For a long time I’ve talked with friends about trying out a PRS-style match. Life has been busy, but when the right opportunity came, I decided to give it a try. My friend and shooting partner Jim Findlay offered to help me prepare, and told me it would be “fun to shoot gas guns together”. I decided I would shoot an AR-15, and thought that would be an ideal opportunity to try something new: the 22 Nosler. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was getting myself into, but that’s typically the way things happen when you’re really trying something new. It was a great experience, and it taught me a lot about shooting. I also made some great connections and friends during the match. If you are at all interested in PRS (Precision Rifle Series, or just Precision Rifle in general) I would suggest you enter and compete in a match. You most likely won’t regret it.
In this post, I’ll talk about preparing for the match, and the experience of competing in the match. In a follow-up post, I’ll go into more detail on the gear we used, and some of the gear we’d like to try in the future. So stay tuned for that!
Preparing For the Match
There were a few things to take care of before I started practicing with Jim in earnest for the match. I decided on the rifle platform I’d be shooting: it would be the AR-MPR AR-15 rifle, but with a 22 Nosler Upper. While I was waiting for the upper and components to arrive, I started practicing with 5.56 ammunition that I thought would be close to what I’d be shooting with 22 Nosler. I signed up for the match and paid my entry fee, and then downloaded the Practiscore Match App.
Practiscore is great, because you can read about each of the stages in order to prepare for each activity within the match. Here’s an example from the match I participated in:
After reading up on the match, it was time to create a game plan with Jim, and start practicing!
Practicing For the Match
Jim and I spent quite a few range trips preparing for the match, and I did quite a bit of practice up at my place, the “Ultimate Reloader Outpost”. First up was to sort out our gear, and get on target- we started at 600 yards. As I mentioned, this initial practice was performed with a .223/5.56 AR-15 configuration. With distances going out to 700 yards on match day, I chose to load 77 grain bullets for practice in 5.56 cases. At our 600 yard practice distance, these rounds did fine, but I wasn’t as confident about going out to 700 yards as they were getting into the trans-sonic zone.
Enter the 22 Nosler. The added velocity provided by this new cartridge combined with the extreme performance of the 70 grain Nosler RDF bullets I decided to use were a great combination. Here are the first shots I fired at 600 yards after the 100 yard sight-in and testing (see bottom group on target). The first round fired at 600 yards was on-target thanks to the G7 BC supplied by Nosler and Shooter App dope I had calculated. That’s a great feeling!
During our practice sessions, Jim and I focused on prone shooting, barricade shooting, and even shooting at a moving target at almost 600 yards. It was a lot of fun, but 90 seconds (the allowed time for each stage) was proving to go *very* quickly. Would I be ready on range day? I couldn’t wait to find out. Here we have Jim (far) and myself (near) shooting at 400 yards in preparation for one of the stages:
On match day, I was fortunate to have friends Eric Peterson and Carl Skerlong running the camera and drone respectively. That meant I could focus on the shooting stages, and final preparations. I had printed out the courses of fire, had printed a dope card and zip tied it to my rifle, had dialed in the shooter app, and had all of my gear ready to go.
Overall, the match was more fun and more laid back than I thought it would be. The guys in our squad were all really helpful, and even loaned me gear to try out when they noticed my gear wasn’t right for a particular shooting activity. One such case was when Ken Gustafson (of KYL Gear) offered to loan me one of the bags he had made. Below you can see me shooting off the infamous unstable tippy tank trap with a KYL Gear bag, and I’ll have to say- it was amazing. It helped me lock down my rifle and get on target. What a great feeling!
I did run into some trouble- I had loaded my 22 Nosler rounds to max charge weight with Varget powder and experienced some failure to feed issues during the match. Initially I thought my bolt needed more lubrication, but after the match I discovered pressure signs on the rounds I had fired to investigate what went wrong. While I didn’t have malfunctions in practice, the match day was between 96 F and 100 F at the hottest part of the day- the same time I experienced issues. I was over pressure! I switched to a slower powder after that discovery (H-380) and found 22 Nosler to run perfectly (and at higher velocity), even in similar temperatures. I learned that you have to test everything you plan to use on match day, and take into account things like weather conditions as well. I also had my bipod fly off the rifle while shooting off a barricade- but continued with the stage and did alright. Even with these challenges, I kept on “giving it my best”, and I still had a ton of fun.
PRS is all about pushing your rifle skills to edge. You may have to hit targets at four different distances in 90 seconds- and dial in your dope between each shot. These kinds of challenges are super-difficult, but with enough experience and practice, it’s amazing what you can do. I saw guys that were so smooth, steady, fast, and accurate, it was mind blowing! It doesn’t come easy, and the guys at the top of the heap are super-dedicated. One such guy named Sheldon Nalos (in my squad) told me about how he dry fired off scale replicas he made of the T-Post Fox Hunt stage- practicing again and again until he was confident he was ready.
I don’t have the goal to be at the top of the heap within the PRS community, but I do think I’ll compete in more matches- they are super fun to experience, and the friends you’ll make may just last a lifetime. If you have any thoughts of trying PRS, I say “do it”! Stay tuned, because in my next post, I’ll talk about the PRS gear I used (and wanted) and then after that it’s time to go deep into 22 Nosler.
Are you like me? Do you have a few spare AR-15 stripped lower receivers laying around that need rifles built from them? Now is a *great* time to build an AR-15 because component prices are low, and kits/parts are in stock! For years I’ve been wondering about Del-Ton kits, and I’d like to share with you my experiences building out an AR-15 rifle from one of Del-Ton’s kits!
Here’s a complete walk-through of my rifle build, complete with a quick range trip: (condensed build steps are just 7 minutes long!)
For a more in-depth look at the article, plus more of Gavin’s review, Click Here, and visit the Ultimate Reloader site!
Over the years, I’ve used quite a bit of spray lube for case sizing, most of the time Hornady One-Shot for pistol, and Dillon DCL for rifle. As my supply of Dillon DCL dwindled, I started looking at other options. Dillon DCL has worked well, but leaves a sticky residue that’s hard to wipe (or tumble) off the cases. Then I talked with the 6.5 guys who swore by (not at) their home brew lanolin case lube (a formula they found online if memory serves).
One of the challenges with picking up a “new” cartridge to reload is finding the right dies at the right price. .25-45 Sharps is becoming more popular with AR-15 shooter and reloaders, and the industry is responding with new products that give reloaders more options. One such example is the new .25-45 Sharps dies from LEE. This “Pacesetter” die set includes a full-length sizer/de-primer, a dead-length bullet seater, and a Factory Crimp Die- everything you need to form .25-45 Sharps brass and reload .25-45 Sharps ammunition for your AR-15. These dies are “Very Limited Production” – but I’ll note that Midsouth Shooters Supply has these dies for ~$35. and they are in stock as of today! That’s about 1/2 what other .25-45 Sharps die sets cost!
If you are curious about LEE rifle dies, I posted an in-depth write-up that covers pretty much every detail you can think of. I also posted the following in-depth write-up that covers .25-45 Sharps precision reloading from start to finish, a great resource if you are going to use these LEE dies to load .25-45 Sharps:
As you saw in the video, this ammunition behaves more like match ammunition than it does hunting ammunition- I really wish it was deer season! Here’s the chronograph results:
With an SD of 13.7 FPS, this ammunition is very consistent in terms of velocity. It’s not surprising that the first four shots went into a .5″ group. This new ammunition is built around the Swift Scirocco II 6.5mm Bullet, and here’s more info about this precision-oriented hunting projectile:
Caliber: 264, 6.5mm
Bullet Diameter: 0.264
Bullet Weight: 130 Grains
Bullet Length: 1.350″
Bullet Style: Polymer Tip Spitzer Boat Tail
Bullet Coating: Non-Coated
Sectional Density: .266
This is certainly a great choice of ammunition if you are hunting medium game with a rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. I do hope to show more 6.5 Creedmoor rifles here on Ultimate Reloader chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor- stay tuned!
It’s always good to feel the sharp recoil of the Ruger Precision Rifle against my shoulder, and to smell the burnt gunpowder in the air. Can’t wait to sit down again with this ammunition to see if I can get that 3/8″ 5-shot group I know this ammo is capable of! If you are looking for this new 6.5 Creedmoor Professional Hunter ammunition, Midsouth Shooters Supply has it!
Have you been shooting Norma Professional Hunter ammunition? If so, please share your experiences!
It’s time for a shameless plug! Our friend, Gavin Gear over at Ultimate Reloader, got a hold of some of our bulk bullets in .223 and .308, and since the release of this article, we’ve introduced our sample packs of the .308 Match Monsters. You can find those here.
Now, these bullets are NOT blems. None of them. These bullets are sent to us in bulk from major bullet manufactures. Nosler actually teamed up with us to bring the bulk savings, with match performance in the Match Monster. You can read Gavin’s entire article here.
What caliber of bullets would you like to see in the Shot Group Sample Packs?
Gavin, much like the rest of us, doesn’t like to spend a lot on brass, especially if we’re not looking for dime-sized five shot groups at 300 yards, so the Ultimate Reloaders takes us through a step-by-step guide on how to form .25-45 Sharps cases from .223/5.56 Brass.
Click Here to visit Ultimate Reloader to follow along each of the steps in the process!