Seasoned 100/200 yard Benchrest competitors will tell you, "if you're not shooting 6PPC, you're competing for second place". There's no question the 6PPC is "top dog" at shooting-for-group matches. In Benchrest-For-Score competition, however, the 30BR, or a similar Wildcat, has pushed aside the vaunted 6PPC. The larger bullet diameter is more likely to cut into the next higher scoring ring, giving you an advantage. The 30BR is none other than our own 6mm BR cartridge necked up to 30 caliber. Most top shooters use Lapua Brass and 110-130gr BIB bullets
While using a 6mm BR may not get you into the BR Hall of Fame, with good components, and practice, you can be competitive, particularly at the club level. And, you can do so with less effort and much less cost than if you were using a 6PPC. To shoot a 6PPC you need to fire-form all your cases from the smaller Lapua 220 Russian
case. And most competitors still turn the necks all the way down to .262", a laborious task that usually requires two or even three passes over a neck-turner. By contrast, with minimal prep, the 6mm BR case is ready to go. Most folks still turn necks, but only go down to .265-267" which can easily be done in a single pass. And some top shooters are seeing great accuracy using a no-turn .271-.272" neck. Just trim to length, chamfer, load and shoot.Barrels and Bullets
Most 6BRs these days are built with 26" or longer fast-twist barrels, optimized to shoot 100+gr high-BC bullets at 500m and beyond. However, for the closer 100- and 200-yard distances, you should run lighter flat-base bullets in a short (20-23") slow-twist barrel, something in the range of 1:12 to 1:15. The Flat-base 62-69gr bullets just shoot tighter groups. Yes the 60s will work in a 1:8, but excess twist just creates more drag in the barrel and slows the bullet down. You want the short bullets to run fast--in the neighborhood of 3400 fps--because this reduces flight time to target. When you're trying to put five shots in one hole, shorter flight time lessens the opportunity for the wind to blow a shot out of the group. So you want the slow twist for best velocities. If you need a versatile gun that can shoot longer distances as well, a good compromise is a 1:12 twist barrel. This will shoot the 80gr Fowler
FB bullets with great accuracy out to 600 yards.Equipment -- Get Ready to Open Your Wallet
A brand new short-range BR gun, with a custom action, built by a name smith, will run from $2500-$3500. Most top competitors keep a quiver of barrels because they feel peak accuracy diminishes somewhere between 500 and 900 rounds. But, a barrel that might disappoint a Hall of Famer should still shoot bugholes, and it could be the most accurate barrel you've ever tried. That's why it's not a bad idea to start off with a used BR gun. You should be able to find a quality rig up for $1500 or so. Browse the classifieds on Benchrest Central
and "The List"
from Shooters' Corner. This catalogs 100 or more high-grade used BR guns for sale. 90% of the guns will be chambered for 6PPC, but if you want to shoot 6mm BR, or its 30BR cousin, it is a simple matter to ream to bolt face to fit the 6BR's larger case head.
There is a wealth of information available on 100/200 BR competition. A good place to start is Benchrest Central, www.benchrest.com
. Read through the FAQ pages, and click on the links for the rules. Both the National Bench Rest Shooters' Association
(NBRSA) and the International Benchrest Shooters
(IBS) have informative websites. Read through the message boards, talk to a good Benchrest smith who has built recent winners, and go to a match to see what the fun's all about. Be forewarned, this is a highly specialized sport, and the accuracy required to win at the regional and national levels is astounding. Check out this 5-target .1500" aggregate by bullet-maker Jef Fowler
.Top photo: Borden custom 6PPC with Rimrock (Borden) action and Borden stock. Jim Borden is one of the best BR smiths in the business, and Borden Rifles offers everything from bare actions to complete rifles.
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