Preparing for Practical Precision: Working with what you have

Precision

I don’t have an unlimited income. I am sure many of you are in the same boat. As much as I would love to order up a brand new custom-built rifle with the newest and best of everything I can’t. Much like my entry-level rifle build I want to get into practical precision shooting without breaking the bank. Today we will be covering what I have and how I am going about working with what I have.

When I had my rifle built I did not have practical precision style matches in mind. What I ordered and what I received was what I wanted at the time. A general purpose rifle with good glass able to get me out to 1000 yards. Fast forward to today and a lot has changed. By end of spring or early summer I will be hosting a practical precision style match up here in New York. I have a lot of work to do to facilitate that. There will be future articles covering my journey with this match more in-depth.

PREPARING FOR PRACTICAL PRECISION: THE RIFLE

I have a 22″ factory Remington 700 chambered in 308 Winchester. It was built for me by Sniper Central. I did a review on the build process as well as all the parts that I selected when I ordered the rifle. You can find that review here. Below is my rifle as received without any modifications.

Precision

stock choices

One of the things I talked about in my review of the rifle that I did not care for was the stock. While I liked the fit and finish of the stock and added the detachable bottom metal as a part of my build I found the comb lacking. I also did not care for the grip angle. I had originally wanted this rifle in a Magpul hunter stock, but the time of my order and the release date of the Magpul stock where at almost the same time and they were much harder to get, so I compromised and settled on the M40A1 style stock above.

By selling the stock and bottom metal I was able to swap out the stock with the Magpul Hunter 700. While not the best stock on the market it fits what I need it to do at a fraction of the price of others. I was able to adjust the cheek riser to have a more consistent and correct sight picture in multiple different positions. Something that the M40 style stock was lacking. It also corrected the grip angle issue that I had.

There are hundreds of choices of chassis systems and stocks out there today. Instead of spending the money for a brand new rifle maybe a new stock can make the difference. The market is flooded with choices and many are cost-effective. For a DBM style stock on a budget I would recommend the Magpul Hunter. You can adjust the length of pull and the cheek riser height to better fit your body and shooting style.

Preparing for Practical Precision: The Caliber

More and more manufacturers are building their rifles in calibers that previously involved a custom rifle being built or your local gunsmith swapping out your barrel. Some of these calibers have their roots set in practical precision style shooting. Had I known then what I know now I would probably be shooting a 6mm or 6.5mm caliber. The ballistic performance of the rounds are simply better. They shoot a higher BC bullet that is flatter shooting and bucks the wind better. So how can I make do with my 308 until its ready for a new barrel?

Twist rate

One thing i never have to worry about is finding ammunition to feed my 308 on the factory side of things. However with that being said knowing what ammunition will properly stabilize in your twist rate is very important. I said my Remington 700 is a factory action and barrel cut down to 22″. The twist rate is also a factory 1:12. If you are still buying a 308 after this article, please learn from me. 1:12 can be a little finicky with the bullets it likes to stabilize.

Using the Applied Ballistics Tool Box and the spin doctor I can calculate what bullets will or will not stabilize. A Sierra 175 grain SMK traveling at 2650 FPS gets the green light for complete stability.

Taking a look at another popular offering we have a Hornady 178 grain BTHP. In a 1:12 twist at the same 2650 FPS it only hits marginal stability.

Knowing which bullets will stabilize is going to be a key factor to getting the most out of your rifle. If you drive a car that calls for premium gas would you try running just regular unleaded in it?

Ballistics and Ammunition

Getting to best performance out of the rifles we have is critical. Some companies make quality ammunition that will serve you well in any caliber rifle. If you don’t reload these options might be all that is available to you. However matching a reload to your rifle through a proper load development is going to be the best way to improve the accuracy of your rifle.

Today I want to take about factory available ammunition and the course I am taking in regards to that. I will be comparing 3 different loads. Federal Gold Medal Match 175 grain SMK, Federal Gold Medal Match 168 Grain SMK, and ABM Ammo 155.5 Grain Berger Match Fullbore target. All 3 bullet choices will fully stabilize in my rifle.

All data will be out to 1200 yards with a DA of 0. 10 MPH cross winds at 90°.

Federal gold metal match 175 grain smk

Pushing the 175 grain SMK at 2600 FPS at the muzzle.

Precision

Federal gold metal match 168 grain smk

Pushing the 168 grain SMK at 2650 FPS at the muzzle. Precision

Abm ammo 155.5 grain match fullbore target

Pushing the 155.5 grain match fullbore target bullet at 2800 FPS at the muzzle.

Ballistic overview
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Bullet Drop
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Wind drift

So what load am I choosing? I am going with the 155.5 Berger Match Fullbore Target from ABM. I intend to reload the 155.5 grain bullet, however would like to test the ammunition to have a factory load to fall back on. The 155.5 has the least amount of drop and the same amount of wind drift as the 175 grain SMK at 1200 yards.

Something to consider that I have run into while researching the ABM ammunition is the COL (Cartridge Overall Length). This load was developed for Palma style shooters and has a COL of 2.920″. It will not fit in unmodified ACIS or Magpul ACIS PMAG. Alpha Industries and Manufacturing has a solution. Their Gen 2 Alpha mag accepts up to a 2.965″ COL allowing me to feed the ABM ammo from a magazine.

PREPARING FOR PRACTICAL PRECISION: RECOIL

Being able to spot your hits and misses is a critical part of practical precision shooting. Being able to have a fast follow-up shot to a miss or a hit is equally as important. At the time of my build I opted to leave out a threaded barrel. I can’t for the life of me tell you why I did this, but I did. I have noticed that it is not as easy to spot my own shots as well as I would like.

You might be in better shape then I. Maybe you don’t have a muzzle break but your rifle has a threaded barrel. There are a lot of options out there and some work better than others. Posted below is a calculation of the recoil my rifle produces.  

My 12 pound rifle firing a 155.5 Berger Match Fullbore Target at 2800 FPS produces 11.09 ft lbs of recoil energy. So how can I tame that down to make follow-up shots and spotting easier? I found a clamp on muzzle break manufactured by Witt Machine. They go the extra mile and require two measurements of your barrel. One at the muzzle and one exactly 1 1/2 inches from the muzzle. They then make their break machined to your exact rifle barrel.

Witt Machine

They post an impressive 60% minimum in recoil reduction. Assuming that the muzzle break reduces felt recoil by 40% my Remington 700 recoil would be brought down to 6.65 ft lbs of recoil energy. This would put my 308 rifle on par with a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle weighing the same as my rifle without a muzzle break.

I will be ordering the ABM ammo, Alpha Mag gen 2, and the Witt clamp on break shortly. Stay tuned for more articles and reviews.

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