NOT SO EXTREME
THE JJR-375 RIFLE, HELPING TAKE THE “E” OUT OF ELR SHOOTING
The JJR-375 Rifle, Helping Take the “E” Out of ELR Shooting
I’m probably the least-experienced long-range shooter at RECOIL. I don’t shoot PRS. I didn’t go to sniper school or even a squad designated marksman course in the military. I didn’t ever work as a contract designated defensive marksman during my freelance security years. Prior to taking on this article, my farthest shot was a lucky hit with a .50 BMG bolt gun at 1,240 yards, courtesy of Iain’s superb wind calls.
As the industry continues to spend more money on design and development, and as tight tolerance machining technology becomes cheaper and more prolific in the firearms world, the art of Extreme Long Range shooting (ELR, for short) will only become more common and more accessible to the less-experienced rifleman. The growth of this particularly niche sport is what makes the author’s utter lack of experience so poignant.
One company making their mark in the ELR world is JJ ROCK. JJ ROCK is a joint venture between Jon Geib, John Kalil, Rock McMillan, and Duncan Davis. Between them, they bring more than six decades of experience in customrifle building and precision shooting. At time of writing, they’ve partnered with Applied Ballistics to build a prototype rifle in response to military requests for an ELR-capable sniper rifle system. The Applied Ballistics submission will be based around JJ ROCK’s Super XL action. Previous to his work on the Super XL action, Rock McMillan designed the Tac-50 action, which holds the honor of being used in four of the 10 longest sniper kills currently on record.
The Super XL is the heart of their new JJR375 rifle, which recently showed its potential at the 4th annual King of 2 Miles competition. The JJR-375 scored 2nd, 4th, and 8th round hits at 2 miles. Team JJ ROCK also won the cold bore challenge with a 1st-round hit at 1,691 yards. (See Issue 33 for more info on the KO2M competition.) With a couple of pretty significant stats on their card already, we couldn’t resist running a JJR-375 for ourselves. The owners gave us the chance to sit in on one of the military precision rifle classes to see if we could live up to the potential of this purpose-built gear.
The Super XL action was designed specifically to engage targets in the 2- to 3-mile distance envelope. No small feat for man-portable, shoulder-fired weapon. The Super XL is machined from heat-treated 416 steel. The bolt itself is NP3 coated and features two beefy lugs. Also finished in NP3 is the M16-style extractor that’s specifically designed to handle cartridges with a 0.640-inch case head diameter. There’s even a firing pin guide system.
According to JJ ROCK, this facilitates faster lock times and more consistent primer strikes — proof that when you’re talking ELR ranges absolutely everything matters. The receiver itself features a locking lug insert manufactured from an undisclosed material that’s supposedly up to three times stronger than the receiver
itself. The intent here is to be able to use a more compact lug design without sacrificing rigidity against the increased recoil of larger long-distance loadings. Our test rifle, as its name would imply, was chambered in 375 CheyTac, but by the time you read this JJ ROCK will have actions available in both 416 Barrett and 50 BMG. The Super XL is compatible with any Remington 700 pattern trigger system, and the JJR-375 comes off the rack with a Timney 510 that includes a bottom safety.
Threaded into the massive Super XL action is a 29.5-inch Proof Research carbon-fiber barrel with a 1:9 twist, topped with an American Precision
Arms Gen II XX Brake. While the use of carbon fiber definitely helps shave some fat, the rifle still weighs in at nearly 20 pounds, before you give it glass or legs. While it’s nobody’s backpack gun, it still weighs less than an M240 machine gun, and can reach a whole lot farther. The barreled action is nested in a Cadex Dual Strike folding chassis. As is the current trend in military sniper systems, the Dual Strike is highly modular with screw-in rail sections and a skeletonized side-folding stock that’s adjustable for both comb height and length of pull.
We spent several days with running this rifle alongside some DoD personnel in one of JJ ROCK’s precision rifle classes. Unfortunately, they don’t currently offer open enrollment classes, but the training event allowed us to run the gun under tutelage of the guys who built it. Our class was taught by
Jon Geib and Chad Prater of Prater Precision, both veteran military snipers. Our test gun was equipped with Prater Precision’s Sniper Data Board. This ingenious little accessory clamps onto any Picatinny rail and provides a mounting platform for miniature whiteboardtype cards than you can use to keep your DOPE.
Our first day on the range was spent zeroing and truing ballistic computers. Pretty straightforward, regardless of experience level. By the end of day one, we were ringing steel past 600 yards. Even then, we weren’t inclined to celebrate anything. People regularly shoot match-grade .308 rifles at that distance without very much heartburn. Using a 20-pound shoulder cannon chambered in 375 CheyTac, with 25-power glass, was practically cheating.
On the second day, we were popping balloons at 1,100 yards plus. Still about 150 yards short of the author’s standing record. Then our spotter said to us, “See that berm? See the small black square about halfway up the slope? That’s a mile. If you hit it, a light at the top of the berm will blink.” Well who doesn’t love a blinking light? We dialed elevation per the ballistic computer’s firing solution for the load we were running: a 377-grain Cutting Edge MTAC slug at 3,050 feet per second. With our crosshair centered on the target, we waited for the natural pause in our breath cycle and pressed the 2.5-pound Timney trigger. After a pause long enough to smoke a cigarette through, we saw a puff of dirt next to the target. We ran the JJR’s massive bolt as the spotter said:
“Hold 0.2 mils left.”
Another gentle press of the trigger. Another unbearably long wait. Then the light atop the berm blinked twice.
“Hit! One mile.”
The exhilaration was so great that we promptly cranked the next round left. But a deep breath and a renewed focus landed a fourth-round hit on the 12x24-inch steel plate exactly 1,760 yards away. Satisfied that we could repeat the result, we came off the gun with a smile we hadn’t flashed since our first time behind a belt-fed. Our first, incredibly self-deceiving thought was: well … that didn’t seem so hard.
Many moons ago, an instructor once told us, “There is no such thing as advanced shooting. There is only advanced execution of the fundamentals.”
It was the author’s (very) limited experience that, at the end of the day, there’s nothing mechanically different between marksmanship at 1 yard and at 1 mile. Proper sight picture, being in tune with your breath cycle, and smooth consistent trigger press are critical components in both scenarios. What changes, from the shooter’s standpoint, is the margin for error — vastly large at 1 yard and nearly nonexistent at 1 mile.
What also changes is the number of variables that must be considered. At pistol range, ballistic coefficient and trajectory algorithm are punch lines to friendly smack-talk. In the ELR world, it can be the difference between hitting a torso-sized target and dropping your round in the dirt a ZIP code short. Above
and the computer, estimation become trigger beyond part proper things and putting of good your like holds, your pre-shot wind truing accurate work calls your ritual. in must behind ballistic range
learned As a last, that more Hollywood personal once lesson, again we
gets it wrong with long-range shooting.
TV shows and movies love to portray
the sniper as a lone-wolf gunman
with nearly magical powers to land
first-round hits in any condition cold
and on command. The true tragedy
of this stereotype is that it does im
mense injustice to the value of a good
spotter. The author can state with the
utmost confidence that neither of his
two personal best long-shots would have been possible without top-notch spotters providing essential feedback for setup and correction of those trigger presses. A spotter’s estimation of range, wind, and other environmental conditions are no less important than the shooter’s execution of marksmanship fundamentals — particularly for those of us less experienced in this ballistic art form.
Repeatable hits at a mile is no small feat, neither in preparation nor accomplishment. But it’s not impossible. With a purpose-built precision machine like the JJR-375 and a knowledgeable spotter, you might find that you can push a bullet — and yourself — farther than you thought possible.
During our class, we got the chance to run another JJROCK build, this suppressed 7.62mm bolt gun.
The JJR-375 is overbuilt and NP3 coated for resistance to both wear and corrosion. Right: The Prater Precision SniperData Board, though intended for DOPE cards, easily held our ballistic computer.
Left: Reaching out to a mile allows individual riflemen to engage vehiclemobile targets like the bombed-out hulks of APCs you can barely see in the distance. Right: Unlike the 50 BMG, a machine gun repurposed for sniper dut y, the375 CheyTac was designed from the ground up to make small hits at large distances.
Below: We learned a lit tle about unconventional shooting positions, including a lesson on using tripods to stabilize both rifle and shooter.