Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Little Powerhouse!

I have received a number of questions as to what the rifle, barrel and particularly what caliber I am currently shooting. Since there appears to be some interest in this information I will spend the next few minutes talking about what I think is the best mid and long range cartridge going, the mighty 6BRX. NOTE!!! All loading data described herein has proven to be safe in MY rifle, I would urge anyone to observe the standard "work up too" rules for any new caliber or load! This includes starting at least one grain below any charge weights listed here.

A Little Background

Just over three years ago I had a new barrel installed on my trusty Sitman stocked Remington 40XB chambered in 6BR. I had been shooting the 6BR for over two years and just loved the low recoiling super accurate cartridge. When I loaded up some dummy rounds to get my COAL on the new chamber I discovered that the gunsmith who did the work had given me a far shorter throat length than I had requested. I had been using the Berger 105 VLD's with great success but with the shortened throat the boattail / bearing surface junction was now well below the neck shoulder junction on my Lapua cases. I shot a couple of local club matches which yielded some disappointing results. There were also some other issues with the work that had been done so with my confidence in this particular smith a little low, I picked up the phone and called my good friend Doan Trevor

Doan to the Rescue

At that time Doan lived in California, very near a smallbore range that hosted half a dozen matches that I attended every year, and he told me to bring my Remy along on the next trip and he would see what he could do. When I got to Doan's house the following month we sat and talked about a new reamer he had and he wanted to know if I would be interested in trying an "improved Version" of the 6BR. Aside from being a little weak at 1000 yards, I told Doan that I was very happy with the standard BR and just what improvement was he talking about. When he told me that I could expect even better mid range performance AND have a very competitive equal to the 6XC at a 1000 without changing loading dies, I said yes without hesitation. When I picked up my rifle the following month Doan said "It should be okay", when I pressed him on what that meant he started speaking gunsmith language about centers and existing chamber cuts and what not. Apparently I must have begun to exhibit a confused look so he just patted me on the back, went over the brass fire-forming procedure again and told me to "Just go win something with this thing"!

The BRX is Born

After arriving home with my new "baby", per Doan's instructions, I purchased a new expander mandrel (6.5mm) and began expanding the necks on some new Lapua cases. The idea, Doan said, was to expand the necks fully then with bushings step the upper half, back down to 6mm (.237). He wanted me to have the false shoulder just long enough to affect a crush fit upon closing the bolt. This would insure the brass would be held firmly in place to form correctly. After a bit of fiddling around I got the new neck length perfect and finished off the entire set. Only lost one case to a split neck during the process. After priming the cases (CCI BR-4's) I loaded 32.50 grains of Varget as Doan had suggested, seated my 105's to jam slightly and I was ready to try out my new "Wildcat". Doan had told me that I could expect great accuracy during fire-forming using this false shoulder method so with the first annual (April 2008) State Mid Range Championships only a couple of weeks away I thought I would give them a try in a club 500 yard match. As you can see by the results here fire-forming using this method is no hindrance to match winning scores! 

A Time to Brag

Since that day in early March of 2008 I have been blessed with many success's shooting this little cartridge. I have earned victories in four State Championship, (two Mid Range 2008-11, one F Class Palma 2009 and one Long Range 2010), six National Records, and I have had an unbroken string of mid range victories going back to June 2010. I will be the first to tell you that I am not the best wind reader nor do I think I have any special holding skills. I will tell you that I feel, (read that as no science to back it up), the extra room in a BRX case makes it the perfect combustion chamber and it can more than make up for my wind reading and holding errors. I have slowly evolved the charge weight up to the current one of 32.80 grains of Varget, and I feel this is near the point of causing premature brass loss due to pressure. This is yielding a velocity of 3020 fps in my Krieger 1-8 medium Palma taper barrel using molied Berger 105 VLD's (hunting). I'm now on my second barrel, the first one gave me over 3000 rounds and it was still shooting when I took it off last summer.

Some Final Thoughts

In my opinion if you want to be a good Palma shooter do not get one of these BRX's chambered up. It shoots so much inside of a 308 you will be lost if you switch back and forth. On the other hand if you want an easy to load for mid and long range cartridge with just a tad more recoil than a .223, the BRX is a very smart choice. Also, when I say easy to load for, I must confess to being a reloading minimalist. I don't weigh brass or bullets and I don't turn necks or clean primer pockets. I will on occasion trim cases but usually only when I start feeling guilty about not having done it for awhile. I just tumble the fired brass to clean, size and bump the shoulders .002, prime, weigh powder charges and seat, and I usually do all that the morning of the match!
Early on I used to try to chase the lands to keep a little jam on the VLD but for the last six months I stopped doing that and it still shoots great. All in all I'm very happy with the brass and barrel life, the accuracy with the 105's is incredible. The Varget charge weights reflect all the same lot of powder.

If you have any other questions  or need any clarification about this great cartridge just let me know,



jnyfeler said...

Very interesting, Rick. I have a 6BR and love its accuracy. Are your Berger's molied or bare?

lige said...

Good shooting Rick....I think your Xring hold has a lot to do with your success. Not to dis the BRX. But you are a hard holder.

RCURTIS said...

Jeff, I bought a bunch of the original thin jacketed 105's that were molied by Berger. I have never had a failure and I have fired well over 7000 rounds. Thanks for asking I will edit my post to add that information!


Anthony Leaphart said...

On your seating do you have your bullets into the lands or jumping?