1000 Yard Benchrest Shooting Competition Part 2; Best Long Range Rifle Calibers & More

The current record for the 1k (1000 yards) is 2.6872” for a 10-shot string by Jim Roberts at the Deep Creek Range just outside of Missoula, Montana in April 2014. That is close to a 0.25 MOA shoot. The cartridge was a 6mm Dasher with 105 grain Berger Hybrid bullet. The Berger Hybrid is a VLD (very low drag) compromise that removes the difficulty in tuning loads using VLD bullets. The Hybrid blends a tangent ogive and transitions to a secant, drag defying ogive of the VLD. Easier to tune and very consistent.

Best Long Range Rifle Caliber for Competition

Benchrest shooting down to 22 rimfire or air rifles are available. Center fire competitions are held at 300, 600 and 1000 yards. Everything from 22 to 50-caliber is used, with the big bores in their own class. Generally, the 6mm to 338’s is the preferred choice. The smaller calibers have the advantage of lower recoil. The 300 Winchester Magnum was once popular as was the .30-338 Weatherby. Currently the 6mm BR and 6mm Dasher are the most popular in the 300-yard matches with the Dasher being a modified 6mm BR and all are based on the .308 Winchester case. As seen in the opening paragraph the 6mm’s are effective up to 1000 yards. For many years the benchrest fraternity in the US preferred 30 caliber chamberings. The 300 Winchester Magnum and 30-338 Weatherby wild cats dominated. But 6 and 6.5mm factory and wildcats have risen to competitive levels.

Long Range Shooting Accuracy Fundamentals

Being detail-oriented most benchrest shooters hand craft their cartridges meticulously. Consistency is the key. Guns shooting to .25 MOA are very accurate, and rare outside of the benchrest community. The ammunition capable of 5 or 10 shot groups under .5 MOA is a marvel of detail, patience and technical expertise. Cases vary, bullets vary, primers and propellants vary from lot to lot. Another aspect is that two shooters shooting the same caliber may have totally different loads. Norma offers factory 6mm Dasher cases, but it can be made, with effort from the 6mm BR. Norma has a good reputation for consistent high-quality brass. Bullets must be concentric, highest quality and ‘slippery’ meaning a high ballistic coefficient (BC). The bullet must slip through the air maintaining the highest velocity possible to minimize exposure to cross winds. Norma and Lapua brass set the standards. Back in the day Winchester brass had a good reputation for domestic cases but has been eclipsed by the European offerings.

Bullet Jam or Jump Distance for Accuracy

Many benchrest shooters also to maintain consistency by reloading the bullets without crimping. This allows ogive contact with the rifling, pushing the bullet into the case making for consistent chambering of the round and the bullet in the throat of the chamber. This is the jam, the jump school still maintains a free-throat, allowing the bullet to jump to the rifling. 600-yard matches also find shooters using 260 Remington and 243 Winchesters.
The 6mm BR is also a favorite of varmint hunters, due to its efficiency. 300 yard benchrest matches have some shooting 22 calibers and the 6x47mm Lapua is popular. Some thoughts may include 22-250 or may haps a 6mm-250. The 22-250 sets the standard for varmint shooting and may translate well to the 300 yards. It should be noted that the 22 PPC and 6mm PPC where once very popular competition calibers and were derived from the .220 Russian via the 7.62×39 M43 military round. Another caliber that is under consideration is the 6.5mm chamberings. Better BC’s and heavy bullets provide stability and resistance to wind are making this caliber more interesting, better qualities for long range shooting.