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Product Review: Accuracy Solutions – BipodExt

The Snake Gun equipped with BipodEXT and Primary Arms 4-14x FFP ACSS.

My first statement holds. After using BipodEXT in competition and supplying selected students with it I can’t speak highly enough of it. You can see me using it in competition below. The day was as filled with challenges as it could be. I was using new ammo, a new BDC scope, a .223Rem in high wind conditions and transitioning targets under time pressure.

This round (Stage 7) I’m shooting from just over 200yrds to 500yrds using the BDC reticle on the Primary Arms 4-14×44 FFP scope with their brilliant ACSS HUD/DMR reticle on his Mossberg MVP with the BXT40X3 model BipodExt from Accuracy Solutions. The BipodExt bipod extender pulled every bit of wiggle out of my holds. It was like shooting from a machine rest. The thing didn’t slow me down either. Transitions between targets were just as fast as without it. My best .223 score at that match was a 22 of 50 in mild wind. My best score with the .223 in strong winds was 15 of 50 until this match. I scored 20 of 50 this time with strong winds up to 30mph. I attribute this score to the combination of stability from the BipodExt and the integrated wind hold-offs in the reticle on the Primary Arms 4-14x optic I was using. The 5 shots I picked up over my previous record could be split up 80/20 for accounting purposes favoring the BipodEXT as the causal factor. How can you tell?

Seth demonstrating new methods of use with BipodEXT. I am Meccastreisand’s victory over barricade stages.

You’ll notice that I’m calling my own shots throughout Stage 7. Part of that is the low recoil of a .223 but I’m calling those shots at close and far targets with a .223. Far is no big deal for the most part since you have time to recover from recoil. Close means recoil cannot have affected you enough to pull the target out of the scope view during recoil. Kinda rare even with a .223 unless recoil control is really given more weight than it normally deserves. The long lever length provided by the BipodEXT gets rid of muzzle rise even if you fail to load the bipod like you otherwise might.

Stage 5 above has me perched a little higher than is optimal due to the way the ground lays but that didn’t add any instability because my rifle was being rested so far from me, any wiggle I put in is not as effective at pulling the rifle off target. It takes quite a bit more input force to move the rifle around a sufficient distance. In a conventionally placed bipod arrangement the effective attachment point or fulcrum is about 20 inches from the shoulder and about 10-20 inches behind the muzzle toward the action. With the BipodEXT you can have an effective fulcrum 30-50 inches from your shoulder and up to several inches in front of the muzzle. What’s that matter?

TiborasaurusRex getting his giddy on behind the BipodEXT.

Well it’s a little like the effect of altitude over the target for a long range shot. If you’re 100 feet above the target at a distance of 100 feet then the angle is 45 degrees. If you’re 100 feet above your target at a distance of 1000 feet then the angle is about 5.7 degrees. MASSIVE DIFFERENCE. What the inventors have created is a way to get that effective distance to grow without making the weapon system unwieldy.

Stage 6 you can see something that I’m normally very bad at being done really excellently, follow-through. I’m staying on the optic and keeping that trigger back much better than normal. I attribute that to the sensation I got of watching a show on TV instead of through a magnified optic. The great glass in the Primary Arms optic helped but the stability from the bipod extender getting rid of all the jitter also got rid of my bloody near instinctive habit of slapping the trigger and coming off the scope too damned soon. It seems the jitter doesn’t play well with my brain and I am prone to taking subconscious steps to deal with that which are exactly counter productive. Add BipodEXT and I turn into a really sparkly good shooter with much improved execution on the fundamentals.

Former SEAL Charlie Melton wringing out the BipodEXT. He seemed to be a fan.

So what about the extra bulk and weight and all that. Well, my rifle still fits in my drag bag and there’s no extra weight to speak of thanks to carbon fibre and aluminum construction. It’s quick detachable so the idea that that’s something to legitimately gripe about is laughable. The cost is pretty tall but you have to come to grips with the fact that good kit costs good money. Sorry, no freebies in this world.

Nope, not cheap. Top quality stuff never is. It’s worth the money if you don’t like missing though.

What I didn’t cover at all above is the amazing versatility of the BipodEXT. Turn that forward section 90deg and brace your bipod against a window opening or a barricade or a fence post for PRS and similar action shooting matches. Put a long and short bipod on it if you want for rough country hunting to go from prone to kneeling to sitting to whatever rapidly. For police and military and those few that hunt mountain goats and sheep and such where extremely high angle shots are frequently the only shots to be had, you can stand up comfortably behind your rifle, set the bipod up in front of your muzzle and keep your spout out of the dirt, be ridiculously stable (tried this with great results), minimize fatigue and increase first round hit probability. For cops on top of skyscrapers and in the rafters at sporting events overwatching us with their sniper rifles stuck in tripods and hog saddles, they could be just as precise and more flexible and have an easier time concealing their position if they didn’t have to be so high up to use a tripod. Lower fatigue means improved interdiction and lower chance of collateral casualties or damage.

RX17 Live Fire 002 Student taking advantage of increased stability. That rifle as equipped is unstoppable and affordable. You don’t need to spend $5000 to have a well decked out precision long range rifle.

Any way you can get your bipod farther from your face will increase your ability to be stable and make precision shots rapidly. Yes you’ll lose some compactness and decimal points of speed/agility. Isn’t the decimal point loss in agility worth the orders of magnitude increase in endurance and precision? I think so. I won’t shoot a match without a BipodEXT again if I can possibly help it.

For a direct comparison, here’s the same gun, same shooter, same range just without the BDC scope and without the BipodEXT. In the beginning at stage 7 you’ll be able to see the side to side and vertical wiggle at my muzzle during firing and the much more dramatic appearing recoil and me missing more than I should be despite having massively more magnification (16x fixed instead of the 10x I was actually using on the Primary Arms 4-14x) and dialing precise DOPE instead of holding off. If I’d used the 16x SWFA optic along with the BipodEXT I probably would have picked up a few more targets.

The difference made by the BipodEXT at my last match was probably me picking up 3-5 targets I would have certainly missed regardless of the optic and because I was using a BDC at long range it was probably responsible for me not blowing that completely. The BDC was easy to use but very sensitive to cant and user error. It was really easy to avoid those two conditions with the bipod extender. Thanks to Accuracy Solutions for the loan of this amazing kit. I’ll have to buy one now, not so much because they’re excellent but because of the two I have for use by students, I’m never giving one of them back 😉 .

Dan, Seth and company. You guys really knocked this out of the park. I knew when I saw it at RX17 that it was going to really change my game and I think it’s going to change a lot of games. Keep these badass ideas coming!

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Vectronix Vector 21 Nite Foward Observation Laser Rangefinder Binoculars

Have you ever looked at something and said, “Man, that’s just more expensive than it’s worth.”? Well, you might have that reaction to Vectronix products. Vectronix is one arm of Leica which is world renowned for the quality and precision of their optics. Vectronix takes that a little further biasing toward the military end of the market. The military’s of the world don’t have the kind of budget concerns that we mere mortals do so they often use kit that’s got price tags that look like serial numbers. That also means they have some of the most awesome and rugged bits and bobs to be had in their inventory and the manufacturers that sell to them will mostly sell the same stuff to civilians. So, if you’re in the rare air of long range precision shooting and you need serious kit, check out the military suppliers and the stuff they make.

The author’s test unit.

For example some people shoot to several hundred yards and they might get away with a golfers laser rangefinder. Some people shoot to over one thousand yards and they really need something like a Terrapin or a Sig Kilo2200MR or Leica 1200 and so on. Those are much more expensive. Then there are cretins like David Tubb and Charlie Melton and George Banke that make extreme range shots just for the seeming sake of making sure the rest of us know we’re not that good. They shoot well over 2000 yards and often quite a bit further. There’s nothing short of military level kit that’s going to do that reliably. This is why distance costs so much money. It’s an order of magnitude.

Look at Kilo2200MR’s, they’re like 400 bucks. No big. Vectronix Terrapins are 1800 bucks used and they don’t make them anymore. If you want something equally capable then you’re looking at stuff like PLRF15 and similar and the prices go way way way way up into multiple thousands of dollars immediately.

What if you need to lase a field of grass 12km away? Well here’s what you’d use. I personally ranged a dry grass hillside with the sun facing me at 10km. I couldn’t get farther because there’s nothing farther from me. 10km is about as far as you can see anything here, especially now with all the wildfires polluting the air. I lased a cow at 5km, a house at 11km, and on and on.

What’s the downside? Well, I picked this set up for about $8,000 and it weighs an absolute ton. We’re talking over 5lbs of optics with a heart stopping price tag.

How about the optics? The glass is as clear as any top shelf rifle scope, if not better. It’s stupid clear and the reticle in the view just helps that much more.

You can connect a data cable to military GPS units to it, mount it to a tripod and use it for ultra precise work at the extreme distance it’s capable of. It takes 6volt Lithium Ion batteries in pairs which seem to keep it working forever.

The 10x magnifier attachment screws right on and off and even seals so you don’t get water vapor or dirt between the magnifier and the binocular unit. The capabilities are just stunning too. It has a compass so it knows what direction you’re pointed. It also knows what elevation it’s pointed at so it can do a nifty thing. You can lase one target, then another and it’ll give you the slope distance between the two. You can range a target relative to another asset on the ground. Talk about sniper fuel.

From here on I’m going to leave you with some curiosity and a few pictures. Keep in mind that the unit I tested is actually the property of one of my long range students, not mine. I’m not that wealthy or that determined.

Retail price of something like a Vector 21 Nite is around $18,000-20,000 after all is said and done and there are export restrictions up the wazoo.

Columbia River Arms .243Ackley Barrel Shocker

Who has two thumbs and a big smile on his face? This guy!

It just doesn’t seem to matter what I feed this rifle. It’s only ever made 1 group over an inch and the rest have been closer to half an inch. This isn’t just 3-shot groups. It’s 10-shot groups rapid fire or slow fire and 5-shot groups and 3-shot groups. It’s just a laser beam. Just look at these groups. Those are all 10-shot groups!

Left to right 43.5, 44, 44.5, 45.5, then down one for the 45 grain load. The few flyers were all called and were the shooter’s fault.

The barrel came from Columbia River Arms, formerly Black Hole Weaponry and it’s a gem. It’s a 26 inch 8 twist on an MTU contour. The chamber is quite tight netting necks that are exactly .243″ inside diameter after firing, meaning that my brass doesn’t grow much and working of the necks is minimal. I set it up for zero headspace too so the brass should last a good long time with the Ackley case’s propensity for not stretching (especially not stretching like a .243Win is prone to doing.) If you want a drop in that’s just a laser beam, you need to call up Columbia River arms and have them cut you a barrel based on their .243AI reamer. I’ve never seen anything like this in a drop in barrel. Carl Caudle has a bunch more reamers that are equally nice. All it takes is a phone call and a credit card.

I got my Ackley loads dialed in. Started with .080 jump on the 108 grain ELD-M bullets. Started with a 43.5 grain charge of RL-23 and moved up in half-grain increments to 45.5 grains. Never showed any pressure signs and the velocities were just slightly above where I’d set as a goal. The big deal was a definite signal that the case likes to be full. SD’s were up around 35fps at the bottom but at 45.5 grains everything trimmed out and I landed with 5fps SD’s across a 10 round string with a group .6″ across done rapid fire. Velocities are right at 3170fps and temperature seemed to have little effect on them from 60F to 90F so it’s a match ready load.

I’ve got a match next weekend and I’m going to use the .243Ackley. Look for a pretty high score this time. Yes, I shot the .223 as well but that’s another story. Loads need more work. Popping primers is not competition ready.

BallisticPRS V.1.13 Released, New DA Specific 3×5 Cards & More

Download them now while they’re hot. The latest version of BallisticPRS contains a neat new page with 3×5 cards set up already for -4,000ft to +10,000ft DA’s. Cards do away with spin and Coriolis in favor of 5/10/15/20mph wind regimes but I’ve left the moving target leads in. These 3×5″ data cards were cooperatively designed between yours truly and US Optics sponsored PRS shooter and precision rifle instructor Nico Detour. I’ve tinkered with the coloration so they’re easy to read in shade or bright sunlight and the fonts and font coloring to prevent wash-out in the brightest overhead direct sunlight.

All of the 3×5 cards are on 1 tab for simplicity and they’re set up to print 4 cards to a page of A4 or 8.5×11 media.You can get the whole bunch of them in one wrist caddy and just select the one you need at the time to be on top. These rip proof, blood proof, field proof, idiot resistant data cards are not going to let you down in the middle of a match. You can’t harm them and neither does dirt or mud or blood.

BallisticPRS Data Card

BallisticXLR Data Card

Production Ready: Density Altitude DOPE Cards

Yeah baby! Check these out. Hot off the presses for my first consumer, Nico Detour of US Optics Academy and PRS competition fame. There’s been a huge amount of work to get these ready.

Thanks to Nico for giving me the chance to show him how well these things work and how indestructible they really are!

3×5 DOPE cards at 500ft DA increments.

Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56mm and 3-18x50mm

rzr-31802_vortex_razor_hd_d3_700_1

Talk about a home run. Vortex really nailed it with these. The package comes with a 4″ sunshade and tools all in fitted foam and a nice looking if understated box. The scope itself caught me off guard in a number of ways.

First, the price. Given the full feature set: Japanese made bona fide’s, amazing glass, locking turrets, illumination, zero stop, etc… and the perfection that they’ve all been implemented with the price is easily 1000 bucks under many contenders. How they’re able to do that I don’t know but I’m going to assume that they’re making up on margins with volume. From the ratio of Razor’s to competitive scopes I see at matches I’m going to venture to guess that such a strategy is at least a component of the resultant low price.

I was actually at a match when I bought my first Razor II, a 3-18x50mm. Another competitor had some of his scopes on the swap-meet table at the match and I bellied up to the bar and took a peek. His Vortex Viper PST’s were not really interesting to me but the Razor, that was an attention grabber. They’re so popular with so many top shooters that I couldn’t help but covet it a bit.

razor4-27_wet

Apart from the substantial heft (more on that later) the entire thing impressed me. Optically it was brilliant, the reticle design was great, turret feel and features were exactly what I’ve always thought of as perfect. The owner told me he got the 3-18x because no 4.5-27x’s were available at the time and he had matches to shoot. Once he got his 4.5-27x there was no need for the 3-18x and so I got it for a song.

vortexrazorreticle

As soon as I had one, I started to look at my US Optics scopes and considered how much more modern and comparatively well executed the Razors are and decided to move to Razor II’s for some of my match rifles. So, I went out and swapped my ER-25 from USO for a 4.5-27×56 Razor II and some accessories. It immediately fixed the balance issues I had from the ultra long ER-25 as the Razor is much much shorter in length. The rifle feels a lot better for positional shooting now and there’s no tunneling or vignetting like with the USO variables I’d had on top.

The heft is substantial. No joke but, also not unexpected with a top shelf optic. A 4.5-27x is right over 3lbs once you slap rings on it. The weight is excitingly evenly distributed along the length giving a nicely balanced feel to the thing. Not having the weight biased helps with rifle balance on my guns with their long heavy barrels. The mass of the optic helps shift that weight bias of the weapon system back toward the rear.

vortex-rzr-2inbox

Turrets are locking .1mrad with zero stops. Clicks are extremely positive but not difficult and there’s no accidentally landing between clicks. It’s in one notch or the other. The zero stop and re-settable turrets are fairly easy to deal with and allows for a little dial-under below your zero which is nice. The parallax knob is well placed, well sized and has just the right amount of resistance with an amazingly close minimum setting. The illumination control being housed inside the parallax knob helps to keep the package compact and doesn’t interfere with bolt handles like a lot of ocular bell mounted illumination controls. The illumination rheostat has off positions between every lit position meaning you don’t have to spin a bunch on the knob to turn it off.

The reticle is the christmas tree style EBR-2C reticle in MRAD. The hole in the center of the reticle is great and doesn’t obscure small targets. I have been loathe to accept the new tree reticles that have taken over the world but after getting into long range shooting that isn’t done from the prone position and where there are multiple shots and time limits that it’s actually super helpful especially when there’s variable wind in the mix.

sub_rzr-g2_f_3-18x50_ebr-2c_mrad-t

sub_rzr-g2_f_45-27x56_ebr-2c_mrad-t

All in all it’s exactly what you’d expect from a tier 1 optic. Amazing glass, flawless implementation of every feature and well thought out ergonomics in a compact package that’s superbly capable of doing what it’s advertised to be able to do. A rarity in optics.

I did have one problem setting it up that turned out to be my fault and a quick call to their support line had the instructions I needed to verify a diagnosis and to take corrective action.

 

Making DOPE With BallisticPRS

I was recently asked to create a Density Altitude version of BallisticXLR for those that like DA over absolute air density. Ok, fine. Done. It took quite a number of hours to port it over but it’s there now and it works. This new system is meant for shooters that need extremely rapid ballistics data that is easy to read under time pressure and that can deal with atmospheric changes extremely rapidly.

And here it is!

ballisticprs

The inputs page is a very close match to the original BallisticXLR inputs page but unlike BallisticXLR does not require any atmospheric data inputs. BallisticPRS also differs from BallisticXLR in that it does not have the Primary or Secondary Functions tabs and a number of other tabs that are not relevant for DA applications. It does come with the reloading cost calculator, projectile database, reticle subtend tab, and sniper range cards.

BallisticPRS is meant for the experienced shooter while still being easy enough to use that beginners will not find it stammeringly confusing. As seen below the data tables are noted in meters or yards with data in 10yrd/m increments from 100 to 2490. Data for Drop, Wind, Movers, H-Cor, V-Cor and Spin are listed in a single row making for very fast info uptake.

ballisticPRS1

There’s an included DA tab (which is experimental) that will allow the user to identify a correct DA with a non-standard temperature and a pressure altitude reading. This handy feature will assist the shooter as temperatures change throughout the day in their FFP.

ballisticprs

This latest product is free for download and; just like with BallisticXLR, I provide free email based support. Just like BallisticXLR, BallisticPRS requires genuine Microsoft Excel for correct function. I’ll be adding a new BADEDS and B-FEDS kit with the DA tables shortly. Because of the much larger page count these kits will be modestly more expensive.

I’m very excited about this new product and I think you will be too!

P.S. – Being that it’s Memorial Day as I post this, I thought I’d leave this here. The price of freedom for some is said to be the blood of patriots and tyrants. It could also be termed the blood of our children and our parents. Dead and living soldiers bought this day off for us.
noname

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