Long Range Rabbit Hunting
The original plan was to load 75 Hornady A-Max moly for this rifle however the jackets are failing at 25 yards and create a sideways hole on a paper target with a consistently bent nose. The 80 gr Bergers were coming to pieces as well but when we moly coated them we finally managed to achieve round holes in the target. Note the 75 A-Max were already factory moly coated so could not be improved upon.
This is what happens when one is “pushing the envelope” as our gunsmith PK says.
For this trip I utilised a Nightforce 8-32 Bench rest model scope. My opinion is that these are quite good competition scopes for shooting long range targets during the daytime. They have great shortcomings when utilised on small game at distance in poor light. The light gathering of this Nightforce scope is appalling when compared to the 8.5-25 Mark 4 Leupold on my XR100. Thus contrast suffers as well and it became impossible to identify small brown rabbits on a close cropped hillside only a matter of minutes after the sun had disappeared on afternoon.
Changing over to my other rifle and scope it appeared as if someone had turned on the floodlights for me! The benefits when bright light was available were magnification up to 32X and reliable 1/8 moa adjustments.
I just hope Leupold will build a higher power variable than the 8.5-25 which I use now. In the meantime I guess I begin saving for a few years for a down payment on a S&B 10-50 which are in the prototype phase at the moment.
A 20 MOA canted picatinny rail has been fitted along with Leupold Mark 4 tactical heavy duty rings. This allows enough elevation for the rig out past 1200 yards if required. To fit 2 rifles in my Pelican 1750 case I had to remove the scope off the Nesika but the zero was only off 3/8 MOA after refitting and checking in NZ. This was after retensioning the ring nuts with the preset 65” pounds torque wrench designed for this application.
To ensure that I don’t cant the rifle [remember that 1 degree of cant equals 1 MOA and thus approximately 10” at 1000 yards!], there is a US Optics rail mounted bubble level fitted. These are extremely useful and easily transferable between rifles should picatinny rails be utilised.
Another advantage for this method of attachment means that the level will not require “levelling” or fitting to each individual rifle.
Without knowing the distance to target long range shooting becomes a guessing game. Therefore an excellent range finder is a necessity.
A Swarovski 8x30 monocular range finder gave great service and readings out past 1800 yards consistently. I believe that this is the best range finder for those seeking reliable readings past 6-800 yards commercially available.
The units that exceed the Swarovski in performance are military only cost many times more $. The optics are clear with good contrast and I had no trouble identifying rabbits out to 1080 yards and then ranging them.
After ranging I consult my ballistic programme to determine correct elevation adjustment required for that distance.
Normally I guess wind hold but this particular shoot the wind at our shooting position was not apparent at all yet a constant 2 MOA right adjustment kept the strikes centred. Normally the wind is our greatest enemy at long range however on this afternoon it was stable.
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