Going blue! So you want a Dillon Press? What Press is best for you

So you have decided that you want a Dillon press but you are not sure what press to get?
Well here we are going to take a good look at each press. I have loaded hundreds of thousands of rounds commercially on every kind of Dillon machine and also use them for personal loading for everything except precision loads.

So first we have to look at what presses Dillon makes. You have the Square Deal B, the 550, 650 and 1050 each one has an advantage. I would also say “and a disadvantage” but I just can’t bring myself to say that because they are all great presses. There really is no way to go wrong with any dillon press but some just work better than others for certain things. They all come with an unconditional lifetime warranty with the exception of the 1050 and we will go over that more when I cover the 1050.

First and cheapest we have the Square Deal B press with a base price of $404.95. With all the accessories it comes out to $583.75. This is the press I have the least experience with. We had one in the shop I worked at but we didn’t use it often. It is an auto indexing progressive press. The Square Deal B is the one press that Dillon makes that I do actually see having a disadvantage, and they are two fold, but some loaders they may not see it as a disadvantage. First is it uses proprietary dies. Second, you can only load 18 different pistol calibers and no rifle calibers. Now this is fine for some people. If you only shoot pistols and never plan to load rifle or if you have a single stage press for precision or hunting rifles and just want to be able to crank out cheap high quality pistol ammo then this is a great press to look at. All of the dies are also carbide except the 44-40 dies which is a plus for this press.

Next we have the Dillon 550. This is a great press and I have one sitting on my bench as we speak. It is a manual indexing press with 4 stations on the tool head for dies. It will also accommodate up to a 460 weatherby and 338 lapua. Yes, it is perfectly capable of loading precision rounds. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not. You see a lot of people on the internet say that because it’s not a single stage press. It can give you the same precision. Do you know what all the people who say that have in common? They have never used a Dillon 550!! Now if you want to use it for precision long range loads, I wouldn’t trust the powder drop. This is only because if I am doing precision loads, I measure every powder charge by hand. But i digress. The 550 has a nice starting price of $459.95 and fully decked out it costs $764.60.

Now onto the XL 650. In my opinion, this is the best press to get for home loading. It is a 5 station auto indexing press with automatic case feeder. The 5th station is normally used for a powder check die that will warn you if you over or under charge a cartridge adding an additional safety step. They also have aftermarket bullet feeders that are available to help speed up loading even more. You can easily crank out over 800 rounds an hour with the 650. All you have to do is pull the handle, add bullets and make sure you have powder, primers and brass in the machine. It won’t let you load up to a 460 weatherby or 338 lapua but I also don’t know anyone that’s going to be cranking out hundreds of those calibers an hour either, so that shouldn’t really be a deciding factor in this press. You can load up to a 45-70 and smaller so you can still load all the popular semi auto rifle calibers. Cost is a little more on the 650 and that’s really the only disadvantage it has. It starts at $579.95 and $1,154.55 fully decked out but keep in mind that the that the $579.95 price does NOT include the case feeder and without that you are better off getting the 550 for speed. The case feeder is $224.95

Next you have the super 1050. This thing is a monster. It’s an auto indexing progressive press with a 6 station toolhead. It also has a built in primer pocket swager so if you use military brass or anything with crimped primer pockets this speeds up loading immensely. With a bullet feeder you can crank out 1200+ rounds an hour. It’s a great machine, but it wouldn’t be my first choice for the home reloader unless you already have a 550 or 650 and need to produce a large volume of a single caliber. The reason I say that is, to put it bluntly, it’s a pain in the ass to change calibers and it expensive for conversion kits or quick change kits. The toolhead alone is $200.00. If you buy it, just for example 5.56/.223, because you shoot a lot of carbine matches then it’s great to process military brass on because of the built in swager or maybe you shoot a lot of pistol matches and use a couple of thousand 9mm rounds a week the it would again be a good option, however if you shoot 4 or 5 calibers that you want to reload I wouldnt recomend the 1050 because of cost and time to change calibers. The 1050 costs $1799.95 and comes with everything needed for 1 caliber. The 1050 is also considered a commercial press and only has a one year warranty unlike the rest of the dillon presses.

The last press that dillon makes is the BFR 50 BMG Machine. It’s a manual indexing press that’s designed for the 50 BMG round. It’s built like a tank and is designed to make match grade rounds. It can only be used with the 50 BMG round. But if you shoot a lot of 50 this is the press for you. It’s price is $1,079.95

The Science of Reloading – Part 2 Required Equipment

Welcome back to the science of reloading. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading part one as it goes over bench and press selection. Today we are going to discuss all the rest of the things you MUST have in order to begin reloading. We will also cover some of the nicer options that will exceed the bare minimum and make life easier and reloading less tedious and more fun. Once again, this is a beginner’s guide to reloading but some more experienced loaders might see some items they hadn’t thought of before.

You have your press and bench picked out, now what? The first thing is going to be a reloading manual or even better several so you can cross reference loads and data. You can’t do anything without a manual. They tell you everything from what size your brass needs to be trimmed to, how much and what kind of powder to use, how deep to seat your bullet, and some other information. Most of the manuals also give a brief history of each round and some tips on loading. If the manual is published by a bullet manufacturer, they may also give good descriptions of each bullet. So what manual should you get? Well that can be a difficult question especially starting out. The best manual to get is typically the one by the company that makes the bullet that you are using. That can be difficult when you start out since you will want to, and should, try several different bullets. Buying each manufacturer’s book would give you the most accurate information, but could have you buying several books. On the other hand, you could buy a book, like Lymen, that uses multiple different manufacturers bullets. It may not cover every single bullet produces, but gives you more data in one book.This decision is completely up to you. Personally, I like to cross reference and have multiple manuals.

The next thing you need to look at is your die set. You have a few options here depending on what your goals are. The prices on a die set can range from $30 to over $300. So let’s look at the cheaper dies first and work our way up. First we have Lee die sets (we keep seeing that name). They are the cheapest die sets but in some ways rather nice. They are very easy to adjust and they come with some extras you don’t see in other die sets. One of these extras is a shell holder which is very convenient since you have to have one. They also come with a powder scoop (we will talk about them later) and that can be nice if you decide to use one. And the best part is they are normally right around the $30 price point and you can make quality ammunition with them. Next we have the RCBS dies that are of a similar quality of the Lee dies but the seating die is a little bit more precise and consistent. They however don’t come with the shell holder or powder scoop but overall are a slightly better die. The adjustment on the seating dies are slightly more difficult to set but will be more precise. Next, in the same quality category, you have Hornady dies. I have not personally used them, but from talking with people that have they are just as good as the RCBS dies. Next in the the selection of dies you have are match (or competition) die sets. The biggest thing with them is that they have more precise adjustments and stricter tolerances than the regular dies. Next we will talk about redding competition dies they are one of the best die sets you can get but, much like the foster in our last article, they come at a price which is anywhere from $250 up to $350 per set depending on caliber. So what makes them worth so much more you ask? Well the biggest thing is the micrometer on the seating die that you can adjust accurately to .001” it also comes with a neck sizing die that allows you to adjust neck tension. This can be important during load development for extreme precision.

The next thing is case lube. If you are resizing rifle brass you have to have case lube or you are going to have a really bad day when you get a case stuck in your sizing die (I could write a whole article just on that subject). You have a lot of options for this one. There are lube pads that some people like to use where you apply lube to the pad and the roll the brass on it. There is also lube that you put on your finger then put it on the case. I’m not a fan of this method because if you use too much lube you can get dents in your case. Then there is spray lube method which is my personal favorite. It lets you put several cases into a container spray them and shake them around then you are ready to size all of them. I have used both Hornady and Dillon spray lubes and they both work great. The Hornady is in an aerosol can while the Dillon is in a regular spray bottle. How you lube your cases really just comes down to personal preference, but just remember even though you can get small dents in the cases, as with most non reloading applications, too much lube is better than not enough….

The next must have is going to be your scale. You can’t do anything without a scale. You need a mechanical scale on your bench!!! Yes they do make digital scales and I personally use one but a digital scale can fail causing serious injury or death!!! Not to mention, scales need to be calibrated regularly. Every company has a beam scale Lee, RCBS, Dillon, ECT… and it doesn’t really matter scale you go with. The Lee is 26 bucks on amazon and the dillon is over $100 with the others in between. My friend’s Lee is just as accurate as my Dillon it really just comes down to the way you set them up. I like the ease of use with the Dillon over the Lee. In reality, it just comes to personal preference and what you can afford. Now onto digital scales. You have a lot of options here. You have scales that are just a scale, like the one from Hornady which you can get for around $35 and it’s a lot faster than a beam scale for actually loading rounds. Lymen makes one that has a powder trickler built into it so you can get to exactly the amount of powder you want and that’s about $115. Then you have the auto powder dispensers. This is what I personally use for precision loads. They are great because all you do is tell it what charge you want and hit a button and it will measure out what you want. The three major ones are the RCBS, the Lymen, and the Hornady. They all cost between $200 and $300 I have personally used the Lymen and RCBS and can’t say I prefer one over the other, but the Lymen is a little cheaper. I have seen mixed reviews on the Hornady, but people seem happy for the most part with them. But if you can afford one I recommend it! LRS- Pro Tip#2 If you can’t afford one, then get a regular digital scale and a powder thrower. Throw a charge close to what you want and then use the trickler to get you exact without spending all the time on a beam scale to get it exact…

The next thing you will need is a powder trickler (unless you get the auto powder dispenser). They are available from a number of companies and they all seem to work well I have an RCBS and really like it but I won’t recommend one over the other.

The next thing you need is a micrometer so you can measure your cases so you know if you need to trim them and case overall length so you know that you have your bullet seated properly. I would recommend that you avoid the digital ones and make sure you get one that can measure to .001”. The reason I say avoid digital is they can lose accuracy if dropped or if their battery gets low.

If you are loading rifle ammunition you are going to need a trimmer. I use an RCBS trimmer it works very well and can be set to your desired trim length. Once it’s set, just turn the trimmer until it stops and you are good to go. All the other major brands make a similar trimmer with a similar design. I haven’t used them but I also have never seen anyone talking bad about them. They do, however, all seem to be in the same price range and most people just go with RCBS. the other option is a press mounted dillon electric trimmer they are nice for bulk brass prep on a progressive press but at close to $500 for a full set up with trimmer and trim die, it’s really not worth it for precision loading. LRS-Pro Tip # 3 On the RCBS trimmer you can remove the handle and attach a drill to give yourself a cheap electric trimmer

Now that you have your trimmer. You need to clean up that trimmed brass before you can size it in your new dies. You need a couple of things for this. First, you need to do some case prep to clean up the edges of the brass and get rid of the sharp edges and brass shavings. This can be accomplished with hand tools such as the Lymen case prep multi tool or the RCBS deburring tool. They are both good options and cost under 20 bucks. Or you have case prep stations which are the electric versions. Lymen, RCBS and Hornady all make them and they run between $75-$150. They are great if you are prepping a lot of brass or if it hurts your hands to use the hand tools. They also save time.

So now that your case is trimmed and deburred. You need a way to clean the brass. This comes in three forms: a dry vibratory tumbler, a wet tumbler, and ultrasonic cleaners. The most common way people clean brass is with a dry vibratory tumbler with either ground up walnuts or corn cob media and a splash of some kind of cleaning agent. I like Nufinish car polish but you have other options. Some media is also sold with polish embedded in it already. I personally don’t use that type because it’s a lot cheaper to use Nufinish and I load 1000-5000 rounds a week (no not all precision loads). For some, the pre-embedded is an easy option that does work. You also have the option to not add anything to the media at all. It just depends on how shiny you want your brass. Tumblers are another Item that it really doesn’t matter what brand you use. Just shop around for the budget and size that works best for you. Some do feature an on/off switch while some you have to just unplug or plug in so if that’s something you are concerned about keep an eye on that. The next option is wet tumbling. I’m personally not a big fan of it because I like to be able to pull my brass out of the tumbler and immediately start to load it, but then I load a lot of rounds. Some people do small batches where they might tumble it one day and not load it for a couple of day after the brass dries so wet tumbling might be an option and there is no question that it gets the brass shinier than a vibratory tumbler. The way they work is you mix a cleaning and polishing agent with water (and there are lots of recipes online for this so if you go with a wet tumbler you will find as many things to add as you will people with a wet tumbler) along with stainless steel pins and then the brass is rolled around in a drum with them. The biggest thing with wet tumbling is to remember to make sure your brass is completely dry or you will get misfires. A lot of people will put them on cookie sheets in the oven on a low temperature to help dry them faster. Then you have ultrasonic cleaners. I have never used one and don’t know many people that do just for the fact that they are small only holding a very limited amount of brass and expensive for the amount of brass you can clean with them.

A set of hand tools is another necessity to have around the bench. You will need wrenches and allen keys for many different things from adjusting your dies to setting up your trimmer to putting your press together. If you have RCBS dies you will need a small screwdriver to adjust them and the allen wrench to set the lock ring. Sometimes something will work loose on the press and you will need to tighten it so you want the right tools handy on the bench when you need them. The exact tools you will need will depend on what press and dies you end up getting. No bench is complete without at least a crescent wrench, a set of screw drivers, and a set of allen keys

So this concludes the REQUIRED items for reloading. We have gone over reloading manuals, die sets, micrometers, trimmers, scales, tricklers, and how to clean your brass along with giving you a few different options for each item and a few tips as well. Look out for our next article on useful things for your bench that might not be required but makes life a lot easier.

The Science Behind Reloading: Part 1- Introduction

Since you are reading this page chances are, you want to shoot long range precision. So that’s what this series is going to focus on. We are going to discuss everything from your reloading bench to match quality ammunition and everything needed to accomplish it. For the purpose of this series we are going to assume that you have never reloaded before. So, if you are an experienced reloader you will probably want to stay tuned for our upcoming articles on advanced reloading techniques, however, if you feel like being refreshed on the subject, please feel free to continue on!


The first thing you need to decide on, is where you are going to be loading and what bench you are going to use. You need a sturdy bench because of the force that you will be putting on your press and, you will also want to look at the size of the desired bench. A lot of factors go into picking the best size bench, the most important factor of determining size is the space you have available for a reloading bench. My recommendation is to get the largest bench that you can fit in your available area. It might seem like to much space at first but as time goes by, you will more than likely accumulate lots of supplies and even additional presses. LRS-Pro Tip #1: It’s also helpful to have a pegboard or shelves on the bench as well as cabinet and storage space near by to store supplies and equipment when not in use. Another useful thing to have nearby, or on the bench, are stacking storage bins. The bins can be used for many things, from completed bullet storage to homes for tools and spare parts for your press and everything in between.


Next, you need to decide on your press. First you have to decide on the type of press that’s best for you.There are a few things you need to take into account when picking a press type, some of these factors are: your personal budget, the number of rounds you plan to load, and your skill level, as you become more experienced you may want to upgrade or even add a press or two.


There are three basic types of presses; the single stage, the turret, and the progressive. For right now, I will only discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the single stage press, however, in later articles I will discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and differences of the other two presses listed above.


The single stage press is just like it sounds, it can hold one die at a time. It is also the cheapest of the three styles of press. It gives the greatest degree of control over the rounds you load, since you have to handle each individual round at each step of the loading process. Because of this, the single stage press is used by many people (even those who have been loading for YEARS) for precision rifle loading even if they have other, speedier, types of presses.


Of course there are several different brands of single stage press to include: Lee, Lymen, Redding, RCBS, and Forster co ax. The Lee is the cheapest of the single stage presses and it is a capable press and can be had for under $100. The Lee is a good press for starting out, it is geared towards those who are looking to make hunting loads, those who aren’t precision loading throughout the year, or hobbyists looking to spend some time away from the computer.  I would say that based on the quality of the ammo capable of being produced by the press and a good die set (we will talk about dies later), that the Lee is a capable press for some competition shooting, though maybe not the best choice for primarily competition ammunition (would not recommend for bench rest shooting).


Next, you have Lymen, Redding, and RCBS presses. All are a step up from the Lee, still affordable and of comparable quality to each other, all three sit at a $200 – $300 price point. In comparison to the Lee press, they all have better quality castings, less plastic parts, and better quality hardware then the Lee press. They also have better quality rams (the ram being the part of the press the case sits on and moves up to meet the die) then the Lee, allowing for a more consistent production of ammunition. From my personal experience and from conversations that I have had with other seasoned precision loaders, the RCBS seems to be the gold standard for single stage presses and the most popular single stage press, possibly the most popular press period. All the are capable of producing good quality ammunition that will perform well in competition, but the RCBS is not the best, that honor goes to the Foster co ax by a long margin. All the presses we have talked about previous to the Foster co ax use very similar designs, additionally, the quality and small nuances are all that separate the Lyman, Redding, and RCBS presses. Now comes the Foster, it has a completely different design that allows for better and more even and consistent pressure on the ram then the other presses are capable of. The Foster also has a unique system to hold the dies that makes them truly quick change. Once set the dies?? all you need to do is verify that nothing has changed from the last time you set them so you don’t have to spend time adjusting the dies. It does come at a cost however, being twice the price of an RCBS the Foster co ax weighs in at $500 making it the most expensive single stage presses on the market. It is at this moment that the question becomes, is it worth the cost? Well, It really just depends on what you are trying to do. If you just shoot a couple times a year, use the presses to go hunting with, or are just a hobbyist that enjoys precision. Then you probably will not want to be looking into the Foster co ax for your precision loading needs. But, if you are getting into any competition shooting, like benchrest shooting, or are looking to crank out a large amount of rounds, then it is absolutely worth every penny.
So in conclusion, we have talked about getting your bench and press. Today we discussed the importance of a larger bench, for organization of course, then dove into the facts about single stage presses, and discussed the differences between the single stage presses available on the market. In the coming weeks we will talk about what other equipment and supplies you will need and how to load ammunition, as well as, load development. We will also talk about the other types of presses and be on the lookout for more LRS-Pro tips! So stay tuned for the next article on the science of reloading.

Gear Review First Impression: Magpul Core

Magpul Core Data Book 2.0 and Quick Reference Cards

The majority of those involved in long-range shooting have a ballistic calculator that we carry with us on the range to get the data that we need when we need it. The majority of us probably use a cell phone or tablet but what happens when our battery dies or our device breaks? What system do you have in place as a back up in the event that your phone or other ballistic calculator goes down in the field when you need it most and what type of manual system do you have in place to track your data?

I recently swapped out the stock on my personal rifle and decided that now would be an excellent time to restart my data collection as well as continue to true the data with different loads and factory offerings in a more reliable system then that of my smart phone or tablet. While there are a lot of products for this on the market, the 2 offerings from Magpul caught my eye because they offer a weather proof construction.

Precision Rifle Data book 2.0

So what does the Magpul Core Precision Rifle Data book 2.0 have to offer? Well here are the specs directly from Magpul:

Front facing cards

rear facing cards

What do I like about the Precision Rifle Data Book?

Well one of the first things that stood out to me was the durability of the materials used, and the fact that I can use MAP pens with the material to write information down that won’t run or wash off in the rain while not being a permanent solution. Should I find out that my data has changed or I need to make an adjustment to my information I don’t have to use whiteout or order a new set, I can simply use rubbing alcohol to return the surface to zero.

Having a table that allows you to manually find your density altitude with your altitude, pressure, and temperature also means that with limited data you can still find the information you need to consistently track your shots and record the data in the right spot. In the event that you do not have a ballistic calculator it also has the necessary information to calculate leads on moving targets as well as hasty hold formulas for moving targets and wind.

All and all it seems to be a very good system that has a lot of uses and the ability to track a wide range of information as well as aid you in truing your data.

Quick Reference cards

What if your rifle is a multi-use hunting/target rifle that uses a different round for each task but you need to have data for both rounds with you in a quick and easy interface?  2 Magpul Core Precision Rifle Quick Reference Card sets might be the right choice for you. Here are the Specs directly from Magpul:

Front facing cards

rear facing cards

What do I like about the quick reference cards? They are made out of the same material as the log book and have the same benefits for being able to remove or change data without ruining or having to replace the cards. It has a quick table to figure out target size in the field in either yards or meters as well as a very useful reminder of the fundamentals of marksmanship, a shooting position checklist, an observer checklist, as well as wind cues and formulas to calculate your own data if you don’t have your ballistic calculator with you. Best off all, they will fit available armband data card carriers.

What system do you use to track your data?

As always like and follow our page LRS Precision, LLC Facebook page and come join our LRS community at  Long Range Shooters Facebook Group.

Guest Article: Mel From Sniper Central


Sniper Central has been around for a couple of decades now and one of our core values that we have always sought after was to provide sound information to those that come looking for it. We have fielded hundreds and thousands of questions about various different sniper and long range shooting rifles and we have always provided honest and unbiased feedback… and we always will. About a decade ago we answered one individual’s question and he followed up with the typical expressions of gratitude and then he posed another question that caught us somewhat by surprise. He asked “Why doesn’t Sniper Central just offer a basic package ready to go for those of us just trying to get into the long range shooting game?”. That was a very good question and it set us off on a new and rewarding path.

There are a great number of fantastic custom rifle builders out on the market today and we have tested and own many of their rifles and I can vouch that the quality continues to go up and the innovation never ceases. Unfortunately, the cost continues to go up as well because these wonderful pieces of craftsmanship take time to build and time equals money. For the shooter who is just looking to try out the long range shooting hobby, or someone who does not have large amounts of disposable income, or even a small police department in rural America, the cost is just too much. This is where we wanted to fill in a need. We do not have a desire to be a full custom rifle builder, but we continued to see this niche remain unfilled, so we decided to do what we could to help the little guy out and get more long range shooters into the game. Our primary mission at Sniper Central will always remain to provide the best information regarding sniping and to support our SC community, but we also knew that we could offer a basic semi-custom rifle package that performed well and would be relatively affordable for the entry level team or shooter.  

Our packages are based on either the Howa 1500, Remington 700, or Tikka T3x actions. To keep the costs down, the factory heavy barreled actions are used by default. We do offer a Benchmark custom barrel option if desired, though we still try to refrain from doing full blown custom builds. We can cut and crown those barrels to the desired length as well as thread the barrel and install a muzzlebrake. We also offer some other options as well. There are various stock and chassis options to choose from as well as the typical color choices for those stocks. Because we are refraining from the full custom builds and because the modern aluminum bedding blocks and V-Blocks are so good, we do not currently offer glass bedding, even on pillar bedded McMillan stocks. Accuracy on the factory barreled rifles run .75 MOA or better. With the Benchmark barreled rifles, they will shoot sub .5 MOA with match grade ammo, even without glass bedding. The idea behind these rifles was to allow the customer to select various options and colors without a full custom build, thus minimizing the price. Because of our volume and for being a dealer, we are able to get good discounts which allows us to pass those savings on to the the buyer. Our packages also include optics, mounts, bipods, and even DBM setups if desired. We can get any of the optics that are out there and try to really take care of the buyer in terms of the price. We don’t make a lot of money on these, but rather we hope to always add people to our sniping community. For you semi-auto shooters, we are also looking at adding a SASS and SPR offering in the next year. But there are so many AR builders out there, we have to be sure we are offering something unique and of value to our community.  

Of all the rifles we build, about 10% go to police departments, which may surprise some since there are so many super high scale builders out there that departments can go with.

Unfortunately, people sometimes fail to remember that a vast majority, upwards of 90%, of the police departments in the USA are small rural departments with very limited budgets. It brightens our day when we are able to help these small departments get a quality precision rifle package they can afford.

I wanted to also talk a little about putting together a rifle package and how one might approach a Long Range versus Hunting rifle setup. Please first understand where I am coming from when I write this. I was trained at Ft Benning Georgia at the US Army Sniper School back in the 1990’s, I then also attended a FBI SWAT Sniper school a year or so later. While I have, and do, hunt, my background is on the sniping side. There is one thing that I have come to realize over the years of owning and running snipercentral.com and that is that rifle selection really comes down to building the rifle for the mission. If you do not define the mission and then build the rifle to fill it, you typically will end up with a rifle that may be very accurate, but it ends up being a safe-queen.  

So first and foremost, define the mission of the rifle. If you are looking for a range rifle to shoot competition from fixed positions, then that will change a lot from a rifle that is intended to go antelope hunting while on foot in the plains of Wyoming. Both rifles are intended to be as accurate as possible for long range shooting, but the means of getting there will be vastly different. A traditional long range rifle primarily used at the range will encompass using heavy stocks with wide and flat forearms to rest on either sandbags or big fancy bipods. The cheekpieces are elevated or adjustable to create perfect alignment with a scope that has far too much magnification or objective size for the field. The barrel tends to be 26”+ inches with a very heavy contour to provide the ultimate stiffness and extra velocity from the specialize cartridge (think 6.5×284, 300 Norma, 6mmBC, etc). These rifles are fantastically accurate, superbly stable- even during recoil- and weigh more than a Rangers patrol pack with full load out! They are large, long and unusable in the field, but are sweet to shoot all day long, even with the big dog cartridges. Most of them will likely have a muzzlebrake as well.  

Counter that with a long range hunting rifle that has to achieve its accuracy while being portable, and portable does not just mean light weight. If the mission profile dictates a rifle that will be carried 10-20 miles in a single day while on a hunting trip, the restriction may be for a total weight of 11 pounds or less. If the area of operation is going to be wide open plains, the capability of 600-900 yard shots will also dictate caliber, barrel size, and other features of the rifle. If the target is Elk versus Antelope, well, that too will factor into the caliber choice. (Yes, Elk have been taken with 243s, but it is not advisable, nor as humane as we should allow)  As you can see, the mission is the primary driver on what goes into building a rifle and it is through a series of these types of questions that we try to get a person zeroed in on what they really want.

Lots of times people say they want a rifle capable of 1000+ yard shooting, but then we ask them how often do they plan to shoot at those ranges? Most answer maybe once a year if they are lucky. That will then dictate a lot of the build suggestions as the rifle just needs to be “capable” of an occasional 1000 yard engagement, not exclusively 1000 yard engagements. That is a big difference. So be sure that you sit down with a piece of paper and outline exactly what you want the rifle to do, and be honest, because everything is a compromise. There is no single rifle that can do all things. You have all heard the saying… “Jack of all trades, master of none”. We want to be a master marksmen.

Is it possible to make a rifle work in all conditions? Yes. The M24 I carried in the military weighed over 15 pounds when loaded and I have lugged that thing on 20+ mile road marches… so it is doable, though not fun. The rifle was, and still is, supremely capable and I loved the one I was issued and the one I have now. But there can be better alternatives for your mission. For the hunting mission I described earlier, perhaps a Remington 700 action chambered in 260 with a 22” medium-heavy barrel bedded in a McMillan HTG stock with a low mounted 3-12x40mm tactical scope might work wonders for lugging across those wind swept plains. The package would weigh about 11 pounds and would be wonderfully balanced and capable of 1000+ yard shooting if using 130-140gr bullets, even in the wind swept plains of Wyoming.  

But that is just for those mission parameters… what parameters do you have?

Melvin Ewing

Sniper Central





Gear Review: Applied Ballistics Mobile App

Gear Review: Applied Ballistics Mobile App

What does long range shooting come down to? Some people say that it is all about the size of your groups at 100 yards, others say that it in known distance shooting, while others will say it is all about shooting at unknown distance. With the exception of just shooting at 100 yards they all have something in common that everyone agrees on. First round impacts on target.

There are almost endless variables that can go into first shot hits. From the range, to the temperature, the wind, your look angle, the velocity of your ammo out of your gun and so on. Having a system in place that allows you to input these variables and give you accurate data is critical to accomplishing a first shot hit. Enter Applied Ballistics and their mobile app.


Instead of trying to explain all of what Applied Ballistics and their app have to offer in my own words, here is what they have to say:appliedapplied

Knowing the data is only half the battle in long range shooting. You need a accurate and proven way in which one can use the data provided to make that first shot hit and the Applied Ballistics App answers that call.

Firearm Library

Upon opening the app you will be brought to the Firearm Library where you can enter in the data about your rifle and save it as a profile. You can keep multiple firearms saved to make swapping rifles as easy as clicking your screen.  Here is the data for my rifle and scopeapplied

Ammunition Library

Once you have saved your rifle and scope information you will be taken to the ammunition library where you can add different bullets and their data. Applied Ballistics has a bullet library and are always testing and updating data on their end. This includes but is not limited to adding new bullet offerings from companies as well as testing and updating the data to make sure that you are getting the best performance (smallest deviation) from the app. It is worth noting that not all of the information is going to populate from every round, and that you should always check the BC to ensure it is the correct BC for the velocity from your rifle. For reference, I selected a Berger 168 GR Match Hybrid Target from the bullet library and choose the G7 BC. applied

Using GPS or Manually entering Data

After you have entered your bullet data in you will save the profile for that round. Now by simply opening the app, selecting your rifle and then your ammunition you are ready to get a firing solution. If your location on your device is turned off you will be moved to the following prompt:applied

If you select no, you will have to input all of the data manually. Selecting yes will auto populate your data. applied

Calculate Distance, Get look Angle, and Get Target Azimuth

You can use your device to find your look angle to target and also have the choice to enable or disable spin drift (you must have a bullet length assigned) and the coriolis effect. You will have to input the azimuth to target, which your device can do as well. If you are unsure of the distance but know your target size it will compute a distance for you as well.applied

Firing Soultion: HUD

At this point, as long as you have all the information inputted you are ready to get a firing solution. If you select the single shot option you will get data from their HUD where you can adjust the range, wind, and direction or select the reticle option where it will show you your reticle and where to hold. appliedapplied

Firing Solution: Graph

When you select trajectory you will be given a table with data from 0 yards to the max range selected. You can also view the data in a graph for both bullet drop and wind drift as well as see how it compares to other rounds from your bullet library.

Ballistics Calibration

If you are having slightly different data then provided, you can also train the software in the app to teach it how your rifle responds to your bullet of choice. These types of change take place at extended long range as you can see by the required data. 

I believe that Applied Ballistics does indeed provide the best app on the market to achieve first round hits. They also offer a custom drag curve option available to purchase to get the most accurate data possible as well as continued research to improve the accuracy of the data provided. Outside of a tool on the range I also feel that there is no better application to use for research and caliber/round comparison.

As always like and follow our page LRS Precision, LLC Facebook page and come join our LRS community at  Long Range Shooters Facebook Group.