By Damon Cali
Posted on May 09, 2013 at 07:15 PM
One of the luxuries of shooting a match rifle in NRA High Power competition is you get to choose the point at which your off hand contacts the rifle by sliding the hand stop along an accessory rail on stock. With a service rifle, you're pretty much stuck with wedging it in where the sling is attached to the stock.
Of course, that means you have another dohicky to buy, another decision to make - the type of hand stop. Most match rifles will be built with a hand rail installed on the under side of the stock forend. There are two varieties of rail - Freeland and Anschutz. For the life of me I cannot tell why I would care which one I had, because every single accessory I've run across will work with either. I'm sure there are some that won't, but I don't know what they are. And in fact, I do not actually know which one my rifle has.
What I do know is that I got a MEC/Centra hand stop from Sinclair International. As is often the case where I'm buying new things, I start off cheap and look at what's available. Then I pick the coolest one that has a price tag I can stomach. You'd think that a hand stop is not something you can get a "Cadillac" model for - after all, it's just a hunk of material to, well, stop your hand.
You'd be wrong.
The Centra/MEC model is pretty cool. It's all metal, adjustable, and really looks sharp. Hand stops are not the sort of thing one buys a lot of during one's lifetime, so I figured I'd splurge and get the good one. I'm glad I did.
It showed up in a clever reusable, transparent, plastic container and some instructions I can't read because they're written in German. Never being on to care much for instructions anyhow, I attached it to my rifle with the included hex wrench.
The MEC/Centra hand stop is built up of several stackable metal discs so that you can adjust the height of the stop to suit the thickness of your gloved hand. It's a nice touch, and simple to do - you just remove a single socket head cap screw and add/remove the spacer discs. When you're done, you just tighten down the screw. Before you tighten it, however, you can pivot the stop forwards or backwards about 15 degrees (by eyeball, I didn't measure). The angle is not continuously adjustable - it has stops at three positions - angled forward, angled backward, or straight. There is also about an eighth of an inch of lateral adjustment to each side (for total of about a quarter inch, side to side). The lateral adjustment is more useful to me than the rotation, but as someone who is not yet expert at prone rifle shooting, it's nice to know that these tweaks are available should I change my position up a little in the future.
Attaching the hand stop to the rail is a simple matter as well, accomplished by loosening the knurled knob, sliding the unit onto the rail, and then tightening the knob to lock it in place. No tools are required.
The sling swivel is removable, also without tools, by way of a hefty ball-detent.
This is a well put together unit with a lot of thought put into its ease of use. How important is a high-end hand stop? Probably not very, unless you have one that slips or is otherwise unwieldy. The MEC/Centra hand stop unit is certainly what I would call a luxury (and is priced as one), but it's a nice touch for a match rifle.
Damon Cali is the creator of the Bison Ballistics website and a high power rifle shooter currently living in Nebraska.
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