Gearing Up for Competitive Shooting in 2017

posted on January 30, 2017

Of course guns are the favorite subject among competitive shooters, but we carry a lot more than that to a match, none of it unimportant unless you just like to carry lots of stuff. Here’s a rundown on some new important competition gear proudly laid out at the 2017 SHOT Show.

Ssh! Hello?

Peltor’s Tactical 500 has Bluetooth connectivity and a 26dB NR rating.

Who would have imagined we’d one day be talking about the software within sound attenuator “ear muffs?” But, here we are, and replacing the dumb ol’ ear muffs of the past are the digital tech “active” hearing protectors of the future. The signal processing ability of Peltor’s Tactical 300 and Tactical 500 electronic hearing protectors seem to be on-par with submarine-hunting sonar.

New electronic circuitry in these attenuators measures the energy level of a gunshot, and the software determines the appropriate suppression/recovery time—that is, how quickly to adjust the protector’s “hearing” back up to the “normal” human hearing level. Peltor calls these Dynamic Suppression Time and Clear Voice Tracking, and on a practical level they mean we hear better clarity of spoken conversation while still eliminating the deafening bark of even full-auto gunshots.

The new Peltors include divots on the bottoms to clear rifle and shotgun buttstocks, and rubber bumpers to protect pretty stocks when shooter positioning won’t allow the divots to clear. The headbands are a rubbery-soft overmolding with three large vents for (duh) ventilation and more comfortable wear with a hat. Recessed microphones reduce wind noise, large controls are easy to find while wearing and both units fold for compact carry. The Tactical 500 has the same features of the Tactical 300, with the inclusion of 2dB more noise suppression (NRR of 26dB compared to the 300’s 24dB) and Bluetooth connectivity for those times when you really, really want distracting telemarketer phone calls while engaging doubles from station number 4 or maybe listen to AC/DC’s “Shoot to Thrill” during your 3-Gun carbine stage. MSRP: $150-200.

Nerds with guns

New titles at Creedmoor Sports include the physics and mental aspects of competition.

If you like to shoot vicariously from your armchair when you aren’t at the range, Creedmoor Sports has some titles of interest for you. Brian Litz—long-range competitor and ballistician with Berger Bullets and Applied Ballistics—has produced Volume 2 of Modern Advancements in Long Range Shooting. In it, Brian discusses the whatups of bullet dispersion and group convergence, and contributions by Nick Vitalbo and Cal Zant cover laser rangefinding and composite-wrapped barrels. Advanced precision handloading techniques are in there, as well, all supported by extensive testing and data collection. $40. You’ll find Glen Zediker writes more broadly on handloading, from beginner to advanced, in Top Grade Ammo. $35. Dr. Raymond Prior’s Bullseye Mind presents the mental aspect of consistently performing as well as your handloads, backed up with comments by top shooters. $18.

Among Creedmoor Sports’ non-nerdy new offerings are Nosler’s new RDF match bullets (see below), top focal shooting glasses (essentially upside-down bifocals) for pistol shooters, and a veritable plethora of cleaning stuff because we love to clean guns as much as we love to shoot them. Right.

Raising MOA

The MOAB adjustable MOA sight base clamps to your rifle rail.

“If you could only have one rifle …” is a popular campfire question that generates plenty of discussion. Now let’s complicate it with the MOAB (Minute of Angle Base) from Heritage Arms that may arguably convert your flattop AR15 into a mid-range competitor or long-range varminter—and back again. The MOAB is essentially a clever Picatinny rail with an adjustable rear end. We use a fixed MOA base on our long-range competition rifles, of course, so that we don’t have to use up our scope elevation adjustments to zero way out there. The MOAB’s advantage over a screwed-on MOA rear scope base is in being both adjustable and quick-change. The MOAB firmly mounts to an existing Picatinny with three clamping screws. A thumbwheel at the back adjusts the rear elevation in ¼ minute clicks; one full revolution raises or lowers the base 30 minutes and the wheel sports a high contrast indicator face for easy viewing. Two variants have full adjustments of either 150 or 300 minutes, and a third specifically fits the M1A/M14. For the milrad kinda guy there’s the sister MRAB (Mil Radian Angle Base) with 72 or 144 mil total adjustments. Can a CQB carbine shoot 600 yards? Light the campfire and let’s talk … $400.

Racing .22LRs

Tandemkross components turn pedestrian .22s into race guns.

And can a .22LR be a race gun? Absolutely. With a few goodies from Tandemkross you can add serious competition upgrades to your Browning Buckmark, S&W 22 Victory or Ruger MKIII 22/45. For the latter, the stainless steel hammer bushing is a great enhancement for your plinker, too, because it firmly ejects the magazine completely from the pistol, rather than leaving it hanging from the butt—a factory design annoyance in an otherwise fine pistol from which Tandemkross should justly prosper. “Halo” charging rings for all three guns gives us something positive to grasp for faster manual cycling of the action. Flat-faced, textured triggers have overtravel adjustments; the Tandemkross triggers for the Smith and Ruger have pre-travel adjustment, too, and the replacement Browning trigger has a lower leverage point for a lighter-feeling pull. Extended magazine base pads, extended mag releases, grip options, compensators, improved extractors and titanium firing pins—all parts are drop-in and, except for accessing pistol internals, they require only an allen wrench for installation. Tandemkross has race gun upgrades for the Ruger 10/22, as well, including a clever left-hand, non-cycling charging handle/rail mount combo that does not require modifying the rifle.

Speaking of .22LRs

Eley has a less-expensive accuracy load for frugal yet meaningful practice.

Even those not participating in rimfire competition know Eley as the maker of top-tier match grade .22LR ammunition. Learning much from its 100-plus year focus on the .22LR, Eley offers ammo specific to semi-autos, to hunting, to short-range pest control (did you know about their subsonic hollow point?) and now they’ve learned to bring the price point down for accurate practice ammo. Eley calls its Action .22LR an “all purpose” round, a kind of competition/plinking crossover. Throwing a 40-gr. RN bullet at 1090 fps puts it right at the threshold separating subsonic from supersonic velocity—it could probably go either way, depending upon your altitude. New for 2017, Eley Action is available in a 300-round “rec pak.” MSRP wasn’t available at press time but, based on Eley’s pricing of their lower-end Target ammo, for a 50-round box we can expect about €5.60 or £4.85 or $6 American. Website is but Eley hasn’t yet posted info on the Action cartridge—you just got it all right here.

Better bullets

Nosler’s 140-gr. 6.5mm RDF features precision meplats and a BC of .658.

Nosler has focused on the point of the OTM bullet in creating its new RDF (Reduce Drag Factor) ultra-high BC match bullet line. Nosler says the tip (meplat) is the smallest diameter among OTM bullets, and that it is so clean and length-consistent that there’s no need to trim or point the point with a pointing tool, which is the point.  The compound-ogive bullet has a long boat tail, giving the 6.5mm 140-gr. version a BC of 0.658 and facilitating easy seating. RDF bullets are also available in 70-gr. .224”, 105-gr. 6mm and 175-gr. .308”, covering the probably-most-popular weights in mid- and long-range bullets. MSRP for 100 runs from $30 to $38, depending on caliber.

Berger Bullets, synonymous with “precision shooting,” calls its new Hybrid Target .30 caliber 200-gr. bullet the “200.20X” in recognition of the U.S. Rifle Team adopting it as their official competition bullet—and yes, the team has already been winning internationally with the Berger 200.20X. Is there a better endorsement than, you know, actually winning? MSRP: $64/100.

All Nite long

The See All open/tritium/optical sights will fit rails or the dovetails of popular pistols.

An option to seeing your front sight is to simply get rid of it. Oversight Shooting Technologies’ See All Nite is a remarkable open/optical/tritium sight that mounts directly to the rear sight dovetail in pistol slides or to any Picatinny or Weaver rail. The unit is smaller than any other optical sight and like them, has no parallax. Unlike some of them, the See All Nite has no upper half cluttering the view or presenting a sighting “tunnel.” What the shooter sees is a black triangle or bottom half of a crosshair superimposed on a bright, green-tinted glass-like surface. Sight/target alignment is very fast once you’ve gained “muscle memory” with the arrangement. The unit is also very rugged; I wouldn’t use it to hammer nails, but it shrugs off the recoil of riding atop semiauto pistol slides well enough that Oversight warrants it with a lifetime guarantee. Best of all: no batteries or microcircuits for Murphy to get into. I examined the sight only briefly at SHOT Show and I think it’s worth a closer look, especially for the eyesight of those whose mailbox subscription offers from Playboy have been replaced with offers to join AARP. MSRP: $180-$200.


50Thanniversary SA M1A 3
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