Monday, October 04, 2004

1886 SRC to the Range!

Well, I took my new to me (and darn near NIB, period) Browning 1886 SRC to the range today. Whoooo hooooo. That steel carbine butt had me a bit worried, although the gun seemed to fit fine, but it was no problem being plenty wide enough to dissipate recoil across the shoulder. Most people would compare this gun to their .308 for recoil but some would find stronger loads intimidating.

Sights used were the factory carbine sights. They don't give a lot of definition particularly against black bullseyes. A Williams Foolproof is on order for this gun. The problem isn't the front post but the rear notch. At my age these sights might be more challenging than they would have been 30 years ago.

The target was one of those 8" round Shoot N C things from Birchwood Casey. The sights don't show up particularly well against this target but it is a reasonable size.

The ammo consisted of 4 different loads. They were the Remington factory 405 gr., the Remington 300 gr. "Express" loading, the Federal 300 gr. Express loading with the Sierra JHC and the new version of the Federal load with the 300 gr. Speer HotCore.

The 405 gr. load and the 300 gr. loads all stayed on the target at 50 yards. However, the 405 gr. load was noticeably lower on target at 100 yards being almost 7 inches below point of aim. However, all the "Express" loads shot to point of aim at 100 yards. An adjustable sight would make the 405 gr. factory load usable but it is only marginally so at 100 yards with the factory sight. When I reload for this gun for use on animals heavier than whitetails, black bear or hogs, I'll be using a good 400 or 405 gr. bullet at about 1600 fps. Again, an adjustable sight is probably necessary for this application. Such loads would be for elk, moose and perhaps larger black bear or bison. The factory "Express" loadings using the 300 gr. bullet are sufficient for any use I'll have for the rifle in this area. BTW, the .45-70 can push the 300 gr. bullet some 200 fps faster than the .44 Remington Mag from a rifle and with about 20K CUP less pressure!

Functioning was smooth, positive and problem free. The trigger was not unmanageable. Some might not like it but it was no better or worse than any other levergun trigger. I'm not particularly trigger sensitive and found it to be a good one. Ejection, even when cycling the action VERY slowly, was extremely positive and consistently dropped the cartridges just 2-3 feet directly behind me.

My general impression of the SRC was, in a word, outstanding. If the Browning 71s and 1895s are of the same quality, I'm hooked! Personally, one of these rifles in .33 Winchester would be about PERFECT for many hunters in my neck of the woods. They might not think so, but it would serve them very well indeed. In addition, it is just darn fun to shoot!

Here's a photo of the target used at 100 yards.

If you look at the pic, the black pasters are covering the first 4 shots I ever put out of the gun. Shot at 50 yards, observers were amazed that it was zeroed AND that I could hit with open sights. [?] The top 2 are the Federal 300 gr. Sierra JHC and the bottom 2 are Remington 405 gr.

Every shot seemed a bit easier to control and as you see the group sizes decrease so too I was working through the ammo list. IOW, the smallest group is the last fired on this target.

I'd like to reiterate that the action has a satisfying solidity to it. It kind of feels "hollow" when unloaded but when loaded and worked it feels like a little bank vault. With the hook the cartridges are dragged out, lifted up and placed perfectly for smooth entry into the chamber. Fast or slow, this action works. I'm sure you've run into lever guns (and others) that either wouldn't work at speed or wouldn't work when cycled slowly. This guns surely isn't like that.

With a good aperture sight, this could be the one gun. I'm looking forward to getting a good example of the little brother, the M92. Will probably take a while, but hey, I've had to wait for all the good things in my life.

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