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Big 51, .338 WM, .338 MAI, & 7x57 Range Report
Old 09-07-2006, 03:17 PM
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Default Big 51, .338 WM, .338 MAI, & 7x57 Range Report

It appears that I am going moose hunting tomorrow, and therefore I had to get to the range to sight a couple of rifle in, and check some things out with the Big 51 (.50x348). I went 'light', meaning no instrumentation, and only four rifles. The focus needed to be sighting in, and selecting a rifle to take on the hunt.

The Big 51 (exactly 11 lbs), was not really in the running, as it has too much work left to do on the stock to get accomplished in 48 hours. Plus the fact that I didn't really want to hunt it with a 'scope, and the open sights are not yet even ordered. The scope is a 3x pistol scope.

The 7x57, a Ruger No.1 RSI, (8 lbs 8 oz.), wasn't really being considered, but I had some old 162-grain Hornady BTHPs that I had loaded 15+ years ago for my wife's 7x57 - and I wanted to sight it in. The 7x57 is just a little light for my tastes when I might have to take a shot as far as 250+ at a moose. Furthermore, the RSI has a barrel of only 20", further reducing the MV and terminal power. So, below you will find images of a couple of targets.

The .338 MAI is my MAI, (9 lbs 10 oz), as opposed to the one I have been using for the past year or so, which is John's. They are very similar, but mine has a 24" Lothar Walther barrel, and John's has a 26" Adams and Bennet. Otherwise, except for cosmetics, they are identical. I was hoping that the loads I worked up using John's rifle would 'translate' right over to mine. Oh yeah, I had John's stock and scope on my rifle.

The .338 Win Mag (9 lbs 7 oz), is simply my 'go to' gun when it comes to meat. It shoots straight, and kills with authority. It ain't pretty, but it is a fine tool.

As usual, I bore-sight to start with and shoot at 25 yds to make sure I'm 'on the paper' and to adjust the scope to near-perfect. In this session, because I had the Big 51 in tow, I also shot at 50 yards.

The first image has the 25, 50 and 100 yds shots for the Big 51 on it; the 25 and 50 yd shots for the 7x57 and .338 WM; and the 25 yd shots for the MAI.

Looking at the lower right bulls-eye, you will see two outlined groups and a single shot contained in neither group. The single shot was the second 'scope adjustment shot at 25yds. (The first is not in the picture.) The two-shot group at about 11 o'clock are shots-for-group at 25, and the 4-shot group at about 1 o'clock was a shot-for-group at 50. These are all cast bullets, heavily lubed with two heavy coats of Liquid Alox.

The lower left bulls-eye has two uncircled shots that are the first shot and subsequent scope adjustment shot at 25 yds. The circled group is a shot-for-group at 50 yds with the 162-grain HPBTs.

The upper left bulls-eye (actually not the uppr-most one, but the one on the same piece of paper as the previously discussed bulls-eyes), is the 25 yd sighter, and the 50 yd group for the .338 WM. There are actually 4 holes circled. Oh yeah, I'm shooting Hornady 225s here.

In the far upper right, you can see a 3-shot group. It is the 50 yd group for the MAI. It loks good, and as a group goes, it is. However, with all of the elevation adjustment used up, the Point of Aim for this group was 10" low and 1" to the right of Point of Impact. There's more to that story, but I'll get to that later. No more shots with the MAI were taken.

In the upper-center of the image are 8 outlined bullet holes. There are 7 from the Big 51 at 100 yds, and one from the .338 WM. The one from the WM has it's own story. I'll tell that later too.

While this is not exactly an exemplary 8-shot group, I am tickled pink about it as it was shot completely with my hand-made bullets. When making those bullets, I had made little attempt to 'standardize' anything. I was more interested in construction techniques and processes than uniformity. As a result, they weighed 539, 548, 555, 555, and 560, (there were two of unknown weight, but I'm sure they were between 539 and 560). They had a variety of 'looks'. They all had the same 54-grain charge of N-135 and CCI 250 primers. Given that they were 'pushing back' almost identically to the .338 WM, I'm guessing that their MVs were in the vicinity of 1600 - 1650-ish f/s with muzzle energies in the 3400 ft-lb range. Pretty much where I want to be. There's more to this story too, but again, I'll tell that later. Let me get the target out of the way.

The second image is of the upper target, with groups for the 7x57 and .338 WM at 100 yds. The 3-shot group just above the lower left bulls-eye was from the 7x57 and the 162-grain BTHPs at 100 yds. The 4-shot group at the large center bulls-eye was shot with the .338 WM. Neither of these groups were particularly satisfying. My expectations from boat-tails is pretty low, so I wasn't particularly surprised. Although I did expect better than a 2-plus inch 3-shot group at 100 yds. The WM was particularly disappointing though. For years, I've shot MOA groups with this rifle and bullet. A 4-shot 2"x2" group at 100 yds is... well, disappointing. I was beginning to think that maybe it was operator error. I had been really concentrating though.

I figured I would go ahead and shoot the 139-grain 7x57 bullets, as I had them with me, and they had proven to be the most precise out of my wife's 7x57. You guessed it. That's the little sub-half inch 3-shot group in the upper right. So, the 162-grain and .338 WM groups weren't 'operator error'. By the way, the 139s are flat-based bullets.

Let me get to the 'other stories'.

First, the hand-made bullets. I wasn't particularly optimistic about finding any of the hand-made bullets in the backstop. Fist off, they were simply 'thrown together'. They didn't have any fancy 'bonding' technique applied in order to bond the core to the jacket. Also, there was a little 'lip' at the end of the jacket that I figured would catch on something and tear the jacket and core apart. And finally, the backstop is mostly sand and dirt, but there are plenty of 2"-ish rocks mixed in. Those rock would play havoc with a bullet's jakcet and core 'bond'. See pictures 3, 4 and 5.

I was astounded to find these bullets! As you can see, they stayed together except for the one that hit a sharp rock. I'm sold! I'm going to make more, this time concentrating on making both weight and configuration as uniform as is reasonably possible. I believe I will be able to keep the weights within half a grain. I wish I had a metal lathe at my disposal. I'd turn the belts off and trim the rims more precisely than I can do with a file and a drill press. Still, I don't think the file/drill press method will effect precision noticeably. If you want to see what the bullets looked like before they were shot, have a look at the thread titled "Big Bullets" located here: http://www.thehunterslife.com/forums...ead.php?t=6608

This post is long enough now, plus I need to post other images for the other two 'stories', so I'll end this one and put the others in subsequent posts.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg Range Report Sept-6-06 007.jpg (69.9 KB, 144 views)
File Type: jpg Range Report Sept-6-06 005.jpg (75.1 KB, 123 views)
File Type: jpg Range Report Sept-6-06 008.jpg (58.7 KB, 137 views)
File Type: jpg Range Report Sept-6-06 003.jpg (51.4 KB, 131 views)
File Type: jpg Range Report Sept-6-06 004.jpg (62.8 KB, 122 views)
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.338 mai, .338 wm, 50 alaskan, 7x57, range report, safety

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