The Ransom Rifle Master

7 May 2000
By peteR

Early on in life I learned that one of the keys to success was to obtain the best equipment that you can afford for any endeavor. This has followed me into both adulthood, and an interesting chapter in my life evaluating small arms and accessories for a major U.S. firearms publication on a very regular basis, and now as a staffer with Sniper Country.

Much peripheral shooting equipment trickles down from the firearms industry at a rather slow rate due to misconceived notions regarding the almost universal application of most test equipment in the field.

The Ransom Rifle Master is one such piece of precision equipment that deserves very serious consideration by dedicated accuracy buffs whatever their long gun of choice.

The Rifle Master was designed and developed by the late Chuck Ransom with the assistance of many acknowledged experts in the firearms industry, and an extensive research and development involving the purchase and comparison of virtually all of the portable front machine rests available in the U.S.A. at the time.

The Ransom Master series handgun rest needs no introduction being "The Benchmark" of the industry and used virtually worldwide in test labs, test ranges, manufacturing plants, and by serious accuracy and handloading enthusiasts everywhere.

I first heard of the Rifle Master during a conversation with Chuck Ransom in early 1990 while discussing an emergency order of some grip inserts for an upcoming handgun evaluation. After some discussion, I was told that I would be sent one of the first production models for a thorough evaluation.

The Rifle Master was a real hit at the 1991 S.H.O.T. show and two years' production was virtually sold out in a few days, before any others than the prototypes on display had been produced!

While sitting at my desk 1992 a telephone call was received from Joan Ransom asking if I was still interested in reviewing a Rifle Master as they had one available. Without a moment's hesitation I enthusiastically said, "Absolutely!!"

One week later the large brown box arrived via UPS and was immediately opened for examination. Enclosed under a number of layers of bubble wrap and packing paper was not only a Rifle Master but an optional high quality #1 Protektor brand rear sandbag that matched the front bag color exactly.

My first impression was of very robust construction (near 20 lbs.) and an impressive number of knobs and levers.

The entire base is constructed of a special grade of cast iron that is renowned for its vibration attenuating characteristics. This base is finished with a matte black crinkle type of paint similar to that used in the automotive industry. The base features the standard tripod design with three heavy-duty legs with threaded leveler feet that have hardened steel tips. Each leveler is secured by a lock nut featuring a small handle for ease of adjustment. Brass washers placed between the leg and the locking ring ensure ease of adjustment and prevent the parts from binding. The more common system used on competing brands has knurled locking rings on the leveling legs that requires pliers to undo if they bind.

The only tool necessary for the Rifle Master is to adjust the height of the optional competition fore-end stop and is accomplished via small hex wrench - everything else utilizes a red plastic knobbed thumb screw.

Incorporated into the rear facing leg is a bubble level to allow exact positioning of the Rifle Master on any bench rest or flat surface.

The major and minor columns (or risers) are made from a case hardened steel with tolerances kept to .0001" between all moving parts.

Vertical adjustment are made by loosening a tubular "T" handle located on the right side of the rest for the primary column adjustment, which is then locked into place with a twist clockwise. A secondary adjustment is made by loosening the other "T" handle on the left side of the rest and then rotating the rubber edged capstan wheel clockwise to further raise or "fine tune" the elevation of the sandbag. Once correct height is attained it to is locked with a twist of the wrist.

The Rifle Master tested has the optional Omni Plus series bag plate that allows for horizontal adjustment of the rifle and front sandbag without having to move or adjust the base. I fell in love with this feature after using it for conducting a series of 12 five shot groups on a 12 bull AR-10 NRA style target at ten meters. The same holds true when firing static groups with my various Remington Police Model 700's. Moving from bullseye to bullseye at one hundred or two hundred yards is simple, secure and repeatable.

The Omni Plus bag plate option is quite similar to a high grade of machine vise similar to those used in the tool and die field. The Omni Plus base may be swiveled 360 degrees by simply loosening three lock screws located in the center of the bag plate. This makes it possible for either right or left handed use. I prefer to set the horizontal adjustment on the left side of the Rifle Master so that I do not have to change my grip index on the stock or sand bag positioning.

Rotating a knurled steel thumbscrew on the end of the bag plate makes horizontal adjustments. Two more screws located on opposite sides of the bag plate allow the horizontal adjustments to be locked preventing any unwanted movement during shooting of group strings.

The front sandbag is semi-permanently attached to the Omni bag plate by the adjustable end and side plates and allow for the entire unit to be switched to a differing size front bag with minimum fuss. If I could possibly find one fault in this rest it would be the fact that all the thumbscrews have the same sized red caps and this can be a bit confusing when making adjustments. By changing to a different color for either set of lock screws the Rifle Master would be that much more user friendly.

During eight years plus extensive testing with both firearms and a number of high-grade air rifles (read $1500 +) the Rifle Master performed flawlessly delivering positive and repetitive adjustments in every direction of movement.

The Rifle Master can be raised to a maximum height of 8" from the bench surface to the top of the bag plate and a little bit extra can be squeezed out by tightening the side plates that hold the front sandbag in the Omni Plus bag plate.

The optional fore-end stop proved a very useful accessory allowing the rifle to be placed in exactly the same location on the rest for each shot and was readily adjustable with only a hex wrench.

Virtually all field testing conducted since its arrival has seen a noticeable reduction in the average size of all test groups fired from ranging from low dollar Chinese underlever air rifles to various tactical rifles when compared to using just sandbags or a folding bipod and bean bag. It is important to remember that your point of aim/impact may change when using field positions and must be checked.

One interesting little anecdote told to me during a conversation with Joan Ransom involved the shipment of a Rifle Master to a gentleman in a Far Eastern country. When the shipping bill arrived back at Ransom International, a couple of bales of hay were listed on the invoice. Curious and just a bit suspicious, a telephone call was made to the shipping company and they were asked since the Rifle Master came pre-packed and crated, "What was the hay for?" The shipping agent responded "The hay was for the elephant who carried the crate to the purchaser's home, of course!"

Fortunately, we in the U.S. of A. do not have to go to such lengths and can order factory direct.



Specifications
Height: Minimum :
Maximum :
4.50"
8.25"
Weight :
19 lbs. 15.5 oz.
Width from center :
8.5"
Width maximum :
17.00"
Horizontal Adjustment: At rest :
Max :
 
1.5"
.75"
each direction from center point.
Vertical adjustment: At rest :
.10" per rotation of capstan wheel
Horizontal Adjustment: at 100 yds. :
6" per rotation of adjustment knob
Vertical adjustment: at 100 yds. :
13" per rotation of capstan wheel



Ransom Int'l. Corp.,
P.O. Box 3845,
Prescott, AZ. 86302.


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