Components, Precision, Load Development and Ethical Hunting of Long-Range Rifles
by Dustin Crandall
Long-range rifles have been the craze in the hunting and precision shooting industry for around 10 to 15 years. People are now able to shoot farther than ever due to the advancements in technology in precision equipment and manufacturing processes. We have been building “long-range/precision rifles” for about 12 years now. We officially incorporated in early 2016 when we decided to turn our passion/hobby into a profession.
I have a background in construction where I started in college working for a large home builder and then later started my own business as a general contractor building high-end custom homes. In February 2016, I rolled my Polaris Ranger while hunting Mountain Lion near my home in Durango, Colorado which led to a broken leg and almost a year-long recovery process. While sitting on the couch or in my wheelchair I started pondering the idea of a possible career change. I decided life is too short so make the best of it and do what you want. The accident could have produced a lot worse results, and I am blessed to be alive. Construction is a great way to make a living, but I was definitely not fond of it. So Rocky Mountain Precision Rifles (RMP Rifles) was born.
Long-range rifles are nothing new or uncommon in the industry so what makes our rifles different than others. I learned a long time ago that processes and products are reproducible but people are not. We take tremendous pride in what we do and how we do it. We care about creating relationships with our customers and giving them the confidence in their equipment to make every shot count in the field. We wanted to produce a true precision/long-range hunting rifle system that the end user can rely on to be Precisely Accurate.
RMP Elite Series Rifles – Components and System
Our Elite Series Rifles are a system comprised of a rifle that has been built with the highest quality parts and precision machines, custom hand loaded ammo, Cerakote on all metal surfaces (except bolt), hard case, soft case, and custom drop chart built to your specifications. We have selected a variety of high-quality scopes to choose from as an additional option which we will mount and zero for you. We also have a variety of long-range packages available.
So what makes a long-range rifle? We like to think of it as more of a “precision rifle”- any rifle can be a so-called “long-range” rifle. A factory rifle can be shot long-range as long as you have the correct data you’ll probably hit an MOA sized target a few times out of 10 shots. To have a true precision rifle you must start with high-quality components and then it must be built right with precision tools, machines, and very low tolerances.
- The first component is a straight and true action/receiver. Most modern precision rifles are built on a custom high-quality action precision machined to tight tolerances. Our current actions are OEM by Stiller, which uses pinned and screwed Picatinny scope rail and a pinned recoil lug.
- The second component is a custom high-quality barrel. There are plenty of good barrel manufacturers out there, though most of the barrels we use are Carbon Fiber from PROOF Research. Steel barrels usually vary, but we mostly use Krieger, Brux or PROOF Research. Each barrel is precision indexed and chambered on a manual lathe to ensure we achieve the utmost accuracy. We strive for 1/10 of a thousandth runout on our chambers.
- Thirdly, we have the trigger. It is important to have a good, reliable trigger. We use the Timney Calvin Elite Trigger in our Elite Series rifles due to its reliability and ability to adjust pull weight. Most of the triggers are set at 1.5-2lbs, we believe it is important to have a light but safe trigger pull weight to ensure as little human input as possible. The heavier the trigger the more input a person will have induce into the rifle to fire the shot, which may result in a pulled shot.
- Next, we use a quality stock. There are many manufacturers out there, but we choose McMillan and Manners, two of which we believe make exceptional stocks. The models we use mostly are the McMillan A3 Sporter and Manners EH1 and EH5. We chose these particular models due to the hybrid hunting/sporter/tactical/long-range design. These stocks are constructed with a lightweight fill and carbon fiber shell for strength and weight reduction. In order to ensure proper stock fitment, we do a stress-free bedding on all of our rifles.
- The fifth component, although not necessary, is a muzzle brake. The muzzle brake helps reduce recoil which in turn helps the shooter with flinching and making the rifle more enjoyable to shoot and stay on target and see their hits.
- The next component of a precision rifle is glass. You can have the best shooting rifle in the world and without a quality scope, it can be perceived the rifle may not be shooting all that well. There are many choices out there when it comes to glass. We will always try and recommend the best glass to fit your budget.
- The final component is precision ammunition, which is probably one of the most influencing components of the whole system. Very similar to the glass quality is the ammo, you can run ammunition in a rifle that will shoot very poorly and inconsistent. There is some factory ammo that shoots very well and most that don’t – at least to our standards. In efforts to create a complete precision long-range shooting system we feel that it is important to incorporate custom load development for each rifle, that is why our Elite Series rifles come with 50 rounds of custom loaded ammo. Ammo developed for long-range precision not only needs to be accurate and precise but also has to have consistent velocities. Consistency is key…for long-range accuracy. Since bullet drop is driven by velocity it makes sense to keep it consistent. For example, if you have an average velocity of 2850 fps and maybe an extreme spread of 50fps your bullet will fluctuate up to 1 MOA and at 1000yds that’s 10”, which can be a complete miss. When we develop loads we strive to keep the extreme velocity spread to under 25 fps and sub 1/2 MOA group size to help eliminate extreme vertical impact variation at long-range.
Our goal is to build rifles that are “Precisely Accurate,” so check us out. We’re happy to answer any of your questions!