Sorry, not Sorry.

I recently graduated from the University of Minnesota and am currently between significant employments, so now is not really the time to start a new rifle build, especially for a rifle that I don’t really have a need for. Nevertheless one has been started.

For a little while I have been contemplating building a rifle for hunting in a more powerful caliber than .308 (which my current hunting rifle is chambered in) and that is suitable for game larger than whitetail deer (that I am not now, nor expect to be hunting any time soon).

I have also been getting interested in some .35 caliber cartridges since I read about the .35 Remington in a shooting magazine. .35s are not particularly popular right now as the trend is for faster and flatter shooting catridges, but I am intrigued by the possibilities of them. When I first started to think about hunting I was considering a .270 Winchester, but Charles Young said to me that big and slow is better than small and fast when it comes to taking deer. My experience with my .308 has borne this out, and the .35 calibers are all about big and slow.

I discussed my thoughts on a new rifle build with George and he told me about the Savage 110 action and how easy and relatively cheap it was to change barrels on them. When I got home I did an internet search and found a barrel on Midway for a Savage 110 action in an interesting .35 caliber, the .35 Whelen. That night I was having trouble sleeping, and in the early hours of the morning I looked again at the listing for that barrel. I observed (in my compromised state of mind) that it was on sale and there were fewer remaining to buy than there were the last time I looked, so I made the decision to buy it.

The .35 Whelen ( is a wildcat developed from the 30-06 springfield cartridge. There aren’t many factory loads available, but it is an interesting option for a reloader as the cases can be formed by running 30-06 brass through a .35 Whelen sizing die to expand the neck. 30-06 brass is cheap and plentiful in this part of the world. The same powders and primers I use for .308 will also work for the Whelen.

I will now need a Savage 110 donor rifle chambered for any of the .30-06 family, and possibly a new stock since the barrel I have bought is a magnum contour and so probably won’t fit in the donor rifle’s stock without modification. I think the best time for buying the donor rifle will be in late November through the early months of next year, after the deer hunting season when people need cash more than a rifle. It will probably take me that long to save the money anyway.

It was probably an unwise decision to buy the barrel in my current situation, but I am excited to build a new rifle and explore a new caliber. So I’m sorry, but also not sorry.

Yays, Sporting clays!

I got a text from my friend Jason, he is the husband of Amber who is another student on my grad program. I went hunting with them last November. Here is a picture of us all from that trip:

The Great White hunters, and the Lakeratz - November 2014

The Great White hunters, and the Lakeratz – November 2014

He told me he had a day off coming and really wanted to do some shooting. Although I am planning to do some .308 load development I haven’t had a chance to actually produce any loads for testing yet, so I suggested we go clay pigeon shooting.

It’s been maybe two years since I did any clay shooting, and Jason said he has never done any but was keen to so, it was a go.

We went to the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club which is about 30 minutes south of the cities. They have a great set of sporting clay courses that are spread through a woodland. Each stand has a different arrangement of the traps and sometimes multiple positions to shoot from so there is lots of interesting variation.

The system is quite advanced; they give you a card that you place on a terminal at each stand, it is like a pre-charged payment card that permits a certain number of clays to be launched and you pay at the end when you are finished. Last time I went there we couldn’t complete our round as we lost the light, but they only charged us for the clays we used, so I am in favour of the system.

Jason and I went about mid morning and the place was quiet so we could take our time. Considering he has never shot at a moving target before he did pretty well, hitting 22/50. His performance improved as we progressed through the stands to the point where he was hitting pairs by the end. I scored 33/50.

I was using my Beretta over & under which I had ported a little while ago. This was the first time I had fired more than a few shots from it, so I was interested to see how it felt. The recoil is still robust since the gun is light, but I didn’t feel so much of it on my face so I’m willing to believe the barrel flip has been reduced. I still had a slightly tender spot on my cheek afterwards, but I didn’t notice at the time. It was a hot day and so I was only wearing a light shirt under my vest, thus my shoulder carried the evidence of the day.

Bruised shoulder from sporting clays

Bruised shoulder from sporting clays

Jason was using a pump action shotgun that is quite new and thus a bit stiff. It required a firm action to cycle cleanly, but it will loosen up with use. After he got used to it it didn’t seem to limit him more than any pump would have, and then only on fast pairs where a quick second shot is most necessary.

After we finished we had a beer and something to eat in the restaurant. The place reminds me of a classy golf club, but then sporting clays is sometimes described as golf with a gun, so maybe it should.

After looking at the menu I tried to order a bowl of soup, but was informed that soup is only served in winter. So I ordered the deep fried cheesecake with vanilla ice cream instead, not the healthy option that the soup was meant to be, but good for the soul at least.

A fun day and one that is certain to be repeated.

Mk4 butt stock is a go!

This week I have finally finished the design of my mk4 butt stock, and the first parts are printing as I write this.

Assuming I got the tolerances right and nothing needs to be adjusted and reprinted, I should be able to try it out at the next hi-power practice.

This version is designed to be adjustable without tools and is much more complex than the previous versions, which is why it took longer to finish than I expected. I have also designed the length adjustment mechanism to be separate from the system that attaches the stock to the rifle, which I have found to be a problem. The whole thing becoming loose when I want to adjust the length is frustrating and I am afraid that I will drop the rifle if it is in the wrong position when I loosen the bolts. It seemed like a neat solution when I first thought of it, but I now realise it is a flaw that needlessly complicates the use of the system.

I am making this one in PETG which promises better strength and flexibility than the ABS I used for the mk3, and also promises to be easier to print, suffering less shrinkage and warping during production. I previously bought a spool of a material called PET+ which has printed well but is considerably more expensive than ABS. The PETG (from a different supplier) is much closer in price to ABS, but at the time I bought it it was only available in a few colours not including black or white.

The print currently in progress is using a semi transparent filament in a lovely shade of yellow. I think it will be quite fetching.

Below is an image of the first part to come off the printer. It is one of the adjustment knobs intended to allow tool-less adjustment.

Mk4 butt plate adjustment knob.

Mk4 butt plate adjustment knob.

More photos and updates will follow.

Another mini match

Another week another mini match. This week I managed to improve in some areas but slip slightly in others.

My position for the 200yd offhand felt less stable than last time. I had a few shots which I called as bad as soon as they went off. I think I wasn’t finding the same position every time I set up.

200 yd slow fire (offhand) 30th June '15

200 yd slow fire (offhand) 30th June ’15

My sitting rapid was better. I tried to get the rifle as vertical as I could and (possibly) as a result my group was centered more on the bull. I did make the mistake of wearing shorts and found out that the grip pads on my jacket are quite coarse and uncomfortable on bare legs.

200yd Rapid fire (Sitting) 30th June '15

200yd Rapid fire (Sitting) 30th June ’15

My 300yd rapid was also an improvement, however after firing my shots I got distracted collecting my brass and nearly missed seeing my target after it was marked. I got the score but the target was pulled before I could record the placement of my shots.

300yd rapid fire 30th June '15

300yd rapid fire 30th June ’15

My 300yd slow fire started well, and I thought I was going to improve on my previous mini match result, however I had a mystery 9 on my fourth shot and a few others that stubbornly missed the x ring. Other shooters reported having shots go high, so I wonder if the light levels shifted briefly…or I had a bad shot.

After 6 & 7 went high I adjusted my sights down a quarter minute and then shots 8 & 9 went in about a quarter minute low. Since 6 & 7 are clearly more than a quarter minute high the sight adjustment was more of a gesture since I didn’t really believe an adjustment was required. Shots 6-9 are also drifting left but I don’t know what that means.

In the end however, I suppose I can’t really grumble about 99-4.

300yd slow fire 30th June '15

300yd slow fire 30th June ’15