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BLOG: December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all our readers around the world. We want to say a special "thank-you" to our sponsors and to the many individuals whose generous donations to the site help keep the show going. We've got some major new projects in the works for 2007, and we hope you continue to enjoy the site and tell your friends about AccurateShooter.com. As the site grows we can deliver more stories, more tests, and more photos.

INDUSTRY NEWS--Smith & Wesson Acquires Thompson/Center Arms:
Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (Nasdaq: SWHC), parent company of 154-year-old Smith & Wesson Corp., announced that it will acquire Thompson/Center Arms, Inc., a 40-year-old, privately-held maker of premium hunting firearms, for $102 million in cash. Thompson/Center Arms, headquartered in Rochester, New Hampshire, is the maker of Contender and Encore interchangeable firearm systems, muzzle-loading rifles, black-powder guns, and rimfire rifles. The purchase price for Thompson/Center Arms includes the company's Rochester, New Hampshire facility, which produces all of the company's products and is situated geographically between S&W's manufacturing operations in Springfield, Massachusetts and Houlton, Maine.

Gregg Ritz, President and CEO of Thompson/Center Arms, will be named President of Smith & Wesson--Hunting. Ritz said, "This acquisition increases opportunities for both Smith & Wesson and Thompson/Center Arms. Smith & Wesson's ability to provide capital for growth and expertise in lean manufacturing processes will provide critical support for our new product pipeline and our need for increased capacity based on strong customer demand. In turn, Thompson/Center Arms' array of barrel manufacturing expertise, hunting rifle products, and accessories fits nicely into the Smith & Wesson portfolio of pistols, revolvers, shotguns and future hunting rifles."

6.5mm cut barrelGUN TECH--Barrel Wear, the Reality Revealed:
So what does a "worn-out" barrel really look like? Tom Myers answered that question when he removed a 6.5-284 barrel and cut it down the middle to reveal throat wear. As you can see, there is a gap of about 5mm before the lands begin and you can see how the lands have thinned at the ends. (Note: even in a new barrel, there would be a section of freebore, so not all the 5mm gap represents wear.) There is actually just about 2mm of lands worn away.Tom notes: "Since I started out, I've chased the lands, moving out the seating depth approximately .086" (2.18 mm). I always seat to touch. My final touch dimension was 2.440" with a Stoney Point .26 cal collet."

Except for the 2mm of wear, the rifling otherwise looks decent, suggesting that setting back and rechambering this barrel could extend its useful life. Tom reports: "This was something I just thought I'd share if anyone was interested. I recently had to re-barrel my favorite prone rifle after its scores at 1,000 started to slip. I only ever shot Sierra 142gr MatchKings with VV N165 out of this barrel. It is a Hart and of course is button-rifled. I documented every round through the gun and got 2,300 over 4 years. Since I have the facilities, I used wire EDM (Electro Discharge Machining) to section the shot-out barrel in half. It was in amazingly good shape upon close inspection." Tom could have had this barrel set back, but he observed, "Lately I have had to increase powder charge to maintain 2,950 fps muzzle velocity. So to set it back would have only increased that problem. [And] I had a brand new 30" Krieger all ready to screw on. I figured it was unlikely I'd get another full season on the old barrel, so I took it off."

6.5-284 barrel

portable reloading benchProjects--Portable Reloading Bench: Here's a great do-it-yourself project for the winter. Texan Robert Lewis made himself a great portable reloading bench from plywood mounted to a Black & Decker Workmate. The bench, roughly 22" x 19" on top, folds up to fit easily in your car's trunk or behind the seats in a pick-up truck cab. Four recessed bolts hold the wood top section to the collapsible B&D Workmate. Larger Photo. The sides and back of the unit are attached to the base with small nails. There is a small shelf (also nailed in place) which can be used to clamp a powder measure or hold a scale. Shown in the photo is a Harrell's Benchrest measure (upper left) and Harrell's single-stage "C" press.

The whole unit can be built for about $65.00 with pine, or $80.00 with oak (as shown). Robert explained: "The Workmate was $40. If someone bought a 2'x4' sheet of 3/4" oak plywood, I think it is around $30. Using pine plywood would be about half that. Fasteners were $3. Spar Urethane would be $5."

Robert told us: "I used a couple ideas I found on the web. The Larry Willis website gave me the idea to use the Black and Decker Workmate as a base. I found the Workmate on sale for $40 and the top is made from oak plywood I had in my shop. I sealed the wood with three coats of Spar Urethane. The whole thing folds into a nice package for transportation to and from the range." Click Here to view a set of plans.

PRODUCTS--New Rem 700 Thumbhole Varminter for 2007: Remington will introduce a new varmint rifle next year, the Model 700™ VLSS TH, chambered in .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, and 22-250. It features a 26" stainless heavy barrel, internal magazine, and brown laminate thumbhole stock. Remington will also continue to sell the similarly-stocked XP-100 Rangemaster, a single-shot with gray laminate stock and a trigger externally adjustable for pull weights from 1.5 to 3.5 pounds.

Remington 700 VLSS TH

VIDEO GAMES--ISE offers Free Varmint and BR Game Samples: Need something to wile away the hours during the long, cold winter? ISE Games, in connection with Speedco Shooting Sports, offers fun computer games for precision shooters. The NRA Varmint Hunter game is our favorite. You can "shoot" a variety of cartridges at ranges up to 1000 yards, hunting Western prairie dogs or Eastern groundhogs in realistic terrain. The Xtreme Accuracy game lets you test your skills in a highly realistic 100/200 yard benchrest match.

ISE has video "previews" of the games on-line, and you can even download FREE trial games. The free downloads include the complete game, allowing 30 minutes of game-play. After that, for unlimited game-play, you'll have to pay $9.99 per product, or $14.99 for the Two-Game (Varmint and BR) Promo Pack.

GUN TECH--Juenke Bullet Tester: All shooters agree that match bullets should be as uniform and concentric as possible. You can weigh your bullets and measure the external dimensions. But how can you determine if there are internal flaws in the bullet jacket or core. The Juenke Machine is designed to detect internal problems in bullet construction that can affect accuracy. Inventor Vern Juenke says: "By passing electromagnetic lines of force through the bullet or case, internal flaws are detected that would never be seen by using conventional testers." Does it work? There is an interesting current thread on Benchrest Central discussing Juenke bullet testing. The Juenke Thread includes comments from Eric Stecker of Berger Bullets. It's pretty clear that the machine's measurements are repeatable. However, translating that to improved scores on the target is another matter.

OPTICS--Weaver T-6 and T-24 Target Scopes on Sale: Natchez Shooters Supply is offering big discounts on Weaver Target Scopes, classic designs known for reliability. Weaver's Micro-Trac® 4-point adjustment system uses a patented dual-spring, two-bearing contact design, to allow precise and very repeatable windage and elevation adjustment. The Weaver T-6, ideal for Hunter BR competition, is $229.99 with fine cross-hair reticle, while the bigger T-24 is $299.99 with 1/8-MOA Target Dot reticle. Weaver T-series scopes come with target knobs, sunshade and screw-in metal lens caps.

Federal 300wsmBARGAIN BIN--Federal Hunting Ammo 50% off: This is a great deal, so don't hesitate. MidwayUSA has cut the price of select, premium Federal hunting ammo in half. Prices are good through January 3, 2007. Here are some examples: 7mm08 with 140gr Nosler solid base BT reduced from $24.19 to $12.10 per 20 rounds; 308 Win with 165gr Nosler solid base BT reduced from $24.69 to $12.35; 300 WSM with 180gr Nosler solid base BT reduced from $32.49 to $16.26; 300 WinMag with 150gr Speer Trophy Bonded reduced from $45.49 to $22.75. Many other calibers, including 280 Rem and 7mm STW, are available.

lee classic pressRELOADING--Hot Deal on LEE Classic Press: The LEE Classic single-stage "O" press is a sturdy, cast-iron unit with an all-steel linkage and an angled frame for easy access to your cases. Lock, Stock, and Barrel has the LEE Classic on sale for just $59.99. We've checked around the web and most vendors are asking $75-$80.00 for this unit. Three mounting holes fasten the press securely to any bench. It has an extra-large opening, and the least handle travel of any similar press. Handle adjusts for right- or left-hand use. One feature we like (compared to an RCBS Rockchucker) is the hose fitting on the LEE that directs spent primers to a trash can.

creedmoor highpower matHIGHPOWER--Creedmoor Shooting Mat on Sale: As a holiday promotion, Creedmoor Sports has knocked 10% off the price of its quality shooting mat. This 68"-long mat, popular on the Highpower rifle range, has a waterproof vinyl bottom and a marine-finished top with extended textured rubber pads for elbow placement. Interior jute padding provides ample protection for the shooter in the shooting position. The "Holiday Special" price is $72.00, reduced from $79.98.

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