UPDATE – Modern Spartan Systems Cleaning Product Suite

Overview

Here at BallisticXLR we like to keep abreast of the movement in the firearms industry. This includes the latest in cleaning and lubrication products. Modern Spartan Systems has entered the market with cleaning and lubrication products which promise “green” technology, advanced chemistry, superior effectiveness and most interestingly, increases in muzzle velocity, reductions of group sizes and extending of barrel life. Well, we just can’t let an opportunity for a Pepsi Challenge like that go without tossing our hats in the ring.

We’ve gathered up a number of match rifles and plinking rifles. We’ve gathered defense pistols and target pistols. We’ve got trap shotguns and hunting shotguns. We’ve got high end optics, mid range optics and low end optics. We’re even bringing a cannon, a real antique Trapdoor Springfield and a new manufacture reproduction Sharps rifle in .45-70. We’ve got rimfire, centerfire and even fuse fired.

Test Protocols:

Variable Controls: We select a single load specification to complete each test with. Air temperature/humidity/pressure/wind are kept as stable as possible. Guns are not shot hot (when hot to the touch we take a break in testing to cool it off naturally)

MV Testing: We apply the entire MSS cleaning system as directed including conditioning the bore with Accuracy Oil. We compare pre-cleaning (dirty bore) velocity averages, standard deviation, coefficient of variation, minimum and maximum. Data is tracked and logged for each string as well as for each individual shot. Strings are 3-5 shots. 5 shots is the standard. 3 shots is used only where barrel heat becomes an issue during testing.

Accuracy/Precision Testing: We track group size for each string of fire during MV initial testing. After the barrels reach copper equilibrium and bench gathered data is of sufficient volume (where velocities and group sizes seem to stabilize and we have at least several 5-shot strings of velocity data post-treatment) we take the guns into competition because, hey, we are competitive shooters and that’s where the metal meets the meat so to speak. Match scores with MSS treated rifles are compared against past match performance (we have books full of our match scores).

Barrel Life: We have obtained 2 identical Columbia River Arms barrels chambered in 6mm XC. Both are chambered with the same reamer on the same lathe by the same gunsmith in the same week. Extra care was used in selecting a custom reamer and machinist gunsmith capable of the required precision to minimize tolerances like run-out. Both barrels are being put into existing match rifles. Both rifles will shoot the same load spec (this makes load development unnecessarily tricky but we’ll deal with it). Loads will use the same lot of brass/powder/primers/bullets and both will used only HBN coated DTAC bullets from David Tubb. One barrel will be treated with MSS’s system from the beginning, the other will not. After every 200 rounds we’ll re-clean & re-treat the treated barrel. On the control barrel we’ll clean every 200 rounds with Wipe-Out (which we prefer over Hoppe’s #9 & Sweet’s 7.62). We’ll track the barrel life via match scores, throat erosion pace, velocity retention and group size until we have a clear winner. We estimate it will take 1000 rounds to get to a usefully good answer.

Raw Data By Shot String Average:

6mm XC

7mm BR

6.5×55 Swede

.223 Remington

Raw Data Shot-By-Shot

Initial Results

What we see with the .223; which has the most shots through it since treatment, we see that MV’s have stabilized. Group size average during treatment was over 1 inch. After treatment group size for a 10-shot string was .7 inch. SD’s were dropped roughly in half. Minimum string velocity (a component of velocity extreme spread) increased substantially without a sympathetic change in maximum string velocity as well. A gun/load combination that was getting on my nerves is now showing signs of being a potential sweetheart.

What we see with the 7mm BR, the 6mm XC and the 6.5×55 Swede so far is very similar to what we saw during the early phases with the .223. A lot of volatility during the treatment phase followed by what appears to be (NOTE: APPEARS TO BE, these are early results, too early for real conclusions) some stabilization. What we have not seen are dramatic, sticky (meaning that the effect persists) increases in MV. If anything what we see are slight reductions in peak velocity and slight increases in minimum velocity. That’s an increase of consistency which any shooter would gladly take over any token velocity increase.

As you move up and to the right you’ll see progression. Groups at bottom and left are at the beginning of treatment. Top and right are end of treatment. L-.223,M-6XC,R-7mmBR

What we did see pretty universally (only the 7mm BR didn’t improve) is a reduction in group size. Could this be a rebuke of our blanket advice to avoid unnecessarily cleaning a rifle? Maybe. It could also be due to more consistent friction leading to more consistent harmonics. It could be the stars aligning. Part of that advice to clean as infrequently as possible is economics based. It takes a good number of shots (so far it’s looking like at least 5-10 and as much as 40+ in some cases) for a barrel to get to copper fouling equilibrium. Part of it is based on the notion that most rifle barrel wear out in the real world of sport shooters comes from overly aggressive and overly frequent cleaning. We do both. Our metallic silhouette rifles mostly get cleaned after every 100-200 rounds (except my red gun). Our PRS/prone guns historically get cleaned almost never… like every 400 rounds or so.

What do you think we’ll see as final results? Comment below!

Modern Spartan Systems – Long Term Testing Update – The Snake Gun

Numbers don’t lie so if you want to see those numbers, scroll down and check ’em out.

Definitely seeing a velocity boost evolving during the treatment phase. Looks like SD’s are growing but we won’t know the long term trends on this for another week as there are more shots to fire. Treatment phase is 5 sets of 5 shot groups. Between each group we apply a very light coat of MSS Accuracy Oil down the bore on a patch wrapped around a brush. That pulls the carbon out pretty well and puts another layer of their crazy effective lubricating oil down the bore.

This test data shows 50 rounds of history gathered during bench-rested zero-checking, load development and grouping data collected over the last year with me not cleaning the bore at all on my heavily customized, Columbia River Arms barreled Mossberg MVP .223 followed by another 25 rounds of very recent history from last weekend’s testing with MSS’s cleaning system being used.

Avoiding much discussion of velocities we can look at group sizes. This rifle with this load has been a pretty consistent 1-1.5MOA rifle. It doesn’t like this load, never has, and that has annoyed me because it should be a killer load. During the testing and doing the Accuracy Oil re-application treatments I saw very consistently that the first shot was wild, then the 2nd-5th shots gradually closed in on each other finally ending with shots 4-5 stacking on top of each other. Overall group sizes started at 1.2MOA and by the end of the initial Accuracy Oil treatment plan had reduced to a very nice group under .7MOA with the last 3 shots touching and the first 2 just slightly off that cluster (could have been shooter error but I doubt it). This behavior was consistent from the first string to the 5th string. I have not cleaned the barrel after shooting. I did run a patch down the bore with Accuracy Oil on it though. Before shooting next time we’ll run a few dry patches down the pipe to make sure it’s completely dry and then we’ll see what happens.

Each string below represents a 5-shot set with statistics reported for the string. This load has slowly evolved over the last couple years with a little OAL and a little powder being added between string 1 and string 9. I stopped messing with the load spec after string 9 because I just wasn’t shooting the gun. Now I’m sticking with that practice while we finish up our testing. 75 rounds in to the testing we’re seeing definitely trend line activity but we’ll save the analysis and conclusion drawing until we have more data.

So what do you think? Will this trend continue? Will it even out? Will it reverse? We shall see.

Note: This is not one of my match loads. This is a load I never shoot in competition because it’s not been consistent enough. I’ve wanted to do a little more work on it because it’s a really mild load with long legs. I chose this load because it’s not a one-holer out of the gate so we have some room to see if MSS’s claims are worth taking seriously. So far, they’re at least intriguing.

Stay tuned!

US Optics B-17 Review – Very Nice!

Epic scope. My only gripes (except the price point) are very minor quibbles in reality. Same perfect tracking, same great glass (actually some of the best ever in a USO), some real improvements in the turret setups. Some things are not so much improvements as changes but you can’t turn your nose up at a USO.

Barrel Life, Accuracy and Velocity – Columbia River Arms Wins!

I’m running a .243AI set up by Columbia River Arms (formerly Black Hole Weaponry) about a year ago. It’s a pre-chambered drop-in with a pretty tightly necked chamber set up by CRA. I’ve got it set at zero head space so between that and the Ackley Improved case there’s zero brass growth after 4-5 firings.
It’s got just a touch over 1000 rounds down the pipe and appears to be going strong. So far I’ve only had to push the bullet out .010 and add .1gn powder to keep everything tight to my original load spec. I don’t know what kind of life the pipe has left in it. I’m running 115gn 6mm DTAC bullets at 3200fps with a modest charge of very slow burning powder (RL-23). Pressures are pretty mellow but it’s, for sure, burning that powder all the way down the barrel. This is evidenced by the fact that there’s just the tiniest bit of flash in the first chamber of my brake that’s visible in low light conditions.
Corey testing out the CRA barreled Hot-Dog Gun at 900yrds.
In a more conventional barrel I’d guess I’ve have between 100 and 300 rounds more life before it’s just not match grade anymore (based on a 1200-1500rnd life expectancy) but I would also expect substantially more throat erosion than I’ve gotten to this point if that were the case. I started with uncoated 108ELD’s and quickly went to HBN (hexagonal boron nitride) coated 115DTAC’s. The rebated boat tail and pointed tip on the DTAC’s pulls the BC up to .620 which puts me up to 1mile of supersonic range. So far it’s been as far as 1500yrds and proven itself very capable.
Out of the gate I was getting 10 shot groups like those below (these are fireforming and load development groups, the first loads out of the barrel). After a little refinement they settled down to repeatable .5-.7MOA across 10 shots with single digit SD’s (5fps across over 100 rounds loaded in 3 sessions). The thing has since then been ridiculously consistent. Once I found an optic I could deal with in matches (I hated the turrets on Vortex Razor 2’s, U.S. Optics ER-25 was just too damned big, SWFA 16×42 was too much minimum magnification, etc… nitpicky stuff) in the form of the U.S. Optics SN3 3.8-22x58mm with a custom made PRS oriented reticle and 35mm main tube, I really started to have some fun with it including punishing the rifle with 10 shots strings in 90 seconds on hot days (hey, that’s the stage on the match). I wasn’t going to take it easy on this barrel.
I crossed the 1000 round mark last month at a match and I’d thought the barrel might be toasted then due to some repeated and huge misses on otherwise simple shots. Turns out it was just me. I clearly did something wrong to make those misses. I know that because I went out again this month to teach a long range precision rifle class and demonstrated most drills and techniques with my .243AI. It started out by making a .5″ 5 shot group @ 100 yards. At the end of the class it got to be time to see what I could do under some performance pressure so I got right down into the prone with my Columbia River Arms barreled Savage 10FPSR, dialed the parallax on my U.S. Optics SN3 3.8-22×58, extended the Accuracy Solutions BipodEXT, set the Accu-Tac SR-5 bipod to 45deg forward and slapped a 6″ 900 yard 5 shot group on the steel rapid fire in direction shifting 5-15mph winds while the student body looked on.
I’m using 45.6gn of powder now. It started at 45.5gn of Reloader 23 in a very tight chamber with Hornady brass. By the book one should expect to see 3000-3100fps with 44-45gn of powder in a 24-inch barrel with 100gn to 105gn bullets. I’m getting 3200fps with 115’s and only 45.6gn in a 26″ barrel. I’d expect to see 25fps or thereabouts per inch of barrel after 24″ but certainly not 50fps per inch from barrel length alone and not with a heavier longer bullet. I’m also not even remotely pushing this round. I can go another 3gn of powder before even starting to flatten primers but 3300fps only serves to damage steel targets and is technically against the rules. 3200fps is max so that’s what I’m running. I already damage quite a few targets at 3200fps anyway so I don’t need any help in that department.
Hot Dog Gun in .243AI. A Savage 10FPSR with bits from MDT, XLR, Magpul, BipodEXT, Accu-Tac, U.S. Optics, Seekins, Weaver, and JP Enterprises. Painted to look like a Dodger Dog. Go Dodgers!

Typically as I wear out a barrel I’ll see it shoot fine, fine, fine, start to open up, plateau, fine at plateau, open up more, open up more, open up more and it’s all downhill from there. After the plateau if it doesn’t quickly plateau again it’s getting there and it’s time to start planning my next pipe. I’ve already started planning my next pipe, a 6XC to match an identical one we’ll put on Coach’s gun. Nonetheless, this barrel is still good. Question is, for how long?

I know from prior experience that I get a little longer barrel life from the polygonal rifling that CRA uses. I’ve not burned out enough to get a useful statistical value for how much longer but I can speculate. Right now, given the throat wear and grouping we’re getting on Coach’s existing 6XC; which is at 1500 rounds so far, and the expected life of that Shilen barrel being around 2200-2300 rounds, I’m estimating; and trying to be extremely conservative in that estimation, that I’ll make it to 1800 rounds or further before this pipe is really done for match work.

The difference between .243Win (right) and .243AI (left) is shoulder angle, body taper, performance, case life and barrel life. The loaded round has a 108gn ELD-M in it and 39.5gn of RL-23 for fireforming.

That’s almost 40% longer barrel life than I initially anticipated, if it gets there. We knew that the HBN coating on the bullets would help barrel life so I’m confident it’ll get to 1500. We knew the CRA polygonal rifling means no sharp edges for the burning powder plasma to ablate would help too. We knew the Ackley shoulder angle would keep the flame vertex inside the case neck and that that would help too.

It’s just with all those things helping, we have no idea where this train is going to stop. If I go on throat erosion alone, calculating how far until the boat tail is up inside the case neck, then I’m looking at almost 3000 rounds of barrel life. That’d be 230% of anticipated barrel life and I just don’t see that as being realistic given the amount of powder being burned and the rapidity with which I shoot in matches. I’ll get that barrel pretty hot sometimes.

Shooting stage 6 at my monthly match with Hot Dog Gun in its current form. Targets are on the opposite hillside from 300-700yrds away.

I get higher velocities than one might expect from less powder than one might expect. I get longer barrel life than one would expect. I get amazingly accurate and consistent performance than one might expect (especially for a drop-in pre-fit). The thing turned out sub-MOA groups with fire forming loads. It did not like 55gn varmint bullets at all though. No surprise on an 8 twist. The chamber on it is very tight. It’s meant for someone who’s willing to turn necks if necessary (my inside neck diameter on a fired case is .2435). Thankfully I don’t have to neck turn. Lucky me, everything just fits perfectly. When I ordered it I specified that I would not be put off by a possible requirement to neck turn brass if that were what their reamer would require.

Much of this situation was and is by design. When I initially decided I wanted a fast 6mm I found what my options were and then picked a chamber that would maximize performance, brass life and throat life. I picked a powder that would give maximum velocities without pressures being tall or a lot of flash. I picked projectiles that had very high BC’s and would be routinely available in boxes of 500 (including a primary and backup bullet). I set up a load that performs identically with both bullets and shoots to the same point of aim, just in case I’m unable to re-up on one I can use my backup supply of the other.  I bought all of the brass, powder and primers I expected to ever use in this barrel ahead of time (8lbs of powder, looks like I might need another 8lbs). Everything about the gun except the optic I’d settle on was decided before the barrel even arrived. Best of all, the barrel was set up to CRA’s rigorous standards which means it was done perfectly and it was under $400.

Hot Dog Gun before it was even painted. Getting some early long range testing done. Both Vortex Razor 2’s are now replaced with U.S. Optics glass. I just like USO. What can I say, they work for me.

So why am I building a 6XC now? Well Coach and I shoot together. It’s best if we have one set of ballistics DOPE and shoot the exact same load through identical chambers. It’s actually best if we share a gun but I like mine and he likes his. We find that when we can use drop and wind corrections from each other that we win more matches. Duh. If I run a stage and miss 2 of 7 shots on wind, I can tell him what the adjustments would have been and what the wind was for those misses then he can adjust accordingly and pick up those points and vice versa.

So, I’ve got 2 new barrels on the way from CRA, 27″ 6mm 8-twist unprofiled blanks which we’ll have a local gunsmith chamber, thread and profile for us in 6XC with a .267 neck (CRA doesn’t have a 6XC reamer or I’d have them do it). We’ll set them up for zero head space to minimize brass growth and then we’ll use my new ExactShooting.com Custom Collection sizing die to perfectly set the head space and neck tension of our reloaded ammo. We’ll be as close to shooting the same rifle as two guys can possibly get. If you want faster velocities, longer barrel life and one heck of an accurate barrel, you could do a lot worse than to drop Columbia River Arms a line.

.243AI Dimensions

6XC Dimensions

BipodeXt by Accuracy Solutions – It’s Almost Magic

It’s simple: In normal form a bipod will be about 1/2 way between the muzzle and the butt of the rifle. By adding a BipodeXt from Accuracy Solutions you’ll move your bipod forward by from several inches to a couple feet. This takes the pivoting load off of the fulcrum and puts it all to one side of the fulcrum meaning that it takes a larger effort on the butt side to make the a change in the muzzle direction than it used to. You could even (and I do) extend your bipod out a few inches (or quite a number of inches on <24″ barrels) in front of your muzzle making the system as rock stable as it could possibly be. Just to ram the point home I’ve included videos of me talking about and using it on multiple rifles.

Here’s how stable it is: I don’t carry toe supports for my rifle anymore. I don’t need them. Ever again. The video below is using a BDC reticle which is sensitive to hold by its very nature. I got my 2nd highest .223rem score with the BDC on it only because I had the BipodEXT on it too.

I could spend all day telling you about every detail and if you want me to, drop me a line at ballisticxlr@gmail.com and ask me. If on the other hand you’re willing to accept that someone that knows what they’re talking about is telling you that with one gadget your groups will shrink, your hits will increase, your misses will decrease, you’ll have more fun and you’ll not have to spend a HUGE amount of money to get there from here. Usually I’d call that snake oil but it’s not and I’ve taken a year of using the thing to be 100% sure. It doesn’t even matter what position you want to shoot from, the BipodeXt will help you get more stable when properly utilized. It can’t not because trigonometry is what its leveraging (pardon the pun) and you can’t make real numbers work 2 ways in 1 equation. 1 equation always yields 1 answer.

So, now I can say without a hint of gun writer contrivance or the slightest prevarication that this is the best 300-500 bucks you’ll spend on your long range shooting rig. You will thank me later. If I didn’t know it’s helping me I wouldn’t take the extra effort to hump it around all day at my monthly precision rifle match (it’s a hiking match, any weight reduction is good). I leave the thing on my rifle full time because there’s no good reason to remove it given the benefits I get from it. I’m sure you’ll see things the same way in very short order.

You can see the stability I’m getting from that bipod position being so far in front of the usual position at the mid-point of the rifle. Geometry doesn’t lie.

BallisticXLR A-FEDS DOPE Table Cell Phone Case

Enter The BallisticXLR Accessories Store

Fresh from the creative mind of Meccastreisand, we have iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phone cases with ballistics data printed right on them. The BallisticXLR A-FEDS (Auxiliary – Field Expedient Data Set). It’s not just some cheesy inkjet print job or a junk sticker that’ll come right off. These products use Thermal Dye Sublimation to transfer the image to the item which means that the image is inextricably PART of the item.

High temperatures and high pressures are used to literally fuse the dye into the substrate. You’d have to destroy the item to damage the data. We have cell phone cases, water bottles and travel mugs already worked up and tested. Those are properly field grade.

Custom ballistics data emblazoned on the back of a rubberized iPhone or Samsung phone case. If your app dies, you’ve got a backup right there waiting.
BallisticXLR Data Emblazoned on an aluminum water bottle. Perfect for the field. Available in brushed aluminum or white.

Next up we’ll be bringing out T-Shirts, ball caps, sweaters, mouse pads and whatever else someone might want. T-Shirts will have the DOPE printed upside down on the front so you can simply look down to your chest for your ballistics data, even with complex firing solutions in play.

Ball caps are right on the heels of the T-Shirts. Ball caps will contain a quick data sheet. These are meant for use by your spotter. The spotter gets a range and vector to the target and usually has to look in a book. Why not just look at the shooters hat. Shooters usually turn ball caps around so they don’t get swatted by the scope on recoil. Well, that’s a perfect place for your spotter to read your DOPE from and they can do it from their peripheral vision.

Other accessories are in initial test production now. We’ve got mouse pads with reticle subtends on the way. Sweaters and hoodies with ballistics data are coming in the next few days.

To make a purchase: https://shop.spreadshirt.com/38346/?noCache=true or email your request to ballisticxlr@gmail.com and we’ll have a price and lead time to you usually same day.

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.

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