Reloading for 300m

I have been shooting at the Minneapolis Rifle Club for about a year, most of that being on the 300m range. I have been using my Swing rifle (.308win) with hand loaded ammunition.

The usual format of a 300m competition is 3×20 shot strings + sighters, which when you consider that my handload recipe was intended to keep a 155gr match bullet supersonic at 1000yds, means I have been getting pretty sore.

I have made adjustments to my position and swapped my handstop out for an old smallbore one that was a bit more ergonomic, but I always ended up counting down the rounds till I could put the rifle down. This does not make for accurate shooting.

To counter this I decided to try a new recipe for my 300m shoots. I based it upon the recipe I was given for my hunting ammunition by Charles Young, which he referred to as the ‘Tweed Valley Special’, and since I have achieved half minute groups with it out of my hunting rifle using soft point hunting bullets I thought it could be a good starting point. I have named the new experimental load the ‘300m Special’ for my records.

The hunting recipe requires 40gr of VV-N140 behind a 150gr Hornady interlock, which I seated to 2.80 inches OAL. I tried to seat them out to the same depth as my match ammunition (2.850 inches) but the 150gr soft point is a shorter bullet than the 155gr match and so I was uncomfortable with how little of the bearing surface of the bullet was actually inside the neck of the case.

For my experimental 300m load I simply duplicated this charge with a match bullet (Sierra Match King) seated to my usual match OAL of 2.850 inches.

The day I tried it out the temperature was close to zero Fahrenheit and there was a light snow falling.

I used a full fingered glove since although we shoot from inside a heated building my left hand is usually very close to the small window I shoot through, and my finger tips have in the past gone numb in very cold weather. I also added padding under my shooting mat as it is intended for use on grass and as such has no padding to protect my left elbow which has been getting quite sore. This all helped to improve my comfort.

When I shot the new ammunition I estimated a 5 minute elevation adjustment compared to the previous load, this proved spot on and both my initial sighters were in the 10 ring. The recoil was mild enough that I got through a full 20 shot string without serious discomfort.

The light snow made for a very useful wind indicator, and in my first two strings I recorded very satisfying scores. However in my third string I suffered as a result of the mirage caused by the warm air inside the building meeting the cold air outside, this made it very hard to get a clean sight picture. I don’t know why this only really bothered me in the third string when it must have been present all along.

Nevertheless, at the end of my detail I had the highest score of the prone shooters (there was a second detail to follow and I have yet to see the results so I cannot at this point declare victory), and I was not suffering the effects of strong recoil as I had previously.

The only hesitation I have is that although there were only light winds and I was consistently hitting the 10 ring, my shots were not well grouped. I am aware that although the recipe this load was derived from is very accurate, a different bullet, seating depth, and rifle means nothing is a given and the recipe might need to be tweaked for best performance. In view of this I will be returning to the range in the next couple of weeks to do some load testing under more controlled conditions, and with a borrowed chronograph to measure velocities.

“Forbidden” Fruit (aka Glock 17)

In a previous post (here) I talked about a basic handgun course I attended, and expressed an interest in buying a handgun.

I took another step recently by applying for a Permit to Purchase, which is required to buy a handgun in Minnesota. I applied by filling in a couple of forms with lots of information about myself, then submitted them at a building down town with a cheque for some not very significant amount. I presume this is in order that a criminal records check can be performed. The permit arrived in the post a week or so later.

A few weeks after that I decided to make it happen, and so I left school early one afternoon and drove to Bills Gun Shop and Range with a plan.

Step one: I enter the shop and mooch about until someone offers me assistance, which I accept.

Step two: Walk around for half an hour picking up lots of hand guns, pointing them at the floor, and asking questions.

Step three: Identify two handguns that feel “right” based upon the advice I am receiving (Glock 17 & Ruger SR9c).

Step four: Retire downstairs to the range where I hire said handguns and shoot a box of 50 rounds through them.

Step five: Feel undecided, so purchase another box of 50 rounds and shoot them as well.

Step six: Leave the range, still undecided, and mooch about the shop thinking until I make a decision.

Step seven: Make a decision (Glock 17) just in time to prevent another customer from buying the same gun (last one in the shop).

Step eight: Start the paperwork (Oh the paperwork!)

(Going back a bit) I had decided upon a 9mm after a lot of thinking. Initially I wanted to pick up a .45 Auto such as the colt 1911, but it occurred to me that the ammunition is more expensive and the recoil harsher, and since I am new to this “gun that fits in one hand” thing I should probably get something else for my first handgun. I then considered .40S&W, as a compromise between 9mm and .45 Auto, but after more thinking I decided that I didn’t really want a .40S&W in and of itself, but rather as a next best thing to a .45. With this in mind I decided upon a 9mm as a cost effective option that would allow me to get a lot more practice for my money and be less likely to teach me bad habits from the recoil.

(Back in the shop) I stood at the counter with one of the staff (random aside: most of the staff were carrying firearms) and filled in a form, then I filled it in again because I made a mistake, and then again because I made a different mistake. This is the form that gets sent to the “Federal Government” and any mistakes will result in the application being denied (I think). A mistake can include putting something in the wrong box and crossing it out. This took a while.

Next, the person helping me had to fill in another part of my successful form, gun serial numbers, permit numbers, etc., and make a phone call to someone in the “Federal Government” (I don’t know who he was calling, possibly the ATF) to whom he read out most of the details on the form. Then we waited. While we waited he told me that the people he was calling had three options, they could approve, deny, or defer. He thought that since I am foreign and not a citizen that they would probably defer, eventually they did exactly that.

I was then informed that the department of the government that he had just called (“Federal Government”) had four days (might have been three, I get hazy on the details) to either approve or deny the application. If they hadn’t responded (by phone, to the shop) within the four (or three) days then I would be free to pick up the gun from the shop. So I left the shop empty handed with the instructions to return four days later unless I was called by them first.

The next morning I was called by the shop to be told that I was approved (why wouldn’t I be?) and I could pick up the gun any time I cared to.

I cared to that same afternoon.

(Back in the shop) I am back at the counter with another member of staff, and there is more paperwork. More forms are filled in and double checked, then double checked again by another member of staff ( I get the impression this is taken very seriously by someone). After about 30 minutes everything is done, I have bought extra things like a phosphor bronze brush and a spray can that turns out not to do what I thought it did (should have read the label properly), and I am the proud owner of a brand new Glock 17 9mm.

Glock 17

Glock 17

This is pretty exciting for me, and it would be a shame (and quite frustrating) to take a brand new Glock 17 9mm home unfired, and so I go back to the range for the second time in two days and fire another 50 rounds into the backstop.

(Some thoughts) The process was in some ways a lot simpler than buying a gun in the UK, but in other ways a lot more complicated. In the UK I would have to fill in a few forms, jump through a few hoops, and wait a good few weeks to apply for a Firearms Certificate. But once I had it in hand I could go to a shop, buy a gun, and be out in 15 minutes with the gun. The only paperwork I would have to do would be an advisory letter to the licensing department alerting them to the fact that I had bought a gun and giving them the details for their records (there are more facets to the system but they are not relevant to my point). This system places the weight at the start of the transaction (gun ownership) so the actual act of buying a gun is quite simple. The US (or specifically the Minnesota) system eschews licensing and so what legalities there are must be processed at the time of purchase. I don’t want to get into a debate of the systems, I just highlight an interesting contrast of experience. I personally found the Minnesota experience to be very interesting and only vaguely onerous (I dislike paperwork).

Another thought concerns the gun itself. I have never owned an iconic firearm. I own many guns that share features with iconic firearms, but none a random passer by would be able to ascribe a make and model to. This handgun, the Glock 17, is famous in popular culture, and in professional circles where people actually need (or are required) to carry firearms. Also the gun I own is identical in every way to these guns, it was given no limits or handicaps in order to be made available to the general public. I may not have explained myself very well, for which I apologise, but I find this very interesting and so felt the need to express it.

As my skills progress with this handgun I will probably decide to take more lessons.

I will keep you updated.

 

6mmBR for 300m

At the end of a previous post I mentioned my interest in getting a rifle in 6mmBR specifically for shooting at 300m.

With this in mind I have been having various discussions around the range about the options, and this had led to me being offered the chance to shoot other peoples rifles.

George (the club’s executive officer) recently let me use his fancy piece of kit, what is often referred to as a tube gun. The feature of this rifle is a machined tube that closely fits a specific action, allowing the shooter to buy an off the shelf action and slip it in. It also has a very adjustable stock and lots of accessories. See the manufacturers website here: http://www.gotxring.com/ .

Here are photos of the rifle I used.

Tube Gun in 6BR

Tube Gun in 6BR

Tube Gun in 6BR (Action Detail)

Tube Gun in 6BR (Action Detail)

 

6mmBR (left) vs 308Win

6mmBR (left) vs 308Win

 

The recoils was very light and although I was quite uncomfortable while shooting (I didn’t have time to get the rifle properly set up for me) I can see how it could be very accurate if you can get it adjusted properly.

I actually recorded the highest prone score of the day with this rifle (566/600), you can see the rest of the results here: http://edfpages.com/mgfc/results.php?match=11.

I would very happily pay the money for one of these if I had that kind of cash sitting around doing nothing, which I don’t.

I have been offered the chance to have a go with a Gruenig some time soon, which I am sure costs more than a tube gun. However the experience will be good to broaden my understanding of my needs/wants/etc. I will write more on this subject when that happens.

ttfn