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Houston, We Have A Problem!

Houston, We Have A Problem!

By Darrell Holland

Those immortal words spoken years ago still captivate our attention any time we hear them. Nothing can be more irritating than having a problem in the field with our equipment, or a failure on our part in understanding how it works.

Let’s explore a few of the problems encountered and the remedies required to pull our “peanuts” from the fire! Set your ego aside and join me as we delve into several common “mistakes” that shooters encounter, causing them untold grief and lack of confidence in their equipment.

All data cards and software suck. Some use G-1 math and others use G-7 to calculate drop and drift. I’m here to tell ya that the information they provide is not accurate. Why, at 1000 yards I need to add/subtract 2 MOA to my dope to hit the x-ring! My zeros are perfect, my SD’s are single digit and I’m shooting the best rifle and scope money can buy!

We’ve all heard that sob story, or, may have uttered those same words ourselves. Let’s look at what usually is the cure and how simple it is to apply.

The math used to calculate drop and drift is far more accurate than any rifle on the line given accurate information, i.e. muzzle velocity, ballistic coefficient, temperature, altitude, barometric pressure and humidity. So what gives? Usually (and I’ve helped folks with this problem for years) it’s that they fail to check actual elevation values in their scope. Calm down, I hear grumbling in the peanut gallery from many of you: “Why, I shoot a NIGHTFORCE, Leupold, Zeiss or Schmidt & Bender rifle scope!! Ain’t nothin’ wrong with my scope!!!!”

Oh, really??? While these are indeed the best scopes in the industry, how many of you have ever checked the ACTUAL “click value” over the ENTIRE trajectory curve of your data card? Probably not many of you. We all trust the elevation and windage knobs with the same fervency as our local pastor. But did we ever CHECK????

Take a tall target backer and draw a plumb line on the face. Zero the rifle EXACTLY at 100 yards and begin to elevate the point of impact for a measured 15 MOA, 30 MOA and 45 MOA. Be sure and multiply the minute of angle value by 1.047 (True minute of angle). So, a 30 MOA correction should elevate the bullet precisely 31.41 inches at 100 yards and a 45 MOA correction should read 47.115 inches.

Not all of you, but a few of you, should see a problem when doing this. Over the years I’ve tested several brands of scopes and found discrepancies as mentioned above. The importance of validating your scope’s tracking is of vital importance if you are really serious about your shooting. Do not take your scope’s “click values” for granted. As Joseph Stalin once said: TRUST but CHECK!!!!

My ammunition shoots like a champ at 100 yards under home court conditions, 80 degrees, B/P 29.53", 1500' elevation, humidity 50%, but when I went to my friend’s house in Montana in the dead of winter, it was embarrassing. What went wrong?

Load development and powder choice is more often than than not the problem. You developed a great load at 80 degrees, at let’s say, 3000 fps. When in Montana, the temperature dropped to 30 degrees and so did your velocity. This caused a drastic change in barrel harmonics and your group went to “hell in a handbasket.” Try using the Hodgdon Series of Extreme Powders for better results. These include the following powders: H-322, H-4895, Varget, H-4350, H-4831, H-1000 and Retumbo. These powder selections offer the least temperature sensitivity and will provide the most consistent velocities over an extreme range of temperatures.

Test your ammunition by putting it in the freezer overnight and shooting it over your chronograph the following morning. Be sure to transport it to the range encased in ice and a small cooler. Use a thermometer to record ammunition temperature prior to firing. Note the velocity changes and act accordingly.

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