Back from the Elsy Pearson rifle range outside of Casa Grande. First, I want to say something about the range itself. The city of Casa Grande has done a very nice job improving the range; raising the berms, providing covered shooting positions on the shorter bays, adding benches on the 50 yard range, and putting up fencing around the facility. My only complaint is that the fencing prevents vehicles from driving down the long (250 yard) bay. This makes toting out my 32-lb. 9″x12″x1″ steel AR-500 plates a no-go anymore. Needless to say, they didn’t make the trip this time.
The range is (currently) unattended – there are no rangemasters, so shooters are on their own recognizance. This is a mixed blessing because as we all know sometimes shooters are our own worst enemies. Rangemasters can sometimes resemble Eric “RESPECT MAH AUTHORITAH!” Cartman, or other shooters on the range can sometimes be unsafe. (Yes, we admit it.) But today (as has been my past experience there) everyone was polite and safe.
The other downside of the range, since it’s unattended, is that it has no target stands and no restroom facilities other than “I’m going to step around this berm here…” The latter wasn’t much of an issue today, but I don’t have an actual target stand. I bought one of those cheap-ass “stick it in the ground” cardboard supports, but apparently the designer of this wonder of engineering has never heard of caliche. I had a little trouble setting up suitable target for a bit.
After getting unpacked and setting up the chronograph, I fired five rounds, cleaned, fired five more and cleaned again. Then I fired ten rounds through the chrono. While I was doing this I was getting the scope on target by aiming at rocks. This rifle is heavy enough that even shooting 175 grain rounds I could generally see the bullet impact downrange. Not always, but more often than not. Because the scope base has 20 MOA built into it, I had the elevation of the scope cranked all the way down. Good thing, too. I only brought it up about 1-½ turns to get it close at 200 yards. Windage was very close out of the box, so the scope mount is true to the bore.
The chronograph, a Chrony Beta Master, did not retain the information for my load which was 43.5 grains of Varget under the Sierra 175 grain MatchKing in a Lapua case touched off by a CCI BR-2 Large Rifle Benchrest primer. (Use at your own risk – I’m not responsible if this load blows up your gun!) To the best of my memory, the average velocity was about 2660 fps with an extreme spread of 75fps and a standard deviation of about 25fps, which is at best fair for a long-range load. I need to get the standard deviation down into the low teens or better.
Still, how’d it shoot?
Well, here are two sample groups from when I was getting the scope onto paper:
That was my second 5-shot group. This was my third one:
That’s at 200 yards. Winds were light, but occasionally gusty. I won’t blame any of those shots on wind. (Dammit.)
The interesting thing about the Leupold Tactical Milling Reticle in this scope is that at 14X there is an exactly ½ mill space in the center of the crosshairs. The orange target dots are 1″ in diameter, so they subtend ½ mill at 200 yards (or close enough not to be able to tell the difference.) I tried my damnedest to keep that tiny orange dot in the dead center of the reticle. Seems to work!
I spent the rest of my 50 rounds busting rocks and then plinking the steel targets located up on the side of the mountain that is the ultimate backstop at the Casa Grande range. I need to get a laser rangefinder next, because I estimate the plates I was shooting at were at about 600 yards. I hit ’em a few times, too! (I will blame wind – and range estimation – for the misses there.)
I had to remount the scope when I got home. Unfortunately at 14X the eye relief was too short for me to shoot comfortably, so I loosened the mount screws and shifted it back two notches on the base. That ought to work much better now, but I’m going to have to re-zero the scope. (*Damn!* Work, work, work, that’s all this hobby is!)
Next up on the agenda is to load another 50 of the 175SMKs over a bit lighter powder charge, and 50 of the Lapua 155 grain Scenar hollowpoints that are just as long as the SMKs. The primers on the first fifty flattened a tiny bit, but there was significant primer cup flow into the firing pin hole of bolt face. I think that load is just a bit hot for this rifle.
I also ran 100 rounds of my new .45ACP load through my Kimber Classic and Eclipse. I’m using the Ranier Ballistics 200 grain hollowpoint over 7.0 grains of Unique touched off with WLP primers. (Same warning – use this load data at your own risk!) The cases are mostly WCC once-fired match brass. Feed, function, and accuracy were on par with the (much more expensive) Speer 200 grain Gold Dot, so this is going to be my match ammo from now on. Now I need to load a couple hundred of them so I can shoot in the Pima Pistol Steelworker’s match tomorrow morning.
Finally, I still have to scrub the Remington barrel squeaky clean and treat it with Ultra Bore Coat before my next outing. I’m not much of a believer in “breaking in” a barrel, but I did want to get some rounds out of the rifle before treating it. Right now it’s definitely a sub-MOA gun. I want it to stay that way.
UPDATE: Here’s a shot of fired vs. unfired primers.