Butt Hooks: the Long and Short of it

We get a lot of questions about the pros and cons of long vs short butt hooks. Here is a quick overview of what butt hooks do, and some things to consider when picking out hooks for your rifle. 

Generally, biathlon rifles have one or two “hooks” protruding from the butt plate of the rifle, located either at the top of the butt plate, or bottom, or both. 

Top Hook: The top hook is used in the prone position only. When lying in the prone position it rests on the top of your shoulder, and can provide a stop, preventing any downward shift of the rifle butt in your shoulder. It also serves as a consistent reference point, helping place the rifle in your shoulder the same way every time. A short top hook will provide less of a stop, and serve more as a reference point, whereas a longer top hook with provide both a solid stop and reference.  

Sounds great right? For the most part, it is, but as a beginner, you have to be careful with top hooks, as they can give you a false sense of security in your prone position. A good prone shooting position should create enough pressure between the butt plate and your shoulder, that the butt plate will be firmly held in your shoulder and won’t slip down– without the aid of a top hook. If you start using a long top hook before you’ve taken the time to adjust the rest of your rifle properly and practice establishing a solid prone position, it could mask the fact that you don’t have adequate pressure in your shoulder and prevent you from ever addressing other issues in your position. For this reason it’s often a good idea to start with a short top hook, or no top hook at all until you feel you’ve really dialed in your prone position. Once your rifle is adjusted well and your position is solid, switching to longer hook can ensure that you find that solid position every time.

   

Bottom Hook: The bottom hook is used exclusively for the offhand or standing position. Positioned under the arm, or in the armpit of the shooter, it prevents upward shift of the rifle butt in the shoulder. Biathlon rifles are almost always front heavy, which means when a good standing position is established (skeletal support through the support forearm and elbow resting on the shooters hip) the rifle will want to tip forward. The bottom hook prevents this tip, letting gravity lock the rifle into position. Shooters can make small adjustments to the elevation of their natural point of aim in standing position by moving the bottom hook up or down. 

As with prone shooting, there should be some amount of pressure in the shooter’s shoulder, and like a top hook, a bottom hooks can be used as a crutch with this regard. That said, long bottom hooks are generally considered a good option, or even a necessity for precision standing shooting.  

The Short of it:

Long hooks exist for a reason: they make prone and offhand shooting positions feel more stable, and repeatable. However, in pursuit of excellence, they will likely need to be moved around, played with, and probably at times removed to ensure you’re optimizing your shooting in the end. 

New sight package for the Savage MKII rifle

The wait is over! Our complete biathlon sight package for the Savage MkII FV/FVT rifles is now in stock!

Combining a proven and precise Gehmann 590-B rear sight with our own mount provides a top of the line rear sight option that requires no gunsmithing for installation–just use our provided screws and the existing threaded holes in the Savage receiver.

In the front, we’ve designed a sight base with snow cover that securely and easily attaches to the barrel with set screws–again: no drilling or tapping required. Our front sight base works with the Williams globe sight that comes standard on the Savage MKII FVT rifles. Our sight kit will be available with or without the Williams sight, allowing for an economical upgrade for the FVT rifles, or a great new sight option for the MKII FV variant.

The Sight package is available here. Or if you don’t have a savage rifle yet, use our website to build your own complete rifle package based on a Savage rifle with our new sight package! *

*Note, complete rifle packages must be picked up in person or shipped to your local FFL.

We are an Anschutz Dealer!

If you haven’t already heard, we are now working with Anschutz North America as a premium dealer! If you’re looking to purchase a new Anschutz rifle or parts, hit us up! Or better yet, visit our online store to build your own race-ready rifle package using a combination of LNR&D and Anschutz products.

International Sales

We’ve been getting more and more inquiries about stocks from customers outside of the US, and the answer is Yes! We can ship the Versatile Biathlon Stock to international customers, however there is some extra paperwork to be done by both the customer and Lost Nation R&D. Here is a quick guide to what is required:

Our rifle stock is classified as a ‘significant firearm part’ by the United States government, which places it under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). What this means, is that for orders valued over $500 to canada, or over $100 to any other country, we must submit a DDTC export license.

When we submit an export license for approval with the US DDTC we need the following from you:

    1. Signed Purchase Order – This is a dated and signed document that clearly states what, and how many products you are ordering from us. You can use a template of your own, or use this template.
    2. Import Permit or Authorization letter – Each country has different regulations on the import of firearms parts. Some require you to obtain an import permit from the authorities, some do not. You will have to contact your local state or federal government to determine your regulation, and obtain the proper papers. Even if your country does not require a permit, we need a signed letter from your local authorities stating that you do not require a permit. Basically, The US government won’t let us send you something without proof that you can legally possess it in your country.
    3. End Use Letter – This is a short letter from you, the customer, addressed to Lost Nation R & D, stating your intended use of the stock. Download example letter here.

Once these items are received, we will fill out our own forms and submit the entire package to the DDTC for approval. Once submitted, the approval process can take anywhere from 3 days 1-2 weeks. As soon as we get the approved license back from DDTC, we can ship your stock!

If you are located outside of the US, and are interested in placing an order, Contact Us with the stock configuration you’d like and we can help you get the process started!

New offerings on the way in 2019

2019 is bringing some exciting new changes at Lost Nation Research and Development! We have already rolled out our new “pro” line of standing and prone grips, and you can expect to see more grip and accessory options coming soon.

Be on the lookout for new rifle compatibility options for our VBS system, including a now available option for the venerable Marlin model 2000, or “blue marlin”, a rifle that introduced a generation of biathletes to the sport. 

And last but not least, we are excited to announce that we now have an FFL07 firearms manufacturer license! Among other things, this will allow us to offer complete, biathlon-ready rifle packages for sale! Stay tuned for more information on this soon, but in the mean time, if you’re in the market for a savage MKII based biathlon rifle, contact us for pricing. 

  

Lost Nation R&D 2017-2018 Clean Cash Challenge

 

We are excited to announce the first ever LNR&D Clean Cash Challenge! Here’s how it works:

Shoot clean in a race using one of our stocks, and win a cash prize!

  • 10/10 in a two stage race  = $50.00 !
  • 20/20 in a four stage race = $100.00 !

To qualify you must do all of the following:

  • Shoot 10/10 or 20/20 in a race using a LNRD VBS stock
  • Race must be officially sanctioned by your national Biathlon federation
  • Submit a link with race results to ethan@lostnationrd.com
  • Post a picture of you with your rifle at the race on instagram or facebook @lostnationrd
  • The race must occur between August 8st, 2017 and April 1st, 2018.

 

Prone Grip Experiments

The prone grip on our rifle is different than most other biathlon rifles.  A typical stock will have a handstop that slides along a rail.  Our stock uses this rail principle, but because of it’s minimalist design, the handstop also needs to include a shelf for your hand.   To allow for a large area of adjustment, this shelf needs to be cantilevered.  We had to figure out how to keep the grip strong and stable despite a large free-hanging section.

The first step was to create a wooden model of the grip.  This took two iterations and countless hours of sanding.  From there, we made a silicone mold to reproduce this wooden grip.

To accommodate this cantilevered design, we conducted some experiments.  We were pretty sure we wanted to make these grips from a polyurethane foam, but we weren’t confident that would be enough.  So we poured one with just the foam, one with fiberglass reinforcement, and one with carbon fiber reinforcement.

Here is the mold with a carbon fiber weave.

                     

After the parts cured, we did some unscientific flex testing.  In this application, the foam part benefited the most from the carbon fiber reinforcement.

With that testing complete, we made a small batch of carbon fiber reinforced polyurethane foam grips for use on our preproduction models.  After a quick prime and sand, and a textured coating, they’re ready for use.

                  

Milling Bedding Blocks

How do you make something on a milling machine?  If the operation is pretty simple, manual machining is often the easiest.  If, however, the job is complicated or has crazy curves – using CNC is the way to go.

Get ready for some engineering acronyms.  CNC stands for Computer Numeric Control, and means instead of a person standing next to the machine spinning hand wheels, a computer tells the milling machine what to do.  This is great for some complex parts, but it also complicates the process.

First, a 3D model of the end product has to be made in a modeling software.  This is called CAD: Computer Aided Design.  The CAD drawing is then used to generate CAM: Computer Aided Manufacturing.  Here, Ethan is adjusting tool paths to get ready to send over to our milling machine.

After he’s happy with how the program looks, we move over to the computer connected to the milling machine.

This computer uses something called G-code to tell the milling machine where to go and how fast.

Once the part is securely in the vice, cutting tool set, and program loaded up on the computer, all you have to do is hit ‘GO’.

But it’s never actually as easy as that.  Murphy’s Law is always applicable, and we have the scratched up collets and broken end mills to prove it.

After a quick tool change, and redoing all the CAM for the bigger size end mill, we were back in business.

Once the system is working well, it’s a tried and true way to produce- and then reproduce -great products.   These are all well on their way to becoming the bedding blocks/chassis for Anschutz rifles to work in our stock system.  After a quick run through our laser cutter, they’ll be marked and ready for assembly.

Lasers!

Laser cutter/engraver! Why would you want that? Is that like a lightsaber?

Well… almost.

Laser is an acronym: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.  A laser is created when the electrons in a specific gas or crystal are stimulated by electrical current.  These electrons then emit photons of light of a uniform wavelength. This is the key difference between normal light and a laser.  Lasers were first made in 1960, and we all have seen or used them in CD/DVD players, barcode scanners, or played with laser pointers.

But, they can be used for more than just terrorizing a kitten.  A laser cutter generates a laser beam, and then uses it to burn through some materials!

As you can see above, a laser cutter can be used to slice up intricate designs into a variety of materials.  Depending on the power laser, someone could cut wood, paper, cardboard, or plastics.  You could also etch or engrave a wide variety of materials such as glass, fabrics, wood, aluminum, marble, and tile.

Have some cool idea for your laptop case? No problem!

Lost Nation R&D just got a laser cutter from Universal Laser Systems, and we could not be more excited!

So, other than the empirical fact that this is cool, why would we want one?  There are a number of projects with which we will be keeping this machine busy. But first, all our stocks need markings.

One of the huge selling points of our stock is the easy and quick adjustability for club athletes, but you have to know where to put our different settings.  We recommend a coach help fit each athlete the first time they use this stock system, but after that first time, all the athlete has to remember is their numbers.  The next practice, all they have to do is move the settings to their numbers, and the athlete can confidently know the rifle is fit to them.  This will streamline practices and revolutionize the way clubs share rifles from one training session to the next.

 

Grip Refining

We have spent a lot of time testing different methods of making grips for these rifles. On the left, you can see an early grip that had plastic molded around a core. On the right, an early test of a urethane grip.

Both of these options have some serious downsides, and are far from mass-producible.  We then tried making a model from clay, pouring a mold, and then molding a grip.

It was a fun attempt, but not quite the final product we had in mind.  So, this past week we started refining a interchangeable grip design, and experimenting with texturing.

The red grip has a rubberized coating, and the black grip was a test of a gritty texture.  Above, a prototype lefty grip is drying after hitting it with some primer.

We also started playing with a new standing grip design; mocking up the idea in basswood.

Making a nice model is all about the time put into sanding and finishing. Here we used a filling and sandable primer. Now we’re patiently waiting for bondo glazing and spot putty to cure before a final sand.  The bondo is wonderful for filling little imperfections.  It might not look like much now, but after ample, mind-numbing hand sanding, it’ll look and feel great.