RIFLES AND CALIBERS FOR LONG RANGE BPCR SHOOTING


 


NRA-Approved Rifle and Sight Specifications

In their publication entitled “NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Rules” which is available at (http://materials.nrahq.org/go/products.aspx?cat=Rulebooks), the NRA describes the following characteristics as being part of a legal BPC rifle:

Rifle

“Any safe, original or modern reproduction or custom variety, breech-loading rifle designed as a single shot. Bolt action rifles are specifically not allowed.”

“Breechloading rifles must be chambered for authentic, original black powder cartridges and calibers, taking into account normal variations in types of brass and primers as well as bore sizes, rifling styles and twist and chamber dimensions.”

“The rifle, including all attachments such as, but not limited to slings and sights, shall not weigh more than 15 pounds unloaded.”

“Wiping the bore between shots is permitted.”

“Use of an offset blow tube is permitted between shots from the breech or muzzle.”

Sights

“Metallic — Any period metallic sights are allowed. No optics other than sight correcting shooting glasses are permitted.”


The Reason for Minimum Caliber and Velocity Requirements

The NRA does not specifically list approved calibers, bullet weights, or velocity requirements for Long Range BPCR shooting in their rule book. Actually, if it weren’t for safety considerations to protect the people who are in the pits pulling and marking targets, one would get the impression that virtually any rifle caliber capable of throwing a bullet 1,000 yards could be used for a Long Range match.

However, the NRA/Whittington Center Rules Committee has established an absolute minimum "Power Factor" that must be met by any ammunition used in Long Range matches shot at the Whittington Center in Raton, New Mexico. The formula that is used to determine if a particular caliber / bullet / powder combination is eligible is as follows:

Bullet Weight x Velocity / 1,000 = 510 or greater

However, some organizers will set the acceptable "Power Factor" limit even higher than 510 as a precaution against having marginally performing loads in a match.

Approved Caliber / Ammunition / Velocity Requirements for the Long Range Match at Lodi, Wisconsin

Listed below are the approved calibers, bullet weights, and velocity requirements that are published for the twice yearly Long Range BPCR match sponsored by Badger Barrels at the Winnequah Gun Club in Lodi, Wisconsin. These should give you a good idea of where you need to be for a typical Long Range BPCR match.

As you might expect, most of the rifles seen at these matches are some form of .45 caliber, whether it be .45-70, .45-90, .45-100, 110, or 120. Fifty-caliber rifles are rare because they generate a lot of recoil and can be rather punishing to shoot in a match requiring from 60 to 75 rounds per day. If it’s a two-day match, like the one hosted by Badger Barrels, then you can double those numbers.

On the other end of the scale, some shooters do use one form or another of the .40 caliber rifle, but they are rather rare. The reason why is because the typical .40 caliber bullet lacks stability beyond 900 yards.  To properly stabilize the bullet at 1,000 yards, a relatively heavy bullet should be fired in a fast twist barrel using a large capacity cartridge case and powder charge in order to attain the rotational and muzzle velocities necessary.  In addition to a high ballistic coefficient bullet, a barrel twist faster than 1-16" would be required.

 
.40-70 Caliber:
 
400 grain bullet / minimum velocity 1280 fps at the muzzle;
 
.44 Caliber:
 
430 grain bullet / minimum velocity of 1240 fps at the muzzle;
 
.45 Caliber:
 
450 grain bullet / minimum velocity of 1220 fps at the muzzle;
 
.50 Caliber:
 
500 grain bullet / minimum velocity of 1210 fps at the muzzle;
 
.40-65 Caliber:
 
Duplex load that meets the minimum specs for the .40-70 listed above.


If you should decide to enter a Long Range BPCR match, be sure to check with the match organizers to find out the caliber and ammunition restrictions for their particular match. Typically, they will either be the same or very similar to those listed above.

By Darryl Hedges
 

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