Monday, August 15, 2005

Housekeeping , Scouting And Shooting.

I'm derelict in mentioning that the Carnival of Cordite has been up since Saturday. My apologies to Gullyborg, who does yoeman's work in assembling this.

I was out of the house all day Saturday. Seems that a member of my Son-in-law's church has a pretty good-sized piece of land about, oh, eighty miles or so due east of Dallas. The land has a small lake teeming with bass and catfish as well as some pretty good deer hunting. My SIL has wangled himself an invitation to go deer hunting and a half dozen of the the bunch that will be hunting there this fall spent the weekend camped out there. The plan was to shoot their rifles in, do a little fishing and to scout out the lay of the land.

Only one problem, my SIL has no deer rifle and has never hunted before. He's never even shot a .30-06 or other of the myriad cartridges suitable for light to medium big game. Nor did he have the time and money to score a suitable hunting rifle. Enter the hero of this piece, Gramps. There are a lot of things I don't know much about, rifles and tight money are things that I have intimate familiarity with.

The first obstacle was finding a proper rifle in the less than a week notice we had. As my first step in springing into action I arranged for the loan of a beater rifle. Still, not wanting the kid to be handicapped, we talked about what he'd like. An all-around cartridge, capable for any game in the US was the starting point. That means two cartridges, in my mind, either the .30-06 or 7mm Remington Mag. They are about the top level of recoil the typical new shooter can handle without much danger of picking up a hard to get rid of flinch.

A package rifle, from Wal-Mart was one option. Remington, Winchester, Savage and now even Weatherby all have rifles complete with low end scopes in the $400.00- $600.00 range. Call that option # one. Option # two was the used racks at a well-stocked gunshop. I got lucky with option # three.

I stopped by my gunsmith, Koenig's gun shop in Terrel, Texas. He had several sporterised Mausers and 1903 Springfields on his rack. One of them started screaming my name, a nicely sporterised Springfield, reminding me of the fine examples of shops like Parker Ackley and Griffin and Howe. This was the golden age of American hunting rifles. I decided right then, and bought this rifle. After all, if he doesn't want that rifle, I do. (Update: he loves it.) The trigger has been replaced by an adjustable Timney one stage and the military safety replaced by a Buehler. The scope mounds and rings are quality, they hold an inexpensive 3-9X BSA scope with a 50mm Objective lens. This will do until we can afford the better-quality Leupold. The barrel is a slender 23 inches long. The stock is a traditional American Walnut, with some nice figure. It's got a cheekpiece but no gawdawful Monte Carlo hump. The stock free floats that skinny barrel with a fairly pronounced pressure point at the forend tip.

What I didn't have was any factory ammo, nor time to work up a load for this particular rifle. My own .30-06 is an older Remington. The ammo I had on hand was necksized and the bullets were seated long to fit the rather generous chamber and throat of my rifle.

Some of the ammo was difficult to chamber, not impossible so I threw a couple of hundred rounds in a box, loaded up some other shootin' irons and ammo and drove out to where they were camping. I got halfway to Wills Point before I realized I'd forgot my thermos of coffee and my .45 Colt Ammo. Okay, I might someday need to be better-versed on that particular road.

Between some good directions and a cell phone network that covers a lot of open country, it wasn't hard to get there. First we all went for a walk, checking some likely hunting spots. We found one spot where the deer seem to pass as they go to and from water and a power line cut that looks likely.

We then went to a spot where the owners had bulldozed a dirt backstop. The range was about seventy-five yards or so, with a couple of very rickety 'benches' to shoot off. Trouble is, the bench, besides moving a lot, was too high to shoot sitting and too low for standing. Naturally I didn't have a prone pad along, either. Dumbass. Well, this meant a lot more ammo expended in getting sighted in. This being Texas in August, the handguns and .22 rifle got a lot of work while we waited for barrels to cool. Especially since there was no shade.

My generic open country deer load shot well. This load is 59 grains of H4350 behind the Sierra Prohunter 150 grain flat based soft point. I've never seen a bolt action .30-06 that shoots anything at all well do pretty fair with this load. Some might need a little tweaking with seating depth, primers or small adjustments in the charge, this time we managed several three shot groups with two holes touching and the third within an inch. Under those conditions, not bad at all. We shot until it was time for a late lunch, then everyone but me and my SIL got into the beer. Mmm, campstove chile. Yum. We spent some time in the shade and then shot some more, between passing large quantities of gas.

I'm getting off this now, I've got to full length size a batch of .30-06 cases and load some ammo that chambers easily and shoot off a real, solid bench to finish checking out this iron. I've two hundred of the Sierra bullets to work with, plus a hundred of Hornaday's 168 grain A-Max Target bullets. I'll shoot some pics, too, for the real range report.

Update: Not that it's terribly important in the grand scheme ogf things but I misidentified the 150 grain bullets, they're Hornaday, not Sierra.

No comments: