Had a good couple days in the shop so I decided since it was actually pretty comfortable out, in the high 70 degree range, I would pack old Black Sunshine up and head up to the range to do some practice shooting.
Last time I had her out when Richard Graves was down last week she was having some sticky case extraction. That was later proven to simply be a result of the very high heat and very long barrel combining for excessive pressure. Shot one of the old loads over the chrono and she tripped it at 3555 fps and should have been just over 3400 fps instead. I guess VV powder is not terribly resistant to temp changes.
Anyway, I wanted to redo my load since I got my dies in from Hornady so I could do some serious load development and decided to start with Hodgdons new US869.
140.0 gr produced 3425 fps and 138.0 gr clocked 3385 fps with extreme spreads in the very low teens so I just used this for my current hot temperature load and loaded up the 60 rounds of formed brass I had with the 300 gr SMK.
This load is VERY mild, bolt flops open and case will pretty much fall out, just want I wanted for a long range load in Black Sunshine. I could easily load up to near 3500 fps but there is really no need.
I decided I would only take one box of ammo(20rounds) and I filled two gallon milk and when I got up to my shooting area I set them in a location which is about as far as I can shoot in this location.
Drove back to my shooting spot and set up the rifle and Wild range finder. The RF read 2225 meter which I ran the numbers in and converted to 2433 yards. I figured this would be a challange to say the least.
The conditions were pretty good but my kestrel
handheld weather instrument was reporting an 8 to 9 mph breeze directly from my 3:00 position.
I dialed everything into the Exbal program and dialed in for the first shot which took most of my vertical adjustment in the IOR 9-36x 56mm. I was starting cold with this shot. I was zeroed around 400-500 yards so I figured I would take the first shot and see where it got me and work from there.
At the first shot the 300 gr SMK landed only about 2 feet low but about 15 yards to the left of the right jug which I had decided to target first.
Made a correction for the windage and shot again. This shot was again about 2 feet low but only a couple feet to the left this time. I had forgotten to comp for the low hit. I gave her another moa in elevation held for the windage using the reticles reference points.
Shot #3 was a VERY close miss. Dead center horizontally but just over the jug, in fact the dust cloud origin was pretty much hidden by the milk jug.
Shot #4 got caught up in a bit of breeze and again was carried a couple feet to the left.
I decided to let the barrel cool at this point and was also hoping the breeze would settle down. As I waited the sun went behind a sizable cloud and after a couple minutes the mirage pretty much disappeared. It was still a bit breezy but better.
I lined Black Sunshine up again and let shot number five go. Dead center horizontal but about a foot low.
Lined up for shot #6 and watched the big SMK land just off the right side of the jug, inches away if that.
Lined up for shot #7 and took the same hold. I recovered from the recoil in plenty of time to see the water filled jug simply explode. I flipped off my muffs and waited for the "POP" to carry back to me and sure enough it did loud and clear.
I was a bit suprise at how violently the jug had burst. The farthest jug I had hit to this point was about 1500 yards with my 338 Kahn and it was not very dramatic, what a difference 500 fps makes!!!
I let her cool some more and while I was waiting the cloud moved on and the mirage came back. I shot 8 more shots at the other milk jug but did not score a hit. four of those shots were so close it almost hurt though.
At that range, simply a matter of luck to some degree. I am plenty happy to hold moa at that range and a 24" circle will leave alot of air around a milk jug.
I did notice some vertical fliers when shooting at the second jug. I suspect sorting my SMKs will greatly reduce this variation. The wind was constant and horizontal variation was well under 18" for those 8 shots but vertical was in the 4 foot range at the extremes.
I took several pics and will post them asap but huntingpictures.com is not accepting my uploads right now. Will try later.
I was very happy with the results. I shot 15 shots and of those, I would say 50% landed in a 3/4 moa diameter ring around the jugs. There were a few fliers. The worst of them was a hangfire!! Not sure if this was due to the load or bumping the shoulder back a bit to far on one of the cases when I was figuring out the Hornady dies. I suspect the latter but I may up the powder charge to 140.0 gr just to make sure, still would be an extremely mild load.
To be honest, I just wanted to see if I could hit another small target at extreme range after that chuck hit. Most people will say the first hit is about 100% luck, everyone after that reduces the preceived luck factor significantly.
I freely admit there is still a huge amount of luck involved but getting EXTEMELY close at that range is not as hard as I use to think it would be before Black Sunshine.
Will post pics when I can.