We talk to Kansas Precision Rifle Club shooter, Twin Peaks Rifle Club member and Foundation Stocks sponsored precision rifle shooter Nick Barnard about his rifle, reloading equipment and load development methods. Some people shoot their whole lives to get good at precision rifle shooting, other shooters quickly discover and develop their talent like Nick as you will discover in his interview.
We Talk with Nick
What shooting disciplines do you practice or compete in?
I compete in PRS-style matches. Locally, I shoot 2-3 KPRC (Kansas Precision Rifle Club) matches each month. I am a member at Twin Peaks Rifle Club in Medicine Lodge, KS and Severance Training Center in Conway Springs, KS. Both ranges have characteristics that aid in load development. At the national level, I shoot about 10 Precision Rifles Series matches annually and enjoy traveling to shoot somewhere new.
How did you get started in reloading your own ammunition?
To say I’m a shooting novice is an understatement, I only fired a rifle for the first time 3 years ago. I started out buying factory ammo but quickly realized the consistency needed to be competitive in matches. I reached out to a good friend that has been reloading for many years, picked his brain on his process, studied up, and adapted my own method.
What is your main goal with reloading?
I reload to control as many variables as possible. Using components with the same lot numbers, loaded in the same environment gets me a consistent result.
What sequence do you follow when reloading virgin brass?
I just load and go. I load .2-.3 below my typical charge and send it. Running 6BRA its pretty simple and shoots accurately. If I’m needing to fire-form brass, I’ll do it at a KPRC match.
What sequence do you follow when reloading fired brass?
1. Anneal dirty brass with AMP Mark II Annealer
2. Resize with Whidden Gunworks FL Bushing Die on RCBS Rebel press.
3. Dry Tumble in Corn Cob for 3-4 hours.
4. Trim/Chamfer/Debur on Giraud Power Trimmer
5. Hand prime with RCBS Hand Priming Tool
6. Drop powder with RCBS Chargemaster Lite
7. Seat bullets with Whidden Gunworks Seater die on RCBS Rock Chucker
Do you anneal your brass and why?
Yes. I anneal after every firing with AMP Mark II Annealer. It’s a quick process and another variable to control consistency.
What caliber do you shoot with and why?
6BRA. When I got into shooting I was running factory 6.5 Creedmoor. My second season I reloaded 6 Creedmoor. I worked my way to 6BRA to increase barrel life and decrease the amount of powder needed. I can confidently shoot 2500 rounds with a 6BRA barrel vs. 1500 on the 6 Creedmoor, using about 30% less powder.
What does your reloading equipment consist of?
1. AMP Mark II Annealer
4. Whidden Gunworks FL Bushing Die and Seater Die
5. RCBS Vibratory Tumbler – Prize table grab from a PRS national match
6. Giraud Power Trimmer
7. RCBS Chargemaster Lite -prize table grab from a PRS national match 8. RCBS Hand Priming Tool
What load development method do you use to find a new load?
Starting with 1 grain below to 1 grain above my current load, I load in .2gr increments. I load 4 rounds of each charge and shoot them round robin in 4 series. I shoot them over a Labradar so I can check velocities and grouping at the same time. I’m not really concerned with the grouping as much as finding consistent velocities. I graph the velocities and find where the speeds flatten out before another jump in velocities. I roll with the charge in the middle of the node. As far as bullet seating, there’s been enough research by others to confirm the seating depth for Berger 105s between .065- .070 off the lands so I use that. Running the same bullets, powder, and primers makes it easy. My loads are usually within .1gr of each other.
Do you do load development before, during or after barrel break in?
After barrel break in. I will run 150-200 rounds through the barrel before load development.
At what MOA or Grouping size do you stop load development?
What components does your rifle and optics that you currently use, consist of?
1. Foundation Stock – Genesis
2. Impact Action
3. Tangent Theta – 5x25x56 – Gen 3 XR
4. Spuhr SR-4000 Scope Rings
5. Hawkins M5 Bottom Metal
6. TriggerTech Diamond
7. Proof Barrel – Competition Contour
8. Area 419 Hellfire Muzzle Break
9. B&T Industries Atlas Bipod
10. Peterson Brass
11. Berger 105 Bullets
12. Hodgdon Powder – Varget
13. Perry Precision (Baldwin City, KS)
14. AP Coatings ( Baldwin City, KS)
How often do you clean your rifle and barrel?
After each match.
What barrel cleaning equipment, products and procedure do you use?
1. 4 Wet Patches
2. 10 passes with nylon brush
3. 4 Wet Patches
4. Dry patches until they come out clean.
What do you feel is your biggest factor resulting in your consistency?
Quality products and components. (My wife would tell you it’s my obsessive attention to detail & perfectionism.)
Are there any other points you may want to add?
If you are on the fence about jumping into reloading, don’t be afraid to ask questions. The shooting community is more than happy to answer any questions or test equipment.
Nick, Well done with your great achievements in the Precision Rifle shooting sport in the short time since you have started, we look forward to seeing you win many more in future.