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Wyoming ELR Match

Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge

A few weeks ago, I attended one of my all-time favorite matches: the Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge hosted by Scott Satterlee in Wyoming. It was quite the experience, with targets ranging from 720 to 2,091 yards and sustained winds over 30 mph! A few competitors measured gusts up to 50 or even 60 mph! Believe it or not, you can still hit targets in those conditions – and some shooters hit first round with surprising consistency.

This Wyoming ELR match is the only match like it anywhere in the country. Because it is so unique, it isn’t affiliated with the PRS, NRL, or other series, which means many shooters may not be aware of it and that is why I wanted to share an after-action report about it with my readers. I also tested Accuracy International’s new AXSR rifle in 300 Norma Mag at this match and ended up placing 4th overall with it. There was both good and bad with that rifle, and I plan to share my full experience and honest review of the AXSR in the next post.

The Nightforce Extended Long Range Steel Challenge in Wyoming

In June I traveled to Casper, Wyoming to compete in the Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge for the third time (previously the Q Creek ELR match). There is nothing else like this match anywhere else in the U.S., and likely the world! It is a flagship, 2-day match featuring 20+ stages in BIG country with challenging winds. It includes 8,000 pounds of steel targets ranging from 700 to 2,100 yards, and they are spread over more than 5 square miles. The average target distance was 1,180 yards, and 70% of the targets are beyond 1,000 yards!

236 shooters registered for the 2020 match, and it sold out in less than a week. While Coronavirus kept a few people from traveling, we still had over 190 shooters, including some of the most respected shooters from across the country.

A group of people in a car

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Scott designed the match to primarily mimic long-range hunting scenarios, so most of the targets were animal shapes. Here are a few examples of what you might engage on a stage:

  • 50% sized elk at 1400-1700 yards
  • Full-size antelope at 1150-1400 yards
  • 50% goats at 1100-1350 yards
  • Full-size wolves at 1250-1500 yards
  • Full-size turkey at 850-950 yards

There were also a few fun stages mixed in with 50% Sasquatch targets or 4% to 16% T-Rex targets. Two stages featured moving targets, with one at 1,158 yards! Plus, they had a tie-breaker stage where you fired one 3-shot group through an electronic target at almost 1000 yards, and a few shooters printed groups under 5” in 25+ mph winds! Where else do you get to shoot stuff like that?!

Scott said the average target size was 0.3 mils tall x 0.8 mils wide (i.e. 1 MOA tall x 2.7 MOA wide), so they were a little more generous left to right for windage, but your elevation had to be really dialed in to have a chance of connecting. While 2.7 MOA wide may sound enormous, I can assure you it was still extremely challenging to connect with your first round in 30+ mph winds – or even your second round! Plus, that was the average, meaning there were a lot that were smaller than that too.

The match book was more detailed than any I have ever seen, including multiple photos and callouts for every target on a stage with distances and sizes. That was intended to decrease the time a squad spent looking for targets when they arrived at a new stage, and I feel like it helped keep the match moving. It also had some helpful stats on target distances and sizes. (Download the very detailed 2020 match book)

This Wyoming ELR match obviously has longer target distances than PRS/NRL style matches, but it is also very different than slow-fire Extreme Long Range (ELR) matches like King of 2 Miles. I actively compete in both of those styles of matches and believe the Wyoming ELR match is the best of both worlds.

How Does the Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Compare To PRS/NRL Matches?

Most PRS/NRL style matches do not have many targets beyond 1,000 yards, if any. There may occasionally be a stage with targets at 1,000 or maybe one target out to 1,200 yards, but I’d suspect if you looked across every major PRS and NRL match, the overwhelming majority of the targets would be 300-800 yards. 70% of the targets in the Wyoming ELR match are beyond 1,000 yards, and 20% of them are beyond 1400 yards!

The Wyoming match is all prone, with some high/modified prone because of the natural terrain. The match is designed to be APA accessible so those in a wheelchair can compete, which isn’t something many match directors think about, but I appreciate it.

First-round hits count twice as much as second-round hits, so it’s more about knowing your ballistics/dope and calling the wind, rather than who can game and shoot fast off barricades like many precision rifle matches. (Don’t get me wrong, I love PRS/NRL style matches too – but this is just different.) The Wyoming match also provides a little more time on the clock, with each stage allowing 2 min. and 30 sec. to fire 8 rounds or less. So, it isn’t the 90 second par time for up to 10 shots that many of us are used to at precision rifle matches – but it also isn’t all the time in the world! I saw more than a few competitors’ time out with shots remaining, and I even did it on one stage where I had some equipment issues (more on that in the next post).

The total round count was less than most two-day precision rifle matches. In a typical two-day PRS/NRL major match you might fire up to 200 rounds, but the round count of the Wyoming ELR match was around 120-140 total rounds for most competitors. The max round count was technically 156, but if you had first-round hits on all the targets, you’d only need 79 rounds for the entire match. That is because the scoring was “2-1 with a dead target rule,” which means if you hit a target on the first round you received 2 points and move on to the next target. If your first shot was a miss, you can reengage that same target with a 2nd round and if you hit, you’d receive 1 point for that 2nd round impact. You do not get more than two attempts per target, and once you hit you move on. I believe I ended up shooting 118 rounds during the match.

The first time I attended the Wyoming ELR match a couple of years ago, it was a sanctioned PRS match. However, the PRL and NRL restrict calibers to 30 caliber or less and muzzle velocity to 3200 fps or less. That is mostly to keep competitors from tearing up a match director’s targets that might be placed at 300-400 yards – or to prevent the idiot from bringing a 50 BMG to a precision rifle match. However, this Wyoming match does not have a single target under 700 yards, and 70% of the targets are over 1,000 yards. Scott Satterlee, the match director, didn’t want to put unnecessary limits on competitors, so he allows any caliber up to 416 Barrett, with no cap on muzzle velocity, and he even explicitly says that solid copper bullets are allowed. That opens a ton of possibilities, but it also means this match is not associated with any points-race series and is simply a unique, stand-alone match.

The supporting gear guys carry with them in Wyoming is different than precision rifle matches as well. For example, you see much more spotting scopes and rangefinders on tripods. This includes a few really high-end spotting scopes, like the Swarovski model with the binocular eyepiece, and a few military-grade rangefinders, like the Vectronix PLRF or Vector (read why military-grade rangefinders perform better). You also do not see shooters carrying around large support bags or accessories for barricades since this match does not include any positional shooting.

How Does the Wyoming ELR Steel Challenge Compare to Extreme Long Range Matches?

I’ve competed in the King of 2 Miles, ELRSO matches, and other regional Extreme Long Range (ELR) competitions, and the Wyoming match is very different than them. Many of those are very low round count. It is not rare to only fire 20-40 rounds in a match. They are also slow-fire. It is also not uncommon for ELR competition rifles to be single-shot actions, which wouldn’t be ideal in Wyoming. While the time constraints are not as tight as precision rifle matches, the pace is much higher than typical ELR matches.

Most ELR matches are typically shot from one location, and you do not have to carry your rifle and gear from stage to stage. That is why it is common for ELR competition rifles to weigh 40+ pounds, which certainly doesn’t seem wise for this match. When you are using a 40-pound rifle and it’s very low round count, you can also use a really big cartridge (like a 375 CheyTac or 416 Barrett) without much penalty in terms of perceived recoil, spotting your own shot, and barrel life is less of a concern … but if you have to keep the rifle weight down so you can actually carry it around, that changes the whole dynamic. While the terrain was not extreme, we didn’t finish firing on day 1 until 7:30pm, which made for almost 12 hours of shooting and a long and pretty intense day. A 40-pound rifle would not make that very fun.

The match has a designated Hunter Division, and to qualify for that division your rifle cannot weigh over 16 pounds with everything attached (based on the state of Idaho’s hunting regulations). However, the Open Division does not have any weight restrictions. For context, in 2020 there were 67 shooters designated in the Hunter Division and 124 in the Open Division. Last year, the top 2 spots overall were actually taken by shooters in the Hunter Division, but this year the competitors with top 9 scores were all Open Division. I was in the Open Division and my rifle weighed 21.75 pounds, and the rifle I used in past years weighed 22.5 pounds. I feel like 20-25 pounds all-in is pretty ideal for most cartridges used in this match.

In prior years, this match was held at the Q Creek Ranch, but it had to be moved to the Tillard 55 Ranch in 2020. Instead of being 45 minutes southwest of Casper (the largest city in Wyoming), it was held 30 minutes northeast – right next to a wind farm, which should have given us a hint about the wind we might experience! The new venue did allow for a nice course layout, with all 21 stages laid out along 1.3 miles of ridges. Stages were designed so competitors fired in a 220-degree arc. That means you couldn’t just figure out what the wind is doing from one spot, and there would be times when the wind would be a full crosswind, and other times it’d be head-on or behind you. You would also have to pay attention to how the wind was funneling through valleys and around hills, and once you finally figured it out – you’d move and never fire in that scenario again. None of the ELR matches I have competed in or heard of force you to shoot in so many different wind conditions, but it clearly adds another level of challenge.

Finally, the target distances in the Wyoming match are shorter than most Extreme Long Range matches. While there is debate over where “Long Range” ends and “Extreme Long Range” starts, ELR Central defines “Extreme Long Range” as anything 1500 yards or more. The “ELR” in the Wyoming match’s name stands for “Extended Long Range,” which was simply to indicate the distances were longer than typical “long-range matches.” I ran stats on the target distances and 90% of them are 1502 yards or less, so only 10% of the targets fit the ELR Central definition of “Extreme Long Range.” The longest shot was 2,091 yards, but there were only 3 targets beyond 1 mile (1760 yards).

What Is Extreme Long Range Rifle Shooting Distance

What Cartridges & Rifles Did Guys Use?

One of the fun things about this match is it has less established paths to success than most precision rifle matches. In most PRS/NRL matches, it’s very likely the guy who wins was using a 6 Dasher (or other 6BR based case), 6mm Creedmoor, or maybe a 6×47 Lapua or 6XC, which are all very, very similar in the grand scheme of things (see the data). In many Extreme Long Range matches the winner is likely using some variety of a 375 CheyTac or 416 Barrett. Because this match has targets from 700-2100 yards in a wide range of scenarios and conditions, competitors are still trying to figure out what works best, which makes cartridge and equipment choices much more interesting.

300 Win Mag vs 300 Norma Mag vs 338 Lapua Mag

Keeping the overall round count to around 150 or less over two days and the max round count per stage to 8 rounds or less are both intended to help conserve barrel life because many shooters opt for larger calibers and magnum cartridges for this match than traditional precision rifle matches. For example, I have shot a 300 Norma Mag all three years I’ve competed, and there were many guys there running that. (Read about the 300 Norma rifle I used in previous years.) I also noticed a lot of shooters opted for a 6.5 PRC this year. I personally think a 7mm magnum might be ideal for this match, like a 7mm SAUM, 28 Nosler, or 7mm Rem Mag. A 300 PRC, 300 Win Mag, or other large 30 caliber cases would likely work well when paired with the right bullet. There were a few guys using monster cartridges like a 338 EnABLer launching 300 gr. bullets at 3300 fps, and even some 375 caliber rifles. There were also a few using more traditional precision rifle cartridges like the 6.5 Creedmoor or even a 6mm Creedmoor. In fact, one shooter in my squad used a 6.5 Creedmoor to hit a lot of targets, including the one at 2091 yards while it was blowing 25+ mph – a feat that is quite impressive! There seemed to be shooters using just about everything from a 6mm Creedmoor to 375 CheyTac and everything in between! Miles Johnson was in my squad and used a 257 Weatherby Mag, which is a pretty unconventional match cartridge, but he was pairing it with the new 25 caliber Blackjack bullets and ended up placing 16th.

Extreme Long Range ELR Cartridge Caliber Comparison

I did hear a rumor that all of the top 4 shooters were using a 300 Norma Mag. I finished 4th overall this year, and I can attest that I was using a 300 Norma Mag. I also know Jorge Ortiz took 1st place this year using a 300 Norma Mag. I reached out to Scott Satterlee and asked if he could confirm if all 5 were running a Norma, but he was not sure. (Update: I was able to confirm that the top 4 used a 300 Norma.) In related news, I do know that Jon Pynch won this match with a 300 Norma Mag in 2018, and Matthew Brosseau won with a 300 Norma Mag in 2017. That is not to say if you put a 300 PRC or other cartridges in any of those guys’ hands they wouldn’t have still finished where they did. I don’t think there isn’t anything magical about the 300 Norma Mag, but there seems to be strong evidence that something in that class of ballistics is a great choice for this match.

Every year there are a few shooters at this match running monster magnums and wildcats with crazy ballistics, and while that might help them connect with more targets, I’ve yet to see any of them finish high on the leaderboard. Of course, we all know that while ballistics and gear can help, they certainly are not everything. Just because you brought a capable rifle chambered in an awesome cartridge is no guarantee that you’ll land in the top 20. You do need capable equipment, but I feel like what gets you on the podium at this match is your ability to make good wind calls, adjusting quickly when you’re off, and having good data for your rifle that is dead on at every range out to 2000 yards.

LabRadar Reading for 5.5 SD Ammo Over 36 Shots

In my opinion, high-quality, consistent ammo is just as important in this match as the cartridge you choose. Using a bullet with both a high AND consistent BC, and ammo that produces consistent and predictable muzzle velocity can have a big impact on your score. I’ve competed with factory match ammo in precision rifle matches that had targets out to 1000 yards and didn’t feel like I dropped any points because of my ammo, but the further you stretch the distance the more critical your ammo becomes. It’s very tough to accurately predict trajectory for shots at 1400+ yards if your muzzle velocity has a standard deviation (SD) over 12 fps or an extreme spread (ES) over 50 fps, and that can have a measurable impact on your hit probability. I fired the 36-shot string shown on the LabRadar as I was practicing one day leading up to the Wyoming match. Over that large sample size, my handloaded ammo measured to have an SD of just 5.5 fps and ES of 22 fps. (I’ll share the full load details in my next post, and a video that proves I didn’t delete any shots from that string, too. 😉)

I’m not suggesting you need ammo with SD’s under 6 fps to be competitive, but it sure doesn’t hurt! If my SD was 8 fps or less over a large string like that, I’d still be very happy with it. If it was 9-12 fps, I’d think it was okay but wouldn’t be real happy with it. If my SD was over 12 fps, I feel like it would likely cost me some points in this kind of match. Your extreme spread is usually 4-6 times whatever your SD is, so that’d be at least 50 fps of difference from your slowest round to your fastest, which could be enough to put you off target – regardless of what your BC and initial muzzle velocity were.

So, What About That Wind?!

After the match, I was talking to a group of shooters as we waited on the award ceremony and one of them joked, “Hey, I don’t know if it was like this for you guys, but it was a little windy out there while I was shooting.” We all busted out laughing because the conditions were just ridiculous at times. I live in windy West Texas, so I thought I had shot in some strong winds before – until this match! I had only shot in winds in the 20-25 mph range once before that I can remember, so I suspect this was new for most of us!

The highest wind gusts I ever personally measured during the match was just over 40 mph, but other shooters measured wind gusts of 50 or even 60 mph on their Kestrel weather station! A few of the shooting locations were exposed on top of hills, and the wind would really howl at times in those spots.

However, I want to make clear that there weren’t sustained winds of 25+ mph for the entire match. Honestly, the day before the match started was beautiful with mostly 5-10 mph winds. But two guys who were local to that area told me the average wind speed at the place the match is held now is 18 mph, so there may not be many days below 10 mph.

To give you an objective picture of what we experienced, I went back through the winds holds that I actually wrote down and used while I was on the clock during each stage. Before each stage, I always write down the holds for the lowest and highest winds I believe that I’m likely to experience (typically separated by 5 mph), which some shooters call bracketing. I usually start holding something in between those values on the first target, based on what I’m feeling right before the timer beeps and I start the stage. The wind is dynamic, so I occasionally end up holding outside my brackets, but having more than one wind call written down makes it much easier for me to apply what I learn about what the wind is actually doing from one target to another. In fact, when the wind got over 25 mph, I started writing down 3 different wind holds – which I’d never done before, but it seemed to work well.

Here is a breakdown of the wind speeds I had wrote down for my brackets before each stage:

You can see on top that there were 4 stages that I had written down wind holds from 8 mph to 13 mph as my brackets, which were the first hour or two of the match on Day 1. There wasn’t a single stage in the whole match that I wrote down anything less than 8 mph, although sometimes I did call a straight headwind or tailwind, so the effective wind might be 0 – but of course, that would change while you were on the clock! This chart doesn’t show wind direction, but that was constantly shifting in addition to the wind speed. There were 4 stages where my wind brackets were around 28 to 35 mph. Altogether, I went into a stage thinking I might need to hold up to 20 mph or more on 57% of the stages (12 of 21)!

I put together a 40-second video clip below that helps you understand what it was like when the wind was the most extreme during this match. There were literally times it would almost knock you over! By the end of it, we all felt sandblasted, and I now understand why some guys in the Middle East wear a shemagh! I would’ve given $100 for one during this match!

Results & Photos from 2020 Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge

View 2020 Match Overall Results on PractiScore

If my math is right, I believe the max score someone could have received is 150 points if they hit every target on the first round. Jorge Ortiz won the match with 98 points, which is extremely impressive! A score of 75 or more (half the max) means the shooter must have had a ton of first-round impacts, and likely a lot of second-round hits as well. The average score among all 191 shooters was 54, which is still very respectable when you consider we had to shoot in such extreme conditions.

Below is a photo of all the trophy winners for the various divisions. They walked away with a pretty cool looking trophy, in my opinion! Congrats to all these shooters! They are all clearly exceptional marksmen (and women) to be able to connect with targets from 700-2100 yards when we had winds over 20 mph most of the match. WOW! You guys certainly earned my respect. And, thanks to Scott and team for putting on another great match!

Finally, thanks to all the sponsors that supported this match! The prize table was epic! A few veteran shooters said it even rivaled the prize table for the PRS finale and NRL Championship matches, and I don’t doubt it. I think there were 12 complete rifles on the table, plus scopes, actions, suppressors, high-end tripods, and a bunch of other really cool gear. Thank you to all the companies that support this sport and this match in particular! I promise as shooters we notice who supports and who doesn’t.

Below is a photo gallery from the match. This includes some great photos, which are primarily from the Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge Facebook page, and I think Nick was the one who took most of these. Really cool shots, Nick!

Overall Combined Results For The 2020 Nightforce ELR Steel Challenge (including both Open and Hunter Divisions):

PlaceNameDivisionTotal PointsTiebreaker Time% of Winner’s Score
1Jorge OrtizOpen9862.76100.00 %
2Adam CloaningerOpen95102.696.94 %
3Jason ChipleyOpen9371.694.90 %
4Cal ZantOpen9159.392.86 %
5Carson RutherfordOpen9175.8592.86 %
6Shawn AndrewsOpen8851.4589.80 %
7Lou SmithOpen8584.9386.73 %
8Jason BrinkmanOpen83102.3184.69 %
9Chase StroudOpen8243.1583.67 %
10Eli GrowHunter82118.3283.67 %
11Justin LinenbachHunter8193.4582.65 %
12Chris HinojosaOpen81129.9382.65 %
13Rhett WaltersOpen8082.381.63 %
14Aaron RobertsOpen80116.1481.63 %
15Serge DucourneauOpen7982.5180.61 %
16Miles JohnsonOpen79108.6780.61 %
17jonathan robertsOpen7851.4479.59 %
18Andrew HawkinsOpen7852.2379.59 %
19Logan SchamburgHunter7871.6279.59 %
20Paul GonzalesOpen7886.0579.59 %
21Tom jacobsHunter7768.8178.57 %
22Owen KoeppenOpen7772.2778.57 %
23Chris GittingsHunter7665.2477.55 %
24Austin OrgainHunter7685.177.55 %
25Mark LiuOpen76151.5577.55 %
26Grant UrickHunter7583.3776.53 %
27Ryan CarneyHunter75115.4476.53 %
28Chris PalkaOpen7476.8475.51 %
29Chad KitzmannOpen7365.3374.49 %
30Bryon CurnuttHunter7381.6174.49 %
31Brett DorlandOpen7292.4673.47 %
32Ronnie WrightOpen7297.6773.47 %
33Brian SandersOpen72109.0373.47 %
34Jerrod WinderlHunter72125.4973.47 %
35Jordan GlassmanOpen72130.373.47 %
36Charlie FolsomHunter7156.9772.45 %
37Gary DeanOpen7177.5372.45 %
38Brent WoodHunter7189.672.45 %
39Ken NordstromHunter71100.6272.45 %
40Dale MackOpen7110372.45 %
41Seth BergleeHunter71109.0472.45 %
42Shannon MartinsonOpen71111.5672.45 %
43tom bullerOpen7063.1771.43 %
44Ryan MartinHunter7090.4671.43 %
45Peter AngelosOpen70102.2771.43 %
46Jason WolfHunter70146.6871.43 %
47Eric AndersenHunter6946.170.41 %
48Dean MorrisOpen69110.2670.41 %
49Cody WraggeOpen69111.3770.41 %
50Hank FabichOpen69125.7970.41 %
51Heath MillerOpen69141.1370.41 %
52Garrett FravertOpen69150.770.41 %
53Ryan HarmsOpen6868.3869.39 %
54Jeff OdorOpen6886.2269.39 %
55Tyler ListerOpen6895.9669.39 %
56Ben GalimoreOpen67102.8168.37 %
57Casey MingOpen67123.8168.37 %
58Jeffrey CardarelleOpen6653.2167.35 %
59Joshua GreerOpen6699.3567.35 %
60JOSEPH GENTILEHunter66122.3167.35 %
61Calvin MenardOpen66127.7867.35 %
62Corey GumbertOpen6578.7366.33 %
63Clayton SmithOpen65101.6266.33 %
64Mark CarrHunter6487.9865.31 %
65Andy PuszmanOpen6492.2765.31 %
66Aaron TritschOpen64114.7365.31 %
67william strachanOpen64125.665.31 %
68James KonzalOpen64127.4865.31 %
69Stephen DamronOpen6386.4264.29 %
70Andi CloaningerOpen63111.8664.29 %
71Vinny BezoldHunter63118.264.29 %
72Josh CluffHunter63118.5264.29 %
73Brad ShortHunter62104.1463.27 %
74Rod BradleyHunter62104.3263.27 %
75Wendell SulliventOpen62107.3663.27 %
76Mario BullOpen62115.1463.27 %
77Nate AveyOpen62139.0663.27 %
78Daron BurckhardOpen62348.4963.27 %
79Thomas McKennaOpen6183.6662.24 %
80Bryan LitzOpen61349.4562.24 %
81Adron BeeneOpen60113.4761.22 %
82Miguel ContrerasOpen60165.8161.22 %
83Allen GorzalkaOpen5991.2860.20 %
84Todd HendersonOpen59106.460.20 %
85Seth HowardHunter59108.7260.20 %
86Doug GlorfieldOpen59114.2860.20 %
87Casey TillardHunter59336.4660.20 %
88Landon MichaelsHunter58119.1159.18 %
89Ty LinebaughOpen58133.959.18 %
90Scott WeaverOpen58136.6159.18 %
91Gary LarsonOpen58163.4359.18 %
92david powersHunter57127.358.16 %
93Chris DavisHunter57128.8358.16 %
94Richard NetheryOpen57144.9858.16 %
95Oliver LottermannOpen5693.0957.14 %
96Eric MillerOpen56116.9557.14 %
97Nathan WebnarOpen56138.157.14 %
98Jim P BrownOpen56162.1757.14 %
99Adam LucksingerOpen56360.1257.14 %
100Larry TurcottHunter55123.5656.12 %
101Dusty PowersHunter55135.456.12 %
102Don BaldwinOpen55143.1956.12 %
103Jimmy MooreOpen5464.1855.10 %
104Darik BolligOpen5492.0355.10 %
105Garrett WachtelHunter54115.3855.10 %
106Tyler WoodHunter54119.0255.10 %
107Paul PoindexterOpen54149.7755.10 %
108Charlie HelmOpen52126.0153.06 %
109Cory FitzpatrickHunter52130.0953.06 %
110Nicholas RoadiferHunter52142.1953.06 %
111Curtis BroadbentOpen5176.8652.04 %
112Cory CiscoHunter51146.5652.04 %
113Thomas KernesOpen50124.251.02 %
114Zachery MooreHunter50127.9451.02 %
115Tayden RoadiferOpen50154.3751.02 %
116Caleb SpeiserHunter50169.351.02 %
117Seth GibsonOpen4997.1550.00 %
118Patrick EldringhoffOpen49120.2450.00 %
119Rick BetenboughHunter48138.0748.98 %
120Dave PetrushkaHunter48153.4748.98 %
121Nathan CoilHunter48154.1848.98 %
122Ron MathesonOpen48163.448.98 %
123AJ RichardsHunter4782.5547.96 %
124Todd VanLangenOpen47114.8347.96 %
125Ian HughesOpen47138.9147.96 %
126Mike RossOpen46158.646.94 %
127justin bridgesOpen46384.6746.94 %
128Ann MillerHunter4526.2845.92 %
129Robert BellewOpen45146.3945.92 %
130Paul WilkersonOpen44104.3944.90 %
131jose gardnerOpen4364.4243.88 %
132Sean HallingOpen4394.8643.88 %
133Heather McGuireOpen43102.3243.88 %
134kendall keateOpen43148.4343.88 %
135Rick JuelfsOpen43361.7643.88 %
136Tomas MerazHunter4256.4942.86 %
137Gentry ThorpeHunter4287.0442.86 %
138Matt BrownOpen42119.3342.86 %
139Jason OlsonHunter4122.241.84 %
140Dale PolingOpen41104.6341.84 %
141Andrew PontiusOpen41105.9841.84 %
142Jeff ShafferOpen41141.6441.84 %
143Andy EdwardsHunter4014140.82 %
144Joel ZietzHunter40335.2140.82 %
145Shaun ParkinsonOpen3988.1639.80 %
146Mitchell FitzpatrickOpen3990.9639.80 %
147Dave SchroderOpen39129.739.80 %
148Logan HalfacreHunter39147.7639.80 %
149Jonathan OlsonHunter39153.1439.80 %
150Kory RichardsonOpen39396.6239.80 %
151Dylan ToddOpen38146.438.78 %
152LeRoy DelpOpen38366.738.78 %
153Christopher BearssHunter3716537.76 %
154Casey KnorrOpen37329.1737.76 %
155John MillsOpen37353.3937.76 %
156Bronson FellowsOpen36152.9836.73 %
157Chris HansenHunter35115.5235.71 %
158Steve Miller jrHunter35126.2735.71 %
159Gwen MillerOpen3515935.71 %
160John TidwellOpen35367.3435.71 %
161Brian KinneyHunter3540035.71 %
162Sean NaletteHunter34133.9234.69 %
163Mike MuesselHunter34141.234.69 %
164Troy HoffnerOpen34163.834.69 %
165Levi BrownOpen33137.8633.67 %
166Mark NelsonOpen33347.6933.67 %
167Travis GibsonHunter3284.5732.65 %
168Carl ScottHunter32143.5932.65 %
169Greg GlassOpen3215032.65 %
170Calvin HoOpen31138.0431.63 %
171Kourtney GardnerHunter31150.1131.63 %
172Kyle SukhbirHunter3086.9430.61 %
173Chuck AmentoOpen28134.0328.57 %
174Russell PerryHunter28140.628.57 %
175Devin BrownOpen277.727.55 %
176Yoshi YonekawaHunter27104.4327.55 %
177Steve BarberiOpen26151.4826.53 %
178Wade SpruillOpen23337.1223.47 %
179Corey AndersonHunter2040020.41 %
180Kevin KlefstadOpen19131.0419.39 %
181Darrus MartinHunter1915019.39 %
182Ray CooperHunter18140.7618.37 %
183Kendal BaergOpen17145.6617.35 %
184CB CribbsOpen17373.217.35 %
185Crystal StrachanHunter16147.5216.33 %
186Marty DoobrovoHunter16180.716.33 %
187Jeff ReedOpen15149.1615.31 %
188STEF TODDOpen13139.713.27 %
189Matt HumphreysOpen81708.16 %
190Ari MillerHunter82508.16 %
191George FournierOpen61506.12 %

In the next post, I will share a full review on the Accuracy International AXSR rifle I used in this match, along with my specific ammo load and other details. Stay tuned!

About Cal

Cal Zant is the shooter/author behind PrecisionRifleBlog.com. Cal is a life-long learner, and loves to help others get into this sport he's so passionate about. Cal has an engineering background, unique data-driven approach, and the ability to present technical information in an unbiased and straight-forward fashion. For more info, check out PrecisionRifleBlog.com/About.

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43 comments

  1. Nice shooting Cal! And great write up as always. Sounds like a cool match for sure. Would have been fun to try that match with my 27″ lija three groove 270win throated for 170gr Berger’s. If (and when) I scored low I could say “guys it’s just a 270.” 😉

    • Thanks! It was a cool match. Learned a lot for sure!

      I actually think a 270 Win could be competitive, if you had good bullets and ammo loaded for it. My first rifle was chambered in 270 Win, so I’m partial to it! I also think a 30-06 might be a good choice too given the right circumstances. If the wind is howling like it was, the larger magnums have an advantage, but I’d bet if the winds stayed under 15 mph your hit probability may not be dramatically lower. I think there was one or two guys in the top 20 using a 6mm Creedmoor, which I also compete with in traditional PRS/NRL matches, but the 270 is a step up in terms of ballistics from that.

      … and it would give you a good excuse if you didn’t connect with as many as you’d like! 😉 You should come out and try it!

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • I also think that a 270 would work and I’m betting the shooter would be the only one there with one

  2. Great article! Could you explain your reloading process? Also do you have any tips for someone new to rifle reloading to get better sds and es? I’ve been doing Scott’s methods on a progressive with a change master and having a hard time getting under 10 sd and 30 es. Thank you!

    • Ha! Well, that is a can of worms, Andrew! I could easily make the answer into a 10 part series of posts with 20,000+ words … but I’ll try to do my best to pass on some tips here.

      If you asked any of my close friends, they’d say my advice on reloading would be “Don’t do it!” I told my brother-in-law exactly that just a few weeks ago, and one of my closest friends that just before that. If you are doing it because you think it will save money, I bet it doesn’t after you add up all the costs of equipment and components. If you are doing it to make higher quality ammo than what you can buy off the shelf, you will likely end up spending a small fortune to make that happen. The fact is, factory match-grade ammo has gotten really good over the past 10 years and I would bet most reloaders can’t beat. They probably think they can, but an objective, double-blind test would prove that wasn’t true. The level of equipment and time you may need to invest to consistently top today’s factory ammo is significant. That wasn’t true 10 years ago, but it is today.

      Having said that, when you stretch your distances out beyond 1,000 yards and especially beyond 1 mile, I do think ammo consistency is increasingly critical. It’s not as critical as your ability to call wind or maybe even having an accurate range, but it is up there when it comes to hit probability. It isn’t about group size, but consistent velocities. The rifle I used for this match only grouped 0.7 MOA, but the muzzle velocity consistency was so good that I could hit 1 MOA tall targets on-demand and rarely miss high or low (although I missed plenty left to right!). Would I have liked to get tighter groups? Sure, but it just isn’t as big of a factor as most people think it is. A bullet with a consistent BC launched at a consistent muzzle velocity is huge in this game.

      If I had to boil it down to the most important aspects of consistently being able to get loads into single digit SD’s, here is what I’d say:

      1. Start with the highest quality brass. This is key and as important as your reloading equipment or little intricate details of your loading process. In previous years I also shot a 300 Norma Mag, but that was before Lapua started making brass for it, so I was using Norma. I did detailed load development on a Prometheus powder scale and was using the highest quality components you could buy, and I never once got single digit SD’s from a Norma before switching to Lapua brass. Honestly, I was debating on whether to continue with the 300 Norma Mag … until I saw that Lapua released brass for it, and then I knew that was what I was going to go with. There is no amount of brass weight sorting/culling or neck-turning or anything else that is going to get you there. You have to start with good brass. I used to say if Lapua or Norma didn’t make the case, I wasn’t going to own a rifle in it. I think today there are a few other brass manufacturers who have started up that use modern, high-end equipment (mostly made by Setpoint), and although I won’t say they can duplicate Lapua (still considered the gold standard by all of them) they could be better than Norma and I would consider them a high-grade brass. This includes ADG, Alpha Munitions, and Peterson. I believe the level of control those guys have with their equipment puts them in a differnet ballpark than traditional brass like Hornady, Winchester, Remington, Federal, etc. I haven’t done an objective test on that myself, nor have I seen anyone else do that, but that is at least my opinion. Honestly, if Lapua makes it … that is what you should get. If they don’t make it and low SD’s are super-critical to you, you should at least consider changing to something they do make.
      2. Weigh powder charges on a scale that can measure to the kernel. I used a ChargeMaster forever, and eventually invested in a Prometheus … and it was shocking how easy my load development became. I bet I found 4-5 loads with that 300 Norma that produced single-digit SD’s (once I was using Lapua brass). Throwing powder charges to the kernel every time, without any drift in your scale’s zero, is critical to low SD’s. The only two scales I’m aware of that can consistently weigh to the kernel are the Prometheus and the Sartorius Entris II BCE64-1S Analytical Balance. The Sartorius can be found for around $1,100 (here + add the discount code “gift” at checkout for additional 5% off) and the Prometheus is around $3,600. The next best option that I’m aware of, and a lot of guys go with, is the A&D FX-200i for $770. There is even some aftermarket kits to basically turn it into an auto-thrower (similar to the Prometheus), but the A&D FX-200i cannot weigh to the kernel … it will be +/- 1 or 2 kernels. You can read all about that here. It tries to explain how much that might matter at that link. It’s not a ton, but then again … for $330 more you go with the Sartorius Entris II BCE64-1S that definitely has the precision and accuracy to load to the kernel. Finally, I will say that a balance beam scale can be more accurate than your ChargeMaster. Bryan Litz did a GREAT test on several different methods and scales (including a ChargeMaster) and that study is published in Modern Advancements In Long Range Shooting Volume 2. For one load, he got a 17.4 fps SD when loading on the ChargeMaster and the same load had a 8.5 fps SD when he used a Sartorius to weigh the charges. Sound familiar? Here is what he says about a manual/analog, old-school balance beam scale: “Balance beam scales, if carefully used, are probably between the average electronic scale and the analytical balance.” He also provides some good advice related to whether it is worth the investment to go from a ChargeMaster to a Sartorius, which seems especially relevant here: “The biggest benefit of the Sartorius type scale is if you’ve got everything else right with ignition, case prep, etc. and you’re trying to go from 6 fps SD to 4, the Sartorius could make a noticeable difference. But if you’re making ammo with an SD of 12 fps on the Chargemaster scale, the Sartorius will not get you to 4 fps SD.”
      3. Make sure neck tension is consistent. I think consistent neck tension matters. There are lots of reloading steps that guys do that I actually don’t think matter, but this is one I’ve learned to have a lot of respect for. I’m not saying you need to neck-turn your brass, but I would recommend using a neck mandrel to set the inside diameter of the neck on your cases. Neck bushing dies always make the outside of the neck the same diameter, but ideally, the inside of the case would be the same diameter. If the neck thickness of your brass is perfectly consistent then it should be the same thing … but how often is neck thickness absolutely perfectly consistent over 300 pieces of brass? I’d bet it is rare even for Lapua brass. So I have started slightly over-sizing with my neck bushing (by just 0.001″), and then running it through a neck mandrel afterward to set my final neck tension. I will also say that Bryan did another test in that same book that showed that 0.003″ of neck tension produced more consistent velocities than 0.001″ of neck tension, and that matches my experience. I have some theories about that, but I’ll save them for another time. I do typically use 0.003″ of neck tension and set that with a K&M Custom Diameter Neck Expand Mandrel
      4. Try a different primer. One of the other tips that Bryan gives in Modern Advancements Vol 2 is this: “If you’re weighing your powder to the 0.1 grain with a Chargemaster class scale and you’re SD’s are much above 10 fps, then try a different primer! Primers are cheap, and it’s worth it to keep a few different brands on your shelf to try in various loads. I wouldn’t say any brand is the best, but there are some that are better matches for a given cartridge/powder/bullet combination.”

      See what I mean by this gets expensive?! I know that Lapua brass is expensive, but in my experience, it is well worth it, especially when you start extending your range. I also have learned from experience that a high-end powder scale can make a measurable improvement, and honestly takes a lot of the work out of finding “a good load.” I realize an old-school balance beam might not be a sexy or exciting option, but if you can’t sink close to $1,000 into a scale to get something like an A&D FX-200i or better yet, a Sartorius or Prometheus, then I would consider trying a manual balance beam (like an RCBS 10-10 or maybe one from Ohaus). You might even try to tune a balance beam.

      I figure that might leave you with more questions than you started with, but I hope it is helpful. Like I said … that is a big question!

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Amazing answer! Thank you for taking that time to type that all out Cal. Im sure all that is a necessity at ELR ranges. I just shot my first PRS match the past weekend and was really happy to get out to 700 yards for the first time ever and went 5 for 5 on a full size IPSC. I know that probably isnt hard but it was a beginner match lol. Im using hornady brass so I might have to give Lapua a try before I get the auto trickler v3. If Lapua can get me into the single digits ill be happy with my charge master till I get sick of how long it takes!

      • Congrats on your first match, Andrew! Going 5 for 5 on a target at 700 is nothing to turn your nose up at. I’ve certainly missed bigger targets at shorter distance! 😉

        And I agree about trying Lapua brass first. It has surprised me how I can put so much time into little details of a load … and just changing to Lapua brass instantly makes me the load whisperer! The quality of the brass has so much to do with a consistent ammo.

        Good luck to you!
        Cal

  3. Cal,
    It’s been a while since you posted and in view of the current social conditions I’m glad to see that shooters can still enjoy matches while staying safe. I shot in a NRL 22 match for June and had a blast but it was obvious the shooters were paying attention to the “social distancing” that our governor has recommended. The Wyoming match seems to be a very unusual format but I can foresee it becoming a match series of its own. My only question is did you give Mr. Litz any suggestions after the match was over? I’m just kidding. Finishing 4th in those conditions is absolutely fantastic. I have been shooting NRL 22 and even at 100 yds, the wind calls are one of the biggest factors in making hits. All the ballistics info available will not make up for a shooter that can “Read” the wind. Keep up the great articles.

    • Hey, Wade. Yeah, I kind of went into training mode the 6 weeks leading up to this match, which would have been the month of May into half of June. So I was doing load development and practicing at 1000-1700 yards a lot, instead of writing. I do have a lot to write about over the next couple of months. I have been doing a fairly large-scale test that could end up being the most popular series of posts I have ever published. That might be over-hyping it, but I bet it’s a topic that will help a lot of shooters, especially those who are just getting into shooting long range. I’ve already finished collecting all the data, and I’m really excited to get the info out there. So, I bet you see new posts from me more frequently over the next couple of months.

      This was a fun match, with a pretty unique format. It’s rare to have 5 square miles of land that has the right contours to even host something like that, but I guess that is why we have Wyoming! 😉

      I certainly didn’t give Bryan any advice. That guy has forgotten more about long-range shooting in the past year than I will ever know. I mean that! I will say that anytime I chat with Bryan, he’s both extremely humble AND extremely knowledgeable, which is a rare combination. I could actually say that same thing for a lot of the guys at Applied Ballistics. But, I am clearly still “amateur hour” when it comes to ballistics and real research compared to those guys, so I’m not sure I have any tips for them. What is the saying? “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while”? 😉

      I do agree that shooting 22’s can be not only a lot of fun, but just as challenging in terms of wind calls as this stuff. I’ll never forget the first time I attended King of 2 Miles, Bryan, Mitch, Doc and Robert from Applied Ballistics invited me and my friend, Bob, to go shoot 22’s with them there at the Whittington Center after the King of 2 Miles was done one of the days. We ended up shooting a really high-end 22 at a rock at 600 yards, and I will tell you that was just as hard to hit as a target at 2 miles with a CheyTac. The time of flight was very similar, so the wind drift and all the other factors that come into play as you extend time of flight also came into play. I wrote a little more about that 22 experience with the AB guys, including some photos of the rifle and gear we used, and published it here if you’re interested: Extreme Long Range Tips Part 1 (scroll to the bottom).

      I’m actually looking for a few acres outside of town to build a house on, and I’d like to be able to shoot at least 100 yards on it … preferably 300-400. Actually preferably 2 miles, but that doesn’t seem realistic. However, if I bet once I find it I end up shooting a 22 on it a lot, just because the training and challenge at shorter range with a 22 can often translate to longer ranges with larger cartridges. Position and fundamentals definitely translate and I think the wind reading ability and adjusting on the fly to the wind can also translate.

      Good to hear from you, Wade!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  4. So, how many mils is a 20mph wind hold for a 300 Norma? While that wind is extreme, on a 2.7MOA plate, are you holding edge or way off of it?

    • Hey, Mitch! Man, you are holding WAY off the plate with 20 mph at those distances, even with the Norma. You’d even be holding off the plate with 375 CheyTac! At 1500 yards, a 20 mph wind drift would be around 4.0 mils for the 300 Norma load that I was using at this match. Remember the average target width was 0.8 mils (or 2.7 MOA), so I’d be holding waaaaay off-plate. A 30 mph wind would be 5.8 mils at 1500 yards, and 7.6 mils at 1800 yards (which I actually made a hit holding!). Even my 375 CheyTac would need to hold 5.1 mils for a 30 mph wind at 1800, so nobody was holding on the plate in those conditions. I’m actually used to holding off plate though because I do shoot in the wind a lot here in West Texas. Honestly, it feels weird to me when I fire a shot and the crosshairs are actually on the plate! 😉

      There were a few times during this match you couldn’t hold all your wind at full magnification (I was using a Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56), and you either had to dial back your magnification or dial some of the wind and hold some. I also specifically dialed back my magnification on multiple stages, because the wind was so switchy that your splash might be 2-3 mils from the plate and you might not see it if you were dialed all the way in. I can vividly remember watching a streamer I had on my tripod switch from blowing from 10:30 all the way to 2:30, hold there for about 1 minute and then switch back … all while someone on my squad was on the clock. And it was blowing 20 mph at the time! It is tough, tough to hit targets in winds like that. You just have to try to be really aware of what the wind is doing at your position and downrange as you’re shooting, and also be quick to adjust to where the bullet actually went if you miss. There seemed to be a lot of small things where I had to try new strategies and adapt during this match. It was a learning experience – and very humbling at times!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  5. Great getting to meet you there, I was chatting with you after I shot the unicorn stage the day of practice. Truly a great match, the 2d ever 2 day match I have shot in precision rifle.

    The top 4 guys were shooting 300 NM from what I saw on the facebook group, I was shooting my new 300 PRC with the 230 atips as well and I don’t regret the choice afterwards. There was also a shooter in my squad that was doing the 7mm atips out of a 7 WSM built into a long action that placed 6th, as well as others that placed well. It’s amazing what the smaller calibers can do now with the high BC bullets.

    Also congrats on killing it out there.

    • Hey, Mark. I remember talking with you (and you killing it on the unicorn fundraiser stage), and congrats on your finish! Finishing 25th overall for your first 2-day match is extremely impressive! I mean that. My first multi-day match was the Steel Safari, and it was one of the most humbling experiences. I certainly didn’t finish 25th! 😉

      I was using those Hornady 230 gr. A-Tips in my Norma as well, and was really happy with the performance. The 300 PRC is obviously a good choice for this match, and I bet we see more and more guys adopting that going forward. I feel like there isn’t a huge advantage between the 300 PRC or 300 Norma in terms of ballistics. If you’d have given a 300 PRC to Jorge, I bet he’d have still won. Both are very capable in the right hands.

      And if I were building a full custom rifle just for this match, I sure might end up building a big 7mm. I definitely would have done that a few years ago, but they have come out with a lot of good 30 caliber bullets over the last few years. It’s a toss-up in my view between the 7mm and 30 caliber. I feel like the 6.5mm may be a little under-gunned for this, even in a something like the 6.5 PRC or 6.5 SAUM. It’s not that you can’t place well with one, but you might be handicapped slightly in terms of objective hit probability. I also feel like the 338 or 375 are a little heavy for this match, since the lion’s share of the targets are inside of 1500 yards. But, that isn’t to say you can’t place well with one of those, too. And this is all just my personal opinion. One of the great things about this match is that we’re still trying to figure out what the right balance is on this stuff. I actually like that there is still so much variety in the field on what guys are running. It makes it more interesting to me.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  6. Beyond impressive especially with that wind at that distance. Any idea on the optics? Most common brand you saw, oddest or unique, magnification etc?
    Also, a kind of odd question maybe but do you think all those windmills caused the wind to swirl and change direction more than normal? At that distance just a little would make a large difference I think

    • Great question! I’d say the overwhelming favorite brand optic was Nightforce. It was actually a bit surprising how big of a percentage of the shooters were running a Nightforce scope. You can look through the photo gallery in this post, and you’ll see a ton of them! I’d say specifically you saw a lot of Nightforce ATACR scopes, and I noticed a least a couple of 5-25, and 7-35 was also a very popular choice. I was personally running a Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 with Mil-XT reticle. That is what I run in all of my competition rifles at this point, from PRS/NRL style matches on my 6mm Creedmoor to true Extreme Long Range matches on my 375 CheyTac … and obviously also on my middle ground, the 300 Norma Mag.

      There were also lots of Kahles scopes, and I might suspect that was the next most popular. There was also a fair number of Schmidt & Bender’s. I also remember noticing more Tangent Theta 5-25 scopes than you’d normally see at a PRS/NRL match, and I’d say there seemed to be less Vortex scopes than you’d see at a typical PRS/NRL match. I’m not sure what was going on with that, but I do remember noticing it. I’d say Vortex might represent 40-60% of scopes at a PRS/NRL match, but if you made me guess at this match it was closer to 10-20% max. I can only remember seeing a couple of Leupold scopes, which is about par for the course.

      The windmill question may be out of my pay grade, but I don’t believe that would have a measurable impact on the winds we experienced. Those were 2 miles or more away, and I’m not sure how much they redirect air currents even if they were closer. But that is just my gut.

      If anyone else has any expertise on the effect of the windmills, please chime in!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  7. Mahnmoud A Shmaitely

    Cal,

    Congratulations, you are an amazing, scientist, shooter, and author. I applaud your drive and interest in sharing your passion for precis on shooting with all of us, your fans.

    I am so happy to read your article.

    Regards,

    MASh

  8. Congratulations Cal, well done! To place where you did in that company is impressive. Everyone here at B.A.R. follows your blog and adventures in the field, which is why I am posting. We were having a discussion about your series on bullet jump and throat erosion and I couldn’t recall if you had done a piece or anything on muzzle wear or crown statistics.
    Over a ten year period I have been keeping notes on TE & MW on the rifles we build at Bowen Armory Rifles and have noticed that the MW reading is almost always one half of what the TE is, except for chrome lined barrels. Oddly enough, those are usually the same rate of wear. SS and chrome moly seem to be neck and neck in wear characteristics.
    Citing the White Sands military test from several years back, they didn’t test MW & TE but accuracy only, and that was a shame. They had all the data and fired all the rounds, they just needed you there to pool “all” the available data. Their goal or question to answer was, which is more accurate.
    Anyway, if you have some spare time (ha!) It would be nice to see what you think or find out. I’ve heard it said by a lot of old timer bench rest guys, that the most important part for accuracy, is the last few inches of your barrel….but we know you blew their preconceived notions about the best bullet jump, out of the water. Well done on that blog series too. Your gun buddy and devout follower,….Rick

    • Thanks, Rick! There were a lot of great shooters there, so it was a real honor to finish where I did.

      That is a very interesting topic, Rick. I haven’t done any research or even read any research on that. I do believe the crown of the muzzle can have a dramatic impact on precision (i.e. group size). I did hear of some anecdotal tests from the guy who used to run the production of a really well-respected precision rifle company. He told me about a time they were involved with some government-funded testing, and they basically started with a crown that was as perfect as they could possibly make it and recorded a ton of data on how the rifle grouped. Then they took a file and lightly modified the crown, and the groups went to crap. He said after that they took a Dremel to the crown and it surprisingly grouped much, much better. It was at least as good as the original/perfect crown. Then they Dremeled more and it went to crap again. He said every now and then the random Dremel pattern would produce good groups and then bad groups.

      I don’t have any data or more details on that. It sounded like it was just something they experimented with inside an indoor range one day, but it did pique my interest. I’m not sure I could invest the time in a large research project like that, but it does seem ripe for the picking! 😉 Could you guys replicate the experiment I just mentioned and just record the resulting group data?

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Yes, we will. Give us some time to complete it, using enough barrels and calibers to have a respectable size sampling, so as not to skew any conclusions. We have done this on a smaller scale than your example of indoor shooting with those guys, but we used existing crowns that had damage, and/or MW readings from 0.5 to as much as 1.25.
        The largest translating to .30925″, and scratching our heads in trying to figure out how dressing a crown on a chrome lined g.i. M14 barrel with a brass ball and lapping compound, with a bore diameter of .308 originally, could produce groups that shrunk by half in size from previous testing.
        Typically, with Federal Gold Medal Match 168gr., groups that were 5 rds. each that were roughly 3″, suddenly went to 1.5″, with largest being 1.75″ at 100yds. As I wrote, a real head scratcher and why our curiosity has been peaked by your previous series blog on bullet jump. If that can have great effect on groups, and we know crown dressing does, then, these simple things could translate into good things to do, to stay on the edge of competition. The great armorer Gus Fisher once wrote about how the M14 rifles the big teams shot, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit and the Marines, when competing in the National Matches, had their crowns dressed every 2 to 300 rds. sometimes. Yes, groups tightened. Their barrels were chrome moly and heavies or medium weights though, and not chrome lined.
        As an aside, a guy in Canada has been chopping off worn Chicom M14 barrels from 22″ to 19.25″ and recrowning, and getting impressive groups, despite the the small loss in velocity. I’ll keep you posted on results here. Thx again for all you do. It is appreciated by many.

      • That’s awesome! I’ve definitely been thinking about it since you mentioned it this morning. I think it’d be really interesting. It does seem that we all agree the crown has a big impact on precision, but I can’t remember seeing any significant research done on it. Kind of funny! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

        Thanks,
        Cal

  9. GREAT Post Cal,
    really happy to see that level of talent and dedication applied in such difficult real world circumstances. Did I miss what optics were used.

  10. That wind was wicked in the video you shared …… Seems almost like home in Panhandle Texas. Thanks for good read Sir.

    • That’s right! We occasionally see winds like that … we just don’t go out and shoot in them! I told a buddy at the match, “There must be something wrong with all of us to want to PAY to be out here for 2 days getting beat up by the wind!”

      My wife is way into CrossFit, so much so that she even competes in it. I watched her in a team competition this past weekend and some of the workouts were just ridiculous. Honestly, it’s a lot of fun to watch because it’s just crazy what they put their bodies through. After one of the workouts, she was laying down on the ground and looked like she was dying as she tried to catch her breath. I went over to her and said, “Just think, you paid to do this to yourself!” She is very witty, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when she quickly snapped back, “And you paid to go get sandblasted in 30-60 mph winds! Just think, you traveled 800 miles to do that to yourself!” Touché!

      Isn’t it funny what we consider fun? 😉

      Thanks,
      Cal

  11. Hi Cal! Thanks for great content like this. Not sure where you’re at in TX, but if you ever do lessons let me know 😉 I’m really looking forward to your AXSR review, both the pros and the cons of it. I’m trying to decide between that, an AXMC, or an MRAD in order to dip my toes into this type of shooting. Of the 3, is there one you would recommend over the other? Or another option I haven’t considered? Reliability/Durability is the most important factor to me, and I like the fact that they are fielded by various militaries across the world.

    For 300 NM, what twist rate and factory ammo would you recommend? It looks like the military went with a 1:8 twist and are shooting Berger 215 Hybrid factory ammunition. This seemed like a fast twist rate to me, but I’m very new to this. The justification I’ve heard is that I’ve heard is that the faster twist helps it when it reaches transonic speed? However, if I’m not mistaken, I think the AXSR comes with a factory 1:10 twist. Wonder why there’s such a large difference there?

    Also trying to decide on twist rate and factory ammo for 300 PRC if I go that route if you have any advice!

    To decide on twist rate, do you happen use the Berger Bullet Stability calculator to the the SG? I think I’d heard 1.3-1.8 is good, but you don’t want to stray too far outside of that range? Also, not sure if bullet RPMs matter? (More on that at the end)

    Does firing pin sized make a difference on 300NM, 300PRC, etc? I know small firing pins can be important for short action to avoid pierced primers, especially for the carriages used in PRS, but I wasn’t sure how important firing pin size is for long action cartridges as mentioned above. From my understanding the AXSR is all small firing pin, the AXMC is large firing pin with optional small firing pin only for short action, and the MRAD is all large firing pin. However, for the MRAD I think the bolts are head spaced to the specific barrel it comes with, so maybe that helps eliminate pierced primers?

    Last question, and kind of different than the others. have you heard of Hornady bullets coming apart? I was seriously looking into Hornday factory ammo for 300 NM and 300 PRC, but I’ve heard some horror stories recently of Hornady bullets going “poof”. Thread here: https://www.snipershide.com/shooting/threads/hornady-147-eldm-blowing-up.7013159/ This is why a lot of my above questions started to delve into bullet choice, twist rate, bullet RPM, bullet SG, etc. I don’t want to get the wrong twist rate and bullet! Page 13 of this thread some more info from Dave Tooley if you’re interested: https://www.snipershide.com/shooting/threads/300-prc-update.6890837/page-13

    I know that’s a novel. Thanks for the help!

    • I like you already, Mick! All great questions, and I will answer most of them in the very next post.

      But, I will point you to one of the best articles I’ve read on both twist rate and the 300 Norma. It’s a few years old, but still just as relevant. It’s written by Todd Hodnett, which is one of the most respected trainers for Teir 1 snipers in the world. I’d say he’s an expert among experts. Here is a link: http://www.accuracy1stdg.com/content/docs/binder7.pdf

      And like I said, I already plan to speak to most your questions in the next post. After I publish it, if you still have questions please comment on that post. I do appreciate your level of detail and all the good questions!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  12. Nice article. Question on suppressors: direct thread or quick detach? Is one more accurate or repeatable than the other? My head is going crazy trying to determine which suppressors are compatible with which brakes.

    • Hey, Richard. Several years ago, I would have said, “Definitely direct thread!” New designs have come out and it’s not that clear-cut anymore. There are new brake-attached designs that are just as solid as direct thread. I know that is true of the Thunder Beast brake-attached design, and wouldn’t hesitate to trust it. I own some of their direct thread suppressors and some of their brake-attached. They’re both great. The good designs I’ve seen typically have some kind of conical design that increases the surface area of the lock-up, although I’m sure there are other good designs that are different. I will still say there is nothing wrong with direct thread, and it’s still what I use most often when I do use a suppressor.

      I say that I personally use a muzzle brake faaaar more often these day’s, although I own several of the best suppressors on the market. Muzzle brakes can help you stay on target better and reduce recoil more dramatically than a suppressor. I actually tested all that empirically myself so I can say that with certainty. I posted a lot of that stuff in this series, if you’re interested: https://precisionrifleblog.com/2015/08/21/muzzle-brake-summary-of-field-test-results/

      Now, suppressors are much more comfortable to shoot behind when it comes to concussion and ground signature/blast. So there is a place for them. I just say that because a lot of people head that direction, because they are under the impression you need a suppressor to shoot precision. They’re nice, but are expensive, take forever to get, and mine just sit in my safe 95% of the time. Don’t get me wrong, lots of people love them, but they are a nice to have, not a must-have.

      Hope that helps!
      Cal

      • Interesting and thank you.

        Do you see yourself in the majority or minority, using a brake versus a suppressor during matches?

        Does the Little Bastard brake allow any suppressor to mount to it? I don’t think so but…

      • Hey, Richard. I’d say at most matches the majority of the competitors are running a muzzle brake, but there are still a significant number running suppressors too. It varies match-to-match, but if I was guessing I’d bet around 20-35% of the shooters running suppressors is typical. That was probably about what this match was too. The concussion of the brake isn’t fun, but it does help you stay on target better than a suppressor, and reduces recoil more than a suppressor, and doesn’t get as hot or get the barrel as hot. If I was using a suppressor when I was practicing, I’d have to stop for longer periods of time to allow the barrel and suppressor to cool than I have to do with my brake. That means fewer rounds in practice, which I’d argue might have more of an impact on performance than gear (at least once you have capable gear). Those are the reason many guys opt for a brake (even if they own a suppressor), but I’m sure some guys are running a brake because they haven’t invested in a suppressor too. So probably a mixed bag, and it’s hard to know who is choosing it for what reasons. I will say all of the top rank shooters I’ve shot with ran a brake during the match, and it wasn’t because they didn’t own a suppressor. At the highest level, guys are looking for any incremental performance improvement they can get!

        The APA muzzle brakes don’t mount to a suppressor … and they are the best in my opinion (and in my objective testing). There are a few new muzzle brake designs that have come out since my test that look like really good designs and might be just as good. I think it’s unlikely they’re better though. That APA design is just pretty amazing.

        I use an APA Little B* or Fat B* when I’m using a muzzle brake, and when I want to use a suppressor, I just spin those off and use a direct-thread Thunder Beast suppressor. I also have their brake attached versions, but simply use them like a direct thread either way. It doesn’t take more than a minute to switch out muzzle devices, although you may need a wrench to do it.

        Hope this helps! Don’t let me totally talk you out of a suppressor. They are certainly nice in some scenarios. If you’re plinking all afternoon on a line right next to buddies … it’s hard to beat a suppressor! But for matches, I’m too competitive in nature to not take advantage of any improvement I can get. Staying on target is a big deal for spotting your own impacts and making corrections.

        Thanks,
        Cal

  13. Thanks for making my day with another outstanding article Cal. When I open my email and see yours, I make a fresh cup of coffee, sit down, turn off the world, and really enjoy myself.

  14. What scope rings are you running in that there?

  15. Cal,

    Congratulations

  16. I’ve found that I have to make the case smaller than usual (closer to factory ammo size) to have it not sit proud with no bullet. Is that to be expected?

    • Hey, David. I may not be understanding what you’re referencing here, but I’ll try to answer the best I can. I do full-length resize my cases every time, which does size them to be closer to factory ammo size. I know in other shooting disciplines (like Benchrest) the may only neck-size cases, but of the few nationally ranked shooters in precision rifle competitions that I know, we all full-length size.

      Did that help? If not, can you give me a little more context on what you’re referring to?

      Thanks,
      Cal

      • Thanks, Cal. I do full length resize, and push the shoulders back 0.002″. Even so, I find the empty cases (no bullet) sit proud of the end of the barrel by about .012″.

      • Man, I’m not sure what is going on there, David. I will say I have to size my 300 Norma cases more than my typical 0.002-0.003″ shoulder setback, and I’m not sure why that is. Not sure if that is the same problem you’re experiencing or not. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

        Thanks,
        Cal

  17. Humberto Claudino

    Hola Cal Zant,
    Good Night
    Congratulations on the blog for the wonderful articles shared.
    I’m interested in buying a riflescope and
    I would like to know how to calculate the elevation adjustment level
    Requested.
    Thanks a lot for the help

    Humberto Claudino
    Porto Alergre – RS – Brazil

    • Hey, Humberto. Glad you’ve found the content helpful. I’m not sure I understand your question. Can you maybe try to rephrase the question?

      Thanks,
      Cal