Setting Up A Remage Barrel for PRS

This is an old post from the black rifle blog.  As I get closer to shooting out the 260 Remington barrel I installed for my first PRS match I figured I would repost this here:

For several years now I have been thinking about competing in long range practical rifle competitions.  I read a lot about the matches and the equipment involved and would tell myself that I needed a better rifle, scope, stock, etc.  I would talk myself out of trying the competitions, constantly doubting that the equipment or skills that I possessed would be adequate.  Earlier this year I decided to just go for it.  I already had a 308 rifle with a decent scope, I just needed to go out and do it!

Cheyenne Precision Rifle Match
Cheyenne Precision Rifle Match
I started earlier this year by attending some local matches.  These matches involved shooting at distances from about 200 yards to 800 yards from a variety of different positions.  I did a previous match report from the Cheyenne Mountain Precision Rifle Match.  You can click on the picture to the right to see that match report.

Although I really enjoyed the local match format, I was really hoping to compete in some of the larger matches that involved movement between multiple stages, higher round counts and more challenging conditions.  There are a number of these matches around the country and when looking into this type of match, the Precision Rifle Series clearly stands out.

The Precision Rifle Series has evolved in the last few years to incorporate a number of the long range matches that were occurring throughout the country and put a national ranking system in place.  Similar to an IPSC or IDPA type competition series.  These matches occur throughout the year and are located all over the country.  I've been watching the event list for a while now and after watching the registration open for the Battle of Breakneck in Nebraska, I decided to give it a go.

I signed up for the match intending to use my 308 rifle (pictured above) and just go and experience what it was like.  As the match got a little closer I started to really feel like shooting 308 would put me at a strong disadvantage.  I ultimately decided to switch to a 6.5mm caliber.  There are several 6.5mm cartridges that use the same bolt face as the 308 and are popular in long range competition.  I narrowed my choices down to the 260 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor and the 6.5x47 Lapua. 

With time counting down to the Battle of Breakneck I had to figure out how to get my rifle chambered in the new caliber, buy reloading components and have time to work up a load before the match.  After a lot of back and forth, I decided using a gunsmith to rebarrel my rifle was not going to fit with my budget or time table.  I would try out a "Remage" conversion that uses a barrel nut, similar to Savage factory rifles.  While many people don't feel like this option is on par with a quality gunsmith installed barrel, checking various sources online I found that there have been many people reporting good groups from the Remage conversions.  I decided for the time being I would do the Remage conversion.  Once I shoot the barrel out, or decide to move up to a custom action, I will have to rethink Remage vs. gunsmith cut barrel.

Next came the hard part, deciding what caliber to use.  I won't get into every little detail about the choices I mentioned above, but suffice it to say that each of the calibers has advantages and disadvantages.  Overall, they have very similar performance.  While I was looking at components, I noticed that the brass and bullets for each were in and out of stock at most of the major online retailers and the local stores.  I was consistently checking Ammoseek a couple times a day. Ultimately my decision would be heavily influenced by the availability of components and an in-stock barrel.

In the end I decided on a 260 Remington.  This offers slightly higher velocity than the other two options I mentioned, has excellent Lapua brass and I was able to find all of the components in stock with time to work up a load.  Mile High Shooting had plenty of the brass in stock and I was able to drive by the store and pick it up in person.  Northland Shooter Supply had a 260 Match barrel and all of the tools in stock, ready to ship.

Rifle with new Criterion Remage barrel installed.
I ordered the barrel and tools to install it on my Remington receiver.  The factory barrel was a pain to remove, but once it came off, it was easy to install the new barrel.  I took my time with the Go and No-Go gages to make sure that the headspace was set just right.   I also had to do some inletting to the Bell and Carlson stock that I am using.  The Remage barrel nut is larger in diameter and the varmint profile from Criterion Barrels was a little larger than the factory varmint contour of the 308 barrel.

With everything installed I hit the range four weekends in a row, shooting an OCW workup load for powder charge, another for seating depth and then two separate trips to longer ranges to get the DOPE dialed in out to 1000 yards.  I am not the greatest group shooter, so I hesitate giving specific group info, but overall I would say that the factory 308 averaged just over 1" 5-shot groups.  I had some as small as .4," but then I would have days where I had a hard time shooting less that 1.5" groups.  Although I haven't spent a lot of time shooting groups with the new barrel, I would say that it is shooting closer to .75" on average.  I will have to see if that improves with some more time and some different bullets and powders.

Confirming the long range drops was somewhat difficult.  The first weekend I went out to a range with multiple different steel targets at 400 to 1000 yards in 100 yard increments.  It seemed like a great range to confirm drop.  Unfortunately the wind and mirage were heavy that day and due to the long grasses at the range, it was nearly impossible to spot misses.  I was able to leave fairly confident of my drops out to about 700 yards, but couldn't spot hits or misses any further than that.  It might have worked a little better if I had someone else with me to help spot, but working on my own, it was a frustrating trip.

The next weekend I went to another range that had a wide variety of targets at 600 yards or closer, and then just a couple at 1000.  This left a hole at the distances between, but there was not nearly as much mirage or wind and thanks to shorter grass and a lot of dirt, my misses were much easier to spot.  Those conditions combined helped me to get better feedback about my shots and I left the range confident in my drops out to 1000 yards. 

Although the Density Altitude at the range I shot at was close to 9000 feet, the Battle of Breakneck is located at less than 4000 feet of elevation.  I used JBM Ballistics and the actual DOPE I used out to 1000 yards to make data cards out to about 1200 yards.  Using the Density Altitude info that JBM Ballistics provides, I copied and pasted the info into an excel and tweaked to get the look I wanted for the drop cards.  I then printed out cards for 1000 to 10,000 feet of DA in 1000 foot increments.  I laminated the cards and punched a hole in the top so that the correct card could be put on my scope as needed.

With the new barrel installed, sighted in and trued ballistic cards printed, I figured I was as prepared as I could be for the match.  The forecast didn't look promising, with 20-30 MPH wind gusts, rain, snow and cold temperatures.  I loaded up the camper and my wife and I headed to Nebraska. 


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