An Encounter With A Cottonmouth

It was springtime in the Arizona desert just North of Phoenix when I met the deadliest Cottonmouth a man had ever laid eyes upon. I came upon the masterfully camouflaged serpent basking in the stifling sun. This snake was forty-two inches in length with a striking distance of well beyond 1200 yards. The serpent I speak of is not the creature you worry of in the swamp; it is one bad piece of steel from Venom Tactical.

I had the pleasure of teaching Lenny Bolton, owner of Venom Tactical, and creator of a full line of custom sniper rifles referenced by serpent names. Lenny attended a week long sniper course with Mark Flinn, an old shooting buddy and long time friend. Mark & Lenny had identical Cottonmouth sniper rifles as Lenny had built these snakes exactly the same for the two buddies to test during the sniper course. The only difference between the two shooter’s equipment was their bullet weight. Lenny was shooting HSM 175gr .308 and Mark utilizing Federal Gold Match 168gr .308 in their sniper rifles. These shooters were using completely different brands and grains of ammunition, but both held the exact same DOPE out to 1375yds. The DOPE developed over the weeklong course of shooting, resulted without the use of a holdover, was 60 MOA dialed with a 20 inch barrel at 1200yds. Typically, a Remington 700 with a 24inch barrel develops DOPE averaging 75 MOA at this distance, and only if you have that extra elevation on the top end to dial without hitting mechanical limits of the scope.

The ability to shoot that distance without a use of a holdover and keep the center crosshair on target is an additional asset the Cottonmouth brings to the table. A technical facet and original design built into the Cottonmouth is a proprietary procedure in which the barrel and action are threaded and coupled with a huge amount of torque that would destroy a standard barreled action. This also eliminates the cold bore shots, making they a thing of the past. Most shooters would laugh at the prospect of identical rifles shooting the same DOPE with different ammunition, but this is indeed the case with these Venom Tactical custom sniper rifles. This can only be explained by the amazing quality and precision machining built into the hand-made rifles from Venom Tactical, thanks to the skills of Lenny Bolton.

Having personally witnessed and preformed these actions with the Cottonmouth makes me a true believer that there are still some rifle builders out there who continue to focus on attention to detail, and quality craftsmanship.

Rob Pettorson

Scout Sniper USMC

Chief Instructor – Sniper Innovations



ATAC TV Pack Supported Prone Position Video

There are many different positions a sniper and his rifle can get into to make a shot. The underlying thought process is that a sniper might have to stay in whatever position he sets up in for an extended amount of time. Whatever position it is needs to be stable, somewhat comfortable and without muscle tension to be able to hold the rifle on target. This is assuming that the rifleman has time to set up a position and is not taking a snap shot.

Pack supported prone is much like shooting off a bi-pod or other supporting structures. Your body is as flat as possible on the ground, lined up straight behind the rifle and the shooter should be able to relax his body so none of his muscles are tensioned. The pack itself makes for a great support for the rifle. It can be moved around, adjusted into almost any position, dented in the middle or bunched up to adjust for elevation or windage. Not enough time to pull down the bi-pods, just throw your pack down and use it for the rifle support.

Most packs have some type of camo printed on them and can aid in concealing the shooter as he lays behind it. The pack is easy to adjust, provides some distortion of the shooter profile and has all your gear right in front of you for easy access to individual equipment needs.

A video presentation of the pack supported prone is available on ATAC TV.

Lenny and Tom explain the fine details of the position in the attached video linked below. Watch the video and try the position at your next firearms training session on the range. It works great and gives you an alternative position.

Watch on ATAC TV Here: Pack Supported Sniper Rifle Training

ATAC TV is a source for Raw, Unscripted Firearm Training.  Seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

ATAC TV Sight Alignment Part 1 of 5

Tom Clarke and Lenny Bolton on ATAC TV Firearms Channel begin the five part series of the Sequence of Shooting with optics, such as scope mounted sniper rifles. It is assumed that you have properly set up a rifle and scope including eye relief, cheek weld and ocular lens focus before the start of this program. Sight alignment is the first part series of basic marksmanship fundamentals. The sequence of shooting is the foundation of all weapons systems shooting skills.

Sight alignment is the alignment of the cross hairs of the scope with the intended target. Sounds easy, doesn’t it. There are many other external factors that affect the ability to keep the cross hairs of the scope reticle in alignment. Breathing causes the reticle to move up and down in a vertical plane. So, if breathing effects the reticle vertical alignment of the reticle what do we do? We control breathing and make sure the reticle is aligned at a specific point in a breathing cycle. This will be discussed in a later part of the sequence of shooting series. OK, so what else can cause the reticle to shift in a horizontal plane? Body position tension usually is the most common cause of horizontal shift. Make sure your body position is relaxed. Check your position by closing your eyes for 3 seconds and your reticle should not shift, if it does, adjust your position to get your natural point of aim.

This is also the time to make sure you have perfect focus on the target. Adjust the scopes parallax adjustment if so equipped to get a crystal clear target image. Make sure you watch the complete series of the Sequence of Shooting with optics with Lenny and Tom. Understanding the process will help you make that hit at distance. Watch the video program linked below for more details.

Tom Clarke and Lenny Bolton guide you through the first segment of this very important series on the ATAC TV Firearms Channel

Watch Video here on ATAC TV:  Sequence of Shooting Part 1 of 5:  Sight Alignment

ATAC TV is a source for Raw, Unscripted Firearm Training.  Seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Venom Anaconda Precision Rifle

The Venom Anaconda Custom Precision Rifle is rapidly gaining popularity. The Anaconda is built off a completely blueprinted and trued Remington 700 Receiver.  Anaconda uses a Manners Composite T-5A Stock. The stock is a thumb hole style stock and is textured in the forend area.The Anaconda utilizes the Venom Tactical 4340 chrome moly elliptical Boltand our Venom custom chambered and Spiralock threaded stainless steel Barrel. This combination insures the ultimate in accuracy and combat ruggedness. Here are the Venom Anaconda specs:

  • Remington 700 action trued, blueprinted and line bored
  • Cerakote finish on barreled action and bottom metal
  • Venom Tactical elliptical 4340 chrome moly custom bolt with dovetailed handle
  • Venom Tactical over sized bolt knob
  • Venom Tactical 52rc pinned precision ground recoil Lug
  • Venom Strike firing pin
  • Remington Trigger tuned from 2.5 – 3.5 customer specified.
  • Brux Venom Tactical spec stainless barrel 18-24″
  • Custom Venom Tactical chamber and Spiralok barrel thread.
  • Badger Ordinance 20MOA Scope Mount
  • Badger Ordinance M5 bottom metal with Accuracy International 5 round detachable magazine
  • Manners Composite T-5A Stock Finished in Duracoat
  • Decelerator Butt Pad and 1 forward sling stud and 2 flush mount sling sockets installed
  • Pillar bedded action using 7075-T6 Pillars and Devocon 10110 epoxy
  • Harris BiPod Included

When you’ve got your sights on a new custom precision rifle check out the Venom Anaconda Precision Rifle.

Venom Tactical Cottonmouth Sniper Rifle Review

Venom Tactical Cottonmouth Sniper Rifle Review

My Venom Cottonmouth is the highest quality precision rifle I have ever owned. Where do I start? Everything about this custom hand-built rifle shows the innovative design and attention to the smallest of details that make up this rugged and reliable firearm. I took possession of my rifle in October 2009, and have been amazed by the performance and accuracy every time I press the trigger. So far, I logged 1684 rounds of Federal 168g Gold Match in my logbook.

Lenny Bolton is a Master Engineer and he hand-built my rifle exactly to the specifications I wanted, with the quality and precision that he demands of each Sniper rifle that leaves his shop. During the construction of my rifle, Lenny guided me through the many steps to produce an accurate, custom-fit “Bang Stick” that is compatible of extreme accuracy. Hell, the first three rounds out of this rifle were ¼ MOA at 100 yards.

This is my set-up:  (Check out the Venom Website to see HOW these rifles are built and the Specs)

Stock: I picked the Cottonmouth because I like the Manners T-3.

Barrel: Lenny & I talked about the “mission” of this rifle and WHAT I was going to use the rifle for? I picked the 20” Heavy in .308 with Lenny’s custom twist-rate and taper.

Scope Base: Badger

Rings: Leopold Tactical – Med height

Scope: Leopold Mark 4, M-2 Tactical

Color: OD stock and Tan action

I had the pleasure of shooting a sniper course with Lenny Bolton at GPS Defense. Lenny built a rifle identical to mine in every detail for himself, and during the week long course, we fired almost 500 rounds each. I was shooting Federal Gold Match 168g, and Lenny had the Federal 175g. What we found is very interesting . . . Our “dope” from 100 to 1200 yards was EXACTLY the same for both rifles. Chronograph tests showed that our rifles with 20” barrels were 40 feet-per-second faster than the same load out of a standard 24” rifle.

The Blue-printed receiver, Venom elliptical Bolt, Venom Custom barrel, Custom-fit, Stock bedding, etc, are a few of the many reasons I choose Lenny Bolton to build my rifle. Would I have Lenny build me another rifle? In a heartbeat! I recommend these rifles to anyone who wants a tool they can count on. I can truly say:


by Mark Flinn

Extremely satisfied customer

Scope Rings and Bases


The scope base is the rifles optic mounting platform.

There are 2 main types of Scope Bases:

  • TWO-piece
  • ONE-piece

The two-piece is where a front base and a rear base are mounted separately to the receiver.

The two-piece allows for some irregularity in the receiver manufacture and is usually lighter in overall weight. If there is any irregularity in the receiver fit, this will have to be corrected by lapping the rings when mounting the scope.

The one-piece base is just that, one piece of steel or aluminum. The one-piece is usually heavier but offers more rigidity with more fore and aft adjustment options for scope positioning. It is imperative that the fit of the one-piece base is perfect to the receiver. If not, the receiver may be distorted when the base is tightened down.

The best bases are machined from solid billet. Quite often, cheap bases warp during the heat treating process. Some cheap bases are stamped or cast out of soft steel. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! Do not save money when selecting the mounting base. Buy the best you can afford.

There has always been much argument as to which type of base is better. One thing that can’t be argued over is the fact that you spent alot of money for an expensive rifle and scope. That makes buying cheap bases and rings just plain stupid. If the fit of the base to the receiver is not correct, STOP and find out why, or take the rifle to a qualified gunsmith. Bases that do not fit correctly will either distort the receiver when tightened or will work lose while shooting the firearm.

Some bases have built in recoil lugs. This is a good idea that allows greater rigidity of the base under the recoil of the rifle. Good quality bases also have high quality mounting screws.

Common American sniper scope bases are built to the Military Picatinny 1913 Standard.

Some bases have a 20 MOA or more angle built into the base so that the scope is mounted with a down angle relative to the bore of the rifle. This helps with the range of adjustment available in the elevation turret of the scope.

Some of the good quality bases we have used are manufactured by Leopold, and Badger Ordinance.


The rings mount the scope to the base.

There are also many different types of rings available.

The quick detach style scope rings do not have a place on a sniper type rifle. Your rifles zero may save your life or the life of someone else. Are you prepared to gamble? I’m sure not.

We prefer the Leupold MK4 Tactical scope rings.

Quality 2 piece rings with at least 4 screws each are required. Some rings have 6 screws on each ring.

One thing to bear in mind is that the wider the ring the more the probability of tweaking the scope body when tightening the ring halves if the rings are not perfectly aligned.

Rings should always be selected to allow the scope to sit as low as possible on the action. You only need clearance for the objective lens of the scope. Mounting the scope higher than necessary will only cause problems with cheek weld and also make the scope more prone to damage.

Don’t skimp on rings and bases it will cause you nothing but frustration, lost time and wasted ammo.

Mounting Your Scope Base

A Video production of this procedure can be viewed at ATAC TV

You will need:

  • An inch pound torque wrench
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Blue LocTite®
  • Correct size torx sockets
  • Optional 1/8 punch and small Hammer

1. Make sure the base and receiver are perfectly clean. Use alcohol if necessary.

2. Check the fit of the base. If the base does not contact the receiver perfectly. . . STOP. If you can not figure out why it does not fit correctly, take the Rifle to competent gunsmith.

3. If the base fit is good, make sure the receiver threads are clean and oil free. Clean the mounting screws.

4. Take note of the screw length. The shorter screws go toward the muzzle end of the rifle. Apply LocTite® Blue, or even better, GunTite.

5. Screw in all 4 screws loosely at first. If the base has a built in recoil lug or slotted screw holes apply pressure toward the muzzle of the rifle while gently tightening the screws. This will help the base stay in position as the base will tend to shift forward under recoil.

6. Tighten screws from in to out a little at a time. Be careful do not over tighten. Use a inch pound torque wrench tightening to manufacturers spec, usually around 14inch pounds. From in to out.

You can rap on each screw with a punch the same diameter as the outer diameter of the Screw head and then re- torque.

Mounting Your Rifle Scope

A video production of this procedure can be viewed here: ATAC TV

Checking the Scopes Mechanical Zero:

The Reticle in the scope may not be centered, meaning that the adjustments for elevation and windage are not centered. You need to find out if your scope has the equal number of clicks up and down as some scopes don’t but most do. If your scope has equal clicks up and down and side to side just turn the particular turret all the way one way and then count the clicks in the opposite direction. Once you have the number of clicks just divide the number by 2 and turn the turret back that number of clicks. Do this for both turrets.

If your scope is manufactured with uneven elevation adjustment up and down then you will have to place the scope in v block or make a V shaped cut in both ends of a shoe box. Rotate the scope while watching the reticle and a spot on a distant wall, say 50 yards. If the reticle does not stay centered on the spot as you turn the scope, you need to adjust the elevation turret so that the reticle stays as centered as possible while rotating the scope.

Another method for mechanically centering the scopes reticle is to place a mirror in front of the objective lens. Make sure the mirror is flat on the objective lens bevel. If the scopes reticle is not centered you will see two reticles when looking into the eye piece. Turn the turrets till the two reticle images overlap.

Mounting the Scope Rings:

1. Place the lower ring halves on the scope base mount, but do not tighten the cross bolts at this time.

2. Place a machined bar the same diameter as the scope body on the lower ring halves and align the rings until the bar can be moved back and forth without binding. The scope body can be used but not recommended. Tighten the scope ring cross bolts to the recommended torque. Check the alignment of the rings one more time with the machined bar.

3. Making sure the lower ring halves are clean (you can use alcohol). Use some dry erase marker on the rings and once dry lightly rotate the scope body on the rings and check the contact area. If the scope does not contact the ring fully, the scope rings will have to be lapped. This should be performed by a qualified gunsmith.

4. Once the contact area has been verified as perfect, clean the rings one more time. Place the scope on the rings. Clean the upper ring cap contact surface and place the caps over the scope body. Make sure the ring screws are clean, insert the screws and lightly tighten. The scope must still be able to be move at this time.

Adjusting the Eye Relief:

This is probably most important adjustment you make to the scope on your precision rifle. This will affect every shot you fire from here on out so take your time and get it right.

The scope needs to be adjusted so that the scope is as far forward as possible while maintaining a perfect field of view through the scope with no shadow around the edges. You want a perfect scope picture with the image all the way to the edges of the lens. This needs to be accomplished while maintaining a perfect cheek weld without “chicken necking”. Once you are in a comfortable position, move the scope back and forth to obtain a perfect field of view. DO NOT MOVE YOUR HEAD once you establish your cheek weld! Your head is supported by the butt stock, not your neck. There will be roughly a ½ window to get the correct eye relief. The scope will usually be positioned around 3 inches from your eye. You do not want to get a black eye from the scope under recoil. Check this eye relief several times. Try this to verify the scopes position; Close your eyes and mount the rifle to a perfect cheek weld. Open your eyes and see what you’ve got. Repeat this several times form all shooting positions and take your time. (You can place a piece of electrical tape around the scope body to mark the scopes fore and aft position within the scope rings).

Adjusting the Scope Reticle Alignment:

There are commercially available tools to aid in this procedure. The method described below uses readily available tools.

1. One method is the plum line method. You will need at least 25 yards of space, a carpenters level, a plum line and a rifle rest or sang bags to support the rifle.

2. You will first need to tighten the scope caps side to side to around 5 inch pounds, maintaining and even gap side to side. (This will maintain the scope ring alignment for the next step).

3. Loosen the the scope cross bolts and gently remove the scope and place a level on the top of the scope rail. When the rifle is perfectly horizontally level, secure the rifle so there is no possible side to side movement.

4. Re position the scope to the base. Gently tighten the ring cross bolt nuts alternating front and back till manufacturers specified torque is reached. Make sure the rifle does not move.

5. Gently loosen the scope ring cap screws so that the scope body can be rotated with slight pressure.

6. Now hang the plum line at least 25 yards in front of the rifle. Look through your scope and align the vertical cross hair of the reticle with the plum line by gently rotating the scope.

7. Gently tighten the scope cap bolts finger tight maintaining an even gap side to side on both the rings. Now tighten the ring cross bolt nuts alternating front and back a little at a time until the manufactures recommended torque is reached.

There are commercially available tools to facilitate this procedure.

Focusing the Ocular Lens:

Look through the scope with a plain white wall in the background. Adjust the eyepiece focus ring until the reticle is perfectly clear. You are focusing the reticle only, not the wall. Only look through the scope for around 4 seconds at a time or your eye will compensate. If you are going to wear shooting glasses, wear them while doing this. If you have a scope that does not have a locking ring tape the eye piece to stop it rotating. If you are going to install flip up lens caps install the cap and tape it.


You can bore sight the scope by different methods. Use a collimator if you have access to one. You can use a bore laser . Or the caveman method done at the range! This is the least preferred method. First, you remove the bolt and place the rifle on its bi pod or sand bag. Look down the bore and aim the rifle at a target at 100 yards if possible. Do this a few times to make sure your lined up. When you are satisfied you are on target look down the scope and center the cross hairs on the target by adjusting the turrets. Look down the bore again and then down the scope, once satisfied that the bore and the scope are at the same place on the target turn the elevation turret up 2 ½ MOA.

How To Clean Your Venom Tactical Rifle

There are many ways to clean your sniper rifle this is the way we do it.

A video presentation of this cleaning method is available on ATAC TV

1. Make sure the rifle is unloaded and all ammo removed.

2. Place rifle in rest, muzzle lower than action.

3. Remove bolt.

4. Clean chamber with a short cleaning rod and chamber swab with a few drops of Bore Tech Eliminator, followed by a dry swab.

5. Clean receiver bolt lugs with lug cleaning tool.

6. Insert chamber guide.

7. Wrap a patch around a Parker Hale type jag and a one piece nylon coated cleaning rod.  Using Bore Tech Eliminator, stroke from chamber to muzzle, one direction only, exiting muzzle. Make sure patch is well soaked. Remove jag and insert cleaning rod thread protector before removing cleaning rod. We use a Dewy thread adapter to protect the crown.

8. Repeat step 7. Five more times.

9. Install a good quality nylon brush on the cleaning rod. Make sure the brush is well soaked with the Bore Tech. Stroke the brush through the bore 10 to 15 times adding solvent as necessary.

10. Install the jag on the cleaning rod. Wrap a well soaked patch around the jag and again stroke through the bore form chamber to muzzle removing the jag at the muzzle end. Install thread protector and withdraw the cleaning rod. Let the solvent soak for 5 min.

11. Now run dry patches down the bore until the patches exit the bore as clean as they went in.

12. Remove chamber guide and swab chamber with a dry swab.

13. Clean bolt face with brass or stiff nylon brush to remove any debris. Wipe bolt surfaces with Break-free.

14. Re insert bolt have fun.


Always run a dry patch down the bore before firing.

More barrel crowns are damaged from cleaning than anything else. Take your time and use quality cleaning equipment.

Always use nylon coated one piece cleaning rods.

Use slow deliberate strokes when cleaning the bore of your rifle.

If you do not use a thread protector on your cleaning rod make sure you gently guide the jag past the crown of the muzzle when retracting your cleaning rod.

Always use a Parker Hale type jag of the correct size.