33XC Rifle, First date!
Last time we discussed the specifics of the 33XC. This time we’ll take you through the custom rifle build process, stay tuned as this is a multi-series article covering not one, but two rifles builds!
If you recall, we recently covered David Tubb’s 33XC. We had the opportunity to witness this cartridge’s effectiveness at King of 1 Mile in France last October 2020 and after we saw the first rounds hitting the 1250m target and 1430m with authority, we were hooked! The impact of a 300grain Berger zipping through the air at 3200ft/s (975m/s) leaves quite an impression especially when viewed through high end optics such as this Kowa Highlanders 82mm or the Swarovski BTX 95mm through which we filmed the event. Both models seen below (You can watch the footage in the king of 1 Mile article)
Covid-19 has slowed shooting down a little bit all over the world, however alot of work has been running in the background on these ELR cartridges and it seems shooters have taken this time to gear up for future events setting up new rigs to compete at One Mile and Two mile events sprouting across Europe, USA, South Africa, Russia, Australasia and basically anywhere where sufficient land is available. *
May we remind you that Extreme Shot One Mile Italia has been postponed to 22-26 September 2021 instead of 3-7 March as originally envisaged.
33XC, First impressions last
They say first impressions last and we may have to agree that the wake of the bullet towards the target 17 football fields away left me and Bob in Awe. I’ve shot 50cals before with the Swiss FCSA but since then, it had been a while and this cartridge rekindled some of those sensations that only big bore shooters can experience.
Since then we have been busy setting up two rigs in this fabulous ELR cartridge thanks to the assistance of David Tubb and Mauro del Mastro that have provided very helpful tips as well as the fantastic info found on the Facebook group run by David himself. The 33XC is the smallest caliber cartridge of a 3 series of cartridges developed by competition shooter David Tubb, 33XC being a 338 caliber version of the trio while another two are also available – 37XC (375 caliber) and 41XC (416 caliber) cartridges. I wouldn’t be surprised if we also see a 30caliber version of this although it would be very overbore but the wildcat scene is crazy indeed so never say never.
33XC Custom Rifle Build
My shooting buddy Rob Aquila was the first one to jump on the 33XC band wagon driven by the rush that this cartridge left him with after we left France. I have to give it to Gineste Benjamin, the guy is a great shot and his wife, a fantastic spotter, they really entertained us watching and filming their shots. I could take up spotting alone as a hobby in it’s own right!
While having lunch at Munich Airport, we were already discussing the specs of this rifle and the specs of my new barrel in 33XC since it is effectively just a barrel swap if you already have a 338 bolt face which basically means any 338Lapua/300 Norma Rifle can be geared up for the 33XC (single feed) version.
I basically needed a new Bartlein barrel finished at 33inch and Rob wanted a new rifle spec’d for this comp. We called up Mik at DolphinGunCompany in the UK and after some chatter, the build sheet was ready. The rifle is a 1.8 twist 33inch Bartlein built on a single shot BAT CT Action and bedded in a Mc Millan Super Mag stock with a dolphin four port muzzle break.
The stock needed quite some work done to fit the new action and barrel. If you take on such a project, assign it only to the best gunsmiths who know what they are doing and do so professionally.
Eyes on the 33XC – Nightforce
Bob loves Nightforce scopes for good reason. He crowned his newly built rifle with a Nightforce 5-25×56 ATACR sitting snug in a Eratac 0-70 MOA adjustable mount. I got my eratac mount from Harry at www.Solidsolutiondesigns.com in the Netherlands. He stocks most ELR items there and then.
With 120MOA of elevation and 30MOA per turn, that’s plenty of travel to take you past 2.3km. It takes just 21MOA to 1000m and 3.2MOA of wind for a 10mph Full value!
The Nightforce also sports 15MOA per half turn of the windage knob which means you won’t get lost spinning the windage. When you hit that 15MOA, the turret stops, simple and effective so you won’t get lost on windage knob spinning. If that’s not enough, you can always hold for wind on the beautifully designed MOAR-F1 reticle which sports an additional 20MOA on each side of the reticle.
A few weeks later, the rifle was delivered just in time before Brexit! All this seems simple but you can only achieve such results because you get the best people involved in this. PBS in the UK run by Gary Costello (March importer) are one of the most efficient companies to deal with, no head aches, just professional logistics people doing their job right. Tracy at PBS is a fantastic person to deal with and has done most of my exports. I shot this rifle, in this configuration weighing just shy of 12kg all kitted up, the rifle doesn’t even move when you light up 120 grains of N570 for some heart warming!
33XC Load Development at 300 and 600m
Rob and I had done quite some research on load development, we knew there where two powders available in Europe that best suited this round, the N570 and the RS80 (RL33). We aren’t able to source VV20N29. The latter is quite popular with 300Lapua and 30-378Weatherby shooters and similar overbore rounds. We have a slightly different approach to load development, Bob is obsessed with single digit ES while I am obsessed with seeing extremely small vertical dispersion on paper at least at 600m, probably brought about by the weekends shooting with the UK Fclass shooters at Bisley.
Rob’s plan was to load up 3 rounds of each 0.3gr increment and fire it at 300m, check the velocity of these loads to see if they were close to where we wanted to be and then proceed to the 600m to test the ones that shot tightest with minimal ES spread. The plan had been set so what followed was a break in of the barrel followed by the 3 round groups ringing and ploughing through the target at 300m. One thing that was noticeable is how little the rifle moved in comparison to the vile blast that vented from the gills of that dolphin muzzle break.
Bob setup 2 papers, one for the N570 and another for the RS80.
300m load development video, straight line no vertical dispersion.
Testing 33XC at 600m
From then on, we identified 4 loads to test at 600m to single out the best load. We were after 1/2MOA or better at this distance. Our perseverance pays off leaving us also a little speechless when Bob drills a group just over 1/4 MOA at 600m! The excitement level rose as each shot printed into the paper with a puff of confetti behind the target.
Here we were trying another promising load however it wasn’t as tight as the previous one. The chatter in the background is from our English friend Bill trying to get his brand new 338Lapua Mag dialed in with a new load. That’s for another day.
Here you can see the lovely rifles we had next to us. During the same weekend, I was concluding work on my 308Win where I have since finalised my load development and is now ready for it’s Iberian adventure later on this year in the Spanish mountains. This is a hunting weight field rifle which can hold 10 rounds into 4″ circle at 600m off a bipod. I’ve tried both Federal premium 175smk during this outing which shot amazingly well at 600m as well as my Hornady eldx 178gr hand load which I plan to use for hunting. For more info about this project, click on the link above in blue and follow us there.
Spotting was done with the Amazing KOWA highlanders 82mm Riding on the Ulfhednar tripod – rock solid ELR setup.
Voere 338 Lapua Load Development
Meanwhile our friend Goddy who is often heard in the background is still working on the load development of his 338 Lapua Voere rifle pictured below. He is now very close to concluding his 1 mile load. A separate review of this rifle will ensue as we shall also slip a 33XC barrel on it.
Here’s Bill brand new Accuracy international with the easy to remove barrel. I WISH these actions were available for purchase to build a custom rifle off them. I look forward to seeing a custom action maker build actions that can have proper easy to remove barrels in this manner.
Sicily – long range rifle paradise
There is one thing which is striking about Sicily, it boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the Mediterranean with ample land available for long range shooting. Sicily is probably the home of long range shooting in the Mediterranean as well as being the host of Extreme Shot One Mile Italia competition from 22-26 September 2021, the first One Mile competition in the Italian mainland.
There is another thing that we love about our sister island and that’s the food. Absolutely fantastic eateries at very reasonable prices surrounded by some of the most idyllic coastlines.
Until next time, over and out, heading back home!