Tag Archives: Precision Shooting


Article by Mark Hatfield.

I was the first to shoot a hostage.

Not that I shot at the wrong person, it was that I hit the hostage while attempting to hit only the hostage taker behind him/her. It was probably a survivable wound but would have been crippling. Thankfully these were only cardboard targets.

A few other things happened during these sessions. I had emptied my handgun and reloaded with a fresh magazine. As I removed my support hand I saw the new magazine fall out of the gun. I simply grabbed another spare mag and loaded the gun, that was much better than getting on the ground to get the fallen mag. The fallen mag might have been irretrievable for a number of reasons, falling into water, an unreachable space, be unseen, or even come apart upon impact. Much better to have more than one spare mag.

On another drill we shot one handed until the handgun was empty, reloaded, transferred the gun to the other hand and again fired until empty, reloaded again then moved to the next station. After emptying the gun the second time, I transferred it back to my dominant hand, or rather I attempted to, I dropped it. When I realized the gun was going, I, for only a fragment of a second, thought of going to the ground after it but instead my other hand drew my other identical gun and had it pointed downrange, possibly by the time the other gun hit the ground. It would not be correct to say that I was glad I had the second gun and more so that I had trained with it, I really didn’t have any such feeling. It was rather that there had been a problem and I had successfully resolved it.

Some people, even rather experienced shooters, when under pressure often forgot to operate the safety before they attempted to fire their rifles. Some, though experienced, had never fired their rifles from the ‘wrong’ shoulder, many had never before fired their rifles using only one arm. Often there were multiple targets, the defender had to move between different locations of cover, to find the right angle or height for which to engage any one or two targets then change to do the others. Defenders would forget that there were multiple targets which were threatening them from different angles. When trying to find the best position from which to shoot one particular target while staying behind cover from that attacker, the defenders forgot about keeping cover between themselves and the other attackers.

Physical fitness matters. Too many people want to ignore that. This was not a physical course, not physically demanding, especially compared to some. But, for best ‘results’, one needs to be able to move short distances quickly, to be able to get up and down, change positions, and adapt as needed. Never forget that a fight, any fight, will not be compatible with whatever skills you practice, what you train for, or what you predict might likely happen. The fight will be what ever it is and you don’t get to choose how it will start or under what conditions. Even a modest amount of physical fitness training can make a huge difference over doing no training at all.

One man, a Federal ‘First Responder’, wore not just his complete gear and equipment but body armor, this significant amount of kit was what he wore daily on his job. Despite the heat and activity he trained in and with the equipment he would most likely be wearing if he needed to do what he was hired to do. This is a sign of a wise man.

Doing anything under stress, even just a little pressure, and your performance can change, it can be very different from just casual practice. The stressors of such drills or even competition is much less than that of an actual event of deadly force. However, after learning a skill, practicing it under stress helps to ‘inoculate’ one to better perform when the stress is not artificial. This includes decision making under pressure, an attribute which is even more important than just skills.

Even a little practice of something, a little preparation makes a huge improvement on how a person can handle stressors and problems of many types. ‘Make your mistakes here’, Do something here now for the first time rather than trying to figure it out for the first time when life depends on it, was the theme of this course. This anti-terrorism aspect of this offering by John Farnam was not about shooting. One could not just shoot fast and accurately, one had to think, decide, adapt, and act, and do it quickly.

John Farnam is known and teaches internationally, his Defense Training International webpage can be easily found. I recommend you sign up to receive his random ‘quips’.

My First Ever Rifle Competition

Article submitted by Mark Hatfield.

Match was held at the Manatee Gun & Archery Club.

My First Ever Rifle Competition


How I Entered a State Championship Match Not Knowing What The Hell I Was Doing.

Actually, I did know what I was doing, in that I already knew that much of what I was doing was wrong.  Recently, sitting at this very same computer where sit I now, I heard the voice of the Malechild, Fruit Of My Loins.  This is the one to whom I offered room and board while he attended a facility  of Higher Learning after completing his service in the Marine Corps.  Although, after the Marine Corps, what else could there be that anyone would need to know?  And didn’t someone else say that they learned all of lifes important lessons in Kindergarten?  (Pronounced ‘Kin- dee garden’ for most of us).

Anyway, he was heard to say telephonically to a friend, that a match was to be conducted nearby and the prizes were substantial, not simply for winning, but there was a drawing for ‘door prizes’ simply for showing  up and completing the whole thing.  Exclaimed he, the odds of winning a door prize were worth the cost of the entry fee.  ‘I have a rifle that could do it’ proclaimed I, thinking that perhaps he would borrow it to use.  But he was working as a Range Safety Officer at that same range on that same weekend, I could enter, meaning me, he said.  He would pay the entrance fee.

I hadn’t thought about a match like that.  I’m a pistol kinda guy.  There’s been quite a few periods where I would do a thousand rounds a month or more.  I’m been to more than a few classes, learned from some Big Name people, took it seriously.  I own and shoot rifles too, casual plinking, some for hunting, some are reproductions of guns from the 1800s.  I also practice a little bit of military style stuff and some close range defensive practice in case of zombie attacks, the End Of The World As We Know It, or the Martian invasion, but this match, I learn, is at a thousand yards.

A thousand yards.  Now, I had shot at a thousand perhaps twice, nothing serious, just plinking, hoping to have a spotter see where my hits went into the dirt bank.  I have done much more of the same at something over 500 yards though not often nor even regularly.  At that distance I have shot, or at least attempted serious groups with military rifles and my budget version of a precision rifle. Results varied.  Fair at best.

My previous best at long distance, meaning 500 to 560 yards was only minimally acceptable.  And that was usually military style shooting, shooting at something sized to represent a persons torso, this match was at twice the distance so the targets would be bigger, right?  Wrong, they were smaller.  The targets were ‘gongs’, hanging flat circles cut from thick steel.  They were only eight inches across.

With a hunting rifle and hunting quality ammunition, I knew that under ideal conditions, I could hit that, yup, all the way out to 300 yards.  My precision rifle, with better quality ammunition would do much better than that, but how much better, I didn’t know.  When I ‘built’ that rifle I only hoped for one M.O.A. (minute of angle,), meaning that under ideal (really, really perfect) conditions it could keep it shots in about an 11 inch circle at 1000 yards.  Realistically, I expected to be able to keep my shots in an 18 or so inch circle perhaps a little better.  I figured the equipment could do that if I did my part.

Earlier this year, while learning about the perils of parallax, I accidently shot a target with this rifle and my ammunition of choice which was both very bad and very good.  The specific details are complicated enough for a story of their own, but suffice to say the incident ended with two distinct groups of four shots, one of 1 1/8th inch and the other of 7/8th inch, from 300 yards.  That’s about 1/3rd of a M.O.A.  Three times better than I wished for.  It was clear then that the rifle and ammunition had potential, much more than I had hoped for, if only I could learn how to use it.

I was not real excited about this event, I wasn’t prepared for it and maybe not even really interested, but, Kidlet wanted it.  I then discovered the high, I thought, entry fee was not for the whole event, it was that much per day.  When he learned about that, his interest would drop, I was certain, so I skipped four possible practice and sighting in sessions.  Turns out, he knew and still wished to try, so two days before the match, with my best friend as a spotter, I was at the bench.

My ammo was pretty standard, made it myself, Varget gun powder, 43.8 grains of it measured with calibrated dippers, and a Sierra Match King bullet (SMK).  However I had the 168 grain weight bullets.  Known for great accuracy and lower price compared to its competitors, the 168 grain SMK is famous for its accuracy, but not at 1000 yards.  The cartridge I was shooting was the .308 Winchester, commonly referred to as the ‘Three-oh-eight’.   A critical point for this bullet comes at approximately 800 yards. The bullet is slowing down and passes back through the ‘sound barrier’ and thereafter travels slower than the speed of sound.  At that point of transition there is turbulence which affects the bullet, so about 800 yards is considered the maximum for this load.  But, it is what I had.

My ‘action’ and barrel were a slightly  older model made by Savage, the model 110 Tactical, which I had purchased used some years ago.  I had recently replaced the incredibly poor quality original stock with an  ‘Ultimate Sniper’ stock made by Choate.  Not particularly the highest quality, but I didn’t want to mortgage the house to buy a really high quality one and the Choate would still be far better than what had been on that barreled action.

The rifle scope which I had on that gun for years had been an attempt by a low end scope company to make a higher end scope.  It had been long discontinued and actually came apart when last I went to adjust it.  I now had a Zeiss.  Known for good quality, I got mine cheaper because had it been a demonstrator model.  The glass is wonderfully clear and the adjustments do exactly what they are supposed to do.  This precision of the ‘controls’ of the scope is important to be able to adjust the bullets impact to exactly where you want it and to be able to repeat that.  For someone shooting different bullets, having different target distances, etc., this is very important.  On many cheaper scopes these adjustments are only approximate or even just hopeful.  For people looking to buy a rifle scope I have long said to forget about the price in the beginning.  First, determine exactly what characteristics, features you need in your scope, find all with those features, then buy the most expensive one which you can afford.

These matches are shot from a solid ‘bench’, cement in this situation.  Front and rear ‘rests’ are allowed and pretty much obligatory if one wants to actually hit anything.  At these distances and size of targets, simply attempting to steady the gun on a tree stump or handy rock simply ain’t gonna do it.  The rear rest may be a simple bag with a ‘V’ notch to fit the butt of the gun, however the front rest is usually iron, heavy, complex and adjustable for precise positioning of the rifle.  I had purchased such a rest recently but had not used it.

My rest came with two front ‘bags’.  The one bag was fairly standard and could be used for most common rifles.  I used it check the sight settings of a military style rifle and it worked very well, but for my ‘precision’ rifle, it was no good.  The forearm of the rifle was too wide to fit into the notch in the bag.  Attempting to force the gun down into the notch was unsteady.  The rifle needs to move straight to the rear when firing.  This provides for consistency and allows the shooter to continue to see the target through the riflescope.  By using the wrong front bag, the rifle would ‘jump’ off of the bag to the right, so my shots were less consistent and I could not see where my shots were landing in the dirt bank around the target.  If my shots were going high, low, left, or right, I had no way of knowing thus was the need for my friend to ‘spot’ for me.  He watched the target with a telescope and told me where my shots landed so I could make adjustments.

I did not expect to hit such small targets at such a distance, but I hoped that I could shoot consistently enough even if keeping my shots in an 18 inch or so circle that there might be an occasional hit just by chance and that I would not too badly embarrass myself.  However, my inconsistency was far too great.  I suspected it was due mostly to the improper fitting front bag.  So we returned to try again the next morning.

The bag was now being beaten and forced closer to shape which I needed but it was still inconsistent.  Rarely could I see the impact of my own shots.  But I did shoot consistently enough that I could enter the match and not look too much like an ass.  But I knew I needed a better bag.

I had placed a small order from Midway USA for some knives and there was a sale on bullets as well so I had ordered some.  I had forgotten about them until they arrived, which was the day before the match.  These bullets were from the same manufacturer as the ones which I was using but just slightly heavier, 175 grains vs. 168 grains, but more importantly, they were intended for precision at longer distances than the 168.  So I loaded some up, using the same powder and charge as previously and went into the match the next morning with a load I had never fired before.

Some guns just don’t like some bullet/ammo combinations but I thought I should be fairly safe but the heavier bullet would have a different point of impart.  No problem, hopefully.  Before each ‘relay’ of shooting, I would have five minutes to sight in.  I could make any necessary adjustments then, I hoped.

The next morning I checked in.  The wind was relatively calm.  Good, the cross winds are often bad and I know the wind would increase as the day progressed.  A cross wind can easily move a bullet two feet or more from the target at that distance.  All shooting assignments were made randomly and would be randomized again the next morning.  I was assigned to the second of four relays, bench 4A.  Each relay had an ‘A’ and ‘B’ group.  Clay ‘pigeons’ discs used by shotgun shooters to simulate flying birds, had been placed on the bank near the targets.  These clays would be used for getting our rifles sighted in.  The impact of missed shots could be seen in the dirt bank, seeing these misses, the shooters could see how much of any  adjustments were necessary to their sights.

When a relay was started, the designated shooters had five minutes to place their rifles, rifle rests and other gear on their assigned bench, the rifles could be aimed at the clay targets.  A second five minute period then started, both A and B shooters could fire at the clay pigeons during this time.  Shooters used this time to fine tune their zeros for this distance and more importantly, to adjust for the ever changing wind.  The B shooters then had to remove the ‘bolt’ from their rifles to ensure that it could not be fired during the next stage, shooting for the record.  Eight minutes was given for the A group to fire eight shots.  One or more ‘spotters’ would be seated behind each shooter with a high powered optic to watch the potentially swinging target to see if it was hit.  A scorecard was marked for each shot, hit or miss.  The shooters were not given any information about the location of their misses.  Shooters were allow two additional ‘sighted’ shots during this time before starting to fire for the record, these shots had to be clearly announced to the spotter before firing.

My sighting shots were low, perhaps 2 to 2 ½ feet low and to the side.  Way off.  But when my rifle moved in recoil it did not move straight back so that I could still see the bullets impact.  Most of them I could not see.  I could aim precisely, but not being certain where the bullets were impacting I could not adjust to put them where I wanted them.  This continued to occur during firing for the record.  Then the A group removed the bolts from their rifles and the B group had their eight minutes to fire for the record.

There was a break where the targets were repainted then both groups shot again.  Another five minutes of sighters, but then the B group shot first.

About half way through my string, I saw one of my shots almost hit the base of the post on the right of the target, at least two feet low and two feet to the right.  In frustration I aimed at the top of the left post and saw some of my bullets impact near to the target.  I had to get a better front rest which fit the forearm of my rifle properly, allowing the gun to move straight back during recoil.  That would make for more consistent shooting and I would be able to see the impacts and then adjust my aim as needed.

One of the other shooters in my relay hit 11 times out of his 16 shots.

Why hadn’t I been using the correct front rest bag?  My heavy iron precision rest had come with a generic ‘fits most’ bag which I had been trying to use, and had as well, a bag more suited to this rifle, but it was unfilled.  Filling it seemed like it would be a pain in the ass and I had been just too lazy to do it.

On my way home, I stopped at three places which might have such a front end bag though the odds were slim.  I found none.  I even had half a silly notion to replace my rest with one of several similar used ones for sale, but given the price that would have been quite foolish.  My buddy had suggested that I could fill it with sand from an unused sandbag left over from a storm.  I could go the beach and get sand.  Some people in the past used lead shot, small lead pellets used in shotguns, but I did not want to deal with the lead dust they could create, and sand which was not cleaned, filtered and processed could rot my bag from the inside.  In desperation, I did a most unmanly act.  I found a certain paper I had kept,  I read the directions.

‘What!’ I thought, ‘They recommend THAT for filling this bag’.  Not the stuff which usually goes into them and their other models of bags, sand, shot, ground up moon rock (I touched one once, long ago at the Smithsonian), but instead, the same material which is used for cleaning empty brass cartridge cases.  I had that stuff.

Filling the bag was not as difficult as I thought it would be, but spillage was a concern.  The small dried particles of ground up corn cob went into the center portion of the three lobed bag through an opening which had no closure.  Put some in, try to hold the opening shut while trying to force the filling into the outer lobes, repeat.  One had to try to pinch the opening shut while forcing the stuffing about in the bag.  The opening in the bag was later sealed only by later placing it on the metal rest and bolting it into position.  There was a good bit more spillage than I would have thought.  At least I had the good sense to carry out this procedure over my sons computer keyboard and equipment rather than my own, an act which did not pass undiscovered later.

On the second day I had been assigned the first relay, bench 3B.  There was no wind.  I felt a little guilty taking the spot from someone who probably spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours perfecting their equipment and skills who would have loved to have that period before the wind picked up, but it had been randomized, so…

I had forgotten to adjust the side supports of the front rest at the bag.  This meant the bags surface was much wider than the firearm of the rifle and the gun slid from  side to side.  Now my vertical stringing was horrible.  This means that the up and down variation of where my bullets were hitting was EXTREME.  I did not realize it at the time but I probably packed the new front bag too full so the rifle was resting on a relatively ‘hard’ surface and bouncing off of it with each shot.  Could also have been that my breathing was not consistent or I was not consistently placing the ‘butt’ of the gun into my shoulder or a combination of all the above.

On the last of my sighting shots I nearly had to quit the event.  I could not move the bolt of my rifle to remove the empty ‘brass’ and put in a new cartridge.  I had to take a multi-tool from my belt and pound the bolt open.  This happened several times during the shooting, I then realized the cause and took corrective action.

During the sighting in, the spotters saw my plight, I heard some comments, including, ‘He must not be able to see his impacts’. Seeing my pathetic attempts, a couple of the guys tried to guide me on target but my vertical variations were so extreme and unpredictable it was of no help.  Strangely, I amazed myself and moreso them for my horizontal placement of the shots was near perfect, sometimes beautiful in fact.  Just incrediburgable. So perfect from left to right, so astronomically off top to bottom.  And that’s with a gun which is sliding to the side with every shot.

On my two strings for the record I saw very few shots impact.  On the next to last I saw a perfectly centered hit or would have been hit on the target if it had not been about three feet low.  ‘This is it now, my last shot’.  I focused as best I could. I aligned my sights to three feet above the target, carefully steadied then pressed the trigger.  I saw the impact.  Side to side was alignment was perfect and the shot hit exactly where I was aiming, three feet above the target.

One of the other shooters hit 14 out of 16 shots.

There were shoot-offs for winners in each relay, for each day and for the overall winner.  Wind was quite substantial later in that second day.  Cash prizes for the winners of each section.  Then also there a drawing for ‘door’ prizes just for showing up and staying through both days, I won a prize worth 300 dollars.

People who ‘get into’ this type of shooting will buy a large lot of precision match grade bullets then use specialized gauges to inspect them and use only perhaps the most consistent 10 percent of these.  That’s not my style.  The ‘brass’, the cartridge case will also be match grade, again inspected, carefully checked and only the most uniform of the best are used.  I used brass which had been thrown away and recycled, not only not match quality, but from several different manufacturers.  One of the brands was one which I had not used before, the bottom ‘rim’ of these seemed thicker than the others and would hang up in the tools I used to make the ammunition.  It was these which had to be pounded out of my gun.  When I realized this, I checked the bottom of each one before shooting to see the makers markings and set aside those from that company.  Note:  The maker was Privi Partizan. On the other hand,  I have shot over 2000 rounds of their 5.56 M193 ammunition in two other rifles with only one problem occurring which might have been due to the ammunition and have been generally satisfied with that.

When the event was over I assisted with some of the cleanup, taking down sign-in tables and such.  One of the organizers asked if I had figured out what was causing the vertical ‘stringing’, I had not, but I will.  He asked if had figured why some of the brass was getting stuck in the gun.  I told him that it was a specific ‘head stamp’ which I had not used before, that for the match I had used mixed brands range ‘pick-up’ brass.  You could almost see his jaw hit the ground.

I am very curious to fix the cause of the stringing.  Think I’ll work out the bugs and do it again, at least if not a formal match, but keep shooting at a 1000.  Maybe next year show them what I’ve learned.  Might still use cheap brass though.







*** Looserounds, nor Mark, take any responsibility for any reloading data listed above. Always use caution when trying a handload  you have not worked up safely in your own gun. All reloading precautions should be taken when handloading. Always follow reloading manual instructions and warning of the component MFGs.***

Hornady Zombie Max.Worth it?

Shooters have been buying up the hornady Zombie max ammo recently thanks to clever marketing and a trend I will admit not understanding. Really it is supposedly just re-purposed  V-max ammo with a different color ballistic tip.  Since the ammo has an asinine price on it and the buyer will probably never shoot it, I decided to test it out  for those who are curious about it.  I used a match barrel with a 1/9 twist to fire the most rounds since  that is the most common twist rate among the type of shooter this stuff is aimed at.

I did notice the ammo did come in a case with a military crimped primer.  I have fired the horaday varmint ammo before in other calibers and had decent results. Never under 1 MOA however.   I also fired a 21 shot group using my own handloads  as a comparison and something to compare to.

You can click on the image to make enlarge it.  The ammo was 55 grain since that is what a lot of people seem to  think is the standard for top performance ( it isn’t ).

All but the lower left  are zombie max. The distance was 100 yards shot from a match AR15 with match SS barrel  24 inches with a 1/9 twist. Te optics was a Leupold 18x. The gun is extremely accurate with good ammo.  The 1/7  twist 21 shot group was fired with a 6940 with the same optic.  flyer shot was a zeroing shot. The rest is a 20 round group.

Draw your own conclusions on the Z-max.  I would not waste my time or money on it myself. The groups fired from  typical M4 carbines was not ever worth showing. This was  the best I would get it to do.

Below is what proper match loads will do in a good gun to compare.

Unless you are into the whole “zombie lifestyle” and just want the box or something..   I would not spend the money on the zombie max, unless the price was dropped to the same amount as a box of federal xm193 or PMC  etc.

Review: Shooter app for Android Phones

The “Shooter” app is available in the Google App store for $9.99 and is also available for the iOS.  I’ve been using this app for a good many months on my Android phone and have found it very handy.  Shooter lets you plug in the details of your firearms and make multiple ammunition profiles for various loads.  Once this data is entered you can quickly get the adjustment needed for a specified load and wind.

The downside to this is that Shooter does have a learning curve, and that you must input a good bit of information before you get any useful results.  If you need to be able to quickly get rough ballistic information for a firearm and want to quickly change the inputted data, Shooter isn’t ideal for that.  However once you have all the information imputed into this app, you can quickly find the adjustment needed for wind and distance, and you can maintain profiles for a multitude of loads with their own zeros for each individual firearm.  If what you need is the ability to quickly plug in loads data then find a hold over using a reticle, you may be better off with the Strelok app.

Shooter also has many handy optional features such as:

  • A calculator for ranging a target in mils or MOA.
  • The ability to connect to a Kestrel via Bluetooth.
  • Automatic weather input from GPS location.

And many more.


I really like the Shooter app, and have found it very handy.  More information about the Android and iOS versions of Shooter can be found here.

A Look at Hornady Steel Match Ammo

A few years ago ammo prices became so high you had to take out a bank loan just to buy plinking ammo. A lot of people went to shooting cheaper steel cases ammo so they could still be able to afford gas to get to work. Problem was, none of it was in any of the heavier weights for precision rifles. Hornady came out with the nifty idea of putting their 75 grain hollow point boat tailed bullet , powder and primer into the cheaper steel case to offer up ammo that was cheaper then TAP  but still have ( supposedly ) the same accuracy and trajectory.

It sounded like a great idea in theory, but as usual when it comes to anything 556 related at the time. It was as hard to find as a honest democrat.  From the time it was announced to just yesterday, I had actually never seen any of it   in a gun store. It was not as cheap as it was hoped it  would be either. But, it is cheaper then TAP.  I paid a bit over 20 dollars for 50 rounds. Compare that to something close to the same price for 20 rounds of TAP and you can see that shooting the steel match would be a cheaper solution.

Of course the benefit of paying that much for  steel case ammo is only real if it holds up its end of the accuracy claims. Why not just buy Tula for 4 bucks a box to plink with if the Hornady steel match was not that much better?

I bought some to try it out and see if it is worth it and how it could work for shorter range practice with a precision AR15 or bolt gun.

The first 5 shot group is  from a 6920 with a KAC RAS and a  Nightforce 10x scope. I shot off a bench using sandbags. The group is not that impressive and I was not impressed at all. I could not see paying that much for the ammo for no better groups then that.  It is not too bad actually considering what it is and it is still capable of keeping all shots in a mans head at this range.

In this group, everything is the same except I used the Colt 6940 with the free floated barrel to see how much difference it made and it did make a big difference.  The ammo really started to show some potential when used with a FF barrel. This would not have been a surprise with normal match ammo, but since I did not have very high hopes with the steel case stuff, I was surprised. That is a 5 shot group a 100 yards. And it would easily fit under a quarter.

The last group I took the ammo out to 200 yards with the 6940 and fired a 10 shot group.

That is not too bad considering what it is.   It started to rain fairly heavy so I did not get to take all the time in the world. But I did have time enough. It is a tough call to say if the group would have been much better if I had all the time in the world so all I can say is I would rather shoot the group again at 200 yards before I call this group as normal performance for it. Still well within a persons head.

Now, one of the claims was the steel match would keep about the same trajectory. Well it does sort of. But it does change zero just like any other change up in ammo brand and type would. Is it worth buying to gain better performance over  cheaper  steel case from Tula or Wolf?  I can not say. For training at 25-100 yards I would not buy it. You can do the same with cheaper.  I am not even sure in what way to use it. If I need to shoot in a precision role, I am going to use true match ammo.  If I need better terminal effect, I am sure to use ammo of higher quality meant for good terminal effect.   I think for better results from 100-200 yards on sometihng like a ground hog it would do just fine. Otherwise I am just not sure. You will have to decide that for yourself.

Other then that, it is not too bad at all. If you have a MK12 that you want to shoot out to 200 yards or about, but do not want to use up your TAP or MK262, then this would be a decent choice. It would be more accurate then surplus and it will match  your 77 gr. BDC  turret or reticule pretty close and not break the wallet in two.

FN USA PBR A Good First Light Sniper/Tactical Rifle

A lot of people over the last 10 years or so have become interested in long range precision shooting. One of the simple facts of life when it comes to precision shooting at ranges past 700 yards is that the rifles often cost a lot of money. There is a huge mind boggling selection of rifles to pick from these days. You can have your choice of full custom, semi custom factory rifles, plain factory rifles meant to fill the need and factory rifles worked over to provide the desired results. A lot of people do not understand there is a big difference between a target rifle for LR shooting and true tactical or sniper rifles.  I submit to you that they are all three different levels all together.  One type is meant to shoot accurately while being treated gently. The other is to be treated like you wish you could treat your sister in law  over years and still deliver an acceptable level of accuracy. It would surprise a lot of people to know  military sniper rifles often do not shoot to the same level as a Camp perry target rifle. But thats OK. it does not need to. It just needs to shoot that good all the time no matter what you do to it.  In a later article I will go into more depth on precision rifles and long range since this is a topic a lot of people want to know about but assume it is way more difficult then it really is.  Do not let it fool you. Making hits at 1,000 yards is not as hard as it may seem. And often you can get it done with a semi auto A type rifle faster and cheaper then what you can with a worked up bolt gun. Again, I will make the case later.

Now I would like to take  a look at what I believe to be  a great starter rifle for those wanting to start the craft and a even more useful  general purpose  heavy recce to use a phrase borrowed from Howard.

The rifle I am going to talk about is the FN USA  Patrol Bolt Rifle.  Everyone who knows anything about me, knows I love and prefer the Winchester pre 64 controlled round feed action and the FN  uses this action. Winchester and FN are pretty much the same thing these days and have been working close even before the New Haven plant went tango uniform. The result of this was the FBI bought a few  heavy snipers from FN  using the Model 70.  A side project resulted in a neat little gun  that everyone should take a look at.  The PBR  is no longer made and called the PBR but FN still makes it with a few slight changes. I will refer to it as the PBR because that is what I have but it can be bought still, just under another name.

The PBR came and the current model comes with a Hogue over molded stock, same as the M700 ACC model. The difference is the PBR has a full length bedding block. If you do not know about this  feature, it is meant to take the place of glass or devcon or marineTex ing the action in the stock. To keep the action from moving in the stock and increasing the rigidity. Along with free floating the barrel this helps keep the gun more consistant and so more accurate.  Bedding blocks are poo pooed by some but for what the PBR is meant to do, it is acceptable.  The stock is not the most comfy but  for a gun meant to be issued out to a wide variety of  LEO or whatever, it is not bad at all. Some even really like it. I find the rubber coating wants to catch on everything on my body and make it slow to handle some times. thats OK because it is not meant for 3 gun slinging.

A really nice touch that FN provides is the one piece picatinny Near MFG scope base with cant for aiding zeroing to longer ranges. A lot of people who start out in long range shooting  do not know just how important the base and rings are to the system. I prefer bases made by Badger Ord but again, it is more then enough for what this is meant for and you can always change it as you want. I recommend using it for a long time until yuou are good enough to know exactly what  you need.

To mount the scope to the base I used Leupold MK4 rings and a ancient tactical Leupold MRT  10x with mildot reticule that was meant for paring with the M700 PSS rifles back in the late 90s. It is still a fine optic and if you can get one i suggest trying it out. The specs are 3.5x-10x with  1/4 inch target turrets and a 40mm objective lens.  I also added a synthetic  Military sling and harris  BR model Bipods.

The barrel on the PBR is 24 inch chrome moly with fluting and a recessed crown to protect it from morons who do not pay attention. Unlike the FBI model, the barrel is not chrome lined.  The taper on the barrel is pretty steep so it is not as heavy as a straight taper  HBAR used on Winchester sharpshooter IIs or the FN SPR A3G.

The PBR also has the nice feature of a detachable box magazine. The mag holds 4 in it and is made of SS and ejects cleanly and sharp from the rifle. It is well made but hard to load rounds into it. Not a big deal once you get used to it but a pain anyway. Spare mags can be had from brownells fro about 44 bucks a pop.

As I said above, the action is the pre 64 model 70 so it has the huge external extractor. A lot of people like the M700 more and say that  the extractor on a M700 will not break. I am here to tell you that is pure BS. I have had four M700 extractors break on me over the years.  They will and can break off.  The M70 holds the case as it picks it up and strips it off the mag and feeds it. It will extract it out of the chamber or rip the head off  and because of the solid metal ejector, you can eject the empty as hard or soft as you want/need. One benefit of this is you can work the bolt in any position and not worry about feeding problems. As much as I love the M70 I can not see this as a real advantage as I have never been able to induce at malfunction  in a m700  in any position as long as I worked the bolt.  with purpose.   On a gun meant for very hard use in ways that may get you killed, I like the controlled round feed ( CRF ) and so do the vast majority of dangerous game hunters in Africa.

The action of the PBR is as smooth as most of its type and is very unlikely to bind. The rifle is very handy and I see it as a perfect scouting rifle or  light sniper that would be good for riding in the trunk until you need it. The new versions come with  barrels as short as 16 inches so adding a can would make for a very handy suppressed sniping rifle for urban use. In fact, I feel this is very close to being a perfect urban sniper  as far as bolt guns go. The barrel has a 1/12 twist so it will handle up to a 175 match round. Some always want a 1/10 and of course if you can a 1/10 get it, but the USMC has done alright with a 1/12 for years if that settles your nerves over it.

I have shot several PBRs out to  as far as 800 yards over the years and found them to preform my demands. It is not perfect for this role or the most comfortable. Nor is it put together with the right parts or intended to really be a long range head shooter. If you imagine the PBR as having the same role as a MK12  or a recce but as a bolt gun I think you will be close to what this gun best fits as.

The rifle is very accurate though and with proper ammo, hits out to 800 yards or easy. 1,000 yard hits are not out of the question but do not get all twisted out of shape if its not as easy as you would hope. There is a little more to it then a 308 rifle with a heavy barre. But not as much more as you may think!! More on this later as I said.

After putting it together and shooting it some and checking out ammo selection etc. I set up at 100 yards to get a cold bore group to see how solid the system would be. I think 3 rounds  is a good test of this gun since it is not truly a target or sniper rifle, but something in between.

This is a three round group from 10 yards using Black Hills match 175 grain HPBT.  Point of impact is exactly point of aim. I am very happy with this as I am sure you can imagine.  I intend to use the PBR as a light mid range sniper and sort of a small to deer size  hunting rifle. It is easy to move with, lighter then my Sharpshooter II and shorter. Its not as comfortable in prone, but that is just fine I gave up the gravel belly days a while ago and need something a little better for more common field shooting or from the harris bipods. One day I will get a McMillan HTG stock like used on the M40A1 rifle, but maybe I won’t if the hogue proves solid enough.

If you want to start out in the Long range shooting hobby but also want something you could hunt with easier  or carry easily across the suburb while being out of sight after the end of the world. The PBR or its current incarnation is a great place to start. If you want to move on to more custom, you can save the action to build from. I always  advise using the Model 70 for a sniper rifle and this is a good way to start and give  you more then the M700 AAC model which is very close to being the same.