(Apologies again for the long wait, grad school yadda yadda etc)
So after the problems with the neck scratching (see here) I bought myself a new RCBS die set. This came and in anticipation of a shoot on the 12th may I reloaded 100 rounds. Unfortunately, despite a brand new die of a different make and clean unfired brass, the same problem occurred. All the brass had vertical scratches on the necks.
I was very frustrated.
However, at the range I decided to ask people about it and the most reassuring response was the lack of any concern or significant interest. I was advised to clean the die out and lightly lube the necks before sizing.
Since then I have reloaded another 100 rounds (the first batch loaded that has now been once fired) using the new die. I cleaned it out beforehand and touched the necks to my lube pad before sizing and as far as I can tell there were no new scratches on top of the original collection.
I have decided not to think about neck scratches any more (or until the next lot of clean brass gets defaced then I will swear).
The first 200 rounds I loaded after coming to America were tipped with 155gr Sierra Match Kings (2155s). I have been unable to judge their relative merit as it has been such a long time since I last shot that I cannot guarantee any accuracy problems are not wholly my own fault, but they seem pretty good. I have since bought a box of 500 of the new SMKs (2156s) with an improved ballistic coefficient. I realised while reloading that they would probably have an entirely different jump to the lands compared to the 2155s due to their different shaped curve, but without having anyway to measure the jump I just pressed on (geddit?..pressed?) and loaded them to the same OAL as the 2155s.
At the shoot this weekend (9th June) I decided that I couldn’t be bothered with having part batches kicking around and so decided to use the end of the last batch (loaded with the SMK 2155s) and change to the new batch (loaded with SMK 2156s) when they ran out. This occurred during the second string. The first shot with the new batch was in the 9 (shot number 11 on the second scorecard shown below) but within the area of my various wild shots, and the second was back in the 10 without any sight adjustments and confirmed my suspicion that any difference wouldn’t be obvious at 300 meters.
This shoot was a step up in performance for me. It was raining and overcast but the wind was sluggish, and since judging wind is my weakest area this made it ideal for me. My final score was 580/600 and I managed to beat the only other guy shooting prone (see here for the results). Several people who looked at my screen said they thought I had shot well and there are some satisfying groupings on my scorecards.
To give you scale, the 10 ring is 10cm across.
I am still having problems with comfort. 60 rounds is a lot of .308 to shoot in 95 minutes and I was having to put the rifle down every five rounds or so to give my left hand a rest, which is where I am suffering the most. I don’t know why this has evolved, or even if it was always there but I never had to shoot this much in one sitting before so it never seemed significant. Either way it now needs attention, so on Monday I did a little work and managed to get a spare Anschutz handstop to fit on the rail of the Swing. It has a better shape and is adjustable so I can fiddle around a bit. The Anschutz handstop needed a bit of gentle filing to get it to fit the rail but now it is on and hopefully will make a bit of difference. Below are before and after photos.
The most popular calibre for 300 meters is apparently 6mmBR (see here for info) which just happens to use the same bolt face as .308win. With my left hand gently throbbing on Sunday afternoon I was idly considering the possibility that when the Swing needs a new barrel, I could get it re-barrelled in 6mmBR for use at 300 meters and buy another target rifle in .308 for use at long range. Just a thought.