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The "Ranging Shot" Is A Regular Column In The IHMSA News
Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association
Published monthly except November/December - January/February
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Volume 17, Issue 2  March
  The Ranging Shot Email Todd:
  With ( Comments or questions? )
Todd Spotti
Leupold's VX-L scope
     If you’ve taken a close look at the image in this column of the rifle with the large diameter Leupold scope mounted on top, you’ve probably noticed that the bottom of the objective lens and bell appear to have be crushed around the diameter of the barrel. When I first saw that picture on the internet last Fall, I wondered how in the world that could have happened. Did the rings or the mounts come loose so badly that the scope was literally flopping around and got smashed against the barrel during recoil? Didn’t the shooter notice? Was this just another internet hoax? Another puzzle was the fact that the lens isn’t cracked or broken. How do you put a big dent into a glass lens without breaking it? To find out more, I emailed the image to a close friend who works at Leupold and asked him if he knew anything about it.

Take a close look at the objective lens on this scope

     Well my friend just kind of laughed and said “Oops, it looks like the word has leaked out about our new 2006 VX-L scope.” New scope? Really? You did this on purpose? Yes, it’s true. Leupold has created this new product line to specifically deal with a couple of problems that result from putting a large objective scope on a rifle.
     There’s no doubt that large diameter scopes (50 mm and up) provide unparalleled brightness and fields of view. This is especially useful in low light conditions. The downside is the fact that the big scopes have to be mounted way up in high rings in order for the bottom of the objective bell to clear the top of the barrel. When shooting from the bench, having a scope sitting that high up can cause problems when making elevation adjustments. Let me illustrate. I have a quality 50 mm scope made by another manufacturer that totally runs out of elevation adjustment at 100 yards because of the high rings. This requires me to put a couple of shims under the the scope at the rear ring to correct the problem, which is kind of a pain in the posterior.
     However, the biggest problem arises when you mount a large diameter scope on a hunting rifle. When the scope is so high up, the rifle must be held lower on your shoulder, or if you place the rifle butt normally on your shoulder, you now have to stretch your neck and head up in order to see the image. Either way, it really doesn’t feel “right”. The whole rifle-scope combination feels unnatural and awkward when being pointed. That’s why old grand pappy always had his 4X Weaver mounted in low rings close to the barrel. When he snapped his rifle up to take a shot on moving game, the scope’s image was naturally right there in front of his eye. It just doesn’t work that well with high mounted big scopes. 
     So the problem for Leupold was to somehow put a 50 mm scope in low rings. Solution? Cut a crescent in the bottom of the objective lens and bell. Now, the scope is literally wrapping around the barrel without touching it. Cool. Leupold says the 50mm VX-L mounts like a standard 36mm scope in low rings but will deliver nearly 49% more light to the eye. Additionally, the 56mm VX-L mounts like a 40 mm scope and delivers an amazing 96% more light. So it’s a case of literally having both the advantages of a large diameter objective and lower mounting for easy pointing. I hope to have a chance to see and look through a VX-L at the Shot Show in February and will pass on what I find out.
Ken Light Bolt Alignment Shroud
     Got an XP with a super light factory trigger? Want to put a super light factory trigger on an XP but was concerned about accidental discharges? Let me tell you a little story. 
     A couple of years ago, a friend decided to work on his standing unlimited class XP-100’s trigger in order to get it down to 1 ounce. So out came the polishing stone and he went to work. After a lot of effort, he succeeded in producing a very, very light trigger. The following weekend he was at the range checking out his handiwork and I decided to watch and call his shots on the swingers from a position about five feet behind him.
     Well, he was standing next to and a little bit behind one of the round steel poles holding up the roof over the firing line. As he inserted a round into the chamber, the XP’s muzzle swung around was now pointed directly at the steel pole. He then pushed down the bolt to lock the chamber. As soon as he did so, the gun fired. The bullet then hit the steel pole dead center at a distance of perhaps two feet and bullet fragments went flying all over the place. My friend’s forearms were peppered with tiny jacket and lead fragments. I was also hit in the stomach with a larger piece of jacket material that penetrated a light jacket, a heavy wool shirt, and my t-shirt. When I looked, I found a chunk of metal embedded in my hide just above my belly button. I foolishly wiggled it out and now have a nice scar to remind me about the dangers of super light triggers every time I take a shower.
     So what does all of this have to do with a bolt shroud you may ask? Well with super light factory triggers, when you close or even open the action, there’s a certain amount of bolt twisting or side to side motion that occurs and that can trip the sear. As a long time champion silhouette shooter, Ken had observed this phenomena and has designed a replacement shroud for the XP-100 that tightens up the alignment of the bolt in the action and thus reduces the chances of an accidental discharge. This shroud will also provide a benefit even on guns equipped with custom three lever triggers.

Note the two nylon alignment screws

     Alignment is improved by adding two small nylon tipped vertical screws to the rear of the highly polished, black, aluminum shroud. Just screw off the factory steel shroud, and then screw on the Ken Light shroud. Add a drop of blue Locktite to one of the little screws provided, and screw it down into one of the holes on top of the shroud. Place a .004” feeler gauge between the nylon tip of the screw and the receiver. Make sure there is only a very light drag between the screw and the gauge. Then, put Locktite on the other screw and insert like the first one. Look at both screws from the rear of the gun/bolt to make sure they’re both protruding through the shroud the same amount. Now you’re done.

     The nylon tips on the screws will insure that your bolt won’t be twisting like before and they won’t scratch the receiver. Your gun is now safer and you’ve probably saved a bit of weight as well. Every XP with a lightened factory or even a custom trigger should have one of these.

ATK, the people who own CCI, Speer, RCBS, Weaver rings, etc. etc. have a bunch of new products this year that will interest silhouette shooters.
     For starters, CCI is offering CCI Select 22LR ammo. It’s supposed to be CCI’s best i.e. “The cream of the crop”. The 1200 fps ammo is supposed to be very accurate and to have great consistency. We’ll check it out and see.
     CCI’s partner RCBS has a new change to their hand priming tool. I’ve always liked the RCBS hand primer best of all primarily because it was made of metal and not plastic. I also liked the way the smooth comfortable lines fit my hand. Above all else, I really like the fact that it used a universal shell holder. Unlike other hand primer tools, I didn’t need to buy a unique shell holder for every type of case that I wanted to prime. This year’s tool adds a square primer tray similar to the round primer tray’s found on other tools. Now you can use Winchester or Federal primers with your RCBS tool more conveniently. The previous RCBS tool was  primarily set up to use CCI primers pre-loaded in plastic strips. I still like the old tool but this one is more flexible.

This new tool should make this tedious job much easier

     RCBS also has a new Quick Change Powder Measure. This measure allows the handloader to change out the drop assembly drum by simply pulling a pin. One drum accommodates pistol loads (.5 - 40 grains) and the other takes care of rifles (10-110 grains). The new parts will be available to upgrade your older model RCBS power measure if you like.
     I also recently saw an image of a new RCBS hand type case neck turning tool. What appears to make this one different is there are graduated markings on a dial that adjusts the depth of the cutting blade. The markings allow you to repeat your settings from session to session. Boy this is a feature that has been long overdue. There is also a large, easy grip to hold the case while doing the turning operation against the blade. Should make things easier when trimming up a large number of cases. Again, a long overdue feature.
     Additionally, ATK Weaver (not Weaver scopes) has new “Sure Grip” scope rings that are front and rear windage adjustable. These will be useful for sure. As you know the mounting holes on a lot of barrels aren't aligned very well, meaning that you end up having to crank the windage of your scope way over to get on the target properly. We also know the center of the lens is its most optically correct area. When we crank the windage way over, we’re now looking out of the side of the lens system and not its center. The result is an image less than what the scope is capable of producing. We can overcome this problem by using windage adjustable rings to move the scope into center alignment. These Weavers are 4 screw types and should be plenty strong. Looks good.
     The last item that caught my eye from the ATK family was the fact that Gun Slick foam type bore cleaner is now provided in larger spray cans. This stuff is really easy to use. Just spray in the bore, wait 15 minutes, and patch out. The foam’s main advantage is that it uniformly covers and sticks to the whole diameter of the bore and doesn’t run down to the bottom and pool like the liquid types. Cleans cooper and lead fouling just fine. Before it just came in tiny 3 oz containers. Now it comes in more practical 5 and 10 oz cans. A lot of people, especially the rimfire types, swear by this stuff.
     It would be a very unusual silhouette shooter that didn’t own at least a couple of MTM 100 round pistol and rifle ammo boxes. I really like the 22 ammo boxes as well. They also make lots of other useful stuff like loading trays, primer flippers, reloading die storage boxes, etc. My rifle shooting friends also swear by their gun vice/cleaning cradles and bore guides.
     One series of MTM products that should get more attention though is their utility/storage boxes. These are perfect for hauling your miscellaneous gear to and from the range in a hard sided container that will protect it from being knocked around. Several models even have an O ring seal on them, making them pretty near water proof. Some, like their Utility Dry box even make a pretty good seat when spotting silhouettes during a match.
Quick Tip
     After a match, the average silhouette shooter has around 150 dirty brass cases to clean up. The easiest way to do so is to just throw them in a tumbler and let them go all night. Most people use the vibrating type and claim they’re faster, and clean better. In a test I ran several years ago, I found there was absolutely no difference between the vibrators and the rotating models as far as cleaning performance was concerned. One thing the vibration tumblers did excel in though was noise. That’s why I use the big red Thumbler rotating model with the rubber liner. Works good and it’s quiet. One disadvantage of the tumblers however is the fact that often the stubborn carbon on the case necks won’t be removed but merely polished.
     If you just have a small number of cases (50 or less), the Sinclair case spinner is the best. When used with Never Dull polisher, the entire case comes out shinier than new - including the neck.
     Sometimes though, I’m just in a lazy mood and want to do the minimum clean up i.e. just get the baked on carbon off of the case necks. It’s absolutely essential that the carbon gets removed. Over time, that carbon can be kind of rough on your reloading dies. The last thing you want is to get them get scratched inside from the grit on the case necks. Carbon build up will also reduce neck clearance in your gun’s chamber. Consequently, case pressures can take a big jump when using max loads. (Anyone reading this use max loads?) 
     So what’s a quick easy way to get all that crusty residue off your case necks? Simple - just get a wad of 0000 steel wool, place around the neck, and give a couple of twists. Carbon’s gone, and neck is nice and shiny and smooth. Works good. If you’re more ambitious, you could also use the 0000 steel wool with the Sinclair case spinner and burnish the whole case. Cases aren’t as shiny as when using Never Dull, but they come out clean and the method is fast.
Good luck and good shooting. Todd

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Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading and bullet casting, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.