F-T/R Bullet Weight Cap (proposed), discussion.

Discussion in 'Competition Forum (All Calibers)' started by scaxeman, Jun 13, 2012.

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F-T/R Bullet Weight Limit Poll (Mark one entry only)

  1. Keep the current unlimited bullet weight.

    147 vote(s)
    53.1%
  2. Cap max bullet weight at 201 grains.

    69 vote(s)
    24.9%
  3. Cap max bullet weight at 156 grains

    61 vote(s)
    22.0%
  1. scaxeman

    scaxeman

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    All F-T/R Shooters,

    I've been thinking about this for a while. I've been seeing bullet weights and bullet designs change and improve, and it occurs to me that the rule set that was adopted based on technology 8+ years ago might not be working as well as it once did.

    In my opinion, F-T/R branched off of F-Open for a reason; people wanted a 'limited' equipment version of the game, that wouldn't bankrupt them paying for new barrels 2-3x per year. Basically it would be something that would be more of a NASCAR, vs. the top fuel dragsters that F-Open trends towards.

    At the time, a 190 was a *very* heavy bullet for a .308, and their wasn't a huge difference in wind drift between a fast 155 and a slow 190. There was a distaste for limiting bullet weight (certainly shared by myself), with the thought being that allowing some innovation and 'tinkering' room would help grow the sport. Well, it certainly has!

    Even up to a couple of years ago, the 155's were most of what you saw on the line. This is still generally true today, my go-to competition load is a *fast* 155.5 (~3125 fps). With this, I don't have a whole lot of trouble keeping up with guys running up to 200 grain loads. There is a trade-off, of course, the 'heavies' go through the wind a bit better, but the 'lights' group a heck of a lot better (in general). These trade-offs kept an even playing field.

    Now, with a new crop of *very* efficient 'uber-heavy' bullets coming on line (215 grain, 230 grain, etc.), the level playing field has developed a bit of a list...

    Backing up a bit, it has always been my thought that one should be able to take a 'more or less' factory rifle, GOOD quality handloads, and the same wind-reading skills as anyone else on the line, be very competitive in F-T/R. As most know, I have been running a bone-stock factory rifle (as well as the rest of Team Savage) for the past 6+ years. It doesn't matter whether you prefer Remington, Savage, or any other maker, you should be able to get into the sport relatively inexpensively, and be competitive with a 'more or less' unmodified rifle, running some sort of a "standard" recipe for a load.

    With the growing popularity of the 'uber-heavy' bullets, this philosophy is starting to go out the window. In order to run the uber-heavies, you will be required at a minimum to get a gunsmith to re-cut at least the throat of your chamber, then you are stuck with a tiny number of projectiles that will work in the rifle. From experience, testing the 215's and 230's, I see that while it is *possible* to get them tuned perfectly, and get both velocity and decent accuracy out of them, I worry that these are going to turn out to be the "90 grain .223" bullet project of the day.

    The "list" to the level playing field comes with the phenomenal ballistics that the uber-heavies (for instance, a 230 grain Berger Hybrid) bring to the game. If you can get the 230 going relatively quickly (2500-2600 fps), and it definitely CAN be done, you are looking at approximately a 30-40% reduction in wind drift over *any* bullet lighter than 200 grains. The vertical groups are a little worse than the current crop of heavies (185-200 grain), but not much worse. In a very real way, we will be exchanging our exceptionally accurate current style of .308, for something less accurate, but able to shoot through conditions more easily. Is that where we want to go as a class?


    People that want to be competitive will feel compelled to drop the expense of modifying their rifles, and not have any guarantee that their mods will turn out to be effective. We will have strayed from our successful initial model for F-T/R, as a class for 'shooter vs. shooter' competition, and be marching down the road that you must have a $5000 custom to be remotely competitive. I think that this would in the long run be very destructive to the class we've developed.

    The rules as they stand now will be in effect for at *least* the next year and a half (nothing should - or can- change prior to the 2013 World Championships next year). Given the massive outpouring of dissatisfaction on how the last rule change (course of fire change) happened, I figure that getting the public discussion started early rather than later would be a good thing. What I would particularly like to avoid is people dumping vast chunks of change into modifying all of their equipment to run uber-heavies, then find out "whoops! there's been a rule change".

    The rule change I would probably propose, assuming that the general consensus is in favor, would read as follows:

    Current:
    A rifle restricted to the chambers of unmodified .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO or unmodified .223 Remington/5.56mm X 45 NATO cartridge cases. The rifle must be fired off a bipod, rigidly attached to the rifle’s for-end, and/or a sling. Any bipod, meeting the definition of a bipod, may be used but its weight must be included in the rifle’s overall weight. Any safe, manually operated trigger is permitted. Any sighting system is permitted, but it must be included in the rifle’s overall weight.

    Proposed:
    A rifle restricted to the chambers of unmodified .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO or unmodified .223 Remington/5.56mm X 45 NATO cartridge cases. For .308/7.62mm NATO, a maximum permitted bullet weight of less than 201 grains. The rifle must be fired off a bipod, rigidly attached to the rifle’s for-end, and/or a sling. Any bipod, meeting the definition of a bipod, may be used but its weight must be included in the rifle’s overall weight. Any safe, manually operated trigger is permitted. Any sighting system is permitted, but it must be included in the rifle’s overall weight.


    Thoughts?

    Good shooting to all,

    Darrell Buell
    Captain, Team USA F-T/R
     
  2. deadlyswift

    deadlyswift

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    Darrell, I Honestly believe it really doesn't matter regardless of what rules are changed. At 1000yd F/Open or FTR. The man that works the hardest, does his homework, makes the right wind calls, and does his or her part behind the rifle will go to the top! My point is the rules could be changed to the point that you can only use a harris bipod, a out of box Factory rifle, put a limt on what ever bullet weight you want, even limt Optics used. In the End the same guys that are on top and winning now wouldn't change. (None of this is directed toward anyone) Just my thoughts!

    Thanks
    Mark
     
  3. scaxeman

    scaxeman

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    Thoughts are what I'm looking for here! Thanks for throwing your opinion out there.

    Darrell
     
  4. MNFinn

    MNFinn Erik on the Range

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    This is why I'm glad someone with more experience responded... a more articulate response than mine
     
  5. Keith Glasscock

    Keith Glasscock True believer - Straight 284 Gold $$ Contributor

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    Darrell,

    This is going to be a touch disjointed, sorry, but I have a bunch of thoughts about this.

    First thought:
    I shot 208 Amaxes (not all that great ballistically versus the 200 Hybrids) out of a 26" barrel last year. They work in the same barrel twist as the 200's. The point is, your propsed rule would cut off a bullet that, for all intents and purposes, allows a shooter with a shorter barrel to compete at 1k rather inexpensively ($15+ dollars per 100 bullets less than Bergers). By the time a shooter has purchased a barrel with a faster twist (1-11 for the 208 and 200), and shot 2000 rounds, the savings in just bullets would pay for the barrel blank. By the time it is shot out, the savings would pay for another barrel, smithing to fit it, and some other rifle upgrades.

    Second thought:
    Changing the rules would negatively impact the shooters that have laid down their hard-earned money to get faster twist barrels, appropriate reamers, etc in order to be able to shoot the heavies.

    Third thought:
    The downsides to the heavy bullets significantly outweigh the benefits when shooters try chasing the velocities you mention. I've had fun watching shooters try to make the double-base powders work consistently. On the other hand, those same bullets can be shot at a moderate pressure level with single base powder quite effectively. I don't know anything about your barrel or load, but getting more than 3100 with a 30" barrel and a 155 is a way-beyond-max kind of thing in my rifle.

    Last thought:
    If we are going to take the "game" out of bullet weights, I'd suggest we just go to the 156 grain rule. That would help even the playing field, but would effectively eliminate anyone shooting a barrel shorter than 30" (read that as new shooters).

    I'd say leave it alone. The big BC numbers are attractive, but the velocities, increased barrel time, increased rifle handling difficulty, and other problems will cause most, if not all, serious shooters to give up on them in favor of better scores.
     
  6. Longshooter70

    Longshooter70

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    After this (proposed) rule change, what's to keep the powers that be from making another limiting rule change? For the sake of argument, what if they then proposed a rule change stating a maximum muzzle velocity of 2950 regardless of bullet weight or barrels must be shorter than 30" must be used regardless of weight restrictions on the rifle? I personally think that the people who favor lighter bullets are all about changing the exiting rule because they don't want to have to alter what they do now to be competitive. If someone wants to use a heavier bullet and finds a legal way for it to work, more power to them. I personally don't think that F T/R is not going to become any more of an equipment race than it already is. As was stated above, top shooters are going to rise to the top.

    Respectfully,

    John
     
  7. Keith Glasscock

    Keith Glasscock True believer - Straight 284 Gold $$ Contributor

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    Darrell,

    Not to be off-topic, but I'm curious:

    I took my known data from my current lot of Varget and ran your velocity in QL - 3125 fps with a 155.5 fullbore - how many loadings are you getting out of a case?

    QL makes scary numbers...

    If shooters are running really high pressures (we're talking ~ 70 KPsi) We are talking about this (1K drift - 10 mph winds):

    155 @ 3125 - 81.6" drift
    200 @ 2801 (N550) - 64.3" drift
    215 @ 2622 (N550 - loaded to 62Kpsi to hit node) - 62" drift
    230 @ 2594 (N550 - ~67 Kpsi to hit node) - 57.9" drift

    I have two points. First, lighter bullets are so velocity sensitive that I think shooters are more encouraged to run pressures really high. That, to me, is a bad thing especially if I'm squadded next to them when a case lets go. Second, the wind drift advantage is there even with a 200 grain bullet. I don't see much advantage (nor does Bryan Litz in his book) in the 7" of drift difference between the 200's and 230's. On the other hand, 17" will make a difference (all else equal).
     
  8. scaxeman

    scaxeman

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  9. LESLEY

    LESLEY

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    off topic but F/OPEN has tryouts. Where are the F/TR tryouts held
     
  10. Keith Glasscock

    Keith Glasscock True believer - Straight 284 Gold $$ Contributor

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    Easy Lesley,

    The 215/230 bullets haven't been around for long enough to get much past the testing stage. Nobody that I know of has shot them in any big matches that I know of. I think Darrell has great intentions in suggesting that we reign in the technology and cost of the sport. I think we just disagree on how best to do that.

    F/TR tryouts are held primarily at nationals.

    Darrell,

    Kevan is holding a Palma + 20 @ 1k at Douglas Ridge the 24th. I'm going to try 215's there at 2525 (I want to get an idea if we can get it to hold vertical better with single-base powder). Want to come out and we can evaluate the heavy bullets together?

    Keith
     
  11. LESLEY

    LESLEY

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    so 1 match decides who is on the F/TR team
     
  12. milanuk

    milanuk Gold $$ Contributor

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    We don't have any formal try-outs due to the expense and difficulty coordinating multiple tryouts around the country. Generally speaking, if you want to compete on that level, you need to be getting yourself to Nationals and doing reasonably well before expecting to represent the country on the international scene. Experience in shooting team events counts too. Overall its a matrix-based selection process, that takes into account a number of things - not just FCNC scores, although my understanding is that it does have a fair amount of weight.

    If you're interested, express that interest to the team captain (Darrell Buell aka 'scaxeman') to find out more. Lets try to keep *this* thread on the original topic.
     
  13. scaxeman

    scaxeman

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    Absolutely! PM me. I'll bring my best 230 load at present.
     
  14. Will

    Will

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    I really don't think it will help to limit the projectile weight. The "cream of the crop" will still rise. I've never won a full F T/R match but for a very short while I did set a minor record in my 1st match. Wish I could say my next matches were as good ! I had no idea that the NRA classed match I shot for the FIRST TIME in 20 years (long break from NRA matches) was also the 1st where the size of 10 & X ring had been reduced. BTW, I was using 178 AMAX. Since then I have tried most everything from 155 to 208 & I decided to stick to either 178 or 185. If you ONLY allow 155 then it might as well be PALMA F T/R & I don't think that was the original intent.

    On the otherhand if you declare "Factory Only" ... would that also include the rifle ? Almost every competition I've been in has those who can spend loads of cash & those who can "Bring what they got". Maybe a "FACTORY Class" F T/R and a Unlimited F T/R ??

    Next thing I'll hear about is someone complaining that the meds I take [just to be able to shoot (YES, prescribed by my surgeon)] give me an unfair advantage.
     
  15. deadlyswift

    deadlyswift

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    I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. So can you explain why someone would spend $5000 to shoot the heavy 215, and 230s? When that is already being done to shoot the 185, and 200s. What is the idea behind this change? How exactly would this rule change help FTR??
     
  16. scaxeman

    scaxeman

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    Because you can also be competitive with a factory Remington or Savage at $1000 with bullet weights up to 200-ish. Once you are pushed into the 215+ range, you'll need to modify the throat of your rifle enough that it will be useful for nothing else *but* the heavies.

    What this means in practice is that F-T/R competitors will start needing to bring 2 rifles to a match; a 'short gun' to shoot 300, 500, and 600, and a 'long gun' for everything else. There isn't a chance you'll catch me running 230's at 300 or 600 yards.
     
  17. Longshooter70

    Longshooter70

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    I appreciate you gathering opinions. Unlike the last major change that was made without consulting a vast majority of shooters, at least maybe some voices will be heard. Whether it does any good has yet to be seen.
    Since they took the MR out of the Nationals and went strictly to LR, will there be a need for two rifles?
     
  18. Will

    Will

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    So I have been handicapping myself for quite some time by using a 22" barrelled rifle that should ONLY be used for less than 600 ? Crap, I started in the US Army using a 22" barrel (M-14) and did darn well out to 800. Yes, I hit 1K but ...(had a seriously rough time) when asked by my team coach ( Mstr SGT) what I would do if target was at 1K, I said WAIT til it got to 800. No comment.

    In all seriousness, I really think there should be 2 classes for F T/R, Factory & Anything Goes, "Unlimited" if you will. HOWEVER, if its FACTORY then ALL parts should be FACTORY. yeah, right ..figure the odds
     
  19. scaxeman

    scaxeman

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    Just so I'm very clear, this discussion has NOTHING to do with the NRA. No one there (or anyplace else that I know of) is contemplating any sort of change at all. I bring this up so that *shooters* can debate the relative risks/benefits of a change/no change to the current rules. That way any change (if opinion shows a change should be made at all) will come PURELY from the shooters, not having it imposed on them. Thus the reason for my posting this 1.5 years before any change could even be possible... plenty of debate time :D

    Best,

    Darrell
     
  20. scaxeman

    scaxeman

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    I have watched a guy do *very* well at 1000 yards with a 22" barreled rifle (running 208 a-max). It absolutely can be done. In general though, with the size of the target we run, it isn't enough to be able to hit 1 MOA at 800-1000, you need to be running around half of that - ish.
     

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