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Rifle and Caliber Selection For Long Range Shooting

Precision and accuracy in long-range shooting takes years of accumulated knowledge, firing thousands of rounds during practice, a clear state of mind and an understanding of all the environmental conditions that may impact your shot. Choosing the right caliber is depends on whether you are a hunter, competitor or a recreational shooter. If you want a caliber that performs extremely well across all forms of shooting, then choose either a 6.5×47 Lapua or 6 generic sildenafil.5 Creedmoor. They are flat-shooting cartridges with very fast muzzle velocities, a longer barrel life and minimal felt recoil.

Selecting a rifle for long-distance shooting starts with a precision rifle. It should have a crisp trigger set to 1 to 3 pounds for target shooting and, for hunting, 4 pounds or more to prevent accidental discharge. The barrel should be high quality, typically heavier than most factory barrels, and made of stainless steel. The stock should be fully adjustable. Adjustable length of pull (LOP), an adjustable cheek weld and adjustable recoil pad allow the stock to conform to your body type. The recoil pad should form a solid weld to your shoulder. The LOP places your arm and trigger hand in the right position for your trigger press and the cheek wield aligns your eye to the scope/target picture.

For years, only bolt-action rifles produced sub-MOA performance. RTH Firearms changed that equation when we when developed our semi-autos: They produce sub-MOA out of the box.

Caliber Selection

The first choice you have to make in long-range shooting is caliber size. This depends on your purpose: hunting or target shooting. The common caliber for hunting is the .300 Winchester Magnum and for target shooting, it’s the family of 6.5mm cartridges from Lapua and Creedmoor. You should consider whether the round is for a single purpose, like target shooting, or will serve multiple roles, such as hunting different size game. If it will serve multiple purposes, compromises will have to be made.

The length of time it takes a round to remain supersonic and its retained energy on impact are two of many considerations. Round speed is expressed in feet per second (fps). Many think that the faster the bullet, the more precise, but this is not always the case. A 220-grain bullet in a .300 Win Mag will fly a lot slower than a 168-grain bullet; but over longer distances, the 220-grain bullet will stay supersonic for longer and help defy wind impacts. (The 6.5mm rounds achieve the same trajectory as a .300 Win Mag.)

Safety is a major consideration in long-range shooting. Past the range of your target, the kinetic energy has to drop below the point of injury. This means that the energy per foot-pounds needs to drop below the round’s terminal velocity. For example, a .308 round carries approximately 566 ft.lbs at 1,000 yards compared with the average 240 ft.lbs for a 9mm round at 100 yards. To ensure you will not injure someone beyond your target’s range, make sure you create a safety zone several hundred yards past your target, and with ultra-long range — safety is measured in miles.

The 6.5mm round has a very flat trajectory and has significantly more retained energy than more common calibers. Increasingly, competitors, hunters and recreational riflemen are moving towards the 6.5mm round because of its flat trajectory and very little felt recoil. Few cartridges stay supersonic past 1,000 yards — the .308 Winchester drops below supersonic at 1,150 yards while the 6.5 remains supersonic to beyond 1,400 yards.

Long-range shooting requires cartridges that can withstand long distances and maintain velocity while having minimal deflection from wind impact. There are many capable cartridges that meet these requirements — however, price, recoil and ease of reloading become major considerations in cartridge selection. Generally speaking, the cartridge that has the highest muzzle velocity with a high ballistic coefficient produces a flatter trajectory.

Barrel life is key as well. A good barrel can cost $1,500 to $2,000. Many 6mm rounds and other smaller and fast cartridges can only endure 1,000 rounds. Creedmoor and Lapua 6.5s can endure 3,000 or more rounds before precision starts to fall off.

Choose a rifle carefully and expect to spend a lot of money. Consider it an investment over a lifetime. Why buy three or four rifles only to find they do not meet your needs? Buy once and buy high quality.

October 21, 2016
Reading The Wind
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