Box2Bench Targets: Right Idea, Right TimePro-Tip: Break in your new barrel before going into load development. Also, set aside a couple rounds to make sure your zero is on and verified (against a different target ideally) before shooting the B2B target. Does little good to poke holes where they don’t go. While there is in fact bit of spare room to shoot misses, you’ll have a better time if you get your initial POI/POA known for sure and then offset your POI about an inch one way or the other to keep your aim point intact. You’ll notice my -.010 group is nowhere near the aim point. That was because I neglected my zero check after removing and reinstalling the scope the day before the range trip.
Figure 6. Final lands test. There's 5 shots in the final group. SD's are still over 20FPS.
Anyway, I banged away 4 groups of 3 rounds and discovered very plainly that my habit of jamming bullets wouldn’t help in this case. It turned out that Hornady ELD-M 73gn bullets in my chamber wanted a bit of jump which I’d have probably taken a while to get to figuring out because I’m a habitual jammer.
Jumping them also eliminated the pressure signs (slight primer flattening) on the fire forming load which was good. The best group turned in at ~.38” extreme spread center to center. My best vertical spread was .17”. Best horizontal spread was ~.2”. The worst vertical spread was ~.6”. The worst horizontal spread was 1.1”. In the groups I’ve shot so far for record it’s averaging under ¾ MOA.You can see most of those groups in the pictures above and below.
One big surprise for me was what happened to my velocity SD’s. The SD’s from the 2 groups from the initial lands test dropped more than in half, one down to 10FPS. That was pretty promising and suggested some more testing was urgently needed.
I put together another 20 rounds using the -.080 jumps and 39.3 grain charge weight. After being much more attentive to my powder charge weights for this set and I had just installed a micrometer seater stem into my Redding seating die and gotten it set. With fresh ammo in the box so I went to do some optics tests. Sigh. Murphy is a jerk!
Figure 7. More perforations from a quick turret tracking test. This target has been taped to stands, shot and pulled down 3 times. A bit dirty but still solid.
I started by confirming my 100yrd aim point. My rifle’s zero is at 200yrds and I didn’t want to change it so I used an alternate aim point in my reticle. Easy and precise. Anyway, as soon as I finished a 3mil vertical click value test and reset my elevation to zero I went to start the box drill. I rolled up 1mil and left 1mil and fired only to find I’d not gotten any left POI shift. I then wasted a bunch of time and some ammo finding out that my windage turret had come loose and then fixing that. Once it was fixed I re-zeroed and came up 1 and left 1. Bingo. Up one more. Bingo. Up one and a half more. Bingo. Right 2. Bingo. Right one, down one and a half. Bingo. Down one. Bingo. Left one. Bingo. Left one, down one back to zero. Bingo. My final shot was within half an inch of my first one. Calling that ok given the average group size.
I was using a Magnetospeed and tracking my velocities the whole time. The last 20 rounds were sporting SD’s of just over 20FPS. Well, poop. Perhaps bumping the charge weight a bit and filling some of that empty space will tighten those up. To finish it all up I ran 5 rounds at a final lands test aiming point and ended up with a .6” group. I’m really liking this gun!
All in, you end up shooting from 72 rounds on up to a bit over 100 (based on 3-5 shots per group) to do the whole target by the book. Once you’re done with that you have a complete record of your development process on one page that won’t tear apart from handling. You don’t have to stick to the instructions though (I highly recommend you do for the optics tests). If you have a system you like already you’re free to use it, and the layout of the target will almost certainly help.
Figure 8. The very first fire formed case to come out of the gun and a loaded round before fire forming.
What I really like about this target is that it not only lets me focus on the important stuff, but it actually helps me do that. It also offers to eliminate the variability in the way that I might otherwise do my load development. It’s no longer me and my coach battling our own better or worse judgement and each other. I don’t even have to have a folder full of gobs of curled up stickers or torn targets for each load or some janky notebook full of scribbles that don’t tell you much except what the recipe was.
Using the B2B target I can directly compare multiple loads and because there’s enough room to do so, and a pen won’t just punch through, I can write my notes directly on it at least legibly, and know I can refer to them later.
The target is durable enough to be repeatedly pulled from a range bag, taped to a target frame, removed and packed up again. It’s waterproof and quite near impossible to tear by hand so you won’t destroy it pulling it down and folding it up or otherwise just handling it. It’s not going to fall apart on you, unlike any kind of pulp based paper, because it’s not made of paper. It’s made from a well selected (polymer from what I can tell) paper substitute.
I’ve got a couple of these targets; I’m using them for load development and optics validation and it’s helping me so far. No more rectally deriving what my next test is going to be. I can look at my results all side by side on one page and know what direction I need to go, or if things are well enough to be left alone. We’re all trying to do as well as we can, but half of the things we’re told to do go from pure lore, to old wives’ tales, to things that are not easily practicable by John Doe the rifleman. It’s important to note that this B2B target is not just for beginners or just for advanced users. It’s useful for anyone with a rifle that they’d like to develop or select a load for.
Figure 9. Top to bottom, touching lands, -.010, -.040, -.080, -.120.
I’m an exceedingly average guy. My day job being what it is though means a lot of things are easier for me than they might otherwise be. I’m used to dealing with tediousness and eye bleeding boredom that come from carefully documenting nit-picky things. That’s not to say I like it. I actively dislike it but it’s work. Many folks really aren’t made for tolerating tedium. I personally don’t like to guess. Guessing produces an anxiety that erodes my confidence as well as my determination in the most horrible way. The me that has other stuff to do wants something like a little box on a little form that I can mark off and move on from as unemotionally encumbered as a Vogon destroying an inhabited planet. The B2B target takes all of my second guessing of myself and lack of organization and gently nudges them aside. Organization is enforced like a check-box list if you need it. If you don’t need it, you already have it.
For someone that spends a lot of time debating with yourself, this is just the ticket. It allows you to get out of your own head and to get focused properly on the matter at hand. Also, if you don’t get a great load out of it you’re free to exculpate yourself of any fault. Just change a component and try again and blame the target or the gun if you want to. They won’t get offended.
Figure 10. Barrel break-in day, scoping out the 900yrd target. It’s no fun to shoot stuff you can see with the naked eye.
If you’re the kind of guy that wants to go to Walmart and grab yourself a rifle, a scope and a few boxes of ammo and be quickly ready for a hunt, you’re also exactly who needs to try this thing out. If you’re an F-Class or PRS shooter or any kind of long range shooter or hunter then this is the new must have.
Even if you use it only as a normal shooting target it’s got 30 aiming points and it’s durable enough to be set up multiple times so you can track your own progress over multiple sessions. It’s kind of expensive for that trivial a use but not if you’ve got the bucks.
If you shoot for groups for your own pleasure or particularly for internet bragging rights then what’s better than 1 target with 30 aiming points that doesn’t tear? It’s perfect for taking pics for posting on all of your social media. More time at the bench, more time bragging and less time spent putting up little sticky dots or applying scotch tape to torn paper. I assure you I was just joking about the social media thing.
For 6 bucks (the single sheet current sale price) I’m asserting that it’s worth a bunch more in saved frustration and inconsistency when used for the intended purpose. If you’re anything like me you’ll get a new drive to do some more load development for your other rifles. It’s totally reinvigorated me to get back into load development which had lost some of the fun factor over the past couple years.
For my money, I want 2 of these for each of my rifles at all times and a handful more on hand just to have them in case I get a new rifle or someone in my circle needs a load developed. I know that I’ll be bringing some with anytime someone wants me to help set up their rifle. They’re great for teaching humility too.
For more information or to purchase targets visit - www.boxtobenchprecision.com
Meccastreisand is a long time competitive and recreational shooter, wildcatter, computer geek, exterior ballistics geek, inventor, outdoorsman, writer, husband and father. With over 20 years of experience in local and regional airgun, handgun, rifle and shotgun competitions of all sorts he competes currently in high power and smallbore metallic silhouette in the western states and long range precision and tactical matches throughout northern and central California. In his free time he wishes that he had enough free time to do anything other than wish for more free time.Aug 31, 2017 | Updated: Sep 5, 2017