NOT SO EX­TREME

THE JJR-375 RI­FLE, HELP­ING TAKE THE “E” OUT OF ELR SHOOT­ING

Recoil - - Contents - BY TOM MAR­SHALL PHO­TOS BY NICCOLE ROMANOSKI AND @PHOTOBUCKETLIST

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 MA­CHINE

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.

THE SHOT

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.”

“0.2 left.”

“Send it.”

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.

LES­SONS LEARNED

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.

152

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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.

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