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











November 3rd, 2019

Sunday GunDay: .300 WSM Hunter with Carbon-Wrapped Barrel

300 WSM winchester short magnum carbon manners hunter hunting

High-Tech Hunter in 300 WSM

Since its introduction in 2001, the .300 Winchester Short Magnum (.300 WSM), has proven very popular for hunting and long-range competition. The case has ample capacity to drive the heavy .30-caliber bullets, and with proper case prep and annealing, the WSM is capable of outstanding accuracy. When Nebraskan Greg Anderson decided to build his “ultimate long-range hunter”, he selected the .300 WSM for its accuracy and its ability to drop large game at long distances. Teaming up with Chris Matthews of LongShot Rifles, Greg developed an impressive long-range hunting rig, with high-tech components to reduce weight. The 26″ barrel is a carbon-wrapped composite over a Rock Creek stainless blank. The carbon technology saved about 3 pounds over an all-steel barrel of similar length/contour.

300 WSM winchester short magnum carbon manners hunter hunting

The Manners Composite stock also features carbon fiber construction for stiffness and reduced weight. Greg’s carbon/carbon rifle tips the scales at just 10.8 pounds, including scope and bipod. A conventional rig could easily weigh 15 pounds or more. Greg’s carbon hunter has proven accurate as well as innovative. With 175gr Sierra MKs, the gun shoots well under 1/2-MOA out to 600 yards and beyond.

The Ideal Spot and Stalk Rifle

by Greg Anderson
The purpose of this project was to create a hunting rifle that would be inherently accurate at long range and have an acceptable weight for hunting in rough country. I researched the question of overall weight with several gunsmiths. The smiths confirmed that while fat-contour barrels could deliver improved accuracy, there was a price to pay and a lot more weight. With a heavy barrel, the finished rifle would be most likely weigh about 15 pounds. That’s more than I wanted to haul around in the field. To reduce barrel weight, the suggested “traditional” solutions were fluting, which would reduce barrel weight by at least one-half pound, or going with a smaller diameter barrel.

The Quest for Reduced Weight without Accuracy Loss
Fluting didn’t promise enough weight savings, and a slim, sporter barrel probably wasn’t going to deliver the kind of consistent accuracy I wanted (particularly as the barrel heated up). Accordingly, I decided to “think outside the box”. My research on lightweight barrel options lead me to Advanced Barrel Systems, (ABS) a company in Lincoln, Nebraska that once produced custom carbon-wrapped barrels. ABS President Mike Degerness could wrap a barrel to virtually any shape and diameter, allowing great stiffness even with a huge reduction in barrel weight. As the “core” for his carbon-wrapped barrels, Mike recommends a cut-rifled blank made by any of the quality cut-barrel makers. [NOTE: ABS is not taking orders at this time. You cannow get excellent carbon-wrapped barrels from Proof Research].

Proof reasearch carbon barrel

Significant Weight Saving with Carbon
How much weight can you save with a carbon-wrapped barrel? Well a 24-inch, #7 contour ABS carbon-wrapped barrel will weigh about 2.5 pounds compared to about 5.5 pounds for a steel barrel of the same length and contour. So, this means that you can put a fat, stiff competition-contour barrel on your hunting rifle and save over half the barrel weight compared to an all-steel barrel. Saving three pounds is a blessing when you’re carrying the rifle all day long in the field. I placed an order for a 30-caliber Rock Creek barrel blank with an 1:11.25″ twist and a finished length of 26″. Mike wrapped the barrel and finished it to an M24 contour.

Carbon Can Also Improve Barrel Vibration Damping
One interesting benefit of carbon barrel-wrapping is that the carbon components have a vibration-dampening effect. According to ABS, the extreme rigidity of the finished composite barrel dampens the vibration nodes of the barrel making it shoot like a plain steel barrel of much greater mass. Carbon fiber has a high modulus of elasticity that has the effect of lowering the amplitude of the vibration of the barrel when fired. This is what makes the ABS barrels perform so well, according to Mike.

300 WSM winchester short magnum carbon manners hunter hunting

Impressive Accuracy For a Hunting Rifle
Looking at the targets below, one may ask, “Does the rifle always shoot this well?” The answer, not surprisingly, is: “it depends on the trigger-puller”. The rifle is capable of outstanding accuracy. But it took some time and effort for me to develop the skills required to shoot up to the rifle’s inherent accuracy. I nearly always practice prone from bipod. Initially, I was getting horizontal stringing until I changed my grip and learned to be more consistent from shot to shot. Shooting a heavy-recoiling .30-caliber rifle from the ground is not the same as shooting a .223 Rem from the bench.

3-Shot Group at 200 yards | 6-Shot Group at 500 Yards

300 WSM winchester short magnum carbon manners hunter hunting

Completing the Project Build
To smith the rifle, I selected Chris Matthews of LongShot Rifles, LLC because of his expertise with the WSM cartridges and long-range shooting equipment. Because cost was a factor, we decided to use a donor Remington long action that had been used on a Remington 7mm magnum. Chris trued the action and we had Dave Kiff from Pacific Tool & Gauge grind us a bolt to fit the action more perfectly. Chris chambered the Rock barrel and installed a .300 Badger recoil lug.

Carbon-reinforced Hunting Stock from Tom Manners
Being a fan of carbon fiber technology, I selected an MCS-T stock from Manners Composite Stocks. These stocks have an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio and the high comb of the MCS-T gave an almost perfect alignment with the scope. The finished rifle was topped off with a Leupold 4.5-14x40mm LR scope equipped with M1 windage and elevation turrets. A Harris bipod completed the package. All up, including scope, steel rings, and bipod, my .300 WSM rifle with 26″ barrel weighs 10.8 pounds.

300 WSM Carbon hunting hunter rifle Manners stocks

Load Development for Accuracy
I developed a load using 63.0 grains of H4350, 175gr Sierra Match Kings with Federal 210M primers in Winchester-brand brass. This load gives 2960 FPS out of my rifle. The load would shoot sub-MOA from bipod from 100 yards to 600 yards and was adopted as the “go to” load. I have also tried the 208gr Hornady A-Max in this gun. The A-Maxs shot well but the Sierras work well for everything (paper punching and hunting) so the 175gr SMK is my bullet of choice.

300 WSM Carbon hunting hunter rifle

Brass Prep and Annealing Are Very Important
The Winchester-brand brass is good, but you have to prep it thoroughly if you want good results. My brass prep consisted of turning the necks, de-burring the flash holes (inside and out), and chamfering the case necks. Using a Sinclair neck-turning tool, I turn the necks to .0135″ per side. That provides a complete clean-up of the necks, which run about .015″ neck-wall thickness out of the box.

anneal annealing tempilaqOne thing I’ve learned to do is anneal the brass every 3-4 firings. I started to do that after I noticed that the force required to seat bullets became inconsistent after just a few loading cycles. I also experienced flyers that were going out of the group for no apparent reason. Annealing the cases every 3-4 firings has eliminated most of the unexplained flyers and annealing has also made bullet seating much, much more consistent. I’ve also noticed a significant improvement in my groups at 500 and 600 yards now that I anneal regularly. Group sizes at 600 yards can be as much as 2″ smaller with annealed brass than with un-annealed, work-hardened brass.

Greg Anderson was successful with his .300 WSM on his very first hunt, dropping a nice buck at 364 yards. Chris reports: This was on some private land in Nebraska. As daylight faded… there were a couple of bucks, but one looked to be the best of the lot. The buck gave me a broadside shot ranged at 364 yards. I settled behind the scope and took one shot. It hit right where I aimed and the buck just folded.”

deer hunting buck 300 WSM

Permalink Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
May 5th, 2018

Lapua Brass Uniformity Confirmed with .260 Rem Measurements

If you have a rifle chambered in .260 Remington, you may be wondering if the Lapua .260 Brass is worth the money compared to domestic-made brass. Well, the answer is “yes” if you demand consistent weight and dimensional uniformity (including neckwall thickness).

Mike Harpster of Dead Center Sports took the time to weigh and measure Lapua .260 Rem brass. His test show this brass to be extremely uniform. Weight variance was less than one (1) grain in a 20-case sample. And case neckwall thickness was very consistent.

Report by Mike Harpster: Lapua .260 Rem Brass Test Results (with Comparisons)
I pulled twenty (20) pieces randomly from one Lapua box to do some measurements. I weighed them on my Mettler-Toledo digital lab scale and here are the individual weights of each case. Remarkably, the Lapua brass had less than one grain total weight variance among all 20 cases!

While checking the Lapua brass I remembered I had just received some Winchester brand .308 brass, so I thought it would be interesting to do a comparison between the two brands. I again pulled 20 cases at random from a bag of 50 and repeated the same measurements. The results are shown in the right half of the table below.

Weight Variance Lapua .260 Rem Brass vs. Winchester-Brand .308 Win Brass

LAPUA .260 Rem Brass Winchester .308 Win Brass
Average: 172.20 grains
ES: 0.94 grains
SD: 0.259
Average: 158.49 grains
ES: 2.64 grains
SD: 0.678

Winchester Brass Further Inspection
The flash holes on the majority of the Winchester brass were not round or centered and they had large burrs inside. The neck wall thickness was pretty consistent, varying only .0015″ (.0125″ – .014″). As you can see in the photo (right) many of the Winchester cases were badly dented while the Lapua brass showed very few minor dents. The annealing on the necks of the Lapua brass was clearly evident while the Winchester showed no signs of being annealed. [Editor’s note: Winchester tumble-polishes its brass before shipping — so you would not notice annealing coloration if annealing had been done.]

Lapua Brass Further Inspection
With sample Lapua .260 Rem cases, I also measured the neck wall thickness in four places with calipers, not the most accurate method but I feel confident that the thickness did not vary more than .001″ over the 20 cases (.0145-.0155). The inside diameter of the neck measured .260 which would give .004 of neck tension out of the box. I visually checked the flash holes and I did not find any flakes of brass or burrs inside, the holes were round and centered.

Summary — This Lapua Brass is Impressive
I have never done these measurements on any other brass so I don’t know how they compare, but I am very impressed with the overall quality of the Lapua .260 brass. If they prove to hold up to the repeated firings I get from my Lapua 6BR brass I believe .260 shooters will be very happy.

Mike Harpster — Dead Center Sports
105 Sunrise Drive
Spring Mills, PA 16875
phone: 814-571-4655
www.deadcentersports.com

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review 4 Comments »