Kansas 2019 RRT
3 MPH W
Goal: Night wind practice
Environment: No moon, some stars, but not all (partly cloudy). Very muddy, we had a week of rain and looking at most of another one on the way. Ground is more than saturated. On the 4-wheeler I felt like I was driving a boat on the low ground.
Equipment: 7.62(20) Stoner, NF 4-16x T3, UTC-x, RRS, M118LR, Kestrel 2500NV, Radius, Phone with Real AB, Helmet with Patrol, PVS-14 and PAS-29. Propane tank, torch and lighter. 4-wheeler.
Activity: For the past couple of months I've been doing wind practice several times a week during the day. Now it is time to try it at night. In current situation, I have steel targets at 500yds and 640yds from normal firing point. These are IPSC(2/3) with 12x18 body and 6x6 face. The scoring is as follows
distance / 1st rd hit / 2nd rd hit
250 1 0
500 2 1
500 Face 4 2
640 3 1.5
640 Face 6 3
750 4 2
1050 6 3
Sometimes, I scoot a little farther down the hill and set up in a clump of trees. And I did that tonight. That makes the targets 475yds and 620yds.
I heat both targets so I can see them with the thermal. I shoot off the RRS tripod.
Here's a pic showing both targets with the 4-16x on 4x. When shooting, I cranked up to 16x.
I could feel or see no wind. I dialed AB temp for the shot from 60F (from last time) to 50F for tonight. AB said 2.9 mils up for 475yds and no wind hold. I aimed center of mass and heard a hit. I could not see the target dance.
Next to aim at the face still 2.9 up. I was high, barely. I repeated and heard a hit.
For the 620yd target even with no wind AB said hold left 0.1 mils and 4.7 mils up. I ignored the 0.1 left. First shot was a miss. I held left for 2 MPH, second shot was a hit, I could hear it.
Then aimed a little higher for the face again holding left for 2 mph and heard a hit.
Packed up and headed down to the targets.
The first hit on the 475yd target was dead center. The face hit was to the right but good on elevation.
At the 620yd target both hits were on the face, which is ok. A hit anywhere on the target counts for the non-face shoot. But the hit must be on the face for a face shot. So the non-face shot was high, but still a hit. But I cannot tell which shot was which.
The score is
475 = 2 + 2
620 = 1.5 + 6
Total = 11.5 / 15 = 76.66
The avg for the day is 83% (from six prior outings since I've been keeping records like this). The avg with tonight's score is 82%. Haven't set the goal yet.
In summer it is tougher to get as much shooting/other practice done due to harvesting requirements. But I have not been completely idle.
For day time, I've somehow become a local shooting trainer :D
I've had 3 sessions with my #1 shooting buddy, 4 sessions with neighbor to the South and 1 session with GF of neighbor to the North's daughter.
With SB#1, in the first two sessions we focused on groups at 100yds. Getting him up to speed on the specific "tricks" I've learned over the past 18 months to overcome various fundamentals issues.
Then we went out back and tried to translate these learnings into results on the steel at 500yds and 640yds ... 12 inch and 6 inch steel.
It was hard to believe, but he was able to hit even 640 face (6 inch steel) after less than 18 hours of training. Replicating what it took me 18 months to get to :D
But, he still doesn't get to practice it multiple times per week like I do. And I was making the wind calls for him. But still he was executing on the fundamentals well enough to get hits.
And this week we tried it at night and he was able to get hits as well on heated steel with thermal clipon.
For neighbor to the South, when we started off in the first session, he was getting 4 inch groups at 100yds.
I doubt he had ever fired groups at 100yds. Most of his targets are set up at 25 yds.
But he wanted to be able to do a better job of getting the yotes he sees on his land. So better precision/accuracy indicated.
Which means work on fundamentals :)
So 4 inch groups was the baseline.
I noted he was shooting 55 grain in a 1/7 barrel. So I gave him 400rds of 77gr of mine.
He decided he wanted a better upper, so I got him a Lewis Machine upper ... still 1/7 ... 16 inch ...
I also gave him a 5x ACOG-ish scope I had that I wasn't using.
And I showed him some "tricks" to help with fundamentals.
In the second session, we didn't have the new upper, but we got him down under 3 inch groups.
Oh and I noted his trigger was very heavy, felt like a 7 pounder, so I showed him out to change out a trigger and we put in a 3 pounder..
In the third session, all the new gear was in place and we got him under two inches.
And then finally in the fourth session, I further adjusted his position and he got mostly sub 1.5 inch groups, with majority under 1 inch.
I was impressed. And he was ectstatic ! But again, he isn't practicing every day or even 3 times a week, so I need to bug him harder.
Learning to shoot is not an "event" it is a "process" and a lot of people don't get that.
Ok, for the neighbor's daughter's GF, she brought a 9mm "high point" I think it was ... basically an
AR-ish sort of weapon that shoots 9mm. That said, it seemed pretty cheaply executed, so I wasn't expecting much.
But what is a 9mm like this good for ?? Minute of man at 100yds maybe ?
Well, she said she was a "terrible" shooter, but wanted to get better. So, that's a good starting point, at least from an attitude perspective!
So, we started at 25yds. Her first groups were 4 inches. I went over about 6 "tricks" I thought would make the most difference ...u don't want to overwhelm people with too much to work on in the first session and TBH six things is too many, but she seemed to be a fast learner so I kept pushing. ... and in her words, with her last group "I hit the bulls eye 3 times" ... This was a 3/4 inch colored dot. And it's true she did. Now that's still a "3 moa group" ... but it was WAY better than the 16 moa groups she started with.
And as always, I said, practice as often as you can and remember those fundamentals.
So I never set out to be the neighborhood shooter instructor ... but somehow, lately, things seemed to have evolved in that direction.
It is gratifying to see people improve so dramatically so quickly. But I cannot "force" them to continue regular practice, so
I cannot hope that the lessons will stick.
Otherwise, I still go out 2-3 times per night for coop checks, but have not seen any threats on the ground (or in the air for that matter) at night this month.
Summer is usually pretty slow in the chicken threat department as the critters seem to be able to find food farther away from "the big smelly place" (our house :D).
I continue to do wind practice and groups but haven't had time to write them up or take pics.
My regular shooting should resume in Sept, if we can get most of the hay in by then.
Started heading towards the dark side ...
My first batch (60rds) of Joe loaded ammo ... 175gr, 43.5gr varget.
MV was 2544 out of 7.62(20) bolt gun ... a little lower than the 2561 from FGMM 175gr, 7.62 load. But SD for the joe loaded rds was 13, down from 18.5 for the FGMM.
Problem is now I can't find varget powder anyway :(
Do I have to use multiple different powders to be able to reload one cartridge ? If, so the idea of consistent ammo is out the window and that was one of the purposes of going down this road. Didn't realize powder acquisition would be the key issue.
I haven't bought any powder down here in Texas in a while but Varget is usually on the shelves when I do. I get an e-mail from one place with their powder inventory every month and they are showing four eight pound containers @ $199.00 each and two one pound @ $29.00 today. Might have to pay the hasmat fee and have it shipped.
orkan last edited by orkan
Do I have to use multiple different powders to be able to reload one cartridge ?
You solve this problem by buying in bulk. You buy no less than a barrel's worth of components of all the same lot number when you purchase.
Buy small quantities to prove basic functionality and suitability... but once you decide on components, you buy enough to burn out a barrel, at minimum.
Aye, well I used varget for those first 60 rounds and wanted to bump up the charge and do another 60 ... or hecque another 100 ... but can't find varget anywhere. So, I guess I will wait. In the mean time I can build my bench (this was done on buddies bench, whose helping me get setup).
And yes, I was planning on buying three 8 pound "jugs" and when I open the second one, ordering two more ... that way, I should always have 2-3 unopened jugs (a.k.a. "safety stock").
Is "varget" a bad choice for basic .308 loading ?? Because its too popular ? Or are people "hoarding" because of politics ? I am familiar with how the ammo market shifts around .. but not the reloading market !!
Eventually I want to reload 4 cartridges (155 and 175 for .308 ... 77gr for 5.56 and either 190 or 220 for .300WM ... still have to decide between 190 and 220) ... and that will probably mean 4 different powders ... but trying to learn as much as I can from doing one cartridge first ... before branching out.
It was way easier and faster than I expected ... BUT ... my "coach" did some setup, calibration and QA steps ... all I did was the "grunt work" ... cleaned the brass, "swedged"(sp?) the brass (the brass I am using is "military brass" so I learned) ... lubed the brass, resized the brass, wiped off the lube, primered the brass (on the press), measured the powder, poured the powder into the cases, punched the bullets into the cases and "crimped" the necks (a separate die). It took about 2 hours, but there was a lot of chatting and Q&A. I think I could do 200rds in 2 hours with the process I used and this was with a T7 press and a Charge Master ... not "high end" gear.
Oh, when he said "barrel" I thought he meant
But upon re-reading I think he meant ...
@kansas Hey, if you want a hand primer I have a Hornady I don't want or need. I tried to sell it and would rather donate it to someone in need than keep moving it around in my shop. Absolutely nothing wrong with it I got a CPS Lite and never use it. I have two other back ups so it's no skin off of my back.
Can you show me a pic please ? I'm still learning the lingo and what to make sure I understand what a "hand" primer is !!! :D
Varget is always scarce for part of the year. They do a run of it, and then everyone stocks up. Some sits around for a bit... but it's a super common backorder item.
Lots of powders out there. Feel free to try any you can find in stock that will work for the bullets you're shooting. H4895, H4350, RL15, RL17, etc. There are lots of powders that "can" and often do work for 308's. If your rifle and component combo works best with varget, then you'll need to look around at online sources and perhaps get a backorder in.
haha ... "selection process" for varget ... in my case ... was something like ...
"some people on the internet said use varget" ... so when I got to the coaches house, he said we could use x, y, z or varget ... and I said "Oh, I've heard of varget, let's try that!" ... so he said "ok" and we did !!
i.e. essentially a random selection.
I want something that will "entry level work" for 175gr for 20-24 inches barrels ... and that is generally available. And if that's varget then I'll wait ... and if its something else I can switch. I did one group of 60 rounds with 43.5 grains of varget and I was gonna step it up to 44gr and maybe that would be enough for my purposes. But it isn't too late to start over. I'm still gettin all my crap setup.
I don't know what kind of press you have but you need either an RCBS shellholder or Hornady. If you don't have one I have an extra one I will put in it. (RCBS)
I had good luck with H4895 loading 150 grain bullets in my .308. I don't shoot heavy stuff I have a 12 twist barrel that came off of a Remington Sendero in that rifle.
Here's the list of stuff I'm working on acquiring right now to get started ...
Redding T7 press
RCBS Charge Master
Readding type S full length bushing die
Lee Factory Crimp die
Redding Neck Sizer Die Bushing (diameter 0.335) titanium nitride
Federal Premium Gold Medal Large Rifle Match Primers #210M (5000)
175gr SMK (500)
Loading Trays (4) 50 rds .308
Redding Competition Seater Die
primer tube ?
And if by "shell holder" you mean "loading trays" ... yes I got four 50rd trays (so I can load up to 200rds in an extended session)
Another quick question. Are you chamfering the inside of the necks after sizing and trimming? I see some marks on the projectiles in you picture of the ammo box that look like the seater plug might be biting into them a bit during seating. Could be a reflection.
I noticed some rings on the bullets. I'll ask about the cause. They are "carved" in ... not an illusion ...
Redding makes them too. Most interchange between presses.
@kansas It could be lots of neck tension or not having the chamfer to help the bullet to enter the neck.
He did figure out all the .308 brass I brought (both Lake City and Federal "FC") are "military brass" ... so harder ... but when I was seating the bullets they were flopping around in the necks while I was lining them up in the die ... so I was using both hands ...
He didn't make the noise "chamfer" when I was there ... so not sure about that. Will ask.
dddoo7 last edited by
I would go with a Forster coax press.
I would not use bushing dies, neck dies, or crimp dies for precision shooting. A good full length die (non bushing) would be better than the ones you have listed.
@kansas Do yourself a favor and buy some lapua brass.
One of the cartridges I plan to load is a 155 palma (for .308). I've been shooting the berger/berger (bullet/load) ... and that load happens to come with Lapua Brass. So I will definitely be using that Lapua brass for the palma cartridge.
But I have thousands of the FC (from the FGMM 7.62 load of the 175gr) and also thousands of the LC (from the M118LR) so want to use those for the 175gr loads.
But I have thousands of the FC (from the FGMM 7.62 load of the 175gr) and also thousands of the LC (from the M118LR) so want to use those for the 175gr loads.
I made that exact same mistake early in my career.
Your choices are yours, and everyone needs to learn their own way, but you may look back on this later and consider this line of thinking to be a critical error.
Milspec brass is not consistently capable of better than 3/4MOA. There are exceptions to this rule, but in my experience it is a rule none the less. You may be able to be in possession of exceptional lots, or do enough work on it to achieve 1/2MOA on the regular. However, I would never expect it.
Though as I say, your time is your own... I'll not stop you from doing as you please.
Well as you know ... knowing the WHY is critical !!!
So, you recommend buying unfired Lapua brass, and going with that exclusively ?
It is certainly not impossible.
But I wonder if "learning the basics" on some of the military brass still might be worth it ? I'm at the training wheels stage right now.
@kansas You can do both, rather than choosing.
You can certainly use milspec brass to learn and practice basic reloading skills. Yet when you are truly looking to identify limitations in your process or equipment, you'll want to be using the best available equipment and components. It's simply a reality that 3/4MOA is not very good in the way of "learning" reloading processes. You can make some pretty serious mistakes at the loading bench and still come away with 3/4MOA ammo. It's the pursuit of a significantly smaller performance which reveals the weaknesses in process and equipment. Pursuing less than 3/4MOA with milspec components will often be a lesson in futility, rather than a lesson in process or equipment refinement.
Properly managed effort and expectations is key to success and happiness.
Moving slow and understanding what and why before you do it is a good mindset to have when reloading. :)
Some background ... on the last phone call I had with Greg, about 2 months ago ? He said, there were only 3 things I needed to change to break thru my 3/4 MOA barrier:
So, reloading is an attempt to change the ammo ... that's the motivation.
The rifles and the optics ... will also happen ... but can't do everything at once !
10 MPH SSW
Goal: Confirm zero and wind practice with 7.62(22) and 155 SMK (#2156) HSM load (FC 11 brass).
Environment: Hot and breezy. Mostly cloudless sky ... last week of summer ?
Equipment: 7.62(22) rifle with NF 7-35x T3, 155 SMK, RRS, Kestrel
Activity: Confirmed zero at 100yds, clicked up 2 clicks.
Rolled out to 500yd FP and setup. Kestrel 2min wind check said
I held for 8 mph.
Fired 1 rd, hit the torso. I was aiming at the torso.
I could definitely hear the wind was up, so I held for 12 mph (each wind dot is 4 mph for my setup). Got a hit, but when I cranked up to 35x it looked like I was a tiny bit low, in terms of aiming for face.
Moved to 730yd FP and setup. 2 min wind read got
Unfortunately, I've started to learn this stage ... and on this stage if the wind is from the SW, a ridge blocks the wind for this shooting position, so I decided to hold for 10 mph based on watching the trees down along the creek, plus I am shooting over the tops of those tree, so I'm touching 45 feet up in the air at the high point.
Held for 10 mph and 4.9 mils up. First round hit.
I smiled inside. The first time I got a first round hit from this stage I jumped and hollered! And then I berated myself about it ... many times ... and still do ... I believe in the "no emotion" rule when shooting. I don't think emotion helps you hit the target. But at least this time it was just "smiling inside".
I cranked up to 35x and could see the hit on the left side of the torso. Since I was holding left, I backed off on the wind hold to 8 mph and fired a second shot. This hit was one of the two near the bottom. The wind was highly variable.
For the 3rd shot, I decided to go for the face, which is rare at this distance. The wind seemed to be picking up so I held for 12 mph and got a hit. I was shooting on 20x but checking the hits at 35x. I standing up on the tripod, but I was leaning back on the 4-wheeler which added a little stability. I could see the hit on the right side on the face. Tried a repeat holding for 12 MPH on the face and hit. Could see it on the left side.
Wind died down and I held for 10 mph on the torso and got a hit, repeated for another hit. The two shots lower down looked like one smudge from up on the hill where I was.
Had one round left and tried for the face holding for 10, but the wind bucked me to the right at the instance I squeezed the trigger and the barrel moved left and the splash of dirt was a few inches left of the target.
Summary/Results: The cartridge I will try to clone is the berger/berge palma. That one is a long COAL with MV 2891, versus the SMK/HSM round I'm shooting today is standard COAL mv 2891 (all out of this rifle, which has evolved into the palma bullet shooting rifle)
But I have about 140 rds of the SMK/HSM left so I will shoot it ! When I clone the berger round I will actually use the SMK 2156 bullet. BL rates the BC of the 2156 as .238 (G7) whereas he rates the BC of the berger 155.5 as .239 ... not enough difference to worry about. So I will go with the SMK hoping it is more highly available. But I will use Lapua brass (the berger round comes in Lapua brass) and load to the same COAL as the berger round. Not sure which powder yet.
But the equipment seemed to work today so the 7.62(22) rifle is reactivated. This lets me tear down the 7.62(20) Bravo rifle and swap its scope over to the 5.56(18) Mk12-ish ... and then put the L&S mk6 3-18x T3 on the Bravo gun, with the NF 2.5-10x mil-r on the 5.56(18) in the Spuhr mount. That will let me use the SIMRAD on the 5.56(18) which is the whole purpose of all the scope swapping :D
The way I count it, today is the first day of the first shooting week of 2020. That means I'm done with the 2019 shooting year.
Here's my round count (the averages, etc are weekly):
And compared to last year:
So you will note that I shot 33% less rounds this year (and I only count rifle/carbine rounds in this number, not shotgun or pistol). The reason was we dumped everything we had into some more land and I haven't bought one rd of ammo since April. It did motivate me to start reloading :D
Of course, I will have to buy some rimfire, but I haven't shot up that much rimfire, I've restricted rimfire to vermin only, day and night. So I'm reloading for 308 now and the plan is that over the next few months I'll be reloading for 556 and .300WM. Those are the only three centerfire calibers I shoot, so that will cover everything.
So what were the highlights and lowlights in 2019?
Total overall average group sizes across 5 rifles on the RRS tripod were 13/16ths compared to 14.6/16th last year. I shot vastly higher percent of groups and wind practice off the tripod this year. In 2018, I was still using 100% manfrottos thru April 2018. So 2019 was the first year of 100% RRS.
Prone groups last year 12.2/16ths and this year 12.0/16ths ... the main change again, was less groups prone this year and actually I don't consider that to be good. I don't want to loose the prone skill. I can't use prone in the field much around here, but I want to practice it. And in part that's because I don't much like prone. I'd rather shoot of the tripod. So, if I don't like it ... then all the more reason the beat the crap out of myself and MAKE myself shoot more prone. So today, all shots were prone. :D
So net/net, no real change on group size.
As to wind practice (what I call shooting 500-800yds on my land ... as far as I've been able to get, though now I should have a spot I can shoot 1050yds. The percent of 1st rd hits on a given target was 73% overall. With 73% being the day percentage and 76% being the night percentage. Vastly more shots during the day. The shots were all on IPSC(2/3) steel, with some of the targets being the "face" only (the 6x6 piece at the top of the target). And the vast majority were off the tripod. During most of the year, from most of the positions, I can't see the targets prone. Too much grass in the way.
I did build another berm this year and that opened up another stage ... and I hope to build a third berm in 2020.
Most of the wind shots were with the T3 reticle using the wind dots. The wind dots allow adjustments for wind just by thinking what the new MPH of the wind is and holding in MPH. No need to look at ballistic calculator for wind at all.
I've also finally got the Kestrel 5700 AB Elite Link 100% working and I can synch it to the AB app on the phone to back everything up there. I can send the gun data in either direction. This will enable me to synch the gun data across multiple kestrels. I'm using G7 now across the board.
Right now, I'm still shooting up 1500 remaining 175gr SMK FGMM 7.62 load. This is generating a lot of brass !! And I'm reloading the 175gr as well, using the 175SMK, the FC brass (and for my buddy using the M118LR LC brass). Using varget. SDs are sub 10 and the MV is averaging around 2575 for the bolt guns. The GAP-10 with barlein barrel was getting 2611-2617 ... but I sold that and haven't shot the aero precision/ballistic advantage replacement yet.
Still cogitating on whether to load the 155gr to try to mimic the berger 155.5 cartridge. Or maybe just do a long coal 175gr and hope it can beat the 155gr. Right now, the berger 155 beast the socks off the 175gr standard length for danger space, lag time and energy.
I'm still finishing off the Black Hills 77 SMK with the 5.56(18) mk12-ish. I hope I can beat that load. Right now I'm getting 2751 MV, most recent measure. SD 16.4
And I have 370 A191 and 400 barnes 220 for the .300WM. I'll be loading the 220 SMK.
So I'll be loading 3-4 cartridges.
Standard length 175 SMK
Standard length 77 SMK
Standard length 220 SMK
Potentially a long coal 175 SMK.
On fundamentals. A trick showed to me by a member and an accident I had while shooting buddies stock REM700 308(20) together solved trigger issue. Then for most of the year I struggled with diopter setting and parallax removal issues, but as of now, I think I've solved those. So, now finally on to the breathing cycle. Trying to make the trigger break happen at the respiratory pause without forcing it.
Of course "solve" just means, for one layer of the onion. I don't think we ever get done improving fundamentals. But can I ever get consistent down to 0.5 inch ? IDK. I get strings of 3 groups sub 0.5 inch ... but not avg group size over 100s of rds. But my process is keep pounding on the fundamentals. The good news is, I think my analysis seems to be correct as to where the problem lie. So, if I can keep figuring out what to fix, then eventually, I will be able to fix it ... and on and on it goes for ever and the group sizes should be dropping. Well, that's how I measure if issues are being "solved".
So big goals for 2020
Get reloading up for all center fire rifle/carbine cartridges
Get stage set up to allow wind practice out to 1200yds.
For groups, use prone 50% of the time and whenever possible for wind practice.
Let's try setting avg group size 0.6 for prone and 0.75 for tripod for the group size goals.