Running a Bolt-Action Like a Semi-Auto, Shooting to Win

Bolt-action rifles are generally regarded as slower than semi-automatics, but Sniper’s Hide Cup 2015 competitor Marcus Blanchard proves that is more a matter of shooter skill than it is of mechanisms with his performance three days ago on the 540 yard Moving Target Stage:

Holy cats! That’s how you run a bolt gun, folks!

Thanks to Daniel for the tip.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Dan

    Wow, very nice.

  • Chris

    Sweet, runs it like an Aussie with a .303

    • Bill

      I’m stealing that line.

  • Bill

    To the guy who thinks 4 rounds in 2 seconds out of an 870 can’t be done……..;)

    I’m assuming/hoping those were all hits, I didn’t hear the plate all the time.

    • Giolli Joker

      There’s a voice calling “Impact” each time.

  • MPWS

    Now, imagine you have one hand dedicated to handling action and second to trigger only. And straight pull on top of it,,,,, with action handle capable to flip from one side to the other.

    • DIR911911 .

      I kinda wondered if any one had try to make a bolt action with the bolt being manipulated by the support (left for most of us) hand, putting the bolt handle about where the charging handle is on a scar or hk g3

      • Giolli Joker

        If your non-firing hand supports the buttstock or pushes it in your shoulder, you’re going to be WAY slower.
        This shooter barely touches the grip with the shooting hand, I suppose the other hand has a serious support role.

  • iksnilol

    I remember not having shot for half a year… To celebrate my “homecoming” the club went for a quick competition: 5 shots in 45 seconds. Most accurate shooter wins.

    I shot the best score (48/50 points) in under 30 seconds (had one flier which “ruined” my score.

    Not bragging but a bolt action is fast in the right hands. Can post a photo later after I scrub it.

  • Martin M

    He needed bigger mags running a rifle that fast.

    • KungPaoChicken

      Needs a belt fed bolt action rifle.

      • iksnilol

        There was a belt-fed Krag made IIRC.

        • Tassiebush

          Those speedloader devices used with krags seem to keep things fast.
          I read somewhere there was some effort taken by seal hunters to have a Madsen magazine adapted krag made. I think it didn’t go ahead due to financial reasons but gosh seals wouldn’t hang round for long so I can see why they wanted it. Can’t remember if it was Danish or Norwegian sealers though.

  • Captain Obvious

    Impressive but it does make it a lot easier when the rifle is on a bipod and anchored to the ground and dialed in. Try doing that in prone with a sling and then tell me how fast you can shoot accurately.

    • iksnilol

      I am not a good shooter but I can do 5 shots almost completely overlapping in less than 30 seconds (with a sling and a good rifle). Prone of course.

    • Tassiebush

      If you check out the stangskyting videos people have put up (myself included) you’ll see lots of sling based prone shooting.

  • DIR911911 .

    so HE was the one in the grassy knoll!!

  • -Finnish-Guy

    Finnish Simo Häyhä scored 16 consecutive hits in one minute during the White Guard competition before war. Distance was 150 meters (165 yards), no scope, no bipod, no muzzle brake. Obviously gun was modded Mosin in 7.62 x 53R caliber. So, no “peashooter”. Size of the hit area was probably something like a 20 inches.

    • Hyok Kim

      Where did he learn to shoot like that? I read that formal military foundation of the Finnish army was based on old Prussian Jager units.

  • Mack

    Anybody know the caliber of the rifle?

  • Kevin Harron

    Nice economy of motion in the bolt work. Very impressive shooting.

  • Rob

    Like a boss!

  • iksnilol

    at about 7:30 they mention one of the shooters (with a Sauer) had problems with lubrication (he had none) so he resorted to butter which he had with him.

    • Tassiebush

      That’s really funny and interesting! Thanks for explaining that! I find those matches so interesting and just think it must be wonderful to have so much public support for it! Those 2 shooter matches at the end look exhilarating!

      • iksnilol

        Finn Amundsen (the old guy they talked to) won the medal 9 times. He is a very humble guy, quote: “you have to be a somewhat good shooter and very, very lucky”. That was in regards to winning.

        • Tassiebush

          That’s a great attitude! I think he’s in a really cool instructional film on YouTube from the 80s. I’d post it but the link approval might take too long.

          • iksnilol

            Do you know what the instructional film is called? I can probably google it.

          • Tassiebush

            It’s Stangskyting dfs 1986

          • Tassiebush

            It’s funny i discovered Stangskyting online while looking for fast bolt action techniques. I was really impressed!

  • uisconfruzed

    Makes me hungry, all I hear is “Cuukin da chicken, bork, bork, bork”

  • petru sova

    I was a High Power competitor for many years and I can tell you the average Joe is way better off with the semi-auto rifle for NRA across the course shooting. Yes the bolt gun can be shot very fast with hours and hours of practice but the auto rifle is still king when it comes to practicality coupled with the skill level of the average shooter. Accuracy wise although the bolt gun can technically be made to shoot better its often not much more accurate than a finely tuned auto loader either. All this comes from decades of experience with both kinds of rifles.

    • iksnilol

      What you are saying is true. Maybe I am thinking unorthodoxly but my main reason for liking semi auto is that it disturbs my sight picture less. No matter how you cut it you are still gonna get some movement when cycling the bolt manually. Especially if you are in a weird position (which is also another advantage, from some positions it is hard to cycle a bolt action).

      • Hyok Kim

        Plus a bolt gun is lighter given everything else equal, a factor in an extended survival situation.

        • iksnilol

          Yes, you can make a bolt action way lighter than a semi-auto in the same caliber. Especially if you chamber for something that has no problems with shorter barrels. A bolt action in 300 BLK with a 23 cm barrel and a carbon fiber stock would be very lightweight (and handy).

  • Adam

    And he probably grouped it tight as well, I wish i could afford a Swiss made
    Tanner rifle…..