Sunday, June 24, 2012

Marlin 1894 and Century NDS-2 Range Report

Today I was able to get to the range and shoot the Marlin 1894 that I traded for last week. I was also able to get a 25 yard zero for the Bushnell TRS-25 red dot sight that I mounted on my Century NDS-2 AK-74 last month.

I setup an IDPA target with a 3" orange dot in the center at 25 yards. Shooting with my arms rested on the bench but the rifle otherwise unsupported, I fired a 5 shot group. It was a few inches low and slightly to the left. Getting the point of impact to coincide with the point of aim required me to raise the rear sight two notches on the rear sight elevator.

To adjust windage you need to drive the rear sight to the side in the dovetail. To move the POI right you drift the rear sight to the right, and vice-versa. This isn't a precise process, and requires you to use a non-marring mallet, or a hammer and a brass or nylon punch. I had a nylon faced mallet and gave the rear sight base a couple taps to the right. I wound up going a little to far and had to drive it a little bit to the left. For now, it's shooting dead on at 25 yards.

I tried two kinds of .44 Magnum ammo in this trip. First was some of the Federal American Eagle 240 grain JHP that I bought when I got the gun. This ammo shoots OK and groups well, but does not feed smoothly. I really had to muscle the action when shooting it, which gave me some cause for concern. Having read some complaints about Marlin's quality since the Remington takeover and move to Illion, NY, I was bit worried that it might need a trip back to the factory.

However, when I switched to some Remington 240 grain JSP loads the Marlin's action worked a lot more smoothly. I figure that the Federal cases vary in some small dimension that the Marlin doesn't like.

I've picked up a good supply of the Remington ammo so I'm set for awhile. I plan to start handloading for the Marlin so I can afford to shoot it. Also, I intend to load down the .44 Mag to .44-40 velocities, which will make it more pleasant to shoot. The Marlin has a rubber butt pad but even so, after 70 rounds of .44 Mag in a 6.5 pound rifle, my shoulder was feeling tenderized.

Overall I'm pleased with the Marlin 1894. The .44 Magnum is a versatile round, the rifle is nice, compact, and quick shooting, and of course it's got an all-American cachet. I will be adding an aperture sight at some point for faster target acquisition and better accuracy.

I took a break from shooting the Marlin to zero the red dot on the NDS-2. This is the third rifle I've put a Bushnell TRS-25 on and I've come to like the design a lot. Sure, it can be considered an Aimpoint micro-dot knock-off, but for a range toy that's not a problem. The Bushnell generally goes for about $100, about 1/5 to 1/6 the cost of an Aimpoint. That said, many folks have found the TRS-25 to be a very good value, in that it tends to hold up to abuse very well, including being mounted to Ultimak rails on AKs, where it can get very hot.

My TRS-25 is mounted on a low BP-02 mount which attaches to the AK's receiver rail, and places the optic centered over the bore. I bought the mount and sight from Primary Arms, who gets two thumbs up for good pricing and fast shipping.

The TRS-25 required about 30 clicks of left windage adjustment and 30 clicks of up elevation to get POI to equal POA at 25 yards. I'll fine tune the zero later at 100 yards.

The ammo I used in the NDS-2 was Silver Bear 5.45x39 60 grain FMJ. I put 90 rounds through the AK with no problems, just as expected. I may use this combination in this year's Contagion 2012 zombie shoot.

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