In 2016, I embarked on a mission to learn the trade of long-range shooting. Along the way I’ve written articles covering some of the equipment individually. I also wrote about my experiences while training. What I neglected to do is put together a long range shooting loadout. This article will include the items I pack for range training or data collection. To be clear, this long range shooting loadout is not practical for a sniper mission or hunting due to the amount and size of some gear.
Starting from the ground up, I typically bring a padded shooting mat for a couple of reasons. The range I use has a sand shoot hill with a couple of artificial turf sections. Bringing a sturdy mat ensures a clean shooting surface to operate from. The shooting mat I purchased from Midway USA is a house brand that’s both durable and cost-effective. Although the mat is large and padded, it is pretty cumbersome and takes up a fair amount of space. Another luxury item are the shooting bags from Crosstac. These provide a nice solid base for the buttstock which is important for stability at longer ranges. I’ve tried a rear monopod and found them to be too wobbly. A monopod would be better suited for bench rest shooting where a solid platform is available. On soft, uneven terrain, the bean bag is the way to go. The front of the rifle is stabilized by a sturdy and lightweight adjustable GG&G bipod.
I shoot the Ruger Precision Rifle chambered in 6.5mm Creedmoor with a few basic upgrades. Hornady has designed an excellent long-range match grade bullet with a phenomenal ballistic coefficient. I’ve achieved great results with both the Hornady 140Gr ELD Match and the 143Gr ELD-X. Because of this, I haven’t found the need to hand load rounds yet. My RPR is topped with a Sig Optics Tango Six 5-30x56mm scope. This has been the best investment thus far and has proven it’s worth in spades. Several classes were conducted in high winds which sand blasted the equipment and optics. The Tango Six has proven to be a very durable and user-friendly companion to this rifle. Vortex Defender caps both protect the lenses as well as offer the option to insert a custom-made DOPE card for quick reference of your “come-ups”.
Along side the rifle sits a Vortex Viper HD 20-60×80 spotting scope. Purchased through Promotive at a nice discount, this has become an invaluable tool for getting on target at those 1000+ yard distances. I didn’t waste money on an overpriced tripod either. eBay is a good place to find compact, lightweight tripods. I easily disassembled this $45 tripod and painted a net camouflage pattern to help blend in while hunting. Money saved for more bullets and training.
For accurate shot placement, the shooter needs to collect as much data as possible in varying conditions. Both environmental and ballistic data influence the trajectory and final placement of the projectile. To store my data, I have a comprehensive data book from Storm Tactical in a nice zippered case made by Tactical Tailor. In a competition or hunting environment where leafing through a data book is impractical, I use an arm board from Sunrise Tactical for my cheat cards. Environmental data is observed with a Kestrel 3500 weather meter as well as the Applied Ballistics app. The Bushnell 7×26 Elite 1 Mile CONX Rangefinder provide pinpoint accurate ranges on silhouettes to 1000 yards. I have yet to test its accuracy beyond that distance.
Finally, I have an assortment of Oakleys and Gatorz for eye protection. It just depends on the lighting conditions and my mood as to which pair I bring. I tested the Howard Leight Sport earmuffs after Shot Show ’16 and still use them on the daily. My iPhone is always on hand running the Applied Ballistics app and to double-check weather conditions. And this long range shooting loadout fits nicely into the 5.11 Tactical Ignitor Pack. I added an external pouch to the waist belt which fits the Bushnell Rangefinder for easy access while moving. The spotting scope and tripod are secured into external side pockets. Several interior pockets help organize the smaller items like the Kestrel, SOG multi tool, ammo, mags, etc. Attach the 5.11 Rush Tier 1 Sleeve and a rifle can be easily carried as well.
Long Range Shooting Loadout:
- Midway USA padded shooting mat
- Crosstac shooting bag
- 5.11 Ignitor Pack
- Storm Tactical Data Book
- Sunrise Tactical Arm Board
- Kestrel 3500 Weather meter
- Applied Ballistics App iOS
- Bushnell 7×26 Elite 1 Mile CONX Rangefinder
- Ruger Precision Rifle 6.5mm Creedmoor
- Sig Optics Tango Six 5-30x56mm Scope
- Vortex 20-60x80mm Viper HD Spotting Scope
- eBay tripod
- GG&G XDS Bipod
- Hornady ELD Match Ammunition
- SOG Power Play multi tool
- Gatorz Sunglasses
- Howard Leight Sport Earmuffs
This long range shooting loadout is what I’ve found to work for me in the field and training. There are several good options for equipment substitutions on the market. I suggest you fine tune your own long range shooting loadout to suit your personal needs. Despite upgrading several components on the Ruger Precision Rifle, Santa has left a Proof Research Carbon barrel under my tree this year. Stay tuned for a barrel swap and more accuracy testing in the future…