While the firearms industry has seen enormous growth over the past several years, certain segments have seen even greater growth. One of the biggest benefactors in this expansion has been the world of long-range shooting. As we drill down a little further we come across the world of F-class shooting. F-class, generally called “F-C,” was designed so all competitors with any physical ability can have an opportunity to compete on an equal footing. As opposed to NRA High Power, shooters don’t need to get into positions such as sitting that can be a real challenge for some. F-C also uses a front rest, which eliminates the physical demands of being in a tight sling for long periods of time. F-Class shooting is made up of two categories: F-Open and F-T/R. In F-Open rifles must weigh under 10 kilograms (around 22 pounds), be any caliber .35 and under and may be fired from an adjustable front rest plus a rear sandbag. Rifles must be fired from the shoulder in the prone position. In the F-T/R division, calibers are restricted to .223 Rem. or .308 Win. Rifle weight can only max out at 8.25 kilograms (about 18 pounds) and the only front support allowed is a bipod. Shooters are still prone and get to use a rear bag. Targets in F-class are shockingly small to most people. Coming in at only 10″, they are fractionally less than 1 MOA with the X-ring being a saucer-size 5″ in diameter. Yes, that is hitting a dinner plate consistently at over 10 football fields. It is incredible to watch.
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With all this in mind, I was beside myself when I had the opportunity to work with a custom F-C rifle built by the masters at McMillan Fiberglass Stocks. McMillan has been a cornerstone of the rifle stock world since it was founded in 1973. While they focus purely on stocks now, they were once known for building some of the finest long-range rifles the world has ever known including the much-revered TAC-50. Precision is in their DNA as well which was demonstrated in 1973. That year Pat McMillan set the world record for the smallest 100-yard bench rest group. It was shot using a hand-built prototype McMillan rifle with an early McMillan stock. The five-shot group was a mere 0.009″ center to center and was measured with a 60x microscope for verification. It is because of this extensive history that I was excited to shoot this beautiful gun.
Looks Great — Shoots Better
The gun is as much a showpiece as it is a precision shooter. I come from a world of black or camouflaged guns usually coated in spray paint. The F-C rifle from McMillan had more chrome on it than a ’57 Chevy. That mixed with a beautiful stock, the gun was a crowd stopper on the range. The heart of the gun is the McMillan XIT stock. The XIT shares many characteristics with McMillan’s Prone with some improvements. The butt of the XIT is centerline with the bore and has a three-degree angle for minute adjustments. It is recommended for a blind magazine or single shot actions and comes with an adjustable cheek piece. It can be fitted with a two-way or three-way adjustable butt plate as well as either a Freeland or Anschutz. This stock was finished out with an integral thumbwheel adjustable cheek piece and a three-way adjustable butt plate.
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The gun was chambered in .308, which made me smile. While there are certainly benefits to other calibers, the .308 is far more capable than most people give it credit for. It had a butter smooth fluted bolt behind a 28 inch 1-10 twist Bartlein barrel. The trigger was a Timney, which was set to break by starring at it hard. That is obviously an exaggeration, but it was so minimal that my less than primo trigger gauge had a hard time picking it up. I also received a special care package of ammunition for the gun. The load had been developed by 2017 USA World Champion team member, Dan Pohlabel. Because I know there are some hard-core ballisticians out there, here is the magic that Dan came up with for this tack driver. The brass was Lapua Palma (small rifle primer) topped off with Berger 200-grain 20X bullets with a G7 BC of .328. Powder was Hodgdon H4895 and he used Federal 205M Primers. The end result was a muzzle velocity of 2,693 fps at 72°F.
The Fun Part
For my range session, the gun was finished out with a Duplin Rifles Rorer Spec bipod. This is a very different creature than what most shooters use as it had 6″ of elevation adjustment and a footprint from 14.5″ to 21″. Once again, precision is the name of the game. The last piece of kit on the gun was a Nightforce Competition 15-55 x 52 scope. Yes, you read that correctly…15-55. Remember that we are shooting at static targets at known distances. The concern of losing field of view is irrelevant in this application. Adjustments on the scope were exceptionally precise as well. Windage and elevation adjustments are in .125 MOA clicks, which is certainly focused on splitting hairs at distance. With all this wrapped up in a giant Pelican case, it was time to hit the range. After setting up we prepared to shoot our cold bore shots at 100 yards. As expected, it punched the center ring. The next three slow fire rounds ended up causing a cease-fire, as we had to go get a closer look. With almost no customization of fit to the gun, I was able to shoot a 3/8″ group before any real warm-up took place. I need to further qualify that and say that I am by no means an F-class shooter. I have a ton of time on long-range rifles, but this is a completely different creature. This hyper accuracy continued as we pushed further and further back. Our first day ended at 700 yards with my son taking over shooting duties as I spotted for him. This absolutely called for a day two. Our second day on the range would be more challenging. It’s summer in Arizona so mirage would be an issue pretty quickly. We would have to deal with both inferior and barrel mirage because of the incredible magnification. Our answer was a predawn departure with plans for setting up before the sun rose. It’s still early in the season, so our shooting area had not yet become a 24/7 oven. We set up on time and were on the gun as the sun was rising. Our target was a 16″ steel plate at 1,000 yards. A handy large orange flag at the target made life easier. We also placed wind strips about every 200 yards as cheaters. The five shot string ended up with four rounds on steel. Granted it would not get me a medal at the next F-class championships, but it was an incredible group for me. In total, the sub still shot sub MOA at 1,000 yards. In the hands of a pro, it would easily be .5 MOA. We did manage to push back to 1,200 with good hits but the heat dashed our efforts at 1,500.
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The gun is a beautiful piece of ballistic craftsmanship. Everything from the smooth action of the bolt to the smooth press of the trigger made the time with this gun spectacular. Both of my primary rifles have McMillan stocks on them for a reason. They take the same care in making stocks as they did making this rifle. Dan Pohlabel shot this rifle earlier this spring as a team gun at a 1,000-yard match. He classifies it as a sub .5 MOA gun and enjoyed shooting it. The only disappointment I have with this rifle is that I now must box it up and return it. I consider it an honor and chance of a lifetime to shoot such a rifle and will always remember it!
For more information, visit: mcmillanusa.com
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