Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Hunting today was very uneventful. Although the wind and rain/sleet/snow mixture combined to make "noiseless" movement possible no deer were seen. Worse, no sign was found in areas usually rich in rubs, scrapes, and well used trails. Very disheartening.

I've not been reporting here because for the last 3 days I've been in the Canaan Valley of WV. While Davis and Thomas, WV are not strangers to me (I lived my early childhood there and returned some for exercises during my military service) it was a new experience to be a tourist. And... we saw deer. Large healthy does feeding in the open, unafraid. Large racked, healthy bucks being checked in at the game stations. Very unlike western Virginia.

I did carry the 7-30 Waters again.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Went hunting today but although I saw some sign I did not run up any deer. I don't think they are in rut yet. The weather is just now getting cold and there are few scrapes (only 1 or 2 in many acres of deer habitat) and rubs. Very disappointing since I will be unable to hunt the second half of the gun season.

I was going to load those Leadheads 205 gr. .358 LBT GCs in the .357 Mags but the LOA is then too long for the cylinders of my Ruger Speed Six or my S&W M13. No go. I will now load the Hornady XTP HP as my .357 Mag heavy load. I've got lots of the Remington 125 gr. SJHPs loaded. Of course when you light a full 125 gr. bullet load you're lighting a big candle and getting a good ear splitting report. I can't stand even one shot unprotected an my ears will ring for a week. No more, all are shot with hearing protection.

Heavier bullet loads and those toned down to the Remington style mid-range load level are not nearly as bad. That is one reason I'm moving to the heavier bullets. I'm also leaving H110 behind for this application because I feel that it is a contributing factor even if I can't prove it.

All load testing will be put off until December 3rd, weather permitting. That's how it goes.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

The truck is fixed.

I've got about 185 of those Leadheads 205 gr. .358 LBT GCs left and I'm going to use some of them in .357 Magnums. I've always thought that might be a good load, we'll now see.

Of course I've got those SG loads ready for testing as well. I'm excited about that, too.

The TC-List is talking about a postal match. I want to shoot my 10" .44 Mag. in that. I think that I'll use the Hornady 240 HPs I've got loaded and just dial them in. However, it is a new project to come up with a load for this barrel (or should I stick with the 300 gr. Hornady XTP load I use in the 21" barrel?).

Has been raining steadily today. May have to take the Swede out. The 6.5x55 and my 7-30 Waters are sighted to have similar point blank range. However, the Swede is unscoped and more rain "friendly".

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

I did not have a particularly good day hunting. While exploring, I came upon some fresh but unimpressive rubs (by spike bucks?) but only in one location rather than the several "used to be good spots" I went to.

Then, while exploring further, I apparently pushed a buck out of the laurel thicket and into the gun of another waiting hunter. Which points out the fact that hardly anyone moves around anymore, they wait for somebody else to get out there and push the deer to them.

Today, my truck is in the shop for the repairs noted earlier. Sadly, they expected me to drop it off, indicating that they expect to have it all day. Another days hunting lost, score another one for the gremlins of life who conspire to make things difficult or unpleasant for yours truly. Please note that this is a 1995 Dodge Dakota extended cab. I don't think I'll be buying another Dodge. The package is nice but it has had more than it's share of problems.

Yesterday evening, I was doing some reloading in pursuit of the "squib"/small game loads for the .357 Maximum carbine and discovered something. When I attempted to put a mild crimp on a buckshot load (1 gr. Unique, CCI Small Pistol Primer, #2 buck) in a .38 Special case the buckshot the shot stayed in the die. It was a simple matter to turn the seating stem out but with it came about ¼ inch of accumulated lubricant from Hornady's swaged bullets. I thought that was all then looked at the stem (for wadcutter and semi-wadcutter bullets) and could see that the seating stem was completely plugged with lubricant. that's over 3/8 inch of lubricant! Now, I've loaded about 2000 of those Hornady bullets in the .38 Special (I have separate seating dies for .357 Magnum and .357 Maximum) and that was all it took to strip that much lube off the bullets and leave it in the die. Seems I need to learn to clean my die more often. Yes, I did notice the dies going out of adjustment, but it was so subtle that I thought it was just my imagination. I can look back (hindsight being 20/20) and see just what I did wrong. The lesson learned: inspect and clean your dies every reloading session.

However, I am now ready for the next phase of the small game load experiment. I have 20 .38 Special cases loaded with 2.5 grains of Unique (recommended as being less position sensitive than Bullseye and slightly quieter) and the Leadheads 205 grain LBT GC bullet. I also loaded 5 cases with 1 grain Unique and a single #2 buckshot. The intent is to come up with an effective sub-sonic load for squirrel and rabbit.

I also found some 140 grain 7mm/.286 LBT GC bullets at Beartooth Bullets for my small game load in the 7-30 Waters. I suppose that I have it in the back of my mind that I should be able to simplifiy/reduce my gun collection and Contender barrel collection. Yeah, right. I have already had thoughts of a .300/221 (.300 Whisper) and .25-20 Winchester or .25-25 Stevens barrel.

Anyway, it appears that today will be taken up with reloading, working on the office and playing with my dog, Bailey.

Monday, November 18, 2002

Out this first day of regular deer season and a trespasser pushed a single doe past me. Not legal today but exciting and of course there was the anticipation that a buck would follow! Carrying the 7-30 Waters has really given me a lot of confidence as there are few places where I hunt where the ranges exceed 200 yards.

I then went to another area, this on National Forest. This area used to be a big producer. There are deer, you can see the trails but they aren't as defined and certainly fewer large tracks. Lots of small tracks, so similar that they have to be the same deer/does. This is disappointing for more reasons than personal want or desire.

I think that there are a couple of reasons for the population decline.

First and foremost is the lack of food in the area. Formerly, the USFS did more clear cutting which provided browse for deer but the environmentalists and the patterns of forest regrowth have combined to severely curtail that browse. The environmentalists have prevented new clear cuts and the old ones are now so old (20 years or more) that the amount of browse is down.

Second, poaching is up and it isn't about eating anymore. Some "older Americans", older workers for the USFS, on the Deerfield district told me that they had found some 20 deer in a pile, in a ditch. No meat had been taken from the carcasses, they had just been shot and the bodies dumped! If this is happening over a broad area, it can't help. Also, another predator is in the area, coyotes. This has also happened in the last 20 or so years. While coyotes don't concentrate on deer they do take them. I think this is having an effect as well.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Received my TC parts today. I mailed the order on October 28! I was actually upset at first but 18 days with 12 of those in the mail, that's actually expected turn-around. Oh well, I've got the parts now. Will install tomorrow and then after deer season will begin .35 Remington load development all over again.

Friday, November 15, 2002

Well, now I'm highly POed at myself. I will tell you right now that it pays to read and re-read the hunting regulations. Not that I've done anything wrong, rather I've done NOTHING! That is, I did not go muzzleloader hunting. Not at all. Not one minute. I thought that the season was next week. Ought to beat myself about the head and shoulders. At least there will be the late ML season...

For this information see Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries .

Now I know that next week is the regular season. With everything screwed up (due to my own misreading of the regulation), I'll be thrilled to go hunting next week as the week after will be spent with my wife doing nothing.

Ooops, I forgot, I have to take my truck into the repair shop. Why? Because my primary mode of transportation including travel to the range and to hunting areas, has to have the driver's seat back repaired. Why? Because Dodge/Chrysler can't make a bolt that can stand up to over 80,000 miles of travel. Heck I've only folded the seat forward to access the back about 24-26 times in the 7 years I've owned the truck. Glad they don't make rockets/space ships or some other critical items.

It didn't really get me mad when the wiring harness went as I was trying to use my high beams. After all it only took about 2 weeks to get the new part(s) in and install them. 2 weeks I could not use my truck, 2 weeks of repeated excuses. No that didn't get me mad. And it didn't make me really mad when the seat belt started to come apart. Heck, I've got life insurance. But when a $1 bolt goes to hell AND it takes nearly a week to get it in AND the shop says something like "So, you expect us to fix that?", that ticks me off. How many other bolts are about to fail? A lot of them have been more stressed than this bolt in the seat mechanism. And I'll tell you one more thing... I do not like driving like a big city pimp all laid back and steering with one hand. Now, I'm mad.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Went squirrel hunting/scouting today. No pics, since I'm not really a camera oriented guy but I did get one old boar with my S&W M422 (6" adjustable sights) and a Winchester Dynapoint. Now somebody may be able to provide a link to Dynapoints but I have to think that they are no longer in production. Most have no hollow at all, and I suppose that the little hollow in the point was really created with the idea that they would be used at rifle velocities. Accurate enough, they just don't expand at pistol velocities are are consequently no better than standard velocity solids. On the other hand the SGB type bullet is very effective and like a Keith style bullet does not rely on expansion to be effective. More like an early LBT design, this bullet does really well on small game such as squirrel and rabbit. Much better performance than solids and from pistols it is about the best performer out there. Pistols just don't seem to generate the velocities necessary for good expansion. The only exception to this is the Winchester Power Point round (developed by Australians!).

Not any more! I've run a bunch through the Hanned SGB Tool (the Beljan version is shown here) which results in a flat point. I understand that Alan Taylor developed the concept and the Hanned Line is unfortunately now out of business. CCI attempted to recreate this point with their SGB load but that bullet necessarily lacks the sharp corners that you get with the tool as you can see in this comparison photo of a modified and an unmodified Dynapoint. The only suggestions I have are these:

1. Wear rubber/latex gloves. These make it easier to clean up after and don't allow that lead dust you get from filing to get under your fingernails. All the more important if you cook for your family especially for your children.
2. Remember to chalk your file and clean it regularly with a good file card or you will be buying many files. That sort of negates any cost savings for really effective .22 LR ammo.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

I'd like the thoughts of my reader(s) on the following.

I have a .30 Herrett 14" barrel for my Contender. Modified with a Choate extension welded on to meet minimum barrel length requirements for use with the butt stock. Using the Sierra 110 gr. RNSP meant for the .30 Carbine, 23 gr. 2400 and the CCI 200 primer, I got this group for 20 shots! No, there aren't 20 shots in the picture. 4 shots are completely off the paper! The range? 50 yards!

It makes you wonder if the minor "problems" people say they have with .30 M1 Carbine accuracy might be traced back to the bullet design used in the .30 Carbine ammunition.

After the comments vis-a-vis the Encore slug barrels and benchresting slug guns I dug mine out for the range. I did not, as suggested, take a towel. I don't regret that, but will say that my cheek took a far worse beating than my shoulder. One thing that really got me was that I've not got any of the Brenneke loads I thought I had. So, will have to stock up. This is a good loaner gun.

The weather was not conducive to really good shooting. There was a very strong crosswind with gusts to 30 mph but normally blowing about 10 mph, right to left. Yeah, right! With those big slugs and at 50 yards that wind didn't have nothing to do with nothing.

First, I went to the 25 yard range. One shot with an old Winchester BRI sabot round, a Winchester Foster type slug and a Federal (now that one kicked!) proved that all were in the bull at that range. With all the complaining, I don't think that any of you will begrudge me not wasting good slugs at that range. However, I had along a box of those Aguila mini-shells. No, they don't feed through my Mossberg nor do they feed through my Winchester Ranger/1200/1300 (kinda like Johnny Cash's Cadillac!) but you can single load them fine. They don't kick much and also shot to point of aim at 25 yards. HOWEVER, I doubt they have enough power to do for deer in most people's world. I think that they are really an anti-personnel round, pure and simple.

I next moved to 50 yards and fired 5 Winchester BRI slugs. On target but giving a 6 inch "group". I actually did better with the foster type slugs putting one in the bull!

Although most shots would have taken a deer at 0-50 yards I don't think I'd like to try much longer ranges.

Another fellow was shooting a Mississippi Rifle at the 50 yard butt. For those in the dark that was a .54 caliber rifle used prior to and during the Civil War. The fellow's name is D. Greene and he makes target barrels for the NSSA fraternity. He was there testing a barrel. Shooting from a rest with a charge of 42 grains of GOEX FFFg he was shooting the center right out of that 50 foot slow fire pistol target. Same target I was using, at the same range but I was not doing as well as he was.

For those interested in how often one is supposed to clean, etc., Mr. Greene (who has built 491 "Kentucky" rifles) fired 15 shots on the one target with only one shot out of the bull (by about ½ inch and his first) and then another 15 shots with another type, lighter bullet. That bullet put them all together in the upper half of the bull with 3 shots out. That is 30 shots without cleaning and he stayed seated to load, thumbing each bullet into the muzzle to start it and only using 2 fingers and a thumb to push the bullet home. Mr. Greene is 74 years old, is a retired tool and die maker, and served in WWII as a navigation instructor.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

It is raining and forecast to rain all day today so I won't be shooting. I've got some cases in the tumbler and I'm at the computer doing mostly Foundation work such as updating the member DB and balancing the checkbook (I'm treasurer, librarian, webmaster, and all around nice guy). Monday (yesterday) was also a nogo because of rain. However, with a 2 year deficit in rain and a depleted water table the long slow rains we've had lately are most welcome. I just can't complain.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Tomorrow, I will probably be out and about with my Seneca. The forecast is for partly cloudy and 72 degrees Farenheit! Great day for squirrel hunting and scouting.

If I have to do anything else, I'll probably take the Seneca to the range for chronograph tests and some testing at targets. Next week will be the Virginia muzzleloading season. Hope to do well there, but have no single spot decided on.

Friday, November 08, 2002

I did not get to the range today. Sadly, it seems that even the old retirees have to work to make money for shooting. The democrats ought to come up with a government program to fund old fart shooters (OFS, pronounced oafs). $200 a month sounds right! Not that $200 would cover all my shooting, but it sure would help. Heck if the government can come up with $200 a month for my medications, why not for shooting. Shooting does a lot more for my health than those darn pills the doctor(s) prescribe.

Ok, ok, I'm joking. No money from the government, no new taxes. Heck we won this past election, big time! Big relief to me as well. I think it shows that the Democrats drifted too far to the left and John Q. Public didn't buy their brand of manure. Not that they will be in any better shape next time (2004) since they will apparently not learn their lesson and have a Kalifornia Liberal as House minority leader. But it all pays off for shooters as we have a strong case to make with the party in power that they would NOT be where they are but for us.

I hope to do some actual hunting Monday. Will take the Seneca out for a bit of squirrel culling and scouting. There are a number of places to check out and I'll be going there.

Thompson-Center Seneca
For those of you who might be interested: I got my Thompson Center Seneca as a Christmas gift from my father in 1973. I enlisted in the military soon after so I didn't get to shoot it for almost 8 years! A .36, my dad intended that I use it to target shoot and hunt squirrels with. I would have liked a .45 at the time and eventually I got one. Not a whole rifle but an extra barrel from Fox Ridge Outfitters, the home of the Thompson Center Custom Shop.

I'm really pleased with this rifle, very good quality and accurate. In the .36, I shoot 25 grains of Pyrodex P with a patched .350" round ball and a CCI #11 cap. I've never chronographed it but it is accurate to 50 yards although almost all squirrels are taken at 15-30 yards. The .350" ball is decisive on squirrels, rabbits, and groundhogs. MUCH better than the .22 LR. I've also experimented with the .36 MaxiBalls and 60 grains of Pyrodex P or FFG for use on coyotes and such. Unfortunately, I've never had the opportunity to shoot a coyote with this load. I've also tried the .350 round ball with a poly patch and 60 grains of powder. This is a fast stepping load, about 2000 fps, which really does the deal on groundhogs at up to 100 yards.

The .45 barrel is another great shooter. My intention was to use this barrel to hunt deer with the Seneca. Unfortunately (again!) the barrel has not yet been "blooded". It does shoot well though. My load is 80 grains of Pyrodex RS or GOEX FFG with the 285 grain Hornady Great Plains bullet. I did try another brand of blackpowder with this barrel but the fouling was hard and noticeably more. I was able to reduce its effects somewhat by filling the hollow base of the bullet with Wonder Lube (Bore Butter). Sorry, but I can't remember off the top of my head what brand powder that was. This is a powerful load which nearly equals the .45-70 and is more powerful than the .44 Remington Mag from a rifle length barrel.

The nice thing about a .45 is that you can also shoot the .440" round ball, patched of course, with a 30 grain charge for rabbits and squirrels.

The limiting factor here is the single shot (but as you've already seen, I shoot a lot of single shots) and lack of optical sights. I do have an aperture sight on this gun and that was my compromise between the nearly unusable sights (for my eyes for hunting) that came on the barrels and the bulky and very un-traditional scope sights. Having shot aperture sights all my life, it is not a problem to use these.

I will have to do some chronographing of these guns with my favorite loads and report the results here. I think that there is too little empirical data on the muzzleloaders as they are actually used and shot.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

.357 Remington Maximum "Silent" Loads

Range work today consisted of checking impact and accuracy of a proposed squib/"silent" load for the .357 Maximum Contender 21" barrel. Load is the 205 gr. Leadhead GC in Winchester .38 Special cases with 2.5 gr. Bullseye and CCI small pistol primer. The load was not chronographed today due to range "congestion". Accuracy at 25 yards (top photo)was 7/8" for 5 shots (looks like 4, doesn't it?). I think that if you re-sighted this would be perfectly acceptable for small game at this range. Accuracy at 50 yards (bottom photo) was also excellent, the group measured 1 3/8" but might have been tighter if the wind had let up some. Time to impact was noticeable and some workers cleaning the range behind the line did not think I was actually shooting. They had to come over and see what was going on and stood right behind me for 3 shots with no hearing protection. Several shooters stopped what they were doing and looked over at me to see what was "wrong"! Recoil was nil as expected.

Assuming this bullet is moving 450-600 fps, energy would be in the range of 90-160 fpe and recoil was just .66-1 fpe in a 5.5 lb rifle! Surely somebody would have use for this as a training round.

It was suggested that I load these squib loads in .357 Maximum cases. I have thought of that but... I want to do a couple of things here:
1. Avoid the use of fillers to hold the powder against the primer. This would be mandatory in the long Maximum case.
2. Be able to differentiate between the different load types. I already have a full effort load using this same bullet in the Maximum case. It would be very difficult to tell the 2 apart.
3. I also want to use this load, maybe, in my revolvers. I don't have a .357 Maximum revolver but I do have 3 .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolvers.

In fact, that full effort load in the .357 Max is NOT as accurate as these squib loads at these ranges (25-50 yards). I'm going to be using some more case refinement techniques and a different powder in an attempt to improve this.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

I took the 7mm TCU to the range today. The weather started off very pleasant but as a storm front moved through, the wind must have hit 25 mph! Made shooting impossible.

However, before the big wind, I was able to work around the other shooters and shoot out to 100 yards. Since I still have some of the 130 gr. Sierra loads I checked zero with those. Right on at 100 yards but when the wind came up it was apparent that these loads are pretty wind sensitive. A 10-25 mph cross wind would drift the bullet a good 3-4 inches at 100 yards. This load uses the CCI 400 primer with 29.4 gr. H4895 and the Sierra 130 gr. SSP for 2460 fps from my 21" factory barrel. I bought this barrel from RJ's Guns about 5 years ago and it is an earlier barrel with only a single dovetail lock. I think it does shoot well.

One thing, this is the first 7mm TCU barrel I got. The second was a 10" that I intended to use for IHMSA production class. Unfortunately, there are no matches within 100 miles of here! So, I've not shot it enough to really wring it out. One thing I did discover was that brass formed for the 21" was a tad too long, base to shoulder, to allow the gun to lock up properly on the 10" barrel. Setting the shoulder back a "smidgen" (I had to experiment to do this a minimal amount) allows both barrels to use the same ammo.

For those interested, the above mentioned load gets only 2040 fps in the 10" barrel, almost exactly 400 fps less than the 21" barrel.

Another thing. Everytime I go to the public range, I get to see the "public" shooting. This can be very interesting! Today was no exception.

Today, there were a couple of younger (younger than me, maybe 25-35 years old) shooters. They had several rifles and were working in conjunction with (or were just acquainted with) a couple of older shooters to their right. They had a Outers Varminter Rest, which they were using with a Browning BAR in .308. Unfortunately they were resting the barrel directly on the rest rather than resting the forearm on the rest. Since the rest is hard, I would expect that the rifle would shoot "away" from the rest much as when you rest the barrel across or against a limb or tree. They were having a devil of a time getting it zeroed. First, they'd shoot on the rest then try to check the zero without the rest. Since it wasn't right, they'd put the gun back on the rest. I don't think that the rest allows the rifle to be set up with the forearm on the forward arm of the rest. Anyway, their machinations were intriguing to watch. I can't for the life of me understand why some of these shooters who appear to be so sophisticated, judging by the equipment they have, have such a limited understanding of the equipment.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Took the Swede out this morning. This is getting boring. Iron sights and it still shot 1.5 - 2 inch groups. No change to zero!

Next good free day, I'll be taking my 7mm TCU. I had been shooting the 130 gr. Sierra SSP but am now loading the Hornady 120 gr. SSP. Much easier to find AND cheaper. I doubt that there is one bit of difference in performance.

I've yet to zero or check zero on my .22 Hornet and .218 Bee barrels. I'll might be using these for coyotes (or maybe not). I've got a couple of boxes of the Hornady 35 gr. SSTs for the Hornet.

Monday, November 04, 2002

I plan on taking my M96 Swede (that was "sporterized"). I've added a William FPRS and it used to shoot just fine. Will be checking the zero with the Norma 139 gr. Vulkan bullet load.

I used to load Hornady or Sierra 140 gr. bullets but quit. Have now loaded all my empty brass with 160 gr. Hornadys. Got on the heavy bullet kick but the 140s are really the bullet for this 6.5mm cartridge.
Now to vent about something else. Federal has gone and changed their .45-70 300 gr. load. Now using the Speer rather than the Sierra bullet. I am REALLY disappointed I will just have to go straight to reloading (as with everything else), to maintain a consistent load. Can't count on the factories to keep using a single bullet. And not only do they shoot to slightly different POI, but the 2 bullets behave differently in game! Maybe I preferred the old bullet. I sure hope this was not a bean counter decision...
I had a wonderful day at the range today. Finally got down to the .30-30 Contender 21" barrel, 2½X scope, and off to the range I went. Ammo used is some long ago loaded 170 gr. Sierra .307 FPs in misc cases with 30 grain IMR 3031 and CCI 200 primers. This load gets an actual 2200 fps from this barrel. Hornady 170s get an even 100 fps less. My theory is that the difference in diameter between the 2 bullets makes that much difference. I've even gone up one (1) grain to 31 grains IMR 3031 with the Sierras but this is too much with the Hornadys in this barrel or in my 1894 carbine. Since the loads might be used in both, I keep it simple and use the Sierras in the Contender and the Hornadys in the Winchester (made in 1943).

Accuracy was pretty good as you can see. The 100 yard group came in at about the expected 1½ inches for 6 of the 7 shots but the real surprise were the 2 (3 shot) 150 yard groups at about 1.5 and 1.75 inches. I'm really pleased. Allowing for the incline, I think that I have a good 165 yard point blank range with this load. About that first group, I wanted to go for 10, but kept getting interrupted by other shooters, new shooters coming on line, etc. Aside from being rude, this made me change my position. Clearly this is a problem I have in that I have 3-2 shot pairs. The barrel can shoot but I can't! Still 4 of those 7 shots went under 3/4 inch and 3 groups of 2 were touching.

This is why people add the caveat, "when I do my part" to their descriptions of their groups. Now that I have time to shoot, I, more than ever, want my own private range.

Perhaps someday somebody will be able to explain to me why they throw away expensive once-fired brass. I see (and pick up for my own friends' use) all sorts of magnum brass laying about at the range every time I go. It is simply beyond this man's understanding how anyone can let that brass lay there. If nothing else put it back until you have enough to make reloading it economical for yourself or to make a gift to a friend who reloads.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Here is the typical .45-70 group from yesterday. Range 100 yards, 5 MPH crosswind, Federal Classic 300 gr. Sierra Gameking at 1800 fps from the 24" Contender barrel, 2½X scope, sitting supported.

The recoil on this light rifle can be a little daunting. I was just getting used to it when I shot this group. The rifle probably shoots better than I can hold it, the rifle is awfully light. It only weighs about 5-1/2 to 5-3/4 lbs loaded.