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Rob’s Reloading Ramblings - A bit of range time

By Rob Bedingfield

There’s an ancient Chinese curse that says, “May you be born in interesting times.” Think about that and you will see what I am on about. Never have things been so “interesting” or horrible for law-abiding gun owners. We appear to be seen as undesirables by the government and we have an opposition party that sits on its hands even when they realise that they are losing votes. 

 

The anti-gun brigade is organised, using our taxes to fund itself, and is prepared to lie and fiddle the statistics. We can produce answers to all their claims and we do have the moral high ground, but I am afraid these people have never possessed the power of reason.

 

Invercargill shooters show their displeasure at recent gun law changes that attack only the law-abiding owners.

 

We do, however, have excellent people speaking for us from COLFO and the Sporting Shooters Association (SSANZ), so it may not be all doom and gloom. We owe a debt of gratitude to David Tipple who impresses with his ability to control a crowd of rabid left-wing reporters during televised press gatherings. More power to your elbow, David. Let us not forget, also, the great contribution by the editors of this magazine. I will continue to write for NZGUNS online edition now, as long as I can. 

 

BACK TO THE BENCH

As soon as Russell had time and the spring rains abated we headed for the range to load test the Savage 6.5 Creedmoor, using 147gn. ELDs and Reloader 16. Before we get serious and down to load testing, I must mention YouTube again. “Bloke on the range, action stress test. Over-stressing a Lee Enfield No 4.

 

This No. 4 was rebarreled to .308, reproofed and used for target shooting. To test the strength of the action the chamber was then reemed out to .300 Win Mag. The rifle was secured to a bench, a string was tied to the trigger and our intrepid pair stood behind a large tree, wouldn’t you? Twenty rounds later, no problems, headspace okay and the bolt cycled fine. 

 

What they did next makes a good case for storing rifles muzzle down. They inadvertently wiped oil on the remaining .300 Win Mag cases and on the third firing a lug busted and the bolt had to be belted open, action munted. The lug that broke was found to have a flaw despite the passing of proof testing at least twice.

 

“As soon as Russell had time and the spring rains abated we headed for the range to load test the Savage 6.5 Creedmoor, using 147gn. ELDs and Reloader 16.”

 

Regardless, the lesson is; do not get oil on your cases or leave any in the chamber prior to firing. Most of the firing pressure is taken up by the case momentarily expanding and gripping the chamber walls. Remove this friction at your peril as all the pressure will come back on the lugs and I understand that this can crack the lugs of even a 98 Mauser.

 

I wonder how long a sound Lee Enfield could withstand the 300 Mag pressures? I am not going to find out. We do, of course lube our cases when resizing. The lube is water soluble however and easily cleaned off with hot water and detergent. YouTube has plenty of recipes.

  

Now I have become the proud owner of a Kimber Classic in .25-06, a fine rifle in many respects, although it is not the most accurate rifle in my collection. Suspecting the thin barrel and the fact that the cases came out marked and all had to be full-length resized, I left it with Cobus at Gun–Tech.

 

The chamber turned out to have been badly reemed, and worse, there was insufficient steel around it to recut the chamber and set the barrel back. I presume the lack of steel was in the interests of weight reduction so I had to settle for a polished chamber and a miniscule set back.

 

“My method for testing is to load eighteen rounds, three at a time with half grain increases, finishing at or around the listed maximum.”

 

This looks to have worked and below I have described how I set up the test loads while waiting for an improvement in the weather. At the bench I also spent much time waiting for that pencil-thin barrel to cool between groups. 

 

My method for testing is to load eighteen rounds, three at a time with half grain increases, finishing at or around the listed maximum. I staple six A4 targets to a large piece of cardboard mounted on a pallet which is set up at 100 yards.

 

Excellent accuracy from the Savage 6.5 Creedmoor shooting 147 grain ELDs and RL16 powder. Note that the heavier loads produced the tightest groups.

 

This enables me to stay seated and relaxed for the entire session, analysis being done at home. Being calm and relaxed is vital as was demonstrated by my mate who took a phone message after shooting a series of excellent groups. The message obviously rattled him as he sped up shooting and his groups went to pieces.

 

If you have a deadline to meet you will not shoot precise groups, and leave the damned phone in the car!

 

MOVING AHEAD

Below are the results of my load tests with the Kimber .25–06 using Hornady 100 grain Interlocks and IMR 4350, an excellent fallow deer load. Up to ten minutes was allowed for barrel cooling between groups.

 

Laying the targets out at home (see photo) showed a pattern, ie; the rifle was placing the first two shots together and the third was a flyer. Examining some earlier targets showed the same trend. At the 6th load of 54 grains it all came together. Was this a fluke or can the rifle group only two shots before heating up? 

  

Charge Weight Group Size Velocity FPS (12 ft. from chrono.)
51.5gr 2" 3159
52gr 0.75”  3169
52.5gr 1.30”  3174
53.1gr 1.26”  3220
53.5gr 1.56" 3223
54gr 0.64”  3257

  

Further testing is needed, such as letting the barrel cool between individual shots, not just between groups. This will be time consuming and I may nod off (Nana nap) until someone prods me with a stick. Two internet forum answers suggested the 54 grain load, no reasons given, but if you look at the above results they could be right. 

 

Next a suitable range day arrived and I was accompanied by my son and grandson from Melbourne. Russell, unfortunately had to look after the shop. Son, Mark had brought me a scope mount for my Parker Hale No 4 sporter to which I attached my old Pecar 4x scope on cheap Sun Optics rings.

 

The mount was made by Arctic Fox Optics, West Aus. The set-up looked good and seemed rigid although only attached at one end, fitted by removing the aperture sight, new screws included. What followed was totally unexpected. Using Greek ammo, almost as old as me, a primer punctured.

 

Rob's sporterised Parker Hale Lee Enfield with its Pecar scope. Note that the scope mount is attached only to the rear of the receiver.

 

I am in the habit of resting my left hand over the scope. The hot gasses shot out the gas port, burning my palm, to which I exclaimed. “Damn, blast and bother!” The bolt would not open and I assumed that the action was history. But not so, the gasses coming back had pushed the striker onto half cock, easily remedied, all OK. Mental note, “Place left hand away from gas port.” 

 

Now I was rattled and sat back to watch my grandson enjoy his refurbished BSA .270. Thankfully I just remembered to stop him in time to have enough rounds left for a deer hunt the following day. More to follow. 

 

Rob

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