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September 2005 Blog

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September 27, 2005 -- NEWS, FEATURES, and PRODUCTS

MATCH NEWS--NBRSA 1000 Nationals Special Report: Many of the nation's best long-range shooters vied for top honors in Sacramento this weekend. The big winner, in a truly dominating performance, was "local boy" Jerry Tierney. Though a seasoned Palma and iron-sight shooter, Jerry is relatively new to the 1K Benchrest Game. Jerry's superior wind-reading skills and smooth gun-handling carried him to the overall victory, capturing the Two-Gun championship, and winning the Skip Talbot Memorial Trophy for lowest composite score. (Jerry's composite was 6; Bob Hoppe was second with 17). Jerry won a bunch of other awards, taking home trophies for 6-target LG Score, 6-target LG Group, 12-Target Two-Gun Group, 12-Target Two-Gun Score, and HG Small Group (6.030"). As Jerry told us "It was a good weekend--kind of overwhelming actually". But George Tompkins was right in the hunt, winning HG Group and HG Score. George also won the HG Folsom Shooting Club award in Heavy Gun for best 3 of 6 Target Score, while Warren Stallings took the prize for best 3 of 6 HG group Agg. Greg Wilson was the master of the single-target game, winning for HG High Score (99 1X), LG High Score (50 1X), and LG small Group, a very impressive 2.460". Click HERE for a full list of the top four shooters in each category. Thanks to match director Ed Eckhoff and LongShot for posting these results.

GEAR WATCH: From a technical standpoint, the interesting hardware was in the Heavy Gun class. Some of the massive, custom front rests were masterpieces of machining. We saw some rifles that arrived on trailers; they could be more rightly called cannons than rifles. Quite a few beautifully crafted metal stocks were on display in the HG class, and George Tompkins showed how effective they can be. He piloted his big silver "cruise missile" to first place in HG Group (11.03) and second in HG Score, with a 529 7X, quite impressive considering the conditions.

Jerry Tierney shot his wife's 6.5-284, 19-lb F-class rifle in Heavy Gun. Smithed by Alan Warner, the 6.5-284 features a beautiful "Speedy" stock by Robertson Composites. Jerry told us this stock tracked like a dream. In Light Gun, Jerry shot a .284 Winchester (7mm) in a McMillan F-Class stock. A huge fan of the 7mm, Jerry believes the high-BC Berger and Sierra bullets give him an edge over the 6.5s when the wind gets tricky. He uses the same action and medium Palma contour 30" Krieger barrel in his prone rifle. He just bolts it into a different stock. When shooting from the bench, Jerry loads the Bergers, seated well into the lands. When shooting prone and F-Class matches, where he may have to extract a loaded round, he'll shoot the Sierras, jumped about .025". We plan to do an extensive interview with Jerry very soon, and give you the details on his match-winning rifles. We know many of you will be interested in Jerry's thoughts on the .284 plus his 7mm load data. Here are two data files Jerry provided, one for the Sierra 175s, and the other for the Berger 180s.

Robertson Composite Speedy Stock

MATCH CONDITIONS: The winds were challenging to say the least. The third relay on Friday was a real heart-breaker for many shooters, with fierce, erratic winds. Some very skilled shooters got burned badly by wild shifts and velocity changes. Longshot reports: "Conditions were incredibly fickle. The mornings looked gentle enough, but even the apparent calm was switchy enough to throw the unwary off by 1/2 MOA. By the 3rd relays on Day 1 and 2, it was blowing enough to need 3 - 5 MOA. Even this wouldn't have been too bad, except it would just stop cold for minutes at a time and then reverse for a few more. More than a few shooters had a hard time keeping them all on paper after about 11 AM. Then we had what I call the 'miracle day'. On the last day of the match, we had near perfect conditions, light but consistent winds with just enough mirage to make let-offs and switches easy to read. The miraculous part is that these conditions persisted throughout all 3 relays!! In the five years or so that I've been shooting this range, I don't think I've ever seen that before. A big thank you [is] due Ed Eckhoff and the entire SVSC crew for putting on such a smoothly run and enjoyable match. Daily results were posted within 30 minutes of the last shot every single day, and Saturday's barbecue was an epicurean delight!"

6PPC Jari RaudaskoskiGEAR TECH--World BR Champ's Equipment: Recently crowned World BR Champion Jari Raudaskoski of Finland sent us a photo of his gun, and his rather unique "Brother-in-law built" joystick front rest. The rest isn't elegant, but it obviously did the job. Jari tells us: "It is 'joy-stick' model made by wife's brother Antti Tanhuala. He is a genius machinist (and clocksmith) who can fix anything. Before building the rest, Antti had never even been to a benchrest match, though he had measured a Bald Eagle unit. The rest took a few months to build, but I've been very satisfied. I don't need to hold the joy-stick while shooting and it stills holds POA/POI."

6PPC Jari Raudaskoski Panda ActionJari also made some modifications to the Stolle Panda right bolt, right port action: "With a friend we made the left feeding port, and I like that feature a lot. I can throw the cartridge straight to the chamber. Note how the oversized left port opens right next to the chamber for easy access. I made the ejector myself, and it's a bit different than a standard Kelbly. The ejector pin is fully inside of bolt face and the diameter is smaller. I had to change the extractor pin too with a longer one. I polished the action and scope rings myself."

RCBS ChargeMaster 1500SMART SHOPPER--RCBS ChargeMaster just $239.95 at Natchez: The RCBS ChargeMaster was our top-rated Digital Powder Dispenser, posting top marks in speed, convenience, and versatility. Normally retailing in the $275 range, the ChargeMaster Combo is now just $239.95 at Natchez Shooter Supply (product # RC98923). Our tests have shown the ChargeMaster to be fast, user-friendly and reliable, but a few folks have experienced the weight display showing the desired reading, when in fact it was 0.1 or 0.2 grains high. To correct this, you can call RCBS at 800-533-5000 (M-Th) and ask for Dan Legg. He'll explain a method of programming the unit to slow down the output at the very end of the dispensing cycle. This will improve charge to charge accuracy with some powders. Here are some other trouble-shooting tips: 1) Make sure the unit is perfectly level front to rear. Some ChargeMasters, particularly the early-production units, are sensitive to front/rear leveling. 2) Don't leave the power cord coiled up in a loop; this can cause a magnetic field that can affect read-outs. 3) Use the hinged door that covers the dispensing tray. This will eliminate drafts. 4) IMPORTANT--after dispensing a load, pick up the plastic powder cup, swish it gently to distribute the kernels evenly, and place it back on the load cell. This "double-checks" the weight and will catch the vast majority of over-charges. 5) There is a high speed/low speed transition point at 25.0 grains of powder--if your load is right near this point you'll see some fluctuation. You can call RCBS and they can tell you how to modify the high speed/low speed parameters. 6) Use a good surge suppressor, or better yet, plug the ChargeMaster into a line conditioner that provides "clean", correct voltage. A number of users told us their problems disappeared with the addition of a line conditioner.

BLOG Items Wanted: Do you have a great reloading tip to share, or news of a great bargain on gear? Have you heard a recent report about a major match? Then contribute to our 6mmBR Blog. Just email your comment or news item to Mailbox@6mmBR.com. Please keep your photos under 600x400 pixels in size.

September 19, 2005 -- NEWS, FEATURES, and PRODUCTS

MATCH NEWS--NBRSA 1000-Yard Nat'ls Coming up: From September 23-25, 2005, the Folsom Shooting Club (Sacramento Valley Shooting Center), hosts the 2005 NBRSA 1000-Yard Championship, conducted this year as the Skip Talbot Memorial Match (photo right). Top shooters will compete in both Light Gun (17-lb weight limit, 5-shot string) and Heavy Gun (unlimited weight, 10-shot string). Here are links for the Match Registration Form (.pdf download) and Map to the Range. For more info, log on to SacValley.org or contact Ed Eckhoff, Match Director, at eckran@mindspring.com. Complete Rules are available on the NBRSA website.

SHORT-RANGE BR--World Championship Results: With 144 shooters from over 20 countries, the recent World Benchrest Championship (WBC) was a huge success. Interestingly, every competitor but one shot a 6PPC, and Jim Kelbly said he saw NO barrel tuners in use. USA Teams took First, Second, and Third Places in the Team competition, with the USA "C" team winning the gold. For the Two-Gun Trophy, a combination of LV and HV Grand Aggs, Jari Raudaskoski of Finland topped the field with a .2480 score to become World Champion. (Jari shot a Stolle Panda with Shilen barrel, Bart's Ultra bullets, and Weaver T-36 Scope). Jari was followed by Americans Bill Goad (.2545), Billy Stevens (.2588), Larry Scharnhorst (.2599), and Mike Ratigan (.2605). USA shooters took 10 of the top 20 Two-Gun places. France did well, with Frenchmen Charles DeCanini winning the LV 100 (.1892) and Paul Jung (.2277) winning the LV 200, as well as the LV Grand Agg (.2129). American Jack Neary won the HV Grand Agg with a .2434. Conditions were fairly tough, but Ivaldo Gabasio of Italy mananged to shoot a .184 small group in the LV 200, a new record. The World Benchrest Championships are held every other year under World Benchrest Shooting Federation (WBSF) rules. Complete results will be posted shortly on Benchrest Central.

SITE NEWS--Cartridge Diagram Page Added: Thanks to Ed Dillon of Neconos.com, we obtained a copy of QuickDESIGN, a very powerful software program that creates cartridge diagrams with complete specifications. Using QuickDESIGN we created cartridge designs for many popular calibers including: 204 Ruger, 22-250, 22 PPC, 6PPC, 6BR, 6 Dasher, 6x47 SM, .308 Win, 6.5x55, and 6.5x284 Norma. We've added a navigation tab on the left for this page, or click here: Cartridge Diagrams.

CARTRIDGES--6XC Brass Status and Freebore: David Tubb provided a status report on 6XC brass: "In the next month SSS will receive approx. 150,000 pieces made from Indian cups. Based on my past experiences with these cups this run will have a very hard head. These cups draw better than domestic cups so hopefully concentric measurements will be good. (The Indians know how to make better brass than most anyone else--they use a lot of brass items in their culture.) Additionally around the end of the year there will be a second source for 6XC brass. If I were you I would hold out for the current Indian cup run. As far as domestic 22-250 I liked the Rem if I was going to fire-form." Concerning 6XC chambering and freebore, David added: "My current Henriksen reamer (used for the last two years) has a 3/4 degree lead with about .050" of straight section. I like this for the 115s in the 6XC. A meplatted 115 seated in the 6XC should be just off of the rifling with an OAL of approximately 2.740"."

BULLETS--First Field Report on BIB Flat-Base 95s: Danny Reever tested the new BIB 95gr Flat-Base bullets this past week in his 8-twist 6BR. He reports: "I've finished my initial testing of the BIB 95s and I must say I'm impressed. So much so that I placed an order for 1000 of them! Until now, I'd not found a bullet that would shoot as well as the Berger 95gr VLDs. I tried them all from 80-107 grains, from Lapua, Sierra, Berger, Fowler, etc. At 500 meters the Berger 95 VLD reigned supreme. That's changed now--there's a new kid on the block, and his name is "BIB". The 95s shoot phenomenal groups! I sent Randy Robinett two of five targets I shot at 100 yards. Both were five-shot groups--one that measured in the ones and the other in the zero's! The worst of the other three groups was a .367 (driver error) but still the Agg was a low two! Even considering the good conditions, these are 6PPC-type light bullet groups, not what you typically see with 6BRs shooting heavy bullets. At 300 meters they grouped an honest 1/2", and at 500 meters the first group I shot with them measured 2.684". This was during our Tuesday fun shoot with no wind flags. I only had 100 so I was limited to testing in my 8-twist Shilen. In fact I have a 9-twist Kreiger on order for next season, though Randy says a 1:10" will stablize them just fine. My advice is order some now and be prepared to wait since these are true custom bullets made one at a time by Mr. Robinett." We also got a initial report from David Stripling, who recently shot a 1.070" 600-yard group at Piedmont with Berger 88s. David told us "the BIB 95s shot great at 100 yards--matching the accuracy of the 88s in my gun." Editor's Note: we've done some measuring, and the BIB 95s will work fine with a rifle throated for the 105s or 107s, with a freebore of 0.100-0.120". In a rifle with .080 freebore, with the ogive just touching the lands, the base of the bullet was about .022 above the neck-shoulder junction.

BULLET SALE--Great Prices on Bergers: Lock, Stock & Barrel is having a big sale on 17, 22, 6mm, and 25-Caliber Berger bullets right now. In 6mm, the 74gr Match Varmint and 88gr Lo-Drag bullets are $12.71/100 [SOLD OUT], while the fine 90gr BT and 95gr BT are just $14.54/100. If you shoot moly bullets, the 6mm 62gr Match, 65gr Match, and 71gr BTMT are discounted to $14.71/100. Good 25-caliber bullets are hard to find, but the Bergers are among the best. For you 25BR or 25-06 shooters, a wide variety of 25-caliber Berger Match Varmint bullets are on sale for $15.76/100 (naked) and $17.76/100 (moly), including the 82gr Match, 87gr Match and 110gr match.

BARREL BARGAIN--Sweet Shilen Deal At Bruno's: All 1.250" or smaller diameter Shilen barrels (28" or shorter) are just $229.95 at Bruno Shooters Supply. Note: Bruno's website says $219.95 but that is outdated--$229.95 is the current price. This is still a great deal--match-grade barrels from other makers can cost as much as $400. FYI, Jari Raudaskoski of Finland just won the World Benchrest Championship (Two-Gun) with a Shilen barrel. Bruno's also has the best prices we've found for Lapua 6BR, 220 Russian, and 6.5-284 brass. Bruno's also has attractive pricing on Leupold, NightForce, Sightron, and Weaver Scopes. The Sightron 36x S2 Competition model, an excellent scope for short-range benchrest, is $369.95 at Bruno's.

BEST of CLASSIFIEDS--New this Week: There are a couple nice rifles for sale in the 6mmBR.com classifieds this week. Critter Bill has a 9-twist Varminter built by Mike Bryant: "Stolle Panda R/R 6mmBR varmint rifle for sale. Hart HV 26" barrel with 1 in 9" twist with 350 rounds fired. Jewel HVR trigger with bottom safety. Williams SS trigger guard. Glued in to McMillan Graphite HBR stock with black wrinkled paint. Built by Mike Bryant of Bryant Custom. Selling to build new BR rig. Shoots BIB 95gr and Hornady 87gr V-Max bullets very well. Can email photos. $1900 shipped to first 48 states."

For you .308 Shooters, Redfeather has a Steve Satern-built Tube Gun at a very attractive price: "MAK repeater Tube Rifle with a SS fluted 26" .308 barrel. The rifle has a trued and blue-printed Rem. 700 SA inside the tubegun kit. Comes with Pacific Tool custom Rem 700 bolt with screw on bolt knobs and Sako extractor. The rifle has three AI AICS magazines and a Sierra Precision custom pistol grip. Gunsmithing receipts from Steve Satern show I have over $1,800 in the rifle. I am selling it because I am an Army Officer and I shoot High Power and I was told to put the bolt guns away and stick with the AR-15 platform. I will take $1,400 with the .308 barrel, or $1,200 without the barrel on it. I can e-mail pics. Please email me at 223@ev1.net . The Major."

BARGAIN BIN--Great Deal on All-Cotton Patches: MidwayUSA offers 1000 1.125"-square patches for just $5.95 this week, half the normal $11.94 price (product # 618061). This is a good all-around size, but you may have to trim them for 6mm guns if you have a tight-fitting jag.

BLOG Items Wanted: Do you have a great reloading tip to share, or news of a great bargain on gear? Have you heard a recent report about a major match? Then contribute to our 6mmBR Blog. Just email your comment or news item to Mailbox@6mmBR.com. Please keep your photos under 600x400 pixels in size.

September 13, 2005 -- NEWS, FEATURES, and PRODUCTS

MATCH NEWS--World BenchRest Championship: Shooters from around the globe compete for top honors this week, September 11-17, at the World BR Championships conducted at the Kelbly range in North Lawrence, Ohio. The USA will field three teams. So far, USA Team 'C' (Billy Stevens, Jack Neary, Larry Scharnhorst, and Ed Watson) is leading the Team competition. Daily results are being posted on the Benchrest Central Forum.

GUN TECH--Barrel Life Estimating Software: Reader MikeCr has created a neat little Excel spreadsheet that predicts accurate barrel life based on powder charge and powder "heat of explosion". Download the file, input your powder charge and the propellant heat index (from the built-in) table, and the spreadsheet will give you a good idea of how much useful life you can get from your barrel, assuming you don't overheat the barrel and that you clean properly. This is a great way to compare one cartridge vs. another. Obviously, this can't be foolproof as many different factors are involved in barrel wear, but it's still a handy reference. Mike notes: "There has been alot of discussion lately related to cartridge design and resulting barrel life. This is a really important factor to consider amongst a myriad of choices. Barrel life is controversial, and subjective. There is no clear cut standards for comparison. But a few years ago, I put together a spreadsheet based on Bart Bobbits' rule of thumb. It worked pretty good, only occasionally failing some tests when validated against posted barrel lives. According to Ken Howell, I had to account for pressure. And Henry Child's Powder temperature testing provided another piece needed. So, I've tweaked it here and there to pass more tests, for calibers from .223 Rem to 300UM." Note: the calculator works best with pressures above 50K psi, and medium to max loads. For low pressure loads, barrel life may be exaggerated.

TOOL KIT--Versatile Shoulder & Seating "Stub" Gauge: Rich DeSimone, holder of the IBS 1000-yard 5-shot record (an amazing 1.564"), showed us a handy little tool he uses for setting shoulder "bump" and seating depth. The gauge is made from a section of barrel lopped off when the muzzle is crowned. The chambering reamer is run in about 1/4 of the way, enough to capture the neck and shoulder area of the case. Rich then uses his full-length die to "bump" a master case with the ideal amount of headspace for easy feeding and extraction. He takes that case and sets it in this Stub Gauge, and measures from the front of the gauge to the rim. He can then quickly compare any fired case to a his "master" case with optimal headspace. Since the gauge measures off the shoulder datum, this tells him how much to bump his fired brass.

In addition, the Stub Gauge can be used to set bullet seating-depth. Rich has a channel cut transversely on one side of the gauge, exposing the throat area. Since the interior of the gauge is identical to the chamber in his gun, this lets him see where a seated bullet engages the rifling. He can tinker with bullet seating length until he gets just the right amount of land contact on the bullet, confirmed visually. Then he measures the case OAL and sets his seating dies accordingly. This is much handier than using a Stoney Point Tool to measure distance to the lands. As your barrel's throat wears, you may seat your bullets out further to "chase the lands", but the gauge provides a constant land engagement point, in the barrel's "as new" condition. By measuring the difference between the land contact point on the gauge and the actual contact point on your barrel, you can determine throat "migration".

GUNSTOCKS--New Mastin F-Class Stock Arrives:
We visited Mac Tilton of MTGuns.com on 7/12/05. Mac proudly showed off the new Mastin F-class stock just in from Australia. The front of the fore-end has been slimmed down (from top to bottom) to create a lower profile. The stock features an adjustable cheekpiece that we found very fast and easy to adjust. The stock came with a V-block and trigger guard installed, with blond laminated wood, unfinished. Inletting looked perfect, and very little work would be needed to drop in an action. A little finish-sanding, a few coats of clear, and you're good to go. Mac also has some new Barnard actions from New Zealand in stock, complete with triggers. For you cross-course shooters, Mac has a bunch of Tikka 595 stocks and actions. Mac modifies the Tikka stocks for better ergonomics in position shooting and he can fit the 595 actions with Barnard triggers.

FACTORY AMMO--Both 105gr and 90gr Loaded Ammo Available: We still have some boxes of Lapua 105gr loaded ammo (non-moly) available for site users. This is extremely accurate stuff. It shot quarter-moa in our 6BR, running 2830 fps from a 27" PacNor 8-twist barrel. Price is $50 delivered for two boxes (40 rounds) to the lower 48 states. You can pay by check, MO, or PayPal. Email Mailbox@6mmBR.com to order.

If you'd prefer the 90gr Lapua factory ammo, Grafs.com has it in stock (item LU4316045) at $25.49 per 20-round box. The Lapua 90-grain ammo runs about 3000 fps and is an excellent choice for a 10-twist barrel. Grafs.com also carries Lapua loaded ammo in .223 Rem, .308, 6.5x55, 30-06, and .338 LM.

BULLETS--New BIB 95gr Flat-Base Bullets: Randy Robinett kindly sent us some samples of his great new 95-grain 6mm match bullets. These measure about 1.073" OAL, and the base to ogive length is extremely consistent--we measured 25 and they were all within .001" in base to ogive measurement. We're sending some out to some top triggermen for testing. Based on what we've seen they look very promising. Randy tells us: "The BC calculates to 0.45, so it will likely be more in the .43-.44 area (slightly lower BC has been the experience with my other Niemi dies). For this bullet, the ideal twist-rate is 1:10". However, they should work well even with 7/8" twist tubes, so long as MVs are 3100 FPS or less--we have yet to test their max RPM tolerance."

BRASS--New Lapua 223 Remington Match Cases: Sinclair Int'l reports that Lapua's new and improved .223 Rem Match brass is superior to most other .223 Remington cases available on the market. Case dimensions and tolerances meet strict requirements for neck concentricity, base straightness, and wall thickness. NOTE: The new .223 Remington Match cases have a larger case capacity than previous Lapua .223 Remington cases. Price is $35.10 per 100 cases, item BR223-L.

BARGAIN BIN--Nikon 15-45x60mm Sky & Earth on Sale: MidSouth Shooters' Supply is discounting the Nikon 60mm Sky & Earth Spotting Scope this week. Sale price is $231.51 for item # 125-7351. This is a very compact unit with good glass for the money. It won't rival the new 80mm Nikon ED unit, but it is a workmanlike spotting scope that will serve a varminter or 300m shooter well. Street Price on this unit is about $259.00 (Adorama.com). Tripod is not included.

BLOG Items Wanted: Do you have a great reloading tip to share, or news of a great bargain on gear? Have you heard a recent report about a major match? Then contribute to our 6mmBR Blog. Just email your comment or news item to Mailbox@6mmBR.com. If you send photos, try to keep them under 600x400 pixels in size.

September 6, 2005 -- NEWS, FEATURES, and PRODUCTS

SITE NEWS--6mmBR.com celebrates One Year Online: Many of our site-users have only learned about 6mmBR.com recently. However, we officially opened for business on September 1, 2004. We started with about 40 pages of content and two dozen photos. Now the site has over 600 pages of content and 1200+ photos. To sample our feature stories from the last twelve months, you can use the "Find" Feature, or click on the Articles Archive tab on the left and the Guns of the Week Archive button. We want to thank our readers for helping 6mmBR.com get off the ground. We hope to make the site even bigger and better in the months ahead.

IBS 2005 Championship IOWAMATCH NEWS: 2005 IBS 1000-Yard Nationals Results: Lee Fischer was Grand Champion, with 15 combined Light Gun and Heavy Gun points. Lee also took HG Score (96.5). Ed Caldwell was second overall for the Two-Gun with 25. Ed also won the Light Gun Category outright by placing 1st in Group (4.858 Average) and second in Score (48.5). On Day 2 Henry Childs shot an impressive 2.936" group in Light Gun, which appears to be small group for the match. Regan Green shot very consistently to take the HG group title with a 4.318" Average, a new record Agg. We were proud of newcomer Gerry Nordmann, whose Savage-actioned Gun of the Week "Badlands" finished 4th in LG score. Donovan Moran reports: "It was a great turn out with 23 states being represented. The Iowa club ran a very fast and accurate event. Good food and great hosts. Regan Green's 2-target HV Agg of 4.318" beats the Bill Shehane record by almost a full inch. Henry Childs' 2.936" Light Gun group showed what a great marksman he still is even at the age of 65. And the consistancy of Lee Fischer reminded me of Tiger Woods in golf. Our practice conditions were as good as you could get on Thursday. The Mirage Gods were present on Day 1 with nill wind to keep them down. Day 2 had some of both conditions but better groups appeared on Day 2 for most." Results are on the IBS Website. Click "Match Results", select "Long-Distance" from the pull-down menu, then click the link for Sept. 1-3, Pella, Iowa.

IBS 2005 Championship Iowa

OPTICS: Straight vs. Angled Spotting Scopes: We've looked through many different scopes, both monocular and binocular. Initially we thought angled was the only way to go. This lets a shooter mount the spotting scope at his side and easily glance through the lens with the scope body rotated 90°. However, at matches where you spot for a partner, the straight scopes seem to work better. You don't have to bend your neck down or remove your hat and your "free" eye can scan downrange for wind changes. When spotting for your partner (while seated or standing), a tripod-mounted straight scope was definitely the most "user-friendly" set-up.

Danny Reever, author of our Spotting Scope review, tell us: "Straight VS angled? Man, that's a tough call! Having used both personally for over a year I'd have to say this: I feel the straight gives you a clearer, sharper image. One less mirror to contend with. If you have a dealer that can give you a side-by-side look at a couple of hundred yards the difference is apparent. That's one reason Chip Allen chose the straight Zeiss over the angled. On the other hand the angled gives you more options in the way of setup which can be a bonus between cramped benches, when you're spotting for yourself. I don't shoot prone, but I think the angled would be the way to go for a solo prone shooter, again more setup options. Another benefit of the angled is that you can keep the tripod lower, a plus on a windy day. The 100MM scopes like the Pentax and Optolyth do not offer an angled body option--maybe there are some engineering issues, or perhaps that's just to control costs.

WILDCAT DEN--Fireball's "Tall BR": WarrenB ("FireBall") has devised a simple way to improve the performance of the .243 Win: "I call this my '6mmTBR', which is a .243 with the long neck and 30° shoulder of the 6BR case. I simply took Lapua .243 brass and ran it into a 6mmBR body die to give the .243 a 6BR top end. The resulting cartridge is like a Tall BR, hence the 'TBR' name. I shoot the TBR in a Panda and it is incredibly accurate. Combine the TBR with a 70gr Nosler BT and you have an awesome windy-day Prairie Dog rifle. Or you could use it competition. At 600 yards, I think the TBR would give the 6XC, 6-250 and other mid-size 6mms a run for their money. And if you already have 6BR dies there are no tooling costs involved. Plus you get to use Lapua brass. The 6XC and 6-250 can't claim that!" [Editor's note--The TBR rivals the 6-284 with much lower brass cost.]

NEW PRODUCTS--Zero Locking Device for Leupold Comp Scopes: Boyd Allen provided this report of Lou Murdica's fix for wandering zeros on the Leupold Competition Scopes: "Anyone who has been paying the slightest attention to our sport knows that there has been a lot of serious discussion about scope problems, and in particular whether they keep their zero to the degree required by benchrest competition. Modifications are offered and bought despite the likelihood of voiding factory warranties, external mounts are built and erector tubes epoxied rigidly in place, all to solve a problem that is almost impossible for the average shooter to diagnose. Enter Lou Murdica, a fine fellow that is sufficiently interested and economically blessed to have his own, state-of-the-art shooting tunnel. In it he has tested most of the components that relate to our sport including the new 30mm side-focus Competition Series Leupolds, eight to be exact. Exactly half of them displayed varying (.020" to .060" @ 100 yd.) degrees of reticle shift.

The photo shows Lou's invention, a deceptively simple way of fitting opposing lock screws to the turret adjustments without having to disassemble the scope. The ring OD measures approximately 1.682” and it is .385 thick. The split halves are joined by interlocking dovetails that slide together along the scope's long axis. For all intents and purposes, the two halves form a solid ring that is drilled and tapped for small knob-headed machine screws that oppose the scope's windage and elevation adjustments. The scope tube is only about .030" thick at this point, which is why the ring is needed. The one detail that Lou is holding close to his chest is how the small holes through the main tube (that the adjustment locking screws pass through) are drilled with nary a chip falling into the inside of the scope. It is this secret process that allows this modification without disassembly of the scope! After the prototypes were built they were subjected to the same grueling test regime that detected the problems in the first place, and you will be pleased to learn that they all passed with flying colors." Currently Lou offers this modification only for the 30mm Leupolds, but he plans to offer a similar device for the 1"-diameter Leupolds. It is still possible to adjust the parallax even with the device in place. Lou writes: "I have been working on this for a while, and I went to Don Nielson with my “Rube Goldberg” concept. After he stopped laughing, He took my crude design and with his superior machining and knowledge came up with our current design. And it works. It only weights 3/4 of an ounce. Don made several for me, for himself and a few extra and that are already gone. Essentially, there are two very small holes put in the scope, and they do not touch the springs. The scope is not disassembled in any way." The actual mod is installed by Don Nielson, who will start doing the work in December. Price is expected to be around $175. Contact Lou at murdica dot com if you have any questions, or check This THREAD on Benchrest Central.

Farley Co-AxialGEAR GUIDE--Stabilizer Block for Front Rest Bags: Here's a simple solution for "Front Bag Droop". Cut a small block the width of your fore-end and place that in the front bag between matches. This will keep the front bag nice and square, without bunching up in the center. That will help your rifle track straight and true. Rick Beginski uses wood (see photo), while John Southwick uses a small block of metal. The metal block might work a little better, but the wood version is easier to make with simple tools.

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