Familiarity with my AR-15 in the Yote Woods Helps!

I am first and foremost, a hunter, more specifically a big game hunter. The AR-15 in .223 with a 55 grain pill does not add up for me as a big game weapon, but for Coyotes it is fabulous if you can get these smart song-dogs to stick their head out. My son gave me a Colt upper back in 2016 and I wrote lots about combining it with a Mil-Spec. lower unit. I disliked the stock trigger so I added a 2 stage Timney Trigger and tested it. See below. Wow! What a difference the Timney made!

New Timney Trigger Install on My AR-15

I put a scope on recently for yote hunting that had low rings and was uncomfortable with my cheek line up. I did not want to spend money on more rings so I put my best scope, a Leupold VX-6 3-18 and Leupold MK2 IMS mount for 30mm tube back on it as you see this photo. “LOVE MY LEUPOLD” As before sent some factory 55 grain FMJ pills down range at 100 yards at sub-moa groups. Since I have been out in the woods just three times this winter with my AR, I find that I am more comfortable in my handling practices and a sling. Taking the AR for a walk helps me know the best way to handle, cradle or sling it as I hunt.

Just got to get a Yote in my sights. They are not stupid here in New Hampshire. And yes they have some wolf genes!

Note: An AR-15 is a fine rifle for self-defense and home protection provide I train with it and shoot it regularly. There are lots of clubs offering training as do my friends at the Sig Sauer Academy in Epping, NH. Check them out and see the add I have for them on my front page!

Soon off  on some well deserved vacation in the sunshine state and will swap a rifle for a fishing rod, sun block and time with my lovely wife.

Good Shooting!

© 2018

Reloading Tech: Wiring up a 6.5 Grendel

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

I hope all spent time with family and friends, and most importantly realized that we all have so much to be grateful for!

I’ve had the PressureTrace™ II system for a few years now and I’ve found it handy in examining the pressure characteristics of my reloads.  It’s been particularly handy in determining the pressure differences between two projectiles of the same weight using the same powder charge.  I’ve only used the system on my bolt guns up to now. I finally wired up my new 6.5 Grendel AR pattern rifle build, the details of which I can share in another post.

In terms of published data there still isn’t that much out there compared to other cartridges, but new data is coming out all the time.  In my estimation Alexander Arms® produces the best factory ammunition for the 6.5 Grendel since it was Bill Alexander who spear headed the design of the round.

Factory 123 gr Lapua Scenar Load

I wanted to use the Alexander Arms factory loads to compare against my loadings for my Grendel.

Since I had some time off yesterday and it was raining, I decided that I would get some load testing done under cover with the range all to myself.

Conditions:
Temp: 42ºF
Baro. Pressure: 29.83
RH%: 97%
Equipment:
Pressure Trace II System
Magnetospeed Chronograph

***CAUTION The data presented below is by no means meant to represent data published via SAAMI approved testing or test methods, and may not reflect the true pressure; this pressure testing is only meant as a comparative tool***

If you are curious as to what a Pressure Trace system is, check out the vendor website at Shooting Software

The barrel I am currently running is a Shilen Stainless Match HBAR 20″ 1:9″ twist featuring a rifle length gas system.  Its worth noting that most bullets in the 123 gr weight aren’t optimal in a 1:9″ twist barrel due to marginal theoretical stability, with the exception of the Hornady 123 gr Match ELD projectiles.

On to the data:

SAAMI MAP (Max Average Pressure): 52,000 psi

Pressure readings I’ve collected from Factory Alexander Arms 123 gr Scenar rounds following an estimated offset of 13000 psi added to original pressure value measure by the pressure trace system.

I’ve chronographed these rounds in 75-80ºF outside temps and they are cruising at about 2510 fps ±10fps out of the 20″ bbl, which is a fair amount faster than at 42ºF as we see here, so I think my estimation on the offset was correct. My aim is to establish the summer time pressure readings of the factory loads as my working maximum pressures.

Pressure readings from IMR 8208 XBR with a 26.5 starting load (not shown here) in 0.5 gr charge increments out to 28.5 gr (also not shown because of pressure signs of previous loadings.

Its clear that I’ve reached high pressure characteristics and any increase in charge weight would unnecessarily strain the Grendel and could eventually approach an unsafe condition.  I now believe I’ve established a safe maximum of 26.0 gr of IMR 8208 XBR, at least in these low temps. Surprisingly the charge to pressure correlation peaked at a lower charge weight than I would have expected based on published data out there for a similar weight projectile.  Published IMR loads with the 123gr Sierra Match King peak at a maximum charge of 28.5 grains (compressed).  I may have to re-adjust the charge downward during the summertime temps to stay consistent with pressures if I decide to stay with this load.  This is another reason why it’s always smart to back off by 10% (I started 7% from max). That being said, this is an accurate powder with 3/4″ groups.  I’ll likely study other powders as well for comparisons sake, such as Hodgdon CFE223 and Accurate 2520, both known for velocity production.  There is little data on CFE223 use, this is where the PressureTrace™ II system will shine, now that I have a baseline.

26.5 gr 8208 XBR 123 gr Hornady ELD Match vs Factory Alexander Arms 123 gr Lapua Scenar

Based on the images above, the Alexander Arms rounds are close in appearance to when I’ve fired them in the summer time, so these marks may be more associated with chambering.  One thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes just chambering a round produces some ejector swipe marks.  I think the marks on the reload to the left suggests that I should back off to 26.0gr and call it a day.

If your range has a covered firing position and it’s raining out, get outside and work your craft and understand your gun/ammunition combination, you just might have the range all to yourself

Look out for a companion piece to this article, as I purchased a 24″ barrel made by Satern Barrels and sold by Brownells, testing will commence with this shortly using the pressure trace system.

Until next time….

See you at the range!

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved.

TargetVision Camera

Nearing the end of the competition season I became frustrated with the number of opportunities I had to practice a the 600 yard line.  One of the drawbacks to a 600 yard range in New England is the proximity to civilization.  Tracking your hits at such a long distance requires a spotter or someone to pull targets for you in the pits.  You HAVE to know you’re on the target.  This makes shooting/practicing by yourself a non-starter for safety reasons.  I wrote to the folks over at TargetVision and asked if I could do a review out of my own curiosity and for our readership.  They liked the idea and shipped a unit over for us to take a look at.

They sent over the LR-2 unit for us to review, which retails for $649 and is good for targets up to a mile away, wow!!  They do have other offerings for reduced distances, so take a look at the website to see what unit would better suit your needs.

When I opened the exterior cardboard box, I remarked to myself about the high quality of the carrying case for the camera system.  In the pic below, you can see that this case will protect your investment.  One of the little things that the folks over at TargetVision thought of is to ensure that the system doesn’t turn on in transit, so they taped the power switch in the off position.

From targetvisioncam.com Website:

The LR-2 is a fixed lens, portable, battery powered, wireless target camera system that can be viewed from a phone or tablet.  This target camera has a range of one mile and a run time of 12 + hours. TARGETVISION is the perfect companion for long range shooters, competitive shooters, and people who are looking for a more interactive and entertaining shooting experience.  This unit is able to clearly see .17 caliber bullet holes (and larger) at any distance up to a mile.  TARGETVISION consists of two pieces, the camera/transmitter and the receiver.  The camera sits down range about 10-15 feet from the target and can be moved within that range to adjust the field of view.  The receiver sits next to the shooter on the ground or shooting bench.

External antenna is not required to go one mile, but optional.

NO CELL OR WiFi SERVICE REQUIRED!

NO SKEW CORRECTION REQUIRED!

MADE IN TEXAS.  

Instructional Videos 

APP Video 

Hardware

Specifications

  • Resolution: 1280 X 960
  • Pivotable Camera
  • Batteries: Rechargeable Lithium Ion
  • Band: 2.4GHz
  • Weight: 13 lbs.
  • Hard Case Dimensions: 16.00″ x 13.00″ x 7″ (IP67 Rated)

In the Box

  • TARGETVISION Camera
  • TARGETVISION Receiver
  • Waterproof, Crush-proof, Dust-proof Custom Hard Case
  • 12V DC Charger
  • 2 Tripods

 

Serious protection for that hardware!

I was impressed with the quality so far and couldn’t wait to get it out to the range, but before I did, I inspected the system and made sure to charge both the Transmitter and Receiver. After the charge up, I was ready for some range action.  It was some time until I could find an opportunity to get out and take it for a spin, but I eventually got out to the 600 to use the system.  Set up was ridiculously easy!  You set up the camera/transmitter unit off to the side about 10 feet or so away, connect to the WiFi network and center the target in the camera view by making final adjustments to the ball/socket style camera lens.  After that, you head back to your equipment, confirm the image in your smartphone/tablet, and start shooting.  I had this gear up and running in 15 minutes.  See the TargetVision video below:

Below are the images from my set up at the Nashua Fish & Game Club.

Simple as 1, 2, 3!

Marking your shots is a breeze with this system.  So after set up and watching my rounds impact down range, I’m officially hooked. Guaranteed after I pick up one of these, that next season will show a marked improvement in my accuracy at distance.  The image below is from a photo I took and exported using the TargetVision app functionality on my iphone.  I am thoroughly impressed with this camera rig.  This gear gets a solid A in my book!

Not bad, but this isn’t an F-Class Target.

The bottom line is if long range shooting is on the menu, get your hands on a high quality target camera system like this one and as they say at TargetVision, “Never Lose Sight”!

See you at the range!

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved.

New: Primos Trigger Stick or Bog-Pod? Updated

Don’t Own one yet! Maybe today for that steady shot! This from youtube.

I examined the mono-pod, bi-pod and tripod styles at Bass Pro in Hooksett, NH. See my video below.

The Red head was light in weight but cumbersome to open each length but once set it looked solid without further tests and under $40. My primary concern was weight and not cumbersome to set up. It failed the cumbersome part.

The Bog-Pod was strong and looked durable, had a bag to put it in with large white letters saying BOG-POD so big that the shoulder bag looked as much white as black. The bag? Not good in the deer woods by my account..too much white like a deer tail.

My Choice was the Primos bi-pod Gen 3! Not heavy, easy to set up instantly.  Just pull the trigger on the bipod and your pod legs extend by gravity. Let the trigger go and the height is set. Cant mount a camera on the bi-pod at $130.00 but you can on the tripod at $160.00 and carry more weight.

You decide whats best for your hunting situation!

Good Hunting!

© 2017

One Shot One Kill applies to Hunters too. Use a Bipod or Tripod!

Yes it is a sniper credo but it also applies to serious hunters. After the first shot in the field or woods, every animal knows. And if your game animal was not hit or vitally hit on the first shot you will rarely have a second shot. Color your animal gone or likely lost!

Ok how to improve?

First only take shots that are within your capability?

How do you know this?

By practicing and learning your limits. The kill zone of heart and lungs of a large whitetail buck for example is 8 inches but a doe is often much smaller and more like a 6 inch kill zone. I keep my shots in that zone when practicing off hand. My max range for off hand is about 50 yards. If I have time to brace against a tree or use shooting sticks, like I did in Africa, my confidence grows to 300 yards or more.

So finding a brace, such as shooting sticks or pods, helps make that first shot count!

When I take a stand and can see longer than 50 yards then I will employ a brace like shooting sticks or a bipod or monopod. My hunt in North Carolina a few years back placed me in a sorghum field with a 380 yard view. I had a spike buck on day three cross the field at nearly 300 yards. You can see my monopod in the photo below.

I had a monopod firmly strapped to my stand and took that spike with my Savage 7mm Rem Mag. I was meat hunting after 3 days of seeing not one deer!  If I didn’t have that pod, I would have been forced to pass on that shot. I hit the buck near top of the lungs and he fell like lightening but a moment later it stood and I placed a second shot just a few inches lower and put him in my freezer.

I have a Harris Bipod that is useless in northern NH hunting and the mono-pod walking stick which is nice but I think a larger lightweight telescoping bipod or even the tripod is a better answer, such as the bog-pod by Battenfield Technologies, Inc.

http://www.btibrands.com/brands/bog-pod/?archive=hunting-restsmonopods-bipods-tripods

Bog Gear Bog-Pod Shooting Stick SB-2 Sportsman's Bipod 735544

I show this brand because it so well thought out! Check it out at your local sporting goods store.

Make that first shot a kill shot like this Red Hartebeest below taken with bow.

Good Hunting!

© 2017

Weatherby Vanguard Weatherguard Coming Soon

Vanguard® Weatherguard™

Above the Weatherby® Vanguard® Weatherguard™ is coming to New Hampshire Rifleman Magazine On-Line in 6.5 Creedmoor, one of my favorite cartridges. I chose this rifle to test for several reasons but it all boils down to value!  High quality and accuracy (guaranteed MOA accurate with Weatherby cartridges or top names) at a very acceptable cost. At an MSRP of $750 (much less at retail) this rifle appears to have it all. We shall see! Accordingly, we will put this rifle through its paces for accuracy and dependability for the all weather hunter.

Good Hunting! Check back soon!

 

Detailing my 50 Cal. Pennsylvania Flintlock Rifle Build by Ed Hale

A study of patchboxes prompted me to upgrade the one I installed (see earlier articles on this rifle build) and to correctly seat it. The beauty is in the details. Of course this is my first Flintlock Build but I can’t help but be pleased.

Details like correctly recessing my brass patchbox with all of its curves and getting the door to latch perfectly in prep for placing my now engraved patchbox and brass side plate. I did enlist the services of Certified Master Engraver Mark Swanson to recreate the 1770-80 Jacob Dickert design. A masterpiece of engraving! Thanks Mark!

A closer look below.

And the sideplate.

http://gunriflemasterengraver.webs.com/

Of course it is a Patchbox for patches and such for use in the field. And the side plate was for holding the lock, stock and barrel together into position with the two large screws seen in the lower image.

I do intend to deer hunt with this 50 cal rifle this upcoming deer season. It is very accurate so far to 100 yards, where may testing has stopped.

Good Shooting!

© 2017 All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Lots of Learning: Match Results, Mystic Precision Bipod Review, and Leupolds Gold Ring VX-6 7-42 x 56mm Competition Scope with CDS

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!

© 2017

 

 

Memorial Day, the Mystic Precision MPOD Bipod, and the Leupold Gold Ring Competition Scope for F-T/R Match

First, a reminder for this Memorial Day weekend, which is likely to be full of barbecues, parades and perhaps a frosty beverage: Never forget!  Just a reminder dad, I will never forget.

Image courtesy of Associated Press

My kids and I are looking forward to the parade this Memorial Day weekend to honor our soldiers, but it means so much more than that.  I did not serve, but my father along with the rest of my family, has a rich history of putting on the uniform for this country since the American Revolution.  I take these holidays seriously, as that was how I was raised.  With my kids, I do my best to explain the meaning of remembering those that, when their country called on them, ran towards harm instead of away from it.  Some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.  It’s because of them that I get to punch holes in paper for fun and nothing is headed back in my direction.  Thank you, thank you, thank you dad and those who have served this country.

Mystic Precision MPOD Bipod

Load testing will continue with the Nosler bullets, but in the mean time, I have a match coming up this weekend and will be using my current match load of the Sierra 175 TMK’s which I have to use up.  I started long range rifle competitions using my standard Harris S 6-9″ Bipod.  It worked well to start out, but one of the downsides to using this basic bipod was that you couldn’t track your shots and the bipod would often sink into the position (dirt/grass/sand) which lead to fighting elevation changes in the middle of a string of fire.

I decided that it was time for an upgrade for future competitions. 

After a lot of research on F-Class bipods, I settled on an economical lightweight design from Mystic Precision.

It’s a Canadian company, but the bipods are actually manufactured right here in the USA,  at Evolution Gun Works in Quakertown, PA.  I have my first match this weekend.  I will report back on what the differences are with this bi-pod.

From Mystic Precision’s website:

MPOD Design:  Make a super light bipod with the stability and tracking of a pedestal rest

A winning design: Winner of the 2013 Individual FTR World Championship used the MPOD.  Multiple NRA records in Team and Individual set.  Several Members of the US National FTR team currently shooting with the MPOD

Improved geometry to reduce the effects of torque during recoil for consistent tracking and follow through despite the chambering. Has been successfully used on larger caliber boomers including the 50BMG

Easy to operate with large range of movements to account for varied terrain.  The lowest height is 4 1/2 inches suitable for bench work and raised berms when shooting prone. At full elevation, you have 7 3/4 inches to the mounting lug.  This range is wider then the Harris 6-9 bipod.

Cant feature is now added for quick leveling on uneven ground.  And the Cant will not shift during recoil as is common with most other bipods.

Easy to install and remove – Solid with great repeatability and accuracy potential.

Stability increasing with increased pod height which is opposite to a number of designs.

Keep finished weight as low as possible – 12.8ozs installed, yet strong enough to support heavy rifles and big boomers.  Easily supported rifles weighing 50lbs.

I’ve also mounted and plumb leveled the Leupold Gold Ring VX-6 7-42 X 56mm scope with 34mm tube for it’s first test.

I am excited to have the target fill up more of my scope at the higher magnifications.

I’m used to no higher than 25X magnification and First Focal Plane reticles that obscure the target more than necessary, so this should be a real treat.

Having that much magnification can be a real benefit if mirage isn’t too bad.  Local range conditions for the match look good, mid 60’s and 2 mph winds from the south.  We’ll see if that holds; field conditions could be completely different.  I’m going to re-zero and confirm my come-ups for dialing to 600 yds the morning of the match.
I will post my scores for this weekend’s match, share a few thoughts, and post a few photo’s of the bi-pod and scope mounted at the range.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend!!

See you at the range.

© 2017