our previous problem. This area had its own disadvantage though because of some other wildlife present. There were approximately fifty head of cattle in our close vicinity grazing, which was to no surprise because many ranchers utilize the National Grassland for grazing. We had to wait for the cattle to leave our area as to not have an incidental hit due to a rare ricochet. As the sun passed over the horizon we decided to return to this spot the next morning, but would change our shooting position to increase our advantage.

This Location Offered a Nice Overlook.
North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safari

Zoomed Image Shows Individual Prairie Dog Mounds.
North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safari

My previous varminting best was a 275-yard shot near Mobridge, South Dakota on a separate prairie dog hunting trip. With more experience and better reloading, Here in North Dakota I was able to make a solid hit on a prairie dog just over 400 yards which made me ecstatic! For a central Minnesota, shotgun-raised guy, I was pretty happy that my bullet selection and hand-loading ability produced a 125-yard improvement.

Once we cleaned and cased our rifles for the journey home we had shot a little over 200 rounds of my Sierra® reloads. This was a lot less than previous prairie dog trips I have been a part of, but our hit percentage was substantially higher as well. Traveling into a new area meant a lot more scouting and experimentation for us as a group. In future trips or hunts of your own, it can be very beneficial to schedule an extra day just for scouting[.]

Little Missouri National Grassland is a National Grassland located in western North Dakota. At 1,033,271 acres, it is the largest grassland in the country. Within its borders is Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The Little Missouri National Grasslands was once a part of the Custer National Forest, but is now a part of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands, a National Forest unit consisting entirely of National Grasslands. A predominant feature of the grassland is colorful and beautiful badlands, a rugged terrain extensively eroded by wind and water. It is a mixed grass prairie, meaning it has both long and short grass.

The boundaries of the grasslands on certain maps can be misleading. Within the boundaries of the national grassland are significant portions of state-owned and privately-owned land, much of it leased by cattle ranchers for grazing.

The grassland is administered by the Forest Service as part of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands from offices in Bismarck, ND. There are ranger district offices in Dickinson and Watford City.

Permalink - Articles, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
May 22nd, 2020

Hunting Prairie Dogs in South Dakota — Varminting Video

South Dakota Varmint Hunting Safari

South Dakota Varmint Hunting SafariNever had a chance to hunt prairie dogs in the American west? Then check out this video. Dan Eigen, host of the We Love It Outdoors Television series, ventured to South Dakota for some varmint hunting. Dan teamed up with Varmint Hunter Association President Jeff Rheborg to patrol some South Dakota Dogtowns where things get serious. In the video, you’ll see p-dog hits at distances from 70 yards to roughly 450 yards. The hunters were shooting from portable, wood-topped swivel rests, using AR-platform rifles on X-type sandbag rest. (Rifle zeroing session is shown at the 5:30+ mark.)

Multiple cameras were employed so you can see both the shooter’s POV and close-ups of the prairie dogs downrange. Watch the shooters having fun with a prairie dog cut-out and some Tannerite at the 9:00-minute mark. This guys are having a grand old time sending critters to Prairie Dog Heaven — we think you’ll enjoy the video.

Prairie Dog Hunting Starts at 2:20 Time-Mark in Video:

South Dakota Varmint Hunting Safari

South Dakota Varmint Hunting Safari

NOTE: This video actually covers three sequences: 1) Three-gun training; 2) Prairie Dog Hunting; and 3) Coyote Hunting. The Prairie Dog segment runs from 2:20 to 15:15. If you wish, you can slide the controls forward or back to watch the other segments.

Video found by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Hunting/Varminting 4 Comments »
June 16th, 2019

Sunday GunDay — 6-6.5×47 Lapua Varmint Slayer

6mm 6.5x47 Lapua 6-6.5x47 varmint rifle mcmillan BAT action 6mmAI

Soon after Lapua released the 6.5×47 cartridge, wildcatters recognized the potential of a necked-down 6mm version of the case. The 6-6.5×47 has emerged as a great, do-it-all cartridge that performs well in High Power competition, 600- and 1000-yard benchrest, and PRS tactical matches. But the 6-6.5×47 is not just for paper-punching. An efficient cartridge with great inherent accuracy, the 6-6.5×47 can be an excellent, flat-shooting, long-range varmint round. Here we feature Stan Stewart’s BAT-actioned 6-6.5×47 varminter. Fitted with a Krieger 1:10″ barrel, Stan’s rifle excels with a wide variety of varmint bullets. Whether driving 70-grainers at 3700 fps, or pushing the Berger 88gr High-BC FB bullet at 3400 fps, this 6-6.5×47 delivers half-MOA (or better) accuracy, in a well-balanced, easy-handling rifle.

The 6-6.5×47 for Precision Long-Range Varminting

6mm 6.5x47 Lapua 6-6.5x47 varmint rifle mcmillan BAT action 6mmAI
The rifle carries a 12-42x56mm Nightforce NSX in Nightforce rings “hand-lapped for optimal fit/alignment”.

‘Seller’s Remorse’ Spurs 6mm Project
Report by Stan Stewart

After selling my 6mm Remington Ackley Improved a couple of years ago and wishing I hadn’t, I begun to think about a new custom rifle for work on Prairie Dog towns and New York wood chucks at 600+ yards. I have a .223 AR and 22-250 for medium ranges but I missed my 6mm AI for long-range work so I started asking questions.

The 22-250 is a fine chambering, but it is hard on barrels, and I think the 6mms may have an accuracy edge out past 400 yards. Also, shooters today enjoy a vast collection of really great 6mm bullets. Barrel life and bullet options were two main reasons I decided to build a 6mm rather than another .224-caliber gun. But the question remained… what 6mm chambering to choose?

I started doing serious research on the 6-6.5×47. I received a lot of good advice from AccurateShooter.com and other websites on the pros and cons. I also talked to gunsmiths — quite a few recommended the new cartridge as well. Some of the cartridge attributes I liked was the small rifle primer, enough case capacity to efficiently reach 3700 fps with a 70gr bullet and 3400 fps with an 85-grainer without being terribly over-bore. Most important was the 6-6.5×47’s reputation for inherent accuracy without being finicky like my 6mm AI. So, having chosen my cartridge, I started asking for gunsmith recommendations. Again the folks on the AccurateShooter.com Forum were very helpful. After many conversations I settled on Dave Bruno in Dayton, Pennsylvania. He was a good choice.

Putting Together the New Rig with Premium Components
From the get-go, I knew I wanted a BAT action and Krieger barrel. BAT Machine and Krieger Barrels enjoy a great reputation in the shooting industry. BATs are beautifully-machined, smooth, and strong. Krieger cut-rifled barrels are known for dependable accuracy and long barrel life. While many 6-6.5×47 shooters choose an 8-twist barrel to shoot the 100-108gr bullets, I would be using smaller, varmint-weight bullets, so I selected a 1:10″ twist Krieger. This would allow me to shoot bullets from 60 grains up to 90 grains. Dave chambered the barrel with a .269″ neck and fluted the barrel to save weight. I also had Dave install a Vais muzzle brake. Dave fitted the BAT with a 2 oz. Jewell trigger, mounted a +20 MOA scope rail, then pillar-bedded the BAT into a McMillan Hunter-Class-style fiberglass stock.

6mm 6.5x47 Lapua 6-6.5x47 varmint rifle mcmillan BAT action 6mmAI

Load Development for Varminting

I had selected a few powders and bullets recommended by other 6-6.5×47 shooters and started by seating all the bullets .005″ off the lands. The powders I selected were Varget, Vihtavuori N-550, and Reloder 15.

6mm 6.5x47 Lapua 6-6.5x47 varmint rifle mcmillan BAT action 6mmAI

I was very pleased with the 88gr Bergers. In initial testing, they grouped well and I was able to drive them to 3400 fps easily. As I wanted a gun for long-range varmint work, I was hoping the 1:10″-twist barrel would provide enough stability for the heavier weight bullets. It did — the 10-twist worked great! I was able to shoot the lighter weight bullets and the 88s were superb. With a BC of 0.391, leaving the barrel at 3400, these bullets were still traveling at 2600 fps at 600 yards!

6mm 6.5x47 Lapua 6-6.5x47 varmint rifle mcmillan Berger BAT Action

I did a lot of testing, recording group sizes for a variety of different bullets (see below) and powders. With group size/velocity data in a spreadsheet I was able to “crunch the numbers” and choose my preferred loads. The data drew a clear picture of what the rifle shot best. Here is a chart showing comparative group sizes, arranged by bullet type. On the last three lines, powders are listed by average for all bullets.

 alt=

6-6.5x47 Lapua Varmint rifleFinal Thoughts on the 6-6.5×47 Lapua
I have owned three rifles chambered in 22-250 and will always own a rifle in this caliber because it is inherently accurate and drives a 50gr bullet at 3800 fps. No question the 22-250 can be deadly out to 500 yards. However, I’ve found that shooting past 400 yards with the light bullets is difficult if there is any wind at all. That’s why I liked my 6mm AI for those longer shots and why I decided on the 6-6.5×47 Lapua. I couldn’t be happier with my choice. The only thing that could make it better is if Lapua would produce the 6-6.5×47 as an “official” factory 6mm cartridge with 6mm necks right out of the box. But overall, I am very happy with the cartridge, and I thank Dave Bruno for producing a superbly accurate varmint rifle.

CLICK HERE for FULL Story with 6-6.5×47 Load DATA »

Permalink - Articles, Hunting/Varminting, Reloading 2 Comments »