Overlooking one of FTW's ranges with the Bergara HMR Pro topped with the Kahles K525i
Eurooptic recently had the opportunity to send a few guys to the FTW ranch in southwest Texas to get hands-on training with some new gear from Swarvoski Optik, Kahles, Bergara Rifles and Magnetospeed. It was a great experience in an impressive, target rich environment – perfect for exposing weaknesses in the gear and the shooter.
The FTW ranch has one of the most complete target courses and training curriculums in the country, if not the world, and they are very accommodating to their guests. It is home to some very unique winds and terrain as well as an impressive herd of world class exotic animals. Their picturesque and challenging facility was a great venue to exploit the capabilities of the Kahles and Swarovski scopes mounted atop the Bergara HMR pro and Ridgeback rifles. Magnetospeed was there with their fine V3 chronograph and Riflekuhl as well to get us on target at long range and keep the barrels cool while we were going through cases of Hornady ELD ammo.
After a half-day of classroom training with Tim and Doug (Dawg), they were ready to kick us out to the various field courses to test out what we had learned. Bergara provided a couple dozen of their HMR Pro rifles in 6.5 Creedmoor as well as a couple pre-production Ridgebacks in 300 PRC for reaching out. Swarovski and Kahles topped off all of the rifles with their impressive scopes and also brought along a ton of other support gear. Half of the rifles were fitted with their brand new dS Digital Riflescope and the other half with a selection of the Kahles K525i 5-25 or K318i 3.5-18 scopes in their SKMR3 Reticle. Additionally, there were Z8i 2.3-18x56 and 2-16x50 riflescopes topped with Swarovski's BTF turret. They had a little bit of everything there so everyone couple get a feel for the various lines. They also brought along their EL Range which made it easy to lase the plate at the 1813 yard line, along with plenty of glass for spotting out to a mile and beyond. Their spotters were represented by their ATX 95 and STR80 with mil reticle and the unique BTX binocular eyepiece paired with the 95mm objective also made spotting a breeze.
Shooting the Bergara HMR Pro with Swarovski dS
Day 1 for our group started off with a 100 yard zero on the Swarovski dS and becoming familiar with its manipulation thru the app. Everyone caught on to this rapidly as it is a very intuitive and easy to setup and use. After lunch it was back out to the range and running the dS out to 700 yards in some pretty stiff winds. The conditions were definitely not ideal, but it was a great environment to put the scope to the test. They ran us through some drills bouncing back and forth to different yardages under time to help show how fast the transitions were with the dS scope. With the wind, it was rare to even hold on the plate beyond 300 yards, but once we had the velocities and BCs tuned up in the app and transferred to the scope, it was clear to see how the dS could facilitate a fast shot on target.
Day 2 was spent with the Kahles scopes and the Swarovski Z8i. This day included more drills and even more wind…especially for their Crusader course where the winds were sometimes up to and beyond 40mph. The crusader is a run of 10 drills shooting 2 separate plates, 1 shot each under time – and has apparently only been cleaned a handful of times. We definitely weren’t adding to the list of cleans on this day. We even stretched all the way out beyond 1800 yards with the 300 PRC and the Kahles 5-25. Once we had the winds figured out, almost every shooter (7-8 guys) got on the rifle and had a first round hit on the 36” circle at over 1 mile. Those that missed the first round all connected on the 2nd round. The wind at that distance was running 4.5-6 mils which converts to well over 30feet at max speed or equivalent to a 30mph full value wind hold! That is a ton of wind especially when you consider we were shooting one of the slickest cartridges available. That Bergara Ridgeback 300 PRC with 225 ELD Hornady ammo was quite impressive in those conditions. I am looking forward to more time with a Ridgeback 6.5 Creedmoor soon and you will also see a story about that here in the coming weeks.
Bergara Ridgeback .300 PRC Prototype | 1813 yards
All in all it was a great time and we were able to gain some valuable hands-on experience with top gear in a challenging field environment as well as learned where we needed work as a shooter. Shooting out in the real-world field conditions under stress teaches you a lot more than can be learned on the keyboard, that is for sure.
If you have any questions on the items mentioned, or any others we carry, please give us a call to discuss, we are happy to help you decide the best route to get the result you are after. EuroOptic has knowledgeable staff on hand to actually answer the phone every day of the year – yes you can talk to a real human that has real experience with the products they are talking about. You can also visit our site at EuroOptic.com any time, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason and Jonah shooting from the 1000 yard line.