Long time no see. My new pad doesn't have internet or cell coverage, so I'm in the stone age until I can get things sorted out. On top of that I've been moving things, emptying boxes, and working my ass off in between. There will be more blog delays, but hopefully not as long as this last time.
I finally got to do the first significant shooting yesterday since the move. I say significant because I shoot rimfire off the front porch, but yesterday I put the first rounds through the .338 Win Mag, and made a good bit of noise. What neighbors I may have in the surrounding area know I'm here. To get the beast online, I picked up some steel Weaver rings to mount the beater Simmons 3-9 that I had sitting around. It had been mounted to a muzzle loader at one time, so I figured it would take the brutal kick from the .338WM. This setup will work during load development until I can put better glass and mounts on it.
First thing I'm going to say is that the concept of a lightweight magnum rifle is absurd. I'm no pussy when it comes to magnum rifles; I was slaying critters with a 7mm Magnum on a regular basis before I hit puberty, so I know all about opposite and equal reactions. Lately though it's become very trendy to have a pencil-thin barreled rifle with a featherweight composite stock chambered in a heavy recoiling belted magnum rifle under the asinine conclusion that it will be "carried a lot and shot very little," or "when I have to use this, I won't even notice the recoil!"
Well, hoist the BullShit flag, me hearties, and set sail for the Isle of Ghostah Reconfanboi! We're going to plunder it for all it's worth and burn it to the ground!
Okay, what we're talking about here is a rifle that's so light it's comfortable to carry for days in the field, like you would to go hunting; and, presumably, since it's chambered in a magnum cartridge it's going to be fired in fear/anger at lions, tigers, or bears, or at the very least elk or moose, which aren't cheap to hunt. So your telling me that you're going to take these .300, .338, .358, .458 Winchester Magnum "mountain guns," which weigh MAYBE 8 lbs. fully loaded with a scope, out to hunt either a once-in-a-lifetime creature with a $5,000 tag, or a monster bear with teeth and claws that will kill you in a moment, and you're going stake it all on your ability to shoot a rifle that recoils like a donkey punch to the soul?!? Bad idea, hoss. Bad idea.
Consider that when you're hunting "in the field," (DUUURRRHH!!! When people say that I envision them in full Fudd attire, with their grey socks pulled up to their knees, wearing a fishing vest and big brimmed hat) you're likely to not be standing square to your target with the perfect cheekweld and the stock firmly in the pocket of the shoulder. If you've ever settled for an ad hoc rest on a log, twisted in a precarious position so you can get that shot off at a deer, or taken a snap shot at game with a badly mounted gun you know that it's highly likely that the shot is going to hurt. I've had a .243 Winchester bring tears to my eyes when I didn't have it mounted right, so what do you think is going to happen with something bigger? I sold a Winchester Model 70 chambered in .300 Win Mag once that was one of these super lightweight guns, because she was a rowdy bitch and I wanted nothing more to do with her. That thing was punishing to shoot, and because I shot it in "field" positions and not from a bench I knew I would never be a great shot with it. It kicked way too hard and sooner or later I would develop a flinch (I have a video of me shooting it, but I can't load it right now). Now though these guns are everywhere, and I think people are kidding themselves when they say they can shoot them when it counts.
My .338WM came with two boxes of 225 grain Hornady SST ammo, seven rounds of which had been fired. A once over the gun brought me to the conclusion that these seven rounds were the only ones sent down the bore. Let me tell you, after every shot with this thing I had to wait for my thoughts to return to my skull, like when you smack a video camera and it jacks the picture up for a couple of seconds. If a bear was charging me I had better hit it well with the first shot, and it would probably be better if that round was the first I had ever fired through it, lest I fear the recoil more than the beast. I shot twelve rounds getting it sighted in and confirming my zero, and the scope kissed my face with every shot. The very next purchase for this thing is going to be the heaviest stock made, and I'm going to bed it to the action with lead. Seriously, this thing should have a clevis at the end of the barrel to mount a boat anchor to arrest the recoil.
Keep in mind that I was shooting casually, from a relaxed position, and not snapping the gun up and getting off a quick shot. People who say they can handle rifles like this (without developing a flinch) are full of it. With heavy recoiling rifles you have to accept the pain before every shot -- that's a given. You have to wait that extra second for your inner self's pitty party to end and the moment of flinch to pass, then you accept that it's going to hurt for a second while you make the shot count. That doesn't happen when you fear permanent damage from the gun -- with the 5th shot yesterday I thought for a second that I might have cracked a rib. Yeah, ouch.
Anyways, I have dies and brass on the way, but I have to have it delivered to my brother because there's no way a UPS driver is going down my creepy driveway. I'm going to try to launch a 250 grain Berger hybrid at 2,800 fps without destroying the gun. Where I live now, I can shoot basically anything I want in about 270 degrees around the house, out to 100 yards under limited conditions, so by this time next year I should be a handloading savant. Unless I break my shoulder with the .338WM.