Taking an AR15 match rifle for a spin (300m rifle project)

In my pursuit of a new rifle for shooting at 300m I was recently given the opportunity to try out an AR15 match rifle. I went to the range to try out a new .308 load but ended up spending more time with the .223 (pictured below)

AR15 match rifle

AR15 match rifle

George (the owner of the rifle and generous lender) said he initially considered bringing me a box of 50 rounds then decided I would probably enjoy myself with it and so brought a bucket full.

A bucket of .223 Rem

A bucket of .223 Rem

Once I was in the rhythm I started burning through the ammunition quite quickly. Although the wind was gusty and shifting I was able to generate some quite decent groups.

Spent .223 Rem brass fired from an AR15 match rifle

Spent .223 Rem brass fired from an AR15 match rifle

The rifle is chambered in .223 Rem and has an adjustable stock and a floating forend tube. The 26″ barrel and gas parts were made by White Oak Armaments. It is a semi-auto, but it has a “bob sled” (special magazine insert) which enables it to be loaded one round at a time. After firing, the action ejects the case and locks back allowing the shooter to slip a fresh round into the breach then press a button to release the action forwards and lock. It took me a while to get used to it but once I was in the rhythm it felt very smooth and required little effort or disruption to my shooting position.

It took me a while to find a comfortable prone position with this rifle, initially the magazine well was jamming into my left wrist causing the rifle to cant left. But I was able to shorten the stock and move the handstop forward which moved the magazine well rearwards enough that it no longer bothered me. After that it felt like a small-bore shoot.

Once I was comfortable I felt like I could shoot this rifle all day, and had to make myself stop as I didn’t want to use too much of the ammunition the rifle’s owner had brought along. Although the .223 is a little more affected by the wind, the comfort and ease of firing is exactly what I am looking for. Despite my initial hesitation over a semi-auto for target work, I am coming around to the possibilities of this platform.

Reloading bench improvement.

I was reloading recently and I got so fed up with how cluttered my bench was that I decided to “upgrade” it. I built some shelves above it to store all my bits and pieces. Below is a photo.

 

Reloading Bench Improvements

Reloading Bench Improvements

Notice how nice and empty the bench top is! A small thing but it feels good to have the extra storage.

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Update: 6th April 2014

In response to this post, my friend Niall sent me a photo of his reloading bench.

Niall's reloading bench

Niall’s reloading bench

“Note powder thrower on wall at convenient level and powder balance and trickler  fixed to shelf on wall at eye level.    Mixed in with all my metal working and carpentry rubbish.”

I am impressed by the mounting of the powder thrower and scale, very practical. I have to bend over to look at my scale from the right angle.  After seeing this I might have to consider additional upgrades in the future.

Thanks Niall for sending me this picture.

 

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Update 11th April 2014

I received further information from Charles via Niall about reloading press placement.

 

“One other wrinkle from Charles was to position the press over a vertical support for the bench.”

Niall's handloading Setup 002

Niall’s handloading Setup 002

“Gives the press a lot more rigidity in use.”

 

Below is a photo of my press showing it’s placement on the bench.

My press placement.

My press placement.

My press is not placed directly over the leg, although it is quite close to the horizontal support that is fastened to the leg. I may consider how I can improve this set up. My bench is of my own design and will fold up for storage or transport. During use the legs are bolted to the table top and other horizontal supports for rigidity, however there is some play in the hinges which allows the table top to tip slightly when I am resizing. I hope to work out a fix for this soon.