A couple of years ago, I wrote about a custom 6XC precision rifle I had built that I used in PRS-style matches. Since that time more precision rifle products have been released than the previous 10 years combined! So last year I started from scratch and built two twin match rifles. I’ve been running this rifle setup for a year now, making small tweaks along the way, and I love how I have it configured. While I don’t believe in any one rifle being the “best” for all shooters and applications, this setup seems completely ideal for my use. I’m fortunate to have a few precision rifles, and picking your favorite can be like having to pick your favorite child, but if I could keep just one … it’d be one of these match rifles.
The first question might be: Why build two of them? Good question! If you think about all the total investment you make to practice and travel a couple hundred miles to a national-level match, it adds up pretty quick. Ammo, barrel wear, and time to practice and get tuned up the weeks leading up to the match, plus time to load ammo, cost of reloading equipment, time to travel, plus gas, hotel, and meals for the trip to the match. By the time you get to the first stage, you’ve made quite the investment. If you have an equipment failure a few stages in that you can’t recover from, it can feel like all that investment goes down the drain.
So like a lot of shooters, I started carrying spare parts and tools with me to matches. For example, I’d bring a spare trigger in case the Jewell I was using at the time went down, along with all the tools required to change all that out. But even then, I’d just be hoping they’d have a place to confirm my zero before getting back into the match, and by that point my squad may have already shot a couple of stages while I was working on the repair and I’d have to take a zero on those stages. I noticed most veteran shooters take two rifles with them to a match, and having a complete, identical backup rifle ready-to-go is the ultimate insurance to ensure you can quickly/fully recover from an equipment failure.
But for me, the biggest reason is actually related to practice. I don’t get to head to the range as often as I’d like, so when I do get there I want to make the most of the time and get in all the practice I can. If you only have one precision rifle, you may spend a significant amount of time waiting for your barrel to cool between strings of fire. If you don’t, your barrel can get really hot and accurate barrel life could be cut in half. With two rifles, I can literally double the amount of rounds I can fire in the same amount of time. By the time I shoot a mock stage with one, the other is cooled off and ready to go.
I used two rifles in different calibers and configurations for a while, but I had to really watch which magazine/ammo you reach for and manage two different sets of ballistics. One of the rifles was better off barricades than the other, or how I ran it was slightly different so I wasn’t practicing the same technique. Two identical rifles with identical ammo is ideal to maximize your time at the range and learn your ballistics. I don’t claim to be one of the best shooters, but without two rifles my practice would be cut in half and I’d be a lot worse! 😉 Ultimately practice is the only thing that can make a good shooter great. There is no gear or shortcuts that can get you there.
Why 6mm Creedmoor?
I don’t believe in the supremacy of any one cartridge. In the past, I’ve shot a 6XC and a couple other cartridges, but when Lapua started offering Creedmoor brass with small primer pockets I decided to switch over to the 6mm Creedmoor. Lapua brass is legendary, and in my experience is capable of producing very consistent loads straight out of the box, no sorting or hassle required. Combine that Lapua case with the extremely aerodynamic 115gr DTAC bullet from David Tubb, and you have the makings of an outstanding load.
Update: In 2020, I switched over to using Hornady’s 110 grain A-Tip bullets out of these rifles – and couldn’t be happier with it.
But the availability of world-class components like Lapua brass and wind-cheating DTAC bullets weren’t the only things that attracted me to the 6mm Creedmoor. I also love having the option for affordable, match-grade, factory ammo. I’ve fired a ton of the Hornady Match 108gr ELD-M ammo during practice, and typically see SD’s over 10 shot strings of 8-20 fps, with 12-15 fps most frequently. The Hornady Black 105gr BTHP wasn’t quite as consistent in my rifle, but a friend shot the same lot of ammo from his 6mm Creedmoor and said it produced single digit SD’s. PRIME Ammo and a couple of others also offer factory ammo in 6mm Creedmoor, so there are a few options.
Earlier this year I competed in the Battle of the States PRS match in Oklahoma, and shot pretty well to finish 8th overall. At that same match, my teammate Wes Martin finished 4th using factory 6mm Creedmoor Hornady Black 105gr BTHP ammo! He was just a couple shots behind world-class shooters like Matthew Brousseau and Austin Orgain! Obviously, this factory ammo is extremely capable.
Hornady seems to be offering a lot of value with their factory, match-grade ammo. Think about it: A new, unprimed 6mm Creedmoor case from Hornady has a street price of around $0.70 each and a 108gr ELDM bullet sales for $0.30 each, so just the case and the bullet costs $1 per round. Yet you can find loaded rounds with that same brass and bullet for sale online at around $1.10-1.15 per round (find the lowest price on AmmoSeek.com). You can even sell your once-fired brass afterward for $0.30-0.50 per piece to recover some of that expense, which could make the net cost even cheaper than reloading it yourself! Thanks Hornady!
The 6.5 Creedmoor also has great options for components, and even more factory ammo options. I do own a 6.5 Creedmoor and think it’s fantastic, but the 6mm has slightly less recoil which may give you a small advantage when trying to spot shots from barricades or improvised shooting positions. The 6mm also has a little flatter ballistics, but that comes at the cost of reduced barrel life. Either Creedmoor cartridge is a great option. There are a ton of good factory rifles chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, so that is what I typically recommend to friends, but for a dedicated match rifle I personally chose the 6mm flavor.
Of course we’re all trying to strike the “right” balance between ballistics, recoil, and barrel life, and the 6mm Creedmoor was in the ballpark I was looking for. Ultimately, what tipped the scales for me were both the availability of Lapua brass, great 6mm bullets for reloading, plus the option for affordable, match-grade, factory ammo.
Impact Precision 737R Action
My first two short-action precision rifles were built on Surgeon actions, but I bought those actions a couple of years apart. While most Surgeon actions have similar dimensions, they may not always be close enough to use the same barrels. That’s why you have to ship off your action to a gunsmith so he can chamber the headspace of a barrel to that specific action. In fact, one of my close friends had 3 Surgeon actions he bought over a couple of years and two were close enough that a barrel chambered for one would work on either, but it wouldn’t work on the third.
However, there are a few actions that are different and you can essentially cut the barrel according to the blueprint of the action, and it’d work on any of their actions. Accuracy International is one of those, and there are a few others – like this Impact Precision 737R action that was released last year. Not only are the individual parts held to tight tolerances, but the assembled parts are also held exact tolerances so that one action is virtually identical to another. Receiver headspace and index tolerance allows actions and barrels to be purchased off the shelf and user installed. No more sending your favorite match rifle off to be rebarreled!
As an added plus, if your match rifle was chambered for a cartridge with a 308 bolt face, like the Creedmoor’s or 6.5×47 Lapua or hundreds of other cartridges, but you want a 223 rifle to train with … just purchase one of their barrels chambered in 223 Rem and a bolt with the 223 bolt face, and you can install them yourself with a few simple tools. Just place an order on their website and it can ship direct to you – no need for a gunsmith or FFL. Want to use your match rifle as a hunting rifle? Order a barrel chambered in 300 WSM or 7mm SAUM and a bolt with a magnum bolt face, screw on the barrel, insert the bolt, and go. Impact has chambered barrels ready to ship for most of the popular short-action cartridges, and companies like CORE have also started offering pre-fit barrels for Impact actions. You can have multiple barrels in different calibers, but only need one action, stock, trigger, and scope instead of buying everything multiple times.
Note that these pre-chambered barrels are different from pre-chambered barrels for Ruger Precision Rifles, Savage, or “Rem-age” setups. Those barrels have no shoulder to headspace from but instead require a lock nut to set headspace. While those setups offer similar benefits, the barrels should be installed by a qualified individual with a set of headspace gauges for whatever cartridge you’re using. In contrast, barrels for Impact actions headspace off the shoulder of the barrel, just like a custom chambered barrel would if you sent your action off to a gunsmith. No need for a lock nut or to carefully adjust for headspace – just screw them on and go.
Wade Stuteville and Tate Streater are both accomplished shooters in the PRS world, and they’re the guys behind this new action. While it is held to tight tolerances, it was specifically designed to run in the toughest field conditions. The one piece bolt is designed with proper geometry and clearance to allow smooth operation under field conditions. Fluting on the top and sides of bolt body carry dirt away while a smooth bottom portion ensures smooth cycling. The black carbon nitride finish also improves operation by increasing surface hardness and lubricity. The rugged bolt stop design can take abuse while not requiring modification to stocks or chassis.
It features an integral recoil lug and integral 20 MOA picatinny rail. Of course it based on a Rem 700 footprint, which means it’s compatible with most stocks/chassis and aftermarket triggers.
It also has a trigger hanger, which is a feature gaining popularity on new action designs. Replacing a trigger on most Rem 700 based actions requires a hammer and punch to remove the pins connecting the trigger to the action. Doing that in the field is NOT ideal, because you could easily lose one of the pins. With a trigger hanger, you can replace a trigger with just a screwdriver, which simplifies maintenance in the field.
Hawk Hill Barrel
The barrels I’m using were made by Hawk Hill Custom. Their custom, match-grade barrels are 4 groove, single point cut, and hand lapped barrels. I went with a 1:7.5 twist, which is a fast twist that is optimal for those heavy-for-caliber bullets like the 115gr DTAC.
I chose a Marksman contour, which I believe was first introduced by Hawk Hill, but now available through most barrel manufacturers. The Marksman contour is between a Heavy Palma and Medium Palma, and basically two parts Heavy Palma one part Medium Palma. The chart below shows where the Marksman contour falls on the continuum:
Anytime I’m trying to decide on barrel length, I go to RifleShooter.com hoping Bill has done a Barrel Length vs. Muzzle Velocity test for the cartridge I have in mind. I was in luck for the 6mm Creedmoor (see results)! Bill started with a 31” barrel, measures the muzzle velocity for a few types of ammo, and then chops it off an inch at a time until he gets down to 17” – and then plots the results for our benefit! Each cartridge has a point of diminishing returns in terms of barrel length, which hard to predict but is why Bill’s tests are so informative and helpful. Thanks for sacrificing a barrel for all the rest of us, Bill! In the full post Bill analyzes the data a few interesting ways, but here is one of the charts that made me decide to go with a 25” barrel (shared with permission, I added the dotted line at 25”):
25” isn’t really a “standard length” for a rifle barrel. Most shooters run a 26” barrel, and I’m not trying to say that’s wrong. Bill didn’t test with a 115gr bullet, but you can look at the bottom trend line in blue which is for the 110gr SMK and see that based on his data 26” doesn’t get you much. However, once you go shorter than 25” the velocity trend line nosedives pretty quickly. So I decided to go 25” based on this data.
Barrel Update from January 2020:
I have now burned out 3 of the barrels I mentioned above, and just chambered two more that are a little different. They are still 6mm Creedmoor and 1:7.5″ twist, but I wanted to tweak a couple things:
- Wanted to move the balance point of the rifle forward 1-2″ so that it rested better on barricades. Previously, with the 25″ Marksman contour barrels the balance point was about 1-2″ forward of the magwell, but I thought it might be better if it was 3-4″ in front of the magwell. So I sized up to the Heavy Palma contour and added one more inch to the end of the barrel (i.e. 26″ instead of 25″). I also thought I might prefer if the rifle was slightly heavier (maybe 0.5-1 pound). These new barrels also happen to be Bartlein, although I wasn’t displeased with the Hawk Hill performance. The new barrel length and contour added 0.74 pounds, which seems perfect! So I didn’t go to 26″ for the added velocity, but to get the right balance on the rifle. Any gain in muzzle velocity is relatively minimal (i.e. “in the noise”), but a rifle with the right balance and weight might be why lots of the pros also run a 26″ barrel.
- Wanted reduced freebore so I could continue to seat out long bullets as the throat eroded and still stay within magazine length. My last barrels had the SAMMI spec freebore (0.183″), but that meant the 115gr DTAC’s I was running couldn’t seat out long enough to be close to the lands as the throat eroded from wear. On a brand new barrel, they’d start off close to the lands when seated at max magazine length … but as the throat eroded I couldn’t continue to seat the bullets out. So I went with 0.100″ of freebore on my new barrels. If I’d have had the option of a reamer with 0.110-0.130″ of freebore, that might have been ideal … but honestly I’ve liked the 0.100″. I’d definitely do it again. I am actually doing load development now to use the new Hornady 110gr A-Tip bullets, and it seems ideal for those. I can get close to the lands for minimal jump, and still have room in the magazine to continue to seat them out as the barrel wears and keep that same relative distance from the lands. But, the non-SAMMI freebore does mean I can’t just take the Hornady factory ammo out and the box and shoot it. I have to seat the bullets slightly deeper for them to be able to chamber, which is a little bit of a hassle … but really it’s just running them each through a press, so it’s not that bad. I think it’s worth the extra effort to have a setup that is optimized for matches, but can still use factory ammo with the addition of a one-step process.
Wade Stuteville at Stuteville Precision chambered the barrels for me. You can buy one of his chambered barrels for $875, which includes a Cerakote finish and threaded muzzle. Impact actions currently run $1390, so a barreled action would be $2,265 all in. That might sound high to some, but it sounds totally reasonable to me. Then all you need is a trigger and a chassis, and you could pick up a Timney trigger and KRG Bravo chassis for $500 total, and have a very capable rifle setup for under $2,800! Just a few years ago you couldn’t get a custom rifle for less than $3,000, much less one of this caliber that is built on one of the best actions and barrels out there. God bless America!
Wade was the General Manager at Surgeon Rifles for a few years before they moved from Oklahoma to Arizona. Surgeon was turning out a lot of custom rifles during that time, so he was able to get a lot of experience under his belt. Wade also was the overall PRS Champion a few years back, so he also knows what it takes to shoot at the highest levels. And while there is a lot of great guys on the precision rifle scene, Wade is among the best of them. I’d trust him with a key to my house. I’m a pretty particular guy, but I know Wade cares about my rifle as much as I do, so I know I can trust him with my rifles.
MPA Competition Chassis
I’m very impressed with the MPA chassis. Which stock/chassis you use often comes down to personal preference, but I’m a big fan of my MPA Competition Chassis. It has all the adjustability you need, plus it’s packed with a boatload of other features, all without becoming obnoxiously heavy like some other stocks and chassis on the market. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t light, but I feel like the weight is ideal for a precision rifle.
One of the biggest features I like about these is the extensibility of the forend, which includes an inlet the full length of the forend that allows it to mount to a RRS dovetail mount directly (i.e. no need for an additional adapter or interface). That means you can connect the chassis straight to a tripod, and it creates an extremely sturdy/rigid connection. This has proven helpful for matches and practical hunting situations. (Both my daughters took their first deer with this rifle on a tripod.)
Another thing I love is how you can wedge the chassis onto a barricade to get a solid rest (like shown below). MPA offers a couple of types of barricade stops, and you can adjust them for different widths. With this setup your wobble is drastically reduced.
I also use MPA’s “Wedge Lock System” that allows you to clamp onto a cross-bar like a pipe fence or other horizontal support. This creates a solid connection at the front of your rifle and can reduce your wobble as well.
MPA offers a ton of accessories for their chassis, but here are the ones I use often:
- Enhanced Vertical Grip (EVG) – Has a place to rest/index your trigger finger so your pull is consistent even if you’re contorted in an awkward improvised position. I also love the thumb-shelf the grip and chassis provide, because I typically don’t do a full-wrap grip but instead keep my thumb on the same side of the grip as my trigger finger.
- Bag Rider – Mounts on the bottom of the butt of the rifle, and basically makes it easier to stick a rear bag under it. I also like that it keeps the rifle from getting snagged or hung up on something.
- Bipod Spigot Mount – Provides a dedicated picatinny rail for the bipod to attach just forward of the forend. This allows the bipod to be mounted a little closer to the bore, which can help you get slightly lower. And while this may not make any real difference, it seems like the longer the distance from the bipod to your shoulder the less small movements would affect the muzzle (i.e. levers and distance to the fulcrum). It at least makes sense in my head!
- RAT Barricade Stop – This is an accessory they released earlier this year. In the past I used an offset rotating barricade stop, but I’m liking a few things about this new design. It basically mounts on the forend and slides back and forth on the RRS dovetail inlets on each side. Then there is a spring-loaded pin in the bottom that will lock into one of the holes on the bottom of the forend. You can pull the pin and quickly slide it to another location. I like how quick it is to adjust and the fact that it doesn’t accidently rotate or get in an awkward position during a stage.
- Wedge Lock System – Helps you clamp onto a horizontal barricade like a pipe fence.
The last accessory I use is something I fabricated myself after seeing something similar that Jon Pynch was running. It is an RRS lever-release clamp with a picatinny rail mounted to it. The pic rail I have was “custom” made with my cordless drill and Dremel (machinists please don’t look too close), but RRS recently released a pre-drilled rail that mounts to their clamps. The image below shows how it works, and how I use it with a bipod attached. The primary benefit is that you can quickly adjust the location of whatever you have attached with one hand, or completely remove it.
With the setup above, you can run the bipod very close to the magwell, and get a 3 point rest on a very small surface, like what’s shown below or on top of a barrel. I’ve been able to get a 3 point rest from the bipod and a bag under the grip on just a 12”x12” surface.
I also use that RRS clamp with the picatinny rail by attaching a SILO barricade bag to it. That basically allows me to attach a small bag to any location along the forend, which is helpful on barricades like a rooftop. Sometimes having a bag rigidly attached seems better than strapping a bag around the forend or scope, because it won’t rotate on you while you’re on the clock. Wiebad makes a mini fortune cookie bag with a RRS clamp on it that would work in a similar way.
MPA offers a similar product that rides on the RRS rail and has a picatinny rail on it, and it’d function very similar. I made mine before products like that were available, so mine is more … uh, “custom.” 😉
TriggerTech Diamond Trigger
I’ve mostly used Jewell triggers in my precision rifles in the past, although I’ve tried a few brands over the years. But I’m a huge fan of the new Diamond trigger from TriggerTech. When I first saw and felt them at SHOT Show earlier this year, I immediately bought 2 of them (full price off their website) the same day, and they’ve been a pleasure to use. In my opinion, they feel every bit as crisp and consistent as a Jewell, with no creep. They’re adjustable to under 4 ounces (my triggers are usually set to 10-12 oz.), and the fundamental design is extremely robust. The 2017 PRS Finale had a lot of blowing dust, which put all the triggers to the test. Here is a pretty powerful observation from one of the competitors:
“The Oklahoma dust at the (PRS) finale wreaked havoc on competitors triggers. I saw multiple triggers from every trigger manufacturer go down except the TriggerTech. After seeing all the other triggers fail and TriggerTech’s ability to operate in dusty environments, I’m moving all my guns over to your Diamond.” – Ken Sanoski, PRS Finalist
Personally, I prefer flat/straight triggers, so that is the option I chose, but TriggerTech offers a few types of trigger levers. I’d bet the Pro Curved model is more popular among PRS shooters, but I’m all about the Flat/Straight model.
To read more about the TriggerTech Diamond, and understand how the design is different and see test results on consistency and durability, check out this article.
Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25×56 Scope
I’ve been fortunate to use a lot brands of scopes, but overall the Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25×56 DT still earns my trust for use on my match rifles. While the clarity is legendary, I’m not sure clarity helps you get more hits very often. It might make reading mirage easier, but image clarity isn’t one of the most important features when it comes to a scope for practical use.
One of my favorite features is the turret design, which is easy to read and manipulate under pressure. The numbers are large, and adjustments are tactile and positive without having so much resistance that you over-adjust. It’s easy to fine-tune your adjustment by 1 or 2 clicks. Plus, with 14 mils per revolution it’s extremely rare to leave the first revolution. For my 6mm Creedmoor ballistics, I can go out to 1,500 yards before I have to leave the first revolution! Staying on the first revolution cuts down on the mental mistake of being on the wrong revolution. (We’ve all done it!)
The other thing I love about this scope is the Horus H59 reticle. For the longest time I thought Horus reticles were too busy, but a friend encouraged me to try one – and I’m completely sold! Today, the H59 or the Kahles SKMR3 reticle are my favorite reticles. I strongly prefer reticles with marks in 0.2 mil increments, especially on the windage axis for more precise holds. I also owned this Schmidt 5-25×56 scope with a Tremor3 reticle, and didn’t like it as much for a few reasons. The biggest drawback to me was the 0.2 mil hash marks were slightly thinner on the Tremor3 reticle and couldn’t be seen as easily at lower magnifications. On some stages where I’m shooting from barricades or improvised positions I may only run at 10-12x magnification to make it easier to find targets. Targets are usually larger on those kinds of stages, so it’s not like you need 25x magnification to hit them. The H59 still allows you to see the 0.2 mil hash marks for precise shots even at lower magnifications. The Tremor3 and SKMR3 were a little too fine to differentiate at 10-12x, at least for my eyes.
The thing I’ve realized with gridded reticles is they aren’t overwhelming. While it seems like there is a lot going on, I quickly got used to it and don’t even notice it’s there until I need to use it. There are times in PRS-style matches when you don’t have the luxury to dial elevation on every shot, either because of tight time constraints or the stage explicitly prohibits you from touching your turrets once time begins. I remember one stage at Shoot for the Green a couple years ago where you had to engage 4 targets at various distances from 400 to 800 yards in just 12 seconds. If you tried to dial each shot, there is no way you’d get them all off. Yet one shooter cleaned it in just 10 seconds! In those kinds of scenarios, a gridded or “Christmas tree” reticle like the H59 helps you hold for both elevation and wind corrections. With a traditional mildot reticle, if you tried to hold 4.7 mils of elevation and 1.2 mils of wind you’d be floating out in the middle of nowhere on your reticle, and it’s pretty unlikely you’d be able to precisely place a shot under time pressure.
Ultimately, the reticle is a tool and one of the most important parts of the scope. Again, it’s one of those things that comes down to personal preference, but the H59 reticle fits my needs.
Update: In spring 2019, Nightforce started shipping the Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 with the new Mil-XT reticle. I really liked that reticle design, so I bought one to try out. I now own 3 of them! I’ve been using them on these match rifles and now my extreme long range rifles for the last few months. I LOVE THAT SCOPE! The reticle is ideal. It is less busy than the H59, and I feel like you don’t miss spotting a bullet splash through it like you might with a reticle that has more ink like the H59. There are a lot of features on the H59 that I never used, like holds for movers or range estimation. So they were just in the way for me. The Mil-XT is the perfect balance for me of a hold-over reticle that is useable there when you need it, but is also minimalistic with just the features that I actually need. It packed in all the features from the Horus reticle that I needed (like hash marks in 2/10th mil increments, hold-over tree, etc.), but none of the clutter that I didn’t use. And that NF 7-35×56 has proven to maintain it’s zero through multiple flights, and hundreds of rounds out of a magnum rifle. I doubt that can be said for many scopes, so it gives me more confidence knowing it’s on. In fact, two weekends ago I was at a PRS club match as I grabbed my rifle off the cover of my truck bed to go to the first stage … I knocked it over on it’s side and crashed into my metal cover. The guy beside me just looked at me. I said, “Don’t worry! It’s a Nightforce. The zero is good.” And it was. The zero was perfect. I placed 6th overall out of about 40 shooters, which is about as good as I can expect for not practicing any over the past few months! I’ve become a raving fan of the NF ATACR 7-35×56 with Mil-XT reticle, so I just wanted to share that update for those reading this post.
Spuhr Ideal Scope Mount
I’ve been using Spuhr mounts on my personal rifles since 2012, and they’re pretty ideal. Their popularity exploded among the precision rifle crowd around 2013/2014, and they’re still topping most of the top competitor’s rifles. From an engineering perspective, it’s an elegant design that is both robust and extensible. There aren’t many products that I don’t at least have a couple of critiques for, but the Spuhr mount doesn’t leave me wanting anything else.
Spuhr offers a ton of different heights and degrees of cant, which means you can find the perfect model to fit just about any scenario. I prefer for my scope to be mounted as close to the bore as possible, which typically means I use the SP-4001 model, which is the case on these rifles as well. Since there is already 20 MOA of cant built into the integral rail on the Impact action, I didn’t need the mount to add more to that, so I went with the SP-4001 model since it is for a picatinny rail, 34mm scope tube, and has 0 MOA of additional cant. (Don’t know what cant means? Read this article)
You might wonder what the picatinny rail is for that I have in front of the windage knob. I noticed on some barricades like a PRS step barricade, I might occasionally nudge the windage knob and make it rotate off zero. Since the Spuhr mount is extensible, I found a 10mm spacer and rail from Spuhr that acts as a shield to keep me from bumping the knob in a way that causes it rotate. You could also mount a reflex sight on it to make it easier to get on target or keep your scope zoomed in at higher magnification, but I just use it to block the windage knob. Honestly, I wish Schmidt & Bender made a screw-on cover to go over the windage knob, because I rarely dial for wind – but this solution seems to be working for me.
APA Little B* Muzzle Brake
I run a muzzle brake on these rifles over 95% of the time. Suppressors cause the barrel to heat up more quickly than a muzzle brake, and I don’t want to have to wait for a suppressor to cool down between strings when I’m practicing. But the biggest reason is that muzzle brakes are more effective at reducing recoil and helping you stay on target than a suppressor. I know that because I thoroughly tested it myself a couple years ago. I bought high-speed sensors and measured the recoil impulse with 20+ muzzle brakes, plus a couple suppressors (read about the test setup here). I also measured how well each one helps you stay on targets using lasers and high-speed cameras. The Little B* brake from American Precision Arms was one of the top performers in both tests – so that has been what has been on my match rifles ever since! You can read about the muzzle brake field test and see the results here.
One thing I love about the APA muzzle brake is their locking nut design. You don’t have to “time the muzzle brake” to the threads and shoulder on the barrel, meaning you can switch it from one barrel to another without any gunsmithing or fiddling required. When you might burn out a barrel in a year or less, that’s a valuable feature. But unlike crush washers or spacers, the lock nut design on APA’s brakes still provides a nice finished look. Since this brake was released a few other manufacturers have adopted a similar approach.
Customized Harris Bipod
I run an Atlas bipod on my hunting rifle, and there are a lot of compelling features about that design, but for my match rifles I prefer what has become a highly customized version of a Harris bipod. I like that you can deploy the Harris or put it back up with just one hand in about a second, which can help in some scenarios.
I started with a standard Harris S-BRM 6-9” bipod, and did a few things to it:
- Attachment: Changed the attachment to a quick-release lever by American Defense Manufacturing, which allows me to easily remove it in 2-3 seconds with just one hand. I first used the QD levers from ADM on the Remington MSR rifle I tested, and while there are a lot of QD designs out there (and I’ve tried several), the design by ADM seems to have a solid lock-up with the easiest release.
- Swivel Tension Lever: Installed a KMW Pod-Loc lever to easily adjust the swivel tension
- Foot Adapter: Replaced the standard feet with Harris Foot Adapters made by Primary Adaptive Solution Systems (PASS), which makes it much easier to switch out feet and extension accessories on the fly. It basically converts the end of the bipod to be just like the Atlas bipod, so that any feet or accessories that work on an Atlas now work on the Harris.
- Feet: I primarily use Atlas Rubber Feet, but also carry the Hawk Hill Spikes made for the Atlas bipod and can swap them out in less than a minute.
- Clamp-On Leg Adapters: I also added Clamp-On Leg Adapters made by PASS, which allow you to mount Atlas-style feet and or extensions in a secondary location. When you flip-up the Harris legs, whatever you have mounted on those secondary location is facing down ready to support the rifle. I’ve seen some guys just run feet directly on those adapters to get an effective bipod height of just 3” (helpful when you need to shoot through small portholes). The main way I use them is with the 18” leg extensions made by PASS, like shown in the photo. With that setup you can leave the main Harris legs set at their standard 6” height for a prone shot, and then flip-up the bipod legs and have 18” legs for a sitting or low kneeling shot. Having them both attached makes that transition very, very quick, and can be an advantage in some scenarios.
- Extensions: I use the PASS 18” leg extensions, and also use the Atlas 3” leg extensions. With those two pairs of extensions, the two mounting positions, and the built-in 6-9” adjustability in the Harris, I have a ton of different configurations I can mix and match to cover pretty much anything from 3” all the way up to 30”! The leg extensions weigh just a few ounces, so you can throw them in your pack and not even notice they’re there until you need them.
Hawk Hill Dope Card Holder
How you keep track of your dope during a stage is another personal preference thing. Try a few things and see what works best for you. Personally, I really like a dope card holder that keeps it right in front of me, instead of using a QB sleeve where I might have to break position or move my head from behind the scope to check my adjustment for the next target. My logic goes like this: to minimize movement put your dope as close as possible to where you apply the adjustment (i.e. the turret).
Hawk Hill has two models of their dope card holder, one that attaches to a picatinny rail or directly to a Spuhr mount. I use the one for the Spuhr mount.
I typically write down my dope on a stage similar to what is shown in the photo. In this example, I have 3 target distances along with my elevation adjustment for each one. Then I bracket my wind call based on what I think the lowest and highest realistic wind values might be. For example, it looks like I wrote down wind calls at 9 mph and 14 mph. If the wind is more consistent it might be a more narrow range, but this was a gusty day so I have a 5 mph spread. I typically start by holding a little above of the average (i.e. favoring a stronger wind), but if I notice the wind blew me even further on that first target I might decide to hold that 14 mph wind call on the other two targets. Bracketing wind like this, instead of simply writing down one wind value, allows me to more accurately apply what I learned on the first target to the remaining targets.
Tenebraex Scope covers
It’s wise to keep your lenses covered when you aren’t shooting. At a match, rifles are normally on the ground, and it’s easy for dust to collect on the lenses when they aren’t covered. If it rains, it’s even more important to keep them covered. But I hate the Butler Creek scope covers. In my experience, they end up breaking off or they won’t stay closed. These Tenebraex scope covers are thicker and more flexible, which makes them virtually bulletproof. I love these things. When I buy a new scope I always order a set of these Tenebraex scope covers to go with it.
For these you need to order a couple of parts, and it can be difficult to figure out exactly which ones to buy. Tenebraex now has a part finder that can help, or you can just call the guys at EuroOptic.com, because they’re a stocking dealer for Tenebraex and can make sure you get exactly what you need.
2 Round Holder from Short Action Precision
I use a couple types of magazines, including an AI 10rd magazine with the MPA expander floor plate that extends it to hold up to 13-14 rounds. I typically load one more round in the magazine than what I should need on the stage, just in case I have a malfunction and have to throw a round. But I still like keeping another 2 rounds on the rifle so they’re handy through a match, and although it’s rare that I need to reach for one … when you do, it can be a life-saver. Sometimes I might have forgotten to load enough rounds or might have accidentally grabbed the wrong magazine or had a malfunction, but being able to quickly grab a round or two that you top load can help you get another hit. To me, these two-round holders from SAP are like really cheap insurance.
I hoped you enjoyed reading about what I’m running these days. I think of posts like this as walking up and down the line at the range to see what other guys are running. It’s interesting to hear what people are running and why they picked it. It’s exciting to see all these new products and tools popping up that can somehow help you get a little steadier in particular scenarios. There are a lot of creative entrepreneurs out there, and for that I’m thankful! This is easily the most exciting time in history for long range riflemen!
But don’t feel like you need all this stuff to get started. Most of this falls in the “nice-to-have” category, not “need-to-have.” All this stuff can add up pretty quickly, but I’ve gathered it all up over a lot of time. I presented it here as if I bought it all at once, but that wasn’t the case. On my first precision rifle, I had to save for a couple of years and even after that I used a budget scope on it while I saved for another year for a good scope. But I fired a lot of rounds and got a lot of experience behind that budget scope. I didn’t wait until I had everything to get started.
Ultimately, a nice rifle and gear can help and be enjoyable to use … but at some point it comes down to the nut behind the gun! The shooter is usually the weakest link, and practice is the only way to make significant improvements. There are no shortcuts, and you can’t buy your way to becoming a good shooter. The worse mistake would be to think you had to have all this stuff to get started. You don’t! I didn’t have it to start! Buy whatever equipment you can afford and practice so often that you burn out a barrel! That will do more for your ability to get rounds on target than fixating on getting all the best gear.
Excellent set ups!
Thanks, Scott. I’ve been tweaking on them for a while, and really like how they’re setup. At the very least I’ve learned what I personally prefer. It’s fun to get to “tinker” with equipment like this!
Wonderful and fabulous as usual. Although i do not compete as of yet, I do apply some of the components of PRS into my hunting. (Tripods, RL26, Good triggers & scopes, & constant practice. The only complaint i have is you don’t write enough! 🙂 Happy Holidays!
Thanks, John! I’ve found a lot of cross-over myself. As I mentioned in the post, both of my daughters took their first deer with these rifles, because the cartridge size, recoil, and tripod mount are ideal for them. I’m about to build a new hunting rifle and would love a lot of these same features in it. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for taking the time to let me know!
Thanks Cal, I really look forward to your posts.
As always, concise, timely, entertaining and extremely useful information.
Love it! Great to see your personal preference after all these years of testing.
You bet, Matt. I have been fortunate to get to test all kinds of equipment over the years. Its nice to get to play with all kinds of things before deciding what you want to buy! 😉
Sounds like you need to be shooting a 5-25 ATACR with a capped windage turret 🙂
If you’re going to mount a reflex sight for faster target acquisition, try giving it a shot at 12 o’clock! I’ve found that when raising my head from the cheekpad to scan for another target, my head is right over the scope’s centerline anyway. Might as well have a dot there! It lets me sit at 14-16x and bounce between targets FAST.
Zach, I’ve definitely admired that feature on the ATACR and thought about switching. I’m using an ATACR 7-35 on my 300 Norma and ordered another one to go on the 375 Cheytac I’m having built. I think a lot of that ATACR line of scopes, and it wasn’t lost on me that they offer the 5-25 in a H59 too! 😉
That’s a good tip on the reflex sight. I can waste a lot of time on some stages looking for targets, so it might be a good idea for me in particular.
As always, great article. Hope to see you on a range one of these days.
Thanks, Jim! Glad you enjoyed it.
Superb selection of components !
It is very harmonious and necessarily very powerful. It is always fascinating to read this type of articles, written with a very good analysis, really objective and critical.
King of 2 Miles in France ’19 – Organization Team.
Thanks, Philippe. I probably spend too much time thinking about this kind of stuff! I’m not sure if it’s a disease or just a character flaw! 😉 I know I always what to know “the why” behind decisions, so that’s what I was trying to articulate. Glad you found it interesting.
I was curious what, if any, difference you noted between the two rifles ballistically? Obviously for your purposes you’re using the same load recipie for both, but did you notice in working up that load whether there were differences between the two in what they actually preferred?
Ted, I noticed that one rifle was about 0.05-0.1 MOA tighter shooting than the other, but that was with a few types of ammo … not just one load. Honestly, I don’t even remember which rifle that was. Then there was about 4-7 fps muzzle velocity difference. The barrels were from the same lot and chambered on the same machine the same day, but you can expect about that much variance barrel-to-barrel, or maybe even a little more. While those things might matter for Benchrest or some other applications, I feel like that is “in the noise” for all practical purposes and PRS-style competitions.
And when I do load workup, I have a more practical approach than I used to. As do it in under 100 rounds, and usually can hone in on a load in 50 rounds or less. Some of that is just experience, and some of it is deciding when more effort isn’t going to produce more benefit. When I find a load that shoots single digit SD’s, I stop. My handloads average around 7-8 fps SD’s out of both rifles. I’d bet they’d average that out of most 6mm Creedmoor rifles. I have a lot of nice reloading equipment, which certainly helps … especially my Prometheus powder scale. That really made a difference in the quality of my ammo when I started using it.
And I’ll add my load recipe to this post once I get home. I’m still traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, but I don’t mind sharing what I landed on. I just couldn’t remember all the details off the top of my head.
I presume blindfolded you cannot tell the rifles apart. Any differences in weight, balance, geometry, trigger characteristics are below your resolution and therefore not significant. What about accuracy? It would require a WEZ analysis to be quantitative but I would hypothesize a 0.1 MOA difference, or perhaps somewhat larger, would not be significant in competition.
PRS could add another dimension to the competition by only allowing one receiver but unlimited number of all other components. Would spur the development of quick change modularity. Change barrel, trigger what have you in seconds.
Happy Holidays, Rick
Yep, Rick … the rifles are identical. I actually had to put a label on them to tell them apart to keep track of round count. The accuracy is very, very similar. I think one of them might have shot 0.5-0.1 MOA better than the other, but honestly I don’t even remember which one it was. The average muzzle velocity is about 4-7 fps different. Both of those things are “in the noise” for all practical purposes, at least in my opinion. I don’t think I’d hit or miss one shot at a competition because of that.
I think there is a movement toward this modular/swapable type rifle setup. I think the market will demand it over time. It just makes sense that someone would want to use this huge investment they make in a rifle for multiple applications. For my African safari last year I almost got Wade to just spin me up a barrel in 300 WSM to put on one of these rifles. It’s a pretty compelling option. Accuracy International has been a leader in that space for a while, and I think everyone else is catching on. There are also products like the SwitchLug from WTO that allow you to apply a similar approach to just about any Remington 700 based action. A few manufacturers like Masterpiece Arms (MPA) have started offering those on their complete rifle builds. It seems like a great product, with a repeatable zero-shift and you can change out the barrels in the field. Stuff like that will move this industry forward.
Americans are dominating firearms innovation. The Vudoo is at least the equal of Anschutz if not superior. The WTO SwitchLug will allow American rifles to have same switch barrel capability of Blaser R8, Mauser M03 and Sauer S404.
I appreciate your patriotism, and can’t argue against most your points … but Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Russia, Austria and others have contributed a lot to firearms innovation over the years. And I am impressed with the Vudoo. Don’t own one yet, but I bet I buy one in the near future. But calling it superior to Anschutz might be a stretch. We should probably wait until Olympic shooters are using Vudoo before we make that call. Today more of the world’s best shooters are using Anschutz.
I do agree on the WTO SwitchLug being a big step forward to some of the interchangeability of firearms. It’s funny that a lot of the industrial revolution about interchangeable parts came from the firearms industry, but somehow we lost our way for a minute into needing custom parts made for each rifle. I guess that was mostly just when you desired the UTMOST precision and not just for function, but luckily manufacturing practices and machinery have caught up with the market demand … as they typically do in a Capitalist society. Which I guess brings us full circle back to your point! There is a lot of opportunity in the U.S. for someone in the middle-class to bring an idea to market, especially when the economy is booming like it is now. But that shouldn’t downplay the efforts or contributions of other areas of the world, that’s all.
As always, I appreciate you sharing your point of view, Rick! You’re a straight-shooter and I respect that about you.
I read this article closely and am bowled over by the technical aspects of these types of rifles in their refinements. AS you may know the Whittington tactical rifle course has been closed and I will be doing no traveling to shoot these types of courses anymore. I have some of the original run of the DTAC 115 grain bullets I acquired long ago. They did not stabilize for me at the time and have been carefully separated as to weight and ogive. Would you be interested in them? We could split the cost of shipment.
Thank you for your attention in this matter.
Hey, Gene. I did hear about the Whittington Sporting Rifle Match being closed. I actually signed the petition to try to get it to reopen. The Whittington Center seems to be completely missing the current trends in shooting sports, which is a shame. It’s crazy to think how out of touch they can be from what people want to do. I guess they’ll just keep pushing the NRA square range events, as more new shooters are competing than any point in history … in other ways. Thanks for your support NRA!
I have a ton of the new DTAC’s so I wouldn’t be a customer for your bullets. I’d suggest posting that on Sniper’s Hide or somewhere and you might find some takers there.
Great post – thanks for all the information and “why”s. The comment about moving bipod mount forward and fulcrum location is spot on. Check out BipodExt Tac III. Putting the bipod way out from made a huge difference in ability to hold center for me.
Running similar rig – Creedmoor 6.5 Nucleus action 30 moa rail, Proof 24” CF barrel, MPA competition chassis, TTDiamond, Accutech Bipod, SB PM-II DT 5-25, ARC rings. But can only afford to do it once. So the back up is a Tikka T3 outfitted similarly.
Thanks again for all the good info.
Arthur, that’s a great tip. I actually thought about using that on my big 375 CheyTac that I’m building right now. And that sound like a sweet setup. It is very similar. That Nucleus action is a really capable action too. Very clever engineering on that thing, and the price point is a ridiculous value. I really do believe Ted (the founder of American Rifle Company) is one of the brightest engineers of our time. He has a lot of clever ideas, and isn’t just a guy who tries to do some incremental improvement to what everyone else is doing. I can really appreciate guys who do that.
Thanks for sharing,
Hi- Cal ….. so who are some smiths today that people use should could build such a rig (or similar). ?
Hey, Charlie. Great reminder! I totally forgot to mention who the gunsmith was in the original post, but I went back and got that updated. My gunsmith is Wade Stuteville from Stuteville Precision. He’s built my last few rifles. I guess I forgot to add that because I was talking about him in the section about the Impact Precision action. He’s one of the founders in that business, and helped design that action.
There are a lot of good gunsmiths out there, but Wade is one of those guys that I really trust. If you want to see a list of other very capable gunsmiths, you can check out my What Gunsmiths The Pros Use post. That one is from a couple years ago, and right now I’m collecting the data to publish a 2018 version of What The Pros Use. While there may be a few new names on the newer version, I bet the top gunsmiths in that older post are still on the new list, although they may have shuffled a bit.
Sorry for not including that in the first place! I thought I had all of the details in there, but then I go and forget one of the most important parts! Ha! 😉
As always, great article! Please help me, i probably missed this. What is total weight?
On a side note, do you ever publish where your going to compete? Would live to meet up at a event.
Hey, James. This rifle weighed 16.5 lbs. last time I weighed it. I take photos of my rifles on the scales and I noticed I’d tweaked one or two things since that last photo, but I doubt it amounts to more than 1/2 a pound. I’m still on the road for the Thanksgiving holiday, but I was planning on weighing it again when I get home and I’ll let you know if that’s off.
I think I wrote that I was going to compete in the Wyoming ELR match, but it was only a week or two before the match … so not much notice. Honestly, I’m not sure what matches I’ll compete in next year. Heatstroke and the Q Creek ELR matches are my favorite up to this point, but I’m not sure if I’ll do those again or try something new. I’ve been wanting to get out to the K&M Precision Rifle Competition for a couple years, and maybe I’ll get out there in 2019. The dates are May 24-26, 2019. Unfortunately these days I have a lot of other obligations, so it’s hard for to commit to a match this far out. But I’ll try to keep that in mind as I’m planning out next year. I always appreciate your perspective, so it’d be good to catch up in person.
James, it weighed exactly 17.4 lbs. as shown exactly like in the top photo with an empty mag.
Interesting, especially those Impact Precision actions. Probably a bit hard to get hold of in Europe, but it would be a very nice option. For us I think the 6CM is a still a bit too exotic – certainly from the factory ammo point of view – 6XC would be better. Anyway, I really, really do not need another calibre.
One point – some models of the S&B PM-II 5-25 *DO* have a windage cover – at least one of mine does.
Wow, that’s interesting … both the 6XC factory ammo thing and the windage cover on the S&B. I guess Norma 6XC ammo might be a lot cheaper there. Here Norma 6XC loaded ammo is over $2/round, so about twice as expensive as the 6mm Creedmoor options. But I’ve heard it’s really good stuff, so if I had that option for cheaper I might stick with 6XC too. Ultimately I think if you gave the top shooter a 6mm Creedmoor, 6XC or 6 Dasher, … they’d still be the top shooter. All of those cartridges are very capable, so it comes down to the shooter.
And I wish my S&B Scope had a windage cover! I’ve tried to give that advice to every scope manufacturer I know. Most of us dial for elevation when we have the time, but it seems like most guys hold for wind. So give me something to cover that up, and I can remove it if/when I need to dial my windage (e.g., on a moving target stage). Having the option to cover it up is never a bad thing. And because it’s on the side, it’s more susceptible to being bumped than the elevation turret. I’m also less likely to notice it moved than the elevation turret. Seems obvious to me! Hopefully more scope manufacturers will start that trend … and I’d love for Schmidt to be one of them.
I wonder if that has to do with your’s being a European model and the ones that are imported into the U.S. are different for some reason? I guess I could ask someone at S&B, but just makes me wonder why they don’t always do that. It’s funny to hear about the differences in prices and products in different parts of the world. It certainly can and should influence what you go with.
Great stuff Cal, thx ! I think I have read everything you have ever written, or close to it….Just one thing though, Ha….but I believe you are getting more obsessive compulsive as you age, like me,…. but I thought it interesting that you wrote that you needed to check your zero if you went down and had to replace a trigger….LOL….That’s a bit over the top buddy!
Ha! You’re probably right, Rip.
Anytime I take an action out of a stock/chassis I prefer to double-check my zero. But now that you call me on it, I guess I’ve never paid much attention to how much it’s off … if any. Maybe with a good bedding job and the same amount of torque there wouldn’t be a shift. Of course I don’t have these chassis bed at this point, because they seem to be shooting pretty well without it.
I’ve definitely been accused of being a little over the top … more than once! Maybe more than once this week! 😉 That’s either a gift or a character flaw depending on what you’re talking about. My wife might lean toward the latter!
Great article. Like to know how much your completed rifle cost? Currently my long range rifle is a trued Remington 700 stainless action $480, criterion Remage bull barrel in 6:5 Creedmoor $500, Timney adjustable trigger $200, scope base and rings $350, KRG BRAVO chassis $350, magazines and Harris bipod $350, tactical scope $2100: TOTAL INVESTMENT $4330: Currently this rifle shoots .5 MOA. I have shot some 3” groups at 800 yds. when the wind cooperates. This rifle weighs in at about 14 lbs completely outfitted. I can switch barrels in about 15 minutes. Next barrel will be a 6mm Creedmore. (By the way, finally got the factory to live up to their “under 1 MOA claim” on the AR10 in 6.5 Creedmore.)
Don’t know here you find the time to do all you do but keep up the informative articles and hope you had a great Thanksgiving.
That’s a good question, Wade. I’m not sure. Honestly, I probably don’t want to know! But that setup you described is certainly capable. In fact, I mentioned the Timney trigger and KRG Bravo chassis in one of my replies to another comment. Those two are a 1-2 punch for getting the most bang for your buck. And the barrels for a Remage setup are still a little cheaper than the ones for the Impact action. These Impact actions probably run a little smoother and have the integral recoil lug and rail, plus a few other features like a trigger hanger … but those are all “nice to haves” not “must haves.” Honestly the setup you described probably includes all the best value parts to get to 0.5 MOA the lowest cost way possible. And that’s awesome on the AR10! A sub-MOA setup on one of those can be a lot of fun!
Articles like this do take some time to put together. I was staying a few days with my wife’s family, so I found a little time over the holiday to finish it up and get it published. Glad you found it informative. Happy holidays to you!
Did you consider the 224 Valkyrie and 90gr SMK as an alternative to the 6mm CM? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
Interesting question, Colin. I know the 224 Valkyrie is all the rage and the ballistics are impressive compared to a 223 Rem. It’s especially impressive because it’s able to still run in a standard small-frame AR15 … but I didn’t consider it as an alternative. The ballistics aren’t really in the same class, in my opinion. In terms of muzzle velocity, the 6mm Creedmoor launches a 115gr bullet at around 3,000 fps (some even press it up to 3100 fps, but I’ll be conservative here), while the 224 Valkyrie looks to launch a 90gr bullet closer to 2,740 fps (see RifleShooter’s muzzle velocity vs barrel length test for the 224 Valkyrie). So you are already 250 fps in the hole at the muzzle, but the bullet is not as aerodynamic either. The real-world-tested G7 BC that Bryan Litz published for the Sierra 90gr SMK is 0.257, but his tested G7 BC for the 115gr DTAC is 0.302. So not only is the bullet going much slower, but it will also slow down faster (i.e. it won’t be able to retain it’s velocity down range as well).
With standard atmospherics, the drop at 1000 yards for 6CM is around 262 inches (7.3 mils), while the 224 Valkyrie has 39% more drop at 363 inches (10.1 mils). But even more important is the wind drift. For a 10mph crosswind at 1000 yards the 6CM has a drift of 64 inches (1.8 mils), but the 224 Valkyrie is 94 inches (2.6 mils). That’s almost 50% more wind drift, which requires you to be much better at your wind calls to connect with your targets. If your wind call is a little off with the 6mm Creedmoor you may still connect with the target with an edge hit … but not with the Valkyrie. Your wind call has to be a lot more exact or you’ll be blown off target. Ultimately the wind drift has a lot more to do with hits and misses than the elevation drop. Less wind drift means more margin for error on the shooter’s part in terms of their wind call, but a cartridge/bullet with more wind drift means someone with the same wind calling ability would get less hits.
Another reason 22 calibers aren’t as popular in precision rifle competitions is that they sometimes don’t carry enough energy to the target to always get the “hit” call from the Range Officer (RO). That is actually why some guys run a 6.5mm instead of a 6mm, although most shooters (including me) believe a 6mm gives you plenty of energy for today’s matches. That’s because most matches now have target hit indicators on all targets beyond 1,000 yards that will flash when they’re hit (some even put them on all targets beyond 800 yards, because those hit indicators are now relatively affordable). Before those target hit indicators were popular, a lot more people were using 6.5mm bullets … because there is nothing more frustrating than actually hitting a target but not getting credit for it. I try not to ever argue with an RO, but that’s a tough moment for me to hold my tongue. But ultimately, you are at least deciding in part how often that will happen to you when you select a caliber. If you look at the remaining energy for the 6CM at 1000 yards you around 660 ft-lbs of energy at 1612 fps, but the 224 Valkyrie would just be carrying 305 ft-lbs of energy because it’d have slowed all the way to 1236 fps. That’s less than 1/2 the energy, so if the target just moved a little with a hit from a 6mm Creedmoor … it may not move enough to even be noticeable with the 224 Valkyrie, so you may not get the call.
The 224 Valkyrie is still super-sonic at 1000 yards, which is awesome for a 22 caliber round that can feed out of a standard small frame AR-15 … and you can do a lot with it because of that. It is a much more capable long range cartridge than a 223 Rem. But the ballistics just aren’t in the same class as the 6mm Creedmoor. You’d need a large frame AR to run a 6mm Creedmoor, which just tells you it has more case capacity … which almost always means better ballistics.
Hope that makes sense! Thanks for the question.
Interesting to read your comment articles on muzzle brakes vs suppressors. I had a discussion with the CEO of NG2 Defense the other day regarding muzzle brakes/devices/etc.
I would be interested to see you do a test on their MZLMAX for a precision rifle.
Thanks, Chad. It’s the truth. Lots of people make big claims, but the data doesn’t lie! It’s crazy how many muzzle brake manufacturers make claims like “Reduces recoil by 50%” … but in reality they’re just pulling that number out of their butt. Almost none of them have ever done any real tests to be able to draw some of the conclusions they’re marketing.
Unfortunately, I’m all done testing muzzle brakes. I actually sold all the sensors and custom test equipment I made to a manufacturer, and they now use it for their R&D. What a novel idea! At least 3 other MAJOR manufacturers that I know of have built a setup that was virtually identical to what I designed and used, which was honestly a big part of my goal with that project. I wanted to show how much helpful insight you could get with a data-driven approach that you could then use to make an even better product. A lot of the testing I do isn’t overly complex or expensive, but can help them make products that flat-out perform better. A data-driven approach will always yield a better result … rather than just guessing or trying to make it look cool. If more manufacturers would actually start testing their equipment, and even seeing how it compared to their competitors, then we’d end up with better performing products, and as shooters … we all win. That’s a huge part of why I did that muzzle brake test in the first place.
If your friend at NG2 Defense is serious about producing the best product possible, I’d encourage him to find a way to test his products and integrate that into his product development cycle. I walked through that process with one manufacturer, and it’s crazy how much tiny tweaks to a baffle or a slight increase/decrease to an opening can make. There is a lot of complex physics taking place inside a brake in an instant, and some of that is extremely difficult to model or anticipate … so a loop of test-and-tweak, test-and-tweak is probably the best path forward for some manufacturers. You can read exhaustive details about the test system I built in this post.