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32 OCTOBER 2016 VOLUME 57, ISSUE 9

44 An AR Mountain Rifle Usually when you hear the words “mountain rifle,” you think of a 4to 5-pound bolt action. Rock River Arms is changing that. Steve Gash

52 68 76 80 82

2

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

Hunter Lightweight, compact, beautifully balanced, accurate, and priced right, Kimber’s new 84M Hunter is one of the best values in bolt actions. Joseph von Benedikt

Legion SIG SAUER’s Legion program is more than just a line of guns with real-world practical enhancements. It’s a lifestyle. Joseph von Benedikt

The Element Inertia-driven semiautomatic shotguns may be a new area for Weatherby, but one look at the new Element verifies this gun is all Flying W. Brad Fitzpatrick

Handloading for Autoloaders Handloading for AR-15s, M1 Garands, M1As, and other semiautomatics requires close attention to certain details. Layne Simpson

Quick Shot Ruger 10/22 Takedown Lite The newest version of the 10/22 Takedown comes with a 16.1inch barrel, an aluminum barrel shroud, and an interchangeablecomb buttstock. Jake Edmondson

Quick Shot Leupold VX-R 4-12X 40mm CDS This new hunting scope features a 30mm main tube, an illuminated reticle, and Leupold’s easy-to-use Custom Dial System. Jake Edmondson

Quick Shot LaserLyte Glock Laser Trainer Barrel LaserLyte’s drop-in Laser Trainer Barrel for Glock pistols is compatible with the company’s line of Trainer Targets. Jake Edmondson


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CONTENTS

OCTOBER 2016 VOLUME 57, ISSUE 9

An Outdoor Sportsman Group Publication

PUBLISHER

SHOOTER’S UPDATE

Chris Agnes

EDITORIAL EDITOR IN CHIEF Joel J. Hutchcroft

9 Readers Speak Out Savage Model 24, Bill Jordan exemplified a gentle giant, and the first book to cover the Savage Model 99 from start to finish

10 New Guns & Gear CZ-USA 75B Omega Urban Grey Suppressor-Ready pistol, Barrett bolt-action hunting rifles, MTM QR-30 shooting rest, Browning Overtime knives, and Daniel Defense DD magazine

12 Ask the Experts Colt .32-caliber DA police revolver; shooting from inside a building

SHOOTER’S GALLERY 14 The Shootist

COPY EDITOR Michael Brecklin CONTRIBUTORS Jake Edmondson Steve Gash Allan Jones Lane Pearce Layne Simpson Bart Skelton Joseph von Benedikt Terry Wieland

ART ART DIRECTOR Luke M. Bouris GROUP ART DIRECTOR David A. Kleckner STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Michael Anschuetz

PRODUCTION PRODUCTION MANAGER Terry Boyer PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Jenny Kaeb

Remington Model 8 Joseph von Benedikt

ENDEMIC AD SALES NATIONAL ENDEMIC SALES Jim McConville (440) 791-7017

20 The Ballistician Optimize Your Big-Game Handloads Allan Jones

26 The Reloader

WESTERN REGION Hutch Looney (818) 990-9000 WEST REGION Tom Perrier (605) 348-4652 SOUTHWEST REGION Michael Garrison (309) 679-5054

These 6.5mms Are Hot Lane Pearce

MIDWEST REGION Rob Walker (309) 679-5069

SHOOTER’S SHOWCASE

EAST REGION Pat Bentzel (717) 695-8095

CORPORATE AD SALES

84 Gunsmoke

EAST COAST ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Kathy Gross (678) 589-2065

A 6.5mm Breakthrough Terry Wieland

MIDWEST ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Kevin Donley (248) 798-4458

88 Hipshots Gang-Stopping Hipshots Joel J. Hutchcroft

MIDWEST & MOUNTAIN ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Carl Benson (312) 955-0496 WEST COAST ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Viga Hall (714) 222-1692 DIRECT RESPONSE ADVERTISING/NON-ENDEMIC Anthony Smyth (914) 693-8700 Shooting Times (ISSN 0038-8084) is published monthly with a bimonthly issue in Dec/Jan by Outdoor Sportsman Group, 1040 6th Ave., 12th Floor, New York, NY 10018-3703. Periodicals Postage Paid at New York, NY and at additional mailing offices.

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POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Shooting Times, P.O. Box 37539, Boone, IA 50037-0539. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to 500 Rt 46 East, Clifton, NJ 07011. Canada Post International Publications Mail Product/Sales Agreement No. 41405030.

Readers Speak Out Illustration: ©mstanley13 - fotolia.com New Guns & Gear Illustration: ©Oleksandr Moroz - fotolia.com Ask the Experts Illustration: ©rukanoga - fotolia.com

4

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016


It has been 10 years since the legendary Taurus Judge® was born, and it’s still laying down the law. Capable of chambering both 45 Colt and 410 shotshell, this five-shot game changer is worth celebrating—and so are our fans. That’s why we’re giving you a chance to win a trip to Taurus headquarters in Miami, range time with champion shooter Jessie Duff and other amazing prizes. Enter at Taurus-Judge.com/tour and join the celebration. #WhatLegendsAreMadeOf

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CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Jeff Paro EVP, GROUP PUBLISHER, HUNTING & SHOOTING Mike Carney SENIOR VP, TV OPERATIONS, GROUP PUBLISHER, FISHING Steve Hoffman VP, FINANCE & OPERATIONS Derek Sevcik VP, CONSUMER MARKETING Peter Watt VP, MANUFACTURING Deb Daniels VP, CONTENT DEVELOPMENT Todd Smith VP, DIGITAL SALES David Plante SENIOR DIRECTOR, PRODUCTION Connie Mendoza DIRECTOR, PUBLISHING TECHNOLOGY Kyle Morgan OUTDOOR SPORTSMAN GROUP DIGITAL DIRECTOR, DIGITAL DEVELOPMENT Berry Blanton DIRECTOR, DIGITAL AD OPS Reggie Hudson EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, FISHING Jeff Simpson EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, HUNTING & SHOOTING Randy Hynes For questions regarding digital editions, please contact digitalsupport@outdoorsg.com MEDIA outdoorsg.com TELEVISION outdoorchannel.com thesportsmanchannel.com worldfishingnetwork.com

HUNTING bowhunter.com bowhuntingmag.com gundogmag.com petersenshunting.com northamericanwhitetail.com wildfowlmag.com

FISHING bassfan.com floridasportsman.com flyfisherman.com gameandfishmag.com in-fisherman.com

SHOOTING gunsandammo.com handguns.com rifleshootermag.com shootingtimes.com firearmsnews.com

Copyright 2016 by Outdoor Sportsman Group All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission. Shooting Times® is a registered trademark of Outdoor Sportsman Group in the United States. The Publisher and authors make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of the information contained in this publication. Any reliance or use of the information is solely at your own risk, and the authors and publisher disclaim any and all liability relating thereto. Any prices given in this issue were suggested prices at the press time and are subject to change. Some advertisements in this magazine may concern products that are not legally for sale to California residents or residents in other jurisdictions. SUBSCRIPTIONS INQUIRIES: Should you wish to change your address, order new subscriptions, or report a problem with your current subscription, you can do so by writing Shooting Times, P.O. Box 37539, Boone, IA 50037-0539, or E-mail us at stmcustserv@cdsfulfillment.com, or call TOLL FREE 1-800-727-4353 or 1-800-494-2267. BE AWARE THAT SHOOTING TIMES ONLY ACCEPTS SUBSCRIPTION REQUESTS FROM AUTHORIZED AGENTS! WE MAY NOT HONOR REQUESTS FROM UNAUTHORIZED AGENTS, AND YOU THEREFORE MAY LOSE YOUR MONEY IF YOU BUY FROM AN UNAUTHORIZED AGENT. If you are offered a subscription to Shooting Times, please call 1-800-727-4353 to determine if the agent is authorized. For more information on subscription scams, please visit www.ftc.gov. Subscription rate for one year is $23.98 (U.S., APO, FPO, and U.S. possessions). Canada add $13.00 (U.S. funds) per year, includes sales tax and GST. Foreign add $15.00 (U.S. funds) per year.

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Occasionally, our subscriber list is made available to reputable firms offering goods and services that we believe would be of interest to our readers. If you prefer to be excluded, please send your current address label and a note requesting to be excluded from these promotions to: Outdoor Sportsman Group, 1040 6th Ave., 12th Floor, New York, NY 10018-3703, Attn: Privacy Coordinator FOR REPRINTS: For Reprints/Eprints or Licensing/Permissions, please contact: Wright’s Media - TOLL FREE 1-877-652-5295. BOOKS, DVD’S & BACK ISSUES: TOLL FREE 1-800-260-6397 or visit our online store at www.outdoorsg.com/store. CONTRIBUTIONS: Manuscripts, photographs and artwork must be submitted to the editorial department with a SASE. The Publisher assumes no responsibility for loss or damage to unsolicited material. Please send to: Shooting Times, Editor, 2 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61614. PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.


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SHOOTER’S UPDATE READERS SPEAK OUT

i

The eTHOS offered in 12-, 20and 28-gauges. Benelliusa.com

IN “THE SHOOTIST” COLUMN IN THE MAY ISSUE ABOUT THE SAVAGE MODEL 24B

combination gun, an older gun is pictured that appears to have both types of barrel selectors: the hammer-mounted thumb serrated barrel selector as well as the receiver-mounted selector button on the right side. I did not recall any of my Model 24s having both types, only one or the other, and I have had them with both types over the years. Very interesting! Unfortunately, my experience with them has not been very good. I encountered too many problems, and the hammer-mounted selector was much too slow for fast action on turkeys. Craig Minnich Chambersburg, PA

Bill Jordan: Gentle Giant I just finished reading Mr. McCord’s letter about Bill Jordan in the May issue. I had the privilege of meeting Bill Jordan in the late 1970s while at Camp Perry shooting the National Matches. I was a young member of the Indiana National Guard pistol team. After shooting I was wandering around commercial row when my captain found me. He told me that there was someone I wanted to meet. Following him, I was led to a giant. Having read No Second Place Winner many times, I recognized Jordan. Awestruck, I stammered that I had read his book many times. He then extended his hand to shake, and his hand swallowed mine. He truly exemplified a gentle giant. It is a cherished memory. Tony Huffman Knightstown, IN

Savage Model 99’s Complete Story Fans of the iconic Savage Model 99 might like to know that the very first book to cover the rifle from start to finish is now available from Schiffer Publishing. Researched and authored by David Royal, A Collector’s Guide to the Savage 99 Rifle and its Predecessors, the Model 1895 and 1899 contains 176 pages and 260 color and black-and-white photos. Retired Savage CEO Ron Coburn wrote the foreword, and he adroitly sets the stage for Royal. The book is full of details about every aspect of the classic Model 99 lever-action rifle, and if you’re interested in the Savage Model 99 rifle, this book deserves a place in your reference library. You can order a signed and numbered copy by contacting the author at wyoming savage1899@gmail.com. The book is also available for $59.99 from Schiffer Publishing, 4880 Lower Valley Rd., Atglen, PA 19310 or from amazon.com. James W. Bequette Via e-mail

OCTOBER 2016 • SHOOTING TIMES

9


SHOOTER’S UPDATE READERS SPEAK OUT

NEW GUNS & GEAR

ASK THE EXPERTS

THIS IS A SPACE-AGE VERSION OF THE LEGENDARY CZ 75.

It features a steel frame, a barrel that’s threaded for a suppressor, and compatible high sights with tritium lamps. Magazine capacity is 18 rounds of 9mm ammo, and the new convertible-parts system enables owners to make tool-less switches from decocker to manual thumb safety and vice versa. The hammer-forged barrel is 5.2 inches long. The finish is CZ’s Urban Grey, which is a mix of gray and DFE. The pistol weighs 42 ounces empty and is 1.4 inches in width. MSRP: $636 cz-usa.com

MTM QR-30 Shooting Rest MTM’s new one-piece QR-30 Shooting Rest, according to the company, is a KISS (Keep It Simple...) design. It is sturdy, lightweight, and inexpensive. It has a nonmarring shooting pad, a built-in handle, and rubber feet. It provides a wide, wobble-free stance and makes a great option when a simple rest is needed. The QR-30 weighs 11.2 ounces and is 8.25 inches tall. MSRP: $10.99 mtmcase-gard.com

Barrett Bolt-Action Hunting Rifles Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc.’s new lightweight Fieldcraft bolt-action rifle line joins the company’s newly released Sovereign line of over-under and side-by-side shotguns. The Fieldcraft rifles are designed for hunting and have carbon-fiber stocks, finely tuned triggers, and precision-machined stainless-steel barrels. Actions are scaled specifically for the chambering, and barrels are contoured for the particular application. Weights range from 5 to 6 pounds. Select calibers are being offered. MSRP: Starting at $1,799 barrett.net

Browning Overtime Knives The new Overtime Knives are built for skinning and processing big game. They feature tan/black or jade/black G10 handles, 3.38-inch fixed D2 highcarbon-steel drop point blades, and full tangs. Overall length is 7.38 inches, and each comes with a leather sheath. MSRP: $114.95 browning.com 10

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

Daniel Defense DD Magazine The durable, lightweight DD magazine, which is the first-ever magazine designed by Daniel Defense, holds 32 rounds of 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. or .300 Blackout ammo. It’s made of carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer; weighs just 4.6 ounces empty; and features include an improved lip design, an enhanced anti-tilt follower, an impact-absorbing baseplate, and snag-free textured styling. Easy disassembly/assembly makes maintenance quick and easy. MSRP: $20 danieldefense.com


This Is The Most Important Election Ever With the balance of the Supreme Court at stake, this election will affect our constitutional rights. It is crucial that all gun owners and Second Amendment supporters register to vote, become informed about candidates’ positions, and on Election Day, #GUNVOTE.

Learn more at gunvote.org gunvote.org


SHOOTER’S UPDATE READERS SPEAK OUT

NEW GUNS & GEAR

ASK THE EXPERTS

Shooting from Inside?

Q:

Q:

I HAVE A COLT POLICE POSITIVE (ALSO CALLED DETECTIVE SPECIAL)

in .32 caliber. My revolver’s serial number is 181XXX. It has plain wooden grips, and one has a quarter-inch chunk out of it. I don’t know if they are replacement grips or original. The revolver is 90-percent condition or better and has no bluing wear. It has a 4-inch barrel. I can’t find it in any of the books I’ve checked. Could you shed some light on it and its worth? Ronald Bruni Via e-mail

A:

From your description, I can’t tell if you have a Colt Police Positive or a Police Positive Special double-action revolver. The Police Positive, which was made from 1907 to 1947 in two “Issues,” was chambered for .32 Colt, .32 New Police, .38 New Police, or .38 Special with a 2.5-, 4-, 5-, or 6-inch barrel. The .32 New Police cartridge was identical to the .32 S&W Long except for the shape of the bullet nose. The Police Positive Special had a longer frame that allowed for a longer cylinder and was made from 1907 to 1978 and then again from 1994 to 1995 in four different “Issues.” It was offered with a 4-, 5-, or 6-inch barrel, and it was chambered in .38 Special, .38 New Police, .32-20, and .32 New Police. It was popular with police departments in the United States, Latin America, and Canada. Regardless of which model it is, based on your gun’s serial number, it was produced sometime between 1920 and 1922, making it a First Issue revolver; however, hard rubber grips were standard on the First Issue guns. According to Blue Book of Gun Values, in 90-percent condition, your gun is valued at about $325. Joel J. Hutchcroft During the 1920s and ’30s, the Colt Police Positive Special was popular with police departments in the United States, Latin America, and Canada. It was offered with 4-, 5-, and 6-inch barrels.

12

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

Steve Gash often writes about shooting out the window of his shooting shack with rifles, including AR-15-type autoloaders and other carbines with short barrels. How does he keep the window from being damaged? Also, can Steve suggest some way to catch the fired brass as it’s ejected from an AR-15? Frank J. Lipp Via e-mail

A:

Shooting out of a window is fine as long as the muzzle is outside the building. But if the barrel doesn’t extend out far enough, I use a “blast shield” over the muzzle to protect the window from damage. This is especially important for guns with flash hiders or some type of muzzle brake. I made my blast shield out of dimension lumber and plywood. When shooting from inside a building, one should also be mindful of the potential damage caused by empties being ejected from a semiautomatic carbine. They can damage chronographs and computer screens and put serious dents in dry wall. A brass catcher—like the one from Caldwell Shooting Suplies I show in my article on the new Rock River Arms Lightweight Mountain Rifle elsewhere in this issue—is great for such shooting. Its aluminum base clamps to the gun’s Picatinny rail, and a catch bag slips on to the base; the bag can hold up to 100 .223 Remington cases. Steve Gash


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SHOOTER’S GALLERY THE SHOOTIST

THE BALLISTICIAN

IF YOU SCRUTINIZE OLD PHOTOGRAPHS OF WHITE-

Remington’s semiauto Model 8 sporting rifle is sleek and beautiful. John M. Browning designed it as an inertia-driven, rotating-lug action with a reciprocating barrel and bolt and a rotating takedown lever that’s hidden beneath the walnut forearm.

14

tail deer hunters, particularly those taken in the Northeast, you’ll find that a large percentage of them include at least one hunter armed with a semiautomatic Remington Model 8 mixed in among the lever-action Winchester 94s and Savage 99s. Although only around 80,000 Model 8s were manufactured, those rifles typically found their way into the hands of savvy hunters and lawmen with an appreciation for innovation, and as a result they saw a lot of use. John M. Browning designed the rifle and sold the patent to Remington. It has been manufactured in .25 Remington, .30 Remington, .32 Remington, and .35 Remington. Toward the end of its life, a few were allegedly chambered in .300 Savage.

Mechanicals The Model 8 rifle is reminiscent of Browning’s legendary humpback Auto 5 shotgun because the

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

THE RELOADER

operating systems are very similar. Uniquely, the Model 8 uses a shrouded, reciprocating barrel with a recoil spring housed inside between the barrel and the shroud. It’s a fairly strong action, utilizing a rotating-lug lockup. And it’s a gas-free, inertiaoperated system. When the rifle is fired, recoil forces drive the entire barrel and bolt group rearward inside the receiver. With the bolt lugs still locked, the assembly moves about 1.7 inches rearward, where the barrel and bolt stop moving. Inertia causes the bolt carrier to continue rearward, and as it does it cams the rotating locking lugs a quarter-turn to the unlocked position. The carrier and bolt momentarily lock in the rearward position, and the compressed recoil spring inside the barrel shroud sends the barrel/breech forward again, literally drawing the barrel off the empty cartridge case that is held firmly in the face of the bolt by a massive 0.285-inch-wide claw-type extractor at


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Remington Model 8

MODEL 8 MANUFACTURER TYPE

12 o’clock in the boltface. As the breech clears the case mouth, a plungertype ejector at 6 o’clock in the boltface boosts the empty case skyward. As the barrel/breech lands in its home position, it releases the bolt catch, and the carrier spring slams the bolt assembly forward, picking up and chambering a fresh cartridge. Five cartridges fit in the vertical box-type magazine, which is not removable even though at first glance it appears to be. The bolt is operated via a large charging knob attached at the forward right side of the bolt carrier, and the bolt catch is a small, unobtrusive tab just at the top front left side of the trigger guard. The safety is a large, positive lever on the right side of the action. When in the upward “engaged” position, the safety not only blocks the trigger, but also locks the bolt in the closed position. As far as I’m aware, all Model 8s are of takedown design. In addition, the Model 8 has the distinction of being the only sporting semiauto ever manufactured with a stripper clip guide machined integral to the action.

Provenance I convinced a fine old gentleman friend to trade me the .25 Rem. Model 8 I used for this report. It had resided, unfired, in his gun safe for the several decades I’ve known him, and it’s in about as nice condition as you’ll find. According to the letter codes stamped on the left rear of the barrel hood, the sleek little rifle was manufactured in October 1927, the same month and year that Ford’s Model A was first produced.

CALIBER MAGAZINE CAPACITY

Remington Inertia-driven autoloader .25 Remington 5 rounds

BARREL

22 in.

OVERALL LENGTH

41 in.

WEIGHT

8.3 lbs.

STOCK

Walnut

FINISH

Blued barrel and action, oil-finished stock

LENGTH OF PULL SIGHTS TRIGGER SAFETY

13.75 in. Brass bead front, U-notch adjustable rear 3.75-lb. pull (as tested) Side lever

Rangetime Although my .25-caliber Model 8’s box magazine is safe for use with pointed bullets previous experience has taught me that the Model 8 has a profound dislike for anything but the roundnose bullets with which the cartridge was originally loaded. My favorite loads for this little rifle are a hard-cast 112-grain gaschecked RNFP over IMR 4320 powder and Hornady’s 117-grain jacketed RN pushed by the same powder.


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REMINGTON MODEL 8 ACCURACY & VELOCITY

BULLET

(TYPE)

(GRS.)

VEL. (FPS)

E.S. (FPS)

S.D. (FPS)

50-YD. ACC. (IN.)

2005 2356

70 48

24 17

1.34 1.45

.25 Remington Hard-cast G/C 112-gr. RNFP Hornady 117-gr. RN

IMR 4320 IMR 4320

22.6 28.0

NOTES: Accuracy is the average of three, three-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest. Velocity is the average of nine rounds measured 12 feet from the gun’s muzzle. All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Shooting Times has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Shooting Times nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data.

With these loads, my 80-year-old semiauto Model 8 clusters bullets exactly at point of aim and produces pretty decent groups. Mind you, the results are for shooting with the rifle’s factory-original open sights. On the day I did the shooting for this column, function with the jacketed RN handload was stellar without a single hiccup. With the cast-bullet load accuracy was good, but reliability suffered. The lighter powder charge just didn’t have enough oomph to fully function the action every time. I’m a fan of slender, straight-grip stocks, and to me the Model 8 has always mounted and pointed like a fine vintage shotgun. Courtesy of its 8-pound, 5-ounce weight, it balances beautifully and steadily, making fast field-type shots easy. The trigger is a bit spongy, but it breaks without grittiness at 3 pounds, 12 ounces. Like every Model 8, the massive back-and-forward movement of the barrel, bolt, and carrier produces 18

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

Joseph’s favorite handloads for his vintage Remington Model 8 chamberd in .25 Remington are loaded with IMR 4320 powder and RN bullets weighing 112 and 117 grains.

an odd double-recoil sensation that’s noticeable but not unfriendly. Thirty years after its introduction, the Model 8 was replaced by the Model 81, which featured a firing pin return spring, a pistol-grip buttstock, and bulkier forearm. While the firing pin return spring may add a trace of safety when using super-soft primers, in my opinion, the clunkier Model 81 lost much of the sleek appeal of the Model 8. The Model 8 is a beautifully made rifle that is fun to shoot and is surprisingly viable in the field. I’d love to take mine to the big woods of the Northeast on a traditional whitetail deer hunt.


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SHOOTER’S GALLERY THE SHOOTIST

Using handloads for a hunt of a lifetime involves avoiding surprises with the ammo in the field. One advantage of nickel-plated cartridge cases that’s often overlooked is that they commonly feed more smoothly in repeating firearms.

20

THE BALLISTICIAN

THE RELOADER

RELAX...I’M NOT GOING TO SAY YOU CAN’T USE

Brass

your handloads on that dream hunt. Rather, I want to talk about ways to optimize your chances for success. First, decide why you want to use handloads. The most common reason for handloading that people state—“saves me money”—is simply not part of the formula when you may be spending $15,000 or more on the “hunt of a lifetime.” Valid reasons are better accuracy and using a bullet not available in factory ammo. Satisfaction may also be a reason. All I ask is that you make sound decisions about why you will use handloads. You can do as you like, but what follows is how I would approach handloading for a priceless hunt.

I would start with new empty cases. New cases offer the least chance of dimensional problems. Still, I will inspect them, checking for consistent case length and looking for burrs around the rim area. While I’m at it, I’ll make sure each case has a flashhole in the primer pocket. Although missing flashholes are rare, they can happen. I like nickel-plated cases for critical tasks. Part of the appeal is better corrosion resistance in harsh conditions, but the primary reason I like them is slickness. Nickel plating is harder than bare brass, so nickel cases slide through rifle feed systems with less resistance than unplated cases.

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016


Handloads and the Big Hunt

Primers I’d give a little extra attention to primers here than I would for practice or plinking ammo. I would seat the primers off-press with a device that lets me feel the insertion event, and I would single-feed them. Single-feeding gives me one more look at the primers before seating them. Of course, my hands are going to be perfectly dry and oil-free before handling primers. Sealing the primer in the pocket is a good idea for hunting in conditions that potentially could be wet. There are plenty of good sealant products available; it is in the application where the difference between success and problems lie. Almost anything can be overdone, and too much sealant is not good. I’d apply sealant like the big factories do it: dip a flat-faced, small-diameter (0.060- to 0.075-inch) punch into the sealant and then touch it to one place at the edge of the primer pocket. The liquid should wick around the primer annulus (the ring-shaped depression where the case head meets the primer cup), completely sealing the case without depositing too much sealer. I’d also consider how cold it might be when and where I’ll be hunting. If daytime temperatures will be under about 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 degrees Celsius), I’d think about using Magnum primers. They typically produce a higher flame temperature, which is critical to achieving full ignition in propellants that are at sub-freezing temps.

Off-Press Priming Tools Handheld and bench-type priming tools from Sinclair, RCBS, Hornady, Lyman, Forster, and Lee allow handloaders to “feel” the primer entering the primer pocket.

Powder Charging Some handloaders use precision propellant charging for critical-needs ammunition. That means weighing every charge. I’ve certainly done that, but given improvements over the last few decades in the repeatability of mechanical powder-metering devices, it may not be necessary. Quality powder measures paired with consistent user practices can deliver ±0.1-grain accuracy, the same accuracy guaranteed for powder scales. But let’s assume that the measure being used can only do ±0.3 grain. If the charge weight target is 65.0 grains, that variation from target value is less than one-half of one percent. If enough rounds are fired to get statistically valid results comparing weighed versus metered charges, it may well show this small variance does not have a statistically significant effect on group size. Inconsistent transferring of the charge from the scale pan to the case can often induce greater accuracy variations.


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Handloads and the Big Hunt

If one chooses to weigh every charge, there is a technique that reduces the time involved with no loss of precision. With a powder measure set to throw about 0.5 grain below the desired charge weight, deliver the propellant into a scale pan. Set the pan on the scale and use a powder trickler, such as those by RCBS, to bring up the weight to the desired quantity.

Sealing the Bullet The other area of the cartridge where moisture sealing may be needed is where the case neck meets the bullet. Big factories apply an asphaltic sealant to the inside of the case neck and allow it to dry— sometimes over days—before seating bullets. Friction from bulletseating softens the tar-like goop; when it cools again, it is an effective barrier against moisture incursion. This method does not lend itself to hobby handloading, but others do. Keep in mind that not every primer sealant will work as a case neck sealant, so ask the manufacturer. Markron Custom Gun Products offers a liquid sealant designed for both ends of the case: primer and bullet. As always, with any reloading product, follow the manufacturer’s usage guidelines— especially regarding how much to apply.

Inspecting Loaded Rounds Before boxing the ammo, I’ll inspect twice, and then do it again, using the senses of sight and touch. I’ll look for obvious defects, such as bullets damaged in seating or case dents. If the propellant charge is heavily compressed, I’ll check cartridge overall length (COL) for correctness. Some heavily compressed charges can push the bullet up to a longer COL minutes to hours after seating. I’ll feel the rim for burrs and the primer to make sure it is seated below flush. Then I’ll run my fingers around the case neck to check for uniform crimp (if used) and burrs. None of these steps takes very long, and this time taken at home may detect a condition that could derail a hunt.

Range Testing I’d load enough rounds for range testing at my home range and sight-in verification when I arrive at the hunting venue. This is also the safest time to function-test—making sure the ammo will chamber without issue. This testing should always be done at an approved range. It’s all about avoiding the surprises.

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SHOOTER’S GALLERY THE SHOOTIST

THE BALLISTICIAN

WHILE THE VARIOUS 6.5MM RIFLE CARTRIDGES

The 6.5mm cartridges are no harder to handload than other rifle cartridges. Several component bullets designed for hunting or match shooting are offered by the major suppliers, and standard match primers (Small Rifle for the 6.5 Grendel and Large Rifle for the 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.5-284) generally work well.

26

historically have not gone over extremely well with American riflemen and none make the list of most popular cartridges, some are definitely growing in popularity. Three in particular have experienced a real growth spurt recently. The reasons for this have to do with their fine attributes of mild recoil, excellent ballistic coefficients, and top-drawer accuracy. And from a handloading perspective, they have a lot going for themselves. Several 6.5mms are definitely worthy of attention, but I’m focusing on the 6.5mm Grendel, the 6.5mm Creedmoor, and the 6.5284 Winchester in this report.

6.5 Grendel Many of the older 6.5mm cartridges were developed for bolt-action rifles. In fact, only a few 6.5s were developed from the ground up for use in AR-type rifles. One is the 6.5 Grendel (designed by Alexander Arms in 2003), and the other is the .264 LBC-AR (developed by Les Baer in 2009). They are for all

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

THE RELOADER

practical purposes the same, except the .264 LBC-AR has a couple minor chamber/throat leade dimension differences and its neck diameter is restricted to 0.295 inch whereas as the Grendel’s is 0.300. The 6.5 Grendel is essentially an extension of the extraordinarily accurate, short, fat 6mm PPC cartridge and was designed as a possible replacement for the 5.56mm NATO chambering for military use. The case head is the same as the 7.62x39mm. My handloads have achieved muzzle velocities from about 2,500 fps to slightly over 3,000 fps with bullets ranging in weight from 85 to 129 grains. Corresponding muzzle energies have ranged from about 1,600 to 1,800 ft-lbs. I don’t have any autoloaders chambered for the 6.5 Grendel, but I did rebarrel a Savage Model 12 bolt action for it and have come to thoroughly enjoy shooting itty-bitty groups with it: a 0.16-inch fiveshot group at 100 yards with the 107-grain Sierra MatchKing and 28.5 grains of the now-obsolete T32 powder for instance.


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These 6.5mms Are Hot!

6.5 Creedmoor One of the hottest 6.5s—as in getting a lot of attention these days—is the 6.5 Creedmoor that Hornady designed in 2008. This one is specifically built for F-Class competition and was designed to fit the AR-10 platform. That game is all about supreme accuracy at very long distances. The round is also being chambered in a lot of new bolt-action rifles, such as the new Kimber 84M Hunter reviewed in this issue by Joseph von Benedikt beginning on page 32 and the new Ruger Model 77 FTW detailed by Terry Wieland in his column beginning on page 84. One thing the 6.5 Creedmoor has going for it is its full-one-caliberlength neck. That feature allows it to be loaded with heavy 6.5mm bullets that have high ballistic coefficients but tend to be long for the caliber. I’ve built a bunch of Creedmoor loads for hunting and have used them in my Ruger Hawkeye bolt action, and I am convinced that it is a super-effective hunting round even though it was developed originally for target shooting.

.284 Winchester The 6.5-284 Winchester’s parent cartridge, the .284 Winchester, was introduced in 1963 for Winchester’s Model 88 lever-action and Model 100 semiauto rifles.

IMR 4320, IMR 4350, Varget, Reloder 17, and VihtaVuori N540 are good powder choices for handloads with bullets ranging in weight from 85 to 130 grains, although 4320 and N540 ought to be used just for the lighter ones.

6.5-284 Winchester The 6.5-284 Winchester is a wildcat with a fine reputation for producing excellent long-range accuracy, substantial downrange energy, and mild recoil. It is formed by necking down the .284 Winchester case to 6.5mm. There is also a “domesticated” version called the 6.5-284 Norma, which has the exact same case dimensions as the original wildcat. Because of the 6.5-284 Winchester’s wildcat status, handloaders must use caution because rifle chamber dimensions can vary widely, making pressure spikes possible. Always use published load data and start with the mildest loads listed and work up, watching for signs of high pressure. The 6.5-284 is an excellent hunting cartridge, but these days it is seen mostly in long-range target shooting like 1,000-yard benchrest competition, NRA Long Range High Power matches, and F-Class competition.


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6.5MM ACCURACY & VELOCITY POWDER BULLET

B.C.

(TYPE)

(GRS.)

MUZZLE

VEL. (FPS) 200 YDS.

300 YDS.

6.5 Grendel, Savage Model 12, 26-in. Barrel Reloder 10 29.4 3016 2370 2080

Speer 90-gr. TNT JHP

.281

Sierra 123-gr. MatchKing HPBT

.595

Nosler 100-gr. Ballistic Tip Hornady 129-gr. InterLock JSP

6.5 Creedmoor, Ruger Model 77 Hawkeye, 26-in. Barrel .350 Varget 40.5 3047 2510 2270 .445 Reloder 17 42.5 2830 2430 2245

IMR 8208 XBR

28.3

2564

2275

2140

100-YD. ACC. (IN.)

ENERGY (FT-LBS) MUZZLE 200 YDS. 300 YDS.

1818

1123

865

0.62

1796

1414

1251

0.65

2062 2295

1399 1692

1144 1444

0.80 0.80

2149 2666

1616 2086

1393 1836

0.70 0.95

6.5-284 Winchester, Savage Model 12, 26-in. Barrel Hornady 129-gr. InterLock SST Hornady 140-gr. A-Max

.485 .550

H4831 SC Power Pro 4000 MR

50.0 50.5

2739 2928

2375 2590

2205 2430

NOTES: Accuracy is the average of two or more five-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest. Velocity is the average of 10 rounds measured eight feet from the guns’ muzzles. Downrange velocities were calculated using Speer and Nosler ballistics tables. Ballistic coefficients were obtained from the manufacturers’ data except for Sierra and Remington. All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Shooting Times has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Shooting Times nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data.

I typically use Remington, Federal, or CCI standard match primers for these 6.5mm cartridges unless I find that Magnum primers provide more uniform velocities with spherical propellants. I have listed my top-performing handloads in the accompanying chart. Perusing it will give you some good clues as to why these three 6.5mm cartridges are growing in popularity.

Reloder 22, IMR 4831, IMR 7828, H4831SC, WMR, AA 3100, VihtaVuori N165, and Norma MRP are good choices for powders in the 6.5-284. And while the long-range competition shooters generally go for match bullets weighing 140 grains and heavier, hunters generally opt for a stout bullet of 120 to 130 grains for everything from antelope to elk. Handloading these 6.5s is no different than other rifle cartridges and requires no special steps or techniques. Components are available from many of the major suppliers, including Hornady, Lapua, and Norma.

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LIGHTWEIGHT, COMPACT, BEAUTIFULLY BALANCED, ACCURATE, AND PRICED RIGHT, KIMBER’S NEW 84M HUNTER IS ONE OF THE BEST VALUES IN BOLT ACTIONS. BY JOSEPH VON BENEDIKT

SHOOTING TIMES

32

OCTOBER 2016


Kimber’s new 84M Hunter is a compact, lightweight hunting rifle with a slender short action and an injection-molded stock—a first for the company. It handles like a wand and shoots sub-MOA groups.

S

EVERAL YEARS AGO, WHILE VISITING

with a past employee of Kimber, I confessed that I’d experienced very unpredictable accuracy with the company’s rifles. One test sample would shoot sub-MOA groups; the next wouldn’t keep all its shots—with any load—in 4.0-inch groups at 100 yards. The employee’s sheepish response was that Kimber’s focus on quality leaned toward fit and finish. Products leaving the factory always looked fantastic, but the elements that make for a very accurate rifle were not the primary concern. At 2015’s SHOT Show the company demonstrated tangible proof of a shift in focus. Rifles still looked spectacular, but a banner near the company’s booth indicated that every

Kimber long gun now boasted a 1-MOA accuracy guarantee. Laudable, certainly. Ambitious, too. It’s difficult to make a super-light rifle, such as Kimber’s Montana series, consistently shoot under an inch at 100 yards. Still, as manufacturer specifications state, Kimber rifles are built with match-grade barrels and minimum-spec match chambers and are glass- and pillar-bedded into their fine walnut or carbon-fiber composite stocks. Fair enough. Run the clock forward one year to 2016’s SHOT Show. Displayed with Kimber’s standard $1,300+ models was a petite stainless-steel rifle in a sleek tan stock. The price on the nearby placard read $885. Instead of a high-end walnut stock or handlaid composite stock, its stock was injection-molded polymer. In other words, eliminating $400 worth of stock allowed Kimber to introduce a sub-$1,000 rifle. Its name is “Hunter.” A “Sub-MOA” tag hung near it. “Impossible,” I mused as I lifted the rifle from its hangers. It handled like a wand. I shouldered it, noting the grace with which it mounted and its responsiveness. I found myself actually surprised that the barrel and action are the same as on Kimber’s more expensive models. The polymer stock features refined lines. A slender fore-end, open grip, and high comb give it an elegant feel. With due respect to other budget rifles everywhere, this isn’t your average plastic stock. Precise inletting and aluminum pillars enable the polymer stock to provide the barreled action with the support necessary to achieve sub-MOA accuracy. Unlike other Kimber rifles, the 84M Hunter uses a hybrid steel/polymer center-feed detachable box magazine.

OCTOBER 2016 • SHOOTING TIMES

33


84M HUNTER MANUFACTURER

Kimber kimberamerica.com

TYPE

Bolt-action repeater

CALIBER MAGAZINE CAPACITY BARREL OVERALL LENGTH WEIGHT, EMPTY

34

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

3 rounds 22 in. 41.25 in. 6.5 lbs.

STOCK

Polymer

LENGTH OF PULL

13.75 in.

Svelte lines, an open grip, and molded-in stippling-like texture combine with a comfortable recoil pad to make the 84M Hunter’s stock both comfortable and practical. Generous free-floating enables the rifle to shoot extremely well.

Lest you balk at my calling the Kimber Hunter a budget rifle when you can purchase two Savage, Ruger, or Mossberg pricepoint guns for the cost of one Hunter, keep in mind this rifle has no stamped or sheet metal or plastic parts in its superbly built, high-end action; the barrel is of higher-than-average quality; and it’s chambered with great care. Plus, while it’s not glass bedded—most bedding compounds don’t bond well with naturally lubricious polymer—the action is mated to the stock with sturdy aluminum pillars that ensure consistency. Here’s where the Hunter really shines among its budgetbranded brethren. While a Ruger American or T/C Compass may well shoot sub-MOA groups, the Kimber 84M Hunter accomplishes the same accuracy with a far lighter weight. The 6.5mm Creedmoor rifle I tested for this article tips my scale at 6.5 pounds with a Leupold VX-2 3-9X 40mm scope mounted and ready to hunt. And that 6.5 pounds includes using standard steel Leupold mounting hardware. With super-light aluminum bases and rings, it would shed a few more ounces.

6.5 Creedmoor

FINISH

Satin stainless barreled action, FDE stock

SIGHTS

None; drilled and tapped for scope mounts

TRIGGER SAFETY MSRP

4.19-lb. pull (as tested) Three-position wing style $885

Lovely Bones Before diving into the performance aspect of the Kimber Hunter, here’s a look at the bones of the new model. Kimber’s 84M action combines elements drawn from several legendary designs. The dual-lug bolt is basically a modified Winchester Model 70 design—or Mauser design, if you prefer to hark back to its earliest roots—with a full-length, robust 0.34-inchwide rotating claw extractor. As a result, it is of controlled-feed function. The ejector is fixed, enabling the shooter to eject empty cases smartly or to dribble them out onto the shooting bench as desired, depending on how aggressively the bolt is drawn rearward. A three-position wing-type safety is fitted to the bolt shroud and blocks the firing pin when engaged. In its rearmost position it locks the bolt, and the middle position blocks the firing pin but allows the bolt to be functioned so the rifle can be unloaded while on “Safe.” Flick it all the way forward to fire. The similarities to the Model 70 end there. The action body is tubular like Remington’s Model 700, and rather than having


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the recoil lug machined as part of the action, it uses a hidden “washer type” lug sandwiched between the rear of the barrel and the front of the action. This design makes the action both less complex to manufacture and easier to bed consistently. At the left rear of the action, a compact Sako-type release allows removal of the bolt. The adjustable trigger is a precisionmachined assembly housed in an aluminum cassette. It breaks cleanly at 4 pounds, 3 ounces, with only a couple of ounces of variation over multiple measurements.

Being only 1.14 inches in diameter, the 84M action is ideally suited for compact, lightweight rifles and enables a sleeker hunting arm than typical actions. Even the bolt body is slender, measuring only 0.585 inch in diameter. These svelte measurements are, in large part, what enables Kimber to build such a lightweight, graceful rifle. Likewise, no Kimber rifle comes with a barrel that is heavier than necessary. The 22-inch tube mounted to the 84M Hunter’s action measures 1.24 inches where it joins the action, and it

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tapers aggressively to 0.56 inch at the muzzle. It’s worth noting that when cleaning it during my accuracy testing, the barrel scrubbed up almost as effortlessly as a handlapped premium match barrel, even with 70 or more rounds between cleanings. Aside from the injection-molded polymer stock, the 84M Hunter’s only real departure from the rest of Kimber’s line is the use of a detachable magazine. It’s a unique affair combining metal and polymer to offer the best combination of strength, durability, reliability, and light weight. The box portion is

formed of steel and is embedded into the polymer floorplate via four heavy tabs that hook securely. It’s a center-feed design, funneling cartridges straight onto the center of the feedramp. My pet peeve with detachable box magazines is how they seem capable of self-ejection at the most inopportune moment. Lose a detachable mag where I hunt in the Rocky Mountains and— unless you carry a spare—you’re now a single-shot man for the duration of the hunt. Thankfully, Kimber designed its latching system with care, and it’s robust and secure. A stout tab at the

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The 6.5 Creedmoor 84M Hunter averaged less than 1.5 MOA with all 10 loads tested, and several shaded inside 1 MOA. Its best 100-yard accuracy average (0.47 inch) came with a handload using Sierra’s 140-grain GameKing over 41.0 grains of IMR 4155 Enduron powder.

rear of the box hooks into a recess inside the rear of the mag well, and a sturdy spring-loaded latch snaps into the forward end. The assembly is nice and flush and is unlikely to accidentally donate itself to the whitetail woods. My only gripes with the Hunter model are magazine related. It holds only three rounds, even though all available chamberings are standard cartridges and not magnums. Plus, those three fit rather snugly, making the last cartridge a bit difficult to insert. The rifle will hold three plus one in the chamber, but because there’s no room to depress the top cartridge while dropping one in the chamber and closing the bolt, you have to feed one from the magazine, then remove the magazine and top it off. Speaking of feeding, when I began test-firing the Hunter, I found that the top cartridge from a full magazine fed stiffly. The steel lips of the magazine were a bit sharp and reluctant to release the top round when full. Brisk application of 400-grit sandpaper polished the sharp internal edges off and solved the issue. It also made the magazine easier to top off. As with many detachable magazines, the 84M Hunter’s box must be inserted at one end first and then rocked into position. Attempting to insert it straight and level into the rifle will result in fumbling. It has to be rocked in from the back. Hook the rear tab into the mag well and rotate the forward end up until it snaps.

Behind the magazine well a robust guard protects the trigger. It’s formed as part of the stock and has lines about as elegant as an injection-molded trigger guard can have. The slender stock has a stippling-like texture rather than molded-in checkering, and a generous, well-fit recoil pad marked “Kimber” graces the butt. Dual sling-swivel studs make it easy to attach a carrying strap.

Top-Shelf Accuracy Inside the 6.5 Creedmoor 84M Hunter’s shipping box were two factory test targets, both showing sub-inch, three-shot groups fired with the rifle. The load listed is Hornady 140grain A-Max. Eager to see if the rifle would meet the sub-MOA standard with hunting-grade bullets, I handloaded a few of my favorite projectiles into neck-turned cases; gathered a few factory loads, including two A-Max Match loads and hunting-purpose ammunition featuring SST, InterLock, and the new ELD-X hunting bullets; and sallied forth to accuracy test the rifle.

KIMBER 84M HUNTER ACCURACY & VELOCITY POWDER BULLET

Sierra 120-gr. Pro Hunter Swift 130-gr. Scirocco II Nosler 140-gr. AccuBond Sierra 140-gr. GameKing Swift 140-gr. A-Frame Hornady 120-gr. A-Max Match Hornady 129-gr. InterLock Hornady 129-gr. SST Hornady 140-gr. A-Max Match Hornady 143-gr. ELD-X

(TYPE)

(GRS.)

VEL. (FPS)

6.5 Creedmoor, 22-in. Barrel H4350 45.0 2896 Reloder 17 42.5 2898 IMR 4451 41.0 2654 IMR 4451 41.0 H4350 41.4 Factory Load Factory Load Factory Load Factory Load Factory Load

2630 2658 2879 2711 2921 2698 2612

E.S. (FPS)

S.D. (FPS)

100-YD. ACC. (IN.)

24 66 49

8 21 20

0.83 1.19 1.24

39 30 44 57 64 49 31

14 11 17 15 19 16 9

0.47 1.00 1.04 2.05 1.37 1.23 0.96

NOTES: Accuracy is the average of three, three-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest. Velocity is the average of nine rounds measured 10 feet from the gun’s muzzle. All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Shooting Times has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Shooting Times nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data.

38

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016


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Lightweight, beautifully balanced, and very accurate, the ergonomic 84M Hunter is an outstanding rifle for wilderness hunting.

An aggressive wind gusting between 12 and 15 miles per hour buffeted me at the bench, making it difficult to shoot tidy little groups, and I didn’t manage to average sub-MOA with the factory-tested 140-grain A-Max, instead averaging just under 1.25-inch groups. However, the 120-grain A-Max and 143-grain ELD-X factory ammo both validated the subMOA guarantee, and three of my five handloads averaged under an inch. Amazingly, Sierra’s 140-grain GameKing over 41.0 grains of IMR 4451 Enduron powder averaged 0.47 inch! That’s sub-half-MOA. The largest of the test groups I fired with that load measured 0.60 inch, the smallest 0.29 inch. That’s simply incredible from a 6.5-pound—with scope—rifle. Also impressive, nine of the 10 loads I tested averaged less than 1.5 MOA, indicating spectacular consistency. Had it not been for the wind I’m certain that the compact rifle would have logged more sub-MOA averages. For deer-size game Sierra’s 140-grain GameKing bullet—the super-accurate load that averaged 0.47 inch—is an outstanding choice. For bigger-bodied game with heavy bones and dense muscle, such as elk, it’s really hard to beat Swift’s 140grain A-Frame. It offers good accuracy and will smash bone and still penetrate deep into the vitals. The Swift 130-grain Scirocco II and Hornady 143-grain ELD-X offer excellent allaround capability on the full spectrum of game from coyotes up through deer, antelope, caribou, and elk—and big black bears as long as careful shot placement is prioritized. With accuracy testing completed, I moved away from the bench and shot from field positions, smacking distant boulders and turning nearby dirt clods into topsoil from sitting and offhand positions. Although it’s lightweight, the 84M 40

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

Hunter’s wand-like responsiveness, excellent balance, and superb fit and ergonomics make it both effective and a pleasure to shoot. Finally, because the 6.5 Creedmoor is such a capable longdistance cartridge, I swapped the hunting-type scope out for a 24X model with adjustable parallax and stretched the little rifle out to 600 yards. Using Hornady’s 143-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter load, I put five shots onto my Action Target E-50 steel torso, and although a fickle wind opened the horizontal spread to about 12 inches (four were in 8 inches) the vertical dispersion was right at 4 inches. Serious sheep-hunter types often spend several thousand on a rifle that combines super-light weight with accuracy adequate to reach far across mountain peaks and drop a big ram or billy. If my test 84M Hunter is any example, modern-day Lewis and Clarks can get a 6.5-pound rifle that offers eyebrow-raising hunting-level precision for less than a grand. Available cartridge options are .243 Winchester, .257 Roberts, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm-08 Remington, and .308 Winchester. All are outstanding choices and should offer the inherent accuracy necessary to enable the 84M Hunter model to achieve its guaranteed accuracy standard. Of the five, my personal pick is the 6.5 Creedmoor because it’s an incredibly polite cartridge that offers exceptional accuracy and downrange ballistic performance. If a yearly elk hunt shows in your crystal ball, opting for the 7mm-08 or .308 makes sense, but for all-around use—including an occasional elk hunt—the Creedmoor is simply superb. At an MSRP of $885, Kimber’s 84M Hunter is one of the best values on the hunting-rifle market today. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any other stainless-steel, 6.5-pound rifle with such superb balance, guaranteed sub-MOA accuracy, a match-quality trigger, and such a beautifully built controlled-feed action.


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lent pistols, the P226 and P229 reign supreme. The full-size 9mm P226 and the slightly more compact P229 offer high capacity, unquestionable reliability, sledgehammer-like durability, outstanding ergonomics, and the balance that only a metal-framed handgun can offer. The Legion versions offer even more. As SIG says on its website, “…these masterful firearms are receiving a series of enhancements based on the needs and wants of professionals… For those who demand the best, now we have something even better.” 44

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

Legion series pistols are dressed up with several performanceenhancing features that when added together make a significant difference. The enhancements are based on years of gathering recommendations from law enforcement, military, and competitive shooters. As of this writing, there are three Legion variations: a P226, a P226 SAO (single action only), and the P229 version that I fired for this report. The word “Legion” is steeped in history, and while the first definition is “a division of the Roman army, usually comprising 3,000 to 6,000 soldiers,” a second definition suggests a “picked body of soldiers,” indicating elite fighters. It’s an appropriate name for a superb handgun model outfitted with discrete fighting enhancements but without visual bells and whistles.


SIG SAUER’S LEGION PROGRAM IS MORE THAN JUST A LINE OF GUNS WITH REAL-WORLD PRACTICAL ENHANCEMENTS. IT’S A LIFESTYLE. BY JOSEPH VON BENEDIKT

The P229 Legion Inside & Out At its core the P229 is a hammer-fired double-action/singleaction (DA/SA) autoloader with a decocking lever that allows it to be carried hammer-down for safety. The hammer is of rebounding design, and a trigger block prevents it from contacting the firing pin unless the trigger is pressed fully to the rear. When a cartridge is chambered, the hammer remains in the cocked position, and the trigger is in single-action mode. The single-action pull is not quite as crisp as a well-tuned Model 1911, but aside from a slight amount of creep it’s smooth. Factory specs call for the single-action pull to measure 4.4 pounds, but the trigger on my pistol is actually lighter and averages 3 pounds, 9 ounces with only 3 ounces of variation.

If the decocker is activated prior to firing by pulling it firmly downward until it clicks and the hammer is released to its rest position, the trigger has a long, sweeping double-action-type pull, meaning it moves the hammer back from the rest position before dropping it to fire the pistol. My pistol’s DA pull is surprisingly smooth, and it, too, is slightly lighter than factory spec: 8 pounds, 1 ounce rather than the advertised 10 pounds. The frame is constructed of lightweight metal alloy, and it interfaces with the stainless-steel slide via machined rails that run the full length of the top of the frame except for a short section on each side of the magazine well. The front face of the squared trigger guard is checkered. At the forward end of the frame is a Picatinny-spec rail for mounting a light or a laser. OCTOBER 2016 • SHOOTING TIMES

45


Featuring the Legion Gray PVD finish, night sights, an adjustable trigger, refined slide serrations and frame checkering, special G10 grips, and other enhancements, the P229 Legion isn’t your average SIG pistol.

The slide features a distinctive cut machined into the top half on each side that extends from the ejection port to the muzzle. The top of the slide is rounded and has a glare-reducing matte finish. A robust 0.225-inch external extractor is fitted into the slide behind the ejection port, and when a cartridge is chambered, the business end of the extractor stands slightly proud of the surface of the slide, enabling a discerning fingertip to make a loadedchamber check. That’s a very real advantage when responding to a spooky-sounding bump in the night and the cobwebs of sleep prevent you from recalling if you chambered a round. When the slide is released on a fresh cartridge, it hooks the top edge of the rim and boosts it forward out of the magazine and up the feedramp that’s machined integral to the rear of the barrel. As it heads for the chamber, the rim of the cartridge slides up the breechface and beneath the extractor. A fixed ejector is pinned into the frame and rides in a slot machined in the bottom of the slide. When the pistol is fired and the slide cycles rearward, the base of the empty case impacts the ejector, which tosses the empty from the ejection port. A twisted-wire recoil spring is wrapped around the guide rod and should provide outstanding life. For many years, the P229 had grips that were, well, just a little too beefy to be ergonomic in average- to small-size hands. Not too long ago the company introduced a slenderized frame and a redesigned and minimized polymer grip that makes the pistol feel much better. Magazines are metal, tapered at the top, and robust. They hold 15 rounds of 9mm ammo. The P229 is available in 9mm, .357 SIG, and .40 S&W. Magazines for both of the latter chamberings hold 12 rounds. Several characteristics make the P229 Legion special. The frame and slide are finished in “Legion Gray” PVD finish. 46

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

P229 LEGION MANUFACTURER TYPE CALIBER MAGAZINE CAPACITY

SIG SAUER // legionseries.com SA/DA hammer-fired autoloader 9mm Luger 15 rounds

BARREL

3.9 in.

OVERALL LENGTH

7.1 in.

WIDTH

1.5 in.

HEIGHT

5.4 in.

WEIGHT, EMPTY GRIPS

29.6 oz. G10

FINISH

Legion Gray PVD

SIGHTS

Fixed high-contrast X-RAY night sights

TRIGGER SAFETY MSRP

8.13-lb. DA pull, 3.6-lb. SA pull (as tested) Decocker $1,428

PVD stands for physical vapor deposition, which is a method of applying a super-thin, ultra-durable nitride-type coating to a surface. It makes the metal surface of a pistol extremely tough and corrosion-resistant. Instead of an injection-molded polymer grip, the Legion pistol is fitted with a specially designed G10 grip, which extends slightly higher around the firing controls and is significantly tougher than any polymer will ever be. At the bottom of the frame, where the grip and mag well come together, both are beveled just enough to enable fast reloads. The G10 grip overhangs the metal frame just a bit and serves as an extended well.


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Like standard P229 pistols, the Legion’s trigger guard is deeply undercut to enable a high, recoil-controlling grip, and the frame is additionally relieved, but the frontstrap area features enhanced checkering—26 lpi by my count. An extended “Elite” type beavertail is machined into the top of the rear grip area, helping control recoil during rapid fire and preventing hammerbite for those with beefy hands. It’s reduced in size and contoured a bit differently from those on SIG’s standard line of Elite P229 pistols. The low-profile slide lock and decocking levers are made of sheet metal, which is standard procedure for SIG P229 pistols, but in the Legion’s case they’re made a bit sleeker and with a checkered pattern instead of the horizontal striations common on the standard models.

...the trigger is a Grayguns intermediate reach adjustable version, which explains the silky-smooth trigger operation. Interestingly, the trigger is a Grayguns intermediate reach adjustable version, which explains the silky-smooth trigger operation. SIG says the action itself is enhanced and features SRT (short reset trigger) technology. I think the sights are particularly nice. Both are X-RAY high-contrast night sights. The front features a tritium insert surrounded by a big, glowing green dot; the rear offers dual small tritium bulbs in a black face that’s striated to reduce glare. I’ve never been a big fan of three-dot sight designs, but these—with their subtle rear night sights inset into a good, clean rear face and a big, easily seen front dot—suit me just fine. The front face of the rear sight is vertical to the slide surface, enabling the user to rack the slide one-handed on a belt, steering wheel, curb, or the like should the need arise. 48

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016


Magazines are constructed of steel and have polymer floorplates. Capacity for the 9mm P229 is 15 rounds. Special Legion series holsters and other gear are available to shooters who purchase a SIG Legion pistol.

When the P229 Legion arrived in tandem with a nice SIG Kydex holster and mag pouch, I was anxious to strap it on and begin carrying it. The holster, which came from the “Legion series members only” store, to which you gain access after purchasing a Legion pistol, holds the gun nice and tight to my side, and while I haven’t attempted any handsprings with it, it seems quite secure. The pistol leaps out smoothly and reholsters easily by feel, without looking. My only complaint is that the holster has no cant at all, and I prefer a large amount of cant to help a full-size pistol blend into my side when carrying concealed and to make it easier for me to grasp.

Shooting the P229 Legion SIG SAUER is now making ammunition, and after getting my hands on three different 9mm loads by SIG and several from other manufacturers, I headed to the range. Mixed cloud cover and bright sunlight made light conditions challenging, but I managed to hold sub-2-inch groups with five out of six of the loads, and even the bulk FMJ load I fired averSIG SAUER P229 LEGION ACCURACY & VELOCITY aged right at 2.5 inches for three consecutive five-shot groups. That’s admirable perfor25-YD. mance indeed. VEL. E.S. S.D. ACC. AMMUNITION (FPS) (FPS) (FPS) (IN.) The P229 Legion chugged through every 9mm Luger load I fed it without even hinting at a malfuncBlack Hills 115-gr. JHP +P 1259 36 14 1.49 tion. But I expected that. The feel, balance, Hornady Critical Defense 115-gr. FTX 1126 33 13 1.78 and pointability are all classic SIG, making the SIG SAUER 115-gr. JHP 1174 28 12 1.96 pistol easy to master. The only thing I strugWinchester 115-gr. FMJ 1119 37 15 2.50 gled with initially was the DA/SA function. SIG SAUER 124-gr. JHP 1078 10 4 1.29 I typically carry a Model 1911 or a strikerSIG SAUER 147-gr. JHP 894 35 15 1.67 fired pistol, and drawing with the hammer NOTES: Accuracy is the average of three, five-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest. decocked and double-tapping a target found Velocity is the average of five rounds measured 10 feet from the gun’s muzzle. me firing my second, single-action shot a bit more quickly than I intended at first. But even Candidly, I don’t think you can go wrong choosing a stanold dogs catch on eventually, and with my accuracy testing dard SIG P229 because it’s such an outstanding, capable gun complete, I enjoyed a bit of casual shooting, running inforthat will do all that most shooters will ever require of it. Howmal drills, shooting single-handed with both strong and weak ever, if you’re a student of the pistol, and appreciate a very fine hand, and shooting slow-fire Bullseye-style. sidearm with particularly well-thought-out advanced features I’ve always appreciated and respected SIG pistols, and my acquaintance with the P229 Legion only served to deepen that. and a name steeped in honorable combat history, consider joinIn fact, the pistol is still strapped firmly to my belt! ing SIG SAUER’s Legion. 50

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016


EATHERBY’S NEW SEMIAUTOMATIC ELEMENT SHOTGUN,

which was introduced in late 2015, has a traditional inertiadriven system. Weatherby has offered gas-operated semiautomatic shotguns for quite some time, but the Element is the company’s first inertia-driven shotgun. The inertia system requires a slightly longer receiver than a gas gun, but the Element’s receiver is aluminum, which helps reduce bulk. This, combined with the simple, three-piece inertia system (bolt body, inertia spring, and rotating bolt head), helps keep weight to a minimum. The 12-gauge Element weighs 6.75 pounds; the 20-gauge version comes in at 6.25 pounds; and the svelte 28-gauge gun is 6.0 pounds. The inertia design itself favors lighter guns because of the system’s reliance on rearward movement to cycle the action, and I think 6.75 pounds is just about right for the 12-gauge Element.

52

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016


OCTOBER 2016 • SHOOTING TIMES

53


The Element Deluxe has the look of a classic field gun, with high-gloss AA walnut and bright bluing. It combines the reliable, no-nonsense inertia system with traditional Weatherby styling.

Weatherby could have shaved some weight and made the Element lighter, but as gun weight drops, recoil spikes. At 6.75 pounds, the 12-gauge Element I tested was light enough to carry comfortably in the field but brought enough heft that it wasn’t painful to shoot for an extended 5-stand clays session. The 20-gauge version is probably a better option for the wild bird hunter who plans to walk all day and won’t shoot more than a couple boxes of shells a season. If I were going to shoot more clay birds than feathered birds, though, I’d stick with the 12-gauge Element. With target loads recoil is manageable thanks in part to the distinctly curved, relatively forgiving recoil pad. Length of pull is 14.625 inches, which is relatively long and may leave some short-armed shooters reaching and grasping. For the average shooter, though, the gun will mount comfortably and naturally. During a day-and-a-half of upland hunting, the Element never once got hung up on my vest or jacket. The AA Grade American walnut stock is well figured and glossy, and the receiver has a bright gloss finish. As most serious gun guys know, those elements are as much a trademark of the Weatherby brand as the Flying W. ELEMENT DELUXE MANUFACTURER TYPE GAUGE MAGAZINE CAPACITY BARREL OVERALL LENGTH WEIGHT, EMPTY STOCK LENGTH OF PULL

12, 20, 28 4 rounds (without plug) 26, 28 in. 48.75 in. (28-in. barrel) 6.75 lbs. (12 gauge)

Looks Good, Shoots Great

AA Grade American walnut

I gave the Element a good workout in the field at Winghaven Lodge, which is located near the unofficial start of Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail. Owner Russell Edwards has worked to turn the place into an upland hunter’s dream with 3,000 acres of manicured bird habitat and one of the toughest 5-stand courses you’ll encounter anywhere. It’s the perfect place to spend a weekend chasing birds and a prime venue for testing a new shotgun.

14.625 in.

FINISH

Gloss blue receiver and barrel; high-gloss stock

SIGHTS

Green fiber-optic front bead

TRIGGER MSRP

54

Weatherby, Inc. weatherby.com Inertia-operated autoloader

The Element’s recoil spring is located in the stock, and this allows the forearm diameter to be reduced for a trimmer, more comfortable grip that is less bulky than a typical gas gun’s. There is a distinct finger groove on the Element’s forearm. It and the deep diamond checkering on the pistol grip and the forearm provide a secure hold. The narrow pistol grip turns almost 90 degrees downward and provides a secure platform for gripping and moving the shotgun. My 12-gauge Element’s balance point is near the front of the action, perfect for a between-the-hands feel. The triangular crossbolt safety is located at the rear of the trigger guard, and the bolt release button and magazine release are located in familiar places in the receiver. Other features of note are the drop-out trigger assembly that makes maintenance fast and simple, the chrome-plated bolt, the chrome-lined barrel, and the green fiber-optic front bead sight. The Element is supplied with three flush-fitting choke tubes (Improved Cylinder, Modified, and Full), which will cover the bulk of field and casual competition shooting needs, and each choke tube is notched on the end for easy identification. The Element is built in Turkey, but that shouldn’t be a concern to anyone because fit and finish are excellent, just as you would expect from any gun wearing the Weatherby brand. And the gun is just as nice on the inside; I couldn’t find any rough interior surfaces or marring inside. Overall the Element looks classy, is well styled, and has an MSRP ranging from $749 to $1,099. Actually, there are three versions offered: Deluxe (MSRP: $1,099), Synthetic (MSRP: $749), and Waterfowl MAX-5 (MSRP: $849). My gun is the Deluxe.

5.0-lb. pull (as tested) $1,099

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016


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The Element has an anti-seize magazine cap that’s easy to remove, and having the recoil spring in the stock allows the forearm to be slim. The oversized trigger guard makes the Element an easy gun to shoot with gloves on. Also worth noting is the trigger assembly drops out for ease of maintenance. The Element’s pistol grip is steeply curved, and it narrows toward the back of the receiver, providing a solid platform for the hand. The Element comes with three flush-fitting choke tubes in The EleIC, M, and F. The green fiber-optic front sight makes the most of dim light. ment has a radiused heel so it won’t hang up in clothing as you go to mount the gun, and the curved recoil pad is forgiving and helps make the gun comfortable to shoot.

On the first morning of my hunt with the Element, we were after quail, and it wasn’t long before Russell’s shorthair fell on point. The birds came up, a double, and I missed with the first shot but connected on the second shot. Over the course of the morning, I had chances at crossing birds, quartering shots, and the occasional straightaway flush, and the Element performed perfectly. The gun’s comb design made it shoot fairly flat for me, so the key was getting on the birds and keeping the muzzle moving. As with other inertia shotguns, lowering the bolt very slowly and lightly can result in a failure to rotate and lock the bolt head and, as a consequence, a failure to fire. It’s a familiar issue for most inertia gun fans, who are adamant about slamming the action, but I never had any trouble with the Element. I did check to see if a light close would fail to rotate the bolt head, and as I expected, that’s what happened. It’s a quirk of all inertia systems, one that shooters need to be aware of. The trigger pull on my Element averaged 5.0 pounds, and most important to me as an upland hunter, it broke cleanly and didn’t creep. When you are swinging on a target and squeeze the trigger, there’s a clean break, and that’s conducive to dropping birds or breaking clays. Also, there’s plenty of room inside the oversized trigger guard for gloved fingers should you decide to go chasing roosters in the deep freeze of a Dakota winter. Winghaven’s challenging 5-stand course was not designed to make you feel better about yourself as a shooter, but it was 56

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

perfect for putting the new Element to the test. The various targets include a springing teal, a hard crosser, an incoming target that never actually comes too close, a high overhead shot that whistles overhead at warp speed, and an under-the-feet straightaway that looks far simpler than it really is. Some inertia guns pound the shooter during long shooting sessions, but the Element was amicable. Recoil was stiff but not unpleasant using Browning’s new BPT Performance Target loads. Reliability was excellent—not one failure or single misfeed. One of the great appeals of inertia guns is consistency, and the Element gobbled up and spat out the ammo without any problems. After shooting the clays course, I headed back out in the field and spent the afternoon chasing chukars and quail. By day’s end I had fired more than 100 12-gauge shells through the Element, and I wasn’t reeling from the recoil. My complaints about the Element are few. The 12-gauge version weighs almost exactly the same as a Benelli Montefeltro and a Franchi Affinity (both are inertia-driven guns), but the 20-gauge Element is 0.75 pound more than 20-gauge versions of those guns. I wish the Element had a larger, round safety that would be easier to manipulate with gloves on. And I would prefer the Element’s forearm to be just a bit slimmer. Those are personal preferences, and to be honest, I’m nitpicking. The Element is a well-built and functional shotgun that looks good and shoots great.


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The LAR-15 Lightweight Mountain Rifle comes with Rock River’s Winter Trigger Guard and two-stage trigger. The sample’s trigger pull averaged 5.7 pounds. The lightweight aluminum handguard is 12.75 inches long and has Picatinny slots running its entire length. It goes over the gun’s proprietary lightweight low-profile gas block.

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AR-15 platform are some of today’s most popular firearms. A lot of companies make them, and they come in all sorts of versions and chambered for many different cartridges. The new LAR-15 Lightweight Mountain Rifle from Rock River Arms is opening up new ground for the AR-15. Rock River Arms Inc. (RRA) is an innovative firm founded in 1996 by brothers Mark and Chuck Larson and is headquartered in Colona, Illinois. After stints at Springfield Armory and Les Baer Custom, the Larsons had considerable expertise in the construction of high-quality guns, and in 1993 they were building AR-15s for Eagle Arms in Coal Valley, Illinois. At about that time, they formed their own company called Tolerance Plus, which was later changed to Rock River Arms. (For anyone not familiar with Illinois geography, the Rock River runs alongside Colona.) RRA also makes many versions of high-quality Model 1911 pistols, and Shooting Times has reviewed several of them over the years. ST has also reported on RRA’s fine AR-15s. Speaking of that, some of RRA’s unique ARs include models chambered for 6.8 SPC, .300 Blackout, .458 SOCOM, 7.62x39, 7.62 NATO/.308 Winchester, plus others in pistol calibers like 9mm and .40 S&W. RRA builds left-hand models, too, and the firm makes piston-driven ARs and sells gobs of individual parts. 62

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016


The buttstock is Rock River’s Tactical CAR model. It has six positions with length of pull ranging from 10.25 to 14 inches.

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LMR Features The bulk of RRA’s AR production is in 5.56mm/.223, the most popular cartridge of the bunch. The new Lightweight Mountain Rifle (LMR) is chambered for 5.56, which means it will also accept the .223 Remington round. The new LMR shows considerable sophistication and quality in its features. At first glance, this sleek little gem appears smooth and clean-cut; it doesn’t have a lot of projections or add-on parts sticking out here and there. You can add them later, if desired. The grip and handguard are comfortable, and the carbine just feels “right” the minute you pick it up. At a svelte 6 pounds, 6 ounces, it is a comfortable carry. The LMR has a standard gas-impingement action and a 16-inch lightweight chromemoly barrel. The twist rate is 1:9, and it will accurately stabilize bullets up to 69 grains with ease. The lower receiver is a forged LAR-15, and the upper receiver is a forged A2. The flat-top upper is festooned with plenty of cross slots for a traditional scope mount or an ACOG. Up front, the muzzle is threaded 1/2-28, and the LMR comes standard with an A2 flash hider. One 10-round D&H Industries magazine is provided, but, of course, it will accept standard, higher-capacity magazines, too. The trigger is RRA’s two-stage unit, and the pull weight on my test rifle averaged 5 pounds, 11.5 ounces. It was smooth and crisp. The LMR also features RRA’s proprietary lightweight low-profile gas block, which is concealed by a lightweight 12.75-inch aluminum handguard that is specifically designed for the gun. The handguard is devoid of sharp-edged lumps and bumps that make for an uncomfortable handhold. Atop the handguard is a full-length Picatinny rail that is attached by three hex screws on each side. The rail has slots its entire length so that BUIS, a flashlight, a laser, or a scout scope can be easily mounted. The buttstock is RRA’s six-position adjustable CAR stock, and the excellent Hogue pistol grip comes standard. In addition to the magazine, the LMR comes with a detailed owner’s manual; an LPS-1 Weapon wipe; and a lockable, foam-lined, hard plastic RRA case. OCTOBER 2016 • SHOOTING TIMES

63

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1-MOA Accuracy RRA claims “1 MOA accuracy at 100 yards,” so I was itching to give the little carbine a workout on the range and see if the statement was fact or just hype. I used a new Burris Predator Quest 2-7X 35mm scope in a Burris one-piece P.E.P.R. (Proper Eye Position Ready) scope mount. Especially made for flat-top ARs, this mount provides great flexibility on positioning the scope for proper eye relief. Two sets of ring tops come with the mount. One pair is smooth on top; the other pair has Picatinny slots for the attachment of a dot sight, a laser, or other doodads. The Predator Quest line was introduced last year, and in addition to the 2-7X 35mm, there’s a 3-9X 40mm and a 4.5-14X 42mm in the line. All are matte black, and the latter two scopes are also available in camo finish. The Predator Quest line has Burris’s Ballistic Plex E1 reticle, which is interesting. It seems to “float” in space, as the ends of the crosshairs do not go to the edge of the field of view. The lower vertical crosshair has hash marks of varying widths that allow for a measured holdover. Dots at each

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For shooting flat-top ARs, Steve likes the Rail Brass Catcher from Caldwell Shooting Supplies. Its aluminum base clamps to the rail, the bag slips onto the base, and it empties out the zippered bottom. It holds up to 100 .223 cases. The Lightweight Mountain Rifle lived up to the company’s claim of 1 MOA accuracy with a dozen factory .223 loads. The best was Federal’s 62-grain Fusion load, which averaged 0.70 inch overall. Its single best five-shot group measured just 0.43 inch.


end of the hash marks show the approximate wind drift for a 10-mph breeze with typical high-velocity varmint loads. The crosshairs are fairly thin, and while this reticle is great in good light, it’s hard to see in low light. The optics of this little scope are top drawer, bright and clear edge-to-edge, and the adjustments work well. It has 1/2-minute click adjustments, instead of the more common 1/4-minute, but I think that’s perfectly adequate on a lower-powered scope like the 2-7X. Before shooting, I cleaned the LMR’s bore really well and took a peek at it with my Hawkeye borescope. The chamber and rifling were smooth and slick, and the gas port didn’t have any burrs sticking out around it. I did a little quasi “barrel break-in” by shooting several full magazines for functioning and then cleaned the barrel thoroughly after every 10 rounds with Butch’s Bore Shine and Otis O12-CU Copper Solvent. I had many different .223 factory loads on hand, so I tried almost all of them. Some may question why I shot so many loads in the LMR. The answer is simple: Just about every load shot really well in it, and I was having too much fun to quit! Every load but one (Federal’s offering that’s loaded with the Barnes 55-grain TSX Bullet) shot close to an inch at 100 yards. It didn’t seem to matter what the bullet weight was; they all shot about the same, with that one exception.

Short barrels reduce velocity somewhat, and the average velocity of the factory loads out of the LMR’s 16-inch barrel was 12.3 percent below the speeds listed by their manufacturers. The best load in the rifle was the Federal 62-grain Fusion load. It clocked 2,642 fps and had a group average of 0.70 LAR-15 LIGHTWEIGHT MOUNTAIN RIFLE MANUFACTURER TYPE CALIBER MAGAZINE CAPACITY BARREL OVERALL LENGTH WEIGHT, EMPTY STOCK LENGTH OF PULL GRIP

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16932

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16933

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inch. One group with this load measured 0.43 inch! If this was my rifle (and there’s a good chance it will be), I’d stock up on this Fusion ammo and live happily ever after. The average of all 12 factory loads I test-fired was 1.08 inches at a measured 100 yards. If the TSX load is excluded, the average of the remaining 11 loads was a tidy 0.99 inch. The results with the Barnes bullet were surprising, as I have used it in numerous rifles, and it has performed well. It’s a game-getter, and I can report that it will shoot through a 300-pound hog, side to side, and exit. But as we know, rifles are individuals. I had to try a few handloads, but after the stellar results with factory fodder, I didn’t knock myself out with the reloads. The five handloads I fired used typical 50- and 55-grain varmint bullets, and they averaged 1.04 inches, besting the factory ammo by a smidgen. The overall combined group average of factory ammo and handloads was 1.07 inches. Technically, MOA is 1.047 inches, but in my book 1.07 is close enough to call the LMR a true 1-MOA gun. I’ll add that the LMR was 100 percent reliable. All factory ammo and handloads fed through the magazine, without a single malfunction of any kind. It will come as no surprise that I am not a huge fan of ARs, generally, but I like accurate, reliable rifles that are pleasing to the eye and hand. So I have to admit that the RRA Lightweight Mountain Rifle is a darn nice gun. It is aesthetically pleasing, functions perfectly, and shoots better than at least 75 percent of the bolt-action sporters I’ve wrung out over the years. Oh, yeah, it’s pleasantly lightweight for an AR, too.


ROCK RIVER ARMS LAR-15 LIGHTWEIGHT MOUNTAIN RIFLE ACCURACY & VELOCITY

PRIMER

VEL. (FPS)

S.D. (FPS)

100-YD. ACC. (IN.)

POWDER BULLET

(TYPE)

(GRS.)

CASE

.223 Remington Nosler 50-gr. Ballistic Tip

N-201

26.2

Win.

WSR

2841

12

0.88

Nosler 55-gr. Ballistic Tip

X-Terminator

24.0

Fed.

Fed. 205M

2744

9

1.00

CFE 223 CFE 223

27.2 27.2

Fed. Fed.

CCI 400 CCI 400

2837 2763

19 26

0.90 0.94

X-Terminator

24.0

Rem.

CCI BR4

2731

34

1.50

Nosler 55-gr. Varmageddon FBMT Nosler 55-gr. Varmageddon HP Sierra 55-gr. SP Hornady 35-gr. NTX

Factory Load

3323

33

0.88

Winchester 40-gr. Ballistic Silvertip Federal 43-gr. TNT Hornady 53-gr. Match HP Hornady 53-gr. V-Max Federal 55-gr. TSX Nosler 55-gr. Varmageddon FBMT Black Hills 60-gr. V-Max Hornady 60-gr. TAP FPD Federal 62-gr. Fusion Black Hills 69-gr. MatchKing Federal 69-gr. MatchKing

Factory Load Factory Load Factory Load Factory Load Factory Load Factory Load Factory Load Factory Load Factory Load Factory Load Factory Load

3264 3026 2767 3108 2815 2832 2793 2760 2642 2620 2515

22 23 11 19 23 30 12 28 22 13 11

0.73 0.85 1.18 1.14 2.04 0.90 1.22 0.85 0.70 1.22 1.26

NOTES: Accuracy is the average of three, five-shot groups fired from a benchrest. Velocity is the average of 15 rounds measured 10 feet from the gun’s muzzle. Cartridge overall length for all handloads was 2.25 inches. Temperature was 62 to 69 degrees Fahrenheit. All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Shooting Times has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Shooting Times nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data.

OCTOBER 2016 • SHOOTING TIMES

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SHOOTING TIMES

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OCTOBER 2016


B

UILDING HANDLOADS FOR SEMIAUTO-

matic rifles, such as the numerous AR-15s and AR-10s, the popular M1 Garands and M1As, and sporting rifles like the Remington Model 740/742/750 and Browning BAR, is as simple and easy as for other rifle action types, although paying attention to certain details that are unique to autoloaders is important. The firing pins of rifles designed for commercial use such as those on the Winchester Model 100, Remington 740/742/750 series, and the Browning BAR have a retractor spring. Some AR-style rifles of recent introduction also have it, with those built by Nemo Arms being good examples. Its purpose is to discourage (but not totally prevent) the firing pin from traveling forward unless it is struck by the hammer. Military rifles are designed to function and fire reliably when subjected to sand, dust, mud, and other brutal conditions on the battlefield. For this reason, a retractor spring is seldom included in the design. And since this allows the firing pin to float freely inside the bolt, a slam-fire (a cartridge firing as the bolt slams into battery) is always a possibility. Many great firearms designed for war have free-floating firing pins, so it is not indicative of poor design but rather for sake of simplicity and for reliability under extreme conditions. When handloading for autoloaders like the AR-15, close attention should be paid to certain details, including case sizing, condition of the primer pocket, depth of the seated primer, powder burn rate, bulletseating depth, and case neck tension.

The majority of shooters never experience a single slam-fire during thousands of rounds fired, but the fact that it can happen prompted management at Springfield Armory to include with every M1A shipped an article written by a competitive shooter whose M1 Garand was severely damaged by an out-of-battery slam-fire. In other words, a cartridge fired before the bolt had time to fully lock up. For those who are not familiar with the M1A, it is a semiautomatic version of the M14, which is a modified version of the M1 Garand. Springfield Armory also warns that handloads should not be used in the M1A. A high-seated primer in a handload is probably the most common cause of out-of-battery slam-firing. It can also be caused by failure of a cartridge to enter the chamber far enough to allow the bolt to lock up. Dirt or debris on the face of the bolt can also prevent the bolt from locking into battery. Rust and/or dirt inside the bolt can freeze the firing pin in its forward position with its tip protruding from the face of the bolt. Then we have the in-battery slam-fire. As the description indicates, this one takes place after the bolt has traveled all the way into full lockup and inertia drives the free-floating firing pin against the primer with enough force to fire it. Those who have a lot of experience with the SKS rifle tell me it is notorious for this problem. It is not unusual for the firing pin of an AR to contact the primer when the bolt slams home, with a shallow dimple left in the primer serving as proof of this. This is normal and presents a problem only when the ammunition contains primers that are softer or more sensitive than those the rifle was designed to use. Since the AR-15 firing pin is lighter than those in the SKS, M1 Garand, and some other military rifles, its inertial blow to the primer is lighter. OCTOBER 2016 • SHOOTING TIMES

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An in-battery slam-fire is more likely to happen in an AR when the bolt is locked back, a cartridge is manually loaded into the chamber, and the bolt latch is tripped, allowing the bolt to travel forward at maximum velocity. In other words, when bolt velocity is not reduced by requiring it to drag a cartridge from the magazine. When shooting the 600-yard event, Service Rifle competitors often replace the magazine with a Brownells Bob Sled and single-feed .223/5.56 cartridges loaded with extremely heavy bullets seated to overall lengths too great for the magazine. While the risk of slam-fires is there, they seldom occur, especially when “AR-friendly” primers are used. The owner’s manuals published by some companies warn against manually loading a cartridge directly into the chamber. Springfield Armory (M1A) and Franklin Armory (AR-15) are examples. As Bill Alexander of Alexander Arms recently put it, the potential of slam-firing will be present in any rifle that does not mechanically constrain the firing pin. He went on to say that while a firing pin retractor spring helps considerably, it should not be relied on to totally prevent slam-firing. Alexander gave an example of why. During the development of his Ulfberht .338 Lapua Magnum rifle, the action springs of a prototype had to be extremely heavy in order to increase bolt speed enough to cope with suppression. The high bolt velocity caused the firing pin to overcome its retractor spring at the

A high-seated primer is probably the most common cause of slam-firing in autoloaders. In-battery slam-fires in the Remington Model 742 and other semiautomatics designed specifically for sporting use are quite uncommon due to their firing pin retractor springs, but a high primer can cause them to fire before the bolt has locked into battery.

exact time the bolt unlocked, causing the gun to fire three- to 10-round bursts at random intervals. The addition of a mechanical firing pin block to the design solved the problem.

Case Sizing As I mentioned at the beginning, paying close attention to certain details when handloading for a semiautomatic rifle is important. First on the list is the proper resizing of fired cases. Cases for bolt-action rifles are often neck-sized only, but for autoloaders cases should be full-length resized to ensure smooth and complete entry into the chamber. During firing, the body of a case undergoes radial expansion for a tight fit with the chamber wall, and then due to the elasticity of brass, it springs back to a slightly smaller diameter. Longitudinal expansion pushes the shoulder of the case hard against the shoulder of the chamber, but contraction backs it off slightly once pressure is relieved. This assumes the cartridge is loaded to normal chamber pressures. If pressures are high enough, the fit between chamber

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and fired case can remain tight. Case hardness increases slightly with each firing, and that reduces its elasticity and spring-back. A standard full-length resizing die is dimensioned to reduce case body diameter enough for smooth entry into a clean, SAAMI-dimension chamber. The amount of shoulder setback depends on how far the die is screwed into the press. If the die

contacts the shellholder when the ram of a press is raised, the shoulder is usually pushed back a bit farther than the SAAMI chamber minimum. When adjusted to contact the shellholder, the full-length resizer in AR Group dies from RCBS squeezes the body of a case 0.010 inch smaller in diameter than a standard die and

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Made specifically for loading ammunition for semiautomatic rifles, the “AR” series of RCBS reloading dies come in black boxes. The full-length resizer reduces body diameter and pushes back the shoulder 0.001 inch more than a standard full-length resizer. An included taper-crimp die works with bullets with or without a cannelure.

also pushes its shoulder back a bit more than a standard die. This assures a cartridge will freely enter any SAAMI-dimension chamber, even when it is heavily fouled by many firings. Tools such as Hornady’s Lock-N-Load Headspace Comparator and the Precision Mic from RCBS enable the handloader to measure the space between the shoulder of a chambered case and the shoulder of the chamber. A member of the technical service department at RCBS, who has many years of experience loading ammunition for ARs for competitive shooting, recommends adjusting the full-length resizing die to bump back the shoulder of a fired case for 0.003 to 0.004 inch of headspace in a .223/5.56 chamber. Instructions included with the RCBS and Hornady tools explain how they are to be used.

Primers & Primer Pockets Making sure primer pockets are clean and primers are seated flush or slightly below flush with the head of the case is extremely important (mil-spec is flush to 0.008 inch below flush). Since the cups of primers used in ammunition loaded to military specifications are harder than the typical commercial-grade primer, they require a harder firing pin strike for ignition, and their use lessens the possibility of slamfires. The CCI 34 (Large Rifle) and CCI 41 (Small Rifle) are ballistic equivalents of the CCI 250 and 450 primers, but their extremely hard cups are in compliance with Department of Defense specifications for use in U.S. military ammunition. They are available for handloading. 72

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016


Among “civilian” primers, the Winchester WLR (Large Rifle) and WSR (Small Rifle) as well as the Remington 9½ (Large Rifle) and 7½ (Small Rifle) rate near the top in hardness. The cups of match-grade primers, such as the Federal GM205M and GM210M, are softer.

Powders Using powders within the proper burn-rate range is important. Gas-operated firearms are designed to operate within a specific port pressure range that usually requires powders on the quicker side of the burn-rate chart. Port pressure is lower than peak chamber pressure and higher than muzzle pressure. It also varies with the exact location of the port along the barrel. Port pressure can be higher with a slow-burn-rate powder than with one that burns faster. If it is too low, the firearm will not function. If it is too high, wear and tear on the gun will accelerate; it can even bend the operating rod of the M1 Garand. The .223/5.56 is seldom a problem because its comparatively small case capacity requires the use of powders that are usually within the range best suited for gas guns chambered for it. The .308 is almost as good in that respect, but even with it, staying with powders that fall within a certain burn-rate range is best. The Hornady reloading manual has different sections for standard and service rifle loadings of that cartridge. RRA TRO-STD Powders listed for a 168-grain bullet in Free Float Rail Handguard the M1A range from VihtaVuori N135 (the quickest-burning recommended) to Winchester 748 (the slowest). That same source also has two data groups for the .30-06: one for the M1 Garand and another for other rifles.

into four, 50-round batches with bullets in group No. 1 seated 0.020 inch off the rifling. In each of the other 50-round batches, bullets were seated progressively deeper by 0.010 inch, with those in the fourth batch 0.050 inch off the rifling. Batch No. 3, with 0.030 inch of jump, proved to be the most accurate, but all batches shot inside 1/2 MOA. A cartridge takes quite a beating during its violent trip from the magazine to the chamber of an autoloading rifle, and inadequate case neck tension can allow the bullet to be pushed deeper

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into the case. Just the opposite can also happen. Due The CCI No. 41 (Small Rifle) and No. 34 (Large Rifle) primers were develto the abrupt stop as it slams into the chamber, ineroped to Department of Defense tia can move the bullet forward to hard contact with specifications for use in U.S. milthe rifling. Either will likely result in an increase in itary ammunition and are also available to private sector handchamber pressure. loaders. Their hard cups reduce If the bullet has a cannelure, adjusting the resizing the likelihood of in-battery slamdie to roll-crimp the mouth of the case into it is the fires. Regardless of the primer used, it should be seated either best way to prevent or at least minimize bullet moveflush with the head of the case or, ment. A taper-crimp die can be used with bullets preferably, slightly below flush. with or without a cannelure, but it does not hold a bullet as firmly in place as the roll crimp. But since more bullets come without a cannelure, a taper crimp is usually the only alternative. Regardless of which type of crimp is used, cases should be trimmed to the exact same length. They don’t have to be when a taper-crimp die is used, but cartridge-to-cartridge case-neck grip on bullets will be more uniform, and that can make a difference in the level of accuracy delivered by a match-level rifle. Case trimming is the least fun step in handloading, but electric trimmers from RCBS, Lyman, and Hornady go a long way toward making it a tolerable chore.

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SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016


Increasing case neck tension will also discourage bullet creep. One way to do it is to chuck the expander button of a full-length resizing die in an electric drill and use a fine grade of abrasive cloth to reduce its diameter. Finishing the job with crocus cloth leaves a polished surface. After being resized, the inside neck diameter of a .223 Remington case usually measures around 0.221 inch, or 0.003 inch smaller than nominal bullet diameter for that cartridge. Reducing the diameter of the sizer button by 0.001 to 0.002 inch will make a big difference in case neck tension. Bullet movement or lack of bullet movement is easily detected. After measuring the overall length of a cartridge, load it second from the top in the magazine. Then chamber the top round and fire it, allowing the rifle to feed the measured cartridge from the magazine into the chamber. Remove that cartridge and measure its overall length again. Eliminating bullet creep entirely is quite difficult if not impossible, so the goal should be to prevent the bullet from traveling forward far enough to make contact with the rifling. Semiautomatics are much harder on cases than are other types of rifles. Three to four firings are about all we should expect from those run through the M1A or M1 Garand. I find the AR to be a bit easier on brass, but most .223 Remington cases are crying uncle after five to six firings, and some have even shorter lives. Service Rifle competitors often shoot new cases exclusively in matches and either relegate fired cases to the practice bin or sell them to varmint shooters at reduced prices. One more thing: Proper rifle maintenance is important. Dirt inside the bolt can jam the firing pin in a forward position with its nose protruding from the boltface. It can also be caused by rust inside the bolt. Dirt or debris buildup in the chamber can prevent a cartridge from seating deeply enough to allow the bolt to lock up, and an accumulation of debris on the face of the bolt can prevent complete lockup.

Sierra MatchKing bullets are shot at more targets to win more matches than any other rifle bullet in the world. Exacting tolerances in design and production assure accuracy you can depend on for tighter groups at longer range. Available in a variety of calibers, from .22 to .338, you’ll be in championship company when you choose Sierra. Load up MatchKings for your next match and let the targets, and your competitors, beware.

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IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT IT’S BEEN FOUR YEARS SINCE RUGER INTRO-

duced the 10/22 Takedown model. Shooting Times broke that story in the August 2012 issue. Since then Ruger has offered the Takedown in several variations (currently, 22 versions are listed on the website, counting distributor specials), and the newest one is the 10/22 Takedown Lite. The Takedown Lite weighs 4.5 pounds. That’s about 1.5 ounces less than the standard Takedown version and 11 ounces lighter than the heaviest Takedown version. The Takedown Lite features a 16.1-inch barrel that’s covered with a ventilated aluminum barrel sleeve with an outside diameter of 0.92 inch. The barrel’s muzzle is threaded for a sound suppressor (1/2-28), and the carbine comes with a screw-on thread protector. The Takedown Lite also features Ruger’s synthetic modular stock, which comes with two interchangeable comb units. One is a low comb, and one is a high comb. Both have the standard length of pull, which is 13.6 inches. The Takedown Lite does not have sights, but the alloy receiver is drilled and tapped for a one-piece scope mount base that accepts .22 tip-off rings as well as Weaver-style rings. The base is included with the carbine, and I used a cool little lightweight Ultra Dot Pan AV red-dot sight for my shooting

10/22 TAKEDOWN LITE MANUFACTURER TYPE CALIBER MAGAZINE CAPACITY

.22 LR 10 rounds 16.1 in.

OVERALL LENGTH

34.6 in.

WEIGHT, EMPTY

4.5 lbs.

LENGTH OF PULL

Two-piece synthetic with 1-in. recoil pad and QD sling swivels 13.6 in.

FINISH

Navy blue barrel shroud and receiver, black stock

SIGHTS

None. Receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mount

TRIGGER SAFETY MSRP

SHOOTING TIMES

Blowback-operated autoloader

BARREL

STOCK

76

Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. // ruger.com

6.0-lb. pull (as tested) Crossbolt $659


1885 High-Wall .45/70 Big Game Rifle 22" barrel, 6.7 lbs. Comes with Picatinny rail, dovetail-mounted open sights, raised comb for use with scope. Safe for loads up to 28,000 PSI. 5-year warranty.

SINCE 1959 The clockwork precision of the 1885 action. The power of the 45/70 round. The sportsmanlike credo of one shot, one kill. The perfect rifle for primitive-arms season or for the traditionalist who prefers a single shot.

Uberti.com


The new 10/22 Takedown Lite comes with two interchangeable modular stock combs, one 10-round magazine, a scope-mount base, and a nylon carrying case.

Sports South distributors respectively. The gun I test-fired for this report is the blue one. Speaking of shooting the Takedown Lite, my carbine produced an overall average accuracy of 0.91 inch for five-shot groups at 25 yards fired from a benchrest. That’s for 10 .22 LR loadings with bullets ranging in weight from 31 to 40 grains. The details are listed in the chart. I didn’t have a single malfunction during the firing of more than 250 rounds during my session. I must point out that the CCI Quiet-22 ammo required working the bolt manually, but that’s to be expected due to its low velocity. It simply doesn’t generate enough oomph to work a semiautomatic’s bolt. Ruger 10/22s are known for their good accuracy, ease of use, 100-percent reliability, and extreme durability. The new Takedown Lite definitely reflects those attributes at least in terms of accuracy, easy operation, and reliable functioning. Time will tell about the durability, but I have a good feeling about that.

session. Obviously, a high-magnification riflescope would have been better for evaluating the carbine’s accuracy potential, but the Ultra Dot keeps with the carbine’s “Lite” theme. The trigger pull on this new 10/22 was fair. It consistently measured 6.0 pounds on my RCBS trigger pull scale, but it had some creep. I’d like to try Ruger’s BX-Trigger, which is said to have a 2.5- to 3-pound trigger pull. It’s sold separately for $89.95. Of course, the Takedown Lite comes with Ruger’s famous flush-fitting 10-round rotary magazine, and the gun has an extended magazine release that’s located under the receiver. It also accepts higher-capacity magazines like Ruger’s BX-15 and BX-25. Everything, including the carbine, comes in a zippered nylon carrying case that’s 10.5 10/22 TAKEDOWN LITE ACCURACY & VELOCITY inches wide, 24 inches long, and 2 inches thick. The case has foldout flaps and three 25-YD. inside zippered pockets for storing extra VEL. E.S. S.D. ACC. AMMUNITION (FPS) (FPS) (FPS) (IN.) magazines and accessories. .22 LR, 16.1-in. Barrel The Takedown Lite comes disassembled, Federal Hyper Velocity 31-gr. CPHP 1404 40 15 0.52 but assembling it takes just a few seconds. CCI Stinger 32-gr. CPHP 1570 39 18 0.66 Taking it apart is as simple as making sure American Eagle High Velocity 38-gr. CPHP 1235 28 12 0.88 it’s unloaded and then locking the bolt Aguila Pistol Match 40-gr. LRN 1082 45 16 0.63 back, pushing the recessed lever, twisting Aguila Rifle Match 40-gr. LRN 1058 68 25 0.99 the barrel/fore-end assembly, and pulling it CCI Blazer 40-gr. LRN 1138 37 13 1.35 away from the receiver/buttstock assembly. CCI Quiet-22 40-gr. CPHP 693 140 60 1.23 You can get the new Takedown Lite in Federal #711 Gold Medal 40-gr. LRN 1138 11 4 1.18 four colors: black, blue, red, and green. By Winchester Power-Point 40-gr. CPHP 1257 64 24 0.68 that I mean the receivers and barrel shrouds Winchester T22 Target 40-gr. LRN 1161 27 10 1.00 come in those different colors. The blue, NOTES: Accuracy is the average of three, five-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest. red, and green ones are available through Velocity is the average of 10 rounds measured 12 feet from the gun’s muzzle. Lipsey’s, Davidson’s Gallery of Guns, and 78

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016


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THE NEWEST MEMBER OF LEUPOLD’S VX-R LINE OF HUNTING SCOPES IS

VX-R 4-12X 40MM CDS MANUFACTURER

Leupold & Stevens leupold.com

MAGNIFICATION

4-12X

OBJECTIVE LENS DIAMETER

40mm

TUBE DIAMETER

30mm

EYE RELIEF FIELD OF VIEW

21.5 to 10.0 ft. @ 100 yds.

ADJUSTMENT CLICKS

0.25 MOA

ELEVATION ADJUSTMENT RANGE

80 MOA

WINDAGE ADJUSTMENT RANGE

80 MOA

LENGTH

12.4 in.

WEIGHT

15.1 oz.

FINISH MSRP

80

3.7 to 4.9 in.

Matte black $909.99

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

the 4-12X 40mm CDS riflescope, and as the designation indicates, the scope features Leupold’s excellent, easy-to-use CDS system. The new scope also features Leupold’s FireDot Duplex illuminated reticle. CDS stands for Custom Dial System, and with it shooters can simply range the target with a handheld rangefinder and then dial the riflescope’s turret to the correct distance, hold the crosshairs directly on the target, and squeeze the rifle’s trigger. That’s possible because customers send Leupold their cartridge’s exact ballistics information, including their particular bullet’s brand, type, and ballistic coefficient; their specific load’s muzzle velocity; their installed scope’s height from the bore of their own rifle; and the realworld environmental conditions (elevation and temperature) of where they typically hunt, and Leupold makes a customized turret cap engraved with yardages matched especially for the customer. The VX-R 4-12X 40mm CDS scope also features a 30mm main tube, a fast-focus eyepiece, 75 MOA of windage and elevation adjustment, fingerclick adjustments of 0.25 MOA, and linear fields of view of 21.5 feet at 100 yards when set on 4X and 10 feet at 100 yards when set on 12X. The scope is 12.4 inches long and weighs 15.1 ounces. Eye relief ranges from 3.7 to 4.9 inches. And the finish is matte black. Leupold’s FireDot Duplex illuminated reticle features an all-new fiber-optic LED illumination system and a patented one-button design that has eight intensity settings, a low-light indicator, and a proprietary motion sensor that automatically deactivates illumination after five minutes of inactivity and reactivates instantly as soon as any movement is detected. The FireDot’s illumination system is powered by one CR-2032 battery. The VX-R 4-12X 40mm CDS scope is waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof. And it’s backed by Leupold’s Full Lifetime Guarantee, which means if your scope doesn’t perform as promised, Leupold will repair or replace it for free, whether you are the original owner or not—forever (excludes electronic components). You don’t need proof of ownership or a warranty card, and there’s no time limit. The VX-R scopes were created to combine state-of-the-art optics; modern illumination; and sleek, rugged good looks. The new VX-R 4-12X 40mm CDS scope has ’em all. MSRP: $909.99 leupold.com


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LASERLYTE HAS JUST RELEASED THE FIRST-EVER LASER TRAINER BARREL

LASERLYTE LT-GL COMPATIBLE FIREARMS POWER OUTPUT ACTIVATION BATTERIES BATTERY LIFE WEIGHT MATERIAL

650nm, 5mW, Class IIIA Sound activated by striker firing 393 (three) 10,000 shots 1.8 oz. Aircraft-grade 6061 aluminum

LENGTH

4.48 in.

WIDTH

0.60 in.

HEIGHT

1.00 in.

MSRP

82

Glock 17/22

$159.95

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

for Glock pistols. These barrels drop into Glock G17 and G22 pistols, replacing the factory barrels, and they shoot a red laser dot that simulates bullet impact. The Laser Trainer Barrel cannot accept live ammunition, making it safe for at-home dry-fire practice. The barrel’s bright red color gives a visual cue that the pistol is unloaded and in a safe condition, and a builtin snap cap protects the pistol’s firing pin during repeated dry-firing. The LaserLyte LT-GL Laser Trainer Barrel fires a sound-activated laser when the user squeezes the pistol’s trigger. The laser is a Class IIIA visible diode type with 5mW peak power and a wavelength of 650nm. It is powered by three 393 batteries, which are said to provide up to 10,000 shots. The LaserLyte Glock Laser Trainer Barrel comes with three extra batteries and is covered by the company’s three-year limited warranty. Installation is simple. After you unpack the LaserLyte Trainer Barrel from its packaging, unscrew the battery cap (it’s the piece that looks like the barrel’s chamber) and remove the battery insulator so that the batteries can be activated. Screw the battery cap back onto the barrel. Then make sure your Glock pistol is unloaded and disassemble it according to its manual. Remove the original Glock barrel and replace it with the new LaserLyte barrel. Reassemble your pistol, rack the slide, and start your dry-fire training. In case you haven’t figured it out already, you’ll need to rack the slide every time you want to dry-fire your pistol. Users need to know that the sound-activated switch is, as LaserLyte puts it, “always listening.” So it should be turned off after each dry-fire session. To do that, simply twist the battery cap slightly. You can test it by tapping it gently. The laser in LaserLyte’s LT-GL Laser Trainer Barrel is fully compatible with the company’s entire line of Trainer Targets. Sold separately, those targets include Laser Targets, Reaction Tyme Targets, Score Tyme Targets, and my favorite: the Laser Plinking Cans. MSRP: $159.95 laserlyte.com


SHOOTER’S SHOWCASE GUNSMOKE

HIPSHOTS

TO ME, A REAL HUNTING RIFLE IS ONE THAT CAN Hornady’s showcase 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition fits the new Ruger FTW Hunter like a glove. The hunting and match ammunition are almost indistinguishable visually (the tips are a slightly different shade of red), and they are almost indistinguishable on the range, too. This combination puts big-game hunting rifles into a new era.

84

be carried comfortably while you’re wearing a backpack and climbing mountains. It slips into a saddle scabbard, rides easily in the hand, and comes to the shoulder quickly. It’s not ungainly, has no painful protrusions, and is not so over-scoped that it’s top-heavy and you can’t find your target in an instant. All that adds up to what I call “shootability.” It should have enough power to down an elk at 350 yards and sufficient accuracy to make that a certainty. Consistent 1-inch groups at 100 yards are more than enough, and I picked 350 yards because that is the practical maximum pointblank range (sighted-in properly, you aim dead center and know the bullet will go into the kill zone on anything from a whitetail on up) for cartridges in the .270 Winchester class. Of course, there are more powerful cartridges, but the extra weight and barrel

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

length make the rifle a burden that no longer fits the requirements. For more than a century, riflemen have known that the optimal bullet diameter for this purpose is 6.5mm (.264). It combines a bullet that is long and heavy enough for good penetration with the velocity to carry it out there. Unfortunately, most of the older 6.5s have carried too much baggage in the form of old rifles to allow ammunition makers to really exploit their potential. After a few false starts (.264 Winchester Magnum, 6.5mm Remington Magnum, and .260 Remington), along came Hornady with the 6.5 Creedmoor—essentially the old .250-3000 Ackley Improved necked up to .264—and the game changed. A combination of advanced bullet design and improved powders gave the Creedmoor a ballistic capability beyond any of the old cartridges in a package with moderate recoil.


Advanced bullet design and improved powders give the 6.5 Creedmoor a ballistic capability beyond that of the old 6.5mm cartridges.

The Optimal Hunting Rifle No matter how good it is, however, a cartridge still needs a rifle. Ruger has teamed with Hornady in recent years on a number of successful developments and here has chipped in with a modified version of the venerable Model 77 bolt-action rifle. Incorporating features suggested by the long-range shooting experts at the FTW Ranch in Texas, the resulting “FTW Hunter,” formally announced at the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in May, fits my criteria for an accurate hunting rifle perfectly. I had a chance to try it out ahead of time at the FTW Ranch in April, and I’ll describe the results

in hunting terms rather than shooting-from-the-bench terms. Having sighted-in the rifle at 100 yards and learned how to adjust the Swarovski scope for longer distances, I hit steel plates all the way out to 700 yards using Hornady ELD Match ammunition. The plates were the size of killing zones of large animals: 5 to 15 inches in diameter. The closer the target, the smaller the plate. At 350 yards, I was hitting 6- and 9-inch plates so consistently that if I missed, I blamed myself and not the rifle or ammunition. The Ruger FTW Hunter has a 24-inch barrel, a three-position safety, and a remarkably good trigger. With a hunting scope, it carries like a dream and puts bullets where you want them to go. Back home, with a second rifle to test, I shot conventional groups on a range and found that it would put five shots of Hornady 143-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter ammo into an inch—and most under that—group after group, depending how well I was holding and squeezing. In my memory, no rifle and ammunition companies have ever combined to produce a package like this. The FTW Hunter will be available in calibers other than 6.5 Creedmoor—all the way up to .375 Ruger— but for my taste in hunting rifles, I would look no further than the 6.5 Creedmoor. It’s a revelation.

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Gang-Stopping Hipshots // Continued From Page 88

Owens approached a house located in the town of Holbrook where Blevins was rumored to be holed up. The house had two front doors, and 12 people were inside the house that Sunday, including Andy, his younger brothers John and Sam, and houseguest Mose Roberts. Several women and children were also on the premises. Cradling his Winchester Model 1886 rifle in his left arm, Sheriff Owens knocked on the door to the right, and when Andy answered with a pistol in hand, the lawman told him to come out. Blevins refused and tried to close the door. Owens quickly dropped his rifle to his hip and shot Andy through the door, hitting him in the stomach. John Blevins immediately pushed a revolver out the second front door (to Owens’s left) and fired a shot. He missed Owens but

Holbrook, Arizona Holbrook was founded in 1881 or 1882 and named for H.R. Holbrook, the first chief engineer of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad.

86

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

hit and killed Andy’s saddle horse, which was tied to a tree. Owens turned toward his assailant and fired another quick shot from the hip, wounding John and putting him out of the fight. Owens backed away into the yard so he could see three sides of the house. Seeing Andy moving inside, Owens fired a third time through the front wall of the cottage, striking Andy in the hip. Roberts, with revolver in hand, jumped out of a side window. Owens saw him and took him out with a quick shot. Then Sam ran out the front door, gripping Andy’s Colt revolver, which he had taken from the mortally wounded outlaw, and shouting, “I’ll get him.” As he advanced on the Sheriff, Owens shot him. Andy and Sam Blevins and Mose Roberts eventually died from their wounds; John Blevins survived and was arrested, tried, and convicted of trying to shoot Owens. Some eyewitnesses said that the whole incident took less than a minute. Others said less than five minutes. No matter how long it took, the event made Owens a legend and most likely provided the quick-shooting action upon which future exhibition shooters based their acts.


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SHOOTER’S SHOWCASE GUNSMOKE

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SOME OF THE MOST CLASSIC TRICK SHOTS PER-

Apache County Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens made a name for himself in 1887 during what has become known as the Holbrook Shootout by taking out a gang of notorious horse thieves, shooting his .45-70 Winchester Model 1886 from the hip.

88

formed by exhibition shooters have involved shooting from the hip. Fans love ’em. I remember well the first time I saw exhibition shooter Bill Oglesby shoot a lever-action rifle from the hip, breaking balloons fastened to posts downrange. It was exciting. Well, Commodore Perry Owens used the same technique, except he wasn’t an exhibition shooter, he wasn’t putting on a show for spectators, and he wasn’t shooting at balloons. He was defending himself while bringing a bunch of Old West outlaws to justice.

The Man Commodore Perry Owens, that’s his given name not a rank (his mother named him after a famous United States Navy hero), was born in Tennessee in 1852. His family later moved to Indiana and started a farming operation, but not wanting to live out life down on the farm, Owens ran away from home at the age of 13. He traveled to the West and hired on with the railroad as a buffalo hunter. He quickly became an expert rifleman and an incredible shot. He learned to use revolvers and, being ambidextrous, entertained

SHOOTING TIMES • OCTOBER 2016

friends by moving cans across the pasture with alternating shots from revolvers held in both hands. Owens tried his hand at various other pursuits, working as a ranch hand in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona and later as a stagecoach station agent in Arizona, where he earned a reputation for being a wizard with his Winchester Model 1886 lever action in .45-70. He also is rumored to have possibly been involved in rustling, whiskey running, and other ruinous enterprises in Indian Territory, but by early 1887 he had taken office as Sheriff of Apache County, Arizona, and his deputies ended the depredations of the Clanton Gang in the summer of that year.

The Shootout But the event that demonstrated Owens’s amazing shooting skills and made him a folk hero came to pass in September 1887. Now known as the Holbrook Shootout, Owens single-handedly ended the lives of Andy Blevins (a.k.a. Andy Cooper), Sam Houston Blevins, and Mose Roberts and wounded John Blevins. On the afternoon of September 4, 1887, serving a warrant for Andy Blevins’s arrest (for rustling horses),

Continued on Page 86


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