Upgraded the glass on the .300 Win Mag

So Vortex quit making the 35mm Razor HD riflescopes in favor of their new Razor HD Gen II 34mm scopes. These are silly expensive scopes that I have always considered out of my comfort zone on what I want to pay for glass. Without a doubt they are both amazing scopes. But I always figured I am not good enough to justify such an expense. And even if I was good enough, the thought of spending the $2500 – $3200 that these cost, just made me nauseous. It is a weakness I have. I have a lot of experience in machining and manufacturing on an OEM scale and therefore I know what things cost to make and what they should cost to buy. Or at least I have a very good idea. And when things fall outside of what I think they should, the thought of spending that much money on them makes me nervous.

That gives you some background so you can see where I am coming from. As I am sure you have already figured out, I broke down and bought one of these amazing examples of precision glass and fine craftsmanship.

A couple months ago, I went to the range with a friend of mine in from out-of-town. I was testing out the wife’s gun for reasons unrelated to this story, but my friend brought his gorgeous AR-10 with a Vortex Viper PST FFP. I don’t remember if it was the 4-16×50 or the 6-24×50 variant. But regardless, the glass was impressive. I have the regular Vortex Viper 6.5-20×50 on one of my rifles and I have always liked it. However, his PST FFP was in a whole other range of quality. I figured that would have to be my next purchase once I had a need for a $900 scope. Well, all my guns had scopes. Their price/quality levels range from $80 – $900. BTW, the $900 one is a Leupold that I used to think was great until I looked through my friend’s PST FFP of the same price level. Anyway, once that range trip was done, I kept an eye on those PST’s waiting for the price to drop.

Vortex Razor HD 5-20x50

Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50

As luck would have it, Vortex decided to quit making the Razor HD and their prices plummeted accordingly. Of course, you had to find one in stock somewhere as more could not be ordered. And I happened to find one for less than ½ the MSRP. I couldn’t say no. This opportunity would not come around again anytime soon. So I pulled the trigger (pun intended) and bought the Razor HD 5-20×50 MRAD with the EBR-2B reticle. As a side note, Vortex only lists a 10 MRAD per rotation turret for this model. But my packaging shows 5 MRAD. According to a video on Vortex’s site, the difference between the scopes is just that each rotation makes a larger adjustment with the 10 MRAD, but the overall amount of travel is the same. So mine will allow for finer adjustment, but will take longer to make large adjustments. I’m cool with that since paper targets wait as long as I want them to.

5 MRAD turrets

5 MRAD turrets

Even the packaging is fancy. I wonder if this stems from the Japanese origin of it.

Even the packaging is fancy. I wonder if this stems from the Japanese origin of it.

Even comes with a bubble level, sun shield, and honeycomb filter thing

Even comes with a bubble level, sun shield, and honeycomb filter thing

The Razor HD is FFP, or first focal plane. My understanding of this is that it scales the reticle accordingly as you increase magnification therefore allowing you to range targets the same regardless of magnification. One thing I found really cool with FFP, especially with this EBR-2B reticle, is that as you zoom out (decrease magnification) the reticle is so fine that it almost looks like a fine duplex reticle, but as you zoom in all of the other busyness becomes apparent. The Nightforce reticles are a bit finer, but honestly, I think they are a bit too fine at times. Depending on the background it can be hard to see them. And the Vortex reticle is still very fine.

Love this color

Love this color

The Razor HD compared to the PST has the premium HD extra-low dispersion glass where the PST has their XD extra-low dispersion glass. I was reading about HD glass versus other glass on a benchrest shooting news site and it has something to do with the wavelengths of light it lines up covering all wavelengths rather than just most of them or something along those lines. I would look into it further for you, but what is important, is that it is the best you can get in riflescopes. Yes, there are other things that set some apart from others, but what HD is designed for, it is the best at. Most other differences between the two are aesthetics and ergonomics, save for a couple more things. The tube is 35mm diameter, which has a much smaller selection of available rings to choose from. Also, The Razor HD is made in Japan rather than the Philippines.

Side parallax adjustment. Nothing special, but there it is.

Side parallax adjustment. Nothing special, but there it is.

Now onto my use for this baby:

The obvious choice for gun to install it on is my .300 Win Mag Remington 700. This gun has the Bell & Carlson Medalist Style 2 stock, a Rifle Basix trigger, a Shooter’s Ridge bipod, and EGW 20 MOA Picatinny rail. And now, the Razor HD scope and Vortex high mount rings.

The B&C Style 2 stock is black with grey webbing. It has a nice pronounced palm swell and an aluminum bedding block in it. It also has a Pachmayr Decelerator pad, a nice wide forend, a vertical grip, and a high comb for easier cheek weld. The Rifle Basix trigger is a drop-in trigger assembly for the Remington 700 that has a nice crisp break with no over-travel, and it is set to about a pound of trigger pull weight. Smoove like butta. The EGW Picatinny rail is the 20 MOA variant which means it mounts the scope heading up-hill a bit for long range use. I pulled it off and applied some Loctite and torqued the screws to 20 in-lbs prior to installing the Vortex, per EGW’s specifications. The Bipod is a Shooter’s Ridge 6-9” pivoting model. It has been great. I have not liked the Harris bipods I have used in the past, and even though this has a similar design, it seems to work better and for 1/3 the price. The scope rings are Vortex 1.26” high 35mm precision matched rings. I hear they are made by Seekins Precision, which makes a few components I chose for my latest AR-15 build. And looking at the rings Seekins offers, they do look identical other than the logo cut into the top of them. These rings are expensive, but then again, so is the scope. They are matched to +/-.0005 tolerance. They don’t specify which dimension this applies to, but I have an idea 😉 BTW, the rings are torqued to 18 in-lbs in a cross pattern as specified by Vortex. Now this gun just needs a barrel. The stock one has performed well. But it looks so dinky. But that is not in the budget just yet.

Remington 700 by me :)

Remington 700 by me 🙂

Remington 700 by me :)

Remington 700 by me 🙂

Remington 700 by me :)

Remington 700 by me 🙂

I have been loading 200gr Sierra Matchking bullets for this. My magic load that gives me the best accuracy is 66gr of Hodgdon 4350 powder with Magnum large rifle primers with an OAL of 4.513. This is not the fastest I tried loading, but was by far the most accurate for me. Like ½ the group size of any other load. I will be developing a new load however using Hodgdon 4831 as it seems this powder is more suited for the heavier bullets I am using and also, the 4350 has been very difficult to find around here, but I have been able to obtain plenty of 4831. I may try the 210gr bullet as it ups the B.C. from .565 to .645. Or, I may just go the Berger VLD 200 as it has a B.C. of .624 which is significantly better than the Sierra 200, and almost as good as the 210, but may be able to fit in my detachable magazine better.

66gr Hodgdon 4350, LRM primers, Sierra Matchking 200 gr

66gr Hodgdon 4350, LRM primers, Sierra Matchking 200 gr

As always, click the pics for bigger versions. And as usual, sorry for the slow progress on this blog.


Modified Marlin XT-17 .17 HMR

I have been wanting a .17 HMR for years. But could never justify purchasing one as the round is almost as expensive as a .223 yet barely has better range than a .22LR. But I have always loved how small and sleek the round is and how pleasant the rifles are to shoot.

Savage 93r17TRR-SR

A couple months ago, the range near my house had an event  sponsored by Sportsman’s Warehouse where all of their firearm and bow vendors were invited. And most of them accepted. When you arrive, you buy tickets. Each caliber cost a specific amount of tickets per shot or per group of shots. Like any true keeper of testosterone would do, I spent quite a few tickets on the Barrett .50 and the Savage chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum. Well, I also got to shoot probably 10 other rifle calibers (and a bunch of pistol as well). But I always found myself wanting to shoot that Savage 93R17TRR-SR. I hogged that thing up for a good 10+ tickets worth. I think each ticket got me 5 shots.

So as soon as I left, I went straight down to Sportsman’s Warehouse to buy one. All they had in stock was a different 93R17 that felt like it had a little kid’s stock on it. Or some horrible abortion of a gun with a laminate thumbhole stock made with bright red and blue wood. The basic little kid version was $230. The abortion was a little over $400. They couldn’t even get me a price on the one I shot at the event. So I talked to another gun shop which quoted me around $480 for the one I shot at the event or $440 for the version without the terrible quad rail thing the TRR-SR has.

Wow, over $400 with no scope or ammo or anything? I could get a decent gun in a real caliber for that and I REALLY want something chambered in 25 WSSM.

Well, weeks went by and I came across Cabela’s running a deal on a silencer ready (like the TRR-SR) model for just $230. So I called them to make sure it was in stock and drove straight there. Turns out, it had the same kid’s stock, and while it was a threaded barrel, it was a skinny little needle dick barrel. However, right next to it, was a Marlin. It had a very basic cheap wood stock. But it had the fat barrel. I felt it, and wow, it was actually made for an adult. The stock was slick and about slipped out of my hand and right through their glass display case. But it had a trigger that is supposedly very similar to the Savage (the Cabela’s employee told me they were identical, this is not the case) and a couple sling swivels so mounting a bipod would be easy. It did not come with sights at all which I think is good as it makes for a cleaner look and does not leave an easily rusted hole in the barrel.

Stock Marlin XT17

The Marlin was just $20 more than the little kid Savage with the needle dick barrel. It wins. I took it home. And the next day stripped it apart to get ready to paint. After taking all the components off, I spend about 15 minutes sanding the stock to rough it up so the paint would stick.

Pulled apart for paint

Here is the stock after the first coat of paint:

After 1st coat

And here is the stock on the gun put back together all painted and dry after 2 days of coating then allowing to dry:

Painted stock on Marlin XT17

As soon as I bought it I began the search for the scope. I have typically had cheap scopes. However, after purchasing a Vortex Viper for my .300 Win Mag, I have been spoiled and must have better glass. I wanted to stay under $300 as I did not want the scope to cost that much more than the gun. Especially for something that realistically is useless over 300 yards. Under $300 you get all the Chinese garbage that is surprisingly overpriced such as: BSA, Barska, NCStar, etc… Over $300 you move into some decent scopes, but usually lower power until you get around the $450-$500 price range. I turned to Natchez who I have purchased scopes from before and found the winner. A Weaver V24 6-24×42 that can focus down to 50 feet. Turns out this is the same scope that my cousin uses for silhouette competition. It was on sale for $270 off from the regular price of well over $500. Granted, they can be had for about $340 online, but $270 was still a great price.

Weaver v24 6-24×42

Now since I was already paying shipping from Natchez, I figured I would add some rings and a bipod to the order. The bipod I got last time for my .300 Win Mag was out of stock. As was every variant of that bipod. So I took a chance and ordered a UTG OP-1 Picatinny mount bipod. It comes with the picatinny adapter and an extension for the sling mount. It looked pretty slick and was cheap. Turns out it is very solid feeling. It does not swivel, but I found I dislike swiveling bipods.

UTG OP-1 Bipod w/Picatinny mount

And slap the whole contraption together and we get this:

Marlin XT-17V w/Weaver V24 & OP-1 Bipod

Marlin XT-17V Modified

All said and done, I have a gun that should shoot just as well as the Savage, I think looks just as good,  with a quality scope and decent bipod for around $70 more than the Savage would have cost me without any accessories.

On the Boom front

A wristwatch for gun nuts. It’s called the “Son of a Gun” created by a Swiss watchmaker called ARTYA. The majority of their watches are hideous monstrosities. This one is barely an exception. But since it is sort of gun related I figured I would post it here.

According to ARTYA, those are real 6mm bullets held together with copper wire. The bullets are 6mm Flobert (or Flaubert depending on your location) bullets. Which from quick searches seems to be antique (dating back to around 1842) rimfire ammunition. There was also a great quote in ARTYA’s press release: “Guns don’t always kill people, time always does.”

While I am not a fan of the style of this particular watch, there was another encouraging bit of info in the ARTYA press release: “A complete new line of products incorporating the world of firearms will take shape in the near future.”

The movement is a 25 jewel Swiss made automatic which has 42 hours of power reserve. The case is 316 Stainless with a reticle engraved on the bezel and a width of 47mm. The crystal is sapphire. The back of the case is open with a sapphire crystal. It has what ARTYA refers to a “ballistic style” bracelet. In other words, it is canvas. And it’s water resistant and has a 2 year warranty. No idea on price, but even if it is inexpensive, I’m not buying one. I do however look forward to seeing their future firearm related watches.

My first AR15.

That’s right. I am a gun guy that up until this weekend has never had an AR15. Sure, I have shot a couple. But I have never been able to justify the cost involved in building one. Well, this year I had to pay a lot of taxes. And it hurt. So to ease my pain, I spent some money. I bought the complete lower assembly about a month ago. And I told myself I would wait until I got the stock money at work to buy an upper. I also told myself I would not buy a .223 upper. Well, the Crossroads of the West guns show came to town and changed all that. Continue reading

iPhone Holster

More fun from the site Kickstarter. It seems no matter how silly your idea is, there must be people out there that are as delusional as you. There is currently a project seeking funding for an iPhone holster. Granted, as of the time I write this there is only one backer, but I have seem some seriously stupid things get funded on that site. It does seem the iphone market would be full of the kind of people that frown on open carry and thusly would be annoyed by such a creation. But, like I said, kickstarter has helped fund some very lame things before…

Here is a picture of it, in case this idea sounds tempting to you:

Only $35 and you can have on in brown or black. I really want to see some guy dual wielding iPhones trying some quick-draw in line at Starbucks with a big red bandanna around his neck. That would be great while trying his best John Wayne impersonation. Or maybe someone using it as a Halloween costume. Cowboy Steve Jobs.