Extending rifle range for under $2k


Replacing the trigger
All photo credits: goHUNT.com

Accurate at 300 yards and want to improve your range? Interested in shooting longer range but not quite ready to invest in a custom gun?  You can make some fairly simple modifications to your favorite rifle and increase its consistency and accuracy.

Follow these steps, and with some practice you’ll be able to shoot 600 yards or more without spending thousands of dollars. You can source these parts at your local firearms dealer’s, a favorite gunsmith or online at Brownells or Midway.

1. Replace the trigger
Rifle trigger
Standard triggers on a stock rifle can be too heavy and cause too much pull and vibration. A good quality, crisp, after-market trigger will keep your aim true and will help achieve a consistent pull shot after shot. Both Timney and Jewell triggers have the consistent pull weight needed for precision shooting both in the field and from a bench.

2. Change the stock
Floating the barrel
A classic walnut stock looks great, but wood changes shape with variations in humidity and temperature. Instead of wood, choose a fiberglass stock that will stay the same shape no matter the weather conditions. Check out Bell & Carlson, Ram-Line or Hogue for a good value; stick with McMillan stocks if you’re looking for even higher quality.

3. Float the barrel
Floating the barrel
Channel out your stock for the entire length of the barrel, from the action forward. For a fiberglass stock this is easy to do with a sanding bit on a drill. You should be able to slide a dollar bill (or two) along the length of your rifle barrel. This space allows the harmonics and whip of your gun to reverberate consistently. Consistency = more accurate shots.

4. Invest in optics
Quality rifle optics
Perhaps the most crucial modification for distance shooting. Pick a scope that’s at least 14-power magnification. Leupold offers a lifetime warranty on its scopes, and that includes service. To make your scope performs to its full potential, add a CDS (custom dial system) set to your specific ballistics. A fine reticle in your scope is helpful at long range. Remember that a fine crosshair or dot at long distance will allow you to “aim small”, and avoid from covering the entire animal.

5. Know your ballistics
Ballistics check
Three shot group at 600 yards with these modifications.

Cartridges and bullets may change, but the need to know your ballistics stays the same. Now it’s time to test out a range of loads to see where your rifle performs the best. After you find a load that shoots nice, tight groups at 200 yards, then get a turret cut to compliment your CDS. Match this turret to your hunting elevation so that you can accurately compensate for bullet drop, resulting in higher accuracy at longer ranges. A turret will avoid the guesswork that comes from having to hold above the animal to compensate bullet drop.

Now take your modified rifle to the range and get ready for hunting season. Remember, if you can’t hit a target at the range, you can’t hit it in the field. So practice, practice, and practice some more.

If these steps sound too technical for you to handle on your own, or if you simply do not have the time, there are services that can do it for you. Shane Adair, of Adair Precision, will take your rifle and make the necessary modifications to improve the performance and accuracy. When finished you can schedule an appointment to pick up your rifle, and even take a one-on-one shooting course. Adair Precision can be reached at (435) 559-7764.


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