Red Mist XII, Field testing the new R93 17HMR barrels and the Holland Shooting Supplies ART scopes
This year’s annual prairie dog shoot in Montana was in late June 2008, in the Malta area with local outfitter, Babe Bishop. The upper Midwest and the front range of the northern Rockies were experiencing one of the wettest years on record. Besides having to deal with the warm late June temperatures and the never ending prairie winds this year, for the first time ever we saw mosquitoes in numbers not unlike the bogs of northern Minnesota, Canada and Alaska. The three day shoot, with four of the usual suspects in attendance, saw well over 6,000 prairie dogs go to the great grasslands in the sky.
R93 Rimfire kits in 17HMR
These long-awaited kits started to ship last winter and Mike Trenholm and I both brought ours to Red Mist this year. Light in weight, with standard contour barrels 22” long , Mike’s kit came with back-up iron sights and my barrel is set up strictly for scope use. These unique kits use an extended bolt assembly that projects into the normal chamber area of the R93 and feed from a five shot magazine located at the one o’clock position (from the shooter’s perspective). The fired cases eject out the left hand side of the action. Depending on which bolt assembly acts as a host, the kit is useable for both left and right handed shooters.
Both of our rifles shoot well under ¾” at 100 yards with Hornady’s 17gr V-max bullets, regardless of the lot number used. My rifle consistently measured 2575 fps muzzle velocities with a standard deviation of fewer than twenty-six -feet per second. I equipped my rifle with a Kahles American Hunter one-inch scope with the TDS reticle; utilizing standard Blaser mounts, this gun weighs in at less than eight pounds. The TDS reticle instructions suggest a 100-yard cross hair zero with the 17HMR giving you 150, 200, 250 and 300-yard aim points that in my experience are right on.
On our daily “walk-a-bouts” in the prairie dog town, both Mike and I were able to make consistent hits at ranges well in excess of 200 yards with these setups utilizing shooting sticks. The only problem I experienced was a small amount of brass shavings from the case mouths in the action area. Not enough to cause functioning issues, but it was an issue that needed attention during cleaning. Considering we both shot four hundred or more 17HMR rounds per day with our R93’s, their performance was outstanding. Good thing we each had several spare magazines, we needed them to hold off the charging dogs.
Holland’s Shooters Supply Advanced Reticle System
One word, WOW! This is without a doubt the easiest multi-point aiming system I have ever used. That’s a pretty strong statement, but one I feel comfortable making. Although I grew up on Mil-dot’s and still use them exclusively for my 223 Remington R93 Varmint rifles, the extra aim points of the ART system make shots from 250-750 yards much easier. The Kahles TDS system, developed by an Air Force Fighter pilot, is wonderfully simple and works very well in the field. The ART systems advantage is it allows much finer aiming solutions for elevation and windage. You still need to dope the wind and make sure you have accurate distance measurements to your target, but it does make the aiming task easier.
I utilized the ART system on my Leupold VX-3 Long Range 4.5-14x40mm scope; this is the hunting version with the side focus and Mark 4 quality glass. It is mounted on my 6.5×55 Semi-weight R93 Luxus rifle in standard Blaser mounts. I zeroed the rifle at xxx and made up a range card from the computer program that Holland’s provides with every conversion. Holland’s can make the conversion on many 30mm Leupold scopes and also the entire Schmidt & Bender line.
The ART will not make every hunter a sniper and it is not a crutch, but it will allow a good shooter who learns the ART system and it limitations able to make long shots if he or she has a suitable long range rifle-cartridge combination. (AKA: Any R93…). You can read more about Darrel Holland’s ART scopes and his other rifle services at http://www.hollandguns.com/.
Here is the complete explanation from the Holland web site; I cannot say it any better: