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Thread: Savage 6BR build and performance at local 300 yd F-class benchrest matches

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2021
    Posts
    2

    Savage 6BR build and performance at local 300 yd F-class benchrest matches

    Hi All,

    Iíve enjoyed reading lots of great posts in this forum and have finally decided to post something for the first time. Itís a pretty long story of how my new Savage target rifle did at my gun clubís (Niagara Sportsmenís Association) 300 yard F-class benchrest matches. I've always been interested in seeing more detailed reports on how target rifles perform, not just a few cherry-picked groups, so I'm sharing all my targets for the four matches in which I participated. I hope that you find the story interesting and would greatly appreciate your help on some questions that I list at the end of the post.

    To make things easier for people who are vertically challenged (in terms of getting down to and up from the ground!), the matches were all done from benches. The only rule was that the front and rear rests could not be attached to each other. At 300 yards it was nearly impossible to see the bullet holes in the black bulls (it helped if the bullet cut a ring), so you couldn't really make scope adjustments during the match. We shot 10 shots each into two bulls (one bull per relay, so you could make a scope adjustment after the first 10 shots). We used 300 yd F-Class (MR-63F) targets.

    This was only my second year competing in local benchrest matches, so I still have a lot to learn. In the first year I used a Model 1896 Swedish Mauser in 6.5x55 with a Douglas barrel (DIY installed) and a homemade stock. I got third place, which isnít bad for an action that was made in 1923, but thatís a whole other story. In the second year, which Iím reporting here, I used a Savage 12, which is actually the only powder burner in my safe that was made in this century!

    Figure 1 shows profiles of the rifle. Itís a Savage 12 Target Action with a Criterion 26Ē barrel in 6BR Norma with a 1 in 8Ē twist. The stock is homemade from a Richards Microfit laminated blank. The scope is a Sightron SIII 10-50x60 Field Target on Warne QD mounts. I use this scope on two centerfire rifles, a spring piston air rifle and a Kimber 82G rimfire rifle, so I get a lot of bang for the buck from this scope. I think it's a lot better to have one really good scope that is swapped onto four rifles than four mediocre scopes that are dedicated to these rifles. POI changes less than 0.5 MOA when switched from one rifle to the next. On other hand, this isn't as rock-solid compared to a more permanent mount with the scope dedicated to the rifle. Maybe I need to buy another scope?!

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    Figure 2 shows the DIY aluminum bedding block that was glued into the stock. The receiver was then skim-coat bedded into the aluminum block with Acraglas Gel and the barrel and receiver tang were free-floated. I like the fact that three screws (all in front of the trigger) hold the receiver into the bedding block.

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    Figure 3 shows the two bulls from my first match. The 10 ring has a diameter is 2.85Ē and all but one shot were 10s. The 9 was on the second (right) bull at around 11 oíclock. It didnít miss by much and I probably would have gotten a 10 if I were shooting a 6.5mm instead of 6mm bullet! I should have adjusted my scope down and right after the first bull, but was worried about the scope not settling in for the second bull. After this I always made adjustments after the first bull. I was lucky to keep a shot inside the 10 ring at 12 oíclock on the first bull, when my neighbor fired his 30-06 just a moment before I pulled the trigger and my POA jumped up. Still, I was happy with my 199-13x score, which was a personal best at the time.

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    Figure 4 shows the targets from my second match. I switched to IMR 4064 by accident (it was all that my local gun shop had in stock and I had read that it should work with 6BR). 27.0 grains of IMR 4064 powder produced slightly lower muzzle velocities at around 2620 fps compared to 2700 fps for the same charge of H4895, but tightened groups up quite a bit. I wish that I had discovered this powder before the first match! These are pretty mild loads, but I found that accuracy was better with the 107 grain Sierra Matchkings going around 2700 fps or less. After months of searching, I was able to find some Varget, which allowed me to push the muzzle velocity to 2820 fps, but accuracy was not as good. Iíve read that more muzzle velocity is better in benchrest shooting, but in N.G. Papagalos (pp. 53-56, Precision Shooting, March 2005) also found the best accuracy for 107 grain Sierra Matchkings in the 2600-2700 fps range with the 6BR (and he was trying to increase MV to knock over a 50 pound ram silhouette at 500 meters). Has anyone else seen this in their 6BR rifles?

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    Figure 5 shows the targets from my third match. I reduced the powder charge of IMR 4064 to 26.8 grains. I was a bit lucky to keep a shot at 3 oíclock in the 10-ring on the second bull! I had one wind flag and didnít notice any wind change for this shot, so Iím not sure what caused this.

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    Figure 6 shows the targets from my fourth and final match. I included the sighters in the top left corner to show a surprising result. I shot two 5-shot sighter groups before shooting for record. No sighters were allowed during record shooting. The group in my second sighter target was a little to the right, so I clicked the scope 1 click (1/8 MOA) to the left. It looks like the group on the first bull moved a lot more than 3/8Ē to the left after that adjustment! This is why Iím a bit paranoid about making scope adjustments during a match. After the first bull, I clicked to the right and got a better centered group on the second bull. The group sizes look pretty good, each with a 10-shot center-to-center distance of around 1.4Ē. If they were better centered, I would have gotten a lot more Xs!

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    I tied for first place in season average score but lost on average X-count. The first place finisher also shot a Savage 12 Target Action with a Sightron 10-50x60 scope, but used a Shilen select match barrel in 6.5mm Creedmoor. Iíve read a lot of complaints about Savage rifles, but the some of the biggest complaints donít apply for this particular situation. Since Iím using a single shot action, there were no failure to feed or magazine issues. I even removed the ejector to help protect the spent brass, so ejection also wasnít any issue. Since Iím firing slowly, I wasnít bothered too much if the sear accidentally tripped and got hung up on the AccuRelease safety lever. This never happened during a match. If I remember correctly, this happened only a few of times when I was first getting used to the trigger in January 2021 and was wearing gloves due to the cold weather. I really appreciated having a trigger pull of around 6 ounces, which allowed me to fire the rifle under free recoil with almost no body contact with the rifle. This is a great trigger for a factory action, as long as you can shoot slowly! Now if I was shooting in a PRS Match, these are important issues, but for this kind of benchrest match, the Savage worked really well.

    Iím wondering if/how I can improve things. If you get the chance, please take a look at the following items and let me know what sort of changes make the most sense:

    1. Cases: Iím using Lapua cases. Should I weigh them? Does it help to neck-turn them? I donít have a tight match chamber that requires neck-turning, but have read neck turning could help with accuracy and reduce muzzle velocity spread. Iím neck-sizing and bumping the shoulders back about 0.002Ē with a Redding type S bushing die.

    2. Bullets: Should I be using flat base bullets for this relatively short range, since they stabilize faster than boattails? Iíve only tried boattails (~100 gr Sierra, Berger, Barnes and Hornady) so far. I also had trouble getting Berger 105 gr hybrids to work as well as the 107 gr MKs. At some point Iíd like to try shooting at 600 and maybe even 1000 yards, where boattails are best, but maybe a different bullet and load would be better for 300 yards?

    3. New barrel: I have around 1200 rounds through this barrel, so eventually Iíll need to replace it. Iím thinking of getting a Shilen select match, but am bit overwhelmed by all the options: a) 1-7 Special for VLD bullets over 100 gr; b) 1-7.5 Ratchet rifled 4 groove; c) 1-8 Special for VLD bullets over 100 gr; d) 1-8 Ratchet rifled 4 groove. It looks like all of these can be made with tight necks (.272", 0 Freebore) that may require neck turning the brass. Please let me know what barrel you would recommend.

    Thanks in advance for reading this post and helping with my questions!

    Iíve seen much more impressive groups online, but I hope that you found the story and the results interesting!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Posts
    28

    Nice Build.

    Nice build. Well done. And congratulations on your successful shooting season.

    I read your post/story with great interest as I am building a very similar rifle based on the action from a Savage 12FV rifle, purchased for $349 at Cabelas. Itís somewhat of a budget/local range sleeper project, so no intention of a full competition BR rig. I was gifted a Boydís laminated stock and have installed homemade aluminum pillars and epoxy bedded the action with the barrel (to be) free floated. I have slightly modified the Accutrigger - without much difference in feel. A 3Ē wide ďshoeĒ of ĹĒ aluminum is bolted to the stock forend for use in a front BR rest. After much changing of mind, I settled on the non-tight necked standard 6BR chambering (no BR variant). (I have a full 6BR tight-necked BR rifle, as well as a 6.5x55 Swede BR rifle and 6.5CM and 224Valkyrie PRS rifles). My project has stalled out as I am awaiting a pre-chambered Savage prefit cut-rifled SS match barrel in 8T 4-groove from Krieger, and am only about 2 months into a ONE YEAR estimated lead time.

    I make the following comments and suggestions (only suggestions!) without having my very similar build to compare (yet), and based on many years with my 6BR. Suggestions are limited to rifle/load issues, as there are numerous unknowns about your competition type and shooting techniques and equipment.

    Barrel: Of course, the most important component. A Shilen Select Match might likely improve precision, but you just never know when youíll get an exceptionally good or so-so barrel from any maker. I have had such great barrels from Krieger on a consistent basis that I consider it worth the wait, but chambering neck/throat choices are limited in their pre-chambered barrels. (Iíve found it quite difficult to find a good BR gunsmith to do a custom chambering without a ridiculous lead time on top of barrel lead time.) I donít have a suggestion for your twist and chambering other than I like to KISS. Iím very interested in what you decide upon for your replacement barrel/chambering and how it performs.

    Cases: Lapua Ė check. Weight sorting cases (must be absolutely clean of inside residue) might improve precision, and why not, given that it costs nothing but time? But I would not expect substantial improvement from this alone. Neck turning to improve uniformity is a well documented precision technique, even with non-tight necked chamberings. But it can be a tricky process to learn and get right and requires somewhat expensive tooling. And I canít help but think greater gains might be available to you with easier methods before this technique is employed.

    Bullets/Load: Berger Hybrids and Varget! Go back and try some more. Adjust powder load, seating depth (right up to jam), neck tension (less is better), powder charge and even primer brand and type (many use magnum primers with the 6BR). Tune to group size at 100 yards with wind flags on calm days, not chronographed velocities and SDís. I think there is significant upside precision potential in your current set-up with additional basic load tuning work. Or, rechamber/rebarrel to a 30BR Ė if 300 yards is your furthest distance.

    The Savage Accu-trigger is nice for a factory unit, but it does not compare, even with modification, to a good BR aftermarket trigger. Although $$$, a better trigger might enhance your shooting precision. Also, Iím surprised you cannot see 6mm bullet holes at 300 yards with the scope you mention, as this might help during a match. Better optics? (Although I like my SIII Sightron).

    PS Ė You may find limited interest in your project on this website/category as it is not a custom-actioned high-end 6PPC or LD BR rifle, and you are not(?) shooting in nationally sanctioned matches. There is, as Iím sure you are aware, lots of great 6BR info on the web, including much good stuff from the 600 yard BR guys (check out the 600 yard competition results equipment lists on this website) and now even the PRS shooters who are adopting BR precision techniques.

    Good Luck!
    Last edited by KC57; 02-18-2022 at 10:57 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2021
    Posts
    2
    Quote Originally Posted by KC57 View Post
    Nice build. Well done. And congratulations on your successful shooting season.

    I read your post/story with great interest as I am building a very similar rifle based on the action from a Savage 12FV rifle, purchased for $349 at Cabelas. It¬ís somewhat of a budget/local range sleeper project, so no intention of a full competition BR rig. I was gifted a Boyd¬ís laminated stock and have installed homemade aluminum pillars and epoxy bedded the action with the barrel (to be) free floated. I have slightly modified the Accutrigger - without much difference in feel. A 3¬Ē wide ¬ďshoe¬Ē of ¬Ĺ¬Ē aluminum is bolted to the stock forend for use in a front BR rest. After much changing of mind, I settled on the non-tight necked standard 6BR chambering (no BR variant). (I have a full 6BR tight-necked BR rifle, as well as a 6.5x55 Swede BR rifle and 6.5CM and 224Valkyrie PRS rifles). My project has stalled out as I am awaiting a pre-chambered Savage prefit cut-rifled SS match barrel in 8T 4-groove from Krieger, and am only about 2 months into a ONE YEAR estimated lead time.

    I make the following comments and suggestions (only suggestions!) without having my very similar build to compare (yet), and based on many years with my 6BR. Suggestions are limited to rifle/load issues, as there are numerous unknowns about your competition type and shooting techniques and equipment.

    Barrel: Of course, the most important component. A Shilen Select Match might likely improve precision, but you just never know when you’ll get an exceptionally good or so-so barrel from any maker. I have had such great barrels from Krieger on a consistent basis that I consider it worth the wait, but chambering neck/throat choices are limited in their pre-chambered barrels. (I’ve found it quite difficult to find a good BR gunsmith to do a custom chambering without a ridiculous lead time on top of barrel lead time.) I don’t have a suggestion for your twist and chambering other than I like to KISS. I’m very interested in what you decide upon for your replacement barrel/chambering and how it performs.

    Cases: Lapua ¬Ė check. Weight sorting cases (must be absolutely clean of inside residue) might improve precision, and why not, given that it costs nothing but time? But I would not expect substantial improvement from this alone. Neck turning to improve uniformity is a well documented precision technique, even with non-tight necked chamberings. But it can be a tricky process to learn and get right and requires somewhat expensive tooling. And I can¬ít help but think greater gains might be available to you with easier methods before this technique is employed.

    Bullets/Load: Berger Hybrids and Varget! Go back and try some more. Adjust powder load, seating depth (right up to jam), neck tension (less is better), powder charge and even primer brand and type (many use magnum primers with the 6BR). Tune to group size at 100 yards with wind flags on calm days, not chronographed velocities and SD¬ís. I think there is significant upside precision potential in your current set-up with additional basic load tuning work. Or, rechamber/rebarrel to a 30BR ¬Ė if 300 yards is your furthest distance.

    The Savage Accu-trigger is nice for a factory unit, but it does not compare, even with modification, to a good BR aftermarket trigger. Although $$$, a better trigger might enhance your shooting precision. Also, I’m surprised you cannot see 6mm bullet holes at 300 yards with the scope you mention, as this might help during a match. Better optics? (Although I like my SIII Sightron).

    PS ¬Ė You may find limited interest in your project on this website/category as it is not a custom-actioned high-end 6PPC or LD BR rifle, and you are not(?) shooting in nationally sanctioned matches. There is, as I¬ím sure you are aware, lots of great 6BR info on the web, including much good stuff from the 600 yard BR guys (check out the 600 yard competition results equipment lists on this website) and now even the PRS shooters who are adopting BR precision techniques.

    Good Luck!

    Thanks for the detailed and helpful suggestions. I really appreciate your advice, especially since I'm a bit out of my depth in this forum! I'm very curious to see how your Savage project goes. I hope that you get your barrel sooner than expected and post some results! Maybe I should order Krieger barrel now, given the long wait time! Thanks for yor encouragement to do more load development. With the primer/powder/bullet shortages, I haven't been able to do as much load testing as I'd like. Some of the next things I'll try is to jam the bullets into the rifling and try flat base bullets (I just got some 95 gr FB). I've only been using CCI 450 magnum primers, but I'll keep an eye out for other primers (maybe CCI BR4?), although it may be hard to find anything. I really would like to see how much better my current setup can do with better loads.

    The Sightron is the best scope I've ever owned (of course it's over 4 times more expensive than my second best scope), and I can't really blame the scope for not being able to see bullet holes in the black. The targets are facing north and the area behind the targets is dark, which makes seeing the dark holes in a black bull pretty hard. This year we're switching to IBS 300 yard hunter rifle targets, so I'll have no problem seeing my hits (and misses!).


    Thanks and best wishes,
    John

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Posts
    1

    Well done

    Congratulations on a great shooting season! Very nice detailed write up, i'm anxious to read some of the comments and suggestions to come. I just started looking into building a 300yd benchrest gun myself

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