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Tips for better marksmanship

Marksmanship is all about hitting your target, in this piece I’d like to discuss the foundational points of good rifle marksmanship. If you can get these basics together, the rest comes down to simple practice and experience. It’s not just about equipment either, you can only buy your way into marksmanship to a degree. You will also have to work on your skills, and maybe even get some training by professionals.

Two different but very comparable rifles, TOP: is a Remington 700 6.5Creedmoor in a Graham Brothers Rifleworks chassis. BOTTOM: A Tikka T3 in 25 Creedmoor mounted in a KRG Bravo chassis.

-The right platform
With so many great rifles being manufactured today, the right platform could come from almost anywhere. The right platform is a rifle that fits you the shooter, and has the requisite features and accuracy for your intended purpose.
Be it for hunting, target, or competition, it is important to have the proper length of pull, cheek weld, etc. so that you can handle and control it accurately. The rifle should be configured to give you proper sight alignment so you can get a proper sight picture as well.
The right platform might be up-gradable for aftermarket accessories, this is something to keep in mind when you are shopping for your next gun. Obviously, for accurate shooting you want a rifle with a good barrel, that will shoot accurately. Accuracy is typically measured in group sizes (or patterns) at a given distance, the smaller the pattern of your shots, the more consistent you and the rifle are at aiming them.
The length, caliber, and weight of the rifle depend on your activities. If you will be shooting from standing, you may want a light-weight rifle, same if you plan on carrying the rifle through the mountains on a hunt. Whereas if you plan on competition shooting like benchrest, a heavier gun may be an advantage.

The right platform is one that is comfortable, shoots accurately, and allows you to aim and focus on the target and especially your job as the triggerman.
Which leads us to the next point.

TriggerTech is one of many aftermarket trigger manufacturers that make outstanding triggers. Seen here is a flat-shoe Diamond, my preferred trigger.

-A good trigger
Most quality rifles sold today have a decent trigger available. Even if it doesn’t come with one, there is likely an aftermarket manufacturer that offers an improved replacement option.
A good trigger is one that breaks clean, and consistently. A good marksman isn’t surprised by the break of the trigger, it is a deliberate movement at precisely the right time. For that you need a trigger that is predictable.
Whether it is a single stage, two stage, a light or a heavier trigger, your ability to trip the sear without affecting the positioning of the rifle is what will make you a better shot.
You want to be able to pull the trigger without it affecting your sight picture. This sometimes just requires additional practice, other times, a better trigger is needed. Dry firing is a good practice that will get you familiar with your trigger and when it breaks.

Whether you replace your trigger, adjust it to a more comfortable setting, or learn to use the trigger as is, make sure you are well practiced and familiar with how it feels, and when it breaks.

-Ammunition
A rifle is no better than the ammunition it is fed, so ammunition is of particular importance.
Some rifles are pickier than others, and some are downright fussy. Not all munitions are equal, and even the same ammunition can vary from lot to lot. Some people forego this issue by handloading all their own ammo, while others stick to specific lines or brands.
The most important thing to keep in mind if you are shooting for better marksmanship is; consistency is accuracy. The only reason accurate shooters can hit their targets is by using equipment that produces consistent performance. Ammunition is key to this.
When selecting ammunition for your rifle, I like to start with two or three options. You can choose more obviously to get a better idea of what your gun likes, but the key comes after you find what ammo you and your gun shoot best.
Practice makes perfect right? Practice using the same ammunition you intend to hunt or compete with. And its probably a good idea to stock up on said ammunition so that in a pinch, you aren’t forced to use something else.

Choose the best shooting ammunition that fits the application and budget, and then stick to it. Both you and your rifle will become accustomed to it, and like riding your bike it will become second nature. You will know what to expect from your shots, how they perform in the wind, at distance, on animals, etc.

-A Good Rifle Sight
A very large portion of modern rifles use optical sights, such as telescopic sights, or Red Dot’s, and some still use the traditional iron sights. Whichever of the type you intend on using will need more of the consistency I have already spoken about.
Iron sights are mostly used for shorter distance shooting such as pistols and carbines. These sights while much simpler and less costly than optical sights, still require precision to be effective to a marksman.

All types of sights require precise adjustments, repeat-ability, and hold their position once set.
A cheap scope may not hold zero, and the internals could shift under recoil or other force. Open sights that are not secured properly could flex or even come off. Either scenario is not going to allow you to make your best shot, so it is paramount to ensure that you have the best possible option.
Optics in my experience are particularly beholden to the old adage “you get what you pay for”. While there are many new and less expensive options available today, make sure that you get something that will do the job you need it to do. Whether that is to hold a zero on a heavy magnum, or repeatable elevation adjustments on a long-range scope.
Don’t skimp on the scope is a motto I learned long ago, a good scope often costs two to three times the rifle it is destined for. And take the time to learn the proper way to use it.

Whatever sight you put on your rifle, should be the best you can afford to use. It should be installed properly with robust mounts that are adequate for the recoil and duty, and much like the rifle, it should fit you. With proper eye relief and focus for your eyes.


-Training
All the right equipment won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to properly use them. From the very basics of shooting such as eye dominance, breathing control, and a good clean trigger pull, you need to make sure you are not creating a problem in your shooting routine.
A good rifle needs to be “driven” properly, the way it is held without inducing torque or other uneven forces that can cause it to recoil differently from shot to shot. And recoil management that will keep you on target for followup shots should also be a part of it.
Trigger control using the pad of your finger vs. the joint, breathing properly to induce the least amount of movement as the trigger is broken.
Learning the proper use of your scope perhaps, adjusting for come ups or estimating wind values and their requisite holds.
It always amazes me how much better people can do after some very simple instruction from a professional, it could be as easy as a few tips and some constructive criticism. It is well worth your time to get this kind of help, a lot of competitive circles even employ after-event workshops or clinics to help marksmen learn about what they did wrong.
The most satisfying part of all is when you gain the confidence that you can hit what you choose to hit when your rifle is fully understood and is simply an extension of you. The shooting sports industry offers many different training opportunities that can help you better your skills, and employ them in your quest for marksmanship.

Apply yourself to learn those basics of marksmanship, and make sure your equipment fits both you and the task at hand, you’ll soon find yourself making better shots. Keep practicing and learn from every shot whether hit or a miss.

_CBM

Exploring The Shooting Positions

For those of us who enjoy recreational and competitive shooting, positional shooting is part of everyday life. But becoming proficient at shooting from multiple positions will make you a better shot overall, so instead of avoiding those compromised shooting positions, you’d do far better to embrace them.
Not every shot can be taken from prone (the most stable shooting position), sometimes a shot requires getting off your belly, and finding another way to support your rifle.

Coldboremiracle Junior shooting the Desert Tech SRS A2 using the US Optics B25 scope

Standing-
Standing is probably the most difficult shooting position for most, this is because being upright requires constant use of muscles to balance, as well as overcome any wind that might be pushing you around. If you include your own shaky stature it turns out to be quite unstable. There are a few things you can do to help solidify your shooting position when standing, one of the easiest is to add a sling. A sling allows you to create a rigid structure out of your upper body, by tightening your arms and shoulders against the sling. This Ridgid arch-like structure makes a more solid launch-pad for your shot.
Another way to improve your shooting from the standing position is to stop trying to hold still. While some folks can stand perfectly still, and make a shot, most of us (myself included) cannot. So instead of trying to stay completely still, you might be better off to embrace the movement. Many competition shooters use a pattern of movement instead of trying to remain still, they actually move their rifle on purpose, either in a circle or figure-eight pattern while aiming. By purposefully moving their rifle, they can absorb the unwanted movement caused by shudders and other influences, and the resulting pattern of movement is at least predictable. And predictability is where accuracy comes from.

Precision Rifle Solutions Tripod under my Desert Tech SRS A1 in 300Blk

Sitting-
Sitting is a common way to shoot when there is too much ground interference to take a prone shot. Sitting gives added stability, by bringing your center of gravity closer to the ground. This requires fewer muscles to maintain a steady position, and for many of us can be more comfortable as well. Sitting also gives us the advantage of using our legs for additional support, such as crossing one leg to use as a support for our rifle. This is one of the greatest advantages of all positions besides standing, the ability to use bone structure to support our rifle. Straight lines and triangles are what make a sound structure, so if we can build those structures with our arms and legs, and then fortify them with aids like a sling, we can actually get quite steady.

My Tikka T3 in 25 Creedmoor in a KRG Bravo chassis rested across the knee

Kneeling-
Like sitting, the kneeling position brings us closer to the ground, requiring less muscle movement to steady our shot, it does however still involve a fair amount of balance. Kneeling shots are typically used when a sitting position is either too low or when a shot needs to be made quickly. As with other shooting positions, the most stable kneeling position is achieved when you create a rigid structure of bone. If you can, put one knee in the dirt, and one knee up. This will allow you some additional support for holding your rifle steady, the knee you raise may depend on terrain or just timing. Keep in mind that sometimes it’s the other knee that gives better support, so practice for each scenario to give you your best shooting platform.

My Desert Tech MDR with the ES Tactical 6.5Creedmoor barrel

Prone-
The prone position, or laying down is by far the most steady shooting position. This is because it requires no muscle movement,  a rug can lie still on the ground even in a brisk wind.
Shooting prone allows the shooter to completely relax, and focus all his/her attention on aiming, trigger control, and breathing. I mention breathing because when laid flat against the ground, the rise and fall of our chest can adversely affect our shooting. Both breathing and even sometimes the beat of your heart can register in the scope, both of these can be mitigated by rolling slightly to one side or the other. Another benefit of prone shooting is the ease in which we can use support aids like a backpack, or bipod. These kinds of support can greatly enhance your ability to steady your aim and make a better shot.

My MDR again this time with the 308 Winchester barrel, resting in the Field Optics Research tripod

Support-
Since we mentioned bipods and packs, it would be a good idea to discuss how to use such support aids in our positional shooting. There are countless devices available to us today to help us support our shots, shooting sticks, bipods, tripods, bags, etc. They can greatly increase your steadiness when shooting. A tripod can make all the difference in the world when trying to steady a difficult shot from a sitting/kneeling position, and when you properly use your backpack for rear support when doing so it is ten-fold. Bipods and rear support bags can make prone shooting seem almost too easy, so easy in fact that many competitions try to limit the amount of shooting done from such a position.
Shooting from the standing position is immensely improved by adding the right height shooting sticks, as I mentioned earlier, it helps create straight lines and triangles which add stability. Depending on the shot scenario, even a rigid stick or tree branch can be used to stabilize your rifle prior to the shot. Do yourself a big favor, and research all of these options, and definitely try several of them out when practicing. You may find that getting off your belly was the best improvement your shooting ever received.

-CBM

What is Windage and Why/When to adjust for it

Anyone who has shot in the wide-open spaces of the plains states knows what wind is. It’s an old nemesis for marksmen and one that has likely ruined more than a few shots over the years. But could a better understanding of this gusty adversary put more hits on your scorecard?
Wind deflection is the physical effect of air currents that your bullet is forced to combat as it travels towards your targets. Wind can come from any direction, and the effect it has on your bullet can vary greatly depending on air density, humidity, temperature, and other atmospheric conditions. In this article we’ll address those effects, and what you can do to counter them.

Windage corrections align your point of aim and your (altered by wind) point of impact.

What is windage:
Windage is the correction for the effect of the wind. Your rifle should be zeroed to the center of your point of aim (POA), and the wind is that obnoxious character that blows your bullets away from that point of aim. You adjust your windage according to how far away from your point of aim it pushes the bullet. If the wind blows your bullet three inches right of POA, then you can aim three inches left of where you want to hit.
Shooting in the wind can be intimidating, but as with most other disciplines, it is simply a matter of familiarity. Instead of fair weather shooting, you’d be better off forcing yourself to get out there in the breeze and learn from it.
The effects of wind and other air currents are exacerbated with more exposure time, the longer your bullet is flying in the wind, the more the wind will affect it. A simple way to look at that is the further distance your bullet travels, the longer time the wind will have to affect its trajectory. It’s important to note then that bullets traveling faster will be less affected than a slower one all else being equal.
Regardless of velocity, the further away from your target, the more you will have to account for the wind.
Bullets drift with the air they are flying through. If the wind is blowing from your nine o’clock your bullet will impact right from your point of aim and so on. Your job as a marksman is to know how much that deviation will be at whatever given distance or angle you may be shooting.

A wind meter such as this Kestrel can be a valuable tool when shooting in wind.

There are many ways to calculate or estimate those offsets, and you are probably looking at one of the easiest ones as you read this. Ballistic computing apps that you can download to your phone do a great job of predicting how far you need to correct for wind in most scenarios. You will need to have input data to get what you want from it, which could require additional hardware such as a wind-meter like a Kestrel.
There are also plenty of wind charts you can research that will give you good estimates for particular bullets in a given set of conditions. Keep in mind they are estimates, and your results may vary some.

There are a couple of ways to correct windage, the first and probably more common is to hold for it. If the wind is blowing from your right to your left, then you hold your aim right of the target, and the wind will carry it into the target. The other common way to correct is to dial a wind offset into your riflescope. If the wind blows you a foot left of the target, then you dial the equivalent of a foot to the right, and then you can aim dead on.

Much the same way you have to lead a shot on a bird when you shoot a shotgun, you must aim your shot into the wind if your target is in a cross-wind.

When to adjust your windage:
With an understanding then of what windage is, when do we need to apply it to our shooting?
In my opinion, windage should be taken into account in almost every shot you take. I say almost because a slight breeze will barely affect most center-fire rifles inside one hundred yards, so in that case, you are probably safe to disregard the breeze. But if you are shooting a 22LR, even a light breeze can blow your shot off the target sometimes. Distant shots are especially subject to the wind as I mentioned above, even a slight breeze can blow your magnum rifle off the point of aim at significant distances.

Before you shoot, you can take a good look at the conditions downrange. If you see signs of wind, such as blowing grass, or by reading the mirage on the ground, it is good practice to analyze it before shooting. This would be when you pull out your wind meter and ballistic app to determine how much windage you will have to correct. Or if you are an old hand at it, you might just lick your finger, or toss a pinch of dust into the breeze.

Know your Wind:

An important thing to keep in mind is not just the speed of the wind, but the direction. A wind coming at 90 degrees will have a greater wind deflection on your bullet than one that comes at a 45-degree angle. A wind coming from straight behind you will actually cause your shot to hit high, and one coming head-on will cause it to hit low. When you compound the effects by the wind coming from strange angles, it can get a little tricky, and to be honest the best way to get better at it is to just shoot and see. You will soon realize that some shots require both a windage and elevation (up & down) corrections.

Another thing to watch for is multiple wind affects. The wind blowing from your shooting position might be different than one downrange. The wind up close could be blowing right to left, whereas four hundred yards away it may be blowing left to right, and both of them at different speeds. Again, sometimes the only way to know for sure is to take your best estimation and shoot. Then be ready for a quick followup that includes a better wind correction.

Wind holds VS. Dialing:
Some people like to hold wind corrections using the reticle in their scope, while others like to dial the wind correction into the turrets of their scope. I am more of a wind holder myself, and I’ll tell you why. The wind is fickle, and always changing, even between shots there can be significant switches in the wind. Using a good reticle with wind offset marks, allows you to hold a precise value into the wind. Should that wind slow down, or change, you can adjust your hold on the fly by simply holding a different point on your reticle. Whereas if you dial the wind into the scope turret, you will have to redial every time you see a shift. I find it a little simpler to just hold for what the wind currently is.

Whether you holdover, or dial, whether you dope the wind with dirt and grass, or use the tech gadgets, get out in the wind and let it teach you something. Keep your brain turned on and pay attention if you miss a shot and don’t know why, you are wasting time and ammo. Pay attention to the conditions and learn from every shot, hit or miss.

-CBM

A Ten Year Old Texas Legend

I was very lucky as child, I got to go on so many adventures that I often felt like a modern day Huck Finn. One of the largest contributing factors to these adventures, was my Mother. Her job and the nature of it frequently took her to some wild places, and whenever possible, she would let me or one of my siblings tag along. She was a brave Mother, not just for allowing us the freedom to roam, but allowing us near her employment.

A nice carp I shot with my Dad’s old fishing bow.

Whether it was driving boats along a three day journey up the amazing Lake Powell in Southern Utah, or a weekend watching movies in a ski lodge in the high Rocky Mountains, we always had fun with Mom.

One of these trips yielded me a whopper of a fishing story, and unlike all the other whoppers you’ve heard, this one is completely true!
It was back in the eighties if I recall, in South East Texas. A beautiful lake named assumedly after the nearby town of Conroe. My Mom had allowed me to come along on a work trip, and while she was busy working through the details of resort management, I was busy trying to get a fish on my line. The lake shore came right up near the back of the condominium where we were staying, and there was sort of a wooded boardwalk along the edges covered by trees.

Now keep in mind, though I was but a pre-teen fishing geek with knee-high socks, I was a fishing legend amongst my peers. Despite my young countenance, I had read many books, and some of Dad’s bass fishing magazines, and I knew the kind of monster fish that lurked in the warm and muddy waters of the south.
I could hardly wait to get my bag carelessly tossed into the room, and snap my Zebco rig together so I could get deep into the fishing. I wasted no time getting to the water’s edge.

After several hours, things were not going as planned.
For the first time in my fishing career, I was dumfounded. It was as if these haughty Texas fish didn’t know who they were dealing with. I tried all my old tricks, the things that made me a legend among the channel catfish at Lake Powell. To this day, those fish associate the muddled sound of my voice with hot dogs and warm anchovies, and they come running.
None of that seemed to matter at Lake Conroe though, all I wanted was to hook into a big, ugly, monster catfish. And even for all my wishing, and my stellar career in fishing, I found myself sitting on the edge of the boardwalk, watching families feed the disheveled ducks who looked like they’d escaped a homeless shelter. Not a single fish to my name, I too looked like a confused duck sitting in the hot Texas sun.

I have never been one to get skunked fishing, there are few things I hate more. So I doubled down my efforts, and kept after it. And just a few moments later, something happened that I myself wouldn’t believe had I not been there.

As I sat there, rod in one hand, and bait in the other, I watched as the ducks continued to feed on the bread they had been tossed. The murky water stirred by the impatient kicking of their feet, but there was something else there, my fishermans eyes saw it. And it took my mind a few moments to catch up.
There, only a few feet away from my rod tip, there was something lurking just under the surface, my eyes squinted as I tried to focus on two dark shapes. Time slowed, the dark shapes I was so focused on were infact the eyes of a slipery leviathan. His skin was almost the same color as the muddy water, and as my jaw dropped slowly to the ground, I witnessed him gulp down a chunk of floating bread. Both the homeless ducks and I jumped when we realized what was swimming amongst us, though the excited stain left in the water was mostly from them.

I was imediately terrified of the pressure of the situation I now faced, my whole life had led up to this point. Every fish I had ever caught was just a warmup, for now, feeding right before me, there was a true monster. A fish so big he could fit my He-Man lunch box in his mouth, and a whole ham sandwhich was just the bait I needed.

As sweat ran down my face, I quickly baited my hook with a healthy wad of bread. Then shewing the ducks away, I gently set the bait on the murky water. I knew it would only be a few seconds until he returned to the surface, to inhale another gallon of bread laden water.

I mentioned I had a Zebco right? Just like every other kid. Probably had some junk six or eight pound line on it, tied at the end was a crumy hook with dried catfish bait on it, tied with a kid’s knot. And of course a bobber, you couldn’t fish in the eighties without a bobber, that was required equipment by Fish & Game.

Well luck was not with me, my bait had sunken out of sight, and I sat there watching that bobber like as though the earths continued existence depended on it. At long last, a tiny ripple, and then the bobber dipped out of sight pulling away from me. Not being a rookie, I let him have it, better for him to think he got the better of me. After a moment or so, my line began to tighten, and like a seasoned pro, I pulled the hook right into his lip.

I couldn’t have fathomed that my high performance professional grade Zebco would fail me, but just as I felt the weight of the fish come on to my rod, the line broke. The limp and curly line lay there on the water lifeless.
I was in shock, I couldn’t believe that the biggest fish Id ever seen, had just skunked me harder than I even knew you could get skunked. I sat there in the evening sun, filled with disbelief, thinking about my escaped trophy.

I was feeling a lot like Chief Brody in the movie Jaws, and just like in that scene in the movie, I suddenly noticed my bobber out in the water. At first I thought it had come free, but then I saw it disappear under the water again. Several times I saw it surface and go under, and it was moving against the wind.

I decided I wasn’t going to be skunked after all, and I devised a plan. I searched out a rock of the appropriate size, and I tied it to the end of my line. The plan was to cast past the bobber, hoping to entangle it with the rock and line, then retreive my monster. I knew it was a long shot, but this was the ninth inning here and I had to do something.

One cast after another until I finally landed the rock just past the bobber, I let it sink hoping to cross the line beneath. And to my delight, I felt and saw the bobber move as I reeled it in. But was my monster cat still there?

I felt some resistance, but it was nothing like a big cat would pull. I figured he had gotten off, perhaps tangling the line in something. So I reeled the line all the way in, and when I finally had the bobber in my hand, I lifted on the line below it. There was still something there, but it was no monster cat.
At the end of my line, was a little baby ham sammich eatin bullhead catfish. Maybe eight inches long, and growling up a storm like catfish do.
I kinda chuckled a little at the situation, I had gotten my tackle back, and I was no longer skunked, my reputation and honor intact. But the growling little catfish seemed to be laughing at me, but the joke was on him because I eat catfish.

But not that day, I let the little guy go. I dont remember much else from that trip, but these old stories about ham sammich eating monsters are what keep us comming back to our favorite fishing holes. And maybe thats better than catching em anyways.

-CBM

Operation Quarter Lord, the 25 Creedmoor

I suppose you could say I’ve come full circle, I started this game with a .25 caliber rifle, and after many many years I have a new one. I learned much with that first rifle, a Ruger M77 in 25-06, I still have it, and I dont think I’ll ever get rid of it.

My love for the 1/4 bore was cut short, by the lack of high Ballistic Coefficient bullets. There is a good assortment of 115-120 grain bullets, but many of them peeter out long before my then goal of one thousand yards. So despite claiming many of my first’s, the 25-06 went to the back of the safe.
In the defiance of time, I always had a 1/4” hole in my soul. Turns out that I wasn’t alone, and some folks with impressive math skills finally saddled the long range quarter-horse. Black Jack Bullets is a new manufacturer with a specialty in high BC 25’s.
As soon as I had spoken with Miles and Logan, I was convinced that my old love of the 25 needed to be rekindled. I almost immediately started Operation Quarter Lord, my goal; a .257 rifle that I could build light, and haul all over these Rocky Mountains to take antelope, deer, and even elk.
Due to the piles of 6.5 Creedmoor brass I had laying around, I decided to go with the 25 Creedmoor. I wanted to stay with a mag fed short action, and with Black Jack’s new high BC bullet (.330G7) it would outperform even the heaviest 6.5 Creedmoor loads.

From Blackjackbullets.com
Since this story was originally published, Alpha Munitions has produced 25 Creedmoor headstamped brass, you can find it on their website. Petersen Cartridge company has also made some.

The project came together very quickly, parts started arriving, and my gunsmith took minimal arm twisting to spin it up. We started with a Tikka T3 action, then added an X-Caliber .25 caliber, seven twist blank. Cut to finish at twenty two inches, because I dont like long rifles. All that was left, was a chassis system. I have always been a big fan of KRG, so I took this opportunity to get hands on their new Bravo chassis, it’s rigid and intuitive design was a perfect fit for this project that I wanted to keep light, but tight. Everything was cut, chambered threaded, and finished at ES Tactical, Eric does great work, and Im beginning to lose track of how many barrels of his I have.

With a twenty MOA scope base mounted on the Tikka, I mounted up my new scope, the RTS Mod 5 6-24X50 from Riton Optics. You can read more about the scope here: Riton RTS Mod5.
For rings I went with Aadland Engineering thirty milimeter HD rings, Mr. Aadland makes top notch mounts and I’ve always loved the quality.

Now that I had the rifle basically built, it was time to start manufacturing the top fueled cartridges that would make the Xcaliber hum. I started fireforming the Alpha Munitions 6.5 Creedmoor brass. I considered myself lucky to have such high quality components available. Alpha makes probably the best brass money can buy, and their small rifle primer brass was perfect for this high pressure project. To make the 25 Creedmoor brass, I swapped my Redding 6.5 Creedmoor die’s bushing out for a .281. Then I would run the lubed neck over a .257 expander ball. I was amazed at how consistent the Alpha brass was, seating depths were extremely uniform due to the constant neck tension. Looking back, I’d probably go with a .282 bushing, to work the brass less.

I also tried several other brass manufacturers, just for the sake of science. I made 25 Creedmoor brass out of Hornady, Lapua (SP), Federal, and Petersen. As you might imagine, the Federal and Hornady had some pressure issues and stiff extraction with the hottest loads. Even the Petersen was a little sticky, but the small primer cases won the day for sure. Both Lapua and Alpha had zero stiff extraction, but the Alpha took a smidge more powder. This allowed for a non-compressed load, with the best velocity, and no pressure related problems. Alpha is definitely the way to go.

With both bullets and brass so rare, I was very slow and methodical in my loading. The long pointed tips of the 131 Ace seemed to fit just fine in my 6.5 seating die, and despite their long nose, they still fit the AI mag. I seated the bullets twenty thousandths off the lands, and charged the cases with 42.7 grains of Hodgdon H4350.

Hornady 120 HP’s were used for fire forming

The chronoed loads with the 131 Blackjacks averaged 2930fps, with single digit SD numbers. The groups fired were easily 1/2 MOA, and if I wasn’t so terrible at shooting groups, they’d likely cut in half. The X caliber barrel obviously was a big part of the accuracy, which wasn’t a surprise to me as the other X caliber’s I have shot were also very accurate. And even though we cut it at 22 inches the velocity was right where I had hoped it would be.

L to R: .25 Ace131, 6.5 Barnes 140, 6.5 Berger 140, 6.5 Hornady 140

The main appeal of the Ace 131 is obviously the BC, which is advertised at .330(G7), I have found that number to be fairly conservative.
Unlike many manufacturers, Blackjack must not inflate their data. After punching in all the data to various ballistic engines, I was consistently shooting over targets by a minute or two. The only way to compensate for it was to true up the BC to a slightly higher number. Once I did that, my Trasol program was predicting the bullet path close enough to make cold bore hits on 1-2MOA targets at 575,840, and 1057, each with a follow up confirmation hit. All this in a very switchy wind as a storm came in, the Ace didnt seem to mind. With my average DA here in the high desert, the Ace should stay supersonic to almost a mile.

My next project for this rifle is hunting season, which is only a few days away. I might make it easier on Junior by just taking the one rifle for both of us, and any deer within half a mile would be foolish to show his tines. With a trajectory nearly as flat as my 7SAUM shooting 183 Sierra Match Kings, but the tender recoil of a Creedmoor, I cant imagine a sweeter little deer rifle. And first chance I get I’ll put it up against wild Wyoming’s pronghorn as well, but the likely precursor will be Rocky Mountain Elk.

My very first elk fell to a single shot from that old 25-06, and with the added power and accuracy of the Blackjack Ace 131 I am very confident both Junior and I can pull it off again.

Im a hunter at heart, so thats where I always turn towards. But the 25 Creedmoor would really shine in a competition setup. With its light recoil, super flat trajectory, and great accuracy, it would stand ahead of most of it’s 6.5 competitors.

This project is still very fresh, so I will continue to update this post with new information as I get it. There will be acompanying youtube videos soon, on both the rifle and its components. Follow my social media pages for frequent updates, and for answers to your questions. And follow the links here in the article to get to those mentioned.

-CBM

Edited to add:

The video

So far in the fall/winter season of 2018, we have managed to kill three mule deer with the 25 Creedmoor, and two elk. Shots varied from 220yds, 500yds, and 600yds on the deer. And both elk were shot right at 300 yds with a neck shot.


The smaller of the two deer, shooting position off in the distance.
The larger of the two deer, taken in a good snowstorm

In the fall hunting season of 2019, Operation QuarterLord took another two deer. The first one, a small mule deer at an astounding 1100 yards. The second one, a larger three-point was taken at 450 yards. Both of them took a single shot through the vitals, and neither of them made it more than a few steps.