Saturday was the busy day for attendees of the Rendezvous. The plan was to meet at the hospitality room about 7:30 AM and go as a group for breakfast, then reassemble at the room to pick up any stragglers about 8:30. Unfortunately the breakfast buffet didn’t open until 8:00 AM (and a little late at that) so we didn’t get out of the hotel until after 9:00. DirtCrashr rode with me, and at about 10:00AM I think we were the first of our convoy to get to the range; the Washoe County Shooting Facility, home of the Palomino Valley Gun Club. It’s a very nice facility, with many covered shooting positions and target stand holders out to about 250 yards, then steel gongs at 300, 400, 500, 600, and 950 yards.
Let me tell you, 950 yards is WAY out there. But more on that later.
The sky was cloudless, the temperature cool but not uncomfortably so, and the breeze was light to medium – not like the gusts we had last year. DirtCrashr and I waited for some of the other vehicles to show up, and then we started checking in with the rangemasters. Being the asocial cuss I am, I picked a bench to the left of the RO office, and DirtCrashr set up beside me. Everyone else went right. (I wonder if that indicates anything?) Some time was spent unpacking and setting up. The range was already well attended by the locals, so we had to wait for a cease-fire before heading out and setting up our targets. SayUncle had the Ko-tonics 6.8SPC upper out and ready, so I volunteered to be the first to put some rounds through it. I put it on my A2 lower, and settled in to see what it would do. Uncle said he’d lined up the EOTech with the irons, but apparently they were both way off. My first 10-shot string didn’t strike paper at 100 yards as far as I could tell, so I ended up taking aim at a small brown bush near the top of the 250 yard berm.
It was hitting WAY low, so I adjusted the sight until I was kicking up a lot of dust around the bush, and then went back to paper. My initial impression of the 6.8 was that I was definitely pulling the trigger on something more substantial than a .223, but it was by no means a hard kicker – considerably gentler than a 7.62×39 out of an AK IMO. I probably put 40 rounds through it in that first session, but really didn’t note any exceptional accuracy. It just functioned flawlessly. I figured I’d let some others have their fun, so after Uncle shot it a bit, I took my lower back and Uncle installed his, which remained on the gun the rest of the day as far as I know.
I returned to my bench and did a little pistol shooting with my three Kimbers, my .45LC Mountain Gun, and my Winchester ’94 nineteenth century high-capacity assault rifle. Several people wandered by and tried a gun or two, and I shot DirtCrashr’s 1903 Colt. Double-action it was surprisingly comfortable and amazingly accurate with me behind the bang-switch, shooting Black Hills Cowboy loads. Usually I’m useless shooting a revolver double-action. After putting a few pistol magazines downrange, and a couple of cease-fires, I wandered back down to where everyone else was shooting. Chris Byrne let me shoot his super-custom 10mm 1911. Let me say, that’s the single heaviest 1911 I have ever held, and it absorbs the recoil of the 10mm cartridge very nicely.
Quote of the day, however, hast to go to Fodder, of Ride Fast, Shoot Straight. During one of the cease-fires he was sitting on a bench loading a 30-round stick magazine for his 1927 Thompson. He looked at me and said “I believe you need to empty this magazine.” So I did. This was my first chance to actually handle a Thompson. My impression: that thing is built like a bank vault – and weighs every bit as much as one. The receiver appears to be milled out of a steel 2×4, and the material removal is minimal. If you ran out of ammo it would be unbeatable as a bludgeon, and still be perfectly functional afterward. The thing that surprised me the most was that the buttstock was so long. I normally like about a 14″ length of pull on a rifle. This thing felt at least 2″ too long. I put 28 rounds through it, and was nearly shaking when I finally had a failure-to-fire. I used to wonder why GIs would willingly give up the Thompson for the punched-tin and gum-wrapper M3 Grease Gun – now I know. The Grease Gun doesn’t weigh 11 pounds unloaded. The Thompson is a nice piece, but I can see a need for high-strength unobtanium alloys there.
I decided I needed to shoot something that held itself up, so I got my target AR out and started whacking the steel targets, starting with the 400 yard gongs. After that got monotonous, I switched to the 500 and then 600 yard targets. Unfortunately, the 600 yard target didn’t give much of a “thump” for feedback, but I’m sure I was hitting it regularly. Then I thought to wander down and try the Ko-tonics again, but in the mean time, USCitizen had set up his big .50 cal tank-buster, so I watched as various people touched off one of the six rounds he’d brought with him. I
wimped out declined.
It was interesting watching stuff blow off the benches to either side. Since no one else was shooting it, I went back to the Ko-tonics upper, now on Uncle’s lower, and decided to see if I could hit steel using a 1x optical sight. Previously the various shooters had been punching paper at 200, so I dialed up the elevation and started shooting what I thought was the 300 yard gong, but turned out to be the 400 yard one, or so my spotters told me. At that range a 12″ square subtends only three minutes of angle. The red center dot on the EOTech subtends 1 MOA. Amazingly, my by-guess sight adjustment put me dead on the target. If I could keep the dot on the steel, I hit it.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is damned good accuracy. At a guess, I’d say the Ko-tonics upper shooting any of the Silver State factory loads (hollowpoint, softpoint, or FMJ) is at most a 2MOA rifle at 400 yards, rapid-fire, and that’s out of a lightweight 16″ barrel. I’m impressed.
Ah, but the most impressive rifle was yet to come! Joe Huffman’s Remington 700 in .300 Winchester Magnum, with a H-S Precision stock, Krieger 1:11″ twist barrel and a scope with ALL the bells and whistles is BADASS! Plus Joe has an HP calculator to do his ballistic number-crunching on. Gotta have the geek factor! I hadn’t shot a .300 Mag before, so when Joe invited me to try it out, I started on the 600 yard gong. Joe consulted his calculator, cranked down the elevation, and I sat down behind nirvana. After three rounds on the target, I told Joe I wanted to go for the 950 yard plate.
Once again, Joe consulted his calculator and dialed up the range. I sat down behind the rifle…
And couldn’t find the damned target! It was so far away, I couldn’t see it with my eyeballs! Finally Joe had to locate it in his spotting scope so I knew where to look. After dialing the rifle scope back to 4X I finally found it, then I dialed it back up to 14X so I could SEE it. My first round was low, so Joe dialed in a bit more elevation, but after that I don’t think I missed more than once.
This thing is a God-switch. Put the crosshairs on the target, touch the trigger, and HIT! Soda cans at 500 yards? Child’s play!
I gotta build one of these!
Floating back to my bench after that ego-boost, I did a little shooting with DirtCrashr’s 1911, and then tried his 1898 Krag. For a little return to reality, it took me two full magazines before I was able to hit the 300 yard gong with that rifle. Once.
Finally, about 3:00 all of us were pretty worn out. Even the locals had mostly gone home. The banquet was at 6:00, so we packed it in, and headed back for the hotel. It was a great day at the range.