As time marches on, new and great shooting products keep coming to the market. These are, in many cases, the product of those making changes and innovations to the existing “state of the art”, all in the quest to make shooting better or more accurate. Here are some of the most recent items this author has worked with:
The U.S. Palma Team .308 Winchester Reamer (Pacific Tool & Gauge)
There are some great newer 30 caliber Palma and Fullbore bullets on the market these days. These offerings include the Sierra #2156 155 gr. “Palma” bullets and the Berger 155.5 gr. “FULLBORE” bullets. Recently, this author has been working with these newer 30 caliber bullets in a .308 Winchester. After working with these bullets, this author felt that many of the existing .308 Winchester chamber reamer designs on the market were not ideal for these new bullet designs, mainly because the new bullets have a rather short bearing surface and would be optimum with a shorter throat than is offered by most of the .308 Winchester reamers on the market. In late 2009, this author worked with JGS Precision Tool Mfg., LLC and made up a .308 Winchester “match” reamer, designed for shooting these newer 30 caliber bullets, and this reamer was written up and illustrated in the April 2010 issue of Precision Shooting. The reamer design also happened, by chance, to be somewhat close to the final design ultimately selected for the U.S. Palma Team as the team reamer for international shooting events.
Subsequent to the publishing of the April 2010 article, this author was contacted by Dennis Flaharty, the Captain of the U.S. Palma Team (currently the development team), who urged that it be clarified that the author's “2010 JGS .308 Match” reamer, while acceptable for U.S. based match and Palma type shooting (which is what it was designed for), might not be acceptable for certain (out of the U.S.) international matches because some of its dimensions are tighter than would be permitted under the current rules of the International Confederation of Fullbore Rifle Associations (ICFRA). The ICFRA is currently the governing body that oversees certain international shooting matches and events. In truth, if you do not plan on shooting international events governed by the ICFRA, this is a non-issue. This write up is a follow up to the April 2010 Precision Shooting article to clarify this compliance issue, and it is also being made to “showcase” the new Pacific Tool & Gage (Dave Kiff) U.S. Palma Team .308 Winchester Reamer that was set up to comply with the ICFRA rules for certain international shooting events.
The new Pacific Tool and Gauge U.S. Palma Team .308 Winchester match reamer is officially named the “2011 .308 FULLBORE” reamer, in expectation of its use by the U.S. Palma Team in the upcoming World Individual and Team Long Range Championships (an ICFRA event) to be held in Australia in 2011. Robert Gamboa, a current member of the U.S. Palma Team (i.e. development team), is credited as the designer of this reamer, and a number of .308 Winchester reamer designs were tested out extensively before the final selection of this design as the “final” design. The free bore on the reamer is .050" with a one and three quarters degree throat angle which works with the “new breed” of 155 – 155.5 gr. 30 caliber “Palma” or “Fullbore” type bullets. The body on the reamer hugs close to the minimum SAAMI .308 Winchester body dimensions, but with the neck set at a .3445" diameter and the free bore diameter set at a .3085" diameter, so as to comply with the ICFRA international rules. The reamer tolerances per the print are on the tight side (i.e. “Hold + .0002”).
Pacific Tool & Gauge (Dave Kiff) is a sponsor of the U.S. Palma Team and is also supplying the reamers to chamber the team rifles. The reamers themselves are nicely done and have a titanium nitride coating that gives them a gold jewelry like look, although Dave Kiff says that this coating on the leading edge of the cutting surfaces is “like Teflon” and makes it so nothing sticks to the reamer flutes to help guarantee clean reamer cutting. Great job, Dave - thanks for supporting the U.S. Palma Team!
The Berger 22 Cal. 80.5 gr. FULLBORE BT Bullets
In recent years, Berger Bullets has been making a lot of changes (mainly additions) to its bullet lineup. These constant changes have yielded some very excellent new bullets. Not that long ago, Berger released a 22 Cal. 82 gr. BT match target bullet that has been an excellent performer for longer range work in the .223 Rem./5.56 NATO and other cartridges. This bullet offers not only a high ballistic coefficient, but also a “forgiving” design that typically allows it to shoot well jumping or loaded into the lands. The design of the 82 gr. BT bullet has been very successful, and the bullet is seeing wide use among the shooting community, particularly with match shooters. As a follow up to the 82 gr. bullet, one of the recent and excellent additions is Berger's new “80.5 gr. BT FULLBORE” target bullet. This new 80.5 gr. bullet shares the same “footprint” and design as the well known and widely used 82 gr. bullet, but its bullet weight is reduced to 80.5 gr. to permit it to comply with the 81 gr. limit that exists in certain international long-range Palma type shooting matches and events.
This author has found both the Berger 82 gr. bullet and the 80.5 gr. “baby brother” bullet to be very excellent and accurate bullets. If you are trying to “tweak” a load and dial it into your rifle, this extra offering by Berger can be just what is needed to find the bullet that works best in your rifle. The B.C. on the 80.5 gr. bullet is listed by Berger as .454 for the G1 B.C. and as .234 for the G7 B.C., which is very good for the size and weight of the bullet. This author has also found over the years that there is typically a “chemistry” between a rifle and a particular bullet, and if the “chemistry” is right, the rifle and bullet combination can exhibit great consistent accuracy, but if it is wrong, the reverse can be true (but we won't go there because rifles that are not accurate are no fun). Sometimes, even a slight change in the bullet weight can make a difference in that “chemistry”, and from this perspective, having an additional bullet with a slight change in bullet weight is a welcome option to the shooter looking for the best and most accurate combination in a rifle.
As a side note, this author measured and tested these new 80.5 gr. bullets and they were very consistent, not only in weight, but also in bearing surface and overall length. This bullet-to-bullet consistency is always welcome, particularly if time is tight and you just want to load bullets “out of the box” and go shooting. Additionally, the meplat (front tip where the bullet jacket is closed) of both the Berger 82 gr. and 80.5 gr. bullets are small and tight, which helps to keep the ballistic coefficient of both high. For long-range shooting, a fair number of shooters like to “point” the tips of the bullets and close the meplat even tighter to maximize the ballistic coefficient of the bullet. After examining many bullets out in the marketplace, the meplats of these Berger bullets are about as good as it gets for “out of the box” long-range shooting. If bullet tipping is desired, this author found that the Hoover bullet-tipping die, used in conjunction with the Hoover B-4 tipping punch, did an excellent job with both the Berger 82 gr. and 80.5 gr. bullets. Honestly, Berger did such a good job on closing up the meplats of these bullets, it makes one wonder how much extra ballistic coefficient is potentially gained by pointing or tipping these bullets.
Clearly, if you are shooting a 22 cal. center fire rifle and you are looking for a great long-range accurate bullet, the new 80.5 gr. Berger FULLBORE BT bullets are worth trying out!