Some Days Are Just Better Than Others

Nearly 40 years ago a rifle was purchased, brand new. It was a 7mm Remington Magnum Winchester Model 70. It was topped with a Weaver T16 target scope and 1000 Sierra MatchKing bullets were bought to do some semi-serious target-shooting.

The thing never shot better than 2 minute groups, what you could have obtained from some run of the mill military surplus rifle with iron sights… That scope fell apart under the recoil. The objective lens stayed in place while the rifle recoiled, breaking the objective retaining ring. Another scope, a RedField, was bought and it developed a rattle. All kinds of ammunition was tried from expensive factory-loads to tenderly made handloads. The barreled action was carefully bedded in the stock with epoxy to make a perfect fit… Nothing worked. The thing was put in storage for decades…

Today, a third scope was attached, a store-brand-made-in-China scope. This is one of two very tight groups obtained at 100 yards with Sierra 168 HP MatchKing atop 56 grains of Vihtavuori N-160. target_2013-10-6_S168BTHP

The image was rotated and scaled with GIMP and centres of bullet-holes were located by mouse:

There, this is the best group this rifle has ever fired and we had three like that in one day. We tried several batches of ammunition. One commercial batch from Winchester produced a good group and the load listed above gave two more. To understand the significance of this if you are not a shooter, consider a deer standing 400 yards away. We could fire five shots in a row into its heart without a miss. With the worst group of the day, about two inches diameter at 100 yards, we could put every bullet into the vitals, the heart and lungs. With a bit more testing, we should be ready for hunting in open country next month. We still have to choose a hunting bullet between 140 and 175 grains in weight. The Sierra 175 grain GameKings are the likely choice. The 140 SP bullets we tested were not as accurate and tend to over-expand on close shots. We expect to see deer over 300 yards away by guarding a long opening. For stalking, we can use a much more flexible firearm like 8X57 Mauser with 170 RN bullets.

It’s a great day when real progress is made and things work as they should.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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