F-class Rigs…
Newbie’s quest for the ultimate Vee & X whacker long range target rifle.

So what does a new shooter or wannabe do once they have acclimatized themselves to long range f-class target shooting? Good question! I’ve had numerous conversations with new shooters who come up to me after only a few practices or competitions asking me what kind of whiz bang rifle do they need to get to beat all the f-class shooters on the range and to win hands down. The first thing I think is gosh darn someone’s got a rifle like that? Wow! Invariably I attempt to outline what they should be considering. Some asking the questions have a great deal of knowledge and you can tell they’ve done some pretty extensive homework. They pick up on the ideas very quickly. Others, well it doesn’t matter how much time you spend with them going over and over the details like a skipping record they are going to go out and do the exact complete opposite of what is recommended to them. It seems to be directly proportional to the amount of time or energy you spend talking to them. The more I explain the idiosyncrasies of what they should be looking for the weirder the combinations I see in their hands shortly afterwards.

You know why I say this? Because at one point I’ve been just that guy! I’ve been there I’ve done it I’ve got the rifles sitting in the safe to prove the point. So I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not going to matter one iota of what I say to them. They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do, period until such a time as the begin to understand the requirements for the particular discipline they are interested in.

For those who do have the ability to listen but more importantly understand rifles are no different from buying stereos, fast cars or a set of golf clubs. You can get into as much trouble as you can handle with fast cars and girlfriends and you can do that with rifles too! I carefully refrain from mentioning wives. I might be crazy but I’m not stupid. I think the majority of new shooters would be better serviced continuing to shoot whatever they first brought to the range until such a time as they appreciate the subtle differences in wind and mirage and that’s certainly not the following weekend! It means understanding what each element does and how it affects a long distance shot. When they can do this then they can talk about whiz bang.

But if you must have at it then it goes something like this. If you’re rich then you can afford a complete custom rifle at a price tag only the rich don’t have to ask how much? The problem is finding a gunsmith who’s not booked up for the next couple years and is willing to drop everything they’re doing or bump all their work to tackle the newbies custom solid block of steel project just a little less complicated than the SR-71 Blackbird and that the smith doesn’t mind being called every other day with the proverbial, “When is it going to be ready question?”

The next group isn’t rich but goaded by an unknown, uncontrollable force called “win at any cost”. With them it’s the latter part that is key. May the force be with you! Then you have the frugal types they want it but they don’t want to pay for it which leaves bad feelings all around with the folks they got the parts from, the smith and eventually themselves when they find they have no idea how to use the ¼ minute rifle that shoots tiny groups all day long for everyone else but them.

Then we have the types who insist on nothing but the best whether they can afford it or not. They go on the internet and read, read and read and finally they build. Trouble is they want dual duty. They also need to be able “hunt” with it, a dual purpose package if you will. Does nothing right for long range shooting but you’ll see pink mist right out to 600-700 yards with “outstanding” velocities. I can’t remember the last time I saw pink mist on a paper target can you? A 30” barrel means something like 24 inches to them. What’s a few inches got to do with anything, right? A stock that weighs in almost as much as a light hunting rifle, which might have something to do with recoil, but they missed that part, is designed to ride on a rest, well that needs to be whittled, rounded and preferably foldable and bullet weight and caliber why use something like a target type bullet when you can get a bigger bang for your buck with a controlled expansion, something in the middle of the core type bullet. Forgot about the trigger in the low ounces range… that’s going to be serious shit in any forest I can think of. I don’t know how many threads I’ve read that started out as target rifles projects and ended up either high-jacked or ideal articles for some fishing and hunting magazine.

So the best thing I can tell you is join-up with a bunch of long range minded target shooters who spend time at the range at the 800/900/1000 yard distances or if you want to get complicated 700/800/900 meters. Watch what they use and how they use it. If they’re whacking the V or X ring consistently don’t assume it totally because of the hardware they’re holding. I’m not going to kid you and say hardware isn’t involved in the equation. Sure it is absolutely come on! But you can have the best ¼ gun on the planet and if you miss several wind calls, you tell me where that’s going to leave you? On the flip side of the coin if by chance you are extremely gifted I know about half dozen guys in this realm, who know about wind and mirage then you need to be shooting more gun, that’s a given and you know what? If you know this much you probably already own the rig you need or are quite close.

Be wary of the target shooter who only seems to show up with the same rifle time after time on the range because they probably knows how to use it. It might be a pretty basic rig too consisting of a 30” or close match barrel, a stock properly bedded which in our class will probably accommodate a rest or bipod, a trued and blued action, and a safe trigger that doesn’t need a gorilla to pull it. Ya but what about the caliber? Walk down the line behind the shooters with a piece of paper and write down what you think they’re shooting. When they come off the line confirm it. If a number comes up on your paper more often then not… I guess that might be a good start eh!

Where the confusion comes is after seeing the majority of rifles on the line are 6.5 x.284s that are doing an excellent job of keeping up with the shooters, folks need to reinvent the wheel. There has to be something else out there that’s going to do the job better. Maybe. Does my “maybe” placate the innovative inventors and tinkers… probably not, after all would we have jets in the sky, mega computer chips which run Microsoft o/s’s… which always break down, washers, stoves, fridges and dryers?