Monday, May 09, 2016

Range Day

The past few weeks have been more stressful than normal so last Thursday I put in to get today off and hit the range. I lucked out with the weather and was able to get in some quality, relaxing time on my club's 50 yard range with my Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle and Claudia, my Cimarron Firearms 1873 Sporting Rifle.

Note: This post contains reloading data that is safe in my rifles. It may not be safe in yours. Check multiple sources for data when reloading ammo. I'm not responsible if you blow up your gun and hurt yourself.

First up was the Ruger. I wanted to fine tune the 50 yard zero with "The Load," C.E. Harris's recipe for a mild shooting target load in .30 caliber cartridges. (Go read the whole article for safety guidelines when using The Load.) My .308 ammo today was a 152 grain .30 M2 projectile on top of 13 grains of Alliant Red Dot, ignited by a Federal large rifle primer. Brass was from a bunch of once-fired Hornady given to me by a friend.

The rifle shoots pretty good with this combo. Using the Ruger's factory peep sight I am able to keep them inside about 2" at 50 yards from the bench. Recoil is very mild, probably about like 7.62x39 from an SKS. I could shoot it all day without getting beat up, unlike full power .308s with a 150 grain bullet at about 2700 FPS.

For some reason the Ruger doesn't like the Hornady brass. When I got the rifle and shot it with IMI and Prvi Partisan factory ammunition it functioned just fine. However, the extractor frequently slips over the rim on the Hornady brass after it extracts from the chamber, requiring me to pick the spent case out of the action. The next time I load up a batch of ammo I'll use some once fired USGI brass.

Next up was Claudia, with a variety of handloads, some using Alliant Unique and others using Alliant Reloder 7. The first load I tried was some old Lyman 200 grain, .429 diameter hard cast bullets on top of 8.5 grains of Unique. This is a reduced power load in .44-40, though not a cowboy action shooting mousefart level load.

Accuracy was poor, about 6" at 50 yards. I had another batch of ammo with the same powder charge but a soft cast 200 grain, .428 bullet from Desperado Cowboy Bullets. Accuracy and POI with this was about the same.

Below is a group shot with the Lyman bullets. POA was 6 o'clock on the bullseye.

Next, we have two groups. The one on the orange target in the center was with the 200 grain .428 DCB on top of 8.5 grains of Unique. POA was 6 0'clock on the bull. The group in the head was shot with the load described below the picture. POA was at the base of the neck.

The final load I put through the '73 was the same 200 grain DCB bullet, but I'd bought these at .430 then sized them down to .429. These were loaded on top of 23.5 grains of Reloder 7. The muzzle velocity of this load should be around 1200 - 1300 FPS, i.e., very similar to the original black powder .44 factory ammunition. POA was 6 o'clock on the bull.

Accuracy with this load was good, decent, about 2.5" to 3" 2" at 50 yards except for the flier, and functioning was perfect. The sights on the rifle make it difficult to shoot better, for me anyway.

Back when I first got the rifle I shot two kinds of ammo through it the first time I took it out. The first was a box of Black Hills CAS ammo, while the other was 5 rounds of Winchester 200 grain jacketed soft points, which were a lot more accurate. The rifle seems to prefer full power ammo.

I'd hoped to be able to use my brother's chronograph today but he couldn't make it, so that'll have to wait.

I now need to load up some more rounds with Reloder 7 and this bullet, and then fine tune Claudia's zero at 100 yards.

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