By Mark V. Lonsdale
Making the decision to enter the world of Extreme Long Range (ELR) shooting could be an expensive exercise, especially if you actually expect to make consistent hits out beyond 2,000 yards. So let’s begin by defining ELR.
In the world of competition shooting, mid-range runs from 300 yards to 600 yards, thus 600 yard F-TR matches are considered mid-range matches. Long range shooting is the events at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards including long range high-powered rifle shooting (with a sling), Palma competition, and long range any rifle any sight. Then, in the early 1990s, we saw the advent of F-Class shooting named after Canadian George “Farky” Farquharson.
F-Class, with heavier scoped rifles and tripods, and F-TR, utilizing target rifles in .223 Rem. or .308 Win. with bi-pods, suddenly made 600 and 1,000 yard shooting very accessible to keen hunters and serious recreational shooters. No more heavy shooting jackets, iron sights, or awkward sling positions. It was all about comfort, scopes and bi-pods.
So if long range is 1,000 yards then ELR is anything beyond that or out passed 1,500 yards. Keep in mind that 1 mile is 1,760 yards and snipers are making hits at greater than one mile in Afghanistan utilizing their .338 Lapua Magnums and McMillan Tac 50s. In the recreational world, 2 miles, 3,520 yards, is the current crowning achievement with the King of 2 Miles match run in Raton, NM, in June/July time-frame each year.
Derek’s rifle is .375 CheyTac built on a Barnard action, Bartlein barrel, and McMillan Beast stock, topped with a Nightforce 7-35×56 ATACR
So when the decision is made, then the journey begins from 1,000 yards (easy), to 2,000 yards (not so easy) to 3,500 yards (very tricky) – and be assured, your .308 Win or 6.5 Creedmoor is not the right tool for the job. You need a bullet that will carry energy out passed 2,000 yards and that has the ability to buck the wind. This requires adequate weight and velocity plus a high BC. For example, a 175 grain SMK .308 Win. has a BC of .505 while a Cutting Edge 400 grain Lazer MAX .375 has a BC of .930, and the .375 has the demonstrated ability to make hits at 3,000+ yards (in the right hands). Obviously reading wind is critical in all long range shooting but some bullet designs, such as VLDs, have a fraction of the wind deflection of their conventional counterparts. More on that in Part 2.
If your goal is to go only to 1,500 or 2,000 yards then a 300 Win Mag or .338 Lapua Mag may do the job. But for extreme long range, the calibers that rule are the .375 CheyTac, .375 Lethal Mag, .408 CheyTac, .416 Barrett, and of course, the .50 BMG (plus assorted improved wild cats).
The long range line up. For this project I am building a .375 CheyTac since that is the caliber that won the Ko2M in 2017. Once a shooter steps up to .416 Barrett, which has a modified 50 cal case, then it requires a much bigger action and heavier rifle.
Now all this comes at a price. Before making the decision to build a $5,000 – $6,000 rifle, and then top it with a $3,000 – $4,000 scope, ask yourself if you are willing to spend $6.00-$8.00 every time you pull the trigger. A box of 20 factory .375 CheyTac costs $140, and even reloading, the projectiles can be $1.50 to $2.50 a piece and the brass even more.
So before breaking the bank, or your marriage, run the numbers and see what you can afford. Be assured that you can still share the thrill of long range shooting with a good .300 Win Mag, 7mm Rem Mag, or 6.5 Creedmoor, and for significantly less than feeding a .375, .416, or big 50.
Well, I ran the numbers and did my research, so now the journey begins. As of this writing ammunition components began arriving, Peterson Cartridge Co. brass in .375 CheyTac, along with Cutting Edge projectiles in the same caliber. The Whidden reloading dies and bushing will be in the mail tomorrow and I already have the press.
Cutting Edge MTAC projectiles and Peterson brass in .375 CheyTac
I have a Stiller TAC 408 action on order, the 30″ 1:8 barrel is on order through Hill Country Rifles of Texas, and a McMillan A5 Super Magnum stock is in the works. Since many of these items have long lead times, you do not want to wait until you have one component to order the others. I am currently looking at high MOA rails since a standard 20 MOA rail used for 1,000 yard shooting is not going to get me out to 3,500 yards. Depending on the amount of vertical adjustment in the scope, a 50 to 100 MOA rail is needed.
Enough for Part 1. Do your homework, crunch the numbers, and stay tuned for future articles on this project as the rifle and loads come together.
NOT THE END – JUST THE BEGINNING