Using a Tactical Rifle For F-Class

Until quite recently my collection of firearms included a custom F/TR rifle that was built on a Barnard S receiver and chambered in .308. As is so often the case however something else caught my eye and – especially since my main F-Class interest lies not in the F/TR game but in the F/Open category – the Barnard S went off to a good home.

My Old Rifle – Purpose Built For F/TR

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With the F/TR rifle sold all was good, I have many .308 rifles and the sale of the Barnard S freed up funds for other new and shiny things and, normally, there the story would end …… except for one teensy weensy little thing: You see, I am honor bound to take part in an annual ( and wagered !) F/TR challenge with an old friend who is a sometime shooting partner and sometime shooting competitor. The ongoing wager ? Why none other than a framed (and famed) $10 bill that has exchanged hands a few times over the years but currently resides, in its rightful place, in my gun room.

Taking Possession Of What Is Rightfully Mine 🙂

IMG-20121007-00411The ‘self-inflicted injury’ of lacking a F/TR rifle would be no excuse for denying my buddy the opportunity to wrest the prize away from me and even the merest suggestion of anything other than unbridled enthusiasm for the annual match would bring down upon my head allegations of cowardice, lacking of moral fiber and questionable parentage. A plan would have to be formulated…

Many consider the big drawback to using a factory or even custom tactical rifle in F/TR comes down to the issue of barrel length. Most competitors in F/TR will shoot rifles equipped with 29 or 30″ barrels and will say that the 20-26″ tubes found on factory/custom tactical rifles are not long enough to generate the a muzzle velocity sufficient to give the bullet the legs it needs to ride the wind to the land of V Bulls at the thousand yard distances many F Class matches are shot.

Traditionally the wager takes place at an annual tournament we attend near the Canadian city of Kamloops. The match, which brings together some of the best F-Class shooters in Western Canada, is held in honor of a gentleman by the name of George ‘Farky’ Farquarson who was not only from that fair city but is the individual who is recognized as the founder of the sport of F-Class – an event which, from simple beginnings, has grown into the internationally popular shooting sport it is today. Called the Frosty Farky due to the fact that in even in September the weather can get a little chilly, this annual match is only shot out to 500m so the barrel length considerations talked about above ought not to be a concern.

First thing necessary to get this project off the ground was to find amongst my heavy barreled collection of rifles one that is in a suitable caliber (F/TR is limited to .308 or .223 and military equivalents) and that with scope and bipod can still make the F-Class weight limit for F/TR of 8.25 kilos. Last but by no means least I need to pick a rifle that is a consistent half-minute gun as my wagering friend is no slouch behind the trigger and, besides the wager, I would like to finish well in the match overall and possibly even medal.

Out of a possible five rifles that are meet the requirements of chambering and weight, I have decided to focus on two of them and to put both through some final tests to see which will give me the best chance of success. The rifles selected are both in .308 as my only sufficiently accurate .223 is a beast of a rifle due to a 1.2″ no taper barrel and anyway I prefer .308 for distance shooting even though others find no trouble in getting that little .223 to work wonders for them.

Discounted – Too Heavy

001-3_zps7ba0cf24The two rifles I selected are as follows:

PGW ‘Coyote’

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This is a standard offering from Canadian company PGWDTI out of Manitoba and hasn’t been customized in any way. Having said that, all the PGW rifles are pretty much custom guns. I suppose one could say that they are ‘factory custom’ rifles even though that really is an oxymoron. Equipped with a 24″ PGW signature helical fluted Krieger barrel in a 1:10 twist and chambered for the .308 M852 match ammo, I have shot a number of groups in the .3’s and .4’s with this rifle and am very confident behind the trigger. As the base rifle weighs 13.5 lbs I have a decent ceiling to add a quality scope and bipod before I run into a weight problem. I will be making up a load using the Berger 185 Juggernaut and Varget and initial tests will be at 2.220″ which is a 10 thou jump.

Rifle number two is a custom rifle built off a Remington 700 by the Canadian company Alberta Tactical Rifle Supply out of Calgary.

Clone M40A1 By ATRS

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I’ve owned a number of ATRS rifles over the years and they have all been very good shooters and this one is no exception. Looking a bit like a clone of a M40A1 this rifle is equipped with nice Timney trigger, sports a Rock Creek M40 profile barrel in 1:11 twist and housed in a McMillian M40 HTG stock. Coming in lighter than the PGW the M40A1 will allow for the mounting of a heavier scope such as the exceptional S+B PmII which is good but lacking anything other than the usual sling swivels attaching a bipod other than the ubiquitous Harris may be a problem. The load for this rifle will also be the 185 Juggernaut but having a longer throat than the Coyote the starting length to ogive will 2.270″ for the same 10 thou jump.

Ammo Development

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Because load development isn’t about scope performance I will be using scopes of similar quality for this stage of the exercise. The Coyote wears a Sightron Siii 8-32×56 while the M40A1 clone wears a Sightron Siii 10-5-x60. Both these scope have 1/4 min adjustments and my match preference is for a finer adjustment so while I like the Sightron Siii series of scopes – they are very good value and perform as well as scopes that cost over twice as much – if weight permits the match scope will be my S+B Pmii 12-50×56 with P4F reticle and 1/8th clicks

Another Look At The Competitors

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I will be load developing for the next couple of weeks and the rifle that turns in the consistently smaller average five shot group will be selected for the match. Stay tuned to follow this fun little experiment and to see which rifle is chosen and, ultimately, how it performs under match conditions against the custom-built F/TR rigs.

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