Low temps = Large groups

On New Year’s eve I ventured out to the ranges at Minneapolis Rifle Club to do some shooting (well I wasn’t going there to crochet was I).

I had hoped to get in some practice on the small bore range and then do some comparative load testing for the Swing, as well as test a hand load for my new handgun. In the end I realized that I should have just stuck to the small bore. Ideally I would have gone to the range the day after boxing day as it was the warmest day that week, but since we had people staying and had planned a couple of nights away over the weekend, New Year’s eve was the only day I had free.

I left my house just after 9am accompanied by my friend from school, Beth. I had preheated the truck so it was relatively comfortable for the journey, but unfortunately no one had preheated the roads and I nearly came a cropper on a slip road just minutes after setting off. Fortunately I managed to keep it on the road and away from other vehicles, and once I had rediscovered traction and a heart rate approaching normal I proceeded with a little bit more caution. The rest of the journey was pleasantly uneventful.

The small bore shooting house was already on the way to warming up when we arrived, and after a little while we were able to begin in relative comfort. I had remembered my full fingered glove and a blanket to put under my mat for extra padding and so the problems were limited to a little numbness in my right hand from the cold air coming through the shutter. This made effective trigger control increasingly difficult to achieve as the shoot went on, but regardless I came away with some half decent groups (see picture below).

50 meter small bore target. Dec 31st 2013

50 meter small bore target. Dec 31st 2013

Considering this is only the second time I have shot small bore since I came to the US, I am quite satisfied.

Shooting small bore. Dec 31st 2013

Shooting small bore. Dec 31st 2013

New Year's eve small bore shoot.

New Year’s eve small bore shoot.

I finally found a good reason to grow a beard.

After shooting small-bore I decided to go over to the general purpose range to test some .308win loads.

I intended to compare three loads: my standard long range load comprising 46gr N-140 behind a 155gr Sierra Match King seated to 2.850 inches. My new 300m Special load of 40gr N-140 behind the same 155gr SMK also seated to 2.850 inches. And the 300m Special load but with the bullet seated 15 thou from the lands (I recently invested in an OAL gauge). I have all sorts of questions in my mind about the performances of these loads that I can’t answer effectively in competition conditions.

Unfortunately these questions were not going to get answered that day. The temperature was down around zero Fahrenheit and although I was well bundled up it wasn’t long before I was feeling it. My first shot knocked the snow off the roof of the shelter, which was entertaining, but then I was unable to group better than about 2-3 inches. Considering I was shooting at 100yds it readily became apparent that no useful data was going to be accrued that day, so we moved on to load testing for the Glock. I won’t go into detail except to say that the load still needs a tweak.

Below is a photo of me shooting my Glock. Well bundled but I still managed to hit the paper.

Handgun load testing Dec 31st 2013

Handgun load testing Dec 31st 2013

I will return to the range on a warmer day to test those loads. Results will follow.


2 comments on “Low temps = Large groups

  1. Niall Macdonald says:

    “problems were limited to a little numbness in my right hand from the cold air coming through the shutter”.

    Invest in a cheap woolen glove and chop the very tops off the index, middle finger and thumb. Makes picking up the rounds easier and keeps the hand warm. Bearsden heating broken down again. 190, not bad but you are needing the practice!



  2. […] first attempt to test was in less than ideal conditions (described here) on a 100yd range, and I was unable to get anything approaching a decent group. I decided to try […]

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