Last year I did poorly on the carbine and precision rifle sections, the former because I brought a precision rifle-weight carbine and the latter because I brought a carbine-weight precision rifle. I had my priorities all mixed up and didn’t prepare enough for for the realities of the competition.
My major failings on the precision rifle course wasn’t that I brought a bad gun, it was just the opposite. The rifle I bought was a specialized carbon fiber and titanium job from Mesa Precision Arms and it shot really well. The thing was, I was already tired and the rifle was so light I had a hard time staying steady with it. I needed a heavier gun and one with a bit less buck as far as recoil went.
I ended up making it through about half the long range targets out to about 800 yards before I ran out of time to engage. A good amount of my shooting time was spent trying to locate and range the targets and I was off target under recoil too much to make up for the lost time. Simple as that. I was making hits, I just wasn’t making them fast enough.
I think that 6.5 Creedmoor is fine for this competition, although I may end up taking a 224 Valkyrie AR with a target contour Faxon barrel if I can get my build trued out and practiced with before the event.
The precision rifle portion at the W5K covered target identification as well as long range marksmanship. A ‘smiley face’ target array was presented to the shooter at 100 yards and you had to use clues you picked up along the land navigation route to discern which configuration of smiley you had to shoot.
Some had winking eyes, others a smile, others a frown. This wasn’t terribly difficult, but I managed to mess this up at least once and killed an innocent smiley face.
I’m expecting the long range portion to be more dynamic this year and as a result I have prepared several long range rifles that will be applicable for ranges form 300-1000 yards on plates with the ability to shoot precisely at small ID targets. Out of these rifles, you can tell me what you would most like me to shoot with on this course.
Choice #1 Heavy Metal
This is a custom rifle with a US Optics Foundation 5-25 in a Sphur mount. It has a Brownells Premium barrel and features an action by Tuebor Precision. This is an extremely accurate rifle and is capable of one-hole accuracy at 100M, with 200M groups coming in at 1/2”.
While this rifle is accurate, it’s also extremely heavy, coming in at 21 pounds unloaded. Everything on it is heavy and it hardly moves while shooting.
I have to consider that while it is very accurate it may be hard to move around with if I have to do so on the course. This is a major consideration I have to make knowing that the weight penalty for me last year was enough that it damaged my score for both carbine and rifle.
Choice #2 Carbon Fiber’s Revenge
This is the same barreled action I took last year from Mesa, however this time it’s not in a Magpul chassis and wears a brand new Leupold Mark 5 HD in a Geissele SOCOM mount. This entire rifle weighs just 12.5 pounds, making it about half the weight as the all-steel rifle.
It’s even more accurate now and boasts impressive groups of 1/2 MOA at 200M. It is a hammer and thanks to the carbon fiber Proof Research barrel, it bleeds heat off very rapidly.
This is a solid package overall and may be the best choice, but it’s a big gun regardless of weight. While the weight may not be a concern with this gun, the length is and I am a bit concerned to have to move it around barriers and such. This is a minor consideration, but it is one that I am aware of seeing as how I did so badly last time.
Choice #3 Black-And-Tan
This is a custom Remington 700 action in a KRG chassis. It’s very compact, but is a full-featured and extremely accurate rifle, easily capable of five shots into a quarter inch at 100M. It wears the largest scope of the bunch, a SIG TANGO6 5-30x and it weighs 15.5 pounds unloaded, making it heavy for being quite short.
The other two rifles feature 24” barrels, while this one is 17.5”. It generates only about 100fps difference in velocity compared to the others, but using a 130gr Berger as opposed to a 140gr Hornady bullet allows me to get equal ballistic performance given a boosted muzzle velocity. I could use the Bergers in my 24” barrels but they both shoot 140’s better on target.
This is a compact and handy rifle, and I think it could be excellent for shooting in and around barricades. It would be perfectly fine for target ID shooting due the fact it has no issues with accuracy at 100 and has the most magnification of the bunch.
What do you think?
Unless I pull a wildcard 224 Valkyrie out of my sleeve, one of these three 6.5 CM rifles will be going with me to this event. The choice of sling for any of my precision rifles is from my friends at Short Action Precision, who make what is probably the best competition sling out there today for positional shooting. You can read my TTAG review here.
What do you think? Should the Mesa get another chance in a new chassis or should I take a compact rifle like the Black-and-Tan? Let me know in the comments.