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Range Report..... of Sorts
Old 04-20-2006, 12:51 PM
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Default Range Report..... of Sorts

Well, I finally got to the range yesterday. Probably the most significant tidbit of info to be gleaned from the trip is: It's rarely a good idea to 'force' things.

Actually I worked kinda hard at not forcing things. I took only four rifles - the H&R Buffalo Classic (.45-70), John's .338 MAI, and two M-95 Steyrs - and only three of those were going to get most of my attention. But... you know the saying: "The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray."

By "forcing", I mean that it was still a little too cold for the ballistic evaluations that I wanted to do. But it has been so long in the making, I simply couldn't stand to wait any longer. Plus, I got informed at breakfast that my eldest had a soccer game that started at 1600.

There were a series of little 'indicators' before I ever got out of my driveway, but I'll spare you that. In a nutshell, the electronic hardware - pressure system, chronograph and computer - worked almost flawlessly. And the range was sufficiently unpopulated that for a couple of hours anyway, I could go downrange to check targets pretty much at will. The rifles however, were fairly 'uncooperative'.

I started by firing the "old" M-95 Steyr (hereafter referred to as "43"). It was the first Steyr I put a pressure sensor on. It was now scope-less, but shot fine, and the pressure sensor worked boringly well. The nazi milsurp ammo yielded its typical time-pressure curve that peaked right at 40kPSI, with a muzzle velocity (MV) of 2356 f/s.

I then bore-sighted the 'scoped M-95 (hereafter "26") using the nazi ammo. The purpose being to get a "calibration" value relative to 43. 26 had a newly attached pressure transducer, and the 'scope off of 43.

The first peak registered for 26 was 85kPSI. Well that's not right, says I. The cable had disconnected at the recoil, and I figured that was the cause. So I reconnected the cable and fired another round. No response. OK fine. I reset the system - about a 3 minute affair - and fired another shot. 85kPSI, and the cable did not disconnect at recoil. Fine. I'll just insert an offset in the configuration file for 26. (About a 5 minute job.) Reconfiguration completed, I fired another round. Dang! Went the wrong direction with the offset - pressure was 135kPSI. Reconfigured with the correct sign on the offset, and fired another round. (Another 5 minutes.) 85kPSI. Drat! Cable came loose. Reset the system. (Three more minutes.) Fired another round. No reading. "Fiddled" a little bit, and fired another round. Voila'! 38kPSI. The MVs for the milsurp ammo out of the "new" 26 were 2383, 2370, 2383, and 2352.

To make this a little shorter, I think I got only one more "good" reading from 26. But there were more 26 problems in the offing. Finishing the setup and sighting in for 26, I fired a handloaded round from 43. The round contained a cast bullet and was made from a Berdan-primed case converted to Boxer using Drinksgin's converter. At the shot, I got a little blow-back to my forehead. Pressure reading was 36kPSI and the chronograph put the MV at 2270 f/s. The charge was case-capacity of H4831. I figure that's a "good" pressure and MV for a cast 215g bullet. "Case-capacity" is an easy charge to replicate without a scale, and ensures that there is no chance of an overload. It'd be nice to now how precise that setup shot, however, that info was not to be had yesterday. Upon inspecting the case I notice that there has been considerable gas excapement around the primer. Grrrrr...

Next I got after John's MAI. I had to bore-sight it too, as I had dismounted the scope (for some reason that escapes me at the moment). Bore-sighting, chronographing and pressure sensing went entirely as expected - MV at 2850 f/s (200g Combined Technology Ballistic Silvertip) and pressure at 55kPSI.

I had burned up about an hour setting up, bore-sighting and fiddling around with 26's pressure setup. I moved the target to 100 yds and commenced the Optimal Charge Weight excercise with the MAI. Things went pretty well for this. I had a little 'scope fiddling to do, but after minor adjustments, the procedure went pretty much as planned. I haven't analyzed the results yet. It'll take a little time. Y'all'll be the second to know.

On to the Steyr. As well as everything went with the MAI, so it went badly with 26. This was particularly disappointing as I pretty much had the MAI 'dialed in'. Today's range work with the MAI was just to see how the results of the OCW procedure compared to what I had figured out using the traditional 'hunt-and-peck' methods. My real interests for this range session was getting good MV and pressure data for 26 using:

1) nazi milsurp ammo relative to 43,
2) The Berdan-to-Boxer converted cases,
3) The Bufflao Arms 150 and 175 grain bullets, and
4) My cast 215g bullets, as well as
5) OCW workups for the 150g, 175g, and 205g bullets.

I did get good MV data for the 205s, but none of the other objectives were accomplished for 26. After firing about 12 rounds of the OCW test with 205s, I noticed that the 'scope base had shot loose. Which of course rendered all of the OCW work to that point useless. MVs were the only useful data obtained. Correction required removal of the 'scope, tightening the set screws on the base, re-installing the 'scope, and bore-sighting again. Too much time would be required if I was going to get any .45-70 shooting done. I scrapped any further M-95 work.

I had several things to accomplish with the Buffalo Classic. Primary was get it "back on" wrt its sights. I had moved them for some reason (again, the reason evades me now), and I needed to make sure I was 'back on target'. Also, I wanted to try some bullets Drinksgin had sent. He thought I might get some better precision with some of his cast bullets. Finally, I wanted to just do some more shooting with my hunting loads, testing two different lubes - Liquid Alox and bearfat plus beeswax in a 50:50 mix.

Normally, I can shoot my hunting loads, a 505g cast bullet at 1650 f/s, from the bench "all day long". For some reason, I got seriously 'beat up' yesterday. It was downright unpleasant. Comparitively speaking, both the MAI and the Steyrs were 'cake-walks'. After examining what was different about yesterday, I realized that I was shooting from an almost prone position. Because of alignment between my rifle, the chronograph and the target, I couldn't sit at the bench. Instead, I had to sort of stand, except bent at the waist. It sounds worse than it was, as it was actually a fairly comfortable and steady position. Unfortunately, it meant that my body didn't really 'rock' with the recoil. Instead, I was pretty much braced against it. Man, it beat me up!

The results for the Buffalo Classic were neither exciting nor disappointing. The good news was that my hunting loads shot well, and the ones using the bearfat and beeswax lube shot the best.

There was one other "thing". The triggers on the MAI and both Steyrs seemed particularly terrible yesterday. It took great concentration to keep points of aim consistent. I had not had this problem with the MAI or 43 in the past, and dry-firing 26 had suggested it was better than 43. I don't know what it was yesterday, other than the possibility that it was cold - 40-ish. However, I'm going to have to do something about those triggers if I want to sub-MOA groups.

Overall, I felt 'hurried', and I really dont' like that. 'Hurried' does not usually lead to good data collection. The time it took to do things like fiddle with electronics and hardware ate up battery life for the computer. "People" caused considerable delay (later in the day) wrt checking targets, and having to make a 1600 soccer game all added up to feeling a bit rushed. Next trip... Well, we'll see how the best laid plans of mice and men work out then.

I'll post some results after I finish analyzing the data I did get.

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.338 caliber, .338 mai, .45-70, buffalo classic, m-95 steyr, range report

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