Competing in f-class(and/or score bench) w/o handloading?

Discussion in 'Competition Forum (All Calibers)' started by kzin, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. kzin

    kzin

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    How possible is it?

    Any more possible in ftr(308)?
     
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  2. okshooter

    okshooter

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    If you can find a factory load using a quality long range bullet that shoots well in your rifle, you could be competitive, at least at the local level in F-TR. I doubt it in F-Open. It would probably have to be something like Berger's loaded ammo using there 185 Juggernaut or 200.20X bullets. The problem for most would be cost. On Midway, they are each $31.99 for 20 rounds. Including sighters, that's $128 for a 60 round match. Also on Midway, those bullets are about $55 per 100. Add about $5 for 100 primers and $20 for enough Varget to load 100 rounds and, assuming you have brass, you have 100 rounds or $80. So 20 more rounds (for practice) for less then 2/3 the cost to buy factory ammo (that may or may not shoot as well in your rifle).
     
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  3. Immike

    Immike Gold $$ Contributor

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    I have seen hunting rifles chambered for specific cartridges with excellent results , so a clever gunsmith might be able to do it.
     
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  4. milanuk

    milanuk Gold $$ Contributor

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    In theory... if your rifle does shoot a particular factory 'match' ammo fairly well, I'd say you'd be fine for getting started in FTR, at least for club matches. Save your brass, because depending on how serious you get, eventually you *will* want to start handloading. Even if you don't get that serious, save the brass and take it to the metal recycler rather than toss it in the trash at the range.

    There are some places that will custom tailor ammo for your gun, and then load you however much you want to pay for. At least one I know of will probably ask you to send in the gun so they can do a full load work-up on it.
     
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  5. gilmillan1

    gilmillan1

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    The answer is yes if you want to just shoot and have fun. The answer is Definitely NO if you want to compete and to advance your shooting skills. Also, forget about learning how to read the wind with factory ammo. You will not know what caused the bad shot.
     
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  6. mgunderson

    mgunderson sling shooter Gold $$ Contributor

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    Immike had a good idea... a good gunsmith could help. You might be able to do a little seating depth work with a small press and a seating die too. In theory you should be able to squeeze a little more accuracy out.
     
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  7. Down South

    Down South FTR Junkie Gold $$ Contributor

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    It depends on what your expectations are. If you just wanna have fun and shoot pretty good, factory ammo will work. If you wanna get really serious and win/be competitive at the state or national level you definitely need to hand load ammo. There are no "easy" classes nowdays. Everything is very competitive. FTR is a dog fight to win just like F-Open. The scores being shot even in local club monthly matches are crazy. I'm sure benchrest is as well.
     
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  8. Damfino

    Damfino Gold $$ Contributor

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    Just to add to the excellent information and insights above. Everything is a tradeoff. With your question--its about convenience versus cost. My feeling is that the factory ammo okshooter discussed above will conveniently let you participate without embarrassment in F-TR. Maybe some of the top of the line Lapua ammunition in 6.5×47L, 6mm BR, 6.5×55 or others would be fun to shoot in F-Open without the commitment to handloading and you might do fairly well, particularly at 600 yards.

    As Jade says it depends your expectations and that's an important factor. But, competing or shooting a good score in F-TR, say Master level at 600 yards and Expert level at 1,000 that sounds too good to be true.

    Off course it depends on the day, the number, and quality of shooters to determine what a competitive score is, but recently at my home range for F-Open at 600 yards a competitive score would be in the mid-to-high 590s/600. At 1,000 yards you'll need to be near the mid-580s/600 or better to be competitive. These scores represent a fairly high bar for factory ammo. I'll add my opinion that shooting well at 1,000 yards is more demanding than 600 yards. It requires more from the ammunition, the rifle, and the shooter.

    I don't mean to disparage quality factory ammunition and maybe a very good shooter could do well with factory ammo and the right rifle. That would be very impressive.

    On the other hand, I enjoy handloading almost as much as I do shooting.
     
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  9. Ned Ludd

    Ned Ludd Gold $$ Contributor

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    Yes - it is possible. However, as you move up the food chain from local to state to regional to national level matches, the competition will become tougher and tougher. If you're willing to spend some money and you know how your rifle/ammunition performs inside and out, it is possible to be competitive and possibly even win matches up to the state and/or regional level. At the national level, I'd say forget it, unless God has directly promised you several favors.

    I shot commercial match ammunition in F-TR for several years before learning to reload and did quite well at the local level, and even won a couple matches at the state/regional level. When shooting commercial ammo at the national level, I assumed my appropriate position, somewhere around the top of the bottom third of all F-TR shooters. The higher you go, the tougher it is to be competitive, even with handloads.

    The approach I took to using commercial ammunition was to use the best possible ammunition available, with the highest BC bullet available. We're not talking Black Hills, FGMM, or Hornady offerings here. I used the Applied Ballistics 175 OTM Match ammo that was available at the time. Berger has now taken over the Applied Ballistics Munitions, and has added a couple more bullet weights to the mix:

    https://bergerbullets.com/product-category/ammunition/?cartridge=308-winchester

    The big difference between Berger and one or two other companies that are now doing the same and everyone else lies in the bullets they offer. In a significant majority of factory "match" ammunition, the only bullet choice available is the 175 Matchking. Let's face it, there are much better choices for F-TR. Berger now offers the 185 Juggernaut and 200.20X bullets in loaded ammo, which are the bullets that handloaders are actually using.

    There are several keys to getting this stuff to shoot. The rifle needs to be throated properly, as these are much longer bullets than the 175 SMKs and they are not necessarily seated to mag length. You need at least an 11-twist barrel, a 10-twist would probably be even better. Lastly, you need some luck. For anyone that doesn't reload, the only choice is really to test fire commercially available ammunition until you find something that shoots well out of your setup. The same is true for so-called commercial "match" ammunition, except there are a lot fewer choices. So you might need some luck that one of the loads with a good, high BC bullet will actually shoot well in your rifle. I was lucky, the AB 175 OTM stuff shot like a laser in my rifles. The current offerings with 185 Jugs or 200.20X bullets may be a little more finicky. You simply have to try it. Be aware that these loads will likely also be somewhat slower than handloads prepared with the same bullets.

    The bottom line is that it's difficult to win in F-TR these days, even at the local level. Any bit of edge you give up means it will only be that much harder, and that your wind calls will have to be that much better than everyone else's in order to post a winning score. Not reloading means giving up quite a bit to your competitors. You can minimize how much you're giving up if you can find a quality commercial match ammunition loaded with a decent bullet like the 185s or 200.20Xs. But there will still be a disadvantage associated with using commercial ammunition. If I were going to do it again, I'd do exactly what I described above and find something with a decent BC bullet to shoot. However, there is one other important factor...Quality commercial ammunition loaded with high BC bullet is EXPENSIVE. Making the transition to reloading your own isn't all that difficult and won't cost you much more in the long run than buying expensive commercial ammo.
     
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  10. damoncali

    damoncali Bullet Maker Site $$ Sponsor

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    It’s not recommended but people do it. I’ve never seen anyone break about 585 at mid range. And that’s not good enough to win a decent sized local club match. TR has gotten much more competitive in the last couple years. I’m not going to show up with a rifle that can’t hold consistent 5 shot groups under 3/8 MOA. That’s tough to pull off with factory ammo- even the expensive stuff.

    By the time you shoot a few matches, you will have spent enough money on factory ammo to get some reloading gear. (Don’t bother with cheap factory ammo. That’s a waste of time, money, and effort. It will only frustrate you).
     
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  11. lawman29

    lawman29

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    Compete no, participate yes...
     
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  12. kzin

    kzin

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    Wow, thanks for a batch of great replies.

    Plan:

    Get f-open rifle built in 6.5 cm particularly for 147s, hopefully with ability to use from 139s to 150s???

    Try out some of the plethora of commercial and semi-custom 6.5cm options with good bullets and hope to get lucky.

    Save brass

    Be prepared to go to custom loading or man up and do the damned work myself at some point

    fyi - My idea of 'compete' would be to be able to finish in the top half at regional level midrange.

    I want to shoot 1000 at least once in my life, maybe once a year, unless I magically get hooked on it.:)

    thanks, again
     
  13. Mulligan

    Mulligan Gold $$ Contributor

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    I shot with a new shooter who had a custom 6 Creedmore built and was using Hornady factory ammo.
    Make no mistake, he was competitive and there were some national level shooters there.
    I scored for the fella and was impressed with what he was accomplishing.
    CW
     
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  14. Snuggie

    Snuggie F/TR-F/Open Gold $$ Contributor

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    Oh you will get hooked!! But you will enjoy every minute of it! When you get your first X it’s all over! You will officially be brought over to the dark side, LOL! Enjoy!
     
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  15. milanuk

    milanuk Gold $$ Contributor

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    Might take a look at this option...
     
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  16. kzin

    kzin

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    Lol, I was looking at them yesterday.
    Are you recommending them or just noting they exist?
     
  17. ballisticxlr

    ballisticxlr

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    For fun, works just fine. For winning/placing or even getting reliably anywhere near mid-pack, no chance.
     
  18. milanuk

    milanuk Gold $$ Contributor

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    Haven't used them myself, but a fellow I know from a class I helped with ended up going that route, and seemed pretty happy with the results.
     
  19. Falfan2017

    Falfan2017 Silver $$ Contributor

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    I think you could get High master at 600 with a 6.5 with factory ammo. Invest in a nice rest setup like Sinclair competition and the correct rear bag.
    However there’s a difference between making hm and winning. Big matches and even the club level matches there’s going to be a bunch of people in the 595+ which is going to be hard to do with factory ammo.

    Also wouldn’t be that hard to get set up reloading if you’re only doing a couple calibers. Match grade rifle ammo being 2$ a pop it doesn’t take long to save money and get better ammo along the way. Wilson seater, Harrels sizer used rcbs press and a priming tool like from frank ford plus the frank ford 20$ scale and you’re pretty well set. That’s going to pay for itself within a couple matches. Then add on other stuff like trimmers and what not as you get deeper in.
     
  20. MikeMcCasland

    MikeMcCasland Gold $$ Contributor

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    You're going to spend as much in factory ammo over the life of your first barrel as a decent reloading setup would cost you. Where are you located? If you're in the CenTex area I'd be happy to let you borrow a rifle and I'll provide ammo to shoot an LR match.

    I have a hard enough time as getting to the 590s at an LR match (I've never done it; and I'm about 8-9 months into F-Class), and I'm doing all sorts of fancy reloading things. I just can't imagine doing it with factory ammo.

    Lastly, that plan to build a 6.5CM while logical probably won't work out too well in the long run. Unless you stick to one brass mfg, a mixed bag of cases won't do you much good (you could sell them I guess). For LR work, you ideally want to be standardized one one specific brand of brass, and it needs to very uniform (i.e. Lapua, Peterson, Norma, etc.)

    I agree very much with the 'you'll participate, but you won't be competitive' crowd. The guys consistently turning in 590+ scores in LR usually have LOTS of money in their rig(s), an untold amount of money in their reloading setups, and upwards of 20-30 shot out barrels to their name (at a minimum)....and that's just the equipment/variable removal aspect of it; you're still got to out wind-read guys who'll have 5-30 more years experience doing it.

    If you want to 'get serious' about F-Class, F-T/R is probably cheaper, and has a clearer path (from an equipment perspective) to winning matches...however being limited to .308 and .223 will mean your scores are going to be lower than the F-Open guys (you could be a F-Class savant, and whoop the whole field with an F-T/R rig, but it's unlikely).

    F-Class is one long expensive lesson in the age old adage "Buy Once - Cry Once". You can tip-toe your way into it for sure, but it'll be more expensive in the long-run if you decide you want to try and shoot with the best HMs.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
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