Monday, September 29, 2014

picking a scope

over the course of my adult life i have always believed in spending more on the scope then  the rifle.  The problem is I now believe you should spend a lot more on the rifle then I did 5 years ago.  to sum it all up you get what you pay for....

i used to by $500.00 rifles I guess I'm getting old.  and they always got topped with a Burris signature series 6-24 or 8-32.  then I inherited a rifle with a leupold VXIII I realized I couldn't go back.  now my $500 scopes and rifles were closer to $1000.00.  I shill think you can have a great hinting rifle that you can go ring steel with for $1200  including the optic but your not going to win a match.

I went out and shot my first local match  I have a 6.5 creedmoor built on my very first hunting rifle a 700 remington.  now it has a brux barrel and a Mcmillian A5 and it's topped with a Nightforce ATACR.  I shot ok and finished in the middle of the pack,  one thing I realized is I couldn't have hit half as many targets as I did if I was using my old Burris.  I may have been Ok with the leupold but I think the wind would have killed me.

1st rule of match shooting Jack
get a scope with a reticle you can understand, you will never have time to turn your windage knobs in any match.

After shooting a local match I decided I have the bug and I need to shoot a PRS match.  this was two day 180 rounds and more fun than a barrel full of copper and nitro.  targets ranged from 250 yards to 1150 yard on natural terrain.  It was incedible  the wind blew all day the mornings were cool and the middle of the day was hot.  the mountains blocked the wind the valleys funneled it.  each stage had 5 targets that needed to be engaged in 2 minutes,  some areas  had multiply shooting positions, off a rock or a tree or a rock then a tree then a truck. needless to say this put all of my skills to the test and I learned a ton about changing weather and shooting under pressure.  to stay on topic The ATAC isn't enough scope for this kind of match.  if you plan to shoot in any kind of tackle rifle match you need a front focal plain scope

Front focal plain

front or  first focal plain is when your reticle grows and shrinks with your magnification.  as opposed to second focal where your reticle always looks the same to the shooter.

Friday, March 8, 2013

338 Edge / Lapua / RUM / ?

I recently got a very unique opportunity to do some testing for Rocky Mountain Bullets, but unfortunately I didn't have the right caliber for the job.  I decided to re-barrel my 300 RUM to a 338?  Ya that's right a 338?  If you have never tried to pick a fast accurate 338 caliber cartridge then you don't know my pain.  These cartridges are all very close on velocity but have silly issues like brass availability, brass cost and the cost of the dies.

  At first I decided to go with the 338 Edge, it's fast accurate and I can use my 300RUM brass I said two thumbs up until I tried to find the dies,  the only company with said dies is Defensive Edge.  if you haven't had the privilege of owning a wild cat you probably don't know while most dies run from $40-$100 and most wild cat dies run from $200-$400 or more.  On the upside it is about 40fps faster then the Lapua and RUM.  Another plus to the edge is most of your friends won't have one.  I personally like having a unique rifle (especially if it is throws a larger bullet faster).

Then I decided to go with the 338RUM dies are cheap and it is only 40fps slower then the Edge.  It is still the same speed as the Lapua, but what about the brass?  I then went on a brass search the brass is $1.00 each and the only company making it is Remington.  I like the idea of being able to switch if I need to or want to, so that one was cut from the list (besides someone I know could just go to Sportsman's Warehouse and buy one on any given Sunday thus removing any uniqueness).

So now the Lapua.  The Lapua is the darling of the long range hunting / shooting community.  Everyone loves the Lapua.  It is fast accurate there are many companies that make the rifles and brass, and not everyone you know has one.  All things say YES until I saw the price of the brass, $2.00 each now that isn't to much to swallow right.  I have a 700 Remington which is almost never chambered in a Lapua, so I started the resource.  Can you chamber a 700 in a lapua?  Some say yes, some say no, and Dan Lilja says not really a good Idea.  It seems that the wall thickness of the action is questionable at best and your wonderful gun you love so much could blow up in your face.  Sorry Lapua your off my list.

My close friend Tedd at Blu Magnum Grip referred me to a gunsmith, Kevin Weaver at Weaver Rifles and I tpld him about my dilemma, Kevin had the answer.  The 338-300 RUM this cartridge has basically the same performance as the Edge without  having to pay defensive edge for the dies. I am not entirely sure what the exact difference is between the Edge and the 338-300 RUM, but they both use 300 RUM brass and have nearly the exact same performance.  We have a winner!!

The Hawkins Precision Brake makes it feel like a 7MM Remington.

This project has been going on for quite some time, and finally the rifle is done.  I ordered my barrel from Benchmark Barrels and they jumped through some hoops to get me a barrel blank in short order.  The barrel is a 31 inch 1-9 twist 5 groove piece of art attached to a Remington 700 action that has been blueprinted and bedded in a HS Precision stock.  All of the gunsmithing was done by Kevin Weaver who builds some of the worlds finest bolt action rifles.
Once I finally got out and started to shoot the rifle all of the hard work payed off.  I started the break in period shooting 215gr noslers at 2900fps because they are friendly and cheap to shoot and you will never get great groups while breaking in your rifle.  But to my amazement the gun consistently shot right around 1 MOA through the first twenty rounds even though I was cleaning between every shot.  After the first twenty shots I could now really group shoot the rifle but only three shots at a time.  So I started loading some 300gr SMKs I started at 88gr of H1000 with CCI 250 primers and I set the bullet to the lands.  It shot a .75" three shot group at 100 yards.  Then I decided to go up to 89gr and try again.  this group was right around .625".  going up a grain helped before so I tried 90gr and shop a .425" three shop group.  Even though I am not completely through the break in period I can say this is one of the nicest shooting rifles I have ever shot  It will not surprise me if this gun will shoot .25 MOA, I don't think I can but the gun probably can.  If I ever have another custom rifle built the first person I will call is Kevin Weaver at Weaver rifles this rifle has surpassed all of my expectations.

My first group at distance,  585 yards 3 shots measuring 2.493 inches 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Gun My Father Never Shot

 I've talked about my dad and his guns in the past, today I want to talk about the gun he never shot.  My dad didn't buy himself a gun unless he wanted it for over a year.  At some point he went through this whole process with the Cooper Firearms Model 21 Varminter chambered in the 17 mach IV.  I think the reason he waited so long to buy a gun was so he knew he would actually use it. 

I few years before my dad died I was over drinking wine or something when he went into his closet and emerged with his new bundle of joy.  You could tell by the glow in his smile he had a new born child.  If you have never held a Cooper you might not understand, it's like holding a new baby.  This gun is beautiful in every way and my dad knew it. 

My brother and I would always nag at him to hurry up and mount the scope, buy the dies and load some ammo so we could kill some prairie dogs with dads new toy.  Finally we broke, for Christmas in 2004 we gave him the dies.

On new years day 2005 five and a half days later my dad had a stroke and died a day and a half later.  It took months before my brother and I  would even looked at the old man's guns.  We finally decided to mount the scope, load some bullets and shot the gun that our dad had never shot.

The Model 21 Varminter
If you like pretty guns you will love the Cooper.  The Model 21 Varminter is a single shot bolt action rifle with a beautiful AA Claro Walnut stock and a single stage adjustable trigger.  Cooper Firearms guarantees that all of their center fire rifles will shoot a 1/2" 3 shot group at 100 yards with the right ammo.  And all of their rim fire rifles will shoot a 1/4" 3 shot group at 50 yards.  The only draw back to owning a Cooper rifle is it is to nice to shoot. 

I have only shot about 100 rounds though mine in the five years I've had it.  But I do read it a story every night before bed.  Under different circumstances I would shoot that gun all of the time.  I don't know if I have another rifle that will shoot like this one can, It is a half MOA rifle.  Some day I will get another one in a 1000 yard caliber and it will sit in my closet and my boy will nag at me to mount the scope because this is a family tradition.
If you are in the market for a nice rifle that will shoot better than you, I suggest you call the nice folks at Cooper Arms and get a gorgeous rifle that is to nice to shoot.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Shooting Positions

The foundation of accuracy with any gun is the shooting position.  The best shooting position for a rifle is the prone position with a sand bag, but as many of you already know that isn't always an option.  There are times when you must take the shot standing, sitting or from a tree branch.  Today I am going to talk about different shooting position that will help you take that trophy animal when it isn't convenient.

What's important about all shooting positions is that you don't support your weight or your rifles weight with your muscles, you need to use bone structure.  If it isn't comfortable you probably won't very accurate. A good shooting position will allow you to relax and concentrate to prepare to fire (you should be able to hold a position for several minutes).

The Prone Position
The prone shooting  position is probably the most stable shooting position you can get in the field.  It is very simple just lay down on your stomach in line with your rifle.  If you have a bipod this is very easy, otherwise you can use a sand bag, back pack or a dead tree to support your rifle.  Line your body up with the rifle to absorb the recoil,  then place your none firing hand under the butt of the rifle and use it to adjust your elevation.  Breath and then shoot.

Unsupported Prone Position
The unsupported prone position is probably my second choice shooting position for the field.  This shooting position is for when you don't have something to put under the fore-end of your stock or you just don't have time adjust everything for the standard prone position. This position is very similar to the last position only you lift the rifle up with your non firing hand out front making a V with your finger and thumb, use your elbows to steady your rifle, pull the stock back to your shoulder and relax.
Kneeling Unsupported Position
This firing position is for when you don't have time to get in either prone position or you need to shoot over bushes or shrubs.  This is not one of my favorite positions, but I have used it in the field.  The instructions for getting into this position are for right handed shooters if you are left handed reverse the hands and feet.

(a) Place your body at a 45-degree angle to the target.
(b) Kneel and place the right knee on the ground.
(c) Keep the left leg as perpendicular to the ground as possible; sit back on the right heel, placing it as directly under the spinal column as possible. A variation is to turn the toe inward and sit squarely on the right foot.
(d) Grasp the small of the stock of the weapon with the firing hand, and cradle the fore-end of the rifle in a crook formed with the left arm.
(e) Place the butt of the rifle in the pocket of the shoulder, then place the meaty underside of the left elbow on top of the left knee.
(f) Reach under the rifle with the left hand, and lightly grasp the firing arm.
(g) Relax forward and into the support position, using the left shoulder as a contact point. This reduces transmission of the pulse beat into the sight picture.
(h) Lean against a tree, building, or vehicle for body support.

Standing (off hand) Shooting Position
Now we get to our final shooting position, my least favorite but one I have had to use.  This shooting position is only for shooting at a target 100 yards of less when you don't have time for any other position.  Turn your body 45 degrees from the target, spread your feet about shoulder distance apart and place your non firing hand just in front of the trigger guard for maximum stability.  You probably won't be naturally good at this position, but with practice you will get better.

this picture came from

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Long Range Rimfires (with style) Part Two

At the end of the last article I said "When you are out with your buddies and you knock down a soda can at 250 yard on a windy day with a 22 you will have more style then any one person needs."  it sparked a lot of conversation on a few forums about whether or not it is possible to get repeatable hits with a 22LR on a soda can at 250 yards.  Then came the video but not at 250 yard, no someone went big 340 yards with a pretty good hit ratio.

In case you don't believe it here are some pictures of the range, the numbers down range are at 600 yards.

 The rifle used is a CZ 452 Lux .22LR.  The scope is Simmons 8-32x50 Prairiemaster.  And the ammo was Federal Lightning.

                                          Now that's long range shooting with style!!

Cartridge Selection

Choosing a Rifle
One of the hardest things about long range shooting is finding the right gun.  Not only is it the make and model it is very difficult to find the right cartridge.  Some cartridges have all the range in the world at a ridiculous price, and or lots of recoil.  Others are friendly to shoot and have the accuracy for 1000 yard bench rest without the power to hunt big game animals. And then there are the guns that are great for shooting out to 400 yards at varmints and paper on a calm day.  The one thing that is important is that you find the gun for you.  If you have an unlimited gun budget it is easy buy them all, if not it's all about research.

I have a fair amount of rifles for a lot of different applications from prairie dog shooting at less then 200 yards to a big game hunting rifle that will kill an elk at 1200 yards.  Most of my guns were gifts, some were inherited and a couple of them I bought for my self.

If you are new to long range shooting this process can be confusing so here is my process of finding the right cartridge for the job.  First I decide what I want my gun to do.  In my case I would want a rifle that will kill an elk at 800-1000 yards, with low recoil, under 15 pounds and shoot 1/2 MOA groups all for less than $2000 including the scope.  Now I just talked about an entire rifle and scope, but the cartridge is the most important part of the whole scenario.

Now that we have a purpose lets find a caliber that has the right bullets with good ballistics.  Here is a reference.  For what we are trying to accomplish we want a bullet that has a BC of .55 or better.  There are a few options in 6.5MM, 7MM and .308 calibers.  If you want a rifle that doesn't have much recoil then I would go with 6.5MM or 7MM.

Now that we have some bullet options lets look at what it takes to kill an elk at 1000 yards.  To take down an elk we need at least 1200ft lbs of energy.  So we need to find out how fast we need to throw the bullet to get 1200ft lbs at 1000 yards.  I use JBM ballistics for finding this info.

Minimum muzzle velocity required to achieve 1200ft lbs of energy at 1000yrd and 6000ft of elevation
CaliberBulletBullet wtBCRequired MV
6.5MMBerger VLD1300.5523400
6.5MMBerger VLD1400.6123150
7MMBerger VLD1680.6172900
7MMBerger VLD1800.6592750
308Berger VLD1900.5702850
308Berger VLD2100.6312620

Now we just need to find the cartridge that will throw one of these bullets the required velocity (if you noticed I made the chart for 6000ft altitude).  I look at load data to find what velocities I can get out of a cartridge, I go to to find the info I need.

One of the first cartridges I found that will do the trick is the 7MM WSM.  Now I try to find a topic on a forum or start one to figure out if it's an efficient cartridge and if it's accurate. 

For rifle selection read this.

Now just buy or build the rifle and let the fun begin.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Go Big or Go Home (comparing the giants)

When it comes to big guns the 50 BMG is the king of the hill.  You see a lot of people with the big dog but what is the practicality?  People buy the massive beast because of its incredible range and awesome power.  There isn't any doubt about its potential.  Any rifle that can take down an armored vehicle has my respect.

I always thought the 50 BMG would be the ultimate long range hunting rig.  You could sit on the tallest hill, watch and wait for the largest elk within a mile to show up and take him where he stands.  On paper it sounds great, but who is really up to the task?  The rifle has all of the power needed and some have all of the accuracy needed, all that's left is the super human sniper.  There have been confirmed kills in Afghanistan out to 2600 yards with the 50 but what did it take?

There isn't any doubt about it that the 50 is capable of the long range kill, but is it the best?  There are other sniper systems that perform as good if not better on non armored targets.  One of those systems is the .408 CheTac, it has set some awesome long range records (16 5/8" 3 shot group at 2,321 yards). 

That brings us to the third one the .416 Barrett. This round is also very incredible it has an incredibly high BC and great range, comparable to the .408 CheyTac or better at 1/4 the price.

I personally don't think it is necessary to have that much energy for normal North American big game animals. It requires about 1200 ft lbs of energy to take down an Elk, so the real question is how far do you need to shoot one? I think 1000 to 1200 yards is a very long shot to take on an animal. Don't get me wrong if I see a coyote at a mile and he is static you bet your butt I will throw some lead his way, but an elk or deer I would definitely resort to stalking and close the gap to an acceptable range. I'm not saying that these big daddies aren't completely awesome, what I am saying is if you think you need one for shooting an elk at 1200 yards you're wrong.

cartridgebullet weightmuzzle velocitymax range sea levelmax range 6000ftmax range 10,000ft
50 BMGA-max75026003000+3000+3000+
.408 CheTacJameson4193000240030003000+
.416 BarrettBarrett400325026003000+3000+
.338 LapuaAccubond2502900102512751500
.338 R.U.M.Accubond2503000107513501575
300 R.U.M.Berger vld2103100112514001650
300 Win magBerger vld2102900100012501450
7mm Rem magBerger vld168290080010001175
308 WinBerger vld1752700575700825
7mm-08Berger vld1682700675850975

The calculator that I was using only went to 3000 yards, so 3000+ means farther than a normal person can shoot or see ( Carlos Hathcock range).  Hopefully some day I will have all of these giants, but for now the 300 R.U.M. is a lot more gun then I need.  If you feel the need to go big, well get er done, and enjoy the artillery.  My friend has a 50 and it's a blast to shoot, at 1000 yards when you hit a rock it sounds like thunder (100% awesome).

"Go big or go home!"~ author unknown