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Best Custom Rifle Barrel What The Pros Use

Best Custom Rifle Barrel: What The Pros Use

Barrels are deceptively simple yet crucial to the precision required for long-range shooting. I once visited the shop of Benchrest Hall of Famer Cecil Tucker, and I recognized a unique opportunity to learn from a legend. So I asked him the million-dollar question: What is the most important thing when it comes to precision rifles? Cecil didn’t hesitate. He seemed to have been preparing his whole life to answer that elusive question, and it was on the tip of his tongue: “The barrel and the bullet.” Deceptively simple.

Retired Army Ranger Sniper and respected precision rifle teacher Ryan Cleckner explains, “Just as the receiver is the main part of the rifle for legal purposes, the barrel is the main part of the rifle for accuracy purposes. A good rifle with a bad barrel will not shoot accurately. Conversely, a poor-quality rifle with a good barrel can shoot accurately.

I recently surveyed the top 200 ranked shooters in the Precision Rifle Series, and this article will share all the data related to the barrel those guys are using to compete at the highest levels. This article shares insight into each of these aspects:

  • Barrel Brand
  • Barrel Length
  • Barrel Contour
  • Total Rifle Weight
  • How often do they clean their barrel?

Best Precision Rifle Barrel Brands

Let’s start by looking at what brands of barrels these pro-level shooters chose to use:

Best Custom Rifle Barrel Brand
Bartlein Barrels

49% of these top-ranked PRS shooters were using a Bartlein barrel, which is as much as the next 10 brands combined! That included 4 of the top 10 shooters and represented 40% of the top 25. Bartlein barrels have been the leading brand among these pro shooters every year I’ve reported on this since the PRS began in 2012.

“Our rifling machines are so accurate, we can carry the twist rate to the 4th decimal point (example: 11.3642),” explains Bartlein. Wow. I’ve also heard some veteran gunsmiths say that all barrel brands have duds every now and then – but Bartlein has the least.

PROOF Research Barrels

The next most popular brand was PROOF barrels at 12%. PROOF has some of the most competitive pricing of any barrel brand, with some of their pre-fit barrels as low as $649 (at the time this was written). That is a steel barrel that is pre-chambered and has a threaded muzzle that is ready to be installed on your rifle. (Learn more about pre-fit barrels.)

PROOF is also known for its carbon fiber barrels, but these guys weren’t running carbon fiber barrels. Almost 90% of these pro-level PRS shooters are running rifles that weigh 20-26 pounds in a “ready to fire” configuration (including optics and other accessories). So, a carbon fiber barrel is counter-productive to the rifle weight and balance they are going for to be competitive at the highest levels.

Krieger Barrels

Krieger Barrels is the 3rd most popular brand, representing 10% of these pros. One of the top 10 shooters was using a Krieger barrel. Krieger is another brand that has been on this list of barrels that the pros have used year after year, all the way back to the inception of the PRS.

Benchmark Barrels and Hawk Hill Customs both represented 9% of these top competitors. 2 of the top 10 shooters were using a Benchmark barrel, and 2 were using a Hawk Hill barrel.

Custom Rifle Barrels CRB Austin Orgain

Speaking of Hawk Hill, one interesting note is that two-time PRS champion Austin Orgain recently bought Hawk Hill’s barrel manufacturing operation and equipment. Austin has moved it all to his hometown of Hammon, Oklahoma, and rebranded it “Custom Rifle Barrels.” CRB didn’t launch until a few months ago, but I already know several of these pro shooters using a CRB barrel. I’d expect those to be represented well among this group the next time I send out the survey, so they’re worth checking out.

Austin Orgain 2 Time PRS Champ

The brands above represented 90% of the shooters, but there were a lot of other barrel manufacturers that were represented by 1-3% of these shooters:

Barrel Length

Okay, now let’s look at what barrel length these nationally ranked marksmen chose to run in long-range rifle matches.

Best Long Range Rifle Barrel Length

95% of shooters were running 26” to 28” barrels. 58% were running a 26” barrel, 26% were running a 28” barrel. Of the guys who finished in the top 10 in terms of PRS Season ranking in the Open Division, 4 of those were running a 26” barrel, 3 were running a 28” barrel, 2 were running a 27” barrel, and 1 was running a 25” barrel.

Barrel length preference could vary by cartridge, so below is a more detailed breakdown of all of the cartridges that 8 or more shooters were competing with. The percentages represent how many shooters using that cartridge said they were running that specific barrel length.

Cartridge22”24″25″26″27″27.5″28″
6mm Dasher4%59%8%4%25%
6mm GT5%84%11%
6mm BR or BRA4%4%18%25%11%21%68%
6mm Creedmoor91%9%
25×47 Lapua78%11%11%
6.5 Creedmoor75%25%

You can see that a 26-inch barrel is most popular across the board, but many of those shooting a 6BR or 6 BRA opted for a 28-inch barrel. The 6 Dasher is very similar to the 6BR, and there were a significant number of those shooters who opted for a 28-inch barrel – although the majority of those shooting a 6 Dasher were using a 26-inch barrel.

A common misconception is that these guys primarily choose longer barrels to maximize their muzzle velocity. If the primary goal was to maximize muzzle velocity, the BR/Dasher cases wouldn’t be the dominant cartridges. For most of these shooters, the biggest factor that plays into barrel length is making it whatever it needs to be for the rifle weight to perfectly balance 4-5 inches forward of the magwell. That means if you set your shooting bag down on a barricade, rock, or other prop and then put your rifle on top of it, your rifle should be perfectly balanced on your bag. When your rifle’s center of mass is right in the middle of your positional bag, it will help you be more steady for shots and also make it easier to spot your own impacts. Both of those things are infinitely more important in the game of precision rifle shooting than a few more feet per second in velocity. (Hear tips from a pro on tuning your rifle balance.)

Rifle's Balance Point

Another factor that affects what barrel length these guys choose is maneuverability. We occasionally have stages where we have to shoot out of several windows in a short amount of time. Moving a 26-inch rifle in/out of windows can be a little easier/faster than a 28-inch rifle. I’m not saying that is a more important factor than balance point, but it’s simply another factor some of these shooters consider when deciding barrel length.

Barrel Contour

10 years ago, we all used standard barrel contours (see the data), but that is not the case anymore! About 1/3 of these guys are running some type of custom contour, and by that, I simply mean it’s not a contour that goes by a common name like MTU, M24, Heavy Varmint, etc.

How I’ll Try To Standardize The Contours Data

Over the past several years, these pro shooters have migrated to heavier and heavier barrel contours. As everyone has trended to heavier contours, there aren’t established names for all of them. Many of the contours they’re running only have a slight taper to them and are heavier than the standard contours that were most common for barrel manufacturers to make for the past 50 years. So, some of these don’t have names – or they might go by multiple names, which is even more confusing!

So I reached out to barrel manufacturers and these shooters to get details on all the contours they said they were using, and then tried to group and standardize those, hopefully in a way that makes this easier to understand! 😉

One of the confusing aspects about comparing contours is often the diameter at the muzzle is referenced as a dimension – but it might be for a 26” barrel or a 28” barrel or even longer, and that can vary from one manufacturer to another or even within the same manufacturer’s specs! That makes it hard to do an apples-to-apples comparison of contours.

Since the majority of these guys are running 26” barrels, I’ll standardize the muzzle diameter that I reference for each contour to reflect what it’d be at 26”.

Many of the barrel contours are variations of a standard MTU contour, which at the shank or chamber side of the barrel is 1.25” in diameter for 5”, and then it has a straight taper down to 0.93” diameter at the muzzle on a 26” barrel. Many of these guys will run a similar contour, but it will simply taper less and have a 1.00” diameter muzzle on a 26” barrel, or maybe 1.10” inch. There aren’t standardized names for those contours, or they may go by a variety of names, like MTU+, Comp, or VCC. To try to make it more clear in this article, I’ll group all those into a name that starts with “MTU” followed by the diameter of the muzzle on a 26” barrel, like “MTU with 1.00” muzzle” or “MTU with 1.05” muzzle.”

Here are the results:

Best Rifle Barrel Contour

There were several popular contours, but a straight barrel with no contour was the most popular choice, with 32% of these 200 top-ranked shooters in the PRS Open Division. 2 of the top 10 shooters were using a straight barrel. I’ve been doing these “What The Pros Use” surveys of the top-ranked PRS shooters every couple of years since the inception of the PRS around 2012. The first time I saw any of the top shooters using a “straight” contour was during the 2018 season – and there were only 7 shooters of 173 surveyed (4%) using a straight barrel that year (see the data). 2018 seems to be around the time this migration to heavier barrels and rifles began in the PRS.

The next 3 most popular contours are all very similar contours. An MTU barrel has a 1.25” barrel shank for 5” and then a straight taper down to 0.93” on a 26” barrel. That standard MTU contour was the 3rd most popular, representing 18%, but the 2nd most popular was virtually identical, but it only tapered to a 1.0” muzzle. We could have called a “Heavy Varmint” contour an “MTU with 0.90” muzzle” – but since “Heavy Varmint” is a standard/common contour, I left it under that name. But the Heavy Varmint contour has the same 1.25” barrel shank for 5” and then tapers to a 0.90” muzzle at 26” compared to an MTU at 0.93”. That is VERY similar! That means the contours that were the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th most popular were basically an MTU contour where the muzzle diameter varied from 0.90” to 1.00”. Those 3 contours combined to represent 54% of these top-ranked shooters, including 7 of the top 10 shooters.

The M24 contour was the 5th most popular, representing 10% of these pro shooters. One unique aspect of the M24 contour is it has a slightly smaller shank diameter at 1.20” compared to 1.25” on most other contours used by these guys. The M24 contour is the barrel contour used on the legendary M24 Sniper Weapon System, which was a heavy-barrel, bolt-action rifle built on a Remington 700 action that was used by the US military from 1988 to today. When these long-range rifle field matches started in the late 90s and early 2000s and eventually evolved into the PRS in 2011/2012, the M24 rifle was very representative of what everyone was using. That rifle could be considered the grandfather of this style of competitive shooting. While most other parts of a modern competition rifle have evolved, it’s cool to see remnants of that M24 design that are still represented at the highest levels.

Here are the major dimensions of each type of contour, listed from lightest to heaviest:

ContourShank Diameter (in)Shank Length (in)Muzzle Diameter at 26” (in)Notes
Marksman1.2530.87Standard/common contour
M241.2030.90Standard/common contour
GAP #61.253.50.90George Gardner, owner of GA Precision, gave me these specs. It features a sporter contour, not a straight taper.
Heavy Varmint1.2550.90Standard/common contour, but could’ve referred to as MTU with 0.90” muzzle
MPA Match1.20130.90Phil Cashin, owner of MPA, gave me these specs directly (view drawing)
MTU1.2550.93Standard/common contour
MTU with 1.00” Muzzle1.2551.00aka MTU+, PROOF’s “Competition” contour
BCP Contour1.3061.01Corson Piper is the shooter using this contour, and I asked him for these specs directly. BCP stands for Buffalo Creek Precision.
MTU with 1.05” Muzzle1.2551.05Benchmark’s new “VCC” Contour (view drawing Benchmark sent me)
MTU with 1.10” Muzzle1.2551.10CRB’s new “Comp” Contour
MTU with 1.15” Muzzle1.2551.154Chad Heckler’s custom contour, which he said was 1.150” on a 27” barrel

Why such heavy barrel contours?

Wade Stuteville

It isn’t necessarily because they think heavier contours shoot tighter groups. A few years ago, I was talking about barrels with Wade Stuteville, Overall Champion of the 2012 Precision Rifle Series, and I remember a profound statement from that conversation. Wade explained, “I don’t think it’s that heavy barrels necessarily shoot better, as much as I shoot better with a heavy barrel.” He felt the increased weight and balance of a rifle with a heavy barrel helped him be steadier and made it easier for him to stay on target.

Like barrel length, it’s often more about how the rifle balances, and the majority of these top shooters I’ve talked to want their rifle to balance at a precise point that is typically 4-5” in front of the mag well.

The barrel contour these guys choose also has a lot to do with what they want the overall weight of the rifle to be – so let’s look at that next.

Total Rifle Weight

Ten years ago, most PRS shooters were running 12-16 pound rifles. Over the past 5 years or so, the match rifles these guys are running have drastically increased in weight.

I asked these guys to share what their rifle weighed in “ready to fire” configuration (including optics), but I also said that if they didn’t know exactly to simply leave it blank. So all weights I’m referring to are for the rifle in “ready to fire” configuration, which includes optics, mount, and whatever muzzle device they’re using (most use a muzzle brake). It typically does not include a loaded magazine.

90% of these shooters knew exactly what their rifle weighed, and here are those results:

PRS Competition Rifle Weight Overall

89% of these top-ranked shooters are using a rifle that weighs between 20 to 26 pounds, with 60% falling between 22 to 25 pounds. Yes, there were a few guys running rifles that were over 28 pounds! And none of these top shooters reported using a rifle that weighed in under 18 pounds.

All of the guys who finished in the top 10 in terms of overall season rankings in the PRS Open Division were running a rifle that weighed 19 to 24 pounds. The average weight reported among the top 10 was 21.25 lbs.

In 2018, the overwhelming majority were using rifles that weighed 18-21 pounds (see the data). That is the last time I reported on the total rifle weight that these top-ranked shooters were running, and it was around that time that the shift to heavier rifles started. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask about total rifle weight in any survey before 2018, but I’d bet if you went back to around 2014/2015, most rifles would have weighed 15-18 pounds.

Jake Vibbert

I remember when I was first exposed to someone using a 22-24 pound rifle in a PRS-style match. I was shooting in a squad with Jake Vibbert, who has more national wins than anyone in precision rifle shooting. We had a stage where we had to climb up on a fire truck to engage targets. After Jake shot, he handed me his rifle as he was climbing down – and I remember thinking, “WHOA! This is ridiculously heavy!” I even said it out loud, and Jake laughed. But I also watched how Jake’s rifle didn’t move one bit as he ran the bolt, and even when he was shooting from a barricade, his rifle barely moved under recoil.

Even though I thought it was ridiculous, I thought, “Don’t knock it until you try it.” So, still highly skeptical, I ordered a weight kit for my rifle, and before the end of the first range session, I was sold! So, while lots of people like to be critical about this trend in the PRS by saying it’s become “barricade Benchrest,” before you knock it … I’d challenge you to try it for yourself.

The heavier the rifle, the more it resists movement (increased inertia) – which, when you’re shooting off a prop at a tiny target a long way off, is a very welcome advantage. This is part of the reason match directors have to constantly shrink target sizes and make matches more challenging. If we took our heavy rifles and sandbags back in time to a 2016 PRS match – I’d wager that many of these guys (if not most) would clean the match. And if you transported a top 10 shooter with their 16-pound rifle to today, odds are they’d struggle.

How Often Do You Clean Your Rifle Barrel?

This year, I also asked these guys how often they clean the barrels on their match rifles. Here is what they said:

How often do you clean your rifle barrel

61% said either after about 200 or 300 rounds, and that included 90% of the top 10 shooters. A typical national-level, two-day PRS match consists of 180 to 200 total rounds. That means they will clean their barrel before a major match, then fire a few rounds to “foul” their barrel, and then they might check their dope at distance or practice with a few rounds on the tune-up day the day prior to the match. Then they’ll shoot the entire two-day match without cleaning their barrel.

Many of these guys are shooting 10-20 major, two-day matches per year – so that cadence of a match or two every month leaves you cleaning your rifle every 200 or 300 rounds.

I do know a few of these guys who might clean out the chamber portion of their barrel between Day 1 and Day 2 of a match. Some (possibly most) might only do that if the conditions are really dusty. Very few of these guys actually run anything down their bore between Day 1 and 2 of a match, although there might be a few that do that.

I do know one former PRS Season Champion who told me that the year he won it all, he didn’t clean his barrel one time! He asked me not to mention his name because his dad taught him better, and he’d be disappointed to hear that! 😉

Coming Up Next

If you enjoyed this content, there is more to come! Over the next few months, I’ll be publishing a ton of data on what the top precision rifle shooters are using. Check out the other “What The Pros Use” articles that have already been published.

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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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25 comments

  1. Another survey ?? How many shooters use coated bullets, either Moly , HbN ?

    • Hey, Wayne. This is from the same survey I did recently. It had a lot of questions, and I’m focusing on publishing an article on each area that I asked about. There will be 20+ articles from that survey to get through it all.

      That’s an interesting question about the coated bullets. I’d suspect it would be very close to zero. I think I could say with a high level of certainty it’d easily be less than 10%. Years ago, I personally tried the Tubb Precision Blended Boron Nitride Bullet Coating for at least a barrel, but I know a lot of these guys at this point and I don’t know a single one of the them that uses any type of bullet coating, which is why I’ve never asked about it.

      Thanks,
      Cal

    • Thank you for these blogs! Really enjoy them! Also I’m glad I read this, because I was wondering what happened to hawkhill. I’ve been using their barrels for years. At least now I know where to get a similar barrel from.

      • You bet, Jay! I’ve used Hawk Hill barrels over the years, too. I’ve used barrels from pretty much every manufacturer, but the best shooting barrel I’ve ever owned was a Hawk Hill.

        Here is a Facebook post from Austin Orgain about it from January 2024. It has a few more details:

        Austin Orgain's Facebook Post about Custom Rifle Barrels CRB

        Thanks,
        Cal

  2. Cal, All this talk of barrels made me think of your 100 yard tunnel. I was wondering how you are compensating for the inverse square law or lux factor when illuminating the target. I actually don’t know how it works factoring the use of an optic but would really like to hear how you solved for it, or if it’s even an issue.

    • SR, I can’t say I even know what you’re referring to! 😉 So I guess I haven’t accounted for it, at the very least. I did try to light the target very evenly, and it seems to be working great. Here is a photo of how it’s lit.
      Indoor Range Lighting

      Feel free to educate me or point me to a resource to learn more, if you think it could skew something.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  3. Hi Cal

    Another very interesting and informative article.

    I was not surprised Bartlein barrels were #1 with 49% using them. I have never heard anyone say anything bad about a Bartlein barrel except the cost. (Lol). But you get what you pay for.

    I thought maybe 26 inches barrels would be the most popular but some of the weight of the rifles was more than I would have guessed..

    Cleaning of the rifles was about what I would have guessed at but I would have thought they would have cleaned their guns after each day in a match.

    I like these one issue articles.

    Paul

    • Hey, Paul. Glad you found it interesting. I agree there were a few things you might have expected if you are close to the sport, and a few things that were a little surprising.

      The weights have gotten heavy over the past couple of years, but a lot of that are the chassis and weight kits that everyone seems to be running these days. You can add 4-5 lbs or more with those weight kits.

      I’ve had lots of conversations with these guys over the years, and I’ve only heard one of these guys say they had ever cleaned their rifle between day 1 and 2 of a match. I know that I haven’t ever done it. Lots of them might clean the chamber if they felt like it was really dirty … but if you cleaned the bore, you’d have to go foul the barrel with a few shots before the first stage. Most ranges have a zero board they’d let you shoot at early on day 2, but there may be a few matches that don’t have a spot you could do that. Honestly, if I’m rolling good at the end of day 1, I really don’t want to change anything. I’d bet lots of these guys might say the same thing.

      Glad you like the format! I have a bunch more to go!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  4. While i concur Barrel length is big factor in balancing the 6BR being the slow one kinda implies crowd of 28in are in for some velocity gain , without the fuss of a wildcat cartridge

    Am kinda surprised there is still lots of tapered contours,PRS/NRL rimfire crowd now looks like most run 24-26 straight 1.25 contour mainly for balance

    • Yes, sir. I think you’re right on that. I just wanted to point out that isn’t the only factor or even the primary factor that most of these guys are thinking about. I remember that used to be really confusing for me when I was first getting into this. Most people who get into this from a hunting or just plinking background think barrel length is all about velocity. But, in this game … that isn’t why everyone is running longer barrels. It mostly has to do with getting enough weight out front that your rifle balances perfectly when shooting from a bag.

      And I’d say the Dasher isn’t any fuss ever since Alpha came out with world-class, factory brass for it. I personally don’t own a single wildcat, because I don’t want to have to do all the fuss you’re talking about. But, I do own two 6 Dasher competition rifles and they are easier to load for than any other cartridge I own. It really is “the easy button” when it comes to reloading, like everyone says it is. Most of us take Alpha brass right out of the box, load ammo with it, and take it to a match. Can’t get easier than that!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  5. If it works there’s no need for a fix but here are a couple of links that explain it better than I can. In my experience it comes up with theater, architectural and photo lighting. Your picture makes me think that it applies more in the realm of the distance from the light source to the target than the viewer to the target. I think it’s why you can see a band from the nosebleed section. Thanks for your patience. As usual, you nailed it. Thank you so much for this invaluable resource!

    https://neiloseman.com/inverse-square-law/

    https://pressbooks.bccampus.ca/lightingforelectricians/chapter/inverse-square-law/

  6. Have you thought of doing the same articles in the PRS Rimfire? Thought it would benefit a lot of people there as it does in the centerfire .

    • Hey, Steven. I haven’t thought about that, but it would be interesting. Maybe I could do that one day. I don’t compete in 22 competitions, but I do train with one quite a bit. So I’d be interested in seeing what those guys ran, too.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  7. You talk about the contours of these barrels and their weights, but I was curious how the contours affect weight – on the same caliber 26” barrel, with the same 5” 1.25” shank, what’s the weight difference between 0.90”, 1.00”, 1.10”, & 1.25” contours?
    Thanks for the articles!

    • Great question, Derek! I wish I knew. I don’t have a breakdown like that, and I also don’t own all the different barrels to be able to weigh them myself.

      If someone out there has those numbers, I’d also be very interested to see them! Sorry I couldn’t be more help, Derek.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  8. Great summary, as usual. I always look forward to your survey description. I just wanted to mention that in the short range benchrest realm most shooters use either Bartlein or Krieger. It’s pretty close to a 50% split. Those people strive for the smallest groups at 100, 200, and 300 yards.

    • Thanks, Todd! I actually have always wondered what those guys were using, so I appreciate you sharing. I know that records have been set with most of these brands (Bartleins, Krieger, Shillen, Hart, Lilja, etc.), so they’re all capable of making a hummer barrel … but when you look at what a large sample size of accomplished shooters are using, it tells you who that community as a whole believes consistently makes competition-worthy barrels. I’m not surprised to see those two brands are at the top of the list in the Benchrest world.

      I sure wish other shooting disciplines would publish data like this. Obviously, I’m into! I’d love to see comparable data for Benchrest, F-Class, and other rifle sports.

      Thanks again for sharing!
      Cal

  9. Cal, I appreciate your articles, but when you post about what equipment is used by the top PRS shooters, do you include/exclude shooters who have a financial incentive to use certain equipment? Knowing that little piece of information might factor into my equipment buying decision.

    Thanks for what you do.

    • Hey, Troy. Sorry for delay on responding to this. A few years ago I did ask the shooters on the survey about their sponsorships, and there were more than a few that got pretty upset about that. So the owner of the PRS at the time asked me to remove that question. So the short answer is that I don’t have the data.

      Having said that, I am friends with many of these shooters and I 100% believe that sponsorships don’t skew this data in any meaningful way – at least not at this point. This isn’t 3-Gun where there are huge sponsors throwing money at the sport and the top shooters. Virtually nobody is making a living off competing, except for maybe the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) guys – but that is because the US Army is paying them to shoot (or I guess we are as taxpayers), not because they get so many sponsorship deals.

      I am friends with a few of the top 10 shooters, and none of those guys changed up major pieces of gear because someone offered them free stuff or money. I knew some of them before they were a top shooter, and the equipment they used to run when they weren’t in the top 200 is virtually identical to what they run now that people know their name. Now, in some cases the manufacturers for products they were already running approached them to offer a discount on future products or maybe to help cover some travel expenses to matches. But it wasn’t to start using their product.

      Even among the top 10 guys, many of those guys didn’t get their stock or chassis for free or even their action for free. They likely did receive an industry pro discount, but they could have got that on virtually any brand. So they are still picking what they believe gives them the best odds of winning.

      At the JTAC class I went to last year, Clay Blackketter said this is the question that they ask themselves about a sponsorship: “Is it adding to my score?” Whether it is a free barrel or free gun powder, if it isn’t going to give them some kind of advantage in terms of hits at a match – they don’t consider switching.

      You know what else is kind of funny? There used to be a bunch of shooters in the PRS that wore jerseys with brands all over them. That has died down dramatically over the past few years, but there are still a few. I was talking with an executive-level person at Vortex about the jerseys a few years ago, and he asked me, “How many of those guys with Vortex on their jersey do you think we sponsor?” I was a little confused. I think I said, “Most of them, right?” He laughed, and said almost none of them. There was less than 5 shooters in the PRS they sponsor, and the rest of the guys are just printing jerseys with the Vortex logo on them because they like the brand. I thought that was nuts! It really opened my eyes to the fact that some guys just go print jerseys with logos on them, but don’t have any sponsorships. How lame is that?! Ha! Now, I’m not saying that everyone does that – but it at least used to be very prevalent in the PRS and it really skewed people’s views on how many sponsorships are out there.

      Nobody is raking in money on this sport – yet. I hope it continues to grow and maybe one day guys can make a living off sponsorships, but even the JTAC guys are in the red every year on this sport. They thought that the only guy who might not be (outside of the AMU) is the guy who wins the AG Cup each year. With how much we shoot, all the travel expenses to matches, and the few sponsorship opportunities that are out there … I think its still safe to trust this kind of data. I know about enough of the sponsorship deals (or the lack there of) that I just ignore it when I’m looking at this data. I personally don’t believe it skews it in any meaningful way.

      We talked about that topic more on the JTAC podcast they invited me to be a guest on last year. If you haven’t listened to that, I bet you’d find it interesting: JTAC Precision Rifle Podcast – Season 2 Episode 5: Cal Zant, owner of Precision Rifle Blog joins us! Get insight into how he started the blog and JTAC instructors have used this info throughout the years! Stay tuned to listen to someone who thinks they can fight bears as well as enjoy our first podcast with Austin Buschman!

      I hope that’s helpful!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  10. Hey Cal, since 2017, your “What The Pro’s Use” series has introduced me to the world of PRS and I can’t thank you enough. I was wondering if you are going to do an updated article on what gunsmiths the pros use?

    • That’s awesome, Lucas! That’s why I do this. Trying to help others get into the sport I’m so passionate about!

      I’m actually working on the gunsmith article now. It’ll be the next one up, hopefully within about a week from today. So stay tuned!

      Thanks,
      Cal

  11. Hi Cal. I cannot find your contact info anywhere, so here goes.

    I had a comment about sort of a crucial omission on your newest “What the pros use” chassis overview. I’m just a non-competitor who like KRG stuff.

    KRG’s C4 chassis has a similar adjustable bag rider like the MPA Matrix Pro II does. It might not operate exactly the same, but it would seem to be basically just as fast. Maybe I’m wrong.

    Anyway, love your site. Takes tons of work. Appreciate it!

    • Hey, David. Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you like my content!

      One thing I try to do is make how much I talk about each brand proportional to the number of shooters that were using them. That is why I talked extensively about the MPA Matrix Pro, the MDT Elite chassis, and Foundation Stocks – and considerably less about all the other brands. I’ve never really mentioned that I try to do that, but it’s why I didn’t say more about the KRG chassis. It’s not because it isn’t a great product that has a lot of compelling features.

      Honestly, I try to balance my content that way to prevent me from skewing my readers or inserting my own bias. There are products that I personally like to use (I do own a few KRG chassis), but I try to keep my personal opinion out of my articles as much as possible. I try to let the data speak for itself, and then just add a little commentary to help people have more context. When I’m writing an article or right before I publish, I glance through it to see if I am talking way more about one thing than another … because that could be my own personal bias creeping in. I might be oversharing about the advantages of one product over another, but if there were twice as many people using Product A than Product B … it seems fair to talk about Product A roughly twice as long as Product B. I’m not saying I strictly adhere to that or do a word count every time, but it is one of the many things I try to watch to prevent my own bias from creeping in or giving a product more of a spotlight than it deserves from a purely data-driven perspective.

      Hope that gives you context for why I wasn’t as extensive in itemizing features on the KRG chassis or potentially other brands that I cover in the What The Pros Use series. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

      Thanks,
      Cal

  12. Can you survey the field about scope mount and scope height? I’m interested in the body positioning that competitors use in terms of head up, cheek weld or chin weld.

    • Hey, John. I did already ask them about the scope mounts, and I’ll be publishing that info soon. My next article will be on gunsmiths, then I plan to do triggers, and then I’ll focus on scopes and mounts. I didn’t ask all of these guys about scope height on the survey, but I have asked Austin Orgain and Austin Buschman about that specifically, who are guys who won the PRS Championship in 3 of the past 4 years. Austin Orgain uses a Hawkin’s one-piece mount that is 1.500″ high (read more about that here). Austin Buschman uses 1.00″ tall Hawkins Heavy Tactical Scope Rings (read more about those here).

      I shoot with many of these pros regularly, and I’d guess that 90% or more use a scope mount or rings between 1.00 and 1.50″. That largely comes down to personal preference.

      Stay tuned for the post that gives a full breakdown of the exact scope mounts that these guys use in several weeks, but I hope that is helpful for now.

      Thanks,
      Cal