Sunday, September 21, 2008

Iron Sight Sunday

I went out to the range today, for the first time in about a month. Between the hurricanes and the clean-up, I haven't had any trigger time in a while and I was getting testy. So, I loaded a couple of lever actions and went to the LDWF range at Woodworth, LA.

First up was the rifle that lives under the seat of the truck. It's a classic .30-30 Winchester, the Winchester 94. I wrote it up over at the Frugal Outdoorsman It was made in 1965 and was one of the first of the non-commemorative Winchesters in an attempt to prop up sales after Winchester changed the production methods of their rifles after 1964. It's been described as "Winchesters first attempt at increasing the horrible sales of the post-64s by putting a dress on a pig."

It's a great rifle and the load that I prefer in it is the Lyman 311041 bullet, lubed in LLA, sized to 0.309 with a Hornady gas check. I load it over 27 grains of IMR 4895 and it gives me an average 1855 fps, with an SD of 17. That's a great deer/hog load.

Last week, while at training, we talked about head shots, and at what range an individual might take a head shot with any reasonable expectation of success. I posted a standard B-27 target at 50 yards and noticed that the bead front sight of the Winchester almost completely subtended the head portion of the target at 50 yards. Offhand head shots were easy. This rifle isn't a target rifle, but the Winchester 94 platform has been an excellent hunting rifle for over a hundred years and continues to please shooters all over the world. A dozen shots and I was done. This rifle is ready for the deer woods once again, and it stands ready to be pressed into whichever service I might call on it to perform.

Next, I took out the Marlin Model 1894C. I bought this rifle last year and it's outfitted like the Winchester, with a Williams FP sight. I was shooting .38 specials in it, my reload of a Lee tumble lube semi-wadcutter bullet that weighs about 158 grains. I power this load with 4.3 grains of Unique in whatever range brass I can find. The load is a good steady performer in my revolvers, and every revolver I've ever tried shoots this load accurately. This load is fairly anemic, giving me about 850 fps out of the revolvers, but it's accurate as the day is long. It's helped me to win a few shooting matches when the good shots were out doing other things.

Back to the 1894C. This little rifle likes the .38 special load that I've described above, but it pushes the bullet out at 1020 fps, which brings it to .38 special +P velocities. That extra foot of barrel really helps that bullet zing along. Shots at the silhouette were also easy, offhand and with an elbow on the table. It's a mild, accurate, easy to shoot load in this rifle, just the thing for teaching young'uns about centerfire rifles. Then too, a 158 grain hardcast bullet is going to leave a mark if it slams into anything with metabolism. I got bored with the 50 yard target and started firing at an old tire that was laying on the 100 yard berm. With each shot I got a satisfying puff of dust from within the hole in the tire, so this ammo will reach out and touch something at 100 yards if I find the need.

One of the range officers wandered past while I was shooting the Marlin and he asked me about it. I let him put a couple of shots downrange and he agreed that it would be just the rifle for teaching children. He said he'd look for one for his daughter.

There's a lot to like about lever action rifles, both in rifle and pistol calibers.

Now, I've got to clean rifles and put everything away. Y'all have a good week.

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