The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

A Basic 5.56 Carbine at 1,000 Yards

For many, long range shooting can be a mythical beast. We've spent the last couple days down in Texas at an NRA Outdoors Range with Vista Outdoors shooting all sorts of rifles, from the general-purpose 5.56 AR to the Savage Stealth bolt action chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. Zapping targets at range with a 6.5 Creedmoor is not unexpected, but how about stretching the legs of a 5.56? We gave it a whirl.


The Setup
The rifle was a Savage MSR-15 with some basic factory upgrades–you'll find many like them on the shelf at your local Gander Mountain Cabelas for ~$800. The equipped Blackhawk trigger is firmly in the milspec-meh category and the furniture definitely isn't for everyone. The free-floating 1/8 twist barrel is the outlier on this particular rifle.

Similarly, the optic used was something you'd pick up at a local sporting goods store. The Bushnell Engage 4-16×24 is certainly budget minded with a street price of ~$350. We're not talking about a variable that you show off to the envy of all around you. Further annoying to the author since he's under 60, it features MOA turrets.


Of course, pushing it to 1,000 we don't want to use cheap Russian ammunition or surplus. Federal Premium Gold Medal loads were used, topped off with 69gr Sierra MatchKing BTHP (Boat Tailed Hollow Point) projectiles. While we had access to Kestrels and other ballistic calculators, we used the free Federal Ammunition smart phone ballistics app. Hey, if we're going cheap, nothing beats free.


The Shoot
First things first: The MSR-15 was zeroed at 100 yards and then we tried out the accuracy of the ballistic app by pinging steel at 300 yards. Everything was on point. There was a problem when the app spit out the data for 1,000 yards though–48.3 minutes of elevation was beyond our adjustment range. Even adding in the stadia lines in the reticle we were coming up short. Holdover became the rule of the day.

Having a good spotter is essential at these ranges, double-so when running something that can be easily swayed by wind like a 5.56 at low velocities. And if you do manage to hit the steel, the impact is so slight and the formerly-satisfying ping so quiet that you need someone with a lot of magnification for confirmation.

Have a look to see how we did:

[Photos courtesy of Jacki Billings]

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