1000yds on Stickledown

A friend posted a link to this video on Facebook and I enjoyed it enough that I thought I should share it here.

I did a little of this kind of team shooting before I left Scotland, once even on Stickledown with the Scottish rifle team (only for practice though).

It is a very pure shooting experience, almost like indoor smallbore where you just forget about the world and focus on the job of releasing shots exactly the same way each time. No distractiopns from the wind flags, just you, the rifle, and the target (and the hand that slides past your face to adjust your sights, and the voice telling you when you can shoot). There is a great satisfaction in the process of firing a shot then reloading and getting on target as quickly as possible so you are able to fire as soon as the coach gives you the word. The faster you can shoot after getting the go ahead the less time the wind has to change, and I got to a point during some shoots that I was releasing the shot within seconds of hearing “go on”.

I really enjoyed it and this video brought it back for me.

Advertisements

A stock that is anything but stock…

So a few years back I decided to take up deer hunting, and since a hunter needs a rifle I got myself a rifle.

When I first met the rifle that would become my deer rifle it was in the form of a target rifle.  It belonged to Kelvinside Academy who were looking to reduce the number of full bore rifles they owned. I had a look through their selection and settled on one with an Interarms Mk. X action chambered in .308Win. I made this choice because it had an internal magazine, I could see the stock was good although in need of modification, and the action was in good condition and already drilled and tapped for scope bases.

Below are a series of pictures of the stock as I found it.

Stock as received left view

Stock as received left view

Stock as received end view.

Stock as received end view.

Stock as received bottom view

Stock as received bottom view

Stock as received side view

Stock as received side view

Thanks to Border Barrels, the Schultz and Larson 1:14 barrel was cut down to 23 inches and threaded for a moderator. Charles (The Oracle) helped me mount my scope and bases. David, my friend from Bearsden rifle club, took the stock to work with him and cut off the excess wood that I didn’t need. That process is documented in the pictures below.

Cutting down the stock 1

Cutting down the stock 1

Cutting down the stock 2

Cutting down the stock 2

Cutting down the stock 3

Cutting down the stock 3

Cutting down the stock 4

Cutting down the stock 4

Cutting down the stock 5

Cutting down the stock 5

I then finished the stock with various planes, shaves, and sand paper, and then coated with Birchwood Casey’s Tru-Oil. Below is a picture of the stock during the long process of sanding.

Finishing the stock

Finishing the stock

The tru-Oil gave the stock a beautiful appearance, as can be seen in the photo below, but the one thing that I couldn’t do, and I never tried to do, was checkering. And so the stock remained plain, but no less successful for it.

Rifle and deer

Rifle and deer

I have taken seven deer with this rifle in the UK, and it is clearly capable of very decent accuracy. The group in the following picture was shot at 100 yards on the Border Barrels zero range in the Scottish Borders (apologies for the blur), the coin is a two pence piece that is around an inch across.

Zero group

Zero group

When I moved to the USA this rifle came with me (minus the moderator). The original scope was damaged in transit, and apart from the one trip out to zero the new scope the rifle has languished in my gun cabinet. Until now…

A couple of months ago I was reading a shooting magazine and happened upon a rifle review. I forget which rifle was being reviewed, but the thing that jumped out at me was the mention of laser cut checkering. I didn’t know that could be done until I read that, and as it happens I have access to a laser cutter through my school and a willing tech who enjoys a new challenge.

So I came up with a design, and although I mention the word checkering I very early on decided that that was not going to be the right description of the outcome. A short internet search came up with some simple line drawings of deer antlers and a few hours battling editing software resulted in a pleasing design.

Antler Interlock design

Antler Interlock design

It is based upon the outlines of a Fallow deer antler and a Whitetail deer antler, and I designed it so it would interlock and repeat. At this point my expertise ran out and I passed it along to the aforementioned willing tech, Anthony. Below is a photo of him working his magic.

Anthony converting the file.

Anthony converting the file.

Anthony needed to convert the file from the jpeg that I provided into a vector file that the machine could understand. Once that was done we performed test cuts on one of the offcuts from when the stock was originally converted (sometimes it is good to be a hoarder). Below are photos of the tests. The first was just the outline as per my original design, but it was clear upon handling that this would not provide any significant grip advantage, which is the point of checkering and one of the immediate goals of this project.

Test One

Test One

For the second test it was decided to fill in the outline, and this proved much more effective as a gripping pattern.

Test Two

Test Two

The third test was the same as the second except we decided to cut it a little deeper and this further improved the grip.

Test Three

Test Three

I subsequently used these test cuts to test the finishes that I might apply. The first and third are highlighted with Chinese drawing ink, and the second is filled with graphite. All three were subsequently coated with linseed oil.

Below is a sequence of images of the machine setup and the results.

Ready in the cutter bed.

Ready in the cutter bed.

First look.

First look.

Grip finished.

Grip finished.

Forearm finished.

Forearm finished.

I decided on the Chinese ink to highlight the etching with a final coat of linseed oil.

I am pleased with the outcome. I now not only have a remarkably accurate hunting rifle, I also have a particularly good looking one.

Complete rifle 3

Complete rifle 3

Complete rifle 2

Complete rifle 2

Complete rifle 1

Complete rifle 1

Complete rifle 4

Complete rifle 4

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end…..

…. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

First shoot with my new spacegun

First shoot with my new spacegun.

This is a picture of me having just finished my first shoot with my new rifle. Pretty isn’t it!

I have never had a brand new rifle before and so this is the first time I have had to shoot in a barrel, and although I was told that the accuracy doesn’t really peak until a couple of hundred rounds have gone down the barrel, it was doing pretty well with with only a few dozen. My best score was 194/200 which must come close to or beat my best score to date at 300m. You can see the target on the wall behind me in the picture to get an idea what I was shooting at.

As I reported previously, my rifle was not complete as ordered. George (my mentor in this new escapade) has loaned me the parts I needed to get it running, which was most of them it seemed. The lower receiver, stock, and both front and rear sights. I have some of the parts I need, but will wait until I have tried things out before I make decisions on parts like the trigger and stock.

Now is the time to get practicing. Put some rounds down and get to know the rifle so that I can put in a good showing when the winter league kicks in.

Everyone is doing it..

After finding out that I had ordered a new rifle, my friend Niall reported to me that he had invested in a new rifle also.

He has for a long time used a Carl Gustav that was originally built for biathlon (when biathlon was shot with a full-bore rifle), and which, though lovely, has a limited ability beyond 600yds. Below are photos of his new rifle.

It’s a Musgrave in .308Win with a Border 1:13 stainless barrel which is 300 rounds old. The sights are Fulton’s 18mm ladder foresight and an AJ Parker T.Z. rearsight.

 

Niall's new Musgrave

Niall’s new Musgrave

 

Niall's new Musgrave 2

Niall’s new Musgrave 2

 

Below is Niall’s account of his first long range shoot with the Musgrave.

 

"Interesting day. Good shooting conditions with an irritating variable 
wind from 1 o'clockish.

Got help from an F class shooter (big telescope on gun) to set zero at 
900yds. 9 shots later he hadn't seen the fall of shot once and I'd 
tried everything -, over the bullet catcher, into the mantlet, still no 
joy. Stopped and waited ages 'til Mike was free. Mike saw 
the first shot and brought the elevation up in stages to 50.5mins from 
34.5. Got on target and had 18 shots, a bit hurried, only 4 in the 
inner so fairly happy with that. Better than I could do with the Charlie G.

Back to 1000yds and the plot is attached. For the first time I had 
shot at that distance not too bad an effort. I got caught by a wind 
change on shot 6&7, fairly stupid shot on 16 cause unknown and 19 and 20 
were from a different batch of ammunition. (Learning point - always 
ensure one has more than enough rounds from the same batch). 
Elevation now at 55.5 and seems reasonably reliable.

Now need to think about the sights; also need to scribe a new line on 
the foresight as there is a mismatch from the fixed to variable sides.

Rifle performed well. A fairly tight chamber I think with one instance 
of a bit of effort needed to close the bolt. Will need to watch 
re-sizing of cases as there is not as much slack as with the Charlie 
G. Trigger is still a bit stiff after the light Timney in the CG."

Niall’s 1000yd scorecard

Thanks for the update, and congrats on the new rifle Niall.

A Rifle for 300m: Culmination

I have for a while been looking to acquire a new rifle for use at 300m, more specifically for the 300m international competition which requires 60 shots + sighters in 90 minutes; an “uncomfortable” task with a (my) .308. I have experimented with different loads for my .308 but if you have read some of my previous posts you will know how that went.

Originally I was looking for a new rifle in 6mmBR, a currently very popular cartridge for this competition. However it is not widely used and as such the costs associated with it are somewhat higher than more conventional cartridges.

In a previous post, Taking an AR15 match rifle for a spinI described how I had the opportunity to try a friends AR15 match rifle and how it was an unexpectedly pleasant experience. In fact it made such an impression on me that not very long after I published that post I went ahead and ordered one for myself.

Now, when I say I ordered one, I mean I ordered part of one. The part I ordered was the complete upper receiver, which consists of the barrel, gas parts, upper receiver frame, bolt, and charging handle. I ordered from White Oak Armaments who produce match grade products to order. Below is a photo from their website of the “upper” I ordered.

White Oak Armaments Match Upper

White Oak Armaments Match Upper

I ordered it in March and it has just arrived. I even ordered it in that colour.

The barrel is 26 inches, is chambered in .223 Wilde, and has a profile that allows a match sight to be attached at the front for a full length sight base.

Unfortunately since this is only a part of the rifle (a very important part ) I will need more bits to make it work as intended. The next major part to get is the lower receiver. This has been ordered and has arrived at a dealer, but since it is the part with the serial number on it I will have to go and fill in some federal paper work to get my hands on it. It should look like this:

Lower receiver (left)

Lower receiver (left)

Lower Receiver (right)

Lower Receiver (right)

*photos taken from www.joeboboutfitters.com*

(I find it funny that this piece of metal requires background checks and paperwork, while the barrel and the rest of it can be sent to me in the post)

I will be picking this part up soon. It won’t however be getting attached to the upper just yet, as it will have no trigger or any of the other important moving parts installed. I am being lent a lower complete with trigger etc, as well as a stock and a front sight. I have a spare rear sight that I hope to use, and the other parts I will pick up when I am ready.

As an added benefit of this caliber, when I hand load for it I can use the same Vihtavouri N-140 powder that I already use for .308 and have a supply of.

Exciting times.

 

 

A rifle for 300m (formerly the 6mmBR project) Update

Since last year I have been thinking about a new rifle for use at 300m, and up until now I have been looking primarily at something chambered in 6mmBR. However after discussions with a few people I have decided to consider the possibilities of other calibers. I am still keen on owning a rifle chambered in 6mmBR, but for now, since I am a student and have limited finances, I have decided to consider other calibers that can offer decent performance at a much lower price tag.

One suggestion I have had is .223 Rem in an AR15 platform. I have never thought of a semi-auto rifle as an accurate platform, and in the UK they are not legal for civilian ownership so they didn’t really enter my consciousness when I thought about target shooting. Here in the US however they are ubiquitous and due to their popularity there are many manufacturers building rifles and components that are highly modified from the original military spec.

One such manufacturer is White Oak Armament who produce a “complete upper” that is purpose built for match shooting. It is really ideal for a discipline called “across the course” which is a military style competition that includes timed details that favour a semi-auto. However I am assured  it’s accuracy is such that it is perfectly suitable for regular matches, if you don’t mind picking your brass off the floor at the end of the detail.

The .223 Rem is a much more affordable alternative to 6mmBR, and the components and reloading tools are more widely available. At 300m it is pretty close to 6mmBR in performance, but at 600yds and beyond it compares much less favourably. However, since I will be shooting primarily at 300m and I have a very good .308 rifle that I can use at longer ranges, this is not a particular concern. Having a semi-auto would also open up the possibility of competing in “across the course” in the future if I desired.

I have not made up my mind, and I have a way to go before I can afford anything, so I will continue to consider my options until I do.

Shoot a lot, learn a little.

Warning: the loads described in this post are safe in my rifle, but may not be in yours. In the words of many a loading manual: start low and work up while watching for signs of pressure.

*********************

In a previous post (here) I described the beginning of my search for a more appropriate load for 300m competition that won’t leave me black and blue in the process.

I based my first test load on my hunting load that uses 40gr VV N140 behind a 150gr soft point and named it the 300m Special. This load was a pleasure to shoot, but I never felt I was getting the best results with it. I decided to try to compare the 300m Special against my original long range load and a variation of the 300m special with the bullet seated out to 15 thou off the lands.

My 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 again on the 300m range, shooting from the heated shooting house. The 300m range is not ideal for load testing as the wind becomes a factor and I am far from an expert at judging wind (I am working on that), but I wanted to test the loads and the way this winter has gone I doubted it would ever be warm enough to do anything else.

I tested three loads of my own, (and was given two 175gr loads by another shooter).

My loads were as follows:

(All loads were in a Lapua case with CCI BR2 primers, VV N140 powder, and a 155gr Sierra Match King (palma) bullet)

Load One: 300m Special – 40gr powder – 2.850 OAL.

Load Two: 300m Special (long) –  40gr powder – seated 15 thou off the lands (I bought a seating depth gauge recently)

Load Three: Original long range load – 46gr powder – 2.850 OAL

***********************

My process was to fire a group then photograph the plot screen as well as the data screens that record group size and location.

I recorded the wind as gusting from 10 o-clock. I didn’t record the temperature but it was cold (certainly way below 0C/32F).

(Results include two groups that were shot with ammunition lent to me by another shooter, these rounds were loaded with 175gr bullets.)

See below for the results.

***********************

300m Special (6 groups)

Group One (plot)

Group One (plot)

Group One (Data)

Group One (Data)

Group Two (Plot)

Group Two (Plot)

Group Two (Data)

Group Two (Data)

Group Two (More Data)

Group Two (More Data)

Group Three (Plot)

Group Three (Plot)

Group Three (Data)

Group Three (Data)

Group Three (More data)

Group Three (More data)

Group Four (Plot)

Group Four (Plot)

Group Four (Data)

Group Four (Data)

Group Four (More data)

Group Four (More data)

Group Five (Plot)

Group Five (Plot)

Group Five (Data)

Group Five (Data)

Group Five (More data)

Group Five (More data)

Group Six (Plot)

Group Six (Plot)

Group Six (Data)

Group Six (Data)

Group Six (More data)

Group Six (More data)

***********************

300m Special long – seated 15 thou off the lands (3 groups)

Group Seven (Plot)

Group Seven (Plot)

Group Seven (Data)

Group Seven (Data)

Group Seven (More data)

Group Seven (More data)

Group Eight (Plot)

Group Eight (Plot)

Group Eight (Data)

Group Eight (Data)

Group Eight (More data)

Group Eight (More data)

Group Nine (Plot)

Group Nine (Plot)

Group Nine (Data)

Group Nine (Data)

Group Nine (More data)

Group Nine (More data)

***********************

175gr experiment (given by another shooter to see how it would shoot)

Group Ten (Plot)

Group Ten (Plot)

175gr Long Range Mk 316

175gr Long Range Mk 316

***********************

175gr experiment 2

Group Eleven (Plot)

Group Eleven (Plot)

175gr Long Range M118

175gr Long Range M118

***********************

Original long range load (One group)

Group Twelve (Plot)

Group Twelve (Plot)

Group Twelve (Data)

Group Twelve (Data)

Group Twelve (More data)

Group Twelve (More data)

***********************

To be honest I don’t know that I learned much from this test.

The 300m Special groups seem to display a distinct vertical spread.

The 300m Special (long) groups didn’t appear to be significantly tighter than the 300m Special, but they were less vertical.

The best group was number 12, shot with my original long range load (but it was only one group of three shots so it may not be representative).

All I discovered from shooting the loads with 175gr bullets was that my rifle will shoot them (good to know) and that I am not very good at reading the wind (which I knew already).

Conclusion: Assuming that the best group (#12) was not just a case of me trying harder, then the only difference between the 300m Special and my original long range load is the powder charge. The faster bullet is less affected by the wind. Therefore, I have determined to experiment with souping up my load a little and see if I can find a balance between speed and comfort.

***********************

When I left Scotland I had to leave behind all the ammunition and components that I had collected and loaded over the years and months before leaving, and being a student I haven’t been able to replace it all. I only have 200 Lapua match cases in .308, and I have been concerned about wearing them out shooting at 300m where their quality probably isn’t making a huge difference.

So I put the word out that I was interested in getting some decent but affordable cases to use at 300m, and I was not long after given an ammo box containing 500 once fired Lake City match brass (see picture below). I am very grateful.

500 once fired LC Match brass

500 once fired LC Match brass

I am going to try my new 300m load in these cases. Having weighed them I have discovered that they are slightly heavier than my Lapua brass so after discussions with George (the club secretary and source of the cases) I am going to try 42.5gr VV N140 behind a 155gr SMK seated to 2.850 inches. There is a shoot this weekend (and I have been reading about the wind), so we shall see what we shall see.

Till next time.