Sunday, April 24, 2011

Running Through The Paces

I finally got to get back to the range today, as my weekends have been booked solidly for the past month. As I mentioned, I was very happy with the results I got from the VV135 powder/55 grain combo, getting sub-MOA grouping using a charge of 24.7 grains. I loaded up 150 rounds using this charge so I could test it out at the range in quantity and see how it runs at 100m as well.

It was exceptionally windy at the range today. I'd guess the wind was around 20mph, with frequent and variable gusts of around 40mph. I'd also meant to test out a rework of my 3031 load with the new primers, but the wind was so stiff, the chronograph couldn't stay standing.

So today, I focused on trying out my finalized VV135 plinking load and trying out the new Marlin 795.

I've got the Marlin all set up with Tech Sights and a sling, so she's ready for Appleseed. I ordered a bunch of magazines, once I found a place that had them in stock. It seems that everyone has the sub-standard 7 round magazines, but no one has the standard 10 rounders. Cabelas doesn't even carry them.

Since this was the inaugural range trip, I started with the Marlin. I strapped it in to the lead sled to get it zeroed at 50m. Because of the gusty wind, grouping was not terribly impressive with the subsonic 40-grainers. Surprisingly enough, the newly-installed Tech Sights were quite close. I'd put out 12" targets, but found that that was not necessary, as the sights weren't too far off. A few clicks down and to the left and I got her zeroed with just a few rounds.

I pulled the rifle off the lead sled and gave it a go without a support. I was getting low on my CCI Standard Velocity rounds, so I switched over to Aguila SuperMaximum Solid Point 30-grainers.


I'm going to go on a small tangent here, while I think about it. Regarding the CCI SV rounds... Cabela's, why don't you carry CCI ammo in usable quantities? Your selection in .22LR is crap. All of the ammo you carry in anything approximating a brick is terrible. Sure, you carry CCI ammo, but only Stinger/MiniMags in tiny little plastic boxes, or some newfangled "AR" ammo that looks like standard High Velocity rounds put in a smaller and more expensive bulk box. I have to go to Dick's Sporting Goods to get CCI Standard Velocity ammo. As much of a drive it is to get to Buda to get to your store, it pains my very soul to have to go to Dicks in The Domain. Seriously, stop forcing me go there. Stock some decent .22LR ammo.

Also, how is it that you sell a rifle that comes stock with a 10-round magazine, but don't carry any of those magazines? No one wants the overpriced piddly little 7 round magazine that you are selling. That's why you have a pile of them still on the shelf, while everyone goes and orders them from elsewhere on the internet. You had 30-something Marlin 795 rifles in stock at the store the day I purchased mine. You should have a little more forethought.

One more thing, Cabelas. Vihtavuori Powder and Speer bullets. Both major players in their respective component groups, but for some reason you don't carry them. Why??


OK, back to shooting the Marlin. One thing I've observed about this rifle is how very light it is. Aside from the barrel and bolt, all parts of this gun are very light. This makes it particularly difficult to keep steady in gusting wind, so the results of my string were less than impressive. I certainly need to start learning sling technique with this gun. As I expected, POI rose, as velocity increased nearly 700fps (1070 vs. 1750 fps). Here are the results:

I ran another few mags through the rifle. It ate it all up and spit out the empties flawlessly throughout, as expected.

Moving on to the AR, in addition to the reloads I brought, there was also a recently-purchased brass catcher. Now, I really had my heart set on a nice catcher from Vector Tactical. Robb got one back in September, and I really wanted to get one for myself once my AR was built. A few weeks after Robb got his, the Vector Tactical site stated that the catches were unavailable for order at that time. Early this month, the domain registration for expired, and has not yet been renewed.

Midway carries 3 AR brass catches, all of them look identical. I ordered the only one they had in stock at the time, the "Mako GMG Brass Catcher AR-15 Nylon Mesh Black". I'm underwhelmed with the performance of this catcher. It's flimsy. While the bag itself should be able to easily hold 100 or more cases, it becomes unusable once 20 is reached. The catcher begins to sag, causing stovepipes. In the 100 rounds I went through today, I had 4 stovepipes, and one double-feed (caused by a stovepiped case). Also, the cheap nylon mesh is not a high-temperature material, so occasionally a case would melt the bag enough to stick.

I think I'm going to have to come up with a catcher net system instead, because those stovepipes are annoying.

As I moved my Nikon back on the rail a few notches, the AR needed to be zeroed again. This was pretty quick, and I was ready to rock. I ran a test set off the lead sled to get an idea of grouping in larger quantities. Results were not as astounding as with the workup group, but then again it was very windy. Nonetheless, the load performed well:

I moved over to a 100m bench, posted a couple targets, and did a lead sled test there as well. This was my first time running the AR at 100m, as everything I've really done up to this point has been load testing. I switched over to the 1MOA dot, as the 4MOA eclipsed too much of the target for my taste. I put 10 rounds on target and here's what I got:

Not too bad. I figured now that I've established my load is good, I'd get some real shooting in. I put another 10 shots into the second target, seated at the bench, unsupported. The grouping opened up considerably more than I would have liked, but it gives me something to work on:

I was working from a box of 100 rounds, and was down to 30. Since I didn't do a target without the sled at 50m, I figured I could load up a 30 round mag and have at it. I worked on acheiving my shooting zen to steady myself, and got some pretty decent results:

I was actually surprised at how tight the grouping was. It's not much bigger than the run off the lead sled. I guess I am getting better. Next trip, I'll be doing the same kind of thing with my hunting load, since I didn't get around to it today.

I'll also test out my 55 grain/IMR 3031 rework, so I can finalize a high-velocity (somewhere around 3100-3200fps) load for my Appleseed ammo. I've got Friday off, so hopefully I'll be able to do it then and give you an update.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Buy A Gun Day

As you may already know, today is Buy A Gun Day. As I am out of town for my anniversary, I didn't get to buy a gun today. Instead, I picked one up earlier in the week.

I've been wanting to attend an Appleseed for quite a while now. I finally went for the beginnings of a Liberty Training Rifle. Rather than the more common Ruger 10/22, I opted for the Marlin 795. I already have an older Marlin 60 that I'm quite happy with, so I thought I'd give one of the newer (and more petite) box-fed Marlins a try. Here she is:

I haven't had the chance to get her to the range yet, so no range report for you today. I've got some Tech Sights and a sling on order to complete the setup.

While I had the kitchen counter cleared off for gun photography, I thought I'd get a photo of the AR with bayonet affixed. This one's for you, Jay: