Monday, October 09, 2006

The olbilgatory range report

OK, since everyone knew that I was finally going to the range, I'll just bet you're actually expecting me to blog about it, huh?

Saturday was cold (for this time of year) and wet, with occasional bouts of mist. Not the perfect day to go shoot. However, I haven't been to the range in so long I wasn't about to let this slow me down. Weather like this is why you have woobies, windshirts and boots.

So, with our little gang suitable attired, we descended on the 200 yard range. Along with me and the kids was Old Friend's Son, with 4 deer rifles to sight in--a .243, a .270, a 30-06 and a 7mm WSM. (I'll say this for the boy, he had all the distances covered, with the exception of Next ZIP Code.)

We took a Ruger 10-22, a Henry .22 lever action (Son's gun, he calls it his "Birthday Boom") and a fairly newly acquired Ruger Mini-30 in stainless with a wood stock.

It wasn't to be an auspicious day for shooting.

OF's Son lead off by zeroing the .243 in short order. This was the highlight of the day. Next he tried the .270. The gun belonged to a friend of his, and they had tried last year to get it to shoot somewhere in the vicinity of a bullseye. They failed then, and we failed now. Something is terribly wrong with that gun. I've offered to take a look at it, and I hope they oblige me, because I'm really curious to find out what's going on. A box and a half of ammo later, scope adjustments used up, we quit trying.

Next was the 30-06. This one zeroed, but seems to be only about a 2-3 MOA gun. Being a Remington 700 ADL, I find that a bit upsetting. Of course, that's good enough to kill a deer, and since that's the intended purpose, I guess it will do. It better. If not, OF's Son's Friend may come zero his own rifle.

Then we worked on the 7 mm WSM. I know for a fact this gun is a tack driver--I helped zero it last year. This year, the longer he worked with it, the worse it got.

"Are you sure you're turning the adjustment the right way?" asks I.

"Yeah, counter clockwise moves it to the left."

I'd been watching. He had started out to the right, was turning the adjustment counter-clockwise and was just getting further and further right--and more and more frustrated.

"Are you sure you're turning it the right way?"

"Sure I am," says he, turning in about 8 more clicks--without ever looking at the adjustment screw. He finished the box of ammo (and by the way, this stuff is $25 a box) and the holes were completely off the target.

He was ready to give up. "I just don't know what's wrong," he said, rubbing his shoulder. He was getting sore, recoil pad or no. I asked him for some ammo and told him to spot for me and I'd give it a try.

I checked the scope adjustment screw. Counter clockwise moves the POI right. Uh-huh. I dialed about 20 clicks clockwise. That got me on paper. Five more shots and it was shooting sub-MOA groups around the X. (I told you, the thing is a tack driver. Utterly wasted hunting deer.)

The kid hung his head. "I just don't understand--I knew that I was adjusting the right way."

I told him that's the problem with assuming--sometimes your assumptions are wrong. I also told him that I think that's a problem with the newer scopes that use a finger adjustment rather than a screw driver--you can adjust without looking at the screw. When you look at the screw, that arrow is right there, and if you miss it, it's your fault. That didn't make him feel better, but I think he learned a little something.

During the period he was shooting, me and the Little Freeholders were also shooting, sort of. The 10-22 came out of the case with a problem--it wouldn't cock. I foolishly hadn't brought any screw drivers, so I couldn't do anything about it. Daughter was less than impressed. (Note to Self: Self, go get another set of screw drivers that will henceforth live in the range boxes.)

She had also been up way too late and gotten up way too early. She retired to the truck with a blanket for a nap. I hated it, but it was her choice.

Son was banging away with the birthday boom, and hitting nothing. He complained, and I reiterated the proper hold and aim instructions. He still couldn't hit anything. I knew the little gun shot fine, so I tried. I didn't hit anything. ????

Looking at the rifle, I finally noticed that the step ramp that adjusts the rear site had gone missing. The search was futile--no ramp. So that gun was finished for the day.

That left the Mini-30. Anyone who's been around guns long knows that the Minis (both the -14 and -30) are fun guns with a reputation for inaccuracy after prolonged shooting and crappy after-market mags. I can't testify to the inaccuracy issue for reasons soon to be clear, but I will stipulate the after market mags are stinkers. I got the gun, the original 5 round mag, 2 10 rounders, 3 20 rounders and a 30 rounder. The 5 worked flawlessly, one of the 10 pretty much worked and one was junk, one 20 worked flawlessly and the other 2 were junk, and the 30 is actually a 20--it won't work reliably with more than 20 rounds loaded.

Oh yeah, and the factory sights SUCK! The first rounds were about 10" down and 10" right. Using all the elevation adjustment, I got it to an inch or so low. Windage is adjusted by drifting the sight in the dovetail, and if I didn't have screw drivers, you can bet I didn't have a brass drift and a hammer. So I contented myself with loading mags for Son to try out.

All in all, not one of our better days at the range.

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