But if you don’t have someone like Derrick to help walk you through the process, he says it’s important that you first are honest with yourself about how you are actually going to use the rifle. Derrick says that rifle buyers should ask themselves if they are looking for one gun/caliber that they can use for a lot of different things – hunting and shooting. And, based on the type of hunting and shooting they do can they really accomplish it all with just one caliber? Everyone uses their rifle differently, some hunt and shoot just a few times a year and others are strictly shooters and are frequently at the range, burning through brass. In order to make the best possible decision about caliber selection, it’s important that you identify what you’ll be asking your rifle to do.
The 6.5 Creedmoor has grown enormously popular in that last several years and it’s one that is very versatile. Derrick says that because the Creedmoor is no longer “new”, all those concerns from buyers about the availability of ammunition have started to fade as there are more and more options on the shelves all the time. He notes that the 6.5 Creedmoor is a great place for kids and inexperienced shooters to get started, it’s practical and effective for hunting and furthermore, it’s great for target shooting. If you want to go to the range, have some fun and burn through 100 rounds Derrick says it’s possible to do that without breaking the bank. For that reason, he credits the 6.5 Creedmoor with giving people the opportunity to shoot more. In addition, Derrick talks about a generational switch in rifle buyers. He notes that older generations tend to have several rifles at lower price points, whereas younger generations may take longer to make an initial purchase, but they invest in one gun with a nice scope and high-quality features. Derrick says he believes the Creedmoor has been a platform for a lot of that change because people are shooting even more than they hunt.
Next, Derrick will then dive into rifle barrels. It’s important to have a high-quality rifle barrel, but Derrick says the most important part is actually how the barrel gets mated with the action, and the action itself. Derrick discusses this process in more detail and also takes on barrel length. A lot of buyers concerned with speed, focus heavily on getting more barrel length so they can achieve greater speeds. However, Derrick says there has been a small change in trends, partly driven by suppressors, where buyers are realizing that shorter barrels can have little better harmonics and so their actual groups may be tighter. While they may not have quite the velocity and they may pick up some wind drift, there is a big tradeoff when it comes to comfort and handling between an 18 to 20-inch barrel with suppressor and a 26-inch barrel with a suppressor. Derrick cautions people about getting hung up on barrel length and debunks the idea that the barrel length will impact accuracy, saying instead its impact will be on the velocity.
Wood or composite, what kind of stock do you prefer? This is one of those questions that, like caliber, doesn’t have a definitive answer. However, there are certainly advantages and disadvantages to each. Derricks says that wood stocks are beautiful, and there are ways to do wood stocks to make them better but in general, one of the biggest cons of a wood stock is their susceptibility to moisture. The humidity or moisture content in the air can cause shrinkage or swelling which, in turn, can tweak the action and affect how the barrel sits in the barrel channel. By going with a composite stock, it allows you to avoid all of those potential moisture issues, plus the materials in a high-quality composite stock also handle recoil, flexing and torsional stress better than wood can. While many of you are familiar with Derrick and Horizon Firearms, what you may or may not know is that he is also the driving force behind iota Outdoors, a company that makes high quality rifle stocks, anti-cant devices and scope mounts. Derrick talks about iota stocks and says that one thing that sets them apart from others is that their stocks feature a full fill unlike others that have hollow spots. In order to reduce weight, Derrick says that some stock makers use what is essentially an expandable foam, however iota fills their stocks solid giving them more strength to handle recoil, but also allowing them to be drilled and tapped in order to mount flush cups, change butt pads and more. A solid fill creates a platform where it’s possible to do that. When it comes to choosing a stock, Derrick says that buyers should look for one that is comfortable and has a good cheek weld. Furthermore, he highlights the importance of a stock that tracks back in the right direction, so the recoil line and comb line are parallel. He’ll also talk about finding a comfortable grip, saying iota uses vertical grips for a more natural hand position.
Finally, Derrick will talk scope mounts and the importance of investing in quality rings and bases. When mounting optics to a rifle, the mounting platform itself is crucial. If you have shoddy mounts or heavy scopes used in conjunction with light weight scope mounts it creates an environment where they can fracture over time and not perform properly. Something as simple as a fractured scope mount can put a rifle company at risk of receiving complaints about poor performance when the issue doesn’t hinge on the firearm at all. Accuracy, quality mounts and proper mounting are all directly related so Derrick will talk iota scope mounts and highlight their strong suits. In creating their scope mounts, Derricks says they wanted to do something different and integrate their patented illuminated anti-cant device. On their Nomad ZL ring-base combo, Derrick says that a wider base grips the action more, the design utilizes an angled platform so that the scope doesn’t roll as you tighten the screws, and bottom or under angled screws reduce corrosion from dirt and moisture. The same concepts apply to Iota’s TRIAD ZL Derrick says which is designed for picatinny rail scope mounts. Derricks says their patented three-key adjustment system negates the tolerances in your rail’s machining specifications and helps to ensure accuracy. Listen in as Derrick discusses iota scope mounts in greater detail.
Be sure to tune in as Derrick Ratliff, President and Founder of Horizon Firearms joins us for a wide-ranging conversation on calibers, barrels, stocks, scope mounts and more. While you listen, take a look at the Horizon Firearms and iota Instagram pages, full of eye candy for firearm enthusiasts!