USAMU FAQs: Equipment and Ammunition

Civilian Marksmanship ProgramEducationShooting Tips from the USAMU Service Rifle TeamUSAMU FAQs: Equipment and Ammunition


The U. S. Army Service Rifle Team and the CMP have teamed up to provide our First Shot readers with an opportunity to submit their questions on highpower/service rifle shooting and get answers from some of the greatest shooters and coaches in the country.

If you have questions about highpower rifle shooting equipment or ammunition, send them to and a USAMU shooter or coach will answer it here.


Q: What are you using these days for coaching scopes?

A: Sir, We are currently using, and have been for three years, the Kowa Highlander. This scope is basically twin 82mm scopes that are put together as a single unit. The eyepieces are interchangeable and give you the ability to change the power of the scope. We purchased them through Creedmoor Sports.

SFC Kyle Ward

Q: I just started shooting highpower with an AR15 and like it. They say I need to see the front sight very sharp. I do not see the front sight crisp; I see it a little fuzzy. I am 55 would like to know if there are any solutions to my problem or do I just deal with it. Thank you very much.
Dan K.

A: Mr. K, Yes, you should see the front sight post very clearly. The fact that you are 55 makes doing that more of a challenge, but achieving a sharp sight picture is certainly possible for you. You may need to do some experimentation with different size front and rear sights. I recommend you start with a match front sight of at least .070″ width. I would also recommend using a .0435″ or .046″ size rear sight. If these changes alone do not improve things dramatically, your next step is a visit to your optometrist or ophthalmologist. You must explain how you need to look through an aperture in front of your eye and focus on an object about 23”-24″ away from your eye while still being able to read number boards at 600 yds. Some optometrists or ophthalmologists even allow patients to take their rifles to their offices to determine the proper prescriptions for this.

Good Luck,
Lance S. Hopper

Q: I’ve been shooting the M1a for years in service competitions. I just bought a Bushmaster AR15 National Match Rifle. Are there any tips or tricks you can tell me?

A: Mr. Laskoski, That is a fairly broad, open ended question, but I will do my best to hit the key points. The first thing you will notice is that there is much less recoil with the AR-15, which will make it easier to shoot accurately. Also, accuracy is generally better with the ARs and they don’t break as often. How to hold the pistol grip of the AR will probably be one of your first challenges. Because it hangs so low in relationship to the line of bore it is very easy to steer the rifle with your firing hand and to pull the rifle off target because of poor trigger control. To overcome this, I recommend that you use a very strong firing hand grip, to include wrapping your thumb around and resting it on top of the middle finger. I also recommend that you place your trigger finger on the trigger so that your finger is fully extended and wraps around the trigger, but not to go past the second knuckle. This will allow your finger to move straight to the rear naturally. Your next hurdle will more than likely be the reduced sight radius, it’s approximately 7″ shorter. I recommend that you use a wide front sight post. It will be easier to see and stay focused on. Most of the shooters on our team use a front sight that is .064″ to .074″ in width. You may hear from others that you can fine tune your aim better with a narrower sight, but I would check the classification and championships of those shooters before I take that advice. Sight alignment is also going to be much more critical because of the reduced sight radius. You must check it and make sure it is perfect every shot, even in rapid fire. For the size of the rear sight aperture, most shooters on our team use sight posts between .039″ and .045″ in width. Much of this depends on your eyes and how much light they require to see the front sight clearly. Whatever size you settle on, it must satisfy your needs on both bright and dark days. I hope this helps you get started on the right track.

Good Luck,
Lance S. Hopper

Q: Good day, I am into Bullseye and EIC Service Pistol shooting. When I return from Afghanistan, I plan to build an AR 15 for Rifle LEG matches. Can you give me some pointers on what I want and don’t want in the way of parts? Like best upper and lower, barrel, internal parts, etc…

Thanks in advance,

A: Sir, For the entry-level shooter, I would recommend trying one of the “off the shelf” competition rifles from Rock River, Armalite or Bushmaster. They are accurate and possess good 2-stage triggers.

Alternately, custom makers like White Oak Precision or Compass Lake Engineering offer custom-built competitive uppers. They also provide gunsmithing services for the installation of aftermarket triggers into an existing lower.

Good Luck

Q: Sir: Thanks to you and the whole team for your articles on highpower shooting. This is my first year shooting and I am really enjoying it. I shoot both a match rifle and an AR15 Armalite service rifle. I am 52 years old. I shoot right-handed and use my right eye for aiming. I require corrective lenses for far sightedness, and this year I got bi-focal glasses for shooting. The lower lens for reading the scorebook, and the upper part of the lens provides clear focus on the front sight post thanks to my eye doctor.

I am using the smallest aperture for the rear NM sight, 0.043. While this helps improve my depth of field over the three larger apertures I have, I still have trouble getting good focus on both the front sight and the target at 600 yards (I have less of a problem at 200 and 300 yards). An experienced shooter suggested an even smaller aperture would improve the depth of field at 600. Do you agree, and if so, where is a source for a smaller aperture for my NM sight? Is there another type of insert for my NM sight that would improve the focus and keep the rifle legal for service rifle competition?

Looking forward to your response, and thanks again for your great service to shooting sports.

Keith H.

A: Mr. H
You brought up a point that many new shooters have difficulty understanding. The only thing that should be in focus is the front sight. The human eye can only focus on one thing at a time, even young eyes. While the aperture does help with the depth of field, it cannot overcome the limitations of the eye. You have to check the alignment of the front and rear sights before finalizing your aim, but final focus must only be on the front sight. The target will be blurry.

If it is not, then there is no way for you to know exactly where you are pointing the rifle. This is one of the most important things for you to make sure you do every shot, and one that will allow your scores to progress at a faster rate. Good luck.

SFC Lance Hopper

Q: I have this particular type of sling, but I do not know how to set it for sitting and prone firing. Is there a website with pictures showing the different ways to use the sling?

A: Mr.L. I do not want to seem vague, or suggest that I’m not trying to be helpful, but explaining how to put your sling together in an e-mail would only be confusing. It is very difficult to explain without doing a hands-on demonstration followed by some coaching. I recommend the following:

1. The CMP has a DVD available on their website (open the “Sales” pate) that the AMU Service Rifle Team made a few years ago. The disc runs $34.95 and has a class on how to put your rifle sling together on it.

2. Wait a month or so if possible; we are going to write an article on sling use and post it on the CMP web page in the very near future.

SFC Kyle Ward

Q: How and where can I get a corrective lens for a rear sight? I just read an article about a corrective lens for a rear sight. Best Regards, Paul D.

A: Mr. D. The only option that I know of is the Bob Jones rear sight replacement. They can be purchased from his website. There are some concerns that you should be aware of though, including rain and fogging. You will not be able to blow out or wipe off any moisture from a lens in the rear sight hood like would from a lens that you wear on your face.

SFC Lance Hopper

Q:  To whom it may concern, I have a RRA national match rifle and I wanted to know if it is alright to put an ergo pistol grip on the rifle during competition. I would appreciate any technical advice. Best Regards, Pat

A: Mr. Oxo,

The use of the ergo grip or other polymer pistol grips is not authorized in CMP and NRA competitions. They are considered to be an external modification to the rifle.

Good shooting,

SFC Kyle Ward

Q: As a long time service rifle shooter, I still use the M1a, and the web/cotton sling. In a long range class with Middleton Tomkins some time back, he stated he still liked the web sling, because it doesn’t stretch.  Your thoughts?  Thanks!  Tim R.    BTW-great website!

A: Mr. Riggs,

Most of us use a leather sling, but there are a couple of guys on the team that use the web sling. It is really just a matter of personal preference. They both have their pros and cons. The leather sling is very easy to use. Once you have acquired a steady position with your leather sling it is easy to duplicate by simply placing the brass claws (frog) in the same pair of holes each time you assume the position you are going to fire. One drawback to the leather sling is that it will stretch over time and eventually wear out altogether. I shoot quite a bit and can usually get three years of service out of a leather sling.

Web slings are very comfortable to wear, and the guys on the team who use them say that they can achieve a slightly tighter position with them. They do not stretch with time and rarely wear out. The problem I have with the web sling is getting it in the exact same spot with each use.

I recommend that you try them both and go with the one you like best.  Ultimately, you want a sling that will allow you to achieve the same steady position each time you put it on your arm.

Good luck, and good shooting.

SFC Kyle Ward

Q: I have been trying to work up a load for my 600 yd matches with 80 grain VLD’s.  I have a compass Lake MR 15 with a 1 in 7 twist and have been loading Lapua cases with 22.5 to 22.7 grains of N140.  The OAL is taken from the shoulder and is 1.88.  Do you have any suggestions on the load?  Thank you for your assistance, Sam

A: Sam, Unfortunately, I am not able to disclose any loading information in this forum. Not because what we are shooting is a big secret, but for liability reasons we are prohibited from posting any load data. We wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt from something we have put out. I recommend discussing this with some of your fellow competitors out there. There are some brilliant reloaders in this sport.

Good shooting,
SFC Kyle Ward

Q: I was a member of the 1964 Fort Bliss, Texas Army Rifle Team. Since then, I have shot only once, with borrowed equipment. The scope issued by the Army was adequate for shooting 200, 300, and 600 yards.
At this time, I would like to purchase equipment to use for competition. What power would I need for a scope? Thanks for any help,  JPM

A: Mr. Mohar,

Most scope manufacturers offer a variable power eyepiece which can accomplish most of your needs, however they usually compromise clarity. I know of shooters that use different fixed power eyepieces for different situations. Personally, I use either a 32x or a 21x depending on the heaviness of the mirage. I think that you will find that anything between 20x and 60x will meet your requirements.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: Can you tell me what the loads are that the AMU uses? What is the 200/300 ammo – bullet, powder, case, primer and OAL and the same for 600 yard? Are there advantages to especially loading ammo for a specific rifle? Should 600 yard ammo OAL be some particular distance off of the lands? Thanks, Tom R.

A: Mr. Roberts,

I cannot disclose the specific ammunition loads that the USAMU team uses. I can however tell you that there are advantages to loading for a specific rifle. Depending on your ability level, the advantage may be difficult to see, but should be evident when shooting from a rest or at short distances. As for your 600-yard ammo being a particular distance off of the lands, it depends on what your particular rifle shoots best, because that is really what is important!

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: I’ve been shooting service rifle for a year with a cloth coat. I’m starting to get more serious and want to invest in a leather coat.  Creedmoor has two kinds of full leather, hardback and lite. Which do you think is most widely used? Do you guys use hardback? If so, do you use the same coat for all positions? Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated. I’ll be attending a HP class soon so hopefully there will be a variety of coats to look at or try on. Thanks, B.W.

A: Mr. Winding, Unless you have your heart set on leather I would recommend getting the canvas tapered or regular hardback coat with leather sleeves. The canvas will give you at least the same if not better support, and will not be as hot in the summer. But because the leather is thicker, you would get more cushioning for the sling from it. You will also see mesh vent panels and side zippers as options. I personally do not think these are an advantage, as they will take support away from the back.

Good Luck,
Lance S. Hopper

Q: I’ve just come into possession of a new M1A and would like to know the correct way of breaking in a new barrel (Chrome-Moly). Curt U.

A: Mr. Ullery, Breaking in a new barrel is more or less just polishing the inside of the barrel. This polishing helps to remove tool marks and imperfections left over from the manufacturing process. It has been my experience that barrels that have been broken in tend to foul less easily and are easier to clean. I have also noticed that the first round on a clean barrel tends to be more closely on call.

As far as a correct way to break in the barrel, there is no “set-in-stone” method. I do the following:

1. Clean the barrel, because most guns have been proofed.
2. Shoot 1-shot followed by cleaning. Repeat this five times.
3. Shoot 2-shots followed by cleaning. Repeat this five times.
4. Fire a 3-shot group on a target at 100 yards, starting with a clean barrel.
5. Continue firing 3-shot groups preceded by barrel cleaning until the first shot from a clean barrel impacts within close proximity to the second and third shots. After five to ten 3 shot groups, the barrel is about as good as it will ever be.

In my cleaning procedure, I use a copper solvent such as Butch’s Bore Shine or Sweet’s 7.62 on a bronze brush. Try the following sequence:

1. Scrub the bore with a solvent soaked brush 12-15 strokes. Repeat every 1-2 minutes until barrel is free of copper.
2. Dry the barrel with a few clean patches. Dry the chamber and barrel crown.
3. Fire your next shot.

Never leave a chrome-moly barrel dry, it will rust. After break-in is complete, throw your bronze brush in the trash because the solvent will destroy it.

SFC Lance Dement

Q: I’ve shot the M-1 off and on for a number of years in club competitions, always with a GI web sling. I feel it’s easier and faster to adjust from stage to stage than the leather sling. But I’ve heard many expert shooters (I’m anything but) say the leather sling is much superior. I’d just like to get your take on it. Steve R.

A: Steve, Some of us on the team use a web sling while others use leather. It is really a matter of personal preference, what feels right to you, and what allows you to achieve the same comfortable position each and every time. I recommend getting a quality leather sling and trying it out for awhile. Maybe you will stick with it, or perhaps you will return to your web sling. As far as one being better than the other, it is all a matter of opinion.

SFC Kyle Ward

Q: I am an avid service rifle competitor. I am currently shooting a 97-98% average in offhand and sitting but struggle in prone (I believe due to my being nearsighted). I do wear Knobloch shooting glasses, but haven’t found an acceptable power for 600. Any suggestions? John C.

A: John, I also wear glasses during competition, except that I am farsighted. My best advice to you is to seek out an ophthalmologist in your area that has a good reputation. Explain to him that you need a prescription that will enable you to look through an aperture rear sight and see your post front sight clearly while still allowing you to see a distant round target with some clarity. He should be able to give you a prescription that is a good compromise between seeing your front sight post clearly and still be able to read your target number. You may also consider the size of your front sight post. Generally, I tell people that wider is better on the front sight, but people that are near sighted must stay with the normal size or even thinner (about .064). I hope this helps.

Good shooting,
SFC Lance Hopper

Q: I have a M1A with a leatherwood ART. I want to get back into highpower shooting again. I am retired Army and did receive some sniper training in the Marine Corps with a M1C this was in the 50s. Any ideas of what I can do with what I have. I also have a Beretta BM59 in 308. Thank you for any information and recommendations. Thank you
Gary Welker

A: Gary, Welcome back to highpower. Your best bet for shooting would be to remove the scope from your rifle and compete with the M1A using Iron Sights. This would be a legal rifle as per CMP/EIC rules (as long as the trigger weighs 4.5 lbs.).

Alternately, you could use your rifle equipped with scope in NRA Long Range matches in the Any Rifle class.

Good Shooting,
SSG Emil Praslick, USAMU

Q: I am interested in match shooting with the M1 Garand. What are the names of the matches that apply? I would like to compete in matches where the rifles are not modified for accuracy, but I notice CMP’s Garands for sale are not in good shape, and I would like to purchase a new rifle from Springfield Armory. Would this rifle be legal?

A: Darrell, The M1 Garand is a great rifle, and there are many matches that you can shoot that fit your interests. First of all, you should definitely shoot the Garand Match during the CMP week at Camp Perry during the National Matches. The match features unmodified M1’s shooting issued ammunition. This type of match is becoming very popular in local shooting clubs, as well.

There is no reason, however that you could not also shoot CMP and NRA matches with your unmodified M1. The main challenge would be firing at 600 yards, so perhaps one of the many clubs that host reduced course (200-300 yards) matches might fit your needs.

As to purchasing a “new” rifle, one alternative might be (a few Army shooters have done this) is to buy a Garand and then acquire an aftermarket stock. The condition of the action/barrel/trigger groups are actually quite good on some of these rifles. This option would be quite a cost savings; besides you would have a piece of history.

Good Shooting,
SSG Emil Praslick, USAMU

Special Note: According to the most recent information available to the CMP staff, Springfield Armory M1 Garand-type rifles are not legal for use in CMP sanctioned Garand Matches. CMP Competition Rules require that rifles fired in sanctioned Garand matches must be rifles that were “issued by the U. S. Armed Forces” and that replacement barrels on these rifles must the same configuration and cuts as original GI barrels.

Q: Dear Sirs, I am a retired Navy guy, and I would like to get into competitive shooting while my eyes are still good. I would like to shoot in a class that uses as close to out-of-the-box guns as possible, M1A being my favorite, but AR15 will do. I don’t know anything about it. Thanks for the help. John Velasquez

A: Mr. Velasquez, Several companies offer “out of the box” rifles that will get you on your way to competitive high-power rifle shooting. If you are looking for an M1A, Springfield Armory or Fulton Armory rifles will be tough to beat. Several companies offer AR-15’s that are great performers right out of the box. Armalite, Rock River Arsenal, Compass Lake, Bushmaster, White Oak Precision all make great rifles. I cannot endorse any one company, but these are all great places to look. You will not be disappointed with whomever you choose.

SFC Kyle Ward

Q: SFC Ward, Thanks for the info on the guns. Is there a class for plain ol’ stock guns? How much modification goes into the guns used in the high power matches? How do I obtain a rule book?  John

A: Mr. Velasquez,

There is not a class for just plain rifles. To compete with a rifle that has not been accurized would be frustrating to you as a shooter, and a potential safety hazard to those around you given the distances fired in the sport of high-power.

A rifle that has been accurized has had the following things done to it at a minimum:

1. The barrel is a free floating stainless steel or chrome moly barrel instead of the standard chrome lined barrels that the military uses. A shroud is placed inside of the hand guards that keeps other components from coming into contact with the barrel.

2. A two stage match grade trigger is installed instead of the heavy single stage trigger used by the military.

3. Finally, match grades sights replace the standard ballistic drop compensator and windage knobs.

You can obtain a rule book from

Good luck,

SFC Kyle Ward

Q: Hi Guys, I just finished reading SFC Lance Dement’s article on the service rifle sling. I find it very difficult to put on and adjust the leather sling during my rapid sitting and prone. I also have a difficult time keeping it tight and in the same position. I have gone to the Nylon web sling that was used on the early Garands. It is much easier to use. My question is, is one better than the other and will I be able to use the web sling on my AR doing matches. I have been told that I would have to use the leather military sling in competition. Thank you very much for your help. Van Texas

A: Van, Some shooters will argue that a leather sling is superior to a web sling. I prefer to use a leather sling mainly because I was taught to use it when I first began shooting. Some of my teammates prefer to use a web sling because they are simply more comfortable using them. One is no better than the other. As long as the sling is doing its job in helping you support the rifle, you really can’t go wrong. Web slings are authorized for use in competition; we use them all the time.

Good shooting,
SFC Kyle Ward

Q: Do high level competitors use copper washed or plain lead bullets in their “best quality” 22 rimfire guns? I have been told that the copper wash leads to fouling, but in excellent barrels plain lead does not require brushing.

A: Doug, top level smallbore shooters do not use copper washed bullets.
Regardless of how good your barrel and bullet combination is, you will still need to brush it occasionally as the lube and soft lead will eventually build up to the point that accuracy will deteriorate. For best accuracy, I suggest that you test several different brands and lots to find the combination that shoots best in your rifle. Just because you spend a thousand dollars for a case of Tenex, Lapua, or RWS doesn’t guarantee great accuracy. You must find the specific lot from the specific brand and then buy as much of it as you can afford. Smallbore rifles and ammo are finicky, but once the right combo is found you will be able to shoot consistently small groups with no flyers. I hope this helps.

Good Luck,
SFC Lance S. Hopper

Q: Do you have any data on the best Sierria bullet to use at 200 and 300 yards 69’s or 77’s? I presume that 80’s are still better than 77’s at 600 yards if you can single load them at 600. I need to purchase bullets at Perry and wanted to have your input.
Thank You, Dan Acker

A: Mr. Acker, I would say that any bullet weighing between 69 and 77 grains is fine for 200-300 yards. Realize that if you choose to buy commercially loaded ammunition that your bullet choices will be a little more limited. There are many bullet manufacturers that make quality bullets that weigh 69, 73, 75, and 77 grains. The most important part of the selection is that your particular load for that bullet reaches the desired goal. Good luck with your choice.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: USAMU, I have been competing in Highpower rifle matches with a bolt action .308 Win. for the last 15 years and now I am interested in getting into the service rifle game. My question is regarding the configuration and limitations of the AR-15 type rifle that I am considering. Is it legal to compete with a rifle that has an upper section with a built in sight rail (flattop) and no standard sights, but is equipped to mount a handle type sight at the rear and front sight forward of the hand guard?
Thanks in advance, Gerry

A: Gerry, One of the latest revisions to the CMP rule governing the design and dimensions of the M16 (rule 6.2.3, paragraph 12) allows for it:

“…if an M16 A4 or commercial equivalent rifle with removable carry handle is used, the rifle must be equipped with a carry Handle and rear sight that has the same configuration as the carry handle on the M16A2 (height, type of sight, etc.) No optical sights are permitted.”

The rule then goes on to explain that the rifle must essentially conform to the dimensions of a current Service Rifle (front sight, etc…).

Good luck, and see you on the range!

SSG Emil Praslick

Q: I am an armorer for an Indiana Reserve Unit, and am interested in High power rifle comp. My superiors think this is great since there has not been a soldier from this unit shoot any comp. before. My problem is that I’ll probably be funding/researching myself, which brings me to my question, what equipment would you suggest to start with (rifle, mat, shooting jacket etc.) and still keep within a budget. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you In Advance, PVT. Carpenter

A: PVT Carpenter, To maintain a budget, you must first figure out what equipment is necessary. A shooting coat is necessary, as is a shooting stool and mat. However, if you were to look through any of the catalogs from a shooting supply vendor, you will notice that there are several “levels” of equipment. In an effort to stay within your budget, you should start at a lower level and work your way up to the better stuff as you get more experience. Places where you don’t want to skimp are on your rifle, sling, and reloading components. These are the most important pieces of equipment in your kit.
Another option is to go to some local matches and see what kind of used equipment is available. It seems as though there is always someone willing to part with his stuff so he can upgrade. Don’t be afraid to search the shooter’s internet boards for some used stuff as well. Good luck, and welcome to Highpower Rifle!!

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: My rifle is stock Springfield, just as it came from CMP. My trouble is the sights are the same issued sights. I don’t really won’t to change them to something modern, but of course I hit very high on the target at 100 yards. What would be the best remedies to correct this problem: A. use a scope B. file the front sight down (thus marring the originality of the weapon) or is there a better solution?  Regards, Steve Russell

A: Mr. Russell, Your decision should be based on the following criteria: How often are you going to shoot this rifle? At what distances do you plan to do most of the shooting? How big of an area are you looking to hit with the rifle…..what kind of accuracy are you looking for? If your 03 is just for plinking at distances of 100 yards or less, I would merely learn to “hold off” the appropriate amount in order to hit the desired area of the target. You can use this technique to win shooting contests with your buddies. If your plan is to shoot distances of 300 yards or so, you might find that the sights are pretty close to right on for that distance. Lastly, if hunting with this rifle is going to be your gig, then perhaps a scope is in order.
Practice holding off even at distances out to 300 yards or so. With practice, you can become lethal with the as issued sights. Ask Sergeant York…..

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: I would like to get into service rifle with my 12 yr old son. I would like your opinion regarding whether you feel it is worth it to spend the extra $600 for a compass lake with a Krieger barrel vs a Wilson barrel on a rock river. Is that there that much more accuracy to be gained in a perfect world from the Krieger? I know they last longer than most before the groups open up but was curious as to what your thoughts are. I’m not looking for a specific product endorsement (unless you want to give one!) but rather is the extra accuracy there? I had one friend advise me to get as good as I can on the rock river and then eventually put a Douglas or a Krieger on the rock river- what are your thoughts? I have shot since I was young-45 yrs old now, but not at the level of a Camp Perry.
What do you see at Camp Perry? Rock river advertises ¾ moa- I don’t know what a Krieger can deliver- maybe .5??
Any suggestions are helpful.  Tim Christiansen

A: Mr. Christiansen,

First off, welcome to the sport of Highpower Rifle. Now, if the rifle is for a beginner, save the money and put it towards bullets. The competition is so tough between rifle manufacturers that one cannot get away with selling a poor quality product. I would recommend that you purchase a beginner rifle (ArmaLite, Rock River, Bushmaster….and so on) and work your way into a custom built (Compass Lake, White Oak…..and so on) match rifle. I have personally witnessed a shooter purchase a rifle from Commercial Row at Camp Perry and win the National Service Rifle Championship with it. Any rifle you buy from a reputable manufacturer will be sufficient for many, many years. After a few years when you feel that you are more capable than the rifle, go ahead and step it up. Until then, I think that you will be happier with the money saved and spent in other areas.
As for what do we see at Camp Perry, I can’t really answer that. The person to ask here would be the guys on the Armorer trucks. They are the guys that get to see everyone’s rifle…..especially the broken ones!

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: Is the USAMU using the 90 gr for 1000 yd with service rifle?

A: I am unfortunately unable to disclose the USAMU load or it’s components to the public. Understand that the USAMU has specific rifles and ammunition that are used for long range competition, and that is how we keep our competitive edge. I will be happy to address questions regarding position or techniques, but not ammunition. Thank you.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson


A: Mr. Murek, The short answer to your first question is no, you do not need to change the gas plug. The ammunition will recoil hard because of the increased powder charge and heavier bullet. I know that people shoot 180 grain bullets out of them without too much trouble.
As for your match sight, if you are talking about the sight ramp, it needs to be fitted by a qualified gunsmith as they are made large with the intent of being cut to fit. If you are speaking of the windage screw, it has a different thread and the knob won’t screw on, you need to get the match knob. Good luck with getting it going.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: Hi, My daughter recently turned 14 and has been shooting service rifle for several months and we are shooting a loaner rifle with standard A2 sights. Can a replacement 1/2 moa drum work on this sight to get 1/2 MOA adjustments? Or do I have to buy a complete new sight? Also the rear sight is very slightly cocked counterclockwise due to the detent ball on the left side of the sight. Do match sights sit the same way? Also, do people sometimes shim the right front of the sight to make them straight?

Your help is greatly appreciated – Ray

A: Ray, A half minute drum is only half minute because of the thread pitch on the sight base. The same holds true for a quarter of minute sight. This means that you will in fact have to replace the whole sight. The sight is cocked because that is how it tracks straight up and down. There are different sight designs that have pins on which the sight tracks instead of the sight housing, but again, you will have to have the whole sight replaced. There are several manufacturers of quality sights for an AR-15 type rifle, all of which are easily installed by a qualified gunsmith. Good luck to you and your daughter!

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: I don’t shoot competitively, but I would like to in the future. My question is what is the most important part to handloading ammunition? Thanks, Landon

A: Mr. Stone,

The most important part of reloading accurate ammunition is consistency, both in production and components. As for components, make sure that you stick with quality brands that have a good reputation. Your reloading equipment should be of the same quality. Using quality equipment and components allows you to produce a quality product easier.
Some items that are important in the production process are case uniformity, powder charge consistency, and bullet seating depth. Also, make sure that you put the primers in the right way, as they don’t go bang when you don’t! Cases should be sized and trimmed, powder should be trickled, and overall length should be checked. Some reloaders will tell you to measure every 5th or 10th round to check consistency, but the only way to guarantee consistency is to give each round attention during each stage of the process.

Reloading can be fun, but if you don’t find it entertaining, you can become lackadaisical and skip important steps. I recommend doing small batches from beginning to end and then starting over if you need to do more. Enjoy your reloading experience.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: Hi, I am wondering whether you have found out anything significant enough about the various combinations of powder, primers, cases and bullets for shooting for accuracy and consistency at 300 rapid and 600 yd slow fire shooting in a 1:7 or 1:8 twist barrel in an M-16/AR-15 to favor some brands over others? Also, have you found commercially produced match ammo to be up to what you can load yourself? Or, do you test components for accuracy and consistency for your reloading? And do you test commercial lots of ammo for accuracy and consistency?

Thanks, Phil Morgan

A: Mr. Morgan,

Unfortunately, I cannot endorse any specific manufacturer, nor give out any of USAMU load and or equipment data. I can however tell you that we do test lots of ammunition, as does the manufacturer and it must pass our accuracy standards.
When testing commercial ammunition against handloads, several particulars must be taken into consideration. First, how many rounds will you need? If it is just in the hundreds, I would think that one could produce a comparable product to its commercial equivalent. If it is however going to be in the hundreds of thousands, it requires a little more from the resource department than is practical so we source it out to a commercial manufacturer. Next, how many rifles are you going to be loading for? Most civilian competitors only load for a few, whereas we have to load for over 200 or so rifles….again, a commercial manufacturer was the way to go for us.
For our handloaded ammunition, components are tested by our R&D department to make sure that those components are up to standard.
Good luck with your own reloading efforts!

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: Thank you for this opportunity to ask questions. CMP now allows the use of A3 rifles (picatinny flat tops with attached carry handle with sights. Is there an advantage to using either the fixed A2 rifle and sights over the removable carry handle and sights of the A3? Is there a problem with repeatability with the removable carry handle and sights of the A3?
Thanks.  —Kurt Henkel

A: Mr. Henkel,

I would recommend using a traditional A2 rifle as the removable carrying handle is just one more gadget to keep up with. If those screws come loose, there is no telling where your shots will end up. As for repeatability, I would imagine that as long as the screws were tight with the same amount of torque each time, there shouldn’t be any issues, but again, why take that chance?
However, if you plan to use the rifle for other than competition uses which might require a scope, then the A3 offers advantages over the A2. Also, if you are looking to one day build a match rifle from it, then the A3 is the way to go. Good luck with your decision.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: I’m a service rifle shooter who has recently started a project to build a long range match gun.  The rifle will be 6.5x.284 using a MAK tube gun kit and Rem. 700 action with a Broughton 30″ med. palma barrel.  What would be your preference for iron sights and trigger for this set up?  Please include the pound or ounce range for the trigger.  Thanks, Chris.

A: Chris,

Please understand that I cannot endorse any manufacturer in this forum, but I will help as I am able. The weight of the trigger is a matter of preference to you as the shooter. In match rifle competition, there are no weight restrictions on the trigger so you can make it a light as you like. I would keep in mind however that a lighter trigger doesn’t make the rifle any easier to shoot. A trigger that is too light is also a safety concern as I have seen rifles fire as the bolt was being closed!!
As for a trigger manufacturer, gather opinions from other competitors and make an informed decision. Many might say that the factory Remington trigger is sufficient.
Sights are more a matter of taste. They all do the same thing…..allow you to point the rifle consistently at the target. With that in mind, find the ones that allow you to do that the best. Some of the reputable sight manufacturers are: Anschutz, Gehman, Centra, Redfield, Warner, and RPA just to name a few. I would recommend that you don’t go any finer than 1/4 minute adjustments or you will spend a lot of time turning knobs.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: What reloading practices do you follow that give back the most benefit for the least amount of time or dollar investment? Thank you, Jason Moeller

A: Mr. Moeller,

Reloading match bullets requires a lot of attention to detail. Some might argue that since we shoot them out of a gas operated firearm the ammunition doesn’t need to be all that good, but nevertheless better ammunition means better shot groups. Some items that need special attention are case length uniformity, powder charge consistency, and bullet seating depth. Of course you have to make sure that your primers go in the right way, but after that, as long as you get these other things right, you should be making some quality ammo.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: My question concerns choices of the various AR 15 rifles on the market today.  I would like your personal opinion on what manufacturer to consider when shopping for one. I am looking at a National Match version from Rock River Arms. Either the A-2 or the A-4 model with the attachable carry handle.

My intentions are to go after my Distinguished Rifleman Badge and want to start with good equipment. I have a limited budget and can get an RRA A-2 NM from a local dealer for $1000. Is this a good choice or should I go with a Bushmaster, Armalite, Olympic, or some other brand?

Also your opinion on barrel twist, sight aperture sizes, and anything else you can tell me will be very helpful.

I am entered in this year’s M-16 EIC Match at Camp Perry and I am sure I will learn a lot about this style rifle. After I shoot one (I have never had the opportunity to shoot the AR style rifle before) I will probably be itching to buy one for the ’07 matches.

Thanks in advance for your help
Brian Schumaker, Burgoon OH

A: Mr. Schumaker,

Your question is a good one. I cannot however endorse any specific manufacturer in this forum. First I would say that unless you have plans for a scope, the A2 is the way to go. Here is what I recommend: The companies you asked about are all companies that have good reputations and sell quality rifles. Take the time to see which offers the most for your money. Go out to the range on match day, and see what everyone is shooting. Ask questions to your fellow competitors and gather opinions.

Barrel twist is getting to be pretty standard at 1-8″ twist. It completely depends on what you will be shooting for ammunition. Heavier bullets require a faster twist, but the 1-8″ twist will shoot the 80 grain bullets just fine.

Aperture size is going to be a trial and error effort for you. Most match grade rifles come with a rear sight that allows for interchangeable apertures. What you are looking for is one that is not too dark on a dark day and not too bright on a bright day. Depending on your vision, it could vary anywhere from .036 to .048. See if you can look through a few different sizes before you decide.

Good luck with your endeavor and your purchase!

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: One of the things that I want to do before I die is go to Camp Perry and compete in the highpower matches. I am looking at the M1A made by Springfield Arsenal in National Match, topped with a Shepard Scope. Does this combination sound plausible? I don’t make a lot of money, and this is an expensive rig for me. I also know that rifle break-in is the most important thing you do with a new rifle. How do the shooters on your team break in their rifles?

A: Sir,

There are a couple of items to address in this message. First, are you planning to shoot this combination in the Matches at Camp Perry? If so, you will have to compete in the optical sight class. If that is your choice, OK, but I personally feel there are better combinations available to make you competitive. If you want to shoot in the Service Rifle class, the Springfield Armory National Match M1A is a good choice. Springfield Armory has been around the sport for a number of years and continues to manufacture a quality firearm.

As for break in procedures, you might consider consulting Springfield Armory or some barrel manufacturers. The reason I say this is because most firearm manufacturers do some test firing before the rifle even goes out the door. Break in procedures vary from person to person, and from barrel to barrel. While one person may go to great lengths to do a “proper” break in, another person might not do anything at all. I have heard that if a barrel is going to shoot, it’s going to shoot anyways, regardless of break in. A procedure that some of our members have used in the past goes like this: Shoot one shot at a time for ten shots. Clean the barrel thoroughly between every shot. Next, shoot five 5-shot groups. Clean the rifle thoroughly between each shot group. Finally, shoot five 10 shot groups cleaning the rifle between each group. This concludes the break in procedure and you are now ready for action.

Good Shooting,
SFC Norm Anderson

Q: Sir, I am trying to buy my son who is 14 a rifle. I’m leaning toward a 270 or a 7mm. I am no expert by any means so any advice you could give us would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Tom

A: Mr. Dietrich,

I am assuming that you are buying this rifle for the purpose of hunting. Both calibers are excellent choices, but I am concerned about the amount of recoil either one may have. If your son is a big guy, he will have no problems handling the recoil. If he is small framed, you may want to reconsider. You don’t want to put a rifle into his hands that he will ultimately be afraid to squeeze the trigger on. This will only lead to poor shot placement and a disappointing hunting experience.

There are other flat shooting cartridges out there that have considerably less recoil such as the .243 WSSM and the .25 WSSM. I have a 7 year old niece that shoots my .243 WSSM and absolutely loves it. I have taken a few large deer with this gun at distances of 300 yards and was highly impressed with its effectiveness. I hope this helps.

SFC Kyle Ward

Q: I would like to know if bedding or an Accu-Wedge is necessary for the service rifle (M16)?  Thanks You, Bob

A: Bob,

The use of bedding compound or an Accu-Wedge is not necessary for an M-16. We have fired the rifles with and without these products and have noticed no effect on accuracy. Most of us choose to use an Accu-Wedge simply because we don’t like the movement between the upper and lower receivers, even though it does not affect the accuracy of the weapon.

I do not recommend the use of a bedding compound. If you are like a lot of shooters, you may have multiple upper receivers and only one or two lower receivers. You may find with the use of bedding compound in the lower receiver, not all of your uppers will be compatible with that lower anymore. Our shop formerly used bedding compound and later realized that not all of our uppers could be put on all of our lowers anymore. The Accu-Wedge will tighten up the slop between the two receivers, but remains pliable enough that it can be used with any upper and lower receiver combination.

SFC Kyle Ward

Q: Just wondering if you are able to disclose ammo / loads used at the 200/300/600 yard ranges? Shooting out to 300 yards I presently use milspec brass ( LC or Win), Winchester WSR primers, Hodgdon Varget       (24.8 gr), and 69 gr Sierra Matchkings. Any info or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time. Bob

A: Mr. Mohrbach,

We currently use Black Hills 77 gr. at 200 and 300 yards. We use a Sierra 80 grain at the 600. Unfortunately, due to safety and legal reasons, I am not able to disclose any of our handload recipes.

SFC Kyle Ward

Q:  Hi, I want to use my 03a3 and my M1 garand in local marine corps league shoots.  I want to load for these 200 yd shoots but I can’t find any info on loads that others have experience with.  Is there any place I can get load data that I can use? Regards, Gerry

A:  Mr. Zell, I, unfortunately am unable to help with a 200 yard load for an 03A3 or M1 Garand. Most bullet manufacturers publish reputable reloading manuals, that is where I would check first.

Next, I would ask your fellow competitors and local club members.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think you will need a bullet any heavier than a 168 grain bullet for distances of 200 yards.

Also remember that there is commercial ammunition available for your application.

Good Shooting,

SFC Norman Anderson