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September 16th, 2022

Handy, Slip-On $19.95 Forearm Pad Is Great for Hunters

RRR gun rest padded neoprene

Getting ready for your 2021 fall hunt? Here’s a simple but effective product that can benefit varminters and game-hunters. The slip-on, padded RRR (“triple R”) gun rest cushions your rifle on any surface and helps eliminate noise when shifting the gun from one shooting position to another. The RRR slip-on rest is made of neoprene (wet suit material) with a built-in, thick Armaflex foam cushion on the bottom. This $19.95 sleeve protects the finish of your rifle, while providing a cushioned layer between your rifle and the supporting surface. CLICK HERE for RRR STORE.

Key Benefits of the RRR Slip-On Padded Fore-Arm Rest
1. The RRR sleeve cushions your rifle. This helps to keep the shot from going high even when the rifle is placed on a hard surface.
2. The RRR sleeve quiets the gun. The padded, neoprene covering acts like a sound deadener even when you set the gun on a metal frame or hard surface..
3. The RRR protects the finish on the stock of your rifle from scratches when resting on hard surfaces.

RRR gun rest padded neoprene

Video Shows RRR in Use in the Field

Permalink Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
June 7th, 2022

Factory Centerfire Varmint Ammunition Available Online

17 Fireball varmint rifle

Headed out for a varmint trip this summer, but don’t have the time (or the right tools) to load all your own ammo? Well don’t worry, we’ve found online ammunition vendors that carry a big selection of popular varmint cartridge types, from .17 caliber up to the popular 6mm varmint cartridges. OutdoorLimited.com offers a wide selection of rifle ammo types, including some hard-to-find types such as 22 Nosler and .221 Fireball. In addition, MidwayUSA has good small-caliber ammo available, including .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, and 22-250. MidwayUSA is a good place to start.

Shown below are some of the small-caliber varmint ammo types currently in stock at OutdoorLimited.com. NOTE: If you order any of this factory-loaded ammunition, you can save $10 on an order of $250 or more with CODE “10off250″.

17 Fireball varmint rifle

17 Fireball ammunition varmint rifle

Large Caliber Ammunition Available Also
Outdoor Limited has a big selection of larger-caliber ammunition for hunting rifles as well. You’ll find popular ammo types such as .270 Win and .308 Win, as well as big calibers such as the .338 Lapua Magnum. However, the ammo page is somewhat frustrating, as it shows some ammo varieties that are NOT in stock. You must click the photo for each ammo type to see if it is available.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
June 1st, 2022

17 Mach 2 (17 HM2) — More Affordable Alternative to 17 HMR

17 mach 2 .17 hm2 volquartsen summit

The 17 Mach 2 (aka “17 HM2″) is making a come-back. We’re glad. This high-velocity round fits actions and magazines designed for the .22 LR, so it’s an easy barrel-swap upgrade for most rimfire bolt-guns (semi-autos are more complicated). The 17 Mach 2 cartridge doesn’t deliver the velocity of the 17 HMR, but it is still way faster than a .22 LR. Expect 2000-2100 fps with 17 Mach 2 compared to 1250 fps for “High-Velocity” .22 LR ammo. And, importantly, 17 Mach 2 ammo is much less expensive than 17 HMR. If you shop around, you can get 50 rounds of 17 Mach 2 for $10.95. That’s 35% cheaper than the average $16.95 price of 17 HMR — a significant savings!

17 Mach 2 Major Selling Points:

1. 60% more velocity than typical “High-Velocity” .22 LR ammo.
2. 35% less cost than average 17 HMR ammo.
3. 17 Mach 2 OAL is compatible with .22 LR receivers and magazines.

17 Mach 2 — Best High Velocity Rimfire Bang for the Buck?

If you are looking for a capable, squirrel-busting round or a fun plinking round, you should definitely consider the 17 Mach 2, especially since CCI has committed to production of the little cartridge. CCI recently rolled out its “Gen 2″ 17 Mach 2 VNT Ammo with polymer tip (see top of article).

Considering that 17 HMR ammo is now running $15 to $17 per box, the 17 Mach 2 is a good value by comparison. It is available from vendors for under $10.95 per 50ct box. That’s $0.22 per round. When you consider overall “bang for the buck”, for many shooters, it makes sense to use the 17 Mach 2 rather than a 17 HMR. You save money, barrel life is a little longer, and the 17 Mach 2 is still a much more potent cartridge than the .22 LR. Check out this comparison, and note how the 17 Mach 2 has a much flatter trajectory than the .22 LR. For varmint shooting, the 17 Mach 2 is clearly the better choice.

17 Mach 2 hm2 .22 LR comparison
Hornady’s 17 Mach 2 has a 2100 FPS muzzle velocity vs. 1255 FPS for “High-Velocity” .22 LR.

17 Mach 2 Rifle Reviews

Gun-makers have taken notice of the availability of 17 Mach 2 ammo, introducing new models chambered for this versatile little rimfire round. For a high-volume, small-species varminting, the 17 Mach 2 is much more effective than the .22 LR, and much less expensive than the larger 17 HMR.

New Savage A17 in 17 Mach 2

There are a number of reviews on new-generation 17 Mach 2 rifles. Recently Varminter.com reviewed the Savage A17 in 17 HM2. Editor Eric Mayer wrote: “This new addition to the A17 line comes at a time when the 17 Mach 2 round is experiencing a resurgence, with ammo now available from CCI and Hornady, including the lead-free NTX round from Hornady. This means … you don’t have to break the bank to buy a current, functioning, semi-auto 17 Mach 2 and you don’t have to … convert your 10/22.”

17 mach 2 .17 hm2 savage a17 17 HMR varmint rimfire summit

Eric shot four different types of 17 Mach 2 ammo, putting 1000+ rounds through the Savage. He was impressed: “I am very excited that Savage Arms has chambered their A17 rifle in the 17 Mach 2 / 17 HM2 round. After shooting the prototype, I can confidently say that this new A17 will become my go-to 17 Mach 2 rifle. This new rifle is a great option for varminters everywhere!”

Toggle Bolt Volquartsen Summit in 17 HM2

It’s rare for us to see a new rimfire that we’d really like to own, but the new Summit from Volquartsen fits the bill. This versatile rifle features a cool, straight-pull toggle bolt, similar to those on elite Biathalon rifles. You can see how this gun shoots in this informative 22 Plinkster video:

22 Plinkster Tests Volquartsen Summit Rifle in 17 Mach 2

The 17 Mach 2 (17 HM2) is making a comeback. Now leading manufacturers are offering this efficient little rimfire cartridge in some nice rifles. Both Anschutz and Volquartsen will offer new 17 Mach 2 rifles in 2019. The Volquartsen Summit features a lightweight, carbon fiber-wrapped barrel threaded 1/2-28 for brakes or suppressors. The Summit boasts a nice 1.75-lb trigger pull. The Summit’s CNC-machined receiver features a +20 MOA Rail. NOTE: The video shows a silhouette-style laminated wood stock. However, the Summit comes standard with a composite Magpul stock that actually works better for shooting from a bench.

17 mach 2 .17 hm2 volquartsen summit

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 2 Comments »
May 29th, 2022

Sunday Gunday: 20 Practical AR — Great Accuracy, Low Recoil

20 Practical AR uppers

If you want to use an AR-platform rifle in the varmint fields, consider getting a 20-caliber barrel chambered for the efficient, low-recoil 20 Practical cartridge. The 20 Practical is simply a .223 Remington necked down to 20 caliber. The parent .223 Rem cartridge of course works great in an AR, but the 20 Practical offers some notable advantages for high-volume varmint shooters. The 20 Practical delivers very high velocity with very low recoil while still providing outstanding accuracy. The 20 Practical is great option for folks who favor “fast and light” — smaller, lower-mass bullets traveling at very high velocities. This little cartridge can launch 40-grainers at over 3900 fps, and 32-grainers even faster. This makes the 20 Practical a great choice for an AR-based varmint rifle.

20 Practical20 Practical Ultimate Varminter
A decade ago, as a “proof-of-concept”, AccurateShooter.com created a 20 Practical AR15 Ultimate Varminter with a custom 20-caliber upper from Robert Whitley of AR-X Enterprises, LLC. That project rifle was ultra-accurate — every 5-shot group out of the gun was less than the size of a dime. That gun was auctioned off, but Robert Whitley continues to produce custom 20 Practical AR15 uppers. (The 20 Practical cartridge is simply the .223 Rem necked down to 20 caliber — you can use standard .223 brass and load with standard.223 Rem dies. Just swap in a smaller expander and use smaller neck bushings.)

Robert learned that the accuracy of the first 20 Practical AR15 was no fluke. After building six (6) more 20 Practical uppers, he tested them for accuracy and they all shot great. These uppers feature DPMS low-pro receivers with side-charging handles. They are fitted with PacNor 1:11″ twist, 3-groove stainless barrels.

20 Practical AR uppers

Robert reports: “We have been making more 20 Practical AR15 uppers and I have to say I am astounded by the accuracy of these things. For shooting little tiny groups out of an AR15 with bullets going 3500+ fps, it’s hard to beat the 20 Practical. Today I test-fired six more uppers, all with 11-twist barrels. Three of the uppers had 24″ barrels, two had 20″ barrels, and one had an 18″ barrel (we call it ‘Stubby’).

20 Practical Reamer print

In four of these uppers I shot re-sized Winchester brass using 25.3 grains of WC844 powder with Berger 40gr BTHP bullets loaded at 2.225″ OAL (about .015″ off the lands). WC844 is inexpensive military surplus powder that is nearly identical to H335. I tried three different primers and the choice did not seem to matter (CCI BR4, Rem 7 1/2s and Win Small Rifle — the old silver ones). All these four uppers shot great.”

Below is an animated GIF with targets from uppers #6, 10, and 11. All groups are mag-fed, 5-shot groups shot at 100 yards using a front rest and rear bag.


Targets Shot with Three Different 20 Practical AR Uppers

20 Practical AR uppers

For more INFO visit www.6mmAR.com, or email: rcw3 [at] erols.com.

20 Practical Shooters Explain Why They Love this Little Cartridge

A current thread in our Shooters’ Forum focuses on favorite variants of the .223 Rem cartridge. The thread asks: “What is your favorite and most versatile round that you have made from a .223 Rem parent case?” Many cartridges were named, but the wildcat cartridge cited most often was the 20 Practical. Here are some comments by Forum members, who explain the appeal of this great little 20-caliber cartridge:

“The 20 Practical is just a hoot to shoot. Outstanding precision, minimal recoil, easy case forming and inexpensive to shoot. What’s not to like? It’s a great way to introduce kids to centerfire, too.” — JLT

“The 20 Practical for me. Never had as much fun shooting a rifle as I did with the 20 Practical. Also, [it is] the easiest wildcat to form. Just get cases, a couple of bushings to get the right neck tension, and you are shooting.” — NMKid

“Favorite .223 Rem Wildcat? The 20 Practical hands down for me. I have two of them built on Savage actions right now. One has a 20″ BHW barrel and the other has a 26″ Criterion. It is my go-to caliber for shooting up a Prairie Dog town and the ones I have are insanely accurate. Here are some typical 100- and 200-yard groups with my 20 Practicals.” — IA_Shooter

.20 20 practical ar15 varmint cartridge wildcat .223 Rem Shooters' Forum

“My favorite was and is the 20 Practical. No fire-forming, no neck-turning, and with the increased BC of the 20 Cal bullets, it’s hard to wipe the smile off your face in a prairie dog town[.]” — Region Rat

“20 Practical and the [original] .223 Rem are my favorites. Accurate, cheap to shoot. The 20 Prac allows you to see your hits and it’s fast.” — Alguapo

“20 Tactical or 20 Practical. Both very easy to reload and/or form from .223 brass. And they are accurate, reach out on varmints at surprising ranges.” — Bill K

Smart Tips on Forming 20 Practical Cases

Varmint ace Warren B, aka “Fireball” in our Forum, explains how to form 20 Practical Cases. “Forming 20 Practical cases is very easy and no fire-forming is required. Start with any good quality .223 Rem brass. One can simply run the case into your bushing die with the appropriate bushing and call it done. I however like to make it a little more involved by doing the neck reduction in steps. I find that taking steps doesn’t overwork the brass as much as one step does. Also, if you resize the neck in too large of a step, sometimes, depending on the neck thickness, the neck will not be dimensionally what you would expect when finished. This is especially important towards the last step when one is getting close to the final required neck diameter.

For my cases the first thing I did was to run them into an old RCBS .223 Rem full length die with the decapping assembly removed. This will take care of any dented necks on the raw cases and bring the necks down to around 0.243″. Since all standard full-length dies oversize the necks way too much, starting with a .223 FL die actually reduces the neck diameter quite a bit–and obviates the need to buy an extra bushing for the first step. I then use my Redding Type-S die with two bushing sizes to get down to where I need to be. In other words, I start with the FL sizer, then move to a Type-S with a 0.233″ bushing and finish with a 0.228″ bushing. Notice how, as I get to the final step, I use progressively smaller increments in size between the reductions.” (Note: Depending on your brass your final bushing size may be different.)

20 Practical vs. 20 Tactical

Varminter Kevin Weaver, who shoots both the 20 Practical and 20 Tactical, states that: “Both the 20 Tactical and the 20 Practical are fine .20 caliber cartridges. However, my favorite would be the 20 Practical. The 20 Practical gives the SAME performance as the 20 Tactical without fire-forming, or having to buy expensive forming dies.

So with the 20 Practical you do less work, you shell out a lot less money, yet you give up nothing in performance. What’s not to like? To create 20 Practical cases, just buy a .223 Rem Redding Type “S” Bushing Die set with a .230 or .228 bushing and have fun with this great little cartridge.

The 20 Practical and the 20 Tactical are almost identical cartridges. There are only slight differences in case outside diameter, shoulder angle, and case body length. Neck length on the 20 Tactical is a bit longer, but there is still plenty of neck on the 20 Practical to grip the popular bullets, such as the 32gr V-Max.”

20 Practical and 20 Tactical Specifications:

Cartridge Bolt face to shoulder Shoulder O.D. Shoulder Angle Total length
20 Practical 1.5778″ .3553 23° 1.760″
20 Tactical 1.5232″ .360 30° 1.755″
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Shooting Skills No Comments »
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

How to Kill a Barrel in One Afternoon — Firing Rate and Heat

barrel life test rapid fire cooling

Can sustained rapid-fire shooting with no cool-down period wear out a quality barrel more quickly? The answer is “Yes” according to Forum member LCazador, who did an interesting comparison test with two .243 Winchester barrels. He started off with two, identical, match-grade HV taper stainless barrels. Both were NEW at the start of testing, and LCazador shot the same load through each: 95gr match bullets with 38 grains of Hodgdon Varget. After giving both barrels the same, gentle 20-round break-in, 300 rounds were then fired through each barrel — in very different ways. Barrel condition and wear were monitored with a borescope.

Barrel One — Slow Fire, Cool Down Periods, Cleaning Every 50 Rounds
At the end of the 300-round test, Barrel One looked brand new. There was none of the severe fire cracking found in Barrel Two. This barrel was shot no more than 10 times without a cool down and firing was done at a much slower pace. Cleaning for this barrel was done every 50 shots.

Barrel Two — Fast Firing, No Waiting, Cleaning Every 100 Rounds
The second barrel, which received hard use and minimal cleaning, was severely damaged with severe fire cracking at the leade and throat. As a result, the barrel had to be re-chambered. This barrel was shot 100 rounds at time without cleaning and was shot up to 20 times in succession without a cool down.

LESSON LEARNED — Heat Kills Barrel Life
Don’t let your barrel get too hot, and keep it clean. One afternoon can ruin a barrel!

Hawkeye Borescope imageMonitoring Barrel Wear with Borescope
Some folks worry too much about what their borescopes reveal — many barrels do not have to be “squeaky clean” to perform well. In fact some barrels run better after ten or more fouling shots. However, a borescope can be very helpful when your barrel starts losing accuracy for no apparent reason. Forum member FdShuster writes:

“A borescope is a positive way of backing up your suspicions when the rifle starts to throw an occasional (soon followed by more frequent) wild shot. Using the scope is also an excellent way to determine that the cause is barrel wear and not simply a need for a concentrated cleaning session to remove built up copper and more importantly, carbon fouling.

I’ve had a few barrels that gave every indication of being shot out. But I ‘scoped them out and found the cause to be nothing more than requiring a good cleaning. They then returned to their usual performance. There’s no guessing involved when you are able to get ‘up close and personal’ using the scope. The borescope also provides an excellent view of the all-important condition of the crown. My borescope is one of the most valuable investments I’ve ever made.”

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
August 13th, 2021

Compact, Lightweight Field Rigs — Howa Mini Action Rifles

Howa Mini Action Rifle 6.5 Guys 65guys.com Legacy Sports 6.5 Grendel 7.62x39

We’ve been fans of the Howa Mini Action rifles since they were introduced a few years ago. With actions that are nearly an inch shorter than typical “short actions”, these Mini Action rigs work great as a compact “truck gun” or carry-around varminter. Current chamberings are: .223 Rem, 6.5 Grendel, 7.62x39mm, and .350 Legend. There are 20″ heavy contour and 22″ standard contour barrel options, plus a 16.25″ heavy for the .350 Legend only.

6.5 Guy Ed Mobley Tests the 7.62×39 Howa Mini Action Rifle
Howa Mini Action Rifle 6.5 Guys 65guys.com Legacy Sports 6.5 Grendel 7.62x39

The Howa Mini Action rifles come with the excellent HACT 2-stage trigger and a 5-round or 10-round, synthetic detachable box mag (depending on caliber). The Mini Action’s bolt is 13% shorter than on regular short actions, providing a shorter, faster bolt throw. Weight is also reduced. This makes for a nice, compact (and very shootable) package.

6.5 Guys Test Howa Mini Actions in 6.5 Grendel and 7.62×39

The 6.5 Guys recently secured a pair of Howa Mini Actions, one chambered in 6.5 Grendel and the other in 7.62×39 Russian: “After trying out the Howa Mini Action rifles at SHOT Show 2017, we got a couple of loaners in 6.5 Grendel and 7.62×39 courtesy of Legacy Sports. These rifles are known for their smooth cycling and lightweight actions, as well as some unique chamberings for bolt rifles (6.5 Grendel, 7.62×39). Long story short, we really enjoyed them.” In fact Steve liked his 6.5 Grendel enough that he plans to purchase the gun. Get the full scoop in this VIDEO REVIEW:

The folks at Legacy Sports also conducted extensive accuracy tests of commercial ammunition in 6.5 Grendel and 7.62×39. The most accurate 6.5 Grendel ammo, with a stunning 0.29″ group, was Alexander Arms with Lapua 123gr Scenar; second best (0.56″ group) was Hornady with 123gr A-Max bullet. The most accurate 7.62×39 ammo was Hornady 123gr SST with a 0.62″ group in the 20″ Heavy Barrel version. View Howa’s Test Reports with these links:

6.5 Grendel Factory Ammo Data | 7.62×39mm Factory Ammo Data

Howa Mini Action Rifle 6.5 Guys 65guys.com Legacy Sports 6.5 Grendel 7.62x39
Click HERE for full-screen image.

Legacy Sports Video compares Mini Action Rifles in .223 Rem and 6.5 Grendel:

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July 11th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: Multi-State Varmint Adventures with Bill White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Varmint Fields — Traveling Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six Tips for Novice Long Range Varmint Hunters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veteran Varmint Hunter Shares his Secrets

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

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

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

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

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

Western Varmint Country Vistas

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

Taking Photos on Shooting Adventures

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

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

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

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

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April 12th, 2021

Building a Great Varmint Rifle — Superb Video Shows Process

22-250 Coyote Rifle Chris Dixon LongRifles

22-250 Coyote Rifle Chris Dixon LongRiflesHere’s a great YouTube video that shows the creation of a high-end, 22-250 varmint rifle from start to finish. The rifle was crafted by Chad Dixon for O’Neill Ops. Once the build is complete, the video shows the rifle being tested at 440 yards. With the camera filming through the scope, you can even watch the trace, starting at the 2:36″ time mark (this is very cool).

Watch this Video in HD!
Any person with an interest in gunsmithing should watch this video. It shows barrel profiling, tenon-thread cutting, chambering, CNC stock inletting, bedding, and stock painting. This is one of the best short videos of its kind on YouTube.

Highlights in the Video with Time-Marks:
00:15 Cutting Barrel Tenon Threads
00:22 Chamber Reaming (22-250)
00:25 Barrel Fluting and Marking
00:44 CNC Stock Inletting
01:20 Stock Painting
02:30 Testing at 440 Yards

For this build, Chad Dixon of LongRifles, Inc. teamed up with O’Neill Ops. The video shows the “Coyote Rifle” build, step by step, from the cutting of the tenon threads, to the 440-yard field test at the end of the build. To learn more about this rifle’s components and its performance in the field, contact James O’Neill, www.oneillops.com, (605) 685-6085.

22-250 Coyote Rifle Chris Dixon LongRifles

Chad Dixon of LongRifles, Inc.
Chad Dixon’s introduction to firearms began in 1991 as a marksmanship instructor and competitive shooter in the U.S. Marine Corps. Chad began building rifles in 2000 at the Anschutz National Service Center, where he worked with U.S. Olympic shooters. In 2003 Chad took a position with Nesika Bay Precision/Dakota Arms. After leaving Nesika, Chad deployed to the Middle East as a security contractor for the U.S. Dept. of State. On his return to the USA, Chad started LongRifles Inc., a custom rifle-building company.

Dixon-built rifles combine modern CNC manufacturing methods with traditional expert craftsmanship. Chad’s rifles have won major int’l and national level competitions in Smallbore, Smallbore Silhouette, High Power, and Long Range Palma disciplines.

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September 30th, 2020

Padded Rifle Fore-Arm Rest Sleeve Is Great for Hunting

RRR gun rest padded neoprene

Here is a simple but effective product that can benefit varminters and game-hunters. The slip-on, padded RRR (“triple R”) gun rest cushions your rifle on any surface and helps eliminate noise when shifting the gun from one shooting position to another. The RRR slip-on rest is made of neoprene (wet suit material) with a built-in, thick Armaflex foam cushion on the bottom. This $19.95 sleeve protects the finish of your rifle, while providing a cushioned layer between your rifle and the supporting surface.

Key Benefits of the RRR Slip-On Padded Fore-Arm Rest
1. The RRR sleeve cushions your rifle. This helps to keep the shot from going high even when the rifle is placed on a hard surface.
2. The RRR sleeve quiets the gun. The padded, neoprene covering acts like a sound deadener even when you set the gun on a metal frame or hard surface..
3. The RRR protects the finish on the stock of your rifle from scratches when resting on hard surfaces.

RRR gun rest padded neoprene

Video Shows RRR in Use in the Field

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September 13th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Home-Built 7.62×25 Tokarev Custom Rifle

rifle tokarev 7.62x25 pistol cartridge varmint rifle custom

rifle tokarev 7.62x25 pistol cartridge varmint rifle customHere’s something you’ve never seen before — a full-size rifle chambered for the tiny 7.62×25 Tokarev round. This rifle was a fun project by Les E., aka “scasa” in our AccurateShooter Forum. This is a true “home-built” rifle. Les machined the action himself (receiver AND bolt), chambered the barrel, and crafted the stock from a blank. You’ll find complete build details (with machining photos) in this Forum Thread.

Why did Les build this unique rifle? He tells us: “I just thought it would make a nice little rifle cartridge with light bullets and subsonic with heavier ones. D.J. Jones had something similar as the ‘Mini Whisper’.”

Les designed and built the action and bolt to fit the tiny 7.62×25 Tokarev cartridge. He told us: “Once upon a time I got this idea to make a bolt action with front locking lugs, full diameter bolt, Remington trigger. It took me years to get it all figured out and make all the tooling, then it took about six months to build the gun”. The rifle features a 1:10″-twist Adams & Bennett barrel that Les chambered himself.

rifle tokarev 7.62x25 pistol cartridge varmint rifle custom

Les designed and crafted the receiver and bolt assembly himself. The bolt features an extractor but not an ejector — the empty case stays on the end of the bolt. The extractor slot cuts through one lug, but Les says it still has 10 times the required strength.

rifle tokarev 7.62x25 pistol cartridge varmint rifle custom

Details of Action Design and Machining
Les explained: “The action started as a piece of 4160 bar stock. I drilled and reamed all the holes in my 12×36 Craftsman lathe. Cutting the slot inside for the locking lugs to pass through was the most difficult part. There were no blueprints for this and just a couple of sketches to get the slots right for the bolt handle slot and extraction cams. Everything is design on the fly. I used a grade 8 bolt for the bolt which did not require any hardening, they’re pretty hard already. Although I did make several receivers before I got it figured out, I only made one bolt.”

Surprisingly, Les is not a machinist by trade. He is just a very smart guy who learned by doing: “I’ve never had any machinist training. I mostly learned by trying different things until I found what works.”

NOTE: Under Federal law, it is legal to build an action or complete rifle for personal use (not for resale). Refer to ATF Regulations.

rifle tokarev 7.62x25 pistol cartridge varmint rifle custom

As you might expect, this cartridge is naturally pretty quiet. Les says it “makes less noise than a .17 HMR”. Recoil is also minimal. In a 9-lb rifle (with scope), shooting free recoil, the rifle moves only about three inches. Considering this is a tiny pistol cartridge, the accuracy is pretty good, as you can see:

rifle tokarev 7.62x25 pistol cartridge varmint rifle custom

Loading for the 7.62×25 Tokarev in a Rifle

rifle tokarev 7.62x25 pistol cartridge varmint rifle customThe cartridge brass comes from Sellier & Bellot pistol ammo. Les currently loads with AA #7 and AA #9 powders, but he may try some others. His favorite load so far has Hornady 168gr A-Max bullets pushed by AA #9 powder and CCI 400 primers. This produced a 0.437″ group at 50 yards.

How does Les like the cartridge? He says: “I wish the 7.62×25 had a longer neck. At 0.140″ it’s pretty short. I think a longer neck would help getting things lined up better.” He notes that boat-tail bullets seem to load easier than flat-base projectiles.

Ammo is loaded with inexpensive Lee dies: “I’m using Lee dies and they seem to work OK. I’d like a better seater die and I may modify this one.”

rifle tokarev 7.62x25 pistol cartridge varmint rifle custom

Les reports: “The 168gr Berger moly LTB didn’t do as well as the 168gr A-Max so I started working with the A-Max. I’m loaded really long and the Tokarev evidently has a pretty long freebore but I managed to get it into the lands. The target photo above is the best this gun has ever shot. I’ve gotten mostly two-inch groups at 50 yards (my max home range distance). Recently I made some progress. My best group was a little less than 1/2 inch at 50 yards.”

Special Features of the Stock

rifle tokarev 7.62x25 pistol cartridge varmint rifle custom

Les built the stock himself from a laminated blank. For this project, Les added some interesting features to the stock. He created his own adjustable cheekpiece using all home-crafted hardware.

rifle tokarev 7.62x25 pistol cartridge varmint rifle custom

Les also fitted a barrel tension adjustment system in the stock to help tune the barrel harmonics. There is a hex-head machine screw in the bottom of the stock for adjusting the upward tension on the barrel.

rifle tokarev 7.62x25 pistol cartridge varmint rifle custom

Les crafted this stock with a thumbhole pattern with finger grooves. He has used this design on other stocks he has built as he likes the look and “feel”.

rifle tokarev 7.62x25 pistol cartridge varmint rifle custom

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December 30th, 2019

Great Rifle for Small Varmints — Savage A17 in 17 HMR

Varmint hunting Savage hunter A17 17 HMR California Varminter

There’s a nice article in the Western Powders Blog that any varminter will enjoy. In this hare-raising tale, gunwriter Jim Waddell explains how he used a self-loading Savage A17 rifle to take care of a serious jack-rabbit problem on a rancho in California. “[My friends] purchased a huge amount of acreage that had some existing alfalfa fields and [surrounding sagebrush]. Sagebrush is home to jack rabbits. Lots of jack rabbits. The previous owner of this property didn’t do any varmint or predator control[.] The ink wasn’t dry on the escrow papers before [my friends] started asking for help shooting rabbits. A problem in taking these critters is it has to be done at night when they come out to feed as they lay low in the bush during the daylight hours.”

Varmint hunting Savage hunter A17 17 HMR California Varminter

Savage A17 Comes to the Rescue
Initially Waddell and some friends took on the jack-rabbit hordes using Ruger 10/22s and a .44 Magnum Marlin lever gun. Neither option was ideal. The .44 Magnum just couldn’t keep up the desired shooting pace (it took too long to reload) ant the .22 LRs were too anemic. So Waddell decided to give the more potent 17 HMR a try. He acquired a Savage A17 and went back for a second bunny-busting session. He came away convinced that the 17 HMR cartridge in the modern semi-auto Savage works great for small varmint control.

Varmint hunting Savage hunter A17 17 HMR California Varminter

Waddell writes: “I wanted more than a .22 after seeing the problems my pals had with their [10/22] bullets not anchoring the rabbits. Armed with my new Savage A17 it was time to head back to the alfalfa fields. This time my hunting partner was Dan, my son-in-law from Seattle. We hunted for four nights. Each night was either raining, windy or both. My question about whether or not rabbits would be out in the weather was answered immediately. They were everywhere. As miserable as the weather was, we got all the shooting we wanted and that Savage rifle was up to the task. We got so many rabbits it was impossible to count.” CLICK HERE for the full account of Waddell’s jack-rabbit adventures on the California rancho. It’s worth a read. Here is a sample:

Wabbits, Wabbits Everywhere — Even Running Right at You
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a sea of rabbits as far as the lights would shine and when the light beams hit the bunnies, they became confused and as often as not, would run right at the lights so a good percentage of our shots were literally in spitting distance. It was also a new experience shooting at targets that are running TOWARD you. Most of us who’ve done much hunting for game or varmints have experienced moving targets but how many of those targets are coming at you?

Read Full Story on Western Powders Blog »

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September 7th, 2019

Vudoo Gunworks Offers 17 Mach 2 Rifles (17 HM2)

vuduoo gun works .22 LR rimfire .17 HM2 17 Mach 2 hornady

Vudoo Gun Works now offers V22 rifles chambered for the 17 Hornady Mach 2 (17 HM2) rimfire cartridge. The 17 Mach 2 runs 2010-2100 FPS, making it a much more potent than the .22 LR for varminting. It also is much flatter shooting than the .22 LR, making it more fun to use past 150 yards. When you want to go back to the .22 LR for paper punching at 50-100 yards, simply spin on a .22 LR barrel, and use the same action and same magazines. So, you can have one rimfire rifle that shoots two rimfire cartridge types.

Because the 17 HM2 case shares similar OAL and cartridge diameter/rim sizes as the venerable .22 LR, the 17 HM2 runs perfectly in actions and magazines designed for the .22 LR. Vudoo says: “The dimensional similarities of traditional .22 LR, which the V22 action has been designed around, made the .17 HM2 a natural performer in our rifles. The addition of the .17 HM2 gives our customers access to a wide range of high-velocity projectiles to better suit a variety of sporting applications.”

vuduoo gun works .22 LR rimfire .17 HM2 17 Mach 2 hornady

The 17 HM2 was developed by Hornady and Eley in 2004 to give varmint hunters a high-velocity rimfire cartridge that fits in standard rimfire length actions. With a selection of V-MAX or NTX bullets, the .17 HM2 is capable of taking ground squirrels and prarie dogs at ranges of up to 220 yards. We like this cartridge because 17 HM2 ammo is 30-35% less expensive than 17 HMR ammo. When you’re shooting hundreds of rounds a day in the varmint fields, that price savings adds up.

Vudoo Gun Works currently will offer a variety of rifles chambered in 17 HM2. The Ravage model (top photo) has a composite stock with adjustable cheekpiece. For those who prefer a metal chassis, Vudoo offers its V22 barreled action in the MPA Apparition chassis (photo below). Vudoo has lighter, “walk-around stocks” and barrel profiles for hunters. All Vudoo 17 HM2 models use the V22 action and current Vudoo .22 LR magazines.

vuduoo gun works .22 LR rimfire .17 HM2 17 Mach 2 hornady

Vudoo V22 17 Mach 2 Rifle Features
Short action Remington 700 footprint
Magazines fit standard AICS-compatible bottom metal
Large selection of aftermarket triggers
Large selection of aftermarket stocks
V-MAX and NTX bullet options

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July 24th, 2019

17 Mach 2 (17 HM2) — Affordable .17-Caliber Rimfire Option

17 mach 2 .17 hm2 volquartsen summit

The 17 Mach 2 (aka “17 HM2″) is making a come-back. We’re glad. This high-velocity round fits actions and magazines designed for the .22 LR, so it’s an easy barrel-swap upgrade for most rimfire bolt-guns (semi-autos are more complicated). The 17 Mach 2 cartridge doesn’t deliver the velocity of the 17 HMR, but it is still way faster than a .22 LR. Expect 2000-2100 fps with 17 Mach 2 compared to 1250 fps for “High-Velocity” .22 LR ammo. And, importantly, 17 Mach 2 ammo is much less expensive than 17 HMR. If you shop around, you can get 50 rounds of 17 Mach 2 for about $6.50. That’s 35% cheaper than the average $10 price of 17 HMR — a significant savings!

17 Mach 2 Major Selling Points:

1. 60% more velocity than typical “High-Velocity” .22 LR ammo.
2. 35% less cost than average 17 HMR ammo.
3. 17 Mach 2 OAL is compatible with .22 LR receivers and magazines.

17 Mach 2 Rifle Reviews

Gun-makers have taken notice of the availability of 17 Mach 2 ammo, introducing new models chambered for this versatile little rimfire round. For a high-volume, small-species varminting, the 17 Mach 2 is much more effective than the .22 LR, and much less expensive than the larger 17 HMR.

New Savage A17 in 17 Mach 2

There are a number of reviews on new-generation 17 Mach 2 rifles. Recently Varminter.com reviewed the Savage A17 in 17 HM2. Editor Eric Mayer wrote: “This new addition to the A17 line comes at a time when the 17 Mach 2 round is experiencing a resurgence, with ammo now available from CCI and Hornady, including the lead-free NTX round from Hornady. This means … you don’t have to break the bank to buy a current, functioning, semi-auto 17 Mach 2 and you don’t have to … convert your 10/22.”

17 mach 2 .17 hm2 savage a17 17 HMR varmint rimfire summit

Eric shot four different types of 17 Mach 2 ammo, putting 1000+ rounds through the Savage. He was impressed: “I am very excited that Savage Arms has chambered their A17 rifle in the 17 Mach 2 / 17 HM2 round. After shooting the prototype, I can confidently say that this new A17 will become my go-to 17 Mach 2 rifle. This new rifle is a great option for varminters everywhere!”

Toggle Bolt Volquartsen Summit in 17 HM2

It’s rare for us to see a new rimfire that we’d really like to own, but the new Summit from Volquartsen fits the bill. This versatile rifle features a cool, straight-pull toggle bolt, similar to those on elite Biathalon rifles. You can see how this gun shoots in this informative 22 Plinkster video:

22 Plinkster Tests Volquartsen Summit Rifle in 17 Mach 2

The 17 Mach 2 (17 HM2) is making a comeback. Now leading manufacturers are offering this efficient little rimfire cartridge in some nice rifles. Both Anschutz and Volquartsen will offer new 17 Mach 2 rifles in 2019. The Volquartsen Summit features a lightweight, carbon fiber-wrapped barrel threaded 1/2-28 for brakes or suppressors. The Summit boasts a nice 1.75-lb trigger pull. The Summit’s CNC-machined receiver features a +20 MOA Rail. NOTE: The video shows a silhouette-style laminated wood stock. However, the Summit comes standard with a composite Magpul stock that actually works better for shooting from a bench.

17 mach 2 .17 hm2 volquartsen summit

17 Mach 2 — Best Rimfire Bang for the Buck?

If you are looking for a capable, squirrel-busting round or a fun plinking round, you should definitely consider the 17 Mach 2, especially since CCI has committed to production of the little cartridge. CCI recently rolled out its “Gen 2″ 17 Mach 2 VNT Ammo with polymer tip (see top of article).

Considering that 17 HMR ammo is now running $10 to $12 a box, the 17 Mach 2 is an excellent value by comparison. It is available from many vendors for under $6.50 per 50ct box. That’s just $0.13 per round. When you consider overall “bang for the buck”, for many shooters, it makes sense to use the 17 Mach 2 rather than a 17 HMR. You save money, barrel life is a little longer, and the 17 Mach 2 is still a much more potent cartridge than the .22 LR. Check out this comparison, and note how the 17 Mach 2 has a much flatter trajectory than the .22 LR. For varmint shooting, the 17 Mach 2 is clearly the better choice.

17 Mach 2 hm2 .22 LR comparison
Hornady’s 17 Mach 2 has a 2100 FPS muzzle velocity vs. 1255 FPS for “High-Velocity” .22 LR.

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January 20th, 2019

The .20 Practical AR — Wicked Accuracy, Low Recoil

20 Practical AR uppers

The new .224 Valkyrie for AR15-platform rifles has garnered lots of attention lately. That new cartridge has gotten people thinking about the options for an AR shooter beyond the venerable .223 Remington (and 5.56x39mm NATO). While the .224 Valkyrie is good for shooting long heavy bullets (such as Sierra’s new 95gr SMK), there is a simpler, cheaper option for folks who favor “fast and light” — smaller, lower-mass bullets traveling at very high velocities. That option is the 20 Practical, which is simply a .223 Remington necked down to 20 caliber. This little cartridge can launch 40-grainers at over 3900 fps. That’s bookin’. This makes the 20 Practical a great choice for an AR-based varmint rifle.

20 Practical20 Practical Ultimate Varminter
A decade ago, as a “proof-of-concept”, AccurateShooter.com created a 20 Practical AR15 Ultimate Varminter with a custom 20-caliber upper from Robert Whitley of AR-X Enterprises, LLC. That project rifle was ultra-accurate — every 5-shot group out of the gun was less than the size of a dime. That gun was auctioned off, but Robert Whitley continues to produce custom 20 Practical AR15 uppers. (The 20 Practical cartridge is simply the .223 Rem necked down to 20 caliber — you can use standard .223 brass and load with standard.223 Rem dies. Just swap in a smaller expander and use smaller neck bushings.)

Robert reports that the accuracy of the first 20 Practical AR15 was no fluke. After building six (6) more 20 Practical uppers, he tested them for accuracy and they all shot great. These uppers feature DPMS low-pro receivers with side charging handles. They are fitted with PacNor 1:11″ twist, three-groove stainless barrels.

20 Practical AR uppers

Robert reports: “We have been making more 20 Practical AR15 uppers and I have to say I am astounded by the accuracy of these things. For shooting little tiny groups out of an AR15 with bullets going 3500+ fps, it’s hard to beat the 20 Practical. Today I test-fired six more uppers, all with 11-twist barrels. Three of the uppers had 24″ barrels, two had 20″ barrels, and one had an 18″ barrel (we call it ‘Stubby’).

20 Practical Reamer print

In four of these uppers I shot re-sized Winchester brass using 25.3 grains of WC844 powder with Berger 40gr BTHP bullets loaded at 2.225″ OAL (about .015″ off the lands). WC844 is inexpensive military surplus powder that is nearly identical to H335. I tried three different primers and the choice did not seem to matter (CCI BR4, Rem 7 1/2s and Win Small Rifle — the old silver ones). All these four uppers shot great. Here is an animated GIF with targets from uppers #6, 10, and 11. All groups are mag-fed, 5-shot groups shot at 100 yards using a front rest and rear bag.”

Targets Shot with Three Different 20 Practical AR Uppers

20 Practical AR uppers

For more information visit www.6mmAR.com, or contact Robert Whitley via email: rcw3 [at] erols.com.

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