Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday Rifle

I was poking around on the bench today and found a box on a shelf that I had forgotten about.  IN 2011 I had purchased a box of Hornady's wonderful .30 caliber, 168 grain A-Max bullets.  I played with them for a while, then forgot about them.  Sure enough that box still had about 20 bullets left, so I started poking in some other bench drawers, and found 20 Winchester cases, prepped and ready, in .308.  I got down the scale and in under an hour I had loaded those A-Max bullets into those .308 cases with 43.0 grains of Reloder 15 and a Winchester primer to give it some push.

Those of you who follow my scribblings might recall that when I started playing with the Ugly Rifle in 2011, it showed a preference for that load.  Since then I've been playing with 150 grainn bullets and while that rifle shoots them okay, it never really shined with 150 grain bullets, being a 1.5-2.0 inch rifle with the lighter bullet.

There's nothing wrong with a 2 MOA rifle in a hunter's hands.  If you can keep your shots within that 2-minute arc, you'll bring home all the venison you can use.  A good 2 minute rifle is eminently usable out past the range where most of us should be shooting at game animals, anyway.  However, many of us like to take that variable out of the equation, and shoot for something under one inch at a hundred yards.  I get it, I really do.The more variables we can pull out of the equation, the more accurate we're going to be.

Knowing that the rifle has professed a liking for that load, I took my handful of ammo to the range to see if what happened then can happen again.  I also took a few of some other loads to try.

I got to the range, signed in, and went out to the firing line.  I got settled in behind the bench and started shooting, slowly and methodically.  A variety of 150 grain loads, all hovering around the 2 inch mark.  I'd shoot a group, then go talk with the range master while the barrel cooled.  The temp out there was above the 90F mark and while I was waiting, I could see little clouds popping up in the evaporation over the Red River.  Some of those little pop up clouds may make thunderstorms later this afternoon.  I sampled a few of the 168 A-Max loads and they were tantalizing.  Sometimes two shots would touch and the third one would fly off a half-inch or so.  Still, it had promise.

Toward the end of the second hour, I posted a new target, and decided to take my time and shoot with all the patience I could muster.  That thin sporter barrel had gotten fairly warm, so I got a bottle of water and went to the rangemaster's shack to cool off.  After ten minutes of telling lies to my old friend, I walked out to the rifle laying on the bench, settled in, chambered a round, and let fly.  Checked my watch, waited three minutes, and let fly.  Continued in this vein until five shots had fallen on the target.  Looked through my spotting scope and decided to walk down range for a closer look.

That's a one-inch target dot, and all five had fallen into 0.810.  Not bad for an old man with a pawn-shop rifle.  I think two clicks up, two clicks right, and I'll be through sighting this rifle for the season.  Now, it's time to see if I can find some more of those bullets and get away from the bench.  It's almost time to tune up for deer season.  This year, the Ugly Rifle is going with me to the deer woods.  I know that Hornady makes this bullet in a hunting version.  Come next payday I'll have to see if I can get several hundred of their 168 SST bullets.


Old NFO said...

That's some good shooting for a 'warm' rifle!

Rivrdog said...

There's a reason that the 168-gr boat-tail has been the world standard thirty-caliber sniper bullet for decades. It suits more different barrels and powder loads than others yet give consistent, repeatable accuracy.

Also the reason that I keep a good supply of them on hand....