Gun of the Week
Santa Shehane's Switch Barrel Duo in 6BR and 6PPC
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Here's a “His & Her” pair of custom rifles that'll sure look pretty under the Christmas Tree. Bill "Santa" Shehane built them for a husband and wife who wanted identical rifles to shoot both 100-yard BR, and 600-yard matches. They wanted a matched pair that looked as good as they shot. We think it's safe to say Bill's customers will be very happy with what Santa brought them this Christmas.
Bill wrote: "I have built both of these customers 10.5-lb rifles, rail guns and 1000-yard rifles (both Light and Heavy class). This time, our goal was to create dual-purpose rifles that would shoot 6PPC at short range, and 6BR at longer range. With 24" 6PPC barrels, they would serve as 13.5-lb Heavy Varmint classers, but we added a weight system so the guns could do double-duty at 600 yards with 30" 1:8 twist 6BR barrels.
Double the Gun for Double the Fun
To ensure the guns would balance right and track well when shooting free recoil in both calibers, I used my “Baby Tracker” stock as most shooters call it. This is the ST-BR stock on my web-page, ScopeUsOut.com. ST-BRs are two inches longer than most standard “Point Blank” benchrest stocks so they balance better with the longer barrels. I used Rutland laminate for the main body of the stock, inserted African Obeche laminate in the bedding area and made the forend as light as I could with many pockets cut as thin as I could under the barrel. I then covered the entire barrel channel with carbon fiber to add serious strength over the lightening pockets. I drilled two holes in the buttstock six inches deep to add lead plugs for balance with the longer barrels.
Weighting the Stocks for Balance
As set up for Heavy Varmint class with 1:15 twist, 24" 6PPC barrels and no lead weights, these guns balance perfectly--with the balance point just in front of the Viper drop-port actions. When you add the 30" max HV taper 6BR barrels and both lead plugs, the rifles each weigh just under 16.5 pounds--yet they still balance just in front of the Viper action. So handling on the bags is similar with long barrel or short. I could have added more lead but it was not needed in the light recoiling 6BR, even without a muzzle brake.
I have been working with a chemical company for two years to come up with a new bedding compound that would enhance the vibration damping inherent with laminated wood. The compound worked very well in my Maxi Tracker Heavy Gun this past 1000-yard shooting season as well as my Obeche-stocked Light Gun so I wanted to see how it would work on these “Point Blank” 600-yard rifles. The Obeche laminate absorbs vibration better so I used that in the bedding area of these rifles and then bedded the action with the new compound we developed.
All this extra engineering may seem like overkill, but the 600-yard record will soon be under one inch. [Editor's Note--James Phillips set a 1.190" pending 600-yard world record this fall with a 22 Dasher in a Tracker stock]. I'd like to see one of these two rifles accomplish that feat. You can't leave anything to chance anymore if you expect your name to be at the top. My job is to find ways to help the customer win and you have to do things out of the box sometimes to try and see what works and what doesn’t.
Once I had all the stock work and bedding done I sent the two stocks to my friend in Texas, Michael Kavanaugh, an ace stock painter. We'd developed a flame pattern for the customers and Michael is a wizard with this kind of pattern. Both my customers have Harley Davidsons with flames on them and I knew what colors they liked so I turned Michael loose on 'em. Michael did an outstanding job and finished right on time for me to complete the rifles for Santa to deliver before Christmas.
Twin Caliber Drop-Ports
Jerry Stiller, who is also a wild Harley Davidson man, set up the drop port Viper actions so they would function with BOTH 6PPC & 6BR’s (a bit of a trick to get right I might say). You can see the exit for the drop port right in front of the trigger guard. The 6PPC chambers were done by Dwight Scott with the same reamer used for the customers' other 6PPCs. Dwight fitted the 15-twist max Heavy Varmint contour Krieger barrels, which were finished off and crowned at 24 inches.
Both rifles feature Jewell 1.5oz. target triggers, Shehane polished aluminum trigger guards, polished aluminum “Tracker” buttplates, and 30MM extra high rings. I already had a 30” max Heavy Varmint taper Krieger 1:8 twist barrel that Dwight had chambered for my own drop-port Viper. I screwed on the Krieger to set the balance up for the lead weight system. This one has no muzzle brake and is .950" at the muzzle. With a 34-ounce Nightforce 12-42x56 NXS side-focus scope, the rifle balances perfectly with the long barrel and the lead weights. Pull out the weights and the guns balance equally well with the short barrels. That took some doing, but it worked out well, and should make these rifles very "shooter-friendly" in both 6PPC and 6BR configurations. I have no idea how these fast-looking babies are going to shoot but that will be another story we’ll do in the Spring.
Good shootin and may Santa be this good to you too!"
-- Bill Shehane --
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