Range Report: Annual Hunting Trip

Last weekend was our annual “guys weekend” hunting trip to North Texas and I wanted to share a few thoughts and observations…

The Good

The Ruger American Predator in .308 is a great rifle (for me).

The rifle is nice an light. Unlike some other rifles I have used, carrying it through the woods, mud and brush all day on was no problem. No wrist or shoulder pain like I have had carrying some other rifles. The “Claw” sling from Quake did a great job keeping the rifle in place so I didn’t have to worry and hold it in place all day.

Little rifle, little piggy and a big round…

Accuracy, as long as I did my part, was dead on and the Vortex Crossfire II 2×7 scope was perfect for both the the tighter shooting needs on a stalk through thick brush as well as longer ranges from a stand in an open field.

The first pig I took was in an open field but I had to stalk through some heavy brush to get to the field. The light weight and short length of the rifle made it much easier to make it close enough to take the shot without making enough noise to spook the pigs. We happened upon a small group of pigs while tagging along with my grandson and his dad while they were squirrel hunting. The light weight means I didn’t leave it back at camp and again the small size made it easier to sneak through the brush for an easier shot. The power of the .308 put the piggy down even with a less than stellar shot on my part. The third hog was across an open field from an elevated stand. The stationary, elevated position allowed for an easy and clean head shot even over the longer distance.

The steaks.

There is very little that can top a perfectly seasoned 16 ounce ribeye cooked over an oak fire with potatoes and onions on the side…

Fellowship with my son, grand son and son-in-law.

Father and son spending time together in nature

It was a great time and we were able to spend some quality time together without TV, Internet, iPads or any of the other distractions of modern life to interrupt. My grandson got to learn more about hunting and cleaning animals. He know where his meat comes from and what goes into killing and preparing it. He spent a lot of time practicing with his new .22 and is getting pretty good with it. I have a standing offer to him that if he can hit a soda can at 50 yards with open sights in five shots or less I’ll give him $20. He almost took it from me this trip.

The Bad

Nikon scopes with exposed turret adjustments.

My son was adjusting the green light mounted on his AR and the light mount twisted on his scope turning the elevation turret an unknown number of clicks. I may be missing something but turret adjustments should not be exposed like that on a rifle, especially one that is used outside of the controlled space of a range. We were able to re-zero the next day but that burned hunting time and ammo.

Forgetful old men.

Between the repairs to the house, work, the holidays and everything else we have going on this old man forgot several things this weekend…including ammo for his rifle. If you’re going hunting, remember to bring ammo. It was thirty plus miles to town for ammo which also ate into our hunting time although we did find a good burger place.

New boots.

Most of my shoes were lost in the flood including the boots I wear when hunting. I picked up a new pair just in time for the trip but didn’t have time to break them in. No blusters, but not very comfy either. The right one also squeaked when I walked making it tough to stalk quietly.

The Ugly

Diseased Pigs

The hog I shot on the last night, from the stand, looked good in the scope and under the green hog light but once we retrieved her we knew something was wrong. A pig that size should have weighed in around 150 to 175 but I doubt she even made 100 pounds. Even in the dark we could see her ribs. No idea what was wrong with her but we took no risks and disposed of the carcass without bothering to get the little meat she had on her. On the good side maybe whatever she was suffering from won’t be passed along to any other hogs or deer.

God bless

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Range Report

As the weather starts to cool off a little along the Texas Gulf Coast the outdoor rifle ranges are starting to get pretty busy. A lot of guys are getting ready for deer season and the rest are just taking advantage of those rare times when you can get outside without suffering heatstroke. Although I probably won’t make it out to bag any deer this year, we will still probably make our annual hunting trip to north Texas to bag a few hogs. It looks like that will be in January or February again this year but it is never too early to start getting ready, especially when you will be carrying a new rifle into the fields.

The Ruger American Predator in .308 Winchester will be my “go to” rifle this year and last time out I ran into a bit of an issue. Ruger, by design or oversight, didn’t use any thread locker on the scope rail and under recoil from the .308 the screws backed out leaving my scope on less that solid footing and my shots were all over the paper.

With the rail re-attached (with a generous application of thread locker on each screw) I wanted to see how she would do.

A few shots at 50 yards showed I was at least on paper so then it was time to head to the 100 yard line (100-125 yards is about the outside distance for me when hunting). I was having some issues with consistency at first which had be rechecking the scope rail but after a bit I was able to settle down and she should be about zeroed in. 

I spent quite a bit of time practicing with the Ruger American Ranch Rifle in 7.62×39. To be honest I really prefer the “short .30 caliber” to the .308 as the recoil is significantly less and the ammo is cheaper. Which was the plan after all, since other than caliber and color the rifles are identical.

One of the things I wanted to do was test some ammo other than the Brown Bear and see what the difference would be in reliability, point of impact and the groupings. My AR in 7.62×39 is very sensitive to different ammunition brands and types. There can be several inches difference in point of impact at 100 yards and significant differences in the accuracy of each round with that rifle and I wanted to see if that was still the case with the Ruger.

I tested super cheap TulAmmo, my standard Brown Bear, Fiocchi brass cased ammo, Hornady 7.62X39 123 gr SST® Steel Case and some reloads. The little Ruger hand no issues feeding or firing any of them. Picky, it is not and it was very consistent too. There was very little, if any, difference in the point of impact regardless of the ammo. The group did tend to spread out with the cheap TulAmmo resulting in groupings of around 2-3 inches instead of the 1-2 inches I could get with the other types of ammunition. I continue to be impressed with this little rifle.

Since the Ruger has no issues with the brass cased Fiocchi or my reloads that means I can use it at indoor rifle ranges as well which opens up a lot more of the year for practicing with a rifle. As much as I love shooting, outdoor ranges when it is almost 100 degrees outside with almost 100% humidity are a lot less enjoyable than sitting in air conditioned comfort…

I can’t wait to make it out into the field with one (or the other) in a few months time and back to the range sooner than that.

God bless

Say Hello To My Little Friend (Part 2: Range Report)

I guess I should have said range reports in the title since I have been to the range a couple of times already…

Range Report 1

I was able to sneak away for a quick range trip while Wonderful Wife was taking a nap. I was back at the house a bit more quickly than I had expected though.

My first test was with the 7.5 inch 5.56 upper. I have had this little fire-breather and I know it works. It’s just really loud and obnoxious. The first round chambered properly and fired as expected. The second round chambered but the trigger was dead. I ejected the round manually and the next round fired but the subsequent round did not.

I switched to the 10.5 inch 300 Blackout upper and the results were the same with both subsonic and supersonic rounds. Just to be thorough I even tried swapping the bolt carrier groups between the two uppers. No change. It seemed like maybe the hammer was not being reset properly. I figured I had just reversed a spring or something.

Once I got home and took the trigger group apart I couldn’t find anything wrong with the way I had assembled it. I did notice that both the trigger and hammer springs seemed a little lighter than some of the extras I had laying around and the parts were not as well made. I also noticed that some of the rounds that I had ejected to clear the dead trigger had very slight indentations like it was a light strike which was odd since the trigger was dead so there should have been no marks from the firing pin. So it looked like the hammer was being reset but something wasn’t catching it to hold it in place so it would just bounce back and strike the firing pin with enough force to sent the primer but not enough to fire the round. I was surprised it didn’t go full auto on me at the range. With a stronger hammer spring it probably would have.

Rather than spend a lot of time replacing one part at a time I replaced the whole trigger group with one I took out of the 7.62×39 AR when I installed the ALG trigger (link).

Range Report 2

After my trip to Portland I took a day off to rest and recover (flying and sitting in airports for about 12 hours wears me out). What better to do on my day off than to head back to the range for some more AR pistol testing!

With the trigger group replaced everything worked perfectly.

Again I started with the 5.56 upper since it was a “known good” piece.

As you can see from this video, everything worked fine. You can also see how crazy the muzzle flash is on this little monster. What you can’t tell is how loud it actually is. Even with ear muffs it is a bit painful to shoot at an indoor range.

Next, I switched to the new 300 Blackout upper using supersonic ammunition. It also worked flawlessly. With the slightly longer barrel and the quicker burning powder I expected a lot less drama with this upper and I was not disappointed.

Almost no muzzle blast and although you can’t tell from the audio it is a lot quieter to shoot. The recoil was about the same as the 5.56, no change there.

Next up, the same upper with subsonic ammunition

You probably can’t tell from the video but the subsonic ammunition is a good but quieter than the supersonic stuff and orders of magnitude quieter than the 5.56 out of a 7.5 inch barrel.  The recoil is also noticeably less.

This little gun will primarily be a range toy for a bit until I get a lot more experience with it but I like everything I own to be capable of delivering hits when I need it to should something really bad hit the fan. I sighted it in at around 21 feet since that is about the longest shot I could possibly take within my home and I was able to put shots on target pretty quickly with this little guy but I also discovered something interesting.

While I was a little high at 21 feet (bottom targets) when I moved out beyond that my groups migrated north several inches. I was a bit confused at first but after checking a few resources I was able to confirm what I suspected, the bullet begins to rise after 21 feet and does so pretty quickly.

Left side supersonic/Right side subsonic Bottom at 21 feet/Top at 50

The other thing I found was that within these ranges there was no real difference in the impact point for supersonic or subsonic rounds. Which is something else I was very curios about.

All in all I like this little set up but I need to spend a good bit more time with it before I would bet my life on it.

God bless.

A Few Shots With The Hand Cannon

We had an event at a local gun range today and I was able to take a few shots with the new (to me) Hand Cannon.

I have to say that when loaded with .357 Magnum rounds this is a pretty exciting little gun. Now, I like shooting snub-nosed revolvers and I don’t mind recoil but this little guy raises the bar…a lot.

First thing I noticed is that the Crimson Trace laser grips are way off and I will have to spend some time at the range to sight it in (if I decide to leave them on). The second thing I noticed is that the trigger is fine. I had no issue with it probably because of all the dry fire practice with the Model 360. I didn’t have enough time to check night sights for accuracy as I only had a few minutes free between presenting and visiting with customers but I was able to keep my last group of .38 Specials within about a three inch spot on the target.

Now, let’s get back to the recoil…

This thing hits the hand hard when loaded with .357 Magnum rounds. It is not painful but it does sting. By comparison, I was able to shoot a nice .44 magnum with a six inch barrel side by side with the little hand cannon and while the recoil on the .44 was slightly more it didn’t snap or sting like this little guy did. Of course the .44 Magnum probably weighed in around two pounds heavier than the M&P 340.

With all that said, I had no issues keeping a good grip on the gun. I didn’t have to readjust between shots and it never wanted to jump out of my hand but like I said I like small revolvers, I practice with them a lot and enjoy the recoil. At the same time I will admit going through a box of 50 .357 Magnum rounds would be about all I could handle.

I let a co-worker try it out and based on the video evidence (since he denied it) he did have some issues with control; both of the firearm and the trigger:

He is a fairly experienced shooter (or claims to be anyway) but really only has experience with full sized, metal framed 9mm semi-autos. You be the judge.

Anyway, those are my first impressions. I hope to get out to the range again soon when I have time to send more than 15 or 20 rounds downrange.

God bless!

Range Report

For Father’s Day I ordered myself a new Spike’s Tactical lower receiver. It is for a new build that I am planning and has an image engraved that I particularly liked:

Well, the lower finally came in and I was eager to pick it up. Wonderful Wife suggested I get some range time in too. I sure do love that woman but I suspect it may have had more to do with her wanting to go shopping for the grand kids than me getting some time on the range. Regardless of the motivation behind it I was eager to get back to the range especially after the challenges I had last time out.

First and most importantly, whatever was affecting my shooting last time out seems to have been resolved. No idea what was causing my inaccuracy last time out but I was able to tear the “X” ring out of targets at 3 and 7 yards pretty easily. It was obvious that I still need to get back to practicing more regularly but I was back on track with both the Glocks and the revolvers.

My secondary goal for this range trip was to test out the new ETS magazines for the Glock 42 and 43. I loaded the Glock 42 magazine first and immediately had issues. Two or three malfunctions per magazine. I repeated the test and got the same results. As a test I tried one of the Glock factory magazines I had with me and although it seemed slightly more reliable I still had issues. I only brought one box of .380 (Sellier & Bellot FMJ) but I did have a full magazine of my carry ammo for the G42 (Hornady Critical Defense) which seemed to run fine. This is probably an ammo related issue but until I can bring some different ammo to the range and test it out the G42 goes back in the safe.

Short Revolver Rant

This is one of the things that I truly appreciate about carrying a revolver. I know revolvers can fail and when they do it is rarely something that can be fixed in the middle of a fight but with a revolver I don’t have to worry about magazines failing or wearing out, ammo that doesn’t feed right, or weak extractor springs or any of the other small parts that can affect the reliability of a semi-auto. Semi-Autos are pretty darn reliable these days when it comes to feeding and extracting but they are still not as reliable or worry/hassle free as revolvers when it comes to feeding and extraction.

So, it appears the issue with the feeding on the Glock 42 was not related to the ETS magazines. The G43 (9mm) magazines from ETS all seemed to perform well and none had issues with and feeding or extraction issues. They all dropped free when empty. However, the big selling point for me on these magazines was that they are advertised as carrying an extra round in flush fit magazines. For whatever reason I could not seem to be able to get that extra round in there. Here is a photo of the 12 round magazine loaded up but only holding 11 rounds:

It is possible that after the springs wear in a bit I will be able to load the extra round but in the meantime, other than cost, I don’t see any reason to use these magazines instead of Glock factory magazines.

All in all, it was a really good day at the range.

God bless.

Note: I did call ETS support and they suggested loading and unloading the magazines a few times or leaving one loaded for a week or two and then trying again…

 

Range Report

I finally had a chance to make it out for a much needed trip to the range last weekend. I wanted to sight in the new Ruger American Predator .308 my home defense AR and get some practice time with my handguns. For the most part I accomplished my goals although not quite in the way I had hoped. First, a lesson learned.

Test Your Gear

I say this all the time and try and live by it as much as possible but received a refresher in the lesson this weekend. Working with my home defense AR, the one that sits in the safe next to my desk all day was one of my top two priorities. I had used a laser bore sight on it to set up the red dot optic a month or so ago but had not had a chance to verify the zero on the range. I bore sight rifles all the time but never have I been this far off. At only 25 yards, the point of impact was almost two feet off to the right! Within my house I don’t have many shooting angles at this distance but the point still remains that had I needed this rifle in the last few weeks I would have been in real trouble…to say the least.

I typically have a light mounted on all my home defense weapons, both pistols and rifles. I have had a habit of removing them when I go to the range. Doing so make it easier to pack them into their cases for travel and I feel kid of silly with a light on my gun in the bright sunlight of an open range. Most of the lights mount straight onto the picatinny rail but this new rifle has MLOK attachments on and I used the MLOK to attack a small rail and then mounted the light  to the rail.  Three shots into the range session the rail piece dropped off the rifle. Either the MLOK wasn’t properly secured (likely since this is my first experience with it) or the mounting hardware is flawed. I won’t know until I make it back out to the range and test it…again.

In the meantime I am a little wary of using this rifle for self-defense.

Other Observations

I purchased a “lead sled’ from Caldwell to make sighting in rifles easier (and cheaper but consuming less ammo). Maybe I am doing something wrong but so far I am not all that impressed. I don’t think it saved me more than a couple of rounds in the whole process. I can do just as well with sandbags…

On the other hand I am pretty dawn happy with the little Ruger .308 bolt gun. It took me about four rounds to get it dialed in at the twenty five yard line and then I was able to put two rounds into the same hole in the bullseye. Even at only 25 yards that’s pretty good shooting for me (I am not much of a rifleman).

I prefer to work a bit more methodically and go from 25 to 50 to 100 yards when sighting in a new rifle but the 50 yard line was under construction so I went straight out to 100.Using the lead sled I was all over the paper. It appeared to be more of a pattern than a group. Finally I dropped the lead sled and went with plan old sandbags. I still wasn’t getting a consistent grouping but at least the pattern tightened up. The four shots 2 inches down and one to the left were all off sandbags. I adjusted the scope a bit and put the last one in the bullseye. It was a hot day and getting hotter and my blood sugar was starting to tank so at that point I called it a day with the Ruger.

As I said, my initial observations on the Ruger American Predator in .308 are pretty good. From what I can tell this rifle is probably more accurate than I am. It is lightweight, about 6 lbs without the scope, and handy with an 18 inch barrel and an overall length of 38 inches. So, it should be an easy gun to drag through the brush but still more than accurate enough to reach out from a stand well beyond my typical shooting distances.

Being so light the 150 grain rounds I was using and will probably hunt with pack a punch and my shoulder was complaining a bit the next day. I also tested a 180 grain rounds and I could feel the difference in recoil. Shooting one or two when the adrenaline is pumping shouldn’t be an issue but a long range day would be a bit of a challenge. This is definitely a fun gun to shoot though I wouldn’t hand it off to Wonderful Wife or my grandson.

Next, I walked over to the pistol range for a few minutes.

One of the nicest things about carrying a revolver is the reloads (on speed strips) are very thin and light. One bad thing is that they are so thin and light I have, on occasion, forgotten them in a pocket and they ended up going through the washer. While I would not rely on them for self-defense I was curious if these rounds would still fire…yes, they all fired with no issue.

Unfortunately, my shooting was not as reliable as the ammunition. Using two different revolvers I was consistently shooting to the right by almost six inches. I tried changing my grip and changing the positioning of my finger on the trigger all to no avail. As I mentioned it was getting pretty hot and my blood sugar was getting a bit low so I didn’t spend any more time trying to fix the problem and packed my stuff and headed out.

All in all, it was a productive and much needed trip to the range. Now, to get back out there…

God bless!

The ChapStick Trick

Greg Ellifritz, over at Active Response Training posted a great trick for those who have lights mounted on their weapons.

A quick, cheap fix
A quick, cheap fix

Long training sessions can leave a nasty carbon buildup on the lens of the light which can be darn near impossible to clean completely. His trick? A little ChapStick on the lens. Makes clean up a breeze and doesn’t affect the output of the light in any significant way.

You can read more about this little trick and find out where he discovered it here.

God Bless and have a great weekend!