April 18th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: 20 Practical 4200+ FPS Varmint Slayer

.20 20 practical varmint cartridge .204 Tikka lilja Warren

Do you have .20-Cal fever? Do you yearn to see what a 4200+ fps projectile can do to an unsuspecting prairie dog? Well you could go out and purchase a 204 Ruger rifle, fork over the money for a new, complete die set, and hope that the brass is in stock. Warren B (aka “Fireball”) has a more cost-effective solution. If you have .223 Rem dies and brass, all you need to shoot the 20 Practical is a new barrel and a .230″ bushing to neck down your .223 cases. Warren’s wildcat is simple, easy, and economical. And the 20 Practical matches the performance of the highly-publicized 20 Tactical with less money invested and no need to buy forming dies or fire-form cases. Warren’s cartridge was aptly named. Practical it is.

20 Practical Tikka Bolt Action for Varminting

by Warren B (aka “Fireball”) and Kevin Weaver

After building my 20 PPC, I wanted to do another .20 caliber, this time a repeater for predator hunting that could also serve as a gopher/prairie dog rifle. I wanted to use a Tikka M595 stainless sporter I had. This rifle is the ultimate repeater with an extremely smooth-feeding cycle from its single-column magazine. Since the Tikka was a .223 Remington from the factory, I first looked at possible case designs that would fit the magazine. The 204 Ruger was a very new round at the time and brass was scarce. I also didn’t care for the overly long case design or the standard throat dimensions of the cartridge. I then looked at the 20 Tactical. It was a nice cartridge but I didn’t like the fact that (at the time) an ordinary two-die Tac 20 set with just a plain full-length die and standard seater were $150. Not only did the costs bother me, but I was accustomed to using a Redding die set featuring a body die, a Type-S bushing neck die, and a Competition seater. To be honest, I also didn’t care for the 20 Tactical’s name–there is absolutely nothing tactical about the cartridge. I didn’t want to adopt a new cartridge based on what I perceived to be a marketing gimmick (that “tactical” title).


Warren B, aka “Fireball”, with his Tikka 595. With its smooth action and phenolic single-column mag, it cycles perfectly in rapid fire.

.20 20 practical varmint cartridge .204 Tikka lilja WarrenSimply Neck Down .223 Rem to Make a 20-223 Wildcat
I decided the best thing to do for my purposes was to simply neck down the .223 Rem case and make a 20-223. I already had the dies, the brass, and a rifle that would feed it perfectly. I decided to call the cartridge the 20 Practical because as you will see in this article, it truly is a very practical cartridge. In addition to the generous and inexpensive availability of brass and dies, the 20 Practical is an easy case to create, requiring no fire forming as a final step. Simply neck your .223 Rem cases down, load and shoot.

[Editor’s Note: Over the years, other shooters have experimented with .223 Remington cases necked down to .20 caliber, some with longer necks, some with different shoulder angles. Warren doesn’t claim to be the first fellow to fit a .20-caliber bullet in the .223 case. He gives credit to others who did pioneering work years ago. But he has come up with a modern 20-223 wildcat that involves no special case-forming, and minimal investment in dies and tooling. He commissioned the original PTG 20 Practical reamer design, and he and Kevin did the field testing to demonstrate the performance of this particular version.]

I chose Kevin Weaver at Weaver Rifles to fit and chamber the barrel to my rifle. Kevin does excellent work and is great to work with. Kevin liked the idea of the 20 Practical so much he agreed to purchase the project reamer. (BTW Kevin didn’t even need to purchase a Go/No-Go gauge, he just used an existing .223 Rem gauge.)

Before Kevin ordered the reamer, I talked over the reamer specs with him. My priorities were tolerances on the tight end of the .223 Rem SAAMI specification, a semi-fitted neck with no need for neck-turning, and a short throat so that we could have plenty of the 32gr V-Max in the case and still touch the lands. I also wanted this short throat in case [anyone] wanted to chamber an AR-15 for the 20 Practical. A loaded 20 Practical round will easily touch the lands on an AR-15 while fitting into the magazine with no problem. With its standard 23-degree shoulder, the 20 Practical case also feeds flawlessly through an AR-15.

As for the barrel, I only use Liljas on my rifles. I have had great luck with them. They have always shot well and they clean up the easiest of any barrels that I have tried. I had previously sent my Tikka barreled action to Dan Lilja so that he could program a custom contour into his equipment and turn out a barrel that would perfectly fit the factory M595 sporter stock. There isn’t much material on an M595 sporter stock so the contour had to match perfectly and it did. Dan Lilja now has this custom contour available to anyone who would like to rebarrel their M595 sporter with one of his barrels.

There Are Plenty of Good .204-Caliber Varmint Bullet Options
20 Practical .204 Ruger .20 caliber bullets

How to Form 20 Practical Cases — Simple and Easy
Forming 20 Practical cases is very easy. No fire-forming is required. Start with any quality .223 Rem brass. Then simply run the case into your bushing die with the appropriate bushing and call it done.

Project Componentry
My 20 Practical rifle started out as a Tikka Model 595 Stainless Sporter in .223 Remington. Though the M595 is no longer imported, if you shop around you can find M595 Sporters for bargain prices. Mine cost under $500. I think the action alone is worth that! The receiver has a milled dovetail for scope rings plus a side bolt release like expensive BR actions. The bolt cycles very smoothly. Ammo is handled with super-reliable 3- or 5-round detachable single-column magazines (FYI, Tikka’s M595 22-250 mags will feed a 6BR case flawlessly.) We kept the standard Tikka trigger but fitted it with a light-weight spring. Now the trigger pull is a crisp 1.8 pounds–about as good as it gets in a factory rifle. We replaced the factory tube with a custom, 24″, 3-groove Lilja 12-twist barrel. Dan Lilja created a special M595 sporter contour to allow a perfect “drop-in” fit with the factory stock. For optics, I’ve fitted a Leupold 4.5-14x40mm zoom in low Talley light-weight aluminum mounts. All up, including optics and sling, my 20 Practical weighs just under 8.5 pounds.

Test Report–How’s It Shoot?
I sent the barrel and barreled action to Kevin and in a very short time it was returned. Kevin did a perfect job on the rifle. I had asked him to try to match the bead blasted finish of the Tikka when he finished the new barrel. It came out perfect and the only way one can tell it is a custom is the extra two inches of length and the “20 Practical” cartridge designation.

So, no doubt you’re asking “how does she shoot?” Is my “prototype”, first-ever 20 Practical an accurate rig? In a word, yes. Even with the standard factory stock, and light contour barrel, it can shoot 3/8″ groups. Take a look at the typical target from this rifle. This is from an 8.5-pound sporter with a very skinny fore-end and a factory trigger.

Gunsmith’s Report from Kevin Weaver
The 20 Practical: Origins and Development

Editor’s NOTE: We can’t say for sure who first necked down the .223 Rem to .20 caliber and chambered a rifle for that wildcat (as opposed to the .20 Tactical). But here is an account from way back in 2006 when the Warren B first came up with the idea of a .20 Practical cartridge, complete with reamer specs.

A year ago I received a call from Warren with a great idea. Warren asked “Why couldn’t we simply neck down the .223 Remington case to 20 caliber and get basically the same performance as the 20 Tactical? This way you can forgo the expensive forming dies that are needed for the 20 Tactical.” The idea made perfect sense to me, and I saw no major technical issues, so we got started on the project. I ordered a reamer from Dave Kiff at Pacific Tool & Gauge (PTG) with a .233″ neck. The .233″ neck should allow for a simple necking-down of the 223 Remington case to produce the 20 Practical in just one step. No fire-forming necessary! Furthermore, the PTG 20 Practical reamer Dave created should work with any available .223 Rem brass, commercial or military.

The first 20 Practical round was launched down range (through Warren’s Tikka) just a few months later. The brass formed as easily as expected. All one needs is a Redding type “S” bushing die with a .230 bushing and with just one step I had a .20 caliber case ready to shoot. Warren is brilliant. [Editor’s Note: We concur. For more details on Warren’s case-forming methods and his tips for adapting .223 Rem dies, read the technical sections further down the page.]

It would be almost six months later until I got around to building a dedicated test rifle chambered for the 20 Practical. I used a Remington 722 action, Remington synthetic semi-varmint stock, and a 24″ Douglas stainless steel XX 12-twist barrel. I formed and loaded about 30 cases using Remington brass in about 20 minutes. I used a .223 Rem seating die to seat the 20 Practical bullets. The .223 seating stem seated the small 20-Cal bullets just fine. The first loads sent the 40gr Hornady V-Max bullets down range at a modest 3500 FPS. I did not shoot for groups. I just wanted to use this load to sight in the rifle and break in the barrel. Load development was painless–I used reduced .223 Rem loads for 40gr bullets and worked up from there. In the table below are some of my preferred loads as well as Warren’s favorite recipes for his 20 Practical.

Bullet Wt. Powder Charge Wt. Velocity FPS Comments
32GR H4198 24.1 4025 Warren’s lighter gopher load
32GR AA2460 27.8 4154 Warren’s coyote/prairie dog load
32GR N133 26.0 4183 Coyote/PD load, clean burn
33GR H4198 26.0 4322 Hot Load. Use with Caution!
33GR N133 27.0 4255 Kevin: 0.388” 5 shot group
40GR H335 25.0 3583 Kevin’s barrel break-in load
40GR H4198 24.0 3907 Hodgdon “Extreme” Powder
40GR IMR4895 26.0 3883 Kevin: 0.288″ 5-shot group
40GR N133 25.0 3959 Kevin: 0.227″ 5-shot group
Warren’s Load Notes: My pet loads are all with IMI cases, 32gr Hornady V-Maxs, and Fed 205 primers (not match). These are the most accurate loads in my rifle so far. I haven’t even bothered with the 40s as I have the 20 PPC and 20 BR for those heavier bullets. I prefer the lighter bullets in the 20 Practical because I wanted to keep speed up and recoil down in this sporter-weight predator rifle. Also, the 32gr V-Max is exceptionally accurate and explosive. I like N133 the best as it burns so clean. IMI cases are tough and well-made.
Kevin’s Load Notes: I used Remington 223 cases, Hornady V-Max bullets, and Remington 6 1/2 primers to develop the above loads. CAUTION: all loads, both Warren’s and mine, should be reduced 20% when starting load development in your rifle. All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Weaver Rifles has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Weaver Rifles nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data.

Comparing the 20 Practical and 20 Tactical
Kevin tells us: “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. The 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. Here are some specs:

Cartridge Bolt face to shoulder Shoulder O.D. Shoulder Angle Total length
20 Tactical 1.5232″ .360 30° 1.755″
20 Practical 1.5778″ .3553 23° 1.760″

Both the 20 Tactical and the 20 Practical are fine .20 caliber cartridges. At present, the 20 Tactical is the more popular of the two because it has had more publicity. However, my favorite would be the 20 Practical. Warren’s 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.”

(more…)

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February 1st, 2020

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 No Comments »
June 23rd, 2018

Lastest Load Data for .224 Valkyrie from Sierra

224 .224 Valkyrie Sierra Bullets load data reloading .223 Remington F-TR High Power cartridge Federal

Shorter, Fatter, Faster, Flatter. The new .224 Valkyrie is the hot new cartridge for the AR15 platform. With a shorter, fatter cartridge based on the 6.8 SPC case, the .224 Valkyrie delivers high muzzle velocities for a flatter trajectory at long range. With the latest high-BC projectiles, the .224 Valkyrie can stay supersonic to 1300 yards and beyond.

Sierra Bullets recently provided new load data and twist info for the .224 Valkyrie: “Sierra recommends a 1:6.5″-twist barrel for the #9290 22 cal 90 gr HPBT bullet. However, for cartridges like the Valkyrie, that can push them over 2650 fps muzzle velocity, a 1:7″-twist barrel will stabilize the bullet correctly.”

Shown below is Sierra’s load data for bullet weights from 77 grains to 90 grains. Values in green indicate MAXIMUM loads — use CAUTION. NOTE: This is only a partial sample, less than a third of the data Sierra has published. Download Sierra’s Full 4-page PDF to view all the data, including load information for Sierra’s new 95gr .224-caliber MatchKing with claimed 0.600 G1 BC.


Sierra Bullets Load Data for .224 Valkyrie (Partial Sample) »

224 .224 Valkyrie Sierra Bullets load data reloading .223 Remington F-TR High Power cartridge Federal

224 .224 Valkyrie Sierra Bullets load data reloading .223 Remington F-TR High Power cartridge Federal

224 .224 Valkyrie barrel cut-down test velocity 90gr Sierra MatchKing Fusion SP TMK

About the .224 Valkyrie Cartridge
Basically a 6.8 SPC necked down to .22, the Valkyrie has a shorter case than the .223 Remington (and 5.56×45 NATO). This allows you to load the longest, heaviest .224-caliber bullets and still feed reliably from an AR15-type magazine. With Sierra’s remarkable new 95-grain MatchKing, this gives the little Valkyrie long-range performance that can rival some much larger cartridge types. Sierra Bullets states: “The [Valkyrie] case length is shorter than the 223 Remington affording the use of heavier match-grade bullets with very long ogives and high ballistic coefficients. This offers … super-sonic velocities at ranges greater than the .223 Remington and the 6.5 Grendel can achieve at magazine length”.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 6 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 »
September 3rd, 2017

Seibel’s Slick, 6-6.5×47 Varminter Delivers Speed and Accuracy

VarmintsForFun.com 6-6.5x47

A while back, John Seibel, creator of the Varmints for Fun website, put together a 6-6.5×47 Varminter with a Lilja 10-twist barrel and BAT RBRP three-lug action. Richard Franklin smithed the gun using a Model 10 Varminter stock, one of Richard’s own stock designs.

Varmintsforfun.com 6-6.5x47 LapuaVarmint Loads with 75gr and 87gr V-Maxs
Our Forum readers have asked for recommended 6-6.5×47 Lapua loads for the lighter bullets. Well, John has some useful load data that should provide excellent starting points for 75gr and 87gr projectiles. John writes: “The 75s and 87s will be my main groundpig/varmint rounds. I have worked up loads for all of them but I need to work on the 95s to fine tune them for the egg shoot. I used CCI 450 primers for all loads. They have shown to reduce ES greatly. This case has a small primer pocket and I reasoned with the slower burning powders I wanted to get my velocity as high as possible. I had plenty of H414 and N550 … so that’s what I tried. Velocities and case fullness seemed to be pretty dang good.”

John favored Vihtavuori N550 for the 75 V-Max, while H414 was his powder of choice for the 87gr V-Max. John found these two powders offered near 100% fill density. There are other good powder choices for these bullets. For pure accuracy, you may want to try the 80gr Berger Varmint bullet — it has shot superbly in our 6BRs.

Varmintsforfun.com 6-6.5x47 Lapua

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Reloading 5 Comments »
July 26th, 2017

New Lake City .223 Rem Brass on Sale at Midsouth

Midsouth Lake City .223 Brass sale bulk
Great deal on NEW Lake City .223 Rem Brass at Midsouth Shooters Supply. This is new production, unfired brass in bulk packaging.

Need a large supply of .223 Rem brass for your next varmint safari or 3-Gun match? Midsouth has a great deal right now on bulk-pack, NEW (unfired) Lake City .223 Rem (5.56x45mm) cartridge brass. The 500-count bag works out to a mere 15.6 cents per case, a fourth what some premium .223 brass costs. That’s great value.

Midsouth Lake City .223 Brass sale bulk

.223 Rem Still Shines for Varmint and Target Work
Even with all the “new and improved” cartridges (such as the .204 Ruger and 22 Nosler, the plain jane .223 Remington remains an excellent varmint cartridge, and the mainstay of service rifle competition. Here’s an example of how well the .223 Rem can perform in a good factory gun. The Tikka T3 offers excellent performance in this chambering. Tikka guarantees 1 MOA (or better) at 100 meters.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals No Comments »
June 10th, 2017

Dakota Dogs — Prairie Dog Hunt with Dan Eigen in South Dakota

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 (aka “Walleye Dan”), host of the We Love It Outdoors Television series, head to South Dakota for some varmint hunting. Dan teams 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 2:00 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. We’ve embedded the video so it plays back the Prairie Dog segment from 2:00 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.
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September 25th, 2016

Shilen Actions, Barreled Actions, and Complete Rifles

Shilen Actions Complete rifles barrel nut Savage Remage

Did you know that Shilen Rifles Inc. offers barreled actions and complete rifles? And that Shilen offers a Savage-style, barrel-nut system for its Rem-clone actions? After several years of development, Shilen now offers custom actions ($950.00), barreled custom actions with triggers ($1500.00), and complete rifles ($3200.00 and up).

Shilen Actions Complete rifles

The new Shilen custom actions are CNC-milled from high-grade stainless steel. Two types are offered — the multi-shot DGR (Repeater) or the single-shot DGV (Varminter) action. Both actions will be offered in most common bolt faces and both right-hand and left-hand actions are immediately available. The DGR and DGV actions have a 1.350″ diameter with 8-40 scope base mounting screw holes, and an 0.300″ pinned recoil lug. The spiral-fluted bolts feature a floating bolt head with an interchangeable bolt handle knob. These actions feature a footprint similar to the Remington Model 700. Both DGR and DGV actions will accept many aftermarket components crafted for Rem-700 style actions, including triggers and bottom metal.

Barreled Actions with Barrel-Nut System for Easy Barrel Exchanges
Along with the stand-alone DGR and DGV actions, Shilen is offering barreled action assemblies, chambered and ready to drop into Rem 700-inletted stocks. The actions are fitted with Shilen match-grade barrels and Shilen triggers. The barrels feature a 1-1/16″x20 barrel thread and are attached to the action by a barrel nut. This Savage-style barrel nut system simplifies headspacing, allowing easy swapping from one barrel to another. With the simple barrel-exchange procedure, you can shoot multiple chamberings with a single action/rifle. For example, shooters can change from a .223 Remington to a .204 Ruger or a .22-250 to a 6mm BR in a matter of minutes.

Complete Rifles with McMillan Stocks
With Shilen’s complete rifles, buyers can choose their chambering, and select barrel and stock configuration. Shooters can choose between a sporter weight wood stock or a variety of McMillan fiberglass stocks. With all complete rifles, the entire package is delivered in a quality gun case and Shilen even includes table mat, cleaning rod, bore guide, jag, bore brush, and cleaning patches. For more info, call (972) 875-5318 or email comments@shilen.com.

Shilen Actions Complete rifles

Permalink Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting 2 Comments »
March 27th, 2015

Practice Varmint Hunting with Free Online Shooting Game

prairie dogIn most parts of the country it’s still too early for a prairie dog safari. Spring has barely sprung, and the critters haven’t come out to play. If you are missing the fun of a prairie dog hunt, here’s an arcade-type shooting game that lets you blast the critters to your heart’s content. Just use your mouse to move the crosshair and click to shoot. A hit on a can is worth one point, a hit on a prairie dog is worth two.

Hint: Try re-centering the crosshair after each shot — that way you never have to move more than halfway across the screen when the p-dog pops up. Go to it and have fun!

WARNING: LOUD AUDIO with SHOOTING NOISES!! If you click on this link, a page will load and very loud audio starts running automatically. If you are at work, turn down your speakers!

CCI Prairie Dog Game

NOTE: When the new page loads, if you click “Play Game” the loud talking will stop.

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February 1st, 2014

Get FREE Digital Editions of Varmint Hunter Magazine

VHA varmint hunters associationFor many years, the Varmint Hunters Association (VHA) has produced an excellent print periodical, The Varmint Hunter Magazine. Along with hunting stories, the magazine features articles about precision reloading and methods for accurizing rifles. The Varmint Hunter Magazine is available by subscription, and you can also purchase back issues through the VHA Online Store.

Right now the VHA is offering two FREE digital editions of The Varmint Hunter Magazine. Can’t beat that price. Click the links below to view (or download) the latest Winter 2014 Edition (Issue #89) and/or the previous Fall 2013 Edition (Issue #88). These digital eZines can be read on your computer or by most mobile devices. But since these are complete magazines, it make take a minute or two to download the full PDF files (be patient).

Winter 2014 PDF Fall 2013 PDF
Varmint Hunter Magazine FREE Varmint Hunter Magazine FREE

VHA varmint hunters association

VHA Magazine tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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October 11th, 2012

Varmint Hunter Magazine Back Issues for $2.00 per Issue

VHA Jamboree 2012The Varmint Hunters Association (VHA) is offering back issues of the Varmint Hunter Magazine at deep discounts. A total of 34 issues in the range of # 6 (April 1993) through #68 (October 2008) are now on sale for just $2.00 per issue. (Some back issues have already sold out, hence there are only 34 choices available at the $2.00 price.) These are the regular print magazines from the original print run. If you would like to add to your existing collection of shooting magazines, or start a new varminting resource library, this is a perfect opportunity to pick up some “classic” back issues. Shown below are the covers of eight of the 34 available back issues. CLICK HERE to place order with VHA Store.

Sample Varmint Hunter Magazine Back Issues
Varmint Hunter Magazine

Story tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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December 23rd, 2011

More Zombie Marketing — Z-Max Varmint Bullets from Hornady

Hornady Varmint Bullet Z-MaxFollowing up on the success of its Zombie-Max ammunition, Hornady has introduced a new line of Z-Max Varmint Bullets fitted with “slime green”-colored plastic tips. What can we say — it’s a gimmick but it sells. P.T. Barnum would be proud. Hornady will initially offer seven (7) types of Z-Max bullets, in calibers .172 through 7.62 (.310), with weights from 20 grains to 123 grains.

17 Cal .172 20gr Z-MAX™

20 Cal .204 32gr Z-MAX™

22 Cal .224 40gr Z-MAX™

22 Cal .224 50gr Z-MAX™

22 Cal .224 55gr Z-MAX™
with cannelure

6mm .243 58gr Z-MAX™

7.62 Cal .310 123gr Z-MAX™

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 3 Comments »
April 13th, 2011

2011 Hickory Groundhog Shoot Match Report

The 2011 Hickory Groundhog and Egg Shoot at Vale, NC was a big success. Some 177 shooters vied for over $7,000 worth of prizes. The main course of fire was challenging, with three sets of paper groundhog targets at 100, 300, and 500 yards, and NO Sighters. Shooters can also compete in an Egg Shoot for cash and other prizes. For the primary three-yardage Groundhog match, there are two rifle classes: Custom Division and Factory Division. The match, one of the most popular varmint competitions in the country, is sponsored by Bulls-Eye Sporting Goods (Larry Willis, owner). The event is held every year on the first Saturday in April.

This year’s “Top Shot” at the Hickory was Randy Chappell. Shooting a 6 BRDX (we were told), Randy scored 90 points to win the Custom Division. Randy took home a new Nightforce NXS scope plus $300.00. Runner-up Robbie Roberts steered his 6BR to second place in Custom, earning him a Sightron Scope and $150.00 in cash. Finishing third in Custom Division was past Hickory winner Chris Brady, Terry Brady’s son. Chris, who also shot a 6BR, took home a Shehane Tracker stock and $50.00.

Hickory Groundhog Shoot Winners 2011

CUSTOM Division 1st Place, 90 points
Randy Chappell
2nd Place, 82 points
Robby Roberts
3rd Place, 80 points
Chris Brady
FACTORY Division 1st Place, 72 points
Greg Davis
2nd Place, 59 points
Jeff Godfrey
3rd Place, 59 points
Jason Elmosre

Rock River AR Wins Factory Division
There were some surprises this year in the Factory Division. While many folks expected a Savage 6BR or 6.5-284 to win, that wasn’t in the cards. This year a semi-auto ‘Black Rifle’ outshot all the factory bolt guns. Greg Davis scored 72 points with his .223 Rem Rock River AR15 to win the Factory division by a comfortable margin. The next best Factory shooters, Jeff Godfrey and Jason Elmore, both had identical 59-point totals. Godfrey was awarded second place over Elmore on a tie-breaker.

Rock River AR15

6mm BR BRDXChallenging Conditions on the Range
Conditions at the Hickory were pretty tough this year. Sam Hall, a past Hickory winner and IBS Shooter of the year explained: “It was difficult this year, with 20+ mph, gusty winds in the afternoon. This is a ‘no sighters’ match and I was having trouble with my cold bore zero. I wasn’t the only one.”

The 6 BRDX — The Best BR Improved Yet?
Shooting his new 6 BRDX, Sam finished eighth in Custom Division, with 73 points. Sam likes the 6 BRDX chambering, which is a 6BR Improved with a 40° shoulder, but with a longer neck than a BRX or Dasher. “I’m real happy with the BRDX… I think it is as accurate as a BRX or Dasher, but the brass is much easier to form. Randy Chappell told me the same thing. I think it has enough case capacity to hit the velocities we want. The BRDX was shooting ‘lights out’ earlier this year, but I think maybe my tune wasn’t right for the conditions at the Hickory.”

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July 1st, 2010

New Lapua 22-250 Brass is Ultra-Consistent in Weight

Lapua’s new 22-250 brass has finally started to arrive on dealers’ shelves. Forum member William P. (aka “Heath”) just got two boxes of the new brass. Both boxes have the same lot number. Heath was kind enough to sort the brass and report his findings.

Lapua 22-250 brass

Based on Heath’s 200-count sample, we can say this new brass is very, very consistent in weight. The total weight spread (delta) for 200 cases was just 1.4 grains! And the vast majority, 83%, were within 0.7 grains in weight (160.3 – 161.0). For the varminter, sorting may be superfluous. Once again, Lapua has produced a superb new product, and we love the new, blue plastic boxes.

FYI, you 6mm shooters should know that the Lapua 22-250 brass can be made into quality 6XC brass. And it’s even easier to create a 6-250 wildcat. In May, Robert Whitley explained how he created a tack-driving 6-250 Wildcat from the new Lapua 22-250 brass.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product 1 Comment »
October 7th, 2009

NSSF Explains Hunting Role of AR15 in Video

The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s educational campaign on modern sporting rifles has created a new video that explains how (and why) AR-platform rifles are suited for hunting, varminting, and other sporting uses. The campaign is designed to reach a wide audience in the hunting and target shooting community, with emphasis placed on educating sportsmen whose preference for traditional-looking firearms can lead them to misunderstand AR-15-platform rifles and to even describe them as “assault weapons”. This can inadvertently lend support to elected officials and organizations who want to ban these rifles.

YouTube Preview Image

NSSF President Steve Sanetti writes, “We ask everyone who values their gun ownership rights to correct misunderstandings about the use and operation of these modern sporting rifles. If we let misinformation go unchecked, we only assist those who would ban ownership of these and other types of semi-automatic firearms, like your duck-hunting shotgun. We can’t let that happen.”

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February 12th, 2009

TechShooter's Black Hills Prairie Dog Adventure

Site contributor Chris Long (aka “TechShooter”) has crafted a report about his July, 2007 Prairie Dog Expedition in Wyoming. Ralph and Lenora Dampman of Trophy Ridge Outfitters served as guides for the trip. Trophy Ridge runs ‘Dog hunts near the town of Carlile in the NW range of the Black Hills, near Devil’s Tower National Monument. Primarily big game outfitters, Ralph and Lenora have access to thousands of acres of private ranch land. They run guided prairie dog hunts during their off-season. Chris reports “The terrain is beautiful, a welcome change from the South Dakota prairie, with lots of hills and Ponderosa pine trees. [These] ranch lands are home to some prodigious dog towns.”

Chris continues: “The goal of this trip (besides having a great time) was to get in some long range (1000+ yard) opportunities, and possibly even a shot over 1500 yards, in order to qualify for the VHA 1500 yard certification. I had worked up some really good loads for the 6.5-284 TubeGun and the .260 AI using the new 130 grain Berger VLDs, and wanted to see how they performed at these extreme ranges. I also wanted to see how the trusty 6 Dasher performed as a long range varmint cartridge.”

Black Hills Prairie Dog Hunt

Chris Long was joined by two friends who came all the way from Virginia. Chris reports, “Our plan was to get in four days of intense, long-range shooting. We were not disappointed! The shooting was from 100 to over 1000 yards, and the dogs were everywhere. There were plenty of targets close in, so there was a lot a variety. It is especially challenging to move in and out in range by these extreme amounts. It gave me a lot of practice estimating range and wind conditions, then seeing if I could get the come-ups and windage right on the scope for the first shot at the new range. By the end of the trip, I was getting it pretty close, with some 1-shot hits out to about 600 yards.”

Black Hills Prairie Dog Hunt

Chris’s primary long-range rifle was his 6.5-284 Tube-gun (photo above) running 130gr Berger VLDs at 3165 fps. Chris reports the 130s can be shot at 3165 fps with no excessive pressures, and “scary, one hole, 5-shot 100-yard group accuracy.” With a B.C. of about 0.6, the 130s shoot flatter and exhibit less wind drift than the 140gr class bullets at 2950 FPS.

Chris’s second gun was a more conventional bolt-action in a Franklin LowRider stock, set up with both 6mm Dasher and .260 AI barrels. Chris notes: “The Dasher has proven itself in spades as an extremely accurate cartridge for F-Class Open competition, and I was anxious to see how it performed as a varmint cartridge. The performance was excellent, with many hits out past 1000 yards. This rifle is set up as a switch-barrel rig, and is the platform for the 260 AI. I made a portable barrel vise that mounts in the trailer hitch receiver on the Suburban. That, with a rear entry action wrench, makes barrel changes a 5 minute affair. I would shoot until the barrel got a bit hot, then switch and proceed with the other caliber.”

CLICK HERE to read the complete story. It contains more load data, details of hits made out to 1330 yards, and many great photos of the Wyoming scenery. For .260 AI and 6 Dasher tech tips, visit TechShooter’s Shooting Pages.

Black Hills Prairie Dog Hunt

Photos and quotes copyright © 2007 Chris Long, All Rights Reserved, used by permission.

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February 11th, 2008

Stiller Precision Expands Shop, Will Offer New RBLP Action in Summer 2008

At SHOT Show, Jerry Stiller of Stiller Precision Firearms noted that his business grew rapidly in 2007, driven by the success of his Predator and Tac actions. These offer a Rem 700 style design, with improved tolerances and component quality. Jerry has doubled the square footage of his shop and added new machines and personnel to meet increased demand.

CLICK HERE to VIEW STILLER INTERVIEW

Stiller Precision Firearms

Jerry announced his plans to develop new actions in the months ahead. The first will be a specialized, single-shot, varmint action similar to the Predator, but “a little tighter” according to Jerry. It will be a Right-Bolt, Left-Port with a cone breach. Price should be comparable with the Predator action. “Hoped-for” release date will be mid-summer 2008. Later in 2008, Stiller Precision will introduce an all-new rimfire action similar to a Remington 40X. This will be followed by a Black Powder action.

Viper and Cobra Special–$50.00 off
If you call (972) 429-5000, and mention 6mmBR.com, Jerry has promised to offer $50.00 off existing Right-Bolt, Left-Port, Drop-Port, PPC-boltface Viper or Cobra actions. This discount is limited to the first TEN (10) Viper or Cobra orders. The discount is for this EXACT configuration only: PPC, Drop-Port, RBLP Viper or Cobra. The discounted price will be $900.00 including rings and trigger guard.

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