Ultra-Long-Range shooting: The Gear

English

Back to the basics

Shooting at a distance, revered extremely high for small arms is very hardware dependent.   If in cases of supersonic speed shooting it is still possible to get away with an average equipment, quality and performance wise, this approach does not work here, from the the word «at all.»

Your attention is invited to the general recommendations to the equipment selection that can serve as a good reference point for a beginning to learn this exciting science  — » to connect» with target at seemingly unreal distances.

1. RIFLE.

Despite a widespread idea that cartridge determines everything in shooting, we still put a gun in the beginning. The cartridge determines the maximum effective range, but it yet has to be realized with a weapon of corresponding characteristics. This thesis is confirmed by the very limited selection of weapons for shooting past 2000 m mark although cartridges with necessary caliber ballistic characteristics are widely available. Simply put, try to find a rifle reliably shooting beyond «the two», at least in the same 408CT, 375 CT, 416 Barrett or 50 BMG. In practice, this would be not so easy.

Just the other week I got a call from a Russian arms company, on the occasion test shooting original Cheytac M-300 408CT. Having groups at 100 meters around 2 MOA experts refused to believe their eyes. And this is really hard to believe, because we are all formed by PR-technologies. Naturally, with such accuracy you’ll have difficulties shooting groups already at 1200m. To my virtual reality it was also a serious blow, because we had big plans for this model for the comparative firing at 2km. Being aware of the problems with accuracy in a more tactical M-200, we were still hoping for new opportunities of M-300 as it was positioned more as a target rifle.

These disappointments occur not only from being in the nets of skillful marketing. They are partly due to the fact that we forget the general principle for grading long-range weapons.

Photo by (c)Avdey /Aleksey Daev/
Custom SVLK-14, with whcih new long distance shot record was made (3720m)

Maximum range of fire of the weapon — is conditionally the same as maximum speed for car — the main indicator by which street cars are divided into classes and their price is formed. Comfort, reliability, engine capacity, which through a series of pads (transmission and so on) may or may not be implemented on the roadway — all this secondary to the «maximum speed». You can not expect from a conventional Mercedes that it would go like Brabus, and from Brabus that it will be able to compete on equal terms with Lambo. Lambo in turn is not a competitor to McLaren and so on. These all are just different classes of  cars.
Exactly the same principle can be applied in our area. No sense to expect a miracle from a weapon that it can not give, simply because it was not designed for this purpose just according to the characteristics possessed by it — no matter what they say and how shoot them in Hollywood, BBC and Discovery. In the end, there are objective parameters that you can try to dig (such as hundred yards accuracy, muzzle velocity etc.) . Of course, if you want to.

2. BULLET.

For that kind of shooting we are going to need a very high quality bullet. Speaking of bullets, we mean that everything else in a cartridge must also be in order as to: powder of proper burning rate, quality brass and primer. The charge must work to ensure an acceptable accuracy, which for best results should be as less than 0.5 MOA as possible. In general, particular accuracy of the Ultra long range rifles — is, of course, important, but this is not the main deterrent. In the end, no one has yet demonstrated not even a minute accuracy, but at least stable 2-minute accuracy at ranges of more than 2 km. And therefore — a bullet.

Bullets_408
Classic .40 Lobaev D30 419 gr. bullet

3. SCOPE.

I am convinced that today a scope is the weakest link in an virtual Ultra long range shooting system as is the greatest deterrent to increase the firing range, if we talk specifically about our guns (LA). Firstly, there are fairly stringent requirements for the scope adjustment range. It is desirable to have at least 100 MOA vertically, with 70-75 being the absolute minimum, allowing, for example, on our rifles to implement 2km distance, without resorting to oblique rails and  inconvenience of rezeroing at long-range.

IMG_2710
IOR Valdada 5.8-40 with 100MOA range on early DXL-3 version

Of course, you can use adjustable mounts, but they all suffer from the same disease — poor repeatability. We are working on the problem and if win, the problem of having scope with high elevation range will be less relevant.

Secondly, when shooting long-distance to the fore also comes aperture ratio and image quality to be able to find and examine the target, especially in low light conditions. All these qualities are necessary also at a sufficiently high power, at least 6-40x, or better 12-50x, or better yet 8-80x —  to see a mirage, but also have an opportunity to go to a lower magnification  for heavy mirage.

Photo by (c)Avdey /Aleksey Daev/
March 3-24×42 со 100МОА on TSVL-8 rifle

Thirdly, it is important that parallax adjustment worked well at your system’s maximum range. Recently, even with the well-known brands (S&B) I could not check out at 1700m, although shorter-range tuning worked fine. Not saying that this is a disease of all Schmidts, and not a particular sample.

KS-11_receiver
Smidt und Bender on KS-11 in 408СТ — predecessor of K-14

Fourth, scope reliability on heavy recoiling rifles. This is not idle question, as there is a very limited number  of scopes on the market, perhaps not more than 3, which hold out 408CT and larger relatives. In the Emirates we were able to carry out extensive tests of any scopes with large caliber rifles, as budget was almost unlimited. The volume of tests made in the 408CT is almost unreproducible in other contexts. During those tests, many well-known brands with an impeccable reputation, which are incorrectly to name here, simply scattered, each after a his number of shots.

In general, the choice of scope is very important and if you do not want to go through each of them the best would be to approach thoughtfully, measured off more than once.

4. BALLISTIC CALCULATOR.

SniperPro5000
Sniper Pro 5000 — evolution of SP 4000, produced in UAE by Tawazun

If you shoot, like we do, mainly for the test purposes, or for the sake of training the others, usually not having task of hitting with a first shot, then you can always correct the soft error or incorrectly entered or calculated data by zeroing «at far». Should you go hunt or snipe at ranges more than 2km, then I don’t even know how to stress this: get yourself a right ballistic calculator.

On the market today there are a lot of things. Many companies improved mathematical model at long range, so the most of it works. Perhaps now it is more a matter of convenience: the interface and availability of all necessary data. But when you have to hit it with a first shot — nuances begin to acquire importance. Not only a correct math model, but how the information laid out, is all the necessary parameters there, etc.

Consult and choose.

5. WINDMETER OR FLAG.

Standard Kestrel is in my opinion a bit reactionary, also does not give wind directions. Therefore, almost always to evaluate the wind at a position during the tests, we use a classic BR flag. In the real world you might want to try something else, like Kestrel with a weather vane. We don’t consider here, in this review, any sophisticated or military stuff — just the gear you can get normally.

6. THIS PLACE I BARELY DIDN’T INCLUDE A SPACER BETWEEN TRIGGER AND SHOOTING MAT.

Although a shooter cannot be referred as hardware, yet  it should be at the 6th place, though sometimes he doesn’t deserve that.

Lack of knowledge is not compensated by training volume. I like to give one example: taxi drivers have the largest experience, but none of them ever become a world champion in F1 or rally. This is because they don’t have the correct basic skills and their entire lives they simply perpetuate the wrong skills. So much that by the middle of life it’s almost too late for re-training: the racers know — making a good formula driver out of the forty years old taxi driver is almost impossible.

Therefore, when having the correct hardware, ammunition, sights, ballistic software you are still experiencing problems with getting on target at the «ultra-long» — stop. Do not burn expensive Vihta. Go back to basics, take the classes, even repeatedly, but this time correctly.

And everything will turn out. After all, we do know, ultra-long-range shooting — is real.

Vlad Lobaev. At a reprint the reference and link is obligatory.