Today I took off to try to shoot something beyond 100 yards. A friend had invited me to shoot long range - 800+ yards - but a combination of rain, kids, and pumpkin patches cut that off. I made a hell of an effort to get all I could out of these handloads, so I headed to a friends property in BF Virginia and had a good time.
The property used to have a pond on it that I have fished from childhood, but the damned beavers destroyed it. We killed piles of them over the years to try to keep them from ruining the place, but it was in vain. I can remember years ago when I got in a nasty scrap with a family of six beavers there in that pond late one night. It was me and my trusty Mossberg 835 and Mag light. When the smoke cleared, two of them were dead outright, and two were struggling for their lives in the spatter dots that covered the pond. The other two made it out alive, and two years later breached a thirty foot hole in the dam, which drained the pond. Today it is an aspiring forest.
I had to hack away with a machete for an hour and a half to get a shooting lane, but in the end I had an honest 285 yards from the muzzle to see what my handloads could do.
To give me a bit of a bar to gauge the quality of my loads, I picked up a box of 168 grain Federal Gold Medal Match at the local funshow. If my loads could beat those, then I know that I'm in the right ballpark.
Here is a look at the mess that I had to deal with. I was ass deep in weeds and brush with my micro Gerber machete trying to make a lane. When I got done my hands were shaking. In the back you can barely make out my target:
I had to shoot off the hood of my truck, which isn't ideal. I had sandbags, but the things kept slippin' and sliddin' on my not-so-waxed hood. To top that, I had to walk to the target and back in between groups, which meant a 600 yard walk around the pond total for every five shots. Not such a great thing when you're trying to shoot tiny groups. Here's my spread:
The yellow chair caught my ejected brass.
Some may look at my evil black gun and wonder what the hell I need such an animal for, and my answer would be that I built the thing to hunt critters with. That's right, rails and all were specifically bought to make a world class hunting gun. To give a better understanding, here is a glance at today's target through the H-425 reticule of the 3-12x50mm Horus Vision Hawk scope:
That reticule was designed for hunters. The range of an animal can be accurately gauged with it, and the Mil tree can be used to shoot at distance. It's perfect!
Here is my target that explains my shooting. To answer the obvious question: I did better the Federal Gold Medal Match rounds that I bought today. I do have to add that my groups opened up noticeably with every trip down to the target, which isn't surprising. I'm not too far out of shape, but a brisk 600 yard walk gets my blood pumping, and I didn't have time to relax in between strings of shots. More shooting will have to be conducted before I can claim that my rounds are more accurate.
The horizontal spread of my groups is all me. There was no wind to speak of, and the temperature today was 63 degrees and partly cloudy. Sometimes the light was tricky, and I had problems keeping focus on the orange dots. I had a borrowed Barska 15-40x50 spotting scope that a friend lent to me, and I have to say that there's a reason he got it for free from some Cabela's order. I could make out the shot holes with my scope, but could barely make out the target with the spotting scope.
All in all, my handloads shoot into 4" or less at almost 300 yards, and I can't complain with that. If I had a solid rest and all day to shoot, I think these rounds will easily shoot under MOA if I do my part. Either way, it sure is fun!