Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Range Day, Again.

It rained all night Friday so no Cowboy Action Shoot. Too bad, I was loaded for bear. Instead I went to the range today, Tuesday, my old range day for years.
If anyone cares I skipped work Monday, oh wait, I skip work every day. Sweet retirement. I did go spend a little money, though, just to show the illegals that I care. Just a note here, I grew up in a state that borders Mexico, all my life I've had Mexican friends, still do. The operative word in the whole affair is illegal. Follow the rules, wait your turn, come in legally, welcome.

Anyhow, I was eager to get to the range, I had a new shootin' iron to check out and a new kind of bullets, plus those heavily loaded Hornaday XTP Hollowpoints to check in the rifle. We will start with them. Those few who follow this blog regularly know that I chose a clone of the '92 Winchester for my Cowboy Action rifle. Most successful competitors choose a clone on the '73 Winchester, they usually operate a little faster. Tell the truth, if the Rockefellers called me up when they ran a little short, I would have a '73 too. Trouble is, the '73s are a weak action, they can't take the loads the '92 handles with aplomb. Given the world I live in a rifle that serves two purposes is better than a pure competition rifle. This one can serve three purposes, close range light and medium big game, defense and competition.

I had two boxes of loads with the Hornadays, both near max loads. One was Hodgdons Lil Gun and the other Hodgdon's H110. I did not bring the chronograph so I can't give the velocity although both loads are said to give some 1150-1200 fps from a revolver barrel. Add some 600-800 fps for the 24 inch rifle barrel. This is an accurate load, both powders shot to the same point of impact. Had I not marked each shot from the Lil Gun loads I would have been quite happy with one ten shot group instead of two five shot groups. I had the usual trouble trying to get the elevation right with that brass bead front sight, my group was like an inch and a half wide and four inches tall. I was right, though, those big loads and that steel crescent buttplate got my attention. Fortunately, that steering wheel that removed so many of my teeth means that I had no fillings to knock out. Oh well, it isn't a benchrest load and once I got off the bench after sighting it in, it was fine. With that rifle and load anything within a hundred and fifty yards or so lives because I prefer it to. For now.

Now the fun part, the new revolver and the Big Lube Boolits. Actually I had all the revolvers, and the rifle. That new revolver isn't just a gun, it's a long distance drill until I started getting tired and shakey, anything I looked at I hit. At ten yards, a pretty common range for Cowboy Action handgun work, I had a couple five shot groups in the inch and a half range, more with four shots close and one pulled. Oh to be a thirty-five year old kid again. Sigh. Better yet, these black powder loads didn't begin to tie up the guns. Instead of a lube star on the muzzle of the guns I had a complete circle, and the fouling was wet and soft. Even on the rifle.

Bear in mind, now, that these loads had only the lube in the bullets lube groove, no grease cookie or greased wad. I did not even have a card wad under the bullet, excuse me, boolit. I was aiming for about 28 grains of BP behind the 250 grain bullet. I had my little Lee Autodisc measure set up with the double disc kit and I got it throwing 24.5 grains, close enough for this experiment, I shall go a little bigger next time. At any rate I was close to the old Cavalry load of 28 grains behind a 230 grain bullet. This was GOEX FFG powder.

Note...There are those who say that it is dangerous to throw black powder charges through a plastic powder measure. They worry about static electricity. Please understand that I am describing what I did, taking a risk I am willing to take. I am not telling you to take that risk. I am not blown up. Your mileage may vary. If you blow yourself up messing with black power, or that newfangled heathen smokeless stuff, for that matter, do not come crying to me. If you are the kind of person that runs around suing folks, don't mess with gunpowder. If you do, it's not my fault.

At any rate I put in the charge of powder and followed it up with a .7 cc scoop of dry grits, do not use cooked grits, dry grits. The dry grits are merely to take up space as most black powder loads prefer to be slightly compressed. Some loads actually prefer heavy compression. At any rate a good rule of thumb is no airspace in the cartridge. There is actually some argument about this in the BP Websites, seems some of the factories loaded ammo with airspace back in the day. Of course, they had different powder back then, too. And testing equipment that the private shooter does not have, we test our loads in our guns, right there in our hands. I'll stick with the no airspace rule.

Oddly, the Big Lube Boolits shot very poorly in the rifle do not think that was the fault of the bullet, though bought these bullets from a Cowboy Action Shooter who was quitting Black Powder. He had two batches of bullets, one batch sized at .452 and the other at .454. I was too slow to get the .454 bullets. The chamber in my rifle is pretty good sized, bigger than my revolver chambers. These loads were quite light was not enough pressure for the cases to completely obdurate the chamber, the outside of my cases were pretty black from powder smoke. If the truth were known, I bought these because the Pard was sellin' them for half price. Next month when I'm in California I will buy some of the .454-.455 bullets from Springfield Slim. Until then, I'll load up some of these .452s with more powder and see if the higher pressure seals the chamber better. Oh, and I'll load a batch of the .455 Remington bullets with a grease cookie, I know my rifle likes those. If these .452 bullets only shoot in my handguns, well, I've got handguns and they need ammo. I'll bet a nickel, cash, that the .454s will be accurate in the rifle. The group was spread all over but I looked carefully at the bullet holes, they were all nice and round with no evidence of keyholing. I had the same problem with some Meister cast bullets at .452, poor accuracy. The .454s shot well.

I doubt that I will have my loading press along on this trip so it will be sometime in July, maybe even August before I can report on the .454s in the rifle. I can say that the basic premise is good. My first wet cleaning patch looked like a coal miner's work glove, then the dry patch, the next wet patch had some gray. After four patches I left the rifle in the cleaning cradle with the bore soaking in moose milk. In the morning I'll patch that out and load it up with the hollowpoints in case the mad Mullahs try to invade Lake Tawakoni.

If you feel like coming over to the Dark Side, check out Dick Dastardly's website. He's got the stuff that will have you making smoke. He's got the bullet molds and the websites of those who cast the bullets and he's got Pearl Lube which seems to be considerable cheaper than my concoction, plus he gives out the recipe .If the .454s shoot as well in my rifle as the .452s do in my revolvers I will be buying a mold and be out of the grease cookie buisiness.

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