Managing Rifle Recoil at the Shooting Bench

I've had my share of scope bites of the forehead throughout the years. I'm fairly tall at 6' 7" and I often think the length of pull on many rifles just isn't long enough to fit my large frame and my forehead often pays the price. More than often shooting at the bench is my biggest culprit for marking my forehead in red.

Years ago I found a little trick to how I positioned my rifle in the shooting bag that has saved my forehead ever since. What I do is keep my rifle sling on my rifle and wrap it around and under the center of my shooting bag. I then snug up the sling on the front edge of the shooting bag. In doing this it basically holds the rifle with the shooting bag when the rifle recoils so the rifle pulls against the weight of the shooting bag.

This simple trick has do wonders to saving my forehead. Here is a video clip I put together that shows what I do to manage the recoil at the bench.

Does taping the end of my rifle barrel affect accuracy?

Shot through electrical tape on the end of my X-Bolt 270 WSM rifle barrel

This is what the electrical tape looked like after I shot through the tape on the end of my X-Bolt 270 WSM rifle barrel to take my Mule Deer in 2010 at 457 yards.

The last few years I have been taping the end of my barrel to keep snow, water, mud and other debris out. I have read and been told that placing a balloon or tape over the end of my barrel would not affect the accuracy. I believed what I have heard but still in the back of my head I've been a little hesitant that maybe it would change things enough to affect the accuracy. However when I logically think about it, the tape has to be blown out of the way long before the bullet ever gets to the end of the barrel. I should take some time some day and test accuracy on the range.

I carry a roll of electrical tape in my fanny pack that I have my range finder and binoculars in. I wear the fanny pack on my front side so I can quickly have access to items I need, like tape. When I tape my barrel I like to create a tab to use to pull the tape off with. I fold over about a half inch of tape on top of itself then tape up and over the end of the barrel with about three inches of tape on both sides of the barrel.

I have always had time to remove the tape before taking any shots until this year. In the rush of the moment I forgot that I still had tape across the end of my barrel when I shot my 2010 Mule Deer at 457 yards. The shot was dead on — absolutely no problem shooting through electrical tape placed across the end of my barrel.

Update October 2014
In 2014 I started using a Neoprene Rifle Jacket and love it. I no longer tape the end of the barrel or mess with scope covers. I use the rifle jacket and the whole rifle is protected from snow, rain and scratches. You can see more thoughts and photos of this product in Dallen's 2014 mule deer hunt.
 

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243 WSSM 95g Nolser Partition Handload

243 WSSM 95g Nosler Partition Three Shot Groups
My two little helpers, Landen and KB showing Daddy which 243 WSSM 95g Nosler Partition three shot group is the best. The only difference in the three loads is different seating depths of the bullet and the firing order.

I have been working on a 95g Nosler Partition load for my 243 WSSM A-Bolt Stainless Varmint Laminate for the past couple of months. After some tweaks with the COL I am finally satisfied with the load and it's accuracy.

I started working on loads based around Accurate MagPro powder. I soon found that I had to back off the amount of powder that the case could hold by a considerable amount to keep my bolt from being stiff when I open the bolt. MagPro is my bread and butter when it comes to powder but for this load I needed something with an even slower burn rate.

Once again I am finding that at least in my 243 WSSM rifles the powder burn rates of the powders, that are recommended in the powder and bullet manufacturer's load data are often too fast to get full case capacity without excessive pressures. Maybe it's a superstition but I like my handloads to have charges of powder that fill the case enough to the point that they are compressed or at least I can't hear any powder rattling around if I shake a cartridge next to my ear. I believe that I get better accuracy and speed with a powder that has the right burning speed to give me a full case of powder.

243 WSSM 95g Nosler Partition Three Shot Group with Hodgdon Retumbo Powder

243 WSSM 95g Nosler Partition Three Shot Group with Hodgdon Retumbo Powder.

For this bullet Hodgdon's Retumbo was my ticket and believe it or not, it's not quite slow enough to give a compressed load as I figured I would be able to do. There aren't many powders much slower than Retumbo (you can see powder burn rates on reloadingbench.com)... maybe 50 BMG powder is the ticket. ;)

During this couple month process of loading up a few rounds to shoot each week I broke the decapping shaft when it decided not to go down the center of the cartridge. Not sure why that happened? The new tapered expander's diameter on the shaft is 0.243 inches and the old one was 0.242 inches. So far the point of impact has been the same with the one load I shot before and after the change but the chronograph is now saying 3165 fps compared to 3250 fps. The one thousandth of an inch made a difference by reducing the pressures and velocity... I could probably move back up a grain of powder but the load is shooting just fine for me right now so I'll leave it alone.

The load I am going with I was hoping for a one hole group and ended up with a half inch group. The three shots were the fourth, fifth and sixth in a string of nine shots. Shots four and five make a single hole with the sixth shot flying a little high. I could probably get a little better accuracy if I played a little more with the COL but I feel really good about this load being sub MOA which is plenty good enough for me to hit anything I plan on shooting.

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