Wow, its been a long time…

Hey there! Sorry for the “slight” pause in updates. Since my last post I went from having mostly no jobs to having two. As a consequence I haven’t made it to any of the Tuesday evening hi-power practice sessions recently, or even fired that rifle. I have done a bit more clay pigeon shooting with Jason though, and also done some work on some .308 loads. I will try to get up to date.

Sporting Clays

Jason and I have been back to shoot sporting clays a few times over the summer, and he continues to improve. Last time out he scored higher than me on a couple of stands, my final score was higher but I predict the margins will continue to decrease.

One of our outings was particularly memorable because instead of taking my Beretta over & under, I took my Franchi semi auto. I have been having trouble with the Beretta knocking me in the face so I thought I would give the Franchi a try, but it seems I merely changed the location of the injury instead of erasing it.

I forgot to take my shooting vest with me and ended up shooting in only a t-shirt. I also seemed to have difficulty locating the butt in my shoulder consistently and this resulted in a bit of bruising. See the picture below.

Bruised shoulder

Hi-power

As I said I haven’t had a chance to shoot any hi-power for a while, but I have loaded up 50 rounds of .223 with 80gr bullets using the new powder I got recently, Accurate 2520. I have been loading the magazine length 77gr loads with this powder for a while but I hadn’t finished up the 80gr ammo I had loaded with N-140. If there is anything interesting to report I will let you know.

.35 Whelen project

Nothing new to report on this subject. I am waiting until after hunting season to start searching for the donor rifle, since there are more available then (people need money for Christmas). One person I told about the project said I must like recoil. I’m not sure that I do, but perhaps I will have to learn to like it.

Hunting Season

Amber texted me recently to remind me to buy my hunting license. I did that, but now I’m struggling to keep my mind out of the tree stand. Since I failed to shoot a deer last year I am feeling a certain desperation to do better this time round. As a result I have been exploring some ways that I might improve my luck. Last year the closest I came to a deer was when I saw one turn tail and run away from me as fast as it could. Afterwards I realised that it had been directly downwind of me at the time and its response was consistent with how they react to smelling a predator (according to the book I read). To try to reduce the chance of this happening again I have invested in various products that claim to reduce my scent trail, including laundry detergents to remove scent from my hunting clothes, and sprays for treating my clothes as I wear them. I have also bought a deer call. I feel a little silly buying that, but I’ve heard promising accounts of their effect and I am willing to give anything a go. I think I’m most likely going to call a deer in front of another hunter.

Hunting Load Development

My original hunting load, the Tweed Valley Special, was suggested to me by Charles Young. It consisted of 40 grains of N-140 behind a 150 grain Hornady Interlock BTSP. I successfully shot seven deer with this load, so there is no doubting its efficacy. Last year I shot this load at a 200 yard target and was surprised to see how much the bullet dropped at that range, so I decided to play around with adding more powder to see what I could get it to do. I also started using a slightly different bullet, a 150 grain Hornady SP, which is a flat based version of the other bullet. I worked the load up to 44grains of N-140 which seemed to perform well, and that was what I took hunting. This year I thought I would continue my experiments and try a slightly heavier bullet. I have successfully fired 175 grain match bullets out of my Swing, which has virtually the same barrel as my hunting rifle (a 1-in-14 twist Schultz and Larson), so I thought I would be safe to try a 165 grain bullet for hunting.

I bought some 165 grain Hornady Interlock BTSP bullets to try out, and since I also have the new powder, new primers, and also a bunch of new cases, I thought I would put them all together. On the subject of the cases: a little while ago I was given a bunch of .308 cases. Some were head stamped LC Match (Lake City), and some were stamped LC LR (Lake City Long Range). Despite what might be implied by the head stamps, the general consensus online is that the LC LR are less consistent case to case than the Match, which were considered quite good. I decided to keep the “Match” brass for some target loads I want to try, and use the “LR” brass for hunting.

I put together a selection of loads working up from 41 to 45 grains of Accurate 2520 behind the afore mentioned 165 grain bullet. I loaded five rounds with each charge, and out of curiosity I loaded up a selection with the 150 grain bullet from last years load. These contained from 43 to 46 grains of 2520.

Jason and I went to the range one Saturday to do a bit of shooting and I tried the loads. The day was warm but the air was cold and in the early afternoon there was quite a strong mirage at 200 yards. I fired 3 rounds of each load at targets at 100 yards and watched for pressure signs. I first shot the loads with the 150 grain bullet, then the 165 grain loads. The first round I fired (43 grains 2520 behind 150 grain bullet) had a slightly flattened primer, and I was worried that I would start getting high pressure signs earlier than expected. But there was no real change until I reached the hottest load (45 grains 2520 behind 165 grain bullet) and even then the primer was only a bit more flattened. Once I had fired all the loads at 100 yards I moved the targets back to 200 yards and marked the 100 yard holes to distinguish them. I fired the last two rounds of each load at the same target as at 100 yards to get a direct drop comparison.

The loads with the 150 grain bullet had some strange things happening. Apart from the fact that the groups were generally larger than with the 165 grain bullet, with some groups I could only find two holes in the target after shooting at 100 yards. If it had happened on one target I would have thought I had put two through the same hole, but it happened on three. Also at 200 yards some of the 150 grain bullets impacted higher than at 100 yards. I would have simply put this down to the mirage except the 165 grain loads behaved consistently with the point of impact climbing slightly with each charge increase and always below the 100 yard holes. I think the mirage did have an effect, and perhaps it was changing and so caused the erratic shot placement.

The best load seems to be 45 grains 2520 with 165 grain Hornady Interlock BTSP. A picture of the target is below. The first three shots at 100 yards (marked with black crosses) grouped under an inch, and the 200 yard shots impacted only slightly below (keeping in mind potential mirage effect).

165gr Hdy group

These loads were assembled with an OAL of 2.800 inches. For my .308 match loads I use a 2.850 OAL, but the 150 grain BTSP I first used was so short that it was barely seated in the neck at that length and so I seated it deeper to be safe. The 165 grain bullet is long enough that I want to try and seat it closer to the lands. I also want to try the same load in the Winchester cases I have been using for my hunting ammo up till now. I will put those together some time soon and try them out when I have a chance.

Pistol

I haven’t done much with my handgun for a while, but Jason has been talking about doing a concealed carry class. I have previously considered doing this as when issued it also counts as a permit to purchase and lasts five years. My permit to purchase has expired and I never have time to go down town and apply for a new one. My range is running a class this weekend for a very reasonable price and so we are going to do that. I am also interested to learn a bit more about an element of American gun culture that is completely alien to me, the strong association of guns with self defense. In the UK that is not considered a “good reason” to own a firearm (when applying for a firearms certificate).

I will be required to get up quite early but I hope the day will be worth it. I will let you know how it goes.

3D Printed Butt Stock

The latest version of my butt stock is working very well. It features completely tool-less adjustment of length of pull as well as buttplate height. I am printing it in PET plastic which is a bit trickier to tune the settings for but is stronger and less prone to printing issues than ABS. I have made one for myself out of green plastic that is a pretty close match to the green forend of my AR. George was impressed enough to ask for one in black. I am waiting for his thoughts on it. I have found a small problem when shooting standing that will require a slight redesign, but nothing serious.

I don’t really know where I’m going to take this project. I am glad that I have achieved my first goal of designing and making a practical buttstock, but now that I’ve done that I’m not sure where to go. I think I might try to incorporate more adjustments like cant and cheek piece height, but that may require a significant redesign and I think at the moment I just want to shoot it for a bit. I mentioned this project to another guy at the range and he seemed intrigued. Perhaps I should try to get a few more beta testers on board?

In other 3D printing news, I now own my own printer and have been using it for a few months. I am definitely more productive with my own machine. I have also found the design online for 50 round .223 ammo boxes and have printed a couple. They work pretty well. Other stuff I have made is a spent primer catcher for my press, and a rack for my cleaning rods. I’m not sure another addicting hobby was what I needed right now, but it is fun.

I think that is all for now.