Was getting a bit stir crazy in the shop and the late nights with the little one so this morning I decided to take the morning off and head up to our favorite shooting range my my Dad and brother to do some gong slappin at 3000 yards.
The real reason I wanted to go is because I just got in a JVC 32x optical video camera and also ordered the 2.2x booster with it and wanted to see how it would record at extreme range on what would basically be 70x. Worked very well by the way!!! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] Easy to see hits at extreme range.
Back to the story, got up and loaded up some ammo for old Black Sunshine. Used 142.0 gr H-50BMG under the 300 gr SMK as I am waiting for my supply of Wildcats to show up and need to use up my SMKs anyway.
THis load was the one I just tested in a customers 338 AM with great performance so I figured I would go away from my 138.0 gr US869 load and try this one in Black Sunshine. It proved completely reliable in that rifle but there were issues in Black Sunshine.
We got up to the range and took some measurements and quickly realized that 3K was out of the question. wanted to have the gong standing out in an open flat so it would be easy to spot hits in the short grass.
As soon as we picked a spot and ranged it with the Wild range finder at 2250 meters(2460 yards) the wind started up. By the time we drove over, set up the gong and got back we were dealing with 7 to 20 mph winds and the worst part is that they were extremely inconsistant coming from out 2 to 3 0'clock position.
We were also shooting off a sharp rim overlooking a valley so we were getting some severe updrafts when the gusts would come in. Still we were there, the gong was set up and I wanted to take some video!!
TO be honest, I had totally lost my zero from the varmint hunting season so I was starting out cold. If I remembered correctly, the last range we shot at was around 1800 yards which proved to be about right.
The first shot landed quite a aways short so I took a few more to get the rifle close to where she needed to be for targeting the gong. The wind was really playing hell with the shots at this range. When the wind calmed or was at least consistant, the rifle was holding well under moa at that range. Only problem is that seldom could you get two shots off in the same conditions. Making fine adjustments was impossible and at that range what other kind of adjustments are there!!! I was also having primer piercing issues which have been a constant issue with this receiver from the get go. I am not sure what causes this but primers will pierce on this rifle MUCH sooner then any other I have tested. Not sure why but with this load I was getting a pierced primer about every third shot which will really blow your consistancy at this range. Generally whenever you have a prime pierce, she will print low, makes since with the pressure drop because of the primer vent.
I guess its back to my 138.0 gr US869 load which is extremely mind and will still get me 3420 fps!! Not to damn bad.
We were getting close to the gong so we let the barrel cool for 15 minutes or so and then I turned on the camera and had dad take the first 5 rounds. Three of his shots landed extremely close to the gong with two of them landing inside the frame that held the gong but no steel was hit.
We let the barrel cool for another 15 minutes and then it was my brothers turn. Just as he sent his first shot down range, the wind damn near stopped and his shot landed well to the right because of the lack of wind. We dialed the windage out of the scope on the next two shots and got her running really close again with the calmer winds but we were still dealing with some updrafts which was causing us to land higher then expected.
We let the barrel cool again and then I took my turn at the gong. First shot landed about 5 feet to the right as the wind had almost come to a dead stop across the valley but we could still feel it slightly at our location.
Made a scope adjustment and the second shot landed just inches off the right edge of the gong. Next shot I held on the left edge of the plate and this time the big 338 AM made the steel swing!! Even in the winds you could hear the ring of the gong float back across the valley. It was a near center hit from what we could see. I took a couple more shots but the wind kicked up again and they went a foot or so to the left and about the same high.
We drove down to the gong and had to take one pic. Hell, its my farthest hit so far.
As you can see, just a bit low and left of center. If it had been a chuck, more then likely it would have lived to see another day depending on how it was laying but he sure as hell would have been motivated to get the hell out of there!!! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
All in all it was a decent morning of shooting. 23 rounds down range, really only 15 of which were what I would call quality shots once we got the elevation and mainly windage somewhat figured out.
I can tell you that any breeze of 5 mph or more at ranges like this will make it extremely difficult to make consistant hits unless it is a nice constant wind. Any variable wind speeds and you might as well just shoot for experience because thats about all your doing is practicing.
Of the 15 quality shots, I would say 8 or 9 were within a foot or less of the gong and about half those were just inches off the steel.
Those that missed were either errors in windage which was usually not being able to see a change in the wind across the valley, a shot dropping low from a pierced primer or the updrafts would catch us just right and sent the shot just over the gong frame.
So while I was not overly happy with the results, I know in good calm conditions, with the loads I was using last varmint season we all would have rung steel easily at this range but when the wind blows, even the highest performing wildcats fall to its mercy.
Still, this one hit was my farthest personal hit of any target so far and in those conditions I was happy with that and the camera worked great as well. Would have been nice to have a three shot group on steel but that will come with better conditions I have no doubt. Nice to have that shot on video anyway. Even the many near misses are an accomplishment at those ranges in those conditions.
Those that think hits at this range come all the time with these types of rifles are very suprised when they try to do it. Its flat out very difficult but still possible with the right gear. Today was just to windy to be real consistant.
Next time there will be more then one splash on the plate I assure you if the winds co-op!!!