Posted by
Message
TigerOnThe Hill
Springhill, LA
Member since Sep 2008
5901 posts

Building a New Gun in 20 VarTarg
I’ve been hunting nearly exclusively with long barreled handguns chambered in rifle cartridges for many years. Those using such guns frequently refer to them as “specialty pistols.” I also like to go on prairie dog hunts. For a number of years my main prairie dog hunting handguns were the 22 BR and the 6 BR. Last year I added the 22 Nosler. A drawback of specialty pistols is muzzle blast as they use a lot of powder for relatively short barrels (most of mine are 14-16 inches long). I usually shoot >100 rounds/day on a pd hunt. During a day’s hunt, the muzzle blast adds up on both myself and other hunters. Since the 22 Nosler barrel is threaded, I started thinking of getting a suppressor. In addition, I also started thinking of a barrel using less powder so it would be more quiet. I settled on the 20 VarTarg. The VarTarg was developed to use on varmints and targets and uses a 20 caliber in 221 Remington Fireball brass. The 221 Fireball is the parent brass for the 300 Blackout. The VarTarg is a very efficient cartridge. Despite using much less powder, in a rifle the VarTarg it attains velocities within 200-300 fps of the 204 Hornady.

The project started with the action. I settled on an action I’ve never used, the Howa Model 1500 Mini-Action. The Mini-Action is a bolt action and is downsized for smaller rounds like the 223 Remington, 6.5 Grendel and 300 Blackout. It uses 5 or 10 round magazines. Since I wouldn’t need a rifle stock, I ordered a barreled action in 223 Remington from Brownell's. The wait was three months. I ordered a “Elf Owl” stock painted in Cerakote Coyote Tan from JTAC Industries to be my “handgun” stock. The “Elf Owl” is a metal, chassis type stock. It can also be fitted with a butt stock for use as a rifle. The wait was 2 ½ months. My plan was to remove the factory barrel and install a custom barrel using a barrel nut to set the headspace like used on Savage rifles. This system is referred to as a “Howage” barrel. McGowen Precision Barrels is one of the few who offers “Howage” barrels, so I bought a barrel and barrel nut from them. I previously built a 221 Fireball from a Stevens Model 200 rifle using a McGowen barrel and have been very pleased. The stainless steel barrel is 16” long and 0.8” wide at the threaded muzzle. The wait was two and one half months. The biggest impediment was getting the factory barrel off. I’d read on the internet that Howa barrels were frequently very difficult to remove and that happened to me. Luckily, I found a local gunsmith, Moody Custom Arms, who was up to the task. After offering to pay him with 1000 small rifle primers (so he could make some loads for his new 300 Blackout), he removed it in only one day. I rented the “Go” and “No Gauges” from 4D Reamer Rentals. Installation of the barrel went well. I moved a Burris 3-12X handgun scope from one of my other specialty pistols. I ran out of elevation adjustment so I had to buy a pair of Burris offset ring inserts in order to zero the gun.

After I had necked down the Lapua 221 Fireball brass to 20 caliber, I started on load development. I’ve been impressed with Hodgdon CFE BLK powder in my 221 Fireball so I used it with 26 gr Barnes Varmint Grenade and 32 gr Varmageddon plastic tipped bullets. I used LE Wilson hand die for bullet seating. This is the first time I’ve used Wilson dies and I’m impressed with them. I’m very happy to say I quickly found very accurate loads both bullets. It looks like it’s going to shoot average ½” groups at 100 yards when I do my part. I’ve not chronographed the loads yet, but I hope to get 3600 fps with the Barnes bullet and 3400 fps with the 32 gr bullet and The gun has no muzzle rise, minimal backwards recoil and a very mild report. I’m really looking forward to hunting with the gun on this year’s first pd hunt in a month. I also ordered a Silencerco 30 caliber “Harvester” suppressor the first week of November, but it hasn’t arrived yet. Hopefully I’ll get to use it this year on a pd hunt.

The factory barrel is finally off. The gunsmith gave me the pictured vice from his metal “junk” pile as it’s not good for removing factory barrels.
Image: https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51002029319_4f271b34f8.jpg


A nice day shooting.
Image: https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51124505291_c9eceb60e2.jpg


Load development with Varmageddon bullet.
Image: https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51124373709_28a0c0e2da.jpg


Load development with Barnes Varmint Grenade bullet.
Image: https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51124016947_e75a6ecb52.jpg



This post was edited on 4/18 at 10:26 pm


Success
Member since Sep 2015
1185 posts

re: Building a New Gun in 20 VarTarg
Love threads like this. Thanks for posting.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
40
bbvdd
Alabama Fan
Memphis, TN
Member since Jun 2009
20649 posts

re: Building a New Gun in 20 VarTarg
Looks great TOTH.

Getting factory barrels off has been an issue for me as well but I have Remington 700 rifles.

The LE Wilson make really great seating dies as well.

ETA: I've made .300 blk out of .223 brass but have not done much else.
If you have time, I'd love to know your process of forming the .20 vartarg from the .221
This post was edited on 4/19 at 11:36 am


Got Blaze
LSU Fan
Youngsville
Member since Dec 2013
5232 posts

re: Building a New Gun in 20 VarTarg
quote:

Building a New Gun in 20 VarTarg

IMO, this project will soon turn into your "most favorite/fun gun"

Saubier - The Holy Grail of small caliber shooting
click on link > Small caliber load data > search ~20 VarTarg~ thread started by Hillbilly Sniper
Hopefully this info helps with some starting points on load workup

I have had my 20 Vartarg now for about 2 months and it has become my favorite gun! It is a Remington 700 short action with Douglas 1-12 twist number 5 contour 24 inch long and a bell and carlson stock. It is a single shot with a glued in follower. Leupold 12X scope and Leupold Long Range base and rings. I have shot it out to 598 yards on target. Its doing very well. I have shot mostly 32 gr. V-Max and 32 Sierra Blitzkings. I have tested a few of the Midway Dogtown 34 gr. HP with good results just fireforming cases running around 3/8.
Powders i have tested:
Norma 200 17.6 3/4 groups
AA1680 18.3 1/2 groups
H-322 18gr 1/2 groups
IMR 8208 XBR 19gr 1/2 groups
AA2015 18gr 1/2 to 3/4
RL-10X 18gr 1/2
RL-7 17-18.5grs .1 and .2
H4198 17-18.5grs .1 and .2
Vith N-120 17.2-18grs. 3/4 groups
Vith N-130 18-20grs. 3/8 was best with 19.5
Vith N-133 19.5 1/2 groups
I have been using a Harrels Schuetzen Small powder measure for all of my loads!!! God i love that little measure best investment for loading the small calibers!!

I fireform with either RL-7 or H4198 at 17 and 17.5grs
I use FED 205M primers and just touch the lands with the 32 gr bullets.
18.5 H4198 in my gun is 3898 FPS ES 24 with 32 V-Max
18gr 3777 FPS ES 26 32 V-max
18gr 3757 FPS ES 8 32 Sierra BlitzKings!!!!
18gr 3720 FPS ES 22 33 V-max

RL-7 17gr fireform is 3530 FPS ES 28
17.5 3600FPS ES 27
I will be using mostly H4198 in the future. I find it cleaner burning than the Reloder 7 and faster speed with the same results or just a bit better!!
I will always have a 20 Vartarg around my place im hooked!!!



~~~New Vartarg Lilja Rem Varmint Barrel~~~

Remington 700 Action trued and lugs recut. Recoil lug grounded Lilja 1-12 Twist 23.5 Inch Barrel Bedded in old BDL Varmint Stock with Devcon and pillars. Leupold 12X Scope and Trigger is factory Rem set at 2Lbs.
.232 Neck Chamber

32 SBK N-130 3700 FPS .1 or better groups
32 SBK AA2200 3850FPS .2 or better
39 SBK AA2200 3650FPS .1 groups

32 V-max 18.6 grs H4198 3670FPS .2 Groups

32 V-max and H4198 is my Hunting load for Groundhogs.

2015 Groundhog hunting load and accuracy load
39 Sierra Blitzking 3450fps with H4198 under 1.25 groups at 325yds

**New Hart Barrel Rem 700 20 Vartarg***
Chambered a new barrel. It's a lighter number 4 contour 11 twist Hart 6 Groove. Shoots lights Out with several bullets and powders.
32 Vmax H4198 or RL-7

32 Sierra H4198

35 Berger H4198

~2017 Current 20 Vartarg~
CZ 527 American Trued action
Xcaliber 11 Twist 3 Groove #5 contour 21 inch barrel
This rifle is shooting very well with 35 Bergers and H4198


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
10
Got Blaze
LSU Fan
Youngsville
Member since Dec 2013
5232 posts

re: Building a New Gun in 20 VarTarg
I consulted on this build and helped a friend out with his custom 20 VarTarg back in 2014-15

action - Stiller Tac30 single shot
barrel - 22" Lilja 1:12" SS 3-groove, Rem Varmint contour
stock - McMillan Rem Varmint Stock, ADL McSwirley 40% black 40% orange 20% grey
trigger - 12 ounce Jewell with bottom safety
brass - Lapua 221 Fireball necked down
rings - American Rifle Company, later changed to TPS
glass - LEU VX3 4.5-14x50 LR CDS
weight - 8.25 lbs with no glass

Image: http://images.tapatalk-cdn.com/15/12/15/40a91dc6560f93f18d3963807b11cf11.jpg


Image: http://images.tapatalk-cdn.com/15/12/15/6324672d46794a02594eb3a14c18946b.jpg

Image: http://images.tapatalk-cdn.com/15/12/15/823be2df98b9c728c0082b520c22bdda.jpg

Image: http://images.tapatalk-cdn.com/15/12/15/57a02278e2a7baf5279a9e527c6c34a8.jpg

20 VT, 308, 25-06 for reference
Image: http://images.tapatalk-cdn.com/15/12/15/7db65f5d10e452997617c15073fbbf62.jpg

Image: http://images.tapatalk-cdn.com/15/12/15/111bf07e4371c943653d2516e6963268.jpg

Wilson hand dies
Image: http://images.tapatalk-cdn.com/15/12/17/22be1acec51176d1277f965d58cf6cdf.jpg

Image: http://images.tapatalk-cdn.com/15/12/23/8d5d5b07b31e84aa97150fbed62720ba.jpg

162 yds head shot ... definitely a "crow smoker" Image: http://www.predatortalk.com/public/style_emoticons/default/hunter.gif
next crow kill was at 156 yds
Image: http://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20160116/2d2592d336f96f2a57ef822c1f50ae11.jpg

Image: https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20160115/8b67b04bdde869bf321978cc3a6cc7a8.jpg


TigerOnThe Hill
Springhill, LA
Member since Sep 2008
5901 posts

re: Building a New Gun in 20 VarTarg
quote:

Getting factory barrels off has been an issue for me as well but I have Remington 700 rifles.


Yeah, Remington factory barrels are pretty bad, as well. From what I've read on removing factory barrels, Tikka is the most difficult. Tikka>Howa>Remington.

quote:

ETA: I've made .300 blk out of .223 brass but have not done much else.
If you have time, I'd love to know your process of forming the .20 vartarg from the .221

When I first put together my 221 Fireball rifle, 221 brass was made only by Remington and was unavailable. I bought some 221 brass from a guy who formed it from 223 Remington. I was disappointed in that it just wasn't very accurate. I later found a supply of Rem brass and everything was ok thereafter.

Forming 20 VarTarg brass from 221 Fireball brass is easy. I just used a 221 Remington Hornady full length sizing die and plenty of lube to neck it down to 20 caliber in one step. Hornady, RCBS and Redding are the only makers of 20 VarTarg dies. Some anneal the brass, but I didn't. I used a Hornady headspace gauge to guide me so I wouldn't create excessive headspace during the necking down process. To much headspace during the necking down process can cause misfires of the loaded ammo. There's a small amount of fire forming w/ the initial load. I'll use Wilson inline dies w/ a neck bushing to neck size the shot ammo. I used Lapua brass, but Nosler (and I think Norma) also makes 221 Fireball. Remington 221 brass is ok, but not as good as Lapua. In addition, Remington hasn't made 221 brass in a couple years. I bet you'd enjoy a 20 VarTarg.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
TigerOnThe Hill
Springhill, LA
Member since Sep 2008
5901 posts

re: Building a New Gun in 20 VarTarg
GB,
As usual, those are some awfully nice rifles in your pics. Thanks a bunch for the load data. There's not a lot of load data for the VarTarg, especially from big guys. Some day I hope to try some other powders (e.g. Reloader 7, AA 220 and N120), but I'll start w/ CFE BLK and IMR 4227 for now since I have about 5# of each (and I can't find any other powders anyway). I do have N130 and LT-30 so might later try them.

BTW, I recognize the Bald Eagle arbor press. I bought one, but it didn't work for fully sizing the brass as I couldn't clamp it down enough w/o the lever moving.

Now I'm gonna go neck down and load another #50 rounds of 20 VarTarg. My first prairie dog hunt is only 4 wks off.

ETA:
quote:

IMO, this project will soon turn into your "most favorite/fun gun"

You're right about that. Already, I really like the minimal muzzle blast and recoil of the VT.
This post was edited on 4/21 at 8:46 pm


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
first pageprev pagePage 1 of 1next pagelast page
refresh

Back to top

logoFollow TigerDroppings for LSU Football News
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to get the latest updates on LSU Football and Recruiting.

FacebookTwitterInstagram