Range Report

To celebrate Memorial Day, I took the 700 5R back to the range with a small range of loads to test. First, yesterday afternoon I thoroughly cleaned the barrel until it was as sqeeky-clean as I could get it. I did not, per the recommendation, use Bore Paste on a patch wrapped around a brush, since this barrel had, at that point, only 50 rounds fired through it. I scrubbed it three times with foaming bore cleaner, followed by Butch’s Bore Shine until the patches came out clean. Then I treated it with Ultra Bore Coat per the instructions, and let it sit overnight.

At the range, after setting up everything (except my spotting scope, which I neglected to bring), I fired 20 rounds at a load-and-fire rate to warm the barrel up and condition it, also per the UBC instructions. If you recall from my previous range trip, I had to move the scope back on the Picatinny rail, so it was no longer sighted in. It took me another 15 rounds before I was back on paper, because it was shooting a little low and a lot right. After I got it sighted in, I cleaned. The instructions warn to not use a bore brush, and if you must, us a nylon one. I used just a slotted jag and a patch soaked with Butch’s Bore Shine, and then a button jag and patch after patch. The first couple of patches had flakes of what I assume must be the Bore Coat material – black, shiny specks, but fairly rapidly the patches started coming out clean. No copper fouling was evident.

Then I settled in to do some shooting.

I brought 100 rounds of 175 grain Sierra Match Kings in Lapua brass, loaded with Varget and primed with WLR primers. Twenty each of 42.0, 42.2, 42.4, 42.6, and 42.8* grains. I’d burned two of each load warming up the barrel, and fifteen more of the 42.0 getting on target. That left me three of the 42.0 load, and eighteen each of the others. I fired the three 42.0’s to foul the barrel, and then started shooting for groups.

Overall, I’m pretty happy. The heavier I went with the charge weight, the better it shot. After I’d put about forty rounds through it, I cleaned it again, and I was getting almost spotless patches quite rapidly. (As I noted previously, I don’t like cleaning, and I’m not a fanatic about it.) The best group of the day was the last one I shot – rounds 91-95, with a center-to-center spread of 1.24″ at 200 meters, or a hair over 0.6MOA.

That was with the 42.8 grain load. One other thing: this rifle craters primers. Even at 42.0 grains, there’s a little cratering evident, so I’m no longer going to assume that the cratering I saw previously is actually a sign of high pressure. There was no evidence of piercing at all.

Other comments: The HS Precision stock looks very nice, but it is not very ergonomic – at least not for me, shooting off the bench. My right hand is sore from assuming an odd position in order to get my finger on the trigger properly. Major kudos to Ninth Stage for providing the spirit level. It’s amazing how easy it is to cant the rifle off of vertical without noticing, and that little device stops that cold. Ninety-five rounds of 175 grain SMKs at something on the order of 2600fps beats the CRAP out of you. Individually, they’re not bad, but the beating is cumulative. I let somebody else shoot the last five. I think my next test will be with the 155 grain Lapua Scenars, which are actually as long as the 180SMK. The Williams bottom metal was worth the money, as was the Evolution Gun Works 20MOA scope base. The bottom metal doesn’t make it shoot better (I don’t think), but it appears to be a lot more rugged. The Burris Xtreme mounts do not let the scope move a nanometer, and the scope? Given its wince-inducing price, it does the job I bought it for. It’s clear and crisp, the adjustments are positive and repeatable, the side focus works as advertised. I’m very pleased with the whole package.

*Use this load data at your own risk. Not responsible for typos or tyros who blow up their guns using load data from someone you don’t even know. This is safe in MY rifle. YMMV.

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