Weatherby, Leupold And Black Hills

Legitmate Long-Range Combination.

Shooting at long range has always been appealing to humans. The ability to reach out and touch something five or six football fields away is, almost magical. The trend has been around since the first rifle was put to the shoulder, and the question of “How far can you hit?” is often asked in the field and on the range. Shooters looking for the tools to do this can find everything they need from three companies: Black Hills, Leupold and Weatherby.

The key to hitting at long range starts with the shooter. We’ll discuss this in more depth shortly, but the foundation for precision and patience is built around the human element of the equation. You must seek perfection in your actions and in the selection of your equipment and you must have patience with your training and the wind.

Precision equipment is key — the parts of your rifle must be precisely machined and then assembled to perfection. The same goes for the tube, lenses springs and adjustments in your riflescope. And, even if you do your part behind the trigger, and if the rifle and riflescope are mechanical works of art, bad ammo will leave you wondering how hitting a basketball at 500 yards is even possible. The cartridge case must be true and uniform, the bullet must be flawlessly formed and the combination of primer and powder must create a consistent pressure compatible with both. A lot of things have to come together perfectly to hit a target at almost a quarter-mile distance.

If the shooter does their part, the Weatherby rifle with Leupold glass and
Black Hills ammo will do the rest.


Roy Weatherby began developing high-performance rifle cartridges in the mid 40s. About 10 years later, he garnered even more attention with the introduction of the Mark V action, which was easily capable of handling the sky-high pressures his cartridges produced. Then, in 1970, Weatherby did it again with another new and more affordable action called the Vanguard.

Ed Weatherby, Roy’s son, has his father’s entrepreneurial spirit and has continued the innovation with the introduction of the Vanguard Series 2, which guarantees sub-MOA accuracy. The Vanguard action is based on a Mauser-style action with dual opposing locking lugs. It has a 1-piece machined receiver, fully-enclosed bolt sleeve and three rings of steel surrounding the case head. With models starting at just a few hundred dollars, there’s a Vanguard to fit virtually any budget.

In his book, Selecting and Ordering a Custom Hunting Rifle, Charlie Sisk, one of the most respected custom rifle builders in the country, writes, “Essentially, this is a copy of the excellent Sako L61R action. I think it’s one of the best actions on the market. I believe most [custom] rifle builders don’t use the Weatherby Vanguard action because they don’t want to spend the money to get the right equipment and take the time to learn how to do it.” Sisk is referring to the metric threading on Vanguard actions where the barrel threads into the action.

Regardless of what you think about the Weatherby Vanguard action, or the fact that it’s made for Weatherby in Japan, these rifles will shoot. The Vanguard TRR (Threat Response Rifle) RC (Range Certified) rifle I tested averaged just a shade over 1″ at 100 yards for nine, 5-shot groups using three different loads! You should expect the same performance when you un-box one as well. All Vanguard TRR RC rifles are guaranteed to deliver a 3-shot group of .99″ or less with Weatherby factory or premium ammunition. MSRP: $ 1,099.

Logic applies: If you want dependable performance, precision accuracy and
to be able to impress your buddies at the range, select quality tools right
from the start. It’s hard to go wrong with a combination like Black Hills,
Leupold and Weatherby.


Still, to shoot groups like this or to hit at stupid long range, you’ll need a sight. Leupold is an American company that was started to repair surveying instruments, and they have been leading the optics industry for more than 100 years. Our military and police snipers have been relying on Leupold optics for many years and hunters speak of Leupold like it is the gold standard of sporting optics.

They just may be. Leupold offers an incredibly large line of sporting optics in a wide price range. Their FX-II 4x33mm fixed riflescope is regarded by many as the most durable and dependable riflescope ever made.

It has a suggested retail of $299. Leupold’s extensive line of Mark 4 riflescopes, like the 6.5-20x50mm LR/T riflescope I used to test the Vanguard rifle, has state-of-the-art features like Multicoat 4 lens treatments, an Extended Twilight Lens System, Diamond Coat 2 lens treatments and 2nd Generation Argon/Krypton waterproofing. Suggested retail? $1,299.99.

Many of my rifles are topped off with Leupold riflescopes because over the years they have proven to me that I can trust them. The view is crisp and clear and the adjustments are repeatable. This is particularly important when you are twisting and turning the elevation knob to adjust for shots from 100 yards out beyond 1,000 yards. Let’s say you dial in a 47-MOA adjustment to hit at 1,000 yards. If the adjustments in your riflescope are off by only 1 MOA — this translates to a point-of-aim error of 10″ at 1,000 yards. Likely a miss!

Most shooters realize to hit at stupidly long ranges you need a good rifle and a good riflescope. What some often forget to address is the quality of the riflescope’s mounting system. When you pull the trigger on your rifle or if you drop it or if you drop something on it, the mechanical device, which holds the riflescope to the rifle, is stressed. I’ve seen scope mounts break, but I’ve also seen scope mounts that did not hold the scope and rifle together solidly. They allowed movement, not movement you can visually detect, but enough movement to prevent those 1-hole groups you desperately desire.

Two things here worth mentioning: Weatherby Vanguard rifles are machined to accept the same scope bases used by Remington 700 rifles. Why is this important? There are more scope mounting options available for Remington 700 rifles than any other. The second thing is the reliability of Leupold bases and rings, especially the Mark 4 series. Once you lock down a set of Mark 4 rings on your rifle, you can rest assured when bad things happen on target, it’s not the rings’ fault. Also, you have the option of matching the rings with a Mark 4 scope base that has a built-in offset to insure your scope has plenty of adjustment range for those “into the next county” shots.

Pair a .308 Winchester rifle, like the Weatherby Vanguard TRR RC, with a Leupold Mark 4, 6.5-20x50mm LR/T riflescope, and you’ll need only two more things to smack steel out to 1,000 yards: shooting skill and good ammunition.

Jeff Hoffman has turned Black Hills into a major player in the ammunition market.
Hoffman isn’t just an entrepreneur — he’s also a police sniper.

Black Hills Ammo

Black Hills Ammunition is owned and operated by Jeff Hoffman. Hoffman is not just a business man: he is an accomplished shooter, a sworn police officer since 1979 and a member of the Pennington County Sheriff Department’s SRT Team where he serves as a sniper. Hoffman intently understands the need for consistent and accurate ammunition. Not just so you can hit targets but so he can, if he has to, take out a lethal threat.

Black Hills Ammunition doesn’t just buy available components to assemble their ammunition. Granted, they don’t manufacture brass, bullets, powder or primers, but they work behind the scenes with the experts who do, to develop the best product they can offer. For example: the Mk 262 5.56mm 77-grain ammunition Black Hills builds for the military uses a Winchester case, a Sierra Match bullet and Ramshot powder. All these components were modified by these partnering companies to meet Black Hills specific needs for that ammunition.

While taking a long-range shooting class at Gunsite, I used a Weatherby Vanguard TRR RC rifle in .308 Winchester, a Leupold Mark 4, 6.5-20x50mm LR/T riflescope and Black Hills Gold 180-grain Nosler Accubond ammo to repeatedly drill steel target after steel target out to 1,000 yards. In fact, out to around 500 yards I was pretty consistent at getting first-round hits. Why? For starters, I had the right dope dialed in on my scope and a good spotter. But that’s not good enough if your rifle and ammo is not shooting straight or if your scope doesn’t respond to the clicks you give it.

When it comes to putting together a long-range shooting rig, your options are practically unlimited. There are more rifles and scopes to look at and ogle over than there are strippers in Vegas. The last thing you want to do is spend about $2,500 and have buyer’s remorse. Leupold, Weatherby, and I are confident if you put together a Vanguard TRR RC and a Mark 4 riflescope, and fill it full of Black Hills ammo, the only remorse you’ll have is that you can’t find a range long enough to shoot on.

Long-Range Training at Gunsite

If you take a long-range shooting class at Gunsite, you can learn from
a World Champion shooter. Gunsite is not just about handguns.

Gunsite is primarily known for their instruction in the Modern Technique of the Pistol, which was pioneered by Gunsite founder, Col. Jeff Cooper. What some folks don’t know is Gunsite offers instruction for carbines, rifles, shotguns and extreme long range.

Under the tutelage of Walt Wilkinson, who just recently won the Hunter Class World Championship title at the Fifty Caliber Shooters’ Association World Championships, I was gifted with a wealth of long-range shooting knowledge during a long-range shooting class at Gunsite.

What set this class apart from most of the other long-range shooting courses I’ve attended was the importance put on spotting. A good spotter can make you shoot like a champion. Beyond 600 or 700 yards, first-round hits with a .308 Winchester can be tough, especially at unknown distances. A good spotter will give you a windage and elevation correction instantly. And, if you are doing your job, your next shot will be down range just as fast — before the wind can change.

I’ve attended firearms training classes at Gunsite more than a dozen times and every time I leave, I’m convinced it’s the premier firearms training academy. Kudos to Gunsite owner Buz Mills for maintaining Cooper’s vision and for running a tight ship.

Weatherby Vanguard TRR RC & Leupold Mark 4 6.5-20x50mm LR/T

Load Velocity (fps) MD SD Accuracy (inches)
Black Hills 168-grain Hornady A-Max 2,586 44 14 .92
Remington 168-grain Matchking BTHP 2,630 67 30 1.27
Hornady 178-grain BTHP Superformance 2,691 21 9 1.19
Average 1.19

For More Info:

(800) 538-7653

(805) 227-2600

Charlie Sisk – Sisk Rifles
(936) 258-4984

Black Hills Ammunition
(605) 348-9827

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