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Wednesday at the Rifle Range

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Wednesday at the Rifle Range

Postby Doug » Fri Feb 13, 2015 10:38 am

I also posted this on a gun board, but some guys here are shooters and handloaders - you might find this interesting.

Well, it was a beautiful day here on Wednesday, not too cold and almost zero wind. A buddy suggested we go out ice fishing, but I can do that on a day with minus thirty and howling winds, it’s just part of the sport. Not so much shooting off a bench….

…….so I bundled up eight rifles, a bunch of ammo, my trusty handloading log book, a moving blanket to cover the cement shooting bench, spotting scope, rifle rests, targets, and all of the usual paraphernalia one needs for a range session and out I went to my local range. Some kind soul had plowed a path to the fifty yard targets but it was shank’s mare to the hundred yard targets, and a couple feet of snow to wade through. No sweat, I had worn my winter pants and boots for just that reason.

The conditions were really very much ideal – bright day, no wind, and maybe minus ten or so. I could comfortably shoot with a light glove on one hand and a bare hand for my trigger finger. I had a mix of new-to-me and not so new-to-me rifles and was very eager to try a couple of them out for the very first time. So onto the bench went a heavy-barreled custom Mauser in .219 Donaldson Wasp. I had bought it with dies and a whole whack of brass, some of which being made from .375 Winchester. Back in my gun room, I had loaded up four or five dummies, and all of them worked just fine in the rifle. BUT!!! When I attempted to fire the first groups, four of the eleven cartridges would not chamber. Like, bolt goes forward, will not lock, then will not go backwards without serious force. Doug is an unhappy camper – but the shots I did manage show great promise for accuracy. I suspect that the cases were just slightly too long for the chamber – so next step will be pulling all of the remaining loaded rounds, trimming the brass and loading them again. (Sigh…)

I have a Marlin 336 with a heavy barrel in .219 Zipper. I had shot it previously and got poor accuracy with heavier .224 bullets, so this time I had loaded up some lighter bullets. Of the three loadings, one just absolutely SHONE. It was 30.0 gr IMR 4064 behind a Speer 40 grain spritzer. Sub-moa at fifty, and moa at a hundred with five shot groups, unbelievable accuracy with a lever gun (and especially in my hands!) I am very happy with that rifle, and it has done everything I wanted, so it will be going to a new home.

It has been over a year I think since I last shot my Ruger 77 in 7 x 57 Improved. I had loaded some 140 gr Nosler Ballistic Tips with H4895 powder and some 160 gr Sierra Game Kings with IMR 4831. Well, my max loads with the 140s gave good accuracy, but were too hot, and my starting load with the 160s was too hot. More bullets to pull, and back to the drawing board!

I have a Sako AI in 6 PPC which I scoped with a Redfield Revolution that I formerly had on a .222. I found it to be a very good scope on that rifle, but the “circle x” reticle leaves a lot to be desired for very fine target work. 28.0 grains of H335 behind a Sierra 75 gr HP gave me a half-inch group at a hundred yards, but 29.0 grains opened the group to an inch, and I had some pressure signs (stiff bolt lift, flattened primers), so that is a max load and I will try 28.5 grains next time. I do have a bunch of the same bullet loaded with H322 but did not shoot any of those loads. This rifle has the neck diameter marked on the barrel at .268” and loaded rounds are just that, so the chamber is quite tight. I am relieved that I do not need to turn the necks………..

A couple old lever guns came out to play: a Savage 1899 in .25-35 Winchester, and a Winchester Model 1892 in .25-20. Both wear open iron sights, just to remind me that my eyes are not what they used to be. I had loaded up some .25-35 cartridges with a recipe from Chuck Hawks, which was supposed to replicate the original factory loading. That was 25.7 gr IMR 3031 and Hornady’s 117 gr round-nose bullet with an OAL of 2.600”. That cartridge is too long for the Savage rotary magazine, but single shells fed, fired and ejected reliably and gave me a nice vertical string at fifty yards (hello, operator error!) and then once I settled down a bit with the sights I got a couple minute-of-deer five-shot groups. I am thinking I might try to find a tang sight for the old gal. I have not yet loaded for the .25-20 but had some old factory ammo that I wanted to shoot in order to have brass to reload. Where those bullets went is still a mystery to me…………..but when I got the rifle home and inspected the bore, it was very heavily fouled with lead. So fifty or sixty cleaning patches later, I now can see the rifling in that barrel, and once I load up some ammo we’ll give the old girl another chance.

Maybe a year or so ago I got a nice custom Winchester Model 70 Featherweight in .257 Roberts Improved. I had done some load testing last spring with H414 and 100 gr Nosler Ballistic Tips. 47.0 gr seemed to be the sweet spot, half-moa, better than 46.0 and 47.5 grains (which was pretty much a max load). I used the same powder with 85 gr Nosler Ballistic Tips, but only one of the groups even measured an inch at a hundred yards. Next loading will be with heavier bullets.

The last rifle was a Savage 111 Long-Range Hunter in 6.5-.284. It has not been out to play since the summer of 2013, and I quit shooting because of pressure signs in my hottest load – 51.1 gr H4831SC and a Sierra 140 gr Game King. But at minus ten the pressure signs were absent. Accuracy with that load in the summer was good at .75” at a hundred, but my first five-round group this time out was about three inches at a hundred!!! What the heck??? Upon closer inspection, the bullets had grazed the top of the snow enroute to the target, and had been hitting almost key-holed. OOPS!

I had the range all to myself for three and a half hours, and it was wonderful to smell burned gunpowder in that crisp air. With the exception of the .25-20 I was fairly happy with the results, and of course the Model 1892 was the only one that I shot with factory ammo. Hmmm…….

Doug
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Re: Wednesday at the Rifle Range

Postby banjo » Fri Feb 13, 2015 10:48 am

Cool.
Time at the rifle range is always time well spent. :)
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Re: Wednesday at the Rifle Range

Postby bradford2 » Fri Feb 13, 2015 3:55 pm

Those calibers are all made up :lol:

Seriously, it amazes me how many different calibers there are. I'd never heard of any of these until today. It's pretty cool that you have them all to play with!
Hunt with any of them?
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Re: Wednesday at the Rifle Range

Postby Doug » Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:51 pm

bradford2 wrote:Those calibers are all made up :lol:

Seriously, it amazes me how many different calibers there are. I'd never heard of any of these until today. It's pretty cool that you have them all to play with!
Hunt with any of them?


My "thing" is loading for and shooting rifles chambered in oddball chamberings, and I have been through a couple hundred or so different cartridges, haven't actually counted.

I hunt deer with a 6.5 x 55, and sometimes a .308, and of course a muzzle-loader, my bow and a couple different 12 gauge shotguns. I hunt bear and moose with a 9.3 x 62 and did have a back-up in .300 RSAUM. I carry several varmint rifles, chief amongst them a carbine in .222 Remington Magnum.

I "WOULD" hunt with all of the rifles I was shooting the other day, except for the .25-20 since it proved to be completely inaccurate. If I found a load it likes it could be a hunting rifle - but probably not, since open iron sights are just not good enough for my tired old eyes.

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Re: Wednesday at the Rifle Range

Postby smitty55 » Fri Feb 13, 2015 10:34 pm

Doug wrote:I hunt deer with a 6.5 x 55. Doug


That's cool Doug. I assume you load your own. Is it as accurate as it's reputation? I hope so.

I picked up a 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser a while back. 1941 I believe. I brought it to John Hopkinson for an evaluation. He stripped it all down, cleaned, polished, lubed etc. Put six coats of linseed oil on the furniture. Charged me five hours labour. Got a 2 page report. You've probably heard of or met him at one of the shows. Ex British military sniper and Armourer. He also offers marksmanship training. Anyway, his opinion was that the rifle probably had never seen any service at all, still had packing grease, so I think I may have myself a real find here. Barrel was excellent.
So I took it to Bruce Ford, who did a real nice job modifying the bolt to accommodate a scope and also added an after market safety. I got a bunch of fmjs and also two boxes of tracers with the rifle too, so that should be fun to play with at the local pit.

I'm really looking forward to hit the range this spring. Problem is, they aren't the easiest round to find, mostly see Rem Core-Lokt. Now from what I understand, these rounds don't do this rifle justice at all. I'd like this to be a 300-400 yd rifle for yote hunting likely. Any recommendation on finding some premium commercial rounds out there? Or is loading the only way to go? In which case I need to find a friendly loader like you or MikePal maybe. :) Hopefully I'll have a bunch of once fired military grade brass.

One more thing Doug. If I were to assume that this rifle has had maybe only fired the 15 rounds I put through it when I first got it, would you recommend any sort of break-in procedure for that barrel? If so, I would want to do that at the sandpit and not waste range time.

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Re: Wednesday at the Rifle Range

Postby Doug » Sat Feb 14, 2015 10:44 am

smitty55 wrote:
Doug wrote:I hunt deer with a 6.5 x 55. Doug


That's cool Doug. I assume you load your own. Is it as accurate as it's reputation? I hope so.

I picked up a 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser a while back. 1941 I believe. I brought it to John Hopkinson for an evaluation. He stripped it all down, cleaned, polished, lubed etc. Put six coats of linseed oil on the furniture. Charged me five hours labour. Got a 2 page report. You've probably heard of or met him at one of the shows. Ex British military sniper and Armourer. He also offers marksmanship training. Anyway, his opinion was that the rifle probably had never seen any service at all, still had packing grease, so I think I may have myself a real find here. Barrel was excellent.
So I took it to Bruce Ford, who did a real nice job modifying the bolt to accommodate a scope and also added an after market safety. I got a bunch of fmjs and also two boxes of tracers with the rifle too, so that should be fun to play with at the local pit.

I'm really looking forward to hit the range this spring. Problem is, they aren't the easiest round to find, mostly see Rem Core-Lokt. Now from what I understand, these rounds don't do this rifle justice at all. I'd like this to be a 300-400 yd rifle for yote hunting likely. Any recommendation on finding some premium commercial rounds out there? Or is loading the only way to go? In which case I need to find a friendly loader like you or MikePal maybe. :) Hopefully I'll have a bunch of once fired military grade brass.

One more thing Doug. If I were to assume that this rifle has had maybe only fired the 15 rounds I put through it when I first got it, would you recommend any sort of break-in procedure for that barrel? If so, I would want to do that at the sandpit and not waste range time.

Cheers


Yes, I load 99% of all ammo I shoot, and that is many hundreds of rounds per year (or probably thousands some years...)

Your Swede will probably be a great shooter, almost all of them are. If you want to keep it that way, don't fire those tracers in your rifle, they are not friendly to your bore. I have never broken in a military surplus rifle, but it can't hurt. Basically, fire one shot, let the barrel cool down, put a lightly oiled patch down the bore, then a dry patch, and repeat for maybe 20 shots. But if the first 15 are already downrange I am not certain anything you do subsequently will make much difference, and in my view, barrel break-in is really only for bench-rest rifles.

Federal did have a good loading for this cartridge: Federal Classic 140 grain HI-SHOK soft point, their catalogue number 6555B. I got some with a rifle at some point and did fire some of it and found it to be of good quality. I do favour 140 grain bullets in mine, but you can load them a lot lighter and also a bit heavier than that. YES, hand-loading is the way to go for sure and I will be happy to show you how. Your military brass, depending on provenance, may have Berdan primers, which are highly corrosive. If yes, you should clean your barrel thoroughly and immediately after firing. And most folks do not have the ability to re-prime Berdan-primed brass. I certainly do not, and one cannot de-prime it without a Berdan de-capper either. Look into the fired case and if you can see TWO flash holes, it is Berdan primed. A single flash hole means it is Boxer primed and that is the modern standard primer.

A 300 or 400 yard shot with your rifle is going to take a LOT of range practice first, and a very good range-finder. Off the top of my head, I do not recall the drop of a 140 grain bullet if the rifle is zeroed for a hundred yards. But it will be well over a foot, probably close to two feet at 400..........

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Re: Wednesday at the Rifle Range

Postby Doug » Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:51 am

Another thought about military brass: almost all of it has thicker walls than regular commercial brass cases. It is constructed this way because it may see some rough service before it gets used. But thicker walls obviously give less space inside the cartridge. So case capacity for MOST military cases is smaller than their commercial counterparts. This means that a loader can put less powder inside the cases, and also means that a give amount of powder in a military case will create higher pressures than in a regular case. It is for these reasons that most handloaders prefer not to work with military surplus brass, unless they are loading for a military surplus rifle and seeking to achieve something like the milspec cartridge.

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Re: Wednesday at the Rifle Range

Postby smitty55 » Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:29 pm

Tks for the reply Doug. Too bad about that military brass. Oh well.
I rechecked the ballistics chart and you're right. I better keep it to 300 yd. With a 100yd zero the drop is -17". With a 200yd zero the drop at 300 is only -9.8" but at 400 it's -27".
As for the tracers, I was told it depends on the type. Some are extremely corrosive. Depends on when they ignite. The armourer said I should be OK if I didn't shoot too many at a time, like 5-10, but to be sure and do a good cleaning immediately on returning home.
Speaking of cleaning, I picked up some brushes for a 270, which I hope should be OK. Only .006 over. It was that or a .243. I do have one question for you though. It came with a torpedo/gunsmith's spiral brush. There seem to be mixed reviews on the use of those brushes. What is your opinion on them?

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Re: Wednesday at the Rifle Range

Postby Doug » Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:42 pm

smitty55 wrote:Tks for the reply Doug. Too bad about that military brass. Oh well.
I rechecked the ballistics chart and you're right. I better keep it to 300 yd. With a 100yd zero the drop is -17". With a 200yd zero the drop at 300 is only -9.8" but at 400 it's -27".
As for the tracers, I was told it depends on the type. Some are extremely corrosive. Depends on when they ignite. The armourer said I should be OK if I didn't shoot too many at a time, like 5-10, but to be sure and do a good cleaning immediately on returning home.
Speaking of cleaning, I picked up some brushes for a 270, which I hope should be OK. Only .006 over. It was that or a .243. I do have one question for you though. It came with a torpedo/gunsmith's spiral brush. There seem to be mixed reviews on the use of those brushes. What is your opinion on them?

Cheers


Well....................I would not shoot the tracers, period, out of a rifle that I hope will achieve good accuracy, notwithstanding your armourer's opinion. Does he know the provenance of the tracer ammo? Do you? Do you have a manufacturer's certificate of how and when they ignite? (I am guessing no...........)

I use the steel torpedo brushes all the time, and ignore the folks who say this will damage the barrel. The barrel exists to put red-hot bullets at extreme pressures and speeds out through its length. A cleaning brush is not going to come even close to having the same effect.

Your .270 brushes are for a rifle that is .277 calibre, and they are generally marked for .270 and 7 mm (.284). Your bore is .264. Brass or nylon bristled brushes will not hurt your bore if they are somewhat bigger than the bore diameter, but a truly too-large brush might end up as a barrel obstruction, which is time to go see the gunsmith and pay more money. I would not use a larger-than bore diameter steel torpedo brush, however.

HTH.

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