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Thread: Range Day, just 'cause

  1. #1
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Default Range Day, just 'cause

    We had a fantastic day yesterday, sunshine, temps near 60, slight wind. Staying inside would have been an indication of insanity so I did what my first impulse usually is on such days, I loaded up and headed for the range.

    For the past three weeks I have been passing the time, waiting for the snow to melt, in intense bullet casting and cartridge reloading efforts. Nothing I had done had been tested and the time had come.

    I was not using any of my old standard loads, since I still have not established a long standing load for either of the rifles with the componants I was using, a 30-30 and a .308. I had loaded a bucket of cast bullets for the 30-30 and I had changed projectiles for the .308 due to a big sale on a discontinued Hornady production lot where I got a near lifetime supply of 165gn BTSP bullets for real cheap.

    What I had done with the 30-30 was also suspect, since I was using a bullet and charge weight that was an accident. I found that the 180 grain RCBS mold I had been using for 25 years did not throw 180 grain bullets, but after applying some gas checks I weighed the slugs and discovered that they were actually 200 grains each. I could not believe that I had never weighed one of those slugs!

    I had loaded them using data fr the 175 grain bullet, which I thought it was very near. I had also never loaded cast bullets in the 30-30 to full charge. Cast bullets had always been plinkers with reduced charges of Unique.

    There is no published load data for a 200 grain 30-30 reload! I had dumped 25 grains of IMR3031 in there and seated one of those big cast slugs on each.

    After scouring the internet I did finally find good data for the 200 grain bullet in one of the published manuals rather than on a forum where Billy-Bob has done it and it worked OK, but there is no pressure or velocity data available. Apparently I was inside the safe zone established by the good people at Speer. I was also pushing the 200 grain slug at close to 1800fps.

    When you do the math it makes this reload almost equal to a standard factory load, except there is no jacket and the expansion potential is total speculation.

    I set up at the range and pulled the 30-30 out of the case and created an instant stir. My 30-30 is an old '94 to which I have attached a long eye relief scope. No one at the range had ever seen one set up like that, and the range was full due to the good weather.

    Some of my former suspicions were confirmed since it seemed that everyone at the range owned a 30-30 of some sort.

    I settled down into the "lead sled" and fired a shot at 25 yards, then another. They were near touching and I held my breath as the third shot only opened the group by a half inch or so. I made my scope adjustments and got the group settled into the middle of the target and moved to 50 yards.

    My $0.10 cent each cast bullet reloads were piling into the bull one after another. Groups were about 2" at 50 which I considered adequate for that gun/cartridge/reload combination. Wheel weight metal cast bullets and charges dropped form a powder measure with none of the traditional QC measures being followed. Every empty 30-30 case in sight will now be filled and put to use.

    I think there will be a few more 30-30 rifles with scout scopes in the Kentucky woods next year too. My modifications to mount the scope on the '94 only involve filling the rear sight dovetail with a drilled and tapped dovetail filler and drilling and tapping the barrel band. A base intended for a Marlin 336 is then screwed down and the scope mounted. It is about a one hour job using only a drill press and tap and die set. I am not about to pay $150 for a scout scope mount from some whiz-bang "tactical supply" dudes.

    A couple of the older gents were really inspecting the rifle, probably hoping to put rifles they had retired due to bad eyesight back into use.

    Since I also have a Weaver Guide peep sight on this rifle I am covered in case the scope blows up, falls off, or the cross-hairs disappear, as so many expect to happen even though scopes are now a 300 year old technology. Everyone seemed to think that was a good idea.

    My ventures with the .308 were not so satisfactory. I only took one 308 rifle with me and it has proven to be a very picky rifle. It will shoot one load very well, but throws any other load into the wind and makes patterns and not groups. I don't know what I was thinking. I chose a test rifle with bad PMS.

    I should have taken two rifles for comparison and I am seriously considering sending this errant .308 down the highway into the hands of one of the vast horde of "other shooters" I observed yesterday.

    It being the first nice day in some time the range was packed and the shooters were rotating through rapidly. One thing I noticed was that may of the visitors were arriving, unpacking, sitting down and shooting a half dozen rounds then leaving. It suddenly occurred to me that they were not posting targets nor making any attempt at measuring accuracy, and there is no way that one can tell anything about where the projectile is hitting at or range other than watching the bullet strike the mud of the berm. With most centerfire rifles recoil prevents that. All these people could tell was that the rifle was firing.

    It works! That's it! Let's go home.

    I love being retired. I can truly tell anyone that wants to know, that a bad day at the range is better than a good day at work! When the sun is shining, the temps are pleasant, the coffee in the thermos is hot and you have a rifle, even a bad rifle, it's a good day.
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Sounds like fun. Mrs. Crash and I are headed to the range in the AM.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    That's some serious work.....and with 30-30 no less.....well done.
    Most 30-30 are "buy a box of shells and go hunting.

    Haven't fired a round since last November, ...I need to get out as well.
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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    ahh, to be retired. It reminds me,many years ago I was kvetching to my father about not having time to shoot. I mentioned maybe I should just get rid of everything (fat chance). He mentioned he went through that stage but after us kids moved on and he hit his 50s some spare time came along. It even got better when he retired.
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I've got the itch to go but everything had been so muddy since the snow has melted I have been putting it off. I go through the week so the week-end horde is not there. I can go, take my time and play until my heart is content.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    The range here has a graveled walkway down the side of the firing line so you can walk from the overhead cover to the target banks without getting muddy. It's real handy.

    I avoid the weekends too. When I go to the range it is usually to test something and I do not want to be rushed or have a big audience.

    It is like with these cast bullets, I am making them in bulk because I shoot a lot of 30-30 just for fun and it is to expensive to use jacketed slugs for that.

    Plus I have a couple of retired friends that have not been big shooters due to cost, but want to do more, and both have 30-30 rifles. Thing is they have Marlins and they are sometimes picky when you feed them cast bullets. The microgroove barrels do not grab the lead well if the bullet is traveling too fast. It may take two or three afternoons to find the proper velocity/bullet weight to match their rifles.

    I do not need to have Buba breathing down my neck to get off the shooting bench for that work.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    I hear ya there....
    Geezer Squad....Charter Member #1
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Ooh. Gravel walkway. Now that would be nice. Ours doesn't have that. We have drains in the firing lanes to channel the water away but it still gets muddy. Yeah, that walkway would be really nice.

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    One range has a covered tunnel system out to 200 yds...with trenches and raise up target boards.
    I currently closed ...while they are discussing a "stray bullet"(?) the struck a woman several years ago from 3 miles way.
    Nice range.
    Geezer Squad....Charter Member #1
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  10. #10
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Something most people do not know is that the 30-06 M1 ball cartridge was reduced from its original designed velocity due to many military bases not having a dead zone large enough to contain the rounds in a safe manner.

    There had been a redesign after WW1 with new bullet and powder that gave ranges out to nearly 6,000 yards.

    It was actually reduced to around 2700fps and bullet weight dropped to 150 grains so they would stay inside the safety zones already established for the '03/'06 round.

    IMR4895, the great favorite 30-06 powder, was created to produce the reduced load.
    Last edited by kyratshooter; 01-29-2018 at 02:47 PM.
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Did they even have optics back then for 6000 yards? They only thing I know that would reach that far back then is the bayonet on a Mosin. Don't need optics with that.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Back in those days there was a part of the tactical doctrine that called for the ability to use rifle fire as barrage artillery/long distance volley fire. They were also straight out of WW1 and had been using machine gun fire out to 2000 meters and more. We still use a machine-gun tripod with a "search and traverse" mechanism just like the one used in WW1 and expected to be effective out past what we consider "normal range"

    That is why the surplus rifles of the era all had sights graduated out to 2000m and maximum range/maximum effective ranges were part of the planning and training. Those guys anticipated that every GI would be shooting at 1000-2000 meters, not as snipers but as part of a company on line engaged in volley fire on troop assemblies at extreme range.

    The concept of the mid ranged service rifle, like the German assault rifles of WW2 and the AK were considered radical with their 300 yard max range.

    It had become obvious to most planners that only about 10% of the troops were shooting and when they did it was not at the extended ranges of the early planning. Real life soldiers did not want to give away their positions by firing at extreme range, their fire was ineffective and drew the attention of real artillery. The few troops that did engage the enemy were doing so at 300m or less, when they knew they had a chance for a hit with little chance the enemy would shoot back.

    After WW2 there as a big push to get more troops to engage with the enemy. We changed to human shaped pop-up targets and reduced the ranges for qualification. They made no bones about it, they wanted to get troops used to shooting at targets shaped like humans. They were purposely using the same conditioning we fear from the "active shooter games" of today to dispel hesitation of firing on another human.

    Much of this was a result of the effectiveness of the German tactics and training of WW2. It is not widely advertised but right up till the end of WW2 the German infantry, consisting of old men and little boys, was killing allies at a rate of 5 dead allies to 3 dead Germans. Their tactics forced the troops to engage while it preserved life as much as possible.


    As for the optics: yep they had scopes and they were pretty good. There had been some pretty good scopes all the way back to the American Civil War, but they were expensive, delicate, scarce, and the leadership did not know how to get the most out of their combat applications.

    Even the present "red dot" was in use during WW1. It was a big battery drain item so was developed for applications where a it was either stationary or a truck could carry the power supply. Airplane cockpits, naval guns, anti-aircraft and such. Both night vision and red dots had to wait for miniaturization and LED technology to catch up with the concepts.

    During the 1920s and 1930s scope technology really blossomed and they were good enough to become part of the normal squad/fire team training, especially for the Germans. They were still considered a bit "delicate", so the Germans developed many removable mount systems so the scopes could be carried in padded metal containers and only mounted when contact was anticipated.

    If Hitler had not gotten ahead of the staff planners and started the war early the German Army would have had a designated marksman with a scope sight in each fire team. One soldier out of every 6, usually the ammo bearer, would have been scope equipped "designated marksman" under direct fire conrol of the team leader.

    As it was the Germans produced and issued 100,000 Zf41 scopes, which were not really sniper scopes but used by regular infantry for the above purposes. The first "scout rifles". That is 5X more of that single unit than all the assorted "sniper scopes" issued by the Americans and British.

    Then the Germans had their good scopes in addition, 4X units for the real snipers, and at a larger percentage than the Americans and British.
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  13. #13
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I hadn't even considered volley fire. Thanks for the write up. Great education! I'm always amazed at the level of technology they employed "back then". Their level of innovation was pretty amazing.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    So now the next time someone picks up a surplus rifle at the LGS and mumbles "Whey did they put 2000M graduations on the rear sight?" you will have a ready answer.

    BTW when production got into a pinch late in the war the first thing that got dropped from the weapons was that long range tangent sight. They would be replaced with a fixed sight, battle sight zeroed at 200m-300m.
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    One interesting sight on a surplus wwii rifle is the one on the Type 99 Arisaka bolt action issued by Japan. My father has one that has fold down wings that are supposed to be used against enemy aircraft. I do not know how effective these could possibly be.
    The same model of rifle has a folding monopod made of heavy wire. I do not know how this was supposed to be used.

  16. #16
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I just had a friend come over and dump three rifles in need of sighting on the sofa.

    He has tried and can not get them calibrated. Apparently he has been trying to zero the scopes without stabilizing them from movement. (translation being shooting from standing unsupported position and cranking scope knobs several turns at a time)

    Under other circumstances I would be a happy camper with this duty ahead of me, but today the temp here at noon is 24 degrees with a noticeable wind. Wind chill is in the teens I am sure.

    I am pacing the floor like one of those caged cats at the zoo.
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  17. #17
    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I know those rifles look like packets of heroin to a junky. You are probably setting there in your living room staring at them with hearing protection and ballistic glasses on saying to yourself, "I can beat this thing."

  18. #18
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    The friend that dumped all those rifles on me back in winter finally bit the bullet and made a range trip with me today. He brought his son-in-law, who is a local rookie cop.

    Fantastic day! Sunny with temp of 80 but a strong wind of about 20mph. Fortunately is was generally head on and not a cross wind.

    I took one of my AR rifles that had suffered a scope transplant a few days back as well as another shooter or two. My friend had the TC Compass rifle in .308 I had zeroed for him a few weeks back. It took a croup to readjust the scope to his eyes and hold and get him used to the trigger.

    We set him down on some sandbags and a front rest and he proceeded to shoot into about 2" at 100 yards. Not bad for an old man with a $200 rifle and $25 scope and surplus Malaysian .308 ammo. He was happy, I was happy, the SIL was impressed with the old man out-shooting him.

    It was a good day. I even got a nice nap after the range trip.
    Last edited by kyratshooter; 04-13-2018 at 10:30 PM.

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