Well, we headed out yesterday afternoon, well evening after work to try to get me into the 1K club after my brother and dad got into it this weekend.
I took Black Sunshine out with her new scope, the 9-36x 56mm IOR in the saddles and the new load using 152.0 gr VV 20N29 which is good for 3475 fps with the 300 gr SMK.
The rifle was dialed in for a 1100 yard zero, I thought.
We got set up and it did not take long to find some chucks. One of the first ones out was a HUGE chuck at a ranged 1075 yards. I figured this could be a one shot trip. I settled the big rifle in the bags and found the appropriate refernce point hold and let the big 338 bark.
To my total suprise the shot landed about 3 feet to the right and about the same high. When I went to open the bolt I noticed a bit of resistance and the fired case showed significant cratering on the primer pocket.
I chambered another round and figured I had misjudged a breeze or something but it was pretty much calm all the way to the chuck. I figured I must have pulled her off.
I took the same hold on the same chuck and again, the shot landed roughly in the same place as the first.
This fired case was even tighter then the first. What was going on here. I got to thinking that when I developed that load it was around 60 degrees. The air temp now was right at 80 degrees so it seems that the VV powder is a bit sensitive to heat change.
When I tested the load there was just a hint of primer cratering on the fired cases, not it was pretty pronounced. Need to redevelope that load in some warmer weather!! I suspect I was running in the 3550 fps range judging from what the primers looked like compared to my load development before the hunt. At 154.0 gr I was getting similiar primer cratering and right at 3550 fps. I dropped down to 152.0 gr load which was producing around 3475 fps in those temps, now a bit more!!!
The shift in impact had me a bit baffled but I had only zeroed the rifle quickly at 100 yards so I may have been off a bit on the horizontal adjustment. Another good tip, zero at long range, reduces potential vertical and horizontal error in your zero!!!
We found another chuck and I tested the hold by correcting for the error using the reticle. 1 mil lower and one mil to the left. This shot landed very close but still a bit off. I lined up for a second shot but chuck had had enough with the first shot.
I then decided to find a rock and zero the big girl correctly before I wasted more ammo and scared more chucks!!
We located a nice bright white rock that was about 1/2 the size of a mature chuck. Made a scope adjustment and took a shot. Landed horizontally correct but was abouta foot low. Made another slight scope adjustment and this shot landed on the bottom edge of the rock. Made one last adjustment, one click up on the 1/4 moa adjustment and then sent two shots dead center into the rock.
The rock was at 1090 yards.
I let the rifle cool off and was still pretty upset about the higher pressure loads. A couple had even needed the bolt to be tapped slightly to extract them. These cases have not been FL sized as I am waiting for my FL die to get here and they have been fired once with high pressure loads so I was expecting some slight stickiness with extraction but with pressures this high it was really making them stick more then I liked.
We waited for about 20 minutes with no chuck activity and then just as we were about to pack it up my brother said he had one spotted. He told me between the two white rocks at the right of the base of the tree. These rocks were covered by shadows and I will admit that if I had not had the big IOR I probably would not have been able to see this chuck but the optical clarity of the IOR is very impressive and I was easily able to make out the chuck which had half of his body up over a rock looking in out direction.
The range was 1095 yards so I put the center reticle dot dead center on his chest and pulled the trigger. I saw a cloud of dust erupt off the rocks and did not see where the chuck went. Looked like another clean miss but it was VERY close this time. I was feeling a little better!!!
We set there for another couple minutes and then we spotted another chuck just poking his head over the wheat that we could see. I lined up on him and touched off another round. He dropped instantly to the shot and the bullet impact was seen directly behind the chuck.
I felt pretty good about that shot by the way he dropped out of sight and where the bullet impacted.
It was starting to get pretty late in the evening so I said, lets drive down and see if there is anything worth seeing. I was a bit pesamistic to be honest, not real impressed with my preperation for the shoot with rifle or ammo.
We drove down there and walked over to the spot between the two white rocks where I had taken the first shot after adjusting the scope. This was the shot I was sure was a miss but I noticed blood splatter 10 yards from the rocks as we walked up to the pile. As we got closer the mess got more obvious with chunks of chucks spread out all over!!!
When we got to the pile we saw what was left of the chuck. The chuck had been looking directly at us. The bullet impacted right under the chin and followed the spin back right to the base of the tail. It was a bit on the messy side!!!
I was suprise to be honest as I was sure this was a miss.
We walked over to where the last chuck was thought to be and found no sign at all of a hit. We looked for several minutes but it was pretty clear that was a near miss.
So had I had the rifle tuned in properly and had developed the load for hotter weather shooting I suspect far fewer shots would have been sent out of the barrel but I did feel better knowing that once the rifle was dialed in, the rest of the shots were well under moa at 1100 yards.
I am going to drop that load back down so I am getting 3450 fps in 80-85 degree weather and then check it again in cooler temps just to see what difference it makes. Maybe US-869 may be a better choice, more testing to come but for now, 500, 1000 and 2000 yard clubs done. One more left at 1500 yards and then we are also going to go for a +1 mile kill just for kicks. THen onto 2500 yards!!!
Was a good time though, would have been better if I had prepared more for the hunt. ALl in all though I was impressed with the IOR, very clear and bright.