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Setting up a rifle for long range hunting 600-1000 yards

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  • Setting up a rifle for long range hunting 600-1000 yards

    Having been a high power competition shooter and utilizing bolt rifles my entire highpower career since 1973 I understand the frustration and have already experienced the problems you are going to find.

    FWIW you can get by with a right hand bolt rifle utilizing iron sights just fine. In competition you have to get off 10 rounds in 60 seconds from the sitting position at 200 yards and prone position requires 10 rounds in 70 seconds at 300 yards and the irons don't interfere with getting your hand to the bolt know but when you have a scope that is completely changed.


    You are going to need optics and shooting lefty with a bolt gun and a scope is not a good combination if you are contemplating fast second shots because the scope prevents rapid bolt manipulation by a lefty so I rethought my options and bought a left hand Tikka rifle. I had triple bypass surgery last Oct 2 so I haven't been able to get the Tikka up and running so to speak though I have the scope and just got the rings for it.

    Caliber is iffy as well depending on how much shooting you are planning. It is well known that some callibers are barrel burners that will take out a barrel in about 500 rounds where other calibers you should see a 5000 round barrel life. My first choice for long barrel life for long range shooting would be a 30.06 with 175 gr Sierra MatchKing bullets and Vihta Vouri 150 or 160 propellant. This propellant is generally cooler burning and not as bad on your barrels.


    As a rule the smaller the bore diameter(under 30 cal) the shorter the barrel life so you must make a decision on which you can live it.

    Hunting at long range presents a even harder challenge as after 400 yards it becomes more critical to know THE EXACT RANGE to your target in order to elevate your chances of obtaining a first shot hit. Thus you are going to need the best range finder you can find.

    Here's why. Lets say you have a 30 cal rifle and your handloads are chonographing 50 fps extreme velocity spread. At 1000 yards that will give you a group 20" high so even if you know the exact range your ammo is likely to let you down.

    You are not likely to buy commercial ammo that will deliver you a 20 fps extreme spread so it is critical you hand-load for best possible groups and minimum vertical stringing thus you are going to get into reloading and develop the skills to load ammo into the 20 FPS or less range.

    Your scope is going to be a major decision because internal adjustment scopes can be iffy in the repeatability range. Determining repeatability is simple, finding the scope that will do it is the problem.

    Evaluating your scope procedure:

    Zero at 300 yards and put up a new target and shoot a 3 shot group. Then run your elevation up 20 clicks, right 20 clicks, down 20 clicks and left 20 clicks and shoot the 4th shot. Plot that shot at the bench. Next run scope down 20 clicks, left 20 clicks up 20 clicks and right 20 clicks and shoot and plot the 5th shot. The up 20 left 20 down 20 and right 20 clicks and shoot sixth shot and finally down 20, right 20, up 20 and left 20 and shoot your 7th shot and plot it.

    Evaluate as follows: Lets say in 5 continuous shots your rifle will print 2" at 300 yards but your six shot group is 6 inches which is well likely to be the case you know your scope may well let you down by moving the elevation up and down. This can be compensated for.

    Internal adjustment scopes should be mounted so that with the scope in the mechanical zero range, you have it printing shots very close at 300 yards as internal adjustment scopes generally get iffy in the extreme ranges if the adjustment module is way off center inside the tube.

    Determining Mechanical Zero of your scope. Back up elevation to the top of the travel till the adjustment stops. Then run your scope down all the way to the bottom till it stops. Lets say that is 120 clicks so run you scope back up 60 clicks and you are in the middle of the adjustment range. Now do the same thing on your windage and center that as well.


    Then mount the scope and shoot it at 50 yards and see how far your point of impact is from the point of aim. If the natural mechanical zero is off you need rings with the ability to move the scope to achieve center impact WITHOUT TOUCHING THE SCOPE KNOBS. The only ones I know that will achieve this are the Burris Signature Zee rings with a box of assorted shims so you can move the scope to get the POA as close to the POI as you can before you move the knobs.

    Once you get "IN" at 50 yards move to 100, then 200 and 300 yards and see if your groups are going walkabout. This is a lot of work but if you want reliable first shot on at long range the internal adjustment scope has to be near the middle of its mechanical zero.

    OK lets say you have it figured to 300 yards change the inserts to raise the rear of the scope and lower the front of the scope till it is on at 600 yards. As a medium range rifle I would set it for 600 yards on mechanical zero. If you know all your shots are going to be at 900 to 1200 yards you need to work a mechanical zero there.

    Case in point lets say you have a good zero at 600 yards and you get a shot at 800 yards. You will have to come up about 40 clicks. If you are zeroed at 800 yards your come ups will be more. Get a Sierra ballistics program and plot your come ups . For openers here is are changes with a 175 gr bullet loaded at 2700 FPS for the Sierra Program.

    Zero at 600 yards and shot comes up at 800 yards you have to aim OVER 78"
    Zero at 600 yards and shot comes up at 1000 yards you have to aim over 222"

    Zero at 800 yards and shot comes up at 1000 yards aim over 124"
    Zero at 800 yards and shot comes up closer at 600 yards you aim 58" lower.

    Obviously if your scope does not have the available clicks you are going to be having a problem quickly and most scopes don't.

    Finally I have a target on a frame 4 feet wide and 8 feet high. I set it up down range and after choosing my zero range I will cover the entire board with newsprint (end rolls from newspaper company) and put a target near the top. Lets say I have rifle zeroed at 600 yards and I want the ACTUAL DROPS at longer ranges I shoot 3 rounds at 600, three rounds at 700, three rounds at 800 and I know the exact come ups by measuring to the center of each 3 shot group.

    Basically this is exactly how it is done at Aberdeen Proving Ground except we had a target 32 feet high and 32 feet wide. When I conducted the Technical Feasibility Testing of the M16A1E1 (adopted as the M16A2) we shot dispersions (6-10 shot groups) with sight set at 200 meters and we went all the way back to 800 meters without touching the sights. We just raised the target to about 28 feet up and thus we captured all shots and could determine all drops completely and not be concerned with the accuracy of the iron sight and how much it moved each time.

    Bottom line is getting reliable hits at longer ranges is a IFFY situation but can be done if you do the homework.
    Distinguished Rifleman High Power , Distinguished Rifleman Smallbore Prone, Presidents Hundred (Rifle), Palma Teams Member (2), Dewar Teams Member (2), Member 4 Man National Championship Smallbore AnySight Team, Certified Small Arms and Ammunition Test Director Aberdeen Proving Ground , Eagle Scout, AC4HT, NRA Benefactor Member, Firefighter I, Shriner

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  • #2
    Hummer, Very nice post with a lot of good info. These days I keep all of my hunting shots to 500 yards or less (usually closer to 150 yards). Getting old and long shots aren't easy like they used to be.

    Dale

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    • #3
      Dale, thanks much. Did you get your NRA ballot yet?
      Distinguished Rifleman High Power , Distinguished Rifleman Smallbore Prone, Presidents Hundred (Rifle), Palma Teams Member (2), Dewar Teams Member (2), Member 4 Man National Championship Smallbore AnySight Team, Certified Small Arms and Ammunition Test Director Aberdeen Proving Ground , Eagle Scout, AC4HT, NRA Benefactor Member, Firefighter I, Shriner

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      • #4
        I don't hunt much, and wouldn't attempt a shot like that. Heck, I don't think I can even see that far. However, my nephew is an avid hunter, and he has been having difficulty sighting in his rifle for long distances. This should be exactly what he needs. Thanks for posting.
        The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

        Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you are stupid, and make bad decisions.

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        • #5
          Hummer, Not yet. Wife is a teacher here in WV. I've been a bit preoccupied. I need to check the mail. Thanks for the remind.

          Dale

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          • #6
            Good advice... You must hunt in the western states where there is no or little cover.

            In the woods (Wisconsin) I found that two different rounds work well.

            30-30 lever action works well with a 18-20 inch barrel because you have trees that will block any long distance shot 50 yards +.

            I like the .270 Winchester in a bolt action rifle with a 22 inch barrel. It is good for shooting in the woods and still can hit out to 300 yards if you are in a open field.

            I stopped using rifles a number of years ago and now use a bow. I hit one last fall dressed out at about 135 lbs. 6 pointer.
            Not my best but I was showing my grand kids what a bow can do that a rifle cannot. You can get a second shot off if you are fast enough.

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            • #7
              I'm an ex mil shooter. While I've got some fairly standard calibers .06 .223 etc, my favorite presently is the 6.5 Grendel. This round packs a good wallop, fits the AR chassis, and allows a quick follow up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CqY412-x7Y Here's me throwing some downrange

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              • #8
                Your scope is going to be a major decision because internal adjustment scopes can be iffy in the repeatability range. Determining repeatability is simple, finding the scope that will do it is the problem.
                I prefer to choose night vision or thermal vision scopes for long range distances, cause I prefer night hunting. And the best choice for me is something like AGM ANACONDA TC50-336 thermal scope ( got it from here: https://www.agmglobalvision.com/ther...lip-on-systems ) . What do you think about it? It seems like it has perfect options, like for a scope. It has lightweight, robust design, and everything else, even 3y warranty.
                Last edited by dan8VM; 05-26-2020, 12:18 PM.

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