Thursday, August 18, 2005

Range Day, No Wonder I'm Wore Down

Up too early, sneaking 'round the house trying to avoid waking up Linda Lou and Captain Fatbob, the spoilled rotten Pug. Check E-Mail and Drudge, Malkin and Mudville. Okay, the world hasn't ended while I'm unconscious. Check my pulse while I get on the outside of my paltry coffee ration that my Docs let me have. Okay, I'm alive so it's safe to start the day. I might as well get dressed.

Start humping stuff to the car, rifle, a hundred rounds of ammo, cleaning cradle, cleaning gear. Since it's a hot day already, load the .22 so I'll have something to do while the barrel cools.

Targets, more ammo, front rest, rear bag. Little cooler, have to stop for ice and cold drinks. Car is loaded, do I have time for a nap? No? What a shame.

Hit the road, the most direct highway has got construction going so take the long way. First stop, load the cooler. Stomache flapping in the breeze, stop and get breakfast. Drive the long way, been a long time. Houses going up where we used to hunt birds, bunnies and deer.

Finally arrive at the range. Start carrying stuff, wondering why I wasn't born rich instead of so good looking, I could hire someone to carry all this crap. Pay my range fees, engage in grandbaby picture duel with Frank, the proprieter. We finally call it a draw and get to the important thing, checking out the new shootin' iron.

Finally set up on the fifty yard line, trudge out and set up a target, fire a three shot group to make sure I'm close enough to do the accuracy test at a hundred. Close enough, move the '06 to the hundred yard line, set the .22 on the fifty. Trudge out and get set up with targets for the .22 at fifty, the '06 at a hundred. It's hotter than the hinges of Hell. Barrel is too hot yet for another group so I shoot a couple groups with the .22. Realise that I forgot to bring my target scope so shoot with the little two to seven power hunting scope with that all day. A half a box of .22s and the Springfield's tube is cool enough for another group. Looking through the scope it looks like it's real close to an inch and a half or so. Woot!

Shoot the .22 some more, my bud Ace shows up. Another grandkid picture duel. I won. He thinks he won. Fire another group while Ace is setting up his Thompson Contender in .22 Hornet. This group even smaller. Back to the .22 while the tube cools down, that skinny barrel heats up fast.

The load of 59 grains of H4350 and the 150 grain Hornaday is a keeper, a little fine tuning on seating depth and I'll be able to blow the balls off a bull butterfly at 200 yards. Let the barrel cool some more, go in the range shack and soak up the air conditioning.

Try the next level up, 60 grains behind that same bullet. Holy Crap! Terrible group, over three inches. Me? The load? Scope mounts or rings came loose? Check the screws for tightness, they're okay. Go shoot the .22 while the barrel cools.

Another group with the 60 grain load, again terrible. This load just plain won't shoot. Funny how one small increment of powder can make such a difference. The people with big brains say that it's because of barrel harmonics. The barrel whips around and vibrates like a tuning fork under the stress of firing. The 59 grain load must spit the bullet out the muzzle in a 'dead spot' at one end or the other while the 60 grain exits during the maximum movement. Or something. I get headaches from trying to figure out why one load won't work while another will. All I know is that another rifle might shoot the sixty grain load better.

After the tube cools down again, Ace tries a group with the 59 gr. load, it's the diamond target. Both those targets pictured have one inch grids, both groups are minute of angle (In gunny talk, MOA). I'll fool with the seating depth a little and see if I can improve them, I doubt that I'll see a lot of improvement, though. To get much better than MOA takes a stronger scope than is practical in a hunting rifle. Just can't SEE the target well enough to aim much closer than an inch with the low power hunting scopes.

Anyway, the rifle shoots. It's sitting in the cleaning vise with a barrel full of Butch's Bore Shine busily disolving the copper fouling. My ass is dragging about three steps behind, everywhere I go. Still, it's been a productive week. I'm going to pull the bullets from those 60 grain loads and reload them at 59.

Next session I'll set up at two hundred yards and make sure the accuracy holds out. And those beautifully streamlined Hornaday A-Max Match Bullets are whispering to me.

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