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











September 20th, 2022

Varminters’ Debate — Cranking Elevation or Holding Over/Under

IOR Scope elevation knob one revolution

Leuopold Varmint Hunters' ReticleA varmint shooter’s target is not conveniently placed at a fixed, known distance as it is for a benchrester. The varminter must repeatedly make corrections for bullet drop as he moves from closer targets to more distant targets and back again. Click HERE to read an interesting Varmint Forum discussion regarding the best method to adjust for elevation. Some shooters advocate using the scope’s elevation adjustments. Other varminters prefer to hold-over, perhaps with the assistance of vertical markers on their reticles. Still others combine both methods–holding off to a given yardage, then cranking elevation after that.

Majority View — Click Your Scope
“I zero at 100 yards — I mean really zero as in check the ballistics at 200 and 300 and adjust zero accordingly — and then set the scope zero. For each of my groundhog guns I have a click chart taped into the inside of the lid of the ammo box. Then use the knobs. That’s why they’re there. With a good scope they’re a whole lot more accurate than hold-over, with or without hash marks. This all assumes you have a good range finder and use it properly. If not, and you’re holding over you’re really just spraying and praying. Try twisting them knobs and you’ll most likely find that a 500- or 600- or 700-yard groundhog is a whole lot easier than some people think.” — Gunamonth

Varmint hunter 22 BR elevation scope hold-over

“I have my elevation knob calibrated in 100-yard increments out to 550. Range-find the critter, move elevation knob up…dead critter. The problem with hold-over is that it is so imprecise. It’s not repeatable because you are holding over for elevation and for wind also. Every time you change targets 50 yards, it seems as if you are starting over. As soon as I got completely away from the hold over method (I used to zero for 200), my hit ratios went way up.” — K. Candler

“When I first started p-dog shooting, I attempted to use the hold-over method with a 200-yard zero with my 6mm Rem. Any dog much past 325-350 yards was fairly safe. I started using a comeups table for all three of my p-dog rifles (.223 Rems and 6mm Rem). 450-yard hits with the .223s are fairly routine and a 650-yard dog better beware of the 6mm nowadays. An added benefit (one I didn’t think of beforehand) with the comeups table (elevation only), is that when the wind is blowing, it takes half of the variables out of the equation. I can concentrate on wind, and not have to worry about elevation. It makes things much more simple.” — Mike (Linefinder).

“I dial for elevation and hold for wind. Also use a mil-dot reticle to make the windage holds easier. For windage corrections, I watch for the bullet strike measure the distance it was “off” with the mil-dot reticle, then hold that much more the other way. Very fast once you get used to it.” — PepeLP

Varmint Hunting ScopeMinority View — Hold-Over is Better
“I try to not touch my knobs once I’m zeroed at 200 meters. Most of my varmint scopes have duplex reticles and I use the bottom post to put me on at 300 meters versus turning knobs. The reason I try to leave my knobs alone is that I have gone one complete revolution up or down [too far] many times and have missed the varmint. This has happened more than once and that is why I try not to change my knobs if at all possible.” — Chino69

“I have been using the hold over method and it works for me most of the time but the 450 yards and over shots get kinda hard. I moved to a 300 yard zero this year and it’s working well. I do want to get into the click-up method though; it seems to be more fool-proof.” — 500YardHog

Compromise View — Use Both Methods
“I use both [methods] as well — hold over out to 250, and click up past that.” — Jack (Wolf)

“I use the target knobs and crank-in elevation. I also use a rangefinder and know how far away they are before I crank in the clicks. I have a scope with drop dots from Premier Recticle and like it. No cranking [knobs] out to 600.” –Vmthtr

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Optics, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »
April 1st, 2022

.17 Incinerator Based on .50 BMG Delivers Mach 5 Velocity!

.17 Caliber Incinerator Wildcat Varmint cartridge

In the world of varmint cartridges, it’s all about speed. Higher velocity delivers flatter trajectories, and more dramatic impacts on critters. To achieve higher speeds, handloaders have experimented with many extreme wildcats — big cases necked down to a smaller calibers. Here we present what may be the most extreme wildcat cartridge of all, the .17 Incinerator — a .50 BMG necked down to .17 caliber. Created by Ammo-One, a custom cartridge company, the .17 Incinerator offers blistering performance. The special lathe-turned 33gr projectiles* exit the barrel at 5883 Feet Per Second — that’s over Mach 5, five times the speed of sound!

Mach 5 is 3836.35 mph at sea level, which equates to 5626.64 Feet Per Second (FPS). The remarkable .17 Incinerator achieves this stunning velocity by burning over 230 grains of powder in a highly modified .50 BMG case. The velocity of this cartridge (still well over Mach 5 at 100 yards) delivers an incredible amount of energy on target. A hit literally vaporizes a varmint, as you can see from the image below.

.17 Caliber Incinerator Wildcat Varmint cartridge
For more dramatic varmint images, visit www.FogAmmo.com.

It takes a special barrel to shoot the .17 Incinerator. Kent Wilson of Ammo-One, who helped develop this extreme wildcat, explains: “The speeds are so great we had to use a custom 3-groove, polygonal-rifling 1:20″-twist barrel to keep the bullets from disintegrating on launch. The polygonal land/groove geometry reduces bullet engraving, which also helps keep the bullets in one piece. Also we must use solids — regular jacketed bullets can’t handle these speeds”.

Even More Speed — the .17 Incinerator Improved
While the .17 Incinerator is commercially available, there is an even more extreme “Improved” version of this case, with a radical 50-degree shoulder that yields even greater case capacity. The .17 Incinerator Improved (17 IN-IMP), shown below, can hold 20 grains more powder, promising velocities approaching Mach 5.5 or 6189.3 FPS. Now that’s really cookin’!

Incinerator .17 Caliber varmint wildcat cartridge

*Because of the ultra-high velocity generated by the .17 Incinerator, solid bullets must be used. Conventional jacketed projectiles would disintegrate before they reached the target.

Permalink News 4 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 »
May 14th, 2021

The .220 Swift — History of a Great Varmint Cartridge

Sierra Bullets 220 .220 Swift Cartridge powder loading Hodgdon

A History of the .220 Swift Cartridge

by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box
Sierra Bullets 220 .220 Swift Cartridge powder loading HodgdonThis cartridge was introduced by Winchester in 1935 in their model 54 rifle. A year later, it was added as a standard cartridge in the model 70. What might not be common knowledge to some reloaders is that the prototype for the Swift was developed in 1934-35 by Grosvenor Wotkyns by necking down the 250 Savage case, but in the end, Winchester chose the 6mm Lee Navy case for the foundation for this cartridge.

This cartridge was far ahead of its time and for that reason it received a lot of bad press. We’ve all read the horror stories through the years. Many of those stories were just simply repeated from previous articles even the wording was just slightly different. So how bad was the Swift? Let’s take a deeper look.

Some of the early Swifts had soft barrel steel and some of the rare ones even had barrels that were .223 in bore size. This stemmed from the fact that the .22 Hornets prior to the end of World War II were .223 in bore size and some of these barrels were chambered in the Swift. It was rumored that the Swift peaked in pressure far too quick. I’ll bet they did with a turkey extra full choke barrel.

Burn rates of powders were limited at that time as well, so the Swift was limited in its true ability due to that. It was almost like building a funny car for drag racing when only kerosene was available.

One of the longest lasting black eyes was that it shot barrels out so fast. If you get the barrel branding iron hot and fail to clean it often this can happen. Common sense will go a long ways here. Keep the barrel as cool as you can and properly clean it every fifteen rounds or less will go a long way to improving accuracy life of a Swift.

Sierra Bullets 220 .220 Swift Cartridge powder loading Hodgdon

So what is the real truth about this cartridge? I’m glad you ask. I’ve been shooting the .220 Swift for over 43 years now. It is one of the best varmint cartridges I’ve ever owned. It is not hard to load for, it doesn’t suddenly peak in pressure and it isn’t the barrel burner that you’ve heard. Hodgdon powders once reported a Remington 40-X with over 3,000 rounds of full power loads averaged .344” for five, 5-shot groups. My findings have been the same. It isn’t as hard on barrels as it has been made out to be.

I’ve also read that down loading it slightly will help in barrel life. This is true, but if you buy a thoroughbred you want him to run. Barrels are threaded on the end for a reason. If you have enough fun to shoot out a Swift barrel, just rebarrel it.

The bottom line is enjoy the .220 Swift for what it was meant to be. The popularity of the Swift has slipped in the last twenty years and few factory rifles are now available in this caliber. There is no reason for this and I know the Swift will always have a strong and loyal following.

Sierra Bullets 220 Swift Cartridge Guide

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 7 Comments »
April 26th, 2021

Wind Wizardry for Varminters — 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.

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

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Shooting Skills 3 Comments »
September 27th, 2020

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

Shelly Davidson Tinker Toy 30 BR

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


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

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

tinker toy davidson 20 BR benchrest rifle

Tinker Toy 30 BR — Radical As It Gets

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

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

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

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

Tinker Toy Rifle DESIGN FEATURES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TINKER TOY SPECIFICATIONS

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

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

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

tube benchrest rifle

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

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

Davidson Benchrest 30BR

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

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

Magnetic Benchrest Tuner Davidson

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

Competition — Tinker Toy Won Both Score and Group Matches

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

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

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

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

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gear Review, Gunsmithing 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 »
February 12th, 2020

Six Tips for Better Results at Local Fun Shooting Matches

tip advice training prep club varmint groundhog match

Every summer weekend, there are probably 400 or more club “fun matches” conducted around the country. One of the good things about these club shoots is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment to have fun. But we’ve seen that many club shooters handicap themselves with a few common equipment oversights or lack of attention to detail while reloading. Here are SIX TIPS that can help you avoid these common mistakes, and build more accurate ammo for your club matches.

Benchrest rear bag1. Align Front Rest and Rear Bags. We see many shooters whose rear bag is angled left or right relative to the bore axis. This can happen when you rush your set-up. But even if you set the gun up carefully, the rear bag can twist due to recoil or the way your arm contacts the bag. After every shot, make sure your rear bag is aligned properly (this is especially important for bag squeezers who may actually pull the bag out of alignment as they squeeze).

Forum member ArtB adds: “To align my front rest and rear bag with the target, I use an old golf club shaft. I run it from my front rest stop through a line that crosses over my speed screw and into the slot between the two ears. I stand behind that set-up and make sure I see a straight line pointing at the target. I also tape a spot on the  golf shaft that indicates how far the back end of the rear bag should be placed from the front rest stop. If you don’t have a golf shaft, use a wood dowel.

2. Avoid Contact Interference. We see three common kinds of contact or mechanical interference that can really hurt accuracy. First, if your stock has front and/or rear sling swivels make sure these do NOT contact the front or rear bags at any point of the gun’s travel. When a sling swivel digs into the front bag that can cause a shot to pop high or low. To avoid this, reposition the rifle so the swivels don’t contact the bags or simply remove the swivels before your match. Second, watch out for the rear of the stock grip area. Make sure this is not resting on the bag as you fire and that it can’t come back to contact the bag during recoil. That lip or edge at the bottom of the grip can cause problems when it contacts the rear bag. Third, watch out for the stud or arm on the front rest that limits forward stock travel. With some rests this is high enough that it can actually contact the barrel. We encountered one shooter recently who was complaining about “vertical flyers” during his match. It turns out his barrel was actually hitting the front stop! With most front rests you can either lower the stop or twist the arm to the left or right so it won’t contact the barrel.

3. Weigh Your Charges — Every One. This may sound obvious, but many folks still rely on a powder measure. Yes we know that most short-range BR shooters throw their charges without weighing, but if you’re going to pre-load for a club match there is no reason NOT to weigh your charges. You may be surprised at how inconsistent your powder measure actually is. One of our testers was recently throwing H4198 charges from a Harrell’s measure for his 30BR. Each charge was then weighed twice with a Denver Instrument lab scale. Our tester found that thrown charges varied by up to 0.7 grains! And that’s with a premium measure.

4. Measure Your Loaded Ammo — After Bullet Seating. Even if you’ve checked your brass and bullets prior to assembling your ammo, we recommend that you weigh your loaded rounds and measure them from base of case to bullet ogive using a comparator. If you find a round that is “way off” in weight or more than .005″ off your intended base to ogive length, set it aside and use that round for a fouler. (Note: if the weight is off by more than 6 or 7 grains you may want to disassemble the round and check your powder charge.) With premium, pre-sorted bullets, we’ve found that we can keep 95% of loaded rounds within a range of .002″, measuring from base (of case) to ogive. Now, with some lots of bullets, you just can’t keep things within .002″, but you should still measure each loaded match round to ensure you don’t have some cases that are way too short or way too long.

Scope Ring5. Check Your Fasteners. Before a match you need to double-check your scope rings or iron sight mounts to ensure everything is tight. Likewise, you should check the tension on the screws/bolts that hold the action in place. Even on a low-recoiling rimfire rifle, action screws or scope rings can come loose during normal firing.

6. Make a Checklist and Pack the Night Before. Ever drive 50 miles to a match then discover you have the wrong ammo or that you forgot your bolt? Well, mistakes like that happen to the best of us. You can avoid these oversights (and reduce stress at matches) by making a checklist of all the stuff you need. Organize your firearms, range kit, ammo box, and shooting accessories the night before the match. And, like a good Boy Scout, “be prepared”. Bring a jacket and hat if it might be cold. If you have windflags, bring them (even if you’re not sure the rules allow them). Bring spare batteries, and it’s wise to bring a spare rifle and ammo for it. If you have just one gun, a simple mechanical breakdown (such as a broken firing pin) can ruin your whole weekend.

Permalink Competition, Tech Tip No 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 »
April 2nd, 2019

17 Mach 2 Straight-Pull Summit Rifle from Volquartsen

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 40% cheaper than the average $11 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. 40% less cost than average 17 HMR ammo.
3. 17 Mach 2 OAL is compatible with .22 LR receivers and magazines.

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 (photo right).

17 mach 2 .17 hm2 volquartsen summit17 mach 2 .17 hm2 volquartsen summit
The 17 Mach 2 propels the same 17gr bullet as the 17 HMR, but the 17 Mach 2 runs roughly 20% slower — 2000-2100 fps vs. 2500 fps for the 17 HMR.

Considering that 17 HMR ammo is now running $10 to $12 a box, the 17 Mach 2 is an excellent value by comparison. 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:

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.

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
February 18th, 2018

The Varminters’ Great Debate — Hold-Over vs. Crank Elevation

varmint scope IOR elevation hold-over prairie dog accuracy

Leuopold Varmint Hunters' ReticleA varmint shooter’s target is not conveniently placed at a fixed, known distance as it is for a benchrester. The varminter must repeatedly make corrections for bullet drop as he moves from closer targets to more distant targets and back again. Click HERE to read an interesting AccurateShooter Varrmint Forum discussion regarding the best method to adjust for elevation. Some shooters advocate using the scope’s elevation adjustments. Other varminters prefer to hold-over, perhaps with the assistance of vertical markers on their reticles. Still others combine both methods–holding off to a given yardage, then cranking elevation after that.

Majority View — Click Your Elevation Knob
“I zero at 100 yards — I mean really zero as in check the ballistics at 200 and 300 and adjust zero accordingly — and then set the scope zero. For each of my groundhog guns I have a click chart taped into the inside of the lid of the ammo box. Then use the knobs. That’s why they’re there. With a good scope they’re a whole lot more accurate than hold-over, with or without hash marks. This all assumes you have a good range finder and use it properly. If not, and you’re holding over you’re really just spraying and praying. Try twisting them knobs and you’ll most likely find that a 500- or 600- or 700-yard groundhog is a whole lot easier than some people think.”
– Gunamonth

“I have my elevation knob calibrated in 100-yard increments out to 550. Range-find the critter, move elevation knob up…dead critter. The problem with hold-over is that it is so imprecise. It’s not repeatable because you are holding over for elevation and for wind also. Every time you change targets 50 yards, it seems as if you are starting over. As soon as I got completely away from the hold over method (I used to zero for 200), my hit ratios went way up.” — K. Candler

“When I first started p-dog shooting, I attempted to use the hold-over method with a 200-yard zero with my 6mm Rem. Any dog much past 325-350 yards was fairly safe. I started using a comeups table for all three of my p-dog rifles (.223 Rems and 6mm Rem). 450-yard hits with the .223s are fairly routine and a 650-yard dog better beware of the 6mm nowadays. An added benefit (one I didn’t think of beforehand) with the comeups table (elevation only), is that when the wind is blowing, it takes half of the variables out of the equation. I can concentrate on wind, and not have to worry about elevation. It makes things much more simple.” — Mike (Linefinder).

“I dial for elevation and hold for wind. Also use a mil-dot reticle to make the windage holds easier. For windage corrections, I watch for the bullet strike measure the distance it was “off” with the mil-dot reticle, then hold that much more the other way. Very fast once you get used to it.” — PepeLP

Varmint Hunting ScopeMinority View–Hold-Over is Better
“I try to not touch my knobs once I’m zeroed at 200 meters. Most of my varmint scopes have duplex reticles and I use the bottom post to put me on at 300 meters versus turning knobs. The reason I try to leave my knobs alone is that I have gone one complete revolution up or down [too far] many times and have missed the varmint. This has happened more than once and that is why I try not to change my knobs if at all possible.” — Chino69

“I have been using the hold over method and it works for me most of the time but the 450 yards and over shots get kinda hard. I moved to a 300 yard zero this year and it’s working well. I do want to get into the click-up method though; it seems to be more fool-proof.” — 500YardHog

Compromise View–Use Both Methods
“I use both [methods] as well — hold over out to 250, and click up past that.” — Jack (Wolf)

“I use the target knobs and crank-in elevation. I also use a rangefinder and know how far away they are before I crank in the clicks. I have a scope with drop dots from Premier Recticle and like it. No cranking [knobs] out to 600.” –Vmthtr

Permalink - Articles, Hunting/Varminting, Optics 4 Comments »
September 8th, 2017

Hunt Report: Squirrel-Busting with Varminter.com’s 17 Hornet

Felding Ground Squirrel Varminter.com 25gr HP Hornady 17 Hornet varmint cartridge ammo ammunition

When considering .17-caliber Varminting, most guys think rimfire — shooting the 17 HMR or the newer 17 WSM. But there is a good, affordable centerfire option — the 17 Hornet — with quality factory ammunition available. Hornady produces factory 17 Hornet Ammo with three bullet options: 15.5gr NTX, 20gr V-Max, and the new 25gr HP Varmint. Our friends at Varminter.com recently conducted a test of Hornady’s new 25gr HP “Custom” ammunition, reasonably affordable at around $29/box of 50 rounds. Varminter.com tested the ammo in a CZ 527 rifle chambered for the 17 Hornet on a ground squirrel hunt in Northern Nevada.

» READ FULL 17 Hornet TEST & HUNT REPORT on Varminter.com

Hornady 17 Hornet 25 Grain HP CUSTOM™ Ammo (#83006) Specifications:

25 grain HP Varmint bullet
3375 fps rated (Varminter.com averaged 3383 fps in CZ Model 527 with 24″ barrel)
632 FPE (Foot Pounds of Energy)
0.187 G1 Ballistic Coefficient

Hornady 17 Hornet varmint cartridge ammo ammunition

Ammo Testing and Hunt Report

By Varminter.com’s Editor
With the new 25gr Hornady 17 Hornet ammo, our accuracy results ranged from 0.528″ to 0.85″, with an average of 0.678″ over ten, 5-shot groups at 100 yards. After shooting the groups, we settled on a 200-yard zero, which put the rifle at 1.1″ high @ 100 yards and 5.3″ low @300 yards.

“I went 14 shots in a row without a miss, and that was from 80 yards out to 220 yards. On these small varmints here, the 25-grain HP does a good job [and] the ammunition is accurate.”

Ground Squirrel Gauntlet in Northern Nevada
It was a few months after the initial range work when I was able to really put this ammo to work on some varmints. The grass here in Southern Idaho had grown quite tall, so we decided to head over to a spot on a private ranch down in Northern Nevada. We were promised some good shooting, but until we actually sit down at the bench and start pulling the trigger, we try not to get our hopes up. Needless to say, we were not disappointed in the amount of varmints and shooting we experienced!

Felding Ground Squirrel Varminter.com 25gr HP Hornady 17 Hornet varmint cartridge ammo ammunition

The set-up was simple. I set-up with my bench pointed down a private dirt road on the edge of a large alfalfa field. I was going to be shooting something I call “The Gauntlet”. What this means, is that the majority of the ground squirrels were making their home outside of the alfalfa fields. This is a perfect spot for ground squirrels, because they are forced to cross an open area (the dirt road), in order to get to the lush, green, alfalfa. Within this gauntlet, the ground squirrels would consistently stop on the edge to make sure it was safe to run across to the alfalfa side. This gives you a few seconds [time window] to find the squirrel in your scope and make the shot. The range of shoots were from 80 yards out to 220 yards down the road. CLICK HERE to read full 17 Hornet Hunt Report.

Speed Kills — 3650 FPS with a 20-Grainer

Based on the 22 Hornet cartridge case, the 17 Hornet can drive a 20-grain V-MAX bullet at 3,650 fps. At this velocity, the 17 Hornet can match the trajectory of a 55-grain .223 Remington load, but with much less noise and recoil. Look at the chart below. You can see that the 17 Hornet’s trajectory (blue-gray line) is almost an identical match for the larger .223 Rem (red line) all the way out to 400 yards or so.

17 Hornet ballistics Varminter.com

Permalink - Videos, Hunting/Varminting 4 Comments »
July 9th, 2017

The 22BR as General-Purpose Varmint Cartridge

Richard Franklin (who operated Richard’s Custom Rifles prior to his retirement), has built scores of varmint rifles, in many different calibers. One of Richard’s all-time favorite varmint rifles is a 14-twist, 22BR built on his model 11 stock in laminated Black Walnut and fiddleback maple. Richard says the rifle is versatile and deadly accurate out to 400 yards. Richard uses a Leupold 8.5-25x50mm LRT with varmint reticle.

“This is my light walking varminter. It’s built on a blueprinted SS Remington 700 short action and chambered as a no-turn 22 BR for Lapua brass. The bolt handle is a Dave Kiff replacement and I’ve fitted a Jewel BR trigger with bottom safety. Barrel is a Lilja, 1:14″ # 6 contour with a muzzle diameter of .750″. I shoot the 40gr V-Max in the rifle at 4000 FPS. Its tough on hogs if you don’t try them too far. 400 yards is about the max with it. Accuracy is outstanding and with Roy, Mike, my grandson and myself shooting this rifle I don’t believe it has missed more than 3 hogs out of over 100 shot at this summer. This rifle is carried in a ceiling rack in the truck where its handy and is used by the first person that grabs it when a hog is sighted if we are moving between setups. The Varmint reticle on the Leupold is nice for quick hold-overs as you change distances.”

Detail of Model 11 Stock (Different Rifle in Birdseye Maple)

22BR Rivals 22-250 Performance
With bullets in the 40gr to 60gr weight range, the 22BR gives up very little in velocity to a 22-250, despite burning quite a bit less powder (30-32 grains for the 22BR vs. 35-38 grains for the 22-250). With a match-quality chamber, the 22BR will probably have an edge in accuracy over a 22-250, and you should experience longer barrel life. Here are some recommended 22BR loads for 40-60gr bullets:

For more info on the 22BR for varminting, read our 22BR Cartridge Guide

Permalink Hunting/Varminting 2 Comments »
April 1st, 2017

.17 Incinerator — Ultimate Varmint Cartridge with Mach 5 Speed

.17 Caliber Incinerator Wildcat Varmint cartridge

In the world of varmint cartridges, it’s all about speed. Higher velocity delivers flatter trajectories, and more dramatic impacts on critters. To achieve higher speeds, handloaders have experimented with many extreme wildcats — big cases necked down to a smaller calibers. Here we present what may be the most extreme wildcat cartridge of all, the .17 Incinerator — a .50 BMG necked down to .17 caliber. Created by Ammo-One, a custom cartridge company, the .17 Incinerator offers blistering performance. The special lathe-turned 33gr projectiles* exit the barrel at 5883 Feet Per Second — that’s over Mach 5, five times the speed of sound.

Mach 5 is 3836.35 mph at sea level, which equates to 5626.64 Feet Per Second (FPS). The remarkable .17 Incinerator achieves this stunning velocity by burning over 230 grains of powder in a highly modified .50 BMG case. The velocity of this cartridge (still well over Mach 5 at 100 yards) delivers an incredible amount of energy on target. A hit literally vaporizes a varmint, as you can see from the image below.

.17 Caliber Incinerator Wildcat Varmint cartridge
For more dramatic varmint images, visit www.FogAmmo.com.

It takes a special barrel to shoot the .17 Incinerator. Kent Wilson of Ammo-One, who helped develop this extreme wildcat, explains: “The speeds are so great we had to use a custom 3-groove, polygonal-rifling 1:20″-twist barrel to keep the bullets from disintegrating on launch. The polygonal land/groove geometry reduces bullet engraving, which also helps keep the bullets in one piece. Also we must use solids — regular jacketed bullets can’t handle these speeds”.

Even More Speed — the .17 Incinerator Improved
While the .17 Incinerator is commercially available, there is an even more extreme “Improved” version of this case, with a radical 50-degree shoulder that yields even greater case capacity. The .17 Incinerator Improved (17 IN-IMP), shown below, can hold 20 grains more powder, promising velocities approaching Mach 5.5 or 6189.3 FPS. Now that’s really cookin’!

Incinerator .17 Caliber varmint wildcat cartridge

*Because of the ultra-high velocity generated by the .17 Incinerator, solid bullets must be used. Conventional jacketed projectiles would disintegrate before they reached the target.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 20 Comments »
January 23rd, 2017

Bargain Finder 71: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99

RCBS Special 5 Reloading Kit

This RCBS Kit has everything a new reloader needs: single-stage press, powder measure, scale, powder trickler, priming tool, cartridge tray, “rocket” chamfer tool, case lube and more. This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, on sale for just $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supplies. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you may want to add an additional, large heavy press, but this will get the job done. For the combined package, with all the tools one needs to hand-load quality ammo — this is a stunningly good deal at $199.99.

2. Powder Valley — Reloder 16 Powder, 1-pound and 8-pound

Powder Valley H4350 RL16 Reloder 16 powder PRS 6.5 Creedmoor

Powder Valley now has Alliant Reloder 16 (RL16) in stock in both 1-lb ($23.95) and 8-lb ($178.95) containers. If you’re not familiar with this relatively new propellant, we can tell you that RL16 may be the best replacement yet for hard-to-find Hodgdon H4350. Burn rate is very similar to H4350, and RL16 is extremely temp-stable. Most importantly, our Forum members are reporting outstanding accuracy with Reloder 16. It is well suited for mid-sized cartridges such as 6XC, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, and .260 Remington. If you like H4350, we recommend you try a pound of Alliant’s impressive Reloder 16.

3. EuroOptic.com — Tikka T3 Liquidation Sale, Huge Discounts

Tikka T3 sale inventory closeout reduction discount truckload

Looking for a great price on an excellent hunting rifle? Here is the Tikka Deal of the Decade. EuroOptic.com has received nearly 3,500 Tikka T3 rifles, which will be sold at deep discounts as part of an inventory clearance program by Beretta, Tikka’s parent company. The Tikka T3 is a good, stout rifle with a smooth action, crisp trigger, and quality barrel. Accuracy is typically well under 1 MOA (for three shots). T3 barreled actions also are a good “core” for a tactical build. The strong T3 action handles detachable magazines, and fits a variety of third-party stocks.

4. Amazon — Discovery Scope Level $13-$16 (1″, 30mm, 34mm)

Optical Rifle Scope bubble level Discovery 30mm 1 inch 34mm Amazon

If you shoot long range, you need a scope level. This Discovery scope level is fully CNC-machined to close tolerances for a good fit. It is available with three inner diameters to fit scopes with 1″, 30mm, or 34mm main tubes. The 1″ version is just $12.95 while the 30mm model is $13.95 and the large 34mm version is $15.95. You could easily pay $35.00 or more for a 30mm scope level. Purchasers have praised this product: 89% of verified buyers rated this five stars.

5. CDNN Sports — Savage 17 WSM B.MAG Sporter, $289.99

CDNN Savage B.MAG rimfire 17 WSM Varmint

Our friend Eric, Editor of Varminter.com, says the 17 WSM is probably his favorite rimfire option for small varmints. The modern Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire (WSM) cartridge is accurate, and it flies faster and hits harder than the 17 HMR. Right now you can get a nice Savage B.MAG rifle chambered in 17 WSM for just $289.99 at CDNN Sports. This rimfire rifle boasts features typically reserved for centerfire rifles. In order to maximize acuracy, Savage offers a thread-in barrel headspacing system, rear-locking lugs, and cock-on-close bolt.

6. Midsouth — Complete Case Tumbling Kit, $73.70

Midsouth Vibratory Tumbler Brass Cleaning Kit

This brass tumbling system contains everything you need to clean your cartridge brass: Vibratory Case Tumbler, Rotary Media Separator, 6 lbs. of Corn Cob Media, and 8 oz. of Brass Polish. Right now this whole system is on sale at Midsouth for just $73.70. The case tumbler, which holds 450 .223 Rem cases or 1000 9mm cases, has a three-year motor warranty. This is a good deal for the package. You could pay $65.00 for a good vibratory Tumbler by itself.

7. Bullets.com — Norma .22LR Ammo (Match 22 & Tac 22)

Norma Match 22 Tac .22 LR Ammo rimfire ammunition bullets.com

Need quality .22 LR rimfire ammo at an affordable price? Consider Norma. Most folks think Norma only produces centerfire ammo and cartridge brass. As a result, people haven’t been looking for Norma rimfire ammo. Their loss is your gain. Accurate, reliable Norma .22 LR ammunition is in-stock right now at leading online vendors. This is good quality ammo, made in Europe. Bullets.com has Norma Tac-22 ammo in stock at $5.25 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL7819). In addition, Bullets.com offers Norma Match-22 ammunition at $7.50 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL11887).

8. Midsouth — Lyman Bleacher Loading Blocks

Max NRR 33 db ear plugs

Lyman’s new Bleacher Block stepped cartridge holders are great. Use the different levels for sorting brass. Or, migrate the brass from top to bottom as you proceed through case prep stages. Made of durable polymer, Bleacher Blocks are molded in three sizes. The smallest size (with 0.388″-diam holes) fits .223 Rem-size case heads. The middle size (with 0.485″-diam holes) fits .308 Win-size case heads. The biggest Bleacher Block has 0.565″-diameter recesses for magnum-size cases. All three cartridge block sizes hold fifty (50) rounds. Purchase any size for just $5.90 per Block at Midsouth.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »