Guns & Ammo Network


Collapse bottom bar
Subscribe

Handguns at Long Range…Very Long Range

by Dan Johnson   |  June 3rd, 2011 78

What is long range with a handgun? It depends, of course, on the type handgun and the person behind it. After writing my previous blog on my ‘Baby” Browning I decided to give it a little range time and will say without apology that 15-yards is a long way to shoot with that particular firearm. With one of my .44 magnum revolvers 75-yards is about where I feel long range starts as beyond that you have to start making some significant corrections for bullet drop. When I get serious about long range shooting and step up to one of my Thompson Center single-shot handguns using good optics and chambered for a fast-stepping bottleneck cartridge, I do most of my practicing at 200-yards, and 300-yards is about as far as I feel comfortable shooting at game animals. I will shoot a little further if varmints are the target and considerably farther if plinking at steel gongs or other inanimate targets.

There is a group of handgunners who consider all the aforementioned distances close range. The fifth annual M.O.A Long Range Handgun Match will take place June 23, 24, and 25 at Sundance, Wyoming and at this event ranges for competition start at 500-yards and go all the way out to 1000-yards.

In any discipline there are those who push the envelope and those M.O.A. guys do some pushing in regards to handgun shooting. They use specialty pistols, of course. Most are customized and some wear high-powered rifle scopes, but they are still handguns and just as rifle competition has pioneered advancements that have improved the accuracy of all rifles, these guys are pioneers in the field of handgun accuracy.

They also happen to be a nice bunch of guys who welcome newcomers and extend help wherever and however they can. So check out the event if you can. It is time well spent. For further info go here.

  • Ernie Bishop

    Thanks for posting this Dan!

    Here is the link to the shoot below:
    http://www.moaguns.com/coldturkey.html
    We also have a roving field course which will let you know just how good you are in shooting from field positions: http://home.comcast.net/~MOA_Shooters/MOASHOOTERr…

    There is also a prairie dog shoot for those who have signed up for the match on the Monday and Tuesday before the shoot.

  • Chef Derek

    Do they have any such events out here on the East Coast, particularly NC?

    • jeff fitzhugh

      hell no, you redneck

      • jef

        heck yeah, you pile of dog $#!t

    • Topstrap

      We compete at long range (200 – 1000 yards) steel plate matches the 4th Sunday of each month starting in February at Rayners Range in Ohio against the long range rifle guys with 15" XP-100 pistols. All are welcome and a great bunch to shoot with. http://www.raynersrange.com/
      Short video clip of one of Rayners matches. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRpZUsog_Jo&co…
      Hope to see others at the matches this summer.
      Topstrap

  • Ernie Bishop

    Derek,

    I do not know of any long-range handgun comps in your part of the country. Another thing you could do is contact your local 600 yard or 1000 yard clubs in your area and see about shooting against rifles.

    I used to go to one or two 1000 yard rifle matches each year and shoot one of my specialty handguns against the rifle shooters.

    I have been to the IBS 1K match in Pella, IA, and at Deep Creek range in Missoula, MT.

    We try to make anyone who comes out our way have about every type of handgun shooting you could think of on a week's period of time. IHMSA @ 500 yards, bench shooting with two different classes at 500, 750, and 1000 yards, and a roving field course with shots from 300 to 600 on average, and with some further. PD shooting on a private ranch that is truly a "target rich environment." :)

    E

  • Dan O'Connell

    I find this article so important to my lifestyle. Fourteen months ago, I had an ICD implanted in my chest and I can no longer shoot shoulder fired guns. I was a pistol hunter before, now I am required to be one. I have always been happy with my 44 Mag T/C Contender, the longest whitetail shot of 96 yards seemed sufficient in our Northern woods. If I found a stand I liked that offered longer shots, I would bring my 308 instead. Now it looks like I must upgrade, the logical choice would be to go to an T/C Encore 308. While I like the 308 cartridge, I have no reason to stick with a short cartridge in the Encore, so I'm open to suggestions.

    • Jermanator

      Dan O'Connell– I had a pacemaker installed in 2004 on the right side of my chest so I could still shoot rifles (I am left handed). Typically, they do it on the left side. Obviously, I am not your doctor, but it may be worth it to do a little investigating. If the ICD location is opposite of your shooting side, there really shouldn't be a problem.

    • Tom seaver

      7-30 water check balistics basically no recoil

  • robert38-55

    Dan J…. You certainly nailed the deffinition of "Long range handgun shooting"… If I still lived in Co. I would make arrangement to attend that meet, in Sundance Wy. Looks like a lot of fun……I know this it takes a lots and lots of practice with a handgun to be really good at it…Myself personally I am better with a rifle than handgun… I remember several times while at the range I would try to shoot paper targets at 100yds, 200yds,etc, with some of my handguns, never did get any decent reslults, at that distance, but it was fun, heck a lot of times I don't think I even hit the paper,or came anywhere close to it at those distances…..For me using just plain unmodified factory handguns, I can do ok at 15yds, 25yds, 35yds,,,, After that I ain't so good….I don't have any scoped pistols, I just use open,sights, what ever the handgun came with…..You got my interest up now, the next time I go to the range, I think I will systematically try to shoot for accuracy with my handguns, starting at 10yds, and then backing the target up 5 or 10yds, to determine, my most accurate long range hangun results, for me…..I have to use factory loads, for now because I don't have reloading equipment as of now……

  • Dan Johnson

    Dan O'Connell

    In factory Encore pistol chamberings I'd suggest the .260 Remington for whitetail. Recoil is considerably milder than .308, which will make it more pleasant to put in the range time needed to become proficient. Also, 6.5 bullets have high BCs and hold velocity very well. Yes, the .260 is a short action cartridge but you gain very little other than recoil in shooting larger cartridges in barrels of 15-inches or less.

  • Ernie Bishop

    My children and I have used the 260 from everything from pd's to close range elk. I have also used the 7-08 a lot as well. I would choose any either day for game and long-range shooting over the 308 Win.

    Dan O,

    If you don't have a Encore yet, I would go a different route over an Encore. The specialty handgun I am considering is much stronger than the Encore (It does have interchangeable barrels), better trigger pull, better accuracy, and a free floated barrel. I have seen several shot 1/2 MOA all the way out to 1000 yards.

    I use a number of large cartridges in my XP-100's and MOA Maximum's: 6.5-284, 6.5 WSM, 284 Win, 7SAUM, 7WSM, 7mm Rem Mag Imp., and 7mm Dakota. I even shoot a 338 Lapua Improved in a XP-100.

    The MOA is more portable and lighter for hunting than the bolt handguns of equal barrel length.

    Dan J. is a great resource for handgun hunting. If I can ever be of help my contact info is 307-257-7431 or ernieemily@yahoo.com

    I live in the mountain time zone.

    E

  • Big Chief

    Re: Dan O'Connell

    I feel your pain. I was told I might need a Defibrillator and went in in for the Heart Study where it would have been implanted. Thankfully, when I came out the doc says I didn't need one after-all. I read the pamphlets about the restrictions it would have on activities (like being near an electrical welder) but no mention of rifle shooting. I'm glad I didn't have to ask! Good luck with your long range handgun shooting.

    Good Blog Marshal Dan.

  • Steve Hugel

    Oohrahh! Was just out today trying for 400-500 on prairie dogs with my XP 17 Fireball/6-18x Nikon Buckmasters MD…but needed a spotter and didn't have 1. 300 and under no problem but even with that little rig recoil threw me off just enough to not be able to see impacts at distance. I also have been attending the MOA shoot since it's inception, and Ernie and i have been hunting with the SP's for many years together. I was spotting for him when he killed a PD on the 9th shot at 1590 yds. believe it or not. Was also spotting for Ray Prager when he nailed a double at 1140 on the 9th shot also (after he cleaned his gun) with a highly-customized "Contender". Check out some of Ernie's articles on LR handgunning and here's one of mine–
    http://www.longrangehunting.com/articles/coyotes-…
    Good blog here–wwwaaayyy overdue!

  • Steve Hugel

    If anyone ever gets a chance they oughtta' look up the article "7mm Dakota," by Ernie Bishop in the '07 issue of Dakota Magazine. It's the best technical long-range handgunning piece that's ever been published.

  • Dan Johnson

    Ernie and Steve

    I am glad to see you guys here. Pardon the mess. The site is being rebuilt after a crash. I plan to cover a lot on handgun hunting and hope you guys will stay with us. As I'm sure you know, the topic is largely ignored by the magazines and I hope to take up some of the slack here.

  • Steve Hugel

    Looking forward to it Dan. Looks good so far.

  • Knitepoet

    Having shot my 7 IHMSA out to 600 at steel, I wish I lived closer yo WYO than I do,

    Plus a particular "shaved ape" is due to be wed that weekend

  • Ernie Bishop

    Was doing some load development for the shoot this afternoon @ 100 yards with the two specialty handguns I will be using for the MOA Competition. My Light-Gun is a 15" MOA Maximum chambered in 6.5×47 Lapua. Using Varget and 123 A-Max's had a nice 3-shot group of .136, while my Heavy-Gun is a 18" rear-grip bolt action specialty pistol chambered in 7mm WSM. 168 JLK's and H-4831sc gave me a 4-shot group of .212. I wish I could shoot groups like this everyday, but sometimes everything just comes together. Will Chronograph next week.

    I will also shoot both SP's at 500, 750, and 1K to confirm drops and see how they actually group at those distances.

    I may use a 15" 6.5-284 MOA for Light-Gun at 1K.

  • mkk41

    Need some reprints of Elmer Keith's long-range sixgunning exploits. Reading these as a teen got me to try it long-range handgun shooting and eventually try metallic silhouette shooting. Seems to have lost it's appeal locally though , as no clubs hold these type shoots anymore. But even throwing bullets at a gong or boulder a few hundred yards away came become addictive. Watching a puff of dust off the rock or hearing the hit a moment after firing can be very satisfying.

  • BPSniper

    I've done a lot of handgun hunting. For deer and hogs. But all of it was with revolvers in .44 Mag and later, a Contender in .45-70 as well. None of which you would call upon for long range shooting. I enjoy long range rifle. Maybe I should take a walk on the wild side and try some bolt action handgun. Hmmmmmm……

  • BPSniper

    Dan J.,

    with you knowing my likes and dislikes, what gun would you suggest? Don't even think about mentioning a TC. Something in .223 or maybe 6.5-08 would be nice.

    Could be a new project for me.

  • chiro1989

    BP,

    I bet you could find a used Savage Striker with a little effort:)

  • BPsniper

    Ernie,

    How far? Until Newton's Law makes it impossible to go any further. Ha!

    Chiro,

    You know better than to suggest a Savage to me. LOL

    • Ernie Bishop

      BP,

      The two largest chamberings I have in XP-100's is the 7mm Dakota pushing a 200 grain wildcat bullet at 2706 fps, and a 338AX (Allen Xpress/338 Lapua Improved) 102 grains of H-1000 with a 250 grain Scenar at over 2900 fps.

      So basically, the sky is the limit.

      • tom Seaver

        One of my favorite is a .375jdj – 444 marlin necked to 375 270gr bullet mzle fps 2200

  • Ernie Bishop

    BPSniper,

    Good to meet another LR shooter!

    The Striker triggers are not good at all. The newest ones (3rd Gen) are the best. Buying a Savage Target action (non-designated) is a good way to build a bolt rig, as is picking up a used XP-100 or XP-100R. The MOA Maximum is a falling block action, but is a very accurate set-up as well as noted in my load development of my 6.5×47 Lapua.

    What kind of distances would you like to attain with a specialty handgun?

  • BPsniper

    Ernie,

    I like the XP idea. I'm a bolt gun guy after all. Then I could rebarrel the action, right? What bolt face would I be dealing with? I know jack and squat about the XP.

    • Ernie Bishop

      BP,

      All of my XP-100's have been rebarreled.

      Around 2200 yards is the furthest I have shot my bolt specialty handguns.

      I shoot out to 1000-1200 yards more often

      I use the single shot XP-100. Don't have a XP-100R (Repeater–Basically a Model 7 action).

      I have both rear and center-grip stocks.

      Most of my XP's are set-up to switch out barrels easily as well.

      I use muzzle brakes on all of mine and almost all of my specialty pistols have high magnification rifle scopes on them too.

      The 6.5-284 is a nice LR cartridge, as is the 6mm-284.

      I also like the 6.5WSM and the 7MM SAUM and 7mm WSM.

      If you buy a XP with a .473 bolt face (308 Win head size) you wouldn't need to change it if you went with the 6.5-284.

      • BPSniper

        Now that I've figured how to use the blog thing, I like the 6.5-284 idea. I already load for it and so, won't have to start something new.

        I prefer the rear grip as opposed to the center one. Don't know why, just do.

  • chiro1989

    BP,

    To be fair, I have shot an XP100 in .223 with a worked trigger that was hard not to hit a bullseye with at 50yds, I have not shot a Savage. It would be fun to get you shooting some .308(or your choice) in an XP100 and post some feedback.

  • chiro1989

    That is, if Dan gets the IT trolls to get the forum up and running again.

  • BPsniper

    Chiro,

    I'm always looking for a new project. This could be dangerous.

    • chiro1989

      I hear you, that XP100 got my attention, we were just shooting at the time at son #1's range time after his hunters safety course and the instructers brought some of their personal guns along, i have some enablers to get me started.

  • BPsniper

    I'm already thinking a HEAVY barrel contour would be sweet and lessen the recoil somewhat. Just gotta know what I can chamber it for.

    • chiro1989

      Whatever the boss pays you to shoot would be a good choice IMHO, but you have some folks that are kind to you in the handgun dept., does your mentor have any experience with the bolt handgun?

    • Ernie Bishop

      For my center-grip XP's I use a strengthened H-S Precision stock (Silhouette model) or a McMillan (Solid filled) .

      For my rear grip XP's I use one of McRee's all aluminum stocks.

      I do not own a Striker, as I hate their triggers.

      For center-grips I have an accuracy smith work the original XP trigger to as light as possible while still being safe, or I will put in a Dell trigger–trigger pull under 1/2 pound (no safety) if you desire.

      • BPSniper

        I prefer the rear grip version. Would probably go with that. I am a snob when it comes to triggers. So I'll take any advise you give.

  • BPsniper

    He has a McMillan (I think) that he rebarreled to something like .223 or a wildcat varrient. I've handled it but never shot it. Might need to.

  • Olesniper

    Never done any serious long-range pistol shooting, Dan. Last week, My nephew and I went to a nearby dump and ran a few hundred rounds through my Ruger .22 Charger. It has a 2X7 scope and we scored regular hits on can sized targets, out to around 120 yds. Loads of fun. The longest shot I ever tried with a centerfire handgun, was from a tall levee, near the Mississippi river. The intended target was a coyote, loping through a plowed field, at around 300 yds. I pulled my Ruger .41mag Blackhawk, gave it a whole lot of front sight and led him about 10 ft. I touched it off and it seemed like it took a good 2 seconds before the slug landed, right below his stern. That coyote down-shifted so hard, that his butt hit the ground and he found another gear. From then on, he was moving too fast and I was laughing too hard, to get a second shot.

  • Olesniper

    @BPsniper….Back before you were born, I seem to remember an article that showed a long-range pistol built by grip guru Steve Herrett. It was built from a Martini-Henry action and chambered for a wildcat cartridge, something like a .357 necked down to .223. Might be some food for thought. The article was mainly about a carbine he built on the same action, chambered for a .44mag necked down to .223. He would drive around in a golf cart, picking groundhog off of the course.

  • Ernie Bishop

    BP,

    This is a first shot connection at 1K with my 7mm Dakota XP:

    [img ]http://www.hunt101.com/data/500/5326close_up_600_yd.jpg[/img]

  • Ernie Bishop

    You will need to copy and paste into your browser to see the pictures-Sorry!

    E

  • BPSniper

    Well, I'm already using a 6.5-284 Win in a rifle. Maybe a handgun would work as well.

  • BPSniper

    Ok, I apologize. I did not realize you were replying to my questions. I just scrolled to the bottom. No knowing one could hit the reply button and answer right under the OP.

    Thanks Ernie. My bad on modern technology kicking my butt. 10% smarter than the equipment. That's all you have to be. Guess I failed in this instance. I'll go back and read your replies.

  • Ernie Bishop

    No apologies needed. I just figured it out myself this evening.

    I have two 15" MOA barrels in 6.5-284 and 2 XP-100's 17"-18" tubes that are chambered in 6.5-284 (Douglas, Krieger, Brux, and McGowen).

    Use Lapua brass. Fed 210 M primers, H-4350, and 130 Berger or any of the 140-142 grain VLD's.

    For example: My 15" Krieger MOA Maximum runs a 130 Berger at 2712 fps.

    29.25 MOA for drop @ 1K and 6MOA drift for a 10mph FV wind with a 100 yard zero at 4500 feet elevation.

    the 17-18 inch barrels will you give a a MV with the 140's from 2700-2750 on average.

  • Ernie Bishop

    BP,

    Since you want a rear-grip, you can use any trigger that will fit in a 700 Remmy. I use Jewel and Kelbly triggers in my rear grips for LR precision shooting. Down to 2 ounces if you so desire it :)

    The sole distributor for the McRee handgun chassis is Mac's Gunworks: http://macsgunworks.com/LRHandguns.aspx
    You will see several of my specialty handguns there. The top one with the striped cerakote camo job (6.5WSM) is one of the McRee stocks.

    E

    • Steve Hugel

      BP–u really oughtta' take a look at the Savage Tgt. Actions, and McGowen barrels. McGowen was offering really good deals on their barrels for SP shooters, and both action and barrel are a great way to get started with little cash. I have 1 built up in a 225 Win. 8-twist and mounted a Unertl BV-20 with a TK Lee reticle in it. It really is something unusual to see. Just shot a 200-yd. 3-shot group that was just a bit larger than 1" using the 80 SMK. As far as i know it's the only "handgun" ever built with a Unertl on top.

      A lot of guys are jumping onto that Sav./McGowen combination and they are without exception real shooters.

    • BPsniper

      Those are some sweet looking "handguns" and some serious shooting. I may not take this project THAT indepth, baby steps and all, but I'm thinking of building something along those lines. See how the bug bites me, and who knows what will be next.

      I'm thinking 16" max and have used Jewel Triggers before. Probably a Lilja or Krieger barrel in a heavy contour.

  • Steve Hugel

    For the poster who was talking about Elmer Keith's long-range revolver shooting, take a look at this article–

    http://www.fiveshot.org/guests/longrange.htm

    This guy's taking it further than Keith ever did. In fact, once the angular mathematics is "factored in", the front sight itself could be used for a rangefinding tool (using a slight modification of the mil-dot mil-ranging formula). And long-range zeros could be calculated in MOA just like an optic, that may well allow for "iron sight sniping" that probably hasn't been investigated much up to this point in time. Most of the articles on this kind of long-range shooting haven't incorporated angular mathematics for this kind of shooting that could allow for even more accuracy and precision at long range. At least i've never read of any. The reference above is about the closest i've ever seen.

  • Dan Johnson

    BPSniper

    I second the idea of an XP100 for you since you are a bolt guy and like custom guns. Bolt-action handguns have never been my favorite but that is just personal preference. I can already imagine the photos of your custom XP100.

    • smayer

      Another vote for the XP here. It would be awesome if you could find one modified for left-side bolt and feed with right-side eject.

      • Olesniper

        Hmmmm…left-side bolt with right-side feed & eject……sorta like a ………….Savage Striker. LOL

        • smayer

          It has been a while since I've seen one, but IIRC, they were left bolt, but right load and eject. So close, but yet not there.

          • Olesniper

            Ok….you want it to load from the left and eject to the right. Savage has a dual-port target action that does that but with a right-side bolt only.

          • smayer

            Close. I don't want to change my grip, reach over the gun or anything. I want to keep the muzzle on the target, my natural point of aim intact, and just run the gun.

      • Ernie Bishop

        There are some custom XP clone actions that you can purchase. Cost is high. IF I was right-handed I would want a left bolt/left port XP clone action.

  • BPsniper

    Forgive me for what is probably a stupid question. How does one shoot a handgun topped with a rifle scope and not end up looking like a raccoon with a black eye? Is the recoil taned by the brake and overall weight of the gun? How do you get proper eye relief and not get smacked in the face. Especially with the larger cartridges.

  • BPsniper

    Ernie,

    Thanks for the link. Explains a lot.

    I like the looks of the McRee stock. Especially the fact that I can put a Rem 700 Short Action in it as that is what I'm used to and have the pieces parts for.

    Tried to call them but no answer. I'll try again.

    By the way, while you are being very helpful…..you're NOT helping. You are causing me to add more projects to the list and spend more money. Thanks a lot! (the above was a joke, just in case you didn't catch the sarcasm in my tone of voice)

    • Steve Hugel

      Here's the Sav. Tgt. Action 225 Win. I had built up–

      http://home.comcast.net/~MOA_Shooters/MOASTEVEHUG…

      • BPsniper

        That thing"s a beast!

        Who made your stock? Did you just use a rifle action or is that their Striker Action? I am not a Savage fan (I have a history on the G&A Forum and it has become a running joke – all in good fun but they would kill me if I broke now) but that is a pretty sweet looking gun for a Savage. ;-)

        • BPsniper

          What barrel length?

    • Ernie Bishop

      Did you try to call Chuck @ Mac's Gunworks?

      I know he was in an out today. I was at the range and got a newbie who just recently finished the law enforcement academy in Douglas, but he lives here in Gillette. He made connections out to 900 yards today with my center-grip 7mm SAUM XP. He had never shot much beyond 300-350 yards before today. I think he is going to get a MOA Maximum in the future.

      I also shot the 7SAUm and my 338AX some. He wasn't interested in shooting the 338 Lapua :)

      I chronoed my 15" 6.5x47L MOA Maximum.

      123 A-Max is going 2715 fps.

      I will be a tad over 2400 fps at 1K-Yippee!

      E

      • BPsniper

        I called the number on the link you posted. Just rang and rang. I'll try again, though.

        • Ernie Bishop

          His cell is: 307-689-2796.

          Tell him "Ernie" referred you.

    • Ernie Bishop

      "By the way, while you are being very helpful…..you’re NOT helping. You are causing me to add more projects to the list and spend more money. Thanks a lot! (the above was a joke, just in case you didn’t catch the sarcasm in my tone of voice)"

      Just wait till I start chiming in on very cool but practical reticles for LR shooting ;) You will never have to worry about a rotational error again!!!

      E

  • Steve Hugel

    BP–that's the Sav. Tgt. Action with the Accutrigger that comes with it of course. The barrel is the McGowen i spoke of earlier and the stock is a "Neallum" by Neal Cooper out of Kodiak, AK.

    The rig's strictly a bench gun that i use for the MOA Comp and prairie dogs.

    • BPsniper

      Thanks Steve.

      I'll probably set mine up as a hunting rig whenever I get around to it. Ive got two rifle builds in the process right now. When they are done, ill start on the specialty handgun. I'm more of a field shooter than a bench guy. Though I have my bench/target rifles, I'm more at home in the prone or sitting position so this will be a field rig.

      Thanks again for the help.

      • PJ

        BP, I can see now that I'm going to have to bring my XP with me the if we ever manage to get together for that hog hunt. You can play with it while I'm shooting a group from the bench with your 458

        • BPsniper

          Sounds like a winner.

  • Steve Hugel

    Barrel is 16", BTW, and i'm getting 2640 out of the 80 SMK.

  • hilario witiza

    The only gun I have the legal possibility to have and use in Palestine is a 9mm.

    I choose a CZ 75 Duty that I carry daily and practice weekly.

    The only range I found in Jerusalem has only 15 yard.

    In the case to be shoot with a Kalash at saying 100 hundred yard, I need to know how much lead I need to use in the CZ to answer the fire with the intention to survive

  • Ernie Bishop

    The match was last weekend and it was a good time had by all.

  • Ernie Bishop

    Erik and I had some good groups.

    Erik had the smallest 5-shot group @ 500 yards with a 2 3/4" group and I had the smallest group at 1000 yards with a 5 1/4" group shooting a 15" MOA Maximum

  • GySgt. F. L. Roussea

    As a Marine GySgt. stationed in Vietnam. I taught all my Troops to shoot at extreme ranges with whatever they had. I trained them to shoot at a pisyol target at ranges up to 500 yards. During my Service I saw Colonel McMillan many times fire a .45 M1911A1 at ranges of 500 yards and more, you could hear the bullet strike the target. Because of this I always taught mt Troops to shoot the extreme ranges. Any one carrying any weapon should know its possiblities, all of them.

    • Liquidacid

      no you didn’t

  • Ernie

    Good to meet someone who is willing to think outside of the box and teach others to do the same.

back to top