Long Range Rifles, LLC - 7WSM Rifle Review
By Lorenzo Young
“Hit!... Center wind, half minute high.” I smiled at the faint tone of surprise in Brian’s voice as I turned the elevation knob down two clicks. I settled in and eased off three more rounds. Boom....whap. Boom...whap. Boom...whap!
“When do you gotta send it back?” Brian asked. He was thinking about the same things I was: the smooth rugged looks, the comfortable feel, like a well worn saddle, the sub half minute hundred yard group I'd just shot, and the tight group I was printing on the 1000 yard gong. “She can shoot for sure,” I agreed. Send the rifle back? I thought about it as I settled in for the last round. Boom...whap. Like hell!
The rifle was from Len Backus at Long Range Rifles, LLC. Len had called a week ago asking if I'd be willing to shoot and review one of his new and unfired rifles. I had done a fair job at not giggling like a schoolgirl as I accepted. As a bonus, I got him to send a Huskemaw scope along, too. Both products had captured my interest long ago, and I was really looking forward to the opportunity to assess them.
Len's precision rifles can be seen here at Long Range Rifles, LLC.
I don't recall where I picked up the long range bug. The idea is one that's stuck, though, grown, and changed things for me, changed things a lot. My rifle collection was impacted right off. Rifles got re-stocked and re-scoped, actions bedded, triggers tuned, crowns re-cut, muzzle brakes added. Each milestone was exciting, each changed my perspective, and each brought a need for better accuracy and better equipment. I had started at 500 yards. It seemed a long ways at the time. Remembering that first shot makes me grin. It was my first attempt, my first test of theory. Boom…crack! It had been a revelation.
My skills grew quickly from that point, the yardages rapidly increasing. It wasn't long until I knew the limits of my tricked out factory rigs. I hungered for better rifles, better accuracy and consistency. It was time for a custom, a precision rifle! Eight months... “Eight months wait,” the smith had said. I'd shrugged mentally, knowing the wait was par for the course. It was January and eight months would put the rifle in hand with just enough time to dial in before the hunts. Turned out that the rifle didn't make it in time for the hunts. Ultimately, I endured an eighteen month wait plus a few other "building pains" before finally enjoying the anticipated precision. So goes the custom rifle game.
Presently, there are few things I enjoy more than settling in behind a fine rifle and hanging the crosshairs on rock, steel, or best yet, fur. I've counted to three while watching my bullets arch toward a target beyond a mile. I've fought for calm before squeezing off on an elk at nearly twelve hundred yards. I've struggled to get long shots off quickly on restless coyotes, and fought fickle winds in prairie dog country. I've spent time at the lathe, employed by one of the best rifle smiths anywhere. I teach a long range class, enjoying the pleasure of coaching my students through their first long range hits on targets and game. I've loved every moment! I've developed a real understanding of and appreciation for a fine, long range rifle.
When Len introduced his precision long range rifles I sat up and looked again. I knew Len had done his research and it showed. The components are top notch, ones I'd have chosen myself or recommended without hesitation. The action is by Phoenix Machine (now known as Defiance), the fluted bolt and tactical knob by PTG, the stock by Manners, the barrel a Brux, the trigger a Jewel. A 20 moa rail is included. You simply can't do better!
Combine both the precision components and the superb gunsmith skills of the sponsors on the LongRangeHunting.com website and you can't go wrong! Pairing a truly fine, precision rifle with no wait time, no excuses, and no misunderstandings creates an extremely attractive proposition. Pick the caliber which best suits your needs, or current whim. I guarantee you won't be disappointed!
The choice of calibers reflect Len’s experience, clear thinking, and LongRangeHunting.com forum member poll results. By all accounts, the 6.5x284, 7WSM, 7 Dakota, 300 Ultra, 300 WSM, and the 338 Edge are scary accurate and easy to load for. Even better, the homework has all been done, with proven recipes and load data readily available. I chose to review a 7 WSM. I used Winchester brass, and did only basic case prep. I chose a 180 Berger, H1000, and 215m, seated into the lands perhaps .001. Simple and effective, most of the time.
The trip to the range couldn't have gone smoother. Len had provided his personal Huskemaw scope to use for the review. The scope had been lifted off his 7 Dakota. I simply set the scope on the new rifle’s rail and tightened the bolts. After a quick bore sight, it took two shots to zero the rifle. I had planned to do a ten round break-in procedure. When the third round hit point of aim, I went ahead and fired two more for group. I had an easy sub .5moa group at point of aim, and I'd fired only five rounds through a brand new rifle! Well hell, I thought, grinning. Let's just run 'er out to a thousand.
Settling in for the thousand yard shooting, I considered the ballistics. Len’s Huskemaw scope had a compensation knob on it for his 7 Dakota. The knob said .75bc, 3145 fps, 4500' altitude. I figured my load would be something like .684, 2990 fps, 6000'. I guessed I'd need another minute and half of elevation. I dialed the Husmemaw scope’s custom compensation knob to the 1000 yard mark, then added an extra minute and a half.
Len's precision rifles can be seen here at Long Range Rifles, LLC.
I had shot both the 7 Dakota and the 7WSM cartridges a fair amount, and am familiar with the ballistics of each. I settled in and squeezed off the first round, bringing us to the opening paragraph and the mild surprise in Brian’s tone. I had scored a first round hit at 1000 yards. Sixth shot out of the rifle, first shot beyond one hundred yards, with no load work, and no ballistic work!
The following rounds produced a 1000 yard group perhaps 3.5" tall X 8" wide. I had made no effort to read the slight wind changes, and was extremely pleased with the accuracy of the rifle and load. I know well it's not always that easy. When it is, I'll sure take it! I also understand it wasn't just luck. A well built rifle, a well chosen caliber, proven components, and a skilled shooter (yes, me), contributed. I wasn't surprised, just pleased.
I was more than satisfied the rifle could perform to my expectations. I've taken the rifle along on several shooting trips since. On each outing the rifle has proven very accurate and very comfortable to shoot. Simply put, the rifle is built of well chosen components by a skilled smith, and flat does what it's supposed to! I am loathe to send it back!
I found the Huskemaw scope to be an interesting piece of glass, offering several real advantages. Frankly, I am an MOA or “click” shooter, and Nightforce rates high with me. I have found the Best of the West marketing hype over the top, and I really figured the Huskemaw for a "gimmick". Yet, I was curious, eager to have a look. Out of the box, my initial impression was, hey this is a real, quality piece of glass! I found the glass good, the construction seemingly robust. Overall, I figure this for a good, solid, long range optic. I like the 20 moa per revolution, the zero reference, and I like the reticle.
Len sent along at least a half dozen turret covers, including several conditions for his 7 Dakota, other loads, and a simple MOA cover. You can have it your way. As for MOA versus BDC (or TTC in this case), they both have merit. I've sure been in situations where speed was the critical factor, and I've been in situations where pinpoint accuracy was the key. Fact is, you can have this scope whichever way you favor, and both, if you like!
Thanks Len, for the opportunity to check out these long range tools! I thoroughly enjoyed them!