September 11, 2014

A Good Day at the Gun Range

I don't often post stories about my own firearms collection, how I test them, how well I shoot them, and so on. There are so many top quality firearms related blogs and websites that I don't feel my opinion is needed. I do own four rifles and about half a dozen handguns. I also have a Concealed Carry License from Wayne County in the State of Ohio, which allows me to carry a concealed handgun when I am out and about shopping or running errands. Naturally I always keep a handgun close by when I am lounging around the house. I don't consider myself paranoid, but I do like to maintain a certain level of vigilance in everything I do and everywhere I go. I have seen firsthand the horror that evil can manifest in moments when no one is paying attention, allowing it to strike from the shadows in brutal, devastating ways.

One of my favorite rifles is my Ruger 10/22 with a laminated stock and a Tasco 3-9x40mm scope. The scope was very inexpensive, but after two years of use it has proven to be more than adequate for this particular rifle.

Today I took this rifle to the range along with about six hundred rounds of ammunition. I adjusted the scope (apparently I did not replace it correctly after my last cleaning), re-shot the zero, then spent a couple of hours blasting away at a variety of targets. Most of my targets I created myself using graphics collected off the internet, photos I've taken, or geometric designs created in programs like MS Publisher or Open Office Draw. My primary zero target is a target created in Open Office Draw. It features five 2" circles with blue centers that are easy to see in any weather.

Because I had to adjust the scope mounts at the range, the initial zero was not close enough to use this target. Once I had a five-shot group landing near the center of a standard 12" target, I switched over to the zero target above. The top-left circle is the first five shot group. I adjusted the scope three clicks, then shot the top-right target. That seemed fairly well centered, so I adjusted the scope to bring the group up slightly (two clicks) and shot the center target. I was using Remington .22 Long Rifle Golden Bullets (a 36-grain, brass-plated, hollow point). These are the same bullets I use when shooting groundhogs so it is important for the rifle to be set up to fire them accurately.

Satisfied with the zero setting on the scope, I fired about 200 rounds at silhouettes, pictures of groundhogs, collections of decreasing radius circles, and several other targets I've made myself. One thing I noticed as the afternoon wore on and the rifle barrel became hotter and dirtier was that the groups began expanding until it was difficult to predict exactly where the rounds would hit the target. Curious, I shot the bottom-left target on the zero target sheet above, confirming my suspicions. The accuracy of the rounds became less and less reliable as the barrel heated and collected fouling.

I happened to have about 80 rounds of CCI Mini-Mag .22 Long Rifle (a 40-grain, copper-plated, round nose bullet). Many people have told me that Remington rimfire ammunition is inconsistent, prone to having wild rounds, and prone to having misfires. I've never really noticed much problem with it and I have fired well over two thousand rounds at both paper targets and groundhogs. The vast majority of groundhogs I have killed on my property here in Ohio were killed with these very same Remington Golden Bullets. Nonetheless, since everyone praised CCI so highly and since I happened to have some onhand, I loaded up a magazine and fired them at the circle on the bottom-right of the same zero target I'd been using all day. As seen above, even after over two hundred rounds of heat and fouling buildup the CCI ammunition was right on target and grouped well within the two-inch target (except for two rounds out of twenty, but those were probably my fault). The reason the CCI is hitting somewhat to the right of the Remington is partly the fault of wind and partly because Remington rimfire ammo in both .22 Long Rifle and .17 HMR always shoots to the left of all other brands. This is true in every rimfire firearm I own, although I am at a complete loss to explain the physics of it. (In the picture below, the Remington Golden Bullet is on the left and the CCI Mini-Mag is on the right.)

As soon as I saw the result I switched over to a full-size, standard 12" target to see how well the CCI would shoot. This target, like all the targets mentioned in this post, was placed at the fifty-yard line right next to the first 12" target I had used to bring my scope into a place where I could properly zero it. This target is twenty rounds at fifty yards from a bench rest, but not from a vise. I have to say, this is possibly the finest target I have ever shot in my life. I'm not ready for Top Shot, naturally, but I'm quite happy with how well I performed today.

As I have claimed on this blog many times: I'm not a trained sniper, but I generally hit what I'm aiming at.