May 3rd, 2017 by asjstaff

The new Savage A22 impresses with its accuracy and volume. 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY LARRY CASE 

Dotzie was telling me to hurry. Treed at the base of a big white oak, my little mountain cur barked impatiently to inform me there was a squirrel up above that required my undivided attention. Out of breath from hurrying to her side, it took me several minutes to spot the gray squirrel pinned to a limb. Still a little shaky, I pulled a miss on my first shot and the squirrel darted through the upper limbs to begin his high-wire act.

I settled down by the third shot, and after I squeezed the AccuTrigger on the Savage A22, the bushytail tumbled out of the tree. I was happy, and more importantly, Dotzie was happy.

The new Savage A22 is an accurate shooter, with a solid proficiency of putting rounds down range.

IN MY MISSPENT YOUTH, I knew an old codger who I thought of as my mentor when it came to rifles. He had survived Korea and a battle that took place in a location now called the Frozen Chozin. He had a house full of guns, and was always shooting, reloading, or doing something with a rifle. I tried to learn as much as I could from him, while staying out of his way at the same time.

“Boy,” he told me, “everyone needs a good .22 rifle, if for nothing else than just to shoot.” By “just to shoot” he meant target practice, can plinking, hunting small game, pest control, and anything else a body would need a rifle for in a caliber below a .3030. To him, a dependable .22 was a tool much like an axe or a wrench; and when you needed one, it had to work and work well.

The author tested the A22 with a Bushnell 3.5-10X A22 Rimfire Optics scope.

Long known for their brand of no-nonsense firearms, Savage Arms (savagearms.com) has returned to the forefront in recent years with high-quality rifles that work well when you need them to. Savage wowed the rimfire world a couple of years ago with the introduction of the A17, the first high-performance semiautomatic rimfire specifically designed for the .17 HMR cartridge. They followed that success up with the A22 in .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum rimfire). Now, Savage is adding another new model to the A series: the A22 in (you guessed it) .22 Long Rifle. Here are some thoughts on this nifty little rifle, and why I think my old long gun mentor would approve.

Like the A17 and A22 Magnum, this rifle features a thread-in barrel with zero-tolerance head space, much like Savage builds their centerfire rifles. The barrel is “button” rifled and recessed on the business end, which is going to save on accuracy over time by protecting it. This is important if you are as hard on guns as I am, hauling them around in vehicles, getting knocked around while carrying them and the like.

The A22 comes equipped with a Savage AccuTrigger that outdoes many triggers in the centerfire line. No pulling the trigger housing or disassembly required. A small, simple tool, supplied by Savage, is inserted through the trigger guard and turned one direction to lighten the trigger pull, and  the other to make it heavier. This could easily be done in the field if necessary. The trigger is the most important element of any rifle and the AccuTrigger is a good one.

The A22 is equally at home on the range. (SAVAGE)

The A22 has a smooth-cycling, straight-blowback action that reliably feeds a variety of .22-caliber ammunition from the magazine to the chamber. This little rifle ate every kind of .22 ammo that I fed it, including CCI Mini Mag, Federal Hunter Match, Aguila Sub Sonic and Super Extra, and Remington Gold Bullet and Target rounds. The A22 chewed them all up and spit them out without fail. That in itself is no small feat for any rimfire autoloader.

With a weight of just over 5.5 pounds, the A22 is an easy-carrying rifle for all manner of small game.

COMPANY LITERATURE TELLS US that Savage engineers did some exhaustive factory testing, and it appears they were successful across the board. The 10-round rotary magazine reliably fed the rounds every time the trigger was pulled. The magazine is flush mounted, and two other hunters besides myself who carried the A22 liked this feature.

For those times when you may want more ammo on hand, Savage also partnered with shooting accessories supplier Butler Creek (butlercreek.com) to increase the rifle’s ammo capacity by creating a 25-round, spring-fed aftermarket magazine. I haven’t got my hands on one of these magazines yet, but that is definitely my plan.

At the risk of sounding like the typical prattling gun writer, I must say I was very impressed with the A22’s accuracy. Holetouching groups did not seem to be a problem out to 50 yards, which I deemed far enough for squirrel shooting. The rifle comes equipped with adjustable open steel sights, so it’s ready to shoot right out of the box, but it is also drilled and tapped for scope mounts, allowing shooters to easily add their favorite optic.

The ten-round, flush-mounted rotary magazine is another fully functional design feature on the A22.(SAVAGE)

The rifle I tested had a Bushnell 3.5-10x A22 Rimfire Optics scope mounted on it, and at first I thought this was too much scope for a .22 rifle. But after shooting this rig for a few days I really began to like it. This optic has a turret calibrated for high-velocity .22 ammo, and you can have a lot of fun with this system out to 125 yards. You can check out more info on this particular scope and many others by visiting bushnell.com.

Dotzie taking a well deserved break from squirrel searching with the author’s friend Ritchie Miller.

I do herby proclaim the A22 to be a shooter, both in accuracy and proficiency of putting rounds down range. At a suggested retail of 281 American dollars, I doubt you can find a .22 rifle that is this much gun for less money. I think my old rifle guru would approve. ASJ

Dotzie the mountain cur spent a fair part of the author’s hunt barking up the right tree.

Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

October 21st, 2016 by asjstaff

Modern range finders, scopes and custom turrets make it simpler than ever to shoot accurately out to long ranges.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY BRAD FITZPATRICK

The aoudad were camouflaged in the dry grass and rocks above us, but there was no way to stalk any closer to the herd in the barren west Texas landscape. It had already been a difficult hunt, with lots of vertical climbing in the heat of the day. The band had several sentinels, and these sharp-eyed young sheep hung back behind the rest of the herd watching our position. If we were going to get a shot, it would have to be right at that moment, and from right where we were positioned.

The ram we were looking for was near the back of the herd, grazing and totally unaware of our presence. I asked for the distance and my hunting partner – Ben Frank of Browning Ammo – called back to me that it was 277 yards. With a normal scope, that would mean accounting for the drop and holding somewhere above where I wanted the bullet to strike. But with the Leupold VX-3i scope with CDS turrets I had another option.

Author Brad Fitzpatrick (right) with an aoudad taken with Leupold’s CDS system on a Browning rifle. The old holdover method of shooting works fine in some cases, but there are a number of shots at game in country like this that you may have to forego.

Author Brad Fitzpatrick (right) with an aoudad taken with Leupold’s CDS system on a Browning rifle. The old holdover method of shooting works fine in some cases, but there are a number of shots at game in country like this that you may have to forego.

Based on the load and the accompanying chart I had printed with the trajectory for my .30-06, I knew that I needed a 1¾ minute-ofangle elevation adjustment to be dead on-target at 275 yards. Simple enough. I turned the dial, held right where I wanted the bullet to strike, and pressed the trigger on the rifle. There was a crack and a thump, and even in the recoiling scope I could see that the ram was hit hard. He went down within 20 yards.

The new LRHS from Bushnell comes with either a mil or MOA reticle and easy-to-use windage and elevation knobs. It’s also a front focal plane scope, which means you can use it to estimate range because the relative size of the reticle stays the same as you change magnification.

The new LRHS from Bushnell comes with either a mil or MOA reticle and easy-to-use windage and elevation knobs. It’s also a front focal plane scope, which means you can use it to estimate range because the relative size of the reticle stays the same as you change magnification.

A FEW YEARS AGO, hunters and shooters faced a challenge when they sought to extend their effective range. The serious long-range equipment of a few years ago required some knowledge of milradians and MOAs, and relatively few had a good grasp on how to range targets and make windage and elevation adjustments in the field.

But as new laser rangefinders hit the market, that process became simplified. Suddenly, it was easy to know how far away a target was, but there was still the matter of hitting that target.

Scope makers also did their part to help simplify tough shots. Today, most scope companies offer custom turrets that are precisely cut to your own specifications for your load based on a variety of factors (bullet weight, velocity, altitude, and more). Nikon offers their Spot On turrets, Leupold their CDS (Custom Dial System) versions, and there are many, many more. And, if the optics company doesn’t provide custom turrets, custom builders such as Kenton Industries will fill the void.

The advantage of a custom turret is that you no longer need to cheat the scope up and guess holdover. Many shooters do just that because, frankly, that’s what they’ve always done, trusting rough estimation more than the wizardry of custom scope knobs. However, if your scope does its job, your turrets are properly cut and you’re using the right load in the rifle, you’ll be amazed at just how accurate these turrets really can be.

For example, on the Browning hunt mentioned above, some of our scopes had turrets cut the particular load we were using, and all we required was a range estimation to quickly get on target. After that, it’s simply a matter of turning the dial to the correct range and pressing the trigger. And, if you want to change loads, most turrets are easily removable.

The Leupold CDS offers a custom dial option or, as shown here, you can opt for mil or MOA adjustments. This helps take the guesswork out of long-range hunting.

The Leupold CDS offers a custom dial option or, as shown here, you can opt for mil or MOA adjustments. This helps take the guesswork out of long-range hunting.

EVEN IF YOU AREN’T CERTAIN about which loads you will be using, that’s not a problem. There are a variety of phone and tablet apps that take your data and develop a custom trajectory curve. You can then enter this information and it will relate your elevation adjustment. You can also print out this info in advance for multiple loads and keep it on a range card in your pocket or taped to the stock of your rifle. This method is especially useful if you will be traveling to country where you will have no cell service.

By using a ballistic calculation system, you can quickly adjust to the current conditions and match your rifle’s load exactly. It may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. The digital age has helped consumers understand how to input data in fields, so typing in your bullet’s ballistic coefficient is really no different than typing in your address when you purchase an item online. This ballistic data will give you an elevation and windage adjustment, and you can simply dial this into your scope using the turrets.

If you carry a smartphone, it makes sense to have a ballistic app. This will give precise holdover points. If you can’t carry your phone, a range card, which the author is using with this DPMS rifle with Trijicon Accupower Mil reticle scope, works well.

If you carry a smartphone, it makes sense to have a ballistic app. This will give precise holdover points. If you can’t carry your phone, a range card, which the author is using with this DPMS rifle with Trijicon Accupower Mil reticle scope, works well.

Need 2.25 MOAs of elevation adjustment? Simply turn the elevation knob on your scope. A half MOA of wind? Make that adjustment, too, and simply hold where you want the bullet to strike. There’s no specific brand of scope that is tied to these applications, so regardless of whether you have a Trijicon, Leupold, Bushnell, Nikon, Zeiss or other optic, one MOA is equal to one MOA – provided, of course, your scope is calibrated correctly.

 Range cards give you all the data you need to make accurate shots. You simply have to print them – and use them.

Range cards give you all the data you need to make accurate shots. You simply have to print them – and use them.

What these turrets – and learning to use them – eliminate is the need to guesstimate and hold over game. If you’re planning on using the “hold a little higher on the shoulder” principle, that’s fine, and there are hunters who don’t ever plan on taking game or ringing targets outside of a couple hundred yards.

But if you want to extend the potential range of your firearm to a quarter mile or more, the notion of holdover begins to fall apart, shots become inaccurate and game suffers. I’ve known a lot of hunters who were hesitant to use turrets to dial for long shots, but once you understand how the process works, it’s no more complex than operating a remote control or programming a cell phone – provided, of course, you know how to handle your rifle, know your loads and have mastered basic shooting skills.

Using custom turrets is an inexpensive way to shoot accurately at longer ranges, and new technology has effectively reduced the learning curve for those new to long-range shooting. You should never shoot beyond your limits, always respecting the game and doing absolutely everything possible to ensure a clean kill, but new dial technology on scopes has made it easier than ever for you to be a better shooter. ASJ

 In many places, long shots are the norm, and having a dial makes accurate shooting much simpler.

In many places, long shots are the norm, and having a dial makes accurate shooting much simpler.


Posted in Gear Tagged with: , , , , ,

July 7th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

Precision Rifle Series Explodes

 

Story by Robin Taylor

Looking down from atop a three-story shooting tower, 12 steel targets stand out along a green hillside, each one further away than the last. They’re all challenging, and the furthest sits at 936 yards.

When the buzzer sounds, you’ll have three minutes to shoot all 12. The problem is, you can’t actually see the targets yet. You’re starting at the bottom of the tower’s stairwell, carrying 200 rounds of ammunition, a coat, a gear bag, a sling, sunscreen, elbow pads, bipod, and a heavy sniper rifle. By the time you get to the top of those stairs and see the targets for the first time, a minute will have disappeared. You’ll be breathing hard, and shooting fast.

“It started out as a way to test the practical use of a precision rifle in a military or law enforcement environment”

This is a Precision Rifle Series match, where extreme accuracy, speed, and physical toughness come together. Sniper matches have been around for a long time, but the PRS is gluing them together into a cohesive, Winston Cup-like string. There’s a $5,000 check at the end for the season points winner, and if you’re the top gun at the PRS National Finale, you could take home a $20,000 purse and prize package, just like last year’s winner, Ryan Kerr of California.

PHOTO 2

Jim See at the CORE training center in Florida. Note the big pillow-like pad under the foreend, along with the fully adjustable stock and heavy barrel. Items like that pillow pad offer great stability on uneven surfaces like this rockpile. (MICHAEL CAGE PHOTOGRAPHY)

Unlike classic long-range events, PRS has a hard edge – like maybe a 3-Gun competition for sniper rifles. The organizers (notably Rich Emmons) drew ideas from 3-Gun Nation, USPSA/IPSC, and the Bianchi Cup. The result appeals to practical riflemen everywhere.

BB5It started out as a way to test the practical use of a precision rifle in a military or law enforcement environment,” says Chris Reid at Benchmark Barrels. “From there it’s morphed into a kind of timed field shooting.”

At every match the courses change. The distances aren’t marked, and some of the targets move. Virtually everyone uses a detachable box magazine or DBM in a bolt-action rifle. Mounted to a fiberglass stock or a chassis system, the DBM allows for fast reloading of 10-round magazines. Although shooting a semi auto sounds tempting, experts say the bolt-action rifles with DBMs are more stable in recoil. This platform helps the shooter watch bullet trace and impacts. Seeing the hit or miss guides the shooter to the proper aim for the next shot. Most of the top shooters use 6mm to 6.5mm cartridges, which aid in viewing impacts. The 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, and the 6.5 Creedmoor are popular choices, but cartridges up to the .300 Winchester Magnum can be used. Most guns are heavy, but remember, you’ve got to carry it all day – up to 12 hours at a pop. You also carry everything else you’ll need to complete the event, just like you would if you were going afield. There is no going back to the car to resupply – it’s just you and your kit, dealing with changing weather, wind, and lighting conditions.

PHOTO 1 15 tprc

Jim See firing one of Surgeon Rifles’ guns at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Range in Arizona. Jim campaigned with a rifle in 6XC in his first season, a caliber that has been gaining support in PRS ever since. (COURTESY OF CHRIS REID)

Jim See shooting a Surgeon Scalpel rifle in 6.5×47 Lapua. This video is from the 2015 Bushnell Brawl held at Rifles Only in Kingsville, Texas. This is the 500-yard mover stage, a target about the size of a football is traveling approximately 3 mph along a track about 60 feet long. At each end it reverses direction, (hence the pause in shooting in the video) Jim hit 7 out of 10 shots in that video which was the high score on that stage.

 

Reid helps run matches in the state of Washington. The hikes from position to position are arduous enough that out-of-shape shooters won’t finish.

“I’ve seen guys hang it up halfway through,” says Reid.

Short sprints are common in PRS, forcing you to balance the speed advantage of running against how out-of-breath you’ll be when you get there.

 

More than the sum of its parts

10485963_700047636782404_8089469778077936045_oLike the original 3-Gun Nation series, PRS grouped together existing freelance events to make a larger contest. Each event has its own history and traditions, and a different local crew gives each its own special flavor; for example, some require pistol shooting. Scoring varies slightly, but course design varies a lot.

Pay close attention to the course descriptions, because sometimes you can make up a miss for partial credit, and other times, missing wipes out your entire score. If you’ve shot a little long-range, or you’re into long-range hunting, you’ve already got most of the gear.

Jim See, who currently shoots for Team Surgeon Rifles, was building custom rifles in his own shop, Center Shot Rifles, when he first heard about the PRS series. He was “a rifle guy” but didn’t have much experience with practical long-range rifle. The PRS series had just started the year before. “In 2012 I was busy raising kids and stuff, but I managed to place fourth at my first match,” he says. “That’s not the norm, but it shows you that it’s actually pretty easy to get oriented once you get started … I was hooked!”

“I’ve seen guys hang it up halfway through”

Thanks to his day job, See rolled up to the line with an unusually good kit – a Surgeon Rifles action on a McMillan A3-5 stock, in 6mmXC.

“That was a gun I had in the shop,” he says.

See’s friends pushed him to try to make the national PRS Finale, so he went for it, eventually placing 13th in the 2012 series. See won the 2015 Bushnell Brawl this year, making him one of the top guns in the sport. “I was 41 when I started, but I had a lot of experience in various kinds of shooting. If you’ve got some experience in long range, you’ll transition pretty easy.”

 

Practical Application

Unlike the classic long-range events, PRS is 100 percent field based. Common firing positions include uneven rock piles, mock rooftops, kneeling in tall grass – nothing is easy.

“If you take a guy who’s a hunter and have him shoot PRS matches all year, he’ll be able to kill game out to 1,000 yards the following year,” says Reid. “The knowledge and the practicality of it is huge.” If you’re thinking “this isn’t for me,” you might be surprised. Hunters and 3-Gunners deal with unusual firing positions all the time. NRA Bullseye guys have the long-range part down, but often lack the flexibility that practical shooters take for granted.

PHOTO 3 CHRISREID

Awkward terrain forms a big challenge in PRS shooting. Chris Reid tried more-conventional-looking postures, but just couldn’t get settled on this rock pile/shooting position — until he tried laying back. Thank goodness he had a relatively low-recoiling rifle! “I shot that way on the mover too,” says Reid. The rifle is a Benchmark Barrels-built 6.5 Creedmore. Reid runs a suppressor, which helps dampen both blast and felt recoil. (COURTESY OF CHRIS REID)

“An F-class high-master will do great until they have to get into an unusual, nonstandard position,” says Reid. “Without the ability to go prone, they struggle.” People like Shawn Carlock, owner of Defensive Edge, teach long-range hunting classes all over the country, passing on techniques that PRS’ers use. You’ll face the same challenges and more at each and every PRS regional. For someone interested in practical-rifle work, I can’t think of a better training lab than what John Gangl at JP Rifles calls “the anvil of competition.”

“You’re shooting strong-side, weak-side, doing dot drills, moving into and out of positions, and every shot counts,” says Reid.

 

Growing Participation

In four years PRS has shot up from nothing to approximately 700 shooters nationwide. That’s a lot of new blood for this relatively close-knit world – enough to attract major sponsors. JC Targets, Bushnell, JP Rifles, Surgeon Rifles, GA Precision, Vortex Optics, and Euro Optics LTD (among many) are throwing support behind each new series event.

PHOTO 4 k&M 2014 #4

PRS-style shooting draws ever-larger crowds to what is normally a small, close-knit community. Here’s a typical get-together at the CORE training center in Florida. (MICHAEL CAGE PHOTOGRAPHY)

“This year we have 400-plus guys actively participating in the Precision Rifle Series as competitors,” says See. “These matches cannot be run effectively without dedicated range officers.” ROs set the pace of the match and ensure all participants are safe and receive the points they earned with hits. “It’s nice to travel the country and have fellow competitors volunteer to be range officers on their home ranges. Quality ROs are critical for a successful match,” added See.

A slick member website lays out everything you’ll really need to know, including the dates and locations of all the regional shoots. You can visit them at precisionrifleseries.com. ASJ

PHOTO 5 CHRISREID

Long distances help make PRS matches distinct. Here a shooter reaches out over the plains at Vantage, Wash. (COURTESY OF CHRIS REID)


Ready to compete?, here are some dates to mark, Yes you can click on the map to get more information.
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crucible

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Posted in Competitions, Long Range Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,