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Wildcatting: Stealth Bomber

Wildcatting: Stealth Bomber

This article blends both the desire for a short and functional stalking rifle and combining it with a new versatile round utilising a full sound suppression system if possible. A tall order you might say but the new MAE Shorty is just one such rifle that has proven itself this last year on targets and live quarry!

This is a custom build item but Julian from JMS Arms can arrange any similar rifle to be made in any spec you like, within reason. What you get is a short and practical rifle for use as woodland stalker, 4x4 fox gun or discreet pest control tool.

Reducing barrel length is always a contentious issue; sometimes a calibre is very efficient with a short barrel such as the .308 whilst others like the .22-250 bleed speed/energy. I have not reduced a 6.5 x47L cartridge before so it would be interesting, it was chosen for its amazing accuracy and consistency to deliver and retain down range energy.

SPEC

What a nice rifle, short, purposeful and very solid feeling, the sort of rifle that just screams to be used for real life hunting scenarios.

This rifle was based around the Benchrest quality actions from Stiller Precision, and available from TWG 07766 720404. The Shorty wore a TAC 30 action perfectly sized for the .308 sized cartridge range and gives a Remmy clone but at far superior tolerances. There is a spiral fluted bolt with tactical handle and knob in stainless steel with the choice of trigger and bottom metal being left to you. This was blacked which is practical and gives a really nice contrast against the stainless steel MAE moddy.

The barrel was a Shilen Select Match stainless steel with a #5 ½ profile with a 1 in 8” twist rate and 5-groove rifling. The exterior was brightly polished to reduce carbon build up due to the integral moderator. Most important was the overall length of only 14”, we dived straight in at this figure as a primarily run through of my reloads into Quickload ballistics program looked promising.

CAN AND FURNITURE

To this a MAE IMS (Integrated Moderator System) was fitted. The outside diameter is 38mm with an overall length of 19”.

This fits over the barrel and all the way down to the receiver ring. Twin grooves are cut into the radius to locate the two O-rings that seal the rear of the moderator from the expanding gases. This is because the IMS vents back over the entire barrel profile so greatly enhancing its working volume. In front of the muzzle is a solid blast baffle followed by ten more that provides a uniquely quiet firing cycle!

The stock is one of Julian’s favourites, a Bell and Carlson Tactical. Finished in crinkle matt black it is sturdy and not your usual flimsy plastic affair. The B&C has an aluminium spine that fills the entire central section with the synthetic moulded around it. This forms a strong and rigid chassis, true a bit heavy but once the action is fitted it forms a reassuring solid bedding area which can only enhance accuracy.

The design has a prominent pistol grip for an upright hold and the cheekpiece is height-adjustable via two Allen screws. You can use this stock right or left handed. The butt pad is a four way adjustable unit so if you cannot get the length of pull, rake, cant or height right then you are not of woman born! The forend has a dropped and widened grip area and Julian had the top section shallowed to accommodate the IMS moddy that can be fitted and removed with the stock on.

Although this rifle wears a standard Remington floor plate you could have a Badger, Third Eye Tactical etc as desired with increased magazine capacity. All-up weight is around 10.5 lbs and the overall length is 40.25”, like I said short and very sturdy, me likes! To finish off a 20 MOA Stiller one-piece scope mount with a Weaver fitment. The rifle wore a variety of scopes; best of all was the incredible Zeiss/Hensoldt 6-24x74mm.

CARTRIDGE

The 6.5x 47 Lapua is an ultra efficient case compared to similar larger sized rounds of the .243/.308 family. Cartridge overall length (COL) is 2.795” and as such will fit nicely into a short action platform such as this. It is not a fussy round and can shoot 85-140 grain bullets with ease; anything heavier defeats the object of the exercise! Medium burn rate powders such as Reloder RL15 or RL17, Varget, Vit N150 or N540 work very well. Normally a 120-130grian bullet will achieve velocities in the region of 2850-3000 fps dependent on barrel length but how will a short tube fare?

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One real appeal of any 6.5 calibre cartridge is the superior ballistics they offer from the available bullets. This equates to excellent down range retained energy compared to something of the same weight but different diameter.

A normal load of 38-grains of RL 17 powder behind a 140-grain bullet like the Hornady SST can achieve a velocity of 2700 fps but from a 24”. Or 2850 fps with a 120-grain using 38-grains of RL15. However, a 14” tube is another matter; see the results table!

There are Lapua factory loads available but I choose to reload to maximise burn rate to short barrel length ratio, hopefully! (see table)

FIELD USE

It proved that Quickload and QuickTarget ballistics program works as the predicted, results for that short barrel were very close, thank god, that was one expensive tube!

From the get go you can see the 6.5x47L case is a very efficient little number. Those speedy little 95-grain V-MAX’s are ideal for fox at 2854 fps with 38.5-grains of Benchmark power for an equally impressive 1724 ft/lbs, so deer legal in England and Wales also. The 120-123 grain bullets really shine and whether you go the hunting or longer range bullets, either way that short barrel spits them out very well.

The 120-grain Sierra Pro Hunter are a great design and the starting load of 40-grains of RL 17 gave a mild 2520 fps/1692 ft/lbs (almost deer legal). Increasing this to 41-grains gave 2574 fps/1765 ft/lbs and also deer legal in Scotland. 43-grains was the top load, most accurate was a charge of the 42-grain with three shots all touching at 100 yards.

You can switch to the 123-grain Lapua Scenars if you want a good long range load. Best through this rifle was the a recipe of 42-grains of RL 17 powder for 2622 fps/1877 ft/lbs with sub-1/2” groups; pretty good!

Alliant RL 17 is my favourite for the 6.5x47 Lapua but I tried some others for the heavier 140-grain Hornady SST bullets. 37- grains of Vit N150 worked well with 3387 fps/1772 ft/lbs although Hodgdon’s Varget bettered it with only 35.5-grains for 2397/1786 ft/lbs. In Scotland you need 2450 fps/1750 ft/lbs and 100-grain minimum bullet weight for large species, so the lighter 120-grainers are the way to go.

Finally I tried some slower Vit N150 with the 123-grain Scenars, accuracy was good but velocity was a bit down compared to the RL17. 40-grains produced 2542 fps/1740 ft/lbs.

CONCLUSIONS

Ballistics and targets are one thing but hunting is another!

The muzzle report with all loads was incredibly muted, a dull compressed ‘throng’ almost hiss. In fact out Fallow stalking across wide open fields in Sussex the bullets impact from neck or heart shot was the loudest noise! This gives the Shorty a definite stealth ability and allows you to shoot more than one deer if culling is necessary without spooking the game or land owner.

It is very portable, yes a tad heavy but it isn`t going to break easily, trust me and this means you can man handle it in and out of 4x4 vehicles and really get on with the job of stalking without fear of causing any damage.

This just proves that some cartridges respond well to short barrels and the 6.5x47 Lapua is one such calibre! You could of course have a 14” tube and a muzzle-mounted can fitted, not as quiet as the IMS system but still plausible. I reckon the muzzle velocity reduction per inch is around 30 fps from these results, pretty damn good.

Contact Julian at JMS Arms on 01444 400 126 or at www.maemoderators.co.uk for your version of the Shortywww.quickload.co.uk

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