Friday, October 16, 2009

Range Report

Better late than never. I was able to snap a couple of pics this morning, and here is some evidence of my efforts to find some loads for my 308 AR:


Click to enlarge.

For a blow by blow recount of each shot on these targets, head on over to my thread on Practical Riflery Forums. For a recap, just keep reading.

I started out this spring to try and develop two loads for this rifle: one for slaying dog sized Virginia deer, and one for general purpose shooting on targets and small critters like groundhogs. For the deer load I chose 165 grain Sierra Game Kings; and for the target load I got duped into buying 155 grain Nosler Custom Competition bullets. Not that there's anything wrong with the Noslers, it's just that Gander Mountain had them marked at twice what they are worth. But hey, I bought them.

My load development quest ended up getting skewed because of the magazine issue I posted about earlier, which I have since solved. For the rest of this year, I have decided to abandon the 165 grain effort and will start again in the spring. They are putting out 5-shot groups just over an inch at 100 yards, which is nothing to scoff at, but I'm positive that I can squeeze out more. One reason for my decision is that factory 150 grain Remington Core-Lokt rounds are shooting into an inch through this gun:


The target on the left with the three 2" dots are the 165 grain loads that I made. The bottom dot with two shots in it are sighters; the dot on the left is a 5-shot group of 1.2"; and the dot on the right is a 5-shot group of .91". The target on the right that looks like it was hit with buckshot is actually an old target that I had left behind on the range, so it had shot holes already in it. They are the ones marked with an X. This target has groups of the factory Remingtons, which are the groups circled in pencil. Most of the groups on there were skewed from the rifle bouncing on the bi-pod legs on the sandbags. I have found out that bi-pods are great on the ground, but skew your groups when fired from the bench, even when you fold the legs down. As you shoot, the recoil rocks the gun back which allows the bi-pod attachment point to grab a little of the sandbag with every shot. By your 4th or 5th shot the end of the bi-pod legs are what the gun is resting on, and those are always the shots that open your groups up. Every stray round in a group on this target was the 4th or 5th shot. I took the bi-pods off the gun and shot the group on the 2nd dot from the left - the one marked as being 1.177". The 6th shot at 6 o'clock on that dot was fired a month or so before, and is not a part of that group.

A few days before, I fired one of these rounds at a different target to give myself something to aim at, and then shot six more of them into almost three quarters of and inch from sandbags:


In the end, the factory Remingtons shoot as well as my handloads, so I will stick with them and start my handloading effort next year.

My 155 grain loads are a different story.

Here I have three 5-shot groups: one - at the bottom - of the factory Remingtons fired by me prone off the bi-pods that groups around an inch and three quarters from a cold clean bore; one on the top right fired by me from a fouled lukewarm bore with a called flyer; and one on the top left fired by a friend from a warm fouled barrel with a called flyer. Without the flyers, the two top groups are a tad over a half an inch. I had noted that the Remingtons would probably have grouped better if I had fired two or three sighters to warm and foul the bore, instead of just clicking off five of them in a row. I was right:


I have yet to be able to stretch the gun out to a few hundred yards or more. Every time I try to arrange a day to shoot, something comes up. When I get the chance I'll post more. For right now, I am as happy as can be that I have a rifle capable of shooting anything I put into it into an inch or better. How cool is that?

For next year, I will not have one of the major problems that I had this year, which is availability of primers. I ended up using three different types of primers, and that is the reason why I think they did not turn out to be as good as when I started. I think I will also give the 175 grain Sierra Match Kings a try as well. The 155 grain Noslers are my baseline, and I will try to improve on them next year as well.
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