Sunday, January 25, 2009

Aggravating .17 HMR

Most of my rifles can shoot better than I can, and until now, my rifles have been hunting rifles. Until recently, I owned exactly one rifle that I didn't intend to hunt with, and that is a Model 1874 Sharps in .45-70. It's a big ole rifle that shoots a big ole cartridge.

Then my wife got me a Savage Model 93R17 for Christmas. It's a little bolt action rifle with a heavy varmint barrel and it's chambered in .17 HMR. It needed a good scope to take advantage of the accuracy of the round, so I ordered a Swift 6X18X44 scope for it. This is the first time, ever, that I've put a scope on a rifle where the scope cost more than the rifle.

The Swift has good glass and an adjustable objective. I got turned-on to Swift scopes by my brother-in-law, who uses them exclusively on his deer rifles. My youngest son bought a Swift scope for his Savage 10 FP. An afternoon with that rifle convinced me that Swift optics are just fine. I'm not going to compare them with Leupold, or Zeiss, but they're fine optics and very popularly priced.

At any rate, I mounted the Swift scope on the little Savage, grabbed a box of Hornady 17 grain ammo, and headed to the range. After getting the scope dialed in to the rifle at 25 yards, I sashayed out to the 100 yard line, posted the target, and settled in behind the bench. I noticed immediately that the combination of lightweight tupperware stock and good optics made the rifle "twitchy". It wouldn't set still. I fiddled around for a little while, trying to finess my benchrest technique, then noticed that I could see my heartbeat through the scope. The rifle would twitch with a disturbing regularity. It had to be my heartbeat.

I began firing. Sometimes I'd get a three-shot group measuring just under a third of an inch. Sometimes I'd get a three-shot group measuring over an inch and a half. Aggravating.

For the record, the ambient temperature was 55 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind was still. Dead still.

The rifle shoots very well. Lots better than I can shoot. The scope is the best one I've ever purchased. I can see right now that the little rifle would benefit from a better trigger, a better stock, and a better guy on the wide end of the stock.

It is very cool to look through the spotting scope and see three little, tiny holes touching near the bulls-eye. It is very aggravating to fire three more shots and see the group open to almost two inches.

If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a .22-250 built on an 03 action when .22-250 was still a wildat. I put a 12x Unertl I paid $40 used on it in '64. It has always done the heartbeat bounce. I had to learn to release the trigger at the same place in the heart rythym, then the groups shrank from an inch and a half to three quarters of an inch.

Gerry N.