Monday, June 11, 2012

The little Winchester Magnum that could

This weekend I was summoned to see a man's inherited gun collection that he was selling off.  I'm in a transitional period of my life right now that no longer includes buying firearms for the foreseeable future, so I vainly picked up an almost brand new rifle and pondered the possibilities, knowing I would have to set it back down.  My brother, who's generosity is only outmatched by his big heart, saw the spark in my eye and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat; he took that gun and set it in his pile so that I wouldn't lose the opportunity.  Thank you for that!

The rifle is a stainless steel Remington 700 in .338 Winchester Magnum.  My long range Savage 7mm WSM build is going on hiatus for a long while, but this gun will suffice in its place for a 1,500+ yard bullet launcher.  The reason I'm calling it the little WinMag that could is because this cartridge is generally not on the list of rounds for extreme long range (ELR) shooting; for a cartridge have this potential it needs to be able to drive heavy bullets at high velocities, which the .338 WinMag is not designed to do.  It was created to drive 180 - 250 grain hunting bullets at reasonably velocities, with the 225 grain bullets being ideal, to shoot large game out at moderate to long range.  To make for a ELR target gun, a cartridge needs to drive a 250+ grain bullet at really high velocities.  The .338 Lapua Magnum, for example, used by the US and British military snipers for long range work, drives a 300 grain Sierra Match King at about 2,700 fps, which is 200 fps faster than the .338 WinMag is capable of sending them.  Fortunately for me, I am in the business of making underdog cartridges perform better than they were designed to, and there's a lot of new technology in propellants and bullets that will help me do just that.  From my calculations, I believe I can get Hornady's 285 grain match bullet going fast enough to make hits up to 1,500 yards.  We will definitely see if that's going to work out before too long.

My picture is a little blurry, but as you can see it looks just like any other Remington 700.  The main difference is that you can drop a standard #2 pencil right down the bore.  In Virginia, having a bigger bore than .30 caliber is very rare, as anything larger than that is overkill.  The deer around here aren't much bigger than a fat coyote, so 100 grain 6mm bullets is really all you need (unless you plan on smacking targets at range).  This gun is going to be on an extreme budget, and I'll of course show my dear readers how it all goes together.  I haven't had a chance to fire it yet because of the extreme amount of corroded copper fouling that was in the bore, but I did manage with much effort to make the lands and grooves shine like a new nickel.  I doubt that the barrel has seen an entire 20 round box of ammo in its life so far, so it has some mileage left on it.

My brother's reward in all of this is a .22 rifle that shoots bugholes, some other really cool longarms and handguns, and this beauty that he got for a price so low that I don't dare mention:

It shoots great!  As far as I know, he hasn't done any extensive shooting with it to find out what ammo it likes the best, but I can say that I would carry it without hesitation.  I can also see why the snub nosed Colt was favored so much, as it's a joy to shoot. 

It was a great weekend, and I am truly blessed.  Things may be hit or miss around here for awhile, as my family and I are looking to find and move into a bigger house.  We've been fighting to stay in the same tiny little house that we bought when we were first married and didn't have any kids, and to tell you the truth I'm well past tired of putting up with it.  I'm over being bombarded by boxes and stuff that falls out of every cabinet, with random things piled on top of every nook and cranny, and it's high time we went somewhere else.  If the good Lord spares my life, I'll be hung up with this and that for the next couple of months, so if my posting falls off please come back and see me from time to time.
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