Testing new gear in a long range match.
I had an interesting match last Sunday (28-May 2017). In my previous article here I announced the intent to test some new gear in a match. I learned a great deal about changing gear before a match, but the biggest takeaway is: If you change gear and don’t practice with that new gear at competition distance, you should be prepared to have a few accuracy surprises that happen once you start punching holes in paper.
First Impressions: Leupold Gold Ring VX-6 7-42x56mm Competition scope with CDS
First things first, the glass is just gorgeous to look through. The morning of the match I had it dialed up, but as the day went on and the mirage started to intensify I had to back off a bit to 32X. I also realized that I have some additional adjustments that are necessary for eye relief when in the prone position.
Learning about the impact of new gear: Leupold graciously supplied rings for our testing that would mount to any rifle for us to test as long as it had a picatinny rail. The particular issue with my rifle is that I did not have a high enough comb nor adjustable comb to accommodate the ring height. I knew this going into the match but honestly didn’t think that it would matter that much, but it definitely did. The difference or variability in cheek pressure on the comb had a huge impact elevation control and lead to uncomfortable body/head positions and a poor score.
First Impressions: Mystic Precision MPOD Bipod
While zeroing the rifle the bipod was like a rock, on the line at distance, however, my “squeeze bag” style rear rifle rest was not cutting it. In order for the bags to work effectively you need to apply consistent downward force with your cheek and squeeze the back to it to remain stable. If you can’t apply consistent pressure with your cheek, then having a repeatable position is difficult, and my score’s definitely reflected that; my worst for the day was below along with my typical score from last year.
Score last year with original set up.
Score with different set-up (Different SCOPE/BIPod).
I will note that at the time of the string of fire, a shot was marked as a miss, but following my string and talking to Art Lamb, who was scoring for me, he informed me that one of my rounds was subsonic at 600 yards and he later identified the impact in the white portion of the target, so not a miss, but perhaps a 5 or 6. Not too happy about that; I did notice that my barrel was getting a bit hot from the quick string of fire, so I don’t know what happened here. My next purchase is a good old kitchen timer to make sure I don’t go too fast and heat the barrel up too much.
On a humorous dad note, my wife called me and informed me that my mother in-law was at our house with the kids needing to put my youngest son down for a nap. The only problem was that I locked all the doors and she did not have the key. Rather than breaking into a fit of twitches after my horrible match, I calmly let it roll off my shoulders and trekked 4 miles down the road and let her back in. It’s good to live close to the range. Looking back and doing some diagnostics on the poor match, I realized that I should have changed bags over to one of my fixed rear sand bags with the bipod. The toe of my stock is angled so that elevation corrections can be as simple as moving the bag fore or aft of the buttstock. We always learn. I’ll be better acclimated to the new gear next time. Next up; a barrel swap will take place to the new Shilen 6.5 Creedmoor Match Barrel and we’ll do some F-Open work with a front rest for a match on 17-June. I love the Savage Barrel Nut!! It’s so easy to swap barrels!
Until next time…..
See you on the range!