Gear Observations: Dimitri was a genius when he busted out elbow and knee pads... and then a saint when he let me use them to help my busted knee. I think brining knee and elbow pads is a great idea... and I would recommend bringing them. Since you spend a great deal of time in the prone, bring a pad of some sort to lay on.
The Remington XCR Compact Tactical performed very well... but it wasn't perfect. First thing I had to get done was to build up a check rest. This allowed me to be more consistent with my positioning. I had a hard time loading the 4th round in the magazine. Sometimes it would load #4 with no problem, other times, it would jam it up and you would have to dump all the rounds. The good trigger got better as the class went on.
The PFI RR800-1 scope was brilliant. I really like this scope, and I really like this rifle/scope combination. The accuracy potential is impressive. The yardage marks in the scope made hitting much easier. You still have to find your range, calculate your wind... and your scope will tell you where to hold for the shot. Because you zero this scope for 100 yards, and the one hundred yard line is so high, it is a little different holding the gun on that mark... you naturally want to hold for 400 yards, the center of the reticle. But don't do it... hold where PFI suggests and you will be DNO... Dead Nuts On. That is, you will be DNO if you bring ammunition that falls within PFI's suggested performance range. Unfortunately I brought the wrong ammo for the task at hand. I brought with me Winchester Super-X 150 grain cartridges. Here is what I learned. The rate of twist is not good for 150 grainers and Winchester Super-X loads are inconsistently loaded. This is a statement that I make in the same tone as saying getting kicked in the balls hurt. It's not just obvious, to you, but it's obvious to all those around you. The ballistic coefficient of these soft points are horrible. They have roughly the same drag as a Pontiac Aztec with the parking brake on. They bleed energy to the point that after about 500 yards, the bullets hardly any mark on the steel plates we were shooting at. You will want to use heavier bullets, and you will want those loads to be Match Grade... regardless of weapon or caliber. If you can't get Match ammunition, get the next best thing.... and by that I mean not ammunition from Remington or any Winchester White or Silver boxes. Get Hornady. If not Hornady TAP, then Hornady Custom. If you can't get Hornady, then Black Hills. If you can't get Black Hills, then get Federal Premium or Federal Fusion. These rounds have higher BC's than others, and more importantly are loaded more consistently. Don't skimp on your ammo, get the best you can. Not just that, but get a lot of it. I went through damn near 400 rounds. That's a lot. If you reload, pay extra attention to your loading and craft each cartridge with the utmost attention to detail, using the best components... and make sure they work in your set up.
While, the ammunition that I used was different from PFI's suggestion, The PFI scope worked quite well. At 100 yards, I zeroed for the 100 yard mark. At 200 yards, the scope was DNO. At 300 yards, this is where the ballistics departed from PFI's ranges and to hit at 300 I held for 250 yards. So I found my Dope for 300. I wrote that down in my data book.
Did I mention your data book? Bring a new one to this class... and consider starting from scratch if you already have one you are working on. Because the cats at LRI are going to give you more information that you are going to want to track. Go to staples and get a small spiral bound note pad, a good pen, and a mechanical pencil for drawing range cards.
LRI showed us a few interesting things. One being, scope failures. We had a number of scopes **** the bed at the LRI course. We had a Burris crap out on one individual. We had two Leupold Mk IV Tacticals go down. I had a Leupold Vari-X III fail me... luckily it was zeroed when it stopped adjusting so it's stuck... but where I needed it anyways. So I'll deal with that later. Does this mean Burris and Leupold scopes wont hold up? Not hardly. Anecdotal evidence is just observations regarding one scope on one gun and you don't know what may have happened to the scope before the failure. I have seen these scopes on other guns go through hell and back. Eventually, every scope will fail. That's just going to happen. It's only a matter of time. My Vari-X III is an ancient early example of the breed. It's been fired more than any scope should have to endure.. and it's still shooting. Hell, I killed 4 prairie dogs with it on my lunch break after I zeroed another gun. One thing that can lead to an early failure of a scope, is improperly mounting. The rings and scope have to be aligned perfectly or you get uneven pressure and stress through the tube. There are lots of very subtle factors at play here... but they amplify each other during recoil. Another thing that can lead to a failure is environmental stresses. Are you leaving your scoped rifle in your trunk during the heat of the day, then shooting the hell out of it? Do you thing that scope will live a long life like that? We can't control the process of manufacture or the quality control that went in to your individual scope... but we can control how we treat it. Your scoped rifle is a precision instrument... you have to treat it as such.
Photos from the course can be found here: